Atma Bodha – Chapter5

Atma Bodha

Vishnu Bapat

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आत्मा अनात्मा विवेकः त्वम् पद विचारः
Verse 16-29 The error of ignorance
Verse 16
One should sort out the pure self from the five koshas by viveka
वपुस्तुषादिभिः कोशैर्युक्तं युक्त्यवघाततः ।
आत्मानमन्तरं शुद्धं विविच्यात्तण्डुलम् यथा ॥ १६॥
वपुः तुषा आदिभिः कोशैः युक्तम् युक्त्या अवघाततः आत्मानम् अन्तरम् शुद्धम् विविच्यात् तण्डुलम् यथा
वपुः- the body तुषा-the husk आदिभिः-by these कोशैः-with sheaths युक्तम्-covered युक्त्या- skillfully अवघाततः-by thrashing/pounding आत्मानम्-the self अन्तरम्-within शुद्धम्-pure विविच्यात् -should separate तण्डुलम्-rice यथा- just as

Just as one pounds the paddy to separate it from the husk and bran, one should also sort out the pure self from the apparent five koshas through discretion and discrimination.
वपुः तुषा आदिभिः कोशैः युक्तम् युक्त्या अवघाततः-one should wisely separate the rice from the husk covering it by pounding. युक्तम् means combined with. Rice combined with the sheath of husk is called paddy. युक्त्या means intelligently, skillfully, wisely, logical planning etc. The basic noun is युक्ति. It is declined as युक्त्या युक्तिभ्याम् युक्तिभिः. So, युक्त्या means intelligently. The message is Atma is compared to rice and anatma is compared to chaff. one must separate rice from the chaff by pounding it (अवघाततः). The 5 koshas, three bodies, three states of
consciousness is worthless because they are material objects (अनात्मा) and subject to birth and death. They are to be rejected like the husk of paddy. Atma is within (आत्मानम् अन्तरम्) and anatma is outside. When a seeker recognizes that the soul is distinct from the sheaths (पञ्चकॊश), three states of consciousness (अवस्स्थात्रय) and he becomes detached from them. He says, “I am pure consciousness (सच्चिदानन्द-स्वरूपः) and witness (साक्षी), I have no business with the body and mind”. I am like tandulam or rice which is present insde the kosha of paddy husk. The husk or the koshas is हेयम् hēyam i.e to be rejected. The internal rice is उपादॆयम् upādeyam i.e accepted. We are all like the husk covering the paddy. We have qualities of अस्ति जायते वर्धते, विपरिणमते विनिष्यति.
युक्त्या अवघाततः the paddy has to be pounded skillfully. Otherwise the rice will be broken. अवघाततः means pounding. Now dehusking is done mechanically. In the olden days a wooden hammer was used to carefully dehusk the paddy.
Shankaracharya says in his mohamudgara, that the separation of atma and anatma is done by viveka or circumspection. We have to contemplate, “Am I any of the three bodies, or any of 5 koshas and any of the three avashtas? The husk has to be rejected. This is neti neti process. Ultimately what is left is pure etrnal atma which is I am.
Tattvabodha discusses this topic in detail:
आत्मा कः? स्थूलसूक्ष्मकारणशरीरात्व्यतिरिक्तः पंचकॊशातीतः सन् ।
अवस्स्थात्रयसाक्षी सच्चिदानन्दस्वरूपः सन् यस्तिस्ष्ट्ति स आत्मा ।

What is self? That which is other than the gross, subtle and casual bodies, that which is beyond the five sheaths, that which is the witness of the three states of consciousness and is of the very nature of existence-consciousness-bliss is the self.

आत्मानम् अन्तरम् शुद्धम् विविच्यात् तण्डुलम् यथा –similarly one should wisely separate the pure, indwelling self, just as one separates the rice from the rice husk of the paddy. The paddy contains whole rice which is separated from the enclosing sheath of chaff by mechanically pounding it. A wise man separates the body and its upadhis by discrimination and dispassion. The word अन्तरम् should not be confused. It does not mean that the atman is only inside. It means Atman is the substratum (अधिष्टान).

Verse 17
Although atman is all-pervading, he reflects only
on the pure surface of intellect

सदा सर्वगतोऽप्यात्मा न सर्वत्रावभासते ।
बुद्धावेवावभासेत स्वच्छेषु प्रतिबिम्बवत् ॥ १७॥
सदा सर्वगतः अपि आत्मा न सर्वत्र अवभासते बुद्धौ एव अवभासेत् स्वच्छेषु प्रतिबिम्बवत्
सदा-always सर्वगतः-all-pervading अपि-although आत्मा-the self न-not सर्वत्र-everywhere अवभासते-shines बुद्धौ-in the intellect एव-only अवभासेत्-manifests स्वच्छेषु-in the transparent surface प्रतिबिम्बवत्- like the reflection

Although the atman is all-pervading, he does not shine uniformly everywhere. He manifests only in buddhi (intellect) like a reflection appearing in a clean surface.

