Fuctions of prana (Verse 102)
102 Experts call inhalation, exhalation, yawning, sneezing, secretion, death etc. as functions of the vital breath, while hunger and thirst are the qualities of the main vital breath.
Ego discussed (verses 103-105)
103 The inner organ has its seat of expression in the sense-organs such as the eye etc. Identifying with them as “I”, it exists, by the reflection of the Self (Atman) in it.
104 Know that it is the ego which, identifying with the body, becomes the doer or the experiencer, and in conjuction with the Gunas* such as sattva etc, this ego assumes the three different states (of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep).
*As explained in the introductory essay, Guna is a technical term of Sankhya philosophy also used in the same sense by the Vedanta. Prakrti or Nature is constituted of three Gunas: Sattva (equilibrium or purity), Rajas (attraction or activity), and Tamas (inertia). Prakrti is the three Gunas, not that she has them. Guna is wrongly translated as quality; it is substance as well as quality, matter, and force. Where ever there is name and form, there is Guna. Guna also means a rope, that which binds. (Swarupananda, 1996, pp. 55-56).
105 When the sense-objects are favorable, the situation is happy. When they are unfavorable, it is miserable. Happiness and misery are, therefore, the characteristics of the ego and do not belong to the the Self (Atman), which is ever-blissful.
Infinite love – the Self (verses 106-107)
106 Sense-objects are pleasurable only because of the Self which manifests through them, and not independently, for the Self is, by its very nature, the most beloved* of all. The Self, therefore, is ever-blissful and can never suffer any grief or misery.
*In one of the most meaningful teachings ever proclaimed, rishi Yajnavalkya tells his wife, Maitreyi: “Na va are sarvasya kamya sarvam priyam bhavati, atmanastu kamaya sarvam priyam bhavati—Nothing is loved for its own sake; it is for the sake of the Self that everyting is loved.” (Brh.U. 2.4.5)
107 Scriptues , direct experience, tradition and inference clearly attest that in deep-sleep, we experience the Bliss of the Self (Atman) independent of sense-objects.
Maya pointed out (verses 108-110)
108 Nescience (Avidya) or Maya*, also called the “Unmanifest,” is the power of the Lord. It is without beginning; it comprises the three gunas and is superior to their effects (as their cause). It is to be inferred only by one who has a clear intellect, from the effects it produces. It is this Maya which projects the entire universe.
*Maya literally means that which is not (Skt., ma=not; ya=that: “Ya ma samaya” – that which is not there, that is Maya). One of the key questions in Vedanta is: If Brahman is One only, without a second, how do we experience the manifold world? Vedanta‘s short answer is that Avidya-led Maya “covers” the One and “projects” the Many. These are spoken of as the veiling power (avarnasakti) and the projecting power (vikshepasakti) of the Cosmic Grand illusion called Maya. Actually, Maya is Brahman’s dream. In Indian philosophy, our phenomenal existence is spoken of as dream-like or illusory—like the horns of a rabbit—as manomaya, i.e., of the nature of mind. To explain the appearance of the maninfold world, the concept of “maya” is invoked. Maya, thus, is the cosmic illusion—the mother of duality—on account of which one appears as many and the real appears as unreal.
109 It (Maya), is neither existent nor non-existent, nor both; neither same nor different nor both; neither made up of parts nor partless nor both. Most wonderful it is and beyond description in words.
110 By realization of the pure, non-dual Brahman, Maya can be destroyed, just as the illusion of the snake is removed by the discriminative knowledge of the rope. Its qualities (gunas) are rajas, tamas, and sattva, distinguished by their respective functions.
Rajoguna – nature and effects (verses 111-112)
111 Rajas has projecting power (vikshepasakti). Activity is its very nature. From it the initial flow of activity has originated. From it, mental modifications such as attachment and grief are also continuously produced.
