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VIVEKA CHOODAMANI
VOLUME 1 of 4

The Crest Jewel of


Discrimination
PART 1: The PURPOSE of Human Life
PART 2: SRAVANA – The Guru’s Teaching

“THE SANDEEPANY EXPERIENCE”

Reflections by
TEXT SWAMI GURUBHAKTANANDA

11.1
Sandeepany’s Vedanta Course
List of All the Course Texts in Chronological Sequence:

Text Text
TITLE OF TEXT TITLE OF TEXT
No. No.
1 Sadhana Panchakam 24 Hanuman Chalisa
2 Tattwa Bodha 25 Vakya Vritti
3 Atma Bodha 26 Advaita Makaranda
4 Bhaja Govindam 27 Kaivalya Upanishad
5 Manisha Panchakam 28 Bhagavad Geeta (Discourse -- )
6 Forgive Me 29 Mundaka Upanishad
7 Upadesha Sara 30 Amritabindu Upanishad
8 Prashna Upanishad 31 Mukunda Mala (Bhakti Text)
9 Dhanyashtakam 32 Tapovan Shatkam
10 Bodha Sara 33 The Mahavakyas, Panchadasi 5
11.1 Viveka Choodamani – Vol 1 of 4 34 Aitareya Upanishad
12 Jnana Sara 35 Narada Bhakti Sutras
13 Drig-Drishya Viveka 36 Taittiriya Upanishad
14 “Tat Twam Asi” – Chand Up 6 37 Jivan Sutrani (Tips for Happy Living)
15 Dhyana Swaroopam 38 Kena Upanishad
16 “Bhoomaiva Sukham” Chand Up 7 39 Aparoksha Anubhuti (Meditation)
17 Manah Shodhanam 40 108 Names of Pujya Gurudev
18 “Nataka Deepa” – Panchadasi 10 41 Mandukya Upanishad
19 Isavasya Upanishad 42 Dakshinamurty Ashtakam
20 Katha Upanishad 43 Shad Darshanaah
21 “Sara Sangrah” – Yoga Vasishtha 44 Brahma Sootras
22 Vedanta Sara 45 Jivanmuktananda Lahari
23 Mahabharata + Geeta Dhyanam 46 Chinmaya Pledge

AUTHOR’S ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO SANDEEPANY


Sandeepany Sadhanalaya is an institution run by the Chinmaya Mission in Powai, Mumbai, teaching a
2-year Vedanta Course. It has a very balanced daily programme of basic Samskrit, Vedic chanting, Vedanta
study, Bhagavatam, Ramacharitmanas, Bhajans, meditation, sports and fitness exercises, team-building outings,
games and drama, celebration of all Hindu festivals, weekly Gayatri Havan and Guru Paduka Pooja, and Karma
Yoga activities.
This series is an effort to promote the learning of Vedanta; it does not replace the Course, but hopes to
inspire young people to spend two years of their life for an experience that is sure to make a far-reaching
spiritual impact on their personal lives. Sandeepany is an all-round spiritual course that gives proper direction
to the youth and to those approaching retirement. Hinduism is in dire need of a band of systematically trained
teachers or Acharyas who can serve this Eternal Religion.

– Swami Gurubhaktananda, 30th June 2018, the Auspicious Birthday of Guruji


Om Namah Shivaaya!

Text
11.1

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VIVEKA CHOODAMANI – Vol. 1
“Crest-Jewel of Discrimination”
Composed by Sri Adi Shankaracharyaji

Volume 1 of 4: (Verses 1-146 of 581)

PART 1: The PURPOSE of Human Life


PART 2: SRAVANAM – The Guru’s Teaching

Reflections by
SWAMI GURUBHAKTANANDA
on the 109 Lectures by Swami Advayanandaji & Swami Nikhilanandaji
at the 15th Vedanta Course, Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Powai, Mumbai
from January 28th to July 3rd , 2012

Adi Shankaracharya Swami Sivananda Swami Tapovanji Swami Chinmayananda

SERVE  LOVE  GIVE  PURIFY  MEDITATE  REALISE


Copyright & Author’s Details
Author: Swami Gurubhaktananda, born 1954 as Bipin R. Kapitan, in Durban, South Africa.
Residence: Sivanandashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India.
Email: gurubhakta.dls@gmail.com

© 2018 All Rights Reserved. Copyright held by Swami Gurubhaktananda.

About This Edition:


Web Edition: 30th June 2018, the Auspicious Birthday of Guruji
Website: www.chinfo.org hosted by Chinmaya International
Foundation, Kerala, India:
Series Title : The Sandeepany Experience
Series Subject: Vedanta & supportive subsidiary texts.

Declaration by the Author: The material in this series is under inspiration of the Sandeepany
Vedanta Course, but largely consists of the Author’s reflections on the Course. He is
deeply indebted to the Chinmaya Mission for its excellent presentation of the Course
by their renowned and dedicated Acharyas.

Personal Dedication
1. To my Parents, Smt Sharadaben & Sri Ratilalbhai Kapitan
who inspired me to study in life, to stick to the path of Dharma and pursue the
highest ideals; and swamped me with their abundant Love;

2. To Pujya Sri Swami Vimalanandaji Maharaj


the President of the Divine Life Society of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India, who
constantly encouraged and supported this effort;

3. To Pujya Sri Swami Tejomayanandaji (Guruji)


for his boundless vision and inspiration to create a vibrant organisation;

4. To Sri Swami Advayanandaji and Sri Swami Sharadanandaji


my Acharyaji and Upa-Acharyaji at Sandeepany, who imparted their bountiful
knowledge and wisdom with rare selfless Divine Love, just as the Rishis of yore
would wish to see them do.

*****
VIVEKA CHOODAMANI
CONTENTS OF THE WHOLE BOOK

VOLUME 1:

PART 1: The PURPOSE of Human Life (Verses 01 – 66, 66 no.) 001


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
1.1 Invocation & Overview 1–2 2 1
1.2 Preciousness of Human Birth 3–5 3 4
1.3 The Essential Means to Liberation 6 – 16 11 6
1.4 Qualifications of Disciple & Guru 17 – 32a 15 12
1.5 Approaching One’s Guru 32b – 40 9 21
1.6 Loving Advice of the Guru 41 – 47 7 28
1.7 The Disciple’s Questions 48 – 55 8 33
1.8 Freedom from Bondage? 56 – 61 6 38
1.9 Direct Experience of Self 62 – 66 5 42

PART 2: SRAVANA – The Guru’s Teaching (Verses 67 – 146, 80 no.) 045


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
2.1 Introduction to Sravana 67 – 71 5 45
2.2 The Gross Body 72 – 91 20 49
2.2.1 Formation of the Body 72 – 75 4 49
2.2.2 How Man is Bound to the Body 76 – 82 7 52
2.2.3 Fascination for Body 83 – 86 4 56
2.2.4 Overcoming the Fascination 87 – 91 5 57

2.3 The Subtle Body 92 – 105 14 61


2.3.1 The Components of the Subtle Body 92 – 96 5 61
2.3.2 The Functions of the Subtle Body 97 – 105 9 64

2.4 The Causal Body 106 – 121 16 69


2.4.1 The Power of Maya 108 - 110 3 70
2.4.2 The Gunas – Sattwa, Rajas & Tamas 111 - 119 9 73
2.4.3 The “Unmanifest” 120 – 121 2 79

2.5 Anatma – the “Not-Self” 122 – 123 2 81


2.6 Atman – the Self 124 – 136 13 82
2.7 What is Bondage? 137 – 146 10 90
.
VOLUME 2:

PART 3: MANANA – Reflection on the Teaching (Verses 147 – 224, 78 no.) 099
# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
3.1 Discriminating Self from Not-Self 147 – 153 7 99
3.2 The Annamaya Kosha 154 – 164 11 105
3.3 The Pranamaya Kosha 165 – 166 2 111
3.4 The Manomaya Kosha 167 – 183 17 113
3.4.1 What is MIND? 167 – 171 5 113
3.4.2 Bondage & Liberation 172 – 176 5 117
3.4.3 “It’s All in the MIND” 177 – 183 7 120
3.5 The Vijnanamaya Kosha 184 – 206 23 125
3.5.1 The Intellect Sheath 184 – 191 8 125
Discussion on Vijnanamaya Kosha:
3.5.2 Jiva’s Confusion with Self 192 – 206 15 132

3.6 The Anandamaya Kosha 207 – 224 18 144


3.6.1 The Bliss Sheath 207 – 211 5 145
Discussion on Anandamaya Kosha:
3.6.2 The Self & “Nothingness” 212 – 224 13 148

PART 4: NIDIDHYASANA 1 – Theoretical Aspects (Verses 225 – 266, 42 no.) 159


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
4.1 The Vision of Oneness 225 – 236 12 159
4.2 The Nature of Brahman 237 – 240 4 169
4.3 Explanation of “Tat Twam Asi” 241 – 249 9 172
4.4 Balancing “This” with “That” 250 – 253 4 178
4.5 Aids to Meditation – “Brahma Tat-Twam-Asi” Verses 254 – 266 13 182
.

*****
VOLUME 3:

PART 5: NIDIDHYASANA 2 – Practical Aspects (Verses 267 – 341, 75 no.) 189


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
5.0 Introduction to Savikalpa Samadhi - 189
5.1 Scrubbing Out the Vasanas 267 – 276 10 191
5.1.1 “I-Thought” & “I am Brahman” Thoughts 267 – 269 3 191
5.1.2 The Three Doorways for Disturbance 270 – 272 3 193
5.1.3 The Stench of Vasanas 273– 276 4 194
5.2 Negating the Superimpositions 277 – 285 9 197
5.3 Upasanas – Meditational Exercises 286 – 292 7 202
5.4 Who is the Ego? 293 – 297 5 206
5.5 The Play of the Ego 298 – 309 12 210
5.6 The Trio: Vasanas – Rumination – Ego 310 – 319 10 219
5.7 Spiritual Inadvertance 320 – 329 10 226
5.8 In the Safe Harbour of Non-Duality 330 – 341 12 233

PART 6: NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI – Realisation (Verses 342 – 425, 84 no.) 243


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
6.1 The Entrance Examination 342 – 348 7 243
6.2 How to Recognise Samadhi 349 – 353 5 250
6.3 Samadhi Seen in Daily Life 354 – 364 11 254
6.4 Escaping the Mind’s Captivity 365 – 372 8 262
6.5 The Face of Dispassion in Samadhi 373 – 378 6 268
6.6 The Basic Technique of Meditation 379 – 383 5 273
6.7 Fine-Tuning the Technique 384 – 397 14 276
6.8 The State of Non-Duality 398 – 406 9 284
6.9 Points to Ponder 407 – 413 7 290
6.10 Nirvikalpa Samadhi is Irreversible 414 – 418 5 293
6.11 “Trouble-Shooting” Samadhi 419 - 425 7 297

*****
VOLUME 4:

PART 7: JIVANMUKTI – Liberation While Living (Verses 426 – 479, 54 no.) 303
# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
7.1 Signs of a Realised Seer 426 – 445 20 303
7.1.1 Four Aspects of a Jivanmukta 427 – 431 5 305
7.1.2 The “Jivanmukta Lakshana” Verses 432 – 442 11 309
7.1.3 Dispassion – the Acid-Test of Jivanmukti 443 – 445 3 314
7.2 How a Saint Handles Karma 446 – 464 19 317
7.2.1 Sanchita Karma – Past Karma 448 – 449 2 319
7.2.2 Agama Karma – Future Karma 450 – 451 2 320
7.2.3 Prarabdha Karma – Present Karma 452 – 464 13 321
7.3 “Brahman Alone is There” 465 – 471 7 331
7.4 Conclusion of the Teaching 472 - 479 8 334

PART 8: FEEDBACK – From the Disciple (Verses 480 – 520, 41 no.) 341
# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
8.1 Introduction to Feedback 480 – 481 2 341
8.2 Feedback from Personal Standpoint 482 – 489 8 343
8.3 Feedback from World’s Standpoint 490 – 500 11 349
8.4 Feedback from Upadhis’ Standpoint 501 – 512 12 355
8.5 Feedback from Absolute Standpoint 513 – 517 5 363
8.6 Conclusion of Feedback 518 – 520 3 367

PART 9: CONVERSATION of Two Saints (Verses 521 – 581, 61 no.) 369


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
9.0 Introduction - - 369
9.1 Glory of Realisation 521 – 530 10 370
9.2 On the Means of knowledge 531 – 536 6 377
9.3 A Riddle in Simplicity 537 – 550 14 382
9.4 The Attitude of a Saint 551 – 554 4 391
9.5 Videhamukti – Dropping the Body 555 – 567 13 395
9.6 Transmigration & Liberation 568 – 575 8 403
9.6.1 Transmigration & Rebirth 568 – 569 2 403
9.6.2 Bondage & Liberation 570 – 575 6 406
9.7 Conclusion to the Whole Book 576 – 581 6 412

*****
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VIVEKA CHOODAMANI – Vol. 1

“The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination”


VIVEKA CHOODAMANI
"The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination"

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
PUJYA SWAMI CHINMAYANANDAJI writes the following in his Introduction to his
book on the Viveka Choodamani:
“Vedanta is truly the Science of Life. Sri Shankara, the great interpreter of Vedanta,
not only gave us his commentaries on the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad
Gita, but also many primary texts which introduce the seeker to the joys of Vedanta. One of
the greatest texts he has written as an introduction to Vedanta, is the Viveka Choodamani,
which means, ‘The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination’.
“A careful study of these verses with the full freedom to enquire will give any
student a correct understanding of the entire theory of Vedanta and he can, even without a
very serious study of the scriptures, start his daily practices with tremendous benefits.
“There are hundreds of seekers who, without understanding the fundamentals, are
aimlessly struggling along a so-called spiritual path. Naturally, they suffer agonies of painful
disappointment, although they have behind them years of painstaking practices. An
exhaustive and careful study of this text helps to avoid all the pitfalls on the way to
progress. It is my intention to bring forth from every verse not only its obvious meaning, but
also its hidden import which gives out a wealth of information and helpful suggestions to
ensure a steady progress.”

The Viveka Choodamani is a prime text in the Vedanta Course at Sandeepany.


Bondage is caused by a lack of enquiry, and ceases only by making an enquiry. If we
turn to differentiate Self from the non-Self, if we shift our attention from the world of
names and forms to their substratum Brahman, then we can arrive at the final goal quickly.
The Viveka Choodamani is a Prakarana Grantha. Its theme is: DISCRIMINATION.
It is a very famous text of Bhagavan Sri Shankaracharyaji. It has great poetic beauty.
Swami Chinmayanandaji has said, “This text is sufficient to lead the spiritual life.”

*****
VIVEKA CHUDAMANI – Vol.1
PART 1: (Verses 1-66, 66 No.)

The PURPOSE of Human Life

1.1 INVOCATION & OVERVIEW


(Verses 1-2, 2 No.)

THE TITLE OF THE text is itself a beautiful simile. If we take the Vedas as the human
body, the Head is the Upanishads; all the great texts of scriptural commentaries may be
thought of as the crown; and in this crown, there is a crest-jewel called the Viveka
Choodamani!
It is incomparable. Whatever we want to know in spiritual life is here. “The text is
definitely something very special” – this has been the impression of Students of this Course.
One can say, “Poetry has married philosophy. The priest is none other than Sri
Shankaracharya. Through the pages of this book, we are enjoying the wedding feast!”

Verse 1: “Namaskara Mangalacharana”


xÉuÉïuÉåSÉliÉÍxÉ®ÉliÉaÉÉåcÉUÇ iÉqÉaÉÉåcÉUqÉç |
aÉÉåÌuÉlSÇ mÉUqÉÉlÉlSÇ xɪÒÂÇ mÉëhÉiÉÉåÅxqrÉWûqÉç || 1||
1 sarva vedaanta siddhaanta Only through the Upanishads, is the essence of
2 gocharam tam agocharam; That perceived, not through any other means;
3 govindam paramaanandam To Govinda, who is of the nature of Bliss Absolute,
4 sadgurum pranato’smyaham. who is my Sad-Guru, I offer my salutations!

How is the Truth Known?


1-2 The Vedas have many messages, for all stages of growth observed in mankind.
There is something in it for everyone. Its final message, however, is to be found in the
Upanishads. The philosophy of the Upanishads is called Vedanta.
Gocharam: “acquired”. The only means to acquire this knowledge, other than direct
experience of it, is the Shrutis, also called Upanishads.
Agocharam: There are no other means to know the Truth. What are these other
means? There are six Pramanas or means by which we obtain knowledge. This will be
explained later in the text. Here we simply summarise those means:
1
i) Pratyaksha, direct perception; ii) Anumana, inference; iii) Upamana, similarity or
comparison with other knowledge; iv) Aarthapatti, postulation; v) Anupalabhdhi, known by
the absence of something; and vi) Shabda or Agama, an accepted authority in a particular
field. In the case of spiritual or metaphysical knowledge, the sole authority is the scriptures.
To know the Self we need means beyond the realm of perception through the
senses. This is what is meant by Agocharam. Knowledge always moves forward “from the
known to the Unknown”.

The “Namaskara Mangalacharana”


3-4 This comprises an Ishtha-Devata, Namaskara-Roopa Mangalacharana (see
Tattwa Bodha, where three types of Invocations are defined). All three words – Govindam
Paramaanandam Sadgurum – are in the same case, the 3rd case, placing them all at the
same level. This is called Saamaanaadi Karanam in philosophy. All these words have the
same locus.
Namah is actually ‘Na Mama’ or ‘not mine’. It indicates dissociation with body, mind
and senses. That which is beyond these known instruments is saluted. This is the highest
form of Namaskara. The hands are placed together at the chest to represent this Advaitic
salutation, telling the other person “We are One.”
Each person studying this text, should offer his salutations to his preceptor, Acharya,
Teacher or Guru, and ask for his blessings.

Verse 2: Overview of the Whole Book

eÉliÉÔlÉÉÇ lÉUeÉlqÉ SÒsÉïpÉqÉiÉÈ mÉÑÇxiuÉÇ iÉiÉÉå ÌuÉmÉëiÉÉ


iÉxqÉɲæÌSMükÉqÉïqÉÉaÉïmÉUiÉÉ Ìuɲ¨uÉqÉxqÉÉimÉUqÉç |
AÉiqÉÉlÉÉiqÉÌuÉuÉåcÉlÉÇ xuÉlÉÑpÉuÉÉå oÉë¼ÉiqÉlÉÉ xÉÇÎxjÉÌiÉÈ
qÉÑÌ£ülÉÉåï zÉiÉeÉlqÉMüÉåÌOûxÉÑM×üiÉæÈ mÉÑhrÉæÌuÉïlÉÉ sÉprÉiÉå || 2||
jantoonaam Among all living creatures,
narajanma durlabham a human birth is very hard to obtain;
1 atah, pumstvam further, more difficult is it to attain full manhood;
tatah viprataa; and even rarer is a Sattwic attitude in life.
tasmaad vaidika dharma Even then, steadfastness on the Vedic path is rarer
2 maarga parataa, vidvattvam than all these; correct knowledge from scriptures
asmaat param; is more rare.
aatma anaatma vivechanam Discrimination between the Real and unreal,
3 svanubhavah, brahmaatmanaa personal experience of being established
samsthitih; firmly in identity with Brahman – what of them!
muktir no Indeed, liberation is no matter of chance –
4 shata-janma-koti sukritaih, a hundred crores of lives lived intelligently, earn
punyair vinaa labhyate. the merits without which it cannot be attained.

The theme of the entire text is outlined in this section. In particular, Verse 2 is a
classic poetic summary of the whole book. The entire PLAN of Viveka Choodamani is
contained in this verse.

2
1-4 In this verse the author says how blessed we are, getting something unasked –
the human body. If we do not use these gifts to go towards God, what fools would we be!
The author sounds a note of compassion in this verse; this is followed by a tone of
urgency to embark on the spiritual journey; and he seems to express utter disbelief if one
were to waste such an opportunity.
The PLAN may be followed from this table:

Jantunaam 1Narajanma durlabham atah, 2Pumstwam tato 2Viprataa;


tasmaad 3Vaidika-Dharma-Maarga-parataa, 4Vidwattwam asmaat param;
Aatma-anaatma 5Vivechanam 6Swanubhavah, 7Brahmaatmanaa Samsthitih;
8
Muktih no 9Shata-Janma-Koti- 10Sukritaih Punyair-vinaa labhyate.

VOL. PART VERSE ENGLISH


TOPIC (Samskrit)
No. No. Nos. TRANSLATION
Nara-Janma, Pumstwam, THE BASICS: Precious human birth;
PART 1 1 – 66 Viprataa, Vaidik Dharma Manliness; a Sattwic life; being
VOL. Maarga, Vidwattwam steadfast in the Vedic way of life.
1
SRAVANA: Correctly understanding
PART 2 67 – 146 Vivechanam – 1
the deep scriptural Truths.

MANANA: Removal of Doubts


PART 3 147 – 224 Vivechanam – 2 through deep Self-enquiry.
VOL.
2 Brahmatmana NIDIDHYASANA: Personal Effort to
PART 4 225 – 266 Samsthitih – 1 remove all mental Vasanas.

Brahmatmana SAVIKALPA SAMADHI: Intermittent


PART 5 267 – 341 Samsthitih – 2 Abidance in the Self.
VOL.
3 Brahmatmana NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI: Firm
PART 6 342 – 425 Samsthitih – 3 abidance in the Self.

Muktih no LIBERATION: from all bondage to


PART 7 426 – 479 Shata Janma Koti the phenomenal world.

VOL. FEEDBACK: Disciple’s experiences


PART 8 480 – 520 Swanubhavah after attaining realisation.
4
CONCLUDING CONVERSATION: Life
PART 9 521 – 581 Sukritaih Punyair in the shoes of a Saint.

*****

3
1.2 PRECIOUSNESS OF HUMAN BIRTH
(Verses 3-5, 3 No.)

Verse 3: The Three Graces of Life

SÒsÉïpÉÇ §ÉrÉqÉåuÉæiɬåuÉÉlÉÑaÉëWûWåûiÉÑMüqÉç |
qÉlÉÑwrÉiuÉÇ qÉÑqÉѤÉÑiuÉÇ qÉWûÉmÉÑÂwÉxÉÇ´ÉrÉÈ || 3 ||

1 durlabham trayam eva etad There are three things which are rare indeed;
2 deva anugraha hetukam; When found, they are due to the Lord’s Grace:
3 manushyatvam mumukshutvam i) a human birth, ii) yearning for liberation, and
4 mahaapurushha samshrayah. iii) the Grace of an elevated soul.

Why is the Human Birth so Rare?


1-2 It has the right mixture of joy and sorrow. Other births have either continuous
anxiety or insecurity of existence (e.g., animals and birds), or, as in the case of Devatas, only
enjoyment, but no growth. In other births the purpose is Bhoga alone, enjoyment. One
cannot work towards the betterment of one’s evolution. In the human birth there is
sufficient sorrow to give him dispassion, and sufficient joy to give him hope.
The verse goes on to describe the rarity of yet further conditions of good fortune in
being led to the spiritual purpose of life, which is extremely rare indeed.
Thus the “hundreds of crores of lives lived intelligently” is not an exaggeration!
3-4 The terms here are Manushyatwam (the human birth), Mumukshutwam
(yearning for God), and Mahapurusha Samshrayah (the grace of a great being).

Verse 4: Why Not Strive Now Itself?

sÉokuÉÉ MüjÉÎgcɳÉUeÉlqÉ SÒsÉïpÉÇ


iɧÉÉÌmÉ mÉÑÇxiuÉÇ ´ÉÑÌiÉmÉÉUSzÉïlÉqÉç |
rÉxiuÉÉiqÉqÉÑ£üÉæ lÉ rÉiÉåiÉ qÉÔRûkÉÏÈ
xÉ ½ÉiqÉWûÉ xuÉÇ ÌuÉÌlÉWûlirÉxÉSèaÉëWûÉiÉç || 4||
labdhvaa kathanchit Having somehow gained
1 narajanma durlabham a human embodiment, very hard to obtain;
tatra api pumstvam and there having a masculine temperament,
2 shruti paaradarshanam; and also a complete knowledge of the scriptures;
yastvaatmamuktau na yateta such a man, if he strives not for Self-realisation,
3 moodhha dheeh is one of foolish intellect, indeed.
sa hi aatma-haa svam He verily commits suicide,
4 vinihanti asad grahaat. clinging to things unreal.

4
In this fourth verse, the theme is quite clear. Acharyaji summed it up as, “One can
get a Doctorate in Foolishness if one does not utilize such a rare opportunity to make rapid
spiritual progress.”
1-2 Incidentally, Acharyaji said the students of this Vedanta Course are fortunate to
possess these graces already. We ought not to waste this opportunity but go for it!
The need for knowledge of the Self is stressed again here. Only knowledge can
remove ignorance. [This is the point where Atma Bodha began.] Simply doing good works is
just not enough for this path.
3-4 Lukewarm effort in Sadhana is just not good enough to a spiritual giant like
Shankaracharya. How foolish must it seem to him to waste even a minute on not basking in
the Self! This theme is emphatically concluded in the next verse.

Verse 5: How Foolish to Waste the Opportunity!

CiÉÈ MüÉå luÉÎxiÉ qÉÔRûÉiqÉÉ rÉxiÉÑ xuÉÉjÉåï mÉëqÉɱÌiÉ |


SÒsÉïpÉÇ qÉÉlÉÑwÉÇ SåWÇû mÉëÉmrÉ iɧÉÉÌmÉ mÉÉæÂwÉqÉç || 5||

1 itah kah nu asti moodhhaatmaa Is there a greater fool than the man
2 yastu svaarthe pramaadyati; who neglects his efforts to rediscover himself,
3 durlabham maanushham deham having got the rare chance of a human birth,
4 praapya tatra api paurushham. and that, too, possessing masculine qualities?

*****

5
1.3 THE MEANS TO LIBERATION
(Verses 6-16, 11 No.)

THE ELEVEN VERSES OF this section seem to have been carved out of the great
anguish which the author clearly feels for humanity that is searching but not availing itself of
the true and only means for liberation, viz. Knowledge of the Self.
Sri Shankaracharyaji stood first and foremost for a rational approach to spirituality.
There was no room in his approach for superficial display of religiosity if Knowledge were to
be excluded from it.

Verse 6: The Need for Knowledge on this Path

uÉSliÉÑ zÉÉx§ÉÉÍhÉ rÉeÉliÉÑ SåuÉÉlÉç


MÑüuÉïliÉÑ MüqÉÉïÍhÉ pÉeÉliÉÑ SåuÉiÉÉÈ |
AÉiqÉæYrÉoÉÉåkÉålÉ ÌuÉlÉÉÌmÉ qÉÑÌ£ü-
lÉï ÍxÉkrÉÌiÉ oÉë¼zÉiÉÉliÉUåÅÌmÉ || 6||
vadantu shaastraani Let erudite scholars quote all the scripture,
1 yajantu devaan Let gods be invoked through sacrifices,
kurvantu karmaani Let elaborate rituals be performed (by the Karma Kandis),
2 bhajantu devataah; Let personal gods be propitiated (by the Upasana Kandis);
aatmaikyabodhena vinaapi yet, without the knowledge of one’s Self-identity,
3 muktih na sidhyati there shall be no liberation for the individual,
4 brahmashataantare api. not even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahmas!

There may be the risk of arousing criticism when a writer proceeds in this vein. But
Sri Shankaracharyaji courageously sets the tone of his conviction by doing so regardless of
the consequences of his remarks. Perhaps, in his day the essential purpose of knowledge
was being ignored, even trampled. It is likely that knowledge became the prerogative of the
scholarly and the erudite.

Verse 7: Good Works Alone are Not Enough


AqÉ×iɨuÉxrÉ lÉÉzÉÉÎxiÉ ÌuɨÉålÉåirÉåuÉ ÌWû ´ÉÑÌiÉÈ |
oÉëuÉÏÌiÉ MüqÉïhÉÉå qÉÑ£åüUWåûiÉÑiuÉÇ xTÑüOÇû rÉiÉÈ || 7||
1 amritattvasya na aashaa asti There is no hope for immortality
2 vittena iti eva hi shrutih; by means of wealth. Thus does the Sruti herself
3 braveeti, karmanah mukteh declare – that by good works alone, liberation
4 ahetutvam sphutam yatah. cannot be effected. This is made abundantly clear.

6
1-2 ‘Wealth’ here means material wealth, and money does not even make it into the
list! The wealth of virtue is foremost. The wealth of good deeds, good Karma or Punya, is
another very important wealth. 3-4 Yet, for all their value to society, these are not in the
category of knowledge of the Self, which alone opens the door to liberation.

Verse 8: The Preliminaries in a Nutshell

AiÉÉå ÌuÉqÉÑYirÉæ mÉërÉiÉåiÉ ÌuɲÉlÉç


xɳrÉxiÉoÉɽÉjÉïxÉÑZÉxmÉ×WûÈ xÉlÉç |
xÉliÉÇ qÉWûÉliÉÇ xÉqÉÑmÉåirÉ SåÍzÉMÇü
iÉålÉÉåmÉÌS¹ÉjÉïxÉqÉÉÌWûiÉÉiqÉÉ || 8||
atah vimuktyai prayateta Therefore, striving to gain inner freedom,
1 vidvaan the learned seeker
sannyasta baahyaartha should renounce all his desires
2 sukhasprihah san; for sense pleasures.
santam mahaantam A good and generous
3 samupetya deshikam Master should then be duly approached.
tena upadishhtaartha To the true significance of the teaching given by him,
4 samaahita aatmaa. he, the seeker, should attune himself.

Verse 9: Save Oneself from ‘Drowning’

E®UåSÉiqÉlÉÉÅÅAÉiqÉÉlÉÇ qÉalÉÇ xÉÇxÉÉUuÉÉËUkÉÉæ |


rÉÉåaÉÉÃRûiuÉqÉÉxÉɱ xÉqrÉaSzÉïlÉÌlɸrÉÉ || 9||

5 uddhared aatmanaa aatmaanam He should lift himself by his own efforts


6 magnam samsaaravaaridhau; from the ocean of change in which he is drowning.
7 yogaaroodhhatvam aasaadya He should attain the state of Yogaroodha and
8 samyag-darshana nishhthayaa. be established in it through right discrimination.

Verses 8 and 9 take one through a lightning glimpse of the preliminary stages of the
spiritual path, in preparation for what is to come in the rest of the text.
1-4 When with the Guru, the seeker is advised to focus on the learning, abide in the
teaching, get attuned to the words, instruction, way of living and schedule of the day.
5-6 Reaching the Guru is an immense step, a huge milestone on this rigorous path.
The spiritual path begins here. However, it does not relieve one from the responsibility of
walking the path himself – “One should lift himself by himself”.
7-8 The Yogaroodha state is described in more detail in the Gita, (VI-4). When one
has total dispassion, when nothing is enticing to the Yogi, when his mind is totally available
for the Sadhana under his Guru, then he is said to be in the Yogarudha state. Acquiring the
Sadhana Chatushtaya is a prerequisite to come to the Yogarudha state. From the Yogarudha
state one can begin serious Sadhana.

7
Verse 10: Start With Karma Yoga

xɳrÉxrÉ xÉuÉïMüqÉÉïÍhÉ pÉuÉoÉlkÉÌuÉqÉÑ£ürÉå |


rÉirÉiÉÉÇ mÉÎhQûiÉækÉÏïUæUÉiqÉÉprÉÉxÉ EmÉÎxjÉiÉæÈ || 10||

1 sannyasya sarva karmaani Renouncing all actions motivated by desires, for the
2 bhava-bandha vimuktaye; sake of liberation from the bonds of birth and death,
3 yatyataam pandhitaih dheeraih may the wise and learned man put forth effort
4 aatma abhyaasa upasthitaih. in the practice of remaining firmly in the Self.

1-4 The best starting point on the spiritual path is declared to be Karma Yoga. The
Bhagavad Geeta also verifies this. Lord Krishna repeatedly requests Arjuna to stick to the
practice of Karma Yoga to begin with.
Karma Yoga provides all the opportunities to chisel out the sharp edges of our
personality. The spirit of this instruction is that the whole mind needs to be fully focused to
pursue this path. Presently, the focus of the aspirant would most likely be his duties at work
and at home. “Sannyasa” here should not be taken to mean donning the ochre robes. It
means giving up self-centred actions.
Through Karma Yoga, the mind is gradually made introverted to search within, and
to abide within the Self. Only when this is substantially achieved, does the practice become
predominantly internal. Sri Shankaracharyaji rapidly covers the ground of Karma Yoga in this
text as he is very anxious to get going with his main subject, Viveka or Discrimination, also
called Atma Abhyasa here, meaning abidance in the Self.

Verse 11: Karma Yoga Brings the Purity

ÍcɨÉxrÉ zÉÑ®rÉå MüqÉï lÉ iÉÑ uÉxiÉÔmÉsÉokÉrÉå |


uÉxiÉÑÍxÉήÌuÉïcÉÉUåhÉ lÉ ÌMüÎgcÉiMüqÉïMüÉåÌOûÍpÉÈ || 11||
1 chittasya shuddhaye karma Charitable acts help to purify the mind,
2 na tu vastu upalabdhaye; but do not lead to the attainment of Reality.
3 vastu siddhih vichaarena The Self is attained only by discriminative analysis,
4 na kinchit karma kotibhih. and not in the least by crores of actions.

1-2 The above message is made absolutely clear now: No amount of action alone can
bring us the jewel of liberation.
The point to note is that Karma Yoga should not be relegated to a low level as a
result of this verse, but seen in the context of its rightful place in the overall context of
spiritual life. The preparatory value of Karma Yoga should never be under-rated.
3-4 At the same time, Shankaracharyaji always reminds us of the limitations of
Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga is not an alternative to applying one’s pure intellect to
discriminative analysis. There is no doubt about this.
In order to make sure that he gets his message across, Shankaracharyaji emphatically
concludes the verse with – “not even through crores of good actions.”

8
Verse 12: The World for What it Is

xÉqrÉÎauÉcÉÉUiÉÈ ÍxÉ®É U‹ÑiɨuÉÉuÉkÉÉUhÉÉ |


pÉëÉlirÉÉååÌSiÉ qÉWûÉxÉmÉïpÉrÉSÒÈZÉÌuÉlÉÉÍzÉlÉÏ || 12||

1 samyag vichaaratah siddhaa Only through steady and balanced thinking, is gained
2 rajjutattva avadhaaranaa; the ascertainment of the truth of the “rope”, by which
3 bhraanti-udita mahaa sarpa the delusion-created, terrifying snake
4 bhaya duhkha vinaashinee. of fear and sorrow is destroyed.

Verse 13: The Seeker Cannot Avoid Self-Enquiry

AjÉïxrÉ ÌlɶÉrÉÉå SعÉå ÌuÉcÉÉUåhÉ ÌWûiÉÉåÌ£üiÉÈ |


lÉ xlÉÉlÉålÉ lÉ SÉlÉålÉ mÉëÉhÉÉrÉqÉzÉiÉålÉ uÉÉ || 13||
5 arthasya nishchayah drishhtah The conviction of the Reality is seen
6 vichaarena hita-uktitah; by enquiry along the lines advised by the wise;
7 na snaanena na daanena and not by sacred baths, nor any amount of charity,
8 praanaayama shatena vaa. nor even hundreds of Pranayamas;

1-4 To get rid of this delusion we do not need more actions, but only to make an
enquiry, directly facing the ‘snake’ (the world of experience). Then it vanishes altogether.
5-6 There is a strong tendency in man to get ‘stuck’ to outer practices and perform
them mechanically without the inner feeling that is primary. When the time is ripe for it, we
need to give up all these and use intellectual enquity with greater purpose.
7-8 Vedanta is not against any of these practices. The only purpose of these lines is
to draw attention to the true need. In the case of Pranayama, its central purpose in Yoga is
to bring the mind to a quietened state called Yogarudha. As a Sadhana, there is no other
need for it. Sri Shankaracharya himself has on numerous occasions practised these.

The Summary of Renunciation of Actions


When a great work is tackled, the preparation for it takes most of the time. So it is
with Self-enquiry. The steps of Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana require enormous focus.
All other activities are requested to be given up. If this reason is not understood correctly,
active people do not welcome such suggestions, and the lazy ones simply love them!
The central guideline here is: If it is only for personal pleasure, then give it up.
Desire-prompted activity must yield first. It is wrong to call this “Abandoning one’s duty”. In
actual fact, it just drops off on its own when the desire for God gets intense. That is the
correct way to look at these verses.
Up to this point we have been seeing the need to adopt Enquiry as our primary
means to attain liberation. With that objective now driven home, the Teacher proceeds
further. He shifts the focus to the readiness of the student for the Sadhana that lies ahead.

9
Verse 14: Success Depends on Qualifications

AÍkÉMüÉËUhÉqÉÉzÉÉxiÉå TüsÉÍxÉήÌuÉïzÉåwÉiÉÈ |
EmÉÉrÉÉ SåzÉMüÉsÉɱÉÈ xÉlirÉÎxqÉlxÉWûMüÉËUhÉÈ || 14||
1 adhikaarinam aashaaste Upon the primary qualifications in a seeker depends
2 phalasiddhih visheshhatah; the ultimate success of all his spiritual endeavours.
3 upaayaa deshakaalaadyaah Other means such as place and time, etc., do have a
4 santyasminsahakaarinah. place, but they are essentially secondary.

This is a huge clarification, as there is so large a tendency for students on this path to
blame their lack of success to outer things, invariably the Guru and his Ashram! Sri
Shankaracharya is well aware of this tendency, and wisely places the onus squarely on the
shoulders of the student himself.
1-2 Only the primary factor can give us the guarantee of success. Overriding all other
factors in one’s Sadhana is the qualification of the student. We ourselves as Sadhakas are
the direct cause of our success or failure.
3-4 Everything else is to be regarded as secondary. The student has to take full
responsibility for his growth on this path. No one else and nothing else is to be blamed.
There are no scapegoats for difficulties that may arise in one’s Sadhana.
Even the texts we study are part of the package of secondary factors. In themselves
they do not give us the guarantee that we will succeed.

The Story of Indra & Virochana


Acharyaji told us the story of Indra and Virochana. Both were given a chance to do
their Sadhana in Heaven. Can one ever hope for a more conducive environment? Both
learned under Lord Brahma Himself. Can one ever hope for a greater Guru? Yet, each
disciple came back with differing results. Indra succeeded due to his correct attitude. But
Virochana came back the same ‘idiot’ that he was, because he never relinquished the idea
that he was only the body.

Verse 15: Enquiry & Correct Guidance Needed

AiÉÉå ÌuÉcÉÉUÈ MüiÉïurÉÉå ÎeÉ¥ÉÉxÉÉåUÉiqÉuÉxiÉÑlÉÈ ||


xÉqÉÉxÉɱ SrÉÉÍxÉlkÉÑÇ aÉÑÂÇ oÉë¼ÌuÉSÒ¨ÉqÉqÉç || 15||

1 atah vichaarah kartavyah Therefore, deep Self-enquiry must be made


2 jijnaasoh aatma vastunah; by the true seeker regarding the Reality of the Self.
3 samaasaadya dayaasindhum Then by all means approach the ocean of kindness, the
4 gurum brahmaviduttamam. Guru, who is the best among the knowers of the Self.

1-2 “Learn to enquire”. Hard work and steadiness is what is called for. There are no
‘short-cuts’ on this path.
3-4 This puts an end to the myth that the disciple can simply lean on the greatness of
his Guru to achieve success on the path.
10
There is no magical ‘touch’ which will send the disciple into ecstacy. All such ideas
have to be given up. The kindness of the Guru is defined as “causeless compassion to all”. It
is not tainted by worldly ideas of kindness. The saint acts with compassion for all. There is
no favour in his outlook for any selected disciples. His kindness is not to be judged by our
relative standards.
In short, do not go to a Guru to ask for ordinary favours. Ask only for Knowledge.

Verse 16: Retentive Power & Ability to Defend Ideas

qÉåkÉÉuÉÏ mÉÑÂwÉÉå ÌuɲÉlÉÔWûÉmÉÉåWûÌuÉcɤÉhÉÈ |


AÍkÉMüÉrÉÉïiqÉÌuɱÉrÉÉqÉÑ£üsɤÉhÉsÉͤÉiÉÈ || 16||

1 medhaavee purushho vidvaan A man who has a retentive memory and is learned,
2 oohaapoha vichakshhanah; capable of clear analysis and having argument skills,
3 adhikaari aatmavidyaayaam is deemed a fit person for this knowledge of the Self,
4 ukta lakshhana lakshhitah. for he has the above-mentioned qualifications.

1-2 The word Medha may be translated as “memory”, but it does not necessarily
mean prodigious memory for memorizing verses, although Vedanta teachers do ask one to
do that if students are young and have the ability. The real meaning of Medha is that the
student should be able to retain within his intellect the concepts taught in class so that the
teacher does not have to go on repeating them as he builds up the structure of logic in the
disciple.
A basic application of the intellect on any secular science is therefore considered as a
pre-qualification for a student. It shows that some ability is there for intellectual grasping of
concepts. This path of enquiry demands a high level of intellectual ability. The Sadhana itself
develops that. The practice of Brahmacharya also ensures these conditions.
Another useful aid in playing the role of a teacher is to be able to present one’s
argument logically so that false arguments may be countered by good arguments. This is a
very helpful secondary qualification, not a primary one.
3-4 One who possesses such qualifications is deemed to be fit to be a disciple.

*****

11
1.4 QUALIFICATIONS of DISCIPLE & GURU
(Verses 17-32a, 15 No.)

FOUR QUALIFICATIONS HAVE been formulated by the great Vedanta Acharyas. They
are the result of the practical experiences encountered by them over many centuries. They
enquired into what the Upanishadic Rishis expected of their students. After gathering all the
related facts, they formulated SADHANA CHATUSHTAYA – the four basic steps that prepare
a student for the practice of Vedantic Sadhana.
The sequence is carefully selected. They reflect the order of priority of the four
steps, each one logically following from the previous step.

Vedanta Acharyas are quiet confident that in the presence of


these qualifications, realization is certain; and in their absence, it is
impossible.

This is the scientific basis why some students succeed and others do not. There is
nothing personal in this. Each student ensures his own success, or is responsible for his own
failure.

Verse 17: The Fourfold Qualifications

ÌuÉuÉåÌMülÉÉå ÌuÉU£üxrÉ zÉqÉÉÌSaÉÑhÉzÉÉÍsÉlÉÈ |


qÉÑqÉѤÉÉåUåuÉ ÌWû oÉë¼ÎeÉ¥ÉÉxÉÉrÉÉåarÉiÉÉ qÉiÉÉ || 17||

1 vivekinah viraktasya A man of discrimination and detachment;


2 shamaadi guna shaalinah; endowed with qualities such as calmness, etc.,
3 mumukshhoh eva hi brahma- with a burning desire for liberation – he indeed is
4 jijnaasaa yogyataa mataa. considered to be fit for enquiry into the Reality.

Verse 18: The Conditions for Success & Failure

xÉÉkÉlÉÉlrÉ§É cÉiuÉÉËU MüÍjÉiÉÉÌlÉ qÉlÉÏÌwÉÍpÉÈ |


rÉåwÉÑ xÉixuÉåuÉ xÉÍ³É¸É rÉSpÉÉuÉå lÉ ÍxÉkrÉÌiÉ || 18||

1 saadhanaani atra chatvaari The Fourfold Means (Sadhana Chatushtaya) is here


2 kathitaani maneeshhibhih; prescribed by the wise, experienced teachers.
3 yeshhu satsu eva sannishhthaa Only in their presence can one succeed on this path;
4 yadabhaave na sidhyati. and if they are absent, failure is certain.

12
Verse 19: What are the Four Means?

AÉSÉæ ÌlÉirÉÉÌlÉirÉuÉxiÉÑÌuÉuÉåMüÈ mÉËUaÉhrÉiÉå |


CWûÉqÉѧÉTüsÉpÉÉåaÉÌuÉUÉaÉxiÉSlÉliÉUqÉç |
zÉqÉÉÌSwÉOèMüxÉqmĘ́É-
qÉÑïqÉѤÉÑiuÉÍqÉÌiÉ xTÑüOûqÉç || 19||
aadau nitya-anitya vastu i) First comes the Discrimination between the Real
1 vivekah pariganyate; and the unreal;
iha amutra phala bhoga ii) here and hereafter, from the enjoyment of fruits of
2 viraagah tadanantaram; actions, to have a spirit of Detachment; after that
3 shamaadi shhatka sampattih iii) the Sixfold Virtues such as Sama, Dama, etc; and
4 mumukshhutvam iti sphutam. iv) lastly, a burning Desire for liberation. This is clear.

Verse 20: 1. VIVEKA

oÉë¼ xÉirÉÇ eÉaÉÎlqÉjrÉåirÉåuÉÇÃmÉÉå ÌuÉÌlɶÉrÉÈ |


xÉÉåÅrÉÇ ÌlÉirÉÉÌlÉirÉuÉxiÉÑÌuÉuÉåMüÈ xÉqÉÑSÉ™iÉÈ || 20||

1 brahma satyam jaganmithyaa – “Brahman alone is real; the world is unreal” –


2 iti evam roopah vinishchayah; when this conclusion becomes a firm conviction;
3 sah ayam nitya-anitya vastu Such discrimination between the Real and Unreal
4 vivekah samudaahritah. is considered to be Viveka.

In Viveka Choodamani, as compared with the basic text Tattva Bodha, the author
takes the definition of Viveka a notch further.
In Tattva Bodha, the discrimination was between the “permanent and the
impermanent”. Hearing this, a seeker may still feel drawn to them – “So what if they are
impermanent; at least they are there to be enjoyed.”
In Viveka Choodamani, the word used is Mithya or ‘false’. If a thing is seen as false
there is smaller chance of desire arising for it. Acharyaji gave the example of a fruit basket
on a coffee table in the lounge. When it is known that they are made of plastic, there is no
desire for them.

Verse 21: 2. VAIRAAGYA

iɲæUÉarÉÇ ÎeÉWûÉxÉÉ rÉÉ SzÉïlÉ´ÉuÉhÉÉÌSÍpÉÈ |


SåWûÉÌSoÉë¼mÉrÉïliÉå ½ÌlÉirÉå pÉÉåaÉuÉxiÉÑÌlÉ || 21||

1 tad vairaagyam jihaasaa yaa Vairagya is defined as – “The desire to give up


2 darshana shravana aadibhih; the seeing, hearing, etc,
3 dehaadi brahma paryante from the mortal body right up to the world of Brahma,
4 hi anitye bhogavastuni. of all objects of enjoyment as they are merely transient.”

13
1 The word used for giving up is Jihaasaa (some even use the word Jugupsa, which
includes the suggestion “with revulsion”). We are attracted to pleasures because we do not
see any faults in them. But the moment they are viewed as repulsive, we do not hanker
after them. This is what the author is seeking to instill in the student’s mind – revulsion.
There is a verse often quoted by Vedanta Acharyas which means:
“If Vairagya cannot come after seeing the complete contents of our own body,
what else has to be done to teach one to acquire dispassion!”
2 What is meant by “giving up”? There are no loopholes in the interpretation. It is
clear that all sensory contact through all the five senses is included. One cannot say, “I will
give them up mentally, but enjoy them physically!”
3 The range of objects to be given up is the full spectrum – from the body to the
objects in the furthest Heaven, viz. Brahmaloka.
4 The reason for giving them up is also included: “They are Anitya, or transient”.

Verse 22: 3.1 SHAMA

ÌuÉUerÉ ÌuÉwÉrÉuÉëÉiÉɬÉåwÉSØwšÉ qÉÑWÒûqÉÑïWÒûÈ |


xuÉsɤrÉå ÌlÉrÉiÉÉuÉxjÉÉ qÉlÉxÉÈ zÉqÉ EcrÉiÉå || 22||
1 virajya vishhaya vraataad Detached from the chaos of sense objects,
doshha drishhtyaa through a process of continuous observation of
2
muhurmuhuh; their defects again and again;
3 svalakshhye niyata avasthaa resting constantly in contemplation of the Goal –
4 manasah shama uchyate. such a mind is described as being in Shama.

2 The “continuous observation of their defects” is necessary as it is the only real way
of making the mind disenchanted with the sense pleasures. It forms a mental check against
being drawn to them. Muhur-Muhur means “again and again”. The mind is tutored to
repeatedly withdraw from objects. Why?
3-4 It is made to attach itself to the Self, and find its peace there.

Verse 23: 3.2 DAMA & 3.3 UPARATI

ÌuÉwÉrÉåprÉÈ mÉUÉuÉirÉï xjÉÉmÉlÉÇ xuÉxuÉaÉÉåsÉMåü |


EpÉrÉåwÉÉÍqÉÎlSìrÉÉhÉÉÇ xÉ SqÉÈ mÉËUMüÐÌiÉïiÉÈ |
oÉɽÉlÉÉsÉqoÉlÉÇ uÉרÉåUåwÉÉåmÉUÌiɨÉqÉÉ || 23||
1 vishhayebhyah paraavartya Turning back from the sense objects and
2 sthaapanam svasvagolake; placing, in their respective centres of activity,
3 ubhayeshhaam indriyaanaam both kinds of senses (of knowledge and of action) –
4 sa damah parikeertitah; this is declared to be Dama or self-control.

5 baahya anaalambanam vritteh Freeing the thoughts from the influence of objects,
6 eshha uparatih uttamaa. this is the highest form of Uparati (self-withdrawal)

14
2 Swa-Swa Golaka translates as “in their respective centres”, that is, the gates are
closed on the senses from running outwards. They are told to sit still. That is Dama.
5-6 Uparati was defined as “adhering to one’s own duties” in Tattva Bodha. Now it is
taken to first principles as “free from the influence of external objects”.
In general, we see that each step of the Sadhana is being taken a notch further in
this book. The same author is now drawing in the rope on the senses!

Verse 24: 3.4 TITIKSHAA

xÉWûlÉÇ xÉuÉïSÒÈZÉÉlÉÉqÉmÉëiÉÏMüÉUmÉÔuÉïMüqÉç |
ÍcÉliÉÉÌuÉsÉÉmÉUÌWûiÉÇ xÉÉ ÌiÉÌiɤÉÉ ÌlÉaɱiÉå || 24||

1 sahanam sarva duhkhaanaam Endurance of all sorrows and suffering,


2 aprateekaara-poorvakam; without struggling for redress or revenge,
3 chintaa-vilaa-parahitam and free always from anxiety and lament –
4 saa titikshhaa nigadyate. that is proclaimed to be Titiksha (Endurance).

1 Whilst pleasure is considered to be the main cause of distraction (from the Self),
pain and sorrow is equally distracting, and needs to be addressed.
Vedanta’s answer to pain and sorrow is Titiksha, development of the ability to bear
pain or sorrow. “What cannot be cured has to be endured.” This applies to all the three
types of sorrows we have learned in Tattva Bodha (Adhyatmic, Adhibhautic, and Adhidaivic).
2-3 To grasp the attitude towards this pain, the author adds two points: there should
be no thought of seeking redress or revenge for such pain, and it should be borne with a
stout heart. We have to learn to choose our battles in life – rather use the same energy for
the greater internal battles with the mind.
Acharyaji teased the South Indian way of expressing reaction to pain. “They utter
‘Ayo!’ for any pain. And if the pain is increased, it becomes ‘Ayoyo’!”

Verse 25: 3.5 SHRADDHAA

zÉÉx§ÉxrÉ aÉÑÂuÉÉYrÉxrÉ xÉirÉoÉÑSèkrÉuÉkÉÉUhÉqÉç |


xÉÉ ´É®É MüÍjÉiÉÉ xÉΰrÉïrÉÉ uÉxiÉÔmÉsÉprÉiÉå || 25||

1 shaastrasya guru-vaakyasya The scriptural texts and the words of the Guru,
2 satya buddhi avadhaaranam; understanding readily their exact import –
3 saa shraddhaa kathitaa sadbhir that is said to be Shraddhaa by the wise.
4 yayaa vastu upalabhyate. By it the Reality can be attained.

In this verse Shankaracharyaji puts a crown on Shraddha or faith.


Faith is that through which the Vastu (“thing to be attained”) is reached. What is
generally called ‘blind faith’ is actually ‘belief that is pending discovery’. In any field of study
we see this pattern. The chemistry teacher says water is H2O, and no one questions it. When

15
we were young we accepted these things without question because we got 2 marks for it! In
Vedanta for such acceptance the prize is even greater – one can get liberation for it!
We start with faith and end with firm conviction after the necessary enquiry is
complete. Let us not shun faith; it is what gives us the confidence to go further.
In secular sciences we can verify facts by referring to textbooks. In spiritual science,
we do not have that facility. We have to have faith.
In secular science if there are differences of opinion, the later version is taken as
superceding the previous. In spiritual science, the Guru’s instruction has to be taken as the
“latest” version, which overrides all previous versions. That much of faith is needed.

Verse 26: 3.6 SAMAADHAANAM

xÉuÉïSÉ xjÉÉmÉlÉÇ oÉÑ®åÈ zÉÑ®å oÉë¼ÍhÉ xÉuÉïSÉ |


iÉixÉqÉÉkÉÉlÉÍqÉirÉÑ£Çü lÉ iÉÑ ÍcɨÉxrÉ sÉÉsÉlÉqÉç || 26||
1 sarvadaa sthaapanam buddheh Always engaging one’s intellect
2 shuddhe brahmani sarvadaa; in the pure Brahman under all conditions –
3 tat samaadhaanam iti uktam is said to be Samaadhaanam.
4 na tu chittasya laalanam. Indeed, it is a mind free of all oscillations.

1-2 A literal translation of Samaadhaana gives us: “Firmly placing our intellect on the
pure Brahman always.”
4 Laalanam: This is an interesting word in the verse, translated as “oscillations”. The
literal meaning is “the play we have with children”. With children we often act in the way
they do, becoming like them just for fun. Here the author tells us never to do the same with
our intellect. Never pamper the intellect. We should not take the intellect lightly. Never
entertain fancies that come to it from the un-sifted mental mass.

Verse 27: 4. MUMUKSHUTVA

AWûƒ¡ûÉUÉÌSSåWûÉliÉÉlÉç oÉlkÉÉlÉ¥ÉÉlÉMüÎsmÉiÉÉlÉç |
xuÉxuÉÃmÉÉuÉoÉÉåkÉålÉ qÉÉå£ÑüÍqÉcNûÉ qÉÑqÉѤÉÑiÉÉ || 27||

1 ahangkaaraadi dehaantaan From ego-sense right down to the body-idea,


2 bandha anajnaana kalpitaan; all bondages are created by ignorance.
3 svasvaroopaavabodhena By the knowledge of one’s own real nature,
moktum to be freed from these (bondages) –
4 ichchhaa mumukshhutaa. such a desire is called Mumukshutva.

1-2 Release from what? We all wish to be released from our sorrows. The difference
between the spiritual student and others is that the former seeks this release internally.
Others may complain, winge, and cry out for changes to their environment.
3-4 Not so the aspirant. He aims to liberate himself from within – the only liberation
that is lasting and worthwhile.

16
DISCUSSION ON SHAD SAMPATI

Verse 28: 5. The Place of GRACE

qÉlSqÉkrÉqÉÃmÉÉÌmÉ uÉæUÉarÉåhÉ zÉqÉÉÌSlÉÉ |


mÉëxÉÉSålÉ aÉÑUÉåÈ xÉårÉÇ mÉëuÉ×®É xÉÔrÉiÉå TüsÉqÉç || 28||

1 manda madhyama roopaa api Even though it (Mumukshutva) is dull or mediocre,


2 vairaagyena shamaadinaa; by dispassion and by the sixfold virtues,
3 prasaadena guroh sah iyam and by the Grace of the Guru, it can be
4 pravriddhaa sooyate phalam. increased and be made to bear fruit.

1 Half-hearted and mediocre requests to God are also accepted. Acharyaji gave us a
humorous example. A child in the class raises his finger to go to the toilet. The teacher is
very familiar with this scenario, so he refuses at first. After a few minutes, up go two fingers,
and he can see the call is desperate. Then the teacher permits the child to go. In the same
way, our call to God has to be desperate – three fingers may be needed at times!
Such are the loving ways of Acharyaji to deepen our love for God.
2-4 The aspirant should never feel dejected that his aspiration is not strong enough.
Acharyaji said, “Never feel that you are not cut out for the spiritual path. Make yourself cut
out for it. This verse and the next compassionately indicate the way in which the half-
hearted and mediocre aspirations can be made intense. It is indicated in the next verse…
Others ask, “Why have the problems come to ME?” The aspirant asks, “Why have
they come?” He seeks the root cause and eliminates it. Unless this approach is there, we will
always seek outside for solutions, and get nowhere.

Verse 29: The Primary Qualifications

uÉæUÉarÉÇ cÉ qÉÑqÉѤÉÑiuÉÇ iÉÏuÉëÇ rÉxrÉ iÉÑ ÌuɱiÉå |


iÉÎxqɳÉåuÉÉjÉïuÉliÉÈ xrÉÑÈ TüsÉuÉliÉÈ zÉqÉÉSrÉÈ || 29||
vairaagyam cha The spirit of Renunciation and
1 mumukshhutvam a Yearning for liberation of an
2 teevram yasya tu vidyate; intense type – he in whom these are present,
3 tasmin eva arthavantah syuh in him alone shall become meaningful and
4 phalavantah shamaadayah. fruitful all the sixfold virtues.

Three sequential steps are involved here:


A: Vairagya (which includes Viveka). 1a We must learn to ‘find faults in pleasures’.
This is one type of fault-finding we are permitted to have. Do “Japa” of these defects! Instill
in the mind that they are unreal.
B: Shamadi (Shat Sampat), the “sixfold virtues”. 4 Acharyaji gave each student a
Sadhana Chart to fill in regularly. It is like a spiritual diary to record our progress in

17
developing the sixfold virtues. We are to maintain it regularly. The Chart represents
Acharyaji’s love and concern for our spiritual growth.
If we obey the Guru’s instructions in this regard, we obtain his compassion and
Grace. Of God’s many Hands, the Guru is a special one among them. It is the one He uses to
place on our head to bless us. We cannot imagine how much God wishes for the student’s
success, but through the Guru, we can feel His warm hand of encouragement on our head.
When parents wish to encourage their children, they invariably stroke them over the
head or face, or tap them on the shoulder!
C: Mumukshutwa, 1b burning desire for liberation.
Acharyaji here made an interesting insight into the relationship between these
three. He said that A makes B easier to develop, and B leads the way for C to increase. We
can measure in our hearts whether we have A and C, but B is very hard to measure.
However, by noting A and C (which is what this verse and the previous are indicating), we
can infer how we are faring with B.

Verse 30: In the Absence of the Essentials

LiÉrÉÉåqÉïlSiÉÉ rÉ§É ÌuÉU£üiuÉqÉÑqÉѤÉrÉÉåÈ |


qÉUÉæ xÉÍsÉsÉuÉ¨É§É zÉqÉÉSåpÉÉïlÉqÉɧÉiÉÉ || 30||

1 etayoh mandataa yatra Wherever these two are of a dull type, i.e.
2 viraktatva mumukshhayoh; Dispassion and Yearning for liberation,
3 marau salilavat tatra there, like the mirage-water in a desert,
4 shamaadeh bhaanamaatrataa. the six virtues only become appearances.

Verses 28, 29 and 30 teach the importance of Vairagya and Mumukshutwa for God.
1-4 In a battery, A and C are the terminals and B is the battery acid inside. To check
whether the battery is alive or dead, we simply connect a lamp to the two terminals. If it
glows, we know the battery is working; if it is dull, it means the battery is flat.
Similarly, A and C (Vairagya and Mumukshutva) are weak, then B (Shat Sampat) will
only be a mirage. A mirage is only an appearance of water, not actual water. There will be
no substance in B. It is not uncommon to see this in practice. Aspirants who are short on A
and C, are more likely to make B into a show of the six virtues.

Verse 31: 6. The Place of BHAKTI

qÉÉå¤ÉMüÉUhÉxÉÉqÉaêrÉÉÇ pÉÌ£üUåuÉ aÉUÏrÉxÉÏ |


xuÉxuÉÃmÉÉlÉÑxÉlkÉÉlÉÇ pÉÌ£üËUirÉÍpÉkÉÏrÉiÉå || 31||

1 mokshha-kaarana-saamagryaam Among the ingredients necessary for liberation,


2 bhaktih eva gareeyasee; Devotion alone is the most important.
3 svasvaroopa anusandhaanam Constant attempt to live up to one’s Real nature
4 bhaktih iti abhidheeyate. is designated as Bhakti.

18
1-4 This verse first of all assumes that A, B and C as outlined above are in place in the
aspirant, that is, he has Vairagya, the Shat Sampat and Mumukshutva. Beyond these, what
would be the single most important factor that would take the seeker to the Goal?
The answer to this question is BHAKTI.

SHANKARACHARYA UNFAIRLY CHARGED

There is a controversy about Shankaracharyaji’s use of the word ‘BHAKTI’. Vested


interests of the Bhakti path proclaim that Shankaracharya is trying to entice their followers
by making this claim. However, it is purely from the point of view of their worldly interests
and no more. Shankaracharya defines Bhakti from the Vedantic perspective, and this in
essence is not in conflict with the definition for Bhakti by the Bhakti schools of thought.
The definition is: “Bhakti is a constant and consistent effort to raise the ego-centre
from its welter of false values to the memory and dignity of Self-hood” – Swami
Chinmayanandaji.
Spiritually, there is no flaw in this definition, as it aims to bring the aspirant to a
state of oneness with the Self, which is the essence of Love or Bhakti. The Vedantic term for
it is Nididhyasana. This Bhakti is founded on Knowledge as obtained during Sravana and is
the basic Vedantic Sadhana.
The malpractices arising within the Bhakti field come under criticism using this pure
definition. There is no room for “intellectual slavery” in Shankaracharya’s view. The
Vedantin’s Bhakti does not render him helpless to use his intellect to grasp the truth about
the delusion of Maya. For this reason, many of the slavish attitudes in vogue at the time
amongst the practitioners of Bhakti is quiet rightly not encouraged by Shankaracharyaji.
Vedanta makes full use of the intellect for the great purpose it was created, which is to
enquire deeply into the nature of one’s true Self. An intellect devoted to the Self, is capable
of the purest form of Bhakti!

Verse 32a: Bhakti Inseparable from Self-Knowledge

xuÉÉiqÉiɨuÉÉlÉÑxÉlkÉÉlÉÇ pÉÌ£üËUirÉmÉUå eÉaÉÑÈ | || 32.1||

1 svaatma tattva anusandhaanam Constant enquiry into the Real nature of one’s Self
2 bhaktih iti apare jaguh; is declared by others as defining Bhakti.

Verse 32 is a little unusual. Not only has it got two distinct parts, but also the two
parts fall into two separate Chapters! The second part is placed in the next Chapter.
1-2 The Vedantic definition for Bhakti was ‘Swa-Swaroopa Anusandhanam’. Now
the Bhakti Yoga definition is subtly different: ‘Swa-Atmatattva Anusandhanam’. In the case
of the former, knowledge (Sravana) has been received first, and so the nature of the Self is
known intellectually before the Vedantic meditation begins. In the Bhakti Yoga case, the
knowledge of the Self comes as one does the devotional practices or Upasanas or worship
prescribed by the Bhakti school. There is no intention in Shankaracharyaji to make this
difference into a bone of contention between the two systems.

19
Example: Cash Payment or Hire Purchase
A simple example may help to understand this difference. If one wants to buy a car,
there are two methods he can adopt. He can earn all the money needed and then buy the
car for cash; or he can buy the car before having earned all the money and pay for it in
instalments over a period of some years. Vedanta is the first method, where one acquires all
the knowledge in advance. Bhakti is the second method, where the knowledge is gained in
instalments while doing the devotional practices.
The purpose of all this is to draw a comparison between Vedanta and Bhakti Yoga.
There is only a small technical difference. Sri Shankaracharya has used the term “Bhakti” as
an equivalent to what is normally called Vedantic enquiry. Enquiry is viewed as a form of
worship. Enquiry requires knowledge first, wheras worship does not. The two approaches
only start from different origins, but end at the same point, namely, complete union with
the Self, which is the culmination of Bhakti, whether Vedantic (Advaitic) or Dwaitic.

*****

20
1.5 APPROACHING ONE’S GURU
(Verse 32b-40, 9 No.)

VERSE 32 CONTINUES by introducing a totally different theme – the meeting of the


Master with his disciple. From here on, in nine exquisite verses of great poetic beauty, the
themes covered are:
i) The Guru: – what is it that makes him so sought after by an aspirant.
ii) The Disciple: – what openness and humility marks him out to receive the teaching.
iii) Their Sacred Relationship: The greatness of the love and devotion that is the basis
of the Guru-disciple relationship.
To Shankaracharyaji, this is something unimaginably sacred. Truly, Sri Shankara-
charyaji considers himself blessed to speak on behalf of both the Guru and the disciple on a
topic upon which hinges the perpetuation of a sacred Parampara on earth – an unbroken
lineage of realized sages that has preserved this great knowledge in India and the world.

Verse 32b: The Reason for Approaching a Guru

E£üxÉÉkÉlÉxÉqmɳÉxiɨuÉÎeÉ¥ÉÉxÉÑUÉiqÉlÉÈ |
EmÉxÉÏSåªÒÂÇ mÉëÉ¥ÉÇ rÉxqÉɯlkÉÌuÉqÉÉå¤ÉhÉqÉç || 32.2||

3 ukta saadhana sampannah One who has the above-mentioned qualifications


4 tattva jijnaasuh aatmanah; and is anxious to know the Self,
5 upaseeded gurum praajnam should approach a preceptor learned in this field,
6 yasmaad bandha vimokshhanam. by which (contact) one is released from bondage.

This is the second part of Verse 32. A new theme of approaching the Guru begins.
3-6 The focus is the approach of the disciple to his Guru, and the Guru’s response to
it. It forms a most revealing aspect of Vedantic discipleship. It is such a sensitive aspect that
Sri Shankaracharyaji very soon drops his intellectual pen and picks up the thread in some of
the most magnificent poetry written in Samskrit. The poet in the author comes to the fore in
dealing with the sheer beauty of the relationship between the Master and the truly yearning
disciple.

Verse 33: The Qualifications of a Guru

´ÉÉå̧ÉrÉÉåÅuÉ×ÎeÉlÉÉåÅMüÉqÉWûiÉÉå rÉÉå oÉë¼ÌuɨÉqÉÈ |


oÉë¼hrÉÑmÉUiÉÈ zÉÉliÉÉå ÌlÉËUlkÉlÉ CuÉÉlÉsÉÈ |
AWåûiÉÑMüSrÉÉÍxÉlkÉÑoÉïlkÉÑUÉlÉqÉiÉÉÇ xÉiÉÉqÉç || 33||
21
1 shrotriyah avrijinah akaama i) One well-versed in scriptures, sinless and unsmitten
2 hatah yah brahmavittamah; by desires; ii) who is a full knower of the Supreme,
3 brahmani uparatah shaantah abiding peacefully in the Supreme,
4 nirindhanah iva analah; like fire that is devoid of fuel; iii) who is an
5 ahetuka dayaa sindhuh ocean of mercy needing no cause for its expression;
6 bandhuh aanamataam sataam. and iv) is an intimate friend to the good and humble.

1-6 This verse provides the Guru Lakshana or the signs by which a Guru may be
recognised. The words of Gurudev, Swami Chinmayanandaji are themselves quoted here:
“Shankaracharyaji exhausts his list of adjectives in enumerating the qualities of the
true Guru. It is well-known that in all constitutions, laws are prescribed for both the
governers and the governed. Since this is a text laying down the rules for spiritual progress,
Shankaracharyaji is as vehement in prescribing the specifications for a true and honest
teacher as he is in describing the prerequisites for a true spiritual aspirant.”
Acharyaji himself in all humility could not dwell for too long on such a theme. “Who
am I to judge the Divine Teachers?” – with that he desisted from saying anything further,
allowing the greatness of the Guru as expressed in this verse, to go directly to our hearts. He
directed us to our role of perfecting our discipleship rather than judging the Guru. It was
most touching to feel with Acharyaji his reverence for this unique and delicate relationship.
And thus we pass one of the most comprehensive verses we are ever likely to find in
literature on the greatness of the Guru.

Verse 34: The Attitude of the Disciple

iÉqÉÉUÉkrÉ aÉÑÂÇ pÉYirÉÉ mÉëÀûmÉë´ÉrÉxÉåuÉlÉæÈ |


mÉëxɳÉÇ iÉqÉlÉÑmÉëÉmrÉ mÉ×cNåûe¥ÉÉiÉurÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ || 34||

1 tamaaraadhya gurum bhaktyaa Such a preceptor, when worshipped with devotion,


2 prahva prashraya sevanaih; when with surrender, humility and service
3 prasannam tam anupraapya he is pleased, he should be approached
4 prichchhet jnaatavyam aatmanah. and asked to explain that which has to be known.

1-2 After reaching such a Guru, what does the disciple do? He spends time to serve
him with humility and surrender at his holy feet. Living with such a high soul is itself an
education.
3-4 In due course, the student begins to understand and appreciate the great love
that his Guru always has for him. The student’s knots are untied. He opens himself to his
Guru. The Guru, too, has had time to observe the growth of his student. When the disciple
thus sees that the Guru is pleased, he chooses an appropriate moment to approach him . . .
“Guruji, can I ask something?”
“Yes, my child, what is it?”
And thus the most important dialogue ever in a disciple’s life is begun.

22
Verse 35: The Disciple’s Prayer

ÍzÉwrÉ EuÉÉcÉ |
xuÉÉÍqɳÉqÉxiÉå lÉiÉsÉÉåMüoÉlkÉÉå
MüÉÂhrÉÍxÉlkÉÉå mÉÌiÉiÉÇ pÉuÉÉokÉÉæ |
qÉÉqÉÑ®UÉiqÉÏrÉMüOûɤÉSØwšÉ
GeurÉÉÌiÉMüÉÂhrÉxÉÑkÉÉÍpÉuÉ×wšÉ || 35||

0 shishhya uvaacha; The Disciple says:


svaamin namah te O Master, salutation to Thee!
1 nata-lokabandhah O kinsman of those who surrender to Thee!
kaarunya-sindho patitam O Thou, the ocean of mercy to those
2 bhavaabdhau; fallen in the “Sea of Change”;
maam uddhara aatmeeya Save my soul; (even if it be only)
3 kataakshha drishhtyaa with a side-glance of Thy eyes,
rijvyaa ati kaarunya directed at me, full of compassion,
4 sudhaabhi vrishhtyaa. raining the nectarine Grace supreme.

1-2 The poetic shift is immediately palpable. We are in another realm altogether,
beyond that of the intellect. The disciple offers worship first.
3-4 Then, as though with some hesitation, he asks for something that would cause
least trouble to his Guru – just a passing glance of Grace!
What drives him to seek his Guru’s Grace? We shall see that and, more importantly,
the significance of the “nectarine rain of Grace” in the next verse.

Verse 36: His Painful Encounter in the World

SÒuÉÉïUxÉÇxÉÉUSuÉÉÎalÉiÉmiÉÇ
SÉåkÉÔrÉqÉÉlÉÇ SÒUSعuÉÉiÉæÈ |
pÉÏiÉÇ mÉëmɳÉÇ mÉËUmÉÉÌWû qÉ×irÉÉåÈ
zÉUhrÉqÉlrɱSWÇû lÉ eÉÉlÉå || 36||
durvaara samsaara I am being roasted in this changing world
1 davaagnitaptam as though by a blazing inferno;
dodhooyamaanam I am being tossed about
2 duradrishhtavaataih; by the cruel storms of misfortune;
bheetam prapannam I am terrified and I seek refuge in thee;
3 paripaahi mrityoh O Lord! Save me from the throes of death;
sharanyam anyad Thou art my safe refuge for shelter – a safer
4 yad aham na jaane. abode I know not.”

Owing to the urgency of the call for help, this verse is recited at almost twice the
normal speed to match the spirit of the disciple’s desperation. It also has a pulsating3
rhythm to it.
23
1-4 Most significant to all aspirants is his cry for help. He sends out an S.O.S. signal.
He sees himself hurled in the midst of an ocean. He is lost. There is a surge of fear in his
words. The only thing that will help his struggle is a compassionate glance from his Guru.
The disciple’s state may be compared with that of a person who has just suffered
from third degree burns being hastened to the emergency department in a hospital. There is
no time to waste. Such is the intensity of the disciple’s feeling to be liberated.
Acharyaji’s account tried to capture the poetry, too. “Misfortunes are rattling me,
they are violently shaking me. It is as though Fire is picking me up and hurling me back into
the fire! Now I am getting frightened. I surrender completely to thee. Save me! Another
refuge I do not know. I seek refuge in thee to free me from this blazing fire.”
Now we can understand why he described, in the previous verse, the Guru’s glance
as being ‘nectarine rain’. Feeling worldly existence as a blazing inferno in which he is
roasting, a Monsoonal rain of Grace alone would bring relief to him. Poetry alone can
express this.
The Guru is held in the highest esteem here. The disciple is not begging him for
anything selfish. He seeks liberation – that which the Guru is most delighted to deliver, for it
is that alone which has brought Guru and disciple together by God’s mysterious Hand.
Acharyaji prayerfully ended with a line brimming with gratitude: “May the Guru help
us, too! How can we leave such a teacher? Leave him and know that spiritual death is
certain.”

Verse 37: Acknowledging the Goodness of Saints

zÉÉliÉÉ qÉWûÉliÉÉå ÌlÉuÉxÉÎliÉ xÉliÉÉå


uÉxÉliÉuÉssÉÉåMüÌWûiÉÇ cÉUliÉÈ |
iÉÏhÉÉïÈ xuÉrÉÇ pÉÏqÉpÉuÉÉhÉïuÉÇ
eÉlÉÉlÉWåûiÉÑlÉÉlrÉÉlÉÌmÉ iÉÉUrÉliÉÈ || 37||
shaantaah mahaantah Peaceful and magnanimous
1 nivasanti santah are the lives of saintly souls.
vasantavat Like the spring season,
2 lokahitam charantah; they live only for the good of humanity.
teernaah svayam They have by their own efforts crossed over
3 bheemabhavaarnavam the dreadfully vast ocean of Samsara.
janaan ahetunaa anyaan api Now, with no ulterior motive,
4 taarayantah. they help other people also to cross over.

The disciple has approached the Guru, and now Sri Shankaracharyaji has his chance
to extol the Guru. His heart overflows with the remembrance of his own Guru.
1a There is a calmness and peacefulness about the Guru, free from all agitation.
1b He is non-judgmental, accepting, open to all who come to him with sincere
yearning. Magnanimous sums up his personality.
2 They are like the spring season for the good of humanity. In spring everything looks
so fresh – even the grass stretches itself tall and smiles to all. The grasshoppers prance

24
about in joy. All nature seems to be celebrating. To such a fresh and cool season is the
Guru’s temperament compared.
3-4 They have been through the mill, as it were, and are now ready to help others to
cross the dangerous chasm of worldly pitfalls. A tribute is paid to the “Guru” in the
Mahatma. How caring he can be to young seekers! The Guru is completely selfless in
assisting other seekers. There are no strings attached to his service of them. Indeed, such
Masters are very rare.

Verse 38: The Service Rendered by the Guru

ArÉÇ xuÉpÉÉuÉÈ xuÉiÉ LuÉ rÉiÉç


mÉU´ÉqÉÉmÉlÉÉåSmÉëuÉhÉÇ qÉWûÉiqÉlÉÉqÉç |
xÉÑkÉÉÇzÉÑUåwÉ xuÉrÉqÉMïüMüMïüzÉ-
mÉëpÉÉÍpÉiÉmiÉÉqÉuÉÌiÉ Í¤ÉÌiÉÇ ÌMüsÉ || 38||

1 ayam svabhaavah svatah eva yat Indeed, it is their natural nature to be so –


parashramaapana udapravanam to remove the troubles of others is the
2 mahaatmanaam; inclination of magnanimous souls;
sudhaamshuh eshha svayam The moon is seen to express its own nature:
3 arkakarkasha- prabhaabhi taptaam Scorched by the flaming rays of the sun,
4 avati kshhitim kila. the earth is cooled by the moon, is it not?

