Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Summary and Conclusion:


By God’s grace we completed learning the slokas of Sri Sankara’s Laghu vakya vritti. Let us now summarize the work once before closing this thread.

Acharya first starts the work by mentioning the three adjuncts of Atman. Adjuncts can never themselves be the Self and the indivisible, infinite Self can not have any parts, hence all the adjuncts are illusory and impermanent only. The wrong perception of these illusory adjuncts as the Atman has to be negated. The three adjuncts are : the gross, subtle and the causal body.

The first adjunct is the gross body which is made of the five elements. The gross body nothing but flesh, bones and blood is subject to the six modifications of birth, growth, disease, death and decay. Such a body which is temporary and insentient can not be the eternal Self, Hence the body is considered as the first adjunct. The second adjunct is made up of the desires called the subtle body. This consists of the five vital airs, the organs of sense and the organs of action, mind and the intellect. i.e, prana, Jnanendriyas, karmendriyas , dheehi and buddhi. These cannot function by themselves are also insentient. Hence these, devoid of consciousness and are dependent on a conscious functioning agent. Hence these are also impermanent and form the second adjuncts. The third adjunct is the causal body which is of the nature of ignorance. Ignorance of the true nature of Self is what causes the wrong cognition of the Self with these adjuncts. Hence the causal body is called as the third adjunct. These adjuncts are just illusions on the Atman can never be the Self and the false recognition of them to Self makes them as limitations. The ego binds this illusory body to Self.

It is the pure consciousness or the Bodhaha that stands behind all these as a witness and the illuminator. The reflection of this pure consciousness on the intellect is what is called as Jeeva or the Bodha abhasa. Due to illusory ignorance, the absolute consiousness seems to be limited as a reflection in the intellect.

Consciousness doesn’t seem to be limited as reflection but is really reflected in the intellect (at the empirical level). There is no seemingly limitedness for the RC or Reflected Consciousness. It is the Kutastha which seems to be limited by the body-mind adjuncts (this kutastha itself is called absolute consciousness or saakshi). This SAKSHI is seemingly limited whereas RC or jeeva is reflection (alone) in the intellect (no seemingly limited as the reflection which is wrong).

Thus when ignorance is there, out of this intellect is created (seemingly created). When intellect is created (this creation itself is illusory thus no mention of the word illusory here), then the OC (original consciousness) is reflected in this intellect (again, it is not seemingly limited as reflection but really reflected from the empirical viewpoint).
The Substratum which is the pure consciousness is that which has to be known by removing all the adjuncts and limitations.

The RC goes through all modifications. It is OC which seems to be going through modifications as the RC. The RC or reflection really goes through modifications even as the Reflection of sun on water undergoes changes as per the water and its nature. Here the Reflection of sun doesn’t “seem” to undergo modifications but really undergoes modifications. It is the OC or SUN which seems to undergo modifications but never really undergoes. Hope this point is clear.

If RC also “seems” to undergo modification, then what is it that really undergoes modifications at the empirical level???? There should be something which undergoes modification at the empirical level because “modifications are perceived at the empirical level”. Thus RC undergoes modifications whereas OC seems to undergo as RC is undergoing but OC never really undergoes modifications.

It is the RC only that goes through birth, death, hunger, anger and all sufferings due to the result of its own actions in the form of good and evil. It is the RC that has the adjuncts of mind, body and intellect, etc. Due to ego and wrong cognition of Self to these, the RC seems to undergo all happiness and sadness according to the actions. But the real consciousness that forms the substratum can never be affected and stands as a witness. Hence The supreme problem that lies in front of a seeker therefore is to discriminate this and to realize the true nature of the Self. This discrimination of reality from non reality is what has to be achieved by a seeker with all earnest.
Discrimination of reality from non-reality is what Sankara calls as Nitya anitya vasthu viveka as part of Sadhana Chatustayam. This may also be said to be apavaada or the process of negation of ADHYAASA or superimposition. As Sankara says in Adhyaasa Bhashyam, it is mutual ADHYAASA of the Self on the not-Self & the not-Self on the Self (bi-directional).

The relational activities of this RC are limited only to the waking and dream state as only in these states that the subtle body is present. It is only in the dream and waking state that there are notions of likes, dislikes, anger etc. but in deep sleep, all these vanish. In the deep sleep, in absence of the ego, the pure consciousness that is the witness to all the activities shines only on the ignorance.
It is the self illumining absolute consciousness only that illumines everything. Just like how the water heated by fire is capable of scalding the body, similarly, all the external objects are illumined by the intellect which is illumined by the consciousness. Without consciousness, there definitely can be no perception nor a functioning intellect. Also even tough it is the consciousness that illumines everything , it is always untainted, hence all the actions, notions of good and evil are creations of the mind and intellect only while the consciousness remains unchanged and unaffected by the objects. Like the sun unaffected by the modifications to its reflections, the pure consciousness stands behind all the senses just as the illuminator.

The modifications of the intellect are such that they keep changing every moment, so do the thoughts of the mind. Though the modifications keep on changing, the consciousness that is the substratum of all the illusions remains constant as it can never be susceptible to any changes. Just as the string that runs through the pearls of a necklace, the pure consciousness is always there, pervading all modifications of the intellect. Like the thread that can be seen clearly between two pearls, this pure consciousness shines forth in the calmness of the intellect, when there are no modifications when the previous one has died and the next one is yet to appear.

Hence a seeker aspiring to realize the true nature of Self must practice, by slow degrees constraint to such modifications. First for one moment then extending it to two moments and so on. The mind must be made clear of all the distracting thoughts. By gradually increasing the duration of such contemplation and restraining from the modifications, eventually, the contemplation becomes natural and the true nature of Self is thus established even when there seem to be thoughts. Such a individual will eventually become one with the Brahman realizing the vedantic teaching ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. That is though there may be modifications at present, by constant practice and by gradual suppression of all modifications, and by such earnest practice, the mind is successfully made free of all affections and in time the individual self realizes the true nature of Self and becomes verily Brahman, i.e. the unmodified pure consciousness.

If one is able to practice control all mental modifications at once, then it leads to the attainment perfect concentration. But since this is possible for everyone and if one is not able to control all the modifications at once, then at least one should try till all modifications can be controlled at once. One should try to control them every moment and must contemplate upon the Mahavakyas in which the identity of the Self and Brahman is clearly indicated. After understanding the import of the Mahavakyas and scriptures, one should contemplate continuously. With strong faith in the scriptures, there must be constant contemplation and meditation on the reality to one’s fullest extent of capacity. In all times, this must be followed. The nature of this practice should be in such a way that we should constantly meditate about It, discuss about It and enlighten each other about It. Every moment must thus be passed. Such practice leads to such supreme conviction about the nature of the true nature of the Self as strong as that of the thought of the identity of self with the body. Once, who has realized this, is liberated, without a doubt.

iti shriimatparamaha.nsaparivraajakaachaaryasyashriigovindabhagavatpuujyapaadashishhyasyashriimachchha~NkarabhagavataH kR^itaulaghuvaakyavR^ittiH saMpuurNaa ..

Thus concludes the Laghu vakya vritti of Sri Sankaracharya.

Let us conclude the learning of this work in the group by bowing down to that Lord who is none but the Brahman of the scriptures, who is none but Acharya Sankara guiding us in the light of the scriptures and who is but the very ever blissful Self.

Sruthi smrithi puranaanaam aalayam karunaalayam
Namaami bhagavad paadam sankaram loka sankaram

I prostrate to that Sankara who gives auspiciousness to the world, who is called as Bhagavad Paada (Bhagavantham paadayathi ithi bhagavad paadah – one who leads to the Lord is called Bhagavad Paada), who is the source of sruthi, smrithi and puranaas, who is full of compassion (out of compassion wrote the bhashyas and other works for the welfare of seekers in the world).



Sloka 17 and Sloka 18


tachchintana.n tatkathanamanyonya.n tatprabodhanam.h
etadekaparatva.n cha brahmaabhyaasa.n vidurbudhaaH .. 17..

Budhaha: the wise ones
Viduhu: came to know (and teach)
Brahmaabhyasyaam: the practice of brahmanhood (i.e. ones own identity with Brahman) (as consisting in)
Tat chintanam: meditated upon that
Tat kathanamanyonyam: discussion on that
Tat prabodhanam: enlightening one another (amongst aspirants upon that)
Cha: and (above all)
Etadekaparatvam: cherishing this as the one supreme end

“Meditating upon that, talking on That, enlightening on That and in a way getting oneself absorbed in That-all these together have been known and taught by the wise ones as constituting the practice of Brahman.”

Acharya in this sloka explains the nature of practice that has to be followed after explaining that importance of constant contemplation in the previous slokas. One has to meditate on Brahman with mind divested from all other objects. One has to speak on the same i.e. in light of the vedantic teachings. We also have to note here that the words, ‘Tat parasparabodhanam’ which would mean to enlighten each other about That. We can clearly see the importance given to Satsanga. Discussions and enlightening one other in accordance to the scriptures definitely will lead to that supreme goal. These are but Sharavana, mannana and nidhidhyasana only.

