Friday, February 26, 2010

Atma Bodha By Sri Sri Adhi Shankaracharya

Atma Bodha


The knowledge of Self is that which is ever present but still forgotten due to the ignorance, hence, as Sri Sri Sankara instructs in Laghu Vakya Vritti, a seeker must continuously think about the reality, meditate on that and discuss on that till the knowledge becomes clear. Sri Sri Sankara out of compassion for such seekers has written a number of small works in which he explains the Reality in simple words. Let us now proceed to work, "Atma Bodha".

The text of Atma Bodha conveys the message of Jnana Yoga (the path of knowledge). Through beautifully written 68 verses, Sri Sri Shankara explains us the nature of the Self, in the work "Atma Bodha" or "Self Knowledge". As the name indicates, this text deals with teachings of the Self.

Atma Bodha is special from other works of Sri Sri Sankara in that many Subtle concepts have been cleared pointed out here. For example the theory of Vritti Jnaana and Svaroopa Jnaana has been clearly brought out --- this is important because this point is considered to be an addition to Sri Sri Sankara's theory by Vivarana School (Acharya Prakashaatman Yathi).

Another important thing in this work is that each and every sloka has
an anology associated with it for the better understanding of the seeker.

There is not even one sloka in this work which doesn't have an anology or udaaharana associated with it. Atma Bodha also has an original commentary considered to be that of Padmapada (one of the four direct disciples of Sri Sri Sankara). If the commentary is that of Padmapada then it clearly shows the importance of the work which made Padmapada write a commentary to it...... This commentary is available as part of some 12 works of Sri Sri Sankara along with sub commentaries (titled Prakarana Dwaadashi) from Dakshinamurthy Mutt in Varanasi. But the book has only Sanskrit texts with no translations.

There is yet another Sanskrit commentary on Atma Bodha by Swami
Harshananda Puri (head of Ramakrishna Mission Bangalore) which is also really enlightening and simple.

Tat Tvam Asi (That Thou Art)

From chapter "Who am I?" (Page 139) from the book “Ganapati” by Prof. Grimes:

Once many years ago, I had a "chance" meeting with an Indian saint. He asked, in broken English, "Been India?" Since I had been in India for a number of years, the best, most easily demonstrable answer was to wobble my head in the characteristic side to side manner known to most Indians. The moment he saw that "wobble", he got a big grin on his face, entered the room, and closed the door behind him. He asked me, "Who you?" Having lived in India and being used to this type of English and being young and polite I began to answer him, "I am John Grimes," but just as I reached the G of Grimes, he said "Bas, family name, who you?" (Bas is Hindi for "stop, enough.") Again, since I have lived in India and studied Indian thought, I very confidently and boldly began to reply, "I am the immortal Atman," but just as I reached the A of Atman, again he stopped me with another "Bas, book name, who you?" With the first "stop", he wiped out my physical body. With the second "stop", he wiped out my entire mental universe. What was left? With two small words, he had succeded in conveying to me that I was neither my physical body nor my mental knowledge. How to answer him? So I said, "I do not know." Quick as a wink, he responded, "Find out." I replied, "How?" He responded, "Not how, find out." Again I asked, "How?" He was holding a handkerchief in his hand and he opened his fingers and let the handkerchief drop to the ground and as it fell he said, "Let go." Again I asked, "How [to let go]?" He responded, "Not how, let go." And then he turned and left the room.

Almost twenty years passed before I learned that this monk supposedly did not speak English. How interesting! A person who did not speak English magnificently managed to teach the Vedantic truth that one is neither one's body not one's thoughts, all in two words, As if that was not enough, he proceeded to teach me how to "find out who I really am" with another two words ("let go"). We all know how to let go, we do it every night when we go to sleep. We never ask our mother, "Mom, how do I go to sleep?" We just "let go" and sleep came. However, we become confused, disturbed, when someone asks us to "let go" of out preconceived notions as to who we are. Like this, we look for a technique in order to meditate or to find an answer to the question, Who am I?


tapobhi kshiiNapaapaanaaM shaantaanaaM viitaraagiNaam.h .
mumukshuuNaamapekshyo.ayamaatmabodho vidhiiyate .. 1

Pada Artha:

Tapobhihi: by austerities
Ksheena Papaanam: for those who have purified themselves
Shantaanam: for those who are calm
Veetaraaginaam: for those who are free from carvings
Mumukshunam: for those who are desirous of liberation
Apekshaya: worthy of attending
Ayam: this
Atmabodhaha: knowledge of Self
Vidheeyate: being composed (by me)

I am composing the Atma-Bodha, this treatise of the Knowledge of the Self, for those who have purified themselves by austerities and are peaceful in heart and calm, who are free from cravings and are desirous of liberation.

Sri Sri Sankara in this sloka is explaining the qualifications needed for those who wish to take up the studies of this work. The great teacher out of compassion is explaining about those who are fit to learn the work. Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining that treatise of self knowledge is meant for those whose sins are destroyed by religious austerities, who are calm at Mind, devoid of attachment and are desirous of liberation. These together are but the Sadhana Chatushtayam {Viveka, Vairagya, Sat Sampthi & Mumukshuthvam.}

Sri Sri Shankara first starts with the austerities as “one who has done the tapas”. Tapas are of three types {Thought, Word & Deed} those at the physical level (Action) which includes worship of Gods, cleanliness, various nitya karmas etc. The next tapas are those of the speech, consisting of truthful, pleasant words which will lead the Mind to calmness and peace. The last is those of the Mind which consists of practice of inner calmness, kindness and silence, which are very much needed to control the Mind and its thoughts. These three put togather when pure is called Trikarna Shuddhi. All these disciplines cleanse the body and the Mind and prepare a seeker for receiving the knowledge. Hence the great Sri Sri Shankara puts forth that only those seekers who have purified themselves by such austerities are fit to receive the knowledge.

Sri Sri Shankara next mentions about peace and calmness of Mind. Only that intellect which is calm and devoid of all thoughts can perceive the reality. It is only when there are no modifications that the reality of Self shines forth as clearly as the thread between the pearls. Hence to gain the knowledge and conviction, it is very necessary to have peace and calmness. This can only be obtained if one is undisturbed by any happenings of the world and has neither liking nor hatred to any objects. This is what Sri Sri Shankara mentions as “Those who are free from carving”.

Only when the Mind is trained to see oneness everywhere can there be tranquility. Only when the Mind is tranquil can the knowledge become clear.

It has to be capable of being calm in any situations and be constantly immersed in the teachings of the scriptures and the Guru.
Likings, hatred and such feelings only increase the illusory bondings and hence Sri Sri Sankara is suggesting that it is very necessary for a seeker to overcome all the desires and it is only when a seeker has this discipline to control and vanquish desires of both body and Mind that the knowledge can be received.

Gaining the control of Mind and body and doing all austerities will still be of no good if one has no desire for liberation. Like an inconcious rock, if one is contented and happy with the ignorance then one can never attain that supreme goal through any amount of studies of the scriptures. Any amount of learning and byhearting scriptures would be only like the rain on a rock, of no use.
Hence Sri Sri Shankara finally stresses that along with all the above said qualifications, one must necessarily have the Mumukshutvam. i.e the desire to be liberated from all the illusory bondings and ignorance that cause of all miseries. Our sadgurus again and again instruct that this is the only desire that is permitted for a seeker. Only when such burning desire is there that any studies or any teachings or any learning will be useful.

One has to again and again remember that all these are just qualifications for the knowledge and do not give the knowledge directly. Sri Sri Shankara here mentions that without Sadhana Chatushtayam the knowledge is not possible, but we also have to remember that any amount of pilgrimages or any tapas can never liberate one from sorrow but it is only the knowledge resulting from these that liberates one from all miseries. It is the knowledge that is the final aim for a seeker and these only qualify a seeker to receive it from Guru. We shall learn this more from the Sri Sri Shankara in the next few verses.

Thus the qualities that guard this secret knowledge are explained by Sri Sri Shankara in this first verse and where he thus indicates the qualifications required for one desirous of learning this work.


bodho.anyasaadhanebhyo hi saakshaanmokshaikasaadhanam.h .
paakasya vaanhivajGYaanaM vinaa moksho na sidhyati .. 2

Pada Artha:

Bodhaha: knowledge(of the Self)
Anyasadhanebhyaha: in comparision with other contributory causes
Hi: indeed
Sakshaat: direct
Moksha Eka Sadhanam: the one means for liberation
Paakasya: for cooking
Vahnivat: just as the fire
Jnaanam: knowledge
Vina: without
Mokshaha: emancipation
Na: not
Sidhyate: be accomplished.

Just as the fire is the direct cause for cooking, so without Knowledge no liberation can be had. Compared with all other forms of discipline Knowledge of the Self is the one direct means for liberation

In the previous sloka having explained so much about the need for practice of austerity and self control etc. one may misunderstand from it that discipline alone may lead one to the goal. To remove any such misunderstandings Sri Sri Shankara in this sloka states that knowledge alone is the one direct means of liberation through a very simple example.

Just as fire alone is the direct cause of cooking, knowledge alone can lead to liberation from all miseries. In cooking, items such as vegetables, spices, water pots, pans etc. are all contributory causes and by themselves can never constitute food. Fire alone can accomplish the cooking and hence the food. These articles are necessary, but it is the fire that actually cooks a meal. i.e. fire is the direct cause.

Similarly, the performance of rituals, control of Mind, the study of the scriptures, the use of discriminative intellect etc. are all, no doubt helpful factors which aid in the spiritual growth but they do not by themselves directly lead one to liberation. The purpose of practice of austerities, rituals, giving of gifts, charity etc. is only the purification of the Mind. The Sadhana Chatushtayam only creates a favorable mental state that is conductive to knowledge and thus only prepares the seeker for the knowledge. Thus such spiritual disciplines only train the aspirant to concentration and hence create necessary condition. But it’s the knowledge alone that is ever present that can liberate one from the illusory duality and hence from all the miseries. Just as the fire that is the direct cause of cooking, knowledge is the direct cause of liberation. All the sadhanas are only to gain this ever present knowledge and strengthen it.

Hence Sri Sri Sankara in this verse is instructing that it is only by the true knowledge of one’s existence is realized, that liberation is possible. The next question that may arise is: “Why is it not possible for action to destroy ignorance and cause liberation? “ Let us learn Sri Sri Shankara’s answer to this question in the next sloka.


avirodhitayaa karma naavidyaaM vinivartayet.h .
vidyaavidyaaM nihantyeva tejastimirasaN^ghavat.h .. 3

Pada Artha:

Avirodhitayaa: for, not being opposed (to ignorance)
Karma: action
Na : not Vinivartayet: destroys
avidyaam: ignorance
Vidyaa: knowledge
Nihanti: destroys
eva: verliy Teja : light
Timira Sambhandavat: as deep darkness

Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with or opposed to ignorance. Knowledge does verily destroy ignorance as light destroys deep darkness.

In the previous sloka, we learnt that like the fire that can only cook food, the knowledge only can lead to liberation. In this sloka Sri Sri Shankara is answering another doubt that may arise for a seeker as to why is it not possible for austerities and discipline to liberate one and why is it that only knowledge can lead to realization? The knowledge that is here being discussed of is not something that can be gained new, but it is verily inherent in us. It is one’s own nature and hence this knowledge of Self which is ever present can never be got as a result of any action. Hence no divine actions in the sense of direct cause and effect can lead to knowledge of the self.

Supposing that there is darkness in a room, then no amount of sweeping or cleaning or any such actions will remove the darkness but it can only be done by light. However thick the darkness is, it disappears in an instant by light. Similarly, it is only the knowledge that can negate the illusory ignorance. Also actions are but a result of ignorance, that which is a result can never remove its cause. Action is done only when one perceives duality as there is always a distinction of doer, instrument and the result in any actions. And this duality is perceived only due to ignorance. Hence actions can never liberate one from ignorance, but it is only knowledge that can remove all miseries.

Just as light is opposed to darkness, knowledge opposed to ignorance can only negate it. This darkness doesn’t disappear anywhere nor goes anywhere but is only negated by the light. Similarly, the illusory ignorance is negated by the light of the Self knowledge.

Thus all the actions can only prepare a seeker for the revelation of this ever present knowledge but can never by themselves remove the ignorance.


parichhanna ivaaGYaanaattannaashe sati kevalaH .
svayaM prakaashate hyaatmaa meghaapaaye.n.ashumaaniva .. 4

Pada Artha:

Iva: as if
Ajnaanat: because of ignorance
Tat: that
Naasho Sati: when destroyed
Kevala: alone
Swayam: by itself
Prakashate: reveals
Hi: verily
Aatma: the self
Megha: cloud
apaaye: when pass away
Anshumaan: the sun
Iva: like

The Soul appears to be finite because of ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed the Self which does not admit of any multiplicity truly reveals itself by itself: like the Sun when the clouds pass away.

In the previous sloka, we learnt that the ever present Atman cannot be known through actions but by knowledge alone. In sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is again explaining the eternal nature of Atman. Sri Sri Shankara here gives the example of the Sun to explain the nature of Atman.

Just as the ever present Sun seems to be veiled by passing clouds; the Atman seems to be veiled by the ignorance. When clouds cover the Sun, it may seem as though the Sun itself is not there or that the Sun has lost the power of giving light!! But in reality, the Sun is ever present, luminous and shines forth always, only that the clouds have to be removed. It was never affected by the passing clouds nor is it’s the luminosity lost.

Similarly, the Atman which is but verily consciousness can never be subject to ignorance nor can be affected by the plurality of the world. It is that which is the substratum of all objects and stands alone as a witness to all actions. Due to ignorance about the Self, the Self, is perceived by the Mind as finite, non eternal etc. It is only because of the ignorance that all the illusory attributes are superimposed on Atman. When this ignorance is removed by the knowledge then all that ever remains is the non dual Atman alone. Just as the Sun that shines forth when the clouds are removed, the infinite Self which is the only reality reveals by itself. Like the Sun distinct from the clouds, the atman untainted by all the illusory multiplicity of the world shines off once the ignorance is removed.

Atman is but Existence, Consciousness and Bliss {Sat Chit Ananda}. It is only because of the ignorance that one forgets one’s own nature of existence-bliss and suffers with all the miseries of the world. Just as the clouds, this ignorance has to be removed and the only way as we have learnt in the previous slokas, is by knowledge.

Thus the Sri Sri Shankara here explains that it is only because of ignorance that Self appears to be finite. When ignorance is destroyed, the Self reveals itself like the Sun when clouds are removed.

Since Sri Sri Shankara explains us about the ever present non dual Self and how knowledge alone can remove the ignorance, a seeker may get doubt that there may be no escape from duality as knowledge (Jnana) would remain as a modification of Mind (Vritthi) even after destruction of ignorance and thus the non dual Self can never be revealed by mere destruction of ignorance. Let us learn Sri Sri Shankara’s answer to this doubt through the next verse.


aGYaanakalushhaM jiivaM GYaanaabhyaasaadvinir malam.h .
kR^itvaa GYaanaM svayaM nashyeJNjalaM katakareNuvat.h .. 5

Pada Artha:

Ajnaanakalusham: stained by ignorance
Jeevam: Jeevatman(the self that has been contaminated by ignorance)
Jnaanabhasaat: from constant practice of knowledge
Vinirmalam: pure
Krutva: having made
Jnaanam: knowledge
Swayam: itself
Nashyet: disappears
Jalam: water
Kataka renuvat: as the powder of kataka

Constant practice of knowledge purifies the Self (‘Jivatman’), stained by ignorance and then disappears itself – as the powder of the ‘Kataka-nut’ settles down after it has cleansed the muddy water.

In the previous slokas we learnt that it is only knowledge that can remove the ignorance and the ever present Atman is untainted by ignorance just as the clouds covering the Sun. In this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is again explaining the reality of the non dual Brahman by explaining about the nature of the knowledge that removes the ignorance. A student may doubt that after disappearance of ignorance the knowledge may remain and hence duality would always remain, thus leading to the wrong conclusion that removal of ignorance cannot lead to the non dual blissful Atman.

Let us analyze the ignorance and the knowledge a bit to understand Sri Sri Shankara’s answer to this doubt. Ignorance is nothing but forgetting one’s own nature of Self. It can be neither termed as real or unreal and can never be proved. Knowledge can be termed as that which is got from the scriptures which is the paroksha jnaana and that from self experience which is aparoksha jnaana. These are again but modifications of Mind or experiences only and hence limited only to the realm of the empirical level. Thus this knowledge can also be called as illusory only.

It is this knowledge that negates the illusory ignorance. But the Self knowledge which is but the consciousness, i.e. the Self is ever present just as the Sun behind the clouds and hence is unaffected by this illusory and illusory knowledge.

The ignorance can never be ‘removed’ as it is not that which is newly acquired to be removed, also that which is removed can be got again. We can never remove anything that is neither present nor absent. Ignorance as we analyzed is something that is neither real nor unreal. It just a mere illusion. Just like the illusion of the snake in the rope or the water in the desert. Like the snake in the rope that can never be removed as it never existed in the first place, by knowledge, this ignorance is not ‘removed’ but only negated.

Sri Sri Shankara here explains that like the powder of the Kataka nut that is used to cleanse the water, knowledge that removes ignorance also disappears once the ignorance is negated. When the Kataka nut powder is put into the muddy water, along with the dirt, the nut powder also settles down and thus, the nut and the dirt are both eliminated from the water leaving behind pure water alone. Similarly, the illusory knowledge after negating the illusory ignorance vanishes leaving behind the non dual eternal Self knowledge which is but the absolute consciousness or Atman alone.

Thus it is only the illusory knowledge in the form of scriptures, words of guru, experience etc. that negates the illusory ignorance, and after negation, there is neither this knowledge nor the ignorance but only the real nature of Self which is that of non dual existence-consciousness-bliss shines forth like the Sun unhindered by clouds.

To make things clear let us take the anology of removing thorn from the feet. Let us equate the thron to ignorance and to remove the thorn we need another sharp needle, let us equate this needle to knowledge. Once the thorn is removed from the feet the necessity of the needle is same as the thorn. We have to discard both.

To clearly establish the non duality of the Self and the illusory nature of the world, Sri Sri Shankara explains further in the next verse through another beautiful example, which we shall take up next.


saMsaaraH svapnatulyo hi raagadveshhaadisaN^.hkulaH .
svakaale satyavad.hbhaati prabodhe satyasad.hbhavet.h .. 6

Pada Artha:

Samsaara: the world
Swapna Tulyaha: like a dream
Hi: verily
Raga Dweshaadi sankulaha: full of attachments, aversions etc.
Swakaale : in its duration
Satyavat: to be real
Bhaati: appears
Prabodhe Sati: when awake
Asat: unreal
Bhavet: appears

The world which is full of attachments, aversions, etc., is like a dream. It appears to be real, as long as it continues but appears to be unreal when one is awake (i.e., when true wisdom dawns).

It is very hard for a seeker to get conviction that the world so clearly perceived is unreal and the only reality is the non dual Atman. Hence the compassionate Sri Sri Shankara in this verse is explaining the relevance of the world by the analogy of the dream.

The world that we perceive is felt through our senses and is full of attachments and aversions. These are only due to ignorance. Hence Sri Sri Shankara here mentions that for an ignorant person who perceives duality, the world full of likes and dislikes appears to be real. But this world is just like a dream, and is valid only till one is in ignorance. Sri Sri Shankara explains this through a very beautiful example of dream.

When a person is dreaming, then the dream world itself is mistaken as real, in that world one may become a king and be happy or lose everything or even die and become sad or afraid. Till the dream exists, i.e. till one is in the dream state, all this may appear as real but once one wakes up from that state, the dream is known to be nothing but as an illusion. It is unreal because it is impermanent and never existed forever. Similarly, the world we perceive through our senses is unreal. The ever changing world can never be real and is an illusion only. It is just like a prolonged dream created only by our Mind.

Till one is in ignorance, the world with all its dualities is perceived as real, and one gets deluded by bonding, hatred etc. of different objects of the world. Just as in the dream world, one may feel happy and proud about ones wealth or sad thinking about all miseries. All these arise only due to ignorance and once the knowledge of the Self dawns, then this world is known only as an illusion, just like the dream world that never existed.

Till one is dreaming, we cannot say know the dream world is unreal. Similarly, the world perceived in the waking state can be realized as unreal only after the ignorance that creates it is completely negated.

