Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Slokas 16 to 21

Hare Krishna,

Prostrations to the Guru and to one and all.

Till 15th sloka we have seen the analysis that we are the nature of atman , which is witness to all activities performed, the cause of the world and is the creator. It is the substratum of the world of nature of satchidananda.

Next the author talks about the atman, the nature of the atman, so that our conviction about our nature gets deeply rooted.

Sloka 16:
ahameko.api suukshmashcha GYaataa saakshii sadavyayaH .
tadaha.n naatra sa.ndeho vichaaraH so.ayamiidR^ishaH .

Meaning: I am without parts, subtler ,knower of everything, witness,pure consciouness,indivisible. I have no doubt about my nature .Thus he thinks as above.

Explanation: As per scriptures,Brahman is “Ekam eva adviteeyam” . Here Ekam means without any parts, Evam means one alone and adviteeyam means there is no entity that exists apart from Brahman.

There are 3 types of bheda’s swagata ,swajateeya,vijaateeya bheda.
Swagata bedha is the differences in one’s own body. Human body has swagata bedham means it has many parts different from each other. But Brahman has no parts. As per scriptures Brahman has come from aakasha, it means Brahman has qualities of aakasha.
Space though is all pervading and has no parts. Any thing without parts cannot have association with anything else . Thus space is without parts and so also Brahman.

Swajateeya bedha is when differences between entities of same category. One body is different from another in many ways. It is our experience also. This is swajateeya bedha. As there can be no two sons, or two lights, so also there cannot be 2 brahman’s. Hence Brahman is dereft of swajateeya bedha. If there are two entities which are self-luminous, then one luminates another,as this is not not possible,so there cannot be 2 entities which are self –luminous.

Vijateeya bedha is difference between entities of 2 different types. Like a human body is different from a tree. But Brahman alone is real and everything else is illusion. Hence the possible of existence of a second entity is ruled out. Hence barhman has no vijayeetya bedha.
Thus Brahman is devoid of any bedhas.

Brahman is said to be subtler than the subtlest and greater than the greatest .As per sciptures “anor aniyaam mahato maheeyam” ,means smaller the smallest of atoms and bigger the biggest of objects.

As Brahman illuminates everything in the world, it is the all knower. It is the witness to all the activities. If one gets involved in any actions, he/she would be effected by the actions. But when one remains a witness to the actions, he is unaffected by the good and bad results of it. As sun illumines the world and remains as a witness to all the activities, so also Brahman is a witness. It is of the nature of existence
Brahman is indivisible as we have earlier the qualities of brahman without parts.

Thus after vichara a person would understand the nature of his self as explained above, there remains no iota of doubts about his nature of atman.

Sloka 17:
aatmaa vinishhkalo hyeko deho bahubhiraavR^itaH .
tayoraikyaM prapashyanti kimaGYaanamataH param.h

Meaning: Atman is without parts, is one alone , Body is many and with parts. If we say that both are the same, is there any ignorance greater than this?

Explanation : Till the earlier slokas , we have seen through vicahara how a person concludes “I am not the body” . From 17th to 21st slokas the author brings out the differences in nature of atman and the body. Though we are of the nature of atman alone by birth, we have been under the impression that we are the body from the beginning. Any lay man in the world thinks he is the body. Thus we have a vision of we are the body. This is called superimposition. Superimposition of the body over the atman leads to conclusion that we are the body. The natural state seems far away and the superimposed nature seems to be our nature.
To know that we are not the body wouldn’t help us to come out of the body consciousness. To know milk tastes good wouldn’t help us, until we taste it. A sadhaka has to assert himself all the time that he is not the body. By constantly contemplating on the nature of atman a person through practice over certain period of time comes over the notion that he is the body.
In this sloka sankaracharya brings out 2 differences in the nature of atman and body.
Atman is without parts. We have seen in the earlier slokas that atman does not have any bedhas i.e swagata bedha, swajateeya bedha and vijaateeya bedha. Also atman is come from aakasha and aakasha is without parts. space pervades everything but it has no parts. Likewise Brahman or atman has no parts.
Body on the otherhand body is made of many parts like hands, legs etc.
Atman is one alone. Atman does not have swajateeya bedha, i.e differences with entities of its kind as its one alone. As it is the only entity in its kind , it is one alone.
There are many bodies in the world. Various names and forms of Brahman, which are but an illusion. But the atman in all is the same , as the sun reflected in water in all the pots is the same. So how can person consider himself to be the atman? This is the greatest ignorance.

