Introduction – Vasavada

The Chowkhamba Sansrit Studies



A Comparative Study of the Process of Individuation


A.U. Vasavada




Tripura Rahasya or the Dialogue between Bhargava and
Datta forms part of a larger book known by the same name,
comprising three parts, viz. The glory of the Goddess
Tripura, the Ritual and the Knowledge or the Wisdom part
(present text). The whole book is said to be written by the
Sage Haritayana, one of the disciples of Parasurama
(Bhargava), in the form of a dialogue between him and

The story as told in the first part of the book goes as

Sumedha-Haritayana, a disciple of Parasurama, once
requested his Guru to instruct him in the Highest Good. The
Guru was reminded of what had happened between him and his
Guru Dattatreya and initiated Haritayana in the way of the
Goddess Bala (Girl). Harita retired to the forest for
meditation. The Goddess Bala-Amba (Girl-mother) appears to
him in a dream and asked him to approach his Guru.
Haritayana, on waking, fell into doubt about the dream, but
a voice from heaven removed it. So he returned to the Guru
who further initiates him into Sri Vidya, with all its
mysteries and enjoined him to compose a book on the glory of
the Goddess. Haritayana, retiring to the city of Hala near
the resort of the Goddess Minaksi (one with eyes like that
of a fish), forgot all about it. When he was engaged in
meditation, he happened to see Narada in his vision. He was
surprised to see Narada in his mind was tranquil. He asked
him as to how this could be and for what purpose. Narada
told him not to worry about it and said that he came down
from heaven to hear about the glory of the Goddess Tripura
from him, as his father told him that he, (Haritayana) knew
it, On hearing this, Haritayana was reminded of the purpose
for which he had come to Hala. He, however, could not
understand how he had forgotten about it. Narada and
Haritayana, both, thereupon, prayed to Brahma to explain the
cause of this forgetfulness. Brahma appearing on the scene
explained it as follows.

Haritayana was the son of the Sage Alark whose wife was a
devotee of the Goddess (Shakti). The son (Haritayana) used
to hear his mother calling even his father as “Ayi” (a
feminine address) and he picked up as “Ai” with a wrong
accent. This faulty pronunciation of the formula of the
Goddess brought sickness upon the child and proved fatal.
Haritayana’s present loss of memory was result of this
faulty pronunciation. Lord Brahma corrected it and
Haritayana was then able to relate the glory of the Goddess
to Narada.


Parasurama, who was instructed, according to our text, in
the wisdom of the self by Sri Dattatreya known in the Hindu
Tradition as the first G-guru, is one of the incarnations of
Visnu. He comes before King Rama, the king of Ayodha, the
hero of epic Ramayana. Parasurama, Brahmin by birth, was
once enraged against the whole of Ksatriya (warrior) class,
because one of the Ksatriya kings killed his father without
any provocation. In order to revenge himself successfully,
he started austere devotion to Lord Siva. Lord Siva gave him
as a boon an axe (Parasu – hence Parasurama the name)
and a bow at his request so that he might fulfill his
desire. With these devine weapons, he destroyed the warrior
class, including women and children, 21 times. Having
conquered the world, he returned to do penance, vowing never
to use any weapon against the ksatriyas again.

But when he heard that Rama broke the bow belonging to
his guru Siva, he flew into a passion of rage and ran up to
kill him. Rama, paying due respects to him as a Brahmin,
asked forgiveness for the act. Parasurama, however, was not
pacified and censured him disregarding his supplications.
Sri Rama told him that his weapon will never be raised
against a Brahmin and that he would prefer to be a prey to
Parasurama’s weapon in return. Parasurama was enraged
still more as Rama recognized him only as a Brahmin and not
as the destroyer of the Ksyatriya race. He forced his own
bow into the hands of Rama and provoked him to fight. Rama
very coolly accepted it and stringing and stretching it to
the full length asked him on whom it to be directed. This
was enough humiliation for Parasurama. He hardly thought Sri
Rama powerful enough to stretch that bow. He fell at his
feet, asked forgiveness and acknowledged his defeat.

Returning home, he deeply repented having broken the vow.
He was overwhelmed at the thought of all that he did to the
innocent women and children in his rage. He keenly realized
the dangers of the madness of anger. With these thoughts on
his way home, he encountered an ugly looking person with
disheveled hair but resplendent body. He was naked and had
nothing on him to distinguish his class or birth. With a
view to test him, he praised his radiant personality and
asked him who he was. The insane looking man began to pelt
stones at Parasurama. Parasurama caught hold of him and
threw him on the rocks several times. He (every time got up)
laughing as if nothing had happened to him. Parasurama was
struck by this equanimity of the man and felt sure that he
was a great saint. He fell at his feet and propitiated him
and inquired who he was. The insane person said that all
questions concerning the “Other” were useless,
even when they were answered, if one did not know who
himself was.

