298 – 397
Condemnation of the ego (verses 298-309)
298 It is observed that there are other obstacles also which hurl an individual into a whirl of births and deaths. Their one root cause—for the reasons given above—is the ego—the first modification of ignorance.
299 As long as there is any relationship with this vile ego, there cannot be the slightest talk about liberation, which is totally different in nature.
300 Freed from the shackles of the ego, like the moon freed from the eclipse, one gains one‘s true nature and becomes Untainted, Infinite, Ever-blissful and Self-effulgent.
301 The ego is that which has been produced by the intellect thoroughly deluded by ignorance. It is is perceived in this body as: “I am so-and-so.” When this delusion (ego-sense) is totally annihilated, one attains the unobstructed identity with Brahman.
302 The treasure of the Bliss-of-Brahman is enwrapped by the mighty and dreadful serpent of the ego-sense and zealously guarded for its own use, by its three fierce hoods, the three gunas. The wise person who destroys it by severing its three heads with the great shining sword of Realisation, in accordance with the teachings of the scriptures, alone can enjoy this treasure which brings Bliss.
303 As long as there is even a trace of poison left in the body, how can one hope for complete recovery? Even so, the yogi cannot attain liberation as long as a trace of egoism remains.
304 By the complete cessation of the ego-sense, gained by restraining the diverse mental waves, created by the ego itself and through the discrimination of the inmost Self, one experiences the Reality as “I am This.”
305 Renounce immediately your identification with the ego-sense, the “sense of doership” which, being a modification, is merely a “reflection” of the Self. It detracts you from being established in the Self. Identifying yourself with this (false sense), you have reached this embodied existence, full of miseries of birth, decay and death—although you essentially are the Witness, the Essence of Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute.
306 But for your identification with the ego-sense there cannot be any transmigration for you, who are Immutable and eternally the same Knowledge-Absolute, omnipresent, of unsullied glory, and Bliss-Absolute.
307 Therefore, with the great sword of Realisation, destroying this ego-sense, your enemy—which is like a thorn in the throat of a man who is eating—enjoy directly and freely the Bliss of Your own Sovereignty, the Majesty of the Self.
308 Checking the activities of the ego and renouncing all attachments, through the experience of the Supreme Reality, be free from duality through the enjoyment of the Bliss of the Self and remain serene in Brahman. For, now you have realized your Infinite Self.
308 Even though completely rooted out, this terrible ego-sense, if allowed to be revived in the mind even for a moment, returns to life and creates hundreds of distractions, like a cloud ushered in by the wind during the rainy season.
Actions, thoughts and vasanas – renounce (verses 310-319)
310 Having once conquered this enemy, the ego, not a single moment‘s rest should be given to let it ruminate over the sense-objects. That is just what brings it back to life, just like water revives a dried-up citron tree.
311 That person alone, who identifies with the body, is greedy of sense-pleasures. How can one devoid of the body-idea be greedy? Hence, the tendency to ruminate over sense-objects is verily the cause of bondage of worldly existence and the sense of duality.
312 When the “effects” are flourishing, the “seeds” also are observed to increase. When the “effects” are destroyed, the “seeds” also are destroyed. Therefore, the “effect” must be subdued.
313 Through the increase of desires (vasanas), egocentric “work” increases and when there is an increase of egocentric “work” there is an increase of desires also. Thus, a person‘s transmigration never comes to an end.
Note: The Sanskrit word “vasana” is a difficult word to translate. It can denote both the “desire” as well as “residual impression.” A repeated desire also creates or leaves subtle impression behind such that it settles as a “tendency” or becomes sanskaara. These sanskaras (latent tendencies) is what we bring to sansaara, the world of becoming. Although, more often than not, the word vasana is used with negative connotations, however, not all vasanas are bad. For example, a quintessential vedantic text, Avadhut Gita, begins with the verse stating that the advaita-vasana (the desire for non-duality) arises only with the Grace of God to liberate one from the great fear.
314 In order to snap the chain-of-transmigration, one should burn to ashes these two (selfish desires and actions); for, dwelling on sense-objects and doing selfish actions lead to the increase of vasanas or desires.