Thus Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining that world appears to be real only as long as one is ignorant about the nature of Self. A seeker must hence constantly remember that the world that is perceived and appears to be real is only an illusion created by Mind and must not get affected by all its happenings. Just as the dream world, it will be known as unreal once one ‘wakes up’ from this state of ignorance.

Sri Sri Shankara in the next verse explains more about this and as to how long does the illusory world appear to be real.


taavatsatyaM jagad.hbhaati shuktikaarajataM yathaa .
yaavanna GYaayate brahma sarvaadhishhThaanamadvayam.h .. 7

Pada Artha:

Taavat: so long as
Satyam: true
Jagat: world
Bhaati: appears
Shuktikaa Rajat: silver in the mother of pearl
Yatha: like
Yaavat: as long as
Na: not
Jnaayate: is realized
Bhrahma: Brahman
Sarvam adhishtaanaam: the substratum for all
Adwayam: one without a second

The Jagat appears to be true (Satyam) so long as Brahman, the substratum, the basis of all this creation, is not realized. It is like the illusion of silver in the mother-of pearl.

In the last sloka we learnt that the world is illusory just like the dream and is valid only as long as one is ignorant of the true nature of Self. Sri Sri Shankara is explaining the same here through the analogy of the mother of pearl and silver that the world appears to be real as long as Brahman is not known as the substratum of all.

The oyster shell which is so smooth and reflective shines brilliantly in the Sunlight giving the on lookers an image of silver. Just like how the shell is mistaken as silver, the world is also mistaken as real by the non knower of Brahman, i.e. by the ignorant ones. Like the silver that was just an illusion, all the names and forms have to be known as an illusion only. And that which is the basis of this illusion, the substratum of the world has to be known as Brahman only.

Also we have to note that the silver never existed at any time and it is only the Mind that created the image of silver while the mother of pearl was always the same without going through any changes. Similarly, the changing world is only a creation of the Mind while the ever present non dual Self can never go through any actual changes. Brahman is ever present, even before the conception of the world by Mind, as the substratum of the world which the senses perceive it and also after the realization dawns on the non dual existence of Self. Hence it is the only absolute reality and the world is just an illusion.

Like the silver in the pearl or the snake in the rope, all the names and forms of the world are only an illusion on Self. For the ignorant ones, the world of duality appears to be real only till this truth is not known. The various forms, likes, dislikes all originate only due to this ignorance. All the differences as names and forms exist in the Mind of an ignorant one only.

Thus we have learnt about the “Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya “ , i.e. the unreality of the world and the reality of Self through these two slokas and also that the world appears to be real only as long as the real nature of Self is not known. Let us next learn more about Brahman as the substratum of the world through another beautiful example in the next verse.


upAdAne akhilAdhAre jaganti paramEshvarE
sargasthitilayAnyAnti budbudAnIva vAriNi

Pada Artha:

Upaadaane: which is the material cause
Akhila Aadhaare: which is the support of everything
Jaganti: the worlds
Parameshware: in the supreme Self
Sarga-Stithi-Layam – projecting, existing and dissolving
Yaanti: pass away
Budh budhaani: bubbles
Iva: like
Vaaraani: in the waters

Like bubbles in the water, the worlds rise, exist and dissolve in the Supreme Self, which is the material cause and the support of everything.

Till now we learnt the illusory nature of the world through various examples such as silver in pearl, dream etc. Sri Sri Sankara in this sloka is further explaining the impermanence of the world by another beautiful example. Just as the bubble that emerges out of water, burst and fall back in water, all the creations originate, sustain and merge back in Brahman.

All the creations are but an illusion and Brahman is the substratum of everything perceived. The world seen cannot be easily negated for a seeker and hence Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that this world though perceived, is impermanent just like the bubble of water. Though there is no creation ever happening, to explain the illusory world Sri Sri Shankara is explaining through this example that just as the bubbles, the worlds emerge, survive and dissolve back in Brahman. And that Brahman is the cause of everything.

We can note here that “Sarga” means projection, i.e. there is no real creation happening at any time. The non dual Self can never undergo any modifications and hence this world of multiplicity has to be an illusion on Brahman only just like the bubbles projected from water.

Bubbles are not different from water nor do they have any separate existence, so are the creations perceived by an ignorant person. Nothing new is ever created by anyone and all the changes of all names, forms, all that is creation, are nothing but Brahman alone, just as the bubbles of water are but water alone, all names and forms though different and multiple are Brahman alone.

All the duality thus has to be known only as an illusion. And any illusion needs a substratum and that is Brahman. Also through this example, we also learn that Brahman is not only the efficient cause {Abhinna Karana} but the material cause {Upadana Karana} also. The support and material cause of all creation is thus the Self only.


sachchidaatmanyanusyuute nitye vishhNau prakalpitaaH .
vyaktayo vividaassarvaa haaTake kaTakaadivat.h .. 9

Pada Artha:

Sat Chit Aatmaani: whose nature is Existence-intelligence
Anustuyate: which is All pervading
Nitye: eternal
Vishnaav: upon Vishnu (one whose stride is largest)
Prakalpitaa: projected by imagination
Vyaktiyaha: manifested
Vividhaa: manifold
Sarvaaha: all
Haatake: out of gold
Kataka aadi vat: just as bracelets and other ornaments

All the manifested world of things and beings are projected by imagination upon the substratum which is the Eternal All-pervading Vishnu, whose nature is Existence-Intelligence; just as the different ornaments are all made out of the same gold.

In the previous verse we learnt that the world is like a bubble of water. Just as the bubbles of water emerge, sustain, burst and fall back in water, all the creations are but illusions on Brahman and Brahman is the substratum of all the names and forms. Sri Sri Shankara explains this further in this sloka.

For any creation to occur, there has to be three separate and fundamental causes, the material cause {Upadana Karana} or the raw material from which the creation occurs, the instrumental cause {Nimitta Karana} which is the equipment with which the creation is done and the efficient cause {Abhinna Karana} or the intelligence that creates or works at the material with the instrument. For example, in case of the creation of a pot the mud is the material cause, the potter’s wheel or the stick is the instrumental cause and the potter is the efficient cause. Thus in a creation the three separate causes exist and the material is transformed into a new thing.

From the previous example we have learnt that all the creations are like bubbles of water, and the only reality is the Brahman. Thus Brahman becomes the material, and efficient cause of all the creation. Here the objects created are not different from the creator. Just like the various ornaments are but gold, i.e. Gold is the material cause of all the ornaments, the world is but a creation of the Mind on Brahman. Just like the bubbles that are not different from the water, the different names and forms are but Brahman only.

Thus in case of the creation of the world, there is no actual creation happening. This is what Sri Sri Shankara is explaining here as all the creations are only projections of the imaginations of the substratum of Brahman. Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that the duality perceived due to ignorance is nothing but the work of the Mind.

We can also here note that just as how nothing happens to the gold even when the gold ring goes out of shape or is melted, so too even when there are changes in the world, the eternal reality remains the same. It is ever changeless, immutable. The names and forms associated with various ornaments seem to distinguish them from gold are changeable and are hence unreal, even when the names and forms undergo changes the gold remains the same as it is. Similarly the names and forms associated with the different objects of the world which appear to be different from Brahman and are changeable and therefore unreal. Even when the names and forms undergo change the substratum remains as it is.

Another important thing to learn here is that the word ‘Vishnu’ means “one who pervades”. Hence it means the infinitude non dual Self alone. It is only intended to convey Brahman as that unlimited by time or space and not as anything else.


yathaakaashohR^ishhiikesho naanopaadhigato vibhuH .
tad.hbhedaad.hbhinnavad.hbhaati tannaashe kevalo bhavet.h .. 10

Pada Artha:

Yatha: just as
Aakaasha: space
Hrishikesha: the omnipresent truth
Nanaupaadigataha: associated with various conditionings
Vibhuhu: the all pervading
Tad Bhavet: on the account of their (upadhis) manifold nature distinct from each other
Bhinnavat bhaati: appears to be diverse
Tannakaashe: on the destruction on these upadhis
Kevala: one
Bhavet: becomes

The All-pervading Akasa appears to be diverse on account of its association with various conditionings (Upadhis) which are different from each other. Space becomes one on the destruction of these limiting acessoriess: So also the Omnipresent Truth appears to be diverse on account of its association with the various Upadhis and becomes one on the destruction of these Upadhis.

Till the previous sloka we have learnt through various examples about the illusory nature of the world. Now Sri Sri Shankara is explaining how the non dual Brahman who is ever free from any associations appears as various names and forms to an ignorant person. Just like how the space is everywhere but appears to be confined in objects such as pots etc., the infinitude Self appears to be limited only due to the limiting acessoriess or the conditionings, i.e. the upadhis.

Though space is indivisible and one, yet in association with objects such as a jar or a tumbler etc. it appears to have taken different forms like, the space in jar takes the form of jar, in a cup that of a cup etc. A similar illusion of different shapes is also created in the sky when one looks at it against a line of mountains with jagged peaks. The space can never be confined but it is only due ignorance that there seems to be boundaries to the space. It is only due to ignorance that different spaces seem to be created by the boundaries while the space is ever same.

Similarly on account of its association with various upadhis, the Self appears to be limited as different names and forms. It is only due to ignorance that one assigns various attributes on the unlimited Self. As in the first 3 slokas of Laghu Vakya Vritti, the Upadhis are the Gross body made of flesh and blood, the Subtle body consisting of the Mind, intellect, ego and the senses along with vital airs, and the last is the ignorance. These are the illusory acessoriess that seem to limit the ever pure Atman. Atman can never be tainted by any associations, but it is only due to ignorance that the Self seems to be limited and thus all miseries arise due to such limitations. Only when these illusory upadhis are removed, that the eternal reality of ever blissful Self can be known. Just like the space that was never confined becomes one by removal of the walls or the boundaries that seem to limit it, the eternal reality of non-dual Self can be known only when the ignorance is removed.

Here Hrishikesha means the Lord of the sense organs i.e Hrishika isha. The sense organs can perform only when the life exists in us, i.e. as long as there is existence and consciousness, hence, Hishikesha means Brahman only. Thus Sri Sri Shankara is explaining that upon removal of the Upadhis, like the undivided all pervading akasha, the non dual Hrishikesha or Brahman alone remains.


naanopaadhivashaadeva jaativarNaashramaadayaH .
aatmanyaaropitaastoye rasavarNaadi bhedavat.h .. 11

Pada Artha:

Naanaa Upaadi Vashaat: because of association with different conditionings (Upadhis)
Eva: only
Jaati Varga Ashrama Aadayaha: caste, color, position etc.
Aatmaani: upon the atman
Aropitaha: are superimposed
Toye: on water
Rasa Varna Aadi Bhedavat: differences such as flavor, color, etc.

Because of Its association with different conditionings (Upadhis) such ideas as caste, color and position are super-imposed upon the Atman, as flavour, colour, etc., are super-imposed on water.

In the previous sloka, we learnt that the Self which is ever free from associations seems to be limited only due to the upadhis. Like the unlimited space that appears to take different shapes due to boundaries, the infinite Self appears to be limited only due to ignorance. Sri Sri Shankara is explaining this again in this sloka also through another example.

Water in its natural state is pure and has no taste or color or flavor but due to its association with impurities such as mud, it may appear to be brown, impure etc. Similarly, the non dual Atman can never have any associations and hence is verily bliss but due to ignorance one tends to super impose the characteristics of caste, color, position etc on it. It is only because of these illusory associations that the Self appears to be limited and hence arises all miseries. The upadhis which are created by ignorance are the Gross, Subtle and Casual bodies.

As Sri Sri Shankara explains in the previous verse, when these are removed, there is but bliss absolute alone, i.e. the Self alone. Hence a seeker must learn to discriminate the reality from the non reality i.e. the Self from the Upadhis that seem to limit it.


pa.nchiikR^itamahaabhuutasambhavaM karmasa.nchitam.h .
shariiraM sukhaduHkhaanaaM bhogaayatanamuchyate .. 12

Pada Artha:

Panchikrutam: (the five elements) that have gone through the process of fivefold self division mutual combination
Mahaa Bhoota Sambhavat: made up of five elements
Karma Sanchitam: determined by one’s own past actions
Shareeram: the Gross body
Sukha Dukhaanam: for pleasure and pain
Bhogayaatanm: medium of experiencing
Uchyate: is said

Determined for each individual by his own past actions (Purva Karma) and made up of the Five elements (Pancha Buthas) – that have gone through the process of “five-fold self-division and mutual combination” (Pancheekarana) – are born the Gross-body, the medium through which pleasure and pain are experienced, the tent-of-experiences.

In the previous two slokas we learnt that it is only due to illusory Upadhis that the ever free, untainted non dual Self is mistaken as limited. Just like the water that acquires color and taste due to its association with impurities or like the space that seems to be limited due to the impurities, the Self due to its association with the limiting acessoriess seems limited and hence subjected to all misery.

Sri Sri Shankara is explaining in this sloka on how these upadhis emerge. Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining the first Upadhi which is the Gross body made of pancheekarana. The physical body which is made of the five elements of fire, air, water, earth and space is formed by the process of Pancheekarana as we have learnt in the first chapter of Panchadashi.

This Gross body is said to be obtained based on our past actions. Based on the karma phala or fruits of our previous actions, the Jeeva acquires a physical body which is suitable for the enjoyment of all the pleasures and pains that are the effects of various past actions. Through the sense organs, one experiences the outer world of duality and thus the aversions and attachments arising from it. This Gross body hence is called as equipment through which all the pleasures and pains are experienced.

Thus the Gross body which is acquired as a result of actions and thoughts arising out of ignorance of one’s true nature of Self is never permanent nor concious and hence is only an acessories of Self. Sri Sri Shankara next explains about the Subtle body in the next sloka.


pa.nchapraaNamanobuddhidashendriyasamanvitam.h .
ap.nchiikR^itabhuutotthaM suukshmaaN^gaM bhogasaadhanam.h .. 13

Pancha Prana: the five pranaas(the manifestation of life in our body)
Mana Buddhi: Mind and intellect
Dasha Indriya: the ten organs
Samanvitam: combined
Apanchikruta Bhoototyatha: formed from the rudimentary elements before their panchikarana,
Sookshma Angam: the Subtle body
Bhoga Saadhanam: instrument of experience

The five Pranas, the ten organs and the Manas and the Buddhi, formed from the basic elements (Tan matras) before their “five-fold division and mutual combination with one another” (Pancheekarana) and this is the Subtle body, the instruments-of-experience (of the individual).

In the last sloka we learnt about the first acessories which is the Gross body which is made of the five elements. In this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is explaining about the next upadhi, which is the Subtle body.

The Subtle body or the Sukshma Shareera consists of the five vital airs, or the Pancha Pranas, the five organs of action, five organs of perception and the Mind and intellect. Sri Sri Shankara calls these as the instruments of experience.

The Gross body which is made of the five elements is the instrument through which we experience the pains and the pleasures, the Subtle body is the instrument responsible for all these senses. These are responsible for all the thought processes and hence the limited happiness, sadness and all other feelings arising due to the contact with the external world through the Gross body. It is well known from experience that in deep sleep when the Mind is inactive and all the senses are merged in their source, one does not feel cold or hunger or any sensation and hence there is but happiness. It is only when the Mind is active and the senses are working that one can feel through the external sense organs. It is only due to the modifications of the Mind that one feels attracted to an object or to the sensual pleasures. Thus the Subtle body is responsible for the enjoyment of the outer world.

Hence this Subtle body can be called as the seat of all desires. These also originate from the five elements and hence are impermanent and inconcious. It is only when due to ignorance and ego, one mistakes them as the Self that all the dualities and hence the attachments and aversions resulting from it arises. Hence a seeker must clearly know that these are also upadhis and are only illusory limiting acessories while the Self which can never undergo any modifications is ever distinct from these.


anaadyavidyaanirvaachyaa kaaraNopaadhiruchyate .
upaadhitritayaadanyamaatmaanamavadhaarayet.h .. 14

Pada Artha:

Anaadi: beginning less
Avidya: ignorance
Anirvachya: indescribable
Kaarana Upaadhi: Casual body
Uchyate: is said
Upaadi Tritayaadanyam: other than the three conditioning bodies
Aatmaanam: the atman
Avadhaarayet: should understand

Avidya which is indescribable and beginning less is the Casual Body. Know for certain that the Atman is other than these three conditioning bodies (Upadhis).

In the two pervious verses, we have learnt the two Upadhis which are the Gross and the Subtle bodies. In this verse, we learn about the third upadhi which is the Casual body. Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining that the ignorance is the Casual body. It is the cause due to which the other two bodies exist. Only when one forgets one’s own nature that there arises limitedness. Due to this limitedness, duality and hence all the miseries arise. The Mind and the intellect with their modifications create a world of duality which is superimposed on the Self. Through the Gross body and inner organs, one experiences this outer world. Thus both the Gross and Subtle bodies exist only when the truth about the Self is not known, i.e. due to ignorance only. Hence ignorance is called as the Casual body. The atman which is verily existence-consciousness and bliss can never be attached to ignorance as both are contradictory in nature. Hence ignorance is only an illusory acessories of the Self.

A seeker may next get a doubt as to what is this avidya and if it’s essential to know this ignorance to get rid of it. Hence to answer such doubts, Sri Sri Sankara explains next that Avidya is beginning less and indescribable.

As we are learning through Mayavada Darpanam, ignorance is something that exists only empirically but is non existent from the absolute view. Thus it is something that neither being or non being. Hence it can never be described. The knowledge that is derived of any object is only due to the inner organs and our experiences from the outer world. Hence the process of gaining such knowledge invariably comes from the Gross and the Subtle body only. Thus this illusory knowledge arises only due to our experiences of the outer world of duality. But the Gross and the Subtle bodies are but a result of ignorance and ignorance which is the cause for the instruments of perception, feeling and thought cannot be brought fully within our experience and hence is inexplicit.

The beginning of avidya cannot be known by the Mind, because it is the Mind which creates the concepts of time, space. Time is only an interval between any two experiences. i.e. there should be a beginning experience also there should be a subject of experience, an object being experienced and the relation between them, i.e. experiencing. But this duality is only a product of avidya and the Self which is devoid of any limitations or duality can never undergo any experiences. Thus, it is impossible to find the beginning of ignorance and hence avidya is explained as beginning less.

Thus, the aim of a seeker is not to understand ignorance but to gain knowledge that will negate this ignorance. As we have seen, it’s futile to search for the cause of something illusory and hence even these explanations are only to ward off a seeker from searching the cause of ignorance. Swami Chinmayananda in his commentary gives a beautiful example for this. Seeking the root of ignorance is as futile as holding a lamp and searching place of darkness!!

Hence it has to be contended that the ignorance which is the cause of all the duality and the Gross and the Subtle body is illusory in nature and is only an acessories of the non dual Self.


pa.nchakoshaadiyogena tattanmaya iva sthitaH .
shuddhaatmaa niilavastraadiyogena sphaTiko yathaa .. 15

Pada Artha:

Pancha Kosha Aadi Yogena: by identification with five sheaths
Tat: that
Tanmayaha: identical with that
Iva: like
Stithaha: appears
Shuddhatma: the pure Self
Neela Vastraaadi Yogena: by association with the blue garment
Sphutika: crystal
Yatah: just as

In its identification with the five-sheaths the Immaculate Atman appears to have borrowed their qualities upon Itself; as in the case of a crystal which appears to gather unto itself color of its vicinity (blue cloth, etc.,).

In the previous slokas we learnt that the Atman is independent of the three acessories which are the Gross, Subtle and Casual bodies. To remove any doubts of the Atman being dependent on these bodies as it seems to be endowed with so many physical and mental qualities, Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining that all attributes of the Atman is only due to the false identification arising out of ignorance. To explain this, Sri Sri Shankara is explaining about the five sheaths and how the non dual Self is always distinct from them.

Here we are given another beautiful example of a crystal to answer as to how the perfect immutable Self seems to be contaminated by the duality. A clear glass or a crystal when placed in front of a blue object appears to be blue in color, similarly, in association of a red object appears to be red in color. Similarly, the Self which is untainted and ever free from any duality seems to be limited only due to ignorance and hence the association and identification with the five sheaths. Like how a clear glass tumbler appears to have taken the color of the liquid it holds, the Self is wrongly identified with the five sheaths due to ignorance alone.