Parasurama could not understand the cryptic sentence in
reply and requested him to enlighten him more. He thereupon,
revealed his identity as Sage Samvarta and asked him to go
to Sri Dattatreya for further clarification.


Leaving Samvarta, Rishi Parasurama hastens to meet Sri
Dattatreya on the mountain Gandhamadan, whose peaks are
cloud-capped, the quarters of which are resounding with the
music of celestial maidens and whose habitations are favored
by the love-sports of Yidyadhara couples (demi-gods). The
wood of the mountain were full of various kinds of trees and
were gay with the singing birds. There he sees a sage-like
person seated outside the hermitage made of leaves. On
asking him, Parasurama was directed to enter the hermitage
to meet the guru.

He saw, on entering, a radiant personality, a sage of
such exquisite beauty and youth as would make even the most
beautiful Mohini (God as the most beautiful maiden) fall in
love, yet he glowed with the fire of the austerities of a
monk. He was closely embraced by a young maiden like Laksmi
(the wife of Lord Visnu) and a pot of wine lay before him.
He was shocked to see all this and began and begins to
think, “How strange are the ways of saints! He is surrounded
by such things! May be he is not the person I am seeking. He
may be someone else. Yet to me, he is the Guru. Truth and
falsity after all are men-made concepts.”

When he was thinking thus, Sri Dattatreya interrupted,
said: “0 Son of Bhrigu! Welcome to thee. Are you all right?
Is your penance going on undisturbed? You have earned a
great merit in your life and are thus the jewel of the
Bhrigu family. Victory over senses befits a son of man,
Those who are involved in it are dead though living.
Formerly, I abandoned all activities due to practice of
detachment. The senses of taste and sex are the strongest
enemies of man. Many have fallen prey to them, One who has
conquered them has really won everything. Many saints have
left me because I am associated with wine and woman, much
censured by people. How is it that you have come to me? Tell
me frankly so that my mind may be clear about it.”

This is how Parasurama first met his Guru and later on
got his instruction from him which is the subject matter of
the text in question.


Sri Dattatreya does not answer the queries of Parasurama
then, but directed him to e worship the Goddess Tripura,
which he performs for a number of years. It, however, did
not bring him the peace of mind and tranquility he wanted.
He was fascinated by the calm and poise of Samvarta Rishi.
He found in the Rishi an exact opposite of himself, the
embodiment of rage and passion. How could he get such poise?
How could he get over the compulsion to act, the drivenness
to actions? He realizes the vanity in one’s seeking
pleasures of life in things. The monotonous repetition of
the same actions to seek the objects of pleasure without
real satisfaction was truly not the goal of life. There must
be spontaneity – doing in not doing. He was in pursuit
of the unperturbed calm and rock-like stability and utter
freedom which characterized Samvarta Rishi. That was his
problem and also the problem of the text.

The instruction from Dattatreya starts with the story of
travelers who become blind having eaten fruit of an unknown
tree. The purpose of the story is to make one conscious of
the problems of life and the search for the Highest. A
seeker is different from an ordinary man, who is blind and
driven to the daily daily routine of life without
discrimination and light of consciousness. Companionship
with saints is advised as the remedy in the first instance
since it enables one to make him conscious of the meaning of

The second story of the prince and the princess has a
twofold purpose. Firstly, it shows how the contact of a wise
and realized woman helps awaken people to truth and secondly
it gives us a glimpse into the method adopted in making the
prince conscious of the Highest Good and later to realize

The analysis of the method adopted here reveals that it
begins by drawing the seeker’s interest inward by
cutting his false attachment (involvements) and infatuation
to the things of the senses and by showing him the opposite
side of the picture. The presentation of the opposite by
conclusive and convincing logic brings the prince to a state
of intense suspension and agony. The prince is left with
mere drive and compulsion of habit. Such a state would drive
him to seek pleasure but would leave him in end with
repentance and remorse, remembering the words of his wife.
Moving to and fro made him utterly miserable. The clear
presentation of opposites took away the strong infatuation
to the objects of the senses and his libido in the Jungian
sense of unmixed happiness.

The stage having been so set, the princess gives him an
insight into the working of his mind, the cause of craving
for things and their inability to satisfy a man ultimately
in the form of an allegory.

The point illustrated in the allegory is that pure
consciousness or the Self is not different from the
individual soul, but the contact of pure intelligence with
ignorance leads one to forget his identity with self. This
is the split within, which creates the other and is
projected as things outside. Any attempt to gain the lost
identity by seeking things outside is sure to fail. One has
to look inward to see that it is already there.