Another beautiful simile is used to describe the soothing, calming influence of the
Guru – the moon. The disciple’s predicament has been described as “being scorched by
fire”. What better antidote for his pain than the cooling comfort provided by the moon!
A quote from Swami Chinmayanandaji himself was read out in class, as they were
unmatched in their beauty: “A man of full realization instinctively becomes a lover of the
whole universe. He may dwell in a cave in the Himalayas or he may walk about in the
market-place – wherever he be, irresistibly, instinctively, he will spread around him an aura
of knowledge, light, cheer, joy and peace. It is his very nature.”

Verse 39: The Soothing Words of the Guru

oÉë¼ÉlÉlSUxÉÉlÉÑpÉÔÌiÉMüÍsÉiÉæÈ mÉÔiÉæÈ xÉÑzÉÏiÉærÉÑïiÉæ-


rÉÑïwqɲɂüsÉzÉÉåÎefÉiÉæÈ ´ÉÑÌiÉxÉÑZÉæuÉÉïYrÉÉqÉ×iÉæÈ xÉåcÉrÉ |
xÉliÉmiÉÇ pÉuÉiÉÉmÉSÉuÉSWûlÉeuÉÉsÉÉÍpÉUålÉÇ mÉëpÉÉå
kÉlrÉÉxiÉå pÉuÉSϤÉhɤÉhÉaÉiÉåÈ mÉɧÉÏM×üiÉÉÈ xuÉÏM×üiÉÉÈ || 39||
brahmaananda rasa anubhooti The experience of the elixir-like Bliss of Brahman,
1 kalitaih, which has sweetened,
pootaih susheetairyutaih purified and cooled
yushhmad vaak kalasha thy speech, making it issue as from a pitcher,
2 ujjhitaih shrutisukhai, in streams from Thy lips, delightful to listen to –
vaakyaamritaih sechaya; do thou shower such nectar-like speech (on me)!

25
santaptam bhava taapadaava For tormented am I by earthly afflictions
3 dahana jvaalaabhih as by the tongues of a forest fire,
enam prabho; O Lord, do Thou bless this (i.e. me)!
dhanyaah te bhava Blessed are they who
4 deekshhanakshhanagateh, receive even a passing glance from Thy eyes,
paatreekritaah sveekritaah. and accept it as an assurance of Thy protection!

In the two last verses of this chapter, we return to the outpourings of the disciple’s
heart.
1 The first point about this verse is the fitting usage of words: The first line has a
sweet melody in it, appropriate to “the nectarine speech, honeyed by the elixiric bliss.” The
words chosen are soft sounding.
2 Kalaasha: “pitcher, water-jug”. This literal translation does not do justice to the
Samskrit word. Kalasha is a sacred vessel, used for doing poojas in the temple. The holiness
associated with it is the real tribute paid to the Guru by using this word. The metaphor is
that the words from the Guru’s lips are as if coming out of a sacred vessel in his throat!
Sechaya: “sprinkle”. There is also a delicate touch added here to describe how the
Grace comes from the Guru. It becomes an action reminiscent of worship, where water is
sprinkled in all directions.
3 Then in the third line, the forest fire and earthly afflictions are described. The
meter is quickened, the words chosen have a snappy tone about them – “Santaptam”,
“Bhava-taapa-dava-dahana”, “Jwala-bhir-enam”.
4 In the last line the cooling comfort of the passing glance is described in rhythmic
words as “Deekshana-kshana-gate” and “Patreekrita Sweekrita”.
That is why they are said to be oozing out of the sacred kalasha vessel!

Verse 40: An Ardent Request to the Guru

MüjÉÇ iÉUårÉÇ pÉuÉÍxÉlkÉÑqÉåiÉÇ


MüÉ uÉÉ aÉÌiÉqÉåï MüiÉqÉÉåÅxirÉÑmÉÉrÉÈ |
eÉÉlÉå lÉ ÌMüÎgcÉiM×ümÉrÉÉÅuÉ qÉÉÇ mÉëpÉÉå
xÉÇxÉÉUSÒÈZɤÉÌiÉqÉÉiÉlÉÑwuÉ || 40||
katham tareyam How do I cross
1 bhavasindhum etam this ocean of relative existence?
kaa vaa gatih me What is to be my ultimate destination?
2 katamah asti upaayah; Which of the many means should I adopt?
jaane na kinchit I know nothing of these,
3 kripayaa ava maam prabho Please save me, O Lord!
samsaara duhkha kshhatim How to end the misery of this life in the finite,
4 aatanushhva. kindly describe this to me in detail.

The disciple continues to express what he would like the Guru to do for him. His
humility is pure and unaffected. There is no trace of hypocrisy in his attitude or in the words
he has chosen. He is artless, guileless, unpretentious.

26
He does not face his Guru as a learned person. He “does not know anything” – that is
his posture before his Guru.
In the last line the disciple sums up by expressing his wish to end the misery of living
“life in the finite”. He awaits the life Infinite with eagerness, as it was explained to him by
the Guru. He cannot wait to get all the details of such a life.
In short, the Sishya or disciple places himself on the operation table and pleads to
the surgeon, his Guru, to perform the necessary operation. We have to give Shankaracharya
full marksfor communicating so beautifully the delicate emotions between Guru and Sishya.

*****

27
1.6 LOVING ADVICE OF THE GURU
(Verses 41-47, 7 No.)

THE CHAPTER ON Guru Upasadana has ended. Now the Guru Upadesha begins.
The immediate prescription to such a disciple who has just poured out his heart to
the Master is to offer him hope, not in words but through a warm, inviting, loving attitude.
The Guru responds unpremeditatedly, and embraces the disciple with love and
kindness. This is the most understood language that stands for hope and protection. In
words, it is like saying, “Welcome, my child, I promise to help you!”

Verse 41: The Guru Responds Spontaneously

iÉjÉÉ uÉSliÉÇ zÉUhÉÉaÉiÉÇ xuÉÇ


xÉÇxÉÉUSÉuÉÉlÉsÉiÉÉmÉiÉmiÉqÉç |
ÌlÉUϤrÉ MüÉÂhrÉUxÉÉSìïSØwšÉ
S±ÉSpÉÏÌiÉÇ xÉWûxÉÉ qÉWûÉiqÉÉ || 41||
tathaa vadantam In this manner, he (the Disciple) speaks
1 sharanaagatam svam of his own desire to seek the protection of his Guru
samsaaradaavaa from the forest of Samsara (worldliness),
2 anala taapataptam; in the fire of which he is being tormented.
nireekshhya kaarunya Showering him with a look of pity and kindness,
3 rasaardra drishhtyaa he (the Guru), beholding him in this pitiful state,
dadyaad abheetim bestows upon him protection from fear,
4 sahasaa mahaatmaa. as a spontaneous gesture of his large-heartedness.

Verse 42: No Need for Further Qualifications

ÌuɲÉlÉç xÉ iÉxqÉÉ EmÉxĘ́ÉqÉÏrÉÑwÉå


qÉÑqÉѤÉuÉå xÉÉkÉÑ rÉjÉÉå£üMüÉËUhÉå |
mÉëzÉÉliÉÍcɨÉÉrÉ zÉqÉÉÎluÉiÉÉrÉ
iɨuÉÉåmÉSåzÉÇ M×ümÉrÉæuÉ MÑürÉÉïiÉç || 42||
vidvaan sah tasmai The learned one, to such a seeker standing before him,
1 upasattim eeyushhe i) who has thus approached him;
mumukshhave saadhu ii) who has rightly determined to seek;
2 yathoktakaarine; iii) who has abided by the protocol on procedure;
prashaanta chittaaya iv) who possesses a serene mind,
3 shamaanvitaaya v) and who is endowed with tranquillity –
tattva upadesham the instruction about the Reality should be
4 kripayaa eva kuryaat. imparted with utmost kindness as an act of Grace.

28
1-4 These lines confirm the presence of Sadhana Chatushtaya in the disciple. There is
already the full qualification in every breath of the disciple. What need is there for further
testing? In such a situation, with the disciple panting for a refreshing breath of knowledge,
the Guru steps forward into his life as on a rescue operation. The sense of urgency is in the
air. There is not a moment to waste.
The rarest, finest human aspiration has to be met by the rarest and finest response
of acceptance and kindness. When the demand is there, the supply has to come, too.

Verse 43: The Guru Expresses his Confidence

´ÉÏaÉÑÂuÉÉcÉ |
qÉÉ pÉæ¹ ÌuɲÇxiÉuÉ lÉÉxirÉmÉÉrÉÈ
xÉÇxÉÉUÍxÉlkÉÉåxiÉUhÉåÅxirÉÑmÉÉrÉÈ |
rÉålÉæuÉ rÉÉiÉÉ rÉiÉrÉÉåÅxrÉ mÉÉUÇ
iÉqÉåuÉ qÉÉaÉïÇ iÉuÉ ÌlÉÌSïzÉÉÍqÉ || 43||

0 shreeguruvaacha; The Guru says:


maa bhaishhta vidvan Fear not, O brilliant one!
1 tava na asti apaayah For you there is no danger.
samsaarasindhoh tarane To cross over this ocean of worldliness,
2 asti upaayah; there is a way.
yena eva yaataah yatayah By this way alone have all the saints
3 asya paaram crossed over this world.
tam eva maargam That very same Path (that they all have trodden)
4 tava nirdishaami. I shall unfold to you (who are the fit person for it).

1 Fear of failure is allayed from the student at once. He is praised for his intellectual
courage to spurn the wide world of attractions, and seek his salvation from the clutches of
Maya. The Guru shows his confidence in the disciple: “There may be danger for the one who
still has attraction for pleasures, but for you there is none, for your dispassion is like fire –
nothing can withstand it.”
Let us keep in mind that what follows is spontaneous. It is not a strategically worked
out plan to ‘lure’ anyone. Here is human trust at its noblest and most refined. This is how it
unfolds itself as Nature intended it to:
2 Fear is answered with words of hope – “There IS a way out of this mess. Come, I
will show it to you.”
3-4 Is the disciple going to be a “guinea-pig” of the Guru? No, the Guru is not going
to experiment with his disciple. He is giving him a life-line which has been time-honoured
and proven to work by innumerable Rishis of the past. There is no question of the blind
leading the blind here. Using authentic methods, the disciple is offered all the assistance he
needs.
The journey to the Beyond is the most worthwhile journey to be made with this
vehicle of the human body.

29
Verse 44: The Supreme Means to Supreme Bliss

AxirÉÑmÉÉrÉÉå qÉWûÉlMüͶÉixÉÇxÉÉUpÉrÉlÉÉzÉlÉÈ |
iÉålÉ iÉÏiuÉÉï pÉuÉÉqpÉÉåÍkÉÇ mÉUqÉÉlÉlSqÉÉmxrÉÍxÉ || 44||

1 asti upaayah mahaan kashchit There is one supreme means


2 samsaara bhaya naashanah; capable of destroying the fear of Samsara;
3 tena teertvaa bhavaam-bhodhim by which you will cross the sea of Samsara
4 paramaanandam aapsyasi. and attain supreme Bliss.

1-2 This is the means. There is a certainty in it, due to which there is simply no room
for even a trace of fear on this path.
3-4 And what is the assurance given? It will spell the end of your tossing ride on the
waves of Samsara. “You will succeed!” There is no doubt whatsoever.
On this solid foundation, begins the Master’s great teaching…

Verse 45: The Foundational Texts Glorified

uÉåSÉliÉÉjÉïÌuÉcÉÉUåhÉ eÉÉrÉiÉå ¥ÉÉlÉqÉѨÉqÉqÉç |


iÉålÉÉirÉÎliÉMüxÉÇxÉÉUSÒÈZÉlÉÉzÉÉå pÉuÉirÉlÉÑ || 45||

1 vedaanta artha vichaarena By contemplating upon the meaning of the Upanishads


2 jaayate jnaanam uttamam; is born the highest knowledge (of the Supreme Reality)
3 tena aatyantika samsaara by which the endless world of names and forms
4 duhkha naashah bhavati anu. with all its sorrows is immediately brought to an end.

1-2 The correct bottle of medicine is pulled out of the shelf by the consummate
Master. As we said earlier, this is not a time for experimenting. The medicine has been tried
and tested, not on animals as today’s drugs are tested, but on great seekers. The results
have been published in every Upanishad in the form of Mantras.
3-4 Naashah: “annihilation”. The word is justifiably selected. This medicine will
totally annihilate all traces of the disease of delusion and sorrow. That is a guarantee.
Sorrow is removed at its very root. The destruction is once and for all. “You will be fearless
forever!” assures the Master.
Once a match is struck in a cave, no matter how ancient the darkness was, it
disappears in an instant!

Verse 46: What the Disciple is Required to Do

´É®ÉpÉÌ£ükrÉÉlÉrÉÉåaÉÉlqÉÑqÉѤÉÉåÈ qÉÑ£åüUç-
WåiÉÔluÉÌ£ü xÉɤÉÉcNíÓûiÉåaÉÏïÈ |
rÉÉå uÉÉ LiÉåwuÉåuÉ ÌiɸirÉqÉÑwrÉ
qÉÉå¤ÉÉåÅÌuɱÉMüÎsmÉiÉɬåWûoÉlkÉÉiÉç || 46||

30
shraddhaa bhakti dhyaana Faith in the paths of devotion, meditation and
1 yogaan mumukshhoh mukteh Yoga, coupled with intense longing for liberation –
hetoon vakti saakshhaat these are the chief factors mentioned clearly
2 shruteh geeh; in the words of the scriptures.
yo vaa eteshhu eva Whoever he be, in these alone
3 tishhthati amushhya stand his hopes
mokshhah avidyaa kalpitaad of liberation from the ignorance-created
4 deha bandhaat. bondage to the body.

The important point in this verse is that an attitude of enquiry is strongly suggested
for each of the three stages of Sadhana.
1 The three things needed are as follows:
Shraddha: “Faith”. This indicates the attitude needed for Sravana, listening to the
Guru or the scriptures. This is the ‘yes-ness’ towards what the scriptures and the Guru are
saying to us. That which the teacher says is cherished as valuable.
Bhakti: “Devotion”. This indicates the attitude needed for Manana, which is the
process of reflection upon Sravana. In this stage, the knowledge that has been heard is
‘masticated’ and thoroughly assimilated and digested. This requires the digestive juice of
devotion to go along with it. Without devotion Manana is fruitless and dry.
Dhyana: “Meditation”. This indicates the attitude to have for Nididhyasana. Indeed,
the latter is often described as meditation itself. The digested material is now absorbed by
the system and it goes to nourish every cell of the Sadhaka’s spirit. This requires total
attention and focus on the inner transformation that occurs. The introspective mind is
needed for such an accomplishment, and this comes only in a mind that delights in
meditation.
The word ‘Yoga’ in the text follows these three. It means ‘union’. It can be paired up
with all three words together with their respective Sadhanas, to obtain Shraddha-Sravana
Yoga, Bhakti-Manana Yoga, and Dhyana-Nididhyasana Yoga.
Some commentators also regard it as a fourth quality needed in the Sadhana at the
fourth stage, which is Samadhi. In this stage the mind is fully absorbed in the Self.
Nididhyasana has culminated by bringing the Sadhaka to the stage of complete abidance in
the Self. This is union of the individual self to the Supreme Self, which is Yoga at the highest
level. That could be a second interpretation, which is also quite valid.
2-4 The verse gives the assurance that whoever pursues the Sadhana with these
three attitudes, is certain to be liberated.

Verse 47: Roles of Ignorance & Knowledge

A¥ÉÉlÉrÉÉåaÉÉimÉUqÉÉiqÉlÉxiÉuÉ
½lÉÉiqÉoÉlkÉxiÉiÉ LuÉ xÉÇxÉ×ÌiÉÈ |
iÉrÉÉåÌuÉïuÉåMüÉåÌSiÉoÉÉåkÉuÉÌ»ûÈ
A¥ÉÉlÉMüÉrÉïÇ mÉëSWåûixÉqÉÔsÉqÉç || 47||

31
ajnaanayogaat Through contact with Ignorance
1 paramaatmanah tava you, who are the Supreme Self
hi anaatma bandhah indeed, experience the bondage of the not-Self;
2 tatah eva samsritih; from this alone proceed birth and death.
tayoh vivekah By discriminating between these two (Self and not-Self),
3 uditabodha vahnih the blaze of knowledge arises;
ajnaana kaaryam (then) the effects of ignorance
4 pradahet samoolam. are burnt down together with their very roots.

The Acharya in Shankaracharyaji here uses his experience to guide the student. Every
student faces the difficulty of correctly assessing the hurdle that he has to conquer. The
danger of over-exaggerating the problem is addressed in this verse.
1-2 The Problem: To limit the extent of this danger, the Acharya wisely tells the
student, “Come, it is nothing very serious, you have not done anything really wrong. You
have not committed any offence or crime. It is just that this ‘Ignorance’ which dominates
man’s mind, has made you identify with the body and has made you insecure; that is all.
From that the whole world drama has been set afoot.
3-4 The Solution: The Acharya continues: “Now you do just one thing – do careful
Viveka. I am not going to ask you to do any severe austerities, etc. That is not for you. You
just stick to Viveka for a while and your problems will be burnt away by the ‘blaze of
knowledge’ that will arise.”
Sometimes it is the small instructions that are most useful to spiritual aspirants. We
tend to overlook them. A good Teacher builds up the wall of knowledge one brick at a time.

Prashna Beeja: The Seed of the Disciple’s Questions


This verse has the predetermined effect of arousing some basic questions in the ripe
student’s mind. Several new ideas are thrown at him, and the teacher expects them to
rebound to him in the form of questions.
That does indeed happen. And virtually the rest of Viveka Choodamani is an answer
to those questions . . .

*****

32
1.7 THE DISCIPLE’S QUESTIONS
(Verses 48-55, 8 No.)

BEFORE OPENING THE ‘Question Box’ of the student, it is noteworthy to see the
nobility of his mind from his words up to this point. We know that this student has the three
basic noble virtues for studentship:
a) He is self-disciplined. The true meaning of being a disciple is to submit voluntarily
to the discipline asked by the Guru.
b) He is not a moral wreck. He has lived his life according to the Shastras to the best
of his ability. We know that he has followed the scriptural rules in obtaining whatever he
desired in the world.
c) He is noble-minded. He is making a sincere effort to emulate the conduct of the
great, the noble, the wise. They are his role models.
When such a student used to approach Pujya Gurudev (Swami Chinmayanandaji), he
used to say at once, “Shoot!” meaning “Fire away. I am ready to answer.”

Verse 48: Hope Prompts the Disciple’s Questions

ÍzÉwrÉ EuÉÉcÉ |
M×ümÉrÉÉ ´ÉÔrÉiÉÉÇ xuÉÉÍqÉlmÉëzlÉÉåÅrÉÇ Ì¢ürÉiÉå qÉrÉÉ |
rÉSÒ¨ÉUqÉWÇû ´ÉÑiuÉÉ M×üiÉÉjÉïÈ xrÉÉÇ pÉuÉlqÉÑZÉÉiÉç || 48||

0 shishhya uvaacha; The Disciple says:


1 kripayaa shrooyataam svaamin Kindly listen, O Master,
2 prashnah ayam kriyate mayaa; to these Questions being posed by me;
3 yad uttaram aham shritvaa On hearing the reply to them coming
4 kritaarthah syaam bhavanmukhaat. from your own mouth, I shall be satisfied.

1-4 This student phrases his appeal very intelligently and reverentially, not with
‘hands in his pocket’. He begs his Master to listen to his questions, and carefully ensures
that he hears the answers from his own lips; that he is not asked to go and “google” it for
himself. He is confident his Master will clear all his doubts to his satisfaction.

Verse 49: The Disciple’s Seven Questions

MüÉå lÉÉqÉ oÉlkÉÈ MüjÉqÉåwÉ AÉaÉiÉÈ


MüjÉÇ mÉëÌiɸÉxrÉ MüjÉÇ ÌuÉqÉÉå¤ÉÈ |
MüÉåÅxÉÉuÉlÉÉiqÉÉ mÉUqÉÈ Mü AÉiqÉÉ
iÉrÉÉåÌuÉïuÉåMüÈ MüjÉqÉåiÉSÒcrÉiÉÉqÉç || 49||
33
1. kah naama bandhah; i) “What is this BONDAGE?
1 2. katham eshha aagatah; ii) How has it come into being?
3. katham pratishhthaasya; iii) How does it continue to stay?
2 4. katham vimokshhah; iv) How can one get out of it completely?
5. kah asau anaatmaa; v) What is the not-Self?
3 6. paramah kah aatmaa; vi) What is the Supreme Self?
7. tayoh vivekah katham; vii) How do I discriminate between these two?
4 etad uchyataam. Please explain all these to me.”

1-4 This is regarded as the verse upon which the rest of the book hinges. It is the
King-pin of the whole book. [Acharyaji asked the class to memorise the verse by the
following morning.]
We see the rapid build up of trust in the disciple for his Guru – within the relatively
short space of 10 verses), the student is ready to fire 7 important questions. That certainly is
a measure of the comfort he feels in being in the presence of his Guru.
We do not need to add commentary on the questions here, as the whole book will
answer them little by little. We only need to understand the mind-set of the ripe aspirant,
who is seen here to be the one who knows a little of the basics of the subject, but not well
enough to clear all his doubts. Such a student is ripe for Vedantic study.
There are seven Questions in all. Really speaking, they can all be summed up into
one major question: “Please solve my problem in life?”
The device used in Viveka Choodamani is the DIALOGUE, or Q & A format.

Verse 50: The Guru Appreciates the Questions

´ÉÏaÉÑÂuÉÉcÉ |
kÉlrÉÉåÅÍxÉ M×üiÉM×üirÉÉåÅÍxÉ mÉÉÌuÉiÉÇ iÉå MÑüsÉÇ iuÉrÉÉ |
rÉSÌuɱÉoÉlkÉqÉÑYirÉÉ oÉë¼ÏpÉÌuÉiÉÑÍqÉcNûÍxÉ || 50||
shreeguruvaacha; The Guru says:
1 dhanyah asi kritakrityah asi Blessed are you! You have fulfilled your life!
2 paavitam te kulam tvayaa; By you is your whole clan sanctified.
3 yat avidyaa bandha muktyaa By freeing yourself from the bondage of ignorance,
4 brahmeebhavitum ichchhasi. you wish to attain the absolute Brahman!

There will be time enough to deal with the issues raised, but here the matter of the
moment is to capture the Guru’s appreciation of such a bright student, who epitomizes the
alert and enquiring student of Vedanta.
1-2 “Congratulations! Blessed are you, indeed!....You have fulfilled your life!...Your
whole lineage is purified!” The Guru simply gushes forth with exuberance!
3-4 The Guru sees through these seven questions the earnest desire to get rid of
Ignorance. He sees all the favourable signs in the disciple. His Sadhana Chatushtaya is
amazing. He is like a ripe fruit – and it now cannot take long for the fruit to fall!

34
The Guru is filled to the brim with appreciation for such a student.
Only one verse to congratulate the disciple . . .
Now the job begins in earnest for the “master craftsman” in the Guru. Without any
ado, he places the responsibility straight into the hands of the disciple.

Lesson: SELF-RELIANCE
“The Ball is Always in Your Court” – says the Guru.

This is the theme of his very first three verses, which we take together:

Verse 51: Simile 1: Clearing Financial Debt

GhÉqÉÉåcÉlÉMüiÉÉïUÈ ÌmÉiÉÑÈ xÉÎliÉ xÉÑiÉÉSrÉÈ |


oÉlkÉqÉÉåcÉlÉMüiÉÉï iÉÑ xuÉxqÉÉSlrÉÉå lÉ Mü¶ÉlÉ || 51||

1 rinamochana kartaarah To relieve one from debts and obligations,


2 pituh santi sutaadayah; the father or the sons are there to help;
3 bandha-mochana-kartaa tu But, to redeem one from bondage,
4 svasmaat anyah na kashchana. there is no person other than oneself.

Verse 52: Simile 2: The Load on One’s Head

qÉxiÉMülrÉxiÉpÉÉUÉSåSÒïÈZÉqÉlrÉæÌlÉïuÉÉrÉïiÉå |
¤ÉÑkÉÉÌSM×üiÉSÒÈZÉÇ iÉÑ ÌuÉlÉÉ xuÉålÉ lÉ MåülÉÍcÉiÉç || 52||

5 mastak anyah tabhaaraadeh The load that is placed on one’s head


6 duhkham anyaih nivaaryate; causes fatigue that can be relieved by others;
7 kshhudhaadi krita duhkham tu but the pangs caused by hunger
8 vinaa svena na kenachit. can end by no one except oneself.

Verse 53: Simile 3: Treatment in Illness

mÉjrÉqÉÉæwÉkÉxÉåuÉÉ cÉ Ì¢ürÉiÉå rÉålÉ UÉåÌaÉhÉÉ |


AÉUÉåarÉÍxÉήSØï¹ÉÅxrÉ lÉÉlrÉÉlÉÑ̸iÉMüqÉïhÉÉ || 53||

9 pathyam aushhadhasevaa cha The right diet and proper medicine,


10 kriyate yena roginaa; when followed faithfully by the patient,
11 aarogya siddhih drishhtaa asya alone leads to his recovery from illness;
12 na anya anushhthita karmanaa. not when the treatment is taken by another!

Sadhana is not a team endeavour. We have to do it for ourselves (notwithstanding


that doing Sadhana with others can be of great help).

35
The three examples quoted here give adequate clarity on the need to take full
responsibility for one’s spiritual growth. Only someone who is not sincere will have a
problem with that. For the sincere, this self-effort is given with great joy – hence the theme
of this section is “Self-reliance”.
As one progresses, one reaches greater heights of understanding of oneself. There is
so much of joy just in treading the path, however difficult it may appear to be from the
ordinary standpoint. The spiritual aspirant finds joy in things which are usually considered a
drudgery by the worldly-minded.
From this perspective, these verses are clearly superfluous for the kind of disciple we
have in this text. The lesson is for us, the readers, who may still have the mentality of
bargaining with God for some favours.

Verse 54: Simile 4: Seeing the Moon Oneself

uÉxiÉÑxuÉÃmÉÇ xTÑüOûoÉÉåkÉcɤÉÑwÉÉ
xuÉålÉæuÉ uÉå±Ç lÉ iÉÑ mÉÎhQûiÉålÉ |
cÉlSìxuÉÃmÉÇ ÌlÉeÉcɤÉÑwÉæuÉ
¥ÉÉiÉurÉqÉlrÉæUuÉaÉqrÉiÉå ÌMüqÉç || 54||
vastusvaroopam The Real nature of things is,
1 sphuta bodha chakshhushhaa through the eye of clear understanding,
svena eva vedyam to be known or experienced by oneself,
2 na tu pandhitena; and not through men, however learned.
chandrasvaroopam This is just as the real form of the moon is,
3 nija chakshhushha eva through one’s own eye,
jnaatavyam, to be known or experienced;
4 anyaih avagamyate kim. How can it be understood in any other way?

1-2 All that has been heard about the spiritual path so far by the student serves, at
best, only as a map charting the road ahead. It does not shorten the journey by a single foot.
This fact is obvious, but when it comes from the revered lips of one’s Guru, it gives us the
strong sense that we are now embarking “on the real thing”. A great sense of commitment
and rising to the occasion is aroused in the heart of the seeker. There is eagerness
generated that might border on impatience to ‘get on with it’.
3-4 The Guru has chosen as his example the actual sighting of the moon instead of
hearing about it from someone else. Nothing stops us from choosing our own simile:
For example, it may take months of preparation for an overseas tour. The thrill that
the traveller feels when he is actually in the air cannot be imagined – flying to his
destination, and then visiting the places he had only seen in brochures prior to that. There is
nothing like the actual experience. It is the same with the spiritual journey, and the Guru is
here whipping up the student’s appetite for it.
Such a spirit is needed at the outset, as any experienced aspirant will vouchsafe.
Hence, there is merit in the Guru’s words; he is only creating the right feeling in the mind of
the disciple. The thrill of the spiritual adventure has to grip him fully.

36
Verse 55: Simile 5: The Chains of Bondage

AÌuɱÉMüÉqÉMüqÉÉïÌSmÉÉzÉoÉlkÉÇ ÌuÉqÉÉåÍcÉiÉÑqÉç |
MüÈ zÉYlÉÑrÉÉ̲lÉÉÅÅiqÉÉlÉÇ MüsmÉMüÉåÌOûzÉiÉæUÌmÉ || 55||

1 avidyaa-kaama-karmaadi Ignorance, desire and action –


2 paasha bandham vimochitum; to free oneself of the bondage resulting from these,
3 kah shaknuyaat vinaa aatmaanam who will be able to do that, except oneself?
4 kalpa koti shataih api. For they may span hundreds of crores of Kalpas!

In the context of the chapter we are in, it is not so relevant to go into a discussion of
the “chains of ignorance, desire and action”. There will be time enough for that later. Nor is
it important to concern ourselves about exactly how long ago the bondage began. The spirit
of the verse is to prepare the student’s mind for the journey that he is about to embark
upon. Here is a journey that promises to transform his life into something meaningful.
The poetry continues, unabated. A hundred crore of Kalpas? Of what relevance is
that to someone who is desperate now to get out of the scorching flames of worldliness! It
is poetry alone that is of meaning here, not the fact. Just the knowledge of having reached
such a critical juncture compared to earlier history is sufficient to motivate the student to
pour forth 100% effort towards his Sadhana in the days and months to come with his Guru.
The stage is thus set for a new phase in the life of a promising future Mahatma or
Rishi in the making.

*****

37
1.8 FREEDOM FROM BONDAGE
(Verses 56-61, 6 No.)

A NEW THEME OPENS up in this Chapter, and its verses have to be seen in the
context of that theme. If the context is ignored, then the danger lies in misinterpreting it as
criticism of other significant philosophies existing in India at the time of Sri Shankaracharya,
and in the rest of the world. This is not intended here.
Vedanta has always been grateful for what it has received from the other schools of
philosophy. It has never been critical of them. Later in this theme, one finds Vedantic
scholarship itself comes under strong criticism. Hence, we have to be very careful of how to
interpret these verses.
The instruction of the keen student has just begun. His appetite for the journey
ahead has been whipped up in the last section. Here, the Goal of liberation and that alone is
held as the aim of the ensuing study. No detraction from that is to be permitted.
Too often in the spiritual field, we find that the seeker’s mind yields to other
tempting fruits which come in the wake of his study. This whole section is intended to steer
the mind of the student away from these alluring side issues. The power of other side issues
to deflect one from the central goal is enormous, and is described in the verses that follow.
There is a good reason why blinkers are placed beside the eyes of a racehorse. It is so
that his attention is not deflected to the horses running next to him, but focussed entirely
on the running track ahead. A similar purpose is served by the verses of this chapter to keep
the mind of the seeker focussed on the one thing that matters – the Goal ahead.

Verse 56: Can Any Science or Technique Help?

lÉ rÉÉåaÉålÉ lÉ xÉÉXçZrÉålÉ MüqÉïhÉÉ lÉÉå lÉ ÌuɱrÉÉ |


oÉë¼ÉiqÉæMüiuÉoÉÉåkÉålÉ qÉÉå¤ÉÈ ÍxÉkrÉÌiÉ lÉÉlrÉjÉÉ || 56||

1 na yogena na saangkhyena Neither by the Science of Yoga nor Sankhya,


2 karmanaa no na vidyayaa; nor by Technique of ritual nor learning,
3 brahma-aatma ekatva bodhena but by realizing one’s identity with Brahman
4 mokshhah sidhyati na anyathaa. is liberation possible, not by any other means.

1-2 In this verse, the intention is clearly to rivet the student’s mind to the ultimate
goal, not to criticise Science or Technology.
3-4 It is emphatically said here “Liberation is realization of one’s identity with
Brahman, nothing else.” On the spiritual path, the only means required is the direct
realisation of the Reality. All else is only to assist our intellect to generate sufficient
motivation to take the plunge and begin the journey.

38
Verse 57: Can Any Talent Help?

uÉÏhÉÉrÉÉ ÃmÉxÉÉælSrÉïÇ iÉl§ÉÏuÉÉSlÉxÉÉæ¸uÉqÉç |


mÉëeÉÉUgeÉlÉqÉɧÉÇ iÉ³É xÉÉqÉëÉerÉÉrÉ MüsmÉiÉå || 57||

1 veenaayaa roopasaundaryam, The beautiful form of a veena;


2 tantree-vaadana-saushhthavam; the proficiency of one playing on its chords;
3 prajaa ranjana maatram tat, these are Talents just to please an audience;
4 na saamraajyaaya kalpate. they do not make one competent for sovereignty.

This verse just points out another possible distraction facing a spiritual aspirant.
1-2 A classic example of diversion is taken up – proficiency in a particular art form.
The Veena should be taken to include any other art form that has the power to deflect the
aspirant from his central Goal.
3-4 An art such as music can leave an audience spell-bound. It can reach a height
which absorbs the audience to such an extent that they are flooded with a rare type of thrill.
They are freed momentarily from the tribulations of their mind. Such an audience can, quite
understandably, be extremely appreciative.
Talent in an art performance can attract people to the performer. What then? The
temptation of name and fame is encountered. The incentive to perform well could easily
change – from a pure love for the art to the desire for more fame and applause!
This introduces the fuller implications of the same thing happening in the spiritual
field also. The next verse spells this out . . .

Verse 58: Can Erudition & Scholarship Help?

uÉÉauÉæZÉUÏ zÉoSfÉUÏ zÉÉx§ÉurÉÉZrÉÉlÉMüÉæzÉsÉqÉç |


uÉæSÒwrÉÇ ÌuÉSÒwÉÉÇ iɲ°Ò£ürÉå lÉ iÉÑ qÉÑ£ürÉå || 58||

1 vaagvaikharee shabdajharee Loud speech in an unending steam of words;


2 shaastra vyaakhyaana kaushalam; efficiency in expounding the scriptures;
3 vaidushhyam vidushhaam tadvad such Erudition and Scholarship may bring some
4 bhuktaye na tu muktaye. material satisfaction, but not liberation.

1-4 Here, the danger is described without any disguise. Scriptural erudition
accompanied by the art of lecturing is not free from the danger to enchant people; it has the
same status as a veena performance in that respect. The message is clear: “Don’t make
Shastra a Kala (an art form) just to entertain people.”
If we do, we may get closer to being celebrities, but further away from Self-
realisation. Can we see the deep concern that Sri Shankaracharyaji has for our real spiritual
welfare which makes him draw our attention to such suicidal danger?
Acharyaji also rose to the occasion with valuable expansion on this theme. He
highlighted the danger of making fine public performances that fall on all types of ears, not
all of them of pure motive. Some may feel, “Ah, what a talented young speaker. He will

39
make a good husband for my daughter.” The difficulty of resisting the temptations of this
world is being highlighted at the outset of the young student’s training.
Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji used to give this advice to students, “You should
always feel that you are doing Manana of the Shastras and the audience is just overhearing
your reflections. Thank the people who hear you, but always feel you are not teaching, but
only doing your Sadhana.”

Verse 59: Can Study of Scriptures Help?

AÌuÉ¥ÉÉiÉå mÉUå iɨuÉå zÉÉx§ÉÉkÉÏÌiÉxiÉÑ ÌlÉwTüsÉÉ |


ÌuÉ¥ÉÉiÉåÅÌmÉ mÉUå iɨuÉå zÉÉx§ÉÉkÉÏÌiÉxiÉÑ ÌlÉwTüsÉÉ || 59||

1 avijnaate pare tattve Without knowing the supreme Reality,


2 shaastraadheetistu nishhphalaa; the study of the Shastras is futile.
3 vijnaate api pare tattve Having known the supreme Reality,
4 shaastraadheetistu nishhphalaa. the study of the Shastras is again futile.

The emphatic point driven home by this magnificent juxtaposition of two opposing
statements is simply this: “The Shastras are useful only for realizing God, not for any other
purpose, however worthy it may appear to be.”
Both statements are seen to be true only in the light of the above point.
1-2 In the first statement, the intellectual joy of studying the scriptures has somehow
overtaken the purpose of the study, to realise God.
3-4 In the second statement, it is simply telling us that if the whole object of studying
the scriptures has been fulfilled (by realizing God), then there is no further purpose for the
study. Neither of these statements is to be construed as criticism of the Shastras, or permit
observers to criticize the student who is undertaking the study of scriptures.
Our model student must surely feel ever so grateful to his Guru for bringing home
this timely advice before he even begins the study.

Verse 60: Can Any Philosophy Help?

zÉoSeÉÉsÉÇ qÉWûÉUhrÉÇ ÍcɨÉpÉëqÉhÉMüÉUhÉqÉç |


AiÉÈ mÉërɦÉÉe¥ÉÉiÉurÉÇ iɨuÉ¥ÉæxiɨuÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ || 60||

1 shabdajaalam mahaa aranyam Books and Philosophies constitute a thick jungle,


2 chitta-bhramana-kaaranam; they may be a cause for the confusion of the mind;
3 atah prayatnaat jnaatavyam Therefore, through right efforts should be known
4 tattvajnaih tattvam aatmanah. the real nature of the Self by true seekers of God.

1-2 The dangers facing an intellect are here openly displayed. Here the student is
alerted to the pitfalls of intellectual gymnastics. Whether the subject is Vedanta or
something else, all students are faced with the danger of falling into this pit. An inquisitive
intellect can easily get lost in “the jungle of commentaries and philosophies”.
40
3-4 The only way out is to keep a focus on doing the Sadhana prescribed by the
scriptures. Following the guidelines of the Guru is the main safeguard in keeping focus.

Verse 61: Only Knowledge of Self Can Help!

A¥ÉÉlÉxÉmÉïS¹xrÉ oÉë¼¥ÉÉlÉÉæwÉkÉÇ ÌuÉlÉÉ |


ÌMüqÉÑ uÉåSæ¶É zÉÉx§Éæ¶É ÌMüqÉÑ qÉl§ÉæÈ ÌMüqÉÉæwÉkÉæÈ || 61||

1 ajnaana sarpa dashhtasya For one stung by the cobra of ignorance,


2 brahma jnaana aushhadham vinaa; the only remedy is the knowledge of Brahman.
3 kimu vedaih cha shaastraih cha Of what use are the Vedas and scriptures, or
4 kimu mantraih kim aushhadhaih. of what use are Mantras and medicines?

The theme is concluded with this verse summarising the main point of the section.
1-2 Another metaphor is introduced here, adding a final ‘sting’ to the message on
misusing the knowledge of the Shastras. If one is an aspirant, indeed, he will feel the pang of
ignorance as if he had been stung by a cobra. A cobra’s sting is no joke – a flashing hit and
certain death awaits the victim, unless he is treated immediately. A snake kills its victim only
once, whereas Ignorance kills us birth after birth crores of times!
3-4 The thirsting aspirant will rush for the correct medicine and take it. Brahma
Jnana is the medicine all right, but what a tragedy it would be if, instead of taking the
medicine, one starts playing games with it as in intellectual gymnastics, etc; or starts
spraying it as a perfume all over himself!
Alas, the victims of the ‘snake bites’ of intellectual vanity in the field of Vedanta have
been many. The teacher, with all the compassion in his heart, is forewarning the sincere
student of this grave stupidity.

*****

41
1.9 DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF SELF
(Verses 62-66, 5 No.)

FINALLY, TO END THIS first Part of the book, the Guru pushes the student’s mind
towards the practical aspect of spiritual life. After all the study, the student has to put in
many years of intense practice of all the knowledge he has received. There is no short-cut
out of it, no bypass for this step.

Verse 62: Medicine Has to be Taken!

lÉ aÉcNûÌiÉ ÌuÉlÉÉ mÉÉlÉÇ urÉÉÍkÉUÉæwÉkÉzÉoSiÉÈ |


ÌuÉlÉÉÅmÉUÉå¤ÉÉlÉÑpÉuÉÇ oÉë¼zÉoSælÉï qÉÑcrÉiÉå || 62||

1 na gachchhati vinaa paanam The disease does not get cured by merely uttering
vyaadhih aushhadha-shabdatah; the medicine’s name, without drinking it!
2
3 vinaa aparokshha anubhavam So too, without direct realization, by merely
brahma-shabdaih na muchyate. uttering ‘Brahman’, none can be liberated.
4

1-2 “Take the medicine to get better”. There is no other way.


No healing is achieved by merely looking at the bottle of medicine, writing articles
about its glory, and giving it a high-sounding, attractive name!
3-4 Applying this to spiritual life is straightforward. The prescription is given in the
Shrutis as direct realisation of one’s identity with Brahman. It does not help us if the name
Brahman sounds fascinating or not; nor does it help us to repeat the name Brahman without
taking the medicine. It may sound obviously absurd, yet Sri Shankaracharyaji spells it out, for
he knows the actual situation that prevails in the world regarding these matters.

Verse 63: The World Has to be Negated!

AM×üiuÉÉ SØzrÉÌuÉsÉrÉqÉ¥ÉÉiuÉÉ iɨuÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ |


oÉë¼zÉoSæÈ MÑüiÉÉå qÉÑÌ£üÂÌ£üqÉɧÉTüsÉælÉ×ïhÉÉqÉç || 63||

1 akritvaa drishyavilayam Without taking any trouble to negate this world,


2 ajnaatvaa tattvamaatmanah; without taking trouble to know the nature of Self,
3 brahmashabdaih kuto muktir- how can mere repetition of “Brahman”set one free?
4 uktimaatraphalairnrinaam. Surely it will end only in a wasteful effort of speech.

1-4 If one has fallen into a muddy ditch, the job of cleaning himself of the mess is
unavoidable to become clean again. The teacher stresses yet again the need to be practical
in Vedanta to get out of delusion, not just remain in a theoretical tower and preach wasteful
words on it. Actual practice is the only thing that can really help.
42
The two important things needed to be done are: i) Negation of the world; and ii)
Grasping the nature of the Self. Without accomplishing these, Brahman would be mere idle
talk over a coffee table.
Expressed differently, the two steps are: i) removing the idea of duality altogether;
and ii) living in the full realization of one’s true nature as the Self.

Verse 64: The Enemies Have to be Conquered!

AM×üiuÉÉ zɧÉÑxÉÇWûÉUqÉaÉiuÉÉÎZÉsÉpÉÔÍ´ÉrÉqÉç |
UÉeÉÉWûÍqÉÌiÉ zÉoSɳÉÉå UÉeÉÉ pÉÌuÉiÉÑqÉWïûÌiÉ || 64||

1 akritvaa shatrusamhaaram Without taking trouble to eliminate his enemies,


2 agatvaakhilabhooshriyam; without bringing the entire land under his sway,
3 raajaa aham iti shabdaat by merely repeating ‘I am the Emperor’,
4 nah raajaa bhavitum arhati. one cannot become an Emperor!

Clearly Sri Shankaracharya is still not satisfied that he has successfully driven home
his point on practical Vedanta. Hence, yet another simile appears before us.
1-2 An emperor has no power over anyone unless he has dealt sufficiently well with
all his enemies. 3-4 Otherwise his power would only be in his imagination.
Application: In the same manner, the spiritual aspirant, who has the potential to be
‘the Emperor of all emperors’, only gains that power when he has overcome all the deadly
enemies of vices within himself. As students of Vedanta we are to constantly remember to
attend to overcoming all our negative traits.

Verse 65: Excavating the Treasure of the Self

AÉmiÉÉåÌ£Çü ZÉlÉlÉÇ iÉjÉÉåmÉËUÍzÉsÉɱÑiMüwÉïhÉÇ xuÉÏM×üÌiÉÇ


ÌlɤÉåmÉÈ xÉqÉmÉå¤ÉiÉå lÉ ÌWû oÉÌWûÈzÉoSæxiÉÑ ÌlÉaÉïcNûÌiÉ |
iɲSèoÉë¼ÌuÉSÉåmÉSåzÉqÉlÉlÉkrÉÉlÉÉÌSÍpÉsÉïprÉiÉå
qÉÉrÉÉMüÉrÉïÌiÉUÉåÌWûiÉÇ xuÉqÉqÉsÉÇ iɨuÉÇ lÉ SÒrÉÑïÌ£üÍpÉÈ || 65||
aaptoktim khananam tatha Instructions of an engineer on how to carry out
1 upari shilaad, excavations – clearing the earth, removing stones
yutkarshhanam sveekritim; lying above it – first need to be grasped well;
nikshhepah samapekshhate The Treasure being sought is hidden in the ground;
2 na hi bahih shabdaih tu indeed no amount of calling out with words
nirgachchhati. will ever make it just come out!
tadvat brahmavidaa upadesha In the same way, the instructions of a realised saint
3 manana dhyaanaadibhih on how to carry out reflection and meditation,
labhyate; first need to be grasped well;
maayaakaaryatirohitam Hidden under delusion and its effects
4 svam amalam, is the treasure of the Pure Self;
tattvam na duryuktibhih. It is not obtained through mere argumentation!

43
Sri Shankaracharyaji is still not happy that the message has gone through. He is not
satisfied with just burial, he wants to cremate as well!
1-2 In this extended metaphor, the whole subject of direct experience is re-capped
with an example that makes the student clearly see the ridiculousness of expecting any
success by simply staying at the theoretical level.
To successfully excavate any treasure from beneath the ground surface, an
engineer’s advice ought to be sought first. He will instruct exactly where to dig and how
deep to dig. Following his instructions, it is easy to find the treasure.
3-4 This example is then applied to our problem – Aparoksha Anubhuti or Direct
Experience of the Self.
Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji says, “In the spiritual treasure hunt, rich treasure
lies beneath the outer crude layers of matter in the bosom of man. The seeker must have
the assiduity, industry, hope and patience to dig in the right place in the right manner, with
unabated enthusiasm. The endeavour is made with the pick-axe of thought and the spade of
discrimination. With these we remove the earth of attachments to the body, mind and
intellect. This is called reflection and meditation (Manana and Nididhyasana).”

Verse 66: Curing the Disease of “Bondage”

iÉxqÉÉixÉuÉïmÉërɦÉålÉ pÉuÉoÉlkÉÌuÉqÉÑ£ürÉå |
xuÉæUåuÉ rɦÉÈ MüiÉïurÉÉå UÉåaÉÉSÉÌuÉuÉ mÉÎhQûiÉæÈ || 66||

1 tasmaat sarva prayatnena Therefore, by all the means at his disposal,


2 bhava-bandha vimuktaye; to be free from the bondage of births and deaths,
3 svaih eva yatnah kartavyah Effort alone has to be made by one’s own means
4 rogaadau iva pandhitaih. by intelligent seekers, exactly as one does in illness.

At last the great Acharya seems to be satisfied that his student has got the message.
He is now ready to go ahead with answering his questions. Now that the student knows that
he alone is fully responsible for putting into practice what he learns from his Guru, the
Guru’s effort to teach him will not be in vain.
“Strive hard” is the key to success on the spiritual path. And success is defined only
in terms of the ultimate goal of liberation from all bondage that leads to births and deaths.

END OF PART 1
*****

44
VIVEKA CHUDAMANI – Vol.1
PART 2: (Verses 67-146, 80 No.)

SRAVANA – Hearing the Truth

2.1 INTRODUCTION TO SRAVANA


(Verses 67-71, 5 No.)

SRAVANA IS A KEY stage in Vedanta Sadhana when the knowledge of the Self is
imparted by the Guru to the yearning disciple. What was stated as an overview in Part 1, is
now expanded in full in this Part. The desire to learn has to be cultivated. Intellectual
lethargy has to be discouraged. Enquiring minds have made the world’s great discoveries.

Preparing an Astronaut for Space Travel


Acharyaji gave us the following example to introduce this Part.
When an astronaut is selected to go on a trip to the moon, he is briefed about all
matters concerning his personal requirements during his journey in space.
He is told what his food allowance will be; how he will be supplied with oxygen and
how the air he breathes out will be carried away; what arrangements have been made for
his toilet functions; what his clothing needs and limits will be; how much personal luggage
he would be permitted to carry; what reading material he may take to relax his mind; how
much sleep he will be allowed, and so on. For a spaceman, these matters are vital. Once he
is out in space, it is this knowledge alone that will help him for his survival.
In the same way, the spiritual aspirant is going to be told in the next few chapters all
that he needs to know about himself – his gross body, subtle body, causal body, his Self and
his not-Self. The chapters have to be read with this intention in mind – that a very special
journey is being undertaken, and all knowledge regarding his personal limitations has to be
known before “blast off”!
The information in the chapters to follow give the student a good idea of his
“luggage” allowance. It tells him what he can shed off and what he can’t. For his spiritual
journey, he can shed off everything that is the not-Self, but he can never shed off his Self.
That is the relevance of the knowledge in Part 2.

Verse 67: The Relevance of the Questions

rÉxiuÉrÉɱ M×üiÉÈ mÉëzlÉÉå uÉUÏrÉÉgNûÉx§ÉÌuÉlqÉiÉÈ |


xÉÔ§ÉmÉëÉrÉÉå ÌlÉaÉÔRûÉjÉÉåï ¥ÉÉiÉurÉ¶É qÉÑqÉѤÉÑÍpÉÈ || 67||

45
1 yah tvayaa adya kritah prashnah The Questions which you raised today are
2 vareeyaan shaastra vinmatah; excellent, accepted by the well-versed in Shastras.
3 sootrapraayo nigoodhhaartho Being aphoristic and pregnant with meaning,
4 jnaatavyashcha mumukshhubhih. they are fit to be known by all seekers.

1-2 The seven questions of verse 49 are the subject matter of this Part. The Jignasu’s
thirst for knowledge is first appreciated by the Vedantic teacher.
3-4 The answers that follow are of interest to all spiritual seekers of all times and of
all countries. Vedanta is a universal science that is available to every seeker.

Verse 68: “Now Listen Attentively!”

zÉ×hÉÑwuÉÉuÉÌWûiÉÉå ÌuɲlrÉlqÉrÉÉ xÉqÉÑSÏrÉïiÉå |


iÉSåiÉcNíûuÉhÉÉixɱÉå pÉuÉoÉlkÉÉ̲qÉÉå¤rÉxÉå || 68||

1 shrinushhu aavahitah vidvan Listen attentively, O learned one,


2 yat mayaa samudeeryate; to what I shall now tell you.
3 tat etat shravanaat sadyah Listening to it, you shall immediately
4 bhavabandhaat vimokshhyase. be liberated from the bondage of Samsara.

1-2 Shrinushu: “by listening attentively”. The Guru is well aware of the importance of
listening attentively to the instructions he is about to give. The grasping power is
proportional to the attention bestowed by the student during this stage. Listening is the
only thing emphasized in this verse. This indicates to us that the student is required to do
just that – to listen attentively to every word.
3 Shravanaat: “as a result of listening”. The solution does not lie in doing or going
but in grasping attentively with the intellect. The error is an incorrect understanding of
one’s identity, hence the solution has to lie in correcting that specific error. No other
remedy will be of any help in this situation. The Guru carefully directs the disciple’s mind to
the root of the problem.
4 It is significant which question is answered first. The first question taken up is Q.4,
“How can I get out of bondage completely? How can I be liberated from bondage?”
When our own home is burning, what is the first thing we would do? We would run
for our lives, we would escape from the inferno first. Only then we enquire how the fire
started, etc. This is the approach Shankaracharyaji takes in answering Question 4 first.

Verse 69: The Basic Requirements for Liberation

qÉÉå¤ÉxrÉ WåûiÉÑÈ mÉëjÉqÉÉå ÌlÉaɱiÉå


uÉæUÉarÉqÉirÉliÉqÉÌlÉirÉuÉxiÉÑwÉÑ |
iÉiÉÈ zÉqɶÉÉÌmÉ SqÉÎxiÉÌiɤÉÉ
lrÉÉxÉÈ mÉëxÉ£üÉÎZÉsÉMüqÉïhÉÉÇ pÉ×zÉqÉç || 69||

46
mokshhasya hetuh In order to bring about liberation,
1 prathamah nigadyate the first consideration is:
vairaagyam atyantam Extreme detachment or dispassion
2 anitya vastushhu; for finite objects of sensual enjoyment;
tatah shamah cha api Then, calmness of mind and also
3 damah titikshhaa sense-control, followed by endurance;
nyaasah prasakta-akhila- and renunciation of all selfishness from
4 karmanaam bhrisham. actions completely.

1 The initial requirement is Sadhana Chatushtaya. The “Fourfold Virtues” are once
again listed, so that the student is certain of the solid foundation upon which the Guru is
going to build the edifice of Liberation. These requirements are:
2 i) Vairagya: “intense dispassion”. This is the first and foremost of the conditions for
liberation to take place. It has to come from Viveka alone; any other dispassion will be
temporary. Revulsion for pleasure (Dosha Drishti) is necessary but to really sustain it over a
long period it must be backed by Viveka.
Without Vairagya the mind will always run outside and never settle into silence.
Satsang with one who has this quality is the best way to develop it.
3a ii) Shama and Dama: “control of the mind and senses”. Once Vairagya is accepted
as an ideal to strive for, the withdrawal of the mind from objects is the first step needed to
achieve it. The senses are like the horses and the mind is the reins of the chariot of the soul.
Sri Krishna, as the Divine Charioteer of Arjuna, is the intellect in control of the reins.
3b iii) Titiksha: “endurance”. This quality is needed to bear all the hardship that is
inevitable on this rugged path.
4 iv) Nyaasah (from which the word Sannyaasa is derived): “renunciation”. This is
another fundamental requisite. It is the giving up of all selfish action. It is equivalent to
Uparama, which is another name for Sannyasa, and falls under Shat Sampati.

Verse 70: Overview of Vedantic Sadhana

iÉiÉÈ ´ÉÑÌiÉxiÉlqÉlÉlÉÇ
xÉiɨuÉ-krÉÉlÉÇ ÍcÉUÇ ÌlÉirÉ ÌlÉUliÉUÇ |
qÉÑlÉåÈ iÉiÉÉåÅÌuÉMüsmÉÇ mÉUqÉåirÉ
ÌuɲÉlÉç CWæûuÉ ÌlÉuÉÉïhÉxÉÑZÉÇ xÉqÉ×cNûÌiÉ || 70||
tatah shrutih, Thereafter, comes hearing (Sravana),
1 tat mananam, then reflection on what has been heard (Manana),
satattva- dhyaanam, and lastly, meditation on the Truth (Nididhyasana),
2 chiram nitya nirantaram; done for a long time, constant and unbroken;
muneh tatah avikalpam, For such a Muni the state free of all modifications and
3 param etya supreme (Savikalpa Samadhi), is reached.
vidvaan iha eva, nirvaana- Ultimately, that blessed one, in this very life,
4 sukham samrichchhati. realizes the Bliss of Nirvana (Nirvikalpa Samadhi)

47
The Place of Sravana in Vedantic Sadhana
The full “road map” of Vedantic Sadhana is given here. If there is Shraddha or strong
faith in the words of the Guru, then Sravana can begin. Manana and Nididhyasana will
follow in due course. The ultimate goal to be reached is Nirvikalpa Samadhi or the all-blissful
state of Nirvana. This marks the route of the whole Sadhana. It starts with Sravana.
Acharyaji gave us a helpful insight: Grasping of the knowledge is acquired during
attentive Sravana; that is carefully converted to firm understanding which comes during
Manana; finally, Nididhyasana is needed to establish oneself in abiding in that knowledge.
This step has to be done over a long period without a break.

Example: The Arani


The Arani is an instrument made up of two pieces of wood that rub against each
other to produce fire. [Sandeepany students had seen this demonstrated during the opening
of the Ganesh Temple at Chinmaya Vibhooti in Kolwan.] If the churning of the wooden rod is
stopped, the wood cools off and one would need to start from scratch again. If it is
continued without a break, then the heat builds up until fire is produced. This is a perfect
example to illustrate the need for steady and prolonged practice of Nididhyasana, until
Savikalpa Samadhi is reached. A short step further from this state is Nirvikalpa Samadhi,
when the fire is well established.

Verse 71: The Sravana Begins . . .

rɯÉå®urÉÇ iÉuÉåSÉlÉÏqÉÉiqÉÉlÉÉiqÉÌuÉuÉåcÉlÉqÉç |
iÉSÒcrÉiÉå qÉrÉÉ xÉqrÉMçü ´ÉÑiuÉÉiqÉlrÉuÉkÉÉUrÉ || 71||

1 yat boddhavyam tava idaaneem Firstly, this is what you ought to know now:
2 aatma-anaatma vivechanam; discrimination between the Self and the not-Self
3 tat uchyate mayaa samyak This will be described by me most elaborately.
4 shrutvaa aatmani avadhaaraya. Listen to it and receive it well in your mind.

The principle being taught is given here. In the rest of Part 2, i.e. the next six
chapters, a lot of information is conveyed. The whole purpose of these chapters is to
develop an intellectual grasp of the situation concerning our bondage.
This information is crucial to find our way out of bondage. It is as helpful as knowing
where the staircase and doors are located in a building when we need to escape from it due
to fire.

*****

48
2.2 THE GROSS BODY
(Verses 72-91, 20 No.)

ON EVERY FLIGHT, whether it is local or international, the flight attendant goes


through a routine explanation of what to do in an emergency, where to find the oxygen
equipment, how to use it, where the escape hatches are, etc. All this may seem only routine,
but they become all important in an emergency. Some passengers may sleep through the
demonstration quite happily. When the emergency arises, those who know the procedure
to follow are the ones that can save themselves; those who do not, start panicking and
disturbing the others.
We should treat the following information in the same spirit. We know it is essential
in an emergency. But do we recognise that we are in such an emergency situation already?
We have to escape from the conflagration of this worldly existence! Only if we see this
emergency situation, will the conditions be ripe for Sravana to take place.
Such information is now going to be given by the Guru. It is invaluable to escape
from Bondage.

2.2.1. Formation of the Gross Body (Verses 72-75, 4 No.)

Verse 72: Composition & Parts of the Body

qÉ‹ÉÎxjÉqÉåSÈmÉsÉU£ücÉqÉïiuÉaÉÉÀûrÉæÈ
kÉÉiÉÑÍpÉUåÍpÉUÎluÉiÉqÉç |
mÉÉSÉåÂuɤÉÉåpÉÑeÉmÉ׸qÉxiÉMæüÈ
A…¡æûÂmÉÉ…¡æûÂmÉrÉÑ£üqÉåiÉiÉç || 72||
majjaa asthi medah pala Marrow, bones, fat, flesh,
1 rakta charma tvag aahvayaih blood, skin, epidermis – known by these terms,
2 dhaatubhih ebhih anvitam; are the (seven) ingredients that compose the body;
paada-uru-vakshhah-ubhuja- Legs, thighs, chest, arms,
3 prishhtha-mastakaih back and the head –
anggaih upaanggaih these are the parts and sub-parts
4 upayuktam etat. that are united to form this body.

Verse 73: Body Identification & the Subtle Elements

AWûqqÉqÉåÌiÉ mÉëÍjÉiÉÇ zÉUÏUÇ


qÉÉåWûÉxmÉSÇ xjÉÔsÉÍqÉiÉÏrÉïiÉå oÉÑkÉæÈ |
lÉpÉÉålÉpÉxuɬWûlÉÉqoÉÑpÉÔqÉrÉÈ
xÉÔ¤qÉÉÍhÉ pÉÔiÉÉÌlÉ pÉuÉÎliÉ iÉÉÌlÉ || 73||
49
aham mama iti With the words ‘I’ and ‘mine’
5 prathitam shareeram is denoted all that is connected with this body;
moha aspadam sthoolam iti It is the seat of delusion, and is gross in nature,
6 eeryate budhaih; thus declare the reputed sages.
7 nabhah-nabhahvat dahana ambu bhoomayah Space, air, fire, water and earth –
8 sookshhmaani bhootaani bhavanti taani. these are the subtle elements (Tanmatras)

Verse 74: The Gross Elements & Sense Objects

mÉUxmÉUÉÇzÉæÍqÉïÍsÉiÉÉÌlÉ pÉÔiuÉÉ
xjÉÔsÉÉÌlÉ cÉ xjÉÔsÉzÉUÏUWåûiÉuÉÈ |
qÉɧÉÉxiÉSÏrÉÉ ÌuÉwÉrÉÉ pÉuÉÎliÉ
zÉoSÉSrÉÈ mÉgcÉ xÉÑZÉÉrÉ pÉÉå£ÑüÈ || 74||
parasparaamshaih militaani (The Tanmatras) unite with parts of each other (a
9 bhootvaa process called Pancheekarana), and become
sthoolaani cha i) the five gross elements;
10 sthoolashareera hetavah; ii) (these combine) to form the gross body;
maatraah tadeeyaa iii) from the gross elements are also
11 vishhayaa bhavanti created the gross sense objects (of the universe).
shabdaadayah pancha iv) the five senses organs lead the sense objects in
12 sukhaaya bhoktuh. for the enjoyment of the Experiencer (the Jiva).

Verse 75: The Cause of Endless Rebirths in Bodies

rÉ LwÉÑ qÉÔRûÉ ÌuÉwÉrÉåwÉÑ oÉ®É


UÉaÉÉåÂmÉÉzÉålÉ xÉÑSÒSïqÉålÉ |
AÉrÉÉÎliÉ ÌlÉrÉÉïlirÉkÉ FkuÉïqÉç
EŠæÈ xuÉMüqÉïSÕiÉålÉ eÉuÉålÉ lÉÏiÉÉÈ || 75||
ye eshhu moodhhaa Those thoughtless ones who are
13 vishhayeshhu baddhaa bound to these sense objects,
raagorupaashena by the stout ropes of attachment
14 sudurdamena; so very difficult to cut asunder.
aayaanti niryaanti They come and go (through birth and death),
15 adhah oordhvam up and down (heavenwards or to hell),
uchchaih svakarmadootena as determined by their own powerful Karmas,
16 javena neetaah. which carry them with compelling force.

The above 4 verses give in a nutshell the causes of the gross body, their connection
to the world of objects through the senses to our subtle body (the mind); how the mental
world is created and produces Karma. Karma leads to bondage, bondage causes the next
birth for the Jiva. The endless cycles of birth and death is called Transmigration of the soul.
These verses are almost repeated in 88-89, where they are explained further.

50
2.2.2. How Man is Bound to the Body (Verses 76-82, 7 No.)

The Bondage that has been briefly described above, is now explained further:

Verse 76: The Danger in Each Sense Organ

zÉoSÉÌSÍpÉÈ mÉgcÉÍpÉUåuÉ mÉgcÉ


MÑU…¡ûqÉÉiÉ…¡ûmÉiÉ…¡ûqÉÏlÉpÉ×…¡ûÉ
mÉgcÉiuÉqÉÉmÉÑÈ xuÉaÉÑhÉålÉ oÉ®ÉÈ |
lÉUÈ mÉgcÉÍpÉUÎgcÉiÉÈ ÌMüqÉç || 76||
shabdaadibhih panchabhih eva By just one of the five senses (sound to smell),
1 pancha the following five creatures respectively –
kurangga, maatangga, the deer (by sound), elephant (by touch),
2 patangga, meena, moth (by sight), fish (by taste), and
bhringgaa; honeybee (by fragrance) –
panchatvam aapuh meet their dissolution into elements, i.e. death,
3 svagunena baddhaah; because of their slavery to that one sense.
4 narah panchabhih anchitah kim. What of Man, who is attached by all five senses!

1-3 These five creatures are bound to one particular sense:


i) Deer – sense of hearing. It needs highly developed hearing for a deer to detect a
tiger, but the same highly developed sense gets addicted to sweet music by which it gets
entrapped by hunters.
ii) Elephant – sense of touch. Elephants love the touch of fellow elephants. But that
also attracts them into traps set up by hunters.
iii) Moth – sense of sight. It circles around light, and dies of dizziness.
iv) Fish – sense of taste. It is easily trapped by setting up a bait of tasty worms.
v) Honey-bee – sense of smell. Drawn by the fragrance of flowers, the honeybee falls
a prey to this sense and gets caught.
4 Man: How much greater is the plight of man, who falls prey to all the five senses!
This is the punchline of the verse.

Verse 77: Poisonous Nature of Sense Organs

SÉåwÉåhÉ iÉÏuÉëÉå ÌuÉwÉrÉÈ M×üwhÉxÉmÉïÌuÉwÉÉSÌmÉ |


ÌuÉwÉÇ ÌlÉWûÎliÉ pÉÉå£üÉUÇ Sì¹ÉUÇ cɤÉÑwÉÉmrÉrÉqÉç || 77||

1 doshhena teevrah vishhayah In their tragic effects, sense objects are more
2 krishhna-sarpa-vishhaad-api; venomous than the poison of a cobra.
3 vishham nihanti bhoktaaram For poison to kill, one has to at least swallow it;
drashhtaaram But with sense objects, just one look at it
4 chakshhushhaa api ayam. with the eye is enough to trap one for life.

51
1-4 A snake bite is deadly because the poison enters the bloodstream. But sense
objects are deadly through a mere sight of them! Hence, the Senses are considered to be
more venomous.
‘Window-shopping’ is a typical example of how use is made of man’s weakness for
sense objects. Merely doing window-shopping is not as innocent as it sounds. It plants the
seed of desire in the mind, which sooner or later impels the person to fulfil it.
Traders know that all the senses are weak. So some traders even allow their
customers to touch the objects – one more sense is added into the net. A food store may
allow you to taste as well. That speeds up the return of the customer to buy the goods. For
this reason Dama is prescribed to aspirants to avoid all contact with sense objects.

Verse 78: The Terrible Bonds of Desires

ÌuÉwÉrÉÉzÉÉqÉWûÉmÉÉzÉɱÉå ÌuÉqÉÑ£üÈ xÉÑSÒxirÉeÉÉiÉç |


xÉ LuÉ MüsmÉiÉå qÉÑYirÉæ lÉÉlrÉÈ wÉOèzÉÉx§ÉuÉå±ÌmÉ || 78||

1 vishhaya aashaa-mahaa-paashaad The terrible bonds of desire for sense objects,


sudustyajaat are extremely difficult to renounce.
2 yah vimuktah; He who has liberated himself from them,
3 sa eva kalpate muktyai na anyah he alone becomes worthy for liberation, none else,
4 shhat-shaastra-vedyapi. even if well-versed in all six schools of philosophy.

1-2 The job of the senses is done as soon as Desire is born in the mind. Desire now
takes over. Its strength is enormous. The message here is that unless one detaches himself
from the objects, and tunes his mind to the goal of liberation, he is never going to succeed.
3-4 The emphasis on dispassion must surely make its value quite clear by now to the
young student of Vedanta. Liberation is not a theoretical science. Being a professor of all
philosophies is not in itself a qualification for spiritual life. More is required than just that.

Verse 79: Fate of the Apparently Dispassionate

AÉmÉÉiÉuÉæUÉarÉuÉiÉÉå qÉÑqÉѤÉÔlÉç
pÉuÉÉÎokÉmÉÉUÇ mÉëÌiÉrÉÉiÉÑqÉѱiÉÉlÉç |
AÉzÉÉaÉëWûÉå qÉ‹rÉiÉåÅliÉUÉsÉå
ÌlÉaÉ×½ MühPåû ÌuÉÌlÉuÉirÉï uÉåaÉÉiÉç || 79||
aapaata vairaagyavatah Those who have only an apparent dispassion –
1 mumukshhoon if they are desirous of liberation,
bhava abdhi paaram and, wishing to cross the “Ocean of Change”,
2 pratiyaatum udyataan; begin to undertake the journey,
aashaa-grahah majjayate they get drowned by the shark of desire
3 antaraale in the middle of the ocean;
nigrihya kanthe they are caught by the throat,
4 vinivartya vegaat. violently turned around, and dragged back.

52
1-2 There are people who are failures in the world, and so they develop a superficial
dispassion. This is here described as Aapaata or “apparent” dispassion. Based on this
dispassion, they begin the path of renunciation. This is the wrong reason to renounce.
This, of course, does not mean that if one is a failure then his dispassion is not
genuine; or that if he is successful in the world his dispassion is genuine. No! Such a
correlation is illogical and invalid. The case of Swami Ramdas of Anandashram is an example
of the former. He was a failure at whatever worldly undertaking he took up. Yet he had a
dispassion that was very deep. In his case, one may deduce that his failures were a message
from God to make him take up spiritual life where alone he would find true success.
The test of dispassion rests purely on being free from cravings or desire for objects.
3-4 The verse sounds a warning to those who chance their ‘luck’ to pass off as
dispassionate people (perhaps to attract a following). They are in for a shock. The verse
gives us a striking simile which is a self-explanatory warning for would-be pretenders.

Verse 80: Success of the Truly Dispassionate

ÌuÉwÉrÉÉZrÉaÉëWûÉå rÉålÉ xÉÑÌuÉUYirÉÍxÉlÉÉ WûiÉÈ |


xÉ aÉcNûÌiÉ pÉuÉÉqpÉÉåkÉåÈ mÉÉUÇ mÉëirÉÔWûuÉÎeÉïiÉÈ || 80||

1 vishhayaakhya-grahah yena He by whom the shark called ‘sense objects’


2 suviraktyasinaa hatah; is destroyed with the sword of mature dispassion,
3 sa gachhati bhavaam-bhodheh he safely crosses the Ocean of Change and reaches
4 paaram, pratyoohavarjitah. the other shore, without facing any obstruction.

1 This is the reverse of the previous verse. A genuine seeker will have no problem. In
his case, it is the mid-ocean sharks that will soon meet their doom!
2 Using the sword of dispassion founded on Viveka or discrimination, the sharks of
sense objects are destroyed. Through Viveka we understand the true nature of our
attachment to objects. The sword of discrimination is driven through the mind itself, where
the shark resides. There is no external shark; the mind is where the shark of desire resides.
Acharyaji gave the example of a dog which chews a bone with much relish, thinking
it is very tasty. Actually, the bone rips its mouth and its own blood is what makes the bone
so ‘tasty’. The mind is like that blood which makes the sense objects appear pleasant. An
opposite example is Nachiketas who remained untouched by Yama’s offer of temptations.
3-4 Once the mental sharks of desire are killed, the ocean becomes safe to cross
over. In fact, the moment we kill the mind-born sharks of desire, we are already on the
other shore. That is why the verse says, “without facing any obstruction.”
We learn from this verse that it is not the world that catches us; we catch hold of the
world and refuse to let it go. The world itself is inert; it can have no intrinsic power to bind
us. To the dispassionate seeker, the world does not pose itself as a forbidding obstacle.
Here Acharyaji gave us some idea of why worldly people see real Vairagis as queer,
morose and dull people. They cannot understand that happiness lies in the absence of
desire, not fulfillment of desire.

53
Verse 81: Choice 1: Pleasure or Nobility

ÌuÉwÉqÉÌuÉwÉrÉqÉÉaÉæïaÉïcNûiÉÉåÅlÉcNûoÉÑ®åÈ
mÉëÌiÉmÉSqÉÍpÉrÉÉiÉÉå qÉ×irÉÑUmrÉåwÉ ÌuÉή |
ÌWûiÉxÉÑeÉlÉaÉÑÃYirÉÉ aÉcNûiÉÈ xuÉxrÉ rÉÑYirÉÉ
mÉëpÉuÉÌiÉ TüsÉÍxÉÎ®È xÉirÉÍqÉirÉåuÉ ÌuÉή || 81||
vishhama vishhaya maargaih The dangerous path of sense pleasures –
1 gachchhatah anachchhabuddheh, one who walks it is a man of foolish intellect:
pratipadam abhiyaatah mrityuh at every step he is overtaken by death;
2 api eshha viddhi; at least understand this.
hita-sujana-gurooktyaa But, the well-meaning path of noble teachers –
3 gachchhatah svasya yuktyaa, one who walks it is a man of sound reason:
prabhavati phalasiddhih the achievement of the fruit comes to him;
4 satyam iti eva viddhi. know for certain this is true.

1-2 Path of Pleasure: Sense indulgence is likened to death itself in this verse.
3-4 Path of Nobility: However, the way out of it is to sincerely stick to one’s spiritual
goal, and follow the instruction of the “well-meaning, noble Teacher” who has the interest
of his disciple at heart.
The example given in class is of a man who missed his train because he was attracted
to go and buy a vada just before the train was to leave. He just had to sit on the platform
and watch the train speed away, eating his delicious vada!

Verse 82: Choice 2: Poison or Nectar

qÉÉå¤ÉxrÉ MüÉXç¤ÉÉ rÉÌS uÉæ iÉuÉÉÎxiÉ


irÉeÉÉÌiÉSÕUÉ̲wÉrÉÉÎluÉwÉÇ rÉjÉÉ |
mÉÏrÉÔwÉuɨÉÉåwÉSrÉɤÉqÉÉeÉïuÉ-
mÉëzÉÉÎliÉSÉliÉÏpÉïeÉ ÌlÉirÉqÉÉSUÉiÉç || 82||
mokshhasya kaangkshhaa A burning yearning for liberation,
1 yadi vai tava asti, if indeed you have such a thing,
tyaja atidooraat vishhayaan then keep sense objects at a far distance away,
2 vishham yathaa; avoid them as you would avoid poison.
peeyooshhavat toshha- In contrast, like nectar are the virtues of contentment,
3 dayaa-kshhamaa-aarjava- sympathy, forgiveness, straight-forwardness,
prashaanti-daanteeh, calmness and self-control –
4 bhaja nityam aadaraat. cultivate these daily and religiously.

1-4 The final advice on this subject is to keep sense objects at a distance, as if they
are poison. We should not look with envy at what we do not have, but be contented with
what we have. The other virtues listed in the verse are aids to tread the path of dispassion.
They are Sattwic qualities, and are needed to overcome the Rajasic urge to enjoy pleasures.

54
2.2.3 Fascination for the Body (Verses 83 – 86, 4 No.)
In these four verses we are advised of the danger of doing ‘Deha’ Pooja instead of
‘Deva’ Pooja (that is, worshipping the body instead of worshipping the Deity)!

Verse 83: Choice 3: Procrastinate or Liberate

AlÉѤÉhÉÇ rÉimÉËU™irÉ M×üirÉÇ


AlÉɱÌuɱÉM×üiÉoÉlkÉqÉÉå¤ÉhÉqÉç |
SåWûÈ mÉUÉjÉÉåïÅrÉqÉqÉÑwrÉ mÉÉåwÉhÉå
rÉÈ xÉ‹iÉå xÉ xuÉqÉlÉålÉ WûÎliÉ || 83||
anukshhanam yat He (who is full of body-consciousness) at every moment,
1 parihritya krityam procrastinates what he ought to be doing, namely:
anaadi-avidyaa-krita from beginningless Ignorance which is the cause of
2 bandha-mokshhanam; bondage – to liberate himself from its hold on him.
dehah paraarthah ayam This body is intended for realizing Paramatman,
3 amushhya poshhane that is why it is nourished.
yah sajjate sa svam He who clings to it just for his own selfish needs,
4 anena hanti. he, by the body itself, gets destroyed!

1-4 If we are not using the body to free ourselves from Ignorance then we are surely
using it to tighten the noose of bondage. There is no sitting on the fence.
The body is a ladder with which we can either go upwards to liberation or
downwards towards further bondage! We have to decide what we want to do and act
quickly to escape.

Verse 84: Can one Choose Both?

zÉUÏUmÉÉåwÉhÉÉjÉÏï xÉlÉç rÉ AÉiqÉÉlÉÇ ÌSSؤÉÌiÉ |


aÉëÉWÇû SÉÂÍkÉrÉÉ kÉ×iuÉÉ lÉSÏÇ iÉiÉÑïÇ xÉ aÉcNûÌiÉ || 84||
1 shareera poshhanaarthee san By devoting himself to the whims of the body,
2 ya aatmaanam didrikshhati; while yet seeking to rediscover the Self;
3 graaham daarudhiyaa dhritvaa is like holding on to a shark mistaking it for a log,
4 nadeem tartum sa gachchhati. while proceeding to cross over a river.

1-2 Someone may ask: “Is it possible to choose both pleasure and spirituality?” It is
sheer self-delusion to seek liberation by giving oneself to bodily pleasures. That is self-
contradictory. It just cannot happen.
3-4 A brilliant simile is given here. What kind of a person will grab a shark, thinking it
to be a log of wood? It can only be someone who is under severe delusion.
Acharyaji gave the example of Sri Hanuman. He had to cross the ocean to reach
Lanka. He flew high above the ocean. The ocean represents the ‘Body Idea’ which we have
to overcome. There was not a trace of selfish body-idea in Hanuman. Hence he succeeded.