Sloka 18:
aatmaa niyaamakashchaamtardeho baahyo niyamyakaH .
tayoraikayaM prapashyanti kimaGYaanamataH param.h

Meaning: Atman is the controls the body and is subtle, whereas body is under the control of atman. . If we say that both are the same, is there any ignorance greater than this?

Explanation: In continuation to the above sloka , the author mentions few more differences between atman and body.
Atman is the controller. Atman through consciousness makes the sense organs and body work. Without consciousness one is dead person. Sense organs work for the atman. Atman is the illuminating entity , a sentient entity which makes the insentient objects look sentient. Its subtle and cannot be seen. Self beyond ones experience as it’s the subject.
Body is the gross, its visible. Body is controlled by the atman. The substratum of all the names and forms in the world is Brahman alone.
When we realize that names and forms are temporary and are under the control of the consciousness of the nature of satchidananda and we are of the nature of satchidananda, we will be ever blissful.
Knowing these differences as stated above, if a person still considers himself to be the body , Can there be greater ignorance than this?

Sloka 19:
aatmaa GYaanamayaH puNyo deho maa.nsamayo.ashuchiH .
tayoraikyaM prapashyanti kimaGYaanamataH param.h

Meaning: Atman is consciouness and is pure. Body is made of flesh and is impure.
. If we say that both are the same, is there any ignorance greater than this?

Explanation: Atman is of nature of consciousness. Atman is satchidananda. As per Upanishads “Pragyanam Brahmam”. Meaning atman is consciousness. Atman is pure. Anything that has association with something else can become impure. For example When we take red color powder and rub on our hands our hands turn red in color. Something which has parts can only have association. As atman is said to be without parts or “niskalam” hence it cannot have association. Hence it remains pure.
Body is an insentient entity made up with flesh ,blood etc. If the atman doesn’t illumine the body it is equal to a log of wood. Body needs an sentient entity to operate.
Body is full of impurities both outside and inside. We all know that human body has many bacteria,worms and other impurities inside. Body has 9 opening as said in Gita “Nava dvare pure dehi” .Out of these nine openings in the body all the impurities are expelled from the body.
Thus body has contradictory nature when compared to atman. So how can person consider the atman to be the body. Can there be greater ignorance than the vision that he is the body?

Sloka 20 :
aatmaa prakaashakaH svachchho dehastaamasa uchyate .
tayoraikyaM prapashyanti kimaGYaanamataH param.h ..

Meaning: Atman is self –luminous and pure. Body is of nature of darkness. . If we say that both are the same, is there any ignorance greater than this?

Explanation: Atman is self-luminous. It is the only sentient entity. As said in gita 15th chapter. “Yat aditya gatam tejo, jagat bhasayithee akhilam
Yat Chandramasi yat cha agnau tat tejo viddhi mamakam.”
It is the luminous entity that is substratum of the whole universe. It is the sentient entity in the sun and the moon. It is pure as we have discussed in the earlier sloka.
Body is of the nature of darkness. It is “jadam” or insentient.
Considering both the body and the atman to be same is foolishness. There cannot be any greater ignorance than this.

Sloka 21 :
aatmaa nityo hi sadruupo deho.anityo hyasanmayaH .
tayoraikyaM prapashyanti kimaGYaanamataH param.h .