315 Nourished by these two (thought and selfish action), the vasanas further produce one‘s transmigration. These three, however, are destroyed by looking upon everything, under all circumstances, always….
316 …….everywhere and in all respects, as Brahman and Brahman alone. Through the strengthening of the longing to be one with Brahman, those three* will be annihilated.
*i.e., dwelling on sense-obects, self-centered actions, and latent impressions.
317 With the end of selfish actions, brooding over sense-objects ends, which is followed by destruction of vasanas. The final destruction of vasanas is liberation. This is regarded as Liberation-in-Life.
318 When the longing to be one with Brahman has vividly risen to expression, the ego-centric vasanas will readily disappear, as the most intense darkness completely disappears in the radiant glow of the rising sun.
319 Darkness and its resultant evils are not noticed when the sun rises. So too, on the direct realization of Bliss Absolute, there is neither bondage nor the least trace of misery.
Total vigilance – its price (verses 320-329)
320 Causing the perceived universe, both external and internal, to vanish, and meditating upon the Reality, the Bliss-Embodied, one should pass one‘s time watchfully for any residual Prarabdha.
321 One should never be negligent in one‘s steady abidance in Brahman. The divine son of Creator, Santakumara, has called negligence as death itself.
322 For the wise there is no greater danger than negligence about one‘s own real nature. From this comes delusion; from delusion comes egoism; from egoism comes bondage; and from bondage comes misery.
323 Finding one hankering after the sense-objects, forgetfulness, through perverted mind, bewilders even a wise person, just as a woman torments her fond lover.
324 As moss, even if removed, does not stay away for a moment, but closes up to cover the water again, so also illusion covers even the wise, if they ever get extrovert.
325 If the mind ever so slightly strays from its ideal* and becomes outgoing, then it goes down and down, just like a ball, inadvertently dropped on a row of stairs, bounces down the stairs.
326 When the mind turns to sense-objects, it becomes intent on their qualities. From this intentness arises desire. After desiring, a person sets about to gain that thing.
327 Through inadvertence, a person may deviate from the Real Nature. The man, who has thus deviated, falls. The fallen comes to ruin and is rarely seen to rise again.
328 Therefore, just, as the edibles, prohibited by the doctor, are not taken by the sick, one should totally give up the habit of thinking of sense objects, which is the root-cause of all the mischief.
329 Therefore, to the discerning knower of Brahman, there is no greater death than negligence. But one who regularly practices deep concentration attains complete success. Hence, carefully concentrate upon Brahman in your mind.
In the one, no plurality (verses 330-338)
330 One who is completely established in unity/oneness (kaivalyam), while living, remains so even after the dissolution of the body. The Yajur-Veda declares that there is fear for one who sees even the least bit of differentiation.
331 Whenever the wise recognize even the least difference in the Infinite Brahman, at once, that which is peceived as difference through inadvertence, becomes a source of fear to them.
332 One who identifies the Self with the perceived objects, which have been negated by hundreds of Srutis, Smritis and reasoning, suffers one misery after another, like a thief—for he indulges in something forbidden.
333 One who is totally established in the Truth attains to the eternal glory of the Self. But one who dwells on the unreal perishes. That this is so is illustrated in the case of one who is not a thief and the one who is a thief.
334 The spiritual seeker should give up dwelling on the unreal, which causes bondage, and should always reamin steadfast with thoughts fixed on the Self, thinking, “I am This.” For, steadfastness in Brahman gained through the realisation of one‘s identity with it, gives rise to bliss and thoroughly removes the misery born of nescience*, which one experiences in the state of ignorance.
*Nescience (avidya) is not ignorance in the general sense of lack of information regarding something. Rather, it denotes a special form of ignorance—about the essential nature of the Self. All systems of Hindu philosophy agree that ignorance is the primary cause of our bondage to the world of becoming, i.e., samsara.
335 Constant contemplation upon the external objects will only intensify their fruits in the form of evil peopensities, which grow from bad to worse. Knowing this, through discrimination, one should leave the thoughts of external objects and constantly apply oneself to the contemplation of the Self.
336 When the objective world is shut out, the mind becomes quiet and in the quiet mind arises the vision of the Supreme Self. When “That” is perfectly realised, bondage to the world of becoming* is destroyed. Hence the cessation of the external world is the initial step on the path to liberation.