55
Verse 85: Infatuation Has to be Abandoned

qÉÉåWû LuÉ qÉWûÉqÉ×irÉÑqÉÑïqÉѤÉÉåuÉïmÉÑUÉÌSwÉÑ |


qÉÉåWûÉå ÌuÉÌlÉÎeÉïiÉÉå rÉålÉ xÉ qÉÑÌ£ümÉSqÉWïûÌiÉ || 85||

1 moha eva mahaa mrityuh Still being Infatuated with the body, is ‘death’
2 mumukshhoh vapuraadishhu; for a student who seeks liberation, too.
3 mohah vinirjito yena He who has totally conquered this infatuation,
4 sa muktipadamarhati. he alone deserves the state of liberation.

We have seen that an attached mind is unfit for spiritual Sadhana and cannot take
one to liberation. If such is the case, what to speak of an infatuated mind, where the
intensity of attachment is hundredfold more! Such a mind would find it impossible to let go
of sense objects, and be totally unavailable for Sadhana.
To the person who loves sleep, it is certain that waking up is going to be difficult.
If we leave the doors and windows of our mind open, the mosquitoes of sense
objects are bound to come and disturb us!

Verse 86: . . . Lock, Stock & Barrel!

qÉÉåWÇû eÉÌWû qÉWûÉqÉ×irÉÑÇ SåWûSÉUxÉÑiÉÉÌSwÉÑ |


rÉÇ ÎeÉiuÉÉ qÉÑlÉrÉÉå rÉÉÎliÉ iÉ̲whÉÉåÈ mÉUqÉÇ mÉSqÉç || 86||

1 moham jahi mahaa mrityum Therefore, kill infatuation before it kills you –
2 dehadaara sutaadishhu; i.e. infatuation over body, wife, children, etc.
3 yam jitvaa munayo yaanti By conquering these, sages reach
4 tadvishhnoh paramam padam. the supreme state of Lord Vishnu.

When we drop infatuation, we must apply it uniformly to the whole ‘package’.


The whole ‘Parivar’ or family of objects connected with the body is to be abandoned
once and for all. This means wife, children, pets, relations, friends, etc. – everything that
links up with promoting the ‘body-idea’.
The example was of a bird who is flying with its prey held in its beak. Many other
pirate birds are wanting to attack it. The bird then drops the prey, and with that action, all
the other birds also stop following it. They were only after the prey, not the bird. The same
applies to the whole Parivar connected to this body. People only run behind a rich person
because of his money, not because they love him. We should learn from these examples.

2.2.4. Overcoming the Fascination for Body (Verses 87-91, 5 No.)


Verse 87: An Aid to Cultivate Dispassion

iuɉÉÇxÉÂÍkÉUxlÉÉrÉÑqÉåSÉåqÉ‹ÉÎxjÉxɃ¡ÓûsÉqÉç |
mÉÔhÉïÇ qÉÔ§ÉmÉÑUÏwÉÉprÉÉÇ xjÉÔsÉÇ ÌlÉl±ÍqÉSÇ uÉmÉÑÈ || 87||
56
1 tvak maamsa rudhirasnaayu Skin, flesh, blood vessels,
2 medo majja asthi sangkulam; fat, marrow, and bones – composed of these;
3 poornam mootra pureeshhaa-bhyaam Filled with urine and faecal matter,
4 sthoolam nindyam idam vapuh. this gross body is most offensive.

1-4 When the outer packaging is removed, the body’s contents appear truly
repulsive. We won’t tolerate them. It is a wonder that we get attached to the whole
collection of these unsightly contents when they are packaged neatly. Are we likely to
remember this verse when we are sitting in front of the mirror doing our ‘make-up’?
We can take the aid offered or we can leave it. Its purpose is clear: to deliberately
create a sense of repulsion for the body. After all, that is what it actually is physically. The
intention would be that we stop pampering it and spend the time saved by engaging
ourselves in spiritual pursuits.

Verse 88: The Seat of Various Experiences

mÉgcÉÏM×üiÉåprÉÉå pÉÔiÉåprÉÈ xjÉÔsÉåprÉÈ mÉÔuÉïMüqÉïhÉÉ |


xÉqÉÑimɳÉÍqÉSÇ xjÉÔsÉÇ pÉÉåaÉÉrÉiÉlÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ |
AuÉxjÉÉ eÉÉaÉUxiÉxrÉ xjÉÔsÉÉjÉÉïlÉÑpÉuÉÉå rÉiÉÈ || 88||

1 pancheekritebhyo bhootebhyah After undergoing Pancheekarana, the 5 gross


2 sthoolebhyah poorvakarmanaa; elements arise; ordered by past actions (Karma),
3 samutpannam idam sthoolam is produced this gross body,
4 bhogaayatanam aatmanah; the seat of experience for the Self.
5 avasthaa jaagarah tasya In the state of wakefulness of this (body)
6 sthoola artha anubhavah yatah. is experienced the gross objects by it.

Verse 89: Drama in the WAKING STATE

oÉɽåÎlSìrÉæÈ xjÉÔsÉmÉSÉjÉïxÉåuÉÉÇ
xÉëYcÉlSlÉx§rÉÉÌSÌuÉÍcɧÉÃmÉÉqÉç |
MüUÉåÌiÉ eÉÏuÉÈ xuÉrÉqÉåiÉSÉiqÉlÉÉ
iÉxqÉÉimÉëzÉÎxiÉuÉïmÉÑwÉÉåÅxrÉ eÉÉaÉUå || 89||
baahyendriyaih By means of the outgoing sense organs,
7 sthoola-padaartha-sevaam all the gross objects are enjoyed, such as
srak-chandana- garlands (fame), sandal-paste (wealth), and
8 stryaadi vichitraroopaam; women (sex), all of an endless variety;
karoti jeevah svayam The individualized ego itself
9 etat aatmanaa, identifies with this gross body.
tasmaat prashastih Therefore, the greatest scope
10 vapushhah asya jaagare. this body has is during the WAKING STATE.

57
These two verses are taken together. They are an expansion of verses 74-75. At that
point, we did not explain them. Now we give the detailed explanation. They present the true
spiritual purpose for which the body has been given to us, which is to reduce the load of
Karmas we have brought forward with us from past births, not increase it.
1 The Pancheekarana is the process by which the Tanmatras or Subtle Elements are
converted into gross elements. The process has been explained in Tattwa Bodha. The subtle
elements are mixed in such a way that each gross element consists of half of its own subtle
element, and an eighth part of each of the other four subtle elements.
2-3 Then the Karmas of the person are taken into account. From the total Karma
(Sanchita), a portion (Prarabdha) is allocated for the current birth. The gross body produced
is in accordance with this Prarabdha Karma.
4 The purpose of the body is to gain experience of the world. The manner in which
we accept or reject these experiences, leads to either working out of our Karma or creating
further Karma respectively.
5-6 It is only in the waking state that these experiences can be had.
7-8 More details are given here of the kind of experiences obtained through the
body. They can be classified into three categories.
i) Keerti: “fame”. This is represented by garlands presented to one in public.
ii) Kanchana: “gold”. This is wealth and is represented here by sandal-paste.
iii) Kaamini: “lust”. This refers to sexual enjoyment and is referred here as woman.
Just as the three basic colours – blue, red and green – make up the countless combi-
nations of colours, so also these three symbolic types of sense objects combine in
innumerable ways to produce the pageantry of sense objects in the world. And all of that is
available to us only in our waking state, via the mind.
9 The “I”-sense is present in all experiences with the body. Whatever the gross or
subtle bodies experience, is imbued with the ego-sense. A person usually is entirely
identified with his gross and subtle bodies.
10 Since all the Upadhis are available and fully functional in the waking state, this is
the state that is responsible for all the bondage to the world. If we can check our tendencies
in this state it is sufficient to work out all our Karmas in this birth itself.

The Creation of our “Mental World”


The waking state is where we perceive the gross objects. It is also the state when we
add to those perceptions our own mental inclinations towards those objects. The external
objects arive in their neutral state into the mind. Once in the mind, they get tainted by the
likes and dislikes that prevail in the mind. This intermixing of our mental inclinations onto
the external object is what sows the seed for bondage.
If the mind does not interfere with our perceptions, then we can live fully in the
present moment, the NOW. When we are fully in the NOW, there is true awareness of our
environment. This state is very close to our true Self. However, when our minds bring in past
memories into the present moment, our perceptions get contaminated and we see a mental
version of the external world. Our waking state then resembles the dream state since it is a
mentally constructed world that we see, not the actual external world.
Where our mind is tells us how spiritual we are.

58
Verse 90: Transactional Purpose of the Body

xÉuÉÉåïÅÌmÉ oÉɽxÉÇxÉÉUÈ mÉÑÂwÉxrÉ rÉSÉ´ÉrÉÈ |


ÌuÉή SåWûÍqÉSÇ xjÉÔsÉÇ aÉ×WûuɪØWûqÉåÍkÉlÉÈ || 90||

1 sarvah api baahyasamsaarah All the dealings with the world outside,
2 purushhasya yad-aashrayah; for all men, are dependent on one thing only –
3 viddhi deham idam sthoolam this Gross Body. Know this to be their shelter,
4 grihavat grihamedhinah. just as a house is the shelter of a householder.

1-2 All our transactions with the world take place over the counter of this body. The
incoming and outgoing dealings are done via this Gross Body. This is as per Tattwa Bodha.
3-4 The idea of body as a shelter is an extension to Tattwa Bodha. The body houses
the subtle body. One may say that the body is the ‘address’ of the subtle body. The body is
their home to conduct their business. If anyone wants to contact a person’s mind, he has to
find his gross body first and through it only can he access his mind. The entire subtle body
(mind, intellect, sense organs and Pranas) is given shelter in the gross body. In order to
serve this purpose well, it is necessary for us to maintain our body in a healthy condition,
just as the office building needs to be maintained regularly.

Verse 91: Modifications of the Body

xjÉÔsÉxrÉ xÉqpÉuÉeÉUÉqÉUhÉÉÌlÉ kÉqÉÉïÈ


xjÉÉæsrÉÉSrÉÉå oÉWÒûÌuÉkÉÉÈ ÍzÉzÉÑiÉɱuÉxjÉÉÈ |
uÉhÉÉï´ÉqÉÉÌSÌlÉrÉqÉÉ oÉWÒûkÉÉÅÅqÉrÉÉÈ xrÉÑÈ
mÉÔeÉÉuÉqÉÉlÉoÉWÒûqÉÉlÉqÉÑZÉÉ ÌuÉzÉåwÉÉÈ || 91||
sthoolasya sambhava-jaraa- This gross body has birth, decay and
1 maranaani dharmaah death as its essential properties;
sthaulyaadayo bahuvidhaah It has different conditions such as fatness, etc.,
2 shishutaadi avasthaah; childhood, etc., and such other states;
varna-aashramaadi niyamaa It has a variety of rules of caste and orders of life;
3 bahudhaa aamayaah syuh it is affected by numerous diseases;
poojaa-vamaana-bahumaana Worship, dishonour, honour, etc,
4 amukhaa visheshhaah. are the different kinds of treatment it receives.

The body is subject to many variables. Some of these changes or modifications are
discussed in this verse:
1 Passing through the period from birth to death the gross body goes through six
modifications, three of which are mentioned here. These six are the full range and form a
cycle: Existence, birth, growth, maturity, decay and death. After death comes Existence once
again, followed by the next birth, and so on. Existence is Sat, and is the only permanent
aspect of the body. Sat is one of the aspects of the Supreme Reality.
2-3 Everything else (other than Sat) changes. These are described one after the other
in the rest of the verse.
59
These changing conditions depend essentially on the Prarabdha Karma we bring
with us into this life. The physical dimensions of the body are dependent on the food and
exercise we give to it. There are social rules which are imposed that depend on the family
one is born into. All such considerations which are based on our body are meaningless
beyond the body. To a seeker of Truth (Sat) they have little significance. What matters to
him is the condition of his mind to walk this path.
4 This body is also subject to being treated in different ways, sometimes praised and
sometimes criticized. All this has to be borne with equanimity.

*****

60
2.3 THE SUBTLE BODY
(Verses 92-105, 14 No.)

2.3.1 The Components of the Subtle Body (Verses 92-96, 5 No.)


Verse 92: The Organs of Knowledge & Action

oÉÑ®ÏÎlSìrÉÉÍhÉ ´ÉuÉhÉÇ iuÉaÉͤÉ


bÉëÉhÉÇ cÉ ÎeÉÀûÉ ÌuÉwÉrÉÉuÉoÉÉåkÉlÉÉiÉç |
uÉÉYmÉÉÍhÉmÉÉSÉ aÉÑSqÉmrÉÑmÉxjÉÈ
MüqÉåïÎlSìrÉÉÍhÉ mÉëuÉhÉålÉ MüqÉïxÉÑ || 92||
1 buddheendriyaani The organs of knowledge are:
shravanam tvag akshhi the ears, skin, eyes,
ghraanam cha jihvaa, nose and tongue;
2 vishhaya avabodhanaat; they help us to gain knowledge of objects.
3 vaak-paani-paadaa gudam api upasthah Speech, hands, legs, anus and genitals –
karmendriyaani these are the organs of action,
4 pravanena karmasu. since they have a tendency for action.

1-2 The input from the world to the mind is done through the five senses of
knowledge. They bring their respective sensory information to the mind. The ears, eyes and
nose can detect their objects from a distance. The skin can only detect what comes in
contact with it. The tongue can taste what enters the mouth.
3-4 The output from the mind back to the world is done through the 5 senses of
action. The hands and legs provide the physical movement; the speech provides interaction
through communication; the anus and genitals execute their respective personal functions.

Verse 93: “The Inner Instrument” – Mind & Intellect

ÌlÉaɱiÉåÅliÉÈMüUhÉÇ
qÉlÉÉåkÉÏÈ AWûƒ¡ÙûÌiÉͶɨÉÍqÉÌiÉ xuÉuÉ×̨ÉÍpÉÈ |
qÉlÉxiÉÑ xɃ¡ûsmÉÌuÉMüsmÉlÉÉÌSÍpÉÈ
oÉÑÎ®È mÉSÉjÉÉïkrÉuÉxÉÉrÉkÉqÉïiÉÈ || 93||

1 nigadyate antahkaranam Termed jointly as the “inner instrument”, it is made of:


manah dheeh ahangkritih the mind, intellect, ego-sense and memory,
2 chittam iti svavrittibhih called so according to their functions.
manah tu sangkalpa- Mind – due to its function of
3 vikalpana-aadibhih doubting and hesitating;
buddhih padaartha- Intellect – due to its function of
4 adhyavasaaya dharmatah. determining the truth of things;

61
Verse 94: “The Inner Instrument” – Ego & Memory

A§ÉÉÍpÉqÉÉlÉÉSWûÍqÉirÉWûƒ¡ÙûÌiÉÈ |
xuÉÉjÉÉïlÉÑxÉlkÉÉlÉaÉÑhÉålÉ ÍcɨÉqÉç || 94||
atra abhimaanaat Ego-Sense – due to its function of
5 aham iti ahangkritih; identification with the “I am” thought;
svaartha anusandhaana Memory – due to its function of
6 gunena chittam. constantly illumining the things of interest (to the mind).

1-2 Antahkarana: “inner instrument”, is the overall term given for the four parts,
namely, mind, intellect, Chitta and Ego. One instrument functions with four departments. If
the four aspects are healthy and functioning well, the person is said to be well-integrated.

The Buddhi & Ahamkara (Intellect & Ego)


4 & 5 These two form a pair. The intellect is where the ‘I’ thought is created. The
pure Consciousness strikes first in the intellect, and the Ego is the reflection that is
produced. The Self, as it were, appoints the Ego as its manager to run the body. Instead of
acting on behalf of the Self, the Ahamkara most often takes over the function as its own due
to ignorance, delusion and impurity in the inner equipment.
When it does so, it behaves in a manner totally different from what it was meant for
by God. It develops its own identity and starts dictating its own terms on the body in an
effort to get its desires fulfilled. The Ego literally hijacks the inner equipment for its own
purpose. We shall give it more attention to it later on in this text.
In this way, the Ahamkara plays its illegitimate role, instructing the intellect that is
contrary to the interests of the embodied soul. An instruction like “Keep Smiling” may suit
the Ego, but it gives a headache to the intellect to manage it practically. In practice such an
instruction can make one look very idiotic.

The Manas & Chitta (Mind & Memory)


3 & 6 These two form a second pair. The memory operates as the secretary to the
mind. It stores all the information in proper files and sequence. When any information is
needed by the mind, the Chitta sets about its work of finding the right cabinet, opening the
right file and pulling out the requested information.
It is also a very dynamic system. Old files that are no longer needed get deleted. The
information is stored in conceptual groups. As concepts are reviewed and updated, so are
old files discarded and new files added. It is a wonder to see the Chitta at work. If its boss,
the mind, decides to ‘change its mind’, the Chitta is expected to perform a miracle and re-
shuffle all the files within an instant! Like a dutiful secretary, it does so without complaint.
Sometimes an old redundant file does get opened through carelessness. Then the
behaviour resulting from it will be along the old lines of thought, by force of habit. It may
not represent the new thought patterns being adopted. This is a challenge to the Chitta. A
Chitta which is free from the biases of the other three departments – mind, intellect and
ego – can operate very efficiently. Such a condition is called Chitta Shuddhi, or purity of
mind. This condition, we shall see, is one of the most important requirements upon which
the control and silencing of the mind depends.

62
Verse 95: Prana & the Five Sub-Pranas

mÉëÉhÉÉmÉÉlÉurÉÉlÉÉåSÉlÉxÉqÉÉlÉÉ pÉuÉirÉxÉÉæ mÉëÉhÉÈ xuÉrÉqÉåuÉ |


uÉ×̨ÉpÉåSÉ̲M×üÌiÉpÉåSÉixÉÑuÉhÉïxÉÍsÉsÉÉÌSuÉiÉç || 95||

1 praana apaana vyaana udaana Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, and Samana –
samaanaa – bhavati asau becoming these (five), the one and the same
2 praanah svayam eva; Prana (the life-force) itself is responsible for
vrittibhedaad different functions in the body (inhalation, exhalation, circulation,
3 ejection and digestion respectively);
vikriti bhedaat and its different modifications (birth, growth, old age, death);
suvarna- just as gold (has different forms like earrings, necklace, etc),
4 salilaadi-vat. or water (has different forms like waves, bubbles, steam, ice, etc).

[The details placed in brackets in the translation above are from Tattwa Bodha.]
1-2 The idea of the same Prana splitting into 5 sub-Pranas to perform different
functions has been dealt with exhaustively in Tattva Bodha.
3 Prana, the life energy, also spreads throughout the body, and manifests differently
according to the functions it performs in the body.
4 We see this daily in the example of electricity which is a power that can be used to
perform different functions: it can heat food as well as keep it refrigerated. Power expresses
itself differently through different equipment.

Verse 96: The “Eight Cities” of the Subtle Body

uÉÉaÉÉÌS mÉgcÉ ´ÉuÉhÉÉÌS mÉgcÉ


mÉëÉhÉÉÌS mÉgcÉÉpÉëqÉÑZÉÉÌlÉ mÉgcÉ |
oÉÑSèkrÉɱÌuɱÉÌmÉ cÉ MüÉqÉMüqÉïhÉÏ
mÉÑrÉï¹MÇü xÉÔ¤qÉzÉUÏUqÉÉWÒûÈ || 96||
vaagaadi pancha 1. The five organs of action such as speech, etc.,
1 shravanaadi pancha 2. the five organs of perception such as ears, etc.,
praanaadi panchaa 3. the five sub-Pranas,
2 bhramukhaani pancha; 4. the five elements starting with space, etc.,
buddhi-aadi 5. the fourfold “inner instrument” (intellect, etc.),
3 avidyaa api cha kaama 6. Ignorance, 7. desire, and
karmanee 8. all the actions of the body.
puri ashhtakam These eight ‘cities’ together
4 sookshhma shareeram aahuh. constitute the subtle body.

1-3 All the different parts of the subtle body are grouped into 8 ‘cities’ in this verse.
Together they constitute the subtle body. Compared to Tattva Bodha, the only difference
here is that Ignorance, desire and actions are included under subtle body, primarily because
they are “not seen” by the senses, hence they cannot be gross. Desires are in the mind;
Ignorance is in the intellect; and actions, although they are seen, their essential part is not
physical but the motivation behind it, and therefore they are part of the subtle body.
63
4 Describing these eight as ‘cities’ conveys the message that each one is a major
role-player in the functioning of this body. Each of them has many sub-functions with a sub-
structure within it to manage its affairs, just as the municipalities in cities. Not a single ‘city’
is to be neglected.

2.3.2 The Functions of the Subtle Body (Verses 97-105, 9 No.)


Verse 97: Characteristics of the Subtle Body

CSÇ zÉUÏUÇ zÉ×hÉÑ xÉÔ¤qÉxÉÇÍ¥ÉiÉÇ


ÍsÉ…¡Çû iuÉmÉgcÉÏM×üiÉpÉÔiÉxÉqpÉuÉqÉç |
xÉuÉÉxÉlÉÇ MüqÉïTüsÉÉlÉÑpÉÉuÉMÇü
xuÉÉ¥ÉÉlÉiÉÉåÅlÉÉÌSÂmÉÉÍkÉUÉiqÉlÉÈ || 97||
idam shareeram shrinu Listen carefully, this composite body (as above) is:
1 sookshhma samjnitam linggam 1. known as the “Subtle Body” or “Linga Sharira”.
tu apancheekrita 2. Prior to their having undergone “grossification”,
2 bhoota-sambhavam; the subtle elements make up the subtle body.
savaasanam 3. It is possessed of Vasanas, which cause one to
3 karmaphala anubhaavakam experience the fruits of past actions.
sva-ajnaanatah 4. It is brought about by its own Ignorance.
4 anaadih, 5. It is beginningless; and, 6. it is a
upaadhih aatmanah. conditioning superimposed on the Self.

The Influence of Vasanas


1 “Linga” here refers to a sign indicating Life which otherwise cannot be perceived.
2 The subtle body is made of Tanmatras or the five subtle elements, prior to them
undergoing the process of grossification to become gross elements. This is why it cannot be
perceived by the senses.
3 At the heart of the subtle body are the Vasanas or past impressions which
determine what is in store for us in life. They are the seeds or the subconscious tendencies
which the mind has inherent in it. They form the ‘blueprint’ of life from birth to death, but
are not known until at the proper time they surface in our conscious mind.
Certain environments have the power to activate certain Vasanas. An Ashram may
bring up ones spiritual urges, whereas a nightclub will activate sensual tendencies. As
Vasanas drop off, we begin to see things differently, our viewpoint changes, and we evolve
spiritually. When all Vasanas are dropped, we attain the state called Chitta Shuddhi.
To exhaust all the Vasanas through experience may take many lifetimes. We can
speed up the process by doing spiritual Sadhana. Self-knowledge and intense reflection is
needed to speed up the removal of Vasanas from the Chitta. All the ‘folders’ connected with
the old outdated Vasanas get deleted. Each such deletion renders the mind purer;
4 The subtle body is a conditioning. Pure Consciousness (the Self) is conditioned
according to the purity of this conditioning. The purity of the mind and intellect are most
important in determining the amount by which Consciousness is conditioned.

64
Verse 98: Drama in the DREAM STATE – 1

xuÉmlÉÉå pÉuÉirÉxrÉ ÌuÉpÉYirÉuÉxjÉÉ


xuÉqÉɧÉzÉåwÉåhÉ ÌuÉpÉÉÌiÉ rÉ§É |
xuÉmlÉå iÉÑ oÉÑÎ®È xuÉrÉqÉåuÉ
eÉÉaÉëiÉç MüÉsÉÏlÉlÉÉlÉÉÌuÉkÉuÉÉxÉlÉÉÍpÉÈ || 98||
svapnah bhavati asya The DREAM STATE is this:
1 vibhakti avasthaa 1. Quite distinct from the waking state.
sva-maatra-sheshhena 2. Where the Jiva remains by itself, all alone,
2 vibhaati yatra; and has a unique experience.
3 svapne tu buddhih svayameva 3. Indeed, in dream the subtle body revels by itself.
naanaavidha-vaasanaabhih 4. Its cause is the various impressions gathered
4 jaagrat kaaleena. during the time of waking.

Verse 99: Drama in the DREAM STATE – 2

Mü§ÉÉïÌSpÉÉuÉÇ mÉëÌiÉmɱ UÉeÉiÉå


rÉ§É xuÉrÉÇ pÉÉÌiÉ ½rÉÇ mÉUÉiqÉÉ |
kÉÏqÉɧÉMüÉåmÉÉÍkÉUzÉåwÉxÉɤÉÏ
lÉ ÍsÉmrÉiÉå iÉiM×üiÉMüqÉïsÉåzÉæÈ |
rÉxqÉÉSxÉ…¡ûxiÉiÉ LuÉ MüqÉïÍpÉÈ
lÉ ÍsÉmrÉiÉå ÌMüÎgcÉSÒmÉÉÍkÉlÉÉ M×üiÉæÈ || 99||
kartraadibhaavam 5. The idea of doership, “I am the doer”, that is
5 pratipadya raajate presumed (in the intellect), manifests itself.
yatra svayam bhaati 6. Here (in dream), reigning supreme in all its glory,
6 hi ayam paraatmaa; is this Antahkarana or “inner instrument”.
dheemaatrakopaadhih 7. The Antahkarana is its only conditioning and it is
7 asheshha saakshhee witness to everything.
na lipyate tat-krita-karma- 8. Dream is untouched even by the least function of
8 leshaih; the Pranas (senses of knowledge and action).
yasmaat asanggah tata eva 9. For the same reason, dream is entirely detached
9 karmabhih from the transactional world of activities;
na lipyate kinchid- 10. (In summary,) Dream is not touched in the least
10 upaadhinaa kritaih. by any action done by any of the conditionings.

1 The dream state is distinct from the waking state in many ways. These are:
2 The Jiva is all alone in dream, not interacting with the world as in the waking state.
3 The Subtle Body has dominant sway. The gross body is inactive or unavailable.
4 Everything that gets recorded in the Chitta during the waking state gets played
back without physical restraints. The waking state provides the content of dream.
5-7 In dream, the “inner instrument” alone, is active. There is the sense of doership
and enjoyership in dream. Recollection of dream is possible because the mind is active.

65
8 The Pranas are not present in the senses during dream. Thus the senses are
unavailable. Only the involuntary “emergency services” of breathing and blood circulation
are open in order to sustain life.
9 Since the senses are not functioning, there can be no transaction of activities.
10 None of the Upadhis function in dream. The mental activity that does take place
is spontaneous and not driven by the will.

Verse 100: Subtle Body as an Instrument

xÉuÉïurÉÉmÉ×ÌiÉMüUhÉÇ ÍsÉ…¡ûÍqÉSÇ xrÉÉΊSÉiqÉlÉÈ mÉÑÇxÉÈ |


uÉÉxrÉÉÌSMüÍqÉuÉ iɤhÉxiÉålÉæuÉÉiqÉÉ pÉuÉirÉxÉ…¡ûÉåÅrÉqÉç || 100||
sarva-vyaapriti-karanam For all activities the instrumental cause
1 linggam idam is this subtle body.
2 syaat chidaatmanah pumsah; It is in the hands of the Atman, the knowing Self,
3 vaasyaadikamiva takshhnas just as tools are in the hands of the carpenter.
tena eva aatmaa bhavati That is reason enough for the Self
4 asanggah ayam. to be considered unattached (to activity).

1-4 The Antahkarana as the “inner instrument” is described here. The carpenter and
his tools are related to each other in the same way as the Self and the Antahkarana are
related. A modern example of this is the mobile phone. People can be so obsessed by the
mobile that all else gets neglected completely. Even driving is affected while on the mobile.
In the same way, the ego-self is obsessed with the instruments of body and mind.

Verse 101: Instruments can be Defective, not Self

AlkÉiuÉqÉlSiuÉmÉOÒûiuÉkÉqÉÉïÈ
xÉÉæaÉÑhrÉuÉæaÉÑhrÉuÉzÉÉή cɤÉÑwÉÈ |
oÉÉÍkÉrÉïqÉÔMüiuÉqÉÑZÉÉxiÉjÉæuÉ
´ÉÉå§ÉÉÌSkÉqÉÉï lÉ iÉÑ uÉå¨ÉÑUÉiqÉlÉÈ || 101||
andhatva-mandatva-patutva- Blindness, weakness or sharpness
1 dharmaah are conditions
saugunya-vaigunya-vashaat hi due merely to the defectiveness or fitness
2 chakshhushhah; of the eye;
baadhirya-mookatva-mukhaah Deafness and dumbness, in the same way, are
3 tathaa eva shrotraadi-dharmaa conditions that belong to the ear or mouth;
4 na tu vettuh aatmanah. but never can they be attributed to the inner Self.

1-4 Defects in the tools do not affect the operator, except that the work done may
not be of the expected standard. Similarly, if the mind and intellect are not sharp enough, it
is not a reflection of a ‘defective Self’. The Seer is always unaffected by the seen.

66
Verse 102: The Functions of the Sub-Pranas & Prana

EcduÉÉxÉÌlÉȵÉÉxÉÌuÉeÉ×qpÉhɤÉÑiÉç-
mÉëxrÉlSlÉɱÑi¢üqÉhÉÉÌSMüÉÈ Ì¢ürÉÉÈ |
mÉëÉhÉÉÌSMüqÉÉïÍhÉ uÉSÎliÉ iÉ¥ÉÉÈ
mÉëÉhÉxrÉ kÉqÉÉïuÉzÉlÉÉÌmÉmÉÉxÉå || 102||
uchchhvaas-anihshvaasa- Inhalation, exhalation,
1 vijrimbhana-kshhut- yawning, sneezing,
prasyandana-aadi-utkramana- secretion, etc., and death,
2 aadikaah kriyaah; etc. – these are actions
praanaadikarmaani which are the functions of the sub-Pranas;
3 vadanti tajnaah thus declare those who are knowledgable.
praanasya dharmau The functions of Prana as a whole
4 ashanaa pipaase. are hunger and thirst.

1-3 The bodily functions are divided into five main departments and each one is run
by its respective sub-Prana.
4 However, the major function of creating hunger and thirst to remind the person to
take his food is so important that the main Prana controls it, for without food the Pranic
system will collapse as it cannot be replenished in any other way.

Verse 103: The Function of the Inner Instrument

AliÉÈMüUhÉqÉåiÉåwÉÑ cɤÉÑUÉÌSwÉÑ uÉwqÉïÍhÉ |


AWûÍqÉirÉÍpÉqÉÉlÉålÉ ÌiɸirÉÉpÉÉxÉiÉåeÉxÉÉ || 103||

1 antahkaranam eteshhu The inner instrument is within (subtler than) these


chakshhuraadishhu five senses (representing the Pranic sheath),
2 varshhmani; which in turn are within the Body sheath;
3 aham iti abhimaanena It identifies itself with the “I am” thought which
4 tishhthati aabhaasatejasaa. has its origin in the “reflection of the Self” (not the Self).

1-2 Since the Antahkarana is subtler than the Pranic or Food sheaths, it is erron-
eously given the status of being the Self by an ordinary person.
3-4 However, the “I” with which the Antahkarana identifies itself is not the true Self,
but a reflection of the true Self off the Antahkarana’s intellect. The reflection is mistaken by
the Antahkarana to be the original Self. The false Ego has its origin in this mistaken identity.
Usually, this error never gets corrected in an ordinary person. Only in the case of a spiritual
seeker are efforts made to correct it and realise one’s true Self.
The Light of the Self is reflected through the inner instrument. If the latter is very
pure, the reflection will closely resemble the Self, as in a Sattwic person. But if the inner
instrument is impure with many desires then the reflection will have that colouring and also
appear to be very dull.

67
Verse 104: The Sense of “Doership” or Ego

AWûƒ¡ûÉUÈ xÉ ÌuÉ¥ÉårÉÈ MüiÉÉï pÉÉå£üÉÍpÉqÉÉlrÉrÉqÉç |


xɨuÉÉÌSaÉÑhÉrÉÉåaÉålÉ cÉÉuÉxjÉɧÉrÉqÉzlÉÑiÉå || 104||

1 ahangkaarah sah vijneyah Know that it is the Ego which,


kartaa bhoktaa becomes the doer or the experiencer,
2 abhimaani ayam; by identifying with this (the body-mind-intellect).
3 sattvaadi-guna-yogena In conjunction with the Gunas (Sattwa, etc) the Ego
4 cha avasthaa-trayam ashnute. gets into any one of the three states (waking, etc).

1 Once the pure Consciousness is reflected through the prism of the mind, it is called
the Ego or Ahamkara. 2 This develops the sense of doership by identifying with the actions;
and the sense of enjoyership by identifying with the experiences obtained.
3-4 The three Gunas determine the quality of such experiences. The three Gunas
also determine in which state we are at any given time. It could be either the waking, dream
or deep sleep states.

Verse 105: The Ego’s Joys & Sorrows

ÌuÉwÉrÉÉhÉÉqÉÉlÉÑMÔüsrÉå xÉÑZÉÏ SÒÈZÉÏ ÌuÉmÉrÉïrÉå |


xÉÑZÉÇ SÒÈZÉÇ cÉ iÉ®qÉïÈ xÉSÉlÉlSxrÉ lÉÉiqÉlÉÈ || 105||

1 vishhayaanaam aanukoolye When the sense objects are conducive,


2 sukhee duhkhee viparyaye; one is happy; if it is contrary, one is miserable.
sukham duhkham cha Happiness and misery are, therefore,
3 tat dharmah the Dharmas or properties of the Ego;
4 sadaanandasya na aatmanah. they do not belong to the ever-blissful Self.

1-2 The experience resulting from the sense objects coming into contact with the
senses is relayed to the mind and is interpreted there by the ego-self, from its own
standpoint. This may be called either joy or sorrow by the ego.
3 Our interpretations of experiences as joyful or sorrowful depend on the type of
Vasanas we have stored in our subconscious mind. Such Vasanas can turn a harmless
situation into a stressful one. In fact, if we have really bad Samskaras, we can never be
happy anywhere, not even in heaven! Our ego will start judging heaven itself by its own
standards and find something there to complain about!
4 As far as the Self is concerned, i.e. the original ray of Light, It is unaffected by the
experiences and remains ever-blissful.

*****

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2.4 THE CAUSAL BODY
(Verses 106-121, 16 No.)

WE ARE ENTERING THE discussion of the Causal level of creation, having already
dealt with the Gross and the Subtle levels. The deepest concerns in life are at this level.
The search for Happiness is foremost on the list of human concerns. It is something
which every human being lives for. Each one may see Happiness differently but, whatever
there view is, that is what determines their life’s purpose. Happiness lies at the causal level.

Verse 106: The Source of Happiness

AÉiqÉÉjÉïiuÉålÉ ÌWû mÉëårÉÉÎluÉwÉrÉÉå lÉ xuÉiÉÈ ÌmÉërÉÈ |


xuÉiÉ LuÉ ÌWû xÉuÉåïwÉÉqÉÉiqÉÉ ÌmÉërÉiÉqÉÉå rÉiÉÈ |
iÉiÉ AÉiqÉÉ xÉSÉlÉlSÉå lÉÉxrÉ SÒÈZÉÇ MüSÉcÉlÉ || 106||
aatmaarthatvena hi For the sake of the Self only,
1 preyaan vishhayah a sense object appears to give pleasure,
na svatah priyah; and not because it is dear in itself;
svata eva hi sarveshhaam Its very own nature, in contrast to all other objects,
2 aatmaa priyatamo yatah; makes the Self most beloved ; for this reason,
tata aatmaa sadaanandah therefore, the Self is ever-blissful –
3 na asya duhkham kadaachana. never can there be any grief in It whatsoever.

1 Our encounters in this world are evaluated in terms of our own Self. Everyone
loves his own Self most. The fact is that everything else is loved only for the sake of the Self.
2 When we realize that our true Self is the Supreme Reality alone, then our entire
vision is rendered universal and pure. If we think that we are only an Ego, then our vision is
self-centered, and the resulting relationships are the very opposite in nature.
3 As the Supreme Self, our very nature is to be All-Blissful. This is rarely recognised.

Verse 107: Deep Sleep – The Indicator of Bliss

rÉixÉÑwÉÑmiÉÉæ ÌlÉÌuÉïwÉrÉ AÉiqÉÉlÉlSÉåÅlÉÑpÉÔrÉiÉå |


´ÉÑÌiÉÈ mÉëirɤÉqÉæÌiɽqÉlÉÑqÉÉlÉÇ cÉ eÉÉaÉëÌiÉ || 107||

1 yat sushhuptau nirvishhaya In DEEP SLEEP, independent of the sense objects,


2 aatmaanandah anubhooyate; we experience the Bliss of the Atman.
3 shrutih pratyakshham aitihyam The scriptures, direct experience, tradition,
4 anumaanam cha jaagrati. and inference – all these clearly attest to this fact.

69
Earlier we learnt that the Gross world was experienced during the Waking state, and
the Subtle world in the Dream state. Now we are learning the Causal world is experienced
in the Deep Sleep state.
1-2 The state of deep sleep is the only state when we do not experience any sense
objects. The satisfaction we get during sleep is independent of objects. In no other state do
we enjoy this. It is our daily taste of the bliss of our own Self.
3-4 Four other sources verify this fact. i) the scriptures state this clearly; ii) it is the
common direct experience of all humanity; iii) Resorting to sleep is an accepted tradition in
every human society; and iv) by reason, too, we can deduce that the Self is all-Blissful.
The purpose of this verse is to lay out the scope of the discussion that is to follow in
this Chapter. Each item mentioned here is explained in the rest of this Chapter.

2.4.1 The Power of Maya (Verses 108-110, 3 No.)

The power of Avidya Maya (causal ignorance) draws us into bondage to the world.
Spiritual seekers, when they are tired of the game of life, turn to Vidya Maya (the power of
knowledge) to extricate themselves from the world.
Maya as Avidya that projects this entire universe. To grasp this we need a clear
intellect, and a clear perception of the effects produced by Avidya Maya. If we grasp well
how bondage takes place and how to free ourselves from it, that is Vidya Maya working in
our favour. It is this Vidya that is presented through these verses.
In these three verses, Maya is explained from three different standpoints – first from
the viewpoint of its effect, which is creation; then from its own viewpoint; and thirdly from
the viewpoint of Brahman the Absolute.
The student of Vedanta is required to study this in detail in order to grasp fully his
situation of bondage and how to free himself from it.

Verse 108: What is Maya?

AurÉ£ülÉÉqlÉÏ mÉUqÉåzÉzÉÌ£üÈ
AlÉɱÌuÉ±É Ì§ÉaÉÑhÉÉÎiqÉMüÉ mÉUÉ |
MüÉrÉÉïlÉÑqÉårÉÉ xÉÑÍkÉrÉæuÉ qÉÉrÉÉ
rÉrÉÉ eÉaÉixÉuÉïÍqÉSÇ mÉëxÉÔrÉiÉå || 108||
avyaktanaamnee a. Known by the name ‘Unmanifest’;
1 parameshashaktih b. as the Power (or Shakti) of the Lord;
anaadyi c. Without a beginning;
2 avidyaa d. as Nescience or Ignorance;
trigunaatmikaa paraa; e. as comprising the three Gunas;
kaarya anumeyaa f. inferrable only by its effects; and
3 sudhiyaa eva g. known only by one who has a clear intellect –
maayaa Thus is the description of Maya.
4 yayaa jagatsarvamidam prasooyate. By Her is this entire universe projected.

70
Definitions of Maya
Seven statements are given to describe Maya in this verse. They are from the
standpoint of the effects of Maya.
Brahman and Maya are not two separate entities. Pure Brahman is the Supreme
Reality. He is an undifferentiated “mass of Consciousness, Intelligence, and Light” alone,
without any attributes or qualities attached to Him. He is in a state of complete equilibrium.
Maya is the disturbance from which is generated the whole of Creation. The
disequilibrium in Brahman is called Maya. From this, the following points arise:
a. Maya is known as “Unmanifest” because She stands at the apex of creation, when
nothing is manifested, neither the gross world nor the subtle world. She stands at the
threshold of creation. She is the primary impulse for the cause of Creation.
b. Maya is the power of Brahman, even as strength is the power of a strong man.
c. A beginning cannot be possible for Maya. From Maya alone Time is created. In
fact, many Vedantins equate Time and Maya. Both are considered to be beginningless.
d. Maya is like a screen. She shields or screens off Brahman from the knowledge of
the individual soul. In this She plays Her role as ignorance, illusion and delusion.
e. The disturbance of Maya is of three kinds. They are Sattwa (equilibrium), Rajas
(motion or restlessness) and Tamas (darkness or thick ignorance). All disturbances are
combinations of these three.
f. Since Maya cannot be ‘seen’, She can be known only by inference from Her effects.
g. We are human beings and are a part of Maya’s creation. Thus, we are subject to
Avidya like all Jivas. Only if we purify ourselves of dense Avidya, can our intellect grasp the
true intent and purpose of Maya.

Creation & Dissolution


4 Creation, or rather projection, of this universe is ascribed to Maya. The Vedic
scriptures are the only ones that use the word ‘Projected’ instead of ‘created’ for the
universe. It reflects more clearly the relationship between the world and its ‘Projector’.
The three Gunas are always in conflict with each other. They cannot stand each
other, yet they cannot do without each other! Sattwa’s equilibrium is always threatened by
Rajas and Tamas. Rajas is threatened by Sattwa at one end and sluggishness of Tamas at the
other. The dull inactive state of Tamas is threatened by the restlessness of Rajas.
The net sum of all the forces in creation is always Zero. That is the state of
equilibrium. The law governing this statement is that “For every action there is an equal and
opposite reaction.” In the perfect state of equilibrium there is no world. When this happens
we have the cosmic dissolution spoken about in the Hindu scriptures.

Verse 109: Maya is Indescribable

xɳÉÉmrÉxɳÉÉmrÉÑpÉrÉÉÎiqÉMüÉ lÉÉå
ÍpɳÉÉmrÉÍpɳÉÉmrÉÑpÉrÉÉÎiqÉMüÉ lÉÉå |
xÉÉ…¡ûÉmrÉlÉ…¡ûÉ ½ÑpÉrÉÉÎiqÉMüÉ lÉÉå
qÉWûÉ°ÒiÉÉÅÌlÉuÉïcÉlÉÏrÉÃmÉÉ || 109||

71
sat na api asat na api Maya is: i) Neither existent; nor non-existent;
1 ubhayaatmikaa no nor is She of both these natures;
bhinna api abhinna api ii) She is neither different from them; nor the same as
2 ubhayaatmikaa no; them; nor is She of both these natures;
saangga api ananggaa hi iii) She is neither made up of parts; nor is She whole;
3 ubhayaatmikaa no nor is She of both these natures;
mahaa adbhutaa Indeed, most wonderful is She!
4 anirvachaneeya roopaa. Beyond description in words is She!

We now have a definition of Maya from Her own standpoint. In this verse we are
given three anomalies which indicate that to define Maya is a puzzle even for the wise
philosophers. They, too, are at sixes and sevens in trying to define Maya!
1-3 The whole anomaly regarding Maya is due to fact a. of the previous verse, where
we said that Maya stands at the threshold of creation. So, She is at a point between two
realities – She is between the Absolute realm and the transactional realm. In the language of
this verse, She is neither the Reality, nor is She part of the Unreality, nor is She both!
She is like the fulcrum of a see-saw – She does not belong to either side. The only
thing we can say is that She is Mithya, that is, She is an appearance. She only appears to be
there, but actually She does not exist! This is from Her own standpoint.
4 Thus, Maya is impossible to define. She is said to be Aneervachaneeya, meaning
“inexplicable” or “indescribable”. That is the best definition of Maya – She is indefinable!
Let us see what She is from Brahman’s standpoint…

Verse 110: The Transcending of Maya

zÉѮɲrÉoÉë¼ÌuÉoÉÉåkÉlÉÉzrÉÉ
xÉmÉïpÉëqÉÉå U‹ÑÌuÉuÉåMüiÉÉå rÉjÉÉ |
UeÉxiÉqÉÈxɨuÉÍqÉÌiÉ mÉëÍxÉ®É
aÉÑhÉÉxiÉSÏrÉÉÈ mÉëÍjÉiÉæÈ xuÉMüÉrÉæïÈ || 110||
shuddha advaya brahma The pure, non-dual Brahman –
1 vibodha naashyaa only by realization of That, can Maya be transcended.
sarpa-bhramah rajju- Just as the illusion of the snake is removed by the
2 vivekatah yathaa; discriminative knowledge of the rope.
rajas-tamah-sattvam As Rajas, Tamas and Sattwa –
3 iti prasiddhaa thus is (Maya) well-known;
gunaah tadeeyaa here the (three) Gunas or qualities are
4 prathitaih svakaaryaih. distinguished by their respective (observable) effects.

This is the view of Maya from the standpoint of Brahman, the Lord of Maya.
1 The very first statement tells us under what condition Maya can be destroyed. If
recognition of the Self makes it disappear, then non-Recognition of the Self must be the
cause of Maya! That is a revelation worth pondering over.
2 The snake-rope analogy illustrates this well. The snake is seen to exist because the
rope has not been recognized. When we look at this problem from Brahman’s point of view,

72
that is, from the rope’s point of view, the snake does not exist, it never existed. So it is with
Maya, She never exists. The only reason we cannot not say that from the earlier standpoints
is that we feel the influence of Maya over us, and we cannot honestly declare it to be non-
existent – at least not until we become Self-realised. Only Knowledge of the Self renders
Maya non-existent.
Maya is like a mirror. When we look at a mirror we see reflections in it. But if we
stand behind the mirror, there are no reflections in it. Brahman’s viewpoint is like observing
the mirror of Maya from behind it – there is nothing to see!
3 It is the same with the three Gunas. We can only tell the Gunas apart from their
functions in the world. When there are no functions, the Gunas are not manifest in any
manner and cannot be deduced. As soon as there is disturbance of the state of equilibrium,
and activity takes place in the world, we can talk of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas.
4 Tamas and Rajas entrap us through bondage; Sattwa, by its power of revealing
knowledge, helps us to come out of bondage. These are observable qualities of the Gunas.
An example given in class is of a monkey that puts its hand into a narrow-necked pot
with its favourite food inside. The monkey grabs the food but cannot take its hand out of
the neck of the pot because it is holding onto the food, which it does not want to let go.
When Sattwa dawns in the monkey’s mind, it releases the food and its hand slips out easily
from the bondage it was in. Sure, the monkey is liberated, but it never had the chance to
sample its favourite food!
In general, the expansion of the universe is limitless. Starting with Maya = 0, we go
to the 3 Gunas; then to the 5 great elements; then to the 24 principle Tattvas; and from
there to the billions of offshoots that make up the content of this universe.

2.4.2 THE THREE GUNAS (Verses 111-119, 9 No.)

2.4.2.1 i) Rajas Guna (Verses 111-112, 2 no.)

Verse 111: Rajas – the Projecting Power of Maya

ÌuɤÉåmÉzÉ£üÏ UeÉxÉÈ Ì¢ürÉÉÎiqÉMüÉ


rÉiÉÈ mÉëuÉ×̨ÉÈ mÉëxÉ×iÉÉ mÉÑUÉhÉÏ |
UÉaÉÉSrÉÉåÅxrÉÉÈ mÉëpÉuÉÎliÉ ÌlÉirÉÇ
SÒÈZÉÉSrÉÉå rÉå qÉlÉxÉÉå ÌuÉMüÉUÉÈ || 111||
vikshhepa shaktee rajasah Rajas has the power to project (Vikshepa Shakti),
1 kriyaatmikaa activity being its very nature.
yatah pravrittih prasritaa From it is initiated activity
2 puraanee; the flow of which is since antiquity.
raagaadayah asyaah From this, likes and dislikes, etc,
3 prabhavanti nityam are continuously produced.
duhkhaadayo (Inevitably, the result is) grief and sorrow, etc,
4 ye manasah vikaaraah. which are the modifications of the mind.

73
Verse 112: The Attributes of Rajas

MüÉqÉÈ ¢üÉåkÉÉå sÉÉåpÉSqpÉɱxÉÔrÉÉ


AWûƒ¡ûÉUåwrÉÉïqÉixÉUɱÉxiÉÑ bÉÉåUÉÈ |
kÉqÉÉï LiÉå UÉeÉxÉÉÈ mÉÑqmÉëuÉ×̨É-
rÉïxqÉÉSåwÉÉ iÉSìeÉÉå oÉlkÉWåûiÉÑÈ || 112||
kaamah krodhah lobha Desire, anger, greed,
5 dambha-aadi asooyaa hypocricy and its train, namely, spite,
ahangkaara eershhyaa matsara- egoism, jealousy, envy,
6 aadi-aah tu ghoraah; and many others too dreadful to name –
dharmaah ete raajasaah these are the attributes of Rajas.
7 pum-pravrittih The worldly tendencies of man
yasmaat eshhaa stream forth from these.
8 tat rajah bandha-hetuh. Thus, Rajas is the cause for bondage in life.

1-2 All activities begin from Rajas Guna. It is the Projecting Power of Maya. How
does the projection take place? Activity itself sets off a chain of effects which bind man from
head to foot. The activities produce more activities in an endless stream. These produce
mental modifications continuously that make us get into a vicious circle of activity again,
from which there seems to be no escape. The Rajasic activities have the following effect:
3 After impelling man into activity, they then produce effects which bind him. The
Rajasic vision is narrow, produced by ignorance of our Self. The narrow vision expresses
itself as likes and dislikes.
4-8 Our narrow view sets up jealousy, hatred, fear, arrogance, etc, in us. From that
background we act. It goes without saying that actions stemming from such a low vision of
life, will lead us into a bottomless pit of sorrow and suffering. We are firmly bound.

2.4.2.2 ii) Tamas Guna (Verses 113-116, 4 no.)

Verse 113: Tamas – the Veiling Power of Maya

LwÉÉÅÅuÉ×ÌiÉlÉÉïqÉ iÉqÉÉåaÉÑhÉxrÉ
zÉÌ£ürÉïrÉÉ uÉxiuÉuÉpÉÉxÉiÉåÅlrÉjÉÉ |
xÉæwÉÉ ÌlÉSÉlÉÇ mÉÑÂwÉxrÉ xÉÇxÉ×iÉåÈ
ÌuɤÉåmÉzÉ£åüÈ mÉëuÉhÉxrÉ WåûiÉÑÈ || 113||
eshhaa aavritih naama There is also a power that veils, named Aavriti,
1 tamogunasya shaktih which belongs to the quality of Tamas;
yayaa vastu avabhaasate By this power, a thing appears to be
2 anyathaa; other than what it actually is.
saa eshhaa nidaanam This power is also the root cause
3 purushhasya samsriteh of man’s repeated transmigration.
vikshhepa shakteh The projecting power (of Rajas, see above)
4 pravanasya hetuh. is actually initiated into motion by this veiling power.

74
1 The Veiling Power is also called Avarana. The ‘veil’ is a metaphor. It is as though a
screen is placed between us and the Truth and so we cannot comprehend the Truth. Our
understanding is clouded by this veil. Hence it is also called the veil of Delusion. It is at the
root of the human predicament.
The Veiling power of Tamas is often compared to darkness, in which no objects can
be seen. Even as the blind cannot know where they are going, so also a man under delusion
gropes in darkness without any direction to his life.
2 Due to the veiling, something very strange happens to man. He sees everything “to
be other than what it actually is.” Everything is reversed. Truth appears as untruth; violence
appears as non-violence, etc. All one’s values get reversed. The whole logic system of the
intellect is, as it were, corrupted.
3 Once out of delusion, the very cause of this entire cycle of birth and death is
removed and thereby Transmigration ends. This is the meaning of Liberation in Vedanta.
4 The projecting power of Rajas works hand in hand with the veiling power of Tamas.
Together, these two Powers of Maya bind man into the tangle of Avidya. Under delusion,
we resort to various activities projected into the world of objects. If Tamas were not there
to veil, Rajas would have no motive power to project.
Man slips periodically between Rajas and Tamas. Tamas does not enlighten, it only
thickens the veil of ignorance. When we come out of Tamas we are hurled into the
whirlpool of activity with no respite.

Verse 114: Failure to Grasp the Teaching

mÉë¥ÉÉuÉÉlÉÌmÉ mÉÎhQûiÉÉåÅÌmÉ cÉiÉÑUÉåÅmrÉirÉliÉxÉÔ¤qÉÉiqÉSØaÉç-


urÉÉsÉÏRûxiÉqÉxÉÉ lÉ uÉåÌ¨É oÉWÒûkÉÉ xÉqoÉÉåÍkÉiÉÉåÅÌmÉ xTÑüOûqÉç |
pÉëÉlirÉÉUÉåÌmÉiÉqÉåuÉ xÉÉkÉÑ MüsÉrÉirÉÉsÉqoÉiÉå iɪÒhÉÉlÉç
WûliÉÉxÉÉæ mÉëoÉsÉÉ SÒUliÉiÉqÉxÉÈ zÉÌ£üqÉïWûirÉÉuÉ×ÌiÉÈ || 114||
prajnaavaan api pandhitah api Even the wise and the learned, even those who are
1 chaturah, api atyanta- proficient and have a profound
sookshhm-aatma-drig- insight into the subtleties of the Self; (even they
vyaaleedhhah tamasaa at times) can get overpowered by Tamas,
2 na vetti sambodhitah and fail to grasp the teaching even when it is
bahudhaa api sphutam; explained in various ways very clearly.
bhraantyaa aaropitam eva What is simply superimposed by delusion,
3 saadhu kalayati, they consider to be real,
aalambate tadgunaan and get attached to its effects.
hanta asau prabalaa Alas! It is amazing to see how powerful is
4 duranta-tamasah, this primary attribute of Tamas, namely,
shaktih mahatee aavritih. its treacherously great power of veiling!

Difficulty in Grasping Spiritual Knowledge


1-4 Under Tamas it is not possible to grasp the Truth. Only Sattwa can pull us out of
this whirlpool because of the knowledge that it awakens in us. Knowledge is the only thing

75
that can help us, since it is ignorance that brings us into bondage. But cultivation of Sattwa
is a long and laborious process. We shall learn more of this as we move on with the text.

Verse 115: The Secondary Attributes of Tamas

ApÉÉuÉlÉÉ uÉÉ ÌuÉmÉUÏiÉpÉÉuÉlÉÉ-


ÅxÉqpÉÉuÉlÉÉ ÌuÉmÉëÌiÉmĘ́ÉUxrÉÉÈ |
xÉÇxÉaÉïrÉÑ£Çü lÉ ÌuÉqÉÑgcÉÌiÉ kÉëÑuÉÇ
ÌuɤÉåmÉzÉÌ£üÈ ¤ÉmÉrÉirÉeÉxÉëqÉç || 115||
abhaavanaa vaa There is lack of belief in the very existence of Truth, or
1 vipareeta bhaavanaa- there is contrary tendencies despite knowledge; or
asambhaavanaa there is lack of belief in the possibility of knowing Truth,
2 vipratipattih asyaah; and the nurturing of doubt over it;
samsargayuktam One who is firmly gripped by the veiling power,
3 na vimunchati dhruvam certainly (these tendencies) never leave him.
vikshhepa-shaktih The projecting power, too, (following the veiling power),
4 kshhapayati ajasram. gives endless trouble of its own.

The plight of the man under Tamas is traced out in detail here.
1a Abhavana: “non-apprehension or non-acceptance of the Truth”. There is
insufficient Sattwa in the person even to make Sravana possible..
1b Vipareeta Bhavana: “incorrect judgements or perverted understanding”. Due to
the deep darkness of Tamas, the person’s intellect is muddled by contrary tendencies,
making Nididhyasana impossible.
2 Asambhavana: “Doubt in the possibility of knowing Truth”. There is no faith or
conviction in one’s intellect even to believe that the spiritual path is the right solution.
Manana is impossible in such a person.
3 Veiling of the intellect is so strong that one holds on to it for life. Only by coming in
contact with saints can one slowly lift the veil and peep into the Truth of things.
4 The projecting power adds insult to injury. Like Kumbhakarana, as long as we
remain dormant in sleep, we do not trouble anyone. No sooner we get up, every act we do
becomes a trouble to others! This is humorously described in the following anecdote:
The boss asked a worker, “How come you commit more mistakes than the others?”
The worker replied, “I start work earlier, and put in more hours than the others!”

Verse 116: External Signs of Tamas

A¥ÉÉlÉqÉÉsÉxrÉeÉQûiuÉÌlÉSìÉ-
mÉëqÉÉSqÉÔRûiuÉqÉÑZÉÉxiÉqÉÉåaÉÑhÉÉÈ |
LiÉæÈ mÉërÉÑ£üÉå lÉ ÌWû uÉåÌ¨É ÌMüÎgcÉiÉç
ÌlÉSìÉsÉÑuÉixiÉqpÉuÉSåuÉ ÌiɸÌiÉ || 116||

76
1 ajnaanam aalasya jadhatva nidraa, Ignorance, laziness, dullness, sleep,
pramaada moodhhatva- inadvertence, stupidity, etc.,
2 mukhaah tamogunaah; are the ‘faces’ or external signs of Tamas.
etaih prayuktah One tied up with these
3 na hi vetti kinchit cannot comprehend anything;
nidraaluvat stambhavat He is like one asleep, or like a stump of wood –
4 eva tishhthati. does he verily remain.

1-2 The detailed description of one steeped in Tamas is given. Tamas makes one so
insensitive to his surroundings that he becomes inconsiderate towards others. Acharyaji said
we become like the buffaloes walking in the street, paying no heed to what is around them,
knocking and bumping into everything they pass!
3 The laziness is so thick, we do not bother about personal cleanliness even. Clothes
remain unwashed, room is just left untidy. The bed is not made after getting up. Sheer
heedlessness rules our lives. People just trample over the rights of others.
4 It is no wonder that the Rishi calls such people “stumps of wood”!
Swami Vivekananda had said, “Football will help you to come to Vedanta quicker
than your meditation.” He meant that one had to first get out of heedless Tamas into active
Rajas before he can enter Sattwa.

2.4.2.3 iii) Sattwa Guna (Verses 117-119, 3 no.)


Verse 117: The Clarity of Sattwa

xɨuÉÇ ÌuÉzÉÑ®Ç eÉsÉuɨÉjÉÉÌmÉ


iÉÉprÉÉÇ ÍqÉÍsÉiuÉÉ xÉUhÉÉrÉ MüsmÉiÉå |
rɧÉÉiqÉÌoÉqoÉÈ mÉëÌiÉÌoÉÎqoÉiÉÈ xÉlÉç
mÉëMüÉzÉrÉirÉMïü CuÉÉÎZÉsÉÇ eÉQûqÉç || 117||

1 sattvam vishuddham jalavat tathaa api Pure Sattwa is like clear water. However,
taabhyaam militvaa when it combines with the other two (Rajas and Tamas),
2 saranaaya kalpate; the way is paved for transmigration to take place.
3 yatra aatmabimbah pratibimbitah san Wherever the light of the Self gets reflected,
prakaashayati arkah iva there (in the intellect) is revealed, just as by sunlight,
4 akhilam jadham. the entire gross world of inert matter.

1 Pure Sattwa is like the clean surface of a mirror. It reflects the light of the Self with
great clarity. It is Sattwa that leads us to a clear understanding of the Self. In fact, one with
pure Sattwa slips naturally into the state of enlightenment.
2 However, the other two Gunas, Rajas and Tamas, discolour the mirror according to
their proportions. The discolouring varies from person to person, and even in the same
person from time to time.
3-4 In general, any intellect, of whatever combination of Gunas, reflects the Light of
the Self, and thereby reveals the world of objects to the person.

77
Verse 118: The Attributes of “Mixed Sattwa”

ÍqÉ´ÉxrÉ xɨuÉxrÉ pÉuÉÎliÉ kÉqÉÉïÈ


iuÉqÉÉÌlÉiÉÉ±É ÌlÉrÉqÉÉ rÉqÉɱÉÈ |
´É®É cÉ pÉÌ£ü¶É qÉÑqÉѤÉÑiÉÉ cÉ
SæuÉÏ cÉ xÉqmĘ́ÉUxÉͳÉuÉ×̨ÉÈ || 118||
mishrasya sattvasya Of predominantly Sattwa, (mixed with very little
1 bhavanti dharmaah Rajas and Tamas), the characteristics are:
tvamaanitaadyaah a. Utter absence of pride, and its train of vices;
2 niyamaa yamaadyaah; b. Niyama and Yama (prevalence of purity & virtue);
shraddhaa cha bhaktih cha c. Faith and devotion, and
3 mumukshhutaa cha d. Burning yearning for liberation;
daivee cha sampattih e. All the divine tendencies; and
4 asat nivrittih. f. A natural turning away from everything unreal.

The previous verse explained how each Guna contributes to the quality of the
reflection. In this verse, six qualities of a predominantly Sattwic intellect are given. We see
from the qualities that Sattwa ennobles a person to heights of divinity.
1 When Rajas and Tamas are found only in small traces, the man is considered to be
a predominantly Sattwic person. He possesses all the Sattwic qualities.
2-4 These qualities are practically equivalent to Sadhana Chatushtaya or the pre-
qualifications needed to tread the Path of Vedanta. Due to the traces of Rajas and Tamas,
such a person may not be enlightened but he is ready and eligible for the Sadhana. All the
qualities necessary for the spiritual path are there in him. He is well-placed to progress
towards final liberation.

Support from the Bhagavad Geeta


The six qualities present in him are listed in greater detail In Chapter 16 of the Geeta,
verses 1 to 3. The divine tendencies listed there are quoted below:
“Fearlessness, purity of heart, steadfastness in Yoga, charity, control of the
senses, sacrifice, study of the scriptures, austerity and straightforwardness;
“Harmlessness, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, peacefulness,
absence of crookedness, compassion to living beings, uncovetousness, gentleness,
modesty, absence of fickleness;
“Vigour, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, absence of hatred, absence of pride –
these belong to one born for the Divine State, O Bharata!”

Verse 119: Attributes of “Pure Sattwa”

ÌuÉzÉÑ®xɨuÉxrÉ aÉÑhÉÉÈ mÉëxÉÉSÈ


xuÉÉiqÉÉlÉÑpÉÔÌiÉÈ mÉUqÉÉ mÉëzÉÉÎliÉÈ |
iÉ×ÎmiÉÈ mÉëWûwÉïÈ mÉUqÉÉiqÉÌlɸÉ
rÉrÉÉ xÉSÉlÉlSUxÉÇ xÉqÉ×cNûÌiÉ || 119||

78
vishuddha sattvasya Pure Sattwa (with no Rajas & Tamas)
1 gunaah has the following characteristics:
prasaadah a. Cheerfulness,
svaatmaanubhootih b. Experience of one’s own Self,
2 paramaa prashaantih; c. Supreme peace,
triptih praharshhah d. Contentment, and Bliss,
3 paramaatma nishhthaa e. Constant devotion to the Supreme Self,
yayaa sadaananda rasam By these, the essence of everlasting Bliss
4 samrichchhati. is enjoyed (by the realised sage).

1-4 When the last traces of Rajas and Tamas are removed, the personality becomes
completely pure. Five qualities of the realized state are listed in the verse.

2.4.3 THE “UNMANIFEST” (Verses 120-121, 2 No.)

Verse 120: What is the Unmanifest?

AurÉ£üqÉåiÉÎi§ÉaÉÑhÉæÌlÉï£Çü
iÉiMüÉUhÉÇ lÉÉqÉ zÉUÏUqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ |
xÉÑwÉÑÎmiÉUåiÉxrÉ ÌuÉpÉYirÉuÉxjÉÉ
mÉësÉÏlÉxÉuÉåïÎlSìrÉoÉÑήuÉ×̨ÉÈ || 120||

1 avyaktam etat trigunaih niruktam The Unmanifest is said to be the three Gunas;
2 tat kaaranam naama shareeram aatmanah; it is verily the individual Causal Body;
3 sushhuptih etasya vibhakti avasthaa it is specially similar to “Deep Sleep”, since
4 praleena sarva indriya buddhi vrittih. all functions of mind and senses are dormant.

1-2 The “Unmanifest” is another way of looking at the Causal Body. We have just
explained Maya and the three Gunas. That is also referred to as the “Unmanifest”, because
nothing has yet been created, but the conception of creation is present. The whole blueprint
of what is to be created has already been designed, but it is in an unmanifest state. It just
needs a contractor to execute the plan and bring it to the manifest state.
3-4 A comparison is drawn between the Causal state and the Deep Sleep state. The
basis of the comparison is that in both cases, the subtle body and the gross body are
dormant or inactive. For this reason the Causal body is associated with the deep sleep state.

Verse 121: Actual Deep Sleep State

xÉuÉïmÉëMüÉUmÉëÍqÉÌiÉmÉëzÉÉÎliÉÈ
oÉÏeÉÉiqÉlÉÉuÉÎxjÉÌiÉUåuÉ oÉÑ®åÈ |
xÉÑwÉÑÎmiÉUåiÉxrÉ ÌMüsÉ mÉëiÉÏÌiÉÈ
ÌMüÎgcÉ³É uÉå©ÏÌiÉ eÉaÉimÉëÍxÉ®åÈ || 121||

79
1 sarvaprakaara pramiti prashaantih All kinds of perceptions completely cease;
2 beejaatmanaa avasthitih eva buddheh; mind remains in a subtle seed-like form;
3 sushhuptih etasya kila prateetih Indeed, in deep sleep the experience is:
4 kinchit na vedmi iti jagatprasiddheh. “I did not know anything.” This is universal.

1 The deep sleep state is not a state in which knowledge takes place. If it were we
would all get up more knowledgeable the next morning. An engineer does not get up and
find that he has become a doctor!
2 In deep sleep we get temporary relief from the mind and body. That gives us the
refreshing rest that we desire each night.
3-4 When we are in deep sleep, we are one with Maya, in a state of “not-knowing-
anything”. Ignorance still needs to be removed by knowledge. Hence we do not benefit
spiritually from our daily closeness to the Self in deep sleep.
Many people whilst practicing meditation go into the deep sleep state. This is not
unusual and is nothing to be alarmed or embarrassed about. There is a fine line between
consciously entering the “deep sleep” region as during meditation, and slipping into it
unconsciously as during deep sleep.

*****

80
2.5 ANATMA – THE “NOT-SELF”
(Verses 122-123, 2 No.)

QUESTION FIVE OF THE disciple is now answered: “What is the not-Self?”


Everything from the gross body, subtle body and causal body right up to Maya is
classified as Anatma or not-Self. By this it is not meant that they have to be ignored or
treated with contempt. We are advised only not to get identified with them as our Self.

Verse 122: The Scope of the “Not-Self”

SåWåûÎlSìrÉmÉëÉhÉqÉlÉÉåÅWûqÉÉSrÉÈ
xÉuÉåï ÌuÉMüÉUÉ ÌuÉwÉrÉÉÈ xÉÑZÉÉSrÉÈ |
urÉÉåqÉÉÌSpÉÔiÉÉlrÉÎZÉsÉÇ cÉ ÌuɵÉÇ
AurÉ£ümÉrÉïliÉÍqÉSÇ ½lÉÉiqÉÉ || 122||
deha indriya praana The body, sense organs, Pranas,
1 manah aham-aadayah mind and ego (including memory and intellect);
sarve vikaaraah vishhayaah all their modifications or changes; the sense objects,
2 sukhaadayah; as well as the pleasures (and sorrows) they bring;
vyomaadi bhootaani all the elements such as space, etc. (subtle & gross);
3 akhilam cha vishvam and the whole manifested universe;
avyakta paryantam idam hi in fact, everything right up to the ‘Unmanifest’ –
4 anaatmaa. these constitute the Not-Self.

Verse 123: Maya – Threshold Between Self & Not-Self

qÉÉrÉÉ qÉÉrÉÉMüÉrÉïÇ xÉuÉïÇ qÉWûSÉÌSSåWûmÉrÉïliÉqÉç |


AxÉÌSSqÉlÉÉiqÉiɨuÉÇ ÌuÉή iuÉÇ qÉÂqÉUÏÍcÉMüÉMüsmÉqÉç || 123||

5 maayaa maayaakaaryam sarvam Everything is due to the effect of Maya –


6 mahad-aadi deha-paryantam; from Mahat down to the gross body.
7 asat idam anaatma-tattvam viddhi Know thou that all this makes up the not-Self;
8 tvam marumareechikaa kalpam. they are all illusory like the water of a mirage.

*****

81
2.6 THE “SELF”
(Verses 124-136, 13 No.)

QUESTION SIX OF THE disciple is now being answered: “What is the Self?”
In practice, it is only when all the other six questions have been answered, that
Question Six can be answered and realisation becomes a definite Goal.
These verses are all about our true being or identity. They give us a very clear picture
of the goal to be aimed for. By whichever path we strive, our ultimate destination is the Self.
We are seeing the first verses which introduce us to the Self. The rest of the book deals with
all the Sadhanas needed in order to realise the Self.
Once the Self is realised, bondage disappears. The first four questions, which
concern bondage, get fully answered. We return to Bondage in the next chapter, more in
order to round up the topic of Sravana. The question on the Self is the last of the seven
questions to be answered by the Teacher.

Verse 124: Introduction to the Self

AjÉ iÉå xÉqmÉëuɤrÉÉÍqÉ xuÉÃmÉÇ mÉUqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ |


rÉ̲¥ÉÉrÉ lÉUÉå oÉlkÉÉlqÉÑ£üÈ MæüuÉsrÉqÉzlÉÑiÉå || 124||

1 atha te sampravakshhyaami Now I will tell you in detail


2 svaroopam paramaatmanah; of the real nature of the Supreme Self,
3 yat vijnaaya narah bandhaat realizing which man, from all his bondages,
4 muktah kaivalyam ashnute. becomes freed and attains liberation.

1-4 From the description of the not-Self in the last chapter, one may wonder if there
is such a thing as the Self, for what could have been left out of the exhaustively long list of
the not-Self? A common conclusion about the Self is that “It is Nothing!” But the scriptures
emphatically deny this possibility, for how can something come from Nothing?

Verse 125: The Absolute Entity

AÎxiÉ MüͶÉixuÉrÉÇ ÌlÉirÉqÉWûqmÉëirÉrÉsÉqoÉlÉÈ |


AuÉxjÉɧÉrÉxÉɤÉÏ xÉlmÉgcÉMüÉåzÉÌuÉsɤÉhÉÈ || 125||

1 asti kashchit svayam nityam Something there is, which is, i) the Absolute Entity:
2 aham pratyaya lambanah; ii) the Substratum for the very awareness of Ego.
3 avasthaa-traya-saakshhee san iii) the Witness of the three states,
4 pancha-kosha-vilakshhanah. iv) distinct from all the five sheaths.

82
Each statement attempts to identify something that is distinct from that which we
already know. This indicates the Self indirectly. In fact, that is all that can be done to define
the Self – viz. indicate it by what it is not or indicate it relative to something that we know.
1-4 The Statement Asti Kashchit tells us, “Yes, there is something” – it is the
Absolute Entity, the Substratum, the Witness of the three states, and that which is not the
five sheaths. These are the four indicators given of the Reality in this verse.

Verse 126: The True “I” or Self

rÉÉå ÌuÉeÉÉlÉÉÌiÉ xÉMüsÉÇ eÉÉaÉëixuÉmlÉxÉÑwÉÑÎmiÉwÉÑ |


oÉÑήiɲØ̨ÉxÉ°ÉuÉqÉpÉÉuÉqÉWûÍqÉirÉrÉqÉç || 126||

1 yo vijaanaati sakalam v) That which knows everything that happens


2 jaagrat-svapna-sushhuptishhu; in the waking, dream and deep sleep states;
3 buddhi tat vritti-sad-bhaavam the intellect is aware of It only through its presence
4 abhaavam, aham iti ayam. or absence – it recognises It as “I am”.

Here an intellectual approach is used to find out what the Self is.
1-4 The verse has reference to a Vedantic procedure named Anyava-Vyatireka,
which is a method to pinpoint the Self by a process of elimination. The presence (Anvaya) or
absence (Vyatireka) of four principles is noted by the intellect in each of the four different
states. That which is present in all four states has to be the Self.
The following table illustrates the method:

THE “ANVAYA-VYATIREKA” METHOD


THE FOUR THE FOUR STATES FINAL
PRINCIPLES WAKING DREAM DEEP SLEEP TURIYA* VERDICT
1. Gross Body Present Absent Absent Absent Vyatireka
2. Subtle Body Present Present Absent Absent Vyatireka
3. Causal Body Present Present Present Absent Vyatireka
4. The SELF Present Present Present Present Anvaya

*Turiya is the state of God-consciousness, also called the “Fourth State”, wherein
one is aware of the Self. Awareness is the key to indicate where we may find the entity
called the Self. In all the three bodies, the Self is present as their Substratum.
In Vedanta the word ‘knows’ is often used to indicate ‘awareness’ or ‘presence’.
Swami Chinmayanandaji gives the example of a person being in three different cities – he is
the only common factor in all three experiences at all three times. This is true for the
waking, dream and deep sleep states.
There is something which witnesses all that goes on in the mind, all its thoughts. It is
the very essence of the ‘I’ thought or Ego-sense. That something is the Self.

83
Verse 127: The Unseen Seer

rÉÈ mÉzrÉÌiÉ xuÉrÉÇ xÉuÉïÇ rÉÇ lÉ mÉzrÉÌiÉ Mü¶ÉlÉ |


rɶÉåiÉrÉÌiÉ oÉÑSèkrÉÉÌS lÉ iÉ±Ç cÉåiÉrÉirÉrÉqÉç || 127||

1 yah pashyati svayam sarvam vi) That which sees itself as all,
2 yam na pashyati kashchana; but which no one can see;
3 yah chetayati buddhyaadi vii) that which illumines the intellect, etc.,
4 na tat yam chetayati ayam. but which they cannot illumine – That is “This”.

1-4 This verse illustrates how the Self is the only “knowing principle” that there is.
“Knowing” is equivalent to ‘seeing’ and ‘illumining’. Acharyaji gave us a beautiful modern
simile for this description of the Self, to illustrate how the Self is able to “know everything”.

Simile of CCTV Cameras & Control Tower


The Self has installed CCTV cameras everywhere and Itself sits in the control tower
watching what is going on. Everything we do is seen by Him. It all gets recorded for
reference. In case we lodge a complaint, the Self can rewind the tapes and show us all the
photographic evidence!
Where are the cameras hidden? Our senses are the cameras, and the mind is the
control tower. The Self is the witness of the mind. Nothing can thus escape the Self.

Verse 128: It Shines First, All Shine After It

rÉålÉ ÌuɵÉÍqÉSÇ urÉÉmiÉÇ rÉÇ lÉ urÉÉmlÉÉåÌiÉ ÌMügcÉlÉ |


AÉpÉÉÃmÉÍqÉSÇ xÉuÉïÇ rÉÇ pÉÉliÉqÉlÉÑpÉÉirÉrÉqÉç || 128||

1 yena vishvam idam vyaaptam viii) That by which this universe is pervaded,
2 yam na vyaapnoti kinchana; but which is not pervaded by anything;
3 aabhaa-roopam idam sarvam ix) All this is only a reflection
4 yam bhaantam anubhaatyayam. of That which, when It shines, all shines after It.

1-2 Vyaaptam: “all-pervading”. The entire universe is pervaded by His unmanifest


Form. He is not just an inert screen in the background, as we imagined earlier. On close
scrutiny the screen simile has its limitations. To be more precise, as we feel that we pervade
our individual body, so also the Self pervades the Universal Body.
3-4 Bhaantam: “when It shines”. That which is luminous in creation, which has the
power to know, to be aware and to be conscious, is the Self alone. Even at night, He is there
still “shining” (as awareness).

