(aka Vedanta Panchadasi)
By Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda
Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai
VII VIII IX
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THE LAMP OF PERFECT SATISFACTION
1. ‘When a man
(Purusha) has realised the identity of his own Self with the Paramatman, desiring
what and for whose sake should he allow himself to be afflicted following the
body’s affliction ?’
2. In this chapter we exhaustively analyse the meaning of this Shruti. Thereby
the perfect satisfaction of a man liberated in this life will be clearly known.
3. The Shruti says that Maya reflecting Brahman, creates both Jiva and Ishvara.
Jiva and Ishvara, in their turn, create the whole of the rest of the universe.
4. From the determination of Ishvara to create, down to his entrance into the
created objects, is the creation of Ishvara. From the waking state to ultimate
release, the cause of all pleasures and pains, is the creation of Jiva.
5. The substratum of illusion is Brahman, the immutable, associationless, pure
consciousness, the Self of all beings. When through mutual superimposition Brahman
becomes associated with the intellect, an association which is phenomenal and
not real, He is known as Jiva or Purusha.
6. Jiva, with Kutastha as his substratum, becomes an agent and seeks liberation
or the pleasures of heaven and earth. Chidabhasa, the reflection of pure consciousness
alone cannot be so, for superimposition is not possible without a substratum.
7. When Jiva, having the immutable Kutastha as his basis, wrongly identifies
himself with the gross and subtle bodies, he comes to think of himself as bound
by the pleasures and pains of this world.
8. When Jiva gives up his attachment to his illusory portion, the nature of
the substratum becomes predominant and he realises that he is associationless
and of the nature of pure consciousness.
9. (Doubt): How can the idea of egoity arise in the detached Kutastha ? You
have to attribute egoity to it. (Reply): ‘I’ is used in three senses, of which
one is primary and the other two secondary.
10. The immutable Kutastha becomes identified with the reflected intelligence,
Chidabhasa, due to mutual superimposition. This is the primary meaning of ‘I’
in which the spiritually dull people use it.
11. ‘I’ in the two secondary senses refer to either Kutastha or Chidabhada but
one is differentiated from the other. The wise use the same word ‘I’ either
in the worldly or in the philosophical sense, meaning Chidabhasa or Kutastha
12. From the conventional standpoint, the wise use the expression ‘I am going’,
meaning Chidabhasa, differentiating it from Kutastha.
13. From the philosophical standpoint the wise mean by their ‘I’ the pure Kutastha.
In this sense they say: ‘I am unattached. I am the Spirit Itself’.
14. (Doubt): Wise or ignorant are terms that can be applied to Chidabhasa and
never to Kutastha. Then how can Chidabhasa who is different from Kutastha, say:
‘I am Brahman or Kutastha ?’
15. (Reply): There is no harm, for Chidabhasa has no real existence independent
of Kutastha. An image in a mirror is not distinct from the object of which it
is a reflection. When the adventitious factors are negated, only Kutastha remains.
16. (Doubt): The idea ‘I am Kutastha’ is also illusory. (Reply): Who denies
it ? Any motion attributed to the snake superimposed on a rope is unreal and
cannot be admitted.
17. The idea ‘I am Brahman’ leads to the cessation of pleasure and pain of the
world. There is a common saying that a sacrifice offered to a deity must be
appropriate to that deity.
18. The Shruti says that Chidabhasa, based on Kutastha and known as Purusha,
should differentiate Kutastha from illusion and that he is then justified in
saying ‘I am Kutastha (Brahman)’.
19. In speaking of himself the common man seems to be convinced of his identity
with the body. A similar conviction about this Self as Brahman is necessary
for liberation. This is the meaning of ‘this’ in ‘I am this’.
20. When a man is as firmly convinced of his identity with Brahman as an ordinary
man is convinced of his identity with the body, he is liberated even if he does
not wish for it.
21. (Doubt): The term ‘this’ in ‘I am this’ refers to something knowable and
that it cannot apply to Brahman, who is unknown. (Reply): All right. Brahman
as the Self is self-luminous and can always be directly experienced.
22. The Self is ever cognised. We speak of Its being known directly or indirectly,
being known or unknown, as in the illustration of the tenth man.
23. The tenth man counts the other nine, each of whom is visible to him, but
forgets himself the tenth, though all the time seeing himself.
24. Being himself the tenth, he does not find him. ‘The tenth is not visible,
he is absent’, so he says. Intelligent people say that this is due to his presence
being obscured by ignorance or Maya.
25. He is grieved and cries, because he believes the tenth to have been drowned
in the river. The act of weeping, a result of false superimposition, is due
26. When told by a competent person that the tenth is not dead, he believes
by indirect knowledge that he is alive, just as one believes in the existence
of heaven on the authority of the Shruti.
27. When each man is told: ‘You are the tenth’ and he counts himself along with
the others, he stops weeping and grieving owing to the direct knowledge of the
tenth, that is, himself.
28. Seven stages can be distinguished in respect of the Self: ignorance, obscuration,
superimposition, indirect knowledge, direct knowledge, cessation of grief and
the rise of perfect satisfaction.
29. Chidabhasa with his mind devoted to the worldly existence does not know
that he is the self-evident Kutastha.
30. ‘Kutastha is not manifest, there is no Kutastha’ are the ideas that characterise
the obscuring stage caused by ignorance. The Jiva further says ‘I am the doer
and enjoyer’ and experiences pains and pleasures, the result of superimposition.
31. From the teacher he comes to know of the existence of Kutastha indirectly.
Then, by means of discrimination, he directly realises ‘I am Kutastha’.
32. Now he is free from the erroneous idea that he is a doer and an enjoyer
of the fruit of his actions. With this conviction his grief comes to an end.
He feels that he has accomplished all that was to be accomplished and experiences
33. These are the seven stages of Jiva: ignorance, obscuration, superimposition,
indirect knowledge, direct knowledge, freedom from grief and unrestricted bliss.
34. The reflected consciousness, Chidabhasa, is affected by these seven stages.
They are the cause of bondage and also of release. The first three of them are
described as causing bondage.
35. Ignorance is the stage characterised by ‘I do not know’ and is the cause
of the indifference about truth, lasting as long as discrimination does not
36. The result of the obscuring of the spiritual truth caused by ignorance is
such thoughts as ‘Kutastha does not exist’, ‘Kutastha is not known’, which is
contrary to truth. This happens when discrimination is not conducted along scriptural
37. The stage in which Chidabhasa identifies himself with the subtle and gross
bodies is called superimposition. In it he is subject to bondage and suffers
as a result of the idea of his being the doer and enjoyer.