112 Desire, anger, greed, hypocrisy, arrogance, jealousy, egoism, envy, etc.—these are the dreadful attributes of rajas, from which the worldly tendencies of man are produced. Rajas is therefore the cause of bondage in life.
Tamo guna – nature and effects (verses 113-116)
113 The veiling power (avritti), is the power of Tamas, which makes things appear to be other than what they actually are. It causes man‘s repeated transmigration and initiates the action of the projecting power(vikshepa).
114 Even the wise and the learned, and those who are expert in the understanding of the supremely subtle meaning of the scriptures, are overpowered by tamas and cannot comprehend Truth, even though It is clearly explained in various ways. They consider as real what is simply superimposed by delusion and attach themselves to its effects. Alas! How powerful is the great veiling power of dreadful tamas!
115 Absence of correct judgment, contrary judgment, lack of definite belief and doubt—certainly these never leave one who has any connection with this veiling power; also, the projecting power gives endless trouble.
116 Ignorance, laziness, dullness, sleep, inadvertence, stupidity etc., are the attributes of tamas. One tied up with these cannot comprehend anything, but remains like one asleep, or like a stump of wood or a block of stone.
Sattva guna – natue and effects (verses 117-119)
117 Pure sattva is like clear water, yet in combination with rajas and tamas, it provides for transmigration. But when the light of the Self gets reflected in sattva alone, then, like the sun, it reveals the entire world of objects.
118 The characteristics of mixed sattva are, utter absence of pride etc., yama, niyama etc., and also faith, devotion, yearning for liberation, the divine tendencies, and a natural turning away from everything unreal.
119 The characteristics of pure sattva are cheerfulness, self-realization, supreme peace, contentment, bliss, and a steady abidance in the supreme Self, by which the aspirant comes to enjoy everlasting bliss.
Causal body – its nature (verses 120-121)
120 This “unmanifest,” described as a combination of all three gunas, is the casual-body of the individual. Its special state is deep-sleep, in which all functions of the mind-intellect and the sense-organs are totally suspended.
121 The mind remains in a subtle seed-like form in deep sleep, which is the state of complete cessation of all kinds of perceptions. Indeed, the universal verdict in this state is, “I did not know anything then.”
Not-self – its description (verses 122-123)
122 The body, sense-organs, Pranas, mind and ego etc. and all their modifications; the sense-objects and their pleasures etc; the gross elements such as ether, in fact the whole universe upto the Unmanifest—all these are the non-Self.
123 Everything is due to the effect of Maya—from Mahat down to the gross body. Know that these and Maya itself are the not-Self— therefore, they are unreal, like the mirage in a desert.
The Self – its nature (verses 124-135)
124 Now I will tell you of the Real Nature of the supreme Self, realizing which, one becomes free from all bondage and attains liberation.
125 Something there is, the Absolute Entity, the eternal substratum for the experience of ego-sense. It is the Witness of the three states and is distinct from all the five sheaths.
126 That which knows everything that happens in the waking, dream, and deep-sleep states, That which is aware of the presence or absence of the mind and its functions, That which is the essence behind the ego, That is “This”—the Self.
127 That which sees all but which no one can see; That which illumines the intellect etc., but which they cannot illumine, That is the “Self”.
128 That by which this universe is pervaded, but which is not pervaded by anything, which when It shines, the entire universe shines as It‘s reflection, That is the Self.
129 That by whose very presence the body and the sense-organs, the mind and the intellect perform their respective functions, like servants!
130 That, because of which everything—the ego, the body, the sense-objects, and their pleasures etc., are known, as clearly as a jar, is of the nature of eternal knowledge.
131 This is the innermost Self, the Primordial Being, whose essential nature is the constant experience of indivisible Bliss, which is ever the same. Yet, it constantly gets reflected through different mental modifications and, commanded by which, the sense-organs and the pranas (vital airs) perform their functions.
132 In this very body itself, in the secret cave of the intellect which is of the nature of sattva, in the space (akasha) spoken of as the unmanifest, the the Self (Atman), of captivating splendor, shines like the sun, high in the sky, illumining this universe by its very effulgence.
