Thursday, November 25, 2010


(Sanskrit Verses - by)
Sri Adi Sankaracharya
Text & Commentary – Post 3 (Vs.4,5,6)


In Post.1, we started the Nidhidhyasanam process by negating the causal body and the five great elements.

In Post.2, we negated the Praana life energy, the Pancha vayus, the Saptha Dhatus, the Pancha kosas, and the karmendriyas. We also asserted that we are the Chidhananda roopa, the Siva, the all pervading consciousness cum eternal bliss.

We are striving to use these answers of Adi Sankara to his future Guru, for our own Nidhidhyasanam (meditation).We now proceed further in our negation cum assertion process from Vs.4.

Na punyam na paapam na saukhyam na duhkham,
Na manthro na theertham na vedaa na yajnah,
Aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhoktha,
Chidananda Roopa Sivoham, Sivoham.


For me, there is  –
neither  Punyam (Result of good deeds) nor Paapam (sin).
neither  Saukhyam (pleasures /comforts) nor  Duhkham (sorrow).
neither Manthram  nor Theertham.
neither Veda  nor Yajna.
I am neither the Bhoktha (the eater), nor the eatable (Bhojyam), nor the process of eating (Bhojanam).
I am the all pervading, universal consciousness and eternal bliss. I am the Siva, I am the Siva.”


Punyam is the result of good deeds. Paapam is the result of Bad deeds. Punyam and Paapam, as explained in another post, are the Adrista Phalam, the unseen, postponed result of our deeds  – whose fruits are given to us later than the deed at some time unknown to us.

The direct results of our deeds are known to us immediately. For instance, if we commit a theft, the drista phalam is the stolen money that we get. We may be happy with it.

But, the Adrista phalam as punishment for the theft will  visit us later, in some form and time, when we least expect it. Why this postponement? Why not this also be given simultaneously with the deed? Well. You also have a store of good deeds and bad deeds from the past – waiting in queue for giving you their respective fruits. You can’t escape any of them but you get them in the queue. When the Adrista phalam of a certain past deed may mature is decided not by you – but by the controller of the law of Karma!! He is the Karma phala dhatha. If he so wills – your today’s theft may give you both drista phalam and adrista phalam today itself – by being found out, beaten up and hauled into jail. Else, you may enjoy the stolen booty and wait for adrista phalam to come some time later. When it comes to you – you cannot link it up with your past deeds. This disjunction between the timing of bad deeds (and good deeds) and their adrista phalam deludes most individuals into perpetrating more and more heinous acts, thinking that they are getting away with all of their heinous acts!! No. they are going to pay for all of their acts – at the most unlikely time and in the most unlikely ways.

On the other hand, good people may seem to be suffering for their good deeds. No. Good people especially are quickly finishing up their past Prarabdha karma – taking their difficulties, their adrista phalam of past deeds in their stride. The Karma phala dhatha is especially kind to them in this respect – if we understand it right.

Good deeds accumulate our store of Punyam and bad deeds accumulate our store of Paapam. Their effect comes to us in the future - in the same birth or in a future birth.

Punyam and Paapam both lead us to Punar Janmas -  repeated future births – either directly after death or after spending some time in the heavens or the hell. Punyam and Paapam can not lead  to Moksha, the ultimate liberation. What comes along with you after your death is not your accumulated wealth, name, fame, relations etc –It is your unspent store of Punyam and Paapam. So – we can decide what we want to take!!

Punyam and Paapam have absolutely no effect on an Atma Jnani, like Sankara, who has been liberated already from Avidya. Many such Atma Jnanis (like Sankara) – we find them departing from their bodies very early in life. It is because-  they only need to finish up their already-matured Prarabdha karma phalam. Their past store of Sanchitha Karma is burnt out by their Atma Jnanam and there is no more Aagami karma for them. But, the already matured Prarabdha karma phalam has to be finished. Once this is done – they have no more need for bodily life. This is why Sankara says –

‘I’ have neither Punyam nor Paaapam.