Acharya here thus advises us that the practice should be in such a way that we should constantly meditate about It, discuss about It and enlighten each other about It. Every moment must thus be passed. All vain talks, gossips and complaints on the illusory worldly objects will never lead us to happiness. Hence the only talk that is worth talking is about ‘That’ and the only thought that is worthy is about ‘That’ Brahman only which is but the very Self. Till one is able to control all affections, such constant practice is necessary for a seeker. Also we have to remember that just any talks or discussions won’t help unless they are in accordance to the scriptures. Only then can they help us and take us in the right path.
By this sloka, we also learnt how important discussions and enlightening each other about the nature of the Self are in Acharaya Sankara’s own words. Hoping that at least now, someone will take up the Bhakti Yoga in the group J


dehaatmadhiivadbrahmaatmadhiidaarDhye kR^itakR^ityataa
yadaa tadaayaM mriyataaM mukto.asau naatra sa.nshayaH .. 18..

Dehaatmadhidhaadrudaye: with unwavering firmness in the thought of one’s identity with Brahman (attained)
Dehaatmadeevat: like (what firmness ordinarily man has in) the thought of his identity with the body (comes)
Krutakrutya: in the fulfillment (of this effort)
Asav: such a one (who has attained this state)
Muktaha: is liberated (indeed)
Na samshayaha: there is no doubt
Atra: in this (it then matters not as to)
Yadaa tadaa: when and (where)
Ayam: he
Mriyataam: may die

“Consummation of this practice lies in the firm conviction of one’s identity with Brahman, like what conviction is normally there in the sense of identity of the Self with the body. Once, who has realized this, is liberated, without a doubt; his body may then drop off, any time, anywhere”

In this verse, Acharya mentions us, the result of continuous practice of spiritual disciplines and constant contemplation of the ultimate truth propounded in all scriptures. That supreme goal is achieved only when the conviction of the true nature of the Self is as strong as that of the thought of the identity of self with the body. That is in other words, just as the belief in the identity of one’s self with the body is firmly rooted in all ordinary persons, in like manner, there must be strong conviction in the identity of self with Brahman. Such unshaken conviction which is the negation of the ego and the false identity of the Self with the body is what has to be achieved. Acharya here mentions that there is no doubt that such a person will definitely be liberated from all the illusory attachments and ego and hence attains that supreme goal. Attaining here again has to be taken at the empirical level only as there is no new liberation to be gained or lost nor is there any goal from the ultimate point of view.
Once such a realization occurs, one may die at any time and anywhere. Death here would mean only that of the body. For such a realized person death is simply discarding the bodily garment as such a person always rests in the infinite ever blissful nature of Self.
Sankara says in Upadesa Sahasri a similar statement that
“Deha atma dheevad jnaanam deha atma dhee baadhakam”
Bhaved yasya na ichchan api sah muchyathe (sorry Jforgot few words of the second line of this sloka)

For a person who has the strong conviction that “I am the Self” like normal ignorant people have the conviction that “I am the body” – this conviction which negates the conviction that “I am the body” – such a person is liberated from the bondages even if he doesn’t want it!!!

As Sankara says in the 18th sloka, it doesn’t matter where the realized saint dies because there is no death for him (as Gaudapada says that Na chotpatthi na naasha, na bandho na mukthih). As Sureswaracharya aptly says in his works, there is no “removal of ignorance” as there is no real ignorance. There is no real “death” or cessation of “bondage” because bondage/death itself is only an illusion. Thus there is only sublation of the ignorance through knowledge. When the knowledge dawns that “there is no ignorance at all”, then ignorance vanishes by itself (that ignorance which never had any existence at all).

There are two opinions about Jeevan mukthi and Videha mukthi in Advaita Vedanta. One school opines that the realized saint is a jeevan mukta but still prarabdha is there for him and hence this sustains his body. When body is left or dies, then the saint gets videha mukthi by merging into Brahman. This answers the statements of Krishna in Gita as to how a realized saint will behave in the world etc.

JEEVAN MUKTHI means “Jeevan api mukthah” – even while living in the body, is liberated.
VIDEHA MUKTHI means “vigatha deha mukthi” – mukthi after body dies off.

But there is another opinion (which seems to be closer to Sankara’s view) which says that jeevan mukthi itself is videha mukthi because deha is there for the ajnaani – there is no deha for the jnaani as deha or body is part of ignorance (effect of ajnaana). If ajnaana is still there, how can such a jnaani be called a “JNAANI”. Thus realization is only one. Then why the two words of jeevan mukthi and videha mukthi???? These two words are from the perspective of the AJNAANI who sees the jnaani as embodied. The ajnaani just forgets (Jof course due to his ajnaana only) that the JNAANI seen itself is from his ajnaana’s perspective because “for a realized saint, there is nothing other than Brahman or himself to even perceive”. This is how Ramana Maharshi too used to explain this big riddle. The riddle is very simple if we understand that Brahman is beyond words & a jnaani is nothing but Brahman – thus a jnaani or his actions are beyond words or thoughts. Thus the one and only way to know a JNAANI to become a jnaani oneself. JBut once a person becomes a jnaani, then there is none other than himself to ask such doubtsJ.

There are some acharyas who opine that after getting jnaana too, there is some trace of ajnaana left which sustains the prarabdha karma and ajnaana. The jnaani is not affected by this because he is the sakshi of all these. This view does seem to be good enough for initial seekers but is still not perfect as “trace of ajnaana” cannot be possible after jnaana comes because jnaana completely removes karma and its cause of ajnaana. Moreover if this is accepted, then the arguments which Ramanuja raises in his Laghu Purva paksha in Sri Bhashya will become valid enough that “does the world exist after realization? If it exists, then ajnaana exists. If ajnaana exists, then there is no realization at all”.

About whether jeevan mukthi is same as videha mukthi – this can be answered only when a person realizes Brahman and becomes a mukta. But at the empirical plane, we can very well conclude that both are same based on Sankara’s statement itself in Aparokshanubhuti (“Prarabdha is karma done in many births but Self is devoid of birth & hence how can it have prarabdha). Also Sri Krishna clearly says that “Sarvam karma akhilam paartha jnaane parisamaapyathe” (all actions end in JNAANA) and “Jnaanena tu tad ajnaanam yeshaam naashitam aatmanah” that ajnaana which veils the Self is removed through knowledge & then the Self shines like SUN.

The main objection/doubt regarding the view that both jeevan mukthi and videha mukthi is that “then how come jnaanis are seen as doing work???”. This is answered by Ramana (as explained earlier) that it cannot be explained now as there is ajnaana and thus perception is not proper. This takes us back to good old EKA JEEVA VAADA and Dristi Sristi vaada (which we have already discussed).

Even Swami Sacchidanandendra Saraswathi of Holenarsipur seems to accept this view of considering both jeevan mukthi and videha mukthi as same.

We have to just remember that whatever we see now is through the eyes of AJNAANA and that only one thing is REAL and unaffected by AJNAANA which is Brahman, one’s own very nature of Consciousness. Thus we have to concentrate towards this reality to get rid of AJNAANA and then will everything be very clear indeed. Logic very clearly proves that there is Brahman alone, one without a second. Whatever else is seen is only an illusion in Brahman like dream world.

PS: The two opinions about jeevan mukthi and videha mukthi is by the two schools of Advaita – Bhamathi school and Vivarana school.

With this we complete the slokas of Laghu vakya vritti by Sri Sankaracharya. In the next mail, we shall summarize the work and conclude the learning of Laghu vakya vritti in the group.

Sloka 15 and Sloka 16


shakyaH sarvanirodhena samaadhiryoginaM priyaH
tadashaktau kshaNa.n ruddhvaa shraddhaalurbrahmataatmanaH .. 15..

Shakyaha chet: should one be able (to effect)
Sarvanirodaha: full suppression (of all modification)
Samaadhihi: perfect concentration (which is)
Priyaha: the desired end
Jnaninam: of all sages (is attained).
Tat aashaktav: in case of inability to do that (all at once) (the attempt to realize)
Aatmanaha: one’s own
Brahmataha: Brahmanhood
Shradhayaa: must be pursued with faith
Rudhvaa: by controlling the modifications
Kshanam: for a moment (even)

If one is able to effect complete suppression of all modifications once for all, then one becomes blessed with the concentration (Samadhi) which is lovingly cherished by all sages. If however, that is not possible, one should pursue with faith the effort to realize his own Brahmanhood by controlling the modifications for a moment even.

If one is able to practice control all mental modifications at once, then it leads to the attainment perfect concentration which is so devotedly cherished by sages. But since this is possible for everyone and if one is not able to control all the modifications at once, then at least one should try till all modifications can be controlled at once. One should try to control them every moment and must contemplate upon the Mahavakyas in which the identity of the Self and Brahman is clearly indicated.
We must note here that Acharya here mentions that such Samaadhi is dear to the Jnaanis. This shows that a wise one would always strive only for the eternal bliss. For a seeker, only those which leads to this realization of the blissful nature of Self has to be sought out. Hence those who would go for objects and senses that seem to give happiness (which of course will be temporary only) would be fools only.