133 The knower of the modifications of the mind and the ego, and the activities of the body, the sense-organs and the vital airs (pranas), which apparently take their forms like fire in a ball of iron, is the Self, which neither acts nor changes in the least.
134 Neither it is born nor does It die; neither does It grow nor does It decay; being eternal, It does not undergo any change. Even when this body is destroyed, It does not cease to exist, like the space in a jar does not become extinct when the jar is broken.,
135 Different from primordial nature (prakriti) and its modifications is the Supreme Self, of the nature of pure knowledge. It is Absolute and directly manifests the entire gross and subtle universe, in waking and other states, as the substratum of the steady sense of egoism. It manifests Itself as the Witness of the intellect.
Advice for self-control (verse 136)
136 With a regulated mind and a purified intellect, directly realize your self as the essential Self. Identify yourself with the Self, and cross the shoreless ocean of worldy existence with its waves of births and deaths. Be fulfilled thusly by becoming firmly established in Brahman (which is your very own essence).
What is bondage? Its reply (verses 137-142)
137 Due to ignorance, a person identifies the Self with not-Self. This is the bondage and brings in its wake the miseries of birth and death. Through this, one considers the unreal body as real, identifies with it and nourishes, bathes and preserves it with the help of sense-objects. Thereby, one becomes bound like the silk-worm in its cocoon woven by its own threads.
138 Being deluded by ignorance, one mistakes a thing for what it is not. In the absence of discrimination, the snake is mistaken for a rope, and great danger befalls one who seizes it through this false notion. So listen, my friend, it is mistaking the not-Self for the Self (the unreal for the Real) that creates bondage.
139 The veiling power, whose nature is ignorance, covers the Self whose glories are infinite, which is Indivisible, Eternal, and One-without-a-second, just as Rahu* covers the sun during a solar eclipse.
*Rahu is considered as a =shadow planet‘ in Indian astrology. In Indian mythology, it is conceived as a demon who periodically swallows the sun or moon, causing eclipses.
140 When a person‘s own Self of purest splendor is hidden from direct experience, that person, due to ignorance, comes to falsely identify with the body which is the non-Self. Then the merciless persecution of rajas (projecting power), binds the person down with fetters of lust, anger etc.
141 A peson of deluded mind, whose knowledge of Self has been swallowed by the shark of complete ignorance, behaves as though the different states of the intellect were the attributes of the Self, and drifts up and down, now rising and now sinking, on the ocean of change, which is full of the poison of sense-pleasures. What a miserable fate, indeed!
142 As the formations of clouds generated by the sun‘s rays come to veil the very same sun and appear clearly manifest in the sky, so too, the ego arisen from the Self covers the reality of the Self and expresses itself in full manifestation.
The powers – agitation and veiling (verses 143-144)
143 Just as, on a cloudy day, when the sun is completely hidden by dense clouds, cold, shivering blasts afflict a peson, so too, when the Self is concealed by utter ignorance, the dreadful projecting power (vikshepa sakti) afflicts the foolish person with endless sorrows.
144 A person‘s bondage proceeds from these two “powers.” Deluded by them, one mistakes the body for the Self and wanders from life to life.
Bondage in action (verses 145-146)
145 Ignorance is the seed of the tree of samsara, the worldy existence. Body-identification is the sprout, desires are its tender leaves, actions are its water, the body is the trunk, the Pranas are its branches, the sense-organs are its twigs, the sense-objects are its flowers, different miseries born out of the varieties of actions are the fruits and the individual soul is the bird perched upon it.
146 This bondage caused by the non-Self springs from ignorance and is self-caused. It is described as without beginning and without end. It subjects one to the endless flood of miseries—birth, death, disease, and old age.
