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Vision of the Self as the All-pervading Witness
जनक उवाच ॥
कथं ज्ञानमवाप्नोति कथं मुक्तिर्भविष्यति ।
वैराग्यं च कथं प्राप्तं एतद् ब्रूहि मम प्रभो ॥ १-१॥
kathaṁ jñānamavāpnōti kathaṁ muktirbhaviṣyati |
vairāgyaṁ ca kathaṁ prāptaṁ ētad brūhi mama prabhō || 1-1||
कथम् ज्ञानम् अवाप्नोति कथम् मुक्तिः र्भविष्यति वैराग्यम् च कथम् प्राप्तम् एतद् ब्रूहि मम प्रभो
katham jñānam avāpnōti katham muktiḥ rbhaviṣyati vairāgyam ca kathaṁm prāptam ētad brūhi mama prabhō
कथम्-how ज्ञानम्-knowledge अवाप्नोति- one gets कथम्- how मुक्तिः- liberation भविष्यति -happens वैराग्यम्-renunciation च- and कथम् -how प्राप्तम्-obtained एतद्-this ब्रूहि- please explain मम- to me प्रभो- O Lord!
Janaka spoke: How is Self knowledge gained, how is liberation attained, and how is dispassion achieved. Tell me this, my Lord.This verse at the very start shows the maturity and readiness of the questioner. The aspirant does not plead with the guru to dispel pain or agitation. The aspirant is not deluded like Arjuna was in the Mahabharata. He has done enough tapas and study to know that dispassion is a necessary requirement, that liberation is the one and only meaningful objective of human life. The guru does not need to waste time in convincing him to give up material ways and seek liberation. Janaka is a true and earnest seeker for liberation.
कथम् ज्ञानम् अवाप्नोति –How one obtains self-knowldge? ज्ञानम् or self-kniowldge refers to the realization of identity of individual soul with Brahman or paramatma which is nothing but existence, knowledge and bliss. Several disciplines are to be practiced for such a realization. Janaka obviously wants to know these particulars.
अवाप्नोति one obtains or gets. We shoud be clear about this statement. Knowledge of Brahman is not like the material knowldge which can be obtained from books or demonstration in a laboratory.
self -knowldge is a non-material knowledge. it is the knowldge about one’s own self. It is a transcendental knowledge which has to be experienced but not learnt. So one does not get the knowldge from outside it has to reveal itself after the ingnorance about the self is gone. प्राप्तस्य प्राप्तिः it is like a lady who sets out to search her missing necklace. She searches everywhere till someone points out that the necklace is already in her neck. Similarly, the knowledge of self is already with us. We have only to be aware of it.
कथम् मुक्तिः र्भविष्यति –how the liberation comes? मुक्तिः or liberation is freedom from ignorance and all bondages and limitations. Liberation is the means as well as the effect of self-knowldge. Similarly, अज्ञान or अविद्या refers to the spiritual ignorance or a power consisting of three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas which prevents the soul from identifying with Brahman. It causes the soul to appear like a distinct personality and the matter to appear as reality.
वैराग्यम् च कथम् प्राप्तम्- वैराग्यम् or renunciation is the non-attachment to the objects of this world or next. Tattva Bodha lists four important qualifications (साधनचतुष्टय) as a prerequisite for geting self-knowledge. वैराग्यम् or renunciation forms one of the four important cardinal qualifiations required by an aspirant to gain the self-knowldge. The three qualifications are (1) discrimination between the real and unreal (नित्यानित्यवस्तु विवेकः), (2) इहम्-अमुत्र- फल–भोग-विरागः-dispassion towards enjoyment of fruits of action here in this life or (इहम्) hereafter (अमुत्र), (3) acquisition of six treasure qualifiations (शमादि षट्कसम्पत्तिः ) and (4) intense desire for liberation मुमुक्षुत्वम्. साधनचतुष्टय includes six treasures of qualification. Let us see what are these six treasures? शमो दमो उपरतिस्तितीक्षा श्र्द्धा समाधानं चेति ।।
They are the control on the mind (शमः), control of senses (दमः), endurance (तितीक्षा), faith (श्र्द्धा) and absorption of the mind (समाधानम्).
अष्टावक्र उवाच ॥
मुक्तिं इच्छसि चेत्तात विषयान् विषवत्त्यज ।
क्षमार्जवदयातोषसत्यं पीयूषवद् भज ॥ १-२॥
muktiṁ icchasi cēttāta viṣayān viṣavattyaja |
kṣamārjavadayātōṣasatyaṁ pīyūṣavad bhaja || 1-2||
मुक्तिम् इच्छसि चेत् तात विषयान् विषवत् त्यज क्षमा आर्जव दया तोष सत्यम् पीयूषवत् भज
muktim icchasi cēt tāta viṣayān viṣavat tyaja kṣamā ārjava dayā tōṣa satyam pīyūṣavadt bhaja
मुक्तिम् –liberation इच्छसि-if you wish to obtain चेत्-if so तात- O dear विषयान्-the objects of senses विषवत्-like poison त्यज-reject क्षमा- foregiveness आर्जव-straighforwardness दया-kindness तोष-cheerfulness सत्यम्-truth पीयूषवत् –like nectar भज -seek
मुक्तिम् इच्छसि चेत् त्तात- muktim icchasi cēt ttāta : My dear if you aspire for liberation-
In the first verse three questions were raised. katham jñānam avāpnōti , katham muktiḥ bhaviṣyati , vairāgyam ca katham prāptam,
How spiritual knowledge is acquired? How renunciation is gained? And how liberation is attained? But in this verse Ashtavakra takes up only liberation because spiritual knowledge (jñānam ज्ञानम्) and renunciation (vairāgyam वैराग्यम्) are intermediary achievements but not the goal. Only liberation is the goal of every man. So he takes up this subject which covers preceding ones also.
Ashtavakra calls Janaka my dear or child (त्तात). We do not know the age of Ashtavakra or Janaka. It is presumed that Janaka was much junior to Ashtavakra and he was a novice in spiritual matters. ‘He child ‘, refers to a person who has no knowledge.
विषयान् विषवत् त्यज viṣayān viṣavat tyaja : Give up the sense objects as if they are a poison.
Vishaya means sense objects and visha means poison. The sense objects attract the sense organs and bring a stormy agitation in the mind. In order to keep the mind focused in meditation and the goal of realization it is necessary to reject the sense objects. You cannot escape from the sense objects but you can live with them without becoming a prey to them. This process of rejecting the sense objects is called दमा damā. Dama is an important prerequisite to attain knowledge. Dama was discussed in previous shloka as a part of शमादिसाधनसम्पत्तिः, the six treasures.
In this shloka Ashtavakra gives us two modules of action for spiritual development. One is abandonment of worldly objects as if they are a poison. Second is development of certain moral values to keep the mind cool. This subject is dealt in the second line
क्षमा आर्जव दया तोषः सत्यम् पीयूषवत् भज kṣamā ārjava dayā tōṣaḥ satyam pīyūṣavat bhaja
The five noble disciplines a seeker has to cultivate are:
क्षमा kṣamā –the quality of endurance, patience, silent suffering without any complaint, letting go and forgiveness
आर्जव ārjava- straightforwardness, sincerity, honesty, simplicity, humility, mellowness.
दया dayā –kindness , tenderness, pity, compassion which arises from virtue of non-violence
तोषः tōṣaḥ -cheerfulness, contentment, satisfaction
सत्यम् satyam- truthfulness
These five qualities are resultant expressions of a person who has cultivated sattvik attitude and practiced detachment. They reflect in his consciousness like the reflections in a clean still pond. Krishna calls these noble qualities as दैवी सम्पत्ति daivī saṁpatti.
पीयूषवत् भज pīyūṣavat bhaja – worship them like nectar.
Bhaja is normally translated as seek. It also means uphold, appreciate, respect honor, worship and remain devoted to.
न पृथ्वी न जलं नाग्निर्न वायुर्द्यौर्न वा भवान् ।
एषां साक्षिणमात्मानं चिद्रूपं विद्धि मुक्तये ॥ १-३॥
na pr̥thvī na jalaṁ nāgnirna vāyurdyaurna vā bhavān |
ēṣāṁ sākṣiṇamātmānaṁ cidrūpaṁ viddhi muktayē || 1-3||
न पृथ्वी न जलम् न अग्निः न वायुः द्यौः न वा भवान् एषाम् साक्षिणम् आत्मानम् चिद्रूपम् विद्धि मुक्तये
na pr̥thvī na jalam na agniḥ na vāyuḥ dyauḥ na vā bhavān ēṣām sākṣiṇam ātmānam cidrūpam viddhi muktayē
न –not पृथ्वी-earth न-not जलम्-water न-not अग्निः-fire न-not वायुः- air द्यौः-space न-not वा-neither भवान्-you एषाम्-of these साक्षिणम्-a witness आत्मानम्-self चिद्रूपम् (चित् रूपम्)-embodiment of pure consciousness विद्धि-know मुक्तये- for the sake of liberation
You are not made of earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air, nor space nor time or anything of the world. You are the witness of these. Know that you are the witness of these, you are embodiment of pure consciousness. Knowthis and you are free.
Continuing his discourse on the subject of मुक्तिम् इच्छसि चेत् तात, Ashtavakra gives another step to achieve liberation. He explains the spiritual nature of the individual. You are neither earth nor water nor fire nor air or space. Knowing that you are the witnessing self in them in the form of consciousness, you will achieve liberation.—Jayaram V.