Verse 129: The Enlivening Presence

rÉxrÉ xÉͳÉÍkÉqÉɧÉåhÉ SåWåûÎlSìrÉqÉlÉÉåÍkÉrÉÈ |


ÌuÉwÉrÉåwÉÑ xuÉMüÐrÉåwÉÑ uÉiÉïliÉå mÉëåËUiÉÉ CuÉ || 129||

84
1 yasya sat nidhimaatrena x) By the very Presence of That One Reality,
2 deha indriya manah dhiyah; the body and sense organs, the mind and intellect
3 vishhayeshhu svakeeyeshhu vartante perform their respective functions,
4 preritaah iva. like a team of servants prompted by their master.

1-4 The Presence of the Self should not be difficult for us to grasp. It is the most
natural thing that everyone can notice. Acharyaji illustrated the verse with this story:

Story of “Who Am I?”


In a certain kingdom, one day a very poorly clad person went and sat down on the
king’s throne. People were surprised to see him do this so boldly.
They asked him, “Who are you? Are you some landlord?” The man replied, “No, I am
greater than that.”
Then he was asked, “Are you a neighbouring king?” He said, “No, greater than that.”
Then they asked, “Are you some great religious priest?” “No, greater than that.”
“Are you a Deity then?” “No, even greater than that.”
“Then you must be Ishwara Himself?” “No greater than that”.
“But there is nothing greater than Ishwara.” “Yes, I am that Nothing!”
The mystic aspect of this verse is quite evident. The Self can be known by meditation
on the content of this verse as one examines the functions of every item listed, from body to
intellect. Deep reflection will bring us closer to the Truth than any words can. There is a
Presence which is common in all these aspects of our being. That is “This”.

Verse 130: Nature of Eternal Knowledge

AWûƒ¡ûÉUÉÌSSåWûÉliÉÉ ÌuÉwÉrÉÉ¶É xÉÑZÉÉSrÉÈ |


uÉå±liÉå bÉOûuɱålÉ ÌlÉirÉoÉÉåkÉxuÉÃÌmÉhÉÉ || 130||
1 ahangkaaraadi dehaantaah xi) From the ego, down to the gross body;
2 vishhayaah cha sukhaadayah; the sense objects, and their pleasures and pains;
3 vedyante ghatavat yena That by which everything is known as clearly as a jar;
4 nitya bodha svaroopinaa. That is of the nature of Eternal Knowledge.

1-2 Here the knowledge aspect of the Self is brought out. When we say “I know” it is
relative to our own experience of what we are aware of, at our level.
3-4 The sage ‘knows’ in a different sense. Knowledge or Awareness is the very nature
of the Self. The sage’s knowing is from a different standpoint altogether.
Here is an interesting illustration from the life of Sage Ashtavakra: The sage got his
name from the 8 twists in his body. He looked quite a caricature, and people laughed at him
when he entered the court of King Janaka. He turned back at them and asked, “Are you
laughing at the pot, or the maker of the pot? i.e. Are you laughing at my body, or at Me?”
Such was the level of awareness in Ashtavakra, beyond all body-consciousness.

85
Verse 131: Nature of Infinite Bliss

LwÉÉåÅliÉUÉiqÉÉ mÉÑÂwÉÈ mÉÑUÉhÉÉå


ÌlÉUliÉUÉZÉhQûxÉÑZÉÉlÉÑpÉÔÌiÉÈ |
xÉSæMüÃmÉÈ mÉëÌiÉoÉÉåkÉqÉɧÉÉå
rÉålÉåÌwÉiÉÉ uÉÉaÉxÉuɶÉUÎliÉ || 131||
eshhah antaraatmaa xii) He is the innermost Self,
1 purushhah puraanah the ancient Purusha, (the great Truth);
nirantara akhandha xiii) He is constant and unbroken,
2 sukha anubhootih; experienced as the very nature of Infinite Bliss;
sadaa eka roopah xiv) He is ever the same, yet
3 pratibodha-maatrah is known differently due to mental modifications;
yena eeshhitaa vaag xv) By His command, the organ of speech
4 asavah charanti. and the Pranas perform their functions.

1 Although known as ‘Ancient Purusha’, He is ever-new and fresh. He is right here,


this very moment, working through my mind and senses. How much fresher can He be?
2 The Self is Infinite, and therefore He is fully contented in Himself and all-Bliss. In
Vedanta, Infinity is a quality that is essential for the experience of Bliss.
3 Mental modifications are the changes which occur in one’s mental state. It is sure
to affect how one views the Reality, just as the quality of a mirror surface affects the
reflection from it. As with mental modifications, so with intellectual modifications.
4 This Pada highlights the sentiency aspect of the Self. Only something with
sentiency can give orders. The organ of speech is in itself inert. So too, the Prana that
functions in the body is also only an inert source of energy, needing a sentient being to
command it.

Verse 132: In the Womb of Sattwa

A§ÉæuÉ xɨuÉÉiqÉÌlÉ kÉÏaÉÑWûÉrÉÉÇ


AurÉÉM×üiÉÉMüÉzÉ EzÉimÉëMüÉzÉÈ |
AÉMüÉzÉ EŠæ UÌuÉuÉimÉëMüÉzÉiÉå
xuÉiÉåeÉxÉÉ ÌuɵÉÍqÉSÇ mÉëMüÉzÉrÉlÉç || 132||
atra eva sattvaatmani xvi) In this very body, in a mind full of Sattwa,
1 dhee-guhaayaam in the secret cave of the intellect,
avyaakrita aakaashe in the atmosphere of the Unmanifest,
2 ushat prakaashah; of captivating glory,
3 aakaashe uchchaih ravivat prakaashate like the sun that shines high in the sky,
sva-tejasaa vishvam illuminating this universe by its very effulgence,
4 idam prakaashayan. is This, the illumining Self.

The source of the greatness of a realised saint lies in his own purity, not elsewhere.

86
1 This fact is brought out in this verse. The Sattwic-ness of a human being
determines how perfectly he reflects the glory of the Self. The luminous Self is there
everywhere, but it needs a pure instrument to reflect its glory faithfully. This happens
naturally through a body in which the mind and intellect are full of Sattwa.
2 When this happens, the Self in such an instrument captivates people by its
brilliance and luminosity.
3 “High in the sky”, could also be taken to refer to the great heights scaled by the
liberated sage in comparison to a worldly person having a more earth-oriented mentality.
4 For the universe, one saint’s presence is sufficient to motivate many thousands of
others to follow his teaching and example. The saint becomes a Light for the whole
universe, just as the sun is the light for the whole galaxy of planets.

Verse 133: Relationship Between Self & Upadhis

¥ÉÉiÉÉ qÉlÉÉåÅWûƒ¡ÙûÌiÉÌuÉÌ¢ürÉÉhÉÉÇ
SåWåûÎlSìrÉmÉëÉhÉM×üiÉÌ¢ürÉÉhÉÉqÉç |
ArÉÉåÅÎalÉuɨÉÉlÉlÉÑuÉiÉïqÉÉlÉÉå
lÉ cÉå¹iÉå lÉÉå ÌuÉMüUÉåÌiÉ ÌMügcÉlÉ || 133||
jnaataa manah xvii) The Self is the Knower behind the mind’s
1 ahangkriti vikriyaanaam and the ego’s modifications;
deha-indriya-praana xviii) Behind the body, the sense organs and the Pranas,
2 krita-kriyaanaam; the Self is the Actor of the activities done by them;
ayah agnivat taan xix) Like the iron ball in a furnace of fire, the Self
3 anuvartamaanah mutually exchanges appearances with the Upadhis,
na cheshhtate although in reality, the Self neither acts
4 no vikaroti kinchana. nor undergoes any change in the least, (It appears to).

The relationship between the Self and the Upadhis or conditionings is described
here. There is a mutual exchange of properties between the two.
1 In conjunction with the mind and intellect (or ego), the Self is the Knower of all the
changes that occur in the latter.
2 In conjunction with the body, senses and Pranas, the Self is the Actor performing
all the functions through them.
3 Just as an iron ball appears red like the fire, and the fire appears round like the ball,
the Self takes up the shape of the iron ball-Upadhi, and the Upadhi takes on the red colour
of the glowing Self.
4 In truth, the Self does nothing of the sort. It ever remains its own nature,
untouched by the changing properties of the Upadhis.

Verse 134: Unchanging & Independent

lÉ eÉÉrÉiÉå lÉÉå ÍqÉërÉiÉå lÉ uÉkÉïiÉå lÉ ¤ÉÏrÉiÉå


lÉÉå ÌuÉMüUÉåÌiÉ ÌlÉirÉÈ |
87
ÌuÉsÉÏrÉqÉÉlÉåÅÌmÉ uÉmÉÑwrÉqÉÑÎwqÉ-
³É sÉÏrÉiÉå MÑüqpÉ CuÉÉqoÉUÇ xuÉrÉqÉç || 134||
na jaayate no mriyate xx) Neither is It born, nor does It die;
1 na vardhate na kshheeyate Neither does It grow, nor does It decay;
2 no vikaroti nityah; being eternal, it changes not.
vileeyamaane api vapushhi xxi) Even when this body is destroyed,
3 amushhmin na leeyate It does not cease to exist.
4 kumbhe iva ambaram svayam. Like the space in a jar, It ever remains independent.

1-2 The modifications which every living being is subject to, do not affect the Self.
The six modifications are: Existence, birth, growth, maturity, decay and death. After death
comes Existence again, and so the cycle continues.
3-4 The Self is also totally independent of the human being. It always remains the
same through all the above six modifications. One may say that It remains forever as Sat or
Existence.

Verse 135: The Self & the Universe

mÉëM×üÌiÉÌuÉM×üÌiÉÍpɳÉÈ zÉÑ®oÉÉåkÉxuÉpÉÉuÉÈ
xÉSxÉÌSSqÉzÉåwÉÇ pÉÉxÉrÉͳÉÌuÉïzÉåwÉÈ |
ÌuÉsÉxÉÌiÉ mÉUqÉÉiqÉÉ eÉÉaÉëSÉÌSwuÉuÉxjÉÉ-
xuÉWûqÉWûÍqÉÌiÉ xÉɤÉÉixÉÉͤÉÃmÉåhÉ oÉÑ®åÈ || 135||
prakriti-vikriti-bhinnah xxii) Different from Prakriti and its modifications,
1 shuddha-bodha-svabhaavah (the Self is) of the form of pure Knowledge;
sat asat idam asheshham xxiii) The entire visible and invisible Universe is a
2 bhaasayan nirvisheshhah; manifestation of That attributeless Absolute;
vilasati paramaatmaa xxiv) The Supreme Self manifests itself
3 jaagradaadishhu avasthaasu in all the three states – waking, dream, sleep –
aham aham iti saakshhaat- as the “I am, I am” ego-sense directly in the intellect,
4 saakshhiroopena buddheh. and the witnessing consciousness behind intellect.

Sri Shankaracharyaji is exhausting all his ideas to make us grasp what the Self is. Sri
Ramana Maharshi used to say we should be like the dog who just sticks to following the
scent of his master and leaves all other scents alone. In the same manner, Shankaracharyaji
is asking us to follow only the “scent of the Self”.

Verse 136: Being Established in Brahman

ÌlÉrÉÍqÉiÉqÉlÉxÉÉqÉÑÇ iuÉÇ xuÉqÉÉiqÉÉlÉqÉÉiqÉ-


lrÉrÉqÉWûÍqÉÌiÉ xÉɤÉÉ̲ή oÉÑήmÉëxÉÉSÉiÉç |
eÉÌlÉqÉUhÉiÉU…¡ûÉmÉÉUxÉÇxÉÉUÍxÉlkÉÑÇ
mÉëiÉU pÉuÉ M×üiÉÉjÉÉåï oÉë¼ÃmÉåhÉ xÉÇxjÉÈ || 136||
88
niyamita manasaa amum tvam With a regulated mind , realise your
1 svam aatmaanam aatmani own Self while in this body.
ayam aham iti saakshhaad- “This Self I am” – realise this directly
2 viddhi buddhi prasaadaat; with a purified intellect;
janimarana tarangga Births and deaths are the waves of this
3 apaara samsaara-sindhum shoreless ocean of Samsara,
pratara bhava kritaarthah Cross it, and become blessed and fulfilled
4 brahma-roopena samsthah. by getting firmly established in Brahman,

1-2 Vedanta is not just theory. It is the actual experience of oneness after purifying
oneself.
3-4 As we come to the end of the Chapter on the Self, we place a foot into the next
Chapter that deals with Bondage to the world. The bondage is to the world of births and
deaths which is figuratively described as “waves in the shoreless ocean of Samsara”. To
cross this ocean through knowledge of the Self is to come out of bondage and be liberated
from endless transmigration of the soul.
That is dealt with in the next chapter, the last in Part 2 on Sravana. That completes
the scope of the theoretical knowledge of the Self that one needs to ponder over in Part 3
on Manana.

*****

89
2.7 WHAT IS BONDAGE?
(Verses 137-146, 10 No.)

THE THREE GOALS IN THE VEDAS

A S AN INTRODUCTION to this Chapter, it is useful to place it in the overall context of


the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas. The Vedas are written for all mankind and caters for the
different stages of growth of people. There are three distinct categories among men, and
the Vedas hold out a goal applicable to each of these three types. The first two are optional
goals while the third is the ultimate spiritual Goal of life. These are summarised here:

Goal 1: Material Success in This World


This is what most people are satisfied to strive for. They wish to lead a comfortable
life with all their material desires fulfilled. The Vedas recognise this as the first stage of
fulfillment desired by people. Accordingly, it provides instructions in the Karma Kanda on
how to achieve this goal legitamately. By following the Laws of Nature, by leading a Dharmic
life in accordance with the Laws of Righteousness, by going about one’s material pursuits in
an orderly manner without harming others, the Vedas provide for such people to achieve
the Material Success they desire.

Goal 2: Attainment of Higher Worlds


At another level altogether comes the desire in people to attain higher planes of
existence. Material satisfaction in earthly life has innumerable setbacks and limitations.
There comes the desire to enjoy the same type of satisfaction without any earthly restraints.
The Vedas recognise this as a valid goal and provide the Upasana Kanda as a means to
achieve this end. Practices of self-denial and endurance of hardships are prescribed to
accumulate extraordinary merits by which one obtains a “Visa” to go to extra-terrestrial
realms, called Heavens, where such enjoyment is possible. When the “Visa” expires, or
when the accumulated merit is exhausted, then one returns to earthly life once again and
continues, perhaps to accumulate more merit for the next trip to Heaven!

Goal 3: End of Transmigration


However, when a soul realises that all these experiences, however intense and
however pleasant they may be, ultimately boil down to achieving nothing really, then that
soul starts desiring something that is more lasting. It seeks spiritual progress. It seeks to
transcend the realms bound by transmigration, the cycle of endless births and deaths in this
world or in a higher world. Such a soul prepares itself for the ultimate Goal of life, the most
difficult of all spiritual endeavours, the path that will take one to its spiritual identity with
the Non-dual Reality of Existence. This is the ultimate Goal offered in the Jnana Kanda of
the Vedas, also known as the Upanishads or as Vedanta. When this goal is achieved, there is
no return to this world, there is no Bondage, one attains Liberation from transmigration.

90
In the context of the three goals just described, we are now ready to understand the
third Goal, the way out of Bondage to worldly existence. The following 10 verses teach us
the essentials of this supreme, spiritual Goal, which culminates in spiritual enlightenment.

Verse 137: The Origin of Bondage

A§ÉÉlÉÉiqÉlrÉWûÍqÉÌiÉ qÉÌiÉoÉïlkÉ LwÉÉåÅxrÉ mÉÑÇxÉÈ


mÉëÉmiÉÉåÅ¥ÉÉlÉÉ‹lÉlÉqÉUhÉYsÉåzÉxÉqmÉÉiÉWåûiÉÑÈ |
rÉålÉæuÉÉrÉÇ uÉmÉÑËUSqÉxÉixÉirÉÍqÉirÉÉiqÉoÉÑSèkrÉÉ
mÉÑwrÉirÉѤÉirÉuÉÌiÉ ÌuÉwÉrÉæxiÉliÉÑÍpÉÈ MüÉåzÉM×ü²iÉç || 137||
atra anaatmani aham iti matih Identifying himself with the not-Self here –
1 bandha eshhah asya pumsah this is the origin of the bondage of man.
praaptah ajnaanaat janana- In the wake of this ignorance come births and deaths
2 marana klesha sampaatahetuh; and the miseries associated with them.
yena eva ayam vapuh idam asat Due to this alone, man regards this perishable body
3 satyam iti aatma-buddhyaa as real, and with the notion that it is “me”,
pushhyati ukshhati avati He nourishes, bathes and preserves it with the help of
4 vishhayaih, tantubhih sense objects, and gets bound as a silkworm
koshakridvat. in its cocoon woven by its own threads.

In the light of the three goals just presented, it is clear that something fundamental
has to change in our attitude towards the world to make Goal 3 a viable project in life. It is
only in the context of Goal 3 that one starts re-assessing life and the values he chooses to
live for. If Goal 3 is to become our aim, then we need to look at our world in a new way.
1 The most important point to note is that we need to differentiate between two
things: the Self or the permanent Reality, and the not-Self or the apparent reality or
Unreality. This distinction is crucial to coming out of bondage. This is what we have been
learning in this entire Part 2 of Viveka Choodamani, in particular Chapters 5 and 6.
2 By re-evaluating the world into these two categories, we are able to determine the
difference between what binds us and what liberates us from births and deaths.
3 The old idea of holding this body as being ‘real’ now has to be discarded in the light
of what we have discussed so far in this whole Part. There is to be a clear break away from
our old moorings to the body and to the “I” we have generated around it.
4 Our previous preoccupation with the body and the ego needs to be re-examined if
we are to free ourselves from the bondage to this world. This turns out to be a major
project. Indeed, it is held out to us by Sri Shankaracharyaji as the most worthwhile project.

Verse 138: Grasping the Unreal is Bondage

AiÉÎxqÉÇxiɯÒÎ®È mÉëpÉuÉÌiÉ ÌuÉqÉÔRûxrÉ iÉqÉxÉÉ


ÌuÉuÉåMüÉpÉÉuÉɲæ xTÑüUÌiÉ pÉÑeÉaÉå U‹ÑÍkÉwÉhÉÉ |
iÉiÉÉåÅlÉjÉïuÉëÉiÉÉå ÌlÉmÉiÉÌiÉ xÉqÉÉSÉiÉÑUÍkÉMüÈ
iÉiÉÉå rÉÉåÅxÉSèaÉëÉWûÈ xÉ ÌWû pÉuÉÌiÉ oÉlkÉÈ zÉ×hÉÑ xÉZÉå || 138||
91
atasmin tadbuddhih prabhavati In that which is unreal, the notion of Real arises
1 vimoodhhasya tamasaa to one who is deluded by Darkness;
viveka abhaavaat vai sphurati In the absence of discrimination alone, arises
2 bhujage rajju-dhishhanaa; the notion of a rope where there is a snake!
tatah anartha-vraatah nipatati As a consequence, the dangers that befall him
3 samaadaatuh adhikah who seizes the “rope” are grave and enormous.
tatah yah asad-graahah sah hi Therefore, grasping the unreal, thinking it to be
4 bhavati bandhah shrinu sakhe. Real is indeed bondage – take note, O dear!

1 We move further in our differentiation between the real and the unreal. If we have
accepted the Unreal as being the Real, then we have made a crucial error. That error is
possible only if we have come under the influence of Delusion – a dense, dark delusion.
2 It means we have not discriminated properly. Somewhere we have become
careless and allowed the Unreal to pass off as the Real in our lives. We have not examined
the world carefully enough. We have accepted it as a rope, when in fact it is a snake!
3 Naturally, the consequences of such misapprehension are going to be very serious.
If we grab a snake, thinking that it is only a rope, we obviously endanger ourselves.
4 That is what we have actually done by grasping the Unreal as the Reality. Sri
Shankaracharyaji draws our attention to this error with great concern. “O my brothers and
sisters, what have you done! How could you have been so careless?”

Verse 139: The Veil of Aavriti Over Truth

AZÉhQûÌlÉirÉɲrÉoÉÉåkÉzÉYirÉÉ
xTÑüUliÉqÉÉiqÉÉlÉqÉlÉliÉuÉæpÉuÉqÉç |
xÉqÉÉuÉ×hÉÉåirÉÉuÉ×ÌiÉzÉÌ£üUåwÉÉ
iÉqÉÉåqÉrÉÏ UÉWÒûËUuÉÉMïüÌoÉqoÉqÉç || 139||
akhandha nitya advaya The indivisible, eternal, and one without a second,
1 bodha-shaktyaa is, through the power of Knowledge,
sphurantam aatmaanam manifesting Itself (in this world)
2 ananta-vaibhavam; in an infinite number of glorious ways.
3 samaavrinoti aavriti-shaktih eshhaa This is veiled by a power called Aavriti Shakti ,
tamomayee raahuh iva which, being full of Darkness, is like the moon
4 arka-bimbam. which eclipses the sun.

Now Sri Shankaracharyaji’s love and compassion come to the fore. He really shows
how much he cares for our wellbeing:
1-2 The Real is there for us to see everywhere. There is no place where it is not. If
only we have the knowledge to see it, it is surely unmistakable. It is shining in everything
that we see! Have we become so blind not to see it?
3-4 Alas, yes, we are blind. Our eyes have been veiled by Aavriti Shakti. Like the
eclipse of the sun, this veil has covered up all the goodness of the Reality from our vision!

92
Verse 140: Merciless Persecution by Rajas

ÌiÉUÉåpÉÔiÉå xuÉÉiqÉlrÉqÉsÉiÉUiÉåeÉÉåuÉÌiÉ mÉÑqÉÉlÉç


AlÉÉiqÉÉlÉÇ qÉÉåWûÉSWûÍqÉÌiÉ zÉUÏUÇ MüsÉrÉÌiÉ |
iÉiÉÈ MüÉqÉ¢üÉåkÉmÉëpÉ×ÌiÉÍpÉUqÉÑÇ oÉlkÉlÉaÉÑhÉæÈ
mÉUÇ ÌuɤÉåmÉÉZrÉÉ UeÉxÉ EÂzÉÌ£üurÉïjÉrÉÌiÉ || 140||
tirobhoote svaatmani When a man’s own Self is hidden from him, the
1 amalatara tejovati pumaan Self that is all purity and splendour, then he,
anaatmaanam mohaat aham iti out of ignorance, associates “I am” with the Not-
2 shareeram kalayati; Self, i.e. the body, and identifies himself with it.
tatah kaama-krodha-prabhriti- Then, by the fetters of lust, anger, and its train of
3 bhih, amum bandhana-gunaih vices, he gets bound
param vikshhepaakhyaa rajasa inextricably, as the projecting power of Rajas
4 urushaktih vyathayati. mercilessly persecutes him.

It must seem a wonder to a sage how the ordinary person allows himself to be
bound so thoroughly by something that is false in the first place.
1-2 Wonder of wonders that he takes a paltry thing like his body to be his Self. And
having done so, he allows himself to be imprisoned into bondage. The full assessment of our
error is this. We are in truth emperors, but we believe that we are just puny helpless
creatures. It is something like an elephant imagining himself to be an ant!
3-4 Once the veiling power has done its job, the rest of the work is done by the
Rajasic projecting power, which mercilessly tosses us up and down on the waves of sense
pleasures, called here as the fetters of lust and anger.
This is done continuously and surreptitiously, so that there is no breathing space for
us to reflect on what is happening to us. We are hurled down by Rajas and mercilessly
tortured.

Verse 141: A Calamitous Fate!

qÉWûÉqÉÉåWûaÉëÉWûaÉëxÉlÉaÉÍsÉiÉÉiqÉÉuÉaÉqÉlÉÉå
ÍkÉrÉÉå lÉÉlÉÉuÉxjÉÉÇ xuÉrÉqÉÍpÉlÉrÉÇxiɪÒhÉiÉrÉÉ |
AmÉÉUå xÉÇxÉÉUå ÌuÉwÉrÉÌuÉwÉmÉÔUå eÉsÉÌlÉkÉÉæ
ÌlÉqÉerÉÉålqÉerÉÉrÉÇ pÉëqÉÌiÉ MÑüqÉÌiÉÈ MÑüÎixÉiÉaÉÌiÉÈ || 141||
mahaa moha graaha grasana- By the shark of blinding ignorance, one whose
1 galita aatma avagamanah knowledge of his Self is swallowed up,
dhiyah naanaa avasthaam takes the different states of his intellect to be
2 svayam abhinayan tad-gunatayaa; attributes of his Self and behaves as such.
apaare samsaare vishhaya-vishha- In this boundless ocean of Samsara, filled with
3 poore jalanidhau the poison of sense-pleasures, he drifts about,
nimajya unmajya ayam bhramati sinking and rising. This man, of deluded
4 kumatih kutsitagatih. intellect, what a calamitous fate is his lot!

93
1 Ignorance is represented as a shark that swallows up one’s knowledge of his true
spiritual nature.
2 Under the delusion of ignorance, the intellect gets paralysed. It loses its power of
discrimination. Thus it comes to mistake its own fluctuating conditions and takes them to be
superimpositions of the Self.
3 Blending with the simile of the shark, we have the simile of the ocean of Samsara
which heaves with the poison of sense pleasures, tossing the man up and down helplessly
on the waves of joys and sorrows.
4 Is this not a tragic calamity for an intellect to succumb to? This is another aspect of
the Bondage in which man is trapped.

Verse 142: Veiling its Own Source!

pÉÉlÉÑmÉëpÉÉxÉgeÉÌlÉiÉÉpÉëmÉ̇ûÈ
pÉÉlÉÑÇ ÌiÉUÉåkÉÉrÉ ÌuÉeÉ×qpÉiÉå rÉjÉÉ |
AÉiqÉÉåÌSiÉÉWûƒ¡ÙûÌiÉUÉiqÉiɨuÉÇ
iÉjÉÉ ÌiÉUÉåkÉÉrÉ ÌuÉeÉ×qpÉiÉå xuÉrÉqÉç || 142||
bhaanu prabhaa sanjanita Just as, generated by the sun’s rays,
1 abhrapangktih the formations of clouds
bhaanum tirodhaaya then veil the very sun
2 vijrimbhate yathaa; that had produced them;
3 aatma udita ahangkritih tathaa So also, arisen from the Self, the Ego
aatmatattvam tirodhaaya then veils the very Self or principle of Reality
4 vijrimbhate svayam. that had Itself produced it!

Simile of the Sun & Clouds


1-2 The sunrays generate the formation of the rain-clouds. Then those very clouds
veil the sun that produced them.
3-4 In the same manner, the Ego arises as a result of the Light of the Self reflecting
off the mirror of one’s intellect. The Ego is a product of the Self, so to speak. Then, that very
Ego veils the Self that produced it, so much so that It cannot even be recognised anymore.
The simile brings out the disgraceful behaviour of the ego which receives all its
power from the Self, but never acknowledges it with even the slightest gratitude. It claims
all the glory for itself, posing to be the actor or doer itself.

Verse 143: The Dreadful Blasts of Vikshepa

MüuÉÍsÉiÉÌSlÉlÉÉjÉå SÒÌSïlÉå xÉÉlSìqÉåbÉæÈ


urÉjÉrÉÌiÉ ÌWûqÉfÉgfÉÉuÉÉrÉÑÂaÉëÉå rÉjÉæiÉÉlÉç |
AÌuÉUiÉiÉqÉxÉÉÅÅiqÉlrÉÉuÉ×iÉå qÉÔRûoÉÑήÇ
¤ÉmÉrÉÌiÉ oÉWÒûSÒÈZÉæxiÉÏuÉëÌuɤÉåmÉzÉÌ£üÈ || 143||

94
kavalita dinanaathe durdine Just as, on a cloudy day, the sun is swallowed up
1 saandrameghaih by the dense clouds;
vyathayati himajhanjhaa- then come the persecuting cold blasts of wind,
2 vaayuh ugrah yathaa etaan; bringing shivering and destruction in its wake;
avirata tamasaa aatmani So too, by the clouds of utter ignorance, when the
3 aavrite moodhha-buddhim Atman is screened off, the foolish man
kshhapayati bahuduhkhaih is persecuted with endless sorrows
4 teevra vikshhepa shaktih. too dreadful, by the blasts of the Projecting Power.

We now have the same simile as above, but there is a slight twist to its application.
1-2 As before, the clouds cover up the sun. We are now interested in the result of
that cover-up, i.e. how it affects us down here, not the sun up there. When the bright sun is
shielded by the clouds, cold sets in below. With it come cold blasts of wind. Anyone in the
icy Himalayas would have experienced this kind of weather. The final result is the shivering
and perhaps destruction which these blizzards bring in their wake.
3-4 When applied to our situation of ignorance of the Self, what does this simile
teach us? The clouds of ignorance shield off the Self. What happens? The cold winds of
sorrows start blowing in his life. Once the Self is not seen, due to the projecting power that
now has free play, the winds become blizzards of unbearable pain!

Verse 144: The Mischief of Maya’s Powers

LiÉÉprÉÉqÉåuÉ zÉÌ£üprÉÉÇ oÉlkÉÈ mÉÑÇxÉÈ xÉqÉÉaÉiÉÈ |


rÉÉprÉÉÇ ÌuÉqÉÉåÌWûiÉÉå SåWÇû qÉiuÉÉÅÅiqÉÉlÉÇ pÉëqÉirÉrÉqÉç || 144||

1 etaabhyaam eva shaktibhyaam From these two ‘powers’ (veiling & projecting),
2 bandhah pumsah samaagatah; man’s bondage has sprung forth.
3 yaabhyaam vimohitah deham Deluded by them, man mistakes his body
4 matvaa aatmaanam bhramati ayam. for the Self, and wanders from life to life!

1-2 The topic of bondage is brought to a close. The two powers of Maya are
pinpointed as the fundamental causes.
3-4 The two fundamental effects of bondage are also summed up. They are
mistaking the body’s five sheaths to be the Self. As a result of this mis-apprehension, a
whole range of restless activities are acted out by the soul which thoroughly bind to the
world of Samsara, leading him aimlessly from birth to birth.

Verse 145: The “Tree” of Bondage

oÉÏeÉÇ xÉÇxÉ×ÌiÉpÉÔÍqÉeÉxrÉ iÉÑ iÉqÉÉå, SåWûÉiqÉkÉÏUƒ¡ÓûUÉå


UÉaÉÈ mÉssÉuÉqÉqoÉÑ MüqÉï iÉÑ uÉmÉÑÈ, xMülkÉÉåÅxÉuÉÈ zÉÉÎZÉMüÉÈ |
AaÉëÉhÉÏÎlSìrÉxÉÇWûÌiÉ¶É ÌuÉwÉrÉÉÈ, mÉÑwmÉÉÍhÉ SÒÈZÉÇ TüsÉÇ
lÉÉlÉÉMüqÉïxÉqÉÑ°uÉÇ oÉWÒûÌuÉkÉÇ, pÉÉå£üÉ§É eÉÏuÉÈ ZÉaÉÈ || 145||

95
beejam samsriti bhoomijasya a. The seed for the Tree of Samsara
1 tu tamah, is verily Ignorance.
dehaatmadheeh angkurah b. Body-identification is the sprout;
raagah pallavam ambu karma c. desires are its tender leaves; d. work is its water;
2 tu vapuh skandhah, e. while the body is its trunk;
asavah shaakhikaah; f. the Pranas are its branches;
agraani indriyasamhatih g. the sense organs are its twigs;
3 cha vishhayaah pushhpaani, h. the sense objects are its flowers;
duhkham phalam i. miseries are the fruit;
naanaa karma-samudbhavam born out of different actions
4 bahuvidham, bhoktaa of a variety of kinds; j. the experiencer (Jiva)
atra jeevah khagah. here is the individual bird (perched upon the tree)!

Besides serving the purpose of a summary to the whole subject of Bondage, this
simile also conveys the idea that it is a dynamic, organic growth. There is no end to the
growth potential of this tree – it can go on growing like the huge banyan tree.
At the other extreme, if we are careful and continue to prune the tree regularly, we
can succeed in keeping its size to the dimensions of a cute little Japanese “Bonsai” tree. Due
to it being regularly trimmed, the Bonsai does not get a chance to grow large, and remains
as a small stunted tree of managable size. The Japanese have mastered the cultivation of
Bonsai trees so that they can be placed in tiny glass showcases on the desktop of an office
table!
Perhaps that is what is needed to contain the “tree of bondage” from becoming a
forest.

Verse 146: The Bondage is Self-Caused!

A¥ÉÉlÉqÉÔsÉÉåÅrÉqÉlÉÉiqÉoÉlkÉÉå
lÉæxÉÌaÉïMüÉåÅlÉÉÌSUlÉliÉ DËUiÉÈ |
eÉlqÉÉmrÉrÉurÉÉÍkÉeÉUÉÌSSÒÈZÉ-
mÉëuÉÉWûmÉÉiÉÇ eÉlÉrÉirÉqÉÑwrÉ || 146||
ajnaanamoolah ayam This (bondage) springs from ignorance,
1 anaatmabandhah and it is caused by the not-Self.
naisargikah It is self-caused,
2 anaadih-ananta eeritah; and is described as without beginning or end.
3 janma apyaya vyaadhi jaraadi Birth, death, disease, and senility –
duhkha-pravaahapaatam an endless flood of miseries
4 janayati amushhya. lies in store for one who is bound.

Conclusion on Bondage
1. From the jails of this world one can escape in many ways, and there are some
countries which even free prisoners as a gesture of their strength. There is no such thing in
the spiritual world. Bondage is due to a life lived in the aimless pursuit of material values;
freedom from it cannot be won by any amount of bribing or means of escape.

96
2. In the jail of Samsara, the sentences could be quite long. Even a life-long term is
too short. It could go on and on indefinitely – until ignorance is destroyed by knowledge.
3. The metaphor of a tree to represent our bondage to this world is very appropriate.
There is no end in sight and if we are looking for an external solution we will wait forever.
Unless the tree is axed with knowledge, there is no end.
4. After numberless births in bondage, one gets used to being bound and there is the
danger of becoming a “happy slave” in prison. The bondage is enticing. Many may not even
complain or fight against it. In fact, many are not even aware that they are in bondage,
especially when life is flowing smoothly for them.
5. This bondage is self-made. There is divine justice at work in administering it. The
heaviness of the sentence is fully commensurate with the degree to which we cling to the
world. It is Divine Grace alone that leads one to the spiritual knowledge by which one may
be liberated forever.

END OF PART 2
*****

97
Oneness of Soul & Brahman
NON-DUALITY
JIVA-BRAHMA AIKYA

JNANA
“MAHAVAKYA”
YOGA  YOGA
(UPPER LIMB)

DUALITY
One-Pointedness of Mind
CHITTA EKAGRATA

BHAKTI JNANA ASHTANGA


YOGA YOGA YOGA
(LOWER LIMB)

DEVOTION KNOWLEDGE SELF-CONTROL


CHITTA SHUDDHI
Purity of Mind

THE BOAT OF KARMA YOGA

THE OCEAN OF SAMSARA

DIAGRAM OF INTEGRAL YOGA

98
|| ÌuÉuÉåMücÉÔQûÉqÉÍhÉÈ ||

VIVEKA CHOODAMANI
VOLUME 2 of 4

The Crest Jewel of


Discrimination
PART 3: MANANA – Reflection on the Teaching
PART 4: NIDIDHYASANA 1– Theoretical Aspects

“THE SANDEEPANY EXPERIENCE”

Reflections by
TEXT SWAMI GURUBHAKTANANDA

11.2 1
Sandeepany’s Vedanta Course
List of All the Course Texts in Chronological Sequence:

Text Text
TITLE OF TEXT TITLE OF TEXT
No. No.
1 Sadhana Panchakam 24 Hanuman Chalisa
2 Tattwa Bodha 25 Vakya Vritti
3 Atma Bodha 26 Advaita Makaranda
4 Bhaja Govindam 27 Kaivalya Upanishad
5 Manisha Panchakam 28 Bhagavad Geeta (Discourse -- )
6 Forgive Me 29 Mundaka Upanishad
7 Upadesha Sara 30 Amritabindu Upanishad
8 Prashna Upanishad 31 Mukunda Mala (Bhakti Text)
9 Dhanyashtakam 32 Tapovan Shatkam
10 Bodha Sara 33 The Mahavakyas, Panchadasi 5
11.2 Viveka Choodamani – Vol 2/4 34 Aitareya Upanishad
12 Jnana Sara 35 Narada Bhakti Sutras
13 Drig-Drishya Viveka 36 Taittiriya Upanishad
14 “Tat Twam Asi” – Chand Up 6 37 Jivan Sutrani (Tips for Happy Living)
15 Dhyana Swaroopam 38 Kena Upanishad
16 “Bhoomaiva Sukham” Chand Up 7 39 Aparoksha Anubhuti (Meditation)
17 Manah Shodhanam 40 108 Names of Pujya Gurudev
18 “Nataka Deepa” – Panchadasi 10 41 Mandukya Upanishad
19 Isavasya Upanishad 42 Dakshinamurty Ashtakam
20 Katha Upanishad 43 Shad Darshanaah
21 “Sara Sangrah” – Yoga Vasishtha 44 Brahma Sootras
22 Vedanta Sara 45 Jivanmuktananda Lahari
23 Mahabharata + Geeta Dhyanam 46 Chinmaya Pledge

AUTHOR’S ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO SANDEEPANY


Sandeepany Sadhanalaya is an institution run by the Chinmaya Mission in Powai, Mumbai, teaching a
2-year Vedanta Course. It has a very balanced daily programme of basic Samskrit, Vedic chanting, Vedanta
study, Bhagavatam, Ramacharitmanas, Bhajans, meditation, sports and fitness exercises, team-building outings,
games and drama, celebration of all Hindu festivals, weekly Gayatri Havan and Guru Paduka Pooja, and Karma
Yoga activities.
This series is an effort to promote the learning of Vedanta; it does not replace Course, but hopes to
inspire young people to spend two years of their life for an experience that is sure to make a far-reaching
spiritual impact on their personal lives. Sandeepany is an all-round spiritual course that gives proper direction
to the youth and to those approaching retirement. Hinduism is in dire need of a band of systematically trained
teachers or Acharyas who can serve this Eternal Religion.

– Swami Gurubhaktananda, 30th June 2018, the Auspicious Birthday of Guruji


Om Namah Shivaaya!

Text
11.2

|| ÌuÉuÉåMücÉÔQûÉqÉÍhÉÈ ||
VIVEKA CHOODAMANI – Vol. 2
“Crest-Jewel of Discrimination”
Composed by Sri Adi Shankaracharyaji

Volume 2 of 4: (Verses 147-266 of 581)

PART 3: MANANA – Reflection on the Teaching


PART 4: NIDIDHYASANA 1 – Theoretical Aspects

Reflections by
SWAMI GURUBHAKTANANDA
on the 109 Lectures by Swami Advayanandaji & Swami Nikhilanandaji
at the 15th Vedanta Course, Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Powai, Mumbai
from January 28th to July 3rd , 2012

Adi Shankaracharya Swami Sivananda Swami Tapovanji Swami Chinmayananda

SERVE  LOVE  GIVE  PURIFY  MEDITATE  REALISE


Copyright & Author’s Details
Author: Swami Gurubhaktananda, born 1954 as Bipin R. Kapitan, in Durban, South Africa.
Residence: Sivanandashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India.
Email: gurubhakta.dls@gmail.com

© 2018 All Rights Reserved. Copyright held by Swami Gurubhaktananda.

About This Edition:


Web Edition: 30th June 2018, the Auspicious Birthday of Guruji
Website: www.chinfo.org hosted by Chinmaya International
Foundation, Kerala, India:
Series Title : The Sandeepany Experience
Series Subject: Vedanta & supportive subsidiary texts.

Declaration by the Author: The material in this series is under inspiration of the Sandeepany
Vedanta Course, but largely consists of the Author’s reflections on the Course. He is
deeply indebted to the Chinmaya Mission for its excellent presentation of the Course
by their renowned and dedicated Acharyas.

Personal Dedication
1. To my Parents, Smt Sharadaben & Sri Ratilalbhai Kapitan
who inspired me to study in life, to stick to the path of Dharma and pursue the
highest ideals; and swamped me with their abundant Love;

2. To Pujya Sri Swami Vimalanandaji Maharaj


the President of the Divine Life Society of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India, who
constantly encouraged and supported this effort;

3. To Pujya Sri Swami Tejomayanandaji (Guruji)


for his boundless vision and inspiration to create a vibrant organisation;

4. To Sri Swami Advayanandaji and Sri Swami Sharadanandaji


my Acharyaji and Upa-Acharyaji at Sandeepany, who imparted their bountiful
knowledge and wisdom with rare selfless Divine Love, just as the Rishis of yore
would wish to see them do.

*****
VIVEKA CHOODAMANI
CONTENTS OF THE WHOLE BOOK

VOLUME 1:

PART 1: The PURPOSE of Human Life (Verses 01 – 66, 66 no.) 001


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
1.1 Invocation & Overview 1–2 2 1
1.2 Preciousness of Human Birth 3–5 3 4
1.3 The Essential Means to Liberation 6 – 16 11 6
1.4 Qualifications of Disciple & Guru 17 – 32a 15 12
1.5 Approaching One’s Guru 32b – 40 9 21
1.6 Loving Advice of the Guru 41 – 47 7 28
1.7 The Disciple’s Questions 48 – 55 8 33
1.8 Freedom from Bondage? 56 – 61 6 38
1.9 Direct Experience of Self 62 – 66 5 42

PART 2: SRAVANA – The Guru’s Teaching (Verses 67 – 146, 80 no.) 045


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
2.1 Introduction to Sravana 67 – 71 5 45
2.2 The Gross Body 72 – 91 20 49
2.2.1 Formation of the Body 72 – 75 4 49
2.2.2 How Man is Bound to the Body 76 – 82 7 52
2.2.3 Fascination for Body 83 – 86 4 56
2.2.4 Overcoming the Fascination 87 – 91 5 57

2.3 The Subtle Body 92 – 105 14 61


2.3.1 The Components of the Subtle Body 92 – 96 5 61
2.3.2 The Functions of the Subtle Body 97 – 105 9 64

2.4 The Causal Body 106 – 121 16 69


2.4.1 The Power of Maya 108 - 110 3 70
2.4.2 The Gunas – Sattwa, Rajas & Tamas 111 - 119 9 73
2.4.3 The “Unmanifest” 120 – 121 2 79

2.5 Anatma – the “Not-Self” 122 – 123 2 81


2.6 Atman – the Self 124 – 136 13 82
2.7 What is Bondage? 137 – 146 10 90
.
VOLUME 2:

PART 3: MANANA – Reflection on the Teaching (Verses 147 – 224, 78 no.) 099
# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
3.1 Discriminating Self from Not-Self 147 – 153 7 99
3.2 The Annamaya Kosha 154 – 164 11 105
3.3 The Pranamaya Kosha 165 – 166 2 111
3.4 The Manomaya Kosha 167 – 183 17 113
3.4.1 What is MIND? 167 – 171 5 113
3.4.2 Bondage & Liberation 172 – 176 5 117
3.4.3 “It’s All in the MIND” 177 – 183 7 120
3.5 The Vijnanamaya Kosha 184 – 206 23 125
3.5.1 The Intellect Sheath 184 – 191 8 125
Discussion on Vijnanamaya Kosha:
3.5.2 Jiva’s Confusion with Self 192 – 206 15 132

3.6 The Anandamaya Kosha 207 – 224 18 144


3.6.1 The Bliss Sheath 207 – 211 5 145
Discussion on Anandamaya Kosha:
3.6.2 The Self & “Nothingness” 212 – 224 13 148

PART 4: NIDIDHYASANA 1 – Theoretical Aspects (Verses 225 – 266, 42 no.) 159


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
4.1 The Vision of Oneness 225 – 236 12 159
4.2 The Nature of Brahman 237 – 240 4 169
4.3 Explanation of “Tat Twam Asi” 241 – 249 9 172
4.4 Balancing “This” with “That” 250 – 253 4 178
4.5 Aids to Meditation – “Brahma Tat-Twam-Asi” Verses 254 – 266 13 182
.

*****
VOLUME 3:

PART 5: NIDIDHYASANA 2 – Practical Aspects (Verses 267 – 341, 75 no.) 189


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
5.0 Introduction to Savikalpa Samadhi - 189
5.1 Scrubbing Out the Vasanas 267 – 276 10 191
5.1.1 “I-Thought” & “I am Brahman” Thoughts 267 – 269 3 191
5.1.2 The Three Doorways for Disturbance 270 – 272 3 193
5.1.3 The Stench of Vasanas 273– 276 4 194
5.2 Negating the Superimpositions 277 – 285 9 197
5.3 Upasanas – Meditational Exercises 286 – 292 7 202
5.4 Who is the Ego? 293 – 297 5 206
5.5 The Play of the Ego 298 – 309 12 210
5.6 The Trio: Vasanas – Rumination – Ego 310 – 319 10 219
5.7 Spiritual Inadvertance 320 – 329 10 226
5.8 In the Safe Harbour of Non-Duality 330 – 341 12 233

PART 6: NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI – Realisation (Verses 342 – 425, 84 no.) 243


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
6.1 The Entrance Examination 342 – 348 7 243
6.2 How to Recognise Samadhi 349 – 353 5 250
6.3 Samadhi Seen in Daily Life 354 – 364 11 254
6.4 Escaping the Mind’s Captivity 365 – 372 8 262
6.5 The Face of Dispassion in Samadhi 373 – 378 6 268
6.6 The Basic Technique of Meditation 379 – 383 5 273
6.7 Fine-Tuning the Technique 384 – 397 14 276
6.8 The State of Non-Duality 398 – 406 9 284
6.9 Points to Ponder 407 – 413 7 290
6.10 Nirvikalpa Samadhi is Irreversible 414 – 418 5 293
6.11 “Trouble-Shooting” Samadhi 419 - 425 7 297

*****
VOLUME 4:

PART 7: JIVANMUKTI – Liberation While Living (Verses 426 – 479, 54 no.) 303
# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
7.1 Signs of a Realised Seer 426 – 445 20 303
7.1.1 Four Aspects of a Jivanmukta 427 – 431 5 305
7.1.2 The “Jivanmukta Lakshana” Verses 432 – 442 11 309
7.1.3 Dispassion – the Acid-Test of Jivanmukti 443 – 445 3 314
7.2 How a Saint Handles Karma 446 – 464 19 317
7.2.1 Sanchita Karma – Past Karma 448 – 449 2 319
7.2.2 Agama Karma – Future Karma 450 – 451 2 320
7.2.3 Prarabdha Karma – Present Karma 452 – 464 13 321
7.3 “Brahman Alone is There” 465 – 471 7 331
7.4 Conclusion of the Teaching 472 - 479 8 334

PART 8: FEEDBACK – From the Disciple (Verses 480 – 520, 41 no.) 341
# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
8.1 Introduction to Feedback 480 – 481 2 341
8.2 Feedback from Personal Standpoint 482 – 489 8 343
8.3 Feedback from World’s Standpoint 490 – 500 11 349
8.4 Feedback from Upadhis’ Standpoint 501 – 512 12 355
8.5 Feedback from Absolute Standpoint 513 – 517 5 363
8.6 Conclusion of Feedback 518 – 520 3 367

PART 9: CONVERSATION of Two Saints (Verses 521 – 581, 61 no.) 369


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
9.0 Introduction - - 369
9.1 Glory of Realisation 521 – 530 10 370
9.2 On the Means of knowledge 531 – 536 6 377
9.3 A Riddle in Simplicity 537 – 550 14 382
9.4 The Attitude of a Saint 551 – 554 4 391
9.5 Videhamukti – Dropping the Body 555 – 567 13 395
9.6 Transmigration & Liberation 568 – 575 8 403
9.6.1 Transmigration & Rebirth 568 – 569 2 403
9.6.2 Bondage & Liberation 570 – 575 6 406
9.7 Conclusion to the Whole Book 576 – 581 6 412

*****
|| ÌuÉuÉåMücÉÔQûÉqÉÍhÉÈ ||
VIVEKA CHOODAMANI – Vol. 2

“The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination”


VIVEKA CHOODAMANI
"The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination"

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
PUJYA SWAMI CHINMAYANANDAJI writes the following in his Introduction to his
book on the Viveka Choodamani:
“Vedanta is truly the Science of Life. Sri Shankara, the great interpreter of Vedanta,
not only gave us his commentaries on the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad
Gita, but also many primary texts which introduce the seeker to the joys of Vedanta. One of
the greatest texts he has written as an introduction to Vedanta, is the Viveka Choodamani,
which means, ‘The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination’.
“A careful study of these verses with the full freedom to enquire will give any
student a correct understanding of the entire theory of Vedanta and he can, even without a
very serious study of the scriptures, start his daily practices with tremendous benefits.
“There are hundreds of seekers who, without understanding the fundamentals, are
aimlessly struggling along a so-called spiritual path. Naturally, they suffer agonies of painful
disappointment, although they have behind them years of painstaking practices. An
exhaustive and careful study of this text helps to avoid all the pitfalls on the way to
progress. It is my intention to bring forth from every verse not only its obvious meaning, but
also its hidden import which gives out a wealth of information and helpful suggestions to
ensure a steady progress.”

The Viveka Choodamani is a prime text in the Vedanta Course at Sandeepany.


Bondage is caused by a lack of enquiry, and ceases only by making an enquiry. If we
turn to differentiate Self from the non-Self, if we shift our attention from the world of
names and forms to their substratum Brahman, then we can arrive at the final goal quickly.
The Viveka Choodamani is a Prakarana Grantha. Its theme is: DISCRIMINATION.
It is a very famous text of Bhagavan Sri Shankaracharyaji. It has great poetic beauty.
Swami Chinmayanandaji has said, “This text is sufficient to lead the spiritual life.”

*****
VIVEKA CHUDAMANI – Vol.2
PART 3: (Verses 147-224, 78 No.)

MANANA – Reflection on the Teaching

3.1 DISCRIMINATING SELF FROM NOT-SELF


(Verses 147 – 153, 7 No.)

M ANANA IS THE reflection upon the teachings received from the Guru during
Sravana. The most essential requirement for this stage of Sadhana is Discrimination. This
opening chapter of Part 3 of Viveka Choodamani brings out the type of discrimination that is
needed by the spiritual seeker.
The discrimination is done on oneself. The human being is a conglomerate of five
sheaths. These sheaths are differentiated, not from each other, but from the Self which is
the essential, unchanging part of the human being. Each sheath is taken in turn and the
Manana is done by which one comes to the conclusive conviction that he is not the sheath
but the sheath is an instrument for him to use. He is the Self which is the foundation of each
sheath. This is the limit of Manana that is precribed by Sri Shankaracharyaji in this text.

Verse 147: Discrimination & Purification

lÉÉx§ÉælÉï zÉx§ÉæUÌlÉsÉålÉ uÉÌ»ûlÉÉ


Nåû¨ÉÑÇ lÉ zÉYrÉÉå lÉ cÉ MüqÉïMüÉåÌOûÍpÉÈ |
ÌuÉuÉåMüÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉqÉWûÉÍxÉlÉÉ ÌuÉlÉÉ
kÉÉiÉÑÈ mÉëxÉÉSålÉ ÍxÉiÉålÉ qÉgeÉÑlÉÉ || 147||
na astraih na shastraih Neither by weapons of any kind,
1
anilena vahninaa nor by wind, nor by fire;
chhettum na shakyah na cha Nor can this bondage be destroyed
2
karma-kotibhih; by millions of actions.
viveka-vijnaana mahaa Knowledge born of discrimination is the wonder-
3
asinaa vinaa sword. It is the exception (to destroy bondage).
dhaatuh prasaadena By the purification of the mind,
4
sitena manjunaa. (the sword) can be kept well-sharpened.

1-2 Sri Shankaracharyaji at once gets to the point about the nature of the bondage
he is speaking about. It is clearly something that is very deep and non-physical in nature

99
(cannot be cut, blown or burnt). Any amount of actions cannot destroy it. It can only be
destroyed by careful discrimination in combination with purification.
Immediately it has to strike us that we are dealing with a bondage that is due to
some impurity in our intellect, and therefore discrimination and purification are its cure.
3-4 Equipped with perfect purity and a razor-sharp intellect to steer one to a proper
understanding of life, one should be well-set for the journey to Self-realization. This is the
great Teacher’s assessment at the very outset of Manana. We are clearly told what we are
in for.

Verse 148: Purification = Dharma + Duties

´ÉÑÌiÉmÉëqÉÉhÉæMüqÉiÉåÈ xuÉkÉqÉï
ÌlÉ¸É iÉrÉæuÉÉiqÉÌuÉzÉÑήUxrÉ |
ÌuÉzÉÑ®oÉÑ®åÈ mÉUqÉÉiqÉuÉåSlÉÇ
iÉålÉæuÉ xÉÇxÉÉUxÉqÉÔsÉlÉÉzÉÈ || 148||
shruti-pramaana ekamateh One who trusts the authority of the scriptures;
1
svadharma nishhtaa and one who sticks firmly to his own duties;
2 tayaa eva aatma-vishuddhih asya; by these two alone can the mind be purified.
vishuddha-buddheh Having thus gained purity of his mind,
3
paramaatma vedanam he becomes fit for knowledge of the Supreme Self.
tena eva samsaara By this knowledge alone is Samsara (worldliness)
4
samoola naashah. destroyed, root and branch.

This verse is typical of the style adopted by Sri Shankaracharyaji. He gives us a


lightning review of how he intends to explain the first step, i.e. purification. In one verse is
covered the how and the why of the purification process.
1-2 Impurity is basically due to drifting away from the Laws of Dharma or
righteousness. These laws are well covered in the scriptures, here meaning the Vedas. The
Vedas are the scriptural Pramana or means to obtain the direction needed to walk the
straight and narrow path of righteousness.
Another fundamental requirement for puification is to perform one’s Swadharma or
ordained duties alone and not drift into all the other avenues open to us in the field of
actions. Impurity arises because we permit ourselves the freedom to do all sorts of actions
beyond what is our essential dutiful action. The moment we stray beyond the boundary line
of ‘dutiful action’, we are looking for trouble.
As this is a preliminary verse, the groundwork is being set for further details on these
two points in the present chapter. What is it that we shall gain by purifying ourselves?
3 Initially, purification qualifies us for carrying out the discrimination needed in
Manana. With an impure intellect it is not possible to do the surgical operation of dissecting
our sheaths and investigating it in a scientific manner. This is the first benefit of purity.
4 The second gain follows from the first. Once the knowledge of the Self (see Part 2)
is thoroughly understood and grasped using the techniques given in this Part, then the next
step is to fell the entire “tree of worldly life” with the axe of this knowledge.
100
PANCHA KOSHA VILAKSHANA
Verse 149: The Five Sheaths Hide the Self

MüÉåzÉæU³ÉqÉrÉɱæÈ mÉgcÉÍpÉUÉiqÉÉ lÉ xÉÇuÉ×iÉÉå pÉÉÌiÉ |


ÌlÉeÉzÉÌ£üxÉqÉÑimɳÉæÈ zÉæuÉÉsÉmÉOûsÉæËUuÉÉqoÉÑ uÉÉmÉÏxjÉqÉç || 149||
koshaih panchabhih By the five sheaths,
1
annamayaadyaih such as the food, Prana, etc.,
2 aatmaa na samvritah bhaati; is covered the Self, which then ceases to appear,
3 nijashakti samutpannaih though they owe their origin to the Self’s power.
shaivaala-patalaih iva This is like the moss which grows out of water, and
4
ambu vaapeestham. then hides it by covering its surface in a tank.

From the next chapter till the end of this Part, we shall be dealing only with the
method called Pancha Kosha Vilakshana, or “the Differentiation of the Five Sheaths”. This is
a key method taught in the science of Vedanta. The procedure, when fully grasped, is all one
needs before proceeding on to the next phase of Sadhana called Nididhyasana (Part 4).

THE FIVE KOSHAS:


The five Koshas are as follows, in order of increasing subtlety:
a) The Annamaya Kosha: the food sheath or gross physical body.
b) The Pranamaya Kosha: the Pranic sheath controlling the Life-forces.
c) The Manomaya Kosha: the sheath of he mind and its realm of thoughts.
d) The Vijnanamaya Kosha: the sheath of the intellect which integrates and places
our thoughts in order.
e) The Anandamaya Kosha: which is the innermost or causal sheath whence arises
the ignorance of our Self. It is the master switch between delusion and enlightenment.

1-2 The idea conveyed by the word ‘sheaths’ is that they are wrapping something
very precious inside them. It is like a small diamond gem. Because it is so precious, it is
packed away with great care. It is placed in a beautiful tiny casket; the casket is then placed
inside a jewellery box; the box is then placed inside a steel safe; and the safe is then placed
in a vault made for that purpose alone.
The Rishis wished to convey this idea of preciousness of the Self by using the simile
of the sheaths. The Self is the most precious part of the entire human composite being.
3-4 The simile of the moss and water is to compare them to the sheaths and the Self.
It’s negative purpose is explained here. The positive benefits gained from it are explained in
the next two verses.
The Sheaths owe their existence to Maya, the Power of the Self. Once they are
created, then they actually shield the Self from being recognised. It is just like the moss that
is produced by the water, and then it shields the very same clear water from view. The moss
and the sheaths appear to be ungrateful to their creators.
101
Verse 150: As Moss Obscures the Water . . .

iÉcNæûuÉÉsÉÉmÉlÉrÉå xÉqrÉMçü xÉÍsÉsÉÇ mÉëiÉÏrÉiÉå zÉÑ®qÉç |


iÉ×whÉÉxÉliÉÉmÉWûUÇ xÉ±È xÉÉæZrÉmÉëSÇ mÉUÇ mÉÑÇxÉÈ || 150||

1 tat shaivaala apanaye samyak When the moss is removed completely,


2 salilam prateeyate shuddham; pure water then becomes visible,
3 trishhnaa santaapaharam sadyah which can quench the pangs of thirst at once
4 saukhyapradam param pumsah. and give the man immense satisfaction.

1 Here we see the positive side of the same simile. The removal of the moss from the
surface of the water has three beneficial results:
2 i) It reveals the pure, crystal clear water to our view. It is no longer ‘dirty’.
3 ii) What was unreachable and undrinkable, is now reachable and drinkable.
4 iii) When the moss is cleared, we can swim in the water and enjoy many water
sports. The water now gives us “immense satisfaction”.
It sounds as if we are digging too deep into the simile, but not so. When we see the
application of the simile, we see how each benefit has its meaningful counterpart.

Verse 151: . . . the Sheaths Obscure the Self

mÉgcÉÉlÉÉqÉÌmÉ MüÉåzÉÉlÉÉqÉmÉuÉÉSå ÌuÉpÉÉirÉrÉÇ zÉÑ®È |


ÌlÉirÉÉlÉlSæMüUxÉÈ mÉëirÉaÉëÔmÉÈ mÉUÈ xuÉrÉgerÉÉåÌiÉÈ || 151||

1 panchaanaam api koshaanaam Even so, when the five sheaths


2 apavaade, vibhaati ayam shuddhah; are removed, this pure Self shines out
3 nitya aananda ekarasah pratyag as the essence of everlasting inner Bliss,
4 roopah parah svayam jyotih. of the form of Supreme, self-effulgent Light.

1 Here we see the positive side of the application of the simile. The removal of the
sheaths by differentiating them from the Self brings the very same three beneficial results:
2 i) It reveals the pure, crystal clear Self to our view. We no longer feel we are ‘dirty’.
3 ii) What was unreachable and therefore never enjoyed, is now reached and we can
drink the pure Bliss that oozes out of the Self. It fully quenches our thirst for true Happiness.
4 iii) When the sheaths are cleared, we can swim in the eternal, crystal clear waters
of the Self, refresh ourselves in It, and enjoy the peace of its placid and soothing waters. The
Self gives us full and “immense satisfaction”.
In this way Sri Shankaracharyaji not only shows us how we can attain our own true
nature, but makes us look forward to the experience by giving us a foretaste of the great
pleasure that awaits us in making the discovery! The process is clearly summarized as
removal or negation of all the five sheaths, each of which veils the Truth in some way.

102
Verse 152: Discrimination – the Key Process

AÉiqÉÉlÉÉiqÉÌuÉuÉåMüÈ MüiÉïurÉÉå oÉlkÉqÉÑ£ürÉå ÌuÉSÒwÉÉ |


iÉålÉæuÉÉlÉlSÏ pÉuÉÌiÉ xuÉÇ ÌuÉ¥ÉÉrÉ xÉΊSÉlÉlSqÉç || 152||

1 aatma anaatma vivekah kartavyah Self has to be discriminated from the not-Self;
2 bandha-muktaye vidushhaah; the wise do this in order to remove bondage.
3 tena eva aanandee bhavati svam Only then does he become happy in his Self
4 vijnaaya sachchidaanandam. and know It to be Sat-Chid-Ananda.

As we come to the end of this introductory chapter, we are once again reminded of
the main step – Discrimination.
1 There are many things that can be discriminated. In South Africa we are aware of
racial discrimination, or discrimination on the basis of one’s race. Here, it is nothing short of
the ultimate in discrimination – that between the Reality and the Unreality, the Self and not-
Self, the Truth and the False, the unchanging and the changing.
2 The purpose of the whole exercise is to be kept in view at all times. Some people
are interested in this subject so that they can preach it to others. Some may seek name and
fame through this knowledge. But the wise ones seek it solely for removing their Bondage to
the world of joys and sorrows. That is their only motivation.
3 If discrimination is done for the right reason, the end result is the Bliss of the Self.
Nothing could be more satisfying than this. If, however, it is done for the wrong reasons
mentioned earlier, then the end result could be great frustration and disapointment.
4 Knowing the Self means knowing it to be Pure Existence, Pure Knowledge and Pure
Bliss. These are three descriptions of the one and the same Reality. They are not three
different things or three different qualities. They are the closest in words one can get to
describing the nature of Reality.

Verse 153: The Full Process of Negation

qÉÑgeÉÉÌSwÉÏMüÉÍqÉuÉ SØzrÉuÉaÉÉïiÉç
mÉëirÉgcÉqÉÉiqÉÉlÉqÉxÉ…¡ûqÉÌ¢ürÉqÉç |
ÌuÉÌuÉcrÉ iÉ§É mÉëÌuÉsÉÉmrÉ xÉuÉïÇ
iÉSÉiqÉlÉÉ ÌiɸÌiÉ rÉÈ xÉ qÉÑ£üÈ || 153||
munjaat ishheekaam iva Like the sheaths in the stalk of a grass stem,
1
drishyavargaat are the sheaths of the “seen”, the not-Self.
pratyancham aatmaanam i) The Subjective Self that is
2
asangam akriyam; unattached and actionless,
vivichya tatra is first differentiated from them (the sheaths);
3
pravilaapya sarvam ii) then the sheaths are all merged into It; and
tat aatmanaa tishhthati iii) finally one remains identified with It.
4
yah sah muktah. He who does this, becomes free.

103
The discrimination process has to be thorough and complete. We have to learn to
identify all that is not the Self. An incomplete analysis would leave us still in the realm of
ignorance. The reed within the sheaths of the Kusha grass stem remains hidden until the
very last layer is removed. So also is it with the Self.
The Sadhana of Atma-Anatma Viveka has to become part and parcel of our life, until
we begin to clearly distinguish in what way objects bind us, and in what way those same
objects are manifestations of God.. We have to find God in the same world that we are
rejecting! There is no other world in which to behold God. He is seen in the very same
world, nay, in the very same spot which is being negated. The negation is so subtle that it
leads us to see divinity in the very place where we once found enticing pleasure.
An optical illusion – perhaps that may be one way of seeing Negation.

*****

104
3.2 THE ANNAMAYA KOSHA
(Verses 154 – 164, 11 No.)

Out of the five sheaths, the first two, known as the Annamaya Kosha and the
Pranamaya Kosha, are insentient. They are the physical Body sheath which is inert in itself;
and the Life-Force sheath immediately subtler to it.
They may be compared to the body of a car and the petrol that powers it. Both these
are inert as they require a sentient principle to control and direct them. Neither of them has
the sentiency to determine its own course.

Verse 154: The Food Sheath

SåWûÉåÅrÉqɳÉpÉuÉlÉÉåųÉqÉrÉxiÉÑ MüÉåzÉ-
¶ÉɳÉålÉ eÉÏuÉÌiÉ ÌuÉlÉzrÉÌiÉ iÉ̲WûÏlÉÈ |
iuÉYcÉqÉïqÉÉÇxÉÂÍkÉUÉÎxjÉmÉÑUÏwÉUÉÍzÉUç-
lÉÉrÉÇ xuÉrÉÇ pÉÌuÉiÉÑqÉWïûÌiÉ ÌlÉirÉzÉÑ®È || 154||
dehah ayam annabhavanah The body is a product of food.
1
annamayah tu koshah It constitutes the food-sheath.
cha annena jeevati It exists because of food
2
vinashyati tat viheenah; and dies without it.
tvak charma maamsa rudhira It is a bundle of skin, flesh, blood,
3
asthi pureeshha raashih bones and filth.
na ayam svayam bhavitum arhati It cannot by itself be the Reality,
4
nitya-shuddhah. which is “ever-pure”.

1-2 The name Food sheath comes from the fact that the body is born of food and
dies without food.
3-4 Having contents which are anything but pure, how can the body be placed in the
same category as the ever-pure Self?
Yet it is surprising that so many people consider the body to be their God!

Verse 155: Body is Only a Sense Object

mÉÔuÉïÇ eÉlÉåUÍkÉqÉ×iÉåUÌmÉ lÉÉrÉqÉÎxiÉ


eÉÉiɤÉhÉÈ ¤ÉhÉaÉÑhÉÉåÅÌlÉrÉiÉxuÉpÉÉuÉÈ |
lÉæMüÉå eÉQû¶É bÉOûuÉimÉËUSØzrÉqÉÉlÉÈ
xuÉÉiqÉÉ MüjÉÇ pÉuÉÌiÉ pÉÉuÉÌuÉMüÉUuÉå¨ÉÉ || 155||

105
poorvam janeh adhimriteh api na Before birth as well as after death,
1
ayam asti it (the body) does not exist;
jaata-kshhanah kshhanagunah When born, it is of a fleeting nature,
2
aniyata-svabhaavah; and full of uncertainty, i.e. ever-changing;
na ekah jadah cha ghatavat It is diversified and inert, and, like a jar,
3
paridrishyamaanah has all the qualities of only a sense object;
svaatmaa katham bhavati How then can it be the Self, which is
4
bhaava-vikaaravettaa. the witness of all changes in all things?

1-4 The vast distinction between the unchanging Self and the ever-changing body is
made more clear in this verse. How is it possible to mistake one for the other?

Verse 156: Body is a Subject, not a Ruler

mÉÉÍhÉmÉÉSÉÌSqÉÉlSåWûÉå lÉÉiqÉÉ urÉ…¡åûÅÌmÉ eÉÏuÉlÉÉiÉç |


iɨÉcNû£åüUlÉÉzÉÉŠ lÉ ÌlÉrÉqrÉÉå ÌlÉrÉÉqÉMüÈ || 156||

1 paani paadaadimaan dehah The body which is made of arms, legs, etc.,
na aatmaa cannot be the Self,
2
vyange api jeevanaat; since even when amputated it still lives;
3 tat tat shakteh anaashaat cha its various functions continue just as efficiently;
4 na niyamyah niyaamakah. This proves it is subject to a rule, and not a Ruler.

1-4 As different as a slave from a king, so is the body different from the Self. Only if
one is under a delusion can he mistake the body for the Self.

Verse 157: The Self is Distinct from Body – 1

SåWûiÉ®qÉïiÉiMüqÉïiÉSuÉxjÉÉÌSxÉÉͤÉhÉÈ |
xÉiÉ LuÉ xuÉiÉÈÍxÉ®Ç iɲæsɤÉhrÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ || 157||

1 deha tat dharma tat karma From the body’s characteristics and its activities; and
2 tat avasthaadi saakshhinah; from the Self being the witness of the (three) states;
3 satah eva svatahsiddham It is self-evident that the Self alone is the Reality.
tat vai lakshhanyam aatmanah. It is only too clear that the Self is distinct
4
from the body.

1-4 If one is really looking for the Reality, the body would be the last place where
one will find It. Yet, we have so much attachment for it. We give the body so much attention
when all it needs is just to be kept reasonably clean and be given sufficient food. But to
pamper it and to be hurt by remarks made about it is the height of delusion.
Sri Shankaracharyaji still feels he has not done enough to convince us that the body
can never be taken as the real person we are. We must be under acute delusion if we do.

106
Verse 158: The Self is Distinct from Body – 2

zÉsrÉUÉÍzÉqÉÉïÇxÉÍsÉmiÉÉå qÉsÉmÉÔhÉÉåïÅÌiÉMüzqÉsÉÈ |
MüjÉÇ pÉuÉåSrÉÇ uÉå¨ÉÉ xuÉrÉqÉåiÉ̲sɤÉhÉÈ || 158||

1 shalyaraashirh maamsaliptah A packet of bones, covered with flesh,


2 malapoornah atikashmalah; full of filth and extremely impure –
3 katham bhavet ayam vettaa How can this ever be the Knower?
4 svayam etat vilakshhanah. Indeed, from the Self this body is quite distinct.

Verse 159: Yet Body Mistaken as Self !

iuɉÉÇxÉqÉåSÉåÅÎxjÉmÉÑUÏwÉUÉzÉÉuÉç-
AWÇûqÉÌiÉÇ qÉÔRûeÉlÉÈ MüUÉåÌiÉ |
ÌuÉsɤÉhÉÇ uÉåÌ¨É ÌuÉcÉÉUzÉÏsÉÉå
ÌlÉeÉxuÉÃmÉÇ mÉUqÉÉjÉïpÉÔiÉqÉç || 159||
tvak maamsa medah asthi Skin, flesh, fat, bones –
1
pureeshharaashau with this mass of filth,
2 aham matim moodha-janah karoti; does the foolish man identify himself.
vilakshhanam vetti But he who knows the distinction (of Self from
3
vichaarasheelah body), such a man of discrimination
nija-svaroopam knows the Self to be his very own nature,
4
paramaartha-bhootam. as the Absolute Reality.

Verse 160: The Foolish & the Wise – Poles Apart

SåWûÉåÅWûÍqÉirÉåuÉ eÉQûxrÉ oÉÑήÈ


SåWåû cÉ eÉÏuÉå ÌuÉSÒwÉxiuÉWÇûkÉÏÈ |
ÌuÉuÉåMüÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉuÉiÉÉå qÉWûÉiqÉlÉÉå
oÉë¼ÉWûÍqÉirÉåuÉ qÉÌiÉÈ xÉSÉiqÉÌlÉ || 160||
dehah aham iti eva jadasya “I am the body”, thus alone
1
buddhih thinks the foolish man.
dehe cha jeeve “A combination of the body and soul”, thus indeed
2
vidushhah tu aham dheeh; does a learned man consider himself to be.
viveka-vijnaanavatah But, one possessing knowledge born of discrimination,
3
mahaatmanah for such a great realised soul,
brahma aham iti eva matih “I am Brahman”, thus alone
4
sat aatmani. thinks he who has identification with the Eternal Self.

107
Three Points of View
We have three points of view in this verse:
1 “I am the body” – this is the view of one who is deluded;
2 “I am a combination of body and soul” – this is the view of a learned man;
3-4 “I am Brahman” – this is the view of a man of realisation.
The whole spectrum of mankind falls anywhere in between these viewpoints.

Verse 161: O Fool, Become Wise!

A§ÉÉiqÉoÉÑ먂 irÉeÉ qÉÔRûoÉÑ®å


iuɉÉÇxÉqÉåSÉåÅÎxjÉmÉÑUÏwÉUÉzÉÉæ |
xÉuÉÉïiqÉÌlÉ oÉë¼ÍhÉ ÌlÉÌuÉïMüsmÉå
MÑüÂwuÉ zÉÉÎliÉÇ mÉUqÉÉÇ pÉeÉxuÉ || 161||
atra aatmabuddhim tyaja Cease to identify yourself with this,
1
moodhabuddhe O foolish one!
tvak maamsa medo asthi this packet of skin, flesh, fat, bones –
2
pureeshharaashau; with this mass of filth.
sarvaatmani Instead, identify yourself with the Self of all,
3
brahmani nirvikalpe with the Absolute Brahman;
kurushhva shaantim do this and the experience of Peace
4
paramaam bhajasva. Supreme will be yours for the taking.

1-4 There are some people who dare to argue that the consciousness is an accessory
of the body! They consider the mind and intellect to be instruments of the body. Such is the
thickness of their attachment to body. Perhaps Sri Shankaracharyaji had such persons in
mind when he wrote this verse.

Verse 162: Learning by Itself Cannot Liberate

SåWåûÎlSìrÉÉSÉuÉxÉÌiÉ pÉëqÉÉåÌSiÉÉÇ
ÌuɲÉlÉWûliÉÉÇ lÉ eÉWûÉÌiÉ rÉÉuÉiÉç |
iÉÉuÉ³É iÉxrÉÉÎxiÉ ÌuÉqÉÑÌ£üuÉÉiÉÉï-
mrÉxiuÉåwÉ uÉåSÉliÉlÉrÉÉliÉSzÉÏï || 162||
deha indriyaadau The body, sense organs, etc.,
1
asati bhrama uditaam are unreal, and are products of delusion;
vidvaan ahantaam however learned one may be, false identification,
2
na jahaati yaavat; as long as it is not given up,
taavat na tasya asti so long, for him there can be not even
3
vimukti-vaartaa the talk of liberation;
api astu eshhah even if he be very well-versed in all
4
vedaanta-nayaanta-darshee. the intricasies of Vedanta philosophy.

108
1-4 An all-too-common danger is brought to light here. Sri Shankaracharyaji, being
involved in the field of propagation of knowledge, is aware that learning alone cannot free
us from body-consciousness. Awareness of the delusion that lies behind the thought, “I am
the body”, can remove the basic false identification with the body.

Verse 163: How to Erase False Identification

NûÉrÉÉzÉUÏUå mÉëÌiÉÌoÉqoÉaÉɧÉå
rÉixuÉmlÉSåWåû ™ÌS MüÎsmÉiÉÉ…¡åû |
rÉjÉÉiqÉoÉÑήxiÉuÉ lÉÉÎxiÉ MüÉÍcÉeÉç-
eÉÏuÉcNûUÏUå cÉ iÉjÉæuÉ qÉÉÅxiÉÑ || 163||
chhaayaa-shareere With the shadow of your body,
1
pratibimbagaatre or with your own reflection,
yat svapna-dehe or even with your own self in dream,
2
hridi kalpitaange; or for that matter any imagination of yourself –
yathaa aatmabuddhih tava na Just as you would not identify yourself
3
asti kaachit with these in the least,
jeevat shareere cha tathaa eva so too, with your living BODY you should not
4
maa astu. identify yourself even one bit.

1-2 Shankaracharyaji’s practical hint is to think of the body in one of four ways: as a
shadow, as a reflection, as a dream or as a mere imagination. All four techniques help us to
reduce the importance we give to our body.
3-4 Unless we reduce its importance to us, it will continue to dominate our
attention. “Not even one bit” should we yield to the whims and fancies demanded by our
body. That is the prescription from one of the greatest Masters of all time, Sri Shankara.

Verse 164: Giving Up Body-Identification

SåWûÉiqÉkÉÏUåuÉ lÉ×hÉÉqÉxÉήrÉÉÇ
eÉlqÉÉÌSSÒÈZÉmÉëpÉuÉxrÉ oÉÏeÉqÉç |
rÉiÉxiÉiÉxiuÉÇ eÉÌWû iÉÉÇ mÉërɦÉÉiÉç
irÉ£åü iÉÑ ÍcɨÉå lÉ mÉÑlÉpÉïuÉÉzÉÉ || 164||
deha-aatmadheeh eva nrinaam Identification with the body is the only cause
1
asat dhiyaam of man’s attachment to the unreal,
janmaadi duhkha of the misery of birth and all its modifications.
2
prabhavasya beejam; It is the seed of all sorrow.
yatah tatah tvam jahi taam Therefore, to destroy it you should
3
prayatnaat put in all your efforts.
tyakte tu chitte na If this identification caused by mind is renounced,
4
punar bhava aashaa. there can be no chance of transmigration.