Atma and anatma – discrimination (verses 147-153)
147 Neither by weapons, nor by wind, nor by fire, nor by millions of actions can this bondage be destroyed. By nothing save the wonder-sword of Knowledge which comes from discrimination given by the grace of the Lord, can we end this bondage.
148 One who has deep devotion to the Scriptures and is firmly established in one‘s own duties (swadharma)—for these actions alone contribute to the purity of his mind—and is of pure mind realizes the supreme Self. By this knowledge alone is samsara destroyed, root and branch.
149 Covered by the five sheaths, such as the food-sheath, which are produced by Its own Divine Power, the Self does not shine clearly, just as the water in a tank covered by the collection of moss, which is born out of itself (water).
150 When the moss is removed, absolutely pure water, which can quench the pangs of thirst and give immediate joy, becomes visible.
151 When all five sheaths have been negated, the Self shines supremely as being the essence of everlasting Bliss, as the indwelling, Self-effulgent Spirit Supreme.
152 The wise should discriminate between the Self and the not-Self for the bondage. Only then does one know the Self to be Absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, only then, does one become happy.
153 The person who separates all sense-objects, perceived, felt and thought of, from the subjective, unattached, actionless Self—like the enveloping sheaths separated from the tender core of the munja grass— is free, for having merged everything with the Self, that person remains ever established in It.
Description of Annamaya kosa and its negation (verses 154-164)
154 The body is a product of food. It constitutes the food-sheath. It exists because of food and dies without it. It is a bundle of skin, flesh, blood, bones, and filth. Never can it be the self-existing, eternally pure Self.
155 Before its birth it does not exist, nor does it continue to be after its death. It lasts only for a short period. Its qualities are fleeting and by nature subject to change. It is diverse and inert and a sense-object, seen like a jar. How then can it be the Self—the Witness of all changes in all things?
156 The body which is made of arms, legs, etc. cannot be the Self, for even if these organs are amputated or removed, it continues to function efficiently. The body is thus subject to the rule of another and cannot be the Self, the Ruler of all.
157 It is self-evident that the Self is the enduring Reality, that it is different from the body and its characteristics, its states and activities, that It is the Witness of them all.
158 How can the self-existent Self, the Knower, ever be the body consisting of bones, covered with flesh, full of filth and extremely impure?—for It is always distinct from it.
159 The ignorant person identifies with the skin, flesh, fat, bones, and filth. But the person of discrimination knows that the Self is distinct from the body, the unique, and the only Reality.
160 “I am the body,” thus thinks an ignorant person. A person of mere book-knowledge considers oneself to be a combination of the body and the soul (jeeva). But the realized sage possessed of discrimination, knows that “I am Brahman,” and looks upon the Eternal Atman as his Self.
161 Cease to identify yourself with this body comprised of skin, flesh, fat, bones, and filth, O ignorant one. Instead, identify yourself with the Absolute Brahman, the Self of all, and thus attain Supreme Peace.
162 There is no liberation for a peson of mere book-knowledge, howsoever well-read in the philosophy of Vedanta, so long as one does not give up false identification with the body, sense-organs, etc., which are unreal.
163 Just as you would not identify yourself with your shadow, your reflection, your dream-body or the body in your mind‘s imagination, so too, you should not identify yourself with your living body.
164 For those who are attached to the unreal, identification with the body is the seed from which all the misery of birth etc. stems forth. Therefore, put in all your efforts to destroy this notion. Once the mind is detached from this identification, there can be no more chance of being born again.
Description of Pra?amaya kosa and its negation(verses 165-166)
165 The prana along with the five organs-of-action, constitutes the vital-air-sheath, pervaded by which the food-sheath (physical body), performs all the activities of the material body.
166 The vital-air-sheath cannot be the Self because it is a modification of air (vayu). Like air it enters the body and goes out of it, never knowing its joys or sorrows or those of others. It is ever dependent upon the Self.