Meaning: Atman is eternal and is of the nature of consciousness. Deham is temporary and is insentient . . If we say that both are the same, is there any ignorance greater than this?

Explanation: With this sloka the author concludes the differences between the atman and the body.
Atman is eternal. It is the only changless entity. It the substratum of the changing temporary world. It is present always and hence eternal. Nature of atman is satchidananda i.e of the nature of consciousness. It is the only sentient entity in the world. Body is insentient. It is only darkness, lighted up by atman.

Thus sankaracharya has brought out differences between atman and deham starting from1 7th sloka.
To summarize atman has following attributes -- vinishkalo or without parts, eko or one alone, niyaamakascha or controller ,antah or internal, gyaanamayam or consciousness ,punyo or pure, prakaashah or self-luminous, svachho or pure, nityo or eternal, sadroopo or consciousness.
Deham is bahu or many, bhiraavrutaha or has parts, bahyo or outside , niyamyakah or which follows order of, maansamayam or insentient, asuchihi or impure, taamsam or darkness, anityo or non-eternal ,asanmayaha or insentient.
Bearing all these differences in mind a sadhaka should reaffirm that he is not the body. Treading this path alone can a person come out of the adhyasam or superimposition that he is the body .Until he considers he is the body a person can never progress in the spiritual path. when he identifies himself to be the atman of nature satchidananda, then ignorance is removed and one is always blissful.
With this sloka the discussion on the differences between the atman and the body is concluded by the author.

Hare Krishna

Slokas 11 to 15

Hare Krishna,

Prostrations to AMMA and to everyone in the forum.

We have discussed till now the qualifications needed for a seeker to apprehend the truth of ultimate reality. Sankaracharya now explains that after acquiring sadhana chatustayam it is a duty of a
person to analyze the world and the cause of the world and to know about himself. In the following slokas we shall see the nature of the enquiry to be done by a seeker of truth.

Sloka 11:

notpadyate vinaa GYaana.n vichaareNaanyasaadhanaiH .
yathaa padaarthabhaana.n hi prakaashena vinaa kvachit.h

Meaning: A person might possess the qualities of sadhana chatustayam, but inspite of that, if he doesn’t do an analysis of the truth in the world, he cannot gain knowledge.
As an object cannot be seen without light, so also one cannot gain knowledge without analysis of the nature of the world.

Explanation: This sloka summarizes the qualifications sankaracharya speaks about and also the vichara or analysis which is essential for a seeker, only through which lot of questions arise in his mind and he becomes desperate to know the truth and thus gets the knowledge of the ultimate reality.

A person should perform austeries like tapa ,japa and have devotion to the lord . He should equip himself with the sadhana chatustayam of vivekam,viaragyam ,6 fold qualities of “shama,dama,uparathi,titiksha, shradhha,samadhnam “ and mumukshutvam.

Mind would not be wandering around the objects of the world, It would be calm and ready for acquiring the knowledge and understanding it. Many times we feel that we have understood concepts better after we have read it couple of times. This means we couldn’t grasp it in the very first attempt. This is because of the lack of understanding and lack of focussed mind. To apprehend something beyond mind and intellect, we should be even better equipped. Hence sadhana chatustayam is very essential for a seeker.

With a calm mind a person should try to analyze the nature of the world. This is called vichara. To get answers to questions a seeker would approach the Guru. Thus it paves way to gain knowledge.
As without illumination one cannot perceive objects, so also questioning himself and the world a person cannot gain knowledge.

Sloka 12:
ko.aha.n kathamida.n jaata.n ko vai kartaa.asya vidyate .
upaadaana.n kimastiiha vichaaraH so.ayamiidR^ishaH ..

Meaning: Who am I? How is the world created? Who has created the world? What is the material cause of the world? This is the nature of questions that would follow.