सदा सर्वगतः अपि आत्मा न सर्वत्र अवभासते – although the self is all-pervading it does not shine everywhere (in everything). We know Atman is सर्वगतः (manifested everywhere) विभुः (Lord) नित्यः (eternal); but how can he not shine in everything? This causes confusion. Is there Atman in the wall, boulders and other non-sentient things? The answer is yes. The world is creation of Atman. By the rule of cause and effect, all effects are nothing but the modification of the cause. That means Atman also should be everywhere. What this verse says is that Atman न सर्वत्र अवभासते it does not shine everywhere.
बुद्धौ एव अवभासेत् स्वच्छेषु प्रतिबिम्बवत् – It manifests in the intellect only just as a reflection manifests in a clean mirror. बुद्धौ means in the intellect. The basic word in prathama vibhakti (nominative case) is बुद्धिः. बुद्धिः बुद्धी बुद्धयः; in saptami vibhakti (locative case) it becomes बुद्धौ बुध्योः बुद्धिशु. Therefore, बुद्धौ means in the intellect.
Why atma who is everywhere shines only in the intellect? For light to be reflected the deflecting surface should be smooth. Rough surface does not reflect the light. The surface of the mirror is smooth and polished. So, it reflects the light faithfully. Among the human body sheaths, the subtle body is smooth and has very little roughness. The subtle body is represented by mind and intelelct. Intellect is a specialized function of the brain. In a sattvik person who has highest purity, his mind reflects the atman perfectly. Such a person has complete control over his mind and senses. Threfore Atman is failthfully reflected in sattvik buddhi.
Verse 18
The self is distinct from the material associations like
body, senses, mind and intellect.

देहेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिप्रकृतिभ्यो विलक्षणम् ।
तद्वृत्तिसाक्षिणं विद्यादात्मानं राजवत्सदा ॥ १८॥

देहेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिः प्रकृतिभ्यः विलक्षणम् तद्वृत्तिसाक्षिणम् विद्यात् अत्मानम् राजवत् सदा
देहेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिः- the body, senses, mind and intellect प्रकृतिभ्यः- the matter (Prakruti) विलक्षणम्- is distinct तद्वृत्तिसाक्षिणम्- witness of their functions विद्यात्-one must know अत्मानम्-the self राजवत्-like a king सदा-always

Know the Self as distinct from the material associations like body, senses, mind and individuality. It is ever the witness of all their activities, like a king (whose presence inspires others to act).
देहेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिः प्रकृतिभ्यः विलक्षणम् – the body, senses, mind and intellect constitute the prakruti or matter. देहेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिः is a compound word and can be divided as देह इन्द्रिय मनः बुद्धिः. In verse 16 it was said that आत्मानम् अन्तरम् शुद्धम् विविच्यात् तण्डुलम् यथा -as one separates the rice kernel from the husk covering it by pounding. So, we have to separate Atma from देहेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिः. These four are anatma or objects which we can perceive. The five koshas are also anatma. Technically they are called द्रुष्यम् or साक्ष्यम् or seen. The absolute self who is witness to all the drama is called दृक् or साक्षी or witnesses. The seer is different from the seen.
तद्वृत्तिसाक्षिणम् विद्यात् अत्मानम् राजवत् सदा – (तत् वृत्ति साक्षिणम्) Know that distinct from them is the self who is always a witness like a king. The king sits on the throne as an observer of activities of music, drama and dance in his durbar hall. He is not a participant of the activities. Similarly, the soul although sitting inside the body is just a witness to all the drama of life happening inside the body and outside in the world. तत् वृत्ति means व्यापारः प्रवृत्ति that function.
The function of the mind is called मनोवृत्ति. Here the words तत् वृत्ति साक्षिणम् are used. That means “I am the Atma, the sakshi for all functions of the panchakoshas, one should understand (विद्यात्).
Verse 19
Atman appears as the driver of sense organs just as the moving clouds create an illusion that the moon is also moving.

व्यापृतेष्विन्द्रियेष्वात्मा व्यापारीवाविवेकिनाम् ।
दृश्यतेऽभ्रेषु धावत्सु धावन्निव यथा शशी ॥ १९॥
व्यापृतेषु इन्द्रियेषु आत्मा व्यापारी इव अविवेकिनाम् दृश्यते अभ्रेषु धावत्सु धावत् इव यथा शशी

व्यापृतेषु-while functioning इन्द्रियेषु-in sense-organs आत्मा-the self व्यापारी-active इव-like अविवेकिनाम्-for non-discriminating men दृश्यते-appears अभ्रेषु-in clouds धावत्सु-when moving धावत्-to be running इव-like यथा-just as शशी-the moon

The moon appears to be moving when the clouds float around in the sky. Likewise, the ignorant people attribute the activity of the sense organs to the (changeless) Self.