The five sheaths are
1. The Physical Sheath, (Annamaya Kosha).
2. The Vital Sheath, (Pranamaya Kosha)
3. The Mental Sheath (Manomaya Kosha)
4. The Intellectual Sheath (Vijnanamaya Kosha)
5. The Bliss Sheath (Anandamaya Kosha).

These are called as sheaths as they are like coverings on the Atman which manifests itself through them, like the sheaths that cover the sword; these cover the blissful Self from an ignorant one. It is only due to ignorance about the nature of Self that one mistakenly identifies Self with these, and hence rises the ego and thoughts such as “I am clever”, “I am fat”, “I am sad” etc. while all along the Self is but verily bliss.

Just as how the clear, colorless glass appears to be colored only due to its association with colored objects, the ever non dual blissful Self seems to be tainted by the misery only due to the associations to the illusory objects of duality. This is only due to ignorance and hence Sri Sri Shankara in the next verse explains though another beautiful example that one should discriminate Self from the illusory objects of the world, i.e. from the non Self.


vapustushhaadibhiH koshairyuktaM yuktyavaghaatataH .
aatmaanamantaraM shuddhaM vivichyaattaNDulaM yathaa .. 16

Pada Artha:

Vapuhu: the form
Tushaa Aadibhihi: with husk etc.
Koshaihi: with sheaths
Yuktham: covered
Yuktyaa: by logical thinking
Avaghaatataha: by thrashing rice in a mortar
Atmaanam: the Self
Antaram: within
Shudham: pure
Vivichyaat: should separate
Tandulam: rice
Yatha: just as

Through discriminative self-analysis and logical thinking one should separate the Pure self within from the sheaths as one separates the rice from the husk, bran, etc., that are covering it.

In the last sloka, Sri Sri Shankara explained to us about the various sheaths and how the Self seems to be covered by them for an ignorant person thus leading to the false identification of the Self with the five sheaths. In this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is instructing that a seeker must learn to discriminate between the Self and the non Self and through the discriminative power, know the Self as distinct from the five sheaths.

The Gross, Subtle and Casual bodies are inert (Jada Vastu) and changeable by nature. Hence they are always distinct from the Self and the Self is only a witness to all the changes occurring to these. One must clearly know that the five sheaths though identified as the Self due to ignorance are never permanent and hence different from the Atman they seem to cover. Just like the husk of the rice that seems to cover the kernel of rice and appears to be inseparable, as a part of rice, these sheaths that seem to veil the ever blissful Self are but creations to ignorance alone. When one realizes Atman to be distinct from the sheaths he becomes detached with them, and this detachment will surely lead to knowledge.

Hence Sri Sri Shankara is instructing that a seeker should analyze and be discriminative, i.e. viveka is very much important for a seeker. Through Self analysis and knowledge one must know that the Self which is ever blissful and immutable can never be any of the sheaths. Just as how the rice is obtained by removing the husk, bran etc. from the paddy, so too, by discrimination, by distinguishing the reality from the non real, and by removing the various impurities superimposed upon Self, one must realize the real blissful nature of Self which seems to be veiled beneath the sheaths of ignorance.

Thus by negation of the physical and mental equipments, when a one experiences the truth, one becomes detached from the various sheaths and realizes the real nature of atman as different from all the layers. And this constant process of detachment from them, will definitely lead a seeker to the bliss absolute, which is but the very nature of Self.


sadaa sarvagato.apyaatmaa na sarvatraavabhaaste .
buddhaavevaavabhaaseta svachchheshhu pratibimbavat.h .. 17

Pada Artha:

Sadaa: always
Sarvagataha: all pervading
Api: although
Atmaa: the Self
Na: not
Sarvatra: everywhere
Avabhaasate: shines
Budhyav: in the intellect
Eva: only
Avabhaasate: manifests
Swacheshu: in the transparent surface
Pratibimbavat: just as the reflection

The Atman does not shine in everything although He is All-pervading. He is manifest only in the inner equipment, the intellect (Buddhi): just as the reflection in a clean mirror.

In the previous slokas we learnt that the Atman is all pervading and all the duality on the world are just an illusions superimposed on Self. Here Sri Sri Shankara is explaining that the Atman though infinite and all pervading is manifested only by the inner equipment. Though it is available by cognition of all objects, only in pure intellect can the true nature of Self be realized.

As we know, all surfaces have reflecting property, but we can see our reflection very clearly only in a clean mirror. Similarly, the reality of Self can be known only through a pure intellect alone. The Mind and intellect with all its modifications can reveal the true nature of Atman. The thoughts are just like impurities on a mirror because of which the image is distorted or reflected badly. Hence it is only in serene and pure intellect that the Self is recognized just as we can easily see our image in a clean mirror held steady.

Like the light that is present everywhere but it is perceived only when it falls on an object, Atman though present everywhere is perceived only by a clear intellect. The light was ever present and does not depend only on the object for its existence. Similarly, the all pervading Atman is never limited by the Gross and the Subtle bodies but only manifests through them.

Hence though as existence and consciousness, Atman is all pervading, it is only through the inner equipments that the Atman manifests. Here it maybe doubted as why does not the all pervading atman manifest through all things. Sri Sri Shankara explains this in the next sloka.


dehendriyamanobuddhiprakR^itibhyo vilakshaNam.h .
tad.hvR^ittisaakshiNaM vidyaadaatmaanaM raajavatsadaa .. 18

Pada Artha:

Deha: body
Indriya: senses
Manas: Mind
Budhihi: intellect
Prakrutibyaha: from all this matter (prakriti)
Vilakshanam: distinct
Tad Vritti Saakshinaam: witness of their functions
Vidhyaat: know
Atmaanam: the Self
Raajavat: like a king
Sadaa: always

One should understand that the Atman is always like the King, distinct from the body, senses, Mind and intellect, all of which constitute the matter (Prakriti); and is the witness of their functions.

In the previous slokas we learnt about the various bodies and that the Atman is different from all these and manifests through inner equipments due to ignorance. In this sloka Sri Sri Shankara is explaining the all pervading Self as the illuminator of everything. It has to be understood that the Atman is distinct from the physical body, Mind and intellect as it is the illuminator of everything

Sri Sri Shankara here gives the example of a king. A king is never a participant in the drama and dance in his darbar hall, but is only a witness, Similarly the Atman is a witness to the body and the dual world. Though the Self seems to be manifested as body, Mind etc, yet it is totally different from them as it is the subject and the unchanging consciousness. Like the king who sits high on the throne witnessing all the activities of his court, the Atman though mistaken as the body and the inner equipments is always untainted and remains only as witness of the functions of the body, senses, Mind etc. A witness can never be the doer of the actions. Hence the non dual Atman is never tinted by any desire or the actions.

It is but the consciousness which is the very illuminator of all external objects and actions. It maybe next be objected that the Self is not a mere witness, but also participates in the activities of the body and senses. Sri Sri Sankara answers to this objection by means of another beautiful illustration in the next sloka.


vyaapR^iteshhvindriyeshhvaatmaa vyaapaariivaavivekinaam.h .
dR^ishyate.abhreshhu dhaavatsu dhaavatriva yathaa shashii .. 19

Pada Artha:

Vyapruteshu: while functioning
Indriyeshu: the sense organs
Atma: the Self
Vyaapaari: active
Iva: like
Avivekinaam: for non discriminating people
Drushyate: appears
Abreshu: the clouds
Dhavtsu: when moving
Dhaavam: to be running
Yatha: just as
Shashi: the moon

The moon appears to be running when the clouds move in the sky. Likewise to the non-discriminating person the Atman appears to be active when It is observed through the functions of the sense-organs.

In the previous verses, we learnt that the Self is just a witness to all the actions and is only an illuminator and never the doer of the actions and the Self is never tainted by any activities of the body and senses. To explain this further, Sri Sri Shankara gives another beautiful example in this sloka.

An observer standing on the ground perceives the moon to be moving. The passing clouds seem to cover the moon and one may feel that the moon is running with the clouds or hidden by the clouds, while all the while, the moon was neither hidden nor is moving with the clouds. It is only when one sees the moon with respect to the passing clouds that such illusions occur. Similarly, the Self is mistaken as the doer of actions when viewed through the sense organs and Mind. That is, it is only due to the association with the Mind, intellect and body that the Self seems to be agitated and ever changing.

For an ignorant person who mistakes the Mind and the senses as the Self, Self appears to be limited. It is only when there is a false cognition of Self that there arises misery due to thoughts such as “I am sad”, “I am poor”, “I did this” etc. but the Self like the moon is ever blissful and is never the enjoyer or the doer of any actions. It is only the ego that creates this illusion. Hence for a wise one who discriminates between the reality and the non duality, for one who knows the real nature of Self, there can never be any miseries.

Hence it is very essential for a seeker to know that all the duality and hence the actions are illusions only and are perceived only due to the ego arising due to ignorance of one’s true nature. And that any actions can never be done by the Self and that ‘I am verily bliss alone’ and hence all the actions can never affect Self, just like the movement of clouds on moon. This is what Sri Sri Shankara says in Atmashatkam also as “Aham Bhojanam Naiva Bhojyam Na Bhokta; Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham”

Thus just as how the movement of clouds create an illusion of the moon moving, the activity of the Mind and the senses create the illusion that the soul is active and the doer of all actions.

Here a seeker may get the doubt that if it is the senses that do the actions and not the Self, then they (the Mind and senses) are concious and can be called as conscious entities and hence the Atman. Sri Sri Shankara removes this doubt in this next sloka.


aatmachaitanyamaashritya dehendriyamanodhiyaH .
svakriyaartheshhu vartante suuryaalokaM yathaa janaaH . 20

Pada Artha:

Atmachaitanyam: vitality of consciousness
Ashrtya: depending upon
Dehendriyamanodeeyaha: body senses Mind and intellect
Svikriyaatheshu: in their respective activities
Vartante: engage
Suryalokam: light of Sun
Yatha: just as
Janaha: people

Depending upon the energy of vitality of Consciousness (Atma Chaitanya) the body, senses, Mind and intellect engage themselves in their respective activities, just as men work depending upon the light of the Sun.

In the previous sloka we learnt that all the activities done are attributed only to the Mind and the senses whereas the Self remains untainted by all actions and their results. Then one may get a doubt that do these senses act in their own accord? And if so are they not concious and hence the Self? To answer this, Sri Sri Shankara explains in this sloka that just as how people work depending on the daylight pf the Sun, the senses, Mind and intellect seem to act only due to the consciousness.

The consciousness or the Self is the illuminator of all the objects of the world. It is that because of which the eyes can see, the tongue can taste etc. It is that because of which the senses seem to work.

Like the iron that glows due to the heat acquired from fire, like how the iron filings become active in presence of a magnet, the inconcious body and inner organs seem to be concious only due to their association with the Self. It is this absolute consciousness that drives all the actions. Hence no activity is possible without Self. Like the light that illuminates the screen on which a drama is played, the Self kindles life in the inconcious matter.

Self is concious and non dual. Hence all other objects of the world, all the duality have to be unreal only. Thus even the actions done by them are illusions only. These seem to be concious only due to the consciousness.

Thus without this consciousness, there is no activity possible. But the Self by itself is ever pure and is not affected by the actions of the sense. Senses seem to work only due to consciousness but consciousness is never affected by the actions. We have to never forget that the illusory duality can never affect the Self. It is only due to ignorance that one perceives the senses, world of duality and hence all the actions. Like the Sun that illumines any object that comes in front of it without itself being affected, the Self illuminates the physical and the Subtle bodies.


dehendriyaguNaankarmaaNyamale sachchidaatmani .
adhyasyantyavivekena gagane niilataadivat.h .. 21

Pada Artha:

Deha indriya gunaan: qualities of the body and senses
Karmaani: actions
Amale: pure
Sat-Chit-Atmaani : on the Atman, the absolute-Existence-Knowledge
Adhyasyanti: superimpose
Avivekena: by lack of discrimination
Gagane: in the sky
Neelataadivat: blue color and the like

Fools, because they lack in their powers of discrimination superimpose on the Atman, the Absolute-Existence-Knowledge (Sat-Chit), all the varied functions of the body and the senses, just as they attribute blue color and the like to the sky.

The Atman though conscious by nature is not endowed by any characteristics such as birth, growth, death etc. and Sri Sri Shankara in this sloka is explaining that all the characteristics are superimposed on Atman due to ignorance alone.

The example given here is that of the attributes of the sky. Space has no attributes like color, brightness etc. but still, one attributes the blueness, murkiness etc. on the sky. It is only due to non discrimination that such attributes are superimposed on the sky while the sky can never be conditioned by color etc. The sky can never change colors but it is only due to our limited vision that the sky appears to be dirty, dark, blue etc. Similarly the Atman, though ever pure appears seems to be limited only due to ignorance.

Thus it is only due to the lack of discrimination that the qualities of ever changing Mind and the intellect and their limitations are superimposed on the Atman. Sri Sri Shankara here says that the foolish one’s i.e. those who do not know the true nature of Atman, attribute the qualities of the Gross and Subtle bodies to the Atman. Just like how the sky remains the same even when different colors are attributed to it due to our vision, the Atman remains pure and unaffected. Another beautiful example given by Sri Sri Shankara to explain this is, just as how as the sands of the desert can never become moist from the water of a mirage, likewise, the Self is not affected by the traits of the body and the senses.


aGYaanaanmaanasopaadheH kartutvaadiini chaatmani .
kalpyante.ambugate chandre chalanaadi yathaambhasaH . 22

Pada Artha:

Ajnaanat: through ignorance
Manasopadehe: of the Mind which is a upadhi
Katrutvaadini: agency of action etc.
Cha: and
Atmaani: on the Self
Kalpyante: attribute
Ambugate: which is reflected in the water
Chadre: in the moon
Chalanaadi: tremblings etc.
Yatha: just as
Ambasaha: of the water

The trembling that belong to the waters are attributed through ignorance to the reflected moon dancing on it: likewise agency of action, of enjoyment and of other limitations (which really belong to the Mind) are delusively understood as the nature of the Self (Atman).

In the previous sloka we learnt that just like how the colors and other qualities are attributed to the sky, due to ignorance, the Atman is superimposed with attributes. It may be contended that the Atman may not have characteristics such as birth, death etc. yet enjoyment, actions etc. belong to it due to common experiences such as “I am happy”, “I am sad” etc. To remove such doubts, Sri Sri Shankara here explains that all the agency of action, enjoyment and other limitations actually belong to the Mind and are only falsely attributed to the Atman. Just as the ripples in the water making the image of the moon shake, the thoughts in the Mind make one perceive Self as the enjoyer and doer.

The example given here is that of the moon. The image of moon seen in water appears to be real and when water surface is disturbed, it looks as though the moon shivers. When the water is steady, the moon appears to be steady, while in reality, all along, the moon is never affected by the disturbances in water. Similarly, it is only due to the modifications of the Mind (Vritti) and because of ego (Aham) that the Self is falsely perceived as the enjoyer of all actions.

All the ideas that “I am this”, “I am the doer” etc. belong only to the Mind which is but an upadhi and exist only when it is active i.e. when one is awake. When the Mind is inactive or not present as in deep sleep, we find that such notions of “I am that”, “I am this “ etc. do not exist at all. Thus all the notions of the attributes of Self are only temporary thoughts of the mind.


raagechchhaasukhaduHkhaadi buddhau satyaaM pravartate .
sushhaptau naasti tannaashe tasmaad.hbuddhestu naatmanaH .. 23

Pada Artha:

Ragaha: attachment
Iccha: desire
Sukha: pleasures
Dukhaadi: pain etc.
Budhyav Satyaam: when Mind or intellect functions
Pravartate: are perceived
Sushptav: in deep sleep
Na: not
Asti: is
Tannaashe: at the destruction of it (Mind)
Tasmaat: therefore
Budhehe: of the Mind
Tu: only
Na: not
Atmanaha: of the atman

Attachment, desire, pleasure, pain, etc., are perceived to exist so long as Buddhi or Mind functions. They are not perceived in deep sleep when the mind ceases to exist. Therefore they belong to the mind alone and not to the Atman.

In the previous sloka we learnt that the agency of all actions and enjoyment belong only to the mind and can never be attributed to the Self. In this Sloka Sri Sri Shankara is explaining again through experience and logic that all the emotions of attachment, desire etc. belong only to the Mind.

It is our experience that there are no emotions of any pleasures, desires or sadness when one is in deep asleep, i.e. when the mind is inactive. But it is only when the mind is active and perceives the outer world that all the limitations are superimposed on Self. If happiness, desire, pain etc. were the attributes of Atman, then they must be ever present as the Self is ever present, but it is never so. In deep sleep, though Self exists, none of the thoughts of attachments and aversions exist. Hence, it is only due to the function of the mind that the limitations are perceived.

Thus all pleasures and pains exist only in the waking state and the dream state when the mind is active. Sri Sri Shankara explains about the nature of Atman in the next sloka.


prakaasho.arkasya toyasya shaityamagneryathoshhNataa .
svabhaavaH sachchidaanandanityanirmalataatmanaH .. 24

Pada Artha:

Prakashaha: luminosity
Arkasya: of the sun
Toyasya: for water
Shaityam: coolness
Agnehe: for fire
Yatha: just as
Ushnataa: heat
Swabhavaha: nature
Sat: reality
Chit: consciousness
Aanandaha: bliss
Nitya: eternity
Nirmalataa: purity
Atmanaha: of the atman

Just as luminosity is the nature of the Sun, coolness of water and heat of fire, so too the nature of the Atman is Eternity, Purity, Reality, Consciousness and Bliss.

The nature of Atman is explained here as Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. Atman is ever pure and real. Sri Sri Shankara here says that these are not the qualities of the Atman but the very nature of Atman. Just like the coolness of water, the heat of fire and the luminosity of Sun, Atman is ever pure, and is verily Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

It is well known that anything can never be separated from nature. We can never separate luminosity from Sun or heat from fire. These are not qualities that can be removed or changed but they the very nature. The Sun will always be luminous and fire always hot i.e. there can never be cool fire nor a dark Sun. Similarly, though the Atman seems to be limited and subjected to misery due to ignorance, it is ever present and bliss alone.

Buddhi, the intellect which is the discriminating component of the antahkaranam and manas or mind is the doubting one. Sri Sri Sankara in the 7th and 8th sloka of Laghu Vakya Vritti explains that all the notions of the good and evil hence likes, dislikes etc. are only creations of the intellect and are attributed to intellect (Buddhi) alone. These are but various mental modes (as per Laghu Vasudeva mananam) and arise only due to indiscrimination of the reality from non reality. Hence the attraction, aversion etc. would be only thoughts of the mind due to non discriminating intellect. These are attributed to Self due to the ego.

Hence when the Subtle body which includes the mind and intellect ceases to exist as in deep sleep, there would be no desires or hatred and thus are perceived only in the waking state i.e. when the mind and intellect are active. But as pointed out, the buddhi in the sloka would mean the intellect only but since the various emotions and feelings are perceived due to the active antah karana alone, Sri Sri Shankara here may have pointed out to the antah karana in general through the word buddhi.


aatmanaH sachchidaMshashcha buddhervR^ittiriti dvyam.h .
saMyojya chaavivekena jaanaamiiti pravartate .. 25

Pada Artha:

Atmanaha: of the Self
Sat-Chit-Amshaha: the existence knowledge aspect
Cha: and
Budhyehe: of the intellect
Vrittihi: the thought wave
Iti: thus
Dwayam: the two
Sanyojya: blending
Cha: and
Avivekena: through indiscrimination
Jaanami: I know
Iti: thus
Pravartate: functions

By the indiscriminate blending of the two – the Existence-Knowledge-aspect of the Self and the Thought-Wave of the intellect – there arises the notion of “I know”.

The Atman is concious and the Mind is inert (Jada Vastu). Self is but consciousness and the illuminator of all the activities of the Mind and intellect. It is only due to consciousness that one is aware of the thoughts. The feelings and notions such as “I am hungry”, “I know” etc. are only due to this awareness or consciousness.

Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining that the experience of “I know” etc. is produced only when the thoughts are illumined by the consciousness. The inert (Jada Vastu) intellect combined with the consciousness produces such wrong notions such as “I know” etc. Sri Sri Shankara explains this as ‘mutual superimposition’ in his Saareeraka Mimamsa Bhashya. The blending of Atman and the intellect which is an effect of ignorance can never be real, as no real union is possible between two contradictory things such as light and darkness, concious and inconcious and such a union has to be apparent and superimposition alone.