All along, the princess also emphasized the cultivation
of right thinking and faith in God, something higher than
oneself to whom surrender is necessary.

The above preparation was necessary to arouse sincere
desire within the seeker to know the Self. The main part of
the instruction begins when this desire becomes earnest and
sincere. The seeker is then asked to distinguish between “I”
and the “Mine” and then to experience the Self, “I”.

The prince retires to a solitary place in order to
reflect and meditate on what was taught to him. Following
the process he landed himself into experience of the void
and darkness. In all his attempts to understand the Self, he
was trying to see the Self as an other, as an object of
thought. Since this amounted to retaining the
ego-consciousness, he began to experience the states of
light and darkness and dream-like states one after the other
and got confused.

The attempt on the part of the prince was like that of
eyes trying to see themselves which was impossible. He was
trying to see the Self outside himself either as an object
or as a state of mind. Consciousness, the Self being the
basis of all mental states, just as the sea is of all the
waves, can not be seen as an object.

The princess, therefore, correctly intervened and asked
the prince to forget even the attempt to experience the

The prince made further progress and was able to
experience the blissful state. It fascinated him and he
wanted to go back to it. Here again he was mistaken in so
far as he identified the Self as a state of mind. He was not
able to dissolve his ego-consciousness and feel that the
center and the circumference are one and the same. He could
not realize that the movement outward and inward are the
Self, the flow outward creating the triad of the knower,
knowing and known, and the flow inward, the return into
oneness and identity with the self. They both are movements
within the sea of consciousness. He had to lose himself and
realize the bare awareness, immediacy once at least to
understand how from the eternal calm, the source, all
activities arise. This realization alone would make him feel
the same in all states. He would then stop escaping from one
and getting into another. The princess this point home to
the prince.

Withdrawal within was considered necessary to recognize
the source – the Self. One is then required to
stabilize in it and fell its currents at all levels. The
outward flow, then is allowed to go its natural course. This
would mean that the Self is attainable neither by withdrawal
nor externalization. The Self is the eternal presence, all
distinctions, whatsoever and their relations are within

The same point is further emphasized in the story of King

After emphasizing withdrawal from the objects, the
correct relationship to objects in perspective and their
evaluation is presented. The objective world appearance is
considered as a creative spontaneous act of consciousness
and is called a mirage or an illusion only to drive out the
belief in its independence of consciousness. Moreover, it
aims to correct the natural tendency in man to identify
himself with it. All this is done so long as the seeker is
not mature in wisdom.

The story of the son of the sage and the prince from
Bengal is interposed to illustrate how time, world and
imagination as creative thought are related to each other
and to show how numerous time orders are possible within the
womb of eternity. This also helps one to keep a balanced
attitude towards personal relationship.

The prince having understood all the aspects of the
teaching and having realized the Self, entered the life as a
prince and lived spontaneously performing his worldly
duties. His life after Self-realization is well described in
that he lived far away even though doing all that was
required of him as a prince. In spite of being of the world,
he was not of the world.

The dialogue between the prince and the princess comes to
an end with this, but the thread is resumed by Parasurama
concerning the life of the liberated. The book takes a
different turn from now onward. So far the problem concerned
the realization of the Self or knowing the meaning of
one’s life. The seeker was in conflict and confused and
needed clarity of insight and discrimination to see what the
Self is. One is made to understand how the loss of
one’s identity creates the split within. This having
been done, withdrawal is no more necessary. The thread of
the teaching is taken to the problems relating to the stage
after realization.

The story of Astavakra is brought in to illustrate the
pitfalls on this stage. How mere intellectual understanding
can bring inflation, pride and false satisfaction. This is
the greatest pitfall and in actual practice with a Guru one
is constantly reminded of it by examples or actual
situations or both. A similar story at the end further
illustrates the same point clearer and emphasizes the need
of sincere humility and surrender to the Highest within.

There is another misunderstanding which can arise at this
stage which is well illustrated in the chapter: “Does sleep
mean the realization of Brahma?” It is quite natural for one
to mistake the Self in this way since the withdrawal and the
restraint of all activity of thought to reach the creative
consciousness is enjoyed in the beginning and this is
obtained in the deep sleep in a natural way. The doubt in
the mind of Astavakra in intelligible. The state of trance
and deep sleep appear to be alike. The difference, which is
vital, lies in that there is self-awareness and immediacy in
trance which is absent in deep sleep. In the stage of deep
sleep there is an identification with the void or ignorance.
The subject is, however, present but it is confused with the
ego, the memory – the I of waking and dreaming states.
In fact, the subject of all the states is one and

