Crown Jewel of Sagacity - III

Adi Shankara’s Viveka Chudamani

Continued from Previous Page

majjasthi medah palarakta charma
twagaahwayair dhaatu bhirebhiranvitam
paadoru vaksho bhuja prushthamastakai
rangairupaangairupayukta metat
aham mameti prathitham sareeram
mohaaspadam sthoolamiteeryate budhaih
74, 75
Sthoola sareera (Macro Body)

The body is made of sapta dhatus, seven substances. marrow, bone, brain, flesh, blood, skin and the organ of touch. Along with these there are legs/feet, thighs, chest, shoulders, back, head organs. There are upaangas too like the eye etc. this body is the base of all moha, enticement and attraction. Scholars call this sthoola sareera.

Sky, air, fire, water and earth are the five elements. In micro form each mixes with the four others and get the condition ofpancheekarana. Then they become the reason or cause for sthoola sareera. For these elements sense perceptions are sabda (sound) sparsha (touch) roopa (appearance or form rasa (taste) and gandha (smell). These are called the five tanmatras. For the jeeva, the bhokta, these become vishayas to give comfort (sukha).

, ignorant one's, develop attachment to these vishayas. This attachment is an unbearable bond which binds them. Thus bound, they would be going up the higher worlds and going down the under worlds. The very karma they perform would lead them up and down.

ya yeshu moodhaa vishayeshu baddhaa
ragoru paashena sudurdamena
aayaanti niryaantyadha oordhwamuchchai
swakarmadootena javena neetah

In this world with anuraga, attachment, for sound the deer, for the elephant, for form and appearance the locust, for taste the fish and for smell the bee would be drawn into suffering and death. If attachment to one sense leads to death, what should be the lot of a human being drawn by all the five!

These vishayas (sabda etc.) are more deadly than the most poisonous black cobra.

Only the one who tastes poison would be killed. Attraction to attachments would kill all.

Attraction and enticement to vishayas is very powerful. It is not easy to give them up. Only the one who is rid of that bond would be liberated from sansara. Though one is a scholar and master of the six shastras, unless one is free from that bond, he cannot get liberation.

Even a mumukshu who attempts to cross the ocean of sansara is dragged by vishayas which are like a crocodile. But the one who really kills that crocodile can cross the ocean.

vishayaakhyo graho yena suvirakhtya raosina hatah
sa gachchati bhavaambhodheh paaram pratyooha varjitah 

The way of vishayas, sense attractions, are crooked. The one who goes into them with contaminated buddhi would have to face shocks and blows at every step.

He would even be killed. The good and the noble- minded follow the guru and act according to their intelligence and reach the goal. This is the truth which needs to be known.

So, sishya! If you wish to get salvation, keep vishayas away like poison.

Honour and treat with love the noble qualities of compassion, forgiveness, joy, peace, restraint, rectitude and patience as nectar. Practice them intensely and treat them as guides and masters.

Bonds are there because of the ajnaana from earlier births. Liberation is necessary. It is your immediate duty to free yourself from the bonds. The one who thinks the body to be the most valuable wealth and spends all his time nurturing it would only be killing himself. The one while nurturing his body wishes to get self-realization is like one holding a crocodile (thinking that it is a log) to cross the flood. Attraction to body itself is death for an aspirant. The one who wins enticements and attractions called moha alone is worthy of salvation.

So, learned one! Give up your moha for wife and children, riches and position. Munis who shed moha and conquer the manas would acquire the world of the Supreme Being and merge into him.

moha eva mahaamrutyuh mumukshorva puraadishu
moho vinirjito yena sa
mukti psdadamarhati
moham jahi mahaa mrityum dehadaara sutaadishu
yamti tad vishnuh
yam jitva munayo yaanti tadvishno paramam padam

The Nature and Quality of sthoola sareera

Sthoola sareera made up of skin, flesh, ligaments, brain, marrow and bones is filled with urine and faces. This is worthy of blame. This is born according to the karma in the previous birth by the panchee karana, or unification of the five elements. This sareera experiences joy and grief in the state of wakefulness.