Description of Manomaya kosa and its negation (verses 167-183)
167 The organs of perception along with the mind form the mental-sheath which is the sole cause of the “I” and “mine‘ sense and of the diversity of things. It is powerful and is endowed with the essential faculty of creating differences of names etc. It pervades the vital-air-sheath preceding it.—
168 The five sense-organs act as sacrificial priests who feed the fuel of numerous desires into the mental-sheath, which is the sacrificial fire. This fire (mental-sheath), brings about and maintains the entire phenomenal world when it is set ablaze by the sense-objects which act as a continuous stream of oblations.
169 Apart from the mind there is no ignorance (avidya). The mind itself is the ignorance which is the cause for the bondage of conditioned existence. When the mind is destroyed, everything else is destroyed. When the mind manifests, everything else manifests.
170 In the dream state, even though there is no contact with the external world, the mind alone projects the entire dream-universe of enjoyer etc. Similarly, the waking-state is no different. All this (world of myriad phenomena), is but a projection of the mind.
171 In deep-sleep, the mind is reduced to its casual-state and nothing perceivable exists, as is proved by the universal experience of all people. Hence, the relative world is just a creation of the mind and has no objective reality.
172 The wind gathers the clouds together and the wind itself scatters them. So too, the mind creates bondage and also creates liberation.
173 The mind causes attachment for the body and the sense-objects. These attachments bind one like an animal that is bound by ropes. Thereafter, the same mind creates a distaste for these sense-objects as though they were poison, and liberates one from bondage.
174 Therefore, the mind is the cause for both liberation as well as bondage. When tainted by the effects of rajas, it causes bondage. When it is free from the rajas and tamas qualities, it paves the way to liberation.
175 When the mind has been made pure through the cultivation of discrimination and dispassion, it turns towards liberation. Hence the wise seeker of liberation must first strengthen these two qualities.
176 A huge tiger called “mind” prowls in the thick jungles of sense-pleasures. Let not those virtuous people who have a deep aspiration for liberation ever wander therein.
177 The mind continuously delivers for the experiencer, (1) all sense-objects, gross or subtle, without exception, (2) distinctions based upon the body, caste, order-of-life and creed, as well as, (3) the difference of qualities, actions‘ motive and results.
178 Unattached Pure Intelligence is the essence of the individual, but the mind beguiles it and binds it by ties of body, sense-organs, and pranas. It causes the individual to wander with the idea of “I” and “mine” in the myriad experiences of “results” gathered by itself.
179 The defect of superimposition causes transmigration and mind alone is responsible for the bondage of superimposition. For a person who is tainted with rajas and tamas and who lacks discrimination, this alone causes birth, suffering etc.
180 Hence the wise who know the Truth declare the mind itself as ignorance (avidya). By this alone the universe of experience is tossed around like the clouds before the wind.
181 Therefore, the mind must be diligently purified by one who seeks liberation. When the mind has been purified, liberation becomes readily available like a fruit in the palm of one‘s hand.
182 With single-pointed devotion to liberation, one who roots out attachments for sense-objects, renounces all actions and with faith in Truth, constantly hears (the Truth) etc., succeeds in purging the rajasic nature of the mind.
183 The mental-sheath cannot be the Supreme Self either, for it has a beginning and an end. It is subject to modifications; pain and suffering characterize it and it is an “object” of cognition. The “subject” can never be the “object” of knowledge. [Or the seer (subject) can never become the seen (object)].
Description of Vijnanamaya kosa and its negation(verses 184-188)
184 The intellect with its modifications along with the organs of perception form the intellectual-sheath (vignanamaya-kosa). It has the characteristics of “the agent”(or doer), which is the cause for transmigration.
185 Accompanied by a reflection of the light of consciousness, the intellectual-sheath is a modification of Primordial Matter (Prakriti). It is endowed with the function of knowledge and action and is always completely identified with the body, sense-organs, etc.
186 It is without beginning, is of the nature of the ego (I-sense), and is called the embodied self, which carries out the entire range of activities on the relative plane. It performs good and evil actions according to its previous latent tendencies, and experiences their results.