As long as the mind and the senses are active and there are still affections to the mind, it is very easy for the senses to waver and the mind gets affected by all the illusory happenings to the world. Since the control of the senses is something that is acquired, it could also be lost. Hence Acharya here warns that one should be ever watchful and strive with faith to gain the firm control on the mind.


shraddhaalurbrahmataa.n svasya chintayedbuddhivR^ittibhiH
vaakyavR^ittyaa yathaashakti j~naatvaaddhaabhyasyataa.n sadaa .. 16..

Shaddhaluhu: one imbued with faith
Chintayet: should meditate upon
Swasya Brahmataam: his own Brahmanhood
Budhhivrittibhihi: by means of all the faculties of the intellect (brought to locus)
Jnaatva: having comprehend (the truth)
Hi: indeed
Vakya vrutya: in terms of the teaching (I am Brahman)
Abhyasayet:one should practice this
Sadaa: intermittently
Yatha shakthi: to the farthest limit of one’s capacity

Having comprehended the real implication of the teaching ‘I am Brahman’, a person imbued with faith should meditate unremittingly upon his identity with Brahman to the fullest extent of his capacity, by means of all the faculties of the intellect attuned to that idea.

In the last sloka we learnt that if one is not able suppress the modifications completely, then one should try to constantly contemplate on the import in the Mahavakyas and with all faith try to control the modifications every moment. Acharya explains the same in this sloka also.
After understanding the import of the Mahavakyas and scriptures, one should contemplate continuously. It means that just after reading once or understanding the scriptures, their import should not be forgotten, but one should meditate on one’s own identity with Brahman with single mindedness.
Acharya here also mentions that this should happen ‘Yatha shakthi” that is till the limit of one’s capacity. Hence a seeker should always contemplate on the vedantic truth at all times, i.e. in good, bad, happiness and sadness and try to control all affections of the mind to the fullest extent of ones capacity i.e. till sleep approaches or till death. It is the nature of the body to seek attention and it is natural for the mind to wander off in search of sensual pleasures. Hence a seeker must strive every moment to control all affections and should not forget the true nature of Self. Acharya here in this work clearly advises us not to allow desires in the mind even for a single moment and to constantly contemplate on the reality.

Other than any other words in the sloka, the word “Sradhalu” is important. If there is faith, anything & everything can happen as we very well know through personal experiences. The word “Sraddha” is not exactly faith but more than faith. Sraddha is complete surrender to the truth in the scriptures, to the Guru, to the ultimate reality of Brahman.

Lord Krishna clearly says in the 4th chapter of Gita thus:

Sraddhaavaan labhathe jnaanam tat parah samyatendriyah
Jnaanam labdhva paraam shaanthirachirena adhigacchathi

A person endowed with faith attains knowledge after having controlled his sense organs – having attained knowledge; he gets eternal peace within no time.

Ajnascha asraddhadhaanascha samshayaatma vinashyathi

He who is ignorant and devoid of faith & has doubts, he perishes.

Thus SRADDHA is very important as per scriptures. SRADDHA is all important in all religions too. Thus St. Augustine defines faith as “belief in something which you don’t know, so that you can come to know what you believe”. Could there have been a better definition for faith???? I don’t think soJ.
FAITH is essential because if a person has to follow any sadhana, the first thing he requires is faith in the sadhana that it will lead to whatever is his goal. Faith as per Advaita is one of the shamaadi shatka sampatti (which is part of Sadhana Chatustayam).

There can be a doubt that what the scriptures say is all “blind faith” and there can be no proof for the same. This is not correct because scriptures are completely proved by experience and logic. Also, as AMMA says “all faiths are blind only”. We all catch the infy bus in the morning to reach office with the faith that “we will reach office” – isn’t this blind faith because there might be an accident and we may pass away also……..J Thus faith is always blind only – we believe in the faith so that we may come to know the reality behind the faith. Nothing can be started in the world without faith. Faith is inevitable for a seeker.

Sloka 13 and Sloka 14


In the last slokas we learnt that a seeker must continuously practice restraining from the thoughts and through constant contemplation the true nature of the Self is realized. This sloka explains that a seeker whose intellect is free from all modifications will eventually realize the oneness of Self and Brahman by contemplating on the truth in the Maha vakya ‘Aham Brahmasmi’.

savikalpajiivo.ayaM brahma tannirvikalpakam.h
ahaM brahmeti vaakyena so.ayamartho.abhidhiiyate .. 13..

Ayam: this
Savikalpajeevaha: individual self with modifications
Tan/ Syat: becomes

The TAN Nirvikalpakam instead of SYAT Nirvikalpakam is a paataanthara or different text reading in some cases. If SYAT is used, then it means that the individual Self becomes Brahman – if TAT is used, then it means that the individual Self itself is Brahman (not much difference in both the meanings).

Brahma nirvikalpam: the undifferentiated Brahman
Ayam Brahma iti vakyena: by (realizing the truth of) the teaching “I am Brahman”
Saha ayam arthaha: that same object ( as expounded in Upanishads)
Abhidheeyate: is explained here ( in this treatise)

This individual self (Jeeva) which is now affected by modifications of the intellect, will in time become one with the undifferentiated Brahman by realizing the truth of the vedantic teaching: ‘I am Brahma’. That is the idea sought to be conveyed here in this treatise.

Acharya here starts by the words, “SAVIKALPA” i.e the one who has vikalpas or the one who is affected by all the modifications. Here it is explains that for a seeker even though there may by modifications, by the proper sadhana under the guidance of a Guru, and by contemplating on the mahavakyas, eventually will realize the true nature of Sat-Chit-Ananda of Self will be realized.

We can clearly see here that Acharya is stressing on the importance of Sadhana and constant contemplation of the reality in all the Mahavakyas. One need not think and brood that “This mind is not clear, I am not eligible for knowledge” etc. what has to be given importance is to make oneself ready for that knowledge which is ever present and the very nature of Self.
Even if there are modifications of the intellect now, by proper sadhana, and constant contemplation about the absolute reality, the mastery over mind has be established. Sadhana here means the four preparatory disciplines, sadhana chatushtayam required for a seeker which are Samadi sadhaka sampatti, Viveka, Vairagya and Mumukshutvam. Acharya Sankara also explains the importance of same in Aparoksha anubhuti, 10th sloka as : “ Only that person who is in possession of the said qualifications should constantly reflect with a view to attaining knowledge, desiring his own good ( good here would mean liberation from ignorance)“

Just as a fruit that falls from the tree once it is ripened completely, a seeker in possession of the sadhana chatushtayam immediately realizes the nature of Self even after hearing the Mahavakyas only once from the Guru.

Such oneness of Self and Brahman which is the import of all the shastras is what is dealt in this treatise. Just as the rope-snake does not exist apart from the rope, similarly the individual self does not exist apart from Brahman and this is the sum and substance of Vedanta. The knowledge of this oneness leads to the removal of all the illusory ignorance and one realizes the nature of Self. Vedanta doesn’t really believe in bringing in the Self or making a person realize the Self but Vedanta believes in making a seeker realize his own very nature of Self or making a person realize the Self which is his own very nature. This very nature of Self has been forgotten because of AVIDYA or ignorance. What is avidya, how come it came and veiled the Self – such questions are futile because avidya has come already and we should concentrate on how should avidya be removed (if a person is hungry, he never analyzes as to how come hunger came, from where hunger came etc. but instead he will concentrate on removing hunger”).
Thus Vedanta is an effort to remove AVIDYA through VIDYA of one’s own very nature. When this Vidya or mental knowledge comes, it removes avidya and itself vanishes even as the “alum” put into water purifies the water & itself vanishes. Similarly when avidya is removed through Vidya (both illusory), what remains behind is the ever-present Self.


savikalpakachidyo.ahaM brahmaika.n nirvikalpakam.h
svataHsiddhaa vikalpaaste niroddhavyaaH prayatnataH .. 14..

Savikalpakachit: the consciousness with modifications

The word used here is Savikalpaka Chit – which means Chit along with Vikalpaas – this really need not be the reflected consciousness but Consciousness associated with modifications due to ignorance or ajnaana.

Yaha saha: that I am
Brahma ekam: (is really) one with Brahman
Nirvikalpam: undifferentatited
Te: these
Vikalpaha: modifications (that are)
Swataha sidhaha: self evident
Nirodhavyaha: have to be suppressed
Prayatnaha: with all efforts

The reflected consciousness, though involved in the modifications of the intellect, that I am now, is really one with the undifferentiated Brahman, The apparent modifications, which are self evident( being always associated with the reflected consciousness) have only to be suppressed by all efforts ( in order that this realization of Brahman may come)

RC has no separate existence apart from the OC. IF medium of reflection is removed, RC merges into OC. This is what is explained if RC is meant in the sloka.
If OC or kutastha is mentioned in the sloka, then the Self or OC seems to be affected by the modifications but in fact is not at all affected as modifications are mere illusions superimposed on the Self.

This is supported by Yoga Vasistha thus:

Chit chetya kalithaa bandhah tan muktha muktiruchyathe
Chit achetya kila atmethi sarva Vedanta sangrahah

Chit or Consciousness when mixed with thoughts is in bondage & removal of thoughts is liberation. The Self devoid of thoughts is the Atman – this is in short essence of Vedanta.