Explanation: These are the questions which when aroused in the mind of the seeker would lead him to gain of the knowledge of ultimate reality. These questions are like the seeds for the plant to sprout. These are the results of vichara. Slokas 12th to 15th deals with the questions and the answers.
One should first question about himself. Who am I?.This would reveal to himself the nature of the atman which sankaracharya explains in coming slokas.
The next question should be about the world. How is the world created and who is responsible for the creation of it, and with what material has it been created? Knowing that he is the atman or the consciousness wouldn’t answer the troubles a person faces in the world, the sorrows he is inflicted with due to the likes and dislikes. This helps to remove the dual nature of the world.
Every creation has 2 causes the upadana karanam and the nimitta karanam. The first is the material cause. Like for a mud pot , the upadanam or material cause is mud . The upadanam karanam is the insentient cause. Nimitta karanam or the efficient cause of the pot is the potter, similarly the efficient cause of the world is questioned here.

Sloka 13:
naahaM bhuutagaNo deho naaha.n chaakshagaNastathaa .
etadvilakshaNaH kashchidvichaaraH so.ayamiidR^ishaH

Meaning: I am not made of the pancha bootas, nor am I the sense organs, but I am the witness .

Explanation:The first question as part of vichara i.e “Who am I? “ is answered in this sloka. Am I the body? Or am I the sense organs ,the panchendriyas of taste,touch etc.? Or am I the antahkarana of mind,intellect,ego and memory? Or am the jeeva, which experiences 3 states each day, of waking, dream state and deep sleep state.
So we are not the body which is made of the pancha bhootas of air,water,fire etc. we see that people loose their hands,legs in accidents,but still they are alive, hence we are not the body.
We are also not the sense organs or the bahi karana and the antah karana of mind intellect etc. People do survive without eyes or without being able to see objects in the world. They also survive when their intellect is not proper. So we are not the antah and bahi karana’s.
We experience 3 different states of dream, waking state and deep sleep state. In each state we have a different body, which are mutually exclusive. Thus we are witness of these states.
Thus through this process of negation we arrive at the conclusion that we are the witness of every action that is performed by us. As the sun is the witness to the actions performed in the world, but still remains uninvolved in them, so also we are the brahman the reason why the activities could be performed. It’s a mere witness and remains untainted/unaffected by the actions performed.

Sloka 14:
aGYaanaprabhava.n sarva.n GYaanena praviliiyate .
sa.nkalpo vividhaH kartaa vichaaraH so.ayamiidR^ishaH

Meaning: Ignorance is the cause of the world. With knowledge alone the ignorance is removed. The world is created by thoughts.

Explanation: The slokas 14,15 deal with the nature of the world.
In answer to the question of how the world is created? Or the indirect cause of the world, the authors answers that the world is the result of ignorance .
As darkness is expelled through knowledge, so also with knowledge that the world is illusion,that it seems to exist and never existed, the world would vanish . That which is created also would be destroyed, so the world which is created will be destroyed.So it seems to exist for a short span of time, but it never really exists.
This doesn’t mean a person with knowledge doesn’t behold the world, but it means that he remains a witness to the activities of the world and never would be effected by the world. He always remains blissful.
When the knowledge of “Brahma satyam jagan mithya, jeevo brahmaiva na paraha” dawns on a person all the sufferings , the duality of the world vanishes. When we see a rope and imagine it to be snake, we are filled with anxiety and fear. Once we realize that its just a rope, the very next moment all our anxiety and fear vanish. Similarly a person having knowledge of the ultimate truth always rejoices and is ever blissful.

As an answer to the question of who has created the world? Or the direct cause of the world, the author answers that world is created by thoughts of the mind.
This doesn’t mean that when a person doesn’t have thoughts the world seizes to exist. As jeevan mukta’s have some thoughts but for them the world doesn’t exist. So here by thoughts we mean that only due to the thought that the world is permanent , the world is created. Thoughts are the cause of sorrow as we all know well. These thoughts are due to desires, desires for objects of the world is due to the ignorance of the impermanence of the world. We run after the objects of the world and think about them as we are ignorant. Thus we create the world.
Once we gain knowledge and conviction, we cannot have desire as we know that the world is impermanent and would lead only to sorrow.
Mind is maya or illusion. Mind through thoughts creates the world. One who has control over the mind can alone realize his self.