This study understanding of the state of sleep is
something new for the western psychology. Our identification
with the waking and the dreaming states comes in the way our
realization that the subject of all the states is the same
– the Self. This subject, the light of consciousness is
not to be defined in terms of the numbers of objects
illuminated by it. This would be true of the ego. In
practical training with Guru this stage is considered very
important. It is hard and difficult ground to cover. It is
not easy for the seeker to change the old ways of thinking,
i.e. the point of view of ego. We know ourselves as Mr. X in
and through our relation ship with the world. This is why in
the state of deep sleep, when all relations are temporarily
absent, we think that we know nothing then. As a matter of
fact, one has projected his ignorance. There is nothing to
see. It is here that the work of Guru lies in taking him out
of this identification and enable him to transcend this
darkness and ignorance and make him aware of his original
pure consciousness. In the text, this topic is brought in
more than once in different context to emphasize the

The story of King Janaka’s realization clearly explains
what realization of the self means. Jataka describes his
experience, how he went into the state of trance, dissolved
into the centre or the Self and how, for a moment, he falls
into hesitation and doubt and tries to get back to the
blissful self-absorption of the moment before. But he
quickly realized the all-pervasiveness of the Self. He says,
“ How can a partial activity be thought possible in the
infinite consciousness? Body, senses and mind are illusory
like a dream, yet, ‘I’ being the partless,
homogeneous consciousness, they all belong to me
nevertheless. What difference, will it make to the pure
consciousness if one out of innumerable minds withdrew? Do
not other minds not so withdrawn belong to the same
consciousness or spirit? Consciousness illuminates all minds
whether withdrawn or not. Why should I get involved in
withdrawing one single mind of mine? The NATURE OF THE
SPIRIT, THE Self is such that it can not be withdrawn or
restrained, even if all minds got into the state of complete

The fundamental psychological position is once more made
clear in the chapter in the reply to Parasurama’s
question. The essence of teaching is that consciousness is
existence par excellence and creativity. One can not think
of creativity without consciousness and the distinction of
experiencer and experienced are within it. The act of
reflection creates the dualism of subject and object due to
ignoring the act of relation i.e. knowing or experiencing,
which is a mode of consciousness. One does not make such
distinctions in dream. One does not doubt that mind creates
all the images and dissolves them within it. The dream does
not leave a residue of objectivity after it is over. The
same, however, is not experienced in the waking state since
one has not been able to transcend these states due to
attachment to the ego-consciousness. The experience of the
dream is as real or unreal as the waking state. From the
stand point of the Self they are not on par. If one realizes
within him the essence of pure consciousness which is the
self he is liberated i.e. he then lives in constant
communion with the source – the Self. In spite of
distinction and difference, he does not feel them. He
remains in constant awareness of the Self. Diversity in
outward behavior of realized person is possible, because
each is a unique expression of the Self.

Parasurama was not able to understand how the objects
were of the same stuff as consciousness as he was still
bound to the ego-consciousness. The world of objectivity
seemed more permanent and stable than that of dreams and
imagination. In answer he was told that the objects of the
dream state were as real and effective as they were in the
waking state. They are not negated in the state of dream.
They are also not understood to be existing independent of
the dreaming mind. The triad of the knower, knowing and the
known is created by the mind and dissolved in it. It is not
different from the process in the waking state is. Yet one
believes somehow, that the objects in the waking state exist
independent of the mind are more real than dream images. The
author correctly points out that in the state of dreaming
one is not awake and one does not dream when awake. Each
world is effective and real in its own place. One is not
inclined to take dream experience on par with the waking
ones due to his prejudice and preconceived belief. It is
possible to realize the waking state as illusory as the
dream if one rises to the standpoint of transcendent
consciousness. In fact, then the whole objective world
appears like a reflection in the mirror of consciousness. In
the case of an ordinary mirror, one needs objects external
to the mirror to be reflected, while the pure consciousness
creates infinite reflections out of itself.

Pure consciousness is here called the Goddess Tripura
though it is given different names by different people. The
Sun of illumination, pure consciousness – the Self
never sets, it is ever the lights. Nothing can conceal it.
It is, therefore, wrong to think of bondage and liberation
from this standpoint. Ego-consciousness, mind etc. are
provisionally accepted as an instrument of discrimination;
the mind by very nature is consciousness, it is
consciousness in function. All distinctions are provisional,
from the point of view of the observer. To accept mind as
real and that there is such a thing as bondage is itself the
greatest bondage.