Hence, it is due to indiscrimination or when the reality of the Self is not known due to ignorance alone, that the concious attributes of the Self are superimposed on the inconcious such as the intellect and the thoughts which are only due to intellect are attributed on the attribute less Self.

Every thought or modifications of the Mind and intellect are illumined by our awareness. The feelings of anger, hatred etc. are only the characteristics of the Subtle body but due to ignorance of the true nature of Self, these are attributed to Self.

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that the Self which can never undergo any changes nor can be affected by the illusions of the world is thus perceived as “I am sad”, “I like this” etc. while the consciousness and existence of the Self is falsely imposed on the inconcious and impermanent intellect due to indiscrimination arising out of ignorance.


aatmano vikriyaa naasti buddherbodho na jaatviti .
jiivaH sarvamalaM GYaatvaa GYaataa drashhTeti muhyati .. 26

Pada Artha:

Atmanaha: for the Self
Vikriyaa: action
Na: not
Asti: is
Budhyehe: for the intellect
Bodhaha: capacity to experience (intelligence)
Na: not
Jaatu: at all
Iti: thus
Jeevaha: the individuality
Sarvam: everything
Alam: enough
Jnatva: knowing
Jnaataa: the knower
Drushtaa: the seer
Iti: thus
Muhyate: deludes

Atman never does anything and the intellect of its own accord has no capacity to experience ‘I know’. But the individuality in us delusorily thinks he is himself the seer and the knower.

We learnt that the notions such as “I know” etc. are only due to the indiscrimination of the concious Self and the inert (Jada Vastu) intellect. Sri Sri Shankara is explaining this in detail in this sloka. Atman or Self is never the doer of any actions; similarly, the intellect can never be aware of the changes and the thoughts as it is just a product of the matter. Hence, as we learnt in the previous sloka, it is only when there exists a superimposition that one is aware of feelings such as “I know” etc.

All the feelings and emotions of anger, lust, sadness etc. arise only due to the Mind, Body and the intellect complex. Hence it is only the Jeeva which is associated with these acessories that seems to undergo such experiences while all along, the Self is never affected by the mental thoughts or any actions.

For any experience, there should be an external object or the experienced, experincer and the instruments of experience such as the senses, Mind etc. but the Self is verily bliss and hence can never experience any thoughts. Similarly, for the awareness of changes, one must be conscious, but the intellect is inconcious and impermanent only. Hence, the qualities of awareness and those of experiencing do not belong to the intellect and the Atman but are only superimposed because of ignorance.

It is the Self which is the true illuminator illumines all the activities of the intellect. Swami Vidyaranya in Panchadasi describes this beautifully through the example of a lamp and the screen. Just as how the lamp illumines the drama played on the screen, the Self illumines all the activities of the intellect. It is Self which is but consciousness because of which one is aware of all changes in the thought process. It is only due to ignorance that one is deluded, into believing oneself as “I did this”, “I am angry” etc.

Thus Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that the Jeeva or the individual which is but the pure consciousness reflected in the intellect, in its ignorance of the true nature of the Self, identifies itself as the Gross and Subtle bodies and hence superimposes the characteristics of Self on the inert (Jada Vastu) mater and those of the inert (Jada Vastu) matter on the Self. Thus it is only because of the ego and lack of discrimination that the individual is deluded and thinks Self as the enjoyer and doer.


rajjusarpavadaatmaanaM jiivaM GYaatvaa bhayaM vahet.h .
naahaM jiivaH paraatmeti GYaata.nchennirbhayo bhavet.h .. 27

Pada Artha:

Rajju-Sarpa-Vat: like a serpent in a rope
Aatmaanam: oneself
Jeevam: as the ego
Jnaatva: considering
Bhaya,: fear
Vahet: carries (or) is overcome
Na: not
Aham: I
Jeevaha: the individuality or the ego
Paraatmaa: the supreme Self
Iti: thus
Jnaataha: having understood
Chet: if
Nirbhaya: fearlessness
Bhavet: can be

Just as the person who regards a rope as a snake is overcome by fear, so also one considering oneself as the ego (Jiva) is overcome by fear. The ego-centric individuality in us regains fearlessness by realizing that it is not a Jiva but is itself the Supreme Soul.

In the previous slokas we have learnt that all the thoughts and experiences are only due to the ignorance of one’s real nature. In this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is explaining the same through an example.
In darkness, person ignorant of the existence of the rope sees the rope and mistakes it as a snake and is overcome with fear. But once his ignorance is lost and he realizes the existence of rope, the illusory snake and with it, the fear caused by it immediately vanishes. Thus all such misapprehensions and fears are only due to the ignorance of the reality of the rope.

Similarly, for an ignorant one, who considers Self as limited Jiva endowed with the Gross and the Subtle bodies, there always will be misery, anger, fear etc. due to the duality and limitedness. Sri Sri Sankara explains this concept through many beautiful examples in his Aparokshanubhuti, just as how a person going in a boat sees all objects as moving, or just as how the stump of a tree is mistaken as a man and just as how a distant hill appears to be small, similarly, the ever blissful Self is perceived as experiencing anger, agony, misery etc. only due to ignorance.

Like the illusory snake, the Gross and the Subtle bodies are perceived as the real and in this ignorance, due to ego, one seems to experience illusory sorrows. The superimposition of the snake vision on a rope takes place only when the existence of the rope is not perceived; similarly all the miseries arise only due to the ignorance of one’s own nature. But once one realizes the true nature of Self as that of Bliss, there is no emotions nor feelings nor any misery, like the fear of the illusory snake vanishing on seeing the rope in light, all the miseries vanish and there is but bliss.


aatmaavabhaasayatyeko buddhyaadinindriyaaNyapi .
diipo ghaTaadivatsvaatmaa jaDaistairnaavabhaasyate .. 28

Pada Artha:

Atma: the Self
Avabhasyati: illumines
Ekaha: single
Budhyaadini: intellect etc.
Indriyaani: sense organs
Api: also
Deepaha: lamp
Ghataadivat: like the pots etc.
Swatmaa: itself
Jadaihi: inert (Jada Vastu)
Tehe: by themselves
Na : not
Avabhasyate: illumined

Just as a lamp illumines a jar or a pot, so also the Atman illumines the Mind and the sense organs, etc. These material-objects by themselves cannot illumine themselves because they are inert (Jada Vastu).

In the last slokas Sri Sri Sankara explained the notions of “I know”, “I feel” etc. arise only due to the blending of the consciousness aspect of Self and the thought wave of the intellect and that Self can never be the expereincer of any experiences but it is only the Jeeva endowed with the inner organs and ego that goes through all the pains and pleasures and it is only due to ignorance that one falsely imposes all the attributes on Self. Sri Sri Sankara also explained through example that by realizing the true nature of Self, all the bondages are to be over come.

Here in this sloka, Sri Sri Sankara is explaining about the Atman as the illuminator of all actions of the intellect and the sense organs. It is but consciousness. And it is only due to this consciousness that the senses and the inner organs seem to function. Just as how a jar or a pot is seen only due to the light that illumines it, similarly, Atman illuminates all the actions and experiences.

The (Manas) Mind, (Buddhi) Intellect and the (Jnana & Karma Inderiyas) organs of action and knowledge are made of inert (Jada Vastu) matter and hence can never illumine themselves; i.e. they are inconcious. A pot by itself can never reveal itself, but it is only due to the light that illumines it can be seen. Similarly, it is because of the consciousness or the awareness that the actions of the Mind are illumined and one gets the experience as “I thought about this”, “I feel cold” etc.

The Kena Upanishad explains this beautifully as “Atman is that which is the ear of the ear, which is the Mind of Mind, the speech of speech etc. It is that by which the Mind is thought and the by which the man sees the activities through the eye.” Thus as the Mahavakya says, this consciousness is the Self or “Pragjyanam Brahmaa”. Self thus is the illuminator of all the modifications of the intellect.

Thus Sri Sri Sankara is explaining here that the apparent luminous nature of the Mind and the sense organs is in reality due to the Atman which is their substratum and the Mind just like the pot or the pitcher can never be concious.


svabodhe naanyabodhechchhaa bodharuupatayaatmanaH .
na diipasyaanyadiipechchhaa yathaa svaatmaprakaashane .. 29

Pada Artha:

Swa-Bodhe: to know itself
Na: not
Anya Bodha Ichha: need for other knowledge
Bodha Roopatayaa: because its form is knowledge itself
Atmnaha: one’s own
Na: not
Deepasya: for a lamp
Anya-Deepa-Ichha: need for another lamp
Yatha: just as
Swaatma-Prakashane: to illumine oneself

A lighted-lamp does not need another lamp to illumine its light. So too, Atman which is Knowledge itself needs no other knowledge to know it.

Sri Sri Sankara explained in the last sloka that the Atman is the sole illuminator of all the actions. Here in this sloka, we learn that the illuminating Atman does not need another illuminator to illumine it.

Light is necessary to see objects in dark, but when we have a lighted lamp, we do not need another source of light to see the lamp. There is no need of a lamp to see the Sun which illumines all the objects of the world as the Sun itself is self-luminous. Similarly, to realize and experience Self, which is verily consciousness and self luminous, there is no need of any other consciousness. Sri Sri Sankara here is teaching that the Self which is the only reality, does not need another illuminator.

The Self as we learnt is the sole illuminator. As the Katho Upanishad’s famous sloka which was also mentioned in the previous slokas comment says “the sun, moon, stars, fire and all derive their illuminating power only from the Self”, It is that absolute consciousness because of which all appear as conscious.

Self is verily consciousness and if there is another illuminator that illuminates it, then there should be a second consciousness which is not possible. And this second consciousness if exists, would need a third consciousness to illumine it and that a third one and thus it would lead to infinite regression only. Thus Atman is self luminous, Also it is impossible to deny one’s existence and there is never a need of any external aid to prove that ‘I’ exist. The awareness of existence is ever present. Thus, Atman is self luminous.

Also, consciousness and ignorance are opposites like darkness and light. Hence, there is never a need of another illuminator to know Self which is verily consciousness. For example, in darkness, an object cannot be seen, but when there is light, the object is clearly perceived. Thus that which brings this light can never be in darkness. Hence there is never a need of another lamp to see a lighted lamp, as there can never be darkness and light together. Just like the lamp that does not require another lamp to illumine it as all darkness is removed by the lamp itself, Self which is verily consciousness can never depend on another consciousness to illumine it.


nishhidhya nikhilopaadiinneti netiiti vaakyataH .
vidyaadaikyaM mahaavaakyairjiivaatmaparamaatmanoH .. 30

Pada Artha:

Nishidya: after negating
Nikhilopaadinaam: all conditionings
Na Iti: ‘not this’
Iti: thus
Vakyataha: from the scriptural statements
Vidhyaat: know
Ekyam: oneness
Mahavakyaihi: by the great mahavakyas
Jeevatma Paramaatmanoho: of the individual and soul and the supreme soul

By a process of negation of the conditionings (Upadhis) through the help of the scriptural statement ‘It is not this, It is not this’, the oneness of the individual soul (Atma} and the Supreme Soul (Paramatma), as indicated by the great Mahavakyas, has to be realized.

Sri Sri Sankara in the last slokas explained about the self illumining nature of Atman. In this sloka, Sri Sri Sankara is explaining that one should realize the true nature of Self by the negation of the upadhis.
The Atman as we learnt is distinct from the three bodies and remains ever unaffected, also as we learnt in the previous slokas, it is only due to the ignorance of one’s nature and by non discrimination of Self and non self, of the reality and the illusion that all duality and hence misery arises.

As we know from Vakya Vritti, the Upanishads teach two methods of defining the nature of Self, the direct method and the negation method. It is but knowledge alone that leads to realization through the positive method and also through the negative method. We can refer to the 28th sloka from Vakya vritti for this.

tvamarthamevaM nishchitya tadarthaM chintayetpunaH .
atadvyaavR^ittiruupeNa saakShaadvidhimukhena cha..

“When the meaning of the word “Thou” is thus ascertained one should think over what is meant by the word “That” by negating what is other than Brahman and also according to the direct positive method.”

Thus the meaning or the nature of the Brahman has to be known by negating all that other than Self and also by the positive method only.
The direct method is by pointing out the nature of the Atman as that of Existence-Consciousness and Bliss and the negation method is by negating all the acessoriess of the Atman and hence by realizing the true nature of Self as distinct from the illusory acessories. By negating all the acessories, that which remains at the end is the negator alone. And the nature of this negator is realized as that of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss which is verily Brahman. Thus the unity of the Brahman and Atman as the Mahavakyas “Aham Brahmasmi”, “Tat Tvam Asi”, “Ayam Atma Brahma” etc. propound is realized.

Ignorance as Sri Sri Shankara explained in verse 25 is caused only when the attributes of the inconcious physical body and the inner organs are falsely imposed on the Self. Hence Self seems to be limited which thus gives rise to miseries. Self is neither the Gross body which perishes nor the Subtle body which is inconcious and is neither the Casual body which is not existent in deep sleep. Thus that which is ever present has to be known by negating all the acessories.

It is only be false identification of the Self by the Gross, Subtle and Casual bodies that all the duality arises, hence the negation process is explained here by the Sri Sri Shankara as a means of attaining liberty from all the illusory limiting acessories. By the power of discrimination of the reality and the non reality, one gains conviction on the nature of the Self and eventually, the identity of Brahman and Atman as propounded by the Mahavakyas is realized.

Thus in this verse, the way of Self realization by the way of negation of the limiting acessories is explained.


avidyakaM shariiraadi dR^ishyaM bud.hbudavatksharam.h .
etadvilakshaNaM vidyaadahaM brahmeti nirmalam.h .. 31

Pada Artha:

Avidhyakam: upto the Casual body
Shareeraadi: body etc.
Drushyam: perceived objects
Budhbuda Vat: as bubbles
Ksharam: perishable
Etad Vilakshanam: separate from all these
Vidhyaat: realize
Aham: I
Brahma :Brahman
Iti : thus
Nirmalam: pure

The body, etc., up to the “Casual Body” – Ignorance – which are objects perceived, are as perishable as bubbles formed in the water. Realise through discrimination that I am the ‘Pure Brahman’ ever completely separate from all these.

In the last verse, Sri Sri Shankara explained that the nature of Self is to be realized by negating all the illusory acessories that seem to limit Self, in this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is explaining the nature of all the acessoriess as illusory and momentary like those of a bubbles and that one should discriminate the Self as completely different from them.

The Casual body, Subtle body and the Gross body are objects of experience. i.e. they can be experienced and are momentary only. The Gross body is subject to experiences such as “I am feeling cold”, “I am hungry” etc. and is not present in the dream and deep sleep state. Hence it is impermanent alone. The Subtle body which is experienced through thoughts such as hatred, liking, etc. is also absent in the deep sleep state and present only in waking and dream state and hence is also impermanent. The Casual body which is but ignorance is also impermanent and illusory. Similarly, all the objects of the world are which are perceived only momentarily are different from the Self. Hence, these are but objects of experience; while the witness to all these experiences, which can never be the experienced object, is the Self which is always seperate and eternal.

Sri Sri Shankara is explaining the nature of all the objects including the Subtle and the Gross bodies as that of the bubbles. Like the bubbles that are momentary and burst on slightest touch, the objects of the world are impermanent and are/will perish and hence are always distinct from the Self which is eternal. And through discrimination of the eternal Self from the illusory objects of the world one should realize the nature of Self as completely different as that of the objects which is but Existence-Consciousness and Bliss.

In the next sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is explaining the nature of Self as that distinct from all the sense organs and ever free from all impurities and modifications.


dehaanyatvaanna me janmajaraakaashyalayaadayaH .
shabdaadivishhayaiH saN^go nirindriyatayaa na cha .. 32

Pada Artha:

Deha anyatvaat: because of Its being other than the body
Na: not
Me: for me
Janma: birth
Jaraa: wrinkling
Krushya: senility
Layaadayaha: death etc.
Shabdha Aadi Vishayaihi: with sense objects such as sound etc.
Sanghaha: association
Nirindriyataa: because it is without sense organs
Na: not
Cha: and

I am other than the body and so I am free from changes such as birth, wrinkling, senility, death, etc. I have nothing to do with the sense objects such as sound and taste, for I am without the sense-organs.

Sri Sri Shankara is this sloka is again ascertaining the taintless nature of Self. Sri Sri Shankara here is repeating that the true ‘I’ which is but Existence Bliss alone can never be subject to any modifications as it is eternal and without any limitations. Only those with limitations are subject to changes.

Changes which are inherent of matter can never be present for the eternal Self. All objects in the world as we learnt in the previous sloka are temporary and are prone to changes. These changes are called as Shadroomi. They are Janma-birth, Astitva-existence, Vriddhi-growth, Parinaama-change, Apakshaya-disease and Naasha-death. It is well known that anything that is born has to undergo all these changes and will eventually perish. Thus the world and all its objects including the Gross, Subtle and Casual bodies have to be known as temporary and illusory only. As Lord Krishna says in Gita, the Self is beyond birth and death and all such changes are only to the body. The Self thus is always distinct from the body and is never affected by any changes.

Sri Sri Shankara here is also mentioning that I can never be attached to any senses and objects as I am without any sense organs. Sense organs which are also creation of the mind are falsely superimposed on the Self and the Self which is but consciousness due to which the sense organs seems to work can never be affected by the objects perceived.

As the Upanishad statement “Sakshi cheta kevalo nirgunasha” says, the witness of all these changes and experiences which is I, is thus always untainted and without any qualities and free from the characteristics of Mind..


amanastvaanna me duHkharaagadveshhabhayaadayaH .
apraaNo hyamanaaH shubhra ityaadi shrutishaasanaat.h ..33

Pada Artha:

Amanasvataat: because of not being the Mind
Na: not
Me: for me
Dukhaha: sorrow
Raga: attachment
Dwesha: malice
Bhaya Aadayaha: fear etc.
Apraanaha: without breath
Hi: verily
Amaanaha: without Mind
Shubraha: pure
Ityaadi: etc.
Shruti Shaasanaat: for the great scripture says so.

I am other than the mind and hence, I am free from sorrow, attachment, malice and fear, for “HE is without breath and without Mind, Pure, etc.”, is the Commandment of the great scripture, the Upanishads.

The next sloka is also considered as the 33rd sloka of Atma bodha by some acharyas while it is not considered as part of Atma Bodha by others. Swami Nikhilananda of RK Mutt considers this as part of Atma Bodha, while Swami Harshananda and Swami Chinmaya do not mention this in their commentaries, yet lets us learn this sloka also as this sloka also conveys the same import as the previous one that the Atman is other than prana, mind and senses because they are transitory and are endowed with a beginning and an end. It would be helpful if someone could provide the word meaning of this sloka.

etasmaa.njaayate praaNo manaH sarvendriyaaNi cha .
khaM vaayurjyotiraapaH pR^ithivii vishvasya dhaariNii . ..

From it are born breath, mind and all organs of sense, ether, air, light, water and earth, which is the support of all.

Sri Sri Sankara in the previous verses explained that the bodies are perishable and the Self is always distinct from all the sense objects and the senses and is ever free from any modifications. Here in these slokas we learn that the Self or the real ‘I’ am always free from any emotions of sorrow etc. and it is only from Self that all organs, elements are born. Self is without mind, ever pure etc. so says the shruti. Sri Sri Sankara is here explaining the nature of Self through the quoting from Shruti. The Shruti which Sri Sri Shankara mentions here is from Mundaka Up. 2.1.2 and 2.1.3.

Mundaka Upanishad explains Self as transcendental since It is formless and is all that ever exists. Atman is all that is internal, external and is birth less. Hence, Self is without prana or mind which are temporary and is ever pure. It is from Self only that the pranas as well as the mind, all senses, and all elements that support every object of the world originate.