Likewise, the Atma Jnani remains untouched by pleasures and sorrows. He is the highest Aananda or joy himself. He has no need for any other pleasures (or sorrows). These have no effect on him. No dualities can touch the Atma Jnani. So, Sankara affirms –

‘I’ have neither pleasures nor sorrows.

Manthram (chanting / Prayer)  is needed to please the celestial powers or to attain earthly goals or some heavenly pleasures. So is theertham (Sacred waters all over the world), which can bestow our desires or cleanse our sins. Atma Jnani has no such needs at all. So, Sankara says –

‘I’ need neither Manthram nor Theertham.

Atma Jnani is changeless and all pervading. All change that happens in the eater, the eatable and the seeming process of eating is Maya or Avidya. All these relate at micro level to Annamaya kosa and at macro level to the great element of earth. Earth becomes annamaya kosa (Gross body)this moment and becomes earth again the next moment, in an incessant, unending process – even if we cannot see it clearly and realize it with our gross eyes and gross thinking. It is the earth every where and all the time in the process. Not YOU at all!!

In reality – there is neither an eater, nor an eating process nor an eatable. All are one and the same Mithya. This is the ultimate reality in which the Atma Jnani is. Readers may kindly read the three stories on Maya in an earlier post to further attain clarity on Maya.

Atma, the self, is action-less, transaction-less and change-less. It is the witness of all. It is all pervading but not itself the Pancha bhoothas or their variants at micro level. What undergoes changes is Mithya or Maya. The jeeva, who is not Atma Jnani, is perennially facing maya and its effects.
As Atma Jnani, Sankara affirms –

I am the all pervading, universal consciousness and eternal bliss. I am the Siva, I am the Siva.

It is once again reminded to readers – that Siva, Brahman, Atma all refer to the same all pervading entity, the self.

In your Nidhidhyasanam, please try to visualize the scientific process of Pancha mahabhoothas becoming the gross body and the gross body merging back into them in a continuous process. It is the Maya. You are neither the Kartha, nor the Bhoktha.  Remind yourself that all that changes is Maya.  And, you are the all pervading and the unchanging self.

With this realization, come out of the Maya, be a witness and negate all this as not you. You are not the ever changing part of maya. Now see yourself as - all that remains unchanged, as the Chidananda Roopa, the Siva, pervading all that is seemingly changing. You are the unchanging witness behind all that is changing.


Na (mruthyur na shanka)(me mruthyu shanka) na me jathi bhedho,
Pitha naiva me naiva matha na janma,
Na bhandhur na mithram gurur naiva sishyo,
Chidananda Roopa Sivoham, Sivoham.


In Vs.5, we find two versions prevailing, for the first line. One version runs as “Na mruthyur na shanka”. Another version runs as  “Na me mruthyu shanka”. For our purpose, both versions are good enough. Use either of them (but not both!). The difference is not very significant.
As per first version – Sankara says -
“I” have no death nor any “fear(or suspicion)” ( of death, disease, pain etc).
As per second version – “I” have no fear of death.

Shanka can probably be better interpreted as foreboding of death – rather than as fear (for which the word is bhayam) or suspicion.

Sankara says – 

‘I’ have no death, nor any foreboding of death.
‘I’ have no differences of castes
‘I’ have neither a father, nor mother, nor a birth
‘I’ have neither relations nor friends
‘I’ have neither a Guru nor disciples
I am the all pervading, universal consciousness and eternal bliss. I am the Siva, I am the Siva.”


For an all pervading, eternal, ‘birth and deathless’, all knowing consciousness principle, the only one entity existing without a second – what death can be there and what foreboding or fear of death can be there?

For the one who is all pervading and who is without any second entity, where from any caste (or religious, or racial, or national, or any other) distinctions can come? Sankara had affirmed this in Maneesha Panchakam too.

For one who is birth-less and death-less – where from a father or mother or birth can come?

When there is no second entity at all – where from can any friends, relations, Gurus or Disciples come?