न पृथ्वी न जलम् न अग्निः न वायुः द्यौः न वा भवान्-na pr̥thvī na jalam na agniḥ na vāyuḥ dyauḥ na vā bhavān –
You are neither the earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air or space. Then what are they? These five basic elements are called पञ्चमहाभूत pañcamahābhūta. They are the material cause out of which the cosmos including our bodies is created. Our bodies have two aspects, the gross body and subtle body. The gross body is the vehicle through which the subtle body functions. The mind and senses are the subtle body. So by implication, the author says you are not the gross body or subtle body. You are a different material.
एषाम् साक्षिणम् आत्मानम् ēṣām sākṣiṇam ātmānam –These are the witness of the self. ēṣām or these refer to the body, senses and the mind. If you are not the body, mind and senses then what are you? The author slowly initiates us to the eternal self who is pure consciousness and different from the body, senses and mind. He says, “My dear, you are साक्षिणम् sākṣiṇam, a witness”. The witness is just a neutral observer and is not a doer or enjoyer. You are a witness abiding in your body. This awareness becomes evident when the mind and senses are silent and free from the impurities of desire and expectations.
चिद्रूपम् (चित् रूपम्) विद्धि मुक्तये cidrūpam viddhi muktayē –Knowing this, you will achieve liberation. Know that your identity is चित् cit or consciousness. It is the highest intelligence or awareness. Muktayē means for liberation. In the previous verse he said, “muktiṁ icchasi cēttāta- my dear, if you want to attain liberation” you have to practice certain disciplines. These disciplines lead to understanding of चित् रूपम् cit rūpam or the form of consciousness. You are the consciousness and different from the body. In the first line Ashtavakra negates, “You are not the body, or mind”. In the second line he asserts positively that you are nothing but the supreme consciousness. For millennium of years we are under the delusory impression of being the body and mind. मुक्तये muktayē in order to become free from impulsive identification of body and mind you have to experience (विद्धि viddhi) the self or consciousness within. ‘The principle of consciousness in every one of us is illuminating factor that brings into awareness all our physical and mental experiences. In the light of consciousness all happenings are brought into our knowledge or awareness’ –
Swami Chinmayananda. In the light of the sun we become aware of all the objects. But the sun never gets involved in our experiences or gets attached to the objects.
The illuminator remains separate from what is illuminated. The sun as the illuminator is different from the objects illuminated. Similarly, in the light of consciousness, we experience the happenings in the life. But the consciousness never gets involved in the experiences or gets attached to the objects.
Ch. 1 Sh.04
यदि देहं पृथक् कृत्य चिति विश्राम्य तिष्ठसि ।
अधुनैव सुखी शान्तो बन्धमुक्तो भविष्यसि ॥ १-४॥
yadi dēhaṁ pr̥thak kr̥tya citi viśrāmya tiṣṭhasi |
adhunaiva sukhī śāntō bandhamuktō bhaviṣyasi || 1-4||
यदि देहम् पृथक् कृत्य चिति विश्राम्य तिष्ठसि अधुना एव सुखी शान्तः बन्धमुक्तः भविष्यसि
yadi dēham pr̥thak kr̥tya citi viśrāmya tiṣṭhasi adhunā ēva sukhī śāntaḥ bandhamuktaḥ bhaviṣyasi
यदि-if देहम्-the body पृथक्-seperate कृत्य-having made चिति- in consciousness विश्राम्य-having come to rest तिष्ठसि-you remain अधुना-now itself एव- indeed सुखी-happy शान्तः-peaceful बन्धमुक्तः-free from bondage भविष्यसि- you will become
If you separate yourself from your body and rest in your consciousness, quickly there will be happiness, peace, and freedom from bondage.
यदि देहम् पृथक् कृत्य yadi dēham pr̥thak kr̥tya –If you detach from the body.
Here two words are important, you and body. The master says if you separate yourself from the body and mind. So there is a duality, the body and mind on one hand and “I”, on the other. Just as the external world of names and forms is the product of five elements, so too is the body and mind. We accept that the outside world is different from me. We deal with it as an object and me as the subject. We do not appreciate that the body and mind are also external to me and are indeed objects. For millennium we are so much identified with the body and mind, that we enjoy and suffer the good and bad that happens to the body and mind. This causes ‘dehabhimana or attachment and bondage. This is the delusion or maya or mistaking the unreal as real.
The truth is the body is also a part of the field or Kshetra or the world. So renunciation is not just giving up the external world but renunciation of body and mind also which a part of the world are. The bondage to the cycle of birth and death arises from the bondage to your body. Hence renouncing the body and detaching from it becomes the first and foremost step in renouncing the world and cultivating detachment. With detachment your body becomes a vehicle to spiritual growth and with attachment it becomes an obstacle to growth. In other words you should treat the body well to remain healthy but avoid emotional and physical attachment to it so that your personality does not become how young and smart you look and dress.
चिति विश्राम्य तिष्ठसि citi viśrāmya tiṣṭhasi – if you stay put in consciousness.
To separate you from the body is the first step. The second step is to abide or rest in consciousness. Jayaram says, “In the early stages of spiritual practice one will not see the distinction. Therefore, you should accept whatever consciousness you have as your identity and start from there. When you become cantered in it and identify yourself with it, you will experience lightness, expansiveness, and limitlessness. Since your consciousness has no shape or form, you will also easily feel oneness with the space around you and begin to extend your identity beyond your body. They are the immediate signs of progress and withdrawal from the physical identity created by your mind and senses”.
अधुना एव सुखी शान्तः बन्धमुक्तः भविष्यसि adhunā ēva sukhī śāntaḥ bandhamuktaḥ bhaviṣyasi – quickly there will be happiness, peace, and freedom from bondage. As your practice deepens, and as you enter the deeper aspects of your consciousness you will experience even more peace and happiness since your deeper consciousness is relatively more stable and free from the modifications of your mind or the desire-ridden consciousness. You will also realize that there is a point of stability in you that cannot be easily touched or disturbed by the ordinary concerns and physical afflictions. From that vantage point you will come to terms with your aging, looks, impermanence of things, and the certainty of death at some point in future. You will develop the exceptional quality of stable consciousness (sthita prajna) of a seer, the seeing one.
Adhunā means at present, right now. The master says that if you rest in your consciousness you will get eternal happiness, peace and become free from bondage. That means you will become one with God. That happens right in this life but not later after death.
Ch. 1 Sh.05
न त्वं विप्रादिको वर्णो नाश्रमी नाक्षगोचरः ।
असङ्गोऽसि निराकारो विश्वसाक्षी सुखी भव ॥ १-५॥
na tvaṁ viprādikō varṇō nāśramī nākṣagōcaraḥ |
asaṅgō:’si nirākārō viśvasākṣī sukhī bhava || 1-5||
न त्वम् विप्रादिकः वर्णः न आश्रमी न अक्षगोचरः असङ्गः असि निराकारः विश्वसाक्षी सुखी भव
na tvaṁ viprādikaḥ varṇaḥ na āśramī na akṣagōcaraḥ asaṅgaḥ asi nirākāraḥ viśvasākṣī sukhī bhava
न –not त्वम्- you विप्रादिकः-Brahman or any other वर्णः-caste न- not आश्रमी-belong to any stage of life न-not अक्षगोचरः-anything perceptible through senses असङ्गः-unattached असि-you are निराकारः- formless विश्वसाक्षी- you are the witness of the world सुखी भव- be that andcome to happiness.
You do not belong to the Brahmana or any other caste or to any ashrama (stages of life). You are not percieved by the eyes and and other sense organs. You are unattached, formeless. And as the uou are universal witness, you are blissful.
न त्वं विप्रादिकः न वर्णः न आश्रमी अक्षगोचरः na tvaṁ viprādikaḥ na varṇaḥ na āśramī akṣagōcaraḥ – You do not belong Brahmana and other castes. You are not identified with any Varna Ashram. You are not born high or lower down. There are four ashramas or stages of life as prescribed by scriptures. They are ब्रह्मचर्य –student life, ग्रुहस्त- householder, वानप्रस्थ-forest life and सन्यास- renunciant. Tattva bodha explains:
नाहं ब्राह्मणः न शूद्रः न पुरुषः किन्तु असंगः सच्चिदानन्दस्वरूपः प्रकाशरूपः सर्वान्तर्य़ामी चिदाकाश रूपः अमि इति द्रढ्निश्चयः अपरॊक्षज्ञानवान् जीवन्मुक्तः
न अक्षगोचरः असङ्गः असि निराकारः विश्वसाक्षी सुखी भव – You are not perceivable, you are unattached, without form, universal witness. Realize this fact and be happy.
अक्षगोचरः means perceptible to the eyes. By implication we must understand that you are not object of by any sense knowledge. The sense organs are five in number. They are ear, skin, tongue, and nose. each of these organs have an object of operation and give us its knowledge.
श्रोत्रं त्वक् चक्षु: रसना घ्राणम् इति पंच ज्ञानेन्द्रियाणि।
In the first line the master points out to Janaka what he is not. In the second line he makes a positive affirmation of his true identity is the eternal self who is always blissful.