Thus Self is ever free from all the emotions of fear, anger etc. and from the mind and breath as it is ever distinct from them. Sorrow, desire etc. are only characteristics of the mind, and it is only through the mind that one hears, sees and perceives all duality. “Desire, deliberation, doubt, faith, patience, impatience, shame, intelligence and fear all are but of the mind” so says Brihadaranyaka Up. 1.5.3. The Self which is ever distinct from the mind thus can never be subject to any emotions.
Prana or Breath is also a modification of matter and hence can never belong to Atman. The bodies and different objects of the world which are but matter can hence never be the Self. Thus Sri Sri Sankara is explaining in this sloka through the shruti quotations that Self which is the substratum of all objects of the world is ever distinct from them.


nirguNo nishhkriyo nityo nirvikalpo nira.njanaH .
nirvikaaro niraakaaro nityamukto.asmi nirmalaH . 34

Pada Artha:

Nirgunaha: without attributes
Nishkriyaha: without actions
Nitya: eternal
Nirvikalpaha: without desire and thought
Niranjanaha: without any dirt
Nirvikaraha: without any change
Niraakaraha: without form
Nitya muktaha: ever liberated
Asmai: I am
Nirmalaha: ever pure

I am without attributes and actions; Eternal (Nitya) without any desire and thought (Nirvikalpa), without any dirt (Niranjana), without any change (Nirvikara), without form (Nirakara), ever-liberated (Nitya Mukta) ever-pure (Nirmala).


ahamaakaashavatsarvaM bahirantargato.achyutaH .
sadaa sarvasamassiddho nissaN^go nirmalo.achalaH .. 35

Pada Artha:

Aham: I
Aakashavaat: like space
Sarvam: all things
Bahihi: without
Antaha: within
Gataha: fill in
Achyutaha: changeless
Sadaa: always
Sarva Samaha: same in all
Shudhaha: pure
Nishangaha: unattached
Nirmalaha: stainless
Achalaha: motionless

Like the space I fill all things within and without. Changeless and the same in all, at all times I am pure, unattached, stainless and motionless.

The assertion of the nature of Self is continued in these two slokas. A substance is that which has physical qualities, which is made up of matter and hence is finite. Scriptures proclaim that Atman is that from which all these elements are born as "Yatova imani bhootani jaayante"; as we have also learnt in the previous sloka. Thus Atman which is the origin of all the elements and hence all the objects. It is ever distinct from these objects percieved and hence has no properties. Atman is also free from activities, desire, thoughts etc. because it is always distinct from the body, the senses and the mind.

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that Atman is attribute less and ever existent. That which is ever existent and infinite has to be attribute less alone as having attributes is also a limitation. For example, the attribute of thin means not being fat, attribute of small means not being big. Thus all attributes such as name, form, pure, impure are limitations alone and Atman which is limitless and ever existent bliss is thus described here are Nirguna (attribute less), nirakara (formless) etc. The same import is also found in Sri Sri Sankara’s Dasa Sloki, 6th sloka as: "I am neither white nor black, nor red nor yellow, neither dwarfish nor stout, neither short nor long. As I am the nature of light, I am shapeless also. I am that residue, the auspicious, Shiva alone."

Atman is explained here as Nirmala (without dirt) as it is never affected by time nor thoughts. It is ever different from all finite and temporary objects, is hence ever liberated, i.e. free from any bondages as all attributes and bondages are only superimpositions on the Atman. Sri Sri Sankara explains the same in Nirvanashatkam also as " I am changeless, formless, enveloping all, Untouched by senses, I am omnipresent, Unfathomable, I am beyond freedom, I am the embodiment of knowledge and bliss" through the sloka,

ahaM nirvikalpo niraakaararuupovibhuvyaa.rpya sarvatra sarvendriyaaNaam.h .sadaa me samatvaM na muktirna bandhaHchidaana.ndaruupaH shivo.ahaM shivo.aham.h

Sri Sri Shankara continues to emphasize on the same in the next sloka also. Like the space that fills up all things in the world and is still not contaminated by any objects that exist in it, Self is all pervading and is never affected by the modifications to the body or the mind or any objects superimposed on it. Atman can never be localized to some part of the body or to an object but it is that which is inside and outside of everything. Isha Upanishad also explains the same as "Tadantaransya sarvasya tadu sarvasyasya bahyataha" i.e. as "That which is the interior of everything and also that which is the exterior of everything”.

Thus, through these two slokas Sri Sri Shankara is explaining that like the space that fills everything, Atman is all pervading and all the attributes of names and forms are only illusions on it, like the illusory snake on the rope.


nityashuddhavimuktaikamakhaNDaanandamadvayam.h .
satyaM GYaanamanantaM yatparaM brahmaahameva tat.h .. 36

Pada Artha:

Nitya: eternal
Shuddha: pure
Vimukta: free
Ekam: one
Akhanda Anandam: invisible bliss
Advayam: non dual
Satyam: truth (changeless in all the three periods of time)
Jnaanam: knowledge
Anantam: infinite
Yatparam Brahma: that supreme Brahman
Ahameva : I alone
Tat: that

I am verily that Supreme Brahman alone which is Eternal, Pure and Free, One, indivisible and non-dual and of the nature of Changeless-Knowledge-Infinite.

In this sloka Sri Sri Shankara is again reinstating the nature of the Self as that of Brahman. It is only by constant contemplation of the truth that a seeker gains self experience. Hence we find that Sri Sri Shankara is again repeating about the nature of Self in this sloka also.

Brahman which is Sat-Chit-Anandam is ever pure and free as it is never affected by ignorance and is not bounded to anything. That which is ever existent and non dual can never be related to anything hence it is explained here as eternal, pure and free from all bonding. It is also described as one, indivisible and non dual, which means that it is devoid of any distinctions or differences.

Distinctions or Bhedas can be of three types. Swajaateeya Bheda or differences between like substances, Vijateeya Bheda or difference due to different kinds of substances and Swagatha Bheda or inherent differences. Brahman is verily consciousness and there can never be multiple consciousness as it will end in an infinite regression only. Also it is that from which everything else is born and as explained in the first slokas, it is but consciousness alone which is the substratum of all the creations perceived. Thus Brahman can never have Swajateeya and Vijateeya Bhedas.

Brahman which is verily Existence-Consciousness-Bliss can never have any parts. Also it is infinite and limitless and devoid of any changes. Hence there can be no Swagatha Bedha also. Thus Brahman is devoid of any differences and is one and indivisible as said by the scriptural statement “Ekam eva Adviteeyam” i.e. one, alone without second.

Sri Sri Shankara is also explaining here the nature of Brahman as changeless knowledge infinite. Taittariya Upanishad proclaims the nature of Brahman as “Satyam Jnanam Anantham Brahmaa”. Sri Sri Shankara is explaining the same here also as that Brahman which is of the nature of Satyam Jnanam Anantham (changeless-knowledge- infinite) and “I am verily that Brahaman” which is the import of all the Mahavakyas.


evaM nirantaraabhyastaa brahmaivaasmiiti vaasanaa .
haratyavidyaavikshepaadrogaaniva rasaayanam.h .. 37

Pada Artha:

Evam: thus
Nirantara Abhyasyataa: practiced constantly
Brahmaiva Asmi: I am Brahman
Iti: thus
Vaasanaa: impression
Harati: destroys
Avidya Vikshepaan: ignorance and agitation (caused by avidya)
Rogaan: disease
Iva: like
Rasaayanam: medicine

The impression “I am Brahman” thus created by constant practice destroys ignorance and the agitation caused by it, just as medicine or Rasayana destroys disease.

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that the constant practice of the knowledge of identity Brahman and Atman destroys ignorance and its effects.

Due to ignorance, a lot of vasanas or the tendencies are accumulated and a seeker has to get rid of them and must also eliminate the attachment and identification of Self with body-mind-intellect; which requires a lot of practice and hard work and constant remembrance of the reality for a normal seeker. Hence Sri Sri Shankara here is emphasizing on constant practice.

By constant contemplation of the knowledge of the identity of the Brahman and Atman obtained by the scriptural studies destroys ignorance just as medicine administered cures the disease and itself gets eliminated. Just as the medicine we take in, of its own accord gets ultimately eliminated from the body, so too the experience “I am Brahman” is also dissolved.

Swami Chinmayananda gives another beautiful example to illustrate this as: So long as we are not asleep we “try to sleep” but when we reach sleep, all efforts end by themselves. So also is the knowledge of the nature of Self that removes all the duality and miseries due to ignorance.

It is only the ignorance of the real nature of Self and ego that binds one to the objects of the world and causes all miseries, hence if all the miseries are to be removed, it can be only by knowledge. So Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that by constant practice we have to eliminate all the vasanas. As Swami Chinmayananda puts in his commentary, the constant thought that “I am Brahman” is also a vasana but this constant remembrance will create a new set of divine vasanas which act as an antidote to the vasanas caused by ignorance and ego and quietens the mind. This process will continue till the last of the thoughts end and in the silence of the mind, the spiritual habits also end leaving the seeker to realize Self.

Thus the impression of “I am Brahman” created by uninterrupted reflection destroys ignorance and its distractions as rasayana destroys diseases.

Sloka 38

vivptadeshaasinaHa viragaHa vijetendriyaHa bhavayet. ekam atamanam tamannatam tadanyadeHi

Pada Artha:

Viviptadesha: Alone {at lonely place}
Asinaha: to Sit
Viragaha: dispassionate
Vijetendriyaha: to control senses
Bhavayet: to become
Ekam: one (with)
Atamanam: Atma
Tam Anantam: which is infinite
Tad Anyadehi: which is not the other

If one who is sits alone with dispassion and has control on his senses he will become one with Atma which is infinite and one without the other.


aatmanyevaakhilaM dR^ishyaM pravilaapya dhiyaa sudhiiH .
bhaavayedekamaatmaanaM nirmalaakaashavatsadaa .. 39

Pada Artha:

Aatmanyeva: the atman alone
Akhilam: entire
Drushyam: world of objects
Pravilapya: merging
Dheeyaa: (by his) intelligence
Sudhihi: wise man
Bhaavet: should think
Ekam: one
Aatmaanam: the Self
Nirmala Aakashavat: like the stainless or pure sly
Sadaa: constantly

The wise one should intelligently merge the entire world-of-objects in the Atman alone and constantly think of the Self ever as uncontaminated by anything as the sky.

In the previous sloka, Sri Sri Shankara had explained the path of meditation, but for a seeker it is not easy to meditate on the unity of Brahman and Atman when the duality is perceived all around. Hence, Sri Sri Shankara in this sloka is explaining that through discrimination, one should realize that the entire perceived world is falsely superimposed on Atman and it is but Self alone that exists. Just as how a snake seen in rope is rope alone, the substratum alone is real and all the names and forms of the objects are but Atman alone.
The snake, wrongly perceived on the rope can never affect the rope; similarly Self can never be affected by the various forms perceived just as even though the various shapes of the clouds seem to cover the sky, it remains ever unaffected. Thus through help of such reasoning, the discriminative seeker should realize the non existence of the world apart from Self and merge the universe in Atman. Here the words “merging the universe” cannot be taken in the literal meaning but as “perceiving the entire universe as Self alone”.

Sri Sri Shankara explains the same as to how a seeker should discriminate between the real and unreal in Vivekachoodamani slokas also as:

sarvaatmanaa bandhavimuktihetuH
sarvaatmabhaavaanna paro.asti kashchit.h .
dR^ishyaagrahe satyupapadyate.asau
sarvaatmabhaavo.asya sadaatmanishhThayaa .(Vivekachoodamani 39)

“He is free who knowing through his mind the Self in moving and unmoving objects and observing it as their substratum, gives up all superimpositions and remains as the absolute and infinite Self”


ruupavarNaadikaM sarva viGYaaya paramaarthavit.h .
paripurNaMchidaanandasvaruupeNaavatishhThate .. 40

Pada Artha:

Roopa Varnaadikam : form, color etc.
Sarva : everything
Vihaaya: discarding
Paramarthavit: one who has realized the Supreme
Paripoorna Chidananda Swaroopena : as an embodiment of the Infinite consciousness and Bliss
Avathishtate: becomes(remains)

He who has realized the Supreme, discards all his identification with the objects of names and forms. (Thereafter) he dwells as an embodiment of the Infinite Consciousness and Bliss. He becomes the Self.

“The knower of Brahman becomes verily Brahman” so say the Upanishads as “Bhramavid Brahmaiva bhavati”. Sri Sri Shankara is explaining the same here in this sloka. While the ignorant perceive duality in the world as various names and forms, the wise ones see the world as the Atman alone. He who has realized the true nature of Self thus sees no duality and dwells as an embodiment as bliss alone.

When all the names and forms are known to be illusory, then there can be no attachments or aversions towards them, and that which remains ever is known to be Self alone. And this Self is but Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

We have also learnt this in Bhajagovindam as “Nandati Nandati Nandatievam”. There is but Bliss and Bliss alone for such a realized one. The same is also been explained in Isha Upanishad, sloka 6 and also in Gita chapter 6 as “A realized one or a true yogi always sees oneness everywhere and hence sees the Self in all and all in the Self”. The same import can also be found in vivekachoodamani sloka 394 as: “ It is a unquestionable fact that those who know their identity with Brahman and have given up their connection with the objective world, live palpably unifold with Brahman as eternal Knowledge and Bliss”

A Jnani thus discards all the attachment with the objects of the world. As we see in Mahatmas, such a knower verily becomes the embodiment of Bliss and is ever unaffected by the happenings of the world.


GYaatR^iGYaanaGYeyabhedaH pare naatmani vidyate .
chidaanandaikaruupatvaaddiipyate svayameva tat.h .. 41

Pada Artha:

Jnaatru: knower
Jnanaa: knowledge
Jneya: object of knowledge
Bhedaha: (these)differences
Pare: supreme
Na: not
Aatmaani: the Self
Vidhyate: is
Chidaananda Eka Roopavaat: because of (the being) of the nature of knowledge and bliss
Deepyate: shines
Swayam: by itself
Eva: alone
Hi: verily

There are no distinctions such as “Knower”, the “Knowledge” and the “Object of Knowledge” in the Supreme Self. On account of Its being of the nature of endless Bliss, It does not admit of such distinctions within Itself. It alone shines by Itself.

The knowledge referred to here is the intellectual knowledge. Our intellect is capable of perceiving objects other than itself. Hence all our knowledge is constituted by the knowledge of things other than ourselves. But for the Brahman which is verily knowledge as the Chandogya Upanishad says “Satyam Jnanam Anantham Brahmaa”, there is no duality of knower nor the object to know or the knowledge.
Also for any action or specifically for knowledge, there should be an ignorant subject, a means of getting knowledge and the object of knowledge and knowledge itself. Thus for the Self which is verily knowledge and self luminous, there can be no action of knowledge. Being nondual and eternal, it cannot have any distinction such as the subject and the object. Like the Sun that shines by itself and needs no other torch to illumine it, Atman is self luminous.

As we have learnt in the previous slokas, when the ignorance of the nature of Self has been destroyed by knowledge of Brahman, there is nothing but Self. To such a knower of Brahman for whom everything such as names and forms are merged in Self and has become Self, how can there be the difference of knower, known and knowledge?
Just as how a fire does not burn itself, similarly the Self cannot know itself. When the knower of Brahman who has discriminated the real from the unreal, there exists only the subject, one without second.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Second chapter speaks in detail about this as:

“When the object of understanding is not there, what is there to understand? When there is no more of such an object then how can there be knowing of anything? And because that object of knowledge has become knowledge itself, so there is no such thing as knowing ‘anything’. Where everything is Self of knowledge, there can be nothing that the Self can know except its own Self and through what instrument should one know the knower? Everything hence is known by the knower of Brahman.” This is propunded by the famous statements: “tat kena kam abhivadet, tat kena kam manvita, tat kena kam vijaniyat? ; “Yenedam sarvam vijanati, tam kena vijaniyat?”

Thus, Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining to us that for the knower of Brahman who is verily Brahman, there can be no distinctions of the knower, known and knowledge.


evamaatmaaraNau dhyaanamathane satataM kR^ite .
uditaavagatirjvaalaa sarvaaGYaanendhanaM dahet.h .. 42

Pada Artha:

Evam: thus
Aataaranav: in the arani (wooden piece) of the Self
Dhyanamathane: churning in the form of contemplation
Satatam: constantly
Kruthe: when done
Uditaavagati: knowledge which is born
Jwala: the flame
Sarva Ajnaana Indhanam: all the fuel of ignorance
Dahet: shall burn

When this the lower and the higher aspects of the Self are well churned together, the fire of knowledge is born from it, which in its mighty conflagration shall burn down all the fuel of ignorance in us.

In this sloka Sri Sri Shankara is explaining that when there is a constant churning of knowledge, the continuous thought of “I am Brahman” are nourished by the meditation, the fire of knowledge is churned in oneself and by process of discrimination and by this knowledge all ignorance fades away. In such a fire of knowledge that the ignorance is burnt down just as fuel is consumed by fire. In the explanation given by Swami Chinmayananda, the lower and higher aspects of Self indicate the intellect and the absolute Self.

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining the need of constant contemplation by giving us a beautiful example. Fire is produced by friction of two wood pieces. By rubbing a piece of wood over another constantly the all consuming fire can be produced. Sri Sri Shankara here is comparing the pieces of wood to the two aspects of Self. The lower piece to the aspect of Self associated with illusory ignorance and antahkarana which is lower and the higher piece of wood to the Self which is the absolute reality or Brahman (Omkara as told in Mandukya Upanishad).

This churning of knowledge is described clearly in Kaivalyopanishad as
aatmaanamaraNiM kR^itvaa praNavaM chottaraaraNim.h
GYaananirmathanaabhyaasaatpaapaM dahati paNDitaH ..

“ A sage thinks of this mind as lower piece of wood, and OM as the upper wood. Through the practice of constant friction between them, he kindles the fire of knowledge which burns up the impurities of mind.”

Thus making the Atman as the lower piece of wood and OM (symbolic representation of Brahman or Supreme Self) as the upper piece of wood, through repeated friction of knowledge, a wise man burns all the bonds.

Sri Sri Shankara is here thus describing the effect of intense mediation. Meditation is but unbroken thought towards an object. Just as how fire can be produced by constant rubbing of two pieces of wood, knowledge is churned out by constant meditation on reality. i.e. when the one constantly contemplates on the Brahman as nature of Self, by this constant contemplation or meditation which is compared to the friction here, the Self knowledge arises. It is this knowledge alone that burns all the desires and bonding and ultimately liberates one from all duality and hence sadness. Hence a seeker must constantly contemplate on the real nature of Self and only with such intense sadhana can one acquire the Self knowledge.

Lord Krishna also mentions the same in Gita fourth chapter 19th sloka as “The wise call him learned whose actions are all devoid of all desires and their thoughts and whose actions have been burnt away from the fire of wisdom”. Thus Lord Krishna is thus explaining that the actions, and ignorance that causes them are incinerated by the fire of knowledge and such a one is called by the wise as the learned one.

Such a wise one whose ignorance is burnt by the intense fire of knowledge becomes verily Existence-Consciousness-Bliss alone.


aruNeneva bodhena puurvaM santamase hR^ite .
tata aavirbhavedaatmaa svayamevaa.nshumaaniva .. 43

Pada Artha:

Arunena: by the lord of the early dawn (aruna)
Iva: like
Bodhena: by the knowledge
Poorva: beforehand
Santamase: the universal darkness
Hrte: destroyed
Tataha: then
Avirbhavate: rises
Aatmaa: the Self
Swayameva: of its own accord
Anshumaan: the sun
Iva: like

The Lord of the early dawn (Aruna) himself has already looted away the thick darkness, when soon the Sun rises. The Divine Consciousness of the Self rises when the right knowledge has already killed the darkness in the bosom.

In the previous sloka Sri Sri Shankara explained that by constant meditation, Self knowledge arises which destroys the ignorance. In this sloka Sri Sri Shankara is explaining that it is only when the ignorance is negated by this knowledge that the divine consciousness rises by itself just like the Sun raising after the dawn.

In Mythology, Aruna drives the chariot of the Sun God everyday thus bringing light to the world. Aruna is Dawn. Being the charioteer, he arrives before the Sun. It is our experience that in the early dawn, after the darkness is removed by the dim light of dawn, the Sun slowly rises illuminating the world. The golden light of the dawn itself signals the rising of the Sun that will follow soon. Aruna, the dawn heralds up the Sun.

Similarly, it is only when the knowledge of Self negates the ignorance does the Blissful Atman reveals itself to the seekers. Ignorance here is compared to the darkness. It is only when the ignorance that causes all miseries is removed that the ever blissful and Self illuming nature of Atman is realized. Thus Sri Sri Shankara here is instructing that by constant practice and meditation, this darkness has to be negated by knowledge before Self realization.