Therefore, Sankara asserts and affirms –

I am the all pervading, universal consciousness and eternal bliss. I am the Siva, I am the Siva.”


Aham nirvikalpo nirakara roopo,
Vibhur vyapya sarvathra sarvendriyanaam,
Sadha me samathvam  na mukthir na bandhah (Na chaa sangatham naiva mukthir na meyah)
Chidananda Roopa Sivoham, Sivoham.


Like Verse.5, in Vs.6 too, two versions exist - for the third full line. The second version is given in brackets. Looking at the context and the flow of first 2 lines and the last line, I settle for the first version given without brackets. The other three are absolutely positive in sense and the flow therefore matches with a positive third line given without brackets above.
Not only that. The 6th verse is pure and absolute assertion and affirmation of the SELF. Sankara has already done with the negation parts in the first 5 verses. That which “ I AM NOT” is over. Here – What “I AM” is being declared in a complete, total, doubtless, divsionless, whole hearted assertion of the self. This only completes, consolidates and effectivises the Nidhidhyasanam process.

Let us look at the meaning:

I am the divisionless whole (Nir-vikalpa). I am the formless form (Niraakara roopa).

I am the controller and ruler, pervading everywhere, all the time, on all the sense organs and therefore beyond them.

I am ever the same everywhere in equilibrium -  without the need for either liberation or attachments.

I am the all pervading, universal consciousness and eternal bliss. I am the Siva, I am the Siva.”


Sankara very clearly affirms and asserts that he is divisionless, changeless, all pervading, ever in equilibrium, and is ever the eternal bliss and universal consciousness.

Nirvana Shatkam of Adi Sankara ends here. This is not merely intended for reading and understanding. Kindly translate into action. Digest this in your minds. Sit in a silent (if possible, solitary) place, sit comfortably in any Asana (Posture), close your eyes and contemplate on each of these ideas – as if it is you that you are contemplating on. You are the one who is - divisionless, changeless, all pervading, ever in equilibrium, and is ever the eternal bliss and universal consciousness. Fill your self with equanimity and merge into the totality.

Enjoy the peace and the joy spreading all over, within and without.
I am the Siva, I am the Siva.”

 *  E N D ( & THE BEGINNING)  *



(Sanskrit Verses - by)
 Sri Adi Sankaracharya
Text & Commentary – Post 2


In Post.1, we started the Nidhidhyasanam process by negating the causal body and the five great elements. We also asserted that we are the Chidhananda roopa, the Siva, the all pervading consciousness cum eternal bliss.

Readers may remember that these verses are the answer of Adi Sankara to the question “who are you” put to him by his future Guru, Sri Govinda Padacharya. We are striving to use the answer of Adi Sankara for our own Nidhidhyasanam (meditation).We now proceed further in our negation cum assertion process from Vs.2.


Na cha praana sangno na vai pancha vaayur,
Na vaa saptha dhathur na vaa pancha kosah,
Na vak pani padam na chopastha payu,
Chidananda Roopa Sivoham, Sivoham.

Meaning :

I am not the Praana, the energy of life in the body.

I am not any of the Pancha Vayus  (the five gases), namely, the praana, apaana, vyaana, udaana and Samaana vayus

I am not any of the  Seven dhathus or elements that make the body parts , namely – the marrow, bones, brain, meat, blood, skin and the muscles.

I am not any of the Pancha Kosas, the five sheaths of the body, namely Annamaya Kosa, Praanamaya Kosa, Manomaya Kosa, Vijnanamaya kosa and Anandamaya Kosa.

I am not any of the Karmendriyaas (the organs of action) namely, the tongue, hands, legs, reproductive organs and excretory organs.

I am the all pervading, universal consciousness and eternal bliss. I am the Siva, I am the Siva.”

Further comments :

Praana represents the essential  life energy in us and it also represents one of the five Vayus or gases circulating in the body. On death of the Gross body, the praana life energy merges back into the five great elements of the Universe. In most meditations – breath watch (not necessarily breath control) is the main part. You can clearly feel the praana energy going out and coming in along with breath. Let us also understand that praana energy comes in and goes out along with praana vayu, but is not the same as Praana vayu. Praana vayu is the vehicle on which praana energy rides. 

Does it not make it clear that Praana energy is not the Self? So, affirm and assert that it is not the ‘I’.

‘I’ am not that Praana life energy.

The air circulating in the body gets different names in different parts of the body. The overall functions of the five gases are stated in Viveka Choodamani Vs.104 , 97 etc and in Upanishads.

Praana Vayu resides mainly in the nostrils and also in the ears, eyes and mouth. It is responsible for inhalation and exhalation from nostrils to lungs and back and regulation of  circulation. Air in the ears and eyes is also regulatory in nature. As we all can easily discern, it is external to us, though it ensures the passage of praana energy into us.

Apaana Vayu circulates in excretory organs and regulates their functions.

Samaana Vayu resides in and around the navel,  inside the stomach and assists in digestion and distribution of digested food and water in various forms to all parts of the body – as per their needs.

Udaana Vayu moves throughout body with an upward trend or bias, and has some functions at the time of death.

Vyaana  Vayu regulates praana and apaana and is the cause of actions requiring strength.

All Vayus assist the gross body in many functions. The gross body dies and the functions of all these vayus stop that day. They merge back into the great universal element of Vayu. Therefore, affirm and assert that the self is not the Pancha vayus.

 ‘I’ am not the Pancha Vayus.

The seven dhatus are the essential elements of the body - the marrow, bones, brain, meat, blood, skin and the muscles. (majja, asthi, medha, pala, raktha,Charma, thvak (Viveka choodamani vs.74 and89).These also die and degenerate. They cannot be the self. Affirm and assert that ‘I’ am not the self.

‘I’ am not the  Saptha Dhathus.

My body has five sheaths, covering it. Annamaya kosa is born of and grows out of food. The only tangible part of the body, it is subject to birth, growth, degeneration, disease and death. It comes essentially from the earth. On death, it goes back to the earth. (Viveka choodamani.vs.157 to 166)).

Readers may kindly make a simple experiment on themselves. Lie down on your back on the floor and relax totally.

Relax, Relax, Relax…

When you are sufficiently relaxed – you exist only in your mental world. Your physical world no more exists for you. Do you sense your body. No. Not all. If you are sufficiently relaxed, you can’t feel your legs or hands or any other part (without moving it) – unless there is some pain in it – which again pertains to the mind. The saptha dhathus earlier mentioned are all part of annamaya kosa. A healthy body – is not YOU!  Even if a part has been removed from your body, you can’t feel it. If, in your relaxed state, even when the mind functions, if the annamaya kosa cannot be felt – how can it be YOU!! You are not annamaya kosa. Affirm that you are not it. Assert that you are not it.

I’ am not this Annamaya kosa.

Praanamayakosa is the sheath consisting of the five vital airs. As  body dies, the airs merge back into the great universal element of air. (Viveka Choodamani vs.167-168)

‘I’ am not this Praanamaya kosa.

Manomaya kosa is made up of mind and the five organs of perception, namely, sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. It is the seat of all feelings, emotions and perceptions. It vacillates between indecisions. Here, organs of perception refer to very subtle organs which are part of causal body. 

They do not refer to the physical ear, eyes etc – which are called Golakams and which are part of Annamaya Kosa or Gross Body. Mind is avidya itself. But it can be the cause of both attachments and liberation. (Viveka choodamani vs.169 – 185).

Just think – is it not your emotional mind that is causing all attachments with other human beings, animals, and even inanimate things like money and house – and all the disturbances of life arising there from? It is the main cause of all attachments.

But, at the same time, it is again the same emotional mind which can free us from all these attachments, when used along with the Buddhi and when re-directed to spiritual goal. It is an instrument for the goal of self. It is not the self. Assert and affirm this.

‘I’ am not this Manomaya Kosa.