In this world as soon as a child is born he is labelled with a number in the child ward and later he gets a birth certificate in his name. As he becomes an adult many more labels attached to him; appearance like black, white, caste and class like Brahmana, dalit, rich, poor etc. If these labels are beneficial to us we become attached to them and if they are derogatory we get an aversion to them. These are serious barriers for spiritual progress and keep you rooted to this world.
असङ्गः असि निराकारः विश्वसाक्षी सुखी भव asaṅgaḥ asi nirākāraḥ viśvasākṣī sukhī bhava – You are unattached, formless, and witness of all. So be happy. This verse says that none of the above labels shows your true identity. Your identity is the eternal self. All these labels do not belong to you. They belong to the body but not the soul. The identity of these labels does not extend beyond this life. At some stage even in your present life also it may become irrelevant.
The master tells Janaka, stay cantered in your identity as self. Get rid of all your past identities and duties and meditate upon the inner self. It is the best way to pull your mind from body-centric thinking to soul-centric thinking.
Ch. 1 Sh.06
Knowing the projections of your mind
धर्माधर्मौ सुखं दुःखं मानसानि न ते विभो ।
न कर्तासि न भोक्तासि मुक्त एवासि सर्वदा ॥ १-६॥
dharmādharmau sukhaṁ duḥkhaṁ mānasāni na tē vibhō |
na kartāsi na bhōktāsi mukta ēvāsi sarvadā || 1-6||
धर्मः अधर्मः सुखम् दुःखम् मानसानि न ते विभो न कर्ता असि न भोक्ता आसि मुक्तः एव असि सर्वदा
Dharmaḥ adharmaḥ sukham duḥkham mānasāni na tē vibhō na kartā asi na bhōktā āsi muktaḥ ēva asi sarvadā
धर्मः –right, virtue अधर्मः-wrong, vice सुखम्-happiness दुःखम्-sorrow मानसानि-belong to the mind and intellect न-not ते-yours विभो- O all-ervading one न-not कर्ता-doer असि-you are न- not भोक्ता-enjoyer आसि-you are मुक्तः-free एव-indeed असि-you are सर्वदा-ever
Dharma, adharma, pleasure and pain, belong to the mind not to you. O Lord, you are neither the doer nor the enjoyer but one who is ever free forever.
धर्मः अधर्मः सुखम् दुःखम् मानसानि dharmaḥ adharmaḥ sukham duḥkham mānasāni –
The dualities of life such as dharma or adharma (righteous and immoral activities), pain and pleasure belong to the mind but not to you. Since you are not the mind and body they do not belong to you. You are free. Hence one should not be overly concerned about them. They are projections of the mind but not the soul. The world of objects does not arise from the things and objects that exist outside you. It begins right in your mind (mānasāni) as impressions and images since you are wirelessly connected to it by the senses. We become increasingly involved with it and develop attachment and suffer modifications such as pleasure and pain. We must remember that the world of objects is a part of the larger field (Kshetra); the body and mind also belong to the Kshetra. But we come to believe that “I am the subject and the world is an object” we are the author of an action or enjoyer of its benefits.”
न ते विभो न कर्ता असि न भोक्ता आसि मुक्तः एव असि सर्वदा na tē vibhō na kartā asi na bhōktā āsi muktaḥ ēva asi sarvadā – O Lord, you are neither the doer nor the enjoyer but one who is ever free forever.
The word vibhō means all pervading, lord. Janaka, you are the Lord of the body, mind and intellect just as you are the Lord of your kingdom. Your involvement with mind and body makes you believe that you are making the things possible and you are responsible for actions you perform. However if you analyse objectively with clear mind with detachment, you will realize that the world can exist without identifying yourself with your mind and body. Ashtavakra is suggesting the same here. He wants you, the ‘vibhō ‘, the Lord of the body to know that you are neither the object, emotion, or thought. As the lord of the body you should stay in control of them rather than swayed by them. You can do that when you stop identifying with them and their actions and remain detached from the results. Thus you can be free from the modifications of the mind.
Ch. 1 Sh.07
एको द्रष्टासि सर्वस्य मुक्तप्रायोऽसि सर्वदा ।
अयमेव हि ते बन्धो द्रष्टारं पश्यसीतरम् ॥ १-७॥
ēkō draṣṭāsi sarvasya muktaprāyō:’si sarvadā |
ayamēva hi tē bandhō draṣṭāraṁ paśyasītaram || 1-7||
ऎकः द्रष्टा असि सर्वस्य मुक्तप्रायः असि सर्वदा अयम् एव हि ते बन्धः द्रष्टारम् पश्यसि इतरम्
ekaḥ draṣṭā asi sarvasya muktaprāyaḥ asi sarvadā ayam ēva hi tē bandhaḥ draṣṭāram pasyasi itaram
ऎकःthe one- द्रष्टा-see-er असि-you are सर्वस्य- of everything मुक्त –free प्रायः- essentially असि-you are सर्वदा-always अयम्-this एव-only हिindeed- ते-your बन्धः-bondage द्रष्टारम्-see-er पश्यसि- you see इतरम्- as something else
You are the only one who sees all. You are ever free. The cause of your bondage is that you see yourself not as a seer but as something different (as a petty doer)
ऎकः द्रष्टा असि सर्वस्य मुक्तप्रायः असि सर्वदा ekaḥ draṣṭā asi sarvasya muktaprāyaḥ asi sarvadā – You are the only one seer of all. You are the subject. The entire world of pluracity is the object. You are ever free. There is only one seer (draṣṭā). If there are two seers one becomes seer and the other seen (दृश्य dr̥śya). All that you can see, hear and touch are in the domain of world or Kshetra. In the waking state I see or experience the world of objects, emotion and thought. I identify with it as the physical body. In the dream state, I identify with the dream world which appears ‘real’ in the dream and become free from my physical body consciousness. A serious spiritual seeker observes these two states very minutely and comes to a conclusion. I am not the physical body because I can watch it. I am not the emotion and thought because I watch them. They change their character and are of the nature of coming and going. They are not permanent. They do not touch me. I stand apart from them as an independent identity.
अयम् एव हि ते बन्धः द्रष्टारम् पश्यसि इतरम् ayam ēva hi tē bandhaḥ draṣṭāram pasyasi itaram – The cause of your bondage is that you see yourself not as a seer but regard the eternal subject, the witness of the universe as belonging to the objective world. This is an important statement made by Ashtavakra. In the light of the consciousness in me, my sense organs, mind and intellect are able to function. The self is the sole seer in me experiencing the world through my equipment such as senses, mind and intellect. It is the same consciousness in all beings. It perceives the world through all sense organs of the universe. This consciousness, “You are”. Thou art that तत् त्वम् असि tat tvam asi. The cause of the bondage under which you are now suffering is that you recognize yourself not as a universal seer but as something different-as the limited ego” –Chinmayananda
Ch. 1 Sh.08
अहं कर्तेत्यहंमानमहाकृष्णाहिदंशितः ।
नाहं कर्तेति विश्वासामृतं पीत्वा सुखी भव ॥ १-८॥
ahaṁ kartētyahaṁmānamahākr̥ṣṇāhidaṁśitaḥ |
nāhaṁ kartēti viśvāsāmr̥taṁ pītvā sukhī bhava || 1-8||
अहम् कर्ता इति अहंमानमहाकृष्णाहिदंशितः न अहम् कर्ता इति विश्वास अमृतम् पीत्वा सुखी भव aham kartā iti ahaṁmānamahākr̥ṣṇāhidaṁśitaḥ na aham kartā iti viśvāsa amr̥tam pītvā sukhī bhava
अहम् –I कर्ता- doer इति-thus अहंमानमहाकृष्णाहिदंशितः (अहम्-I मान-measure महा-great कृष्ण-black अहि-serpent दंशितः-are bitten)- you are bitten by the great black serpent of egoism न-not अहम्-I कर्ताdoer- इति-thus विश्वास-faith अमृतम्-nectar पीत्वा- having partaken सुखी-happy भव-become
You are bitten by the great black snake of ego called “I am the doer”. Please drink the potion of nectar of faith called “I am not the doer” and be happy.
अहम् कर्ता इति अहम् मान महा कृष्ण अहि दंशितः
aham kartā iti ahaṁmānamahākr̥ṣṇāhidaṁśitaḥ -You are bitten by the great black (कृष्ण) serpent (अहि) called ‘ego’ (अहम् मान) or “I am the doer” (अहम् कर्ता)
Two words ‘black’ and ‘ego’ need to be explained. Why the word black is used but not yellow or blue? Black denotes the quality of tamas. It is a deluding quality which makes people mistake one thing for another. In this case we mistake the ‘ego’ as the doer and enjoyer instead of the self. What is ‘ego”? Mind (manas), intellect (buddhi) and memory (Chitta) are together called ahankara or ego. It divides the world into mine and not mine. Paramahansa Yogananda calls ego as the soul attached to the body. Swami Chinmayananda says, “The sense of ‘doer- ship’ is the arrogant ego expressing in all our perceptions, feeling and thought (PFT) as “I see”, ‘I hear’, ‘I think’, ‘I feel’ and so on”. This false attitude arises out of our identification with eyes, ears and mind and intellect. Seeing, hearing, feeling and thinking are really functions of the eyes, ear, mind and intellect. As the self, you are but an illuminator of these functions. To arrogate ownership of an action and its consequences is the essence of ego.
Ashtavakra compares ego to the black serpent with its poisonous bite. With its bite we become abject slaves of sensuality. We become agitated with our passionate urgency to acquire, possess and enjoy the sense objects. This causes our spiritual annihilation.
