Adi Sankaracharya, Translated by Swami Madhavananda
Published by Advaita Ashram, Kolkatta
101. Blindness, weakness and sharpness are conditions of the eye, due merely to its fitness or defectiveness; so are deafness, dumbness, etc., of the ear and so forth – but never of the Atman, the Knower.
102. Inhalation and exhalation, yawning, sneezing, secretion, leaving this body, etc., are called by experts functions of Prana and the rest, while hunger and thirst are characteristics of Prana proper.
103. The inner organ (mind) has its seat in the organs such as the eye, as well as in the body, identifying with them and endued with a reflection of the Atman.
104. Know that it is egoism which, identifying itself with the body, becomes the doer or experiencer, and in conjunction with the Gunas such as the Sattva, assumes the three different states.
105. When sense-objects are favourable it becomes happy, and it becomes miserable when the case is contrary. So happiness and misery are characteristics of egoism, and not of the ever-blissful Atman.
106. Sense-objects are pleasurable only as dependent on the Atman manifesting through them, and not independently, because the Atman is by Its very nature the most beloved of all. Therefore the Atman is ever blissful, and never suffers misery.
107. That in profound sleep we experience the bliss of the Atman independent of sense-objects, is clearly attested by the Shruti, direct perception, tradition and inference.
108. Avidya (Nescience) or Maya, called also the Undifferentiated, is the power of the Lord. She is without beginning, is made up of the three Gunas and is superior to the effects (as their cause). She is to be inferred by one of clear intellect only from the effects She produces. It is She who brings forth this whole universe.
109. She is neither existent nor non-existent nor partaking of both characters; neither same nor different nor both; neither composed of parts nor an indivisible whole nor both. She is most wonderful and cannot be described in words.
110. Maya can be destroyed by the realisation of the pure Brahman, the one without a second, just as the mistaken idea of a snake is removed by the discrimination of the rope. She has her Gunas as Rajas, Tamas and Sattva, named after their respective functions.
111. Rajas has its Vikshepa-Shakti or projecting power, which is of the nature of an activity, and from which this primeval flow of activity has emanated. From this also, mental modifications such as attachment and grief are continually produced.
112. Lust, anger, avarice, arrogance, spite, egoism, envy, jealousy, etc., -- these are the dire attributes of Rajas, from which the worldly tendency of man is produced. Therefore Rajas is a cause of bondage.
113. Avriti or the veiling power is the power of Tamas, which makes things appear other than what they are. It is this that causes man’s repeated transmigrations, and starts the action of the projecting power (Vikshepa).
114. Even wise and learned men and men who are clever and adept in the vision of the exceedingly subtle Atman, are overpowered by Tamas and do not understand the Atman, even though clearly explained in various ways. What is simply superimposed by delusion, they consider as true, and attach themselves to its effects. Alas ! How powerful is the great Avriti Shakti of dreadful Tamas !
115. Absence of the right judgment, or contrary judgment, want of definite belief and doubt – these certainly never desert one who has any connection with this veiling power, and then the projecting power gives ceaseless trouble.
116. Ignorance, lassitude, dullness, sleep, inadvertence, stupidity, etc., are attributes of Tamas. One tied to these does not comprehend anything, but remains like one asleep or like a stock or stone.
117. Pure Sattva is (clear) like water, yet in conjunction with Rajas and Tamas it makes for transmigration. The reality of the Atman becomes reflected in Sattva and like the sun reveals the entire world of matter.
118. The traits of mixed Sattva are an utter absence of pride etc., and Niyama, Yama, etc., as well as faith, devotion, yearning for Liberation, the divine tendencies and turning away from the unreal.
119. The traits of pure Sattva are cheerfulness, the realisation of one’s own Self, supreme peace, contentment, bliss, and steady devotion to the Atman, by which the aspirant enjoys bliss everlasting.