38. Though ignorance and the obscuring of the Self precede superimposition and
Chidabhasa himself is the result of this superimposition, still the first two
stages belong not to Kutastha but to Chidabhasa.
39. Before the rise of superimposition the impressions or seeds of superimposition
exist. Therefore, it is not inconsistent to say that the first two stages belong
to Chidabhasa alone.
40. These two stages do not exist in Brahman, although they are superimposed
on Him, as Brahman is the basis on which the superimposition stands.
41. (Doubt): ‘I am worldly’, ‘I am endowed with knowledge’, ‘I am griefless’,
‘I am happy’ and so forth are expressions which refer to states of the Jiva
and they have no relation to Brahman.
42. (Reply): Then the two stages prior to superimposition also should be attributed
to the Jiva, for he says: ‘I do not know’, ‘I do not see Brahman’, referring
to ignorance and obscuring.
43. The ancient teachers said of Brahman as the support of ignorance as a substratum,
but ignorance is attributable to Jiva because he identifies himself with it
and feels ‘I am ignorant’.
44. By the two kinds of knowledge ignorance is negated and with it, its effects,
and the ideas ‘Brahman does not exist’ and ‘Brahman is not manifest’ also perish.
45. By indirect knowledge the misconception that Kutastha does not exist is
negated. Direct knowledge destroys the result of the obscuring of reality expressed
in the idea that Brahman is not manifest or experienced.
46. When the obscuring principle is destroyed, both the idea of Jiva, a mere
superimposition and the grief caused by the worldly idea of agentship are destroyed.
47. When the world of duality is destroyed by the experience of one’s being
ever released, there arises, with the annihilation of all grief, an unrestricted
and everlasting satisfaction.
48. The Shruti quoted at the beginning of this chapter refers to two of the
stages, direct knowledge and the destruction of the grief from which Jiva suffers.
49. The direct knowledge of the reality referred to in the Shruti as ‘this’
(in ‘This is the Self’) is of two kinds: Atman is self-luminous and the intellect
perceives it as self-evident.
50. In indirect knowledge this intellect is aware of the fact that Brahman is
self-evident and the self-evidence of Brahman is not the least affected in such
51. Indirect knowledge, which is the cognition ‘Brahman exists’ and not the
cognition ‘I am Brahman’, is not erroneous; because in the state of direct knowledge
this indirect knowledge is not contradicted but confirmed.
52. If it could be proved that Brahman does not exist, this indirect knowledge
would be subject to refutation, but it is well known that there is no valid
evidence to refute the fact that Brahman exists.
53. The indirect knowledge of Brahman cannot be called false simply because
it does not give a definitive idea of Brahman. On that basis the existence of
heaven should also be false.
54. Indirect knowledge of Brahman, that is an object of direct knowledge, is
not necessarily false. For it does not aver that Brahman is an object of indirect
knowledge only. (Why do we then call it indirect knowledge ? For it does not
say 'This is Brahman' which is direct knowledge).
55. The argument that indirect knowledge is false because it does not give a
full knowledge of Brahman does not hold good. We may know only a part of a pot,
but this partial knowledge is not false on that account. Though Brahman has
no real parts, It appears to have parts due to false superimposed adjuncts,
which indirect knowledge removes.
56. Indirect knowledge removes our doubt that Brahman may not exist. Direct
knowledge rebuts our poser that It is not manifest or experienced.
57. The statement ‘The tenth exists, is not lost’ is indirect knowledge and
it is not false. Similarly, the indirect knowledge ‘Brahman exists’ is not false.
In both cases the obscuring of the truth due to ignorance is the same.
58. By a thorough analysis of ‘Self is Brahman’ the direct knowledge ‘I am Brahman’
is achieved, just as the man after having been told that he is the tenth comes
to realise it through reflection.
59. If one of the ten asks who is the tenth, the answer is that it is he himself.
As he counts he comes to himself and then realises that he himself is the tenth
(which is direct knowledge).
60. His knowledge that he is the tenth is never negated. Whether he comes to
himself at the beginning, the middle or the end of his counting, his knowledge
that he is the tenth is never in doubt.
61. The Vedic texts, such as ‘Before the creation Brahman alone existed’, give
indirect knowledge of Brahman; but the text ‘That thou art’ gives direct knowledge.
62. When a man knows himself to be Brahman, his knowledge does not vary whether
in the beginning, middle or end. This is direct knowledge.
63. The sage Bhrigu, in ancient times, acquired indirect knowledge of Brahman
by reflecting on Brahman as the cause of the origin, sustenance and dissolution
of the universe. He acquired direct knowledge by differentiating the Self from
the five sheaths.
64. Though Varuna, father of Bhrigu, did not teach him by means of the text
‘That thou art’, he taught him the doctrine of the five sheaths and left him
to his discriminative enquiry.
65. Bhrigu considered carefully the nature of the food-sheath, the vital-sheath
and so forth. He saw in the bliss-sheath the indications of Brahman and concluded:
‘I am Brahman’.
66. The Shruti first speaks of the nature of Brahman as truth, knowledge and
infinity. It then describes the Self hidden in the five sheaths.
67. Indra acquired indirect knowledge of Brahman by studying Its attributes.
He then went to his teacher four times with a view to gaining direct knowledge
of the Self.
68. In the Aitareya Upanishad an indirect knowledge of Brahman is imparted by
such texts as ‘There was only Atman before creation’. The Upanishad then describes
the process of superimposition and negating it shows that consciousness is Brahman.
69. An indirect knowledge of Brahman by the intellect can be gained from other
Shruti passages also; but direct knowledge is achieved by meditating on the
great Sayings of the Shruti.
70. In Vakyavritti it is said that the great Sayings are intended to give direct
knowledge of Brahman. There is no doubt about this fact.
71. “In ‘That thou art’ ‘thou’ denotes the consciousness which is limited or
circumscribed by the adjunct the inner organ and which is the object of the
idea and word ‘I’.”