व्यापृतेषु इन्द्रियेषु आत्मा व्यापारी इव अविवेकिनाम् दृश्यते –When the body is functioning it appears to the dull heads that Atma or God is working. व्यापारी इव as if transacting. In the previous verse the word वृत्ती was used (तद्वृत्तिसाक्षिणम्). When the indriyas (sense organs and organs of action) and the mind are working it appears as though the Atma or the soul is working. For whom it appears? अविवेकिनाम्, मंदानाम् मुढानाम् बालानाम्. The soul is not directing or inhibiting any action by the individual. It is the Gunas governing the indriyas that causes action. Atman has no participation. Just in his presence all व्यापार (वृत्ती) or transactions take place. The soul lends sat सत् and chit चित् to the pancha koshas. Sat is existence and chit is knowledge. These two together is called chetana. Just in the gracious presence of Atma, all the actions are undertaken by the insentient prakruti. Krishna says in Gita 9:10
मयाध्यक्षेण प्रकृतिः सूयते सचराचरम् ।
हेतुनानेन कौन्तेय जगद्विपरिवर्तते ॥९:१०॥

O Arjuna, under my supervision, prakrati brings forth the whole creation, consisting of both sentient and insentient beings; it is due to this cause that the world revolves in cycles of creation and dissolution. (the wheel of samsara)

अभ्रेषु धावत्सु धावत् इव यथा शशी –When the clouds move in the sky it seems as though the moon is also moving along with them. The movement of the clouds in a moon-lit night creates an illusion that the moon is moving, and the children believe that she is playing hide-and seek. Likewise, the activity of the mind and senses creates an illusion that the soul is active. From a moving train, the trees and mountains appear like running backwards. People who cannot discriminate between the soul and the body mistake the activity of the body as that of soul. – Swami Nikhilananda Ramakrishna Math
Verse 20

The activities of the body and mind take place
in the mere presence of atma chaitanya. Atma has no role in it.
आत्मचैतन्यमाश्रित्य देहेन्द्रियमनोधियः ।
स्वक्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्ते सूर्यालोकं यथा जनाः । २०॥
आत्मचैतन्यम् आश्रित्य देहेन्द्रियमनोधियः स्वक्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्ते सूर्यालोकं यथा जनाः
आत्मचैतन्यम्- self, the nature of consciousness आश्रित्य-abiding in देहेन्द्रियमनोधियः-the body, senses, mind and intellect स्वक्रियार्थेषु-in their respective activities वर्तन्ते-are engaged सूर्यालोकं-sunlight यथा-just as जनाः-activity of the people

The body, senses, mind, and buddhi, depend on the conscious Self for carrying on their individual activities, in the same way as people depend on sunlight for engaging in their activities.

आत्मचैतन्यम् आश्रित्य देहेन्द्रियमनोधियः स्वक्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्ते –depending upon the self which is of the nature of consciousness, the equipment (उपाधी) such as body, senses, mind, intellect, and the pancha koshas become enlivened. Otherwise, they are insentient and lie like dead wood. In the presence of sat (existence) and chit (awareness) of Atman the inert matter is activated. Chaitanya or consciousness means sat and chit
स्वक्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्ते engage in their respective activities. The function of organs is not determined by Atma. The function depends on the design of the instrument. The eye can see but not hear. The tongue can only taste and legs can only move. These are the respective functions.
Kenopanishad says:
श्रोत्रस्य श्रोत्रं मनसो मनो यत्। वाचो ह वाचं स उ प्राणस्य प्राणः।
चक्षुषश्चक्षुरतिमुच्य धीराः। प्रेत्यास्माल्लोकादमृता भवन्ति ॥
चक्षुसः चक्षुः अतिमुच्य प्रेत्य अस्मात् लोकात् अमृता भवन्ति

that which is hearing of our hearing, mind of our mind, speech of our speech, that too is life of our life -breath and sight of our sight. The wise are released (अतिमुच्य) beyond and they pass from this world and become immortal. श्रोत्रस्य श्रोत्रं मनसो मनः – Atman is ear or our ear, mind of our mind, speech of our speech.

सूर्यालोकं यथा जनाः- just as the men engage in activities in the sunlight. Some texts have a secondary reading as सूर्यलोकः which means world of Surya. सूर्यालोकम् is split to read as सूर्या आलोकम् which means the light of the sun (सूर्य प्रकाशः). Energizing the people, animal kingdom and plants is the function of sunlight. But it is not responsible for what the people do in the presence or absence of sunlight. The sun remains detached from all activities undertaken in his light. Surya is one but the beneficiaries and functions are many. Similarly, Atma is one and the world is plural.