न अहम् कर्ता इति विश्वास अमृतम् पीत्वा सुखी भव na aham kartā iti viśvāsa amr̥tam pītvā sukhī bhava –
Please drink the potion of nectar of faith called “I am not the doer” and be happy. Ashtavakra advices the seekers to drink nectar called faith. Faith is an important factor in spiritual progress. One has to have faith in Guru and scriptures. Faith that ‘I am not the doer or enjoyer’ is a potent remedy eliminating the poison of ego. The sadhaka must constantly and continuously maintain the wisdom that ‘I am not the doer” with ardent faith. This helps him to remain firmly through deep meditation when he will witness the disappearance of mind, and prana and with that the poisonous snake of ego.
Ch. 1 Sh. 09
एको विशुद्धबोधोऽहं इति निश्चयवह्निना ।
प्रज्वाल्याज्ञानगहनं वीतशोकः सुखी भव ॥ १-९॥
ēkō viśuddhabōdhō:’haṁ iti niścayavahninā |
prajvālyājñānagahanaṁ vītaśōkaḥ sukhī bhava || 1-9||
एकः विशुद्धबोधः अहम् इति निश्चयवह्निना प्रज्वाल्य अज्ञानगहनम् वीतशोकः सुखी भव
ēkaḥ viśuddhabōdhaḥ aham iti niscayavahninā prajvālya ajñānagahanam vītaśōkaḥ sukhī bhava
एकः-one विशुद्धबोधः-pure consciousness अहम्-I am इति- thus निश्चयवह्निना-by the fire of conviction प्रज्वाल्य-having burnt down अज्ञानगहनम्-the foresst of ignorance वीतशोकः-discarding all grief सुखी-happy भव-become
With a flame of conviction that “I am the pure consciousness”, burn down the forest of ignorance, become free from sorrow and be happy.
एकः विशुद्धबोधः अहम् इति निश्चयवह्निना ēkaḥ viśuddhabōdhaḥ aham iti
viśuddha bōdhaḥ -pure intelligence or pure consciousness. The intelligence is a reference to soul. Your ordinary intellect is but a reflection of pure intelligence but contains impurities. Hence it is much inferior to pure intelligence of the self.
niścayavahninā –with a fire of conviction that I am the pure consciousness.
प्रज्वाल्य अज्ञानगहनम् वीतशोकः सुखी भव
prajvālya ajñānagahanam vītaśōkaḥ sukhī bhava –
burn down the forest of ignorance, become free from sorrow and be happy.
ajñānagahanam – dense forest, the forest has reference to ignorance. What is the ignorance we are talking about? By the total identification with the gross and subtle body we become attached to it, It causes desire to enjoy the world of objects and reduces our focus on Brahman. We move away from God consciousness and get trapped in the samsara. This is called ignorance, dense ignorance.
Why ignorance is compared to dense forest? We are speaking about the ignorance that the forest is real or by implication your body and mind are real, rather than the soul being real. Believing that you are the doer and therefore are entitled to its fruit is also ignorance. Just as we are lost and clue less in a wild forest, we are lost in the wilderness of ignorance and delusion of the way out to reach of innate pure nature of Brahman.
prajvālya – having burnt down. Burn down the forest of ignorance.
Niscayavahninā- By the flame of firm conviction about your spiritual identity. You cannot overcome the ignorance unless you have a strong conviction about your true identity.
vītaśōkaḥ sukhī bhava – become free from sorrow and be happy.
Ch. 1 Sh.10
यत्र विश्वमिदं भाति कल्पितं रज्जुसर्पवत् ।
आनन्दपरमानन्दः स बोधस्त्वं सुखम् चर ॥ १-१०॥
yatra viśvamidaṁ bhāti kalpitaṁ rajjusarpavat |
ānandaparamānandaḥ sa bōdhastvaṁ sukham cara
यत्र विश्वम् इदम् भाति कल्पितम् रज्जुसर्पवत् आनन्दः परमानन्दः सः बोधः त्वम् सुखम् चर
yatra viśvamidam bhāti kalpitam rajjusarpavat ānandaḥ paramānandaḥ saḥ bōdhaḥ tvam sukham cara
यत्र-where विश्वम् – world इदम्- this भाति-appears कल्पितम्-imagined रज्जुसर्पवत्-like a falsely seen snake upon a rope आनन्दः-happiness परमानन्दःsupreme happiness or bliss सः-that बोधः-consciousness त्वम्- uou are सुखम्- happiness चर-live as happiness itself
You are that consciousness, in which the universe appears being conceived like a snake in a rope . You are that supreme bliss-upon which this universe appears superimposed, like a snake on a rope. Live happily as that supreme consciousness. –Chinmayananda
यत्र विश्वम् इदम् भाति कल्पितम् रज्जुसर्पवत् yatra viśvamidam bhāti kalpitam –
You are that consciousness on which the universe appears as conceived or imagined like a snake on a rope. The snake and rope analogy is frequently used in Vedanta to explain its central doctrine that the world is an illusion and only Brahman is true. In a dim light we mistake a rope for a snake. We see its formation, head, tail etc. The snake has no reality other than the rope which is its substratum. The rope does not really become a snake.
Even so this universe has no real existence. It is the Self—pure Consciousness and Supreme Bliss—in which this universe is imagined to exist through ignorance. Consciousness which is the substratum of the universe remains eternally pure and unaffected. You are that Consciousness. Therefore we must cease
Identifying ourselves with any of these superimposed phenomena and thus be happy. The world is a projection of the mind. It is called Maya.
Let us examine whether we can accept this analogy literally. In our waking state we perceive and deal with the world of objects and therefore they have to be real. In the dream state we have only dream world before us which we are sure to be true. On waking up we realise that the dream is not true. It was just a projection of the mind. Similarly when we merge with Brahman consciousness we realize that the world of objects is not true indeed.
आनन्दः परमानन्दः सः बोधः त्वम् सुखम् चर
ānandaḥ paramānandaḥ saḥ bōdhaḥ tvam sukham cara – that intelligence or consciousness is nothing but bliss, supreme bliss.
As long as we are part of that imagination, the world appears as real. We cannot penetrate the veil of illusion because we are in it. To realise the world outside is not true but only a uperimposition on Brahman, we should come out of the worldly attachments and desires and enter Brahman consciousness. In deep meditation when you go beyond the physical body, mind and intellect you become free from the bondage and experience the supreme bliss.
sukham cara means live happily or go by the path of happiness. You live happily because you realize the world is an illusion. This is a state of self-realization or liberation. For the rest of us maya or the idea of illusion remains a mere theoretical concept, which cannot be validated.
Ch. 1 Sh.11
मुक्ताभिमानी मुक्तो हि बद्धो बद्धाभिमान्यपि ।
किंवदन्तीह सत्येयं या मतिः सा गतिर्भवेत् ॥ १-११॥
muktābhimānī muktō hi baddhō baddhābhimānyapi |
kiṁvadantīha satyēyaṁ yā matiḥ sā gatirbhavēt || 1-11||
मुक्त अभिमानी मुक्तः हि बद्ध अभिमानी अपि किम् वदन्ति इह सत्या इयम् या मतिः सा गतिः भवेत्
mukta abhimānī muktaḥ hi baddha abhimānī api kim vadanti iha satyā iyam yā matiḥ sā gati bhavēt
मुक्त अभिमानी- one who considers oneself a free मुक्तः free हि-indeed बद्ध अभिमानी- one who considers bound अपि-also किम्-what वदन्ति-they say इह-in this world सत्या-is true इयम्-this या- as मतिः-thought सा-so गतिः-attainment, goal भवेत्- becomes
One who considers oneself free is free indeed and one who considers oneself bound remains bound. “As one thinks, so one becomes” is a popular saying in this world, which is quite true.
मुक्त अभिमानी मुक्तः हि बद्ध अभिमानी अपि किम् वदन्ति इह सत्या mukta abhimānī muktaḥ hi baddha abhimānī api kim vadanti iha satya –
मुक्त muktaḥ is one who is free, liberated or emancipated.
One who considers himself as free becomes free and one who feels that he is bound (देह अभिमान) is indeed bound. This is the famous saying, as you think, so you become. अभिमान abhimāna means intimately connected to, afflicted by. Mukta (free from) abhimānī is therefore one who is free from the defect of bodily identity or affliction. He has no body consciousness; he always abides in the Lord.
बद्ध अभिमानी baddha abhimānī is one who is identified with the body. Baddha means bound. He is bound by the worldly desires and dualities. He succumbs to sense objects. He remains a prisoner of his attachment to the body. He cannot align with God consciousness.
As you think, so you become. Your thought has a powerful hold on your performance. There is a shift from body consciousness to God conscipousness.
या मतिः सा गति भवेत् yā matiḥ sā gati bhavēt – As one thinks, so one becomes. If you think that you are ever liberated you act like a liberated soul and ultimately become liberated. And if you think that you are bound you will be dipped in samsara.