A seeker must not let the modifications and such thoughts affect the mind stuff. And since the true nature of the pure consciousness is realized only when the mind cleared of all modifications and affections there fore one has to strive by all means to experience that infinite bliss which is the very nature of Self by making the mind free of all modifications and affections. Hence it can be said that the mental modifications which are self evident and derived from the ignorance of the true nature of the Self have to be controlled and suppressed with all efforts.
Here maybe we can extend the “self-evidence of thoughts” to avidya. AVidya or ignorance cannot be proved through any pramaana as then it will become like the Self. Avidya is thus anirvachaneeya or inexplicable. As it is inexplicable, we cannot say that Avidya is not there as it is self-evident and experienced by each person (anubhava).

Thus Sureshwaracharya says in his Brihadaranyaka Bhashya Vartika that “if avidya could be proved by pramana, it would be real as the Self – but this is not so – hence it is the very nature of avidya to not become a subject of avidya – but still it is known through experience or anubhava”.

Since avidya is not real, it will vanish one day. That which vanishes is only an illusion and not really real. Thus when thoughts are removed or known to be illusions, the Self alone remains behind.

By such earnest practice, the mind is successfully made free of all affections and in time though subject to modifications, the individual self realizes the true nature of Self and becomes verily the Brahman, i.e. the unmodified pure consciousness.
WE have to remember that even though Sankara says “remove thoughts”, what it really means is to be established in the Self other than the mind going behind sense objects. For this to happen, the mind has to initially get rid of thoughts & try to concentrate on the Self. Thus this process has two distinct parts – 1. Removal of thoughts and 2. Concentrating or contemplating on the Self.
If the second part is not there, there is no real use of the first one because then it will be like the deep sleep state where there are no thoughts but still the bliss got from it is only temporary and not permanent.

Sloka 11 and Sloka 12


nashhTe puurvavikalpe tu yaavadanyasya nodayaH
nirvikalpakachaitanya.n spashhTa.n taavadvibhaasate .. 11..

Purva vikalpe: One preceding modification
Nashte: having subsided
Tu: but
Yaavat: while
Udayaha: the appearance
Anyasya: of another (modification)
Na: is not (there)
Nirvikalpachaitanya: the unmodified pure consciousness
Spashtam: clearly
Vibhasate: shines forth
Taavat: during that interval

The pure undifferentiated consciousness shines forth clearly by itself in the interval of two modifications of the intellect, when the preceding one has died down and another is yet to appear.

Here Acharya explains that just as the thread is seen in between the pearls, the consciousness can be clearly perceived in between two modifications, that is when there are no modifications, when one has subsided and the succeeding one has not yet made its appearance, in this interval, the pure unmodified consciousness shines by itself. Just as the thread covered by pearl, the pure consciousness is covered by the modifications of the mind. The ever present self illuming consciousness cannot be clearly perceived when there are thoughts and modifications.

Its only when there are no pearls that the thread that lies beneath them can be clearly seen, similarly, it is only when there are no modifications that the consciousness that illumines all can be clearly revealed. The blissful nature of Self can be known only when there are no modifications of the intellect. It is a common experience that peace pervades only when there is calmness in mind, i.e. only when there are no modifications that one’s true nature will be known and the bliss will be perceived. As we learnt in the 7th sloka, duality exists only because of such modifications.

The above is not exactly correct because only when there are real thoughts/modifications, this is valid. And as explained earlier, the Self alone is present. Peace is achieved not just by removal of thoughts – because in that case, thoughts will come again and peace will go. Such peace will be temporary. Real peace is knowing that the thoughts are temporary and illusory. This is what is called realization too when the seeker realizes the Self beyond the illusory thoughts and objects. This alone can give real peace. Thus peace is not removal of duality but knowing that the duality perceieved is an illusion. If duality is removed, then it will come again too (might come again too). But since there is no real duality, “removal” or “negation” also is not really possible- but what is done is knowing that there is no duality at all.

This is what Vidyaranya also agrees by bringing the concept of Kutastha and telling that “I am the witness to all activies and hence not affected by it even though thoughts might seem to exist temporarily”.
When these are removed, the duality and hence the likes, dislikes, misery, sorrow etc. arising out of these are also negated and the true nature of Self is known.

In other words, the intellect which is free from modifications is reveals the pure consciousness. Hence it has been said before in sloka 5 also that even in wakefulness the calm unmodified state of the intellect is lit up by the pure consciousness. Swami Vidyaranya also explains this in the 8th chapter of Panchadashi as “The intervals between the various thought as well as the absence of thought itself as illumined by an unchangeable consciousness, which is also called as the Kutastha.”
It is this absolute consciousness that is free from all modifications which is the implied meaning of the word ‘Tvam’ in the Mahavakya “ Tat Tvam Asi” .

The above mentioned way of realizing the ultimate reality of Brahman between two thoughts is only a way to show to the doubtful seeker the nature of Brahman. The seeker hears from the Guru that Brahman is blissful etc. But he is unable to apprehend or intuitively experience Brahman during the waking state. Thus he gets a doubt whether there is any such Brahman or not? Also he gets the wrong conviction that “there is no such Brahman as I don’t experience it”. These two arise only for those whose intellect is weak and unable to apprehend through logic the reality that there is no duality here but only non-dual Brahman of the nature of bliss. But for those, who are unable to get faith through scriptural statements and logic (who have faith progress on the path and very easily realize the reality without doing any meditation or Samadhi states), this path of contemplation on the reality through removal of thoughts is propounded.

As in deep sleep, when the seeker removes all thoughts – he is able to apprehend the reality of Brahman in its essential nature without the illusory world or its objects. Thus he gets the faith after intuitive experience of the reality. He then contemplates on the reality while living in the world and at all points of time. Then he realizes that the world and its objects never really exist but only are illusions in the reality – thus thoughts never have any existence – they only seem to exist. If they seem to exist, let them exist! What does it really matter if thoughts exist or not??? The real thing is whether the seeker is affected by thoughts or not --- the seeker who realizes his nature of Kutastha Chaitanya is never affected by thoughts as he is the mere witness of the illusions of thoughts.

Thus we have to remember that in reality there are no thoughts even though thoughts might be seen or experienced. And after realization, the seeker comes to know that “at all times, there is nirvikalpa Brahman alone”. Thus his wrong knowledge that “Brahman can be experienced only when there are no thoughts” vanishes. Yes, there needs a correction in Mallika’s mail about realization of Brahman --- first thing is there are no real thoughts at all, thus removal of thoughts also has no real value at all. Even when thoughts seem to be there, there is Brahman alone as the substratum or reality behind the thoughts. Thus the statement that “Brahman is realized only when thoughts are removed” is not exactly correct. Realization is realizing that everything is Brahman only & that there is nothing apart from Brahman. For this, the state when thoughts are removed helps out to understand/know that “there is something called Brahman which is not affected by thoughts”. This state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi is not exactly accepted by Vedanta as the final state. The final state of realization is Sahaja Samadhi which is natural state of Samadhi or being established as the Self.

Thus Ramana gives the following example to show that even Nirvikalpa Samadhi (which Sankara mentions in the next slokas) is also temporary: A saint was meditating and then he said to his shishya to bring water as he was feeling thirsty. When the shishya brought water, the saint had entered nirvikalpa Samadhi – after many years, the saint returned back from nirvikalpa Samadhi and the first word he uttered was “water! Water!” as he was feeling thirsty. Thus nirvikalpa Samadhi is the state similar to deep sleep – the only difference being that there is no awareness in deep sleep whereas in nirvikalpa Samadhi awareness is there.


In the last slokas we learnt that the pure consciousness though hidden by the modifications like the thread hidden by beads or pearls in a necklace, shines forth in the interval of two modifications of the intellect. One has to remember that the reality which is the pure consciousness is always there whether there are thoughts or not, just as the thread in the necklace. Now let us move to the next sloka,

ekadvitrikshaNeshhveva.n vikalpasya nirodhanam.h
krameNaabhyasyataa.n yatnaadbrahmaanubhavakaa~NkshibhiH .. 12..

Evam: it being so
Nirodham: suppression
Vikalpasya: of a modification
Abhyasyataam: should be practiced
Yatnat: with care
Brahmanubhavakamkshibhihi: by the aspirants to experience of Brahman
Kramena: by degrees
Eka dwi trikshanena: of one two three moments (and so on)

Persons aspiring to the experience of Brahman should, therefore practice by slow degrees this restraint of modifications starting with one moment and then extending it to two, three and so on.

In this sloka Acahraya explains us that the contemplation has to be constant and by such constant practice, the true nature of Self can be realized. Seekers striving for liberation with pure mind, should gradually practice the restraint or suppression of mental modifications, beginning first with one moment and then extending to two, three and so on, what is meant is this: it is possible for a person with spiritual insight to realize the true nature of Brahman by making the mind clear of all modifications and affections.
A person of faith recollects the bliss of Self experienced during such intervals of thoughts, and thereby strengthens the determination and, by constant contemplation, the conviction of the ever blissful nature of Self becomes stronger. Such constant contemplation can remove all the confusions in the mind in regard to the true nature of Self and the seeker eventually realizes that all the world and the thoughts themselves are only illusions in the reality.
By gradually increasing the duration of such contemplation and restraining from the modifications, eventually, the contemplation becomes natural and the true nature of Self is thus established even when there seem to be thoughts.