Vijnaanamayakosha is the sheath of the intellect – Buddhi, ego and their vritthis. Compared to Gross body – Manomaya kosa is more likely to experience  the reflection of atma in itself by its proximity with Buddhi and Chidhabhasa. Vijnanamaya kosa, consisting of Buddhi and ego is the very seat of Chidaabhasa where the reflection of the consciousness takes place. (Viveka choodamani vs.186 -190 and vs.208)). Vijnaanamaya Kosa experiences the reflection of the consciousness – but is not itself the consciousness. It also takes birth, grows, degenerates and dies.

‘I’ am not the Vijnanamaya kosa.

Anandamayakosa is the subtlest sheath. It is the sheath of bliss. It is born of thamoguna. It has qualities of affection, joy and experiences of happiness. It gives joy to those who turn their attention inward. It is  the Kaarana Sareera or causal body and is the seat of primal ignorance or avidya. It is active during deep sleep when other organs are  asleep. (viveka choodamani vs.209). It is also subject to births and deaths.

‘I’ am not this Aanandamaya kosa.

These five sheaths constitute the Sareera thrayam.

I am not any of the Panch kosas which constitute the Sareera thrayam.


Na me dwesha ragau na me lobha mohau,
Madho naiva me naiva matsarya bhavah,
Na dharmo na chaartho na kamo na mokshah,
Chidananda Roopa Sivoham, Sivoham.

We are now negating our vritthis, the actions and functions we indulge in, in this verse.


I have no dislikes or likes.
I have no greed or delusion.
I have no pride or jealousy (or enmity) towards any one.
 I have no need for the four purusharthas, the four exalted goals of
life, namely  – Dharma (standards of life, punyam, paapam etc), Artha (Wealth), Kaama (Desires) and Moksha (Liberation);

I am the all pervading, universal consciousness and eternal bliss. I am the Siva, I am the Siva.”

Further Comments :

We are now negating dualities like likes and dislikes – as Not our Qualities and not pertaining to us. All dualities are not mentioned in the verse. But mention of one duality and one each from two other dualities, implies the inclusion of all dualities, like happiness and unhappiness, love and hate, greed and generosity, delusion and clarity, friendship and Jealousy / enmity and so on. All dualities stand negated, by implication, though not mentioned explicitly.

‘I’ do not indulge in or abide by any of the dualities. I am beyond them. I am Sthitha Prajna. I am one with equanimity in all circumstances. This is the knowledge and firm understanding to be generated through Nidhidhyasanam (meditation) on this verse.

Sankara now goes on to say that – the four Purusharthas, the great goals of human life, extolled in the Vedas are also not needed for him.

For better understanding of Purusharthas - Readers may kindly read the detailed article on them in this blog at the url :

If Sankara claims that – ‘I’ do not need Dharma, Artha and Kaama, it can sound logical for a Sthitha Prajna who has transcended all dualities. But, how can even Adi Sankara claim that – ‘I’  do not need moksha, the most desirable and exalted goal of life. The ultimate aim for human existence is nothing other than Moksha.

Why does Adi Sankara claim that even Moksha is not needed for him?

The one who has attained Atma Jnanam, is already in a state of Nitya Muktha and Jeevan Muktha – the already liberated one even while alive and one who is already freed from future births. This is moksha, the ultimate.

Why is therefore moksha needed for a Muktha again? He is already a muktha, one who has attained moksha. Leaving of body subsequently is a formality which makes him videha muktha. For some people until Prarabdha Karma is fully spent and  body falls off – there is no moksha. This moksha is called Videha mukthi which happens after falling off of the body. Sankara, who is in the perpetual state of nithya muktha, has therefore no need for moksha.  This is the implication here.

After negating vritthis and purusharthas, Sankara re-asserts – I am the all pervading consciousness cum eternal bliss. I am the Siva, I am the Siva.

Like Sankara, we also need to affirm with firm belief, knowledge and total conviction that “ I am the Chidaananda roopa. I am the Siva, I am the Siva

We will continue the discussion further in the next post.