Jeeva takes in the beauties of things through sense organs. He experiences them personally with a feeling of identification. (taadatmya) For the one in grihastha ashram, this body is necessary like a home to carry on the business of life. The body thus is the basis for living.

Dharmaas - The Foundations of the Sthoola Sareera

These bases are three: birth, old age and death. Height, weight etc. are related to this body. So are the four stages of life like childhood etc. The various rules relating to the castes and terms relating to honour and infamy are related only to sthoola sareera.

Indriyas, senses

Sense organs are called jnanendriyas because they take in sound, sense of touch, sight etc. These go about in various deeds or performance of acts. Those that act are karmendriyas like mouth, tongue, eye etc.

The Sense Inside - Antahkaranam

According to the functions they perform the four are called antahkaranam: they are manas, buddhi, chittam and ahankara. In experiencing the vishayas, sensory objects, for attraction and repulsion the basis would be manas. As per the form and nature of things, padardhas the decision about them is caused by buddhi. 'Me', 'my', myness-ego sense all these can be called ahankara. That which reminds the thing- is chitta.

Though an ornament is made of gold, it is known by the shape gold takes like ring, necklace, bracelet etc. Though it is all water, water in the glass, water in the pot are used to refer to the same water. Though prana is one-basically vayu, or air, according to its various forms and funtions vayu is called prana, apaana, vyana, udana and samaana.

Sookshma Sareeram

i) Mouth etc. are Karmendriyas ii) Ear, Skin, these are Jnanendriyas: these are five. iii) The five vayus like prana etc. iv) The elements like Earth, Air, Water etc. v) Antahkarana. These are four: manas, buddhi, chittam and ahankara. vi) avidya 'ignorance' vii) Kamam, desire and viii) karma. These eight are called puryashtatkam. This is also called sookshma sareera or linga sareera.

This is made up of the unification or compounding of the five elements this is calledpancheekarana. This makes us experience the fruits of actions, karmaphala. It is because of one's ajnaana. This is without beginning, anadi. This is the base for the Jeevi. Base is upadhi.

vagaadi pancha shravanaadi pancha pranaadi
panchabhramukhani pancha buddhyaadya vidyapi cha
kaamakarmanee puryashtakam sookshma sareeramaahuh

idam sareeram shrunu sookshmasanjyitam lingam tvapancheekruta bhoota sambhavam
savaasanam karmaphalaanu bhaavakam swaajnaanato anaadi roopadhibhirtmanah

For this sookshma sareera the base is the state of dreams. In dreams only this sookshma sareera operates (shines). In this state buddhi alone experiences the feelings of the body in the wakeful state. Making buddhi its upadhi, base, pratyagaatma witnesses the acts in the dream. It would not be laved by the karmas, acts, performed by buddhi. So pratyagaatama would the remain as asang, unattached. As instruments like a chisel help the carpenter, for the activities of chidatma this ling sareera would be an instrument. Even then atman is asanga, unattached.

Blindness and efficiency are the dharmas, qualities of the eye. So also of the ear are the ability to hear or deafness. All these are related to the senses but they do not belong to atman. Atman is unattached.

Hunger and thirst are the dharmas of prana. Inhalation and exhalation are the activities, karmas, of the prana.

In the body eyes etc., are sense organs. Since they are light reflected in buddhi, they have the ego-sense. This the scholars call ahankara. This has the feeling or affection that, 'I' am the doer, 'I' am the eater etc. This ahankara with the three gunas of satwa rajas and tamas would have the three states: wakeful state, dream state and deep-sleep state.

When things are favourable one feels "I am happy: I am comfortable". When unfavourable one feels 'I am grief stricken'. Comfort and grief are the dharmas of antahkarana.These do not belong to atman which is anandaswaroop, the form of bliss.

