398 – 479
No diversity in reality (verses 398-406)
398 When the apparent realities superimposed on the Self are removed, then what remains is the Supreme Brahman, the Infinite, Non-dual, actionless, alone, all by itself.
399 When the functions of the mind, the thoughts, have merged in the Paramatman, the Brahman, the Absolute, then this phenomenal world is perceived no longer. What remains thereafter is all mere talk.
400 In the One Reality, the conception of the universe is a mere imagination. How can there be any distinctions in the reality which is Changeless, Formless, and qualitiless?
401 In the One Reality devoid of the distinctions of seer, seeing, and seen etc., how can there be any distinctions in that which is Changeless, Formless, and Absolute?
402 In that One Reality which is all full to overflowing, like the ocean after the dissolution of the universe, which is the changeless, formless, and Absolute, how can there be any distinctions?
403 How can there be any indication of distinctions in the Supreme Reality which is non-dual and Absolute, in which ignorance, the very root of delusion, dissolves, like darkness into light?
404 In One Supreme Reality, how can there be any talk of distinctions? Who can ever percieve any distinctions in the pure bliss of deep-sleep?
405 Even before realisation of the Supreme Truth, the universe does not exist in the Absolute Brahman, the quintessence of Existence. No snake is ever truly seen in a rope* in past, present or future, , nor a drop of water ever really seen in the mirage.
*Snake-rope analogy: This is a standard Vedantic illustration to explain the existence of the perceptible world. Vedanta postulates three levels of reality: real, unreal, and not-real. The real is that which exists in all three periods of time: past, present, and future. It is called “sat” or, simply, the extistent. It cannot be sublated during any of these three periods of time. A prime example of the real is the Self, our essential Natural state. In contrast, the unreal is that which cannot be observed to exist in any of these three periods. It is called “asat” or, simply, non-existent. Some examples of unreal are: a square circle, hare‘s horn, a sky-flower. Then there is an intermediate state between real and unreal called not-real, something that is observed or seen sometimes but not at all times.
Not-real has a special status in being that it is not absolutely real like the Self nor it is absolutely unreal like hare‘s horn. This is where snake rope analogy is employed. In the dark, a rope appears to be a snake and evokes fear in the mind of the onlooker. However, when in proper light, it is seen as a rope, the fear disappears. So, the snake seen in the rope both exists (during the period of improper lighting) and ceases to exist (during proper lighting). Here we see the operation of both the avarna-sakti (concealing power—due to darkness) and vikshepa sakti (projecting power—mind‘s projection of snake in the rope). However, the snake cannot appear to exist without the rope being there as its substratum or basis, as its adishthana. Hence the snake is neither real nor unreal. It is called mithya in Advaita. One should be careful, however, not to translate it as illusion or illusory. It is real for a person in fright and unreal for a person who has seen its reality as a rope in the proper lighting.
Thus, the snake is aropita, superimposed, on the rope which is the adishthana, the substratum. In the same manner, says Vedanta, this perceptible world which appears to be real is superimposed on the Brahman, the ultimate Reality. It subsists until the light of Self-knowledge dawns. See below, verse 407.
406 The scripture itself declare that all duality is a mere illusion (maya), Non-duality alone is the Absolute Truth. Such is also our direct experience in deep-sleep.
Atam-vichar – Self-Inquiry (verses 407-413)
407 The wise have observed that the superimposition is identical with its substratum—just like the rope and the snake. The distinction exists only due to delusion.
408 The apparent universe has its root in the mind and cannot exist in the absence of the mind. Therefore, concentrate the mind by fixing it on Supreme Self, the inmost principle.
409 Through Samadhi, the wise realize the infinite Brahman in the heart as something (inexplicable) of the essence of eternal Knowledge and complete Bliss, which is unparalleled, which is beyond all limitations, which is ever free, which has no activity and which is indivisible and absolute like the limitless sky.
410 Through Samadhi, the wise realize the infinite Brahman in the heart, as devoid of cause and effect, as the Reality beyond all imagination, as homogenous, beyond all compares and proofs, established by the declarations of the scriptures as eternally self-established.
411 Through Samadhi, the wise realize the infinite Brahman in the heart as undecaying and immortal, as the positive Entity beyond all negations, like a calm ocean, which has no name, in which there are neither merits nor demerits, eternal, tranquil and One.
412 With a concentrated mind, in Samadhi, realize your own self, the Self of infinite splendour. Cut off your bondage which has been strengthened by the impressions of previous births and successfully strive to fulfill your human birth.
413 Meditate upon that Atman which is your Self, which is beyond all limitations, which is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute and Non-dual. Never again will you come under the sway of births and deaths.
