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662Atma Bodha (Self-Knowledge) by Adi Sankaracharya, 788-820 CE

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Dec 8, 2008
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      Atma Bodha
      (Self-Knowledge)
      By Adi Sankaracharya, 788-820 CE,
      Translated by Swami Chinmayananda
      Published by Chinmaya Mission, Mumbai


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      13. The five Pranas, the ten organs and the Manas and the Buddhi,
      formed from the rudimentary elements (Tanmatras) before their
      "five-fold division and mutual combination with one another"
      (Pancheekarana) and this is the subtle body, the
      instruments-of-experience (of the individual).

      14. Avidya which is indescribable and beginningless is the Causal
      Body. Know for certain that the Atman is other than these three
      conditioning bodies (Upadhis).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      25. By the indiscriminate blending of the two – the
      Existence-Knowledge-aspect of the Self and the thought-wave of the
      intellect – there arises the notion of "I know".

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

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

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

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

      30. By a process of negation of the conditionings (Upadhis) through
      the help of the scriptural statement `It is not this, It is not this',
      the oneness of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, as indicated
      by the great Mahavakyas, has to be realised.

      31. The body, etc., up to the "Causal Body" – Ignorance – which are
      objects perceived, are as perishable as bubbles. Realise through
      discrimination that I am the `Pure Brahman' ever completely separate
      from all these.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      38. Sitting in a solitary place, freeing the mind from desires and
      controlling the senses, meditate with unswerving attention on the
      Atman which is One without-a-second.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      46. The ignorance characterised by the notions `I' and `Mine' is
      destroyed by the knowledge produced by the realisation of the true
      nature of the Self, just as right information removes the wrong notion
      about the directions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


      Thus concludes Atma-Bodha.