Verse 21
The ignorant attributes the quality and functions of the body
and prana to Brahman. (Annamaya and pranamaya kosha)

देहेन्द्रियगुणान्कर्माण्यमले सच्चिदात्मनि ।
अध्यस्यन्त्यविवेकेन गगने नीलतादिवत् ॥ २१॥
देहेन्द्रियगुणान् कर्माणि अमले सच्चिदात्मनि अध्यस्यंति अविवॆकॆन गगने नीलतादिवत्
देहेन्द्रियगुणान्-qualities of the body and senses कर्माणि-actions अमले-pure सच्चिदात्मनि-on the Atman, the absolute existence –awareness अध्यस्यंति-superimpose अविवॆकॆन-by lack of discretion गगने-in the sky नीलतादिवत्- blue colour and the like.
Just as the ignorant ones attribute blue colour to the sky, people superimpose physical and sensory activities or quality and function of the body onto the pure existent and conscious Self.

देहेन्द्रियगुणान् कर्माणि अमले सच्चिदात्मनि अध्यस्यंति – qualities and traits of body and senses are superimposed upon the Atman who is absolute sat (existence) and chit (consciousness). अमले (अमल) means without (मल) any taint, dirt, disease, immaculate. Atman is taintless. Mala (मल) or blemishes are maya and its effects, or a notion of being doer and enjoyer. Atman is free from these mala. What are being superimposed on the taintless Brahman? देह इन्द्रिय गुणान् कर्माणि that means physical and sensory activities अन्नमय, प्राणमय कोश. In this verse the word देह stands for annamaya kosha and इंद्रिय should be considered for प्राणमय Kosha because other koshas are explained in the succeeding verses. गुणान् are its attributes. Attributes of the gross body are slim, stout, short, tall, white, black etc., also अस्ति जायते, वर्धते, विपरिणमते विनश्यति इति. कर्माणि are the functions. The author says, आत्मनि अध्यसन्ति, अध्यासम् करिष्यन्ति people superimpose these qualities and attributes on Atman.
when he says अहम् अशनायावान् (I am hungry) अहम् पिपासावान् (I am thirsty) they are the attributes of prana (life force).
अविवॆकॆन गगने नीलतादिवत् –just as people superimpose the qualities and traits such as blueness and concavity on the sky. Why the people superimpose the गुण and कर्म on the ever-pure Atman? अविवॆकॆन by imprudence, lack of judgement. Here is a simile. The sky is by nature colorless, clear, and pure. We superimpose (अध्यस्यंति) blue colour on it. We also say the sky is cloudy, hazy, misty, foggy etc. although it has nothing to do with these conditions (अध्यास).
Verse 22
Doership and enjoyership and the attributes of mind such as love and hatred are also imposed on the Lord. (Manomaya Kosha)

अज्ञानान्मानसोपाधेः कर्तृत्वादीनि चात्मनि ।
कल्प्यन्तेऽम्बुगते चन्द्रे चलनादि यथाम्भसः । २२॥

अज्ञानात् मानसोपाधेः कर्तृत्वादीनि च आत्मनि कल्प्यन्ते अम्बुगते चन्द्रे चलनादि यथा अम्भसः
अज्ञानात्-through ignorance मानसोपाधेः-of the mind which is an upadhi कर्तृत्वादीनि-agency of action etc., च-and आत्मनि-on the self कल्प्यन्ते-attribute अम्बुगते-which is reflected in the water चन्द्रे-moon चलनादि-trembling यथा-just as अम्भसः- of the water.

The moon reflected in water appears to move when the water is disturbed. Likewise, agency and other attributes of the mind are mistakenly superimposed on the Self.
In this verse Guna karma Adhyasa of manomaya kosha is discussed. That means the properties and functions of manomaya kosha are superimposed on Atman.

अज्ञानात् मानसोपाधेः कर्तृत्वादीनि च आत्मनि कल्प्यन्ते –Due to ignorance, the upadhis (conditionings) of the mind such as doer-ship and enjoyer-ship etc.; are attributed on the self. These are the functions or कर्माणि of the mind. We have to add गुणानि also. The attributes of the mind (गुणानि) are राग द्वेश काम क्रोध मद मत्सर (likes, dislikes, desire, rage, arrogance, and jealousy). We may also add संकल्प विकल्पात्मकं मनः the mind is of the nature of proposing and disposing.
Atman in reality is devoid of “I” consciousness, consequently free from the notions of enjoyment, agency etc. These are experienced by the individualized soul and falsely attributed (अध्यास) on Atman. The individualized soul is reflection of Atman in the mind. In walking state as well as dream when mind is active one sees the ego and its characteristics such as happiness, unhappiness etc. In deep sleep when the mind is not available, characters of the mind are not seen.
अम्बुगते चन्द्रे चलनादि यथा अम्भसः – Just as the movement of water is superimposed on motionless moon, similarly the movements of anatma are superimposed on the Atma.
अम्बुगते one who has entered water meaning the reflection (प्रतिबिंब) of the moon (चन्द्र) in water. चलनम् means movement, the movement of water in a tank or flowing river the pratibimba of Chandra is seen. An account of the movement the reflection also appears to be shaking. Just as the movement of the water is superimposed on the still moon, the movement of anatma is superimposed on Atman.
Verse 23
Adhyasa or super-imposition of manomaya kosha contined.
रागेच्छासुखदुःखादि बुद्धौ सत्यां प्रवर्तते ।
सुषुप्तौ नास्ति तन्नाशे तस्माद्बुद्धेस्तु नात्मनः ॥ २३॥
रागः इच्छा सुख दुःख आदि बुद्धौ सत्याम् प्रवर्तते । सुषुप्तौ न अस्ति तन्नाशे तस्मात् बुद्धेः तु न आत्मनः ॥
In this verse Guna karma adhyasa of manomaya kosha is discussed.
रागः-attachment इच्छा-desire सुख- pleasure दुःख-pain आदि- etc. बुद्धौ-in the mind or intellect सत्याम्-functions प्रवर्तते- are perceived सुषुप्तौ-in deep-sleep न-not अस्ति-is present तन्नाशे- at the destruction of it (mind) तस्मात्-therefore बुद्धेः-of the mind तु-only न-not आत्मनः- of the Atman