72. “The (absolute) consciousness conditioned by the primeval ignorance, Maya,
which is the cause of the universe, is all-knowing etc., and can be known indirectly
and whose nature is truth, knowledge and infinity, is indicated by the word
73. “The qualities of being mediately and immediately known and those of existence
with a second and absolute oneness are incompatible on the part of one and the
same substance. An explanation by implication or what is called an indirectly
expressed meaning has, therefore, to be resorted to.”
74. “In sentences like ‘That thou art’ only the logical rule of partial elimination
is to be applied, as in the terms of ‘that is this, not others’.” (i.e., In
‘This is that Devadatta’ we negate the attributes of time and place, both present
and past and take into account only the person himself. Similarly, in the text
‘That thou art’ we negate the conflicting attributes such as the omniscience
and the limited knowledge which characterise Ishvara and Jiva respectively and
take into account only the immutable consciousness.)
75. The relation between the two substantives (‘thou’ and ‘that’) should not
be taken as that of one qualifying the other or of mutual qualification, but
of complete identity, of absolute homogeneity. That is, the meaning of the expression,
according to competent persons is “what is ‘thou’ is wholly and fully ‘that’
and that which is ‘that’ is wholly and fully ‘thou’” – both the terms indicate
absolute homogeneous consciousness.
76. What appears to be the individual conscious Self is of the nature of non-dual
bliss; and non-dual bliss is no other than the individual conscious Self (so
Brahman is Self and Self is Brahman).
77. When, by mutual identification, it has been irrefutably demonstrated that
the consciousness within and Brahman are same, then the notion that Jiva, who
is denoted by the word ‘thou’, is different from Brahman, at once disappears.
78. Then the indirectness in the knowledge of Brahman, implied by the word ‘thou’
in the text, also vanishes; and there remains only the consciousness within
in the form of absolute bliss.
79. Such being the case, those who suppose that the great Sayings can give only
an indirect knowledge of Brahman, furnish brilliantly shallow understanding
of the scriptural conclusions.
80. (Doubt): Let alone the conclusion of the scriptures, the knowledge which
the scriptural statements give of Brahman can only be indirect, like that which
they give of heaven and so forth. (Reply): This is not invariably so, for the
statement ‘Thou art the tenth’ leads to direct knowledge.
81. Everyman’s knowledge of himself is a direct experience. It is indeed a remarkable
argument to suggest that in our attempt at identification of ourselves with
Brahman this direct knowledge, already present, will be destroyed !
82. You are gracious enough to afford us an example of the well-known proverb:
In going for the interest the capital is lost.
83. (Doubt): Jiva, who is conditioned by the inner organ, can be an object of
direct knowledge with the aid of this conditioning adjunct; but as Brahman has
no such real adjunct, a direct knowledge of It is impossible.
84. (Reply): Our knowledge of Brahman is not altogether unconditioned, as long
as our own bodies, the conditioning adjuncts, persist. That is, adjuncts that
condition us positively condition Brahman negatively.
85. The difference between Jiva and Brahman is due to the presence or absence
of the conditioning medium of Antahkarana; otherwise they are identical. There
is no other difference.
86. If the presence of something (here the internal organ in Jiva) is a conditioning
adjunct, why not its absence (here of internal organ in Brahman) ? Chains whether
of gold or iron are equally binding.
87. The teachers affirm that the Upanishads speak of Brahman both by negating
what is not Brahman and by affirming positive characteristics.
88. (Doubt): If the idea of ‘I’ is given up, how is the knowledge ‘I am Brahman’
possible ? (Reply): It is the false parts of ‘I’ which are to be given up and
the true part retained, following the logical rule of partial elimination.
89. When the internal organ is negatived what remains is the mere inner consciousness,
the witness. In it one recognises Brahman in accordance with the text ‘I am
90. The inner consciousness, though self-luminous, can be covered by the modifications
of the intellect just as other objects of knowledge are. The teachers of scriptures
have denied the perception of Kutastha by Chidabhasa, or consciousness reflected
on the intellects.
91. In the perception of a jar the intellect and Chidabhasa are both concerned.
There the nescience is negated by the intellect and the pot is revealed by Chidabhasa.
92. In the cognition of Brahman the modification of the intellect is necessary
to remove ignorance; but, as Brahman is self-revealing the help of Chidabhasa
is not needed to reveal It.
93. To perceive a pot two factors are necessary, the eye and the light of the
lamp; but to perceive the light of the lamp only the eye is necessary.
94. When the intellect functions, it does so only in the presence of Chidabhasa,
but in the cognition of Brahman Chidabhasa is merged in Brahman. In external
perception of a pot, Chidabhasa reveals the pot by its light and yet remains
distinct from it.
95. That Brahman cannot be cognised by Chidabhasa is corroborated by the Shruti:
‘Brahman is beginningless and beyond cognition’. But Its cognition by the intellects
(in the sense of removing ignorance about It), is admitted by the Shruti ‘Brahman
can be cognised by the intellect’.
96. In the first Shruti verse of this chapter, ‘When a man has realised the
identity of his own Self with That (Paramatman)…’, it is the direct knowledge
of Brahman (i.e., I am Brahman’) that is meant.
97. From the great Sayings a direct knowledge of Brahman is obtained, but it
is not firmly established all at once. Therefore Sri Shankaracharya emphasises
the importance of repeated hearing, reflection and meditation.
98. “Until the right understanding of the meaning of the sentence ‘I am Brahman’
becomes quite firm, one should go on studying the Shruti and thinking deeply
over its meaning as well as practising the inner control and other virtues.”
99. The causes of the lack of firmness in the direct knowledge of Brahman are:
the occurrence of apparently contradictory texts, the doubt about the possibility
of such a knowledge and radically opposed ways of thinking leading to the idea
100. Owing to the existence of different systems, dispositions and desires,
the Shruti enjoins different kinds of sacrifices etc., in the Karmakanda. But
about the knowledge of Brahman preached in the Upanishads there is no scope
for doubts; so practise repeated ‘hearing’ etc., about the truth (for firm conviction).
101. ‘Hearing’ is the process by which one becomes convinced that the Vedas
in their beginning, middle and end teach the identity of Jiva and Brahman and
this is the gist of Vedanta.
102. This subject is well explained by Acharya Vyasa and Shankara in the Brahma
Sutras in the section treating of the correct view of the Vedic texts. The second
chapter of the same classic treats of ‘reflecting’ by which one is enabled to
establish the doctrine of non-duality by reasoning which satisfies the intellect
and refutes all possible objections.