Sankara in these slokas is talking about Samadhi which is removal of thoughts (nirvikalpa Samadhi). As Patanjali says “Tadeva artha maatra nirbhaasam svaroopa shoonyam iva samaadhi” – that state when there is only the object of contemplation (the contemplator and the act of contemplation merge into the object of contemplation) and the state is like that of voidness (nothing but the object alone exists) is called Samadhi. Patanjali too accepts other types of Samadhi too.

But for Vedanta, there are just three samadhis – Savikalpa (that which has a vikalpa or modification associated with it – distinction of contemplator, act of contemplation and object of contemplation still is there) and Nirvikalpa (without any modification, there is no modification at all but just ONE alone exists – this can be any object or the real object of Subject or Self – contemplation on Self is what Vedanta prescribes). The third type of Samadhi is what is important and required – called as Sahaja or natural. As per Drik Drishya Viveka, a person should go on practicing either Savikalpa or nirvikalpa until it becomes sahaja or natural.

Sankara here speaks about nirvikalpa so that the seeker clearly experiences (intuitively) the Self without any thoughts/distractions & in its pure form. We have to infer that a person interested to realize the Self should practice savikalpa or nirvikalpa regularly (and at all times as Sankara himself will be referring to in the coming slokas).

Sloka 9 and Sloka 10


kshaNe kshaNe.anyathaabhuutaa dhiivikalpaashchitirna tu
muktaasu suutravadbuddhivikalpeshhu chitistathaa .. 9..

Kshane kshane:at every moment
Dheevikalpa: the modifications of the intellect
Anyathabhutaaha: are variable
Tu: but
Na: not
Chitihi: the pure consiousness.
Muktaasu: in (a string of) pearls
Sutravat: like the thread
Chitihi: the pure consiousness
Budhi vikalpeshu: in and through the modifications of the intellect
Stitaaha: (is) inherent

The modifications of the intellect are changing from moment to moment, never so the pure consciousness though it permeates through all those modifications like the thread in a string of pearls.

The modifications of the intellect change every moment, so as the thoughts of the mind. Though the modifications keep on changing, the consciousness that is the substratum of all the illusions remains constant as it can never be susceptible to any changes. Just as the string that runs through the pearls of a necklace, the pure consciousness is always there pervading all modifications of the intellect.
The consciousness has to be all pervading and ever present, or else one can never say there were many thoughts or that the thoughts changed. Hence there has to be an unchanging witness to all the modifications and that is the consciousness. Just as how a thread runs through all the pearls in a necklace, similarly, the consciousness though hidden by the ‘pearls’ i.e. the modifications is ever present and pervades through them. Like the thread in the necklace, it is present only as a witness, inert to all the changes and the objects and is distinct from all the modifications.


In the last sloka we learnt that the consciousness pervades through all the vikalpas or changes of the intellect by the example of the thread that unites the pearls in a necklace. In this sloka, the same example is used to explain the witness hood nature of the consciousness to all the modifications.

muktaabhiraavR^ita.n suutraM muktayormadhya iikshyate
tathaa vR^ittivikalpaishchitspashhTaa madhye vikalpayoH .. 10..

Sutram: the thread
Aavrutham: covered over
Muktabhihi: by the pearls
Iekshate: is perceived
Madhye: in between
Muktyoho: two pearls
Tatha: even so
Chit: the pure consciousness
Aavrutha: hidden
Vikalpaihi: by the modifications ( of the intellect)
Prakashayate: shines forth
Sprushtaa: clearly
Madhye: in between
Vikalpayoho: two modifications.

The thread covered over by the pearls in a string can be seen in between the two pearls. Similarly the pure consciousness also though hidden by the modifications of the intellect can be clearly perceived in between any two modifications.

After explaining that the pure consciousness though hidden by the modifications is ever present, Acharya in this sloka explains clearly that consciousness stays only as a witness. The modifications of the mind are compared here to the pearls that hide the thread that runs through them. Just as the peals, the modifications hide the pure consciousness. It is due to such ‘vikalpaha’ or thoughts that one seems to forget the ever blissful real nature of Self.

Also, though the pearls cover the thread, the thread will be clearly noticeable in between two pearls, similarly, the pure consciousness though hidden by the modifications of the intellect shines out distinctly visible in the between two modifications. That is, between two modifications, in the interval, the pure consciousness can be clearly experienced when the intellect and mind are free from modifications.

The consciousness remains as a witness always and can never be affected by the modifications, this is explained by the words “between two modifications the PURE consciousness is clearly perceived”. Acharya here explains that the PURE consciousness is revealed between two modifications, if the consciousness is not a witness and gets affected by the modifications, then it is not possible to perceive it clearly in between modifications of the intellect as it would be tainted or would have undergone modifications itself. Thus by these words it is explained that the consciousness always remains pure and is unaffected though it pervades all modifications of mind and intellect.

Sloka 7 and Sloka 8


In the last sloka we learnt how it is the pure consciousness only that illumines all the objects. In this sloka Acharya explains that the objects illumined are associated and hence dear only to the reflection while the pure consciousness though is the illuminator stays unaffected.

ruupaadau guNadoshhaadivikalpaa buddhigaaH kriyaaH
taaH kriyaa vishhayaiH saardhaM bhaasayantii chitirmataa .. 7..

Gunadoshaadivikalpaaha: Notions of good and evil
Roopadav: in form etc. (in objects of senses etc.)
Kriyaha: activities
Budhigaahaha: going with the intellect
Chitihi: the pure consciousness
Mataa: is considered
Bhaasayanti: as illumining
Taaha: those
Kriyaha: activities (of the mind)
Saardhyam: together
Vishayaihi: with objects (of the senses)

Notions of the good and evil in respect of the senses- objects are the creations of the intellect. The pure consciousness however simply reveals those activities of the intellect together with the external objects.

Acharya here explains that objects are attributed good or bad qualities only by the antahkaranas. It is the mind that says an object is good or bad, these are result of the intellectual activities which create the duality and hence hatred, or liking to any objects. But the pure consciousness which illumines these functions (i.e. the activities of the mind together with the objects of the senses such as forms’ etc.) is ever free from any modifications.

Vidyaranya Swami gives a beautiful example of a precious stone to explain this in the 4th chapter of Panchadashi. A precious stone creates pleasure in the mind of a person who desired it and possess it but the same will create misery and anger ( or even jealousy J ) in the mind of a person who desired it but could not possess it. The same stone which creates pleasure and misery thus may also create an attitude of indifference in a third person who neither desired it nor is attached to it. Hence it cannot be said that the stone has the value of happiness or sadness or indifference, nor can it always bring the same feelings to a person at all times, (as in case of the stone, there will be misery to the same happy person if stone is lost) but it is the mind which goes through all these changes. The same can be said of the world and the objects in it.

That which is good for one person may be evil for another. Thus insentient and illusory objects of the world can never possess any emotions nor are capable of bringing any emotions by themselves. It is the Jeeva who gets associated with the objects and forms and seems to go through all the emotions of liking and disliking. Evil, good, bad, etc. are hence creations of the mind only.

The presence of the object and the feelings towards it are experienced only because of the consciousness. If consciousness is not present then we can never say ‘I hate this’ or ‘I like that’ etc. The consciousness thus is the illuminator of all activities of the intellect and the objects also.
This pure consciousness which illumines all the objects through the intellect never gets affected, as it is complete in itself and is self illuming. The pure consciousness is by itself free from all modifications, and is part less and all pervading as we have learnt by the vakya ‘Ekam eva Adviteeyam’. Like the Sun God who gives light to the world but still remains unaffected by its happenings in it or by the clouds or the rain that seem to block the Sun; the pure consciousness, illumines all activities and the objects but can never be a subject of any attachments nor get affected by external objects and stands only as a witness; unaffected and untainted.

In certain advaitic works, it is clearly mentioned that Buddhi seems to be conscious because of Consciousness getting reflected – thus buddhi starts working as if it is conscious (yes, the jeeva comes into picture here but that doesn’t mean we can replace jeeva with buddhi because buddhi is insentient but jeeva has sentience associated as if through the original consciousness and is that part of original consciousness which is associated with the insentient buddhi).

The above explanation seems to follow the view upheld by bhamathi school as well as vivarana school that Jeeva is affected by things whereas Brahman or OC is never affected at all. This is criticized by many vivarana acharyas like chitsukha, nrsimhaasrama and other acharyas like Vimuktatman, author of Ista siddhi. There is no jeeva apart from OC. This means that jeeva just seems to get affected and never is really affected at all (because jeeva itself has no separate existence at all). Thus “thoughts” are dear to that jeeva who thinks himself as the body, mind etc. and in bondage. For that jeeva who has realized himself as OC and not the reflection called JEEVA – there is no bondage and thoughts are not dear at all.

Thus it is better not to differentiate by saying that jeeva is affected and Consciousness or Brahman is not at all affected. But it is better to take the view that jeeva also is not affected because it has no real existence apart from the original consciousness (almost like aabhaasa vaada). Thus jeeva seems to be affected but is never affected.