120. This Undifferentiated, spoken of as the compound of the three Gunas, is the causal body of the soul. Profound sleep is its special state, in which the functions of the mind and all its organs are suspended.
121. Profound sleep is the cessation of all kinds of perception, in which the mind remains in a subtle seed-like form. The test of this is the universal verdict, "I did not know anything then".
122. The body, organs, Pranas, Manas, egoism, etc., all modifications, the sense-objects, pleasure and the rest, the gross elements such as the ether, in fact, the whole universe, up to the Undifferentiated – all this is the non-Self.
123. From Mahat down to the gross body everything is the effect of Maya: These and Maya itself know thou to be the non-Self, and therefore unreal like the mirage in a desert.
124. Now I am going to tell thee of the real nature of the supreme Self, realising which man is freed from bondage and attains Liberation.
125. There is some Absolute Entity, the eternal substratum of the consciousness of egoism, the witness of the three states, and distinct from the five sheaths or coverings:
126. Which knows everything that happens in the waking state, in dream and in profound sleep; which is aware of the presence or absence of the mind and its functions; and which is the background of the notion of egoism. – This is That.
127. Which Itself sees all, but which no one beholds, which illumines the intellect etc., but which they cannot illumine. – This is That.
128. By which this universe is pervaded, but which nothing pervades, which shining, all this (universe) shines as Its reflection. – This is That.
129. By whose very presence the body, the organs, mind and intellect keep to their respective spheres of action, like servants !
130. By which everything from egoism down to the body, the sense-objects and pleasure etc., is known as palpably as a jar – for It is the essence of Eternal Knowledge !
131. This is the innermost Self, the primeval Purusha (Being), whose essence is the constant realisation of infinite Bliss, which is ever the same, yet reflecting through the different mental modifications, and commanded by which the organs and Pranas perform their functions.
132. In this very body, in the mind full of Sattva, in the secret chamber of the intellect, in the Akasha known as the Unmanifested, the Atman, of charming splendour, shines like the sun aloft, manifesting this universe through Its own effulgence.
133. The Knower of the modifications of mind and egoism, and of the activities of the body, the organs and Pranas, apparently taking their forms, like the fire in a ball of iron; It neither acts nor is subject to change in the least.
134. It is neither born nor dies, It neither grows nor decays, nor does It undergo any change, being eternal. It does not cease to exist even when this body is destroyed, like the sky in a jar (after it is broken), for It is independent.
135. The Supreme Self, different from the Prakriti and its modifications, of the essence of Pure Knowledge, and Absolute, directly manifests this entire gross and subtle universe, in the waking and other states, as the substratum of the persistent sense of egoism, and manifests Itself as the Witness of the Buddhi, the determinative faculty.
136.By means of a regulated mind and the purified intellect (Buddhi), realise directly thy own Self in the body so as to identify thyself with It, cross the boundless ocean of Samsara whose waves are birth and death, and firmly established in Brahman as thy own essence, be blessed.
137. Identifying the Self with this non-Self – this is the bondage of man, which is due to his ignorance, and brings in its train the miseries of birth and death. It is through this that one considers this evanescent body as real, and identifying oneself with it, nourishes, bathes, and preserves it by means of (agreeable) sense-objects, by which he becomes bound as the caterpillar by the threads of its cocoon.
138. One who is overpowered by ignorance mistakes a thing for what it is not; It is the absence of discrimination that causes one to mistake a snake for a rope, and great dangers overtake him when he seizes it through that wrong notion. Hence, listen, my friend, it is the mistaking of transitory things as real that constitutes bondage.
139. This veiling power (Avriti), which preponderates in ignorance, covers the Self, whose glories are infinite and which manifests Itself through the power of knowledge, indivisible, eternal and one without a second – as Rahu does the orb of the sun.