103. The Jiva, as a result of the firm habit of many births repeatedly, moment
by moment, thinks that the body is the Self and that the world is real.
104. This is called erroneous thinking. It is removed by the practice of one-pointed
meditation. This concentration arises out of worship of Ishvara, even before
the initiation regarding attributeless Brahman.
105. Therefore in the books of Vedanta many types of worship of Ishvara have
been discussed. Those who have not done worship before the initiation into Brahman
will have to acquire this power of concentration by the practice of meditation
106. ‘The practice of meditation on Brahman, the wise consider, means reflection
on It, talking about It, mutually producing logical arguments about It – thus
to be fully occupied with It alone’.
107. ‘The wise man, having known Brahman beyond doubt, ought to generate a flow
of unbroken thought-current on It. He should not engage in much discussion,
for that has but one effect – it tires the organ of speech’.
108. The Gita says: ‘Those who one-pointedly concentrate their mind on Me and
meditate on Me as their own Self, I give what those ever-devoted ones need and
protect what they have’.
109. Thus both Shruti and Smriti enjoin constant concentration of the mind on
the Self to remove the erroneous conviction concerning the Self and the world.
110. An erroneous conviction is ignorance of the true nature of an object and
taking it as the opposite of what it really is. It is like a son treating his
father as an enemy.
111. The erroneous conviction consists in thinking the body to be the Self and
the world to be real, whereas the truth is that the Self is different from the
body and the world is unreal.
112. This conviction is destroyed by meditation on the real entity. An aspirant,
therefore, meditates on the Self as different from the body and on the unreality
of the world.
113. (Question): Are the ideas of difference of the Self from the body and the
unreality of the world to be repeated like the recitation of a holy formula
or the meditation on the form of a deity or by some other method ?
114. (Reply): No, there is no injunction, for the result of the process is directly
perceived as every morsel of food going down the throat satisfies hunger to
that extent. A hungry man cannot be subjected to any rules about the eating
of food, as is done in ceremonial repetition.
115. A hungry man when he gets food, may eat it anyway he likes. And in the
absence of food he may divert his mind to some absorbing work to allay the pain
of hunger by whatever means available.
116. On the other hand Japa should be done according to prescribed rules, otherwise
one will acquire demerit. There is a risk of running into distress if it is
done irregularly by changing the letter or the pitch of tone.
117. Now the erroneous conviction, like hunger, causes visible pain. It must
be conquered by any means available. Here there is no order or rule regarding
118. The practice of thinking or talking of Brahman, etc., which helps to remove
the erroneous conviction has already been described. In one-pointed devotion
to the non-dual Brahman there is no fixed rule, as in meditation on a form of
119. Meditation means the constant thinking of the form of some deity without
the intervention of any other thought. By such meditation the mind which is
naturally fickle, must be fully controlled.
120. In the Gita, Arjuna says: ‘O Krishna, the mind is fickle, impetuous, uncurable
and strongly attached. I consider it as difficult to control as the wind’.
121. In the Yoga-Vasistha it is said: ‘It is more difficult to curb the mind
than to drink up the whole ocean or to dislodge Mount Meru or to eat fire’.
122. The mind cannot be chained like the body, so practise hearing about Brahman.
The mind is entertained by many religious stories and other accounts, as by
a dramatic performance.
123. The purpose of such account is to realise that the nature of the Self is
pure consciousness and that the universe is illusory. So they are not a hindrance
to the one-pointedness of meditation.
124. But when one is engaged in agriculture, commerce, service of others, study
of unspiritual literature, dialectics and other branches of learning, there
is no dwelling of the mind on the real entity.
125. The aspirant, engaged in keeping his mind on truth, however, is not disturbed
by taking food and so forth, as there is not much disturbance in continuing
the meditation. And even if forgotten for a moment the truth can be easily revived.
126. Merely momentary forgetfulness of the truth is not disastrous; but the
erroneous conviction IS. As (in the former case) the recollection immediately
returns, there is no time for intensification of the erroneous conviction.
127. A man who is excessively engaged in subjects other than Vedanta ceases
to meditate on Brahman. Such an engagement compels him to neglect intense meditation
on Brahman and a break in the practice is a great obstacle.
128. The Shruti says ‘Know that One alone and give up all vain talk’ and again
‘Arguments and talks only fatigue the faculty of speech’.
129. If you give up food, you will not live; but will you not be alive if you
give up studies (other than scriptures) ? So why so much insistence on pursuing
such studies ?
130. (Doubt): How then the ancient knowers like Janaka administered kingdoms
? (Reply): They were able because of their conviction about the truth. If you
have that, then by all means engage yourself in logic or agriculture or do whatever
131. Once he is convinced of the unreality of the world, a knower, with mind
undisturbed, allows his fructifying Karma to wear out and engages himself in
worldly affairs accordingly.
132. Do not fear irregularity when the wise engage themselves in actions according
to their Karma. Even if it happens, let it be; who can prevent the Karma ?
133. In the experience of their fructifying Karma the enlightened and the unenlightened
alike have no choice; but the knower is patient and undisturbed, whereas an
ignorant man is impatient and suffers pain and grief.
134. Two travellers on a journey may be equally fatigued, but the one who knows
that his destination is not far off goes on quicker with patience, whereas the
ignorant one feels discouraged and stays on longer on the way.
135. He who has properly realised Brahman and is not troubled by erroneous conviction,
‘desiring what and to please whom will he suffer following the afflictions of
his body and mind ?’
136. When the conviction of the unreality of the world has been reached, there
is neither desire, nor the desirer. In their absence the pain caused by unfulfilled
desires ceases like the flame of a lamp without oil.
137. When the visitor knows the magician’s city of Gandharvas and its objects
as unreal, he desires nothing and laughs at its deceptive nature.
138. Similarly a wise man does not seek enjoyment in the pleasing objects. He
is convinced of their defects, their impermanence and illusoriness and gives
139. ‘Wealth brings worry in earning, anxiety in maintenance, grief in loss
and sorrow in spending. Woe unto this sorrow-producing wealth!’.
140. What real beauty is there in women, who are but a conglomeration of fleshy
muscles, bones and glands ? They are a mass of flesh engaged in restless limbs.
141. Such are the defects of worldly pleasures, elaborately pointed out by the
scriptures. No wise man, aware of these defects, will allow himself to be drowned
in afflictions caused by them.