Sloka 15:
etoyaryadupaadaanameka.n suukshma.n sadavyayam.h .
yathaivamR^idghaTaadiina.n vichaaraH so.ayamiidR^ishaH

Meaning: The substratum of the world is one alone, which is subtle and indivisible.
As the mud pot is made of mud so also the world is filled with Brahman.

Explanation: Author answers the question of the substratum of the world which is the last question posed as part of vichara.
The substratum of the entire world is Brahman. Brahman is defined as “Ekam eva adviteeyam” Which is One alone and which is indivisible. It is the satchitananda present in all being in the world. It permeates the whole world. The essence of each and every object in the world is Brahman alone. The duality in the world is due to names and forms. But only sentient entity which is present is Brahman. The names and forms are just illusion in the Brahman.
We just consider names and forms in the world and hence get deluded by the world, which leads to likes/dislikes and sorrow. If we understand that behind the names and forms which are impermanent and which undergo changes, the only entity that remains unchanged and unaffected is satchitananda, which is the same principle in all entities in the world, we would have no suffering in the world.
World is impermanent and undergoes changes while the substratum or the consciousness principle remains the same.
A mud pot is made of mud alone.The pot is just a name and form of the mud. After the pot breaks , it again becomes one with mud. Similarly the substratum of all entities in the world is Brahman alone.

Thus we have seen today the nature of the self and the world. These questions and answers arising out of vichara , resolve the mystery of the world , its cause and our sufferings in the world.
Let us reiterate ourselves about the impermanence of the world once again and the nature of self which is brahman and always remain blissful.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Slokas 6 to 10

Hare Krishna,

Prostrations to AMMA and to you all.

In the last posting we have started discussing the sadhana chatustayam needed by a seeker to apprehend the truth of ultimate reality.
We have seen vairagyam and vivekam among the sadhana chatustayam till now. Vairagyam is having dispassion towards the world and passion towards the ultimate reality only due to vivekam or discrimination between the real and the unreal. Knowing that the only reality in the world is brahman and what ever is seen in the world is only illusion in the substratum of brahman. Having this strong conviction helps a person to develop para vairagyam .

Sankaracharya explains the next sadhana chatustayam of “shamaadi shatka sampatthi “or the 6 fold qualifications starting with shama. The 6 fold qualifications are
1) shama
2) Dama
3) Uparathi
4) Titiksha
5) Shradha
6) Samadhanam

The author explains each of these in the coming slokas.

Sloka 6:

sadaiva vaasanaatyaagaH shamo.ayamiti shahbditaH .
nigraho baahyavR^ittiinaa.m dama ityabhidhiiyate ..

Meaning: Shama is controlling the internal passions of the mind and Dama is control of the external mind.

Explanation: Shama means a state of mind when the mind is calm. This is explained in viveka chudamani as “nistaranga jala rashi nischalam”. It means the calm ocean with no waves. This should be the state of our mind in order to contemplate on brahman. In order to attain such a state of mind one should control the passions of the mind.
The passions of the mind are like the ripples created in a lake when a stone is thrown in a calm waters of lake. These ripples or agitation/thoughts are created due to the various inherent vasanas in us. These vasanas are our likes/dislikes that have carried over since many births. Unless these passions are overcome ,the mind wouldn’t remain calm and until the mind is calm one cannot have constant thought of ultimate reality.

While Shama is internal control, of the vasanas of the mind.Dama is external control, of the mind. First passions arise in the mind and our actions are according to the thoughts in our mind. These external activities are the cause of the thoughts driven by passions or vasanas from previous births. As the water from a tank flows through the pipes and enters the fields, so also the thoughts of the mind enter the various external organs to perform the action needed. So one should control oneself from doing actions as persuaded by the mind. Any activity that would mislead us from our spiritual path should be avoided.