Lord says this in Gita fifth chapter, 16th sloka as “For those in whom this ignorance is destroyed by the knowledge of the Self that knowledge like Sun reveals the supreme”.

Thus when the knowledge dawned by quieting of the mind and thoughts through constant practice of meditation negates the ignorance, Self reveals itself to the seeker just like the rising Sun that follows after the darkness is removed by the dawn.


aatmaa tu satataM praapto.apyapraaptavadavidyayaa .
tannaashe praaptavad.hbhaati svakaNThaabharaNaM yathaa .. 44

Pada Artha:

Atmaa: the Self
Tu: verily
Satatam: always
Praptaha: (the reality) that is present
Api: yet
Apraptavat: is not realized
Avidhyaya: because of ignorance
Tat Naasahe: at the destruction of that (ignorance)
Praptavat: like an object newly gained
Bhaati: appears
Swa Kanta Aabharanaat: the ornament of one’s neck
Yatha: just as

Atman is an ever-present Reality. Yet, because of ignorance it is not realised. On the destruction of ignorance Atman is realised. It is like the missing ornament of one’s neck.

In the previous sloka we learnt that “The Divine Consciousness of the Self rises when the right knowledge has already killed the ignorance, just as the Lord of the early dawn (Aruna) himself has already looted away the thick darkness, when soon the Sun rises.” Here one may get the doubt that if Atman is ever present and reality is always perceived directly and intitutitly then why should one destroy the ignorance in order to realize it? Sri Sri Shankara answers this through this sloka that the ever Blissful Atman is ever present but it is only due to ignorance that it seems to be forgotten. It is only seemingly forgotten but never actually forgotten. And it is only when the ignorance is destroyed or negated that Atman is realized as Existence-Consciousness and Bliss.

The Self knowledge or awareness of the real nature of Self is veiled by ignorance. Hence there is never any need to acquire anything new. Swami Chinmayanada gives us a beautiful example for this as, “Just as no one can give the dreamer his experience as a waker as he himself is the waker, Self which is ever present is only realized or rediscovered.” Swami Vidyaranya also explains this beautifully in Panchadashi first chapter that it is only due to ignorance that the ever present self illumining Atman seems to be unknown and when this ignorance is completely negated by knowledge Atman is realized.

Here an example of a person who has worn an ornament and has completely forgotten about it and is searching in all places for the ornament. In the end the ornament is realized to be present in one’s own neck from the beginning. Similarly, Atman is realized as ever existent and all pervading when ignorance is removed.


sthaaNau purushhavad.hbhaantyaa kR^itaa brahmaNi jiivataa .
jiivasya taattvike ruupe tasMindR^ishhTe nivartate .. 45

Pada Artha:

Shaanav: in the lamp post
Purushavat: like the man
Braantaa: because of delusion
Krutha: is made
Brahmani: in the Brahman
Jeevitaa: the jiva-hood (individyuality)
Jeevasya: of the jiva
Taathvika Roope: in the real nature
Tasmin: in the Self
Drushte: where seen
Nivartatae: is destroyed.

Brahman appears to be a ‘Jiva’ because of ignorance, just as a lamp post appears to be a ghost. The ego-centric-individuality is destroyed when the real nature of the ‘Jiva’ is realised as the Self.

Sri Sri Shankara in the last sloka explained that it is only because of ignorance that the ever present reality is forgotten just like the necklace in one’s neck. The same is explained here in this sloka also.

Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining that Brahman appears to be Jiva only due to ignorance. Jiva is limited and is associated with the Casual, Subtle and Gross bodies. As we have learnt in the first few slokas of Laghu Vakya Vritti, these are but limitations and these delusions arise only because of ignorance of the reality of Self. Thus Self which is Existence Consciousness Bliss i.e. Brahman is mistaken as the limited jiva only due to ignorance.

The example given here is that of a ghost in a lamp post. If the existence of lamp post is not known, in darkness, one may mistake it as a form of a person or a ghost and get scared. It is only in delusion (Samshaya) that one can mistake thus. If the existence and nature of the post is known clearly, then there can never be such delusions (Samshaya). This (Anyatha Agrahana) misapprehension occurs only due to non apprehension (Agrahana) of the post. Similarly it is due to ignorance only that all the world of duality and the egoistic existence is superimposed on Self which is verily Brahman.

Sri Sri Shankara gives the same example in Aparokshanubhiti sloka 73 also as follows:

purushhatvena vai sthaaNurjalatvena mariichikaa .
vinirNiitaa vimuuDhena dehatvena tathaatmataa .. 73

“Just as the stump of a tree is mistaken for a human figure and a mirage for water, so is the Atman determined to be the body by an ignorant person.”

In the second line Sri Sri Shankara is explaining that when the truth is understood, all the illusory existence loses its imaginary reality. The illusory appearances of head, legs etc. of the ghost in the post would immediately disappear once the post is seen in broad daylight or its nature is known. When ignorance about the post is removed the ghost is known only as an illusion on post and the fear also immediately disappears. Similarly, all the duality and the miseries due to the limitedness of Self disappear once Self is realized as Brahman which is but the substratum of all illusory creations. As Sri Sri Shankara puts in beautifully in Aparokshanubhuti sloka 61,

yathaiva vyomni niilatva.n yathaa niiraM marusthale .
purushhastva.n yathaa sthaaNau tadvadvishva.n chidaatmani .. 61

“Just as blueness in the sky, water in the mirage, and a human figure in a post (are but illusory), so is the universe in Atman.”


tatvasvaruupaanubhavaadutpannaM GYaanama.njasaa .
ahaM mameti chaaGYaanaM baadhate dig.hbhramaadivat.h .. 46

Pada Artha:

Tatva Swaroopa Anubhavaat: by experiencing the true nature of the Self
Atpannam: produced
Jnaanam: knowledge
Anjasaa: instantly
Aham: I
Mama: mine
Iti: thus
Cha: and
Ajnaanam: the knowledge
Baadhate: destroys
Dig Bhrama vat: like the wrong notion about the directions.

The ignorance characterized by the notions ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ is destroyed by the knowledge produced by the realization of the true nature of the Self, just as right information removes the wrong notion about the directions.

In the previous sloka we learnt that the eternal Self appears to be limited only due to the ignorance just as how in darkness one perceives a ghost in a post. In this sloka Sri Sri Shankara mentions that when this ignorance which limits the Self and brings in the ego of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ is destroyed by the knowledge of the true nature of the Self.

As we have learnt in Laghu Vakya Vritti first few slokas, ignorance is the Casual body of Jeeva. It is only because of this ignorance of the true nature of Self there arises the illusory world of duality and hence all associations with the world. Any associations will lead to aversions and attachments and due to the ego, the thoughts of ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘Mine’ etc. arise, which will definitely lead to misery.

As Lord says in Gita 16th chapter 15th sloka,

aaDhyo.abhijanavaanasmi ko.anyo.asti sadR^isho mayaa .
yakShye daasyaami modishhya ityajnYaanavimohitaaH ..

“I am rich and well-born. Who else is equal to me? I will sacrifice, I will give, I will rejoice.” Thus are ignorant ones deluded.

When this ignorance is removed or destroyed by the experience born out of the knowledge and of the reality of Self, then all the dualities and hence the miseries also vanish and one is realized verily as Bliss absolute.

Lord Krishna explains this in many places in Gita. Fourth chapter says..

yathaidhaa.nsi samiddho.agnirbhasmasaatkurute.arjuna .
JnaanaagniH sarvakarmaaNi bhasmasaatkurute tathaa .. 37

As kindled fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, so does wisdom-fire reduce all actions to ashes.

Sri Sri Shankara here gives an example for this. When we are in a new place or are confused about the directions to go anywhere we ask someone for the right directions or look at the sun for knowing the directions. Knowledge arising from this will immediately resolve all confusions about the direction of our destination. Similarly, the ignorance that is limiting the Jeeva because of which there is ego, is removed immediately by the Self knowledge. The limited ego immediately vanishes and all the world of objects is realized only to be an illusion on the Self when the knowledge of reality dawns.

The directions are there always whether we know them or not. So long as we are confused we take the east to be the west and so on. A right understanding gives us the true directions. Similarly, Self which is ever present is erroneously taken as the limited Jeeva and all limitations are imposed on it. It is only this ignorance that creates all the duality. So long as there is ignorance there will be happiness and sadness due to various associations with objects of the world. But once the knowledge of Self which is ever present dawns, all this sadness ceases immediately.


samyak.h viGYaanavaan.h yogii svaatmanyevaakhilaM jagat.h .
ekaM cha sarvamaatmaanamiikshate GYaanachakshushhaa .. 47

Pada Artha:

Samyak: very well
Vijnaanavaat: a man of realization
Yogi: the yogi
Swaatmanyeva: in his own Self
Akhilam: entire
Jagat: universe
Ekam: one
Cha: and
Sarvam: everything
Atmaanam: his own Self
Ikshayate: sees
Jnaanachakshushaa: through (his) eyes of wisdom)

The Yogi of perfect realization and enlightenment sees through his “eye of wisdom” (Gyana Chakshush) the entire universe in his own Self and regards everything else as his own Self and nothing else.


aatmaivedaM jagaatsarvamaatmano.anyanna vidyate .
mR^ido yadvaddhaTaadiini svaatmaanaM sarvamiikshate .. 48

Pada Artha:

Atma: the atman
Eva: verily
Idam: this
Jagat: the universe
Sarvam: entire
Atmanoonyeyat: other than the atman
Na: not
Vidhyate: exists
Mrudaha: clay
Yadvat: in that manner
Ghataadini: pots etc
Swaatmaanam: his own Self
Sarvam: everything
Ishyate: sees

Nothing whatever exists other than the Atman: the tangible universe is verily Atman. As pots and jars are verily made of clay and cannot be said to be anything but clay, so too, to the enlightened soul and that is perceived is the Self.

In these two slokas Sri Sri Shankara is explaining about a realized one. Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining about the yogi as one who sees the entire world through the eyes of wisdom as his own Self. To a realized one there is no duality whatsoever and the entire world is but Self, the universe of names and forms appears to be a mere imagination just like the imaginary existence of the snake on the rope. Also since an imaginary object is the same as its substratum the entire universe and its diverse objects are perceived by the known as the same as Self.

Where there is but Self, whence can there be duality and aversion towards anything else? Hence to such a realized one who perceives Self everywhere, everything is but Self and names and forms are just super impositions. Therefore a real jnaani loves the whole world as his own Self as we are realizing the endless love of our Sadgurus like AMMA, BABA etc.

Lord Krishna explains this same import in many places in Gita while explaining about a janani, a yogi and a bhakta. 6th chapter 32nd sloka says:

aatmaupamyena sarvatra samaM pashyati yo.arjuna .
sukhaM vaa yadi vaa duHkhaM sa yogii paramo mataH .. 6-32

“Who so, by comparison with himself, sees the same everywhere, O Arjuna, be it pleasure or pain, he is deemed the highest Yogin.”

Mundaka Upanishad 3-2-6 says: “Those to whom the entity presented by the Vedantic knowledge has become fully ascertained, who are assiduous and have become pure in Mind through the Yoga of monasticism – all of them, at the supreme moment of final departure, become identified with the supreme Immortality in the worlds that are Brahman, and they become freed on every side.”


jiivanmuktastu tadvidvaan.hpuurvopaadhiguNaanstyajet.h .
sachchidaanandaruupatvaat.h bhaved.hbhramarakiiTavat.h .. 49

Pada Artha:

Jeevanmuktaha: liberated one
Tu: verily
Tad Vidvaan: endowed with Self knowledge
Purva Upaadhi Gunaan: traits of the previous equipments
Tyajet: gives up
Satchitanandaroopavat: because of (his)nature of existence knowledge and Bliss
Bhavet: will be
Bhramara Keetakavat : like a wasp

A liberated one, endowed with Self-knowledge, gives up the traits of his previously explained equipments (Upadhis) and because of his nature of Sat-Chit-Ananda, he verily becomes Brahman like (the worm that grows to be) a wasp.

In the previous slokas we have been learning about a realized one through Sri Sri Sankara’s words. In the last slokas Sri Sri Shankara explained that a yogi through the eye of wisdom sees only Self everywhere and regards all the universe as own Self. To such a one, there is nothing but Self alone. Sri Sri Shankara explains more in this sloka as:

Just like a worm that completely transforms itself to be come a beautiful butterfly or a wasp, a liberated one gives up all the previous tendencies and becomes verily Brahman. Scriptures hence explain that “Brahmavid Brahmaiva bhavathi”. Knowing Brahman, one verily becomes Brahman.

Mundaka Upanishad says:

sa yo ha vai tat.h paramaM brahma veda
brahmaiva bhavati naasyaabrahmavitkule bhavati
tarati shokaM tarati paapmaanaM guhaagranthibhyo
vimukto.amR^ito bhavati 3-2-9

“Anyone who knows that supreme Brahman becomes Brahman indeed. In his line is not born anyone who does not know Brahman. He overcomes grief, and rises above aberrations; and becoming freed from the knots of the heart, he attains immortality.”

Thus to such a knower of Brahman, all the traits of an ignorant mind are completely removed and with all duality, the attachments, aversions and miseries are also dissolved and when everything but the Self is realized to be an illusion, all the inner equipments and hence the traits also vanish. Thus to such a one, there is nothing but Brahman alone and become verily Existence Consciousness Bliss.

Kena Upanishad explains the same as:
yo vaa etaamevaM vedaapahatya paapmaanamanante svarge
loke jyeye pratitishhThati pratitishhThati .. 4-9

“He who knows this thus, with his sins destroyed, becomes firmly seated in the infinite, blissful and supreme Brahman. He becomes firmly seated (in Brahman).”


tiirtvaa mohaarNavaM hatvaa raagadveshhaadiraakshasaan.h .
yogii shaantisamaayukta aatmaaraamo viraajate .. 50

Pada Artha:

Theerthva: after crossing
Moha Arnavam: the ocean of delusion
Hathva: killing
Raga Dwesha Raakshisaan: the monsters of likes and dislikes
Yogi: the yogi
Shannti Samaayutkaha: united with peace
Atmaaraamaha: one who revels within himself
Viraajate: shines

After crossing the ocean of delusion and killing the monsters of likes and dislikes, the Yogi who is united with peace dwells in the glory of his own realised Self – as an Atmarama.

Sri Sri Sankara continues to explain about a Jeevanmukta in this sloka. To one who has conquered ego, there can be no likes nor dislikes, hatred nor anger and becomes verily Brahman, i.e. Existence, Consciousness and Bliss.

As explained in the fourth chapter 19th sloka of Gita,

yasya sarve samaarambhaaH kaamasaN^kalpavarjitaaH .
JYaanaagnidagdhakarmaaNa.n tamaahuH paNDitaM budhaaH .. 4-19

“He whose engagements are all devoid of desires and purposes and whose actions have been burnt by the fire of wisdom, him the wise call a sage.”

Sri Sri Shankara explains about such a one in this sloka.

It is only when all the world is known as only an illusion and there are no emotions to any of the worldly objects can one be forever completely immersed in the blissful Self. The delusory objects are described by Sri Sri here as the monsters of the samsara. A Jnaani who has crossed over the ocean of ignorance and has neither hatred nor attachment towards them is alone eligible for the eternal bliss.

As explained again and again by Lord Krishna in Gita 12th and 14 chapter:

yo na hR^ishhyati na dveshhTi na shochati na kaaN^kShati .
shubhaashubhaparityaagii bhaktimaanyaH sa me priyaH .. 12-17

“He who neither rejoices, nor hates, nor grieves, nor desires, renouncing good and evil, he who is full of devotion is dear to Me.”

samaH shatrau cha mitre cha tathaa maanaapamaanayoH .
shiitoshhNasukhaduHkheshhu samaH saN^gavivarjitaH .. 12-18

tulyanindaastutirmaunii santushhTo yena kenachit.h .
aniketaH sthiramatirbhaktimaanme priyo naraH .. 12-19

“He who is the same to foe and friend and also in honour and dishonour; who is the same in cold and heat, in pleasure and pain; who is free from attachment; to whom censure and praise are equal; who is silent, content with anything, homeless, steady-minded, full of devotion; that man is dear to me.”

To such a yogi, there is nothing but bliss alone as Sri Sri Shankara describes in Baja govindam as “Nandhati nandhati nandhat eva” ;
It is Bliss, Bliss and Bliss alone.


baahyaanityasukhaasaktiM hitvaatmasukhanirvR^itaH .
ghaTasthadiipavatsvasthaM svaantareva prakaashate .. 51

Pada Artha:

Baahya: external
Anitya: illusory
Sukha Aastkim: attachment for happiness
Hitwa: after having
Aatma Sukha Nivrutaha: satisfied with the bliss coming from within
Ghatastha Deepavat: a lamp placed inside a jar
Swasthya: comfortably placed
Swaantaha: within himself
Eva: alone
Prakashyate: shines

The self-abiding Jivanmukta, relinquishing all his attachments to the illusory external happiness and satisfied with the bliss derived from the Atman, shines inwardly like a lamp placed inside a jar.

In the previous sloka we learnt that a Jeevan mukta who crosses the ocean of samsara ever dwells in the bliss of Self. In this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is explaining how a Jeevanmukta lives in the world. A Jeevanmukta who has realized the nature of illusory happiness from the external objects is ever satisfied with the eternal unlimited blissful Atman and shines inwardly like a lamp placed in a jar.

When a lamp is placed on a table, it illumines all the objects in its vicinity. However the same lamp when covered with a jar or a pot illumines only the inner space of the jar. Similarly, Consciousness when associated with the outer equipments or upadhis gets reflected on various objects and illumines the world of duality. But when the Consciousness is withdrawn inwards from the illusory equipments also, it can only illumine itself. This is indicated by the word “swaanthaha” or “inwardly” here.

Swami Chinmayananda gives a beautiful explanation for this word as, Here we should not take the direct meaning of the word, but it should be taken as the Self only as in Vedanta, a Subtle is conceived as interior to the Grosser and hence the Subtlest of the Subtle must be that which is inner most. Hence the Self which is inner most and the Subtlest of the Subtle. Thus “within” here suggests the Subtlest of the Subtle, the pure awareness which is all pervading and that nothing pervades it.

Thus for a Jeevanmukta the knowledge of Self and hence the Bliss shines within him.

Lord Krishna says the same in Gita second chapter as:

yadaa sa.nharate chaayaM kuurmo.aN^gaaniiva sarvashaH .indriyaaNiindriyaarthebhyastasya praGYaa pratishhThitaa .. 2-58

“When he completely withdraws the senses from sense-objects, as the tortoise (withdraws) its limbs from all sides, his knowledge is steady.”


upaadhistho.api taddharmairalipto vyomavanmuniH .
sarvavinmuuDhavattishhThedasakto vaayuvachcharet.h .. 52

Pada Artha:

Upaadhi staha api: though associated with upadhis (conditionings)
Tadmarhi: by their attributes
Aaliptaha: untainted
Vyomavat: like the ether
Minuhi: the contemplative one
Sarva Vit: one who knows everything
Moodhavat: like a fool
Tishtate: remains
Asatkaha: not interested
Vaayu Vat: like the wind
Charet: moves about

Though he lives in the conditionings (Upadhis), he, the contemplative one, remains ever unconcerned with anything or he may move about like the wind, perfectly unattached.

In the previous sloka Sri Sri Shankara explained about how a Jeevanmukta lives in the world. In sloka we learn about how such a realized one acts towards the world. Such a realized one’s state is further described here. Lord Krishna explains in various places in Gita about such a Sthitha Prajna or one who is always immersed in the reality of Self. Like the sky a Jeevanmuktha may seem to be attached with the conditioning of the body or the upadhis and may wander about as an ordinary man in the world but still remains unattached to the world.

A Jeevanmuktha may seem to be attached to the Upadhis such as mind and the sense organs on account of association to the body but he considers Self only as a witness to their activities and is least concerned about anything. We learn this from the lives of great saints such as Sadashiva Brahmendra, Ramana Maharshi etc. who were ever unattached to the body and the world.