140. When his own Self, endowed with the purest splendour, is hidden from view, a man through ignorance falsely identifies himself with this body, which is the non-Self. And then the great power of rajas called the projecting power sorely afflicts him through the binding fetters of lust, anger, etc.,
141. The man of perverted intellect, having his Self-knowledge swallowed up by the shark of utter ignorance, himself imitates the various states of the intellect (Buddhi), as that is Its superimposed attribute, and drifts up and down in this boundless ocean of Samsara which is full of the poison of sense-enjoyment, now sinking, now rising – a miserable fate indeed!
142. As layers of clouds generated by the sun’s rays cover the sun and alone appear (in the sky), so egoism generated by the Self, covers the reality of the Self and appears by itself.
143. Just as, on a cloudy day, when the sun is swallowed up by dense clouds, violent cold blasts trouble them, so when the Atman is hidden by intense ignorance, the dreadful Vikshepa Shakti (projecting power) afflicts the foolish man with numerous griefs.
144. It is from these two powers that man’s bondage has proceeded – beguiled by which he mistakes the body for the Self and wanders (from body to body).
145. Of the tree of Samsara ignorance is the seed, the identification with the body is its sprout, attachment its tender leaves, work its water, the body its trunk, the vital forces its branches, the organs its twigs, the sense-objects its flowers, various miseries due to diverse works are its fruits, and the individual soul is the bird on it.
146. This bondage of the non-Self springs from ignorance, is self-caused, and is described as without beginning and end. It subjects one to the long train of miseries such as birth, death, disease and decrepitude.
147. This bondage can be destroyed neither by weapons nor by wind, nor by fire, nor by millions of acts – by nothing except the wonderful sword of knowledge that comes of discrimination, sharpened by the grace of the Lord.
148. One who is passionately devoted to the authority of the Shrutis acquires steadiness in his Svadharma, which alone conduces to the purity of his mind. The man of pure mind realises the Supreme Self, and by this alone Samsara with its root is destroyed.
149. Covered by the five sheaths – the material one and the rest – which are the products of Its own power, the Self ceases to appear, like the water of a tank by its accumulation of sedge.
150. On the removal of that sedge the perfectly pure water that allays the pangs of thirst and gives immediate joy, appears unobstructed before the man.
151. When all the five sheaths have been eliminated, the Self of man appears – pure, of the essence of everlasting and unalloyed bliss, indwelling, supreme and self-effulgent.
152. To remove his bondage the wise man should discriminate between the Self and the non-Self. By that alone he comes to know his own Self as Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute and becomes happy.
153. He indeed is free who discriminates between all sense-objects and the indwelling, unattached and inactive Self – as one separates a stalk of grass from its enveloping sheath – and merging everything in It, remains in a state of identity with That.
154. This body of ours is the product of food and comprises the material sheath; it lives on food and dies without it; it is a mass of skin, flesh, blood, bones and filth, and can never be the eternally pure, self-existent Atman.
155. It does not exist prior to inception or posterior to dissolution, but lasts only for a short (intervening) period; its virtues are transient, and it is changeful by nature; it is manifold, inert, and is a sense-object, like a jar; how can it be one’s own Self, the Witness of changes in all things ?
156. The body, consisting of arms, legs, etc., cannot be the Atman, for one continues to live even when particular limbs are gone, and the different functions of the organism also remain intact. The body which is subject to another’s rule cannot be the Self which is the Ruler of all.
157. That the Atman as the abiding Reality is different from the body, its characteristics, its activities, its states, etc., of which It is the witness, is self-evident.
158. How can the body, being a pack of bones, covered with flesh, full of filth and highly impure, be the self-existent Atman, the Knower, which is ever distinct from it ?
159. It is the foolish man who identifies himself with a mass of skin, flesh, fat, bones and filth, while the man of discrimination knows his own Self, the only Reality that there is, as distinct from the body.
160. The stupid man thinks he is the body, the book-learned man identifies himself with the mixture of body and soul, while the sage possessed of realisation due to discrimination looks upon the eternal Atman as his Self, and thinks, "I am Brahman".