Sloka 7:

vishhayebhyaH paraavR^ittiH paramoparatirhi saa .
sahana.n sarvaduHkhaanaa.n titikshaa saa shubhaa mataa

Meaning: Withdrawal of the sense organs is the highest withdrawal.
Having forebearance in times of difficulties is called titiksha.

Explanation: Shama and dhama are external and internal control of the mind.
Withdrawal of the sense organs from the sense objects and redirecting them towards brahman is called uparathi or withdrawal. Human mind can be distracted due to various things we see in this world. When we understand that it is not leading us in the right direction we should reiterate ourselves that the ultimate truth is Brahman and everything else is illusion. Withdrawing our mind from the sense objects of the world and focusing on brahman, this alone will help us to be ever focused on the ultimate reality.
Many people might think that people in spiritual path wouldn’t face any worldly problems. But it isn’t true. Everyone has to face the the prarabdha karma or the fruits of past deeds. But people who are in spiritual path are equipped to handle the situation well.
So when ever we face difficult situations one should patiently bear all the hardship being ever focused on brahman. If one has strong conviction that the world is illusionary and brahman is the only truth , then he will take whatever comes in his life with equanimity of mind. Events in his life may be favourable or unfavourable but he would have sama dristhi meaning he will accept everything as gods blessing .
These are the times when the knowledge we gain in the spiritual path is put to test.
As we take up exams at the end of the academic year before we move to the next class in school, so also such situations in life will teach us at what level we are and what we have overcome and where we have failed. Until we know our drawbacks we cannot progress further in the spiritual path.

Sloka 8:

nigamaachaaryavaakyeshhu bhaktiH shraddheti vishrutaa .
chittaikaagrya.n tu sallakshye samaadhaanamiti smR^itam.h

Meaning: Having faith in the scriptures and in the Guru. Focus of the mind on the truth of ultimate reality is called samadhanam.

Explanation: Scriptures are of 3 types sruti,smrithi and puranas. All the scriptures propound the ultimate reality of brahman. Sruthi is that which is the knowledge of the Rishi’s .Smrithi are directly from a person, Like Gita which is a smrithi. Puranas contain stories which have the underlying truth of the ultimate reality, for people to easily apprehend and remember it. So Scriptures talk about the ultimate reality of Brahman.
Guru is an embodiment of the scriptures. Any word of the guru would have the support of the scriptures. Scriptures serve as ornaments of a Guru. As mentioned in the guru gita slokas “sarva sruti shiroratnam virajita padambhuja” .One can learn great truths which scriptures propound from the life of the Guru. Every small event/incident will have lot of significance and meaning.
A person who claims himself to be guru and asks people to follow what ever he says is a false guru. A real guru would always say that whatever scriptures say is the ultimate truth. Guru is a person who is well versed in scriptures and who dwells in brahman. One can recognize a guru , by the bliss that emanates from him.

Having faith in guru and scriptures is needed for a seeker in the spiritual. One cannot attain liberation without knowledge of scriptures or without faith in guru.

Once a person gets knowledge from guru and when he develops conviction of the ultimate reality, he should always keep his mind focused on the truth, this is called samadhanam.

So we have seen all the 6 fold qualifications till now.In the next sloka the author explains the last of the sadhana chatustayam.

Sloka 9

sa.nsaarabandhanirmuktiH kathaM me syaatkathaa vidhe .
iti yaa sudR^iDhaa buddhirvaktavyaa saa mumukshutaa ..

Meaning: How do I get liberation from the bondages of samsaram?. This strong desire is called mumukshutvam.

