Adi Shankara Atma Bodha verses 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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). 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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). Avidya which is indescribable and beginningless is the Causal Body. Know for certain that the Atman is other than these three conditioning bodies (Upadhis). 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.,). 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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). 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. 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. 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”. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.