It is the mind or intellect which has jeeva or reflection in it which is really affected – whereas the reflection is that which takes the shape of the medium – thus jeeva seems to be affected but consciousness is never affected – that which is affected is the intellect or mind alone.

Vide the sruthi statement
Mana eva manushyaanaam kaaranam bandha mokshayoh – mind alone is the cause of bondage and liberation. That mind which is devoid of thirst for pleasures/objects is in liberation whereas that which seeks the objects is in bondage.

By this sloka Acharya explains us that the pure self luminous consciousness is not capable of being affected by any of the modifications of the mind and the intellect and the different forms and objects, which by their very nature are unreal, insensate and limited. The liking and disliking leading to all the misery and pleasure from such external objects is caused due to the antahkarana only.


ruupaachcha guNadoshhaabhyaa.n viviktaa kevalaa chitiH
saivaanuvartate ruuparasaadiinaa.n vikalpane .. 8..

Kevalaa: the absolute
Chitihi: pure consciousness
Vivikta: distinct
Roopat: from the form
Cha: and
Gunadoshabyam: from notions of good and evil
Saa: she (i.e the pure consciousness)
Eva: verily
Anuvartate: stands behind
Vikalpena: the cognitions
Rooparasaadinaam: of form, taste etc.

The absolute pure consciousness is distinct from the objects of senses as well as from the notions of good and evil attributed to them by the intellect, yet she ( pure consciousness) is that stands behind the cognition of them all is the sole illuminator.

The absolute consciousness is distinct from the sense objects, such as, ‘form’ etc. as we have learnt in the first sloka. The consciousness is always free from all sense objects and their attributes of good and bad as these are created only by the adjuncts, i.e. by the mind and the intellect. The substratum can never be affected by the modifications to the reflection. Like the ripples water surface unaffecting the sun, the modifications of the intellect causing all duality and the attributes of likes and dislikes to them, do not affect the substratum.
The consciousness which is free from all the illusory adjuncts is hence never affected by the modifications. It is that which is beyond all the names, forms and likes and emotions. Pure consciousness is that which illumines all the senses and objects and is the sole illuminator.

Thus the self luminous consciousness though being the illuminator of all the objects (and their qualities) through the medium of adjuncts, like the intellect etc. can never be a subject of all modifications.

In the last two slokas of Laghu vakya vritti, we learnt that absolute consciousness remains unaffected by the illusory world and its objects, and how the attributes of likes and dislikes arise due to the intellect only. In the next two slokas, Acharya explains that the pure consciousness permeates through all the modifications and remains unchanged and though hidden by the modifications of the intellect can be clearly perceived between them.

Sloka 5 and Sloka 6


In the last sloka, we learnt how the activities of the jeeva are restricted only to the dream and waking state and the pure consciousness illumines on the ignorance in the deep sleep. Now we shall learn in the fifth sloka how it is only the pure consciousness that illumines even in the waking state.

jaagare.api dhiyastuushhNiiMbhaavaH shuddhena bhaasyate
dhiivyaapaaraashcha chidbhaasyaashchidaabhaasena sa.nyutaaH .. 5..

Jaagare:: In wakefulness
Api: also
Tushnimbhavaha: the calm or unmodified state
Dhiyaha: of the intellect
Bhasyate: is illumined
Shudhena: by the pure consciousness
Dheevyaaparaha: the activities of the intelellect
Cha: too
Chid bhasyaha:the objects of illumination of pure consciousness
Sayuthaha: in conjunction
Chidbhasena: with the reflection of pure consciousness (i.e. with the jeevatman)

Even in the wakefulness, the calm of the intellect is lit up by the pure consciousness. So also the activities of the intellect together with the reflected consciousness are subject to manifestation by the pure consciousness.

Here Acharya states that it is the pure consciousness that illumines everything even in the waking state and one can experience this pure consciousness even while awake in the tranquil state, by the words ‘Jaagareepi’. The intellect with out any modifications is witnessed by the pure consciousness while the functioning mind becomes an object of illumination of both the pure and reflected consciousness.
The ‘activities of the intellect’ mentioned here (by words Dheevyaaparaha) can be attributed only to the Jeeva as we have learnt earlier. Hence the intellect with its modifications has to be illumined by the reflected consciousness also.

This reflected consciousness is in turn illumined only by the pure consciousness as any reflection needs a substratum; and the reflection by itself cannot illumine any object nor can various objects be perceived independently with out the consciousness illumining them. Thus there should be a source of illumination that is not tainted by any objects and activities and is independent of the reflection. That is the pure consciousness, the Brahman which forms the substratum of all objects and that which is Self illumining.
Thus the activities of intellect are an object of illumination of both the pure and reflected consciousness.

Swami Vidyaranya in Panchadashi 8th chapter explains this through a example as: Just as a wall that can be lighted directly by the Sun as well as its reflection through a mirror, and we as can observe the natural sunlight on the wall existing in the middle of the different patches of light, similarly, we can also observe the natural consciousness that is the true nature of Self in between the thoughts and feelings or in tranquil state. Thus, the intellect with its modifications is illumined by both the mutable and immutable consciousness; whereas the intellect in its state of tranquility is illumined by the pure consciousness alone. Controlling of thoughts is not what is required – what is required is “focusing” the thoughts into “one single thought”. Controlling is almost impossible and can be achieved only through concentration on one thought which is what Vedanta as well as Yoga system of Patanjali follow. When “one thought” is maintained for some time, that thought too vanishes & only the thinker remains as pure Consciousness.

A couple of words on Sakshi or witness or Original Consciousness (OC). Any activity requires the triputi which consists of Subject, Object and action. The activity of Jnaana or getting knowledge involves JNAATAA (knower), JNEYA (that which is to be known) and JNAANA (process of knowing). In normal activities, the JNAATA is the Ego or RC (Reflected Consciousness), JNEYA is the vishayaas or sense objects and JNAANA is through the KARANA or instruments. For these activities to happen (as these are also changing as per activities), there should be something stable or constant which is the SAKSHI or witness or substratum of these illusions. This SAKSHI ceases to be a witness if it is involved in the activity.

“I” cannot be a witness to cricket match if I am part of the match and playing in it – because then I have a role in it & will be identified with that role – thus there cannot be witnesshood for me in that case.

Thus SAKSHI or OC is never affected as it is not involved in the activities of EGO or RC. This SAKSHI is what illumines the activities as Consciousness or CHIT. RC is called CHIDAABHAASA as AABHAASA means reflection. SAKSHI thus illumines the RC, the vishayaas and the action also.

In short, that which witnesses cannot be part of the event which it witnesses ---- that which is part of the event cannot be a witness of the event. Thus OC is called KUTASTHA – that which is unaffected by activities but still is the original and real light illumining all illusory activities in the world.

Sankara does mention about the above logic of Sakshi in one of his Upanishad bhashyas (forgot which one) and this comes in Lakshmidhara’s Advaita Makaranda as well as in the sub commentary Rasaabhivyanjika of Svayamprakaasha yathi on the same.
In the next sloka we will learn in detail how it is the pure consciousness only that illumines all the objects.


vahnitaptajala.n taapayukta.n dehasya taapakam.h .chidbhaasyaa dhiistadaabhaasayuktaanyaM bhaasayettathaa .. 6..

Jalam: water
Vahnitaptam: boiled on fire
Taapayuktam: being associated with heat
Taapakam: the cause of scalding
Dehasya: of the body
Tatha: likewise
Deehi: the intellect
Chit bhasya: made radiant by the pure consciousness
Tat aabhaasayuktaa: conjoined with the reflection of that ( i.e with the pure

Bhaasayet : reveals
Anyam: other objects

Water heated on fire acquires heat and so becomes capable of heating the body; in like manner, the intellect illumined by pure consciousness acquires its luster and thereby illumines all other external objects.

Acahraya here explains that the experience and perception of external objects is possible by the intellect only if it is illumined by the consciousness. The words by heating on fire indicates that just as water being boiled on fire acquires heat so also the intellect illuminated by the pure consciousness and the reflection, becomes capable of manifesting the external objects referred here by word Anyam.
Intellect seems to be conscious because OC falls on it and becomes RC. Thus it is RC which gives intellect its light or Chaitanya (this RC itself is a creation of OC only).

All our knowledge of external objects, like an earthen jar, etc. is given by the intellect when it is illumined by the consciousness. Just as how the water can scald a body due to the heat it acquires from fire, similarly intellect illumines all objects due to the consciousness illuminating it. Water by itself cannot scald a body but when it acquires heat from the fire, it can scald. So also the intellect which is just an adjunct cannot illumine the object by itself but when consciousness shines on it, all the external objects are perceived.
Any object has its existence only when there is someone conscious of it. Thus the knowledge that ‘this is a pot’, ‘this is a jar’ etc. is due to the consciousness only. Hence any object is illumined by the consciousness alone. Intellect by itself cannot illumine things, it requires a substratum, a source of illumination, and that is the Consciousness. If consciousness is there the world and other objects are there, if the consciousness is not there, the world is not there. Thus all objects co exist with the consciousness. Intellect is that which perceives these objects due to the consciousness. Hence it is the Consciousness that illumines all other objects through the intellect.