Explanation: This is the final sadhana chatustayam sankaracharya is explaining.
When a person has vivekam or discrimination, he attains vairagyam as he understands the truth. Even though a person has the 6 fold qualifications along with viveka and vairagyam, unless he has a burning desire to get liberated , it would not help him to progress in the spiritual path.
A person who has great desire of getting liberated the very moment would actually be liberated in this birth. He should place the desire of getting liberated above all other desires or activities he has in the world. This one point focus on the goal alone will help a person, else it would take him many births to realize.
This is the only desire that would help a person in his life. Any desire is propelled by ignorance , which in turn leads to some actions. But all the desires would produce temporary happiness/sorrow .This strong desire for liberation alone gives him eternal bliss.

This completes the discussions of the sadhana chatustayam explained by sankaracharya.
So having the sadhana chatustayam would help the person to apprehend the knowledge. Without these qualifications a person can gain knowledge but wouldn’t be able to focus himself on the truth .In times of difficulties he will easily sway from the path. So even though he does sravana manana and niddidhyasanam it would be futile for him.

Sloka 10

uktasaadhanayuktena vichaaraH purushheNa hi .
kartavyo GYaanasiddhyarthamaatmanaH shubhamichchhataa ..

Meaning: With all the sadhana chatustayam a person should reflect or think about the truth, the reality of the world. This would give him knowledge and peace of mind.

Explanation: A person endowed with sadhana chatustayam should reflect upon the world and the truth of the world. This is the duty of a seeker in order to gain knowledge. Only when a person reflects on the reality of brahman and temporary nature of the world, do questions arise in his mind. So with a pure mind attained by sadhana chatustayam one should approach the guru with questions. Then the guru imparts him the knowledge of the ultimate reality. As gita sloka says.
“tat vidhi pranipatena pariprashena seva ya”.
Serving the Guru and ask him all the questions.

Thus a person gains the knowledge of the truth. Through constant contemplation on the knowledge imparted by guru, a person gets eternal bliss. So main purpose of vicharam is to gain knowledge.

Hare Krishna

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Slokas 1 to 5

Hare krishna,

Prostrations to the GURU and prostrations to one and all who are but AMMA’s children.

As ordained by SATGURU AMMA ,we shall make an attempt to discuss the text “Aparokshaanubhuti “ in the coming days.

Aparokshaanubhuti is a work written by Sankaracharya. As the name of the text suggests , the purpose of this work is to gain direct experience of the self. Aparokshaanubhuti or direct experience of self cannot be attained without contemplation. Hence this text is a contemplative work, which would help a seeker attain self –realization.

There are 2 kinds of knowledge a spiritual seekers gets in the path. One is parokshaanubhuti , which is the knowledge gained by sitting at the feet of the GURU and knowing the truth of ultimate reality. This is indirect experience,by means of hearing from the GURU. When one dwells on the knowledge imparted by the GURU by sravana ,manana and nidhhidhyasana he gets aparokshaanubhuti or direct experience of the self.

The work starts with sankaracharya explaining the purpose of the work , the target audience,sadhana chatustayam needed for understanding the work, the logic put forth for explaining the nature of the world ,nature of brahmam, explaining how self is different from body ,verses for contemplation on brahmam.

Sloka 1: This work starts with Sankara offering prostrations to God and the GURU.
shriihariM paramaana.ndamupadeshhTaaramiishvaram.h .
vyaapaka.n sarvalokaanaa.n kaaraNa.n ta.n namaamyaham.h .. 1..

Meaning: I am Offering my prostrations to Sri Hari or Vishnu who destroys the passion, who is of nature of eternal bliss , who is the teacher, who is all pervading , who is the cause of the world. Govinda Ananda pada is the Guru of Sankaracharya, who is also referred to here as sri hari paramananda.

Here the cause of the world means that Hari is the substratum of the world. As the world is an illusion in the substratum of brahmam. Its not a cause as a cause keeps changing, but brahmam is changeless.

Sloka 2:
aparokshaanubhuutirvai prochyate mokshasiddhaye .
sadbhireva prayatnena viikshaNiiyaa muhurmuhuH .. 2..

Meaning: The purpose of the work is for Moksha or liberation. Seekers can attain self realization by putting an effort many many times.