Amruta Bindu Upanishad says:
मनो हि द्विविधं प्रोक्तं शुद्धं चाशुद्धमेव च। अशुद्धं कामसंकल्पं शुद्धं कामविवर्जितम्॥ १॥
manō hi dvividhaṁ prōktaṁ śuddhaṁ cāśuddhamēva ca|
aśuddhaṁ kāmasaṁkalpaṁ śuddhaṁ kāmavivarjitam–|| 1||
The mind is said to be of two kinds: pure and impure. If the thoughts are noble, positive and dharmik, the mind becomes pure. If the thoughts are with stress, agitation, violence, dejection and negative attitude, the mind becomes impure. Pure mind is free from desires, contented, cheerful, complete and happy. Impure mind is possessed of desire. Pure mind is free from sankalpa or desires and impure mind is with sankalpa or desire. The impure mind manifests in rajasik and tamasik actions. Pure mind is mukta abhimānī and impure mind is baddha abhimānī.
The thoughts dictate our lives. It is the starting point of all our activities. If we think everything will work out well, we will be happy and at peace. A good thought helps us to feel good and bad thought brings in agitation and agony. So the first step is to replace negative thought with a positive one.
Second step is at a much deeper level. Here you trace back the origin, the source of thought and become a witness to them instead of a partner. You will find pleasant or unpleasant thoughts, events, emotion do not afflict you. There will be only one thought that, “I am joy”. Then it becomes real meditation. This is what Ashtavakra says, “as you think, so you become’.
Krishna says in Gita that whatever the predominant thought of a man at the time of death, he will get it in the next birth.
Western scholars have utilized this technique for material benefit. They advocate that by changing your thoughts and focus, you can change your life. It is not wrong to do so, but one should not lose the sight of spiritual benefit endowed by this technique.
Ch. 1 Sh.12
आत्मा साक्षी विभुः पूर्ण एको मुक्तश्चिदक्रियः ।
असंगो निःस्पृहः शान्तो भ्रमात्संसारवानिव ॥ १-१२॥
ātmā sākṣī vibhuḥ pūrṇa ēkō muktaścidakriyaḥ |
asaṁgō niḥspr̥haḥ śāntō bhramātsaṁsāravāniva || 1-12||
आत्मा-self साक्षी-witness विभुः-all pervading पूर्णः- perfect, complete एकः-one मुक्तः-free चित्-consciousness अक्रियः-actionless ,untouched by any seeming act असंगः-unattached निःस्पृहः-desireless शान्तः-at peace भ्रमात्-through illusion संसारवान् seems to be involoed in the world इव-as if भवति -becomes
ātmā sākṣī vibhuḥ pūrṇaḥ ēkaḥ muktaḥ cit akriyaḥ asaṁgaḥ niḥspr̥haḥ śāntaḥ bhramāt saṁsāravān iva
The self is a witness, all pervading, perfect, one, non-dual, ever free, action-less , consciousness. It is unattached to anything, devoid of desire, and at peace. It is an illusion that you seem to be involved in the world.
Swami Chinmayananda rightly says that this verse is a ‘peroration’ (summary, उपसंहार) of whatever has been said in the previous 11 verses. The consciousness is the ultimate reality, infinite and eternal. It is beyond the realm of sensory perceptions. It has no configuration or attributes. It is indescribable and indefinable. It is not an object which the mind is trained to understand. It is very much our own subject. It is different from our current awareness of being. The author has given a dozen indications to lift up the reflective mind in meditation to understand what the self would be like. We have to gradually dissolve our mind into the awareness. One cannot silence the mind by any other means and prepare oneself for self-absorption.
आत्मा साक्षी विभुः पूर्णः एकः मुक्तः चित् अक्रियः असंगः निःस्पृहः शान्तः भ्रमात् संसारवान् इव
आत्मा साक्षी ātmā sākṣī –The self is witness of all. It illumines all actions and emotions. But it is not in any way involved or affected by whatever happens in its light. In verse 5 the word viśvasākṣī or universal witness was used.
आत्मा विभुः vibhuḥ- The self is all pervading, that means it is everywhere. The space is also all pervading. It accommodates everything under the sun and allows good or bad actions to happen. But it is not tainted by the actions.
आत्मा पूर्णः pūrṇaḥ- The self is complete, perfect. A perfect thing has no defects. It is complete and has nothing to acquire. So It has no desires because it has everything. It is not bound by space and time and object.
आत्मा एकः ēkaḥ- means single, bereft of differentiation of like, unlike etc. and attributes, There is no duality. It is only one thing. There is nothing similar to atma. This was discussed in verse 7 when the self was called ēkō draṣṭāsi sarvasya that means you are only one seer. If there are two, one becomes the seer and the other seen.
आत्मा मुक्तः muktaḥ-Liberated, free from the world of attraction, attachment and desire. By implication such a person becomes free from the cycles of birth and death. Verse 11 explained that muktābhimānī muktō hi baddhō baddhābhimānyapi, one who considers himself as free from world of attachment becomes free and one who considers himself as bound indeed becomes bound.
आत्मा चित् atma cit- The self is consciousness, the ultimate reality, infinite and eternal. Shruti explains that chit has got to be sat too. Sat means existence.
आत्मा अक्रियः akriyaḥ- action –less although all actions in the cosmos are taking place in it. Space is also action-less although it accommodates all actions and objects within it. The self is not involved in any action of the cosmos because it is a just witness of all actions going on. For this reason it has no sense of doer-ship or ownership. Ramana has beautifully explained this phenomenon. When you see a movie in a theatre the motion picture is projected on the screen. The light beam illumines the picture. We only look at the projected images, react and respond to them. The images are completely false and cannot exist without the screen the substratum of motion picture. Only the screen is real and remains unchanged. The screen is not affected by anything that is super- imposed on it. It accepts all types of images, bad and good. Even the bloodshed in the movie does not taint the screen. It remains just a witness. Similarly the world of objects and emotion is a projection of the mind. The self is like the screen. What about the images? They are our thought patterns, emotions, and individual I-ness that are superimposed on the self. A Jynani knows that all such super impositions are unreal and false. He remains at the background like self, blissful, desire -less and action-less.
आत्मा असंगः asaṁgaḥ-Unattached. Because as a witness he remains neutral for all actions and emotions that take place. In verse verse 5, it was said that you do not belong to any cast or any ashram. You are un-attached.
आत्मा निःस्पृहः niḥspr̥haḥ. Desire-less. Since it is purna or complete it has nothing to get or a desire to get.
आत्मा शान्तः śāntaḥ-The above qualities of make the mind free from agitation and storm of attachment and desire. It remains peaceful.
आत्मा भ्रमात् bhramāt –through illusion of body attachment and relationship. ayam ēva hi tē bandhaḥ, this is your bondage. Verse 7 called such a position as ayam ēva hi tē bandhaḥ draṣṭāram pasyasi itaram. This is indeed your bondage.
आत्मा संसारवान् इव saṁsāravān iva. Like a samsari. Due to the attachment, attraction and desire of sense organs to sense objects one gets into karmic wheel and has to take rebirth to exhaust the vasanas. The ego is driven from body to body in unending cycle of birth and death. This involvement in the world causing birth and death is called samsara.
Ch. 1 Sh.13
कूटस्थं बोधमद्वैतमात्मानं परिभावय ।
आभासोऽहं भ्रमं मुक्त्वा भावं बाह्यमथान्तरम् ॥ १-१३॥
kūṭasthaṁ bōdhamadvaitamātmānaṁ paribhāvaya |
ābhāsō:’haṁ bhramaṁ muktvā bhāvaṁ bāhyamathāntaram || 1-13||
कूटस्थम् बोधम् अद्वैतम् आत्मानम् परिभावय आभासः अहम् भ्रमम् मुक्त्वा भावम् बाह्यम् अथ अन्तरम्
kūṭastham bōdham advaitam ātmānam paribhāvaya ābhāsaḥ aham bhramam muktvā bhāvam bāhyam atha antaram
कूटस्थम्-immovable बोधम्-intelligence अद्वैतम्-non-dual आत्मानम्-self परिभावय-meditate, freflect upon अहम्-I आभासः-reflection of self इति-thus भ्रमम्-illusion मुक्त्वा- having given up भावम्- happenings बाह्यम्-external अथ-also अन्तरम्- internal
कूटस्थम् बोधम् अद्वैतम् आत्मानम् परिभावय आभासः अहम् भ्रमम् मुक्त्वा भावम् बाह्यम् अथ अन्तरम्
Meditate upon the Atman as immutable, non-dual, intelligence; free from the mistaken idea that that “I am the reflected self (ego)”, delusion, and having given up the external or internal feeling of modification and illusion of being a reflected light.
Jayaram says: there are two ideas in this verse. First you must meditate on the immutable self and its essential qualities mentioned in the first part of the verse. Second is that you must give up everything that is not self. The self is immutable (कूटस्थम् kūṭastham). Kuta means the anvil on which hot iron is beaten to give it a shape. But the anvil remains unchanged. The self also remains unchanged in the midst of changing phenomenon. That is the most stable point in you. When you become absorbed in it, you do not experience any modification or flickering nature of mind. The self is pure knowledge or all-knowing consciousness (बोधम् bōdham).
The self is non-dual (अद्वैतम् advaitam) meaning there is no distinction of subject or object. Since the same self is present in all, you will not notice any duality or distinction unlike your sensory perceptions where you can only see superficial distinguishing features.
The above three qualities कूटस्थम् बोधम् अद्वैतम् kūṭastham bōdham advaitam of the Brahman are not found in your individual personality. That is the difference between body consciousness and Brahman consciousness.