Sloka 3 and Sloka 4


In the last two slokas we learnt the three adjuncts of Atman, in this sloka, acharya explains the cause of all the miseries in the world and how to over come.

sa eva sa.nsaretkarmavashaallokadvaye sadaa
bodhaabhaasaachchhuddhabodha.n vivichyaadatiyatnataH .. 3..

Sa: He ( i.e the jeevatman)
Eva: Only
Sada: incessantly
Samsaret: migrates (through birth and death)
Lokadwaye: in the two worlds
Karmavashat: under the impulsion of action
Vivichyaat: one should discriminate
Shuddhabodham: the pure consciousness
Bodhabhasaat: from its reflection on the intellect ( i.e. Jeevatman)
Atiyatnataha: with supreme effort.

It is the jeeva that is incessantly migrating in the two worlds (here and thereafter) due to the resultant of its own actions (in the form of good and evil). Therefore the supreme problem of life lies in the effort to discriminate the pure consciousness from its reflection.

It is the reflected consciousness or the jeeva that has the adjuncts of mind, body etc. that is undergoing all the pleasures and sadness. Due to previous actions i.e., the karmas, and desires this jeeva seems to go through all the suffering and undergoes the cycle of birth and death. Hence, one must concentrate NOT on the reflection or the illusory happenings; but on the reality behind these, i.e. the absolute consciousness which is the true Self.

The main problem thus that faces us is to discriminate the real from the non real, to discriminate the reflection from the substratum. Once the unaffecting ever blissful nature of Self is known then, there will exist no bondages nor pleasures nor sadness as these are experienced by an illusion and hence can only be illusory in nature. It has to be realized that ‘that’ which undergoes all suffering, pain and death is only the reflection and the reality or the Substratum which is the real ‘I’ which is the witness is always unaffected; as these bodies are only adjuncts of the reflection and hence unreal.
Just like how the movement on the water surface affecting the reflection of sun in water does not affect the sun, similarly, the real ‘I’ can never be affected by all the illusory sufferings and the pleasures that the reflection or the Atman seems to experience. A seeker must strive for this conviction with supreme effort.
The mind and ego are so strong that the attachments and false cognition of Self with body are very hard to over come. Hence Acharya here clearly mentions by the word ‘ati yatnaha’ that all effort must be made in discrimination of the reality from the non reality.


In the last sloka we learnt how it is only the atman that is associated with birth, death, pains and pleasures of the world while the Self is ever unaffected and that a seeker must strive hard to gain such a discrimination of the reality from the non reality.

jaagarasvapnayoreva bodhaabhaasaviDambanaa
suptau tu tallaye bodhaH shuddho jaaDyaM prakaashayet.h .. 4..

Jaagrathaswapnayoho: the waking and the dream states
Eva: only
Bodhabhasaha vidambana: the diverse relations and activities of the reflected
Tu: whereas
Suptav: in deep sleep
Tat laye: that having been merged ( that reflected consciousness along with the
intellect having been merged)
Shudhabodhaha: the pure consciousness
Prakashet: illumines
Jaadyam: ignorance ( only)

The relational activities of the reflected consciousness i.e. the jeeva are restricted to the two states of waking and dreaming; whereas in deep sleep the reflected consciousness itself together with the reflector, the intellect being absorbed in ignorance, the pure consciousness shines upon ignorance only.

Acharya here explains that all the activities done in the waking state and the dream are attributed to the jeeva or the reflection only. The substratum or the consciousness always remains unaffected and stays as a witness in all three states as we have learnt in previous slokas.

We see, feel and experience the world only in the waking and dream state. All activities are done only in these two states; hence the activities of the Jeeva are restricted in only these two states. But in state of deep sleep, this jeeva ceases to function and the pure consciousness being ever unaffected, illumines the ignorance only. Though there are no actions done in deep sleep, there is still ignorance. Acharya here mentions that in such deep sleep state, i.e. in shushptavastha, the consciousness illumines ignorance only.

It is our common experience that we do not remember anything that happens during deep sleep, as we are unaware of the surroundings and enjoy the deep bliss, this is because the intellect that is the reflector, because of which we perceive duality merges with the reflection and we do not see or perceive and duality.

In deep sleep the projection power of the Maya, (the vikshepa shakti) is not there as we do not see duality nor the world but the veiling power of Maya (the aavarana shakthi) is still there as the true blissful nature of Self is not known in deep sleep. It is only after waking up that we say ‘I slept happily!!’ Hence ignorance of one’s true nature still exists in deep sleep also and the source of illumination i.e. the real consciousness illumines only the ignorance.

Sloka 1 and Sloka 2


The first sloka of Laghu vakya vrtti is thus. Acharya starts by first pointing out the upaadis or the adjuncts of the Atman and hence the substratum underlying these i.e. the Atman. This method is called as Chandra shaka Nayaaya in Vedanta. Here the branch is first shown and through it the moon is shown, i.e. the adjuncts are first pointed out and through them the Atman residing in these. The first sloka is:

sthuulo maa.nsamayo deho suukshmaH syaadvaasanaamayaH
.j~naanakarmendriyaiH saardha.n dhiipraaNau tachchhariiragau .. 1..

Mamsamayaha: the fleshy
Dehaha: body
Syath: is
Sthoolaha: the gross (adjunct)
Sookshmaha: the subtle (adjunct)
Vaasanaamayaha: consists of desires
Dheepranau: the intellect and the vital force
Saardhaha: together with
Jnaanakarmaadendriyai: the sensory and motor organs
Tat shareeragav : going on with that body

The fleshy body is the gross adjunct of the Atman and the one made up of desires together with the organs of perception and action, the pranas , the intellect and the mind constitutes the subtle adjunct.

Acharya Sankara says the same in Nirvanashtakam, as we have learnt as “ Na cha pranasamjno vai panchavayuhu; Na vaa saptha dhatu na va pancha kosha; Na vaak paani padam no chopasthapayu…”.

The first is the gross adjuncts. the gross body consisting of flesh, bones, blood etc. is the gross limitation of Atman. The body can never be Self, and the illusions that I am this body, this is my body, I am good looking etc. are illusory limitations only. That which is produced by the seeds from parents and grown on food can never be permanent. It is prone to death and decay and hence is insentient only. Hence the gross body is explained as the first adjunct.

The second adjunct Acharya explains, is the subtle body made up of desires consisting of the five organs of perception, i.e Jananendriyas, and the five organs of action, karmendriyas., the mind with the intellect and the prana. Now let us learn how these are only adjuncts are are not Self. The five janendriyas are the sense of hearing, the sense of touch, the sense of sight, the sense of taste and the sense of smell. The five Karmendriyas are organ of speech, organ of grasping, the organ of locomotion, the organ of generation and organ of excretion.The Antahkarana consisting of the manas, buddhi, Ahamkara and chitta bind the Self to the illusory external objects. All the indriyas are devoid of consciousness and require a person functioning them who is different from them.

Thus they are dependent on the functioning agent and thereby insentient and form adjuncts. The prana consists of the five vital airs. Based on the functionality they can be called as: Prana which causes expiration, Apana which causes inspiration, Udana which separates the physical and subtle bodies at death, Samana which digests the food taken in, and Vyana which causes circulation of blood in the body. These pervade through out the gross body and give it the power of movement. These are also devoid of consciousness and hence can also not be Self. The subtle body thus made up of desires is changing and insentient. Hence the subtle body is called as the second adjunct.

Adjuncts are those which are external, hence the gross and the subtle bodies which are just illusions on the Atman can never be the Self and the false recognition of them to Self makes them as limitations only. The ego binds this illusory body to Self. The gross body though an adjunct is mistaken for Self. Due to the ego, a person may think that eating tasty food, getting sensory pleasures, wearing ornaments, decorating the body and its so called 'beauty' will bring happiness. Such delusions arising from the attachment to the body and the cognition to it forms the first limitation. When the ego is not satisfied, or hurt or when desires are left unfulfilled, these seems to be sadness, the mind causes such all the feelings and this creates an limitation. Due to such an ego and mind forming the subtle body, the ever blissful nature of Self is forgotten and a person seems goes through all the pain and pleasures in the world. Hence these are called as the adjuncts and are illusory limitations to the Atman.

A few comments on the Nyaaya used as well as the process of removing or negating the Self from the not-Self.

First, what is Self and what is not-Self?????? Anandagiri in the katha Upanishad bhashya tika defines the word “Atma” as “Aaplru vyaapthau” (the verb formation) – Atma word is taken from the root Aaplru meaning “vyapthi” or “pervasiveness”. Thus Atman or Self is that which is all-pervasive.

Sankara defines Atman in the same sloka of Katha Upanishad by quoting from Linga Purana thus: Yat cha aapnothi yadaadathe yat cha atti vishayaan iha Yat cha asya santhatho bhaavah tasmaat atmethi keertyathe

That by which everything is pervaded – that which attracts all – that which enjoys everything – that by which this world gets its existence (the world is existent because of the substratum of Atman or Consciousness) – that is called Atman.