It never has any grief. The deep sleep state is without any vishayas. Then the bliss, the form of atman, is experienced. That the form of atman is ananda (bliss) is proved actually, and also as an experience down the ages. The latter is anumanapramaanas, a proof that is believed. Even the Veda says so while acclaiming.

pratyakshamaitihyamanumanam cha jaagrati.


The power, shakti, of Maheswar is called maya that is moolaprakriti, basic nature. That has no beginning: it is anadi. It comprises the trigunas, satwa, rajas and tamo gunas. It is imagined by the learned one according to its 'doing' kriya.

avyakta naamnee paramesha shaktir anadya vidyaa
trigunatmikaa paraa kaaryanumeyaa sudhiyaina maayaa
yayaa jagatsarvamidam prosooyate

That is neither sat nor asat : nor is it a blend of the two. It is neither different from Eshwar nor the same. It is neither broken nor whole. It is not made of limbs-nor is it without limbs. It is wondrous. It has an indescribable form.

When it is known to be a rope definitely the bhranti that it is a serpent disappears. In the same way then one learns that it is pure and second to none and just one.

When brahman is realized this maya is destroyed. The trigunas are also the doing of maya.

Diversifying power - Vikshepa shakti

This shakti is related to the doing/act of rajo guna. This is the power that drives the entire creation. Love and hate, joy and grief are all owing to this diversification.

The dreadful desire and anger (kama and krodha) and the arishadvarga, deadly enemies are the dharmas of rajo guna. It is because of this that a human being goes about his doings, acts, deeds. This rajo guna is the cause of the bond of sansara - sansara bandha.

vikshepashaktee rajasah kriyaatmikaa
yatah pravrittih prasrutaa puranee ragaadayosyah
prabhavanti nityam duhkhaadiyo
ye manso vikaaraah kaamakrodho

lobhadhambhaabhyaasooyaa ahankaarershyaa
matsaraadyaastu ghoraah dharmaa yete rajasah
pumpravriti rasmaadetattadrajo bandhahetuh

Power that is covered: Avarana Shakti

This relates to tamoguna. Because of this, one thing 'appears' as another. This is the base for man to get into sansara. While avarana shakti create sansara with the form of birth and death, vikshepa shakti makes jeeva get into that.

yeshaa vrittirnama tamo gunasya shaktiryayaa vastvava
bhaasate nyathaa saishaa nidanam purushasya samsruter
vikshepa shakteh prasarasya hetuh

Though one is a genius or a great scholar or a skilled one able to see minute things, if surrounded or enveloped in tamoguna, he cannot realize atmashakti. He believes that the body and world which are asat as truth and lasting. There after he follows the dharmas related to things which are asat.

There are three qualities of avarana shakti. abhavana. Vipareeta bhavana and sambhavana viprati. Abhava is thinking that there is no truth atma vastu. (It is not believing in atman) To believe that the asat, the body etc., are himself is vipareeta bhavana. To doubt Veda's declarations and the messages of the guru is sambhavana vipratipatti. Vikshepa shakti would not allow one with avarana shakti to have his own way. It would hurl him into sansara.

Ajnaana, (ignorance) aalasyam (delay) Jadata (inactivity) nidra (sleep)pramadam (carelessness and moodhatva (obtuseness) are the qualities of tamas.

One with these qualities would never be able to realize atman. He would be just like a column, a Pillar like one which has the nature of sleep only.

Quality of mixed Sattva - Mishra sattwa gunam

Sattva is pure like clear water. When Sattwa dominates and along with it rajas and tamo gunas are there in it slightly, a linga sareera is formed. In the shuddha tattwa atman is reflected. Just as the sun illumines all, in this shudha sattwa reflecting the atmabimba illumines the jad body.

Refraining from self-praise nor being showy, proud and arrogant, having principles like yama (restraint) and good qualities like shraddha and bhakti (commitment and devotion) fearlessness and purity in sattwa are divine qualities. Mishratattwa is the quality deciding that the body etc. which are asat are not him. Experience of the atman, peace beyond understanding, contentment and commitment to paramatma are the qualities of shuddha tatwa. The one having these qualities would enjoy and experience bliss.