It should be evident from the above that there is only an
apparent cleavage between subject and object. Just as on
waking from a dream, the whole dream vanishes without
leaving any residue, so on waking to the realization of
one’s true identity the world of waking experience
dissolves without leaving any residue. It would mean that
this drama of life with its play of opposites is quite
natural and spontaneous. It is as it should be. Withdrawal
into self is necessary to realize the self-cognized,
self-evident spirit or pure consciousness as the source of
all. It remains ever itself, all movements are within it –
the whole is both the movement and the stability. One need
not look at himself as an observer from outside, but feel
into the totality which he is. The whole of objective
appearance would take on a different aspect then. It is a
play and creative dance in which outward and inward
movements are aspects of the whole. It is static and also
ever moving and changing. One has to get himself established
in the centre, which is also the circumference, in order to
feel into all its movements.

It is from this angle now that the text takes up a very
important and interesting question concerning the diversity
of behavior among the realized souls. The question is, how
such a thing is possible when the experience of realization
is the same for all.

Sri Dattatreya quotes his own example to show that such
diversity exists. He lived in complete detachment from the
world, while his brother Chandra, a realized soul like him,
was given to a life of luxury and love. He explained this
diversity as due to three factors: Intelligence, the kind of
discipline and past dispositions (Samskaras).

Past dispositions or tendencies are the chief obstacles
in realization of the end, they are the dirt which covers
the light of consciousness. These dispositions or tendencies
are said to be of three kinds, lack of faith in revelation,
impurity of mind due to past karmas and craving for action
or desirousness. To the extent that these are removed by
discipline one gets liberated, i.e. the pure light of
consciousness begins to illumine within. It brings the
transformation, a charge of attitude. There is no change
outside, it is all within. His actions may regain the same
according to character and habits, but their significance

According to the text, wise men can be graded into three
categories: those with many minds, those with no-mind and
lastly, those with a single mind. The first two are wise and
also liberated while living, the last ones are wise only and
liberated after death.

The wise men of the first grade are highly intelligent.
With them, the fire of knowledge ever helps to burn all
ignorance and clear all the obstacles due to past karmas.
Since they have wisdom, they do not practice discipline.
Naturally, their craving and desires not having been burnt
up: they crop up here and there after realization. They,
however, do not hinder or obscure the light of knowledge.
The karmas are burnt up as soon as they arise. Their desires
lead them to a variety of experiences in life, but they
regain untouched by their effects. Such wise men do not
accumulate dispositions of their actions. They are ever in
communion with the Self, and the whole of their life is
spent in the light of illumination or the force of their
Prarabdha karmas. Internally, however, their life of
activity is a dream. Outwardly, they are seen to act like
all mortals but in their depths they are untouched. The
forces of past dispositions do not bother them. That is why
diversity of behavior is intelligible among them. King
Janaka continued to rule his kingdom, Vasistha remained a
priest engaged in rituals and Durvasa ever filled with rage.
These persons are called those possessing many minds, as
they are able to engage in varied activities of world
without compromising their self-awareness.

In the case of sages in the second category, a large part
of their life is spent in disciplining themselves and
overcoming the forces of past tendencies. They gain wisdom
and realization of Self, but the past tendencies have still
a hold on them. Their sphere of activities remains limited,
as they are mostly busy in overcoming their obstacles. They
have, therefore, period of illumination and periods of
worldly joys and sorrows. They seem to lose themselves in
the turmoils of the world at times, but it ultimately their
wisdom is not affected. Their period of darkness is washed
off by periods of illumination. The effect of their dark
period is destroyed in the end and they achieve complete
destruction of karmas and attain liberation. Since they have
burnt all of their karmas in the end, i.e. mind, the last
part of their life appears to be like that of a lunatic shut
within himself. Vamadeva and Jada Bharata are the oft-quoted
examples of this type. These saints lived their lives in
forests or wandered, lost in themselves, only occasionally
coming out of themselves to contact the realities of

The third type of persons have one-track mind. They
become wise and understand the Truth, but suffer pain and
miseries of life like all mortals. They are liberated only
after death.

It becomes clear from the above that realization of the
of the Self means realization of one’s essential
identity with the spirit within, which automatically brings
one’s unity with the whole creation. The realization of
Tattwamasi (Thou art That) is also the realization of Sarvam
Khalvidam Brahman, i.e. (all that is Brahman). Just as white
light of the sun is broken into seven colors, so the pure
light of consciousness is broken into manifoldness of the
world by the ego.

In short, the text ends with a simple truth that pure
consciousness alone exists, it is the formless and the
source of all forms. It is called the Goddess Tripura here,
though it has many names like Visnu, Siva, etc. Goddess
Tripura in her aspect of eternal connunctio with Siva is her
manifest form. She is the creative source, the basis and the
background: She is the mirror and the manifold reflections
in the form of individual souls and the world seen in it.
She creates these out of pure joy and freedom. She is the
illusion of the world or the web of Maya, and also is she
the individual souls deluded in it. She creates the bondage
and later strives to free herself from it with the help of
Guru. She thus enacts this vast drama as if in a sport. Seen
from the point of view of pure consciousness, i.e. when one
is united to the whole, there is neither creation
destruction, neither bondage nor liberation – the sea- in
its calm and the same breaking forth into thousand waves is
just water. Looked at, however, from the point the spectator
outside, the two are different; there appears to be the
world, its bondage and its struggle for freedom. One is
realized from it only by finding this identify, which does
not mean that the world appearance dissolves for him or that
he has to escape from the world.