142. Even a man afflicted with great hunger does not wish to eat poison, much
less one who is already satisfied with sweetmeats.
143. If by the force of his fructifying Karma a wise man is compelled to enjoy
the fruits of desires, he does so with indifference and great reluctance like
a man who is impressed for labour.
144. The wise, having spiritual faith, if forced by their fructifying Karma
to live a family life, maintaining many relations, always sorrowfully think
‘Ah, the bonds of Karma are not yet torn off’.
145. This sorrow is not due to the afflictions of the world but a dislike for
it, for the worldly afflictions are caused by erroneous conviction about its
146. A man endowed with discrimination sees the defects of enjoyment and is
satisfied even with little, whereas he who is subject to illusion is not satisfied
even with endless enjoyments.
147. ‘The desires are never quelled by enjoyment but increase more like the
flame of a fire fed on clarified butter’.
148. But when the impermanence of pleasure is known, the gratification of desires
may bring the idea of ‘enough of it’. It is like a thief, who having been knowingly
employed in service does not behave like a thief but like a friend.
149. A man who has conquered his mind is satisfied with even a little enjoyment
of pleasure. He knows well that pleasures are impermanent and are followed by
grief. To him even a little pleasure is more than enough.
150. A king who has been freed from prison is content with sovereignty over
a village, whereas when he had neither been imprisoned nor conquered he did
not attach much value even to a kingdom.
151. (Doubt): When discrimination is ever awake regarding the defects of the
objects of enjoyment, how can the desire for enjoyment be forced upon him by
his fructifying Karma ?
152. (Reply): There is no inconsistency here, for the fructifying Karma expends
itself in various ways. There are three kinds of fructifying Karma ‘producing
enjoyment with desire’, ‘in the absence of desire’ and ‘through the desire of
153. The sick attached to harmful food, the thieves and those who have illicit
relationships with the wives of a king know well the consequence likely to follow
their actions, but in spite of this they are driven to do them by their fructifying
154. Even Ishvara cannot stop such desires. So Sri Krishna said to Arjuna in
155. ‘Even wise men follow the dictates of their own nature. Beings are prompted
by their own innate tendencies; what can restriction do ?’
156. If it were possible to avert the consequences of fructifying Karma, Nala,
Rama and Yudhisthira would not have suffered the miseries to which they were
157. Ishvara Himself ordains that the fructifying Karma should be inexorable.
So the fact that He is unable to prevent such Karma from fructifying is not
inconsistent with His omnipotence.
158. Listen to the questions and answers between Arjuna and Sri Krishna from
which we know that a man has to experience his fructifying Karma though he may
have no desire to experience it.
159. ‘O Krishna, prompted by what does a man sin against his will, as if some
force compels him to do so ?’
160. ‘It is desire and (its brood) anger, born of the quality of Rajas. It is
insatiable, the great source of all sins; know it to be your enemy.’
161. ‘O Arjuna, your own Karma, produced by your own nature, compels you to
do things, even though you may not want to do them’.
162. When a man is neither willing nor unwilling to do a thing but does it for
the feelings of others and experiences pleasure and pain, it is the result of
‘fructifying Karma through the desire of others’.
163. (Doubt): Does it not contradict the text at the beginning of this chapter
which describes the enlightened man as desireless ? (Reply): The text does not
mean that desires are absent in the enlightened man, but that desires arising
in him spontaneously without his will produce no pleasure or pain in him, just
as the roasted grain has no potency.
164. Roasted grain though looking the same cannot germinate; similarly the desires
of the knower, well aware of the unreality of objects of desire cannot produce
merit and demerit.
165. Though it does not germinate, the roasted grain can be used as food. In
the same way the desires of the knower yield him only a little experience, but
cannot lead to varieties of enjoyment producing sorrow or abiding habits.
166. The fructifying Karma spends its force when its effects are experienced;
it is only when, through ignorance, one believes its effects to be real that
they cause lasting sorrow.
167. ‘Let not my enjoyment be cut short, let it go on increasing, let not obstacles
stop it, I am blessed because of it’ – such is the nature of that delusion.
168. That which is not destined to happen as a result of our past Karma will
not happen; that which is to happen must happen. Such knowledge is a sure antidote
to the poison of anxiety; it removes the delusion of grief.
169. Both the illumined and the deluded suffer from their fructifying Karma;
the deluded are subject to misery, the wise are not. As the deluded are full
of desires, of impracticable unreal things, their sorrow is great.
170. The illumined man knows that the enjoyment of desires is unreal. He therefore
controls his desires and prevents impossible or new ones from arising. Why should
such a man be subject to misery ?
171. The wise man is convinced that worldly desires are like dream objects or
magical creations. He knows further that the nature of the world is incomprehensible
and that its objects are momentary. How can he then be attached to them ?
172. One should, when awake, first picture to himself vividly what he has seen
in a dream and then carefully and constantly think over the conditions of dreaming
173. An aspirant must observe long and find out the essential similarity of
the dream and waking worlds. He should then give up the notion of the reality
of worldly objects and cease to be attached to them.
174. This world of duality is like a magical creation, with its cause incomprehensible.
What matters it to the wise man who does not forget this, if the past actions
produce their results in him ?
175. The function of knowledge is to show the illusory nature of the world and
the function of fructifying Karma is to yield pleasure and pain to the Jiva.
176. Knowledge and fructifying Karma are not opposed to one another since they
refer to different objects. The sight of a magical performance gives amusement
to a spectator in spite of his knowledge of its unreality.
177. The fructification of Karma would be considered to be opposed to the knowledge
of truth if it gave rise to the idea of the reality of the transitory world;
but the mere enjoyment does not mean that the enjoyed thing is real.
178. Through the imaginary objects seen in a dream there is experience of joy
and sorrow to no small extent; therefore you can infer that through the objects
of the waking state also there can be the same experience (without making them
179. If the knowledge of truth would obliterate the enjoyable world, then it
would be a destroyer of the fructifying Karma. But it only teaches its unreality
and does not cause its disappearance.
180. People know a magical show to be unreal, but this knowledge does not involve
the destruction of the show. So it is possible to know the unreality of external
objects without causing their disappearance or the cessation of enjoyment from
181. (Doubt): The Shruti passages say that he who perceives his own Self to
be all, ‘what can he hear or see, or smell or speak ?’