Attachment, desire, pleasure, pain, etc., are perceived to exist only when the mind is active. They are not perceived in deep sleep when the mind ceases. Therefore, all those attributes belong to the mind alone and not to the Atman.
रागः इच्छा सुख दुःख आदि बुद्धौ सत्याम् प्रवर्तते- Attachment desire, pain and pleasure are perceived to exist as long as the buddhi or the mind functions (बुद्धौ सत्याम्).
Raga is attachment and Ichcha or Kama is desire. Raga is attachment to a thing which is already ours, प्राप्त विषये रागः whereas Ichcha or desire is for a thing not yet acquired by us, अप्राप्त विषये इछ्चा or कामः. Among the anatma traits are also included सुख and दुःख. There is no problem in including dukha along with raga and Ichcha as anatma imposition. What about sukha? Is it also anatma? Brahman is described as the nature of bliss आनंद स्वरूपः. Paramarthananda says sukha that is talked about here is जन्य सुखः or वृत्ति सुखः but not स्वरूप सुखः. Janya sukha means that happiness which is of temporary nature and is dependent on some object or incident. It is not absolute sukha or bliss. वृत्ति सुखः is a relative happiness involving three stages of प्रिया वृत्ति (इष्ट दर्शनजम् सुखम्), मोद वृत्ति (इष्ट ग्रहणजम् सुखम्), and प्रमोद वृत्ति (इष्ट अनुभवजम् सुखम्). Therefore, the sukha mentioned here is also anatma and superimposed on Atman.
सुषुप्तौ न अस्ति तन्नाशे तस्मात् बुद्धेः तु न आत्मनः – They are not perceived in deep sleep, when the mind ceases to exist. रागः, इच्छा, सुख, दुःख आदि are perceived only in wakeful and dream state. In sushupti the mind merges with its cause i.e., ignorance and therefore not available. That means रागः इच्छा सुख दुःख आदि are not perceived in sushupti. Mind does not exist in sushupti but Atman does. If it were a property of atman it would have been perceived because Atman is always existent. तस्मात् –therefore these emotions belong to the mind but not Atman.
In this verse Acharya refutes the philosophy of नैय्यायिका (naiyyayika) which says that रागः इच्छा सुख दुःख आदि are the properties of atman.
Verse 24
Adhyasa does not alter the innate nature of Atman.
He ever remains the same existence-conciousness-Bliss

प्रकाशोऽर्कस्य तोयस्य शैत्यमग्नेर्यथोष्णता ।
स्वभावः सच्चिदानन्दनित्यनिर्मलतात्मनः ॥ २४॥
प्रकाशः अर्कस्य तोयस्य शैत्यम् अग्नेः यथा उष्णता स्वभावः सत् चित् आनंदः नित्यः निर्मलता आत्मनः
प्रकाशः-luminosity अर्कस्य-of the sun तोयस्य-of water शैत्यम्-coolness अग्नेः-of fire यथा-just as उष्णता-heat स्वभावः-nature सत्-existence चित्-consciousness आनंदः-bliss नित्यः-eternity निर्मलता-purity आत्मनः-of the atman

just as luminosity is the nature of sun, coolness is the nature of water, and heat is the nature of fire. The nature of atman is existence-knowledge-bliss, eternity, and purity,

प्रकाशः अर्कस्य, तोयस्य शैत्यम्, अग्नेः उष्णता, यथा स्वभावः – just as luminosity is the nature of sun, coolness is the nature of water, and heat is the nature of fire.