161. O foolish person, cease to identify thyself with this bundle of skin, flesh, fat, bones and filth, and identify thyself instead with the Absolute Brahman, the Self of all, and thus attain to supreme Peace.
162. As long as the book-learned man does not give up his mistaken identification with the body, organs, etc., which are unreal, there is no talk of emancipation for him, even if he be ever so erudite in the Vedanta philosophy.
163. Just as thou dost not identify thyself with the shadow-body, the image-body, the dream-body, or the body thou hast in the imaginations of thy heart, cease thou to do likewise with the living body also.
164. Identifications with the body alone is the root that produces the misery of birth etc., of people who are attached to the unreal; therefore destroy thou this with the utmost care. When this identification caused by the mind is given up, there is no more chance for rebirth.
165. The Prana, with which we are all familiar, coupled with the five organs of action, forms the vital sheath, permeated by which the material sheath engages itself in all activities as if it were living.
166. Neither is the vital sheath the Self – because it is a modification of Vayu, and like the air it enters into and comes out of the body, and because it never knows in the least either its own weal and woe or those of others, being eternally dependent on the Self.
167. The organs of knowledge together with the mind form the mental sheath – the cause of the diversity of things such as "I" and "mine". It is powerful and endued with the faculty of creating differences of name etc., It manifests itself as permeating the preceding, i.e. the vital sheath.
168. The mental sheath is the (sacrificial) fire which, fed with the fuel of numerous desires by the five sense-organs which serve as priests, and set ablaze by the sense-objects which act as the stream of oblations, brings about this phenomenal universe.
169. There is no Ignorance (Avidya) outside the mind. The mind alone is Avidya, the cause of the bondage of transmigration. When that is destroyed, all else is destroyed, and when it is manifested, everything else is manifested.
170. In dreams, when there is no actual contact with the external world, the mind alone creates the whole universe consisting of the experiencer etc. Similarly in the waking state also; there is no difference. Therefore all this (phenomenal universe) is the projection of the mind.
171. In dreamless sleep, when the mind is reduced to its causal state, there exists nothing (for the person asleep), as is evident from universal experience. Hence man’s relative existence is simply the creation of his mind, and has no objective reality.
172. Clouds are brought in by the wind and again driven away by the same agency. Similarly, man’s bondage is caused by the mind, and Liberation too is caused by that alone.
173. It (first) creates an attachment in man for the body and all other sense-objects, and binds him through that attachment like a beast by means of ropes. Afterwards, the selfsame mind creates in the individual an utter distaste for these sense-objects as if they were poison, and frees him from the bondage.
174. Therefore the mind is the only cause that brings about man’s bondage or Liberation: when tainted by the effects of Rajas it leads to bondage, and when pure and divested of the Rajas and Tamas elements it conduces to Liberation.
175. Attaining purity through a preponderance of discrimination and renunciation, the mind makes for Liberation. Hence the wise seeker after Liberation must first strengthen these two.
176. In the forest-tract of sense-pleasures there prowls a huge tiger called the mind. Let good people who have a longing for Liberation never go there.
177. The mind continually produces for the experiencer all sense-objects without exception, whether perceived as gross or fine, the differences of body, caste, order of life, and tribe, as well as the varieties of qualification, action, means and results.
178. Deluding the Jiva, which is unattached Pure Intelligence, and binding it by the ties of body, organs and Pranas, the mind causes it to wander, with ideas of "I" and "mine", amidst the varied enjoyment of results achieved by itself.
179. Man’s transmigration is due to the evil of superimposition, and the bondage of superimposition is created by the mind alone. It is this that causes the misery of birth etc., for the man of non-discrimination who is tainted by Rajas and Tamas.
180. Hence sages who have fathomed its secret have designated the mind as Avidya or ignorance, by which alone the universe is moved to and fro, like masses of clouds by the wind.