Sri Sri Shankara compares such a one to the wind and the sky here. The sky though all pervading is never affected by the objects. Sometimes the sky appears to be colored on account of dust in air but the sky itself remains ever untainted by the dust. Like the wind that moves with out being unaffected by anything, like the untainted all pervading sky, the Jeevanmuktha remains unaltered and always established in reality and is ever unaffected by the joy or sorrow, praise or blame, or by any actions.


upaadhivilayaadvishhNau nirvisheshha vishenmuniH .
jale jalaM viyadvyomri tejastejasi vaa yathaa .. 53

Pada Artha:

Upaadhi Vilayaat: on the destruction of the upadhis or conditionings
Vishnav: in the all pervading spirit
Nir vishesham: totally
Vishet: is absorbed
Munihi: the contemplative one
Jale: into the water
Jalam: water
Viyam: the space
Vyomni: into space
Tejaha: light
Tejasi: into the light
Vaa: and
Yatha: just as

On the destruction of the Upadhis, the contemplative one is totally absorbed in ‘Vishnu’, the All-pervading Spirit, like water into water, space into space and light into light.

In the past few slokas, we learnt about the Jeevanmuktha. Sri Sri Shankara continues to explain about such a one in this sloka also. Here Sri Sri Shankara is mentioning that when the limiting acessoriess or the updahis that seem to limit Self are completely removed or destroyed, a jnaani who is ever established in the reality becomes totally absorbed into the the Vishnu or the all pervading one. The acessoriess are the limiting factors due to which one falsely identifies self with the Mind, body and intellect. When these are removed, a muni or a contemplative one becomes completely unified with the all pervading Self, i.e. all limited individuality is lost forever.

Chandogya upanishad explains this in 6-15-2: as:

‘And as some one might remove his bandage and tell him, "The Gandhara region is in this direction, proceed in this direction" and as he, enquiring his way from village, to village and being instructed and capable of judging by himself would reach the Gandhara region itself, even so, in this world that person knows who has a preceptor. And for him, only so long is the delay as he is not liberated (from the body) and then immediately he is merged in Being.

Just as when a pot submerged in water is broken, the water inside becomes one with water outside, the space merges with space outside when the boundaries of a jar are broked, similarly, when all the illusory boundaries and limitations are destroyed, the nature of ever pervading Self is known and the individuality and limitedness of Jeeva also disappears forever.

Mundaka Upanishad also explains the same import in 3.2.5 and 3.2.8 as

saMpraapyainamR^ishhayo JnaanatR^iptaaH
kR^itaatmaano viitaraagaaH prashaantaaH
te sarvagaM sarvataH praapya dhiiraa
yuktaatmaanaH sarvamevaavishanti 5

Having attained this, the seers become contented with their knowledge, established in the Self, freed from attachment, and composed. Having realized the all-pervasive One everywhere, these discriminating people, ever merged in contemplation, enter into the All.

yathaa nadyaH syandamaanaaH samudre.a
staM gachchhanti naamaruupe vihaaya
tathaa vidvaan.h naamaruupaadvimuktaH
paraatparaM purushhamupaiti divyam.h 8

As rivers, flowing down, become indistinguishable on reaching the sea by giving up their names and forms, so also the illumined soul, having become freed from name and form, reaches the self-effulgent Purusha that is higher than the higher (Maya).

Let us learn about the nature of Brahman in the next few slokas.


yallaabhaannaaparo laabho yatsukhaannaaparaM sukham.h .
yajGYaanaannaaparaM JnaanaM tad.hbrahmetyavadhaarayet.h .. 54

Pada Atha:

Yat laabhaat: from the attainment of which
NaAparaha : not other
Laabhaha: attainment
Yat Sukhaat: from the blessedness of which
NaAparam: not other
Sukham: blessedness
Yat Jnaanam: from the knowledge of which
NaAparam: not other
Jnaanam: knowledge
Tad Brahma: that to be Brahman
Iti: thus
Avadhaarayet: realize

Realise That to be Brahman, the attainment of which leaves nothing more to be attained, the blessedness of which leaves no other blessing to be desired and the knowledge of which leaves nothing more to be known.

In these three following stanzas, Sri Sri Shankara is indicating Brahman by the tatasha lakshana. The realization of Self is explained here as the greatest gain, the greatest knowledge having gained which there is no more a sense of incompleteness. Having enjoyed the bliss of Self, none will strive for a greater bliss, having known which there will be never any thirst to know anything more.

Something new is sought out for gained only when there is imperfection or incompleteness. It is only when there is a sense of dissatisfaction that one tries to gain more happiness or more knowledge or something higher. Imperfection thus is only for the limited egoistic jiva. When the jiva rediscovers itself to be the absolute Self or Brahman, all imperfections are understood or known to be mere illusions and all struggles are ended. When the absolute is realized as Self, then there can be nothing else to be sought after. That absoluteness or perfection or completeness, knowing which everything becomes known, is indicated here by Sri Sri Shankara as Brahman.

The great sage Yajnavalkya instructs the same import to Janaka in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4-3-32 as “It becomes (transparent) like water, one, the witness, and without a second. This is the sphere state of Brahman, O Emperor. Thus did Yajnavalkya instruct Janaka: This is its supreme attainment, this is its supreme glory, this is its highest world, this is its supreme bliss. On a particle of this very bliss other beings live.”

Lord also explains such a liberated one in Gita second chapter as:

prajahaati yadaa kaamaansarvaanpaartha manogataan.h
aatmanyevaatmanaa tushhTaH sthitapraGYastadochyate .. 2-55..

When a man, satisfied in the Self alone by himself, completely casts off all the desires of the Mind, then is he said to be one of steady knowledge.

duHkheshhvanudvignamanaaH sukheshhu vigataspR^ihaH .
viitaraagabhayakrodhaH sthitadhiirmuniruchyate .. 2-56..

He whose heart is not distressed in calamities, from whom all longing for pleasures has departed, who is free from attachment, fear and wrath, he is called a sage, a man of steady knowledge.


yad.hdR^ishhTvaa naaparaM dR^ishyaM yad.hbhuutvaa na punarbhavaH .
yajGYaatvaa naaparaM GYeyaM tad.hbrahmetyavadhaarayet.h .. 55

Pada Artha:

Yat Drushtvaa: which when seen
NaAparam: not anything else
Drushyam: to be seen
Yat Bhootvaa: which having become
Na: not
Punaha Bhavaha: to be born again (in the world)
Yat Gyanatvaa: which when known
NaAparam: not anything else
Gyeyam: to be known
Tad Brahma: that to be Brahman
Iti: thus
Avadhaarayet: realize

Realise that to be Brahman which, when seen, leaves nothing more to be seen, which having become one is not born again in this world and which, when knowing leaves nothing else to be known.

Sri Sri Shankara is continuing the explanation from the previous sloka. As one’s true nature is known as Brahman, there is no further demand from within to gain anything else to make more perfection. All the endeavors to gain or achieve something which are only thoughts due to ignorance are completely negated once the Self knowledge arises.

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that having known that pure awareness nothing more remains to be known. Having obtained a glimpse of that reality, there is nothing to be understood or seen.

Brahman has to be known as that having become which one is not born again into the world and which when seen there is nothing else to be seen as all that exists is verily Brahman.

Lord Krishna explains the same in Gita 15.6, in the second line as

na tadbhaasayate suuryo na shashaaN^ko na paavakaH .
yadgatvaa na nivartante taddhaama paramaM mama ..

That the Sun illumines not, nor the moon, nor fire; That is My Supreme Abode, to which having gone none return.


tiryaguurdhvamadhaH puurNaM sachchidaanandamadvayam.h .
anantaM nityamekaM yattad.hbrahmetyavadhaarayet.h .. 56

Pada Artha:

Tiryak: all the quarters
Urdhvam: above
Adhaha: below
Poornam: fills
Sat Chit Anandam: which is existence consciousness bliss absolute
Advayam: non dual
Anandam: infinite
Nityam: eternal
Ekam: one
Yat: which
Tad Brahman: that to be Brahman
Iti: thus
Avadarayet: realize

Realize that to be Brahman which is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute, which is Non-dual, Infinite, Eternal and One and which fills all the quarters – above and below and all that exists between.

Sri Sri Shankara in this sloka is explaining the all pervading Brahman as the Existence-knowledge and Bliss. Our scriptures proclaim the same about Brahman as that which is infinite, eternal, and absolute. i.e. that which is complete and all pervading.

The Shanti Mantra of the Upanishads proclaims the absoluteness or completeness of Self or Brahman as:

AUM puurNamadaH puurNamidaM puurNaat.h puurNamudachyate .
puurNasya puurNamaadaaya puurNamevaavashishhyate ..

Om ! That (the Supreme being Brahman) is full; this (the limited Self, Jeeva) is full, (for) from the full the full (indeed) arises.When the full is taken from the full, what remains is full indeed.

Such an infinite and complete Brahman should be all pervading and all permeating and non dual only. It is all that which is existing. Hence there can be nothing beyond it or apart from it.

Directions, parts, or sides can exist for a limited thing alone, but not the absolute consciousness. Such infinite and non dual Brahman can thus never have any front or back or any limitations. Hence Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining that east, west, and all directions, here and everywhere, it is but Brahman that pervades.

Sruti explains the same in various places such as Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.11 sloka as:

brahmaivedamamR^itaM purastaad.h brahma pashchaad.h brahma dakshiNatashchottareNa adhashchordhvaM cha prasR^itaM brahmaivedaM vishvamidaM varishhTham.h 11

All this that is in front is but Brahman, the immortal. Brahman is at the back, as also on the right and the left. It is extended above and below, too. This world is nothing but Brahman, the highest.

And in Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.1 as:

sa evaadhastaatsa uparishhTaatsa pashchaatsa purastaatsa
dakshiNataH sa uttarataH sa eveda sarvamityathaato.ahaMkaaraadesha
evaahamevaadhastaadahamuparishhTaadahaM pashchaadahaM purastaadahaM
dakshiNato.ahamuttarato.ahameveda sarvamiti 7.25.1

‘That infinite alone is below. That is above. That is behind. That is in front. That is to the south. That is to the north. That alone is all this. So next is the teaching in regard to the self-sense. I alone am below. I am above. I am behind. I am in front. I am to the south. I am to the north. I alone am all this.


atadvachyaavR^ittiruupeNa vedaantairlakshyatedvayam.h .
akhaNDaanandamekaM yattatad.hbrahmetyavadhaarayet.h .. 57..

Pada Artha:

Atat: not this
Vyaavrithi Roopena: by the process (of negation)
Vedaantaihi: by the Vedanta philosophy
Lakshyate: indicated
Adwayam: non dual
Akhanda Anandam: indivisible and blissful
Ekam: One
Yat: which
Tad Brahman: that to be Brahman
Iti: thus
Avadarayet: realize

Realize that to be Brahman which is Non-dual, Indivisible, One and Blissful and which is indicated in Vedanta as the Immutable Substratum, realized after the negation of all tangible objects.

In these two slokas, Sri Sri Shankara is continuing the explanation of the nature of Brahman. Brahman has to be realized as that which is indicated by the process of negation in Vedanta. The Non dual and indivisible Brahman can never be known by the thoughts or by any actions as it can never be an object of cognition and is verily the subject and the illuminator of all the thoughts and actions.

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that it is that which is the very substratum for all existence.

Kaivalya Upanishad proclaims the same about Brahman as:

yatparaM brahma sarvaatmaa vishvasyaayatanaM mahat.h
suukShmaatsuukshmataraM nityaM tattvameva tvameva tat.h .. 16..

That which is the Supreme Brahman, the soul of all, the great support of the universe, Subtler than the Subtle, and eternal – that is thyself, and thou art That.

mayyeva sakalaM jaataM mayi sarvaM pratiShThitam.h
mayi sarvaM layaM yaati tad.hbrahmaadvayamasmyaham.h .. 19..

In me alone is everything born, in me does everything rest, and in me is everything dissolved. I am that Brahman, the second less.

The great support of all creations, the Brahman, being one without second does not admit any differences nor can undergo any changes and hence is described here as indivisible, non dual and immutable. The Upanishads indicate that the Brahman is reached by a process of negation of what is not and of assertion of what it is. i.e. by the direct method and the method of negation.

This is explained in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.3.6 as “Now therefore the description (of Brahman) is: ‘Not this, not this’. Because there is no other and more appropriate description than this ‘Not this’. Now Its name: ‘The Truth of truth’. The vital force is truth, and It is the Truth of that.”

Here it is explained that Brahman is that which is realized after the process of negation. When all the objects of the world are negated as illusory, that which remains as the witness, as the substratum to all the illusions, that is to be realized as Brahman. Sri Sri Shankara continues to explain the Swaroopa Lakshana in the next sloka as:


akhaNDaanandaruupasya tasyaanandalavaashritaaH .
brahmaadyaastaaratamyena bhavantyaanandino lavaaH .. 58

Pada Artha:

Akhanda Ananda Roopasya: whose nature is unbroken Bliss
Tasya: His
Ananda Lava Ashritaha: depending only upon a particle of Bliss
Brahma Adhyaha: the creator and other deities
Taaratmyena: in proportion
Bhavanti: are
Anandinaha: enjoying the bliss
Akhilaha: all

Deities like Brahma and others taste only a particle, of the unlimited Bliss of Brahman and enjoy in proportion their share of that particle.

Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining the Brahman which is verily bliss by giving a relative picture. It is difficult for a limited intellect to even imagine the vastness of the unlimited bliss of reality. Hence Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining that the devas like the creator Brahma himself tastes only a particle of that limitless and unbroken bliss.

This limitless joy is not measured here but we are only shown here how the ethereal joy of even the Gods is but negligible compared to it. As learnt in the previous slokas also, this is the supreme bliss after attaining which there remains a desire for nothing.

Shruti explains the absoluteness of Brahmananda in Brihadaranyaka upanishad. 4.3.32 as:

eshhAsya paramA gatir
eshhAsya paramA saMpad
eshho.asya paramo loka
eshho.asya parama Ananda
etasyaivA.a.anandasyAnyAni bhUtAni mAtrAmupajIvanti

This is its supreme attainment, this is its supreme glory, this is its highest world, this is its supreme bliss. On a particle of this very bliss other beings live.


tadyuktamakhilaM vastu vyavahaarastadanvitaH .
tasmaatsarvagataM brahma kshiire sarpirivaakhile .. 59

Pada Artha:

Tadyuktam: pervaded by that (Brahman)
Akhilam: all
Vasthu: objects
Vyavahaaraha: actions
Tad Avanthihi: are possible because of that
Tasmaat: therefore
Sarva Gatam: permeating everything
Brahmaa: the Brahman
Ksheera: in the milk
Sarpihi: butter
Iva: like
Akhile: in everything

All objects are pervaded by Brahman. All actions are possible because of Brahman: therefore Brahman permeates everything as butter permeates milk.

Sri Sri Shankara is here pointing to the all pervading Brahman by giving the example of the butter in the milk. Brahman is but consciousness and everything that exists is but consciousness. Hence all the objects, world that is perceived exists only because of consciousness and in the consciousness. Hence it is Brahman i.e. consciousness alone that exists and pervades all the illusory objects of the world. All the actions are hence possible only because of this consciousness.

Sri Sri Shankara here gives the example of butter and milk. Butter permeates through the milk although it is not seen directly. Nor can we separate a part of milk as devoid of butter; similarly, all the objects are permeated by Brahman. Upanishads proclaim that just as how milk pervading butter is extracted by churning, so also the Atman has to be separated from the world of names and forms by intense meditation and Self knowledge.

Amrita Bindu Upanishad gives this same example in sloka 20 as:

dhR^itamiva payasi niguuDhaM bhuute bhuute cha vasati viGYaanam.h
.satataM manasi manthayitavyaM manu manthaanabhuutena .. 20..

Like the butter hidden in milk, the Pure Consciousness resides in every being. That ought to be constantly churned out by the churning rod of the mind.

Shvetaashvatara Upanishad also explains the same in 1.15 as:

tileshhu taila.n dadhiniiva sarpi\-
raapaH srotaHsvaraNiishhu chaagniH .
evamaatmaa.atmani gR^ihyate.asau
satyenaina.n tapasaayo.anupashyati .. 15..

As oil in sesame seeds, as butter in curds, as water in underground springs, as fire in wood, even so this Self is perceived in the self. He who, by means of truthfulness, self-control and concentration, looks again and again for this Self, which is all-pervading like butter contained in milk, and which is rooted in self-knowledge and meditation – he becomes that Supreme Brahman, the destroyer of ignorance.


anaNvasthuulamarhasvamadiirghamajamavyayam.h .
aruupaguNavarNaakhyaM tad.hbrahmetyavadhaarayet.h .. 60

Pada Artha:

Ananu: neither Subtle
Asthulam: nor Gross
Ahvstham: neither short
Adheergham: nor long
Ajam: without birth
Avyayam: without change
Aroopa Guna Varna Aakhyaam: without form, qualities, color and name
Tad Brahma: that to be Brahman
Ithi: thus
Avadharayet: realise

Realise that to be Brahman which is neither Subtle nor Gross: neither short nor long: without birth or change: without form, qualities, colour and name.

In the last sloka we learnt that Brahman is the substratum of all objects and pervades everywhere, here in this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is explaining further that the all pervading Brahman is neither gross nor subtle and cannot possess any qualities. Brahman can never be an object of any actions as it is verily the subject. Hence there can be neither birth nor any of the six changes. There can also be no name that can be given to that which permeates everything. Such limitless, Brahman which is devoid of any qualities is described here.

Gross, Subtle, shapes, sizes, names and all such qualities can exist only for an object which is limited, i.e. we can point out as ‘this’ or ‘that’ to only that which is boundaries and is limited by space and time. But Brahman, as we have learnt is that which is the substratum of everything.

I.e. everything is in Brahman, and everything is permeated by Brahman, it hence can never be classified as Gross nor Subtle nor by any name. It is never the object of perception of any feelings or thoughts but verily the perceiver. It is THAT which exists and hence all that exits.

Hence the limitless Brahman is indescribable to any limited intellect. Sri Sri Shankara is describing this infinity to us by negation method. These terms are not the description of Brahman but only indicate to the Brahman.

The same explanation can also be found in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.8.8 as:

etad vai tad ak.aram, g.rgi, br.hma.. abhivadanti, asth.lam, ana.u,
ahrasvam, adirgham, alohitam, asneham, acch.yam, atama., av.yv an.k.śam,
asa.gam, arasam, agandham, acak.u.kam, aśrotram, av.k, amana., atejaskam,, amukham, am.tram, anantaram, ab.hyam; na tad aśn.ti ki. cana, na tad
aśn.ti kaś cana.

O Gargi, the knowers of Brahman say, this Immutable (Brahman) is that. It is neither Gross nor minute, neither short nor long, neither red colour nor oiliness, neither shadow nor darkness, neither air nor ether, unattached, neither savor nor odor, without eyes or ears, without the vocal organ or mind, non-luminous, without the vital force or mouth, not a measure, and without interior or exterior. It does not eat anything, nor is It eaten by anybody.

Sri Sri Shankara here is explaining that such a Brahman devoid of qualities is to be realized as Self.

As the Katha Upanishad 1.3.15 also proclaims:

anaadyanantaM mahataH paraM dhruvaM
nichaayya tanmR^ityumukhaat.h pramuchyate .. 15..

By knowing that which is soundless, touchless, formless, undecaying, so also tasteless, eternal, odourless, beginning less, endless, Subtler than Mahat and constant, man is liberated from the jaws of death.


yad.hbhaasaa bhaasyate.arkaadi bhaasyairyattu na bhaasyate .
yena sarvamidaM bhaati tad.hbrahmetyavadhaarayet.h .. 61

Pada Artha:

Yad Bhaasaa: the light of which
Bhaasyate: are illumined
Arkaadi: Sun and other (luminous orbs)
Bhasaihi: by the luminous orbs
Yaha: that
Tu: indeed
Na: not
Bhaasate: is illumined
Yena: by which
Sarvam: all
Idam: this
Bhaati: shines
Tad Brahma: that to be Brahman
Ithi: thus
Avadhaarayet: realize

That by the light of which the luminous, orbs like the Sun and the Moon are illuminated, but which is not illumined by their light, realize that to be Brahman.


svayamantarbahirvyaapya bhaasayannakhilaM jagat.h .
brahma prakaashate vanhiprataptaayasapiNDavat.h .. 62

Pada Artha:

Swayam: itself
Anthaha: inwardly
Bahihi: outwardly
Vyapya: pervading
Bhaasayan: illumining
Akilam: entire
Jagat: universe
Brahma: Brahman
Prakashyatt: shines
Vahni Pratptaya Iyas Pindavat: like the fire permeating a red hot ironball

Pervading the entire universe outwardly and inwardly the Supreme Brahman shines of Itself like the fire that permeates a red-hot iron-ball and glows by itself.

