By Swami Harshananda
Drastā literally means ‘the seer'.
According to the various works on the Vedānta system of philosophy, each one of us is actually the ātman or the soul whose real nature is ‘sat-cit-ānanda’. The ātman is identified with the body-mind complex due to primeval ignorance, which can be annihilated by jñāna or knowledge. The process of discrimination between the dṛk or drasṭā and the dṛśya will ultimately help in isolating the ātman from the body, the mind and the senses.
For instance, an external object is dṛśya and the eye is the dṛk. The eye becomes the dṛśya for the mind which is now dṛk. However this mind becomes the dṛśya for the ātman, the conscious Self. There is none who is the dṛk for the ātman. Hence the ātman is the ultimate dṛk or draṣtā. The draṣṭā, having pure consciousness, continues to remain so even if there is nothing to be dṛśya for him. For instance, in an empty pitch dark room, though the eye is ‘seeing,’ there is nothing to be ‘seen.’
Similarly, the draṣtā or the ātman as the ultimate witness, is always the conscious subject or the seer. There is no loss of his consciousness irrespective of the existence or non-existence of objects to be comprehended by him.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore