Tuesday, September 28, 2010




(PART - 12 – VERSES 27 and 28)


Atma Bodha is a science par excellence. You, as reader, are taken methodically through a journey from total ignorance to the heights of self knowledge.

You need to methodically complete this scintillating journey - understanding each concept in it and crossing each mile stone.  At the end of this great Journey, you will have no cause for any regret – just as it happens with every seeker of this knowledge. As Sankaracharya says in the very first sloka – become an ardent seeker of this knowledge and derive its full benefit. We have so far examined 26 verses. Let us very briefly review the important concepts covered by us so far.

MOKSHA : Moksha is total Freedom and liberation from all Sorrows and fears. On attaining it, you find yourself as the ever blissful, ever existent, eternal consciousness. Moksha can be attained  even as we are alive, in this very life – through clear understanding of our SELF and identifying with the Self. What is needed is dis-identifying with the Anaatma and identifying with the Atma, the real Self.

JEEVA : Jeeva is a combination of Both Anaatma and Atma. Atma is the Self and Anaatma is the Non-self in the Jeeva. Jeeva always acts and transacts through Anaatma only, but always in the presence of Atma. In Jeeva, Atma is seen as Vyaktha Chaitanyam, the evident consciousness. Atma’s presence can be easily experienced in the Jeeva, even though Atma is all pervading. Outside Jeeva, Atma is Avyaktha Chiatanyam. It is there, being all pervading, but for the Jeeva, it is not easily evident.

ANAATMA : In Jeeva, the Gross Body, Subtle Body and Causal Body and all of their actions and transactions together represent Anaatma. Anaatma is also called Anaadi Avidhya or Beginningless Ignorance.
The gross body is formed by Pancheekaranam process and is the seat of all pleasures and pains. It is the only visible part. It is subject to the birth-growth-decay-death cycle, at much more frequent intervals than Subtle body and causal body.
The subtle body is formed by Apancheekaranam and is the enjoyer of all pleasures and pains. It has much longer life cycle, and leaves the gross body on its death, along with the PUNYAM-PAPAM store to wherever its Karma cycle takes it further. It is constantly affected by the dualities of the world like Likes and dislikes and pleasures and pains.
The causal Body is the cause of the Gross body and subtle body formation and is the beginningless avidya in itself, but, it cannot be easily identified and defined. It has the longest life among the 3 bodies.
Universe : Externally, the entire Universe represents Anaatma. Universe as Anaatma, manifests itself as numerous objects and beings,  with different Names and forms. These names and forms misdirect us and prevents us from proper identification with Brahman.
ATMA : Atma and Brahman are one and the same. Other names so far used by Adi Sankara like Hrisheekesa, Parameswara, Brahma and Eswara are purposely used to emphasize that all these signify the one and only Brahman, also called Atma, also called advayam, or one without a second.

ATMA’S QUALITIES: Atma is Sath (Existence), Chit (Consciousness), Aanandha (Bliss), Nithya (Eternal) and Nirmalatha (Pure). It means Atma is ever existent, all pervading, never changing, bliss in itself and ever pure.
Atma is both the material cause (and the maker, through mere sankalpa) of the universe.
If we go beyond the numerous names and forms of the Universe, we discern the Brahman, the Advayam, meaning, one without a Second, everywhere. It is beyond the Sareera thrayam in the jeeva and beyond the names and forms of the Universe.
WHAT ATMA DOES : In the pure intellect, or Suddha Buddhi, untainted by the dualities of life,  there is a reflection of Atma as reflected consciousness (RC). But – (i)Atma, the original Consciousness(OC) does not participate in the actions and transactions of Anaatma (ii)  Atma always remains a witness to all such actions and transactions, but (iii) in its presence only all actions and transactions can take place and no action or transaction is possible without its presence.

CONFUSION OF ATMA WITH ANAATMA : Atma has no  Gunas/ Characteristics by itself, which can propel it into any action or transaction. But, because of (i) proximity with Anaatma(Sareera thrayam),and (ii) the reflection of the Atma in the Intellect, the Gunas of Anaathma are confused with and wrongly attributed to the Atma.
Dualities of likes and dislikes, pleasure and Pain and so on  cast their influence on mind and Intellect constantly. These are typical of the Anaatma characteristics.

All Gunas, all actions and all dualities pertain to the sense organs and Mind/Buddhi. But, Ignorance and confusion make people  to ascribe all these to Atma – because of the reflection of Atma in the Intellect(Buddhi) and the confusion of this reflected consciousness with Buddhi on one side and Atma on the other side.

Kartha & Bhoktha : The sense organs & Ahankaara are the  Kartha (Doer) and Bhoktha (Enjoyer) – for all actions, transactions and their results. But ignorance makes us ascribe these roles to the Atma, which is beyond all actions, transactions and changes. Atma remains as the ever present witness to all these actions and transactions. But, it is never the Kartha or Bhoktha of any transaction.
WHO FEELS AS DOER? : It is the Ahankara ( the Ego I) part of the subtle body that feels as the Doer and Enjoyer of all actions and Results. The reflected consciousness in the Ahankaara and its proximity with all sense organs in the subtle body make it feel as the doer and enjoyer. The Atma is never the doer or enjoyer.
But, there is a perennial confusion of “I the Doer” with the Atma -  due to (i) the identification with the Sareera thrayam and the reflected consciousness and (ii) non identification with the Original consciousness, the real self.

REMOVAL OF IGNORANCE / AVIDYA : How to remove  the Avidya / ignorance? Can any action like worship, Meditation or Sathkarma (Good Deeds) remove Ignorance or Avidya and lead to Moksha?  No. Their role is to purify the mind and Buddhi.

A purified Buddhi gives a better reflection of Atma. The identification continues with the purified, reflection in the Buddhi and not with the original consciousness, the Atma, as long as avidya persists in us.
We will continue to see the universe as numerous objects and beings  with different Names and forms. The universe continues to misdirect us and prevents us from proper identification with the Real Self (Brahman / Atma), due to the lack of self knowledge and the presence of Ignorance in us.

Total removal of Ignorance can be accomplished only by acquiring of Self Knowledge. Till we achieve self Knowledge, our worldly life goes on without awareness, very much like  Swapnavastha or Dream state.

When we wake up from Dream state, we instantly know that it was a dream; the characters in it, the actions in it, the emotions in it and the entire sequences in it – are all created by us and none of them are real. It is similar with this life, till we attain Self Knowledge.  When Self knowledge dawns, the real nature of this worldly life becomes evident.

As part of self knowledge, our foremost task is to dis-identify from Sareera thrayam and identify with the real self, the Atma, the ever existing consciousness-bliss principle.

Let us now continue our discussion from verse.27.

27 Rajju Sarpavad Aatmaanam
Jeevam Jnatvaa Bhayam Vaheth
Naaham Jeevah Paraatmeti
Jnateschet Nirbhayo Bhaveth.

Why are we in FEAR and when does Fear leave us?
When we wrongly identify our Self with the Jeeva (the Anaatma portion of it), all of its actions, transactions, changes etc are bound to create fear in us. The Anaatma is subject to (i) birth, growth, decay, disease and death cycle and to (ii) all the dualities of Raaga-Dvesha (likes and dislikes), Sukha-Duhkha (comforts & sorrows) etc. Also, the Ahankaara in the Anaatma feels as the Kartha and Bhoktha (Doer-enjoyer) and this doer-enjoyership is bound to take us through all dualities. These are bound to create fear – as our identification is with this Chidaabhasa (Reflected Consciousness) in the Anaatma portion of Jeeva and this is subject to quick changes.
But, when the identification is with the higher Atma (Param- aatma, the Brahman, or, the original consciousness), which is our true Self, none of these modifications and dualities can touch us. Aatma is changeless and unaffected by all changes occurring in the Anaatma around it. So, automatically we are freed from all Fears. As Atma, we are eternal and pure consciousness and Bliss and there is no cause for any fear for us.
The example given in the Sloka is of confusing the rope for a snake and getting into fear. How does this fear go? We must clearly come to the understanding that (i) the rope is not the snake (ii) rope is not some thing else and (ii) rope is only ROPE.
This is called Nischaya Jnanam or the certainty of knowledge. There is no point in merely knowing that rope is not snake and confusing it as some thing else. We must know with certainty that it is ROPE ONLY. When we know with certainty that  I AM THE ATMA OR THE SELF -  all fears will vanish. Generally, we cannot see our own Face. We can see our face also in a mirror only. This is what is happening to us – we see our self in the Chidaabhasa (RC) and confuse it as our self. The chidaabhasa is subject to all  changes in the Sareera thrayam, being the reflection of all these. All these changes in the Sareera thrayam create fear in us.
So I must claim to be the OC, the original consciousness, the para-Atma (the higher self), which is free from all Sanchita, aagami and prarabdha Karmas, Karma Phalam and all dualities.
I am not the temporary Chidaabhasa (the RC or reflected consciousness) and not the temporary Sareera thrayam(the RM, or the reflecting medium). When this self Knowledge stands firm in us – all insecurity and all fear automatically dissolves totally.

28 Atma Avabhasayatyeko(ekaha)
Buddhyadeen Indriyaanyapi
Deepo Ghataadi vat Swaatmaa
Jadai Stair Na Avabhasyate.

A very pertinent question is - Who will know Atma?
Can Atma be an object that can be known by some other Knower, as subject? Is it some one other than Atma? Other than Atma, whatever is – is Anaatma. In Anaatma, which part can know Aatma? These are troubling questions.
Anaatma, the whole of it, is INERT / JADAM  principle – and has no chance of ever knowing the CHETANA ATMA which is consciousness principle.
Only the Consciousness principle of Atma can know the  inert, Anaatma principle. It is the Anaatma principle which is Avidya or Ignorance and needs removal. If avidya is removed, instantly, the Aatma will shine forth in its true splendor.
Atma is all pervading, original consciousness principle and advayam, one without a second.
That being so  – it is Anaathma which shines, exists and transacts in presence of the Atma Chaitanyam.
The example given in the sloka is -  Lamp is self luminous. All the objects kept near and around the lamp are non-luminous. All these objects which are near the lamp are illumined by the Lamp. We see them in the light of the lamp. But, the non-luminous objects have no chance of illumining the lamp. Always, luminous can only illumine the non-luminous.
In the same way, the self Luminous Atma can only illumine the non luminous Anaatma. Non luminous Anaatma can never illumine the luminous Atma. Atma is ever the knower principle and never the known principle. Atma is also ever the experiencer and never an object of experience.
Do I ever need one lamp to  identify another luminous lamp? Where is the self knowledge enshrined? This will be examined in the next 2 verses in the next post.
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  1. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and wise explaination....filled my heart with joy and peace....aum shanti

  2. Thank you for your encouraging words.
    With all of your good wishes, I will strive to cover the other works of Adi Sankara too.
    Atma Bodha is a highly practical-oriented text.
    I suggest to all readers - to go through the processes of Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidhyasanam - for which Atma Bodha itself is a sufficient guide. You can of course use shorter texts like Nirvana Shatkam also for the purpose.