In the previous sloka, Sri Sri Shankara explained Brahman as devoid of all qualities, such nirvishesha Brahman is described here as Self illumining. It is that because of which even the sun and moon are illumined. That is to be known as Brahman.

Brahman is consciousness absolute, and it is only because of this consciousness that all objects of the world are known. All the creations including the celestial bodies are illumined only because of the consciousness. Thus even the Sun and moon that illumine the different worlds would not exist apart and independent of this all pervading consciousness.

Hence Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that everything derives their power from Brahman while Brahman is independent of everything and needs no external illumination. That which illumines all others cannot be illuminated by anything other than itself. Brahman is ever the illuminator and illumines itself. As we learnt from the examples in previous slokas, unattached and unaffected like the street lamp, Brahman is the light of all lights and the illuminator of all illuminations.

The famous sloka of Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.10 proclaims this as:

na tatra suuryo bhaati na chandrataarakaM
nemaa vidyuto bhaanti kuto.ayamagniH
tameva bhaantamanubhaati sarvaM
tasya bhaasaa sarvamidaM vibhaati 10

There the sun does not shine, nor the moon or the stars; nor do these flashes of lightning shine there. How can this fire do so? Everything shines according as He does so; by His light all this shines diversely.

The same is also explained by Lord Krishna in many places in Gita such as in 15.6:

na tadbhaasayate suuryo na shashaaN^ko na paavakaH .
yadgatvaa na nivartante taddhaama paramaM mama ..

That the Sun illumines not, nor the moon, nor fire; That is My Supreme Abode, to which having gone none return.

Thus Brahman is that truth which shines of itself and penetrates the entire world of creation. It is not something other than the world of creation, for it exists in and through all as the consciousness. Sri Sri Shankara gives the example of a fire ball to state this.

Brahman is infinite, all pervading and self illuming while the objects of the world are inconcious, dependent and illusory, thus opposite in nature. How then can one perceive existence-consciousness which is verily Brahman in these? Acharaya answers this through the example of a hot iron ball. An iron ball when in contact with fire for a long time comes to glow as fire itself, similarly, even though the inconcious objects seem to exist only due to Brahman. Iron though black in color and cold to touch, acquire the redness and heat due to fire. So too the inert (Jada Vastu) and inconcious matter like the sun and moon also acquire their illuminating power only due to Brahman.

Gita says the same in 15.12 as:

yadaadityagataM tejo jagadbhaasayate.akhilam.h .
yachchandramasi yachchaagnau tattejo viddhi maamakam.h .. 15\-12..

That light which residing in the sun illumines the whole world, that which is in the moon and in the fire, that light do thou know to be Mine.


jagadvilakshaNaM brahma brahmaNo.anyanna ki.nchana .
brahmaanyad.hbhaati chenmithyaa yathaa marumariichikaa .. 63

Pada Artha:

Jagat Vilakshanam: which is other than the universe
Brahmaa: the Brahman
Brahmanaha: apart from the Brahman
Anyat: other
Na: not
Kinchina: a little
Brahma Anyam: other than the Brahman
Bhaati: shines
Chet: if
Mithyaa: unreal
Yatha: just as
Marumareecikaa: the mirage

Brahman is other than this, the universe. There exists nothing that is not Brahman. If any object other than Brahman appears to exist, it is unreal like the mirage.

In the previous slokas, Sri Sri Shankara explained that Brahman is the substratum of the entire creation, here in this sloka we learn that the Brahman is ever uncontaminated by the world as the world is illusory and Brahman is ever existent.

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that Brahman is that which is different from this word, but it is not to be taken that the world and Brahman exist differently, Difference is pointed out only w.r.t their existence, i.e. world is unreal and Brahman is real, hence Brahman is different from the illusory world; it is its very substratum. Hence Sri Sri Shankara immediately follows that whatever exists is but Brahman alone and there is nothing apart from Brahman. Thus the world that is perceived has to be illusory, like a mirage in desert.

The absoluteness of Brahman is explained in shruti is different ways. As Chandogya Upanishad explains this in 6th chapter as

sadeva somyedamagra aasitdekamevaadvitiiyam.h
taddhaika aahurasadevedamagra aasiidekamevaadvitiiyaM
tasmaadasataH sajjaayata 6.2.1

‘In the beginning, dear boy, this was Being alone, one only, without a second. Some say that, in the beginning, this was Non-being alone, one only, without a second. From that Non-being arose Being.’

Brihadaranyaka Upaniahad also explains this in 4.3.23 as:

yad vai tan na paśyati, paśyan vai tan na paśyati; na hi dra..ur viparilopo
vidyate, avin.śitv.t; na tu tad dvitiyam asti, tato’nyad vibhaktam yat paśyet.

That it does not see in that state is because, though seeing then, it does not see; for the vision of the witness can never be lost, because it is imperishable. But there is not that second thing separate from it which it can see.

Just as how the waters of mirage do not wet the sands of desert, similarly, the world of duality consisting of various names and forms can never affect or change the absolute consciousness. It is only the ignorant who mistake the water and assume it to be really existing while the wise ones know only the substratum as real and all the duality as only an illusion. A deluded mind alone sees the waters in a desert and apprehends them to be real, similarly it is only due to the ignorance that one sees the duality in the ever existent Self.

The nature of this duality as an illusion is explained by various Acharyas and different Shrutis very beautifully.

Katha Upaniahad explains this in 2.1.17 as:

manasaivedamaaptavyaM neha naanaa.asti ki.nchana .
mR^ityoH sa mR^ityuM gachchhati ya iha naaneva pashyati .. 11

By mind alone is this attainable; there is no difference here whatsoever. Whoso here sees as though different passes from death to death.

Thus all duality perceived has to be known as an illusion alone. This sloka can be beautifully summarized by Sri Sri Gaudapada’s Mandukaya Karaika’s sloka 1.17 as:

prapaJNcho yadi vidyeta nivarteta na sa.nshayaH
maayaamaatramidaM dvaitamadvaitaM paramaarthataH 17

If a phenomenal world were to exist, it should, no doubt, cease to be. This duality is but an illusion; in reality it is non-dual.


dR^ishyate shruuyate yadyad.hbrahmaNo.ayanna tad.hbhavet.h .
tattvaGYaanaachcha tad.hbrahma sachchidaanandamadvayam.h .. 64

Pada Artha:

Drushyate: which is perceived
Shrooyate: which is heard
Yad Yat: all that
Brahmana Anyam: apart from Brahman
Na: not
Tat: that
Bhavet: can be
Tatva Jnaanat: from the knowledge of the reality
Tad Brahma: that Brahman
Sat Chit Anandam: which is existence knowledge Bliss absolute
Adwayam: non dual

All that is perceived, or heard, is Brahman and nothing else. Attaining the knowledge of the Reality, one sees the Universe as the non-dual Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute.

In the last sloka we learnt that there is nothing apart from Brahman and all the dualities are just like a mirage in a desert. Sri Sri Shankara continues to explain the same in this sloka also. When all that exists is but Brahman, whatever is heard, seen or perceived through sense organs cannot be anything other than Brahman. One who knows this sees oneness everywhere and the entire universe is known as Brahman alone.

Mahanaraayanopanishad verse 13.5 says this beautifully as:

yachcha kiJNchijjagatyasmin dR^ishyate shruuyate.api vaa .antarbahishcha tatsarva.n vyaapya naaraayaNaH sthitaH .. 5

Whatsoever there is in this world known through perception (because of their proximity) or known through report (because of their distance), all that is pervaded by Narayana within and without.

Just as whatever one sees in dream, state cannot be other than ones own waking state Mind, all the objects cannot be different from the consciousness due to which all the activities of perception, thinking etc. are illumined. Hence the objects of world which we sense cannot have any existence apart from the consciousness. When all that exists in the body or Mind or intellect or in the outer created are realized to be manifestations of Brahman alone, nothing else is seen nor perceived and all the differences dissolve. All that exists is known as Existence-consciousness-Bliss alone.

As Isha Upanishad explains,

yasminsarvaaNi bhuutaanyaatmaivaabhuudvijaanataH .
tatra ko mohaH kaH shoka ekatvamanupashyataH .. 7

When a man realises that all beings are but the Self, what delusion is there, what grief, to that perceiver of oneness?

When a man realises that all beings are but the Self, what delusion is there, what grief, to that perceiver of oneness?


sarvagaM sachchidaatmaanaM GYaanachakshurniriikshate .
aGYaanachakshurneksheta bhaasvantaM bhaanumandhavat.h .. 65

Pada Artha:

Sarvagam: which is present everywhere
Sat Chit Atmaanam: Atman which is pure and consciousness
Jnana Chakshuhu: eye of wisdom
Nireekshte: perceives
Ajnaana Chakshuhu: one whose vision is obscured by ignorance
Na: not
Ikshayate: sees
Bhaasyantam: which is shining
Bhaanum: the Sun
Andhavat: like a blind man

Though Atman is Pure Consciousness and ever present everywhere, yet It is perceived by the eye-of-wisdom alone: but one whose vision is obscured by ignorance he does not see It; as the blind do not see the resplendent Sun.

In the previous few slokas we learnt about a realized one, here in this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is explaining to us about an ignorant one also. The importance of spiritual disciplines is also highlighted by Sri Sri Shankara. The absolute pure consciousness though all pervading is not perceived by everyone. Only those who have developed the inner eye of the wisdom and who are discriminative enough to reject the illusory world from the real, who are pure and are cleansed by the knowledge alone can apprehend the reality. The ignorant ones who are deluded by the dualities of the world, and who cannot discriminate the reality from the unreal can never realize the bliss of Self.

Lord Krishna explains the same in Gita 15th chapter as:

utkraamantaM sthitaM vaapi bhu~njaanaM vaa guNaanvitam.h .
vimuuDhaa naanupashyanti pashyanti JnYaanachakShushhaH .. 15-10

Him who departs, stays and enjoys, who is conjoined with gunas, the deluded perceive not; they see, who possess the eye of knowledge.

yatanto yoginashchainaM pashyantyaatmanyavasthitam.h .
yatanto.apyakR^itaatmaano nainaM pashyantyachetasaH .. 15-11

Those who strive, endued with Yoga, perceive Him dwelling in the self; though striving, those of unrefined self, devoid of wisdom, perceive Him not.

Sri Sri Shankara gives an example of a blind man for this. The Sun is ever shining in the day and is so bright that normal people cannot see it with naked eyes, still for a blind man; there is no light nor the sun. i.e. he does not perceive the glowing Sun due to his blindness.

It is the blindness of the person that makes the sun dark to him even though the sun shines ever bright and brilliant. Similarly, the real nature of the all pervading Atman is not perceived by those who are blinded by ignorance.

Lord Krishna in Gita explains this as:

naadatte kasyachitpaapaM na chaiva sukR^itaM vibhuH .
aGYaanenaavR^itaM GYaanaM tena muhyanti jantavaH .. 5-15

The Lord takes neither the evil nor even the good deed of any; wisdom is enveloped by un-wisdom; thereby mortals are deluded.

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that an ordinary Mind turned outward in perception and feeling which is agitated by the thoughts of the sense objects of the world cannot apprehend the reality whereas one who is disciplined and discriminate apprehends the reality.

Mundaka Upanishad explains this in 3.1.8 as:

na chakshushhaa gR^ihyate naapi vaachaa
naanyairdevaistapasaa karmaNa vaa
Jnyaanaprasaadena vishuddhasattva-statastu taM pashyate nishhkalaM
dhyaayamaanaH 8

It is not comprehended through the eye, nor through speech, nor through the other senses; nor is It attained through austerity or karma. Since one becomes purified in Mind through the favorableness of the intellect, therefore can one see that indivisible Self through meditation.


shravaNaadibhiruddiiptaGYaanaagniparitaapitaH .
jiivassarvamalaanmuktaH svarNavad.hdyotate svayam.h .. 66

Pada Artha:

Shravana Aadibhihi: by hearing and so on
Udreepya: kindles
Jnaana Agnihi Paritaapitaha: heated in the fire of knowledge
Jeevaha: the Jiva (individuality)
Sarva malaat: from all impurities
Muktaha: freed
Sarvaan vat : like gold
Dhodhate: shines
Swayam: of itself

The ‘Jiva’ free from impurities, being heated in the fire of knowledge kindled by hearing and so on, shines of itself like gold.

In the previous slokas we learnt that Atman though ever present is perceived only by the eye of wisdom and not by the ignorant ones. In the next two slokas Sri Sri is explaining that such an ignorant one when purified by the fire of knowledge, the Atman shines by itself just like Gold.

In obtaining knowledge, Vedanta recommends three courses, first is shravanam or listening to the truth from the scriptures, then mananam or reasoning of the truth heard and finally nidhidyasana which is deep contemplation on what has been heard and reasoned out. Such a systematic learning and contemplation is necessary to clean one from the impurities of thoughts and only when ignorance is removed thus, does the Self reveal itself in all glory. Sri Sri Shankara here gives the example of gold to explain this. Gold is ever shinning and bright, still due to its association with impurities, it may look tarnished. When it is heated and purified in fire, all the impurities are removed and the gold shines by itself.

Similarly, is the Jiva is one who is egoistic and possesses the impurity of ignorance. When one gets rid of all limitations by knowledge the true nature of Self is shines forth immediately. Just like the gold that is impure when it comes up from the gold mines and when is heated acquires its real glory and beauty. Just as how the fire destroys the dirt mixed with gold and reveals the pure metal. The knowledge obtained by spiritual disciplines also destroys of the impurities of the mind.


hR^idaakaashodito hyaatmaa bodhabhaanustamo.apahR^it.h .
sarvavyaapii sarvadhaarii bhaati bhaasayate.akhilam.h .. 67

Pada Artha:

Hrud Aakaashaha Uditaha: which rises in the sky of the heart
Hi: verily
Aatmaa: the Atman
Bodhabhanuhu: the sun of knowledge
Tamaha: darkness
Aphrut: destroys
Sarva Vyaapi: which is pervading everything
Sarvadhaari: sustains all
Bhaati: shines
Bhaasyate: makes everything to shine
Akhilam: everything

The Atman, the Sun of Knowledge that rises in the sky of the heart, destroys the darkness of the ignorance, pervades and sustains all and shines and makes everything to shine.

In this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is next explaining about the rise of knowledge that removes all ignorance. Self Knowledge is here compared to the Sun that removes all the darkness and illumines the entire world. It is because of this Sun that one can see various objects and the world is known, such a sun is here compared to Atman which is verily consciousness.

As we have learnt in the previous slokas also, it is only due to consciousness that all the other senses seem to perceive and function. It is consciousness alone that illumines everything and hence sustains everything. When such consciousness is realized as the very nature of Self, when such sun rises in the sky of heart, all the ignorance, affections, aversions vanish just like the darkness that vanishes with the rise of sun.

As at the approach of dawn the darkness dissolves off and the light brings everything clearly to our cognition; so too at the dawn of wisdom, all the ignorance is destroyed and the Self is realized as the all pervading, sole illuminator and sustainer.


digdeshakaalaadyanapekshya sarvagaM
shiitaadihR^itrityasukhaM nira.njanam.h .
yassvaatmatiirthaM bhajate vinishhkriyaH H
sa sarvavitsarvagato.amR^ito bhavet.h .. 68

Pada Artha:

Dik Desha Kaala Aadi: direction, space and time
Anapekshaya: not depending upon
Sarvagam: which is present everywhere
Shaati Aadi Hrut: which destroys cold etc.,
Nitya Sukham: which is Bliss eternal
Niranjanam: which is taintless
Yaha: who
Swa Aatma Teerthyam: the holy place of his own Atman
Bhajate: worships
Vinishkriyaha: renouncing all activities
Saha: He
Sarvavait: all knowing
Sarvagataha: all pervading
Amrutaha: immortal
Bhayet: becomes

He who renouncing all activities, who is free of all the limitations of time, space and direction, worships his own Atman which is present everywhere, which is the destroyer of heat and cold, which is Bliss-Eternal and stainless, becomes All-knowing and All-pervading and attains thereafter Immortality.

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that Atman is ever blissful and unaffected irrespective of the external events and the world. Self is ever free from all the limitations of time, space and all directions, as we have learnt it is that which is all pervading and ever present. Hence there can be no bondage nor limitations for Self. Just like the sun that is ever shining unaffected by the world and its happenings, Atman transcends beyond all limitations and is ever blissful. It is that which is ever present and is verily the substratum of all the illusory creations. It is but pure consciousness and hence the self illumining and illuminator of the entire creation. Or to summarize, Self is but Sat-Chit-Anandam, the Existence-Consciousness-Bliss or verily Brahman or in other words, AHAM BRAHMASMI, I am ever and verily Brahman, the Existence- Bliss- Absolute

Sri Sri Shankara is here explaining that one who renounces all desires and ego and attachments to likes and dislikes of the world and its pleasures and one who is ever established in the reality of Self verily enjoys the eternal bliss and hence becomes Brahman alone.

As the Lord explains in many places in Gita about such a knower as;

anapekShaH shuchirdakSha udaasiino gatavyathaH
.sarvaarambhaparityaagii yo madbhaktaH sa me priyaH .. 12-16

He who is free from wants, who is pure, clever, unconcerned, untroubled, renouncing all undertakings, he who is (thus) devoted to Me is dear to Me.

samaduHkhasukhaH svasthaH samaloshhTaashmakaa~nchanaH
.tulyapriyaapriyo dhiirastulyanindaatmasa.nstutiH .. 14-24

maanaapamaanayostulyastulyo mitraaripakShayoH .
sarvaarambhaparityaagii guNaatiitaH sa uchyate .. 14-25

He to whom pain and pleasure are alike, who dwells in the Self, to whom a clod of earth and stone and gold are alike, to whom the dear and the un-dear are alike, who is a man of wisdom, to whom censure and praise are same;

The same in honour and disgrace, the same towards friends and enemies, abandoning all undertakings – he is said to have crossed beyond the gunas.

As the Upanishads proclaim, the knower of Brahman becomes verily the Brahman. One who overcomes the attachments and aversions to the illusory world and realizes the real nature of Self as that of Existence Consciousness Bliss verily becomes bliss and hence becomes immortal. I.e. for such a knower, there is no death as Self is ever existence and no sadness as Self is but bliss and no limitations as Self is consciousness.

The Kaivalya Upanishad explains the same in various slokas as:

vedairanekairahameva vedyo vedaantakR^idvedavideva chaaham.h .
na puNyapaape mama naasti naasho na janma dehendriyabuddhirasti .. 22

I alone am taught in the various Vedas, I am the revealer of the Vedanta or Upanishads, and I am also the Knower of the Vedas. For me there is neither merit nor demerit, I suffer no destruction, I have no birth, nor any self-identity with the body and the organs.

na bhuumiraapo na cha vahnirasti na chaanilo me.asti na chaambaraM cha .
evaM viditvaa paramaatmaruupaM guhaashayaM niShkalamadvitiiyam.h .. 23

samastasaakShiM sadasadvihiinaM prayaati shuddhaM paramaatmaruupam.h ..
yaH shataruudriyamadhiite so.agnipuuto bhavati suraapaanaatpuuto bhavatisa
sa brahmahatyaayaaH puuto bhavati sa suvarNasteyaatpuuto bhavati
sa kR^ityaakR^ityaatpuuto bhavati tasmaadavimuktamaashrito
bhavatyatyaashramii sarvadaa sakR^idvaa japet.h ..

For me there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air, nor ether. Thus realising the Paramatman, who lies in the cavity of the heart, who is without parts, and without a second, the Witness of all, beyond both existence and non-existence – one attains the Pure Paramatman Itself.

anena j~naanamaapnoti sa.nsaaraarNavanaashanam.h . tasmaadevaM
viditvainaM kaivalyaM padamashnute kaivalyaM padamashnuta iti ..

By means of this, one attains the Knowledge that destroys the ocean of Samsara or repeated transmigration. Therefore, knowing thus one attains the fruit of Kaivalya or liberation, verily one attains liberation.

.. iti sha.nkaraachaaryavirachita aatmabodhaH samaaptaH ..

Thus concludes Atma-Bodha work of Sri Sri Shankaracharya.


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