There is no need to escape from the world for it is not
dif ferment from the light of consciousness in essence. All
efforts to withdraw or to relate are useless. How can one
withdraw or make an effort to relate to the all-pervading
space? All struggle and effort must cease, since they are
within it.

The same point is once more explained in the last chapter
of the text, when Vasuman questions how one can remain
unruffled while actively busy in life. The prince tells him
that one continues to call the sky blue knowingly though it
is not. This, however, does not destroy his right knowledge.
“What is an illusion for the ignorant is light for the wise.
After realizing the secret of objectivity, the world ceases
to cause joys or sorrow. The life of activity of a man of
wisdom goes on like reflections in a mirror. This is the
difference between the learned and the ignorant. The actions
of the wise are his own, willed thoughts, and it is his
illumination (Prabha). But the same is an illusion to the
ignorant. All the actions of the wise are in essence wisdom,
performed in the wake of illumination; hence there is no
chance of falling into illusion as he knows them once for
all to be reflections in a mirror. If you believe that all
objectivity should disappear when the knowledge dawns, it
will only mean that that which was caused by ignorance will
be destroyed by knowledge, but not that which was due to
some other cause. A man with defective sight sees two
objects though there is only one; no knowledge will cure him
of this defect, since the cause of seeing two objects is not
due to ignorance. The world appearance is due to each soul’s
dispositions, hence life of activity cannot stop while the
past karmas regain”. It need not bother one who has
transcended the dualities of life. This is still clearly
pointed out in the text in reply to Parasurama’s

“O Parasurama! from all this, please do not conclude
that there is no such thing as the world. Such thinking is
defective. Such a belief is absurd. One who tries to negate
the world by act of thought brings it to existence by that
very act of thought, i.e. negation. Just as the city
reflected in a mirror is not a reality, but exists as a
reflection, so also this world is not a reality in itself.
But it certainly is consciousness. This is so very
self-evident. This is perfect knowledge. If you try to limit
consciousness by negating the world, it will not be so done.
Just as the mirror itself is experienced as the city when so
reflected, so this consciousness becomes the objectivity out
of its power and glory. This is the cream of all scriptures.
There is nothing like the seeker, bondage 0r liberation. So
also there is nothing like the seeker and the means for
seeking. Partless, non-dual, conscious energy Tripura alone
pervades everywhere. She is the knowledge and ignorance as
well, bondage and liberation too. She is also the means for
seeking liberation. Parasurama! This is all one has to





Translated by


(Sri Munagala S. Venkataramaiah)

© Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai. South India.

Fifth Edition, 1989. Reprinted 1994

This text is intended only for fact-finding


Tripura Rahasya was considered by Bhagavan Sri Ramana
Maharshi as one of the greatest works that expounded advaita
philosophy. He often quoted from it and regretted that it
was not available in English. As a consequence Sri Munagala
Venkataramaiah (now Swami Ramanananda Saraswathi) took up
the work of translation in 1936 as another labour of love,
adding just one more English translation to his already
extensive store. This was first published in parts in the
Bangalore Mythic Society’s Journal (Quarterly) from January
1938 to April 1940 and afterwards collected into book form,
of which five hundred copies were printed and privately
circulated. The Asramam has since taken over the copyright
and made it one of their official publications.

The work originally in Sanskrit is widely known in India
and has been translated into a number of local languages,
but I do not know of any previous translation in English. It
is regarded as one of the chief text-books on Advaita, the
reading of which alone is sufficient for Salvation. Sri
Ananda Coomaraswami quotes from it with appreciation in his
book, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”

I for one much appreciate the present translation which
will now be easily available for all who know English. Sri
Ramanananda Saraswathi has put us under a great obligation
by his painstaking work. It will surely be a gratification
to him to know that his labour of love has at last found a
permanent abiding-place and will not be lost to future
generations, for many of whom it must become a spiritual
text book.

October 16, 1959. Sri Ramanasramam

SADHU ARUNACHALA (Major A. W. Chadwick, O.B.E.)




To Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (A Prayer)

Introductory Note


CHAPTER II – Obligatory Sense towards Action Condemned
and Investigation Recommended

CHAPTER III – The Antecedent Cause for Learning the
Gospel. Association with the Wise must precede “Vichara”

CHAPTER IV – Disgust for Worldly Enjoyments is Inculcated
so that Dispassion might be Developed

CHAPTER V – On Bondage and Release

CHAPTER VI – On the Merits of Faith for gaining the Goal
and on the Harmfulness of Dry Polemics

CHAPTER VII – That the Goal is gained only after
Ascertaining God by Faith, Effort and Approved Logic, and
Devotion to him

CHAPTER VIII – Key to the Parable of Chapter V

CHAPTER IX – How that Hemachuda Realised the Self after
Analysing His own Mind and Plunging within

CHAPTER X – On Further Instructions by His Beloved, He
got Samadhi in spite of His External Activities and Remained
in the State of Emancipation even while Alive

CHAPTER XI – That the Cosmos is not other than

CHAPTER XII – The Appearance of the Reality of the
Universe depends on the Strength of Will of Creation

CHAPTER XIII – How Wakefulness and Dream are similar in
Nature and Objects are only Mental Images

CHAPTER XIV – How the Universe is Mere Imagination; How
to gain that Strong Will which can create it; and the
Highest Truth

CHAPTER XV – On what need be known and need not be known
and on the Nature of the Self

CHAPTER XVI – On Consciousness; Control of Mind; and

CHAPTER XVII – On the Uselessness of Fleeting Samadhis
and the Way to Wisdom



CHAPTER XX – Vidya Gita

CHAPTER XXI – On the accomplishment of Wisdom, its Nature
and Scriptural Lore

CHAPTER XXII – The Conclusion

APPENDIX I – To Chapter V

APPENDIX II – Siddha Gita from Yoga Vasishtha




Sri Tripura Rahasya is an ancient work in Sanskrit which
has been printed all over India. The latest and best edition
was brought out in the Kashi Sanskrit Series in 1925. The
book is said to have been printed once before and issued in
loose leaves. There was also an edition in book form printed
in Belgaum towards the end of last century.* (The original
Sanskrit text unfortunaeely appears to have been out of
print for some years.)

The esteem in which the work is held for its sanctity may
be gauged from an account of it given in the Preface to the
Maahaatmya Khanda. Mahaadeeva originally taught the Highest
Truth to Vishnu who in turn taught Brahma in the Celestial
regions. Later Vishnu incarnated on Earth as Sri
Dattaatreya, the Lord of the Avadhuutas (the naked sages),
and taught it to Parasuraama with the added injunction that
it should be communicated to Haritaayana who would later
seek the Truth from him. Parasurama thus realised the Self
by the guidance of Sri Datta and dwelt on the Malaya Hill in
South India.

In the meantime, a Brahmin, by name Sumanta, living on
the banks of the Sarasvati had a son, Alarka by name, who
used to hear his mother called “Jaayi Aayi” by his father.
Being a child, he too addressed his mother “Ai”. He died in
his childhood, and his last words on his death-bed were “Ai
Ai” only. This sound is however sacred to the Goddess.
Having been uttered in all innocence and purity of mind, it
conferred unexpected merit on the dying child. He was later
born as Sumedha, a son to Harita. Haritaayana is his
patronymic. His spirituality developed as he grew up and he
sought Parasuraama to learn the highest good from him, who
in turn imparted to him the knowledge which he had gained
from Dattaatreya. Parasuraama told him also that his master
had predicted the compilation of the knowledge of the
Highest Truth by Haritaayana for the benefit of mankind.

Haritaayana was worshipping Sri Minaakshi in the temple
at Madurai in South India. Naarada appeared to him and said
that he had come from Brahmalooka in order to see what
Haritaayana was going to present to the world in the form of
an Itihasa containing the Supreme Spiritual Truth.
Haritaayana was bewildered and asked how the Saint expected
it of him. Narada said: “There was an assembly of saints in
Brahmalooka. Maarkandeeya asked Brahmaa about the Sacred
Truth. Brahmaa said that it would be brought out by you in
the form of a holy book. So I came to ask you about it.”
Haritaayana was at a loss and pleaded inability to reproduce
the Sacred Truth learned from Parasuraama. Naarada then
meditated on Brahmaa who appeared before them and asked what
the matter was. When Naarada put the whole matter before
him, he turned to Haritaayana and blessed him, endowing him
with the ability to produce the book at the rate of four
chapters a day. He also referred to Haritaayana’s past and
attributed his present inability to remember what he learnt
to the casual and undisciplined utterance of the sacred
syllable in his past incarnation. Brahmaa further enjoined
Naarada to be the first to read Haritaayana’s work when it
should be completed.