 *  *  *   E  N  D   *  *  *

Wednesday, November 24, 2010



(Sanskrit Verses - by)
 Sri Adi Sankaracharya

Text & Commentary – Post 1

What is your Goal in life?

Do you have a goal for your life  right now? How do you select and fix your goal? What do you do to achieve it? How fast and well do you achieve it? These are ‘Goal oriented’ questions which bother some of us, who happen to have goals.

If these questions bother you, it means, you aspire to achieve some distinction in life and want to be a winner in your own eyes and in the eyes of others. But, most people, almost 90 percent and more, have no such specific goals in life.

They just drift from moment to moment, till their last breathe. When they look back, there is nothing in their life to recount with any satisfaction; their life is of no particular use to any one. Their death can some times be a big relief to others.

If your life is goal-oriented, if you want to be a winner in life –  whether you will actually be a winner, depends on the nature of your goals, your knowledge and skills, the strength of mind you put into your goals, your efforts and lastly, circumstances.

In Spirituality, these are called, Jnana Sakthi (Strength of your Knowledge and skills); Icchaa Sakthi(strength of your desire); Kriyaa Sakthi (strength of your effort) and last of all, your Praarabdha karma.

Prarabdha Karma in simple terms means that - what you did yesterday inevitably has its impact on your present and future life. This is the cause and effect theory which says that - every cause has its effect and vice versa. The only additional factor in spirituality is Prarabdha Karma, which makes it more scientific. In Karma theory, the fruits of all actions are divided into 2 parts : (i) Drista Phalam (visible immediate result) and (ii)Adrista Phalam (invisible, postponed result). Adrista phalam visits you back at an appropriate time in future which is not in your hands. For instance, the immediate result of a bad deed may be that you get more money or pleasure – but the adrista phalam strikes back later at a time unknown to you.

Lord Krishna defines Yoga in Bhagavad Gita  as – “Yogaha karmasu Kausalam” – which means that yoga is the “ensuring of utmost excellence in all of our efforts”. Krishna emphasizes the need for excellence in every duty and every effort of us.

If you select and persist, in a worthy, realistic goal, you come out a happy winner. Selecting a Goal, persisting in efforts and achieving the goal are part of an exciting, satisfying life.

When a few personal goals are satisfied, it is very common for man to look for socially beneficial goals and go after them. In them, there are really no limits.

What do you need in life?

Needs always come first in our life and goals come next.  If needs are not satisfied, needs will be the goals. But then, the question is – what are our needs? If you are very hungry and food is not there, food is the first need. If you are thirsty and water is not at hand, water is the first need. You may be hungry and thirsty both – but if you are under water and choking, your immediate need is Air.

Why are we discussing all this in an article, in a blog,  on the highest spiritual goals? Because – if these minimum needs are not satisfied, spirituality does not arise at all.

The ancient saying is – “deho devaalayo prokthaha, Jeevo devah sanaathanaha” which means – take care of the body as it is the temple in which the eternal Brahman resides. If minimum needs are not satisfied, spirituality does not arise. If minimum needs are satisfied, then, spirituality may  arise.  It then depends on other factors. Spirituality in itself is neither a need nor a goal. It is Self Discovery. It is the ultimate – which is you and to which you must return. All needs and goals tend to distract you from the self.

Who are YOU?..... Who am I?

When needs are satisfied and goals are satisfied to some level, a nagging question may arise – why all these? Who needs all these? Who am I? For many, these questions may not arise or the answer may seem very obvious.

Yes. This is me. What I see in the mirror is what I am. I  can feel myself. This is therefore what I am. But, when you look deep into your physical, intellectual and emotional self, which only is in your present awareness, you will find a certain compulsiveness driving you in life and driving many times into pursuits that are really harmful to you.  Why am I doing this? What is forcing me into it? Why am I angry? Why am I addicted to this, this, this and that? Why can’t I live a more peaceful, enjoyable life? 

Such questions are bound to nag your mind. Many have no patience to pursue these questions to their logical end. Many don’t have the humility to accept the fact that ‘ I don’t know’.