सत् चित् आनंदः नित्यः निर्मलता आत्मनः (स्वभावः) – The nature of atman (स्वभावः) is existence, knowledge and bliss of eternity and purity, सत् चित् आनन्द नित्य निर्मलता. This svabhava does not undergo any change during adhyasa or after removal of adhyasa. Just as the rope was the same before confusing it with snake or after removal of confusion.
The Birth of Ego 25-27
Verse 25
By the illogical combination of eternal atman and material mind
arises ego which says” I know”. This is an adhyasa

आत्मनः सच्चिदंशश्च बुद्धेर्वृत्तिरिति द्वयम् ।
संयोज्य चाविवेकेन जानामीति प्रवर्तते ॥ २५॥
आत्मनः सच्चिदंशः च बुद्धेः वृत्तिः इति द्वयम् संयोज्य च अविवेकेन जानामि इति प्रवर्तते
आत्मनः-of the self सच्चिदंशः-existence-knowledge aspect च-and बुद्धेः-of the intellect वृत्तिः -thought wave इति-thus द्वयम्-these two संयोज्य-blending च-and अविवेकेन-through indiscrimination जानामि-I know इति-thus प्रवर्तते-functions

Due to the indiscriminate blending of (1) the existence knowledge aspect of Atma and (2) the thought wave of the Budhi or Intellect, there arises the notion of ‘I know’.

आत्मनः सच्चिदंशः च- Atman’s nature is existence and consciousness (सत् चित् अंशाः). It is absolute without time and sapace. Only two aspects are mentioned here in a figurative sense leaving out Ananda or bliss aspect, for Atman in reality is a homogenous, indivisible and without parts.
बुद्धेः र्वृत्तिः इति द्वयम्- the blending of the two, Atman and the thought wave of the intellect. The mind’s behaviour is always limited to Time and Space. The mind contains three gunas sattva, rajas and tamas. Either the memory of a past event or the sight of a sense object stimulates one or more Gunas of the mind and creates a ‘wave’ or vrutti or modification in the mind in which Atman is reflected. Thus, reflection of the Atman and the wave in the mind together give rise to such a notion as “I know”, “I am happy” not happy etc. This characteristic weakness of the mind is attributed to Atman संयोज्य च अविवेकेन due to non-judicious combination. Atman in reality is always of the nature of Existence, knowledge and bliss.
संयोज्य च अविवेकेन-by the indiscriminate blending of these two namely Atman and intellect. This union cannot be real between spirit and matter due to their opposite nature (विरोधतया) like union of light and darkness. This union is only apparent due to superimposition by ignorance. This is adhyasa. Atman remains forever unattached to maya.
जानामि इति प्रवर्तते –there arises the notion of “I” know. No simile is given in this verse. Generally, in Vedanta the commonest metaphor given for the combination of atman with chitta vrutti creating a new entity of ego is fireball. An iron ball put into a blaze of fire takes upon itself the quality of fire and starts burning. Really speaking iron ball does not burn. We superimpose the burning nature of fire on the iron ball and say ‘the iron ball is burning”. The fire has no shape but takes the shape of iron ball. Another example of electricity and bulb; the bulb cannot burn, nor the electricity can burn. A peculiar combination of these two makes the bulb burn. Similarly, Atma cannot know because निर्विकर्तत्वात् (inactivity). Buddhi cannot know because of अचेतनत्वात् (insentient nature). It is their combination that gives rise to a third party called ego which only says “जानामि”, I know.

Verse 26
The individualized soul or jiva deludes himself as the knower and doer
आत्मनो विक्रिया नास्ति बुद्धेर्बोधो न जात्विति ।
जीवः सर्वमलं ज्ञात्वा ज्ञाता द्रष्टेति मुह्यति ॥ २६॥
The author makes an important statement in this verse that neither the atma is a knower nor the anatma is a knower.

From verse 26 to 38, in 12 verses role of discriminating intellect is discussed

आत्मनः विक्रिया न अस्ति बुद्धेः बोधः न जातु इति जीवः सर्वम् अलम् ज्ञात्वा ज्ञाता द्रष्टा इति मुह्यति
आत्मनः – for the self विक्रिया-action न-not अस्ति –is there बुद्धेः-to the intellect बोधः- -knowledge to experience न-not जातु-at all इति-thus जीवः-jiva the soul सर्वम्-everything अलम्-enough ज्ञात्वा-having known ज्ञाता-the knower द्रष्टा-the seer इति-thus मुह्यति- deludes