182. Therefore knowledge arises with the destruction of duality and in no other
way. This being so, how can the knower of truth enjoy the objective world ?
183. (Reply): The Shruti upon which this objection is based applies to the states
of deep sleep and final liberation. This has been amply cleared in aphorism
4-4-16 in the Brahma Sutras.
184. If this is not accepted, we cannot account for Yajnavalkya’s and other
sages’ efforts to teach. Without a recognition of duality they could not teach
and with it their knowledge is incomplete.
185. (Doubt): Direct knowledge is achieved in subject-objectless contemplation
in which there is no duality. (Reply): Then why not apply the same argument
to the state of deep sleep ?
186. (Doubt): In the state of deep sleep there is no knowledge of the Self.
(Reply): Then you admit that it is not mere absence of duality but the knowledge
of the Self that really matters.
187. (Doubt): True knowledge combines in itself both the knowledge of Self and
the absence of knowledge of duality. (Reply): Then inanimate objects like pots
in which the knowledge of duality is absent are already half enlightened !
188. Then the pots are superior to you, for even the buzzing of mosquitoes often
distracts your attention and they have no such awareness of duality !
189. If, however, you admit, the knowledge of the Self alone constitutes realisation
you have accepted our position. Again if you say, to have realisation the troubling
mind is to be controlled, we bless you. Be happy, do control the mind.
190. We also like it, for the control of the mind is essential for the realisation
of the illusory character of the world. But although the wise man may have desires,
they are not binding as are the desires of an ignorant man. This is the drift
of the text ‘Desiring what …’.
191. There is therefore no contradiction between the two statements in the scriptures
that ‘desires are a sign of ignorance’ and that ‘the wise man may have desires’,
because the desires of a wise man are too weak to bind.
192. Since he is convinced of the associationlessness of the Self like the illusoriness
of the world, the knower has no idea of himself as a doer and enjoyer. The verse
quoted at the beginning of this chapter, ‘For whom should he desire ?’ applies
193. Many Shruti texts declare that a husband loves his wife not for her sake
and the wife loves him not for his sake, but for their own sake.
194. Now who is the doer and enjoyer ? Is it the immutable Kutastha or the reflected
consciousness, Chidabhasa, or a union of the two ? Kutastha cannot be the enjoyer
since it is associationless.
195. Enjoyment signifies the change that results from identification with the
sensations of pleasure and pain. If the immutable Kutastha is the enjoyer, it
becomes mutable, then would it not be self-contradictory ?
196. Chidabhasa is subject to the changing conditions of the intellect and he
undergoes modifications; but Chidabhasa being illusory exists only by virtue
of his real substratum and therefore he cannot by himself be the enjoyer.
197. In common parlance, therefore, Chidabhasa in conjunction with Kutastha
is considered to be the enjoyer. But the Shruti begins with both the types of
Self and concludes that Kutastha alone remains.
198. When King Janaka asked Yajnavalkya about the nature of the Self, the sage
first told him of the sheath of intellect and then, pointing out its inadequacy
(to be the Self), ended in teaching him of the immutable Kutastha.
199. In fact, Aitareya and other Shruti texts, concerned with the consideration
of the Self, begin with an enquiry into the nature of the enjoyer and end in
a description of the immutable Kutastha.
200. Owing to ignorance the enjoyer superimposes the reality of Kutastha on
to himself. Consequently he considers his enjoyment to be real and does not
want to give it up.
201. The enjoyer desires to have a wife and so forth for his own pleasures.
This popular notion has been well described in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
202. The Shruti says that since the enjoyable objects are for the sake of the
enjoyer, they should not be loved for their own sake. Since the enjoyer is the
central factor, love should be given to him.
203. Prahlada prays in the Vishnu Purana: ‘Let the unending love which the undiscriminating
have for transient objects, be not removed from me, O Lord but directed towards
Thee so that I may have incessant flow of Thy remembrance’.
204. Following this method an aspirant should become indifferent to all enjoyable
objects in the external realm and direct the love he feels for them towards
the Self and desire to know It.
205. As the fallen ones keep their minds ever concentrated on objects of enjoyment,
such as garlands, sandal ointment, young women, clothes, gold and so forth,
so an aspirant for liberation ought to keep his attention fixed on the Self
and never falter.
206. As a man desirous of establishing his superiority over his opponents engages
himself in the study of literature, drama, logic and so forth, so an aspirant
for liberation should discriminate about the nature of the Self.
207. As a man desirous of heaven repeats the holy formula and performs sacrifices,
worship and so forth with great faith, so should an aspirant for liberation
put all his faith in the Self.
208. As a Yogi devotes himself with perseverance to obtaining concentration
of the mind in order to acquire supernatural powers, like making oneself small
or great, so should an aspirant for liberation (perseveringly) differentiate
the body from the Self.
209. As these people through perseverance increase their efficiency in their
fields, so for the aspirant for liberation through continuous practice the idea
of separateness of the Self from the body becomes stronger.
210. The real nature of the enjoyer can be understood by applying the method
of distinguishing between the variable and the invariable. In this way an aspirant
comes to know that the witness of the three states is ever detached.
211. It is common experience that the states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep
are distinct from one another, but that the experiencing consciousness is the
212. The Shruti trumpets that whatever objects are cognised by the Self in any
state, whether meritorious or unmeritorious, producing pleasure or pain, are
not carried over from one state to another.
213. ‘When a man realises his identity with that Brahman which illumines the
worlds of the waking, dreaming and sleeping states, he is released from all
214. ‘One should consider the Self to be the same in the waking, dreaming and
sleeping states. That Atman which knows itself as beyond the three states is
free from rebirth’.
215. ‘That Self which is not subject to experience in any of the three states,
which can be called pure consciousness, the witness, the ever blissful and which
is neither the enjoyer nor the enjoyment or the object of enjoyment, That I
216. When the Self has been differentiated in this way, what remains as the
enjoyer is Chidabhasa or Jiva who is also known as the sheath of the intellect
and who is subject to change.
217. This Chidabhasa is a product of Maya. Shruti and experience both demonstrate
this. The world is a magical show and Chidabhasa is included in it.
218. In deep sleep the unchanging witness consciousness perceives the absorption
of Chidabhasa who is therefore unreal. By continually differentiating the Chidabhasa
one comes to understand his unreality and his separateness from Kutastha.