Give up perceptions (verses 414-418)
414 Once the body has been cast off like a corpse, the wise person has no attachment to it, though, like a shadow, it is still visible as appearance, owing to the effects of past actions.
415 Eternal, unsullied Knowledge-Bliss—thus realizing the Atman, fling far away this body which is inert and impure. Then think of it no more, for a thing vomited brings only disgust when it is remembered.
416 Burning all this, root and all, in the fire of Brahman, the Eternal, Absolute Self, the truly wise remain alone, established as the pure, eternal, enlightened, blissfulSelf.
417 This body is woven from the fibre of Prarabdha* and the knower of Truth is not concerned whether it drops off or remains—as the garland around the cow‘s neck, for his thoughts are reposed in Brahman, the quintessence of Bliss.
*The Vedic texts divide Karma into three types: Sanchita, Agami, and Prarabdha. Sanchita is karma accumulated in the past; Agami is karma to be worked out in the future; and Prarabdha is karma that has begun to fructify in the present. Prarabdha karma is selected out of the past accumulated heap in such a manner that the selected portions can produce results without being mutually nullifying. Prarabdha karma has to be self-consistent, as otherwise it can’t work.
Sometimes it is observed that even a sage has to settle prarabdha karma although with the dawn of true knowledge—that he is not the body, hence not the doer—the sanchita (accumulated) karma has become debilitated and the agami (future) karma has lost its entire prospect. This is also only relatively true. Sri Ramana has explained this with an elegant analogy in Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham, verse 33: “The statement that the jnani retains prarabdha while free from sanchita and agami is only a formal answer to the questions of the ignorant. Of several wives none escapes widowhood when the husband dies; even so, when the doer goes, all three karmas vanish” (Collected Works, 2000, p. 127).
In some of the later verses of Vivekachudamani (see verses 455, 459-464 below), Sankara states that prarabdha karma cannot be attributed to a jnani or to one who has realized the Self. For one who has realized that he is not the body, this classification ceases to exist in effect. In verses 463-364, for example, Sankara clearly states that scriptures expound the doctrine of prarabdha to satisfy the spiritually ignorant.
In a small treatise on Self-realization titled Aparokshanubhuti, Sri Sankara devotes a whole segment to clarify this enigmatic point. He opines that prarabdha is spoken of by the scriptures only for those who do not understand the highest truth and cites vedic texts to refute prarabdha. He asks: “The body also being within the phenomenal world (and therefore unreal), how could Prarabdha exit?” (Vimuktananda, 2001, p. 51). Since the sage has become free from the idea “I am the body,” there is no ego left to claim doership of any sort. And when there is no ego, there is no karma left to work out. Sankara cites an important verse from Mundakopanisad (II.2.viii) to support his contention: “And all the actions of a man perish when he realizes the highest Self, the Atman.” The full verse runs like this: “bidhtey hridyey granthi cheedantey sarva sanshaya, ksheeyante chasyey karmaani tasmin drsishtey pravarae” (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).
418 Having known the Atman which is indivisible Bliss, to be one‘s very own Self, with what motive or for whom will the knower of Truth cherish the body.
The science of reality – its benefits (verses 419-425)
419 The perfected Yogi who is liberated-while-living, gets this as a result—in himself he enjoys the Bliss Eternal, both within and without.
420 The reward of dispassion is Knowledge, that knowledge is withdrawal from sense pleasures. The reward of this withdrawal is the peace arising from the experience of one‘s own Blissful Self.
421 When there are no succeeding stages, the preceding ones are useless. (In a perfect series), automatic cessation of the objective world, supreme satisfaction and unequalled Bliss will follow naturally.
422 The result of Knowledge is indifference towards worldly sorrows, How can he, who performs blameworthy deeds in delusion, perform them again when he possesses right discrimination?
423 Turning away from the unreal should be the result of Knowledge; attachment to the unreal is the result of ignorance. Such is seen to be the case of one who knows a mirage etc., and one who does not. Else, what other tangible result do the knowers-of-Reality gain?
424 When the knots of ignorance in the heart have been totally destroyed, what natural cause can prompt a person who is averse to sense-pleasures, to ego-centric actions?
425 The culmination of dispassion is when the sense-objects do not excite any more desires. Supreme perfection of Knowledge is when there is no egoistic feeling. The peak of self-withdrawal is reached when the thoughts which have been merged manifest no more.
Signs of a realized seer (verses 426-445)
426 On account of constant absorption in Brahman, freed from the sense of reality of external objects, only seemingly enjoying them when offered by others, like one sleepy or like a baby, perceiving the world as one seen in a dream and recognizing it only now and then, such a person is indeed rare. Such a person is the enjoyer of the fruits of infinite merits and is truly considered blessed and revered on earth.