It is from a clear and open acknowledgement of what ‘I don’t know’, that a need for ‘I want to know’ arises. But, I want to know – only from a person who already knows. As some one said – your problem arose at a certain level of ignorance and it cannot be solved at the same level of ignorance. You must become a seeker of higher knowledge from a knowledgeable person, a Guru to be precise.

It has been said –

He who knows and knows that he knows is wise – follow him.
He who knows but knows not that he knows, is sleeping, wake him.
He knows not but knows that he knows not is innocent, teach him.
He who knows not but knows not that he knows not is dangerous – shun him.

Don’t go near the fourth person. He could destroy every thing in his ignorant ignorance. He is ignorant. He is ignorant that he is ignorant. He is arrogant.

He poses that he knows. That is the biggest problem facing every society. These Posers can even become leaders. The ignorant (who are the majority) follow the ignorant-ignorant (Double ignorance – one who is ignorant that he is ignorant). Be never in the fourth category. Wake up. Stop posing that you know. Let us at least come quickly into the third category. Let us at least acknowledge that we do not know what we do not know and find what we do not know. Let us go to the first person, the Guru, who knows that he knows. Let us prostrate before him in all humility and seek from him, the real knowledge.

Which is the first and foremost knowledge that you need? It is not about the whole world. It is not about your spouse, family members, friends etc.

It is about you. You need to know your self first and foremost. I need to know about my self. Each Individual needs to know about his self. There is a lot that we do not know about our own self!

There is only one real knowledge, the Upanishads say – the knowledge of the self. Know who you are. The greatest of Gurus have found that once you know who you are – all else falls in place for you. All answers are found in the answer to this one central question. All needs are understood instantly. All goals are understood instantly. The seeking ends. The pursuit ends. The buck stops here.

And, who else is there who can teach us this central knowledge of ‘who you are’ – other than the great Adi Sankaracharya? Adi Sankaracharya himself learnt the last piece of this knowledge from the Adi Guru, Siva himself, as we have seen in Maneesha Panchakam in two of the earlier blog Posts.

From Maneesha Panchakam, we had jumped straight into ‘Atma Bodha’ the science of self knowledge, taught meticulously by Adi Sankaracharya, driving home into us the central point from all possible angles. Even if you miss one or two angles, you can’t miss all.  Somewhere along Atma Bodha, it begins to happen to every serious seeker – that life is full of joy, that you are yourself that joy, that you are not temporary, that you are eternal and that you are all that there is. Atma Bodha conclusively established our real self to us.

We have seen that Atma Bodha follows a three step process – consisting of Sravanam (listening from Guru), Mananam (recalling mentally several times all that we have understood from the Guru) and finally Nidhidhyasanam (deep contemplation, which itself is a two step process of denying what you are not , as nethi, nethi, nethi.. and then, asserting what you are, as ithi,ithi,ithi..). It is an extraordinarily scientific process that takes you beyond all boundaries. I do urge readers to go through Atma Bodha as many times as is needed  to digest its import fully.

How would Adi Sankara do the Nidhidhyasanam process?
How would he do the nethi process and the ithi process?
How is this best of all meditations to be done?
Nirvana Shatkam is precisely the answer to all these questions.

In Nirvana Shatkam,  you will find Adi Sankara’s Six Sanskrit verses, which give you the  quintessence of Atma Bodha, which itself is the quintessence of all Upanishads, which essentially deal with self knowledge.  I have added, as in Atma Bodha, my commentary explaining the same to the levels of my ability.

In all these verses, the word I (or aham in Sanskrit), signifies the Atma.  More precisely, it signifies the total identification of jeeva with the Atma or Brahman, with there being no second entity at all. In other words, the reader is expected to identify himself totally with Brahman (Atma) and do the Mananam and Nidhidhyasanam with the six verses of Nirvana sahatkam.