The work was thus written by Haritaayana and is also
called after his name Haritaayana Samhita. It is said to
consist of 12,000 slokaas in three sections – The Maahaatmya
Khanda (Section on the Greatness of Srii Deevi), Jnaana
Khanda (Section on Supreme Wisdom), and Charyaa Khanda
(Section on Conduct). Of these the first consists of 6,687
slokaas; the second of 2,163 slokaas; and the third is not
traceable. The section on Greatness contains the prelude to
the work and later treats mostly of the manifestations of
the Supreme Being as Durga, Kaali, Lakshmi, Sarasvati,
Lalita, Kumaari, etc. and their exploits and found in
Brahmaanda Puraana, Maarkandeya Puraana and Lakshmi Tantra.
Its contents mostly cover the ground of Durga Saptasati and
of Lalita Upaakhaayana.

Sri Vidya (worship of the Supreme Being as Goddess) has a
very holy tradition traced to the Vedas. There are two
principal divisions, known as “Kaatividyaa” and
“Haatividyaa” former was practised by Indra, Chandra, Manu,
Kubeera, etc.; it is the simpler of the two and also more
common. The other was practised by Lopaamudra and approved
of the wise.

Sri Tripura Rahasya, otherwise Haritaayana Samhitaa,
begins with “OM Namaha” (“Salutations to Aum”) and ends with
“Shri Tripuraiva Hrim” (“Tripura is only Hrim”). Aum is well
known as the sacred syllable signifying the Highest Being in
the abstract; so also “Hrim” is the sacred symbol of the
same as the Goddess. The contents of the book are thus
enclosed by these two symbols – the most sacred in the Vedas
and the work is equally sanctified.

In Sutra Bhasya (the commentary on Brahma Sutras), Sri
Sankara has used the story of Samvarta as found in Tripura
Rahasya, in his commentary on “Apicha Smaryate” (Suutra),
with approval.

There is a lucid commentary in Sanskrit on Haritaayana
Samhita. It is named Tatparya Diipika and written in 4932 of
Kali Era (i.e. 1831 A.D.) by one Dravida Srinivasa, son of
Vydianatha Dikshita of the village of Mahapushkara in South

As for its philosophy, there is no real reason to
distinguish it from Vedanta. Scholars however call this
system the Taantri or the Saakta, and point out some
apparent differences between this and Advaita Veedaanta.
This system teaches that the Supreme Reality is no other
than Abstract Intelligence. “Intelligence” signifies
Self-luminosity and ‘Abstraction’ denotes its unlimited
nature. No other agent can be admitted to exist apart from
It in order to reveal It. The apparent variety is only due
to Vimarsa, the gross aspect of Its absolute freedom known
as Svatantra which at times unfolds the Pure Self as the
Cosmos and at others withdraws Itself and remains
unmanifest. Abstraction and manifestation are inherent in
the Pure Self; these two aspects are given the names Siva
and Sakti, respectively. There cannot be manifestation
beyond the Supreme Intelligence; therefore Cosmos and the
Self are only the same, but different modes of Reality.
Realisation of the Truth is thus quite simple, requiring
only constant remembrance on these lines (anusandhaanam)
that Reality is not incompatible with the world and its
phenomena, and that the apparent ignorance of his Truth is
itself the outcome of Reality so that there is nothing but

Creation and Dissolution are cycles of Self-expression
and Abstraction due to Swatantra. There are no
Sankalpa-Vikalpas (modifications) in the state of
dissipation and the Self remains as Chit in absolute purity
and unchanging. The Self is uniform and undivided. The
dispositions of the individuals of the previous Kalpa
(creation) remain uncognised but potential, awaiting to
become manifest in the alternating mode. The tendency in the
direction of manifestation is Maya which later displays as
Avidya (ignorance) when the predispositions are in their
full swing. Chit, Maaya and Avidya are thus the same
Reality. Cosmos is an expression in the medium of
consciousness and thus not unreal as some would have it.

Here the Reality of the Cosmos is on account of the
medium of expression, i.e., consciousness, which does not
contradict the statement that forms, etc. are unreal. There
is thus no fundamental difference between Tantra and
Vedanta. Yet the Pandits say that Maya is made subservient
to Brahma in Vedanta, that its application is limited to
gross manifestation and that it is therefore gross which in
ultimate analysis resolves itself into void; whereas
according to Tantra, Maaya is an aspect of Reality and
should resolve itself into Chit on ultimate analysis. This
cannot be a valid objection. For, where does the above void
rest? It must resolve itself into Chit.

The favourite example of the world being an image
reflected in consciousness, as images in a mirror is common
to both systems. Vide “Vishvam darpana drishyamaana nagaro
tulya jiantargatam” in Dakshinaamoorti Stotra of Sri

Without trying to find differences where they do not
exist, let the earnest student apply the infallible test of
the peace of mind brought about by the different modes of
expression of the Reality and be satisfied and happy.


(now Swami Ramanananda Saraswathi)