When the three, sattwa, rajas and tamas, gunas are in equal parts, it is called avyakta. This is the karana sareera for atman. This would surface and be apparent in the dream-state. In this state the nature of sense and the behaviour of buddhi would coalesce in the atman.

avyaktametat trigunairniruktam tatkaaranam nama
sareeramaatmanah sushutpiretasya vibhaktyavastah
praleena sarvendriya buddhi vrittih

In this deep-sleep state all kinds of knowledge of things would be totally destroyed. Buddhi stays only as a seed. The one in that state stating that he has not experienced anything is common knowledge.

The Nature of non-atman

anaatma swabhaava: sthoola sareeram, the ten senses and the five types of manas and the five elements and the universe upto avyakta are all considered anatma. Maya and its activity, that is, from mahat to deha, the entire universe is considered asat. This is anaatma. This is like a mirage.

The form and shape of paramatma

Now, I'll tell you about the form and shape of paramatma. The one who knows this would be free from the bond of sansara. He would experience only Brahman and nothing else.

There is one base for nitya, the everlasting, eternal, without beginning. That is paramatma. That is witness to all the three states.

It is different from the five sheaths. In all the three states, buddhi and its activities, sat and asat and "I" are all known by that.

It sees all personally. No sense can perceive it. But that can not be made consious by anything else. That is all pervasive. It can not be pervaded by any. All that is irradiated by atman only. Simply because of it (the atman), the body, senses, manas, buddhi and other things behave as if activated by somebody else.

yasya sannidhi maatrena dehendriya manodhiyah
vishayeshu swakeeyeshu vartante prerita iva 131

Only by this paramatma which is ever the form of jnaana everything is being known right from ahankara to deha, all vishayas, griefs and joys.

This paramatma is stationed in all Beings, jeevas.

Its seat is the heart cave (hridaya guha). That "inward moving", antaryaami, that paramatma is the most ancient. That is a continuous single flow of the experience of bliss. That is second to none. That can be known only throughjnaana. It is with the inspiration of atman that speech and praana are activated. In maya, parmatma with great effulgence illumines the entire universe. It is like the sunlight. Paramatma knows all that the senses, body andpraana are doing. Like fire, that has acquired iron, it follows all. It does not move. It does not have any change.

Atman is not born; it does not die It does not grow or deteriorate. It does not change. It is ever present. It is inside, coalesced in the body. Even then like the sky in the pot it is not touched by it. That means paramatma does not have any change.

Paramatma is different from prakriti or ajnaana. It is distinct, from vikriti or the world. Its nature is pure jnaana, shuddha jnaana or chaitanya.

While being both formless and having form it irradiates everything. It stays witness to buddhi in all three states. O disciple! Learn that when you restrain you manas on things you stay cheerful. With your own buddhi thus trained you learn that your own form is paramatma. You cross over the ocean of sansara which has the waves of birth and death. Be accomplished and fulfilled attaining brahmtva.

The cause of the bond of sansara

For man sansara, the bond, means having the belief that the anatma, body, is atman. This occurs because of ajnaana. This is the cause for the grief of birth and death. Because of this alone man believes that he is the body and sustains it as a spider spins and protects the web with form, taste etc. of vishayas. He is serving it and sustaining it.

Friend ! the stupid one owing to ignorance thinks what is not as something that is. He sees one and takes it to be another. Because of ajnaana, in the rope he sees the serpent thereafter many outward things happen. For this reason ajnaana itself is becoming a bond.

Atman which is perfect, everlasting, and inspiring as jnaana shakti is covered by the tamo guna as avarana shakti like the sun hidden by Rahu at the time of eclipse. Owing to this ignorance, he believes that his body is atman, his real self. Then the vikshepa shakti of rajo guna binds him and puts him to grief, pain and suffering.