109
Summary of Chapter:
In these eleven verses the main factual points are:
i) The shift from “I am the body” to “I am Brahman” is most essential.
ii) The folly of identifying with the body is emphatically pointed out.
iii) Even a great Vedantin can know theory but fail in practice.
iv) We learn to see the body as our shadow, etc. Then it ceases to delude us.
v) Liberation is certain for those who are not tainted with the body-idea.

Some Points to Ponder


1. The body is only our outer uniform, like the uniform of a traffic officer. A traffic
officer trainee was asked the question what would he do if he had to handle a particular
traffic jam which involved hundreds of cars and pedestrians. He said, “I will take off my
uniform and mingle with the crowd!”
2. Here is an amusing example illustrating body identification: Suppose two people
meet with an accident and are taken to the same hospital. Both require the head to be
removed, repaired and replaced. Somehow, their heads get swopped when reassembled.
Their wives are now in a fix: do they take as husband the one with the familiar head or the
one with the familiar body!
3. The great difficulty in giving up attachment to body is that people would rather
live with a known problem than go to an unknown solution. Fear of the unknown deters
them from giving up the familiar body-idea, which is very strong.
4. The case of Nisargadata Maharaj, a great saint and former resident of Mumbai,
was quoted by Acharyaji. He was an ordinary businessman selling bidis (handmade
cigarettes). A saint asked him to undertake the Vedantic practice of “I am Brahman”. He
took it up very seriously. Within a few months his entire way of thinking was transformed.
He became a Self-realised Master! His book, I am That, is accepted now as a spiritual classic.
5. The body is 80% water. If dehydrated it would require very little space! Why build
our life on such an unsteady foundation?

*****

110
3.3 THE PRANAMAYA KOSHA
(Verses 165 – 166, 2 No.)

Verse 165: Composition & Function of Pranamaya Kosha

MüqÉåïÎlSìrÉæÈ mÉgcÉÍpÉUÎgcÉiÉÉåÅrÉÇ
mÉëÉhÉÉå pÉuÉåimÉëÉhÉqÉrÉxiÉÑ MüÉåzÉÈ ||
rÉålÉÉiqÉuÉÉlɳÉqÉrÉÉåÅlÉÑmÉÔhÉïÈ
mÉëuÉiÉïiÉåÅxÉÉæ xÉMüsÉÌ¢ürÉÉxÉÑ || 165||
karmendriyaih panchabhih The five faculties of the organs of action
1
anchitah ayam together with the
praanah bhavet Prana or the vital airs, constitute
2
praanamayah tu koshah;| the Pranamaya Kosha, indeed.
yena aatmavaan By this sheath, the life-force is breathed into
3
annamayah anupoornah every part of the Food sheath.
pravartate asau Then only is this body able to perform
4
sakala kriyaasu. all its various activities and functions.

Under Sravana, we studied that the Pranic body is made up of the Rajasic portion of
the all five Tanmatras or subtle elements before Pancheekarana, the grossification process
that integrates them into gross elements. The general term for life-force is Prana.
Prana is further sub-divided into five Upapranas, according to the function it
performs in the body. Each Upaprana is made up respectively from the Rajasic portion of
one of the five Tanmatras.
Prana occupies an important place in every ritual prescribed in the Vedas. Fire is an
integral part of every Vedic ritual or sacrifice. It is Agni, the Fire Deity, who conveys our
subtle thought messages to the respective Deities concerned with our prayer requests. Agni
or Fire is the Deity of Prana.
1-2 Karmendriyaih: The five “organs of action”. They are part of the Pranamaya
Kosha. They perform the five external sub-functions of the body. The five Karmendriyas pair
up with the five Upapranas to perform the external functions of grasping, locomotion,
speaking, generation and evacuation.
There are also the five internal sub-functions performed by the body, namely,
inhalation and exhalation, digestion, circulation and expulsion. Again, each of these
functions is associated with its respective Upaprana.
3-4 It is the Prana that supplies the energy to every part of the body. All functions
performed by the body are powered by the Prana, using one or more of the Upapranas.
Kindly note the difference between the terms Pranamaya and Pranayama.
Pranayama is the science by which the flow of the Pranic life-force is controlled throughout
the body, mainly by controlling the breath.

111
Verse 166: Why Pranamaya Kosha is Non Self

lÉæuÉÉiqÉÉÌmÉ mÉëÉhÉqÉrÉÉå uÉÉrÉÑÌuÉMüÉUÉå


aÉliÉÉÅÅaÉliÉÉ uÉÉrÉÑuÉSliÉoÉïÌWûUåwÉÈ |
rÉxqÉÉÎiMüÎgcÉiYuÉÉÌmÉ lÉ uÉå¨ÉϹqÉÌlɹÇ
xuÉÇ uÉÉlrÉÇ uÉÉ ÌMügcÉlÉ ÌlÉirÉÇ mÉUiÉl§ÉÈ || 166||
na eva aatmaa api praana- The vital air sheath cannot be the Self
1
mayah vaayu-vikaarah because it is a modification of air (Vayu).
gantaa aagantaa vaayuvat As air, the Prana enters and goes
2
antah bahih eshhah; inside and outside of the body.
yasmaat kinchit kvaapi Of any thing, at any place, at any time – the Prana
3
na vetti ishhtam anishhtam cannot know the joys and sorrows,
svam vaa anyam vaa kinchana neither of its own nor that of others; this means
4
nityam paratantrah. it is always dependent on something else.

Now the reasons are given why Pranamaya Kosha cannot be the Self:
1 Firstly, it is a modification of the elements, mainly the Air element. Prana can enter
the body via any of the five elements, but Air is the predominant one.
2 Breathing is the main way for the intake of Prana into the body. Food and water
are also other significant channels.
3 Prana is inert, having no sentiency. It cannot think; thus it cannot know anything of
the joys and sorrows which drive the Jiva to utilize Prana for its own purposes. Prana is
helpless in the matter of choosing what is to be done with it. It is purely the motive power.
4 Although subtler and therefore in control of the physical body, the Pranic sheath
has subtler sheaths that control it. Its dependency on the Manomaya Kosha is quite clear to
recognize. It is always dependent on the three sheaths subtler than it.
For the above reasons, Prana cannot be the Self.

However, Prana is proud of one compliment paid to it. It is regarded with respect by
the Rishis as the “most noble of all the five sheaths” because of its selflessness. It does all its
work silently and in the background, without any recognition. It is the great Karma Yogi
among all the sheaths, working without rest. It only takes one break in a person’s life-time,
and that is quite a long, long break!

*****

112
3.4 THE MANOMAYA KOSHA
(Verses 167 – 183, 17 No.)

SENTIENCY IS REQUIRED to drive the Body and to direct the Prana. This is provided
to the extent possible by the next two sheaths, known as the Manomaya and Vijnanamaya
Koshas. Together they constitute the Antahkarana or “the inner instrument”, the main part
of the subtle body. The Antahkarana is split into these two major sheaths.
The sentient element enters the scene at the Mind level in the form of Thoughts.
The two previous sheaths cannot support thoughts, and for that reason they are considered
to be inert. With the entry of thought, there is now a determining factor introduced that
changes the mechanics of the Manomaya Kosha. It is so vastly superior to the previous two
sheaths, that it becomes a serious contender to be considered the Self.
The Manomaya Kosha is in fact considered by the majority of mankind to be the real
Self. It is most unfortunate, but true. Its C.V. to stand as candidate for Self-hood is quite a
solid one. It is very difficult to show why Manomaya is not the Self, and this poses one of the
most serious challenges to the Vedanta philosophy. In comparison, to prove the first two
sheaths as being not-Self is like a romp in the park. For no one but the most deluded among
men would ever accept body or Prana to be the Self. But with Mind, the case is very strong.
The Pranamaya, Manonaya and Vijnanamaya sheaths together form the Subtle body.
The Manomaya is the mental sheath and because of its great significance in spiritual life, a
lengthy discussion is begun here on its workings.
With this background we begin the discussion on Manomaya Kosha.

3.4.1 WHAT IS MIND? (Verses 167-171, 5 no.)

Verse 167: Composition of Manomaya Kosha

¥ÉÉlÉåÎlSìrÉÉÍhÉ cÉ qÉlÉ¶É qÉlÉÉåqÉrÉÈ xrÉÉiÉç


MüÉåzÉÉå qÉqÉÉWûÍqÉÌiÉ uÉxiÉÑÌuÉMüsmÉWåûiÉÑÈ |
xÉÇ¥ÉÉÌSpÉåSMüsÉlÉÉMüÍsÉiÉÉå oÉsÉÏrÉÉÇ-
xiÉimÉÔuÉïMüÉåzÉqÉÍpÉmÉÔrÉï ÌuÉeÉ×qpÉiÉå rÉÈ || 167||
jnaana indriyaani cha manah The organs of perception along with the mind
1
cha manomayah syaat form the “Mental Sheath”.
koshah mama aham iti vastu- The proliferation of the ‘I’ and ‘mine’ thoughts
2
vikalpa hetuh; has its sole cause in this sheath.
samjnaadibheda kala- Creating differences of names, etc., is the essential
3
naakalitah baleeyaan powerful faculty it is endowed with.
tat poorva-kosham abhipoorya The vital air sheath that precedes it,
4
vijrimbhate yah. is pervaded by it, and is a manifested form of it.

113
1 Jnanendriyas: “organs of knowledge”. The Prana and the five Karmendriyas were
classified under the Pranamaya Sheath. The Manas or mind, together with the five
Jnanendriyas are classified under Manomaya Sheath. The Manas includes the Chitta or
memory also, which functions in conjunction with the mind.
2 The “I”-thought that is produced in the Vijnanamaya Kosha, is passed on to the
mind. On being received by the mind, this thought proliferates into an endless variety of
thoughts connected to the “I”-thought. The diversity is produced in the mind. Everything
that the mind touches gets contaminated by this “I”-thought. When possessiveness is added
to them, they become “mine”-thoughts.
3 The raw material of thoughts that make up the Manomaya Kosha may collectively
be termed as the world of names and forms. The mind takes great pride in differentiating
things and concepts. It takes up a thought and sees how it varies from other thoughts. Then
it gives each idea and object a name and associates it with a form. This is the essential
nature of the mind.
4 As the Manomaya Kosha is high up in the hierarchy of sheaths, it is subtler than its
two predecessors and therefore pervades them both, while also extending a little beyond
them. It has controlling power over the previous two sheaths. Except for the involuntary
functions which take place automatically within the body, all the voluntary functions
performed by Prana and Body are controlled by the mind sheath. It is the mind that
provides the sentiency to them.

Verse 168: The Fire & Priest Simile

mÉgcÉåÎlSìrÉæÈ mÉgcÉÍpÉUåuÉ WûÉåiÉ×ÍpÉÈ


mÉëcÉÏrÉqÉÉlÉÉå ÌuÉwÉrÉÉerÉkÉÉUrÉÉ |
eÉÉeuÉsrÉqÉÉlÉÉå oÉWÒûuÉÉxÉlÉålkÉlÉæÈ
qÉlÉÉåqÉrÉÉÎalÉuÉïWûÌiÉ mÉëmÉgcÉqÉç || 168||
pancha indriyaih The five sense organs of perception
1
panchabhih eva hotribhih act in the same way as five priests in a havan;
pracheeyamaanah vishhaya they feed the respective impressions of objects
2
aajya dhaarayaa; (into the mind), which is like a stream of ghee.
jaajvalyamaanah Having thus been set ablaze
3
bahuvaasanaa indhanaih by the fuel of numerous desirable objects,
manomaya agnih the mind sheath becomes the fire that keeps the
4
vahati prapancham. inferno of the phenomenal world going.

The simile used here brilliantly describes the function of the mental sheath.
1 The senses are like the priests performing a Havan. 2 They bring into the mind a
continuous stream of sense objects of desirable form, taste, etc; this is like pouring the ghee
and samaghree into the havan-kund (the sacrificial fire vessel) which represents the mind.
3 The oblations of “numerous desirable objects” are the inflamable materials. 4 They
inflame the mind with desire to enjoy more pleasures in a continuous stream. The mind
burns with desire all the time, as more oblations of sense objects get poured into it. This is
the simile of the Havan which sets aflame the fire of desire in the mind.
114
The Havan-simile in Reverse
The Vedic seers have intelligently reversed this process by creating the actual Havan.
The Sadhaka, wanting to come out of the fire of the sensory world, uses his sense organs of
action to offer the same mind back to the Lord. The mind that was once filled with sense
objects by the senses of knowledge, is now emptied of these objects by the senses of action.
This sacred act is accompanied by a prayer to the Lord to take them once and for all away
from his mind.
Thus, we find that the Havan can be a two-way symbol. First it served to inflame the
mind with desire, and then in reverse, it empties the mind of that desire. The former simile
filled the mind with impurities; the latter simile purifies the mind of the same impurities.

Verse 169: The Mind is Ignorance Itself!

lÉ ½xirÉÌuÉ±É qÉlÉxÉÉåÅÌiÉËU£üÉ
qÉlÉÉå ½ÌuÉ±É pÉuÉoÉlkÉWåûiÉÑÈ |
iÉÎxqÉÎluÉlɹå xÉMüsÉÇ ÌuÉlɹÇ
ÌuÉeÉ×ÎqpÉiÉåÅÎxqÉlxÉMüsÉÇ ÌuÉeÉ×qpÉiÉå || 169||
na hi asti avidyaa Verily there is no ignorance (Avidya)
1
manasah atiriktaa apart from the mind;
manah hi avidyaa bhava- The mind itself is Ignorance
2
bandha-hetuh; which is the cause for the bondage of rebirth.
tasmin vinashhte When the mind is destroyed,
3
sakalam vinashhtam everything else is destroyed.
vijrimbhite asmin When the mind manifests,
4
sakalam vijrimbhate. everything else manifests.

A whole book could be written on the lines of this verse, so deep and profound is its
meaning and significance. Swami Sivananda’s book, Mind – Its Mysteries and Control, is one
such book that is virtually a commentary on this verse.
1-2 We do not normally think of the mind in this way, but here we have the thought
from Sri Shankaracharyaji himself. The mind itself is the Avidya that obstructs the Self from
our vision! Thus the mind itself has to take all the responsibility for keeping the flames of
attachment burning inside us. These are the flames that result in our endless rebirth.
3-4 We have seen a similar idea expressed in Upadesh Sara of Sri Ramana Maharshi.
The Maharshi identifies two aspects to each thought – the ‘Idam’ Vritti and the ‘Aham’
Vritti. The former relates to the object of the thought (which is invariably a sense object)
and the latter relates to the sense of “I-ness” which comes from the reflection of the Self in
the mind. When ‘Idam’ Vritti is brought to zero (“when the mind is destroyed”), what
remains is pure consciousness of the Self.
The destruction of the mind is actually the destruction of the wrong notions held in
the mind. The Aham Vritti is the basic wrong notion, a misconception of the true Self. From
it arises the Idam Vritti or the outgoing nature of the mind that makes it dependent on
outer objects for its pleasure.

115
Verse 170: In Dream, Mind Alone Rules

xuÉmlÉåÅjÉïzÉÔlrÉå xÉ×eÉÌiÉ xuÉzÉYirÉÉ


pÉÉåY§ÉÉÌSÌuɵÉÇ qÉlÉ LuÉ xÉuÉïqÉç |
iÉjÉæuÉ eÉÉaÉëirÉÌmÉ lÉÉå ÌuÉzÉåwÉÈ
iÉixÉuÉïqÉåiÉlqÉlÉxÉÉå ÌuÉeÉ×qpÉhÉqÉç || 170||
svapne artha-shoonye In the dream state, though there is no sense object,
1
srijati svashaktyaa by the power of one’s own mind is projected
bhoktraadi vishvam enjoyership and doership, the universe,
2
manah eva sarvam; the mind itself and everything else.
tathaa eva jaagrati api Similarly, in the waking state also
3
na u visheshhah it is hardly any different:
tat sarvam etat All this (the pluralistic phenomena, without any
4
manasah vijrimbhanam. exception), is but a projection of the mind.

The mischief that is caused in the mind during the waking state has been described
in 168 and 169 above. Now the same mischief is seen to extend into the dream state, due to
the power of the mind itself to reproduce the waking experience in one’s dream.
1-4 Verses like this show us that one’s mental world is what really counts when it
comes to deciding matters like bondage and liberation. For this reason, the Manomaya
Kosha is the centre stage of all our efforts to divinise our life. Practically all the Sadhana we
do is aimed at the realignment of our mind – the eradication of its old grooves and
moorings, and the creation of new ones that divinise our mind.
We see in this verse the enormity of the role played by the mind and its functions –
first in leading us into Bondage, and thereafter in leading us out of it into Liberation. The
text is moving to highlight the importance of Manomaya Kosha in our Sadhana.

Verse 171: In Deep Sleep, Mind is Dormant

xÉÑwÉÑÎmiÉMüÉsÉå qÉlÉÍxÉ mÉësÉÏlÉå


lÉæuÉÉÎxiÉ ÌMüÎgcÉixÉMüsÉmÉëÍxÉ®åÈ |
AiÉÉå qÉlÉÈMüÎsmÉiÉ LuÉ mÉÑÇxÉÈ
xÉÇxÉÉU LiÉxrÉ lÉ uÉxiÉÑiÉÉåÅÎxiÉ || 171||
sushhupti-kaale In the state of deep sleep,
1
manasi praleene the mind is reduced to its causal state;
na eva asti kinchit nothing perceivable exists,
2
sakala prasiddheh; as is proved by the universal experience of all people.
atah manah kalpita Therefore, created or imagined by the mind
3
eva pumsah of man alone,
samsaara etasya is this entire transitory world of change –
4
na vastutah asti. it has no objective reality.

116
The three states – waking, dream and deep sleep – are shown with respect to the
role played in them by the mind. It proves one thing – that everything happens in the mind.
1-2 When the mind is not available (deep sleep). It is the only state when the mind
gets a good rest. The entire subtle body, excepting the Prana, is at rest. In sleep, everybody
becomes equal. In this state only the Aham Vritti is said to exist; there is no Idam Vritti
available. The state is one of total absorption into the Causal body, into fundamental
Ignorance. For the Cosmos, the same state is attained during Pralaya or cosmic dissolution.
Pralaya is the “deep sleep” of the whole cosmos!
3-4 The dormancy of the mind in deep sleep is to emphasise to us by contrast that
the mind is at the root of everything in our life. Without the mind, nothing happens.
When we go to sleep, we turn the lights out. “Lights out” is also a phrase used to
indicate the mind is not functioning. Deep sleep is “lights out” for the mind. When it is
“lights on” again, then the whole world is seen and everything starts happening. The whole
drama starts all over again. The point is to show the great importance of the mind in all that
we do and think – everything “created (in waking) or imagined (in dream)”.

3.4.2 BONDAGE & LIBERATION (Verses 172-176, 5 no.)

In this section, another great principle of spirituality is expounded. The problem of


identity is pointed out. Our real problem is one of identity, not the mind. The mind is only
the carrier of that identity in thought. In itself the mind is a neutral instrument; it can be
used to go further into bondage or lead us out of it into liberation, depending upon the
vision and direction we give to it. A spiritual view of life will necessarily make us use the
mind to take us towards the goal of liberation.
The Sadhaka is explained the principle of increasing Sattwa and removing Rajas and
Tamas. This is the approach in Sadhana for one who has not yet perfected Viveka and
Vairagya. Imperfection in these two practices is due solely to the preponderance of Rajas
and Tamas.
We keep in mind that all this discussion is in the context of explaining the Manomaya
Kosha where desires are the most predominant concern.

Verse 172: The Mind Binds & Liberates

uÉÉrÉÑlÉÉÅÅlÉÏrÉiÉå qÉåbÉÈ mÉÑlÉxiÉålÉæuÉ lÉÏrÉiÉå |


qÉlÉxÉÉ MüsmrÉiÉå oÉlkÉÉå qÉÉå¤ÉxiÉålÉæuÉ MüsmrÉiÉå || 172||

1 vaayunaa aaneeyate meghah The wind gathers the clouds together,


2 punar tena eva neeyate; and the wind itself scatters them.
3 manasaa kalpyate bandhah So too, the mind is responsible for bondage
4 mokshhah tena eva kalpyate. and liberation, too, is the work of the mind.

The simile of Wind to represent the mind is introduced in the context of the subject.
1-2 Wind & Clouds: The simile is introduced. The wind is neutral with respect to the
clouds. It can bring the clouds together or it can scatter them.

117
3-4 Mind & Bondage/Liberation: The simile is applied. The mind is neutral with
respect to bondage or liberation. It can bring bondage under certain conditions, and it can
bring liberation under the opposite conditions. The conditions for each are now described.

Verse 173: The Mind can Attach & Detach

SåWûÉÌSxÉuÉïÌuÉwÉrÉå mÉËUMüsmrÉ UÉaÉÇ


oÉklÉÉÌiÉ iÉålÉ mÉÑÂwÉÇ mÉzÉÑuɪÒhÉålÉ |
uÉæUxrÉqÉ§É ÌuÉwÉuÉiÉç xÉÑÌuÉkÉÉrÉ mɶÉÉSè
LlÉÇ ÌuÉqÉÉåcÉrÉÌiÉ iÉlqÉlÉ LuÉ oÉlkÉÉiÉç || 173||
dehaadi sarva-vishhaye For the body and the sense objects,
1
parikalpya raagam attachment is caused by the mind of man.
badhnaati tena purushham By them is a man bound,
2
pashuvat gunena; even as an animal is bound by a rope.
vairasyam atra vishhavat A distaste is created when they are seen as poison
3
suvidhaaya pashchaad after having pondered over them well.
enam vimochayati tat manah The very same mind now liberates him
4
eva bandhaat. whom it previously kept bound!

Conditions for Bondage


1-2 The simile of a rope is used for the mind to show how it binds.
A beast of burden is tied down to its task by using a rope. Even so, the mind is the
rope by which the body and other sense objects are tied to it. The point being made is that
the body and objects are not at fault. By themselves they do not have the power to bind a
man. The fault lies with the mind which is the rope that binds them to itself.

Conditions for Liberation


3-4 The simile of poison is used for the sense objects to create dispassion for them.
If we know that some drops of poison have been mixed into the milk, we will treat
the whole glass of milk as poison. Even so with the sense objects, if through time and
experience our mind begins to ponder over their poisonous nature, then the same mind
develops a repulsion for the objects and avoids them.
What once bound us, now becomes the cause to liberate us.

Verse 174: The Two Conditions of Mind – Pure & Impure

iÉxqÉÉlqÉlÉÈ MüÉUhÉqÉxrÉ eÉliÉÉåÈ


oÉlkÉxrÉ qÉÉå¤ÉxrÉ cÉ uÉÉ ÌuÉkÉÉlÉå |
oÉlkÉxrÉ WåûiÉÑqÉïÍsÉlÉÇ UeÉÉåaÉÑhÉæÈ
qÉÉå¤ÉxrÉ zÉÑ®Ç ÌuÉUeÉxiÉqÉxMüqÉç || 174||

118
tasmaat manah kaaranam Therefore, the mind is the cause
1
asya jantoh of this Jiva’s
bandhasya mokshhasya cha bondage as well as liberation
2
vaa vidhaane; being brought about.
bandhasya hetuh The cause of bondage is
3
malinam rajogunaih the blemished state resulting from Rajas;
mokshhasya shuddham virajah and of liberation it is the pure state
4
tamaskam. of being free from Rajas and Tamas.

In the above verse the conditions were seen from the angle of the external objects.
In this verse the same conditions are explained from the angle of the mind itself.
1-2 This is the general conclusion of both verses.
3 The cause of bondage is seen to be the predominance of Rajas and Tamas, which
produces a blemished state within the mind. The blemish is the attraction and repulsion
that the mind develops for sense objects due to the presence of Rajas and Tamas in it.
4 The cause of liberation is the opposite of the above – the reduction of Rajas and
Tamas, or, when seen positively, the increase of Sattwa in the mind, which produces a
favourable state in the mind. The favour is the purity of the mind by which it repels the
sense objects and gives up all likes and dislikes for them.

Verse 175: The Foremost Task – Purification

ÌuÉuÉåMüuÉæUÉarÉaÉÑhÉÉÌiÉUåMüÉ-
cNÒû®iuÉqÉÉxÉɱ qÉlÉÉå ÌuÉqÉÑYirÉæ |
pÉuÉirÉiÉÉå oÉÑήqÉiÉÉå qÉÑqÉѤÉÉå-
xiÉÉprÉÉÇ SØRûÉprÉÉÇ pÉÌuÉiÉurÉqÉaÉëå || 175||
viveka vairaagya When discrimination and dispassion
1
guna atirekaat arise due to the predominance of the quality of
shuddhatvam aasaadya manah Purity (Sattwa), they turn or lead
2
vimuktyai; the mind towards liberation.
bhavati atah buddhimatah Therefore, by one who is an intelligent
3
mumukshhoh seeker of liberation,
taabhyaam dridhaabhyaam these two must be strengthened;
4
bhavitavyam agre. this is the foremost task needed to be done.

In the above two verses the conditions for bondage and liberation were explained
from the external and the internal perspectives, using similes. But how do we actually
achieve those conditions in real life? How do we avoid making our mind a rope that binds?
How do we avoid sense objects being poison? How do we turn Rajas and Tamas into
Sattwa? This verse looks at how to bring about the ripe conditions.
1 The virtues needed are Discrimination and Dispassion. How to get these?
2 It is through more and more purity in the mind. Purity comes from doing acts of
sacrifice, charity and austerity (according to the Geeta).

119
3-4 Thus one who is intelligent – and the person who wishes to liberate himself is
undoubtedly the most intelligent – will do his utmost to develop these two qualities of
discrimination and dispassion. All efforts to cultivate these qualities are to be considered as
his foremost task. Everything else can wait, but not this task.

Verse 176: The “Tiger-like” Mind Ensnares

qÉlÉÉå lÉÉqÉ qÉWûÉurÉÉbÉëÉå ÌuÉwÉrÉÉUhrÉpÉÔÍqÉwÉÑ |


cÉUirÉ§É lÉ aÉcNûliÉÑ xÉÉkÉuÉÉå rÉå qÉÑqÉѤÉuÉÈ || 176||

1 manah naama mahaavyaaghrah A huge tiger called ‘mind’,


2 vishhaya aranyabhoomishhu; in the thick jungles of sense pleasures,
3 charati atra na gachchhantu prowls there. Let not those wander therein
4 saadhavah ye mumukshhavah. who are virtuous and desirous of liberation.

The theme of bondage and liberation is concluded by presenting a simile that


reflects the true danger of sensual pleasures to an aspirant on the spiritual journey.

Simile of the “Tiger”


1-2 The mind is the “tiger”. Its prime habitat is the thick jungle, which represents the
forest of sense pleasures. The mind just loves sense pleasures. It is completely at home in
such a habitat. The Acharya sage always finds the right simile for the right situation.
3-4 For a seeker who desires liberation, this forest of sense pleasure has to be
avoided. He can find another habitat for his ‘tiger-mind’, but avoid this forest where the
tiger is ‘at home’. If he tames his mind to become like the calm, Sattwic cow, he can graze it
on the pastures of Karma Yoga, where it will be quite safe.
In concluding this section, Shankaracharyaji reminds us of the virtue of having a
desire for liberation. It is the most noble of all desires to have for a human being.

3.4.3 “IT’S ALL IN THE MIND” (Verses 177-183, 7 no.)

The next six verses 177-182, reveal the dark side of how the mind operates under a
“Rajasic government”. It makes for a study in mind-tricks, how the mind is swayed helplessly
by three strategies:
i) The Variety Show of sense objects;
ii) The Propaganda of distinctions;
iii) The Whipping up of endless desires.
This aspect of the mind has found its place in many beautiful proverbs in all
languages. Poets have been inspired to bring out the tricks of the mind in their poetry.
All three are utilized to the maximum degree by advertisers to obtain maximum
commercial gain for their companies. The indiscriminate man becomes an easy prey in their
hands; the spiritual aspirant has to beware of their strategies every moment, to avoid
“being tossed around like clouds”.

120
Verse 177: The “Mind Shop”

qÉlÉÈ mÉëxÉÔiÉå ÌuÉwÉrÉÉlÉzÉåwÉÉlÉç


xjÉÔsÉÉiqÉlÉÉ xÉÔ¤qÉiÉrÉÉ cÉ pÉÉå£ÑüÈ |
zÉUÏUuÉhÉÉï´ÉqÉeÉÉÌiÉpÉåSÉlÉç
aÉÑhÉÌ¢ürÉÉWåûiÉÑTüsÉÉÌlÉ ÌlÉirÉqÉç || 177||
manah prasoote The mind delivers continuously
1
vishhayaan asheshhaan all varieties of sense objects,
sthoolaatmanaa sookshhmatayaa of a gross nature as well as subtle nature,
2
cha bhoktuh; to the experiencer or enjoyer.
shareera varna aashrama The body, caste, order of life and creed –
3
jaati-bhedaat distinctions based upon these
guna kriyaa hetu qualities are the cause for all actions;
4
phalaani nityam. which are endlessly producing their results.

From the beginning of this chapter we have been seeing, from its volatile nature,
that the mind can never meet the requirements of being the Self. This verse begins to show
this unambiguously. It begins the thorough dissection of the mind so that “no trick is left
unturned”! Everything is revealed as it really is. After this treatment, the mind will have
nothing to hide and no place to hide.
1-4 The whole verse reveals the “shopkeeping” tendency of the mind, specialising in
creating all sorts of varieties to amuse the Jiva residing in it. If it is not shopkeeping then it is
the “shopping” tendency of being attracted by this variety. And if these two tendencies go
beyond their limit, they deteriorate into the “shoplifting” tendency!

Verse 178: The Fall of the Jiva

AxÉ…¡ûÍcÉSìÖmÉqÉqÉÑÇ ÌuÉqÉÉå½
SåWåûÎlSìrÉmÉëÉhÉaÉÑhÉæÌlÉïoÉSèkrÉ |
AWûqqÉqÉåÌiÉ pÉëqÉrÉirÉeÉxÉëÇ
qÉlÉÈ xuÉM×üirÉåwÉÑ TüsÉÉåmÉpÉÑÌ£üwÉÑ || 178||
asanga chidroopam To the unattached pure intelligence (of the Jiva),
1
amum vimohya comes the beguiling, deluding ties of
deha indriya praanagunaih the body, sense organs and Pranas,
2
nibaddhya; which bind down (the Jiva)
aham mama iti with the ideas of “I” and “mine”, and
3
bhramayati ajasram make him wander about endlessly,
manah svakrityeshhu gathering into his mind by itself
4
phala upabhuktishhu. all sorts of experiences resulting from them.

The Fall of the Jiva is depicted in this verse. The Jiva begins as an innocent child with
a blank slate, with pure intelligence free of all attachments. From that high and aloof
position of purity, the Jiva’s mind slips to its amazing fall into the ditch of Bondage.
121
1-2 What a wizard this mind turns out to be! No one is spared from its “beguiling,
deluding” nature. The mind machine sets into motion the body, senses and Prana, i.e. the
two previous sheaths. Interacting through them, it wreaks havoc with the Jiva, leaving him
helplessly mesmerised.
3-4 The mind seems to be fitted with magical fingers dipped in “I”-ness and “mine”-
ness. Everything it makes contact with, be it incoming or outgoing signals, gets tarnished.
Like bees that pick up nectar and pollen from flowers, the mind collects “I” and “my”
thoughts from all sources and stores them away in its hive, the Chitta or memory.
Every thought that comes in and goes out of the mind is smeared with “I” and “my”.
It creates a sticky mess within the workshop of the mind, from which no relief is in sight.

Verse 179: The Impure Mind is Blamed

AkrÉÉxÉSÉåwÉÉimÉÑÂwÉxrÉ xÉÇxÉ×ÌiÉÈ
AkrÉÉxÉoÉlkÉxiuÉqÉÑlÉæuÉ MüÎsmÉiÉÈ |
UeÉxiÉqÉÉåSÉåwÉuÉiÉÉåÅÌuÉuÉåÌMülÉÉå
eÉlqÉÉÌSSÒÈZÉxrÉ ÌlÉSÉlÉqÉåiÉiÉç || 179||
adhyaasa doshhaat Due to the evil of superimposition,
1
purushhasya samsritih arises the transmigration of man.
adhyaasa bandhah tu The bondage of superimposition – indeed,
2
amunaa eva kalpitah; the mind alone is responsible for it.
rajas-tamo-doshhavatah For a man who is tainted with Rajas and Tamas,
3
avivekinah and who lacks discrimination,
janmaadi duhkhasya all the miseries of birth, etc.,
4
nidaanam etat. is the result of this only.

The step by step analysis of the downfall of the Jiva from its pure state to the state of
bondage continues. The details of the fall are now given.
1-2 The impurity of the mind gives rise to the “evil of superimposition”. Superim-
position of Unreality over Reality is a huge defect, and gives rise to the bondage of
transmigration. Sri Shankaracharyaji places the blame for this bondage squarely upon the
shoulders of the mind.
3 The fall starts with the taint of Rajas and Tamas in the mind. Hence the impure
mind is the cause of the downfall.
4 Transmigration covers all the miseries of endless births and deaths. The Manomaya
Kosha, being at the heart of all dealings of the human being, has to take the responsibity of
all this misery. Every finger points to the mind for the downfall of man.

Verse 180: Mind Itself is AVIDYA

AiÉÈ mÉëÉWÒûqÉïlÉÉåÅÌuɱÉÇ mÉÎhQûiÉÉxiɨuÉSÍzÉïlÉÈ |


rÉålÉæuÉ pÉëÉqrÉiÉå ÌuɵÉÇ uÉÉrÉÑlÉåuÉÉpÉëqÉhQûsÉqÉç || 180||

122
1 atah praahuh manah avidyaam Hence the mind is considered to be Ignorance
2 panditaah tattva darshinah; by sages who have discovered its secret.
3 yena eva bhraamyate vishvam By this alone is the universe of experience tossed
4 vaayunaa iva abhramandalam. around, as masses of clouds are by the wind.

Even impurity in the mind has a cause above it which is the ultimate cause of all
misery leading to transmigration. We go now to the foremost cause Bondage. That cause is
AVIDYA or Ignorance. This verse repeats what was said in verse 169 at the outset.
1-2 Some sages consider the crude, unrefined mind itself to be Avidya. Avidya is not
something different from the mind, but the mind itself in its state of Rajas and Tamas. The
Bhagavad Geeta calls this the “lower mind” which is to be regarded as our greatest enemy.
3-4 This Avidya is the ultimate cause. It is the “Wind” mentioned in verse 172 that
scatters the clouds. The inability to recognise the Divine is due to some screen that shields
us from the Divine. This verse pinpoints that ‘screen’ to be none other than the impure
mind. Hence, it states the truth that “the mind itself is Avidya.”

Verse 181: Road Between Purification & Liberation

iÉlqÉlÉÈzÉÉåkÉlÉÇ MüÉrÉïÇ mÉërɦÉålÉ qÉÑqÉѤÉÑhÉÉ |


ÌuÉzÉÑ®å xÉÌiÉ cÉæiÉÎxqÉlqÉÑÌ£üÈ MüUTüsÉÉrÉiÉå || 181||
1 tat manahshodhanam kaaryam Thus purification of the mind is most needed,
2 prayatnena mumukshhunaa; by diligent effort from one who desires liberation.
3 vishuddhe sati cha etasmin When the mind has been purified,
4 muktih karaphalaayate. liberation comes readily as a fruit in one’s own hand!

Verse 182: Road Between Purification & Sravana

qÉÉå¤ÉæMüxÉYirÉÉ ÌuÉwÉrÉåwÉÑ UÉaÉÇ


ÌlÉqÉÔïsrÉ xɳrÉxrÉ cÉ xÉuÉïMüqÉï |
xÉcNíû®rÉÉ rÉÈ ´ÉuÉhÉÉÌSÌlɸÉå
UeÉÈxuÉpÉÉuÉÇ xÉ kÉÑlÉÉåÌiÉ oÉÑ®åÈ || 182||
mokshha ekasaktyaa With single-pointed devotion for liberation,
5
vishhayeshhu raagam attachments for sense objects
nirmoolya sannyasya cha are rooted out, and when by the renunciation
6
sarvakarma; of all actions
sat shraddhayaa yah with unflinching faith in the Truth,
7
shravanaadi nishhthah one receives the divine Knowledge through Sravana,
rajah-svabhaavam sah then the Rajasic nature of such a person
8
dhunoti buddheh. is purged and his intellect gets purified.

As we approach the end of the discussion of Manomaya Kosha, we return to the


primary step concerning it – that of its purification, as mentioned in verse 174.

123
1-2 Purification of the mind is the aim of all the preliminary Sadhana in spiritual life.
When Sri Krishna asked Arjuna to begin with Karma Yoga and leave Buddhi Yoga alone, it
was because He had purification in mind for Arjuna, who was not ready yet to start
meditating. He was required to purify himself first.
3-4 These lines take a leap in the logic and skip some of the steps in the logic that
connects purification and liberation. The full logical sequence has six steps in it:
i) Purification here refers to the removal of the gross impurities;
ii) Only then is it possible to grasp the knowledge of heard during Sravana;
iii) Only after Sravana is successful can the Manana, which we are presently busy
with, be successful in clearing all doubts relating to the knowledge.
iv) Only after Manana, Nididhyasana becomes a fruit-bearing exercise. Prior to it, it is
not possible to meditate. The mind will be too restless.
v) Only when one is able to succeed in meditation, does realisation come.
vi) Following upon the heels of realisation is Liberation.
When verses like 181 these occur, the student has to be aware that all the
intervening steps are being taken for granted. For brevity they are omitted.
5-8 Only in the light of the full sequence of the connecting logic as given above, can
we understand that verse 182 is actually a zooming in between steps i) and ii) given above!
Sri Shankaracharyaji is breathtaking at times in how he deals with logic. He omits the
details (as in 181) and fills in details (as in 182) with consummate skill. The omission is to
give us the broad picture; the filling in of details is to focus our mind on the current point.

Verse 183: Why Mind Cannot be the Self

qÉlÉÉåqÉrÉÉå lÉÉÌmÉ pÉuÉåimÉUÉiqÉÉ


½É±liÉuɨuÉÉimÉËUhÉÉÍqÉpÉÉuÉÉiÉç |
SÒÈZÉÉiqÉMüiuÉÉ̲wÉrÉiuÉWåûiÉÉåÈ
Sì¹É ÌWû SØzrÉÉiqÉiÉrÉÉ lÉ SØ¹È || 183||
manomayah na api bhavet And so, the mind sheath cannot be
1
paraatmaa the Self either,
hi aadi antavattvaat i) for it has a beginning and an end;
2
parinaamibhaavaat; ii) it is subject to modifications;
duhkhaatmakatvaat vishhayatva iii) pain and suffering characterize it;
3
hetoh iv) and it is an object of cognition.
drashhtaa hi drishyaat-matayaa For a subject to be an object of knowledge –
4
na drishhtah. we just do not see that happening!

Concluding this section, the point made is that the mind sheath is also not the Self.
The whole section is summarized by the points listed in this verse.

*****

124
3.5 THE VIJNANAMAYA KOSHA
(Verses 184 – 206, 23 No.)

WE NOW COME TO the fourth sheath in order of increasing subtlety. In this section
the function of the Intellect is covered with special focus on how it, too, entraps the Jiva
into the cycle of transmigration. It is the sheath where thought reaches closest to the Self.
One may say that it is the sheath where thought is born, the first thought being the Aham
Vritti or the “I-thought”.
With the birth of thought, it becomes possible to know Reality as Consciousness or
Chit. Thus it is in the intellect that we first connect to Reality as Consciousness. It is in the
intellect where the Light of Pure Consciousness gets reflected as the thought of “I”. The
intellect is the only component of the subtle body which is steady enough to hold this
thought and convey it to the other sheaths below it.
The binding power of this sheath is founded on the strong feeling of being in charge
of everything. When this ‘being-in-charge’ functions under ego-consciousness, the intellect
becomes a prime mover of the ‘Avidya Package’ that produces man’s bondage. Being in
charge, it leads us further into delusion by propping up the ego. This it does with great
dexterity by using all its great powers of differentiation, by carving out an identity for itself,
and thereby plunging the Jiva into greater delusion.
However, when it is educated in the knowledge of the Self and taught to think
independently, and when its working environment is Sattwic, it is the one instrument which
can take us very rapidly to the goal of Liberation. When the mind is rendered pure, mainly
through the practice of Viveka and Vairagya, the intellect comes into its own and can then
single-handedly break the chains of bondage, haul us out of it and lead us towards
Liberation, despite the most difficult circumstances that the other Koshas may be bearing
simultaneously.
Such is the greatness of this unique instrument which we now take up.

3.5.1 THE INTELLECT SHEATH (Verses 184-191, 8 No.)

Verse 184: Composition of Vijnanamaya Kosha

oÉÑήoÉÑï®ÏÎlSìrÉæÈ xÉÉkÉïÇ xÉuÉ×̨ÉÈ MüiÉ×ïsɤÉhÉÈ |


ÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉqÉrÉMüÉåzÉÈ xrÉÉimÉÑÇxÉÈ xÉÇxÉÉUMüÉUhÉqÉç || 184||

1 buddhih buddhi-indriyaih i) The intellect along with the organs of perception;


saardham savrittih ii) together with its special thought modification,
2
kartru-lakshhanah; the root idea “I am the doer” that it itself creates;
3 vijnaanamaya-koshah syaat these comprise the Intellect Sheath.
4 pumsah samsaara-kaaranam. It is the cause of man’s transmigration.

125
1 Sri Shankaracharyaji begins in the usual way with the composition of the Kosha. It
is composed of the Intellect together with the Jnanendriyas or organs of perception.
2 The special thought called the Aham Vritti, “I am”, is produced in the intellect. The
actual process is explained later. This “I-thought” becomes a component of every other
thought that passes through the mind. Thus, immediately we are shown the deep impact
that the intellect has on the overall aim and purpose of life set by an individual.
3 The above three items compose the Vijnanamaya Kosha.
4 This is an interesting deduction. We have earlier (verse 179 under Manomaya
Kosha) learnt that “the evil of superimposition” causes transmigration. Now it is said that
the Intellect Sheath causes it. There is no contradiction here. The fundamental super-
imposition, that of taking the ego-sense to be the Self, occurs in the intellect. From that first
superimposition, the mind brings about all the other superimpositions upon Reality.
We also note here that the sheaths are not totally independent of each other. They
work hand in hand, supporting each other.

Transmigration & Liberation


We should also remember that transmigration is a very big thing, and many factors
contribute towards it at different levels. Transmigration is a subject in itself, and concerns
everything relating to the Why and How of taking birth again and again. The opposite of
Transmigration is the path of Liberation, which is equally a major subject of its own.
It is like this: When entering a city from the westerly direction, we may come to a
major interchange which has two boards reading “North Coast” and “South Coast”, each
going in opposite directions. These boards are like the two boards in life that read
“Transmigration” and “Liberation”, at the major interchange in our life’s journey.

Verse 185: The “Reflection of Consciousness”

AlÉÑuÉëeÉΊimÉëÌiÉÌoÉqoÉzÉÌ£üÈ
ÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉxÉÇ¥ÉÈ mÉëM×üiÉåÌuÉïMüÉUÈ |
¥ÉÉlÉÌ¢ürÉÉuÉÉlÉWûÍqÉirÉeÉxÉëÇ
SåWåûÎlSìrÉÉÌSwuÉÍpÉqÉlrÉiÉå pÉ×zÉqÉç || 185||

1 anuvrajat chit pratibimba-shaktih Being but a “reflection of consciousness”,


2 vijnaana-samjnah prakriteh vikaarah; this sheath is a modification of Prakriti.
3 jnaana-kriyaavaan aham iti ajasram It is always the “knower” and the “doer”
deha indriyaadishhu abhimanyate in respect of the body and sense organs,
4
bhrisham. and is completely identified with them.

This verse goes into more detail with the second component of the Kosha listed
above, viz. the “I-thought”. When it is examined carefully, the following is observed:
1-2 Pure Consciousness is everywhere as the substratum of everything that exists.
Gross objects do not undergo any change in its Presence. However, subtle objects do.
Among them, the intellect interacts with Consciousness in a very special way. It has, as it
were, an aerial which picks up the signal from Consciousness and draws it into itself.
126
2 Having done so, the signal it produces is known in Vedanta as “reflection of
consciousness”. The reflection is a far cry from the original Pure Consciousness, but it bears
a similarity to it. The difference between the original consciousness and its reflection in the
intellect is like the difference between a high voltage powerline carrying about 100,000
megawatts of electricity and an ordinary 220V cable tapped off it, leading to a small
residence. The step-down transformer required to drop from the high voltage to the low
voltage would resemble what happens in the intellect!
The “I-thought” produced is the reflected consciousness. It is billions of times less
powerful than the original. Hence it is called here “a modification of Nature”.
3 In Vedanta, knowership and doership are major concepts, having far-reaching
consequences. It is big statement to say that knowership and doership are produced in the
intellect. It goes to show the enormous significance of the intellect. Just this fact, begins the
swing of the Jiva’s steering wheel in the “Transmigration” direction, instead of the
“Liberation” direction. It is as significant as that!
4 Another major process takes place in the intellect. It is the identification of every
thought connected to the body and senses with the “I-thought”.
In addition to merely associating with these other parts of the human being, it also
gets identified with them in a possessive sense. Thus from the “I-ness” is born the “mine-
ness”. This is the essential function of the intellect. From this as input, the mind takes over
and propagates the “I-sense” even further.

Verse 186: The Nature of “Jiva”

AlÉÉÌSMüÉsÉÉåÅrÉqÉWÇûxuÉpÉÉuÉÉå
eÉÏuÉÈ xÉqÉxiÉurÉuÉWûÉUuÉÉåRûÉ |
MüUÉåÌiÉ MüqÉÉïhrÉÌmÉ mÉÔuÉïuÉÉxÉlÉÈ
mÉÑhrÉÉlrÉmÉÑhrÉÉÌlÉ cÉ iÉiTüsÉÉÌlÉ || 186||
anaadi-kaalah ayam i) The intellect sheath is beginningless with respect to
1
aham-svabhaavah time; ii) It has the nature of Ego
jeevah samasta which is the Jiva or the individual personality;
2
vyavahaara-vodhaa; iii) It carries out all the activities on the relative plane;
karoti karmaani api poorva- iv) It performs both good and evil actions
3
vaasanah according to previously gathered Vasanas; and
punyaani apunyaani cha v) It accumulates merits and demerits respectively
4
tat phalaani. as the fruits of these actions.

In this verse, the Vijnanamaya Kosha is spoken of as being equivalent to the Jiva
itself, that is, the transmigrating individual soul who is undergoing the entire human
experience birth after birth from beginningless time. The reason for equating it to the Jiva is
because the essential Jiva – the “I-sense” – is produced in the intellect, from where it
spreads to all the other Koshas. One may say the intellect is the CEO of Jiva Pty Ltd.
With this background, it becomes easier to understand this entire verse.
1 The Jiva is beginningless as Maya and Avidya Herself who produced it.

127
2 The Jiva functions in the Vyavaharic plane (the phenomenal plane). All its dealings
are at this level. This excludes the Absolute plane above it, and the dream plane below it.
3 When intellect is taken as Jiva, this line can be accepted as it is. For those who
insist on taking it to refer only to the intellect, then instead of “performs good and bad
actions”, we have to say “sanctions good and bad actions”. This makes the intellect the one
in-charge of running the Jiva’s affairs on earth, and acting on its behalf.
4 The same applies to this line also. As Jiva, the line remains unchanged. As intellect,
we should view the intellect as being the Jiva’s accountant or auditor, keeping track of the
accumulation of merits and demerits on behalf of the Jiva.
The main point brought out here is that the intellect performs a key role within the
Jiva. As we said earlier, it acts as nothing short of the CEO of a company. In that sense, there
is no difficulty in calling it the ‘Jiva’. If the Prime Minister consents to a decision, it is as good
as the country itself consenting to it.

Verse 187: The Jiva’s Experiences & their Purpose

pÉчåû ÌuÉÍcɧÉÉxuÉÌmÉ rÉÉåÌlÉwÉÑ uÉëeÉ-


³ÉÉrÉÉÌiÉ ÌlÉrÉÉïirÉkÉ FkuÉïqÉåwÉÈ |
AxrÉæuÉ ÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉqÉrÉxrÉ eÉÉaÉëiÉç-
xuÉmlÉɱuÉxjÉÉÈ xÉÑZÉSÒÈZÉpÉÉåaÉÈ || 187||
bhunkte vichitraasu api yonishhu In order to have various experiences,
1
vrajan the soul keeps wandering from womb to womb,
aayaati niryaati coming and going (taking birth and death),
2
adhah oordhvam eshhah; sometimes a high birth, sometimes a low birth.
asya eva vijnaanamayasya To this intellect sheath alone,
3
jaagrat belong the waking state,
svapnaadi avasthaah and the dream states, and (it encounters in them)
4
sukha-duhkha-bhogah. experiences of joy and sorrow and enjoyment.

1-2 The theme of transmigration of the soul continues from the previous verse. In
the previous verse we discussed the good and bad actions performed by the Jiva. From
these actions, arise merits and demerits respectively. Now, the chain continues.
From merits and demerits come the necessity to take birth after birth, i.e. go from
womb to womb, in order to reap their fruits, as joys and sorrows respectively. In this verse a
‘high birth’ refers to joys; ‘low birth’ refers to sorrows. We get the following sequence:

Input of ACTIONS GOOD BAD


Accumulation in ACCOUNT MERITS DEMERITS
Output of REACTIONS JOYS SORROWS

3-4 Waking & Dream States: The experiences of joy and sorrow can only take place
when the mind is active, i.e. in the dream and waking states. In these two states, the
intellect (Jiva) reaps the fruits of joys and sorrows.

128
Verse 188: The Radiance of the Intellect

SåWûÉÌSÌlɸɴÉqÉkÉqÉïMüqÉï-
aÉÑhÉÉÍpÉqÉÉlÉÈ xÉiÉiÉÇ qÉqÉåÌiÉ |
ÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉMüÉåzÉÉåÅrÉqÉÌiÉmÉëMüÉzÉÈ
mÉëM×ü¹xÉÉͳÉkrÉuÉzÉÉimÉUÉiqÉlÉÈ |
AiÉÉå pÉuÉirÉåwÉ EmÉÉÍkÉUxrÉ
rÉSÉiqÉkÉÏÈ xÉÇxÉUÌiÉ pÉëqÉåhÉ || 188||
dehaadi-nishhtha Belonging to the body, etc, are
1
aashrama-dharma karma the duties and functions of the orders of life;
guna abhimaanah However, by identifying with these attributes
2
satatam mama iti; always, one considers them to be his own.
3 vijnaanakoshah ayam atiprakaashah The Intellect Sheath is extremely radiant
4 prakrishhta saannidhya vashaat para due to its close proximity to the Supreme
5 aatmanah; atah bhavati eshha upaadhih asya Self, but it is only a superimposition.
6 yat aatmadhee samsarati bhramena. Rebirth is due to deludedly identifying with it.
.

Since we are seeing the intellect as the CEO of the company named Jiva, we will
appreciate that all major factors of life will become the concern of the intellect. In this verse,
another two major factors in life are taken up for consideration. They are:
i) The Jiva’s connection with the four Orders of Life; and
ii) The Jiva’s proximity to the Self.

The Orders of Life


1-2 The Jiva, when seen from the point of view of its interactions in the world, gets
associated with playing a role in life. This role carries with it certain duties and functions.
Four distinct Orders of Life are identified in the Vedas. They are Brahmins, the
Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. These are functions determined by the nature one
is endowed with as an individual. Each person is different in constitution, and can only
function in the measure of what his constitution permits. The constitution depends on the
proportions of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas in a person.
Since these qualities are endowments of Nature, they are part of the superim-
position on the Reality, not the Reality itself. However, the intellect mistakes them to be the
Reality. This error of taking the Unreal to be the Real, is made in the intellect. The Jiva thus
thinks it is limited to one of the Orders of life, to one role: e.g. “I am a farmer; farming is my
duty; I have limited power only over this piece of land; this is my family; I have such and
such duties to take care of them”, etc.
By orders of life, one accepts for oneself certain parameters which define his
limitations in the world.
The experience of the intellect is limited by its own capacity. It is used to think of
itself as an isolated human being, and so, that is exactly what it prepares itself to
experience. Anything more than that becomes unacceptable to it. It is unprepared to
receive it; its boundaries are too small for it.

129
Proximity to the Self
3-4 The intellect is the sheath closest to the Self, hence it is the most radiant among
the sheaths. It pervades all the other sheaths. It is subtler than them and controls them.
What this means in practice is that intellect is in a position to exercise maximum
control within the Jiva. Again the CEO example helps. The CEO has the task of seeing to the
overall running of his company. He has to look at the big picture, he is not so concerned
over the finer details; he appoints managers to see to them.
5-6 It is the same with the intellect. Nothing is excluded from its concern, but it does
not get involved in everything that takes place in the Jiva. Although the intellect has such an
important job to do, it is after all only its job (a superimposition). The intellect is not the Self
or God, it is only a limited Jiva. It will go on like this birth after birth until its wrong habits of
thinking and acting are corrected.

Verse 189: Intellect has a Conditioned Experience

rÉÉåÅrÉÇ ÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉqÉrÉÈ mÉëÉhÉåwÉÑ ™ÌS xTÑüUirÉrÉÇ erÉÉåÌiÉÈ |


MÔüOûxjÉÈ xɳÉÉiqÉÉ MüiÉÉï pÉÉå£üÉ pÉuÉirÉÑmÉÉÍkÉxjÉÈ || 189||

1 yah ayam vijnaanamayah This Intellect sheath is actually this:


praaneshhu hridi In the heart (or core) of the human being
2
sphurati ayam jyotih; there shines the Light of the Self.
3 kootasthah san aatmaa That Light of the Self is Immutable,
kartaa bhoktaa bhavati yet It appears as the ‘doer’ or the ‘experiencer’
4
upaadhisthah. when it is conditioned by the intellect.

1-4 This verse summarises what has been said by the previous verses. The full
infinite power of the Self is available to man. Yet, his intellect can draw only a small fraction
of it in its present state of limitation.
The limitations of the intellect are self-made. That is the main point driven home.
With clearer understanding of this limitation, combined with a vision of what it could be
capable of if it widened its horizons, the intellect can extend itself beyond all its self-created
barriers and limitations and eventually function as the unlimited Self!
This then is the top role played by the intellect. It is the boss. When the boss makes a
mistake the consequences are enormous. The boss’s mistakes cannot be covered up by
anybody. If not solved now, he has to solve them in his next birth!

Verse 190: The Absolute Appears as Limited Jiva

xuÉrÉÇ mÉËUcNåûSqÉÑmÉåirÉ oÉÑ®åÈ


iÉÉSÉiqrÉSÉåwÉåhÉ mÉUÇ qÉ×wÉÉiqÉlÉÈ |
xÉuÉÉïiqÉMüÈ xɳÉÌmÉ uÉϤÉiÉå xuÉrÉÇ
xuÉiÉÈ mÉ×jÉYiuÉålÉ qÉ×SÉå bÉOûÉÌlÉuÉ || 190||

130
svayam parichchhedam A limited version of the pure Atman Itself
1
upetya buddheh is assumed (or reflected) in the presence of intellect.
taadaatmya-doshhena param Because of its identification with a defective medium,
2
mrishhaa aatmanah; the Self acquires a totally false (limited) identity.
sarvaatmakah san api Even though the Self exists in everything alike,
3
veekshhate svayam yet It Itself is made to appear
svatah prithak tvena to be something different from Itself,
4
mridah ghataan iva. just as pots appear different from the clay they consist of.

1 The point touched on in the previous verse about limitations is now expanded and
well explained. We are given a clear picture of the limitation of the intellect and how it can
be transcended. To grasp this point, we think of the intellect as a mirror.
2 If the mirror’s surface is full of dust, it will not give a good reflection. The limitation
of the intellect is due to it being a “defective medium”. The one universal Self is seen as a
limited individual self. This is the defect. This means that if the defect is removed, in theory
the potential for expansion could be unlimited.
3-4 To transcend the limitation self-imposed by the intellect, the means are given. A
clay pot can teach us how to do that. If it thinks that it is a pot, then it immediately
separates itself from all the other pots. If, however, it gets it into its head to think that it is
clay, then the very opposite happens; it immediately connects itself to all other clay pots.
If something like that is achieved in human consciousness, it will be a breakthrough.
If the intellect can learn to widen its horizons and take a broader view of itself, it can be a
partner among other intellects, rather than a competitor amidst them. What a change that
would result in! This would not be an idle fantasy, but in harmony with the larger truth that
“the Self exists in everything alike”.

Verse 191: The Unchanging Appears as the Changing

EmÉÉÍkÉxÉqoÉlkÉuÉzÉÉimÉUÉiqÉÉ
½ÑmÉÉÍkÉkÉqÉÉïlÉlÉÑpÉÉÌiÉ iɪÒhÉÈ |
ArÉÉåÌuÉMüÉUÉlÉÌuÉMüÉËUuÉÌ»ûuÉiÉç
xÉSæMüÃmÉÉåÅÌmÉ mÉUÈ xuÉpÉÉuÉÉiÉç || 191||
upaadhi sambandha- Due to its relationship with the superimpositions,
1
vashaat paraatmaa (that is, the five sheaths), the Supreme Self
hi upaadhi-dharmaan alone assumes the characteristics of these sheaths,
2
anubhaati tadgunah; and seems to act just as those sheaths of equipment do.
ayo-vikaaraan avikaari Even as the changing forms of iron pieces
3
vahnivat are taken by the one changeless fire ;
sadaa ekaroopah api so also, although It is always Non-Dual in form,
4
parah svabhaavaat. It takes on the nature of the other as its own.

1-4 This opening section of the chapter is now concluded. The net effect of the five
sheaths on the Self is to make It appear to be like themselves through identification. The
Non-dual appears as Duality. This is the predicament which faces the intellect.

131
Parable: “The Third Donkey”
The following parable illustrates such a false identity:
A travelling trader used to always tie his three donkeys to a stump. One day when he
lost one of the ropes, he could not tie the third donkey and so he sat beside it. A wise man
noticed this and advised him a solution. Following the advice the trader pretended to tie the
third donkey and left it for the night. The trick was to make the donkey believe that it was
tied. The next morning, the trader was to leave the place. He untied the first two donkeys
and tugged the third one to follow. The donkey refused to follow. In its mind it was still tied.
The same wise man saw the whole episode. He approached the trader and advised him to
now pretend that he was ‘untying’ the donkey. This solved the problem!
The Jiva in bondage is very much like that third donkey.

*****
DISCUSSION ON VIJNANAMAYA KOSHA:

3.5.2 JIVA’S CONFUSION WITH SELF (Verses 192-206, 15 No.)

3.5.2.1 The Disciple’s Question (Verses 192-193, 2 no.)


Verse 192: Question: Self & Jiva are Beginningless

ÍzÉwrÉ EuÉÉcÉ |
pÉëqÉåhÉÉmrÉlrÉjÉÉ uÉÉÅxiÉÑ eÉÏuÉpÉÉuÉÈ mÉUÉiqÉlÉÈ |
iÉSÒmÉÉkÉåUlÉÉÌSiuÉɳÉÉlÉÉSålÉÉïzÉ CwrÉiÉå || 192||

shishhya uvaacha; The disciple asked:


1 bhramena api anyathaa vaa astu Through delusion or otherwise,
2 jeevabhaavah paraatmanah; the supreme Self considers itself to be only the Jiva.
3 tat upaadheh anaaditvaat That is a superimposition which is beginningless.
na anaadeh Surely, that which is beginningless cannot
4
naashah ishhyate. be said to have an end?

Common logic tells us:


A. If a thing is beginningless (i.e. it exists but we cannot know since when), then it
also has to be endless (i.e. it will go on existing for ever).
B. If a thing has a beginning (a birth), then it must also have an end (a death).
C. If a thing has no beginning (this is different from being ‘beginningless’), then it will
have no end (again this is different from being ‘endless’). This means it never exists, so it can
never lose its existence!
D. The present verse is asking about a possible fourth category – Can a thing be
beginningless and still have an end?

132
Let us consider the first three categories in Vedanta: Sat, Vishaya and Asat.
Sat is “Existence”. It falls into category A, i.e. it is beginningless and endless.
Brahman, the Absolute Reality is the only thing that is Sat. There is one and only one item in
this category. There cannot be a second. There cannot two Sats! That is illogical.
Vishaya is “an object”. It falls into category B, i.e. it has a beginning and an end. A
human body is an object that has a birth and a death. All physical objects fall into this
category. Nothing can last forever in this world.
Asat is “non-existence”. It falls into category C, i.e. it has neither a beginning nor an
end. It can never exist. It is like the horns of a hare, or a barren woman’s son.
Is there anything in the D category? This is the question being asked. What has made
this question necessary?

1-4 The topic earlier was transmigration. It was said that the Jiva is only a
superimposition on the Self. The Jiva is subject to transmigration, so transmigration is also a
superimposition. Jiva and transmigration must both then be beginningless. If so, then should
they not also be endless? Yet, it is said that there is an end to transmigration, that there is
an end to phenomenal existence (the Jiva). This is what is understood to be Liberation. How
is this possible? It does not seem logical. That is the question in the context of the text.

Verse 193: 8. Transmigration – Is it Forever?

AiÉÉåÅxrÉ eÉÏuÉpÉÉuÉÉåÅÌmÉ ÌlÉirÉÉ pÉuÉÌiÉ xÉÇxÉ×ÌiÉÈ |


lÉ ÌlÉuÉiÉåïiÉ iÉlqÉÉå¤ÉÈ MüjÉÇ qÉå ´ÉÏaÉÑUÉå uÉS || 193||

1 atah asya jeevabhaavah api So the Jiva-hood of the Self must also (be endless)
2 nityaa bhavati samsritih; This means that transmigration will be forever!
3 na nivarteta tat mokshhah Since it will not cease, what can liberation mean?
4 katham me shreeguro vada. O revered Guru, please explain this to me.

[The numbering backwards from 8 to 1 will be clear at the end of the Chapter.]
1 The student deduces that both Jiva and transmigration have to be beginningless. If
such is the case, then surely they both must be endless, too, i.e. in category A.
2-3 If transmigration is endless, then no matter what one does, there is no escape
from this world of bondage. How can there be Liberation?
4 It’s a very logical point. And the teacher sees the intelligent sparkle behind it . . .

3.5.2.2 The Guru’s Reply (Verses 194-206, 13 no.)


Verse 194: Reply: Imagination is not Reason

´ÉÏaÉÑÂÂuÉÉcÉ |
xÉqrÉYmÉ×¹Ç iuÉrÉÉ ÌuɲlxÉÉuÉkÉÉlÉålÉ iÉcNØûhÉÑ |
mÉëÉqÉÉÍhÉMüÐ lÉ pÉuÉÌiÉ pÉëÉlirÉÉ qÉÉåÌWûiÉMüsmÉlÉÉ || 194||

133
shreegururuvaacha; The Guru replies:
1 samyak prishhtam tvayaa vidvan O learned boy! you have put a proper question.
2 saavadhaanena tat shrinu; Listen then, very carefully!
3 praamaanikee na bhavati Never accept as a fact
4 bhraantyaa mohitakalpanaa. anything that is conjured up by imagination.

1-2 These days it may be that teachers would have to praise their students so that
they do not leave the study prematurely. But that is hardly likely during the Vedic period,
and unnecessary for students as the one we have here. The praise of the teacher is not just
a formality. It really is a good question, logically sound and very likely to trouble a young,
sincere seeker.
3-4 At the outset the Teacher warns the student against using false standards to
measure the Truth or, as in this case, using the standards of Truth to measure falsity. What
is in the realm of illusion cannot be used to gauge Reality, or vice versa. We define Truth to
be that which is beginningless as well as endless. For that reason, we cannot extrapolate
that the Jiva has to be the same. The Jiva is not Reality, but Unreality. Why should it have
claim to be the same as Reality? It would be merely an imagination to extrapolate without
any firm reason behind it.
It takes Sri Shankaracharya the next 12 verses to expand on this answer, and convey
the message to his satisfaction. Perhaps that is a measure of the seriousness of the
question. The whole answer is based firmly on reason.

Verse 195: The Sage’s Connection with World

pÉëÉÎliÉÇ ÌuÉlÉÉ iuÉxÉ…¡ûxrÉ ÌlÉÎw¢ürÉxrÉ ÌlÉUÉM×üiÉåÈ |


lÉ bÉOåûiÉÉjÉïxÉqoÉlkÉÉå lÉpÉxÉÉå lÉÏsÉiÉÉÌSuÉiÉç || 195||

1 bhraantim vinaa tu asangasya Without delusion, without attachment,


2 nishhkriyasya niraakriteh; without activity and formless – such a person (a sage)
3 na ghateta artha-sambandhah can have no connection with the objective world;
4 nabhasah neelataadivat. just as the sky has no connection with its blueness.

Delusion is at the heart of the question. The Teacher appropriately begins by


considering what the situation would be like in a case where there is no delusion. This is the
top end of the argument.
1-2 The case of a sage is taken up as an obvious example of someone who has gone
beyond delusion. In such a case what do we see?
3 The sage considers the world with total indifference. He is indifferent in the sense
that he has no likes or dislikes concerning the world and its objects. This is because he has
no illusions or delusions about what the world actually is. He has the conviction that it is
only a superimposition upon Reality; that it has no substance in itself.
4 Is there an example of this in nature? Yes, the sky is indifferent to its blueness!

134
Verse 196: 7. Jivahood – Founded on Delusion

xuÉxrÉ Sì¹ÒÌlÉïaÉÑïhÉxrÉÉÌ¢ürÉxrÉ
mÉëirÉaoÉÉåkÉÉlÉlSÃmÉxrÉ oÉÑ®åÈ |
pÉëÉlirÉÉ mÉëÉmiÉÉå eÉÏuÉpÉÉuÉÉå lÉ xÉirÉÉå
qÉÉåWûÉmÉÉrÉå lÉÉxirÉuÉxiÉÑxuÉpÉÉuÉÉiÉç || 196||
svasya drashhtuh The Witness-ship of the Self is
1
nirgunasya akriyasya beyond all qualities and is also actionless;
2 pratyag bodhaananda-roopasya It is of the nature of inner Bliss & Knowledge.
buddheh bhraantyaa praaptah But through a delusion produced by the intellect,
3
jeevabhaavah na satyah It is experienced as Jivahood, not as Reality.
moha apaaye na asti When the delusion is lifted, so too is individuality
4
avastusvabhaavaat. since by nature, individuality is an unreal entity.

The Teacher carefully explains the situation from his elevated position of a sage –
only a sage will be in a position to have this vision.
1-2 He states: “There is a ‘sage’ in every human being, but he is hidden. He sits there
in man’s intellect as the Witness of the mind. It is his true Self. It has all the qualities
possessed by a sage, because the sage actually is fully identified with this Witness in himself.
That is what makes him a sage. This Witness is of the nature of Bliss and Knowledge, even as
an actual sage is.
3-4 Now we step down from the heights to the common level of man, for not all men
are sages. What do we see here? – The presence of Delusion, brought on by Avidya or
Ignorance. Due to delusion, we do not experience Reality as It actually is, but as a caricature
of Reality called the Jiva.
The sage continues, “While one is under delusion, he will remain as a Jiva. But – and
this is an important ‘but’ in terms of your question – when the delusion lifts, so too does the
individuality caused by it. There is no more individuality, for after all it is a very false thing,
created by a false entity.”
The fundamental explanation is done. The rest of the 10 verses give more details
that are needed by the student’s intellect to give him full conviction to believe it.
The basic point to grasp here is that the intellect is an object of creation. While it has
Avidya (which is the dark aspect of Maya) as the predominant part of its make-up, it cannot
help but be in delusion and therefore see Reality as a mere Jiva, an individual entity. It
cannot help it. We are all in the same situation – the state of ignorance or delusion . . .

Verse 197: 6. Delusion – an Error of Judgement

rÉÉuÉSèpÉëÉÎliÉxiÉÉuÉSåuÉÉxrÉ xɨÉÉ
ÍqÉjrÉÉ¥ÉÉlÉÉå‹×ÎqpÉiÉxrÉ mÉëqÉÉSÉiÉç |
UeeuÉÉÇ xÉmÉÉåï pÉëÉÎliÉMüÉsÉÏlÉ LuÉ
pÉëÉliÉålÉÉïzÉå lÉæuÉ xÉmÉÉåïÅÌmÉ iɲiÉç || 197||

135
yaavat bhraantih taavat eva Only as long as the delusion lasts,
1
asya sattaa can Jiva-hood (individuality) exist.
mithya-ajnaana ujjrimbhi- It is caused by an error of judgement, and further
2
tasya pramaadaat; propagated by inadvertance (in daily living).
rajjvaam sarpah The rope is mistaken to be the snake
3
bhraanti-kaaleena eva only when there is an illusion present.
bhraanteh naashe Once the illusion is destroyed,
4
na eva sarpah, api tadvat. there can be no snake; so too, is it in this case.

The Teacher in Sri Shankaracharyaji is always at the forefront. He goes on repeating


the Truth which we do not know, while explaining the Falsity which we do. The structure of
his argument, typified by this verse, is to always keep the Truth in mind, and then keep
working on (correcting) the false until it gets aligned to the truth.
1 This is the repeat of the statement of truth. Delusion, as long as it is there, will
always present before us the Jiva as our imagined self; it will not allow us to behold the true
Self. The imagined self is where we will be while still under delusion.
2 Now we inch closer to the truth step by step from where we are. The first step
towards Truth is to tell us how the delusion arises, what is its cause.
The answer lies in “an error of judgement”. Where? Judgement is the function of the
intellect, so the error takes place in the intellect. The error gets propagated or blown up in
the mind, which is what we use to interact with the world. If the mind is not aware that it is
propagating something false, that is termed inadvertance. By definition Inadvertance is
something we do without having proper knowledge.
3 For instance, we mistake a rope to be a snake because we do not have the proper
knowledge of it.
4 Once the illusion is removed, that it is a rope and not a snake, then the snake
simply disappears.
In this verse we learn that “Delusion is an error; therefore, it can be corrected.”

Verse 198: 5. Avidya – Destroyed by Vidya

AlÉÉÌSiuÉqÉÌuɱÉrÉÉÈ MüÉrÉïxrÉÉÌmÉ iÉjÉåwrÉiÉå |


EimɳÉÉrÉÉÇ iÉÑ ÌuɱÉrÉÉqÉÉÌuɱMüqÉlÉɱÌmÉ || 198||

1 anaaditvam avidyaayaah “Beginningless” – this is said of Avidya (Ignorance);


2 kaaryasya api tathaa ishhyate; The same is said of the effects of Avidya.
3 utpannaayaam tu vidyaayaam But when there is a rise of Vidya (Knowledge),
4 aavidyakam anaadi api Avidya is destroyed, even though it is beginningless.

1 Why is Avidya said to be beginningless? It is the Tamas Guna of Nature, while Maya
is the Sattwa Guna. Both are integral parts of Nature (Prakriti). Since Prakriti is ever present
with Brahman, She is beginningless. It follows that Avidya, too, has to be beginningless.
2 For the same reason, everything that arises from Avidya also has to be
beginningless. The first of these is the Jiva; thereafter, everything arising from Jiva.
136
3-4 Now for the destruction of Avidya. If Avidya is destroyed, it will spell the end of
delusion; the end of delusion means end of Jivahood; and end of Jiva means end of
transmigration. This is the line of reasoning that follows from the destruction of Avidya.
How is this achieved? The only possible way is through Vidya or Knowledge. That is
the sole means of destroying Avidya. That which is beginningless, finally comes to an end
when Knowledge dawns. Once Avidya dies, all its ‘soldiers’ (its effects), take to their heels.
They have no leg to stand on, their General is vanquished, and the war is over.

Verse 199: As Dreams Die Upon Waking

mÉëoÉÉåkÉå xuÉmlÉuÉixÉuÉïÇ xÉWûqÉÔsÉÇ ÌuÉlÉzrÉÌiÉ |


AlÉɱmÉÏSÇ lÉÉå ÌlÉirÉÇ mÉëÉaÉpÉÉuÉ CuÉ xTÑüOûqÉç || 199||
1 prabodhe svapnavat sarvam On waking up, the entire dream
2 sahamoolam vinashyati; along with its root, is destroyed.
(So too, this phenomenal world . . .)
3 anaadi api idam na u nityam Even though it is beginningless, it is not eternal.
4 praag abhaava iva sphutam. The theory of “former non-existence” proves this.

Is there an example to illustrate the death of Avidya on the rise of Vidya?


1-2 Dream is an example that stands for Avidya. Waking up stands for Vidya. When
we wake up, the whole dream ends. So too, when Vidya arises, Avidya ends!
3 The phenomenal world is the effect of Avidya. It is considered as beginningless
since it is the effect of something beginningless. When Avidya ends (as it does for a sage),
then the phenomenal world as we know it also ends.
4 Praak Abhaava: “former non-existence”. This is a technical Vedantic theory used
by the Nyayayis in logic. Sri Swami Chinmayananda gives the example of a pot to illustrate
the theory, A pot is made of clay. Before the pot is made, it exists in potential form as clay
only. For how long it existed like that no one knows. We can only say that it did so from
beginningless time, ever since the earth (clay) was created. However, as soon as the pot is
made, the potential form of the pot ceases to exist. The point is that what was once
beginningless, now comes to an end. This is the theory of Praak Abhava. The application
follows in the next verse.

Verse 200: Jiva, Being Unreal, Has to End

AlÉÉSåUÌmÉ ÌuÉkuÉÇxÉÈ mÉëÉaÉpÉÉuÉxrÉ uÉÏͤÉiÉÈ |


rɯÒSèkrÉÑmÉÉÍkÉxÉqoÉlkÉÉimÉËUMüÎsmÉiÉqÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 200||
1 anaadeh api vidhvamsah Although it may be beginningless, an end in
2 praag abhaavasya veekshhitah; “former non-existence” has been discovered;
3 yat buddhi upaadhi-sambandhaat So it is with Jiva: due to its contact with intellect
4 parikalpitam aatmani. it is only falsely superimposed upon the real Self.

137
1-2 The end of Praak Abhava, as in the case of the pot example, is seen to happen in
the case of Avidya and all its effects. Although they are all beginningless, that does not mean
that they are endless, too. Once Avidya is toppled by Vidya, then Delusion, Jivahood and
transmigration, in that order, get toppled one by one.
Once right knowledge is obtained, then the ‘beginningless’ nature of all these ends.
As we said earlier, the effects don’t have a leg to stand on once their General dies.
3-4 Here we see the difference between Sat, the Self, and any other category such as
Vishaya, Asat and “Category D”, for which we have not yet found a name because we do not
yet know what it is. Sat is said to be the only item in Category A which is beginningless and
endless. Category D is beginningless and we have just shown that it does have an end.

Verse 201: Self Intrinsically Different from Jiva

eÉÏuÉiuÉÇ lÉ iÉiÉÉåÅlrÉxiÉÑ xuÉÃmÉåhÉ ÌuÉsɤÉhÉÈ |


xÉqoÉlkÉxiuÉÉiqÉlÉÉå oÉÑSèkrÉÉ ÍqÉjrÉÉ¥ÉÉlÉmÉÑUÈxÉUÈ || 201||

1 jeevatvam na tatah anyah tu But the other (the Self) is not like Jivahood.
2 svaroopena vilakshhanah; It is intrinsically different from it.
sambandhah tu Indeed, Its relationship
3
aatmanah buddhyaa with the little “self” is created by the intellect
4 mithyaa-jnaana-purahsarah. due to the false knowledge (caused by delusion).

Now the answer comes through . . .


Category A: Sat is the only item here because it is the Reality and is indestructible
and unchanging always. There is nothing else that has these qualities.
Category B: Vishaya falls into this category because it has a birth and a death;
Category C: Asat is in C because it never existed in the first place, so it cannot end.