परिभावय paribhāvaya – is not a simple meditation. Jayaram says:
It is a mental practice in which you visualize the properties of the object of your contemplation and superimpose them upon yourself to create a feeling of oneness with it. At the same time you must be free from those objects which disturb your mind by creating modifications. They are ego, delusion, and feelings of distinction of external and internal states (भ्रमम् भावम् बाह्यम् अथ अन्तरम्)
आभासः ābhāsaḥ – non shining, भास means shining. The ego is said to be ābhāsaḥ because it has no illumination of its own. It is a reflection of the illuminating self. Ego is jada or insentient. So it is an instrument of ignorance. Ego or “I” sense is responsible for the attachment you form with the world. It creates a delusion (भ्रमम् bhramam) that it is real self.
मुक्त्वा muktvā – Mukti or liberation arises when you become free from the impurities in your mind and body and the attachments to the world. To be free, you have to give up everything that arises in your mind in response to the attraction or repulsion caused by the sense objects. To find freedom (Mukti) you must be free from delusion (भ्रमम् bhramam) caused by ego and focus upon your true self or Brahman. In contrast to the ego, the self is immutable, without duality and pure intelligence. Even when it is bound to the body it is not affected by the modifications of the nature.
बाह्यम् अथ अन्तरम् bāhyam atha antaram –feeling of internal and external states. Ego causes delusion that it is real and relationship of inside and outside the body. The self is all pervading and has no such limitations. Just as the space inside the pot and outside is the same, the consciousness inside you and outside in other beings is one and the same.
Ch. 1 Sh.14
देहाभिमानपाशेन चिरं बद्धोऽसि पुत्रक ।
बोधोऽहं ज्ञानखड्गेन तन्निकृत्य सुखी भव ॥ १-१४॥
dēhābhimānapāśēna ciraṁ baddhō:’si putraka |
bōdhō:’haṁ jñānakhaḍgēna tannikr̥tya sukhī bhava || 1-14||
देहाभिमानपाशेन चिरम् बद्धः असि पुत्रक बोधः अहम् ज्ञानखड्गेन तत् निष्कृत्य सुखी भव
dēhābhimānapāśēna ciram baddhaḥ asi putraka bōdhaḥ aham jñānakhaḍgēna tat niṣkr̥tya sukhī bhava
देहाभिमानपाशेन (देह-body अभिमान-identification पाशेन- by the noose)-You have long been cought up in the noose of fancying that this imagined body is your real self चिरम्- long बद्धः- bound असि-you are पुत्रक-O child बोधः-intelligence अहम्-I ज्ञानखड्गेन- with the sword of knowledge तत्-that I am consciousness निष्कृत्य- cut off सुखी भव- come to rest in happiness.
My son, you have been bound by the snare (noose) of identification with the body for a long time. Sever it with the knife of knowledge that “I am pure consciousness”, and be happy.
देहाभिमानपाशेन चिरम् बद्धः असि पुत्रक बोधः अहम् ज्ञानखड्गेन तत् निष्कृत्य सुखी भव
देहाभिमानपाशेन चिरम् बद्धः असि पुत्रक dehabhimana pāśēna ciram baddhaḥ asi putraka –
My dear child you have been bound by the noose of body- pride for pretty long time.
Jayaram says: this verse states the problem in the first line and suggests in the second line, the solution and method to achieve it. The problem is dehabhimana. Abhimana is pride, inspiration and attachment and identification. It means attachment to body and mind. This is a complicated problem and survives for millennium over the evolution of species. Your body is your immediate world.
In your wakeful consciousness you are never separate from it. You also depend upon it for various tasks. Since it is vital to your survival and existence, you will do everything possible to protect it from harm and danger. Therefore, it is natural that you accept it as part of your identity and develop a strong attachment to it. So Ashtavakra says: “ciram baddhaḥ asi putraka”
बोधः अहम् ज्ञानखड्गेन तत् निष्कृत्य सुखी भव
bōdhaḥ aham jñānakhaḍgēna tat niṣkr̥tya sukhī bhava –
Sever the body of the pride with the knife of knowledge that “I am pure consciousness”, and be happy.
The problem of passionate body-pride was discussed in the first line. Here the author suggests the solution and the means to achieve it. Love or pride of the body is the problem. The solution is to realize that you are not the body or the mind but the eternal self. The means to achieve it is by developing detachment towards the body by cutting off the bonds through renunciation. People cannot be sure of their souls, but they can be certain about the bodies and how it serves them. Ashtavakra says you need to overcome the special relationship with your body, using knowledge as the sword. Here he is referring to the knowledge of the self or the awareness that you are not the body but the eternal self. निष्कृति niṣkr̥ti means avoiding, doing away. When the body-pride is annihilated, you get freedom from afflictions, duality, delusion and ignorance. It leads to peace and happiness or the blissful state of being free from bondage and suffering.
सुखी भव sukhī bhava be happy. Happiness or blissfulness is our innate nature.
Rajiv reminds us here about a popular story. A cub had separated from her mother lion in a forest and was nursed by a herd of sheep. She bleated like them and ate grass. A lion once saw this and came to her. He said, “Hey you are a lion. Why do you behave like a sheep?” He took her to a nearby pond and showed her image in the pond. The lamb was convinced that she is indeed a lion but not a lamb.
This analogy provides us with a very deep insight into our own spiritual journey and puts a few misconceptions surrounding our spiritual life to rest. First of all, bliss is not an attainment. It is our own reflection, our own inner nature. The lion cub was always a lion. She was never a sheep. She identified wrongly herself as a sheep. Similarly, we too identify ourselves with our body and its labels. Once we see our true self in the pond of knowledge our misconception is cut off. The bliss becomes obvious. It is referred to as सत् चित् आनंद sat cit ānaṁda. They are not three states of existence (truth), consciousness and Bliss. It refers to one, undivided state of consciousness which ever exists as bliss.
Ch. 1 Sh.15
निःसंगो निष्क्रियोऽसि त्वं स्वप्रकाशो निरंजनः ।
अयमेव हि ते बन्धः समाधिमनुतिष्ठसि ॥ १-१५॥
niḥsaṁgō niṣkriyō:’si tvaṁ svaprakāśō niraṁjanaḥ |
ayamēva hi tē bandhaḥ samādhimanutiṣṭhasi || 1-15||
निःसंगः निष्क्रियः असि त्वम् स्वप्रकाशः निरंजनः अयम् एव हि ते बन्धः समाधिम् अनुतिष्ठसि
niḥsaṁgaḥ niṣkriyaḥ asi tvam svaprakāśaḥ niraṁjanaḥ ayam ēva hi tē bandhaḥ samādhim anutiṣṭhasi
निःसंगः- निष्क्रियः- असि- त्वम्- स्वप्रकाशः- निरंजनः- अयम्- एव- हि- ते- बन्धः- समाधिम्- अनुतिष्ठसि-
निःसंगः निष्क्रियः असि त्वम् स्वप्रकाशः निरंजनः अयम् एव हि ते बन्धः समाधिम् अनुतिष्ठसि
You are unattached, action-less, self-luminous and without blemish. To know the self you have to become established in Samadhi (self-absorption). This indeed is your only bondage.
निःसंगः निष्क्रियः असि त्वम् स्वप्रकाशः निरंजनः niḥsaṁgaḥ niṣkriyaḥ asi tvam svaprakāśaḥ niraṁjanaḥ- You are unattached, action-less, self-luminous and without blemish.
The first line speaks about four natures of self. These four qualities do not belong to the physical self and therefore distinguishes Brahman from physical self.
निःसंगः niḥsaṁgaḥ meaning without any association. Brahman has no attachment and association with anything. Jiva has many associations and relationships. The body needs them for its survival and security. Brahman is self-existing and does not need any attachment or support. Although the self exists in you as the core of your identity, you cannot perceive it because it has no association or connection with your physical self. It is when you disengage from the world and look within yourself that you will perceive the self.
निष्क्रियः niṣkriyaḥ means free from action. The body cannot survive without action. It is its dharma. Even the seemingly inaction of the body produces karma. So Gita recommends karma with detachment and renunciation of desire for the fruit of action; योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा yōgastha: kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā. In contrast to your body, the self has no desire for the fruit of action, no need for fulfilment, and any goals and obligatory duties.
स्वप्रकाशः svaprakāśaḥ – Self effulgent, luminous. Verse 1:13 spoke about ‘ābhāsa’ or absence of original light in the ego. The body also has no original light. It has no shine of its own because it is projection of self and is unreal. The self has its own light and everything shines in its light.
निरंजनः niraṁjanaḥ – without taint or blemish. The self is immaculate.
The body is impure because it is a product of Nature and subject to desires and karma. The soul is eternally pure and constant. It remains free from modes and modifications of Nature even when it is in an embodied state. Therefore, in spiritual practice the body and the mind are cleansed and transformed first, so that they become stabilized in the thoughts of Brahman and facilitate the liberation.
अयम् एव हि ते बन्धः समाधिम् अनुतिष्ठसि
ayam ēva hi tē bandhaḥ samādhim anutiṣṭhasi –
In the first line we are told of the four qualities of Brahman which are not there in the physical self. In order to escape from the state of ignorance and delusion and attain the state of infinity, you have to contemplate on the qualities of Brahman by Jnyana yoga and enter the state of self-absorption (Samadhi). The four qualities listed in this verse are very helpful in nidhidyasana. If you want to become a spiritual person, identify yourself with the self rather than the body. This is very helpful practice.