*Bhavabandhana means bondage of the world of becoming or conditioned existence. Hindu religion calls this world of becoming bhavasaagar, the ocean of repeated births and deaths.
337 Who being learned, able to discriminate between the Real and the unreal, believing the Vedas as authority, fixing his gaze upon the Self, the Supreme Reality, and being a seeker after liberation, will, like a child, consciously run after the unreal, which will surely be the cause of one‘s downfall?
338 There is no liberation for the one who is attached to the body etc., and the liberated person has no identification with the body etc. One who is sleep is not awake, and one who is awake does not dream, for these two are opposite in nature.
Spiritual growth – the secret (verses 339-348)
339 That person alone is liberated, who, knowing the Self as Knowledge only, as the substratum of all that is moving and unmoving—both external and internal—renounces all superimpositions and remains as the Absolute and the Infinite Self.
340 To recognise the entire universe to be the Self is the means to complete liberation from bondage. There is nothing higher than realizing that one is the Self of all. One realizes this state by negating the perceptible world through being continuously established in the eternal Self.
341 How is the non-apprehension of the perceptible world possible for one who remains identified with the physical body, whose mind is attached to the enjoyment of external-objects and who performs various acts for that end? This should be carefully practised by the seers of truth, desiours of eternal bliss, who have renounced all kinds of duties, actions, and sense objects, and who are ever established in the eternal Self.
342 For the renunciant who has listened to the discourses upon the scriptures and who has cultivated “calmness, self-control” etc., the Sruti prescribes samadhi for realizing that all is the Self. (sarvaatmasiddhaye)
343 Even the wise find it impossible to suddenly destroy the ego, once it has become strong, except by those who have become perfectly calm through non-dual absorption (nirvikalpa samadhi). Indeed desires* are the effects of innumerable births.
*Desires (vasanas) here specifically refer to the residual, subtle impressions that are the effects of countless previous lives.
344 The projecting power, through the aid of the veiling power confuses a person with storms of egoistic ideas and distracts him through the attributes of that agitation.
345 It is extremely difficult to conquer the “projecting-power” unless the “veiling power” is perfectly rooted out. And that covering over the Self naturally vanishes when the seer and the seen are distinguished clearly like milk and water. But the victory is undoubtedly complete, and it becomes free from all obstacles, when there is no resting of the mind in the false sense-objects.
346 Perfect discrimination arising from direct realization distinguishes the true nature of the seer from the seen and snaps the bonds of delusion caused by maya*. There is no more transmigration for one who is liberated from this.
*Maya is the device by which Advaita explains how One Reality appears as many. In simple words, maya means illusion. It is considered as beginngless (anadi) and acts through two powers—veiling power (avarana shakti) and projecting power (vikshepa shakti). Sankara did not diffentiate between maya and avidya (nescience or ignorance) since both, in effect, tantamount to mistaking one thing for another. In his Brahmasutra Bhasya, he regards the mutual superimposition (adhyasa) of subject and object, the seer and the seen, as avidya. Through the operation of maya/avidya as a metaphysical error, we perceive the One (Self-Brahman) as the maniforld world. Even though maya/avidya is ultimately unreal (mithya), its still plays an important role in explaining the familiar world of variety.
347 The fire of knowledge of identity of Self with Brahman entirely consumes the impenetrable forest of ignorance. For one who has realised the state of non-duality, is there any “seed” left for future transmigration?
348 The veil that hides Truth gets lifted, indeed, when Reality is fully experienced. Soon follows the destruction of illusory knowledge and the cessation of misery brought about by false projection.
Cause-effect – false (verses 349-353)
349 These three* are observed in “the rope” when its real nature is fully apprehended. Hence the wise person should know the true nature of things for the sake of liberation from bondage.
*Seer, seen, and seeing.
350 Just as a piece of iron through contact with fire manifests as fire, the intellect manifests itself as the knower and the known through the immanence of Brahman. These two—the effects of the intellect—are observed to be unreal as in delusion, dream, and imagination.