219. When Chidabhasa or Jiva convinces himself that he is liable to destruction,
he no longer has a desire for pleasure. Does a man lying on the ground in death-bed,
desire to marry ?
220. He is ashamed to speak of himself as an enjoyer as before. He feels ashamed
like one whose nose has been cut off and just endures the experience of his
221. When Chidabhasa is ashamed to think of himself as the enjoyer, how meaningless
it is to say that he will superimpose the idea of being the enjoyer on to Kutastha.
222. Thus the words ‘for whose gratification’ in the first verse, are intended
to denote that there is no enjoyer at all and consequently, to the enlightened
there are no bodily miseries.
223. Bodies are known to be of three types, viz., gross, subtle and causal.
And, of course, there are correspondingly three kinds of afflictions or affections.
224. The physical body, composed of wind, fire and water (the three-humours
of the body), is subject to scores of diseases and also to many other troubles
such as bad odour, deformity, inflammation and fracture.
225. The subtle body is affected on the one hand by desire, anger and so forth
and on the other by inner and outer control, peace of the mind and serenity
of the senses. The presence of the former affections and the absence of the
latter lead to misery.
226. In deep sleep, the state of the causal body, the Jiva knows neither himself
nor others and appears as if dead. The causal body is the seed of future births
and their miseries. So saw Indra, as declared in the Chandogya Upanishad.
227. These affections are said to be natural to the three bodies. When the bodies
become free from them, they cease to function.
228. As there is no piece of cloth without cotton threads, no blanket without
wool and no pot without clay, so the three bodies cannot exist without these
229. Yet, as a matter of fact, these affections are not natural to Chidabhasa.
(They belong only to the bodies with which Chidabhasa is identified.) It is
to be noted that the reflected consciousness is not different from pure consciousness
and both are self-luminous by nature.
230. None of these affections are natural to Chidabhasa. How then can they be
attributed to Kutastha ? The fact is that through the force of ignorance (Avidya)
Chidabhasa imagines himself to be identified with the three bodies and is affected.
231. Chidabhasa superimposes on the three bodies the reality of the Kutastha
and imagines that these three bodies are his real Self.
232. As long as the illusion lasts Chidabhasa continues to take upon himself
the states which the bodies undergo and is affected by them, as an infatuated
man feels himself affected when something affects his family.
233. An ordinary man is afflicted when his son or wife suffers; similarly Chidabhasa
unreasonably thinks that he is afflicted by bodily ailments.
234. By discrimination ridding himself of all illusion and without caring for
himself the Chidabhasa always thinks of the Kutastha. How can he still be subject
to the afflictions pertaining to the bodies ?
235. When a man takes a rope for a serpent, he runs away from it. When the illusion
is negated and the true nature of the rope is known, he realises his error and
is ashamed of it.
236. As a man who has injured another through ignorance humbly begs his forgiveness
on realising his error, so Chidabhasa submits himself to Kutastha.
237. As a man does repeated penance of bathing etc., for repeated sins, so Chidabhasa
too, repeatedly meditates on Kutastha and submits to It as his witness or substratum.
238. As a courtesan suffering from a certain disease is ashamed to demonstrate
her charms to a lover who is acquainted with her condition, so Chidabhasa is
ashamed to consider himself as the doer and enjoyer.
239. As a Brahmana defiled by contact with a vicious man of low caste undergoes
penance and subsequently avoids the risk of touching such a man, so Chidabhasa,
having known of his difference from the bodies, no longer identifies himself
240. An heir-apparent imitates the life of his father, the king, in order to
fit himself for accession to the throne. So Chidabhasa continually imitates
the witness Kutastha with a view to his being one with It.
241. He who has heard the declaration of Shruti: ‘The knower of Brahman becomes
Brahman’, fixes his whole mind on Brahman and ultimately knows himself to be
242. As people desirous of acquiring the state of the deities immolate themselves
in the fire, so Chidabhasa renounces his identity in order to be absorbed in
243. In the course of self-immolation a man retains his manhood until his body
is completely consumed. So the idea of Chidabhasa continues as long as the body,
the result of fructifying Karma, continues.
244. After a man has realised the nature of the rope, the trembling caused by
the erroneous idea of the snake disappears gradually only and the idea of the
snake still sometimes haunts him when he sees a rope in darkness.
245. Similarly the fructifying Karma does not end abruptly but dies down slowly.
In the course of the enjoyment of its fruits, the knower is occasionally visited
by such thoughts as ‘I am a mortal’.
246. Lapses like this do not nullify the realisation of truth. Jivanmukti (liberation
in life) is not a vow, but the establishment of the soul in the knowledge of
247. In the example already cited, the tenth man, who may have been crying and
beating his head in sorrow, stops lamenting on realising that the tenth is not
dead; but the wounds caused by beating his head take a month gradually to heal.
248. On realising that the tenth is alive, he rejoices and forgets the pain
of his wounds. In the same way liberation in life makes one forget any misery
resulting from the fructifying Karma.
249. As it is not a vow and a break does not matter, one should reflect on the
truth again and again to remove the delusion whenever it recurs, just as a man
who takes mercury to cure a certain disease eats again and again during the
day to satisfy the hunger caused by the mercury.
250. As the tenth man cures his wounds by applying medicines, so the knower
wears out his fructifying Karma by enjoyment and is ultimately liberated.
251. In the first verse, the expression ‘Desiring what ?’ indicates the release
from suffering. This is the sixth state of Chidabhasa. The seventh state, which
is now described, is the achievement of perfect satisfaction.
252. The satisfaction by external objects is limited, but the satisfaction of
liberation in life is unlimited. The satisfaction of direct knowledge engenders
the feeling that all that was to be achieved has been achieved and all that
was to be enjoyed has been enjoyed.
253. Before realisation one has many duties to perform in order to acquire worldly
and celestial advantages and also as an aid to ultimate release; but with the
rise of knowledge of Brahman, they are as good as already done, for nothing
further remains to be done.
254. The Jivanmukta always feels supreme self-satisfaction by constantly keeping
in view his former state and present state of freedom from wants and duties.
255. Let the ignorant people of the world perform worldly actions and desire
to possess wives, children and wealth. I am full of supreme bliss. For what
purpose should I engage myself in worldly concerns ?