अयम् एव हि ते बन्धः ayam ēva hi tē bandhaḥ – this indeed your bondage. In this verse 1:13, Ashtavakra recommends meditation but in this verse he says meditation is your only bondage. Is there any contradiction? The answer is ‘No’. You have to practice mediation of Brahman as Kutastha as long as you entertain body consciousness (Dehabhimana). Verse 1:4 explains this vividly. It says यदि देहम् पृथक् कृत्य चिति विश्राम्य तिष्ठसि yadi dēham pr̥thak kr̥tya citi viśrāmya tiṣṭhasi -If you separate yourself from the body and abide in the consciousness, you will become peaceful and happy for ever.
Ch. 1 Sh.16
त्वया व्याप्तमिदं विश्वं त्वयि प्रोतं यथार्थतः ।
शुद्धबुद्धस्वरूपस्त्वं मा गमः क्षुद्रचित्तताम् ॥ १-१६॥
tvayā vyāptamidaṁ viśvaṁ tvayi prōtaṁ yathārthataḥ |
śuddhabuddhasvarūpastvaṁ mā gamaḥ kṣudracittatām || 1-16||
त्वया व्याप्तम् इदम् विश्वम् त्वयि प्रोतम् यथार्थतः शुद्धबुद्धस्वरूपः त्वम् मा गमः क्षुद्रचित्तताम्
tvayā vyāptam idam viśvam tvayi prōtam yathārthataḥ śuddhabuddhasvarūpaḥ tvam mā gamaḥ kṣudracittatām
त्वया-by you व्याप्तम्-pervaded इदम्-this विश्वम्-universe त्वयि-in you प्रोतम्-woven, strung यथार्थतः- in reality शुद्धबुद्धस्वरूपः (शुद्ध –pure बुद्ध –consciousness स्वरूपः –by nature) –your nature is pure consciousness. that is what you are त्वम्-you मा-do not गमः- attain-don’t go from from there to petty क्षुद्रचित्तताम् (क्षुद्र-pettiness. Small चित्तताम्- of mind) – don’t go from there to pettiness of mind.
You pervade this universe and this universe exists in you. You are really pure consciousness by nature. Don’t go from there to pettiness of mind
त्वया व्याप्तम् इदम् विश्वम् त्वयि प्रोतम् यथार्थतः शुद्धबुद्धस्वरूपः त्वम् मा गमः क्षुद्रचित्तताम्
त्वया व्याप्तम् इदम् विश्वम् त्वयि प्रोतम् tvayā vyāptam idam viśvam tvayi prōtam –
The verse uses the second person ‘you’ to describe the self. The whole universe is pervaded by you, but you imagine that you are limited to this body. Just as the mud as the material cause pervades the entire pot made out of mud, you are the cause of this world and you pervade it all over. The whole universe is strung or woven only in you. That means you are the cord on which the beads are strung, you are the material from which the fabric of the universe is woven. The implied meaning is that you are the substratum of the universe. You are the eternal soul. Vyāptam means all pervading in the entire cosmos including your physical body. In that case suppose I close my eyes and try to locate Brahman in some part of the body, Can I perceive him? You cannot find in any particular location because you are the witness self. You are the subject. In duality you can perceive the object. Hence you are elusive to yourself.
It is difficult for one to digest the fact that you are the material cause of the universe. You are so much attached to, and infatuated with the material world or Kshetra that you have forgotten your true identity.
यथार्थतः शुद्धबुद्धस्वरूपः त्वम् मा गमः क्षुद्रचित्तताम् yathārthataḥ śuddhabuddhasvarūpaḥ tvam mā gamaḥ kṣudracittatām –
In reality, you are pure intelligence by nature. Do not give way to petty-mindedness.
The verse further declares that the Self is pure intelligence. It is without impurities, duality, qualities and division. It is also absolutely free because it is not bound to existence. However, it participates in creation as a passive witness. You cannot discern the Self with your senses, although it is part of you and all around you, because it hidden in all and pervades all as the invisible, transcendental Self.
There can be no existence without the Self because it is the support for Nature, which manifests in the beings as the mind and the body. The Self is interwoven in the fabric of life as the binding element. It is by the Self that the whole universe is sewn and fixed. Since you are part of that existence, the Self is part of your existence also. It is pure intelligence, without blemish, which is responsible for your ability to know, discern, observe, and experience.
Since it is pure, you can reach it by a pure mind only, or a mind which is filled with the purity of Sattva, but not by an impure and vile mind (kshudra chitta), which is filled with the darkness of tamas. Hence, the suggestion that one should not allow the mind to become impure with the darkness and worldliness. Sattva can truly reflect the light of things without distortions. Therefore, purity is important. A pure mind works like a perfect mirror. Since it is free from modifications, it will allow the light of the Self to shine brightly and reflect itself without the intervention of the ego, the mind, and other obstacles. –Jayaram
Ch. 1 Sh.17
निरपेक्षो निर्विकारो निर्भरः शीतलाशयः ।
अगाधबुद्धिरक्षुब्धो भव चिन्मात्रवासनः ॥ १-१७॥
nirapēkṣō nirvikārō nirbharaḥ śītalāśayaḥ |
agādhabuddhirakṣubdhō bhava cinmātravāsanaḥ || 1-17||
निरपेक्षः निर्विकारः निर्भरः शीतलाशयः अगाधबुद्धिः अक्षुब्धः भव चिन्मात्रवासनः
nirapēkṣaḥ nirvikāraḥ nirbharaḥ śītalāśayaḥ agādhabuddhiḥ akṣubdhaḥ bhava cinmātravāsanaḥ
निरपेक्षः-free of expectations निर्विकारः-changeless, unaffected निर्भरः not dense, devoid of bulk and form- शीतलाशयः (शीतल –cool आशयः-resting place)-repository of coolness अगाधबुद्धिः- (अगाध –unfathomable बुद्धिः- intellect)-profound intelligence अक्षुब्धः-unperturbed, unagitated भव-become चिन्मात्रवासनः (चित् –consciousness मात्र- alone वासनः-impression, abode)-desiring of consciousness alone .
You are the unconditioned, changeless, dense or profound intelligence, repository of coolness, and unperturbed self. You Desire only pure consciousness.
निरपेक्षः निर्विकारः निर्भरः शीतलाशयः अगाधबुद्धिः अक्षुब्धः भव चिन्मात्रवासनः
Here seven attributes of Brahman is given. The supreme self is devoid of attributes, indescribable and without qualities. Therefore you may wonder how Ashtavakra listed them as the qualities of the indescribable self. These are not really the qualities of the self which is devoid of any quality. The verse tries to explain what we are lacking and suggest the possibilities that exist in the transcendental self. These qualities are already present in you but they do not manifest because of the impurities present in you. Come back to your real natural state. Knowing these attributes is helpful because you can meditate upon them and set a goal to achieve this state. Now let us take these qualities one by one.
निरपेक्षः nirapēkṣaḥ – The self is without expectation. अपॆक्षा apekṣā means interest or desire or expectation. निरपेक्षा nirapēkṣā means without expectation or desire. Why has the self no expectation? Is it because it is inert or inactive? The answer is that the self is complete and perfect and does not have any need for anything. It is complete in itself like a zero. Whether you add to it or subtract from it, it remains the same. If you have desire and expectation that means you are lacking in something. So you try to gain them by efforts.
निर्विकारः nirvikāraḥ – The self is without distortions or modifications because it is free from impurities of the nature or प्रक्रुति prakruti. Besides it is without form. So it has no distortions. Due to egoism distortions can happen in your PFT (perception, feeling and thought). Since the self has no desire it is free from egoism, ignorance and delusion.
निर्भरः nirbharaḥ – The self is dense, compact. It is full of, without weight or measure. That means the self is full and complete. The word dense is opposite of scares and scattered.
शीतलाशयः śītalāśayaḥ- The Self is a repository of coolness or pleasantness. It does not react, become angry, or show any emotions. It is completely stable and peaceful. Since it is free from gross and subtle bodies and has no need for the prana, it does not radiate any heat. Even though it is effulgent like the bright sun, it radiates coolness, like the bright moon. Hence, the description of the Self as the repository of coolness (śītalāśayaḥ) is very appropriate. śītalāśayaḥ also means the moon, and a vessel containing sandal paste. Both radiate coolness and create pleasant feelings in the mind.
अगाधबुद्धिः agādhabuddhiḥ – The self has unfathomable intelligence. A little of it becomes reflected in our consciousness and manifests as natural intelligence (buddhi). Since the Self is infinite, all pervading and all knowing, its intelligence has to be infinite also.
अक्षुब्धः akṣubdhaḥ – The self is unperturbed. Since it is free from desires and attachments, it is also free from suffering and agitation. (akshubda). Suffering is for the mind and the body, not for the Self, which is always blissful and satisfied in it.
become desirer of consciousness. Desires of the world of objects shall create sensuous thoughts and we come to experience the world of plurality. On the other hand desire for consciousness takes you to Brahman.