351 So too, the modifications of Nature, from the ego down to the gross body and all the sense-objects, are also unreal. They are unreal, indeed, because they are subject to change every moment. But the Self never changes.
352 The Supreme Self is eternal, non-dual, one, indivisible, pure consciousness, the witness of the Intellect etc., other than the Real and the unreal, indicated by the term “I”, the inmost self, and the embodiment of eternal Bliss.
353 Thus the wise person, discriminating between the Real and the unreal, determining the Truth by the insight of his knowledge and realising his own Self to be indivisible Knowledge, becomes free and attains peace by himself.
Samadhi – its nature (verses 354-372)
354 When the non-dual Self is realized in nirvikalpa samadhi* , the heart‘s “knot of ignorance”** is completely destroyed.
* Nirvikalpa Samadhi is attained by means of one-point absorption of the mental activity (cittav’tti) in the Self in such a way that the distinctions (vikalpas) of the tripartite process (triputi) of knower, known, and knowing get dissolved.
**Heart‘s knot of ignorance: Hindu scriptures speak about chid-jadd-granthi, the knot between the sentient, the conscious (Self) and the insentient, the inert (body). Due to ignorance about our essential nature, we take the ever-luminous Self to be the insentient body. This knot is not real—thank God, otherwise there will be no way out! It is only imaginary; however, due to timeless samskaaraas (tendencies gathered over countless lives), this knot has become very strong and unties with great difficulty.
Says Goswami Tulsidaas:
Jadd-chetan granthi par jaaee,
yadpi mrisha chuutat kathinaaee.
The knot between the conscious (Self) and the inert (body) has come about. Although “unreal”, it unties with great difficulty.
Two important verses from Gaudapada‘s Karika on Mandukyopanisad explain the alchemy of untying this knot:
Bidhtey hridyey granthi cheedantey sarva sanshaya,
Ksheeyante chasyey karmaani tasmin drsishtey pravarae. (II.2.viii)
When a person realizes Him in both the high and the low, the knots of heart are rent asunder, doubts dispelled, and all karmas exhausted!
Anaadi mayaya supto yada jeevah prabhudhaytey;
Ajamm, anidaramm, asvapannamm, advaitamm bhudhaytey tada.” (I.7. xvi)
When the self, sleeping under the influence of beginningless Maya is awakened, it then realizes itself as free from sleep and dream, and as the Birthless and the Non-dual!
355 “You”, “I”, “This”— these concepts are imagined in the Supreme Self, which is attributeless and non-dual, due to the inherent defects of the intellect. When the real nature of Brahman is realised in one-pointed absorption (samadhi), all these concepts are dissolved.
356 Serene, self-controlled, withdrawn from sense-objects, steadfast in in forebearance, practicing one-pointed absorption, the seeker experiences his Self as the Self of all. Destroying, by these means, all imaginations born of the darkness of ignorance, the seeker lives blissfully as Brahman, free from (egocentric) actions and all imaginations.
357 They alone are free from the bonds of becoming who, having attained one-pointed absorption (samadhi), merge the objective world, the sense-organs, the mind, nay, the very ego, in the Self as pure Consciousness; and not those who merely blabber about their indirect Knowledge.
358 By association with conditioning adjuncts, the many, a person is apt to think of the Self as full of diversity; but my removing these one gains one‘s own Immutable Self. Hence, until the dissolution of conditionings, let the wise person remain devoted to the practice of Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
359 One devoted to the Real becomes the Real through single-pointed devotion, just as the “worm” exclusively thinking upon the wasp (bhramara), becomes itself the wasp.
360 Just as the worm, giving up all other activities and thinking intently upon the wasp metamorphoses into that wasp, so too, a yogi meditating on Reality as the Supreme Self, “enters into It” through one-pointed devotion to It.
361 The Real Nature of Supreme Self is extremely subtle and cannot be peceived by the coarse vision of the outward-bound mind. It is accessible to noble ones with extremely pure intellects, through samadhi, brought about by extraordinarily subtle mind.