256. Let those desirous of joy in heaven perform the ordained rituals. I pervade
all the worlds. How and wherefore should I undertake such actions ?
257. Let those who are entitled to it, explain the scriptures or teach the Vedas.
I am not so entitled because all my actions have ceased.
258. I have no desire to sleep or beg for alms, nor do I do so; nor do I perform
the acts of bathing or ablution. The onlookers imagine these things in me. What
have I to do with their imaginations ?
259. Seeing a bush of red gunja berries from a distance one may suppose that
there is a fire, but such as imaginary fire does not affect the bush. So the
worldly duties and qualities attributed to me by others do not affect me.
260. Let those ignorant of the nature of Brahman listen to the teachings of
the Vedanta philosophy. I have Self-knowledge. Why again should I listen to
them ? Those who are in doubt reflect on the nature of Brahman. I have no doubts,
so I do not do so.
261. He who is subject to erroneous conviction may practise meditation. I do
not confuse the Self for the body. So in the absence of such a delusion why
should I meditate ?
262. Even without being subject to this delusion, I behave like a human being
through the impressions and habits gathered over a long period.
263. All worldly dealings will come to an end when the fructifying Karma wears
out. If it does not wear out, thousands of meditational bouts will not stop
264. To bring to an end your worldly dealings, you may practise contemplation
as much as you like, but I know the worldly dealings to be perfectly harmless.
Why should I then meditate ?
265. There is no distraction for me, so for me there is no need of Samadhi too.
Both distraction and absorption are states of the changeable mind.
266. I am the sum of all the experiences in the universe; where is the separate
experience for me ? I have obtained all that was to be obtained and have done
all that was to be done. This is my unshakable conviction.
267. I am associationless, neither the doer nor the enjoyer. I am not concerned
with what the past actions make me do, whether in accordance with or against
the social or scriptural codes.
268. Or, there is no harm if I engage myself in doing good to the world following
the scriptural injunctions even though I have obtained all that was to be obtained.
269. Let my body worship God, take bath, preserve cleanliness or beg for alms.
Let my mind recite ‘Aum’ or study the Upanishads.
270. Let my intellect meditate on Vishnu or be merged in the bliss of Brahman,
I am the witness of all. I do nothing nor cause anything to be done.
271. How can there be any conflict between the actor and myself ? Our functions
are as apart from each other as the eastern from the western ocean ?
272. An advocate of action is mainly concerned with the body, the organs of
speech, the intellect and with Karma; he is not concerned with the witness-consciousness,
whereas the illumined one is concerned with the associationless witness, not
with other things.
273. If the advocates of Karma and Jnana, without understanding the difference
of their topics, enter into a dispute, they are like two deaf persons quarrelling
! The illumined ones only laugh at seeing them.
274. Let the knower of truth know the witness-consciousness whom the Karmi does
not recognise, as Brahman. What does the Karmi lose by this ?
275. The illumined man has rejected the body, speech and mind as unreal. What
does he lose if a believer in action makes use of them ?
276. (Doubt): The knower of truth has no use for getting engaged in action.
(Reply): What use has actionlessness ? (Doubt): Absence of action is a help
to the acquisition of knowledge. (Reply): Action too is helpful in the search
277. (Doubt): Once the truth is known, there is no further desire to know it
(and so he has no need for action). (Reply): He has not to know again (and so
he has no need for inaction). The knowledge of truth remains unobstructed and
needs nothing further to revive it.
278. Nescience (Avidya) and its effects (the realm of duality) cannot negate
the knowledge of truth. The dawn of truth has already destroyed them for ever
in the case of the knower.
279. The realm of duality, destroyed by knowledge, may still be perceived by
the senses, but such perception does not affect illumination. A living rat cannot
kill a cat; then how can it do so when dead ?
280. When a man is so invulnerable that even the mighty weapon Pasupata cannot
kill him, how can you say that he will be killed by an edgeless weapon ?
281. The knowledge of truth has fought and overcome ignorance even when it was
at the height of its power being helped by a variety of wrong notions produced
by it. How can that knowledge, firmer now, be obstructed ?
282. Let the corpses of ignorance and its effects, destroyed by knowledge, remain;
the Emperor, the conqueror, has no fear of them; on the contrary they only proclaim
283. To one who is not separated from this all-powerful knowledge, neither engagement
in action nor actionlessness does any injury. They relate only to the body.
284. He who is without knowledge of truth must always be enthusiastic about
action, for it is the duty of men to make efforts for heaven or for liberation.
285. If the knower of truth is among people who are performing actions, he too
performs all actions required of him with his body, mind and speech, so as to
be in accord with them.
286. If on the other hand he happens to be among people who are aspirants to
spiritual knowledge, he should show defects in all actions and himself give
287. It is proper that the wise man when with the ignorant should act in accord
with their actions, just as a loving father acts according to the wishes of
his little children.
288. When his infant children show him disrespect or beat him, he neither gets
angry with them nor feels sorry, but, on the contrary, fondles them with affection.
289. The enlightened man when praised or blamed by the ignorant does not praise
or blame them in return. He behaves in such a way as to awaken a knowledge of
the real entity in them.
290. With the ignorant a wise man should behave in such a way as will enable
them to have realisation. In this world he has no other duty except awakening
291. As he has achieved all that was to be achieved and nothing else remains
for him to do, he feels satisfied and always things thus:
292. Blessed am I, blessed, for I have the constant vision of my Self ! Blessed
am I, blessed, for the bliss of Brahman shines clearly to me !
293. Blessed am I, blessed, for I am free from the sufferings of the world.
Blessed am I, blessed, for my ignorance has fled away, I know not where.
294. Blessed am I, blessed, for I have no further duty to perform. Blessed am
I, blessed, for I have now achieved the highest that one can aspire to.
295. Blessed am I, blessed, for there is nothing to compare with my great bliss
! Blessed am I, blessed, blessed, blessed, again and again blessed !
296. O my merits, my merits, how enduringly they have borne fruit ! Wonderful
are we, the possessors of this great merit, wonderful !
297. O how grand and true are the scriptures, the scriptures, O how grand and
great is my teacher, my teacher ! O how grand is this illumination, this illumination,
O how grand is this bliss, this bliss !
298. The wise who study repeatedly this chapter called the ‘Lamp of perfect
Satisfaction’ will dive in the bliss of Brahman and remain in perfect bliss.