Explanation: Any scriptural text would have “Anubandha chatustayam” associated with it. Which is Adhikari or “target audience .vishayam or subject, prayojanam or fruit or purpose, sambandham or relation between subject and prayojanam.This anubandha chatustayam of the work has been mentioned in the sloka above.
The Adhikari of the work are people who are purity of mind, who are the seekers of the truth.
The Subject of discussion is aparokshaanubhuti or experience of the self.
The prayojanam or fruit is attainment of moksha or liberation.
The sambandham between the subject and fruit is that, only when a seeker learns the text does he attain moksha.

After explaining the purpose of the text, the author moves now explains the sadhana chatustayam or the qualifications needed by a seekers to apprehend the text. Anyone is eligible to learn the text, but only a person endowed with sadhana chatustayam as sanakaracharya explains, only will be able to apprehending the reality and thereby attain self-realization.

Sloka 3:
svavarNaashramadharmeNa tapasaa haritoshhaNaat.h .
saadhanaM prabhavetpu.nsaa.n vairaagyaadi chatushhTayam.h .. 3..

Meaning : Doing ones own dharma ,austerities and devotion towards god a person attains sadhana chatustayam to apprehend the reality.

Explanation: Doing the activities necessary for sustenance of the life, which would help one to concentrate on spiritual progress is what sankaracharya talks about. Austerities like japa and dhyaana need to be done along with devotion to the lord, which helps a person to attain sadhana chatustayam .So once a person does his dharma, does activites like dhyaana and japa and had devition towards god, he gets sadhana chatustayam ,which makes a man comprehend the truth of brahmam.

The sadhana chatustayam consists of viveka,vairagya,sama aadi shatka sampatti(or 6 fold qualifications) and mumukshutvam. In the next sloka author explains one of the sadhana chatustayam “vairagya “.

Sloka 4:
brahmaadisthaavaraanteshu vairaagya.n vishhayeshhvanu .
yathaiva kaakavishhThaayaa.n vairaagya.n taddhi nirmalam.h .. 4..

Meaning: A person should have dispassion towards everything right from brahmam to the things of the world,this dispassion is compared with the dispassion a person would have towards the excreta of the crow. Such a vairagya is the pure vairagya that is needed for sadhana chatustayam.

Explanation: Vairagyam is of 2 types para vairagya and apara vairagyam. Apara vairagyam is the dispassion towards the world. para vairagyam is passion towards brahmam along with dispassion towards the world. Vairagyam is not same as virakti, which means aversion towards temporarily due to some bad experiences in life.
Here the author talks about para vairagyam ,wherein the person should consider things as at a higher level like brahmam till the worldly impermanent things in the same way he considers the excreta of the crow. It only means that as a person find excreta of the crow to be useless so also he should find everything in the world as unattractive. He should be to renounce anything in the world as he would ignore the excreta of the crow. This alone is supreme vairagyam.
Only through viveka or discrimination of the real and unreal , the permanent and impermanent, would a person develop dispassion towards everything in the world.

Sloka 5:
nityamaatmasvaruupa.n hi dR^ishya.n tadvipariitagam.h .
eva.n yo nishchayaH samyagviveko vastunaH sa vai .. 5..

Meaning: Atma alone is nityam and all that we see in the world is unreal.Having this conviction is vivekam.

Explanation: Sankaracharya explains vivekam in this sloka. Knowing that atma or self is the only is permanent and all that is seen in the world as impermanent is called vivekam. Except brahmam , everything else is ureal, things seem to exist but do not really exist.
The world seems to exist for us until death, but it really doesn’t exist. Having this knowledge of the only real entity present is called vivekam.Unless a person has strong conviction about the reality ,the ultimate truth, he cannot attain vairagyam or mumukshutvam. Unless he know the what is real he doesn’t develop disppassion towards the impermament and strive for the eternal brahmam.

Hare krishna