The crocodile of maha moha swallows the atma prana of the man. With buddhi that is full of tamo guna, he experiences great woes. He goes about floating and sinking in the ocean filled with vishayas in deceitful and crooked ways.

The row of clouds engendered by the sun becomes flashy and covers the sun himself. In the same way the ego sense, ahankara born in man covers atmajnaana. While the sun is covered by thick clouds, the wind becoming powerful bothers them. In the same way the dense tamoguna covering atman makes vikshepa shakti which puts the ajnaani to various kinds of tribulations. Thus aavarana and vikshepa cause the bond if sansara to man. Being attracted to these, he believes that he is his body.

The Tree of sansara

For the tree of sansara the seed is ajnaana. To think that the body is atma is the little sprout. The love and affection for sensations are the leaves. Karma waters the plant. The groups of senses are the top; sabda etc., the vishayas are flowers. Various griefs that result from deeds are the fruit of the tree. The jeeva the eater of the fruit and as such a blind.

beejam sansriti bhoomijasya tu tamo dehaatmadheeram kuro
raagah pallavamambu karma tu vapuh skandho savah shakhikah
agraaneedriyasanhatischa vishayah pushpaani duhkham phalam
naanaakarma samudbhavam bahuvidham bhoktaatra jeevah khagah

The Bond of anaatma

Owing to ajnaana the bond is formed with sareera the body, which is anatma. This bond is natural and has no beginning, anadi, which has always been and which would always be. That causes taapa, heat, This bond, formed owing to ajnaana, cannot be cut off by either instruments or incantations; by word or fire. It would not go off even by the performance of a million deeds. This is possible only through the grace of Eshwar. With the sword of viveka, discrimination between atman and anaatman, the bond of anatma can be cut off. For the one who has commitment and dedication to the declarations of the Veda, a devotion to dharma in his deeds would come. Without dedication or, nishtha, the manas is not cleansed and sanctified. Only for the one with clean and pure buddhi the jnaana, about paramatma would come. Only with such jnaana, sansara would be destroyed at the very root.

The water in the well that could be descended into would be covered with moss (or water weed) would not shine. In the same way, atman, which is overed by the five sheaths would not be effulgent. That moss should be removed for the clean water to be seen. Then only the water of the well would quench the thirst of man and give comfort. Only when the five sheaths are removed the burning flame of atman shines as pratyagaatma. For that reason, the learned one should make a distinction between atman and anatman.

Only with that would he be able to realize that he is the form of sat chidananda and feel its bliss.

Just as the tip of the sacred sacred grass is nipped off, unless the pratyagatma is detached from asanga and akriya of all other things, the real scene cannot be seen. The real one is the form if pratyagaatma. Then only one is liberated from sansaara and the cycle of birth and death.

Annamaya Kosha - Physical Sheath

The sthoola sareera is born of anna (food). This lives because of anna and without it, if perishes. This body which is made of skin flesh, bone etc., and full of urine and faeces cannot be clean and ever be pure atman.

dehoyamanna bhavanonnamayasthu kosah
chaanneeva jeevathi vinashyati tad viheenah
twakcharma maamsa rudhiraasthi pureesha raashir
naayam swayam bhavatumarhati nitya shuddah

This body does not exist before birth. After death too it would not be. It stays for a short while; it quickly undergoes change. It is made up of limbs. It is inactive and is just to be seen like a pot. How can that be atman which knows all the vagaries of the body!

The body has limbs and organs. It may live in the absence of some of them. But atman has no limbs. Its power is not to be destroyed. For that reason also body cannot be atman. Atman is the controller, organiser, niyaamaka. It appoints all. Body is appointed by atman. Atman is witness to all the stages of life and activities. It is independent, autonomous. It is self-born. Deha, body is not.


