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The words sat, cit and ānanda do not indicate attributes of ātmā. They are ātmā. The word ānanda, which is synonymous with ananta is a source of great confusion here. Ānanda is not bliss but limitlessness.
Wherever there is sukha there is a certain fullness, which is the śāstra's intended meaning of the word ānanda. It is not the dharma of ātmā but its very svarūpa. The śruti also points out that ātmā is free from attributes, nirguṇa. Further, if sat, cit and ānanda become the attributes of ātmā, what is the locus for these attributes? There must be another ātmā for that. Then what is its svarūpa? We have the same problem. The svarūpa of ātmā is existence, consciousness, that is limitlessness. The problem arises because ānanda, in the sense of happiness, is experienced by the knower. This ānanda cannot be the svarūpa of the kṣetrajña because it involves the duality of the experiencer and the experienced. Wherever there is ānanda in the sense of real fullness, there is no second thing. If there is, it is less than fullness. In fullness there is no question of saying, 'I experience ānanda', in the way that one can say, 'I see a pot', because ānanda never becomes an object. It is always the svarūpa of ātmā. Even in deep sleep or coma there is no knower, known and knowledge, so that what is 'experienced' there is nothing but ātmā, which is satyaṃ jñānam anantaṃ brahma.
But it is not recognised as 'I' because there is no corresponding vṛtti in the antaḥ-karaṇa. Otherwise, to get enlightened, you have only to go to sleep. Because the vṛtti is not there, one does not know, but at the same time there is only the svarūpa of ātmā without the three-fold knower-known-knowledge difference set up by the antaḥ-karaṇa.
Whenever there is the experience of being pleased or happy, however, it is a function of the antaḥ-karaṇa, because it assumes the form of a vṛtti in which the seeker-sought division is temporarily resolved. At this time the sukha experienced is a property of the antaḥ-karaṇa, whereas the ānanda that is present there is the svarūpa of ātmā. It is the same with any experience. The vṛtti of a pot is the antaḥ-karaṇa-dharma and the consciousness, caitanya, pervading the vṛtti is the svarūpa. The nāma-rūpa belong to the antaḥ-karaṇa but the existence, satya, belongs to the svarūpa. Ānanda that is present in any sukha-vṛtti is also svarūpa. Further, ānanda is always present; it is not an experience of bliss. Any such experience is a particular vṛtti of the antaḥ-karaṇa in which ānanda, limitlessness, is to be recognised as the svarūpa. Though we define ātmā as sat-cit-ānanda, it is purely an object-free consciousness in which there is no knower-known knowledge. It has no particular attribute and is invariable in all forms of experience. Sat, cit and ānanda are not attributes of ātmā because attributes are invariably nāma-rūpa, which are dependent upon sat-cit-ānanda-ātmā. They are not known because they are not objects. If anyone says that the kṣetrajña is affected by the kṣetra-dharma that [belief] is purely due to avidyā.
Bhagavad Gita Home Study Course Ch.13 v.2 Swami Dayananda
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