427 That person of steady wisdom, having merged oneself in Brahman enjoys everlasting Bliss, without modification, and freed from all activity.
428 The type of mental activity which admits only the identity of the Self and Brahman, free from all limitations and devoid of duality, which is only concerned with pure Knowledge, is called the “illumination”. One who has this steady illumination is known as a person of steady wisdom.
429 One who has steady wisdom, who experiences endless Bliss, who has forgotten the phenomenal world, that person is considered a jivan-mukta, one-liberated-while-living.
430 One who has merged oneself in the Brahman, yet is alert, but without the characteristics of wakefulness, whose Knowledge is free from desire, he is considered a jivan-mukta.
431 One whose concern about the world has been stilled, who has a body consisting of parts yet is without parts, whose mind is free from anxiety, he is considered a jivan-mukta.
432 The absence of concepts of “I” and “mine” even in his body which persists like a shadow—this is the indication of a jivan-mukta.
433 No thought for the enjoyments of the past, no thought for the future and indifference even for the present—this is the indication of a jivan-mukta.
434 Seeing everywhere with an eye of equality, this world riddled with elements possessing merit and demerit, characteristically different one from other—this is the indication of a jivan-mukta.
435 When confronted with things pleasant or unpleasant, to remain unperturbed in both cases, by maintaining equanimity—this is the indication of a jivan-mukta.
436 Constantly absorbed in experiencing the Bliss of Brahman, a disciplined person (yatih) entertains no distinctions of within and without—this is the indication of a jivan-mukta.
437 Free from the sense of “I” and “mine” with regard to the actions of the body, sense-organs etc. and living in a spirit of detachment—this is the indication of a jivan-mukta.
438 One who has realized that the Self is Brahman, affirmed by the scriptures and free from the bondage of becoming* (transmigration)—this is the indication of a jivan-mukta.
*Bondage of becoming (bavabandha). This is an important term in Indian philosophy and must be understood clearly. Hinduism takes the worldly existence (conditioned by time, space, and causality) as bondage. That is, the cycle of births and deaths is referred to as the ocean of samsara (bhavasaagar), i.e., ocean of repeated births and deaths and all that goes in between. To seek freedom from the bondage of becoming is considered to be the supreme end of life, the param-purushartha.
439 One who is free from the sense of “I” with regard to body, sense-organs etc., nor the concept of “this” with regard to other things, such a person is considered a jivan-mukta.
440 One who, through direct Knowledge, never sees any disctinction between the Self and Brahman and between the universe and Brahman, such a peson is considered to possess the marks of a jivan-mukta.
441 One who feels the same when his body is adored by the virtuous or tortured by the wicked, is considered a jivan-mukta.
442 A disciplined person in whom the sense-objects directed by others are received like flowing rivers into the ocean, producing no change because of his absorption in Existence Absolute, is truly liberated.
443 For one who has realised the essence of Brahman, there is no reaching out for sense-objects any more. If there is, then one has not realized Brahman because the senses still have an outgoing tendency.
444 If it is asserted that still there is attachment for sense-objects because of the momentum of past vasanas*, the reply is, “NO”. For the vasanas get weakened when there is realization of oneness with Brahman.
*residual impressions from previous lives.
445 The propensities of even a downright rake are checked in the presence of his mother. So too, there are no more any worldly propensities in one who has realised Brahman, the Bliss Absolute.
Prarabdha for a saint (verses 446-464)
446 He who is an adept at meditation is yet seen to have external perceptions. Sruti says, this is prarabdha at work. This can be inferred from actual results seen.
447 (there) cannot be (a result) ih hi indeed ini:³y> niÿkriya× independent of action As long as there is the experience of happiness etc., the work of prarabdha* is seen to persist. Every result is seen to have a preceding action; there can be no result independent of action.
*past actions that have begun in the present life to fructify or to bear fruit.
448 “I am Brahman”—with this Realization, the actions of a hundreds of millions of world cycles come to nought, like the actions of the dream-life on waking up.
449 Can the meritorious acts or sinful deeds that a person has imagined doing in a dream take one to heaven or hell when one has woken up?
450 Being unattached and indifferent like the sky, one who is realised is never concerned in the least about the actions yet to be performed.
451 The space, because of its contact with the jar, is not tainted by the smell of the liquor in it. So too, the Self is not affected by the attributes of the conditioning adjuncts (upadhis) because of its contact with them.
452 Accumulated actions performed before the dawn of Knowledge (because of which this body has come about) conjured up, do not get destroyed by the Self-Knowledge without yielding their fruits…just like an arrow shot at an object.
453 Thinking it to be a tiger if an arrow is shot at an object, it does not then stop because it turns out to be a cow. It still pierces it with full force.