MITHYA: The Category D


Category D: Mithya is anything that is beginningless, but has an end. A new term has
just been given to this category – Mithyaa. It is the category where a false superimposition
from time immemorial ends when the condition for its existence no longer prevails, as when
knowledge arises ignorance can no longer prevail.
To the one who has posed this question, we can now say, “Yes, there is Category D
called Mithya. It differs from A on the ground that it is destructible under certain conditions.
Avidya is destroyed under the condition of Vidya; then, in consecutive order, Delusion is
destroyed when Avidya is destroyed; Jivahood is destroyed when delusion is destroyed; and
finally Transmigration is destroyed when Jivahood is destroyed.
4 The “false knowledge” refers to the original blunder of misplaced identification
which mistakes “I-ness” for the Self. This happens in the intellect where the Self is reflected
and the reflected consciousness through delusion imagines that “I”-ness belongs to the
body and the other sheaths. If this fundamental “error of judgement” is corrected by
intellectual enquiry, then one can have direct realization of the Self. That is the topic under
discussion in this section.

138
Verse 202: 4. Vidya – Right Knowledge

ÌuÉÌlÉuÉ×̨ÉpÉïuÉå¨ÉxrÉ xÉqrÉa¥ÉÉlÉålÉ lÉÉlrÉjÉÉ |


oÉë¼ÉiqÉæMüiuÉÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉÇ xÉqrÉa¥ÉÉlÉÇ ´ÉÑiÉåqÉïiÉqÉç || 202||

1 vinivrittih bhavet tasya Its (the Jiva’s) termination will occur


2 samyag jnaanena na anyathaa; only by right knowledge, and in no other way.
3 brahma aatma ekatva vijnaanam The realisation of identity of Brahman and Self
4 samyag jnaanam shruteh matam. is right knowledge – the Shrutis are clear on this.

1-4 We have an idea of what “False knowledge” is. It refers to the error made in the
intellect. It is an error of judgement, or better still an error in false identification. If this is
the case with false knowledge, then “Right Knowledge” must be true identification. True
identification can only be the Self. This is confirmed again and again in the scriptures. It is
the clarion call of the Upanishads.

Verse 203: 1. Discrimination – Turning Point to Knowledge

iÉSÉiqÉÉlÉÉiqÉlÉÉåÈ xÉqrÉÎauÉuÉåMåülÉæuÉ ÍxÉkrÉÌiÉ |


iÉiÉÉå ÌuÉuÉåMüÈ MüiÉïurÉÈ mÉëirÉaÉÉiqÉxÉSÉiqÉlÉÉåÈ || 203||
tat Regarding that (i.e. the realisation of identity):
1
aatma-anaatmanoh Between the Self and the not-Self,
samyag vivekena the right discrimination between these two –
2
eva sidhyati; by that alone does realisation come.
3 tatah vivekah kartavyah Hence, it is one’s duty to discriminate thoroughly
4 pratyag aatma sad-aatmanoh. between the inner Self (Jiva) and Brahman.

In the previous verses we have seen the following sequence or “Chain of Mithya”:

4. VIDYA  5. AVIDYA  6. DELUSION  7. JIVAHOOD  8. TRANSMIGRATION

From this verse onwards we work our way in the opposite direction from Vidya,
known as the “Chain to Vidya”, or the “Knowledge Chain”:

1. DISCRIMINATION  2. PURIFICATION  3. NEGATION  4. VIDYA

1-2 Samyag Vivekena: “by right discrimination”. The definition of discrimination is


the differentiation between the Self (Atman) and the not-Self (Anatman).
3-4 To “discriminate thoroughly” refers to the specific method of Self-enquiry used in
Manana, the subject of this entire Part 3 of the book. Vedantic Manana is a specific process
by which the student removes all his doubts, i.e. his Asambhavana.

139
Verse 204: 2. Purification – Removal of Impurities

eÉsÉÇ mɃ¡ûuÉSirÉliÉÇ mɃ¡ûÉmÉÉrÉå eÉsÉÇ xTÑüOûqÉç |


rÉjÉÉ pÉÉÌiÉ iÉjÉÉiqÉÉÌmÉ SÉåwÉÉpÉÉuÉå xTÑüOûmÉëpÉÈ || 204||
1 jalam pankavat atyantam Consider water which is extremely muddy:
2 panka apaaye jalam sphutam; When the mud is removed, it appears clear.
3 yathaa bhaati tathaa aatmaa api Even so, it is the same with the inner Self (Jiva):
4 doshha abhaave sphuta-prabhah. When impurities are absent, its lustre is visible!

Sri Shankaracharyaji has opted to use one of the simplest of similes to illustrate the
purity of mind required for knowledge of the Self to be understood.
1-2 Perhaps there is a message in this choice. Purification should be kept as a simple
exercise in order to fulfil its purpose. If we try to complicate the process of purification, it
will recede away from our grasp. There is nothing difficult to ‘understand’ about
purification; getting down to it is the only difficult thing about it.
3-4 Purification is in relation to transactions with the world or Samsara. It is linked
very closely to Dispassion in the mind. It concerns every thought, word and deed with
regard to the world of objects and people. It requires us to be ever mindful of the dangers of
temptations that exist outside of us. It is best accomplished with sincerity of purpose and
pure intention. It is that without which spiritual life has no meaning.

Verse 205: 3. Negation – Non-Identification With Unreality

AxÉͳÉuÉרÉÉæ iÉÑ xÉSÉiqÉlÉÉ xTÑüOÇû


mÉëiÉÏÌiÉUåiÉxrÉ pÉuÉåimÉëiÉÏcÉÈ |
iÉiÉÉå ÌlÉUÉxÉÈ MüUhÉÏrÉ LuÉ
xÉSÉiqÉlÉÈ xÉÉkuÉWûqÉÉÌSuÉxiÉÑlÉÈ || 205||
asat nivrittau tu When the unreal ceases to exist
1
sadaatmanaa sphutam then the eternal Self, as clear as crystal,
2 prateetih etasya bhavet prateechah; is seen in the place of this gross individual self.
3 tatah niraasah karaneeya eva Therefore, the negation should certainly be done
sadaatmanah saadhu from the Eternal Self, as thoroughly as possible,
4
aham aadi vastunah. of all that is unreal such as the ego, etc.

1-2 One sees here how much Vedanta strives to assert the Eternal Self, the Truth. For
the Truth the highest price is demanded. Negation is absolutely necessary. There is no other
way. There is no ‘alternative path’ available to the Truth. There is no compromise on this.
3-4 But before we judge Vedanta too harshly, we have to be fair to acknowledge
that its main aim is to attain something much greater than that which it asks us to negate. It
is to the benefit of the student to practice negation “as thoroughly as possible”. It makes the
seeker one-pointed in his devotion to the Truth. No loophole is permitted to the student to
escape the greatest transformation in life.

140
A Few Thoughts on NEGATION
Thus, central to Vedantic Sadhana is the negation of the Unreal because the goal is
the Real. This has to be done without compromise. This can be done only through the
human intellect, after it is prepared by sharpening and cleaning. The Teacher is saying,
“Here’s a dust-pan to pick up the dirt; don’t just sweep the dust forward to the next corner.”
In fairness to Vedanta, it has to be said that Vedanta is not an approach that rejects
the world. Negation is not rejecting. Negation is simply asserting one’s true spiritual nature
above all mundane demands. Negation does not ask the seeker to look down upon the
world. Ultimately, the same Vedanta which asks us to negate the Unreal, also asks us to see
the Divine in everything.
Here is something to think about. The Unreal and the Real are not two separate
things, nor are they two contradictory things. The Unreal is more like the visible foreground
and the Real is the invisible background of the same thing. Vedanta is asking us to give
importance to the Real more than to the superficial Unreal. Negation, rather than being a
rejection, is an acceptance of the more important Real aspect of a thing than the superficial
ever-changing aspect of the same thing.

Verse 206: Conclusion: Vijnanamaya Cannot be Self

AiÉÉå lÉÉrÉÇ mÉUÉiqÉÉ xrÉÉ̲¥ÉÉlÉqÉrÉzÉoSpÉÉMçü |


ÌuÉMüÉËUiuÉÉ‹QûiuÉÉŠ mÉËUÎcNû³ÉiuÉWåûiÉÑiÉÈ |
SØzrÉiuÉÉSèurÉÍpÉcÉÉËUiuÉɳÉÉÌlÉirÉÉå ÌlÉirÉ CwrÉiÉå || 206||

1 atah na ayam paraatmaa syaad Therefore, the supreme Self cannot be


2 vijnaanamaya shabda-bhaak; the intellect sheath so far spoken of. The reasons:
vikaaritvaat i) because it is subject to change;
3
jadatvaat cha ii) because it is inert and insentient;
4 parichchhinnatva hetutah; iii) for the reason that it is limited;
drishyatvaat iv) because it is an object of the senses,
5
vyabhichaaritvaat v) and because it is not constant.
6 na anityah nityah ishhyate. Conclusion: No mortal can be said to be immortal.

1-2 This verse concludes Vijnanamaya Kosha. As with the other Koshas, the focus of
this whole chapter is to show in what way the Kosha is not the Self. The intellect sheath is
not the Self for the following five reasons (the summary explanations given here are quoted
from Swami Chinmayanandaji):

3a i) Vikaaritvaat: “because it is subject to changes or modifications of thought”. The


intellect sheath is subject to change. Our ideas and ideals are always changing. Our
intelligence varies from time to time. Therefore, this cannot be the Self.
3b ii) Jadatvaat: “because it is inert and insentient”. The intellect by itself is inert.
When the Light of Consciousness touches it, then alone does it become sentient, and shines
out of the individual to think, to rationalise, to discriminate, to judge, etc.

141
4 iii) Parichhinnatvaat: “because it is limited”. Every intellect has its limitations. A
great artist may know everything about art, but may know nothing about physics. Each one
may be great in his own field, but not in others. The intellect in everyone is limited.
5a iv) Drushyatvaat: “because it is an object of the senses”. We know our own
intellects. We say, “I am dull”, “I am intelligent”, etc. We are conscious of our intellects. The
intellect is an object of Consciousness. An object cannot be the subject.
5b v) Vyabhichaaritvaat: “because it is not constantly present”. The intellect is not
faithfully serving at all times. In deep sleep, the intellect is not available; in the waking
condition it is. In a perverted condition it slaves in the dream. When in a swoon or under
chloroform, it does not work at all. Due to it being available at times and unavailable at
other times, it cannot be the Atman.
6 vi) Anityatvaat: “because it is not Eternal”. The intellect is mortal, changing and
variable, being made of the subtle elements. Hence the intellect cannot be the Self, the
Reality, which is Eternal.
We conclude this chapter on Vijnanamaya Kosha with the following Summary:

SUMMARY OF ENQUIRY IN MANANA

Build-up of these leads to Destruction of these

4. VIDYA 5. AVIDYA

3. NEGATION 6. DELUSION

2. PURIFICATION 7. JIVAHOOD

1. DISCRIMINATION 8. TRANSMIGRATION

The Procedure in MANANA


We are in Manana, which is quite an advanced stage in Vedantic Sadhana. Although
there is still one more Kosha to be covered, we may summarise the Sadhana of Self-enquiry
in Manana, along the basis of the above diagram.

A. Steps in Sadhana (Items 1 to 4):


1. Discrimination: The importance given here is to discrimination. That is the primary
Sadhana. The whole idea is to convince the intellect of what exactly is the Non-dual Self, the
Reality. All that is the not-Self has to be distinguished from it.
2. Purification: The bulk of the initial purification has been done already before
Sravana. From here onwards it is more a ‘fine-tuning’ of what has largely been achieved.
This goes on till the realisation of complete identity with Brahman.

142
3. Negation: Side by side with discrimination, negation is the practice of self-
observation to actually bring into effect the results of discrimination. In negation, the seeker
loosens himself from the grip of the sheaths. He no longer allows them to govern him.
4. Vidya: This is actual direct Knowledge obtained by attaining identity with
Brahman. This is not referring to the intellectual knowledge obtained during Sravana. We
will deal with it in greater detail as the text proceeds.

B. Results after Realisation (Items 5 to 8):


Once realisation comes, steps 5-8 happen one after the other. These are given
importance under Manana only in the sense that they form a clear picture of where the
Sadhaka is heading. They are all achieved simultaneously with God-realisation. They are not
really steps, but aspects or results that follow realisation.
5. Avidya: The first result or aspect following immediately on the heels of realisation
is the total elimination of the barrier of Ignorance that veils us from the Reality.
6. Delusion: It is the veil of Avidya that causes the delusion in our intellect which
makes us act and think incorrectly in the first place. That now disappears.
7. Jivahood: Our entire ego-driven personality based on our individuality or
separation from the universal Reality, comes to an end once the delusion is removed.
8. Transmigration: There being no individual Jiva present anymore in our
consciousness, how can there be any more rebirth for the Jiva? Realisation, therefore, spells
the death-knell of transmigration of the soul from birth to birth.

*****

143
3.6 THE ANANDAMAYA KOSHA
(Verses 207 – 224, 18 No.)

T HE BLISS SHEATH IS where resides Avidya - Mrs Ignorance Herself! She is the
source of the delusion by which man enters into Samsara in the first instance. Unlike the
other four sheaths which can be negated by using the power of the pure Sattwic intellect,
this sheath is not an Upadhi that may be similarly negated, but fundamental delusion which
needs to be destroyed totally by the dawn of Self-knowledge.
The whole validity of Vedanta as a spiritual science rests on its fulfilling this part of
the human transformation and accomplishing the goal it sets before mankind. For this
reason Sri Shankaracharyaji patiently builds up the student’s understanding of this sheath so
that he is left in no doubt as to what is expected of him to achieve Self-realisation.
A preamble to the Anandamaya sheath will help before beginning the verses.
The Reality is often called by the term Satchidananda. This contains the three words,
Sat-Chit-Ananda, meaning “Existence, Knowledge and Bliss Absolute”. This triple definition
of Reality actually represents the same Reality. They are not three parts of the Reality, but
three aspects seen in degrees at different levels of the human being.
i) Existence aspect: It is seen as Existence by the Manomaya Kosha. The mind
receives the signals from the senses and, from seeing its gross body in action, it is able to
deduce the thought “I exist” as this body enlivened by the Prana. The mind, being
concerned with the outer sensory world, existence alone is sufficient for it to function.
ii) Consciousness aspect: At the Vijnanamaya Kosha, Reality is seen as Consciousness.
It is now able to develop the thought “I know”. This is more comprehensive than simply “I
exist”. A bit more of Reality is picked up by the intellect, which is more concerned about
knowledge, identity and the process of decision-making.
iii) Bliss aspect: At a level even prior to and subtler than the intellect, at the causal
level, one may say at the very core of the human being, lies the Anandamaya Kosha where
no thought has yet developed. Here Reality is seen in its aspect of Bliss. That is what we are
dealing with in this chapter.
At each of these three levels, Pure Consciousness may be said to be captured as a
Reflection. Naturally, the reflection has a semblance of the original, but it is also greatly
weaker than the orginal. The word reflection tells us that we are seeing a modified and a
very ‘adulterated’ version of Reality. The preliminary awareness is only of the existence of
the gross body. At the next level is the subtle ego-sense of “I know”. And at the third or
causal level is awareness of the deepest aspect of Reality which thought itself is too ‘gross’
to grasp. It is a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, a fullness, a completeness which
we describe as happiness generally and say “I am happy”. This happiness is a tiny fraction of
the Pure Bliss of the Self.
Where this experience of happiness arises is the Anandamaya Kosha.

*****
144
3.6.1 THE BLISS SHEATH (Verses 207-211, 5 No.)

Verse 207: Composition & Features of Anandamaya Kosha

AÉlÉlSmÉëÌiÉÌoÉqoÉcÉÑÎqoÉiÉiÉlÉÑuÉ×į̈ÉxiÉqÉÉåeÉ×ÎqpÉiÉÉ
xrÉÉSÉlÉlSqÉrÉÈ ÌmÉërÉÉÌSaÉÑhÉMüÈ xuÉå¹ÉjÉïsÉÉpÉÉåSrÉÈ |
mÉÑhrÉxrÉÉlÉÑpÉuÉå ÌuÉpÉÉÌiÉ M×üÌiÉlÉÉqÉÉlÉlSÃmÉÈ xuÉrÉÇ
xÉuÉÉåï lÉlSÌiÉ rÉ§É xÉÉkÉÑ iÉlÉÑpÉ×lqÉɧÉÈ mÉërɦÉÇ ÌuÉlÉÉ || 207||
aananda-pratibimba A reflection of the Bliss of the Self
1 chumbita-tanuh, vrittih is “kissed” by a modification
tama-ujrimbhitaa that has risen from Tamas or Ignorance –
syaat aanandamayah priyaadi This (modification) is the Anandamaya Kosha.
2 gunakah, sva ishhtaartha Priya, Moda and Pramoda are its triple qualities
laabha-udayah; that arise on some gaining of a desired object;
punyasya anubhave vibhaati When the fruits of good actions* manifest as the
3 kritinaam, experiences of such fortunate ones, the (three)
aananda-roopah svayam forms of this happiness come spontaneously;
sarvah nandati yatra saadhu In this state, everyone feels happy and pleased;
4 tanubhrit-maatrah prayatnam This happens to all embodied beings,
vinaa. and it happens without the least effort by them!
* Punya or merit only; the implication is that Paapa or demerit also manifests as sorrow.

Composition of the Anandamaya Kosha


1 The Tamas referred to here is Avidya. In Avidya, there is no manifestion of the
subtle or gross elements yet, so there can be no thought. Only the three Gunas of Nature
are present. The predominant Sattwa Guna is called Maya; the predominant Tamas Guna is
called Avidya. One may even think of Avidya as a ‘sedimentary’ layer within Maya. The
degree of Bliss reflected depends on the degree of Avidya present for each person.
2 The reflected Bliss is a modification of the original Bliss, many times reduced. It is
generally simplified by classifying it into three degrees, viz. Priya, Moda and Pramoda. These
are three degrees of intensity of the happiness. Priya is the least intense and is experienced
when the object is merely seen; Moda is a little more intense and is experienced when the
object is possessed; and Pramoda is the most intense, experienced when the object is
actually in contact or being enjoyed.
3 These states of happiness are the fruits of the Punya or merits earned by doing
good deeds in this world. It goes without saying that by doing bad actions we produce
Paapa or demerits which bring the experience of sorrow. Joys and sorrows are reaped in the
measure of the Punya and Paapa respectively that is stored as our Karma.
4 Effort is required only in performing good or bad actions. The results that come do
not require any further effort. They come automatically. Good actions bring joy and bad
actions bring sorrow.
The verse focuses on the positive experience of joy and pleasure; but the negative
state is understood as included.

145
Verse 208: Its Manifestation in the Three States

AÉlÉlSqÉrÉMüÉåzÉxrÉ xÉÑwÉÑmiÉÉæ xTÔüÌiÉïÂiMüOûÉ |


xuÉmlÉeÉÉaÉUrÉÉåUÏwÉÌS¹xÉlSzÉïlÉÉÌSlÉÉ || 208||

1 aanandamaya koshasya The Bliss sheath


2 sushhuptau sphoortih utkataa; is fully manifested in the deep sleep state, and
3 svapna-jaagarayoh eeshhad, only partially in the dream and waking states,
4 ishhta-sandarshan-aadinaa. depending upon the sight of pleasing objects, etc.

2 In deep sleep, when both the subtle body and the gross body is not available, we
are actually totally within the Anandamaya Kosha, experiencing ‘nothing’. It is the
experience of Avidya. We are lying asleep in our inner bedroom called Anandamaya Kosha!
No one can disturb us when we are here, in the blissful company of Avidya.
3-4 In the other two states, the experience of bliss is partial and greatly dependent
on the objects that we associate with pleasure. Only in sleep, there is no connection with
any object and so the experience is complete. However, because we do not have our subtle
body present in this state, we are not conscious of this deep state of bliss.

Verse 209: Conclusion: Anandamaya Cannot be Self

lÉæuÉÉrÉqÉÉlÉlSqÉrÉÈ mÉUÉiqÉÉ
xÉÉåmÉÉÍkÉMüiuÉÉimÉëM×üiÉåÌuÉïMüÉUÉiÉç |
MüÉrÉïiuÉWåûiÉÉåÈ xÉÑM×üiÉÌ¢ürÉÉrÉÉ
ÌuÉMüÉUxɆ¡ûÉiÉxÉqÉÉÌWûiÉiuÉÉiÉç || 209||
na eva ayam aananda- This Bliss sheath, too, can never be
1
mayah paraatmaa the Supreme Self
sopaadhi-katvaat i) because it has attributes that are ever changing:
2
prakriteh vikaaraat; ii) it is a modification of Prakriti;
kaaryatva hetoh iii) it is created as a result of
3
sukrita-kriyaayaa good actions done in the past (perhaps past lives);
vikaara-sanghaata iv) and it lies embedded in the other sheaths,
4
samaahitatvaat. which are in themselves all modifications.

1 The Anandamaya Kosha cannot be the Self for the following four reasons:
2a i) It is ever-changing. Sometimes we experience it, at other times we don’t.
2b ii) Avidya is a modification of Prakriti or Nature, which is not the Self but a power
of the Self.
3 iii) The happiness is also dependent on our good Karma. Even sleep depends on
our good Karma to deserve it. Some people cannot have good sleep because of bad Karma.
4 iv) The happiness is also dependent on the other four sheaths, all of which are also
not the Self. If the body is in pain or if the mind is disturbed, we cannot enjoy happiness,
even if the best objects are surrounding us.

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An Anecdote: Mulla Nasruddin
A humorous incident from the life of Mulla Nasruddin was told to us to illustrate the
power of delusion of Avidya. Mulla saw the moon deep down in the well and decided to
rescue it from its ‘fall’. He got the ropes, bucket, etc., ready and began to lower them into
the well to lift the moon out to safety.
The Mulla tugged for all he was worth. Something snapped and the Mulla was flung
back and fell flat on his back, rather dazed. When he came around eventually, he was facing
the sky. In sheer relief at what he saw there he gasped out, “O thank God, the moon is back
where it should have been!”

Verse 210: The Witness Survives the Negation

mÉgcÉÉlÉÉqÉÌmÉ MüÉåzÉÉlÉÉÇ ÌlÉwÉåkÉå rÉÑÌ£üiÉÈ ´ÉÑiÉåÈ |


iÉͳÉwÉåkÉÉuÉÍkÉ xÉɤÉÏ oÉÉåkÉÃmÉÉåÅuÉÍzÉwrÉiÉå || 210||

1 panchaanaam api koshaanaam Regarding the five sheaths, when they have been
2 nishhedhe yuktitah shruteh; negated through reasoning based upon scriptures,
3 tat nishhedha avadhi saakshhee then, at the acme of the process, the Witness-ship
4 bodha-roopah avashishhyate. which is Knowledge Absolute, is what remains.

1-4 The process of negating all the sheaths is now summarised. The purpose of the
negation is that after negating all that is not-Self, what remains is that which witnesses them
all without getting involved in any of them. The neutral-standing Self always survives the
process of negation. Thus, the negation comes to an end.

Verse 211: Summary: What is the Self?

rÉÉåÅrÉqÉÉiqÉÉ xuÉrÉgerÉÉåÌiÉÈ mÉgcÉMüÉåzÉÌuÉsɤÉhÉÈ |


AuÉxjÉɧÉrÉxÉɤÉÏ xÉͳÉÌuÉïMüÉUÉå ÌlÉUgeÉlÉÈ |
xÉSÉlÉlSÈ xÉ ÌuÉ¥ÉårÉÈ xuÉÉiqÉiuÉålÉ ÌuÉmÉͶÉiÉÉ || 211||

1 yah ayam aatmaa svayam jyotih This Atman or Self is self-effulgent;


2 pancha kosha vilakshhanah; It is distinct from the five sheaths;
3 avasthaa traya saakshhee, It is the witness of the three states,
4 sat nirvikaarah niranjanah; It is Real, free of all modifications and blemish;
5 sadaanandah sah vijneyah It should be realised as bliss everlasting
6 svaatmatvena vipashchitaa. by the wise man as his own Self.

Here is the positive side of what is left after negation – the Atman or Self.

*****
147
DISCUSSION ON ANANDAMAYA KOSHA:

3.6.2 THE SELF & “NOTHINGNESS” (Verses 212-224, 13 No.)

3.6.2.1 The Disciple’s Question (Verses 212)


Verse 212: Disciple: “Nothing Left After Negation!”

ÍzÉwrÉ EuÉÉcÉ |
ÍqÉjrÉÉiuÉålÉ ÌlÉÌwÉ®åwÉÑ MüÉåzÉåwuÉåiÉåwÉÑ mÉgcÉxÉÑ |
xÉuÉÉïpÉÉuÉÇ ÌuÉlÉÉ ÌMüÎgcÉ³É mÉzrÉÉqrÉ§É Wåû aÉÑUÉå |
ÌuÉ¥ÉårÉÇ ÌMüqÉÑ uÉxiuÉÎxiÉ xuÉÉiqÉlÉÉÅÅiqÉÌuÉmÉͶÉiÉÉ || 212||
shishhya uvaacha; The Disciple asked:
1 mithyaatvena nishhiddheshhu After negating as unreal
2 kosheshhu eteshhu panchasu; these five sheaths,
3 sarva abhaavam vinaa kinchit except the absence of everything
4 na pashyaami atra he guro; I find nothing else here, O revered Teacher!
5 vijneyam kim u vastu asti What entity then is there to be realised
6 svaatmanaa aatmavipashchitaa. by a seeker of the Self as his own Self?

Too much theory and not enough practice is disclosed by this question. The student
is puzzled from the relative standpoint of the world. If the world is negated, then from what
foothold does he reach the Self? This puzzle facing the student is very similar to the one
faced by the child in this delightful example from Acharyaji:

Example: How to Eat Ice-Cream?


A child is learning from his father how to eat ice-cream. It is a very theoretical
process. The father takes great pains to describe to what height the ice-cream bowl must be
lifted, how the spoon must be used to pick up the ice-cream at the precise angle to cut
through the ice-cream. Then it has to be brought slowly to the lips. With a flick of the wrist
which has to synchronise with the parting of the lips, the ice-cream is tossed into the mouth
cavity. When removing the small wooden flat spoon, care must be taken not to keep the
mouth too tight, or else only half the spoon will come out! Nor must the mouth be too open
or else half the ice-cream will come out, and the joy of eating will be halved! And so on, the
child goes through a quick crash course. He awaits the moment when he can put into
practice these instructions with real ice-cream. In the first few attempts, he does not think
of the delicious ice-cream as his whole mind is set on how to execute the steps he learnt.
When the child has mastered the art of eating ice-cream, he does it mechanically.
Now he actually enjoys the ice-cream, not having to think about the complicated procedure.
Many in the class would have loved to try the experiment themselves!
The same is what happens to the enthusiastic beginner in meditation. He is so
caught up in the techniques that he does not enjoy the presence of God within. After some
attempts he begins to master the outer details and enjoy the practice more and more.

148
3.6.2.2 The Guru’s Reply (Verses 213-224)

Verse 213: Teacher: “Yes, Good Question!”

´ÉÏaÉÑÂÂuÉÉcÉ |
xÉirÉqÉÑ£Çü iuÉrÉÉ ÌuɲͳÉmÉÑhÉÉåÅÍxÉ ÌuÉcÉÉUhÉå |
AWûqÉÉÌSÌuÉMüÉUÉxiÉå iÉSpÉÉuÉÉåÅrÉqÉmrÉlÉÑ || 213||
shreegururuvaacha; The Guru answers:
1 satyam uktam tvayaa vidvan Rightly have you spoken, O learned one.
2 nipunah asi vichaarane; You are indeed clever in your discrimination.
3 aham-aadi vikaaraah te All modifications like the ego, etc, and indeed
4 tat abhaavah ayam api anu. also their absence (during deep sleep) is This.

1-2 The teacher admires an attentive student, even if he has not been able to arrive
at the answer. He admires the zeal of the student to want to know more! But there is a
difference between being clever and being correct. The Teacher moves swiftly to attend to
the correctness of the question posed.
3-4 He brings it out in the form of a riddle. The riddle is about ‘This’ and ‘That’. ‘This’
is everything produced by Maya and Avidya. It falls on the side of the Superimposition on
Reality, and is hence part of the Unreality. The negation process can only negate ‘This’. The
student at this stage is not aware that ‘That’ is still there. ‘That’ alone is the Reality.
The example of deep sleep is used again to show how nature daily forces us to drop
‘This’. The whole gross and subtle world is dropped daily in deep sleep. All that is left is
‘That’. But we are not conscious of ‘That’ due to the presence of Avidya.

Verse 214: “This” and “That”

xÉuÉåï rÉålÉÉlÉÑpÉÔrÉliÉå rÉÈ xuÉrÉÇ lÉÉlÉÑpÉÔrÉiÉå |


iÉqÉÉiqÉÉlÉÇ uÉåÌSiÉÉUÇ ÌuÉή oÉÑSèkrÉÉ xÉÑxÉÔ¤qÉrÉÉ || 214||

1 sarve yena anubhooyante All This is perceived by That


2 yah svayam na anubhooyate; but That you cannot perceive with This!
3 tam aatmaanam veditaaram That is the Self, the real You, the only Knower.
4 viddhi buddhyaa susookshhmayaa. Realise That with an extremely subtle intellect.

1-2 The Teacher toys with the riddle to great effect on the student. He makes it a
game of hide-and-seek! ‘That’ has to do the hiding, while ‘This’ does the finding. ‘That’ can
see where ‘This’ is at all times, but ‘This’ is at a loss as to where ‘That’ is.
3 Then the Teacher throws the clue to the riddle. Both ‘That’ and ‘This’ are in the
same person. ‘This’ is the apparent person, the ego-self. The truth is ‘That’ cannot be found
by ‘This’; it is impossible. The only way for ‘This’ is to drop its own identity and realise it is in
fact ‘That’. When it does so, it has a good laugh at how silly it was not to have known ‘That’!

149
4 It sounds easy, but in practice it requires an intellect that is Susookshmayaa,
“extremely subtle”. That quality only comes through extreme purity of mind. One has to be
able to make the leap from ‘This’ to ‘That’, which is like leaping from the edge of a cliff
called Bondage onto the edge of another cliff on the opposite side called Liberation. It may
be only two meters away, but who is willing to take the risk! Only a true hero.
Swami Chinmayananda gives a down to earth example of the subtlety needed. “At
first we no more see a woman going along; we only see ‘lust’moving on legs. When the mind
is made a little subtle, you see ‘beauty’ going. A little more subtle and you see a ‘living
being’. Make it as subtle as that of a philosopher’s and you will see ‘divinity’on the move!”

Verse 215: The Witnessed has to have a Witness

iÉixÉÉͤÉMÇü pÉuÉå¨É¨É±±±ålÉÉlÉÑpÉÔrÉiÉå |
MüxrÉÉmrÉlÉlÉÑpÉÔiÉÉjÉåï xÉÉͤÉiuÉÇ lÉÉåmÉrÉÑerÉiÉå || 215||

1 tat saakshhikam bhavet tat tad There has to be a “That” as witness of all “This”;
2 yat yat yena anubhooyate; By “That” all “This” is said to be witnessed.
3 kasya api ananubhootaarthe When there is no entity to witness a thing,
4 saakshhitvam na upayujyate. witnesshood itself is not possible!

The Teacher realises the intensity of the struggle in the mind of the student: It wants
to play the hero, but has not yet forgotten to play the fool.
1-2 He tries to make it a little easier for the earnest student. He says, “Look, it’s not
all that difficult, you know. Throughout the negation process, don’t you feel at all times that
You are present to do the negating? Who else could it be besides you. Till the very end of
the process, you are always there. That you who is left till the very end is your true Self. You
are the nothing that is left behind after the whole negation is done.
3-4 “It is true, I am not joking. Think of it. If you were not there, who is there to say
‘There is nothing left.’ If there really were nothing, who will know that there is nothing left?
Think! Never forget that you are always there throughout the process.”

Verse 216: The Self Stands Witness to Itself

AxÉÉæ xuÉxÉÉͤÉMüÉå pÉÉuÉÉå rÉiÉÈ xuÉålÉÉlÉÑpÉÔrÉiÉå |


AiÉÈ mÉUÇ xuÉrÉÇ xÉɤÉÉimÉëirÉaÉÉiqÉÉ lÉ cÉåiÉUÈ || 216||

1 asau svasaakshhikah bhaavah This Atman has the nature of being witness of Itself.
2 yatah svena anubhooyate; It is realized only by Itself.
3 atah param svayam saakshhaat Hence, the Supreme Brahman Itself directly
4 pratyag aatmaa na cha itarah. is the inner Self, and nothing other than It.

The Teacher gives the student’s confidence a little push here. There is always the
hesitancy in him to believe that he is directly connected to the Supreme Reality.
150
1-2 The teacher says, “You are always there in the thick of it all. You have that
nature, and nothing can stop you from knowing your real nature. That which is really you,
has all the power to know that fact. Have strong faith in yourself in this final lap that you will
jump the final hurdle.
3-4 “As long as you have dropped everything else from your mind and intellect, as
long as you are not holding on to anything external to you, be sure that you cannot be
anything other than the Infinite Brahman. Your very nature tells you that. Believe in it and
press on. When you cross the line, claim your prize without any sense of doubt in your
mind.”
Thus the Teacher spurs the earnest disciple onward and forward with courage,
firmness and fearlessness.

Verse 217: The Absolute ‘That’ & the Individual ‘This’

eÉÉaÉëixuÉmlÉxÉÑwÉÑÎmiÉwÉÑ xTÑüOûiÉUÇ rÉÉåÅxÉÉæ xÉqÉÑ‹×qpÉiÉå


mÉëirÉaÉëÔmÉiÉrÉÉ xÉSÉWûqÉWûÍqÉirÉliÉÈ xTÑüU³ÉæMükÉÉ |
lÉÉlÉÉMüÉUÌuÉMüÉUpÉÉÌaÉlÉ CqÉÉlÉç mÉzrɳÉWûlkÉÏqÉÑZÉÉlÉç
ÌlÉirÉÉlÉlSÍcÉSÉiqÉlÉÉ xTÑüUÌiÉ iÉÇ ÌuÉή xuÉqÉåiÉÇ ™ÌS || 217||
jaagrat svapna sushhuptishhu In the waking, dream and deep sleep states,
1 sphutataram, yah there is clearly ‘That’ which is witnessing the
asau samujjrimbhate manifestation of these states;
pratyag roopatayaa sadaa ‘That’ is the inner Self which always
2 aham aham iti, appears as the ‘I’ or individual Ego-self, and
antar sphuran ekadhaa; uniformly witnesses everything from within;
naanaa aakaara vikaara The various forms and modifications –
3 bhaaginah imaan, he who is their experiencer,
pashyan aham dhee-mukhaan is the Jiva working through the intellect, etc.
nitya aananda chidaatmanaa But there is an eternal, blissful, all-knowing Self
4 sphurati tam, which is the Absolute Self witnessing these.
viddhi svam etam hridi. Know ‘That’ as your own Self within your heart.

After priming his student with appropriate words of encouragement, the Teacher
goes straight into an explanation of what it is to be the ‘Witness’ of oneself.
1 The teacher carefully points out that the student has to feel he is witness to the
basic three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. There are only two entities which are
present in all three states, and they are the Self and Avidya. This leaves the ‘Fourth state’ to
be the decider as to which remains ever present. In the fourth state (of realisation) Avidya is
destroyed, and so the Self stands as the victor.
2 The “I” could be any of two “I”s, either the Self or the Ego. It is the former alone
that can witness everything that happens within. The latter, the Ego, is not present during
deep sleep, so it cannot be the inner witness.
3 The day-to-day modifications and forms are experienced by the Jiva, the false self,
which is identified with the various sheaths. Due to its identification with the sheaths, it is
impossible for Jiva to be their witness.
151
4 However, if one observes the inner functions closely with detachment, one can
watch all these little transactions that take place in the phenomenal world. One becomes
aware that his intellect and mind are only his instruments and he is their witness.
In this way, the student is taught to raise his power of observation so that he can
identify himself with this inner witness. Witness-ship of this kind requires him to carry the
“I” thought with him. He is asked to narrow down his identification to just this single
thought of “I”. Without this thought he cannot be a witness; nor can he be the witness if the
thought is accompanied by identification with the instruments of mind and intellect. It has
to be only the “I”-thought, free from anything else. That is the Self, the true “I”.

Verse 218: Simile: From the Ego’s Standpoint

bÉOûÉåSMåü ÌoÉÎqoÉiÉqÉMïüÌoÉqoÉ-
qÉÉsÉÉåYrÉ qÉÔRûÉå UÌuÉqÉåuÉ qÉlrÉiÉå |
iÉjÉÉ ÍcÉSÉpÉÉxÉqÉÑmÉÉÍkÉxÉÇxjÉÇ
pÉëÉlirÉÉWûÍqÉirÉåuÉ eÉQûÉåÅÍpÉqÉlrÉiÉå || 218||

1 ghatodake bimbitam arkabimbam In a jar of water is the reflection of the sun;


aalokya moodhah The fool, on seeing this,
2
ravim eva manyate; considers it to be the sun itself.
tathaa chidaabhaasam So too, the reflection of consciousness
3
upaadhisamstham is caught in the ‘jar’ of the intellect;
bhraantyaa aham iti eva Through delusion, it is considered as ‘I’ itself .
4
jadah abhimanyate. Surely he is a fool who identifies himself with it!

The previous verse placed great emphasis on the ability to be a witness of one’s
inner world, so much so that he can actually feel that he is in charge of the happenings
within and not the other way around. When this capacity becomes fully awakened, it is
possible to take witness-ship to its ultimate stage as seen in this verse.
1-2 An example is used first to compare the situation we are going to observe.
Consider the reflection of the sun in a pool of water. Would it not be foolish to take the
reflection to be the actual sun?
3-4 In the same way, we have the reflection of consciousness in the ‘jar’ of our
intellect. If we take the reflected consciousness as being the original consciousness, would
that not be equally foolish? Yet, that is what we do. Practically all of humanity is making the
same mistake. We take the reflected consciousness to be our true Self.

As we come towards the end of this chapter on Manana, we gather together


thoughts which should bring us total clarity as to what is required on the path to God-
realisation. The purpose of Manana is to remove every trace of doubt about the possibility
of God-realisation. The student should emerge with full conviction that realisation is a
possibility, a certainty. Although there are many other hurdles to cross, the Path to follow
should be well established in his intellect. That is the bottom-line of Manana.

152
Verse 219: Simile: From the Sage’s Viewpoint

bÉOÇû eÉsÉÇ iɪiÉqÉMïüÌoÉqoÉÇ


ÌuÉWûÉrÉ xÉuÉïÇ ÌuÉÌlÉUϤrÉiÉåÅMïüÈ |
iÉOûxjÉ LiÉÎi§ÉiÉrÉÉuÉpÉÉxÉMüÈ
xuÉrÉqmÉëMüÉzÉÉå ÌuÉSÒwÉÉ rÉjÉÉ iÉjÉÉ || 219||

1 ghatam jalam tadgatam arkabimbam Again, in a jar of water is reflected the sun;
vihaaya sarvam Leaving aside all this (the jar, the water, the reflection),
2
vinireekshhyate arkah; one turns and sees the sun directly.
tatastha etat tritaya Independent of these three (jar, water, reflection),
3
avabhaasakah is (the sun) that illuminates them all –
svayam prakaashah In the same way, the Self-luminous Reality is known
4
vidushhaa yathaa tathaa. by the sage; as for the sun, so also for the Self.

The previous verse considered the simile of reflection from the standpoint of a
‘deluded fool’. Now we look at the same simile but from the standpoint of an ‘enlightened
sage’. The two are seen to be poles apart. The Teacher takes the student a big leap forward
in his understanding of witness-ship of mind and intellect.
1-2 We reconsider the same simile. This time the person who is observing the pool of
water, ignores the pool, the water and the reflection. He turns his gaze directly towards the
sun. What does he see? Naturally, he does not see pool, water or any reflection. He only
sees the bright, luminous sun.
3-4 Applying this simile, what do we get? The student is being taken from the stage
of identifying with the reflection of consciousness to the stage of directly seeing the self-
luminous Self or Atman. That is the shift one makes in being a witness. The witness is never
to get entangled with that which he is witnessing. He should always stand apart from the
witnessed.

Verse 220: Discard the Unreal, Stick to the Real

SåWÇû ÍkÉrÉÇ ÍcÉimÉëÌiÉÌoÉqoÉqÉåuÉÇ


ÌuÉxÉ×erÉ oÉÑ®Éæ ÌlÉÌWûiÉÇ aÉÑWûÉrÉÉqÉç |
Sì¹ÉUqÉÉiqÉÉlÉqÉZÉhQûoÉÉåkÉÇ
xÉuÉïmÉëMüÉzÉÇ xÉSxÉ̲sɤÉhÉqÉç || 220||
deham dhiyam The body, the intellect
1
chit-pratibimbam evam and the reflection of Chit in it –
visrijya buddhau Leaving these aside by an effort of the intellect,
2
nihitam guhaayaam; one turns his attention to the ‘Cave of his heart’;
drashhtaaram aatmaanam There he beholds the Witness, the Atman or Self,
3
akhanda-bodham which is the unfathomable, Absolute Knowledge,
sarva-prakaasham which is the illuminator of everything,
4
sad-asad-vilakshhanam. and distinct from both the gross and the subtle.

153
Witness-ship is now taken to its highest level. The word ‘Witness’, although it can
refer to nothing else but the Self, is a temporary term for the Self. It carries with it traces of
thought and purpose which do not actually belong to the Self. It is, as it were, a blend of the
Self and the highest aspiration of the human intellect. That point is now being brought out
in this verse.
1 When Witness-ship itself has served its purpose of accomplishing all the negation
of the not-Self, when all the sheaths have been successfully negated by raising one’s
consciousness above them all, then it is time for that same Witness-ship to move on.
2 Where can it move on? Having served its purpose in bringing the aspirant face to
face with his “I” sense, it is time to turn this “blend” of intellect and Self towards the Self
alone. It is no longer needed to observe the Upadhis of mind, intellect and the Bliss sheaths.
It is now ready to go on to the completely thought-free state needed for attaining Oneness
with Brahman.
The critical step here is to give up the sense of “I”-ness completely by making the
leap into the unknown. It requires one last supreme effort of the intellect. Witness-ship is
turned around on its heels and now made to face the Guha, the “Cave of the Heart”.
This is what the Teacher is beginning to do in this verse, and continues to do in the
next verse.
3-4 The turnaround is not a ‘physical action’ as we are expressing it. It is simply the
dropping of all thought of the sheaths and giving oneself fully to the Supreme Spirit within.
Sad-Asad Vilakshanam: This holds the key to grasping what the Teacher is trying to
teach his student. It is the step when one turns away from everything that is “subtle and
gross”. Here we have another use of the word Sat. Other than Pure Existence, it is also used
to mean the whole subtle world made of the subtle elements. Asat also has its second
meaning. Other than meaning Non-existence, it is also used to mean the whole gross world
made of gross elements, perceivable by the senses. Both these are now treated in the same
way – both are totally negated. By doing so, one is compelled to turn to the Self and the Self
alone. All the crutches are thrown off! Now it is God and God alone.

Verse 221: Freed of all Sin , Blemish & Death

ÌlÉirÉÇ ÌuÉpÉÑÇ xÉuÉïaÉiÉÇ xÉÑxÉÔ¤qÉÇ


AliÉoÉïÌWûÈzÉÔlrÉqÉlÉlrÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ |
ÌuÉ¥ÉÉrÉ xÉqrÉÎXçlÉeÉÃmÉqÉåiÉiÉç
mÉÑqÉÉlÉç ÌuÉmÉÉmqÉÉ ÌuÉUeÉÉå ÌuÉqÉ×irÉÑÈ || 221||
nityam vibhum sarva- That which is eternal, all-pervading, omni-
1
gatam susookshhmam present, and extremely subtle;
antarbahih-shoonyam which is without exterior or interior,
2
ananyam aatmanah; and non-different from the Self;
vijnaaya samyak By fully realizing one’s own nature
3
nijaroopam etat which is his very own Self;
pumaan vipaapmaa man becomes freed of all sin,
4
virajah vimrityuh. free from all blemish, and free from death.

154
1-2 The clarity that is required at the end of Manana shines through in this verse. It is
where the Guru wants the disciple to go. The Goal is clearly held before the student.
Nothing else must deflect him from this Goal. The disciple is made to plunge within and find
himself. At this point he has to turn to the Guru within. The external Guru himself asks his
disciple to drop him and turn all his attention to the Guru within.
3-4 The overall fruit of realisation is suddenly brought into the picture. The Guru has
just taken his disciple’s full attention to the Self within. To him, it must seem almost a ‘sin’
to remind the disciple of the mundane world being left behind – with all its sin, blemish and
mortality. What a stark contrast!
Why does the Guru do this to the disciple? The answer follows . . .

Verse 222: “Alone, to the Alone – All Alone!”

ÌuÉzÉÉåMü AÉlÉlSbÉlÉÉå ÌuÉmÉͶÉiÉç


xuÉrÉÇ MÑüiÉÍ¶É³É ÌoÉpÉåÌiÉ MüͶÉiÉç |
lÉÉlrÉÉåÅÎxiÉ mÉljÉÉ pÉuÉoÉlkÉqÉÑ£åüÈ
ÌuÉlÉÉ xuÉiɨuÉÉuÉaÉqÉÇ qÉÑqÉѤÉÉåÈ || 222||
vishokah aanandaghanah Free of grief, and full of the consciousness of Bliss,
1
vipashchit is the wise sage,
svayam kutashchit na who, in respect of another person, is not
2
bibheti kashchit; afraid in the least.
na anyah asti panthaah For there is no other. This is the path trodden by those
3
bhava-bandha-mukteh seeking liberation from the bonds of transmigration.
vinaa sva-tattva-avagamam Besides wanting to realize his own true Self,
4
mumukshhoh. nothing else matters for one desirous of liberation.

The Play of Contrast


It is the nature of the human intellect to grasp things by contrasting them. The poet
in Shankaracharyaji makes the fullest use of this tool to lift the disciple and fire him up for
the ultimate step to realisation.

1 Grief and Bliss are juxtaposed with great poetic effect.


2 The fear element in relationships between people is juxtaposed with complete
fearlessness of another person.
3 Liberation and “bonds of transmigration” are juxtaposed.
4 It makes the quest for God all the more one-pointed when the contrasts are
highlighted so clearly, so deliberately, and with so much poetry! There is a sense of drama
that the Guru builds up in the disciple, who will certainly need it to sustain himself once he
is left all alone to find his own way.

Through contrast, the Guru prepares his disciple for “the most
singular journey that will ultimately unite him to the whole universe!”

155
Verse 223: “Go, my Son, Habe a Pleasant Journey!”
oÉë¼ÉÍpɳÉiuÉÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉÇ pÉuÉqÉÉå¤ÉxrÉ MüÉUhÉqÉç |
rÉålÉÉ̲iÉÏrÉqÉÉlÉlSÇ oÉë¼ xÉqmɱiÉå oÉÑkÉæÈ || 223||

1 brahma abhinnatva vijnaanam The realization of one’s identity with Brahman


2 bhava mokshhasya kaaranam; becomes the cause of the Great Liberation.
3 yena adviteeyam aanandam By it, the One without a second, the Bliss Absolute,
4 brahma sampadyate budhaih. the Supreme Brahman, is attained by the wise.

A Touching “Send-Off”
The Guru, his job now done, gives a “send-off” to his disciple. The spirit of this verse
is effectively saying only one thing: “Go, my son, have a pleasant journey! You have worked
hard for it so far. You have prepared yourself well and thoroughly. Everything is now ready
for you to be on your way.”
1-4 The literal meaning is, of course, something totally different, but to take it would
take away the context of the dramatic moment that has been reached in the Guru-disciple
relationship at this point. There are times when a text has to be seen apart from its word
meaning, and this is an excellent example of such a time. The disciple has come to the end
of Manana, and is ready to be launched into Nididhyasana – it is as rare a moment in one’s
spiritual life, as spiritual life itself is rare among men in this world!
The disciple is in the same situation as an astronaut who has been placed in his space
capsule and been hauled onto the launching pad. The Guru has prepared him in every way
possible for the “blast-off”. He now only has to fire the engines and send his disciple off on
the most amazing journey of his life.
That is what Manana accomplishes for the disciple. No doubt, he will miss the
company of his Guru, the long hours he spent with him getting himself prepared. But it is all
part of the Divine Plan that he should now undertake this journey all on his own.
However, even while in space, he is assured that his Guru will play the role of
“Mission Control” and monitor his safety in outer space from the Earth below. The bond
between Guru and disciple is never lost. It ever persists. Like Brahman their Goal, their
relationship, too, is indestructible, unchanging, Eternal and Adviteeyam or Non-dual!

Verse 224: Conclusion: “Be Free Forever, my Son!”


oÉë¼pÉÔiÉxiÉÑ xÉÇxÉ×irÉæ ÌuɲɳÉÉuÉiÉïiÉå mÉÑlÉÈ |
ÌuÉ¥ÉÉiÉurÉqÉiÉÈ xÉqrÉaoÉë¼ÉÍpɳÉiuÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ || 224||
brahmabhootah Having become of the nature of Brahman,
1
u samsrityai indeed, to the world of transmigration
2 vidvaan na aavartate punah; such a realised one does not return any more.
3 vijnaatavyam atah samyag Therefore, one should fully realise
4 brahma abhinnatvam aatmanah. the identity between Brahman and his own Self.

156
This is the formal parting moment, the last verse of Part 3, entitled Manana. Our
approach to it is similar to that in the last verse. As one may expect in any parting of two
people, it consists of two poignant aspects:

No Return to Transmigration
1-2 The leap from being a Witness to being in Oneness may be compared to a
swimmer on the diving board about to make a dive. In the context of the Guru-disciple
relationship, there is a similar moment about to take place. Once the swimmer leaves the
springboard, he does not return to it. In the same way, once the aspirant leaves the diving-
board of the “I” thought, he dives straight into the waters of Brahman, into the realm of
Oneness, never to return!
The disciple is going to leave shortly, and be on his own for quite a while – till
Nididhyasa is complete. Will they ever meet? Will the disciple be recognized if they do?
If all goes as per plan, it will be a different person that returns. He will no longer be
‘of this world’; this world would have ended for him. He will belong to ‘the other world’. He
will be born into the infinite world of Brahman, with no connection to the mundane world
any longer. Figuratively, this is the thought that perhaps crosses the Guru’s mind as he says
these parting words.

“Realise and Be Free!”


The second aspect is to actually say the words, “Goodbye!” He says it in Vedantic
language, “Realise and be free!”
Words carry different meanings according to context. Swami Vivekananda says every
night to his disciples at Belur Math, “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.”
Using a full-stop to end his utterance would be normal in this case. But when he says the
same words at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, addressing the whole world,
the meaning changes dramatically, and it will have to end with an exclamation mark!
Here we have a similar case. The Guru says, “Realise God and be free.” Normally that
would call for a philosophical discussion. But here, it means, “I wish you all the success in
the task ahead. Be at it. I have full confidence that you will succeed – you will realize and
you will be free forever, my son!”
Thus ends Part 3 on Manana, revealing the great power of Discrimination.

END OF PART 3
*****

157
MILESTONES IN SADHANA
(A General Pictorial Map of the Whole Spiritual Path)

DESIRE SCALE MAJOR PHASES & VIVEKA CHOODAMANI


(a rough idea) DIVISIONS MILESTONES REF. & STEPS
PHASE V PARTS 7, 8 & 9
JIVANMUKTI NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI
0% Illumination Full Abidance in Self

5. Sthitaprajna: Attain Steady Wisdom – Zero Vasanas

PHASE IV PARTS 4, 5 & 6


DHYANA YOGA NIDIDHYASANA
Meditation Intermittant Abidance in Self
10 4. Yoga-Roodhah: Complete Mounting* – Quietude, Zero doubts
%
JNANA
PHASE III PART 3
KANDA
JNANA YOGA MANANA
Firm Knowledge Reflect & Enquire
20 3. Yoga-Yuktah: Attain Equipoise – Reduce External Activities
%
PHASE II PART 2
BHAKTI YOGA SRAVANA
Dispassion Receive Knowledge of Self
40 2. Aarurukshah: Start Mounting* – Begin Om Japa
%
PHASE I PART 1
KARMA YOGA GURU UPASADANA
Burn Out Karmas Approach & Serve Guru
60 Jnana Kandi 1. Saadhaka: Renounce fruits of Actions – Reduce Karmas
%

UPASANA SIXFOLD VIRTUES


Devotion & Japa
THE AWAKENING
KANDA

80 Upaasaka Grihasthi & Vanaprasthi: Increase Chitta Shuddhi, Chitta Ekagrata


%
Start Reducing Desire
KARMA PART 1
Perfection in Work
KANDA Secular Studies
THE PREPARATION

100 Karma Kandi Brahmachari in Gurukula: Follow Dharma (Righteous Conduct)


%

158
VIVEKA CHUDAMANI – Vol.2
PART 4: (Verses 225-266, 42 No.)

NIDIDHYASANA 1 – Theoretical Aspects

4.1 THE VISION OF ONENESS


(Verses 225 – 236, 12 No.)

N IDIDHYASANA IS THE THEME of Part 4 and Part 5. It is the step in Vedantic


Sadhana that follows Manana, which follows Sravana. A good way to grasp these three steps
and their interconnection is to see them from the angle of what each stage achieves:

 SRAVANA: Removes Abhavana, or the doubt about the existence of Reality.


 MANANA: Removes Asambhavana, or the doubt whether we can actually attain it.
 NIDIDHYASANA: Removes Viparita Bhavana, or obstructions caused by latent desires.

Nididhyasana is the Vedantic form of meditation in which the meditator always


keeps before him the goal of attaining oneness with the Supreme Reality, Brahman. There is
a Theoretical part to Nididhyasana, dealt with in this Chapter, which concerns getting to
know more about Brahman. There is also the Practical part of Nididhyasana, dealt with in
the next Chapter, which concerns difficulties which one encounters such as the removal of
Viparita Bhavana and the danger of inadvertance.
We begin the theory with the vision of Oneness, the goal of Vedantic meditation.

Verse 225: What is Universal Consciousness?

xÉirÉÇ ¥ÉÉlÉqÉlÉliÉÇ oÉë¼ ÌuÉzÉÑ®Ç mÉUÇ xuÉiÉÈÍxÉ®qÉç |


ÌlÉirÉÉlÉlSæMüUxÉÇ mÉëirÉaÉÍpɳÉÇ ÌlÉUliÉUÇ eÉrÉÌiÉ || 225||

1 satyam jnaanam anantam brahma Brahman is Existence Knowledge Bliss Absolute


2 vishuddham param svatahsiddham; extremely pure, transcendental, self-existing,
3 nitya ananda ekarasam pratyag eternal, indivisible Bliss, from the inner Self
4 abhinnam nirantaram jayati. not different, and ever victorious!

1-4 The opening verse appropriately begins by giving us an idea of who or what
Brahman is. After all, He is to be the subject of our meditation in this entire Part, so we had
better get to know as much about as possible.

159
BRAHMAN – A CONCEPT UNIQUE TO HINDUISM

B RAHMAN IS THE PILLAR upon which the Vedas stand. He is the subject of every
Upanishad. As a concept, He is unique to the Vedic Scriptures. Other than in India, the
equivalent of Brahman in world religious literature is rarely found. The idea of there being a
Reality that is all-pervading, all-knowing, of the nature of Existence, is unique to India.
In addition to there being this Universal Reality called Brahman, it is also stated in
the Vedas that man can attain Brahmanhood, the state of being fully identified with
Brahman, the state of spiritual enlightenment wherein one is no different from Brahman.
Thus, Brahman becomes the goal of spiritual seekers. Some religions consider this to be
blasphemous; they cannot see how the perfect man can be on par with God. This is due to
their narrow definition of God.
Brahman, the Supreme Reality, is the Divine Universal Being as described in this
verse. He is the impersonal Reality which supports everything that is created, subtle or
gross. This impersonality is a problem to other world religions which are built upon a single
Divine Personality who is the sole messenger or Prophet of God. Such a limited idea also
exists within Hinduism, but it subserves and supports the main idea of the impersonal God.
Not only is Brahman of the Upanishads an impersonal transcendental Reality that is
beyond all worldliness, but He is also equally immanent in creation. This means He is also
present within all creation, within every object and living creature. Such a universal concept
of Reality is not to be found in the other religions of the world.

The Religious Hospitality of Hinduism


Due largely to the broad definition of Brahman, Hindus are characteristically a very
large-hearted people and can absorb the ideas of foreign religions into their own quite
comfortably. Their philosophy is so all-encompassing that Hindus are able to accommodate
all other religions. India has been a land of refuge for many religious groups who have been
persecuted elsewhere in the world. Some of these groups have settled in India for many
centuries and become absorbed in Hindu society quite easily.
However, religions which have not been as broad-minded and tolerant as Hinduism
and who have for political reasons retained a strong identity of their own, have hit into
many difficulties in India. Despite Hinduism’s generous spirit of accommodating them, they
have been belligerent towards the religion of the land which has given them refuge when
they were under persecution. Yet, India still sees them as Her children. This is not seen in
other parts of the world, where religious intolerance is practiced openly, and minorities
have to live with strict limitations or leave the country or allow themselves to lose their
identity. India’s large-heartedness stands out in contrast to this.
In India, thanks to the limitlessness of Brahman, this has never happened. No one is
threatened with death for their beliefs, unless they themselves become a threat to others.
India has seen bloodshed in the name of religion only because of the intolerance of religions
having political objectives in view.

160
Verse 226: That SAT (the Reality) Alone Is

xÉÌSSÇ mÉUqÉɲæiÉÇ xuÉxqÉÉSlrÉxrÉ uÉxiÉÑlÉÉåÅpÉÉuÉÉiÉç |


lÉ ½lrÉSÎxiÉ ÌMüÎgcÉiÉç xÉqrÉMçü mÉUqÉÉjÉïiɨuÉoÉÉåkÉSzÉÉrÉÉqÉç || 226||
sat idam parama This Absolute Oneness alone is real,
1
advaitam svasmaad because the Self is one without a second;
2 anyasya vastunah abhaavaat; there is nothing other than the Self.
3 na hi anyat asti kinchit samyak Truly, there is no other independent entity
paramaartha-tattva The supreme Truth is the Principle
4
bodha-dashaayaam. that is to be known and realised..

“Nothing is greater than God; and (in case that seems egoistic to critics) nothing is
lesser than God, too!”
Acharyaji gave a good anecdote of a person who went to his bank to withdraw
money from his own account. Asked for proof of his identity, he pulled out his pocket
mirror, looked into it for a while, then turned to the teller and said, “Yes, it is me. I am the
right person!”
Other than the Absolute, there is nothing else. The theme of “The Vision of Oneness”
is the anthem of Vedanta, its very pulse. In the minds of many people, Vedanta means
Oneness only. That is due to the Reality which is upheld by Vedanta. The Brahman which
Vedanta proclaims is pure Oneness by its very definition.
Before we enter the practical aspects of meditation, it is but proper that we should
clearly understand what is to be meditated upon.

Verse 227: Brahman is the Universe

rÉÌSSÇ xÉMüsÉÇ ÌuɵÉÇ lÉÉlÉÉÃmÉÇ mÉëiÉÏiÉqÉ¥ÉÉlÉÉiÉç |


iÉixÉuÉïÇ oÉë¼æuÉ mÉëirÉxiÉÉzÉåwÉpÉÉuÉlÉÉSÉåwÉqÉç || 227||

1 yat idam sakalam vishvam That which is this entire universe,


naanaa-roopam prateetam appearing in infinite forms
2
ajnaanaat; because of ignorance,
3 tat sarvam brahma eva That is in fact Brahman alone
pratyastaa-sheshha when viewed free from all
4
bhaavanaa-doshham. limitations of thought.

Acharyaji gave a beautiful example to help us grasp the apparent contradiction. A


person goes into a pitch-dark room with a lit Agarbati. He is waving it rapidly in a circular
formation. Another person who enters that darkness sees a circle of light, which we know is
one light but registering rapidly as a series of lights so as to appear as a continuous circle of
light. The second person swears that it is a circle, knowing no better. Only when the incense
is kept still does he see only one point of light.
Similarly, the Many is actually One only, not two or more. Only in appearance do we
see Many.

161
In a room with many mirrors, a person will see a number of ‘himselves’, but he
knows that he is only One. He is like Brahman, and the many images of himself are the
creation in the world. A Vedantic student has to learn to grasp this point thoroughly; the
actual experience of it would, of course, be better.
Names and forms keep changing, but the essential quality of Brahmanhood remains
the same in everything. Here is another example.

Children & Sweets


The children had just returned from an outing with their Dad. They were comparing
what each had bought. Each child had sweets formed into different creatures such as lion,
elephant, rabbit, etc. Dad felt he had to stop the kids from quarreling over the shapes. “They
are all the same; they are just sweets!” he said.
The children wondered what had come over Dad suddenly. He was all right that
morning. What was wrong with him now? The children were not interested in the taste one
bit, they were only carried away by the shapes. It was impossible for Dad to make them
understand his viewpoint as long as they held on to theirs vehemently.
That explains why quarrels take place among people over religion – differing
standpoints, adhered to tenaciously, make a perfect stage for an argumentative display of
verbal fireworks, perhaps even a war!

Verse 228: A Pot is Only Clay

qÉ×iMüÉrÉïpÉÔiÉÉåÅÌmÉ qÉ×SÉå lÉ ÍpɳÉÈ


MÑüqpÉÉåÅÎxiÉ xÉuÉï§É iÉÑ qÉ×ixuÉÃmÉÉiÉç |
lÉ MÑüqpÉÃmÉÇ mÉ×jÉaÉÎxiÉ MÑüqpÉÈ MÑüiÉÉå
qÉ×wÉÉ MüÎsmÉiÉlÉÉqÉqÉɧÉÈ || 228||
mrit kaaryabhootah api Though only a modification of clay,
1
mridah na bhinnah and not really different from clay,
kumbhah asti sarvatra a pot is, in every part of it,
2
tu mritsvaroopaat; indeed, only the form of clay;
na kumbha roopam prithag asti Apart from the form, a pot is nothing else.
3
kumbhah kutah So why call it a pot? (Why not just clay?)
4 mrishhaa kalpita naama maatrah. A false and fancied name it merely is!

1-2 A sage is a sage because he sees the world differently from ordinary men. Where
we see a solid, real object (pot), the sage sees only a form of the Reality (clay) which is
something very different from that form. The clay is in every part of the pot but our deluded
eyes cannot see it. It is what the entire pot is made of, yet it just slips past our vision.
3-4 The falsity of names and forms is brought out in this verse, with a good
smattering on the play of words. The poetic way in which the falsity is brought out is a
lesson in itself. It shows why the objects of the world are held so lightly by a sage. Just as
this verse is a mere jugglery of words, so too, to the sage the world is just a jugglery of
names and forms. We do not see a pot as clay, but as a form. So long as we are carried away
by the name and the form, the Truth of clay will continue to elude us.

162
Verse 229: Pot is an Illusion Caused by Delusion

MåülÉÉÌmÉ qÉ×ΰ³ÉiÉrÉÉ xuÉÃmÉÇ


bÉOûxrÉ xÉlSzÉïÌrÉiÉÑÇ lÉ zÉYrÉiÉå |
AiÉÉå bÉOûÈ MüÎsmÉiÉ LuÉ qÉÉåWûÉ-
lqÉ×SåuÉ xÉirÉÇ mÉUqÉÉjÉïpÉÔiÉqÉç || 229||
kena api mrid-bhinnatayaa Is there anyone to whom, other than as mud,
1
svaroopam ghatasya the essence of a pot as something else
2 sandarshayitum na shakyate; is seen to be? No, it is just not possible!
3 atah ghatah kalpitah eva mohaat So, the pot is a mere illusion due to delusion.
4 mrit eva satyam paramaartha-bhootam. Mud alone is its enduring reality.

To the same simile of pot and clay is now added the dimension of delusion. The
explanation for our attention being arrested by the pot and overlooking the clay is Delusion.
1-2 Can anyone ever make the mistake of thinking that the pot is made of something
other than clay? No, there is not a chance of that happening. It would be an absurd thing to
happen . . . . unless, of course, there is . . .
3-4 . . . the presence of Delusion. Yes, if delusion is there, anything is possible, for
delusion does not see reason. A deluded man can see two where there is only one, he could
see a train moving when really it is standing still and the train adjacent to it is moving.
When a pot is clearly there before the eyes, and one cannot see the clay it is made
of, there is certainly an acute delusion that is causing it.

The Effect of Bhang:


Bhang is a drug that is smoked commonly in India. Its effect is rather peculiar. If one
laughs when taking it, he continues to laugh until the effect is over. If he is crying when
taking it, he continues to cry. One man once took bhang while thinking, “I want to go
home.” He went on saying “I want to go home”. The people around him did not understand
why. They tried asking him where his house was, but, alas, they received only one line from
him, repeatedly. They found his passbook, and traced his home from there. Even when they
deposited him in his home, he went on saying, “I want to go home”.
The father, who in his early years had enough experience with bhang himself, knew
exactly what to do. He got a bucket of cold water and flung it over his drugged son. After a
few minutes the same sentences faded off, “I want…..to……..go….ho….ho…HOME!” And
there the effect of the bhang finally ended.
Delusion is like a dose of bhang. We cannot see Reality until the drug wears out!

Verse 230: Universe is the Illusion

xÉSèoÉë¼MüÉrÉïÇ xÉMüsÉÇ xÉSåuÉÇ


iÉlqÉɧÉqÉåiÉ³É iÉiÉÉåÅlrÉSÎxiÉ |
AxiÉÏÌiÉ rÉÉå uÉÌ£ü lÉ iÉxrÉ qÉÉåWûÉå
ÌuÉÌlÉaÉïiÉÉå ÌlÉÌSìiÉuÉimÉëeÉsmÉÈ || 230||
163
sat brahma-kaaryam sakalam So also, being only the effect of Brahman,
1
sat evam tanmaatram this entire universe itself, in essence,
2 etat na tatah anyat asti; cannot exist apart from Brahman.
asti iti yah vakti Anyone who says that “It (the world) is”
3
na tasya mohah has not come out of delusion yet.
4 vinirgatah nidritavat prajalpah. He twaddles like one who has gone to deep sleep.

The simile is now applied. The technical Samskrit term for simile is Drishtaanta, and
for the application it is Daashtaantika.
1-2 The clay is Brahman and the pot is the entire universe. Just as there can be no
pot without clay, so also, there can be no universe without Brahman, its Substratum.
3-4 If anyone, not recognising Brahman, says that the world is real, he is still in deep
delusion. How can the state of such a person be described? One description is to compare
him to someone who is asleep. To a person who is in sleep, what does it matter what his
bed is made of, or what the colour of his bedsheet is, or even whether he is snoring or not?
He is completely unaware of these things while sleeping.
The man who is still in delusion is just the same; he cannot recognise Brahman!

Verse 231: The Substratum & the Superimposition

oÉë¼æuÉåSÇ ÌuɵÉÍqÉirÉåuÉ uÉÉhÉÏ


´ÉÉæiÉÏ oÉëÔiÉåÅjÉuÉïÌlÉ¸É uÉËU¸É |
iÉxqÉÉSåiÉSèoÉë¼qÉɧÉÇ ÌWû ÌuɵÉÇ
lÉÉÍkɸÉlÉÉΰ³ÉiÉÉÅÅUÉåÌmÉiÉxrÉ || 231||

1 brahma eva idam vishvam iti “This entire universe is Brahman” –


eva vaanee shrautee, broote This is the declaration of the Shrutis;
2
atharva-nishhthaa varishhthaa; It is what the Atharva Veda* emphatically declares.
tasmaat etat brahma-maatram Therefore, Brahman alone is
3
hi vishvam indeed this universe.
na adhishhthaanaat For no superimposition can there be
4
bhinnataa aaropitasya. that is independent of its substratum.
* This is quoted in Mundaka Upanishad, 2.2.11, which is within the Atharva Veda.

1-2 In terms of the argument that is building up, this statement gives the scriptural
side of the argument. It is totally opposite to the viewpoint, “The entire universe is Real,”
which finds no support in the scriptures.
3-4 The scriptures make their claim even stronger by denying the existence of any
“second Brahman”. There can only be one Brahman, one Reality, not two. To fortify this
stand, it is essential, philosophically, to assert that the world is a superimposition, and that
no superimposition can ever be of the same status as the Substratum. On this the scriptures
are as clear as crystal, and unyielding. They cannot afford to yield on this point.

164
Verse 232: Three Defects of Taking World as Real

xÉirÉÇ rÉÌS xrÉÉ‹aÉSåiÉSÉiqÉlÉÉåÅ


lÉliɨuÉWûÉÌlÉÌlÉïaÉqÉÉmÉëqÉÉhÉiÉÉ |
AxÉirÉuÉÉÌSiuÉqÉmÉÏÍzÉiÉÑÈ xrÉÉlÉç-
lÉæåiÉi§ÉrÉÇ xÉÉkÉÑ ÌWûiÉÇ qÉWûÉiqÉlÉÉqÉç || 232||

1 satyam yadi syaat jagat etat If the universe as it is, is regarded as Reality, then:
aatmanah anantattva haanih, i) The Self would lose its infinitude;
2
nigama apramaanataa; ii) The Vedic scriptures would lose their validity;
3 asatya-vaaditvam api eeshituh syaat iii) The Lord will bear the defect of being a liar.
na etat trayam saadhu None of these three is considered acceptable or
4
hitam mahaatmanaam. wholesome by pure-minded souls.

1 The text now moves to consider what will happen to Vedanta’s solid foundation if
the Vedantin becomes careless enough to admit even the tiniest bit of reality to the world.
We have already gone through five levels of falsity: they are form, name,
imagination, delusion and superimposition. After having taken all this trouble, how foolish
would it be to let this foundation slip by simply admitting a fraction of reality to the world!
2-3 This is how Vedanta would be swept off its feet if such a thing were admitted:
Three defects would arise:
i) Brahman will not be Infinite; there will be two or more Realities;
ii) The scriptures will be falsified;
iii) The Lord will have to be called a liar.
In fact, these are actually only one big Defect – it is Absurdity! The “World-is-Real”
view runs totally contrary to the scriptures, contrary to the Lord’s teaching in the Geeta, and
contrary to the view of wise sages. It has to be denied at all costs.
We have just seen that the world is taken to be real because we have given undue
importance to name and form (the pot), and relegated the spiritual basis (the clay) to a
secondary status. Name and form lead to imagination, delusion and superimposition. All
these five levels of falsity go contrary to the principles by which Reality is accepted by wise
ones. Certainly, the scriptures cannot promote superficial values under the guise of Reality.
4 Since these are considered unacceptable charges laid on the Lord, no wise person
will dare to accord the world even the slightest trace of reality.
How does one avoid seeing the world as Reality? A dog can show us how . . .

Feeding the Dog


Imagine we are feeding a dog. We give him roti; he gobbles it up. We give him rotis
of different sizes and shapes; he gobbles them up, too. We try other varieties of food; he
gobbles them up also. The point is that the dog is seeing one thing alone in all of them – he
sees them as FOOD alone. He is not interested in their names, sizes and shapes. We are
talking of an ordinary dog, not a realized dog!
The last verses in this section bring the “World is Real” case to a fitting closure.

165
Verse 233: The Lord’s Words in the Geeta

DµÉUÉå uÉxiÉÑiɨuÉ¥ÉÉå lÉ cÉÉWÇû iÉåwuÉuÉÎxjÉiÉÈ |


lÉ cÉ qÉixjÉÉÌlÉ pÉÔiÉÉlÉÏirÉåuÉqÉåuÉ urÉcÉÏYsÉ×mÉiÉç || 233||

1 eeshvarah vastu-tattvajnah The Lord knows the secret of all things:


2 na cha aham teshhu avasthitah; “But I do not live in them…”,
3 na cha matsthaani bhootaani “Nor do beings exist in Me.”
4 iti evam eva vyacheeklripat. These words from the Gita, support His view.

The previous verse is substantiated in this verse by quoting the Bhagavad Geeta. The
“World-is-True” view is being refuted by taking a closer look at each of the three defects.

Lord Krishna’s Declaration


The Lord, as the knower of both, the Reality of Brahman as well as the Unreality of
the world, is in the best position to give the true verdict on them. He says “I (meaning
Himself as the Reality) am not in them (meaning the things of this world), nor are they in
Me.” These apparently contradictory words of the Lord are explained by sages as follows:
2 “I am not in them” – Brahman is not in the joys and sorrows experienced by man in
the world through his body and mind. The train of vanity behind the world is rejected.
3 “They are not in Me” – because ‘they’ are not really there; they only appear to be
there. They are not real objects, but only apparent in nature, superimposed on Brahman.
Brahman is not affected by them one bit. The unreality of the world is not accepted.
The only relationship acceptable between World and Brahman is superimposition
and Substratum. A thing that is superimposed can have no reality in itself.

Verse 234: Universe is False & Unreal

rÉÌS xÉirÉÇ pÉuÉå̲µÉÇ xÉÑwÉÑmiÉÉuÉÑmÉsÉprÉiÉÉqÉç |


rɳÉÉåmÉsÉprÉiÉå ÌMüÎgcÉSiÉÉåÅxÉixuÉmlÉuÉlqÉ×wÉÉ || 234||

1 yadi satyam bhavet vishvam If the universe were true, it would have
2 sushhuptau upalabhyataam; been perceived even in the deep sleep state.
3 yat na upalabhyate kinchid As it is not at all perceived there,
4 atah asat svapnavat mrishhaa. it must be, like dream, false and unreal.

1-4 All the three defects arise due to taking the world as being real. In this verse this
view is directly refuted by proving that the world is not constantly present. It is absent in the
deep sleep state, partially present in dream, and fully present only in the waking state. A
candidate for Reality has to be uniformly present under all situations.
Even in the waking state, the world is changing all the time. Hence, its true
assessment is that it can have only “dream” reality. The world is to be considered only as a
dream, nothing more and nothing less.

166
Verse 235: A Superimposition Cannot be Independent

AiÉÈ mÉ×jÉXçlÉÉÎxiÉ eÉaÉimÉUÉiqÉlÉÈ


mÉ×jÉYmÉëiÉÏÌiÉxiÉÑ qÉ×wÉÉ aÉÑhÉÉÌSuÉiÉç |
AÉUÉåÌmÉiÉxrÉÉÎxiÉ ÌMüqÉjÉïuɨÉÉ-
ÅÍkɸÉlÉqÉÉpÉÉÌiÉ iÉjÉÉ pÉëqÉåhÉ || 235||
atah prithak na asti jagat Since the world does not exist independent
1
paraatmanah of the Supreme Self;
prithak prateetih tu mrishhaa the notion of its separateness is as false,
2
gunaadivat; as that of Reality possessing any “qualities”.
3 aaropitasya asti kim arthavattaa Can there be an independent superimposition?
adhishhthaanam aabhaati In fact, the substratum is itself mistaken
4
tathaa bhramena. to be a superimposition, through delusion!

This verse refutes the “World-is-True” theory outright. It is the climax of the
argument. Some opposition may still say, “Okay, let it be considered inferior in status to
Brahman. We don’t mind that. But at the least you cannot deny that it exists. Surely you
have to agree on this point.”
1 The Vedantin can sense that if the opponent is given an inch in this matter, he will
take a yard! The moment even some reality is conceded to the world, the opponent will
claim everything in favour of the world. The Vedantin has to emphatically deny the world all
status of reality. There cannot be another entity that can claim reality with Brahman,
neither an “inferior reality” nor a “separate reality”. If there is, soon it will be argued to be
another parallel ‘Brahman’. That is inevitable in philosophy.
2 Hence the Vedantin puts forth his counter argument: “No, not even a separate
existence for the world. To give it any existence at all would be as foolish as ascribing any
qualities or properties on Brahman. We know that that will be your next step.
3 “We are sorry to tell you that there simply cannot be an independent
superimposition. To have such a thing would be as ludicrous as to have a Substratum that is
dependent on its superimposition!” No, the World cannot be given the status of being even
separate from Brahman.
4 The error that was predicted in verse 231, is now presented by the text itself:
Under delusion only is it possible not only to see the world as being real, but to see
Brahman as being superimposed upon it! What an advanced stage of delusion must that be!
Thus we are advised by the Vedantic sage never to see the world as being real.