362 Just as gold, by thorough heating in fire, gives up its impurities and gains its own lustre, so too, the mind through meditation, sheds its impurities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas and attains the nature of Brahman. 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) While it is understandable that one has to shed the taint of rajas and tamas gunas, it may not be clear at first why one has to give up sattvas which signify purity. To get a clarity on this point, let‘s consult the Bhagavad Gita. Early on, in verse 45 of chapter 2, Sri Krishna has explained to Arjuna that Vedas deal with the subject of the triad of gunas (traegunyah vishya Veda) and has urged him to stay free from the pairs of opposites (nirdvandav) and the triad of the gunas: nistraigunyah bhava, Arjuna. The following seems to be clearest expression of the role of gunas, as enunciated in the Bhagavad Gita: When the seer beholds no agent other than the gunas and realizes THAT which is beyond these gunas, he attains to My Being (BG 14.19). Sankara‘s comment: “Seeing all is Vasudeva (Vasudeva sarvam-iti—BG 7.19), he attains My status. Or else, transcending the three Gunas (Gunateeta), he attains immortality, the Supreme Bliss, Liberation while living.” (BG 14.20)
363 Thus purified by constant practice when the mind merges with Brahman, then Samadhi passes from the Savikalpa* to the Nirvikalpa stage, leading directly to the experience of the Bliss of Brahman, the Non-dual.
*Savikalpa samadhi is absorption with conceptual distinctions of knower, known and knowing in tact. In nirvikalpa samadhi, these distinctions melt away.
364 By this (nirvikalpa) samadhi, “knots” of all residual impressions (vasanas) get destroyed. All actions come to an end. One‘s Real Nature (swarupa) manifests spontaneously and effortlessly, forever, everywhere and always, within and without.
365 “Reflection” should be considered a hundred times superior to mere “listening;” sustained “meditation” a hundred thousand times superior to “reflection”; but the value of nirvikalpa samadhi is infinetely superior to all.
366 By nirvikalpa samadhi, the true nature of Brahman is clearly and definitely realized, never otherwise; for the mind being unsteady, is apt to get mixed with other modifications.
367 Therefore, with a serene mind and the senses controlled, ever concentrating on inmost Self and realizing your identity with That Reality, destroy the darkness of beginningless ignorance.
368 The first doorways to Yoga consists of: (1) control of speech, (2) non-accumulation of possessions, (3) freedom from expectations, (4) freedom from activity and (5) living always in (inner) solitude.
369 Living in solitude helps to control the sense organs; control of the senses serves to control the mind and by controlling the mind the ego gets dissolved; this gives the Yogi an Absolute Realisation of the Bliss of Brahman. Hence a sages hould always strive deligently to quieten the mind.
370 Restrain speech in the mind and restrain the mind in the intellect; and this again restrain in the “Witness” of the intellect and merging that too in the infinite Absolute Self, attain Supreme Peace.
371 The body, pranas, sense-organs, mind, intellect, etc., whichever of these conditioning adjuncts the mind gets associated with, the Yogi also gets transformed, as it were, into that.
372 When the mind is completely detached from everything, the wise person attains perfect cessation and is seen immersed in the eternal experience of Being and Bliss.
Fully detached – Samadhi easy (verses 373-378)
373 Only a detached person is fit for this internal and external renunciation; for only a dispassionate person, desirous of liberation, readily renounces both internal and external attachments.
374 Only a dispassionate person, thoroughly established in Brahman, can give up external attachment for objects and internal attachment to the ego, etc.
375 Please understand, O wise one, that dispassion and discriminating knowledge in an aspirant are like the two wings of a bird; unless both are active, no one can take the help of just one and soar to the pinnacle of the palace of liberation.
376 A person of extreme dispassion alone experiences samadhi; a man of samadhi alone has steady Realization; a person who has realised Truth alone is free from bondage and the free person alone experiences Eternal Bliss.
377 For a self-controlled person, I find no better generator of happiness than dispassion and if that is coupled with a clear Realization of the Self, it brings about absolute sovereignty, within and without. And since this is the gateway to the damsel of eternal Liberation, for your own well-being be dispassionate both within and without–always fixing your mind on the eternal Self.
378 Cut asunder your craving for sense-objects which are like poison—it is the very image of death; and giving up your pride of caste, family and order of life, throw far away all selfish actions. Renounce your identification with such unreal things as the body and fix your mind upon the Self. For, in reality you are the Witness, the Brahman, untainted by the mind, Non-dual and Supreme.