454 Prarabdha is very powerful indeed for the realised person and becomes nought only through the exhaustion of its fruits; while the sancita and agami karmas are dissolved in the fire of perfect Knowledge. But none of these three affect them who have realized Brahman and always live established in It. They are truly the Transcendental Brahman.
455 For the sage who is ever absorbed in his own Self as Brahman, Non-dual and free from limitations—the question of existence of prarabdha is meaningless, just as the question of a man having anything to do with dream-objects is meaningless when he has awakened.
456 He who has awakened from sleep has no idea of “I” and “mine” with respect to the dream-body and the dream-objects. He remains ever awake as his own Self.
457 He does not wish to prove the unreal objects to be real, nor is he seen to maintain the dream-world. If he still clings to the unreal objects, he is really not yet awoken from sleep.
458 Even so, the sage abiding in Eternal Reality in the form of the true Self does not perceive anything else. Just as one recollects the objects in the dream, the Realised one remembers his day-to-day acts of eating, releasing etc.
459 The body has been fashioned by prarabdha. So, regard prarabdha as belonging to the body. But it is not reasonable to attribute it to the Self, for the Self is beginningless and never created as a result of the past actions.
460 The Self is “birthless, eternal and undecaying”—such is the infallible declaration of the Sruti. How can prarabdha be attributed to one abiding in the Self?
461 Only as long as one lives identified with one‘s body, can one accept that prarabdha exists. But no one accepts that a man of Realisation ever identifies with the body. Hence, in this case, prarabdha should be abandoned.
462 To attribute prarabdha even to the body is decidedly an illusion. How can a superimposition have any existence? How can the unreal have a birth? And how can that which is never born, die? So how can prarabdha function for something unreal?
463 If the effects of ignorance are completely destroyed by Knowledge, how can the body continue to exist? Sruti, from a relative standpoint, postulates the concept of prarabdha for the ignorant people who entertain such doubts. The idea of
464 prarabdha has been expounded by the Upanishads not for proving the reality of the body etc., for the wise—-because the Upanishads are without exception striving to point out the one Supreme Reality.
There is no plurality (verses 465-471)
465 Only Brahman there is, one without a second, complete, infinite, without beginning or end, Ineffable and changeless; in It there is no duality whatsoever.
466 The essence of Existence, the essence of Knowledge, the essence of Eternal Bliss, Non-dual, devoid of any activity, is only the Brahman; one without a second; in It there is no duality whatsoever.
467 The Subject within all, Non-dual, homogeneous, endless, all-pervading, there is only the Brahman; one without a second; in It there is no duality whatsoever.
468 That which is to be neither shunned nor taken up nor accepted, that which is non-dual and without support–there is only the Brahman; in it there is no duality whatsoever.
469 With no qualities or parts, It is subtle without disturbances and taintless–there is only the Brahman; one without a second; in it there is no duality whatsoever.
470 The Real Nature which is incomprehensible, which is beyond mind and speech and non-dual, there is only the Brahman; in It there is no duality whatsoever.
471 Self-existing, Self-evident, pure Intelligence, unlike anything finite, non-dual, there is only the Brahman; in It there is no plurality whatsoever.
Experience of Self-hood (verses 472-479)
472 Noble-hearted renunciates who have abandoned all attachments and discarded all sense-enjoyments, who are calm and controlled, realize this supreme Truth. And at the end, they gain Bliss Supreme as a result of their Self-realization.
473 You too, discriminating thus, be established in this surpassing Truth, the real nature of the Self which is Bliss Absolute, and shaking off the delusion created by your own mind, be liberated and illumined and fulfill your destiny.
474 Perceive the nature of the Self with the eye of perfect Knowledge through Samadhi, where the mind has been brought to complete quietude. If the declarations of Sruti (heard from the Teacher) are perfectly understood without a trace of doubt, it can lead to no more scepticism.
475 When the Self, the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, is realised, through liberation from one’s bondage of ignorance, then the scriptures, logical reasoning, the words of the Teacher–these are proofs; the internal realization of one’s own concentrated mind is yet another proof.
476 Bondage and liberation, contentment and anxiety, health, hunger, etc. are directly known only by the person concerned; others have knowledge of these by mere inference.
477 Standing apart, the teachers and the scriptures instruct the disciple; the learned must cross over (avidya) by illumination backed by the Grace of God.
478 Knowing one‘s own Absolute Self through Realization, becoming perfect, one should stand face to face before the Self, with mind free from all concepts of dualism.
479 The conclusive view of all Vedantic doctrines is this: that the individual self as well as the entire universe are in truth only the Brahman; that liberation means to abide in the Brahman, the indivisible entity; the statement that Brahman is non-dual has its proven authority in the sriptures.