चिन्मात्रवासनः (चित् –consciousness मात्र- alone वासनः-impression, abode)
Ch. 1 Sh.18
साकारमनृतं विद्धि निराकारं तु निश्चलम् ।
एतत्तत्त्वोपदेशेन न पुनर्भवसम्भवः ॥ १-१८॥
sākāramanr̥taṁ viddhi nirākāraṁ tu niścalam |
ētattattvōpadēśēna na punarbhavasambhavaḥ || 1-18||
साकारम् अनृतम् विद्धि निराकारम् तु निश्चलम् एतत्त् तत्व उपदेशेन न पुनर्भव सम्भवः न अस्ति
sākāram anr̥tam viddhi nirākāram tu niścalam ētatt tatva upadēśēna na punarbhava sambhavaḥ
साकारम्-that which has form अनृतम्-is false, wrong विद्धि-realize निराकारम्-one without form तु-indeed निश्चलम्-unmoving, unshakable एतत्त्-by this तत्व-truth उपदेशेनinstruction- न-not पुनर्भव (पुनः-again भव-becoming – rebirth सम्भवः-possibility न –not अस्ति-is there
साकारम् अनृतम् विद्धि निराकारम् तु निश्चलम् एतत्त् तत्व उपदेशेन न पुनर्भव सम्भवः न अस्ति
Know that one which has form is unreal, but the one which is formless is changeless. By this spiritual instruction you shall escape the possibility of rebirth.
साकारम् अनृतम् विद्धि sākāram anr̥tam viddhi – Know that the one with form is unreal. This refers to body, mind and intellect, the objects, emotion and thought (BMI; OET). Rajiv writes: All that we perceive (hear, touch, see, taste, and smell) through the sense organs (पंच ज्ञानेन्द्रियाणि paṁca jñānēndriyāṇi) are unreal. The gross and subtle body and its five sheaths (पंचकोशाः paṁcakōśāḥ) are subject to birth and death. Every object, emotion and thought is also unreal because they arise and wither away; they have birth and death. The breath and prana (पंच प्राणाः paṁca prāṇāḥ) have also shelf life; the three states of consciousness (अवस्थात्रयम् avasthātrayam) also have the quality of birth and death. The universe comes and goes. Ego appears and disappears. As long as you feel that you are any of these, you will be born again.
निराकारम् तु निश्चलम् nirākāram tu niścalam-
the formless is permanent, changeless and stable.
The word nirakaram refers to the formless truth or consciousness which is eternal and changeless. If you are a bhakta he is a swami, if you are a yogi he is your dheya, if you are Jynani he is essential chetana.
एतत्त् तत्व उपदेशेन न पुनर्भव सम्भवः ētatt tatva upadēśēna na punarbhava sambhavaḥ –
By this spiritual instruction you shall escape the possibility of rebirth. The moment you break the identification with all the above forms and become witness on whom all these are superimposed; you will realize that in the first place you were never born. This will not be a matter of belief but actual realization.
Ch. 1 Sh.19
यथैवादर्शमध्यस्थे रूपेऽन्तः परितस्तु सः ।
तथैवाऽस्मिन् शरीरेऽन्तः परितः परमेश्वरः ॥ १-१९॥
yathaivādarśamadhyasthē rūpē:’ntaḥ paritastu saḥ |
tathaivā:’smin śarīrē:’ntaḥ paritaḥ paramēśvaraḥ || 1-19||
यथा एव आदर्शमध्यस्थे रूपे अन्तः परितः तु सः तथा एव अस्मिन् शरीरे अन्तः परितः परमेश्वरः
yathā ēva ādarśamadhyasthē rūpē antaḥ paritaḥ tu saḥ tathā ēva asmin śarīrē antaḥ paritaḥ paramēśvaraḥ
यथा एव- just as आदर्शमध्यस्थे (आदर्श-mirror मध्य –in the midst of स्थे-stationed, stands)-existing in the mirror रूपे-form imge अन्तः-within परितः-outside तु-indeed सः-that (mirror) तथा एव- similarly अस्मिन्-in this शरीरे-body अन्तः-within परितः-outside परमेश्वरः (परम-supreme ईश्वरः-Lord, the ruling principle )-the supreme Lord. वर्तते-exists
यथा एव आदर्शमध्यस्थे रूपे अन्तः परितः तु सः तथा एव अस्मिन् शरीरे अन्तः परितः परमेश्वरः वर्तते
Just as the mirror exists inside and outside of the image reflected by it, so the supreme self exists inside and outside of the body.
यथा एव आदर्शमध्यस्थे रूपे अन्तः परितः तु सः वर्तते yathā ēva ādarśamadhyasthē rūpē antaḥ paritaḥ tu saḥ – just as the image in the mirror exists inside and outside of the image reflected by it. Let us explain this phenomenon by the example of space. Space is inside the pot as well as in this hall. If the walls of the pot or hall are demolished you will realize that space is inside as well as out side the pot and hall. The image in the mirror has no real existence. It is a mere appearance. Only the mirror exists.
तथा एव अस्मिन् शरीरे अन्तः परितः परमेश्वरः
tathā ēva asmin śarīrē antaḥ paritaḥ paramēśvaraḥ- the same way the supreme self exists inside and outside of this body.
Suppose a person stands before a mirror he will see his own reflection in the mirror. The mirror pervades within and outside of the reflection caught in it. The reflection has no existence apart from the mirror. But the mirror has existence without reflection. So the reflection is called abhasa or unreal.
The idea is this: The image in the mirror has no real existence. It is a mere appearance. Only the mirror exists inside and outside of the image. Similarly, only the Self has independent existence inside and outside of the body. That is the meaning of antaḥ, paritaḥ, paramēśvaraḥ. Just as the reflection cannot affect the mirror, so body, mind and ego cannot affect the Self. The analogy suggests that the infinite self, the consciousness is within and outside the individualized ego and body. Just as the reflection cannot in any way disturb the reflecting medium, so too the ego cannot affect the self.
What is the import of this great statement in our spiritual progress?
It is common for a sadhaka during meditation to focus upon the spiritual centres within him such as the tip of the nose, the point in between eyebrows etc., to withdraw him from all the agitations and dialogues of the mind. He ultimately awakens to the boundless, infinite consciousness. The very idea of inside and outside is in relation to the body awareness. The idea of space inside the pot and outside the pot loses validity as soon as the pot is broken. Similarly as long as the sadhaka is meditating within his conditionings, he meditates upon the self as pure subject within himself. Once he realizes the self he experiences its all-pervading and infinite nature the boundary of inside and outside is demolished.
Like the image in the mirror, so, body, mind, etc. have no real existence. It is only by being superimposed on the Self that they appear to exist. Just as the reflection cannot affect the mirror, so body, mind, etc. cannot affect the Self.
Ch. 1 Sh.20
एकं सर्वगतं व्योम बहिरन्तर्यथा घटे ।
नित्यं निरन्तरं ब्रह्म सर्वभूतगणे तथा ॥ १-२०॥
ēkaṁ sarvagataṁ vyōma bahirantaryathā ghaṭē |
nityaṁ nirantaraṁ brahma sarvabhūtagaṇē tathā || 1-20||
एकम् सर्वगतम् व्योम बहिः अंतः तथा घटे नित्यम् निरन्तरम् ब्रह्म सर्वभूतगणे तथा वर्तते
ēkam sarvagatam vyōma bahiḥ aṁtaḥ tathā ghaṭē nityam
nirantaram brahma sarvabhūtagaṇē tathā
एकम्– the one and the same सर्वगतम् (सर्व -everywhere गतम्-extending )- all pervading व्योम-space, ether बहिः-outside अंतः-inside तथा-similarly घटे-in a pot नित्यम्-eternal निरन्तरम्-unconfined ब्रह्म-Bahman सर्वभूतगणे (सर्व-all भूत –beings गणे-groups, kinds )- in all beings and things तथा-similarly वर्तते-exists
Just as the same all-pervading space exists inside and outside the jar, so does the eternal, all-pervading Brahman exists in all things and beings.
एकम् सर्वगतम् व्योम बहिः अंतः तथा घटे नित्यम् निरन्तरम् ब्रह्म सर्वभूतगणे तथा वर्तते
एकम् सर्वगतम् व्योम बहिः अंतः ēkam sarvagatam vyōma bahiḥ aṁtaḥ tathā- The all-encompassing space exists inside the pot and outside the pot. The space is the nearest approximation to Brahman. Like Brahman it is subtle, infinite, invisible, and un-interrupted. It accommodates everything thing in it, but nothing can go into it. It cannot be conditioned by objects. The space inside the room or inside the pot is the same as outside the room and pot.
नित्यम् निरन्तरम् ब्रह्म सर्वभूतगणे तथा वर्तते
nityam nirantaram brahma sarvabhūtagaṇē tathā –
Similarly Brahman who is eternal, all-pervading exists in all things and beings. Nityam means exists for ever, eternal. nirantaram means without a gap, unconfined. अंतर aṁtara refers to space or gap between two things. Nirantara has no aṁtara or interruptions, division differences, obstacle etc. It denotes continuity and indivisibility. Similarly the infinite consciousness exists in all things and beings inside and outside but seems to be conditioned by the individual bodies.
While in the previous verse, with the metaphor of the mirror and the reflection in it, the all-pervasiveness and expansiveness of the Self was emphasized, in this verse the immanence and infinite nature of self is explained.
The Self in you and the Self in another person are not different. There is no difference, separation or duality between them. It is the same Self that appears in all like the image in a mirror or the space inside a jar. Thus, the whole existence is interconnected. It is one reality, although it appears as many. Each living being appears to be a different entity because of the body and mind. When their formation is completely stopped, the being and its individuality disappear forever and what remains in the end is the Self only, just as the ocean remains when a wave subsides in it.
॥ जनक उवाच ॥