Verse 236: Deluded View of World

pÉëÉliÉxrÉ rɱSèpÉëqÉiÉÈ mÉëiÉÏiÉÇ


oÉë¼æuÉ iɨÉSìeÉiÉÇ ÌWû zÉÑÌ£üÈ |
CSliÉrÉÉ oÉë¼ xÉSæuÉ ÃmrÉiÉå
iuÉÉUÉåÌmÉiÉÇ oÉë¼ÍhÉ lÉÉqÉqÉɧÉqÉç || 236||

167
bhraantasya yat yat To a deluded man, whatever he perceives,
1
bhramatah prateetam appears to him as a delusion;
brahma eva tat tat rajatam Even Brahman Himself and all that is true,
2
hi shuktih; appears only as the silver in a mother-of-pearl.
idantayaa brahma sat eva All this, which in reality is Brahman or truth,
3
roopyate appears only as a form (as this world);
tu aaropitam brahmani Everything that is merely superimposed on Brahman,
4
naama-maatram. appears only as name.

This is the final take on the Vision of Oneness.


1-2 To one who is deluded, and that means to the majority of us, whatever we see is
a delusion. Even Brahman Himself, if He had a form, will only appear as a form – yes, a
beautiful, shining form, but only a form. In delusion, we cannot expect anything more.
3-4 The delusion permits only name and form to filter through to our mind and
intellect. That is the tragedy of perception. We see only the superficial form, denoted by an
airy name. It is this fundamental error of perception that we hope to correct through
meditation in the Nididhyasana stage of Sadhana.

Meditation Redefined
Nididhyasana is meditation with a distinct Vedantic tilt to it. That tilt is to ensure that
we keep our intellect focussed on the Reality. This is why in this first chapter it is very
important that we clearly differentiated between the World and Brahman. If we see the
world as name and form, we are bound to be staggered by the multiplicity. If we see the
World as a manifestation of Brahman, then alone can we hope to obtain a vision of Oneness
in and through the World.
The sole obstacle in our perception of Oneness is Delusion. That is what this Chapter
has been trying to make us aware of. This concluding verse summarises the predicament
facing the spiritual seeker of Truth. As long as we are captivated by the external glitter of
the ‘mother-of-pearl’ so long we are to understand that we are still gripped by delusion.
The practice of Nididhyasana can become fruitful only when we are free from the
influence of name and form as we encounter it in the external world. That is the starting
point of Nididhyasana. It is a huge pre-qualification. It has to be – the prize is so huge!
If the prize is worth it, so is the pre-qualification for it.

*****

168
4.2 THE NATURE OF BRAHMAN
(Verses 237 – 240, 4 No.)

BRAHMAN IS THE REALITY. That Reality, we are told, cannot be seen with the
senses. We cannot see Brahman as we may see and feel a fruit in the palm of our hand.
Such being the case, to whom do we turn to find out more about Brahman? Some help is
needed so that at least we know how we may recognise Him during our meditation.
This Chapter provides a basic framework about the Nature of Brahman. When we
count the items listed in the next four verses, it comes to 25. Of what significance is that? –
absolutely no significance; how can the Infinite Brahman ever be described in one word, let
alone 25? Understanding Brahman is not a numerical accomplishment. At the end of this
chapter, we will not be able to say, “I know 25 times more about Brahman than when I
started.”
What we can say, however, is this: “By the Grace of a great Teacher and spiritual
Master, I have been given 25 opportunities to focus my intellect on a very abstract Reality of
which I know very little at present.”
These 25 opportunities, if taken in the spirit in which they have been given by Sri
Shankaracharyaji, are so many pointers to keep our focus on Brahman and to discover Him
within during the course of meditation. We can even view them as 25 implements kept in
the foyer of our meditation room. We pick up one of them before entering the room, and
use it during our meditation to dig out the ‘heaps of rubble’ that have piled up in our mind.
As we progress through these 25 opportunities or implements, with humility and
prayer to the Divine for His guidance, our intellect will gain more clarity of the Reality we are
seeking. That will certainly make our meditation more and more effective day by day.

Verse 237: Defining Characteristics of Reality, 1-7

AiÉÈ mÉUÇ oÉë¼ xÉS̲iÉÏrÉÇ


ÌuÉzÉÑ®ÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉbÉlÉÇ ÌlÉUgeÉlÉqÉç |
mÉëzÉÉliÉqÉɱliÉÌuÉWûÏlÉqÉÌ¢ürÉÇ
ÌlÉUliÉUÉlÉlSUxÉxuÉÃmÉqÉç || 237||
atah param brahma So then, the Supreme Brahman is:
1
sat adviteeyam 1. the non-dual Reality;
vishuddha-vijnaana-ghanam 2. Full of pure knowledge that lights up the Essence
2
niranjanam; of all things; 3. it is taintless;
prashaantam aadi-anta- 4. supreme peace; 5. timeless, without beginning
3
viheenam akriyam or end, and 6. actionless (free of all activity).
4 nirantara aananda-rasa-svaroopam. 7. It is always of the nature of Absolute Bliss.

169
Verse 238: Characteristics Contd., 8-17

ÌlÉUxiÉqÉÉrÉÉM×üiÉxÉuÉïpÉåSÇ
ÌlÉirÉÇ xÉÑZÉÇ ÌlÉwMüsÉqÉmÉëqÉårÉqÉç |
AÃmÉqÉurÉ£üqÉlÉÉZrÉqÉurÉrÉÇ
erÉÉåÌiÉÈ xuÉrÉÇ ÌMüÎgcÉÌSSÇ cÉMüÉÎxiÉ || 238||

1 nirasta maayaakrita sarva-bhedam 8. It Transcends Maya and all Her diversities;


nityam sukham nishhkalam 9. Eternal; 10. the essence of Joy; 11. Indivisible;
2
aprameyam; aroopam avyaktam 12. Immeasurable; 13. Formless; 14. Unmanifest;
3 anaakhyam avyayam 15. Nameless; 16. Immutable (Homogenous);
jyotih svayam 17. Self-effulgent;
4
kinchit idam chakaasti. Whatever is manifested is That only.

Verse 239: Characteristics Contd. 18-22

¥ÉÉiÉ×¥ÉårÉ¥ÉÉlÉzÉÔlrÉqÉlÉliÉÇ ÌlÉÌuÉïMüsmÉMüqÉç |
MåüuÉsÉÉZÉhQûÍcÉlqÉɧÉÇ mÉUÇ iɨuÉÇ ÌuÉSÒoÉÑïkÉÉÈ || 239||
jnaatru-jneya-jnaana-shoonyam 18. Free from the Triads or distinctions of knower,
1
the known and knowledge;
2 anantam nirvikalpakam; 19. Infinite; 20. Transcendental;
3 kevala akhanda chinmaatram 21. Pure; 22. Indivisible; 2. Absolute Knowledge.
4 param tattvam vidurbudhaah. Such is the Supreme Truth sages have realized.

Verse 240: Characteristics Contd. 23-25

AWåûrÉqÉlÉÑmÉÉSårÉÇ qÉlÉÉåuÉÉcÉÉqÉaÉÉåcÉUqÉç |
AmÉëqÉårÉqÉlÉɱliÉÇ oÉë¼ mÉÔhÉïqÉWÇû qÉWûÈ || 240||
aheyam It can 23. neither be rejected, diminished or subtracted;
1
anupaadeyam 24. nor accepted, accumulated or added;
2 mano-vaachaam agocharam; 25. beyond the limits of mind and speech;
3 aprameyam anaadi-antam 12. Immeasurable; 5. without beginning and end;
brahma poornam Such is the All-full Brahman or Reality;
4
aham mahah. such is the glorious Self or Atman, the true “I”!

In these verses, we are told how the sages of realization see Brahman – with no
sense of distinction any more in their vision. When we have completed the whole process of
negation and there is nothing more to be “rejected or accepted”, then we come face to face
with our real nature, the Self. But it is impossible to express its glory.
All these terms indicate the Atman. Swami Chinmayanandaji considers them to be:
“twenty-five exercises in deep meditation for developed Sadhakas. None of them defines

170
Reality, but each one suggests and directly points out the essential Self behind the mind and
its agitations.”
Acharyaji said:

“The eye that sees Him has no tongue to describe him; and the
tongue which can speak of Him has not seen Him.”

“Brahman misrepresented by our misconception is the ‘world’.

The 25 pointers given above, and the many more that can be conceived to convey
the same idea of Brahman, are a meeting point between Vedanta and Zen Buddhism. There
may be differences, of course, but differences are not as constructive as similarities to a
spiritual seeker. Vedanta echoes the truths discovered through any other path open to
spiritual seekers.

*****

The “Eyes of Meditation”

171
4.3 “TAT TWAM ASI” MAHAVAKYA
(Verses 241 – 249, 9 No.)

AN IMPORTANT THEORETICAL point is now brought into the discussion that assists
the seeker during the Nididhyasana stage of his Sadhana. We have been made aware that
Oneness with Reality is the goal of Vedantic meditation. How is Oneness attained in
practice? Some theoretical help on this matter is now given.
The Upanishads have many terse sayings in them called Mahavakyas, meaning
“Great Sentences”. Every Mahavakya expresses the same idea of Oneness with slight
variations. In this Chapter we are going to take up the Mahavakya “Tat Twam Asi”, which
means “That Thou Art”, and occurs in the Chhandogya Upanishad. We shall explore it to find
out what exactly it teaches us about attaining Oneness.
Explanations on Tat Twam Asi are found in many texts. A simple version is in Tattwa
Bodha; a more detailed one in Vedanta Sara; a practical one is in Chhandogya Upanishad,
Chapter 6 itself; Sri Shankaracharyaji himself has written a very detailed one in Vakya Vritti.
All these are a part of the Sandeepany Course.
Upon grasping this intellectually, we shall be in a better position to keep focussed in
our meditational practices. Theory and practice are thus made to work hand in hand.

Verse 241: The Mahavakya “That Thou Art” – an Overview

iɨuÉqmÉSÉprÉÉqÉÍpÉkÉÏrÉqÉÉlÉrÉÉåÈ
oÉë¼ÉiqÉlÉÉåÈ zÉÉåÍkÉiÉrÉÉårÉïSÏijÉqÉç |
´ÉÑirÉÉ iÉrÉÉåxiɨuÉqÉxÉÏÌiÉ xÉqrÉaÉç
LMüiuÉqÉåuÉ mÉëÌiÉmÉɱiÉå qÉÑWÒûÈ || 241 ||
tat-tvam-padaabhyaam By the terms TAT ‘That’ and TWAM ‘Thou’
1
abhidheeyamaanayoh are indicated respectively two technical principles:
brahma aatmanoh Ishwara, the macrocosm, and Jiva, the microcosm.
2
shodhitayoh yat eettham; When their conditionings are eliminated in a way that
shrutyaa tayoh the Shrutis prescribe, i.e. by taking their absolute or
3
tat-tvam-asi iti samyag implied meanings, then “TAT-TWAM-ASI” refers to:
ekatvam eva Brahman as the common identity (between Ishwara
4
pratipaadyate muhuh. and Jiva). This is established by repeated practice.

1-2 That refers to Ishwara, the Universal Soul; This to Jiva, the individual soul. These
are the two technical entities that are seen initially in contrast to each other, but when the
superimpositions are removed, their Substratum, viz. Brahman, is seen to be the same.
3-4 Removal of the superimpositions is done in accordance with the scriptures. By
developing a firm conviction of the resulting identity, one gets established in it.

172
Verse 242: Remove the Contradictory Qualities

LYrÉÇ iÉrÉÉåsÉïͤÉiÉrÉÉålÉï uÉÉcrÉrÉÉåÈ


ÌlÉaɱiÉåÅlrÉÉålrÉÌuÉ®kÉÍqÉïhÉÉåÈ |
ZɱÉåiÉpÉÉluÉÉåËUuÉ UÉeÉpÉ×irÉrÉÉåÈ
MÔümÉÉqoÉÑUÉzrÉÉåÈ mÉUqÉÉhÉÑqÉåuÉÉåïÈ || 242||
ekyam tayoh lakshhitayoh na The identity applies to their implied meanings,
1
vaachyayoh not their literal meanings;
nigadyate anyonya viruddha The latter inculcates mutually contradictory or
2
dharminoh; opposite attributes between the two;
khadyota bhaanvoh iva For example, between the glow-worm and the sun;
3
raajabhrityayoh or between the king and his servants;
koopaamburaashyoh or between a well and the ocean;
4
paramaanumervoh. or between a tiny atom and Mount Meru.

The example of concentric circles is used to illustrate how Ishwara and Jiva are
identical in essence. From the same centre point, a small circle is the Jiva’s superimposition,
and a large circle is Ishwara’s superimposition. If we ignore the circles and consider only
their centres, both are identical. All their essential properties lie at the centre.
1-2 The literal meanings of Ishwara and Jiva are quite contradictory. Ishwara is the
omniscient Lord of Creation, and Jiva is steeped in ignorance and a slave of Maya. There is
no similarity seen in the literal meanings, only contradictions. But the implied meanings of
both are the same, viz. Brahman. Identity applies only to their implied meanings.
3-4 Four examples from Nature illustrate the same contrast. There are many other
instances in ordinary life when without a thought we shift from literal to implied meaning. A
person says, “I flew in yesterday”; he means he flew by plane, not as a bird on wings.
Another says, “He is a lion among men”; he means certain superior qualities, not that he has
actually become a lion.

Verse 243: The Conditionings are Different & Unreal

iÉrÉÉåÌuÉïUÉåkÉÉåÅrÉqÉÑmÉÉÍkÉMüÎsmÉiÉÉå
lÉ uÉÉxiÉuÉÈ MüͶÉSÒmÉÉÍkÉUåwÉÈ |
DzÉxrÉ qÉÉrÉÉ qÉWûSÉÌSMüÉUhÉÇ
eÉÏuÉxrÉ MüÉrÉïÇ zÉ×hÉÑ mÉgcÉMüÉåzÉqÉç || 243||
tayoh virodhah ayam The difference between them is only
1
upaadhi-kalpitah created by the superimposed Upadhi or conditioning.
na vaastavah kashchit In both cases, ‘Not Real’ are
2
upaadhih eshhah; these superimposed conditionings:
eeshasya maayaa In the case of Ishwara, the conditioning is Maya (predomi-
3
mahad-aadi kaaranam nantly Sattwic), resulting in creating the vast universe;
jeevasya kaaryam shrinu in the case of Jiva, the conditioning is Avidya, resulting in –
4
panchakosham. listen to this – the five sheaths that compose man.

173
1 Upadhis are one’s paraphernalia. A man in his office is not the same at home.
2 The superimpositions may be seen as being created of three threads of cotton
each of a different colour: the black thread of Tamas, the red thread of Rajas and the white
thread of Sattwa. Weaved from these three threads is every item of creation in all its
variety. When we are dismantling the superimpositions, we shift from the coloured cloth, to
the coloured threads, then from the colour to the cotton itself, and there we find that both
are made of the same stuff.
3 Here the conditionings or Upadhis are compared. Ishwara’s Upadhi is Maya, which
is Sattwa predominant and so it produces this vast, pure creation.
4 Jiva’s Upadhi is Avidya, which is predominantly Rajasic and Tamasic, and this
produces the five sheaths which constitute the human being.

Verse 244: Eliminating the Conditionings

LiÉÉuÉÑmÉÉkÉÏ mÉUeÉÏuÉrÉÉåxiÉrÉÉåÈ
xÉqrÉÎXçlÉUÉxÉå lÉ mÉUÉå lÉ eÉÏuÉÈ |
UÉerÉÇ lÉUålSìxrÉ pÉOûxrÉ ZÉåOûMü-
xiÉrÉÉåUmÉÉåWåû lÉ pÉOûÉå lÉ UÉeÉÉ || 244||
etau upaadhee These two superimpositions
1
parajeevayoh tayoh of Ishwara and Jiva respectively,
samyak niraase when they are completely eliminated,
2
na parah na jeevah; there is neither Ishwara nor Jiva;
raajyam narendrasya Compare this to: When the kingdom of the King
3
bhatasya khetakah and the shield of the soldier –
tayoh apohe when both these are taken away,
4
na bhatah na raajaa. there is neither the soldier nor the King.

1 The two superimpositions can be thought of as two masks, worn by Brahman.


When Brahman wears a white mask made of Maya or Sattwa, He appears as Ishwara. When
He wears a black mask made of Avidya or Tamas, He appears as the Jiva.
2 If the masks are removed, then Brahman alone remains in both cases – there is no
more Ishwara or Jiva, for both require their respective masks.
3-4 A mundane example is given of a King and a soldier. If the kingdom is taken away
from the King, he is just like any other man. If the shield is taken away from the soldier, he,
too, is just like any other man. They are no different without their respective ‘claddings’.

Verse 245: Following the Authority of Shrutis

AjÉÉiÉ AÉSåzÉ CÌiÉ ´ÉÑÌiÉÈ xuÉrÉÇ


ÌlÉwÉåkÉÌiÉ oÉë¼ÍhÉ MüÎsmÉiÉÇ ²rÉqÉç |
´ÉÑÌiÉmÉëqÉÉhÉÉlÉÑaÉ×WûÏiÉoÉÉåkÉÉiÉç-
iÉrÉÉåÌlÉïUÉxÉÈ MüUhÉÏrÉ LuÉ || 245||
174
atha atah aadeshah iti “Now, in the injunction…”, etc., in these words
1
shrutih svayam the Scriptures themselves
nishhedhati brahmani reject having in Brahman
2
kalpitam dvayam; any form of an imagined duality.
shruti-pramaana When the authority of the scriptures
3
anugriheeta bodhaat is supported by a sound knowledge of them,
tayoh niraasah then the elimination of the conditionings
4
karaneeya eva. should most certainly be done.

1 The injunction referred to here comes from the Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad, II-3.6.
The quotation starts with, “Now then is the injunction . . .” The point for us to note is simply
that there is a prescribed way to analyse meanings and accept or eliminate them which is
given in the scriptures. It cannot be done willy-nilly, without following any set rules.
This is as we accept in many other worldly situations. A judge in the law courts has to
make his decision strictly in accordance with the laws of the land, not give his own opinion.
2 The rejection procedure is based on the principle that Brahman cannot have any
Duality as He is declared to be Non-dual in the scriptures. There is no argument over this.
3-4 The scriptural rule itself does not simply come about out of someone’s fanciful
whim. The experiences of numerous sages and Rishis is taken into account and their reports
regarding their realisation of Brahman confirms that Brahman is Non-dual. The opinion of
the majority of men is unreliable in this case where we are dealing with specialised
knowledge. In spiritual matters, the consensus of spiritually advanced souls is what matters.
It is the same in mundane matters. When one encounters a problem in the
construction of a dam, the opinion of professional engineers is sought, not that of any Tom,
Dick or Harry!

Verse 246: The “Neti-Neti” Negation Method

lÉåSÇ lÉåSÇ MüÎsmÉiÉiuÉÉ³É xÉirÉÇ


U‹ÑSعurÉÉsÉuÉixuÉmlÉuÉŠ |
CijÉÇ SØzrÉÇ xÉÉkÉÑrÉÑYirÉÉ urÉmÉÉå½
¥ÉårÉÈ mɶÉÉSåMüpÉÉuÉxiÉrÉÉårÉïÈ || 246||
na idam na idam Neti-Neti – “neither this (gross), nor this (subtle)” –
1
kalpitatvaat na satyam being products of the imagination, neither are real.
rajju drishhta vyaalavat They are like a snake seen in the rope,
2
svapnavat cha; or like a dream – both being unreal;
ittham drishyam saadhu Thus, by a perfect analysis of the objective world
3
yuktyaa vyapohya and elimination of it by reasoning,
jneyah pashchaat one thereby comes to realise
4
eka bhaavah tayoh yah. that Oneness which underlies the Jiva and Ishwara.

1 The same verse that has been quoted above, contains the method Neti Neti or ‘not
this, not this’. This refers to how and why the elimination of literal meanings is done.

175
The Upadhis, whether gross like the body or subtle like the mind, are both to be
rejected as they are both equally unreal.
2 The snake seen in a rope is unreal and can, therefore, be rejected. A dream is
unreal and is rejected upon awakening. These are ordinary examples of the same rule.
3-4 When this principle is extended to reject the whole external gross world as well
as the whole mental world, then we finally arrive at the realisation of Oneness underlying
both Ishwara and Jiva. It is a perfectly scientific approach. There is nothing miraculous about
this conclusion. It makes perfect logical sense.
The practical problem encountered is man’s reluctance to ‘let go’ of the external and
the internal comforts that he has got used to. That is a separate issue, not a logical problem.
That issue is dealt with later in the text as we progress to the practical aspect of
Nididhyasana. For now, we consider only the logical necessity of rejecting all that is unreal.

Verse 247: The Indicative (Implied) Meanings Taken

iÉiÉxiÉÑ iÉÉæ sɤÉhÉrÉÉ xÉÑsɤrÉÉæ


iÉrÉÉåUZÉhQæûMüUxÉiuÉÍxÉ®rÉå |
lÉÉsÉÇ eÉWûirÉÉ lÉ iÉjÉÉÅeÉWûirÉÉ
ÌMüliÉÔpÉrÉÉjÉÉïÎiqÉMürÉæuÉ pÉÉurÉqÉç || 247||
tatah tu tau lakshhanayaa Therefore, the two terms should be carefully
1
sulakshhyau considered through their indicative meanings,
tayoh akhanda in order that their absolute
2
ekarasatva-siddhaye; identity can be established.
na alam jahatyaa Neither “the method of total rejection”,
3
na tathaa ajahatyaa nor “the method of complete retention” will suffice.
kintu ubhaya-artha- But by a combined process of both,
4
atmikaya eva bhaavyam. should the solution be reasoned out.

1 Having scientifically come to the logical conclusion of rejecting the outer world
from being taken into consideration, we now turn to the implied meanings of both.
2 What do we find after removing the two masks? We find that both are nothing but
Brahman Himself! This is clear proof that there is identity at the Absolute level, if we can
succeed in eliminating the contradictions at the external and mental levels.
3-4 At this point, some very complex procedures have been worked out by serious
logicians based on pure logic, grammar rules, etc. We shall not go into those details here.
For those who are interested, the texts mentioned at the start of the chapter can be
referred. Here we need only know that after an exhaustive analysis, it is finally shown that
Ishwara and Jiva can be seen to be identical based on the combined process of rejection of
literal meanings and acceptance of implied meanings.
This is as far as we need go regarding the logical proof required for “Tat Twam Asi”,
the great Mahavakya of the Vedic texts, found in the Chhandogya Upanishad, by which
spiritual seekers obtain the necessary intellectual conviction of the validity of pursuing the
goal of attaining identity with Brahman. Without this conviction, the effort appears vain.

176
Verse 248: Example: “This is that Devadatta”

xÉ SåuÉS¨ÉÉåÅrÉÍqÉiÉÏWû cÉæMüiÉÉ
ÌuÉ®kÉqÉÉïÇzÉqÉmÉÉxrÉ MüjrÉiÉå |
rÉjÉÉ iÉjÉÉ iɨuÉqÉxÉÏÌiÉuÉÉYrÉå
ÌuÉ®kÉqÉÉïlÉÑpÉrÉ§É ÌWûiuÉÉ || 248||
sah devadattah ayam iti “This is that Devadatta” –
1
iha cha ekataa this sentence indicates an identity:
viruddha dharmaamsham Contradictory portions of qualities
2
apaasya kathyate; are eliminated in order to bring out the identity.
yathaa tathaa In the same manner,
3
tat tvam asi iti vaakye in the statement, “That Thou Art”,
viruddha dharmaan the contradictory elements
4 ubhayatra hitvaa. on both sides (‘That’ and ‘Thou’) have to be given up.
(Then the identity of Ishwara and Jiva is recognised.)

Verse 249: The Truth Lies in the Essence of Both

xÉÇsɤrÉ ÍcÉlqÉɧÉiÉrÉÉ xÉSÉiqÉlÉÉåÈ


AZÉhQûpÉÉuÉÈ mÉËUcÉÏrÉiÉå oÉÑkÉæÈ |
LuÉÇ qÉWûÉuÉÉYrÉzÉiÉålÉ MüjrÉiÉå
oÉë¼ÉiqÉlÉÉåUæYrÉqÉZÉhQûpÉÉuÉÈ || 249||
samlakshhya chinmaatra- One carefully notes that Knowledge Absolute
1
tayaa sadaatmanoh is the essence of both.
akhandabhaavah The indivisible essence, i.e. Jiva = Brahman,
2
paricheeyate budhaih; is recognised by the wise.
evam mahaavaakya shatena In this way, there are scriptural declarations
3
kathyate by the hundreds which express
brahmaatmanoh aikyam the identity between Ishwara and Jiva,
4
akhandabhaavah. and reveal their complete Oneness in essence.

The above two verses bring us to the theoretical conclusion we desired. Now it
remains for us, the seekers, to ‘gird up our loins’ and take up seriously the spiritual practice
of Nididhyasana or Vedantic meditation with greater faith and conviction.
We may compare our approach to that used in other secular fields: One who is a
vegetarian has a natural repulsion to eating meat. A scientist has a natural respect for logic,
regardless of the source it comes from. A music lover adores music, regardless of who the
musician may be. This desire for Truth, which is inborn, is brought to bear in the process of
overcoming the superimpositions and establishing identity or Oneness with Brahman.

*****

177
4.4 BALANCING “THIS” WITH “THAT”
(Verses 250 – 253, 4 No.)

WHAT WE HAVE LEARNT from the “Tat Twam Asi” Mahavakya is now applied to
our day-to-day life. We learnt that Jiva and Ishwara were simply the result of their
respective Upadhis. If that idea is extended to everything in the world, then it is not too
difficult for us to grasp that the World, too, is what it is because of the masks worn by every
object and every creature in it. If I am Brahman, so is my neighbour.
From this fact alone dawns the knowledge that the entire world phenomenon is
nothing but Brahman, if we look beyond its masks. Our whole attitude towards the world
becomes one of reverence and adoration; we see it in an unselfish way. This is the attitude
with which we are to interact with the world, including our ‘inner world’ in meditation.
The world is seen not as an enemy of our spiritual life, but as a means for us to grow
spiritually. The world is not rejected as we would reject a rotten fruit from our pantry. On
the contrary we will not wish to change it. We accept it as it is, without adding to it any of
our own likes and dislikes. The world viewed thus loses its power to enslave us; instead, we
respect it and are thankful to it for effecting our rapid evolution by interacting with it.

Verse 250: Let the “Not-Self” Point Out the Self

AxjÉÔsÉÍqÉirÉåiÉSxÉͳÉUxrÉ
ÍxÉ®Ç xuÉiÉÉå urÉÉåqÉuÉSmÉëiÉYrÉïqÉç |
AiÉÉå qÉ×wÉÉqÉɧÉÍqÉSÇ mÉëiÉÏiÉÇ
eÉWûÏÌWû rÉixuÉÉiqÉiÉrÉÉ aÉ×WûÏiÉqÉç |
oÉë¼ÉWûÍqÉirÉåuÉ ÌuÉzÉÑ®oÉÑSèkrÉÉ
ÌuÉή xuÉqÉÉiqÉÉlÉqÉZÉhQûoÉÉåkÉqÉç || 250||
asthoolam iti etat “It is not gross, etc.,” –
1
asat nirasya discard the Not-Self in the light of such passages;
siddham svatah Become Self-established,
2
vyomavat apratarkyam; unattached like the sky, beyond the pale of thought.
atah mrishhaamaatram Therefore, consider as being illusory,
3
idam prateetam ‘This’, i.e. all that is perceived by the senses,
jaheehi yat svaatmatayaa negate ‘This’ which as your own Self
4
griheetam; you have come to accept;
brahma aham iti eva “I am Brahman” – thus alone
5
vishuddha-buddhyaa consider yourself to be, having purified your mind;
viddhi svam aatmaanam and thereby realise your own true Self,
6
akhanda-bodham. as ‘That’ Conscious Principle which is Absolute.

178
There are two simultaneous shifts in our identity. The first is detaching oneself from
the not-Self; the second is attaching oneself to the Brahman that remains. One is
renunciation, the other is an acceptance. One creates a vaccuum, the other fills it.
Gradually, the idea is to allow Brahman to replace every “I”-thought in the mind.
There is a fable about Robin Hood. It is said that he robbed the rich and gave to the
poor, trying to correct the imbalance. The spiritual seeker is doing something similar. He is
taking away the excessive attention given to his material aspect, and adding it to his spiritual
aspect which has hitherto been neglected, thereby balancing the two.

Verse 251: Let the Universe Remind us of Brahman

qÉ×iMüÉrÉïÇ xÉMüsÉÇ bÉOûÉÌS xÉiÉiÉÇ , qÉ×lqÉɧÉqÉåuÉÉÌWûiÉÇ


iɲixÉ‹ÌlÉiÉÇ xÉSÉiqÉMüÍqÉSÇ , xÉlqÉɧÉqÉåuÉÉÎZÉsÉqÉç |
rÉxqÉɳÉÉÎxiÉ xÉiÉÈ mÉUÇ ÌMüqÉÌmÉ iÉiÉç , xÉirÉÇ xÉ AÉiqÉÉ xuÉrÉÇ
iÉxqÉɨɨuÉqÉÍxÉ mÉëzÉÉliÉqÉqÉsÉÇ , oÉë¼É²rÉÇ rÉimÉUqÉç || 251||
mritkaaryam sakalam All the effects or modifications of mud,
1 ghataadi satatam, such as the pot, etc,
mrit-maatram eva aahitam are accepted without question as mud alone.
tadvat sad-janitam So too this universe: It is born of Existence alone,
2 sad-aatmakam idam, it is of the nature of Existence,
sad-maatram eva akhilam; and will ever be entirely Existence alone.
yasmaat na asti satah param Since there is nothing other than Reality,
3 kim api tat, and whatever there is existing is That,
satyam sah aatmaa svayam one’s very own Self also has to be That Reality.
tasmaat tat-tvam-asi Therefore, the “That Thou Art” experience
4 prashaantam amalam, makes one utterly serene and free of all blemish;
brahma advayam yat param. one becomes the non-dual, supreme Reality!

1 We do not argue against the fact that pots are clay (mud) and clay alone, do we?
2 So too, why argue against the fact that the objects of the world are also nothing
but Existence? There is Existence alone in the world, as there is clay alone in pots.
3 Now comes an interesting extension of this thought. Since whatever exists is
nothing but the Reality, can we not also see that we (our soul) also must be the Reality?
4 This is the “Tat Twam Asi” experience. It makes us “serene and free of blemish”. It
is the perfect balancing act between “This” and “That”.

Verse 252: Let the World be Seen as a Dream Only

ÌlÉSìÉMüÎsmÉiÉSåzÉMüÉsÉÌuÉwÉrÉ- , ¥ÉɧÉÉÌS xÉuÉïÇ rÉjÉÉ


ÍqÉjrÉÉ iɲÌSWûÉÌmÉ eÉÉaÉëÌiÉ eÉaÉiÉç , xuÉÉ¥ÉÉlÉMüÉrÉïiuÉiÉÈ |
rÉxqÉÉSåuÉÍqÉSÇ zÉUÏUMüUhÉ- , mÉëÉhÉÉWûqÉɱmrÉxÉiÉç
iÉxqÉɨɨuÉqÉÍxÉ mÉëzÉÉliÉqÉqÉsÉÇ , oÉë¼É²rÉÇ rÉimÉUqÉç || 252||
179
nidraa-kalpita The projections in a dream are a construction
1 desha kaala vishhaya, every place, every moment, every object
jnaatraadi sarvam yathaa made known in the dream – just as all of it
mithyaa tadvat iha api is regarded as being unreal, so also even here,
2 jaagrati jagat, in our waking state, the world that we see,
sva ajnaana-kaaryat-vatah; being the effect of our own ignorance,
yasmaat evam should also be regarded as being unreal.
3 idam shareera karana, This body and the organs functioning in it,
praana aham-aadi api asat the Pranas, the ego, etc, are all just as unreal.
tasmaat tat-tvam-asi Therefore, the “That Thou Art” experience
4 prashaantam amalam, makes one utterly serene and free of all blemish;
brahma advayam yat param. one becomes the non-dual, supreme Reality!

1 This verse very cleverly expresses the very same idea as the previous verse, but in a
reverse manner. Instead of affirming the Reality (as clay in pots), we look at the unreality of
dreams and affirm that everything about a dream, all its individual components, are unreal.
2 Then we compare that to our waking state, and similarly see the whole waking
state as if it were just one long dream! Every component of the waking state is also unreal.
By this means we affirm the unreality of the world, which is produced by our ignorance.
3 As we did in verse 251, we now extend this unreality to our own Upadhis or
sheaths – the body, the Prana, the mind, the ego and the intellect. All of them, because they
are part of the world, they too must necessarily be unreal!
4 This is the “Tat Twam Asi” experience. It makes us “serene and free of blemish”. It
is the perfect balancing act between “This” and “That”.

Verse 253: Let Superimpositions Remind us of the Substratum

rÉ§É pÉëÉlirÉÉ MüÎsmÉiÉÇ iÉ̲uÉåMåü


iɨÉlqÉɧÉÇ lÉæuÉ iÉxqÉÉ̲ÍpɳÉqÉç |
xuÉmlÉå lɹå xuÉmlÉÌuɵÉÇ ÌuÉÍcɧÉÇ
xuÉxqÉÉΰ³ÉÇ ÌMü³ÉÑ SØ¹Ç mÉëoÉÉåkÉå || 253||
yatra bhraantyaa Where, due to delusion, a thing was once miscon-
1
kalpitam tat viveke strued, in that very place, upon due discrimination,
tat tat-maatram na iva when the truth or Substratum of it is known, it is
2
tasmaat vibhinnam; recognised as nothing different from ‘That’ itself.
svapne nashhte svapna- Appearing in dream and subsiding in it, the dream
3
vishvam vichitram universe is a variegated, diverse creation all its own.
svasmaat bhinnam kim nu But, as something apart from oneself, does it ever
4
drishhtam prabodhe. appear when one awakens (from the dream)?

If from the previous chapter Sri Shankaracharyaji has been singing the song of “Tat
Twam Asi”, we may say that in this verse the “Tat Twam Asi” experience is taken to its
crescendo in grand style!

180
1-2 Without any stretch of the imagination, what we had once been seeing as ‘This’
under delusion, is now, in the absence of that delusion, seen as ‘That’! The place where we
once saw the world of bewitching objects, in that very place we now see, in an entirely
different way after delusion, the Presence of Brahman, the basis of the world we have
dropped or left behind.
There are pictures created which appear from far as a meaningless pattern, but
when seen from a certain close distance with the eyeballs fully relaxed, appear as a three-
dimensional picture of something that is completely different from the original pattern
printed. It is as though we are seeing an optical illusion. It looks like ‘this’ from far, and like
‘that’ from near. It is the same with ‘This’ and ‘That’, the world and Brahman.
3-4 The final line of this small chapter closes with a very convincing example of the
above picture-puzzle. When one awakes, where does the dream go? Does it not dissolve in
the mind which created it? Similarly, when we ‘wake up’ into the world of Brahman from
our ‘dream’ of delusion in the world of relative reality, what happens to that dream? Does it
not simply dissolve into the substratum from which it arose?
The world disappears into ‘me’ when I realise myself to be its Substratum.

*****

“The same am I in all!”

181
4.5 AIDS TO MEDITATION
(Verses 254 – 266, 13 No.)

THE THEORY OF MEDITATION has been explained. As we prepare for Part 5 dealing
with the practical difficulties encountered in meditation, we have the following 13 verses
that are designed to aid meditational practice. They are in a class of their own with the
common refrain, “Meditate upon them in the depths of your mind”. They are not to be
intellectually scrutinized but intuitively experienced. The main themes have been
underlined. Minimal comments have been added.

Verse 254: Being Property-less, It Cannot be Categorised

eÉÉÌiÉlÉÏÌiÉMÑüsÉaÉÉå§ÉSÕUaÉÇ
lÉÉqÉÃmÉaÉÑhÉSÉåwÉuÉÎeÉïiÉqÉç |
SåzÉMüÉsÉÌuÉwÉrÉÉÌiÉuÉÌiÉï rÉSè
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 254||

1 jaati neeti kula gotra dooragam Beyond caste, creed, family and lineage;
2 naama roopa guna doshha varjitam; Without name, form, merit, demerit;
3 desha kaala vishhaya ativarti yad Transcending space, time and sense objects;
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

Verse 255: Being Pristinely Pure, It Cannot be Described

rÉimÉUÇ xÉMüsÉuÉÉaÉaÉÉåcÉUÇ
aÉÉåcÉUÇ ÌuÉqÉsÉoÉÉåkÉcɤÉÑwÉÈ |
zÉÑ®ÍcÉ«lÉqÉlÉÉÌS uÉxiÉÑ rÉSè
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 255||
yat param sakala That Supreme Fullness
1
vaag agocharam which speech cannot reach;
gocharam vimala- That which is known only by the pure-hearted
2
bodha-chakshhushhah; and seen only by the “eye of knowledge”;
shuddha chid-ghanam which is a pure mass of Consciousness,
3
anaadi vastu yad a beginningless entity;
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

182
Verse 256: Beyond Mind & Senses, Untouched by Afflictions
wÉÎQèpÉÃÍqÉïÍpÉUrÉÉåÌaÉ rÉÉåÌaÉ™Sè-
pÉÉÌuÉiÉÇ lÉ MüUhÉæÌuÉïpÉÉÌuÉiÉqÉç |
oÉÑSèkrÉuÉå±qÉlÉuɱqÉÎxiÉ rÉSè
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 256||
1 shhadbhih oormibhih ayogi That is untouched by the “Six Waves of Afflictions”;
yogihrit bhaavitam That which is meditated upon in the Yogi’s heart,
2
na karanaih vibhaavitam; but never grasped by the senses;
buddhi avedyam That which is not knowable by the intellect,
3
anavadyam asti yat yet is its unimpeachable Ruler;
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

Verse 257: Supporting All, It Cannot be Supported


pÉëÉÎliÉMüÎsmÉiÉeÉaÉiMüsÉÉ´ÉrÉÇ
xuÉÉ´ÉrÉÇ cÉ xÉSxÉ̲sɤÉhÉqÉç |
ÌlÉwMüsÉÇ ÌlÉÂmÉqÉÉlÉuÉή rÉSè
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 257||
bhraanti-kalpita jagat For the universe, projected by delusion, and
1
kalaa aashrayam for its various sub-projections – the Substratum;
sva ashrayam cha For Itself, Its own Substratum, and
2
sat asat vilakshhanam; That which is other than the gross and the subtle;
nishhkalam That which is without any parts and
3
nirupa-maanavat hi yat without any form to compare it with;
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

Verse 258: Being Changeless, It Cannot be Destroyed


eÉlqÉuÉ×ήmÉËUhÉirÉmɤÉrÉ-
urÉÉÍkÉlÉÉzÉlÉÌuÉWûÏlÉqÉurÉrÉqÉç |
ÌuɵÉxÉ×wšuÉÌuÉbÉÉiÉMüÉUhÉÇ
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 258||
1 janma vriddhi parinati apakshhaya Birth, growth, development, decay,
vyaadhi naashana disease and death –
2
viheenam avyayam; That “Changeless” is free from the above changes.
vishva srishhti ava For the creation of the universe, its maintenance
3
vighaata kaaranam and its eventual dissolution, That is the cause.
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

183
Verse 259: Being Homogenous, It Cannot be Disturbed

AxiÉpÉåSqÉlÉmÉÉxiÉsɤÉhÉÇ
ÌlÉxiÉU…¡ûeÉsÉUÉÍzÉÌlɶÉsÉqÉç |
ÌlÉirÉqÉÑ£üqÉÌuÉpÉ£üqÉÔÌiÉï rÉSè
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 259||
astabhedam That is homogenous – free from all distinctions;
1
anapaasta-lakshhanam never of the nature of non-existence;
2 nistaranga jalaraashi nishchalam; Like an ocean without waves, always calm;
3 nityam-uktam avibhakta-moorti yad That is ever-free; and is of indivisible form;
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

Verse 260: Being Cause of All, Yet Causeless

LMüqÉåuÉ xÉSlÉåMüMüÉUhÉÇ
MüÉUhÉÉliÉUÌlÉUÉxrÉMüÉUhÉqÉç |
MüÉrÉïMüÉUhÉÌuÉsɤÉhÉÇ xuÉrÉÇ
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 260||
ekam eva sat That one Existence,
1
aneka kaaranam which is the cause for the many;
kaarana-antaram That ultimate cause of all,
2
niraasya-kaaranam; but Itself devoid of all cause;
kaarya-kaarana- From the cause and from the effect,
3
vilakshhanam svayam That is distinct – for It stands by Itself.
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

Verse 261: Being Infinite, It Cannot be Tainted

ÌlÉÌuÉïMüsmÉMüqÉlÉsmÉqɤÉUÇ
rÉi¤ÉUɤÉUÌuÉsɤÉhÉÇ mÉUqÉç |
ÌlÉirÉqÉurÉrÉxÉÑZÉÇ ÌlÉUgeÉlÉÇ
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 261||

1 nirvikalpakam analpam akshharam That is Non-dual, Infinite and Indestructible;


yat kshhara-akshhara From the perishable (world) and the imperishable (Maya),
2
vilakshhanam param; That is distinct and higher than both;
3 nityam avyaya-sukham niranjanam That is eternal, indivisible and untainted Bliss;
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

184
Verse 262: Being Pure Gold, It Refuses to be the Jewellery
rÉ̲pÉÉÌiÉ xÉSlÉåMükÉÉ pÉëqÉÉ-
³ÉÉqÉÃmÉaÉÑhÉÌuÉÌ¢ürÉÉiqÉlÉÉ |
WåûqÉuÉixuÉrÉqÉÌuÉÌ¢ürÉÇ xÉSÉ
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 262||
yat vibhaati sat That which is the one Reality but appears
1
anekadhaa bhramaat variously because of delusion;
naama roopa That which assumes names and forms,
2
guna vikriyaatmanaa; and properties as part of its changing nature;
hemavat svayam That which, like gold, remains Itself,
3
avikriyam sadaa never subject to any changes;
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

Verse 263: Being the Beyond, It has Nothing Beyond It


rÉŠMüÉxirÉlÉmÉUÇ mÉUÉimÉUÇ
mÉëirÉaÉåMüUxÉqÉÉiqÉsɤÉhÉqÉç |
xÉirÉÍcÉixÉÑZÉqÉlÉliÉqÉurÉrÉÇ
oÉë¼ iɨuÉqÉÍxÉ pÉÉuÉrÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 263||
yat chakaasti anaparam That shines on everything, but nothing shines upon it;
1
paraat param which is The Beyond, beyond (Maya);
pratyag ekarasam That is the innermost, Non-dual in Essence,
2
aatma-lakshhanam; and of that same nature is one’s own Self;
satya chit sukham That is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss
3
anantam avyayam Absolute, and is Immutable;
brahma tat-tvam-asi ‘That Brahman Thou Art’ –
4
bhaavayaatmani. meditate on this in the depths of your mind.

Verse 264: Not Solid but “Liquid” Reality!


E£üqÉjÉïÍqÉqÉqÉÉiqÉÌlÉ xuÉrÉÇ
pÉÉuÉrÉåimÉëÍjÉiÉrÉÑÌ£üÍpÉÍkÉïrÉÉ |
xÉÇzÉrÉÉÌSUÌWûiÉÇ MüUÉqoÉÑuÉiÉç
iÉålÉ iɨuÉÌlÉaÉqÉÉå pÉÌuÉwrÉÌiÉ || 264||
uktam artham imam This Truth must be inculcated
1
aatmani svayam in one’s own heart, deep within oneself;
bhaavayet prathita One must meditate on it and, using the recognised
2
yuktibhih dhiyaa; arguments of the scriptures, apply his intellect on them;
samshayaadi rahitam until all doubts are totally cleared.
3
karaambuvat Then, with the certainty of holding water in one’s palm,
tena tattvanigamah by these means, the realisation of the Truth
4
bhavishhyati. will most certainly take place!

185
Verse 265: Be the King in an Army

xÉqoÉÉåkÉqÉɧÉÇ mÉËUzÉÑ®iɨuÉÇ
ÌuÉ¥ÉÉrÉ xɆ¡åû lÉ×mÉuÉŠ xÉælrÉå |
iÉSÉ´ÉrÉÈ xuÉÉiqÉÌlÉ xÉuÉïSÉ ÎxjÉiÉÉå
ÌuÉsÉÉmÉrÉ oÉë¼ÍhÉ ÌuɵÉeÉÉiÉqÉç || 265||
sambodhamaatram The Knowledge Absolute,
1
parishuddhatattvam is free from ignorance and all its effects;
vijnaaya sanghe Realise That in this cause-effect bundle,
2
nripavat cha sainye; like the king in an army;
tat aashrayah svaatmani Take refuge in that Knowledge of one’s own Self,
3
sarvadaa sthitah and remain forever firmly established in it;
4 vilaapaya brahmani vishvajaatam. Merge the entire universe into Brahman.

Verse 266: Three Caves – Intellect, Sheaths & Womb

oÉÑ®Éæ aÉÑWûÉrÉÉÇ xÉSxÉ̲sɤÉhÉÇ


oÉë¼ÉÎxiÉ xÉirÉÇ mÉUqÉ̲iÉÏrÉqÉç |
iÉSÉiqÉlÉÉ rÉÉåÅ§É uÉxÉåªÒWûÉrÉÉÇ
mÉÑlÉlÉï iÉxrÉÉ…¡ûaÉÑWûÉmÉëuÉåzÉÈ || 266||
buddhau guhaayaam In the cave of the intellect is Brahman,
1
sad-asad-vilakshhanam distinct from the gross as well as the subtle;
brahma asti satyam Brahman, the Reality, is Existence
2
param adviteeyam; Supreme and Non-dual;
tat aatmanaa yah He who realises That Brahman as his own Self,
3
atra vaset guhaayaam while yet dwelling here in this cave of five sheaths;
punah na tasya Never again for him is there
4
anga guhaa praveshah. entry into the “partial-cave”, the mother’s womb!

The key points of meditation are summarized as:


254 Brahman cannot be categorised;
255 He cannot be described;
256 He is untouched by the six afflictions;
257 He is the substratum of the universe;
258 He has no modifications;
259 He is free from all distinctions and disturbances;
260 Though causeless, He is the cause of all;
261 He is higher than the perishable and the imperishable;
262 He is One but appears as many;
263 He is beyond everything, even Maya;
186
264 He is the Truth to be meditated upon;
265 He is Knowledge Absolute, free from ignorance;
266 Knowing Him, one is free from transmigration.

When the knowledge of the teacher is transmitted to the disciple through listening
to his words, it is the stage of Sravana. When it is pondered over and deeply reflected upon
to become one’s own, it is Manana. When we actually try to experience it ourselves through
meditation and make it our direct experience, it is Nididhyasana.

Acharyaji had another way to explain this:


Astronauts first gather the inspiration and facts about space travel; this is their
Sravana. Then the detailed plans are worked out on the drawing board; this is Manana.
Finally, the spacecraft is launched and is on its way to experience it all; this is Nididhyasana.
The actual landing on the moon is Samadhi.
The next Part deals with the practical side of Nididdhyasana. It covers one of the
most absorbing aspects of spiritual life, and is invaluable for a serious aspirant.

END OF PART 4
*****

187
188
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VIVEKA CHOODAMANI
VOLUME 3 of 4

The Crest Jewel of


Discrimination
PART 5: NIDIDHYASANA 2 – Practical Aspects
PART 6: NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI – Self-Realisation

“THE SANDEEPANY EXPERIENCE”

Reflections by
TEXT SWAMI GURUBHAKTANANDA

11.3 start here


Sandeepany’s Vedanta Course
List of All the Course Texts in Chronological Sequence:

Text Text
TITLE OF TEXT TITLE OF TEXT
No. No.
1 Sadhana Panchakam 24 Hanuman Chalisa
2 Tattwa Bodha 25 Vakya Vritti
3 Atma Bodha 26 Advaita Makaranda
4 Bhaja Govindam 27 Kaivalya Upanishad
5 Manisha Panchakam 28 Bhagavad Geeta (Discourse -- )
6 Forgive Me 29 Mundaka Upanishad
7 Upadesha Sara 30 Amritabindu Upanishad
8 Prashna Upanishad 31 Mukunda Mala (Bhakti Text)
9 Dhanyashtakam 32 Tapovan Shatkam
10 Bodha Sara 33 The Mahavakyas, Panchadasi 5
11.3 Viveka Choodamani – Vol 3/4 34 Aitareya Upanishad
12 Jnana Sara 35 Narada Bhakti Sutras
13 Drig-Drishya Viveka 36 Taittiriya Upanishad
14 “Tat Twam Asi” – Chand Up 6 37 Jivan Sutrani (Tips for Happy Living)
15 Dhyana Swaroopam 38 Kena Upanishad
16 “Bhoomaiva Sukham” Chand Up 7 39 Aparoksha Anubhuti (Meditation)
17 Manah Shodhanam 40 108 Names of Pujya Gurudev
18 “Nataka Deepa” – Panchadasi 10 41 Mandukya Upanishad
19 Isavasya Upanishad 42 Dakshinamurty Ashtakam
20 Katha Upanishad 43 Shad Darshanaah
21 “Sara Sangrah” – Yoga Vasishtha 44 Brahma Sootras
22 Vedanta Sara 45 Jivanmuktananda Lahari
23 Mahabharata + Geeta Dhyanam 46 Chinmaya Pledge

AUTHOR’S ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO SANDEEPANY


Sandeepany Sadhanalaya is an institution run by the Chinmaya Mission in Powai, Mumbai, teaching a
2-year Vedanta Course. It has a very balanced daily programme of basic Samskrit, Vedic chanting, Vedanta
study, Bhagavatam, Ramacharitmanas, Bhajans, meditation, sports and fitness exercises, team-building outings,
games and drama, celebration of all Hindu festivals, weekly Gayatri Havan and Guru Paduka Pooja, and Karma
Yoga activities.
This series is an effort to promote the learning of Vedanta; it does not replace Course, but hopes to
inspire young people to spend two years of their life for an experience that is sure to make a far-reaching
spiritual impact on their personal lives. Sandeepany is an all-round spiritual course that gives proper direction
to the youth and to those approaching retirement. Hinduism is in dire need of a band of systematically trained
teachers or Acharyas who can serve this Eternal Religion.

– Swami Gurubhaktananda, 30th June 2018, the Auspicious Birthday of Guruji


Om Namah Shivaaya!

Text
11.3

|| ÌuÉuÉåMücÉÔQûÉqÉÍhÉÈ ||
VIVEKA CHOODAMANI – Vol. 3
“Crest-Jewel of Discrimination”
Composed by Sri Adi Shankaracharyaji

Volume 3 of 4: (Verses 267-425 of 581)

PART 5: NIDIDHYASANA 2 – Practical Aspects


PART 6: NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI – Self-Realisation

Reflections by
SWAMI GURUBHAKTANANDA
on the 109 Lectures by Swami Advayanandaji & Swami Nikhilanandaji
at the 15th Vedanta Course, Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Powai, Mumbai
from January 28th to July 3rd , 2012

Adi Shankaracharya Swami Sivananda Swami Tapovanji Swami Chinmayananda

SERVE  LOVE  GIVE  PURIFY  MEDITATE  REALISE


Copyright & Author’s Details
Author: Swami Gurubhaktananda, born 1954 as Bipin R. Kapitan, in Durban, South Africa.
Residence: Sivanandashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India.
Email: gurubhakta.dls@gmail.com

© 2018 All Rights Reserved. Copyright held by Swami Gurubhaktananda.

About This Edition:


Web Edition: 30th June 2018, the Auspicious Birthday of Guruji
Website: www.chinfo.org hosted by Chinmaya International
Foundation, Kerala, India:
Series Title : The Sandeepany Experience
Series Subject: Vedanta & supportive subsidiary texts.

Declaration by the Author: The material in this series is under inspiration of the Sandeepany
Vedanta Course, but largely consists of the Author’s reflections on the Course. He is
deeply indebted to the Chinmaya Mission for its excellent presentation of the Course
by their renowned and dedicated Acharyas.

Personal Dedication
1. To my Parents, Smt Sharadaben & Sri Ratilalbhai Kapitan
who inspired me to study in life, to stick to the path of Dharma and pursue the
highest ideals; and swamped me with their abundant Love;

2. To Pujya Sri Swami Vimalanandaji Maharaj


the President of the Divine Life Society of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India, who
constantly encouraged and supported this effort;

3. To Pujya Sri Swami Tejomayanandaji (Guruji)


for his boundless vision and inspiration to create a vibrant organisation;

4. To Sri Swami Advayanandaji and Sri Swami Sharadanandaji


my Acharyaji and Upa-Acharyaji at Sandeepany, who imparted their bountiful
knowledge and wisdom with rare selfless Divine Love, just as the Rishis of yore
would wish to see them do.

*****
VIVEKA CHOODAMANI
CONTENTS OF THE WHOLE BOOK

VOLUME 1:

PART 1: The PURPOSE of Human Life (Verses 01 – 66, 66 no.) 001


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
1.1 Invocation & Overview 1–2 2 1
1.2 Preciousness of Human Birth 3–5 3 4
1.3 The Essential Means to Liberation 6 – 16 11 6
1.4 Qualifications of Disciple & Guru 17 – 32a 15 12
1.5 Approaching One’s Guru 32b – 40 9 21
1.6 Loving Advice of the Guru 41 – 47 7 28
1.7 The Disciple’s Questions 48 – 55 8 33
1.8 Freedom from Bondage? 56 – 61 6 38
1.9 Direct Experience of Self 62 – 66 5 42

PART 2: SRAVANA – The Guru’s Teaching (Verses 67 – 146, 80 no.) 045


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
2.1 Introduction to Sravana 67 – 71 5 45
2.2 The Gross Body 72 – 91 20 49
2.2.1 Formation of the Body 72 – 75 4 49
2.2.2 How Man is Bound to the Body 76 – 82 7 52
2.2.3 Fascination for Body 83 – 86 4 56
2.2.4 Overcoming the Fascination 87 – 91 5 57

2.3 The Subtle Body 92 – 105 14 61


2.3.1 The Components of the Subtle Body 92 – 96 5 61
2.3.2 The Functions of the Subtle Body 97 – 105 9 64

2.4 The Causal Body 106 – 121 16 69


2.4.1 The Power of Maya 108 - 110 3 70
2.4.2 The Gunas – Sattwa, Rajas & Tamas 111 - 119 9 73
2.4.3 The “Unmanifest” 120 – 121 2 79

2.5 Anatma – the “Not-Self” 122 – 123 2 81


2.6 Atman – the Self 124 – 136 13 82
2.7 What is Bondage? 137 – 146 10 90
.
VOLUME 2:

PART 3: MANANA – Reflection on the Teaching (Verses 147 – 224, 78 no.) 099
# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
3.1 Discriminating Self from Not-Self 147 – 153 7 99
3.2 The Annamaya Kosha 154 – 164 11 105
3.3 The Pranamaya Kosha 165 – 166 2 111
3.4 The Manomaya Kosha 167 – 183 17 113
3.4.1 What is MIND? 167 – 171 5 113
3.4.2 Bondage & Liberation 172 – 176 5 117
3.4.3 “It’s All in the MIND” 177 – 183 7 120
3.5 The Vijnanamaya Kosha 184 – 206 23 125
3.5.1 The Intellect Sheath 184 – 191 8 125
Discussion on Vijnanamaya Kosha:
3.5.2 Jiva’s Confusion with Self 192 – 206 15 132

3.6 The Anandamaya Kosha 207 – 224 18 144


3.6.1 The Bliss Sheath 207 – 211 5 145
Discussion on Anandamaya Kosha:
3.6.2 The Self & “Nothingness” 212 – 224 13 148

PART 4: NIDIDHYASANA 1 – Theoretical Aspects (Verses 225 – 266, 42 no.) 159


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
4.1 The Vision of Oneness 225 – 236 12 159
4.2 The Nature of Brahman 237 – 240 4 169
4.3 Explanation of “Tat Twam Asi” 241 – 249 9 172
4.4 Balancing “This” with “That” 250 – 253 4 178
4.5 Aids to Meditation – “Brahma Tat-Twam-Asi” Verses 254 – 266 13 182
.

*****
VOLUME 3:

PART 5: NIDIDHYASANA 2 – Practical Aspects (Verses 267 – 341, 75 no.) 189


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
5.0 Introduction to Savikalpa Samadhi - 189
5.1 Scrubbing Out the Vasanas 267 – 276 10 191
5.1.1 “I-Thought” & “I am Brahman” Thoughts 267 – 269 3 191
5.1.2 The Three Doorways for Disturbance 270 – 272 3 193
5.1.3 The Stench of Vasanas 273– 276 4 194
5.2 Negating the Superimpositions 277 – 285 9 197
5.3 Upasanas – Meditational Exercises 286 – 292 7 202
5.4 Who is the Ego? 293 – 297 5 206
5.5 The Play of the Ego 298 – 309 12 210
5.6 The Trio: Vasanas – Rumination – Ego 310 – 319 10 219
5.7 Spiritual Inadvertance 320 – 329 10 226
5.8 In the Safe Harbour of Non-Duality 330 – 341 12 233

PART 6: NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI – Realisation (Verses 342 – 425, 84 no.) 243


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
6.1 The Entrance Examination 342 – 348 7 243
6.2 How to Recognise Samadhi 349 – 353 5 250
6.3 Samadhi Seen in Daily Life 354 – 364 11 254
6.4 Escaping the Mind’s Captivity 365 – 372 8 262
6.5 The Face of Dispassion in Samadhi 373 – 378 6 268
6.6 The Basic Technique of Meditation 379 – 383 5 273
6.7 Fine-Tuning the Technique 384 – 397 14 276
6.8 The State of Non-Duality 398 – 406 9 284
6.9 Points to Ponder 407 – 413 7 290
6.10 Nirvikalpa Samadhi is Irreversible 414 – 418 5 293
6.11 “Trouble-Shooting” Samadhi 419 - 425 7 297

*****
VOLUME 4:

PART 7: JIVANMUKTI – Liberation While Living (Verses 426 – 479, 54 no.) 303
# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
7.1 Signs of a Realised Seer 426 – 445 20 303
7.1.1 Four Aspects of a Jivanmukta 427 – 431 5 305
7.1.2 The “Jivanmukta Lakshana” Verses 432 – 442 11 309
7.1.3 Dispassion – the Acid-Test of Jivanmukti 443 – 445 3 314
7.2 How a Saint Handles Karma 446 – 464 19 317
7.2.1 Sanchita Karma – Past Karma 448 – 449 2 319
7.2.2 Agama Karma – Future Karma 450 – 451 2 320
7.2.3 Prarabdha Karma – Present Karma 452 – 464 13 321
7.3 “Brahman Alone is There” 465 – 471 7 331
7.4 Conclusion of the Teaching 472 - 479 8 334

PART 8: FEEDBACK – From the Disciple (Verses 480 – 520, 41 no.) 341
# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
8.1 Introduction to Feedback 480 – 481 2 341
8.2 Feedback from Personal Standpoint 482 – 489 8 343
8.3 Feedback from World’s Standpoint 490 – 500 11 349
8.4 Feedback from Upadhis’ Standpoint 501 – 512 12 355
8.5 Feedback from Absolute Standpoint 513 – 517 5 363
8.6 Conclusion of Feedback 518 – 520 3 367

PART 9: CONVERSATION of Two Saints (Verses 521 – 581, 61 no.) 369


# DESCRIPTION OF CONTENT Verses No. Page
9.0 Introduction - - 369
9.1 Glory of Realisation 521 – 530 10 370
9.2 On the Means of knowledge 531 – 536 6 377
9.3 A Riddle in Simplicity 537 – 550 14 382
9.4 The Attitude of a Saint 551 – 554 4 391
9.5 Videhamukti – Dropping the Body 555 – 567 13 395
9.6 Transmigration & Liberation 568 – 575 8 403
9.6.1 Transmigration & Rebirth 568 – 569 2 403
9.6.2 Bondage & Liberation 570 – 575 6 406
9.7 Conclusion to the Whole Book 576 – 581 6 412

*****
|| ÌuÉuÉåMücÉÔQûÉqÉÍhÉÈ ||
VIVEKA CHOODAMANI – Vol. 3

“The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination”


VIVEKA CHOODAMANI
"The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination"

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
PUJYA SWAMI CHINMAYANANDAJI writes the following in his Introduction to his
book on the Viveka Choodamani:
“Vedanta is truly the Science of Life. Sri Shankara, the great interpreter of Vedanta,
not only gave us his commentaries on the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad
Gita, but also many primary texts which introduce the seeker to the joys of Vedanta. One of
the greatest texts he has written as an introduction to Vedanta, is the Viveka Choodamani,
which means, ‘The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination’.
“A careful study of these verses with the full freedom to enquire will give any
student a correct understanding of the entire theory of Vedanta and he can, even without a
very serious study of the scriptures, start his daily practices with tremendous benefits.
“There are hundreds of seekers who, without understanding the fundamentals, are
aimlessly struggling along a so-called spiritual path. Naturally, they suffer agonies of painful
disappointment, although they have behind them years of painstaking practices. An
exhaustive and careful study of this text helps to avoid all the pitfalls on the way to
progress. It is my intention to bring forth from every verse not only its obvious meaning, but
also its hidden import which gives out a wealth of information and helpful suggestions to
ensure a steady progress.”

The Viveka Choodamani is a prime text in the Vedanta Course at Sandeepany.


Bondage is caused by a lack of enquiry, and ceases only by making an enquiry. If we
turn to differentiate Self from the non-Self, if we shift our attention from the world of
names and forms to their substratum Brahman, then we can arrive at the final goal quickly.
The Viveka Choodamani is a Prakarana Grantha. Its theme is: DISCRIMINATION.
It is a very famous text of Bhagavan Sri Shankaracharyaji. It has great poetic beauty.
Swami Chinmayanandaji has said, “This text is sufficient to lead the spiritual life.”

*****
VIVEKA CHUDAMANI – Vol.3
PART 5: (Verses 267-341) 75 Verses
NIDIDHYASANA 2 – Practical Aspects

AN INTRODUCTION TO
SAVIKALPA SAMADHI
WE ARE PRESENTLY ON the topic of Nididhyasana – Practical Aspects, which takes
us to the point of Savikalpa Samadhi or deep Meditation or Advanced Meditation. The
Savikalpa Samadhi stage is reached during the Nididhyasana stage of Sadhana. Enormous
practical difficulties have to be crossed in this stage. That is the subject of this Part.
In this practical Part, we are going to magnify the Phase of Nididhyasana and see
exactly how the abidance in the Self is progressing. The full checklist is carried out to ensure
that the Ego is completely annihilated. By a thorough check of progress in this uncomprom-
ising part of the book, we can evaluate how far we have progressed in our meditation. Part
5 may be compared to the work of Ground Engineers in an Aviation company, making their
routine check on a jet aircraft just before it takes to the air.
The 75 verses of Part 5 are the “Search Engine” of the Meditative life – designed to
track down the slightest remnants of Ego-consciousness, and eliminate them. It may be
considered as the most significant portion for the seeking aspirant who is almost reaching
his goal of irreversible abidance in the Self, otherwise known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi (Part 6).

The BRIDGE Between Knowledge & Experience


Before plunging into the text, Acharyaji explained the importance of grasping the
context of the point we have reached in the text. We are at a point of enormous significance
in knitting together the complexities of advanced Vedantic Sadhana. It forms a bridge, as it
were, across the valley from theoretical knowledge of the Self to practical application of this
knowledge through the practice of Nididhyasana. In effect, we are sitting at an Examination
to check out the validity of our theoretical understanding on our practice of meditation.
Only after crossing the hurdles of this difficult stage will we qualify for the most advanced
stage of meditation (Part 6) that will take us from Savikalpa Samadhi into Nirvikalpa
Samadhi, the ultimate goal of spiritual life.
Even though the theory required to be known in Nididhyasana has been explained
up to verse 266, this is not yet an irreversible attainment. We have yet to do the practice
and attain the Savikalpa Samadhi stage. The dangers one faces after reaching this state are
examined in great detail to verify the genuineness of the progress made.

EGO – the “I” Factor


A brief re-cap of the process of the Sadhana at this point will be of great help to the
seeker. In Vedanta, ‘Ahamkara’ is a technical word defined, not as ‘pride’ or as an ‘excessive

189
self-centred personality’, but as the ‘I’-thought which thinks it does everything relating to
the individual self. Its very function is to identify itself with the functions relating to the
individuality. The ‘I’-thought is a protective organism placed in our intellect by Nature for
the individual being to function in the world.
That the Ahamkara does this function for the safety of the human being is not a
problem obstructing our spiritual growth. Actually, the Ahamkara viewed as a mechanism of
Mother Nature for steering the individual through his experiences in life is not a spiritual
problem. The spiritual problem facing us is that this Ahamkara acts under delusion and
thinks that its own needs must supercede those of other individuals. The delusion which
makes the Ahamkara identify itself wrongly with all individual considerations, seeing them
as more important than the needs of others and seeing others as being in a competitive
relationship with itself, is the real spiritual problem facing us.
All Vasanas develop solely in the presence of this deluded form of Ahamkara. Our
inability to experience God-vision is due to the dominance of the deluded Ego in our life.
Hence, the whole of Part 5 is devoted to scrutinising the Ego.
In Part 6 we shall be looking at other aspects which will verify if we have arrived
safely at Nirvikalpa Samadhi or at only a semblance of it and not at the genuine state. Such
things do happen in the critical final stages of spiritual life, but we shall deal with them
when the time for it comes.

Glimpses of God-Vision is Savikalpa Samadhi


While doing the Sadhana of Nididhyasana the Vasanas become thinner and thinner.
Acharyaji told us of cases where Sadhakas sometimes get a glimpse of Brahman during
meditation even though Vasanas are not removed 100%. There is a simile for this in ordinary
life:
Many may have experienced times when we suddenly get a touch of ‘dozing off’ and
feel the great satisfaction of deep sleep momentarily during the waking state. Our head
suddenly nods down. We taste the bliss of deep sleep for a short moment. In the same way
during meditation, we can taste the bliss of the realized state for short spells of time. These
come as encouragements from God to inspire us to go on with our Sadhana.
Savikalpa Samadhi is the “upper tip” of Nididdhyasana when we get these short
glimpses of spiritual experiences. Gradually these increase in duration as the Vasanas
dwindle away. When the Vasanas are completely cleared away, the abidance in the Self
becomes firmly established. This is named Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the stage where there is a
total absence of all Vikalpas or thought-forms in the mind.
In the next ten verses the theme is “Rising above superimpositions and getting
established in Self abidance”. These verses, like the 13 (from 254-266) at the end of Part IV,
are very meditational in nature and do not require much by way of comment.

*****

190
5.1 SCRUBBING OUT THE VASANAS
(Verses 267 – 276, 10 No.)

Gross & Subtle Levels of Purification


IN THE EARLIER STAGES of purification spoken of in Part 1, the aspirant is required to
purify his thoughts, words and deeds of all grossness, such as the tendency towards violence
against others, lying, cheating, immoral desires, unfair treatment of others, injustices, etc.
This purification is required at the start of spiritual life. At that time we were concerned with
the purification from the animal level to the human level.
Now we are concerned with the purification that takes us further up from the human
level to the divine level. We are dealing with a more subtle purification. The person is
already good, but certain human weaknesses are there. These are the concerns that are
being addressed at this level under Nididhyasana.
Through the practice of Nididhyasana or meditation, desires or Vasanas that were
lying dormant over a long period, begin to come to the surface. They begin to ripen due to
the pressure of one’s Sadhana. What may have taken months to ripen in the open sun, now
ripens within days under the glasshouse of Sadhana. This is quite in order; it is a sign that
they are “owning up” and are coming out of their hiding places so that they can be
annihilated completely. It is a good sign, even though it can be irksome at times.

5.1.1 “I”-THOUGHT & “I AM BRAHMAN” THOUGHT (Verses 267-269, 3 No.)

Verse 267: Annihilation of “Aham-Vasana”


¥ÉÉiÉå uÉxiÉÑlrÉÌmÉ oÉsÉuÉiÉÏ uÉÉxÉlÉÉÅlÉÉÌSUåwÉÉ
MüiÉÉï pÉÉå£üÉmrÉWûÍqÉÌiÉ SØRûÉ rÉÉÅxrÉ xÉÇxÉÉUWåûiÉÑÈ |
mÉëirÉaSØwšÉÅÅiqÉÌlÉ ÌlÉuÉxÉiÉÉ xÉÉmÉlÉårÉÉ mÉërɦÉÉ-
lqÉÑÌ£Çü mÉëÉWÒûxiÉÌSWû qÉÑlÉrÉÉå uÉÉxÉlÉÉiÉÉlÉuÉÇ rÉiÉç || 267||
jnaate vastuni api Even after receiving the knowledge of the Truth,
1 balavatee vaasanaa there remains a powerful impression (known as
anaadireshhaa Aham Bhavana) that is beginningless;
kartaa bhoktaa api aham iti It concerns “I am the doer and also the enjoyer”,
2 dridhaa yaa asya an impression which is very firmly set,
samsaara hetuh; and is the cause for our worldly existence.
pratyag drishhtyaa aatmani By constant identification with the inner Self,
3 nivasataa, by abiding in It for prolonged periods,
saa apaneyaa prayatnaat that impression can be consciously removed.
muktim praahuh tat The state of Liberation is redefined
4 iha munayo for this phase by the sages: it is the state when
vaasanaa-taanavam yat. this “Aham-Vasana” itself is finally annihilated.

191
The opening three verses, 267-269, pinpoint what needs to be done.
1-2 The central purpose of advanced meditation (Nididhyaasana) is the total elimi-
nation of the “I-thought”. This step requires freedom from all self-centredness.
All disturbances in the mind are essentially a sign of the presence of the “I-notion” in
conflict with the universal flow of nature. The most common sign of its presence is when we
feel the sense of doership and enjoyership. “I do” and “I enjoy” are signs of identifying with
the ego-sense. This extends itself into “I desire”.
3-4 The aim of deep meditation is to remove these disturbances. The method shown
is to identify oneself with the Self. By repeated practice one finally succeeds.
One day Lord Buddha had just begun to describe this type of meditation to his
students when a bird flew into the class. It twittered away for a few minutes and then flew
off. Buddha then told the class, “What I wanted to say today has been said better by the
bird!” They spent the rest of the lecture meditating on that bird’s behaviour.

Verse 268: Ending the “I-notion”

AWÇû qÉqÉåÌiÉ rÉÉå pÉÉuÉÉå SåWûɤÉÉSÉuÉlÉÉiqÉÌlÉ |


AkrÉÉxÉÉåÅrÉÇ ÌlÉUxiÉurÉÉå ÌuÉSÒwÉÉ xuÉÉiqÉÌlɸrÉÉ || 268||

1 aham mama iti yah bhaavah ‘I’ and ‘mine’ – this notion is due to
2 deha akshha aadau anaatmani; the not-Self, i.e. the body, sense organs, etc –
3 adhyaasah ayam nirastavyah this superimposition should indeed be ended
4 vidushhaa svaatma-nishhthayaa. by the wise man by identification with his own Self.

1-2 The source of the “I”-notion is first identified. It is association with the body,
senses, mind, etc. These are also called the Upadhis in Vedanta.
3-4 By recognising the source to be only a superimposition, i.e. something unreal
posing itself to be real, one learns to ignore them and turn to the Self within.

Verse 269: The Witness & “I am Brahman” Thought

¥ÉÉiuÉÉ xuÉÇ mÉëirÉaÉÉiqÉÉlÉÇ oÉÑήiɲØ̨ÉxÉÉͤÉhÉqÉç |


xÉÉåÅWûÍqÉirÉåuÉ xɲبrÉÉÅlÉÉiqÉlrÉÉiqÉqÉÌiÉÇ eÉÌWû || 269||

1 jnaatvaa svam pratyag atmaanam Realising your innermost Self as the


2 buddhi tat vritti saakshhinam; witness of your intellect and its disturbances,
3 sah aham iti eva sad-vrittyaa by the counter thought of “I Am That”,
4 anaatmani aatmamatim jahi. shed your identification with the not-Self.

To achieve this in practice, two aids are now being summoned:


1-2 i) Saakshinam: “Witness Consciousness”. The meditator takes up a position of
awareness by which he becomes the observer of his own mind and intellect. He gets behind
them and becomes their witness. By doing this he starts de-identifying himself with them.

192
3-4 ii) Aham Brahmaasmi: “I am Brahman”. While maintaining his distance from the
mind and intellect, he builds a counter-thought, called Sad Vritti here, also known as
Brahmaakara Vritti in some scriptures. This reinforces his efforts to dislodge the former
Aham Vritti (the “I”-thought). It asserts the new identity with the Self.

5.1.2 THREE DOORWAYS FOR DISTURBANCE (Verses 270-272, 3 No.)

Verse 270: Banish these Three Worldly Concerns

sÉÉåMüÉlÉÑuÉiÉïlÉÇ irÉYiuÉÉ irÉYiuÉÉ SåWûÉlÉÑuÉiÉïlÉqÉç |


zÉÉx§ÉÉlÉÑuÉiÉïlÉÇ irÉYiuÉÉ xuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 270||

1 loka anuvartanam tyaktvaa Set aside your involvement with the world,
2 tyaktvaa deha anuvartanam; set aside all preoccupations with the body,
3 shaastra anuvartanam tyaktvaa set aside unnecessary study of the Shastras,
4 sva adhyaasa apanayam kuru. banish these that have crept upon the Self.

Verses 270-272 refer to the three doorways in life through which disturbances enter
the mind. They are concerns over the world, concerns over the body and concerns over the
scriptures. These three are identified as the areas to be examined in depth in order to
remove all disturbing thoughts from the mind. This applies to life in general, and to
meditation in particular.
1 The first of these is removed by giving up one’s comfort zone. The lesson now is
“Leave the flock and fly alone.” By being daring, we can give up the security of remaining
with the flock. This is the practical way offered by Acharyaji.
2 Giving up body-related identifications is very difficult due to its long previous
associations. It is almost as if it is in our ‘genes’, as it were. But it has to be done.
3 The reference to ‘unnecessary study’ needs a little explanation, especially to
students of Vedanta who may raise their eyebrows at it! It refers to the case where study is
not balanced by practice. Only dry Vedantic study without practice is not recommended and
is useless. The Shastras are meant to serve as a support for our deep inner reflections.
4 The overall instruction is to drop these props and forge ahead with the practical
purpose of overcoming the superimpositions.

Verse 271: They Rob People of Realisation

sÉÉåMüuÉÉxÉlÉrÉÉ eÉliÉÉåÈ zÉÉx§ÉuÉÉxÉlÉrÉÉÌmÉ cÉ |


SåWûuÉÉxÉlÉrÉÉ ¥ÉÉlÉÇ rÉjÉÉuɳÉæuÉ eÉÉrÉiÉå || 271 ||

1 loka vaasanayaa jantoh Because of their desire to run after the world,
2 shaastra vaasanayaa api cha; their thirst for unnecessary study of the Shastras,
3 deha vaasanayaa, jnaanam and their anxiety to pamper the body, realization
4 yathaavat na eva jaayate. as explained above is not attained by people.

193
Why are these three seen as obstacles? All three can serve a good purpose and help
us move forward. After all, are we not supposed to see Brahman in them, too?
This objection may be true from an idealistic view. In practice, the problems are:
i) 1 The world attracts us into its web through desire for name, fame and pleasure;
ii) 2 the scriptures attract us due to the subtle desire to appear learned.
iii) 3 The body attracts us due to its desire for comfort;
4 For these reasons, it is safer to steer clear of them and stick to the spiritual goal.