187 It comes and goes, up and down, taking birth in various bodies. The waking, dream and other states, and the experiences of joy and sorrow, belong to this intellectual-sheath.
188 Identifying with the attributes of the stages-of-life, their duties and functions, which actually belong to the body, it considers them as its own. The Vignanamaya-kosa is extremely radiant due to its close proximity to the Supreme Self. It is a superimposition on the Self, which, when identified with it, suffers transmigration through delusion.
Atman – unattached (verses 189-191)
189 The Self, which is Knowledge Absolute, shines within the vital breaths (pranas), in the heart. Though immutable, It appears to be the doer and the experiencer because of the limiting adjuncts (upadhis).
190 This Atman, although the Self of all, by a mistaken identification with the intellect, assumes the limitations of the intellect and considers Itself as something different—like the pots from the clay of which they are made.
191 Even though the Supreme Self is by nature perfect and ever unchanging, due to Its association with the limiting adjuncts, It partakes the characteristics of these adjuncts and appears to act like the formless fire assuming the form of the iron in which it inheres.
What is liberation? – Disciple (verses 192-193)
192 The disciple asked—That the supreme Self has come to consider Itself as the embodied self, through delusion or otherwise, is a superimposition which is beginningless; that which is beginningless cannot be said to have an end.
193 So the embodied state of the Self must also be without an end, ever subject to transmigration. Please tell me, O revered Master, how then there can be liberation for the Self?
Self Knowledge gives liberation (verses 194-206)
194 The respected teacher replied—O learned one, you have asked a proper question. Listen then carefully. Things conjured up by imagination, which is itself a product of delusion can never be accepted as “facts.”
195 For the Self which is unattached, actionless and formless, there can be no connection with the objects of the world other than through delusion, just like the blueness etc. seen in the sky has no connection with the sky.
196 The embodied state (jeeva-hood) of the Self which is the Witness, which is beyond all qualities and activities, and which is experienced within as Knowledge and Bliss Absolute, is unreal, and is but a delusion caused by the mind. Since by nature it (jeeva-hood) is unreal, it ceases to exist once the delusion has been dispelled.
197 Having been caused by an error of judgment and false understanding, this embodied state (jeeva-hood) can exist only as long as the delusion lasts. The rope is mistaken to be the snake only when there is an illusion. Once the illusion is destroyed, there can be no more snake. So too, in this case.
198 So too, ignorance (avidya) and its effects are said to be beginningless. But when there is rise of Knowledge (vidya), then the ignorance, even though it is beginningless, is destroyed, root and branch.
199 Just as dreams vanish on waking up, even so the phenomenal universe is not eternal, it is evident, like the “prior non-existence”(prak-abhava).
200 Although it is beginningless, “prior non-existence” is observed to have an end. So too, the embodied state which is imagined in the Self, through its apparent association with the limiting adjuncts (like the intellect) is not real.
201 But the other, the Self, is intrinsically different from the embodied state (jeeva-hood). The connection between the Self and the intellect is due to the “false knowledge.”
202 The false knowelge will cease to function at the dawn of right knowledge and in no other way. According to the scriptures, realization of the identity of the Self (Atman) with the Absolute (Brahman) is right knowledge.
203 This realization comes only through right discrimination made between the Self and the not-Self. That is why one must strive to discriminate between the inmost Self and the non-real self.
204 Water which is extremely muddy appears as transparent water when the mud has been removed. So too, the Self shines clearly when the impurities have been removed.
205 This inmost Self is clearly realized as the Eternal Self when the unreal ceases to exist. So one must strive to completely remove the unreal self, starting with ego etc., from the Eternal Self.
206 For the following reasons, the intellectual sheath which we have so far spoken of, cannot be supreme Self: It is subject to change, it is inert and insentient, it is limited, it is an object of peception and it is not constant. The non-eternal, indeed, cannot be considered to be the eternal.