181. Therefore the seeker after Liberation must carefully purify the mind. When this is purified, Liberation is as easy of access as a fruit on the palm of one’s hand.
182. He who by means of one-pointed devotion to Liberation roots out the attachment to sense-objects, renounces all actions, and with faith in the Real Brahman regularly practices hearing, etc., succeeds in purging the Rajasika nature of the intellect.
183. Neither can the mental sheath be the Supreme Self, because it has a beginning and an end, is subject to modifications, is characterised by pain and suffering and is an object; whereas the subject can never be identified with the objects of knowledge.
184. The Buddhi with its modifications and the organs of knowledge, forms the Vijnanamaya Kosha or knowledge sheath, of the agent, having the characteristics which is the cause of man’s transmigration.
185. This knowledge sheath, which seems to be followed by a reflection of the power of the Chit, is a modification of the Prakriti, is endowed with the function of knowledge, and always wholly identifies itself with the body, organs, etc.
186-187. It is without beginning, characterised by egoism, is called the Jiva, and carries on all the activities on the relative plane. Through previous desires it performs good and evil actions and experiences their results. Being born in various bodies, it comes and goes, up and down. It is this knowledge sheath that has the waking, dream and other states, and experiences joy and grief.
188. It always mistakes the duties, functions and attributes of the orders of life which belong to the body, as its own. The knowledge sheath is exceedingly effulgent, owing to its close proximity to the Supreme Self, which identifying Itself with it suffers transmigration through delusion. It is therefore a superimposition on the Self.
189. The self-effulgent Atman, which is Pure Knowledge, shines in the midst of the Pranas, within the heart. Though immutable, It becomes the agent and experiencer owing to Its superimposition, the knowledge sheath.
190. Though the Self of everything that exists, this Atman, Itself assuming the limitations of the Buddhi and wrongly identifying Itself with this totally unreal entity, looks upon Itself as something different – like earthen jars from the clay of which they are made.
191. Owing to Its connection with the super-impositions, the Supreme Self, even thou naturally perfect (transcending Nature) and eternally unchanging, assumes the qualities of the superimpositions and appears to act just as they do – like the changeless fire assuming the modifications of the iron which it turns red-hot.
192. The disciple questioned: Be it through delusion or otherwise that the Supreme Self has come to consider Itself as the Jiva, this superimposition is without beginning, and that which has no beginning cannot be supposed to have an end either.
193. Therefore the Jivahood of the soul also must have no end, and its transmigration must continue for ever. How then can there be Liberation for the soul ? Kindly enlighten me on this point, O revered Master.
194. The Teacher said: Thou hast rightly questioned, O learned man ! Listen therefore attentively: The imagination which has been conjured up by delusion can never be accepted as a fact.
195. But for delusion there can be no connection of the Self – which is unattached, beyond activity and formless – with the objective world, as in the case of blueness etc., with reference to the sky.
196. The Jivahood of the Atman, the Witness, which is beyond qualities and beyond activity, and which is realised within as Knowledge and Bliss Absolute – has been superimposed by the delusion of the Buddhi, and is not real. And because it is by nature an unreality, it ceases to exist when the delusion is gone.
197. It exists only so long as the delusion lasts, being caused by indiscrimination due to an illusion. The rope is supposed to be the snake only so long as the mistake lasts, and there is no more snake when the illusion has vanished. Similar is the case here.
198-199. Avidya or Nescience and its effects are likewise considered as beginningless. But with the rise of Vidya or realisation, the entire effects of Avidya, even though beginningless, are destroyed together with their root – like dreams on waking up from sleep. It is clear that the phenomenal universe, even though without beginning, is not eternal – like previous non-existence.
200-201. Previous non-existence, even though beginningless, is observed to have an end. So the Jivahood which is imagined to be in the Atman through its relation with superimposed attributes such as the Buddhi, is not real; whereas the other (the Atman) is essentially different from it. The relation between the Atman and the Buddhi is due to a false knowledge.