Atman has no activity and the mind has no independent capacity to know. But the individual with limited understanding deludes himself as being the seer and the knower.
आत्मनः विक्रिया न अस्ति –There is no action or change for the self. Changes due to time, space and causality happen only to the material world. Atman is chaitanya or consciousness and is explained by the seers as action-less, changeless, stainless, attribute-less, part-less, un-manifested, incomprehensible, and free from all traces of matter. If Atman were to be a knower, the act of knowing has to do the kriya (work, activity) of knowing. Knower, walker, taker, drinker, the suffix ‘er’ denotes action. In Sanskrit the suffix तृ प्रत्यय denotes क्रिया or action. Examples are कत्रु, भोक्तृ मन्तृ. So आत्मा ज्ञाता न भवति the atman cannot be a knower. If atma becomes a knower, it would make him a सविकारी with form and attributes. आत्मनः विक्रिया (modification, change) न अस्ति. Similarly, the anatma also cannot be a knower because it is Jada or insentient.
बुद्धेः र्बोधः न जातु इति – the intellect has no capacity to know at all because it is a modification of prakruti which is of the nature of inertia and insentience.
जीवः सर्वम् अलम् ज्ञात्वा – yet the man experiencing them thinks that jiva or individualized soul, which is a reflection of consciousness in the mind, falsely identifies the atman with the body, and mind and superimposes the characteristics of atman on the mind. Thus, one gets a false notion that Atman is the knower, doer etc. In reality Atman is altogether is different from the mind. He is existence and knowledge itself and is not affected by the changes that take place in the mind. All the activities that happen in the sunlight do not affect the sun.
ज्ञाता द्रष्टा इति मुह्यति –he is deluded that ‘ I am the knower, I am the seer. Then what the jnyani says? He will not say “अहम् जानामि”. He will say “अहम् ज्ञानस्वरूपः” So who am I? चैतन्य स्वरूपम् एव
Analogy of a light bulb
In this verse no analogy is given. So Gurudev Chinmayananda gives a simile.

  1. The electric bulb in itself does not glow. Electricity has to pass through it to make it glow. Electricity is compared to consciousness.
  2. The bulb becomes the means through which we can perceive electricity. In the same way the intellect plays its role of making us aware of the existence of self, although on its own it has no power to know it.
  3. If the bulb had an ego-sense, it would say, “Look I am producing the light”, although it is only an instrument to give light. The bulb represents the intellect.

Verse 27
If one recognizes “I am the Absolute Self and not the individual self”,
he attains freedom from fear.

रज्जुसर्पवदात्मानं जीवं ज्ञात्वा भयं वहेत् ।
नाहं जीवः परात्मेति ज्ञातं चेन्निर्भयो भवेत् ॥ २७॥

रज्जुसर्पवत् आत्मानम् जीवम् ज्ञात्वा भयम् वहेत् न अहम् जीवः परात्मा इति ज्ञातः चेत् निर्भयः भवेत्
रज्जुसर्पवत्-like a serpent in a rope आत्मानम्-oneself जीवम्-as the ego ज्ञात्वा-considering भयम्-fear वहेत्-get over न-not अहम्- जीवः-the individuality or the ego परात्मा-the supreme इति-thus ज्ञातः-having understood चेत्- if निर्भयः-fearless भवेत्-become

Just as a person mistaking a rope for a snake, is overcome by fear, the one who mistakes the Self to be a jiva (individual) is also overcome by fear.  If one recognizes “I am the Absolute Self and not the individual self”, he attains freedom from fear.
रज्जुसर्पवत् आत्मानम् जीवम् ज्ञात्वा भयम् वहेत् – By considering oneself as jiva (individual soul) one becomes fearful or apprehensive. He gives a simile; just as an ignorant person becomes fearful of a rope in darkness, the individual also becomes fearful due to ignorance. What is the remedy?
न अहम् जीवः परात्मा इति ज्ञातः चेत् निर्भयः भवेत् – If one perceives that “I am the absolute self but not the individual self” all the fear goes away and he becomes intrepid.
What is the bhaya भय (fear) mentioned here?
Swami Paramarthananda says: The supreme self is ज्ञानस्वरूपः but the jiva acts as if he is a ज्ञाता (knower), and so duality comes into picture. पूर्णत्वम् becomes परिछिन्नत्वम् because ज्ञाता (knower) is limited by ज्ञानम् (knowledge), ज्ञॆयम् (knowable). This is followed by emotions of raga, dwesha, moha; papa punya, and the threefold karma of sanchita, aagami and prarabdha. All these are covered by the word भयम् वहेत्.

Verse 28
The mind, ego, sense organs, and the five koshas are anatma and therefore Jada. They shine, meaning operate only in the mere presence of Atma.