Verse 272: Free Yourself from their Shackles


xÉÇxÉÉUMüÉUÉaÉ×WûqÉÉå¤ÉÍqÉcNûÉå-
UrÉÉåqÉrÉÇ mÉÉSÌlÉoÉlkÉzÉׄ¡ûsÉqÉç |
uÉSÎliÉ iÉe¥ÉÉÈ mÉOÒû uÉÉxÉlÉɧÉrÉÇ
rÉÉåÅxqÉÉ̲qÉÑ£üÈ xÉqÉÑmÉæÌiÉ qÉÑÌ£üqÉç || 272||
samsaara kaaraagriha From the prison-house of this world,
1
mokshham ichchhoh one should wish to be liberated;
ayomayam paada nibandha- His feet are bound by (these three ) iron-made
2
shrinkhalam; chains which are like shackles on them;
vadanti tajjnaah patu The wise speak of the strong binding power
3
vaasanaatrayam of the above three Vasanas that control life;
yah asmaat vimuktah He who frees himself (from these three),
4
samupaiti muktim. attains liberation or freedom.

4 The urgency of overcoming these three sources of disturbance is now shown:


i) 1 A strong desire for Liberation is required;
ii) 2 We should feel them to be like shackles around our legs;
iii) 3 We should become aware of how much they rule our lives and lead us astray.

5.1.3 THE STENCH OF VASANAS (Verses 273-269, 4 No.)

Verse 273: Simile: The Sandalwood


eÉsÉÉÌSxÉÇxÉaÉïuÉzÉÉimÉëpÉÔiÉ-
SÒaÉïlkÉkÉÔiÉÉÅaÉÂÌSurÉuÉÉxÉlÉÉ |
xɆ¡ûwÉïhÉålÉæuÉ ÌuÉpÉÉÌiÉ xÉqrÉ-
ÎauÉkÉÔrÉqÉÉlÉå xÉÌiÉ oÉɽaÉlkÉå || 273||
jalaadi-samsargavashaat Due to contact with substances like water, etc.
1
prabhoota- for a prolonged period,
durgandha-dhootaa an intolerable stink overpowers
2
agaru divyavaasanaa; the captivating fragrance of the sandalwood;
sangharshhanena eva Only by thoroughly scrubbing it,
3
vibhaati samyag is the original fragrance restored;

194
vidhooyamaane sati for the scrubbing removes
4
baahya-gandhe. the external stink that envelopes it.

This verse introduces a simile that is well-known in India. Verses 274-276 apply the
simile and speak of the need to ‘scrub out’ the last traces of Vasanas.
1-2 Sandalwood has a natural, unique fragrance. However, it is well-known to the
people of India that if it is left in water for too long, it develops an unpleasant stench.
3-4 When the water is removed and the sandalwood is dry once more, if it is again
rubbed, the fragrance returns. There is no stink any more.

Verse 274: Application: Fragrance of the Self

AliÉÈÍ´ÉiÉÉlÉliÉSÒUliÉuÉÉxÉlÉÉ-
kÉÔsÉÏÌuÉÍsÉmiÉÉ mÉUqÉÉiqÉuÉÉxÉlÉÉ |
mÉë¥ÉÉÌiÉxɆ¡ûwÉïhÉiÉÉå ÌuÉzÉÑ®É
mÉëiÉÏrÉiÉå cÉlSlÉaÉlkÉuÉiÉç xTÑüOûqÉç || 274||
antahshrita ananta Deeply ingrained in the mind are unending
1
duranta vaasanaa- violent Vasanas or inherent tendencies,
dhoolee-viliptaa that are like a cover of dust concealing
2
paramaatma vaasanaa; the fragrance of the Supreme Self;
prajnaati sangharshhanatah By a continuous scouring with Knowledge,
3
vishuddhaa the mind is purified (of this dust);
prateeyate chandana- and then is experienced, like the sandalwood’s
4
gandhavat sphutam. fragrance, the distinct fragrance of the Self.

1-2 The stench in the simile represents the violent and passionate tendencies that
lurk in the mind. They arise due to neglect in nurturing the mind into good tendencies.
3-4 By scouring the mind with the knowledge of the Self, these tendencies can be
‘dried out’, and the fragrance of the Self restored.

Verse 275: The Net of “Not-Self” Vasanas

AlÉÉiqÉuÉÉxÉlÉÉeÉÉsÉæÎxiÉUÉåpÉÔiÉÉiqÉuÉÉxÉlÉÉ |
ÌlÉirÉÉiqÉÌlɸrÉÉ iÉåwÉÉÇ lÉÉzÉå pÉÉÌiÉ xuÉrÉÇ xTÑüOûqÉç || 275||

1 anaatma-vaasanaa-jaalaih By the net of innumerable Vasanas for the not-Self


2 tirobhoota aatmavaasanaa; the desire for the Self is clouded.
3 nitya aatma-nishhthayaa teshhaam When, by constant abidance in the Self, they
4 naashe bhaati svayam sphutam. are destroyed, the Atman manifests all by Itself.

The application of the sandalwood simile continues, but takes a different turn.

195
1-2 The neglect of the mind permits scores of Vasanas to build up and stagnate in
the mind. The Vasanas are for the things that are not-Self, i.e. sensual pleasures primarily.
When this is permitted to build up unchecked, a cloud-screen shields the Self from shining.
3-4 The more the mind is brought to focus on the Self, the more it withdraws itself
from the objects of the world. When the attraction is got over, the Self shines forth clearly.

Verse 276: Towards Total Self-abidance

rÉjÉÉ rÉjÉÉ mÉëirÉaÉuÉÎxjÉiÉÇ qÉlÉÈ


iÉjÉÉ iÉjÉÉ qÉÑgcÉÌiÉ oÉɽuÉÉxÉlÉÉqÉç |
ÌlÉÈzÉåwÉqÉÉå¤Éå xÉÌiÉ uÉÉxÉlÉÉlÉÉÇ
AÉiqÉÉlÉÑpÉÔÌiÉÈ mÉëÌiÉoÉlkÉzÉÔlrÉÉ || 276||
yathaa yathaa pratyag To the extent that, in the subjective Self
1
avasthitam manah the mind becomes steadily established,
tathaa tathaa munchati to that extent it leaves
2
baahya vaasanaam; its desires for the objects of the world.
nihsheshha-mokshhe When one is completely free
3
sati vaasanaanaam from all such desires, then
aatma anubhootih the Self is directly realised
4
pratibandha-shoonyaa. due to all obstructions getting reduced to zero.

1-2 The steady increase in establishing oneself in the Self, brings about a corres-
ponding reduction in the desire for sense pleasures (objects).
3-4 When the desire is completely removed, then the Self is fully realised. There are
now no clouds obscuring the sun of the Self. The mind has become like a ‘cloudless sky’.

Thus ends the first chapter of Part 5, dealing with the thorough scouring out of all
the Vasanas that accumulate in the mind.

*****

196
5.2 NEGATING THE SUPERIMPOSITIONS
(Verses 277 – 285, 9 No.)

T HE PROCESS OF ABIDING in the Self (Nididhyasana) which has just been outlined
above to thin out and eliminate the Vasanas, is being described here to bring the
meditator’s mind to its natural point of destruction. When that point is reached, it registers
full success in negating all the Superimpositions.
The nine verses of this section address the basic Sadhana of fixing the attention upon
the inner Self. The previous section did this via the causal Vasanas; this section does it via
the subtle and gross superimpositions, which are more ‘external’ to Vasanas. The most
difficult superimposition to remove is the mind. This Chapter may also be called “Conquest
of Mind”. The verses are of enormous practical value to one engaged in meditation.

Verse 277: Remaining Focussed on the Self

xuÉÉiqÉlrÉåuÉ xÉSÉ ÎxjÉiuÉÉ qÉlÉÉå lÉzrÉÌiÉ rÉÉåÌaÉlÉÈ |


uÉÉxÉlÉÉlÉÉÇ ¤ÉrɶÉÉiÉÈ xuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 277||

1 svaatmani eva sadaa sthitvaa Being ever fixed on his own Self,
2 manah nashyati yoginah; the mind of the meditator is brought to a halt.
3 vaasanaanaam kshhayah cha atah Then ensure complete cessation of Vasanas and
4 sva-adhyaasa apanayam kuru. the negation of all superimpositions on yourself.

1-2 The overall aim of this chapter is laid bare at the outset itself – the dissolution of
the mind by fixing one’s attention on one’s Self during meditation.
3-4 The fruits of this attainment are also clearly stated. Both chapters so far have the
same purpose in mind, using different routes; they are but different ways of looking at the
same achievement. Chapter 5.1 achieved the cessation of Vasanas; Chapter 5.2 achieves the
cessation of the mind.

Verse 278: Sattwa is the Means

iÉqÉÉå ²ÉprÉÉÇ UeÉÈ xɨuÉÉixɨuÉÇ zÉÑ®ålÉ lÉzrÉÌiÉ |


iÉxqÉÉixɨuÉqÉuɹprÉ xuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 278||

1 tamah dvaabhyaam rajah sattvaat By Sattwa is destroyed both Tamas and Rajas;
2 sattvam shuddhena nashyati; then Sattwa, too, is destroyed by pure realisation.
3 tasmaat sattvam avashhtabhya Thus, by solely depending upon Sattwa, ensure
4 sva-adhyaasa apanayam kuru. the negation of all superimpositions on yourself.

197
1 Sattwa here stands for the purified mind with Vasanas thinned out. Tamas and
Rajas represent the impure mind, full of all sorts of undesirable Vasanas. This is the
language of Chapter 5.1. The very same thing, when seen purely as a transformation of the
mind without any reference to Vasanas, becomes the Chapter 5.2 way of expressing it.
2-3 The mind is the subtle superimposition. The aim is to destroy it by purifying it. It
gets reduced to nought. ‘No mind’ is equivalent to realisation!
We see here a very good example of how Sri Shankaracharyaji uses different
approaches for seekers of different mentalities. To those who see the problem as being at
the causal level of Desire, he uses the language of Vasanas. To those who see their mind
itself as the root of their problem, he uses the language of superimpositions!
4 This Pada is common in all verses of this Chapter.

Verse 279: Trust Providence and Take Courage

mÉëÉUokÉÇ mÉÑwrÉÌiÉ uÉmÉÑËUÌiÉ ÌlÉͶÉirÉ ÌlɶÉsÉÈ |


kÉærÉïqÉÉsÉqorÉ rɦÉålÉ xuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 279||

1 praarabdham pushhyati vapuh “Prarabhdha will nourish this body” –


2 iti nishchitya nishchalah; Know this for certain, and remain undisturbed.
3 dhairyam aalambya yatnena Resorting to courage, plunge into the task of
4 sva-adhyaasa apanayam kuru. the negation of all superimpositions on yourself.

1-2 In the method of focussing on the superimpositions (the mind), there is to be no


anxiety about the maintenance of one’s body. Sri Shankaracharyaji takes away that anxiety
by saying that it will be taken care of by one’s good Karma, i.e. his Prarabdha.
An Anecdote: A middle-aged lady asked God if He would guarantee her life for the
next 20 years. Pleased with her openness, God said, “Yes, that is guaranteed for you. There
are no obstacles on your path.” The lady took this assurance to mean that she now had
more time to enjoy herself. She went for a face-lift at once. Looking many years younger,
she dashed off to explore her world of opportunities. A passing truck knocked her dead.
When she met God upstairs she asked Him as to why He had lied to her. God took a hard
look at her and exclaimed, “Gosh! Is that you? I’m sorry, I could not recognize you!”
3 Free from anxiety, the seeker can “plunge” into his Sadhana with more courage.

Verse 280: Deny the Jiva Itself

lÉÉWÇû eÉÏuÉÈ mÉUÇ oÉë¼åirÉiÉSèurÉÉuÉ×̨ÉmÉÔuÉïMüqÉç |


uÉÉxÉlÉÉuÉåaÉiÉÈ mÉëÉmiÉxuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 280||

1 na aham jeevah param brahma “I am not the Jiva or individual soul” –


2 iti atat vyaavritti poorvakam; by thus eliminating all that is the not-Self,
3 vaasanaavegatah praapta i.e. eliminating all that arises from Vasanas, attain
4 sva-adhyaasa apanayam kuru. the negation of all superimpositions on yourself.

198
1-3 The Jiva is the individual soul. From the standpoint of superimpositions, the Jiva
is the fountainhead of all the superimpositions. If the Jiva itself is denied, what need could
be there to deny anything else? Everything is included under ‘Jiva’. All the Vasanas are
included; the Jiva takes birth only because of the Vasanas.
Any Karate expert knows that If he aims a kick at the jugular vein in the neck region,
the person gets killed immediately. Shankaracharyaji goes for the jugular itself. It sounds
easy, but the jugular is hard to find. The Jiva, too, is not so easy to give up. Shankaracharyaji
seems to have taken recourse to the tactics of a politician in an election campaign!

Verse 281: Help from Shruti, Yukti and Anubhuti

´ÉÑirÉÉ rÉÑYirÉÉ xuÉÉlÉÑpÉÔirÉÉ ¥ÉÉiuÉÉ xÉÉuÉÉïiqrÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ |


YuÉÍcÉSÉpÉÉxÉiÉÈ mÉëÉmiÉxuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 281||

1 shrutyaa yuktyaa sva-anubhootyaa By scriptures, reasoning, and direct experience,


2 jnaatvaa saarvaatmyam aatmanah; Realise your own Self to be the Self in all;
3 kvachit aabhaasatah praapta Even when there is its slightest trace, cultivate
4 sva-adhyaasa apanayam kuru. the negation of all superimpositions on yourself.

1-3 There are two ways of seeing this verse, as an encouragement and as a warning.
i) As an Encouragement: “Go ahead, realise your own Self. You have the backing of
everything behind you. The scriptures support you with every breath of theirs. Your reason
supports you; there is nothing you need to do against your reason. And direct experience is,
of course, the best of all; if you have it, there is no need to look for any other support.”
ii) As a Warning: The verse could be seen to warn us of the danger of over-
estimating ourselves. “Out of over-estimation, you may think that you have reached the
goal. Don’t be too sure. Check it out properly against the scriptures, against your own
reason, and against your own personal experience. That alone confirms your success.”

Verse 282: Freedom from Sense of Doership

AlÉÉSÉlÉÌuÉxÉaÉÉïprÉÉqÉÏwɳÉÉÎxiÉ Ì¢ürÉÉ qÉÑlÉåÈ |


iÉSåMüÌlɸrÉÉ ÌlÉirÉÇ xuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 282||

1 anaadaana visargaabhyaam Whether he is accepting or rejecting anything,


2 eeshhat na asti kriyaa muneh; the sage bears no idea whatsoever of doership;
3 tat eka-nishhthayaa nityam With single-pointed abidance in the Self, practise
4 sva-adhyaasa apanayam kuru. the negation of all superimpositions on yourself.

1 Accepting or rejecting – here it refers to all actions or all experiences.


2 In any act or experience, the sage does not have doership or enjoyership.
3 This is possible only if he is in tune with Brahman. Since actions are done only in
the waking state, this may be said to apply especially to the waking state.

199
Verse 283: Stengthening of Ties with Brahman

iɨuÉqÉxrÉÉÌSuÉÉYrÉÉåijÉoÉë¼ÉiqÉæMüiuÉoÉÉåkÉiÉÈ |
oÉë¼hrÉÉiqÉiuÉSÉžÉïrÉ xuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 283||
1 tat-tvam-asi aadi vaakya uttha From great maxims such as “That Thou Art” arises
2 brahma-atmaikatva bodhatah; knowledge of the identity of Brahman and Atman
3 brahmani aatmatvadaardhyaaya to strengthen your ties with Brahman. Thus, effect
4 sva-adhyaasa apanayam kuru. the negation of all superimpositions on yourself.

1 In Chapter 4.3, we had been through the Mahavakya “Tat Twam Asi”, and seen
how heavily it depends on the process of negation of the superimpositions on Ishwara and
Jiva. That is now being referred to in this verse.
2 The treasure of knowledge of Brahman arises after having performed the negation
of one’s superimpositions, namely, the five sheaths or Panchakoshas.
3 Having done so, we develop our tie with Brahman. We discover that we are His
own image. What better tie can we hope to have with the Supreme Reality. If we are related
to Brahman Himself, then we are heirs to His Divine Kingdom.

Verse 284: Concentration and Vigilance

AWûqpÉÉuÉxrÉ SåWåûÅÎxqÉͳÉÈzÉåwÉÌuÉsÉrÉÉuÉÍkÉ |
xÉÉuÉkÉÉlÉålÉ rÉÑ£üÉiqÉÉ xuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 284||
1 aham-bhaavasya dehe asmin Till the identification with the body
2 nihsheshha vilayaavadhi; is completely rooted out without so much as a trace,
3 saavadhaanena yuktaatmaa being a man of concentration, with vigilance effect
4 sva-adhyaasa apanayam kuru. the negation of all superimpositions on yourself.

1-2 For how long must we go on with the negation process? The answer to this
question is: “Till we cease identifying ourselves with our superimpositions.”
3 We will get over this bodily identification only if we are vigilant enough and
maintain concentration of mind while doing the rejection. It cannot be done inattentively.

Verse 285: No World Even in Dream

mÉëiÉÏÌiÉeÉÏïuÉeÉaÉiÉÉåÈ xuÉmlÉuÉ°ÉÌiÉ rÉÉuÉiÉÉ |


iÉÉuÉͳÉUliÉUÇ ÌuɲlxuÉÉkrÉÉxÉÉmÉlÉrÉÇ MÑü || 285||

1 prateetih jeeva-jagatoh The perception of the Jiva and the world –


2 svapnavat bhaati yaavataa; as long as it persists even as a dream,
3 taavat nirantaram vidvan so long, O learned one, continuously strive for
4 sva-adhyaasa apanayam kuru. the negation of all superimpositions on yourself.

200
1-3 The Chapter is concluded by returning to the Jiva, the ‘jugular’ among super-
impositions. When is it certain to have been conquered? The answer is when even in a
dream we do not experience individuality! That is how certain we need to be.

There are two ways of looking at this verse – from the Jnani’s standpoint and from
the Karma Yogi’s standpoint:

The Jnani’s Perspective: The Jnani is one who has the natural temperament that
accords priority to meditation. To him, as long as the Jiva and the world appear even as a
dream, he continues striving to withdraw his senses from the world, i.e. he continues with
his meditational practices.
Not even a dream-like semblance of old desires should persist. This is the Jnani’s
point. The translation given above fits this interpretation. The great Jnanis of the world
come under this category.

The Karma Yogi’s Perspective: The Karma Yogi is the one who has the natural
temperament that accords priority to work, some form of service activity. To him, until the
Jiva and the world appear only as a dream, he continues striving to withdraw his senses
from the world, i.e. he continues with his service activity with due caution.
As soon as the world and his own individuality appear to him only as a dream, he
takes it as a sign to stop the need to be cautious any more and plunges himself fully into
active service, because he now knows the world to be unreal and is no longer deluded by it.
The great Karma Yogis of the world come under this category.

On this subtle note which will certainly engage the intellect of the Vedantic seeker,
ends the second chapter on the theme of eliminating the superimpositions. We have now
tackled the problem from the causal angle of Vasanas (desires); from the subtle angle of the
superimposition of the mind; and the gross angle of the body-superimposition.
In the next chapter we have a few meditational exercises called Upasanas to assist
us in keeeping our ideal ever in view.

*****

201
5.3 UPASANAS – Meditational Exercises
(Verses 286 – 292, 7 No.)

Verse 286: Dangers of Forgetting the Ideal

ÌlÉSìÉrÉÉ sÉÉåMüuÉÉiÉÉïrÉÉÈ zÉoSÉSåUÌmÉ ÌuÉxqÉ×iÉåÈ |


YuÉÍcɳÉÉuÉxÉUÇ S¨uÉÉ ÍcÉliÉrÉÉiqÉÉlÉqÉÉiqÉÌlÉ || 286||

1 nidraayaah loka-vaartaayaah Through non-awareness, one indulges in worldly,


2 shabdaadeh api vismriteh; sensual matters, forgetting the Ideal.
3 kvachit na avasaram dattvaa By giving not an iota of chance to these two,
4 chintaya aatmaanam aatmani. maintain steady reflection upon the Self in the mind.

1-2 Forgetfulness can thwart the spiritual seeker very much. By forgetting the ideal
even slightly, one relaxes his hold on the senses, gives them the free play they desire, and
comes to ruin himself.
3-4 For this reason, the seeker is warned of two things: forgetfulness of the ideal and
sense-indulgence. He should, on the other hand, try his utmost to keep his mind always
engaged in thoughts of the Self. In order to do this, some Upasanas or meditational
exercises are necessary to begin with. This chapter offers six such Upasanas.

Verse 287: Upasana 1: Shun Body a Safe Distance Away

qÉÉiÉÉÌmɧÉÉåqÉïsÉÉå°ÕiÉÇ qÉsÉqÉÉÇxÉqÉrÉÇ uÉmÉÑÈ |


irÉYiuÉÉ cÉÉhQûÉsÉuɬÕUÇ oÉë¼ÏpÉÔrÉ M×üiÉÏ pÉuÉ || 287||

1 maataa-pitroh mala udbhootam Risen from the impurities of the mother and father,
2 mala-maamsa-mayam vapuh; constituted of flesh and its impurities, the body
3 tyaktvaa chaandaalavat dooram has to be shunned a safe distance, like an outcaste.
4 brahmee-bhooya kritee bhava. The nature thus divinised, one fulfills one’s life.

1-4 Sri Shankaracharyaji, from his own experience and vast realization, speaks to us
on a topic that may be repulsive to many today. Purely with a view to instilling dispassion in
our minds, a repulsive picture is created in our minds of the impurities of the body.
The great Teacher says “Shun the body a safe distance away.” How does one shun
one’s own body? Clearly, there is an implied meaning – that is the Upasana technique. The
method is: “Always remember the unwholesomeness of the body; it has unclean origins; it is
a bag of impure substances.” By this one steers himself away from the body. The idea is not
to get attached to the body.

202
Verse 288: Upasana 2: Pot Space & Ego Compared

bÉOûÉMüÉzÉÇ qÉWûÉMüÉzÉ CuÉÉiqÉÉlÉÇ mÉUÉiqÉÌlÉ |


ÌuÉsÉÉmrÉÉZÉhQûpÉÉuÉålÉ iÉÔwhÉÏÇ pÉuÉ xÉSÉ qÉÑlÉå || 288||
1 ghataakaasham mahaakaasha Like the pot space and the infinite space,
2 iva aatmaanam paraatmani; is the finite ego and the supreme Self;
3 vilaapya akhanda bhaavena Merging the two, and meditating on their identity,
4 tooshhneem bhava sadaa mune. remain forever peaceful, O sage!

At this juncture, the Teacher, as ever, offers a helping hand to the seeker. He selects
a suitable way for him to keep his mind on the Self.
1-2 He does this through a simple simile. It is easy to think of the relationship
between the space in a pot and the vast space outside the pot. There is no real difference
between the two, yet there is a physical distinction introduced by the mind.
3-4 The seeker can think of his narrow, individual ego as the pot-space, and the
Universal Self as the vast outside space. By pondering over this identity, at least he will get
some peace of mind, which will lead him towards realisation of God.

Verse 289: Upasana 3: “Pots of Dirt & Filth”

xuÉmÉëMüÉzÉqÉÍkɸÉlÉÇ xuÉrÉqpÉÔrÉ xÉSÉiqÉlÉÉ |


oÉë¼ÉhQûqÉÌmÉ ÌmÉhQûÉhQÇû irÉerÉiÉÉÇ qÉsÉpÉÉhQûuÉiÉç || 289||

1 svaprakaasham adhishhthaanam The self-luminous Substratum of all things is the


2 svayambhooya sadaatmanaa; sole Reality into which you yourself can merge.
3 brahmaandam api pindaandam The macrocosm and even the microcosm
4 tyajyataam malabhaandavat. are to be rejected, as two pots of dirt and filth.

Here is another aid similar to the one above. We must keep in mind that these are
Upasanas or mental exercises to help us catch the idea of the real thing:
1-2 Think of the Reality as something that underlies all things, such as a swimming
pool which supports all swimmers in it. Then we can feel that we are just floating upon
Reality. Every now and then we dive into the water and merge into that infinite Substratum!
3-4 We can extend the same idea to every other swimmer (the whole world). One
additional aid is added here: We are asked to think of the floating objects as “pots of dirt
and filth” or objects foreign to the swimming pool. This conveys to us an idea of the Reality
of the swimming pool in comparison to the Unreality of the swimmers.

Verse 290: Upasana 4: An Identity Shift From Body to Self

ÍcÉSÉiqÉÌlÉ xÉSÉlÉlSå SåWûÉÃRûÉqÉWûÎlkÉrÉqÉç |


ÌlÉuÉåzrÉ ÍsÉ…¡ûqÉÑixÉ×erÉ MåüuÉsÉÉå pÉuÉ xÉuÉïSÉ || 290||

203
1 chidaatmani sadaanande In the Atman that is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute,
2 deha aaroodhaam aham dhiyam; the identification, which is now rooted in the body,
3 niveshya lingam utsrijya is shifted to It. Similarly, the subtle body is rejected,
4 kevalah bhava sarvadaa. and to the pure Self alone is one identified.

In Upasanas, which are a quest for Reality, maximum constructive use is made of the
power of imagination in the mind. Here is an example of such an Upasana:
1 The Self is the Absolute level of Reality. It is infinite in every way.
2 Compared to the Self, the body is its very antithesis. It is extremely limited.
3-4 The Upasana is to shift one’s consciousness from the physical body to the subtle
body (mind); and then from the subtle body to the vast infinite of the Absolute.

Verse 291: Upasana 5: See the Mirror, Not the Reflection

rɧÉæwÉ eÉaÉSÉpÉÉxÉÉå SmÉïhÉÉliÉÈ mÉÑUÇ rÉjÉÉ |


iÉSèoÉë¼ÉWûÍqÉÌiÉ ¥ÉÉiuÉÉ M×üiÉM×üirÉÉå pÉÌuÉwrÉÍxÉ || 291||

1 yatra eshhah jagat aabhaasah There wherein is reflected the illusion of the universe,
2 darpanaantah puram yathaa; like the city reflected in a mirror,
3 tat brahma aham iti jnaatvaa knowing “I am That Brahman”,
4 krita krityah bhavishhyasi. you will experience the fulfillment of your life.

This is an interesting Upasana although a little difficult to practise:


1 Yatra: “There”. “There is Brahman”, says the teacher. “Where?” asks the pupil.
“Right where you are seeing the world now, at this very moment,” replies the teacher.
2 “What do you mean?” asks the pupil. The teacher says, “Just imagine a huge mirror
in front of you. The city behind you is being reflected in this mirror! You know that the city
you see is only a reflection, don’t you?”
3 “Yes, that is easy,” says the pupil. The teacher now instructs: “Now forget the
picture of the city. What do you see?” “Just the mirror, Sir.” “Exactly,” returns the teacher
triumphantly. “That’s an excellent answer. Know that mirror to be Brahman!”
4 “Is it as easy as that!” wonders the pupil. The teacher says, “Well, this is just an
Upasana for you to get the idea. Wait till you see the real thing – you will simply be
astounded!”

Verse 292: Upasana 6: Be the Actor, Not the Act

rÉixÉirÉpÉÔiÉÇ ÌlÉeÉÃmÉqÉɱÇ
ÍcÉS²rÉÉlÉlSqÉÃmÉqÉÌ¢ürÉqÉç |
iÉSåirÉ ÍqÉjrÉÉuÉmÉÑÂixÉ×eÉåiÉ
zÉæsÉÔwÉuɲåwÉqÉÑmÉɨÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ || 292||
204
yat satya-bhootam That which is intrinsically one’s essence,
1
nijaroopam aadyam one’s primeval nature;
chit advaya aanandam which is Absolute Knowledge and Bliss, non-dual,
2
aroopam akriyam; which is beyond all forms and activities;
tat etya Attaining That,
3
mithyaavapuh utsrijeta one should give up the false notions of the body,
shailooshhavat veshham just as an actor relinquishes his dress and make-up,
4
upaattam aatmanah. and the false role which he assumes upon himself .

This Upasana gets remarkably close to the “real thing”. We start from the back:
4 “Know that right now you are an actor playing a role. You are not the role you are
playing; so it has to be a false role. To play this false role, you have to put on a false
appearance. To put on the false appearance, you need to wear false clothes, a costume just
for the role you are playing.
3 “Now, at the end of the day’s work as an actor, you are tired, aren’t you? What do
you do? You go home, take off all that falseness you had put on while you were ‘working’.
All the falsity comes off, and what is left is YOU.
2 “But now who are you without all those false, acting outfits? Imagine you are
putting on your real outfit; it is an invisible outfit. Imagine that the real You, without those
false costumes, are an Absolute Being. Just as you had put aside your acting outfit, so also
imagine you have put on your ‘invisible’ outfit. Extend that to your body; you don’t have a
body – you are bodiless!
1 “Now, the big step: Can you accept that That is your primeval nature, that is the
real YOU, got it?”

The power behind Upasanas can be enormous. It is imagination well utilised. It leads
us Godwards. It is, of course, only an exercise, but it is an exercise which toughens our
spiritual muscles. An enormous change takes place deep inside us through such exercises.
Upasanas can be many. We can choose a different one each day, for each meditation
session. Its power to transform our mind can never be overestimated. Eventually, we realise
the real Entity, by transcending the imagination element.

*****

205
5.4 WHO IS THE EGO?
(Verses 293 – 297, 5 No.)

WE CLOSED THE LAST chapter with a beautiful simile that we are actors who should
be ready to undo our make-up. Now, there remains but one ‘make-up’ that is stuck fast to
us and that requires superhuman effort to remove – that ‘make-up’ is the Ego.
The Ahamkara or “Ego-sense” or just Ego for short, is one of the aspects of the
Antahkarana, our “inner instrument”. It is a superimposition. We have already discussed the
superimposition of the mind. The removal of the Ego is even more difficult. It is the most
painful operation for us, but it has to be done if we want enlightenment.
For the false to remove the false is an impossibility. We need to draw on the
knowledge gained from the Theory of Part 4, and meditate intensely upon it. The Upasanas
have given us some idea as to how to detach ourselves enough to be able to observe the
mind. We now build on this knowledge to turn completely within and catch the main culprit.
Sri Ramana Maharshi used to go directly to the point by insisting on the “Who am I?”
enquiry. This short Chapter compels us to adopt the witness attitude and see for ourselves
who Mr Ego is! Two further chapters continue with other aspects of the Ego.

Verse 293: The Ego is “Seen”, Fleeting & Momentary

xÉuÉÉïiqÉlÉÉ SØzrÉÍqÉSÇ qÉ×wÉæuÉ


lÉæuÉÉWûqÉjÉïÈ ¤ÉÍhÉMüiuÉSzÉïlÉÉiÉç |
eÉÉlÉÉqrÉWÇû xÉuÉïÍqÉÌiÉ mÉëiÉÏÌiÉÈ
MÑüiÉÉåÅWûqÉÉSåÈ ¤ÉÍhÉMüxrÉ ÍxÉkrÉåiÉç || 293||
sarvaatmanaa drishyam Everything that is ‘seen’ by the mind
1
idam mrishha eva comes under “This”, and is indeed unreal;
na eva aham arthah Verily, the EGO also is something that is not real,
2
kshhanikatva darshanaat; for it is seen to be fleeting.
jaanaami aham sarvam iti “I know everything” –
3
prateetih this is only an apparent perception;
kutah aham aadeh How can the Ego, which possesses
4
kshhanikasya sidhyet. such momentary perceptions, ever be valid?

1 We have already come across the technical words Idam or ‘This’ and Tat or ‘That’
in Part 4 when we discussed the “Tat Twam Asi” Mahavakya. In that context, ‘This’ meant
the Jiva, the individual soul. However, that is its narrowest sense. In its widest sense, ‘This’ is
taken to stand for everything that is unreal, i.e. the not-Self. The way to identify ‘This’ is to
check if it can be seen by anything superior to it.
2 The objects of the world are seen by the senses; the senses themselves are seen by
the mind; and the mind, too, is seen by the inner witness consciousness.
206
The Ego falls under the same category as does the mind, being part of the Antah-
karana. Hence it is to be considered as unreal. It is something that is changing all the time.
3 If that were not sufficient to prove its unreality, let us look at how Ego prides itself
on its knowing everything. How can it know everything when it is limited to just one
individual? Even if it is ‘puffed up’ it cannot know everything!
4 Surely, there is something very twisted in the Ego’s self-estimation. It borders on
lunacy, and therefore it cannot be true. One has to be detached from the Ego in order to be
able to see this truth.

Verse 294: The Real “I” is Witness of Ego

AWûqmÉSÉjÉïxiuÉWûqÉÉÌSxÉɤÉÏ
ÌlÉirÉÇ xÉÑwÉÑmiÉÉuÉÌmÉ pÉÉuÉSzÉïlÉÉiÉç |
oÉëÔiÉå ½eÉÉå ÌlÉirÉ CÌiÉ ´ÉÑÌiÉÈ xuÉrÉÇ
iÉimÉëirÉaÉÉiqÉÉ xÉSxÉ̲sɤÉhÉÈ || 294||
aham-padaarthah tu But the true import of the word ‘I’, i.e. the real “I”,
1
aham-aadi-saakshhee is the Witness of the Ego, etc.
nityam sushhuptau api Always, even in deep sleep,
2
bhaava darshanaat; Its presence is always seen.
broote hi ajah nityah “It is unborn, Eternal”, thus speaks
3
iti shrutih svayam the Shruti Herself of the real “I”.
tat pratyag aatmaa Therefore, that inner Self
4
sat asat vilakshhanah. is different from the gross and the subtle objects.

1 The previous verse compelled us to stand apart from this monster called Ego. The
position from which we are able to observe the Ego, is our true Self, which under this
circumstance of being an observer of ego, is called the ‘inner Witness’. There are other
terms for it, such as ‘conscience’, inner awareness, consciousness, etc.
2 The Witness is always present and it is constant. It does not change with changing
circumstances.
3 Regarding this Witness, the Shruti says that “It is unborn and Eternal.” It is obvious
that we cannot know this, and have to take the Shruti’s word on faith.
4 Sat Asat Vilakshanah: This is an important recurring phrase in Vedanta. Sat-Asat in
this case does not refer to the Reality and to Non-existence. It refers to the visible and the
invisible, i.e. the gross and the subtle realities, i.e everything that is created out of the five
elements. We have already come across it in verse 220 under Anandamaya Kosha.

Verse 295: Knower of Change must be Changeless

ÌuÉMüÉËUhÉÉÇ xÉuÉïÌuÉMüÉUuÉå¨ÉÉ
ÌlÉirÉÉÌuÉMüÉUÉå pÉÌuÉiÉÑÇ xÉqÉWïûÌiÉ |
qÉlÉÉåUjÉxuÉmlÉxÉÑwÉÑÎmiÉwÉÑ xTÑüOÇû
mÉÑlÉÈ mÉÑlÉSØï¹qÉxɨuÉqÉåiÉrÉÉåÈ || 295||
207
vikaarinaam Of all things which are liable to change,
1
sarva-vikaara-vettaa That which is the Knower of all changes,
nityah avikaarah is Eternal and Changeless and
2
bhavitum samarhati; is fully worthy of being called that.
manoratha svapna- For, in the waking state, in the dream state,
3
sushhuptishhu sphutam and in the deep sleep state, it is clearly
punah punah drishhtam perceived, one after the other,
4
asattvam etayoh. that the other two states do not exist simultaneously.

1-2 From a moving train we cannot tell what is not moving outside – everything
appears to be moving. Only when the train stops, can we definitely tell that. So also from
something that changes we cannot tell whether another object is changing or not. Only
from a changeless standpoint, can we know what else changes or remains still.
3-4 An example of this is given: The three states of waking, dream and deep sleep
are now considered. When we are in any one of those states, the other two appear with
certainty not to exist. This proves that all three must be unreal, and there is a need for a
fourth state from which Reality can be ‘seen’. Indeed, this is so – the Fourth state is the
‘changeless’ state of God-realisation.

Verse 296: Reject the Gross & Subtle Bodies

AiÉÉåÅÍpÉqÉÉlÉÇ irÉeÉ qÉÉÇxÉÌmÉhQåû


ÌmÉhQûÉÍpÉqÉÉÌlÉlrÉÌmÉ oÉÑήMüÎsmÉiÉå |
MüÉsɧÉrÉÉoÉÉkrÉqÉZÉhQûoÉÉåkÉÇ
¥ÉÉiuÉÉ xuÉqÉÉiqÉÉlÉqÉÑmÉæÌWû zÉÉÎliÉqÉç || 296||
ataho abhimaanam tyaja Therefore, reject your identification
1
maamsa-pinde with this ‘mass of flesh’, the gross body,
pinda-abhimaanini api and even this ‘mass of selfishness’, the subtle body,
2
buddhi-kalpite; which is an imaginations of the intellect.
kaalatraya abaadhyam That which cannot be denied in the three periods of time,
3
akhanda-bodham That alone is Absolute Knowledge;
jnaatvaa svam aatmaanam By realizing That as your own Self,
4
upaihi shaantim. attain to the state of supreme peace.

1-2 For the reason given above (that they are changing), we should reject both the
gross as well as the subtle bodies, called here by their derogatory terms ‘flesh’ and
‘selfishness’. The Ego and the intellect, like the mind, are part of the subtle Antahkarana.
Neither of them is eternal.
3-4 Only that which is Eternal, which “exists in all three periods of time”, is worthy of
being called the Absolute. The only thing that qualifies for that is the Self or Brahman.
A mundane example for this would be an anvil. All steel items are beaten into shape
on an anvil. They all change their shapes, but the anvil remains unchanged by all the beating
and heating. It is the ‘Self’ among all steel items.

208
Verse 297: Expanded Meaning of Gross & Subtle

irÉeÉÉÍpÉqÉÉlÉÇ MÑüsÉaÉÉå§ÉlÉÉqÉ-
ÃmÉÉ´ÉqÉåwuÉÉSìïzÉuÉÉÍ´ÉiÉåwÉÑ |
ÍsÉ…¡ûxrÉ kÉqÉÉïlÉÌmÉ MüiÉ×ïiÉÉSÏÇ-
xirÉYiuÉÉ pÉuÉÉZÉhQûxÉÑZÉxuÉÃmÉÈ || 297||
tyaja abhimaanam Renounce your identification with
1
kula gotra naama- family, lineage, name,
roopa aashrameshhu form and order of life (attributes of the body),
2
aardrashau aashriteshhu; and all dependence on the “foul” gross body;
lingasya dharmaan api (Renounce) even the subtle body
3
kartrita-aadeen, with its attributes such as doership, etc;
tyaktvaa bhava Thus by renouncing them, become
4
akhanda-sukha-svaroopah. the very essence of Absolute, unbroken Bliss.

This final verse of the Chapter asks us to make the greatest sacrifice with respect to
all traces of bodily as well as mental and intellectual identifications.
1-2 The previous verse asked us to reject the gross body, which was described as
“this mass of flesh”. The description of this mass is now expanded. Included in it are all that
is associated with them, namely, family ties, lineage, the social standing of the family, the
order of life (whether Brahmin, Kshatriya, etc.). All these are in some way offshoots of gross
body-association.
It is the ego’s trick to make us feel secure in a group. A lonely fish feels unsafe; in a
shoal it feels secure. This is to some extent an illusion, and the seeker is warned of the
danger behind this illusion, even with respect to spiritual organisations.
3-4 The previous verse also asked us to reject the subtle body, which was described
as “this mass of selfishness”. The description does not end there. Included are the mind and
intellect and all that is associated with them, namely, the feelings of doership and
enjoyership, the emotions, likes and dislikes, joys and sorrows, etc. All these are in some
way offshoots of subtle body association.

The final message of this Chapter is: “Just be your own true self. Avoid measuring up
to any past fancy, history, thought, peer pressure, etc. The ego had used all of that in the
past, and now when death awaits it, it will desperately try to cling on to anything that gives
it an identity. The seeker should beware of its strategies.
So crucial is it to dissociate from the clutches of the Ego at this stage, that another
two chapters are required to give more details of it . . .

*****

209
5.5 THE PLAY OF THE EGO
(Verses 298 – 309, 12 No.)

EGO IS THE RINGLEADER of all the obstacles that stand between us and God. Being
the first emanation from cosmic Ignorance, it is the last to leave its hold on us. It needs extra
consideration in the life spiritual. These verses provide valuable insights into the play of the
Ego, and are of great help to an aspirant in treading the path of meditation.
God and Ego cannot reign together. To obtain God we have to drop Ahamkara.
Strangely, the Ego is so cunning that because of the value attached to God-realisation, it
wants to add realisation as a feather under its cap!
The world is full of people who would do anything to get into the Guinness Book of
Records. The Ego drives people towards “achievements”, for it wishes to make a name for
itself. It does the same even to spiritual attainment, sabotaging one’s spiritual progress.
An Example: A man came to Pujya Gurudev saying that he had gone through the
Bhagavad Gita 18 times. Gurudev at once saw what his disease was and said, “Have you let
the Gita go through you even once? Until you do that you will never change.”
The Ego is destroyed by restraining the diverse waves of thought produced by it in
the mind. This can be done through discrimination. Even a trace of the poison of Ego should
not be allowed to remain.

Verse 298: Ego – Root of All Obstacles

xÉlirÉlrÉå mÉëÌiÉoÉlkÉÉÈ mÉÑÇxÉÈ xÉÇxÉÉUWåûiÉuÉÉå SعÉÈ |


iÉåwÉÉqÉåMüÇ qÉÔsÉÇ mÉëjÉqÉÌuÉMüÉUÉå pÉuÉirÉWûƒ¡ûÉUÈ || 298||

1 santi anye pratibandhaah There are other obstacles also


pumsah samsaarahetavo which hurl man into a whirl of births and deaths;
2
drishhtaah; we now take a look at these:
3 teshhaam ekam moolam For all of them, there is one root cause,
prathama vikaarah the very first modification of Ignorance,
4
bhavati ahangkaarah. and that is the Ego or Ahamkara.

1-2 It is acknowledged that there are many obstacles which hinder the spiritual
growth of man. We have been dealing with some of them.
3-4 The point is well made that Ego is at the root of all these obstacles.

Verse 299: Ego Not to be Entertained as Friend

rÉÉuÉixrÉÉixuÉxrÉ xÉqoÉlkÉÉåÅWûƒ¡ûÉUåhÉ SÒUÉiqÉlÉÉ |


iÉÉuÉ³É sÉåzÉqÉɧÉÉÌmÉ qÉÑÌ£üuÉÉiÉÉï ÌuÉsɤÉhÉÉ || 299||
210
1 yaavat syaat svasya sambandhah As long as there is any relationship
2 ahankaarena duraatmanaa; with this vile Ego,
3 taavat na leshamaatraa api so long there cannot be even the slightest
4 muktivaartaa vilakshhanaa. talk of Liberation, which is unparalleled.

1-2 The question that is raised in our mind is: Who is it that is having any relationship
with the Ego? The Ego is the Chief Officer of the Jiva. The Jiva is the total human being; the
Ego is a major part of this human being. The relationship is between the Jiva and the Ego.
3-4 While Jiva is entertaining Ego daily in his office, it cannot entertain anyone else
whom the Ego does not like. That keeps out the agents of God from coming anywhere near
Jiva’s office.
It is like appointments that are made with salesmen. Companies are very careful to
space out the visits of salespeople, so that one salesman does not meet another in the same
premises. Not only does it arouse natural jealousy between the salespersons, but the
company buyer runs the risk of giving away information about who he is dealing with.
The Jiva is placed in such a situation when it keeps Ego in its office for long hours,
entertaining him with tea and biscuits every time!

Verse 300: The Bliss of an Egoless Man

AWûƒ¡ûÉUaÉëWûÉlqÉÑ£üÈ xuÉÃmÉqÉÑmÉmɱiÉå |
cÉlSìuÉ̲qÉsÉÈ mÉÔhÉïÈ xÉSÉlÉlSÈ xuÉrÉqmÉëpÉÈ || 300||

1 ahamkaara-grahaat muktah Freed from the shackles of Ego,


2 svaroopam upapadyate; man gains his true nature.
chandravat Like the moon (that is freed from the eclipse),
3
vimalah poornah is untainted and full (infinite),
4 sadaanandah svayamprabhah. even so is an egoless man ever blissful and glowing.

Here is an extremely effective simile to describe the role played by the Ego. Sri
Shankaracharyaji expresses the whole simile in a positive way, as if there is no Ego.
3 People look forward to seeing the full moon. It is considered a very auspicious
night when the moon is bright and beautiful in the sky. When there is an eclipse, the moon
is sad; it cannot display its full glory. The earth steps into the path of the sunlight from the
sun to the moon. It intercepts the sunlight. Hence we cannot see the full moon. If it is a total
eclipse, we do not see the moon at all.
4 The earth represents the Ego; the moon represents the Jiva. Like the earth, the Ego
intercepts all the light, it ‘steals’ the limelight, as it were, that is due to the Jiva, taking all the
glory away for itself.
1-2 However, if the Jiva receives full light of the Self without it being obstructed by
the ego, he is very happy and wears a contented smile. He displays his true nature of joy.

211
Verse 301: The Freedom of the Egoless Self
rÉÉå uÉÉ mÉÑUå xÉÉåÅWûÍqÉÌiÉ mÉëiÉÏiÉÉå
oÉÑSèkrÉÉ mÉëYsÉ×miÉxiÉqÉxÉÉÅÌiÉqÉÔRûrÉÉ |
iÉxrÉæuÉ ÌlÉÈzÉåwÉiÉrÉÉ ÌuÉlÉÉzÉå
oÉë¼ÉiqÉpÉÉuÉÈ mÉëÌiÉoÉlkÉzÉÔlrÉÈ || 301||
yah vaa pure That which, in this ‘body-city’,
1
sah aham iti prateetah is perceived as “I am So-and-so” (the Ego),
buddhyaa praklriptah has been produced by the intellect,
2
tamasaa atimoodhayaa; and which is deluded by ‘Nescience’ –
tasya eva That is the Ego. When this Ego-sense
3
nihsheshhatayaa vinaashe is totally annihilated beyond resurrection,
brahmaatmabhaavah The identity of one’s Self with Brahman
4
pratibandhashoonyah. is rendered free of all obstruction.

Again the emphasis is on the positive side. Rather than speak of the obstruction, the
Acharya chooses to speak highly of the situation where there is no obstruction.
The Ego sticks tenaciously to Ignorance; its email ID is : ahamkara@avidya.com.
1-2 What is the inter-relationship among the Jiva (the individual human being),
Buddhi (the intellect), Avidya (Ignorance), Ahamkara (Ego) and Moha (Delusion)? The
answer is given in this line:
As usual, Sri Shankaracharyaji chooses an appropriate simile – that of a City.
The City stands for the Jiva.
The city is run by its Municipality, which stands for the Buddhi of the Jiva.
The municipality is made up of many Councillors. Each councillor represents one of
three political parties, namely Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. The overwhelming majority of the
councillors are from the Tamas Party, named Avidya. It is Avidya that calls all the shots in
the municipality.
The councillors elect a Mayor. Naturally, he turns out to be the most Tamasic one
among them. This mayor is Ahamkara, the “I am So-and-so” of the City!
The power of Tamas works through the mayor. Since Tamas is a dark force, full of
ignorance, the entire municipality is characterised by Moha.
This is how all the five major players in the city are inter-related.
EGO – the Mayor of the City
3-4 Now we know how the Ego was produced. He was elected into power by
members of the Avidya Party. How can it be “totally annihilated”? Simply by voting. If all the
citizens of the city cease voting for the Tamas Party, and instead bring into power the
Sattwa Party, then there will be a new Mayor in the city who will run it in a totally different
direction. The same city, with the same municipality but under a Sattwic mayor, becomes a
city free from all delusion, ignorance and conflict.
This is a situation worth striving for. Hence, we are urged to make every effort to
turn the Jiva-city into a Sattwic-city. The ‘annihilation of the Ego’ actually means the
complete cleansing of every councillor in the ‘intellect-municipality’.

212
Verse 302: The Ego-Serpent Guards the Self

oÉë¼ÉlÉlSÌlÉÍkÉqÉïWûÉoÉsÉuÉiÉÉÅWûƒ¡ûÉUbÉÉåUÉÌWûlÉÉ
xÉÇuÉåwšÉiqÉÌlÉ U¤rÉiÉå aÉÑhÉqÉrÉæ¶ÉhQæû Îx§ÉÍpÉqÉïxiÉMæüÈ
ÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉÉZrÉqÉWûÉÍxÉlÉÉ ´ÉÑÌiÉqÉiÉÉ ÌuÉÎcNû± zÉÏwÉï§ÉrÉÇ
ÌlÉqÉÔïsrÉÉÌWûÍqÉqÉÇ ÌlÉÍkÉÇ xÉÑZÉMüUÇ kÉÏUÉåÅlÉÑpÉÉå£ÑüXç¤ÉqÉÈ || 302||
brahmaananda-nidhih The treasure of Bliss of Brahman,
1 mahaabalavataa, is, by the mighty
ahankaara ghora ahinaa and dreadful serpent of the Ego, which is
samveshhtya aatmani encoiled in the mind (for its own selfish use),
2 rakshhyate gunamayaih, jealously guarded by the three Gunas,
chandaih tribhih mastakaih; the three fierce hoods of the serpent.
vijnaana aakhya mahaa asinaa With the great sword of Realisation,
3 shrutimataa, in accordance with scriptural teachings,
vichchhidya sheershha trayam these three hoods are to be severed.
nirmoolya ahim imam By completely destroying this Ego-serpent,
4 nidhim sukhakaram, the treasure which brings Bliss
dheerah anubhoktum kshhamah. becomes available for the wise man to enjoy!

The great Teacher is not done with the subject yet; more fire is breathed into it.
1-2 A new simile is introduced to show another face of the Ego. It pinpoints the
“vileness” of the Ego mentioned in verse 299. The Ego is depicted as a dreadful, venomous
serpent that stands fiercely on guard over the inner treasure of Eternal Bliss of Brahman. It
guards the treasure jealously with its very life. One has to pass the ‘Snake Test’ to reach it.
The serpent has three fierce-looking hoods. They are Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, the
three Gunas that constitute Nature. Together the hoods stand for Avidya, since Tamas is
predominant among them when it comes to the human being.
3-4 How can this serpent be killed? The only way is to follow the prescriptions given
in the scriptures which clearly lay down two instructions: increase Sattwa and reduce
Tamas. Once that is done, realisation of the Self becomes a real possibility. Realisation itself
is finally achieved at the funeral of the Mayor of the ‘Body-city’, Chief Councillor His
Honourable Mr Ego, and the gateway of Infinite Bliss is then opened to be enjoyed forever.

Verse 303: Even a Trace of Ego is Poisonous

rÉÉuÉ²É rÉÎiMüÎgcÉ̲wÉSÉåwÉxTÔüÌiÉïUÎxiÉ cÉå¬åWåû |


MüjÉqÉÉUÉåarÉÉrÉ pÉuÉå¨É²SWûliÉÉÌmÉ rÉÉåÌaÉlÉÉå qÉÑYirÉæ || 303||

1 yaavat vaa yat kinchit Verily, if and as long as there is even a trace
vishhadoshha sphoortih of the effect of the impurity of poison
2
asti chet dehe; remaining in the body,
3 katham aarogyaaya bhavet how can one hope for complete recovery?
tadvat ahantaa api Similarly, the Ego-sense is like poison
4
yoginah muktyai. to the meditating Yogi seeking liberation.

213
It is not as if the Ego is a snake waiting at the gates of Bliss threatening to bite if one
tries to enter. Such a snake can be avoided, just by avoiding the gates!
1-2 The Teacher closes up that escape route. He now says that we have already been
bitten by the snake of Ego. There is no question of avoiding the snake; it is now a question of
finding the right antidote to neutralise the poison that has been injected into our system.
3 The Ego poison has already spread from head to foot. Every part of the body is
filled with the Ego-sense – my eyes, my hair, my heart, my good looks, etc. How does one
find a snakebite serum for this poison?
4 Clearly, Sri Shankaracharya is cornering our Ego, and is determined, even in spite of
us, to cure it completely so that we can be liberated from the disease of worldliness
produced by the poison. How rare are such doctors in the world today!

Verse 304: The Snakebite Serum – Discrimination

AWûqÉÉåÅirÉliÉÌlÉuÉרrÉÉ iÉiM×üiÉlÉÉlÉÉÌuÉMüsmÉxÉÇ™irÉÉ |
mÉëirÉ£ü¨uÉÌuÉuÉåMüÉÌSSqÉWûqÉxqÉÏÌiÉ ÌuÉlSiÉå iɨuÉqÉç || 304||
ahamah atyanta-nivrittyaa, By the complete cessation of the ego-sense,
1 tatkrita naanaa vikalpa the diverse mental waves created by it
samhrityaa; (the ego itself), are restrained.
pratyak tattva-vivekaat Through discrimination of the innermost Reality,
2 idam aham asmi iti “I am This” –
vindate tattvam. one gains or experiences the Reality.

The right serum is discovered at last, coming directly from the laboratory of the
Divine Doctor, Sri Shankaracharyaji. From the title of the Book we could have guessed what
it is: “Viveksin” – 2 tablets taken daily before meditation.
1-2 The birth of the Ego is an error in the intellect, the creation of the thought “I am”
with respect to everything other than the Self. The only way such a poison can be removed
is by careful Discrimination. How can I be the five sheaths that encase the Self. In such
piercing discrimination between the Self and the not-Self, lies our only hope of eliminating
the poison of Ego-sense once and for all. No other method exists to get rid of this disease.
It is something that Sri Adi Shankaracharyaji has become well-known for. Time and
again he has stressed that if Ignorance is the disease, then Knowledge is the only cure. If
narrow individuality (Ego) is the disease, then opening oneself to universality can be the
only cure. It is as logical as that.
Any trace of identification with the ego-sense implies identification with the body,
mind and intellect. That automatically implies that there is a sense of ‘doership’. This
indicates that we still have a bond with our subtle body that is preventing us from uniting
ourselves fully with the Self. We are anchored to the subtle body, which has its origin in the
Tanmatras or subtle elements. These elements are emanations that fall into the ‘not-Self’
category. Any link with the ‘not-Self’ implies that we are not linked to our Self.
With Sri Shankaracharyaji, that is the only miraculous cure he believed in, as with all
the other Vedantic Masters. To this day, no one has come up with any other “magic pill”!

214
Verse 305: The Ego-Mess!

AWûƒ¡ûÉUå MüiÉïrÉïWûÍqÉÌiÉ qÉÌiÉÇ qÉÑgcÉ xÉWûxÉÉ


ÌuÉMüÉUÉiqÉlrÉÉiqÉmÉëÌiÉTüsÉeÉÑÌwÉ xuÉÎxjÉÌiÉqÉÑÌwÉ |
rÉSkrÉÉxÉÉimÉëÉmiÉÉ eÉÌlÉqÉ×ÌiÉeÉUÉSÒÈZÉoÉWÒûsÉÉ
mÉëiÉÏcÉͶÉlqÉÔiÉåïxiÉuÉ xÉÑZÉiÉlÉÉåÈ xÉÇxÉ×ÌiÉËUrÉqÉç || 305||
ahangkaare kartari The ego-sense thinks “I am the Doer”,
1 aham iti matim “I am So-and-so” – such thinking
muncha sahasaa should be renounced immediately.
vikaara aatmani The Ego’s nature is ever changing;
2 aatma-pratiphala-jushhi it is lit up only by a reflection of the Self;
sva-sthiti-mushhi; it distracts a man from being established in his Self.
yat adhyaasaat praaptaa Due to the superimposition of the Ego, one has reached
3 jani-mriti-jaraa- the state where birth, death, decay
duhkha-bahulaa and miseries are faced in maximum measure.
prateechah chinmoorteh You, being the inner Self, the essence of Pure Knowledge,
4 tava sukhatanoh for you there awaits the very embodiment of Bliss;
samsritih iyam. yet, look, what a dreadful worldly existence is yours!

Great is Our Loss


1 The biggest problem we encounter comes to us from the “I”-thought produced in
the intellect. The feeling of being the doer and the enjoyer has long-lasting consequences.
2 We get upset when someone takes away our pen. Here we have the Ego who is
stealing our true Self, and we let him do it without any protest! How can we be so foolish to
allow it? We are letting the pounds slip away but we guard our pennies like gold!
3 The blame for transmigration – the endless round of births and deaths – is laid on
the Ego, since it tries to grab everything for itself and incurs all the Karma in doing so. All the
Paapa or demerits incurred eventually bear fruit in the form of sorrow and miseries.
4 Without the Ego we would be emperors of this world. We have infinite property
when we are conscious of being our true Self. Why do we let this Ego deny us access to this
birthright of ours? What we are heir to and what we are claiming are poles apart. We have
become beggars instead of emperors!

A TWO-PRONGED ATTACK ON THE EGO


One approach is to ignore the ego-sense by remaining in Self-abidance. By keeping
our attention on the Self, by continuing to abide in It, we enjoy the higher state of
consciousness and the ego-sense gets thinned out by itself. The best antidote to the ego-
sense is abidance in the Self. This can be done by increasing our period of meditation.
However, when we are not meditating, we can turn our attention to deal with the
ego directly. Both methods may be used to advantage, depending on where our mind is
resting at a particular moment. A two-pronged attack on the enemy can be more effective
to remove the false ego-sense.

215
Verse 306: Slavish Transmigration Due to Ego

xÉSæMüÃmÉxrÉ ÍcÉSÉiqÉlÉÉå ÌuÉpÉÉå-


UÉlÉlSqÉÔiÉåïUlÉuɱMüÐiÉåïÈ |
lÉæuÉÉlrÉjÉÉ YuÉÉmrÉÌuÉMüÉËUhÉxiÉå
ÌuÉlÉÉWûqÉkrÉÉxÉqÉqÉÑwrÉ xÉÇxÉ×ÌiÉÈ || 306||
sadaikaroopasya You are eternally the same,
1
chidaatmanah vibhoh you are Knowledge Absolute, omnipresent;
aanandamoorteh You are Bliss Absolute,
2
anavadyakeerteh; you are of unsullied glory and fame;
naiva anyathaa kva api Never can there be transmigration
3
avikaarinah te for you who are immutable;
vinaa aham adhyaasam In fact, had it not been for identification with the Ego,
4
amushhya samsritih. there could never be transmigration for you.

Here the psychology applied is to discredit the value of Ego in the eyes of the Jiva.
The Jiva is being addressed as “You”.
1-2 Without the Ego, this is our height, width and depth – Infinity, Absolute
Knowledge and Bliss.
3-4 With the Ego, this is our height – mere slavish transmigration to and fro from this
world to another and back.
What do we want? Do we want to grow taller towards God, or stay on the ground
floor and be suffocated by the pangs of transmigration?

Verse 307: The Thorn of Ego in the Throat!

iÉxqÉÉSWûƒ¡ûÉUÍqÉqÉÇ xuÉzɧÉÑÇ
pÉÉå£ÑüaÉïsÉå MühOûMüuÉimÉëiÉÏiÉqÉç |
ÌuÉÎcNû± ÌuÉ¥ÉÉlÉqÉWûÉÍxÉlÉÉ xTÑüOÇû
pÉÑXç¤uÉÉiqÉxÉÉqÉëÉerÉxÉÑZÉÇ rÉjÉå¹qÉç || 307||

1 tasmaat ahankaaram imam sva-shatrum Therefore, consider this Ego as your enemy;
2 bhoktuh gale kantakavat prateetam; It is like a thorn in the throat of the eater.
3 vichchhidya vijnaana-mahaa-asinaa Destroy it with the great sword of Realisation
sphutam yatheshhtam bhunkshhva and directly and freely you can enjoy
4
aatma-saamraajya-sukham. the Bliss of your own Empire.

1-4 A very unusual simile is brought in here to describe our state of folly. Imagine a
person sitting in front of his favourite dish of food. He wants to relish it, but there is a thorn
in his throat. He can never swallow even a bit of the food until the thorn is removed. This is
the fate of man who cannot enjoy his kingship of the whole world until the small thorn of his
Ego is removed from his intellect.

216
Verse 308: Non-Duality – the Only Solution for Ego

iÉiÉÉåÅWûqÉÉSåÌuÉïÌlÉuÉirÉï uÉ×̨ÉÇ
xÉlirÉ£üUÉaÉÈ mÉUqÉÉjÉïsÉÉpÉÉiÉç |
iÉÔwhÉÏÇ xÉqÉÉxxuÉÉiqÉxÉÑZÉÉlÉÑpÉÔirÉÉ
mÉÔhÉÉïiqÉlÉÉ oÉë¼ÍhÉ ÌlÉÌuÉïMüsmÉÈ || 308||
tatah ahamaadeh Thereafter, the Ego’s
1
vinivartya vrittim activities need to be kept in check;
santyakta raagah All attachments have to be renounced,
2
paramaartha-laabhaat; through the experience of the Supreme Reality.
tooshhneem samaassva Remain serene
3
aatma sukha anubhootyaa through the enjoyment of the Bliss of the Self.
poornaatmanaa Being the Infinite Self,
4
brahmani nirvikalpah. remain in Brahman alone, free from all duality.

Logically, Non-duality can be the only lasting solution to dissolve the Ego once and
for all. The very origin of the Ego lies in Duality: It is produced in the subtle body, a realm of
Duality. Its concerns are only with Duality all its life. Non-duality spells its death.
1 Aham Vrittim: The Ego has a legitimate role to play; it has its “activities” to fulfil;
else, we will not be able to survive as entities in the world. The complaint against the Ego is
not in its legitimate realm, but when it oversteps its limits and becomes greedy for more.
2-4 With further progress on the spiritual path, the Ego recedes into oblivion. The
reins of the Jiva are controlled from the level of the Witness, the Self’s representative in the
intellect. This verse emphatically points this out in every way possible:
2 Paramaartha: “the Supreme Reality”; 3 Aatma Sukha: “Bliss of the Self”;
4a Poornaatmanaa: “being the Infinite Self”;
4b Brahmani: “in Brahman alone”.

Verse 309: Kill Off Ego, Lest it Revives

xÉqÉÔsÉM×ü¨ÉÉåÅÌmÉ qÉWûÉlÉWÇû mÉÑlÉÈ


urÉÑssÉåÎZÉiÉÈ xrÉɱÌS cÉåiÉxÉÉ ¤ÉhÉqÉç |
xÉgeÉÏurÉ ÌuɤÉåmÉzÉiÉÇ MüUÉåÌiÉ
lÉpÉxuÉiÉÉ mÉëÉuÉ×ÌwÉ uÉÉËUSÉå rÉjÉÉ || 309||
samoolakrittah api Unless it is completely rooted out,
1
mahaan aham punah this terrible Ego-sense can again
vyullekhitah syaat yadi be revived if it lingers on
2
chetasaa kshhanam; in the mind even for a moment.
sanjeevya Returning to life,
3
vikshhepa-shatam karoti it can create hundreds of distractions;
nabhasvataa praavrishhi Even as the wind during the rainy season,
4
vaaridah yathaa. ushers in more clouds (soon after the rain).

217
1-4 If even a trace of ego is left unchecked, it can suddenly revive itself in the mind.
Even a moment of its revival can become a cause of great hindrance to our spiritual life. The
simile given here is of a cloud that comes as if from nowhere during the rainy season. That
cloud is the trace of ego still left. If we do not check it, it will build up and precipitate rain.
Rain will then lead to the growth of the whole chain of ‘ego-centred life’ to its original
proportions. All the gain we have made through Sadhana can thus be nullified by a moment
of inadvertance.
The Ego will draw our attention if we feel that it is more real than the Self. It will also
distract us if it is stronger than our aspiration for the Self. In that case, it will make us forget
the Self. Hence, this suggests that our constant effort should be to weaken the ego-sense at
any cost, by consciously not submitting to its demands. As long as our desire for God is
stronger than our desire for pleasures, we will be able to continue smoothly with our
Sadhana. The difficulty is in maintaining this positive state all the time.
What prevents us from remaining positively focussed on our Goal? The answer is laid
bare in the next Chapter . . .

*****

218
5.6 THE TRIO: VASANAS – RUMINATION – EGO
(Verses 310 – 319, 10 No.)

SRI SHANKARACHARYA IS addressing in these pages of the book an aspirant of a


fairly high standard. The aspirant whom we are dealing with at this juncture of the text is
someone who is fairly advanced on the spiritual path. He has come up to the Nididhyasana
stage. That is no ordinary level; not many aspirants are found at this level.
The following 10 verses are a “Self Test” for aspirants to see how well prepared they
are for this stage of Sadhana. Spiritual life is a deeply personal pursuit. One has to introspect
and examine himself. Just as we regularly take our cars for servicing, or just as we regularly
go for a full medical check-up to see how we are doing healthwise – so also a spiritual
aspirant has to take a regular Self Test to see how well he is faring on this difficult path.
The three K’s – Kanchana, Kaamini and Keerti (wealth, passion and fame) – do not
spare anybody, not even the spiritual aspirant who has reached this spiritual height. This is
something that should alert us and remind us not to overestimate ourselves. If advanced
aspirants can be troubled by the three K’s, how would less evolved souls fare in this matter?
This is something to think about.
One has to be eternally vigilant in order to gain mastery over these deeply-seated
desire impulses. Hence, an entire chapter on the spiritual “Self Test”.

Verse 310: The Result of Rumination

ÌlÉaÉ×½ zɧÉÉåUWûqÉÉåÅuÉMüÉzÉÈ
YuÉÍcÉ³É SårÉÉå ÌuÉwÉrÉÉlÉÑÍcÉliÉrÉÉ |
xÉ LuÉ xÉgeÉÏuÉlÉWåûiÉÑUxrÉ
mÉë¤ÉÏhÉeÉqoÉÏUiÉUÉåËUuÉÉqoÉÑ || 310||
nigrihya shatroh ahamah Having once overpowered this enemy, the Ego,
1-
avakaashah kvachit na deyah not a single moment’s rest should be given to it
2
vishhaya anuchintayaa; to ruminate over sense objects.
sa eva sanjeevanahetuh asya That is verily the cause of its return to life,
3-
iva ambu prakshheena just as, for a citrus tree that has dried up, water
4
jambeerataroh. is the cause for its flowering again.

1 The starting point of the discussion is an Ego-disease which has already undergone
sufficient treatment to be considered ‘dead’ and free from being troublesome. Just when
we think we are free from the disease, this is what starts happening . . .
2 Vishaya Anuchintayaa: “ruminating over the sense objects”. This resurrects the
Ego; it keeps the Ego alive and kicking, as it were. In this chapter Rumination is a key factor
that is considered. The other two factors are Vasanas and the Ego. The inter-relationship
between these three factors is built up throughout this chapter.

219
3-4 Shankaracharyaji typically ties the discussion to a fitting simile. The citrus is the
deciduous, lemon tree. When it is not in season, it appears as good as a dead tree. There are
no leaves on it. However, as soon as the first rains come, it suddenly comes to life in
appearance. And very soon it brings forth its fruit. This is a perfect example of what can
happen to a dormant Ego.
An Ego under check is like the dormant citrus tree. To all appearances it is as good as
dead. Then suddenly we go through a period when our thoughts go out of control. It is the
‘rainy’ season for the thoughts. They just cannot stop ruminating over some sense object or
other. The thoughts repeat themselves again and again in the mind.
Desire soon breaks through the skin. The dormant Vasanas or desire-impulses in us
are re-kindled. Very soon we have an Ego-tree that is flourishing with leaves and flowers of
sense pleasures! Before we know it, the Ego bounces back to life and starts its full play.

Verse 311: Rumination Rouses the Body-Idea

SåWûÉiqÉlÉÉ xÉÇÎxjÉiÉ LuÉ MüÉqÉÏ


ÌuÉsɤÉhÉÈ MüÉqÉÌrÉiÉÉ MüjÉÇ xrÉÉiÉç |
AiÉÉåÅjÉïxÉlkÉÉlÉmÉUiuÉqÉåuÉ
pÉåSmÉëxÉYirÉÉ pÉuÉoÉlkÉWåûiÉÑÈ || 311||
dehaatmanaa samsthita One who has identified himself with the body,
1
eva kaamee he alone is desirous (for sense pleasures);
vilakshhanah One devoid of the body-idea –
2
kaamayitaa katham syaat; how can he be desirous?
atah artha-sandhaana Hence, the tendency to ruminate
3
paratvam eva over sense objects is indeed
bheda-prasaktyaa caused by the idea of distinction and duality,
4
bhava-bandha-hetuh. and is the cause of all bondage of existence.

1-2 There is a deeper understanding of Desire. Desire rests on the false assumption
that one can find joy and happiness from the outside world. Once this basic belief takes root
in us, connected to it is the full co-operation of body and mind. Body and mind become
mere instruments that serve this belief. The lingering of desires in the mind indicate that we
have not overcome the belief completely. The rise of desire and subsequent involvement of
the body is only due to the fundamental belief that happiness lies in an external object.
3-4 The tendency to ruminate over objects has its roots in this belief, not in anything
else. The belief is rooted in Duality. If we feel a sense of incompleteness, that means Duality
is present; in Oneness there cannot be the sense of incompleteness. Duality means
distinctions, and this manifests first in our thoughts and then in our actions. The ‘Desirer-
Desire-Desired’ trio is bound to crop up in due course.

Verse 312: Subdual of Effects – An Imperative


MüÉrÉïmÉëuÉkÉïlÉɯÏeÉmÉëuÉ×Î®È mÉËUSØzrÉiÉå |
MüÉrÉïlÉÉzÉɯÏeÉlÉÉzÉxiÉxqÉÉiMüÉrÉïÇ ÌlÉUÉåkÉrÉåiÉç || 312||
220
kaarya-pravardhanaat When the effects are flourishing,
1-
beeja-pravriddhih the seeds also increase;
2
paridrishyate; this iswhat we observe (from experience).
kaarya-naashaat When the effects are destroyed,
3-
beeja-naashah the seeds also are destroyed.
4
tasmaat kaaryam nirodhayet. Therefore, the effects must be subdued.

How can we stop desire-thoughts from arising? The strategy is based on the observa-
tion of what we see in life. The relationship between cause and effect is clearly shown so
that we know how we may tackle such a situation when it does arise.
1-2 The example of a tree and its relation to the seed is given here. The tree grows
from the seed. The seed is the cause and the tree, the effect. In course of time, the tree
produces many more seeds which can produce more trees.
3-4 Thus the strategy for checking the propagation of this chain is, “Stop the effects,
and the cause will thin out of itself and disappear.” Let us apply this strategy.

Verse 313: Vasanas & Ego’s Effects

uÉÉxÉlÉÉuÉ×ήiÉÈ MüÉrÉïÇ MüÉrÉïuÉ×SèkrÉÉ cÉ uÉÉxÉlÉÉ |


uÉkÉïiÉå xÉuÉïjÉÉ mÉÑÇxÉÈ xÉÇxÉÉUÉå lÉ ÌlÉuÉiÉïiÉå || 313||

1 vaasanaa-vriddhitah kaaryam Increase in Vasanas causes increase in effects;


2 kaarya-vriddhyaa cha vaasanaa; And increase in effects causes increase in Vasanas.
3 vardhate sarvathaa pumsah The two increase each other. Thus man’s
4 samsaarah na nivartate. transmigration never comes to an end.

This verse applies the above strategy to the “Vasana-Effects-Vasana” loop; it is


identical to the “seed-tree-seed” loop.
1-4 We have a loop whereby one increases the other, just as the seed and tree
increase each other. Both will go on increasing or propagating themselves. If we do not
intervene and stop either one of the two, the loop will never end. The loop has to be broken
at some point, either by stopping the Vasanas or by stopping their expressions in the world
of sense gratification.
The suggestion from the previous verse is that the expression of Vasanas is the
better option to be stopped. To check the Vasanas themselves is impossible; it is like trying
to check the growth of a growing tree. We have to check the flowers, i.e. the expressions of
the ego, then no further seeds of Vasanas are produced, and gradually the Vasanas will get
thinned out. If we refuse to give expression to the promptings of the Vasanas, they will die a
natural death. That is the only sensible strategy.

Verse 314: The Trio: Vasanas = Rumination + Ego

xÉÇxÉÉUoÉlkÉÌuÉÎcNû¨rÉæ iÉSè ²rÉÇ mÉëSWåû±ÌiÉÈ |


uÉÉxÉlÉÉuÉ×ήUåiÉÉprÉÉÇ ÍcÉliÉrÉÉ Ì¢ürÉrÉÉ oÉÌWûÈ || 314||
221
1 samsaara-bandha-vichchhittyai In order to snap the chain of transmigration,
2 tat dvayam pradahet yatih; the seeker should burn to ashes these two
3 vaasanaa-vriddhih etaabhyaam which lead to an increase in Vasanas. The two are:
chintayaa i) Internal Rumination or thinking of sense objects;
4
kriyayaa bahih. ii) External Actions that are driven by the Ego.

The entire foregoing discussion has the aim of bringing us to this crucial point of
grasping the full situation. There are three participants in the descent of our consciousness
into grossness, and eventually into bondage and the unavoidable transmigration. They are
jointly named as the TRIO, and can be put in the form of an equation:

1. VASANAS = 2. INTERNAL RUMINATING THOUGHTS + 3. EXTERNAL EGOIC ACTIONS

1-2 The purpose and the chief means are given in this Pada.
i) The Purpose: to snap the never-ending chain of transmigration.
ii) The Means: to “burn to ashes” Rumination and Egoic Activities.
3-4 The two parts of the means can be logically understood by seeing them as
follows: Rumination is an internal process of thinking of or harbouring Vasanas or desires in
the mind. We have seen how ruinous this can be in the very first verse of this chapter.
Egoic Actions is the external process of acting out the Vasanas. These are the effects
of the Vasanas, and are the preferred target of all our effort to stop the cycle.
If these two are ‘burnt to ashes’, then the Vasanas can be exhausted. We should
never feed the Vasanas by giving expression to them. That is the golden rule to follow.

Verse 315: Destruction of the ‘Trio’

iÉÉprÉÉÇ mÉëuÉkÉïqÉÉlÉÉ xÉÉ xÉÔiÉå xÉÇxÉ×ÌiÉqÉÉiqÉlÉÈ |


§ÉrÉÉhÉÉÇ cÉ ¤ÉrÉÉåmÉÉrÉÈ xÉuÉÉïuÉxjÉÉxÉÑ xÉuÉïSÉ || 315||
1 taabhyaam pravardhamaanaa saa Augmented by these two,
2 soote samsritim aatmanah; the Vasanas produce one’s transmigration.
3 trayaanaam cha kshhaya upaayah The means of destroying this ‘Trio’
4 sarva avasthaasu sarvadaa, is, under all circumstances, always, . . .

Verse 316: . . . by Longing for God


xÉuÉï§É xÉuÉïiÉÈ xÉuÉïoÉë¼qÉɧÉÉuÉsÉÉåMülÉæÈ |
xÉ°ÉuÉuÉÉxÉlÉÉSÉžÉï¨Éi§ÉrÉÇ sÉrÉqÉzlÉÑiÉå || 316||
5 sarvatra sarvatah sarva . . . everywhere, in all respects, and in all,
6 brahma maatra avalokanaih; to look upon everything as Brahman alone.
7 sadbhaava-vaasanaa-daardhyaat By strengthening the longing to be one with
8 tat trayam layam ashnute. Brahman, the ‘Trio’ is annihilated.

222
1-2 This is equivalent to the following:

1. Vasanas  2. Rumination + 3. Egoic Actions  TRANSMIGRATION

3-6 The means to come out of this fall from Grace is said to be, “Look upon
everything as pure Brahman alone.” This is the Vedantic solution.
7-8 It is the only way of destroying the ‘Trio’, items 1, 2 and 3.
The feminine singular pronoun Saa is used to indicate the ‘Trio’, the triune feminine
nouns Vasanaa, Chintyaa and Kaaryaa (latent impressions, rumination and ego-driven
activities). These are the three parts in the equation given under verse 314.

THE BRAHMA-ASTRA & THE DIVINE NAME


The method: “See everything as Brahman alone,” is the Brahma-Astra to destroy
the Trio, namely, Vasanas, Rumination & Egoic Activity. Not everyone can use the Brahma-
Astra. It must be noted that this is a very difficult solution, and for that reason it is also the
most effective and