How did Nirvana Shatkam come into being. There are some stories as follows: Sankara, as a young boy of eight years age, while wandering in Himalayas and seeking to find a guru, came across a sage who asked him, "Who are you?"  Sankara’s answer was this "Nirvana Shatakam." "Nirvana" is complete freedom, liberation, peace and tranquility. True liberation is in knowing the self. "Atma" is the True Self. Sankara, the boy, was talking to Swami Govindapada Acharya, his teacher thereafter. There is no way of confirming these anecdotes – but, Nirvana shatkam is an extraordinary piece of work – which is eminently suitable for Nidhidhyasanam, bringing together in a very beautiful way, the self knowledge contained in Atma Bodha (which is a later work of Sankara) and the Upanishads.

We will now start with Verse.1. You can listen to all these verses on Internet from several beautiful voices at YouTube and other web sites. You can even practice Nidhidhyasanam with these audios initially – until they become familiar to you. You can also practice with one verse at a time. Find the way which is most effective for you.


Mano budhyahankara chithaa ninaham,
Na cha srothra jihwe na cha grhana nethre,
Na cha vyoma bhoomir na thejo na vayu,
Chidananda Roopa Sivoham, Sivoham.

As we have seen in Atma Bodha, our existence is perceived through Sareera Thrayam – the gross body, which is visible to us, the subtle body which runs the gross body in different ways from inside and the causal body which causes  the existence of these two bodies but remains more or less dormant later with very less functions. These are Micro level bodies. At  Macro level, the five great elements cause the existence of all the three micro bodies in each of us.

Sankaracharya is first negating that part of the causal body which feels as the ‘I’, the perceiver, then the sense organs (indriyaas) which act as the medium of transactions between this perceiver and the external world and then the external world, which is perceived by this perceiver.

The negation process is contained  in the first 3 lines of the verse and is followed by the assertion process in the last line – in strict adherence to the Nidhidhyasanam process. The meaning of the verse is explained below:

I am not the emotional mind, the manas, which vacillates between thoughts and remains indecisive.
I am not the intellect, the Buddhi either, which is involved in decision taking.
I am not the ego, the ahankara,   which is responsible for the ‘I’  feeling.
I am not the Chittam, which indulges in deeper thinking and storing of all memories.
I am not the ears which hear the Sounds from external world, or the tongue which tastes, or the nose which smells or the eyes which see.
I am not the earth or the sky or the air or the light, the great elements of the universe.
I am the all pervading, universal consciousness and eternal bliss. I am the Siva, I am the Siva.”

The reader is urged to identify totally with the all pervading consciousness, the eternal Bliss, which is Brahman and  perform the negation and assertion process as above.

Readers who have completed the previous Blog Posts on Atma Bodha know well that Siva, Vishnu, Brahma, Brahman, Atman – all refer to the same entity which is Chidananda roopa.  The word, Roopa, here need not be confused with a fixed shape and form. What is all pervading has no fixed, limited shape. It pervades the whole universe.

What is it that pervades the whole universe?

It is YOU. It is I.

‘I’ have no emotions, no desires, no transactions, no dilemmas and no decisions to make. I am not also any of the five great elements. When ‘I’ am the only one, without any second, when I am the all pervading bliss – where is the question of the ‘I’ feeling – as different from you and others?

Liberate yourself from what you are not and be what you are.

Readers can discern some apparent omissions in the verse – which are inconsequential and which we may supply if we so desire. The second line mentions four out of the five Panchendriyaas and omits the touch sensation. The third line omits water and mentions only four of the five great elements. The fourth line omits the “Sath (the eternal existence)” and mentions only Chith (the all pervading consciousness) and Aananda (the eternal bliss). These are easily “understood” and need no mention. Denial / assertion of all others implies denial/assertion of the omitted ones also.

When Sankara asserts twice emphatically – I am the Siva, I am the Siva – all else merges into this ultimate understanding of the self.

Generally the four faculties of “mano,Buddhi,ahankara,chittam” together are called “antahkarana”. But, based on four different functions performed in anthahkarana – we give them four names. More details of this can be seen in Viveka choodamani of Adi Sankara.
We will continue the other verses in next post.

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