आत्मावभासयत्येको बुद्ध्यादीनीन्द्रियाण्यपि ।
दीपो घटादिवत्स्वात्मा जडैस्तैर्नावभास्यते ॥ २८॥
आत्मा अवभासयति एकः बुद्ध्यादीनि इन्द्रियाणि अपि दीपः घटादिवत् स्वात्मा जडैः तैः न अवभास्यते
आत्मा-the self अवभासयति-illumines एकः-single बुद्ध्यादीनि-intellect etc. इन्द्रियाणि-sense organs अपि- too दीपः-the lamp घटादिवत्-like the pots etc. स्वात्मा- itself जडैः-inert तैः-by themselves न-not अवभास्यते-illumined

Just as a lamp illuminates a pot or a jar, the Atman illumines the objects like the mind and sense organs. These material objects are inert per se and so they cannot illumine themselves.
आत्मा अवभासयति एकः –the Atman the non-dual alone is self-effulgent. He does not need another source of light. He is light himself. स्वयम् प्रकाशः
बुद्ध्यादीनि इन्द्रियाणि अपि अवभास्यते- the Atman shines intellect and organs of knowledge (ज्ञानॆंद्रिय), बुद्धि आदि- that includes the four antahkaana अंतःकरण namely buddhi, manas, chittam and ego and the five koshas. Paramarthananda says: Jnyanendriya belongs to Manomaya kosha and vijnyanamaya kosha. The mind belongs to manomaya kosha. Buddhi belongs to Vijnyanamaya kosha. The five koshas, and three bodies are insentient. The presence of Atman, the senses and mind are enabled to perform their allotted functions. That is covered by the word अवभास्यते.
Kenopanishad says:
यच्चक्षुषा न पश्यति येन चक्षूँषि पश्यति ।तदेव ब्रह्म त्वं विद्धि नेदं यदिदमुपासते ॥ ७ ॥

‘What sight fails to see, but what sees sight— know thou That alone as Brahman, and not this that people worship here.’

दीपः घटादिवत् स्वात्मा- just as a lamp illumines the pot all by itself. Deepa means light and ghata means pot. We return here to the light bulb analogy made earlier, but this time it is coming directly in the text itself, as a lamp illumining a jar. There it was used to illustrate the false origin of the ego. Here it is used to emphasize the inherent inertness of the intellect equipment. Self-luminous atman only can illumine non-luminous anatma.
जडैः तैः न अवभास्यते The material objects like the pot being inert, they cannot illumine the self. Self or consciousness alone is the substratum or real essence of the mind, ego and sense organs, and the five koshas are anatma and therefore, Jada. They have no sentiency. Their faculty of comprehension comes from the illumination by Atma. Who shines Atma? None. He is self-effulgent स्वयम् प्रकाशते. The antahkarana gets barrowed light. Atma has self-born light.
Verse 29
Atma being knowledge does not need another knowledge to know it. Just as you do not need another light to know whether it is lit or not.

स्वबोधे नान्यबोधेच्छा बोधरूपतयात्मनः ।
न दीपस्यान्यदीपेच्छा यथा स्वात्मप्रकाशने ॥ २९॥

स्वबोधे न अन्यबोधेच्छा बोधरूपतया आत्मनः न दीपस्य अन्य दीपेच्छा यथा स्वात्मप्रकाशने
स्वबोधे- to understand the self स्व means self or atma. न- not अन्यबोधेच्छा-any need for other knowledge (वृत्ति ज्ञान)
बोधरूपतया-because it is in the form is knowledge itself आत्मनः-one’s own न-not दीपस्य-for a lamp अन्य- other दीपेच्छा-need for another lamp यथा-just as स्वात्मप्रकाशने-to illumine itself.
Atma which is knowledge itself does not need another knowledge to know it, just as a lighted lamp does not need another lamp to illumine it.
From the 16th to to 28th Shloka the topic was आत्मा -अनात्मा
विवेक. This viveka is technically called त्वम् पद विचारः. The mahavakyas तत् त्वम् असि Tat Tvam Asi (Thou are That) has two parts Tat and Tvam. We have so far discussed tvam pada vichara or anatma vichara. In this verse atma vichara or tat pada is going to be discussed.

स्वबोधे न अन्यबोधेच्छा –to know the self, one does not require any other knowledge. स्व means self or atma. बोध or वृत्ति ज्ञान is not necessary. To know a pot as a pot or a car as a car we need earlier knowledge about the pot or a car. This is called वृत्ति ज्ञानम् (घट वृत्ति ज्ञानम्, कार् वृत्ति ज्ञानम्). But to know about Brahman, no वृत्ति ज्ञानम् is not necessary because he is the very nature of ज्ञानम्. Who illumines our sense organs and intellect to perceive, to understand, to retain the knowledge? It is the courtesy of Atman.
बोधरूपतया आत्मनः –for the self is in the form of knowledge. Atman alone shines the sense organs. To understand Atman, we need not have वृत्ति ज्ञानम् because he is himself knowledge and is not illumined by any other agency. This is the meaning of बोधरूपतया आत्मनः
न दीपस्य अन्य दीपेच्छा यथा स्वात्मप्रकाशने – The author gives a simile. A lighted lamp does not need another lamp to show its light, because it is already lit. In the same way there is no need for another agency to reveal the self because the self is already lit; it is self-effulgent, self-evident. The only requirement is removal of our ignorance. To remove isgnorance वृत्ति ज्ञानम् is necessary. Then automatically Atman is revealed. No effort is needed.