Meditation – the technique (verses 379-383)
379 Fixing the mind firmly on Brahman, the point of concentration, restraining the sense-organs in their respective centres, holding the body steady and taking no thought for its maintenance, attaining identity with Brahman and being One with It, continuously drink the Bliss of Brahman in your own Self. Of what use are other things? They are entirely false, empty!
380 Having renounced all thought of the not-Self, which is impure and source of of misery, dwell on the Self, the Bliss Absolute, and the source of liberation.
381 Eternally shines this Atman, the Self-effulgent Witness of everything, ever-manifest in the sheath of the intellect. Making this Atman, which is distinct from the unreal, the aim of contemplation, meditate upon It as your own Self, eliminating all other thoughts.
382 Contemplating continuously upon this Atman, with no intervention of any other thought, one must distinctly realise It as one‘s own Real Self.
383 By strengthening one‘s identification with this Self and by renouncing all identifications with the ego etc., one must live with no concern for them, as if they were trivialities like a broken pot or the like.
Continuous attention to the Self (verses 384-397)
384 By fixing the purified inner-organ upon the Self, which is the Witness and Knowledge Absolute and gradually making it quiet, one should behold the state of fullness of one‘s own Self.
385 Free from all limitations like the body, sense-organs, pranas, mind and ego which are projections of one‘s ignorance, let one come to realise the Self (Atman), the Indivisible and Infinite, like the great all-pervading space.
386 Having dropped hundreds of its limitations such as a pot, a pitcher, a barn or the eye of a needle, space is recognized as one and not as many. So too, the Pure Supreme (Brahman) is indeed one, when freed from the ego and the rest.
387 Right from Brahma down to a blade of grass, all conditioning adjuncts (upadhis) are quite unreal. Therefore, one should realise one‘s own Self as one and only existent Principle.
388 Where by mistake, something is imagined to exist, there, on right discrimination, the Real itself is recognised—there being nothing other than it. With the error removed, the falsely perceived snake vanishes and the rope appears as the truth. So too, the entire universe is, in truth, only the Self.
389 The Self is Brahma, the Self is Visnu, the Self is Indra, the Self is Siva–the Self is this entire universe. Indeed, nothing exists apart from the Self. ANt> Svy< caip bih> Svy< c 390 The Self is within, the Self is without; the Self is in front, the Self is behind; the Self is to the south, the Self is to the north; so too It is above and below. 391 Just as the wave, the surf, the whirlpool, the bubbles etc., are all in essence nothing but water, so too, Consciousness alone is everything from the body etc., to the ego. Truly, everything is the homogenous, pure Consciousness only. 392 The entire universe known through speech and mind is nothing but Brahman. There is nothing but Brahman, which exists even beyond the pale of Prakrti. Can the pitcher, jug, pot, etc., ever be anything other than the clay of which they are made? Drunk with the wine of illusion (Maya), the deluded person talks of "you" and "me". 393 With many predicates, Sruti declares the absence of duality with the phrase, "where there is nothing else" etc., in order to remove all false superimpositions. 394 Like the sky, the supreme Brahman is untainted absolute, limitless, motionless and without modifications; It has neither inside nor an outside; It is One Existence and Non-dual and is one‘s own Self. Is there any other thing to be known? 395 What is the use of enlarging upon this subject? The individual is nothing but the Brahman only; the whole expanse of this universe is nothing but Brahman only. Sruti points out Brahman as being non-dual; and it is an undeniable fact that those who are enlightened, who have established their identity with Brahman and who have given up their associations with the outside world, live ever in union with Brahman, Eternal Knowledge and Bliss. 396 First give up the desires generated by the sense of "I" in the physical body, a bundle of filth; then, with great persistence, do the same with the subtle body. Realizing Brahman—the personification of eternal Bliss--which the scriptures eulogize as your own Self, live as Brahman. 397 As long as one worships one‘s corpse-like body, one is impure and suffers from "others" and from birth, death and disease. But when one thinks of oneself as the Pure, the Auspicious, the Immovable, certainly one becomes free from them—the Srutis also testify to this.