The body made of flesh and bones and a bag etc. is foul. How can it be atman which is a sakshi, witness to all? Ajnaani, the ignorant one, thinks that 'he' is the body. But the learned one knows what is what and makes a distinction between atman and body, the anatma. He realizes that he is the form ofpratyagaatma. The one with the jnana relating the atman and anatman is a mahatma who realizes that he is paramatma. He says and believes: aham brahma smi.

Ajnaani!; shed your buddhi which makes you think that you are the sthoola sareera with blood, flesh, bones etc. Your obtain buddhi in the all-pervasive unity of brahman, unless one sheds the illusion that asat, the senses etc., and the body are not brahman, even a scholar cannot obtain liberation. Even though he understands vedanta and visualises it, he would still be not liberated.

The sareera, body is like a shadow; an image in a mirror and something that is seen as in a dream! Won't you ever, even for a moment; believe that the body is atman. Don't think that you are the sareera. To believe so is the seed for grief. That is the reason for grief in sansara. If you shed that illusion you would not be born again.

Pranamaya Kosha - Vital Sheath

Along with the five karmendriyas sense organs, prana makes up pranamaya kosha. It is because of this annamaya kosha gets the feeling of 'I'. Filled with anna it appears in all karmas, or, deeds.

karmendriyai panchabhiranchitoyam
praano bhavet pranamayasthu kosah
yenaatmavannamayonna poornaat
pravartate sau sakala kriyaasu

Even this annamaya kosha is not atman. This is just a form, a mutation of air. It goes in and comes out as air. It never has any likes or dislikes. It cannot know either itself or anything else. It has no independence. It is always dependent.

Manomaya Kosha - Mental Sheath

The five senses of perception and manas together are called manomaya kosha, mental sheath. This sheath causes the feeling of 'I' and 'my'. This creates the differentiations of various signs and symbols. This is very powerful. It occupies the pranamaya kosha completely.

jnaanendriyani cha manascha manomayah syaat
kosho mamaahamiti vastu vikalpa hetuh
sanjnadi bedha kalanaakalito baleeyam
statpoorva koshamabhipoorya vijrumbhate yah

This fire called manomayam is roused by the five ritwiks of jnanendriyas. The sense perceptions provide the ghee for increasing the flames. The tendencies, vasanas acquired over the earlier births are the sacred faggots to kindle the fire.

Avidya is not different from manas. Manas itself is ajnana. That itself is the reason for sansara. If it is destroyed all sansara would be destroyed. If it flashily erupts sansara would be uncontrollable. In a dream where there is nothing, Manas creates everything that is experienced in the dream. Even the state of wakefulness, is the explosion of the manas. In deep sleep manas is destroyed. There would be no sense of anything. Then everyone says. "I know anything."So, for man sansara is just a creation of the manas. It does not exist in reality.

Wind brings in the cloud. It is only with the wind that it is driven away somewhere. In the same way, manas creates affections, likes and dislikes and with that rope it binds man as an animal is bound. It is manas again that frees him from the venomous vishayas.

dehaadi sarva vishaye parikalpyaragam
badhnati tena purusham pashuvadgunena
vairasyamatra vishavatsuvidhaaya paschaa
denam vimochayati tanmana eva bandhaat

For this reason the cause for the bondage or liberation of man from sansara is manas only. It is the cause for the contamination of manas which is the season for bondage. Manas has no connection with the three gunas and so is pure and becomes the reason for salvation or liberation (mukti or moksha).

With the increase of viveka and vyragya, manas gets cleansed and leads to liberation. The mumukshu (seeker) with intelligence and expediency should first consolidate and strengthen the quality of this viveka and vairagya.

The tiger of manas would be on the move in the wilderness. Good people and those who seek moksha should not go into the wilds. Manas creates many things to experience both in the wakeful and dream states. Things related to the body like caste, and the stages or states of life like Brahmacharya, (celebacy) etc., the various species of birds and beasts and the qualities like tallness or shortness, various deeds, (karmas) and their fruit all are the creation of the manas.

Continued to next Page 


More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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