Since Self is that which all pervasive and ever-existent – thus that which really exists is called Self. And so not-Self is that which really doesn’t exist but only seems to exist due to illusion.
Anything other than Self is not-Self only. The Self is Consciousness as per Prajnaanam Brahma and Brahma is Atma as per Ayam Atma Brahma. Thus Consciousness which is one alone is the ultimate reality of Self. This Self is non-dual or Advaya as per Mandukya Statement that “Ajam asvapna anidram advaitam buddhyathe tadaa” and as per the Yajur Veda statement “Neha nana asthi kinchana” – there is no duality whatsoever but only the Self alone.
Thus the not-Self is only an illusion in the Self.

Analysis of Self as per Mandukya is based on avastha traya analysis. We experience only three states daily – these three states completely gives us knowledge about everything (illusory knowledge and real knowledge too). The three states are jagrat or waking, svapna or dream and sushupthi or deep sleep. The jagrat has sthoola shareera, svapna has the sukshma shareera and sushupthi has the kaarana shareera or causal body of ignorance. These three bodies are the adjuncts which seems to limit the Self. It is like various pots limiting space (seemingly limiting). The space is never limited but seems to be limited when the adjunct of pot is there – remove the pot, the space becomes infinite & the “seemingly limited” feeling also vanishes…. Similarly when the adjuncts are removed from the Self, the Self alone remains as Paramaatman, Brahman and the ultimate reality of Consciousness.

What is the relation between Self and not-Self???? Vedanta says that Self and not-Self are bound by Adhyaasa or superimposition. The Self alone really exists. Thus the illusory not-Self is superimposed on the Self –this is called adhyaasa or adhyaaropa. This adhyaasa has to be removed by negating the not-Self from the Self – this is called apavaada or negation. The process of negation is Neti, Neti – not this, not this. Everything which is mentioned as “this” is an object & hence not-Self. The Self is the Subject which is never objectified. (Detailed analysis of neti cannot be had here as the mail will grow hugeJ).

When everything is negated, the negator or SAKSHI or witness of negation alone remains behind – this SAKSHI is the Self or the ultimate reality of Consciousness upon which everything is superimposed. As the substratum of rope is unaffected when snake is seen and many things are imagined, similarly the Self is not affected by the changes in the not-Self. As the substratum of rope is the witness to activities imagined in the snake, similarly Self is the witness to the changes in the not-Self.

Thus adhyaaasa or adhyaaropa and apavada are the process for realizing the ultimate reality of Brahman or Atman which is Consciousness.

Thus to realize the Self, first adhyaaasa or the adhyastha vasthu or not-Self has to be explained. This is what Upanishads do first. They first explain about the creation which is superimposed on the Self. Then afterwards, this is negated and the Self as SAKSHI is mentioned. This process of going from near to far (near means that which is currently known and far is that which is not known) – the adhyaastha not-Self is known now due to ignorance & hence it is mentioned first & then the Self is shown through them as the substratum and witness of the not-Self.
Sankara himself uses the word SAKSHI in the second sloka of Laghu Vakya Vritti after explaining the kaarana shareera.

The process of going from known to unknown, near to far is called Chandra shaaka nyaaya. A child is not eating food at night – so the mother pacifies it by telling “chanda maama is there, you can see it, do eat, my Dear!” etc. The child is small and hence it cannot directly see the sky. Thus the mother first shows a nearby branch (if the perception line is extended from the branch still into the sky, it will lead to the moon) and then through that shows the moon. The branch is not-Self and moon is the Self.

This nyaaya is also called arundhathi nyaaya which is used once a couple get married (a function or customary associated with marriage). The bride is shown the star arundhathi by the bridegroom through other stars. The groom first shows some stars & through them, goes further and shows the Arundhathi star (first star A is shown and then says see the star near A which is B and thus arundhathi is shown).

The sloka quoted for adhyaasa and apavaada is:
Adhyaaroopa apavaadaabhyaam nishprapancham prapanchyathe Mumukshoonaam moksha sidhyartham tattvajnaaih kalpitha kramah
By adhyaaaropa the unmodified Brahman is seemingly modified and world is seemingly created – this is removed by apavaada of creation from Brahman --- this is the way prescribed by knowers of reality for realization of the seekers.

In the first sloka we learnt the first two adjuncts of Atman as gross and subtle bodies and how these are only adjuncts and can never be the Atman. Today we shall learn the second sloka which explains the third adjunct, the causal body and the Self is only a witness.

aj~naana.n kaaraNa.n saakshii bodhasteshhaa.n vibhaasakaH .
bodhaabhaaso buddhigataH kartaa syaatpuNyapaapayoH .. 2..

Ajnaanam: ignorance
Kaaranam: the cause ( the causal body)
Bodhaha: pure consiousness Sakshi: the witness
Tesham Vibhasakaha: of them, the illuminator
Bodhabhasaha: reflection of pure consiousness
Budhigataha: attached to the intellect
Syat : is
Karta : the agent Punyapaapayoho : of good and evil actions.

Ignorance makes the causal adjunct. Pure consciousness stands behind them all, i.e. behind all the three adjuncts as the witness and the illuminator. The reflection of the pure consciousness on the intellect (acquiring the sense of individuality due to ignorance) becomes the Jiva, the agent of good and evil.

Acharya in this sloka explains the third adjunct. The Causal body indicated by the words ‘Ajnanam kaaranam’ is the third adjunct. Ajnaam kaaranam means that which is due to ignorance. Ajnanam or ignorance, is the cause of the creation of the world. The causal body born out of ignorance which in turn gives birth to the subtle and gross bodies forms the third adjunct. AJNAANA is just ignorance of the Self or not knowing the Self.

When the ever blissful nature of Self is forgotten, duality is perceived. And a person seems to go through all the troubles due to this ignorance only. The causal body and hence the other adjuncts is due to ignorance of one’s nature only. Causal body itself is ignorance. Thus CAUSAL Body is not due to ignorance but CAUSAL BODY itself is ignorance. It is called causal because it is the cause for the other two bodies (see Mandukya or Panchikarana vartika where this is mentioned clearly). Thus the word used is KAARANAM or CAUSE. This KAARANA SHAREERA itself is ignorance.

This ignorance can be neither termed as present nor absent. It is present as duality, which is not the nature of Self is percieved, but it is also absent as this duality is not perceived always at all times as in deep sleep, in extreme happiness etc. Hence it is said to be of the nature ‘Asat’ i.e. that which is non existing. Ignorance is also an illusion only and is beginning-less. So the causal body which is due to ignorance alone is also illusory and insentient. This causal body is a result of Ajnana, will surely perish, hence it can never be Sat or Self. The three adjuncts are thus explained by Acharya as insentient and impermanent. Ignorance has two powers which is Aavarana or veiling power and Vikshepa or projecting power….. Avarana power veils the reality and this is what is experienced in deep sleep where only veiling power is there. But in dream and waking states, there is veiling as well as projecting power which projects the duality. Thus duality is vikshepa shakthi of Ajnaana or ignorance. As per Vidyaranya, Vikshepa is the cause of sorrow as when there is no vikshepa but aavarana is there (as in deep sleep, unconscious state etc.), still there is bliss of the Self enjoyed. But when vikshepa or duality comes – that’s when all sorrows and sufferings start.

Any changing object must have a changeless substratum. That which illuminates these three adjuncts and forms the substratum is the pure consciousness alone, indicated here by the word ‘bodha’. Consciousness is here explained as Sakshi or witness, as it can never be affected by anything and is a witness to the three bodies.

Acharya next explains Jeeva as the reflected consciousness. The reflection or Aabhasa of the pure bodha i.e. consciousness on the intellect becomes the jeeva.

It is because of this consciousness that is the substratum, that the gross, subtle and causal bodies seem to exist and undergo various experiences in the world. Jeeva hence has a beginning and an end also & would be unconscious if not Consciousness is not present as reflection of consciousness on intellect is called Jeeva and reflection of Consciousness is not there in Jeeva which is RC or Reflected Consciousness.

Hastamalaka defines jeeva as “Chidaabhaasako dhishu jeevah” – the reflection of Consciousness in intellect is called JEeva. The definition acharyas give for Jeeva is “Chitta gatha, chitprathibimba lakshano jeevah” – the reflection of Consciousness which is in intellect is called Jeeva.

This jeeva due to its association with the intellect and other antahkarana becomes an agent of good and bad. Here good and bad can be interpreted as actions. The pure consciousness or Atman which is only the witness when reflected on the intellect becomes an agent of all actions. The Jeeva seems to be doing work through the antahkarana. This occurs due to avidya only. A seeker has to know that the jeeva is just a mere reflection of the consciousness and the true Self which is verily consciousness can never do any actions nor get affected by actions. It is only jeeva due to its association with the ego that gets affected by all activities, evil and good but the Self is always present only as a witness. Jeeva can be considered as EGO itself – this jeeva or Ego gets affected when associated with the mind or gross objects.

Jeeva is real as it is a reflection of the consciousness which is real but also unreal as it is just a reflection and an illusion only. The Substratum which is the pure consciousness is that which has to be known by removing all the adjuncts and limitations. This is what is called apavaada or negation process.