Five Great Elements

Gross, Subtle and Causal

Microcosm and Macrocosm

Vishva, Taijas, Prajna

Akshara, Hiranyagarbha,




A small treatise on Vedanta

By Sri Sankaracharya


Further elaboration of

By Sri Suresvaracharya

Sri Sankaracharya’s worthy disciple


The Five Great Elements




From Mandukya


Three States of

As taught by Sri Ramana

Edited by David


Question: For one who has realised
his Self, it is said that he will not have the three states
of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep. Is that a


Sri Ramana Maharshi: What makes you
say that they do not have the three states? In saying “I had
a dream; I was in deep sleep; I am awake”, you must admit
that you were there in all the three states. That makes it
clear that you were there all the time. If you remain as you
are now, you are in the wakeful state; this becomes hidden
in the dream state; and the dream state disappears when you
are in deep sleep. You were there then, you are there now,
and you are there all the times. The three states come and
go, but you are always there. It is like a cinema. The
screen is always there but several types of pictures appear
on the screen and then disappear. Nothing sticks to the
screen. Similarly, you remain your own Self in all the three
states. If you know that, the three states will not trouble
you, just as the pictures that appear on the screen do not
stick to it. On the screen, you sometimes see a huge ocean
with endless waves; that disappears. Another time, you see
fire spreading all around; that too disappears. The screen
is there on both occasions. Did the screen get wet with the
water or did it get burned by the fire? Nothing affected the
screen. In the same way, the things that happen during the
wakeful, dream and sleep states do not affect you at all;
you remain your own Self.


Question: Does that mean that,
although people have all three states of consciousness
wakefulness, dream and deep sleep these do not affect


Maharshi: Yes, that is it. All these
states come and go. The Self is not bothered; it has only
one state.


Question: Does that mean that such a
person will be in this world merely as a witness?


Maharshi: That is so; for this very
thing Vidyaranya, in the tenth chapter of the book
Panchadasi, gives as example the light that is kept on the
stage of a theatre. When a drama is being played, the light
is there, which illuminates, without any distinction, all
the actors, whether they be kings or servants or dancers,
and also all the audience. That light will be there before
the drama begins, during the performance and also after the
performance is over. Similarly, the light within, that is,
the Self, gives light to the ego, the intellect, the memory
and the mind without itself being subject to processes of
growth and decay. Although during deep sleep and other
states there is no feeling of the ego, that Self remains
attributeless, and continues to shine of itself.

Actually the idea of the Self being
the witness is only in the mind; it is not the absolute
truth of the Self. Witnessing is relative to objects
witnessed. Both the witness and his object are mental


Question: How are the three states
of consciousness inferior in degree of reality to the fourth
(Turiya)? What is the actual relation between these three
states and the fourth?


Maharshi: There is only one state,
that of consciousness or awareness or existence. The three
states of waking, dream and deep sleep cannot be real. They
simply come and go. The real will always exist. The “I” or
existence that alone persists in all the three states is
real. The other three are not real and so it is not possible
to say they have such and such degree of reality. We may
roughly put it like this, Existence or consciousness is the
only reality. Consciousness plus waking, we call waking.
Consciousness plus sleep, we call sleep. Consciousness plus
dream, we call dream. Consciousness is the screen, on which
all the pictures come and go. The screen is real, the
pictures are mere shadows on it. Because by long habit, we
have been regarding these three states as real, we call the
state of mere awareness or consciousness the fourth. There
is however, no fourth state, but only one state.


There is no difference between dream
and the waking state except that the dream is short and the
waking long. Both are the result of the mind. Because the
waking state is long, we imagine that it is our real state.
But, as a matter of fact, our real state is Turiya or the
fourth state which is always as it is and knows nothing of
the three states of waking, dream or deep sleep. Because we
call these three Avastha (states) we call the fourth state
also Turiya Avastha. But it is not an Avastha, but the real
and natural state of the Self. When this is realised, we
know it is not a Turiya or fourth state, for a fourth state
is only relative, but Turiyatita, the transcendent


Question: But why should these three
states come and go on the real state or the screen of the


Maharshi: Who puts this question?
Does the Self say these states come and go? It is the seer
who says these come and go. The seer and the seen together
constitute the mind. See if there is such a thing as the
mind. Then, the mind merges in the Self, and there is
neither the seer nor the seen. So the real answer to your
question is, ‘They neither come nor go.’ The Self alone
remains as it ever is. The three states owe their existence
to non-enquiry and enquiry puts an end to them. However much
one may explain, the fact will not become clear till one
attains Self-realisation and wonders how one was blind to
the self-evident and only existence so long.


For the Jnani (who is
self-realised), all the three states of consciousness are
equally unreal. But the ajnani (ignorant or who is not
self-realised), is unable to comprehend this, because for
him the standard of reality is the waking state, whereas for
the jnani the standard of reality is reality itself. This
reality of pure consciousness is eternal by its nature and
therefore subsists equally during what you call waking,
dreaming and deep sleep. To him who is one with that reality
there is neither the mind nor its three states and,
therefore, neither introversion nor extroversion.


His is the ever-waking state,
because he is awake to the eternal Self; his is the
ever-dreaming state, because to him the world is no better
than a repeatedly presented dream phenomenon; his is the
ever-sleeping state, because he is at all times without the
“body-am-I” consciousness.


Question: Is the world that is seen,
felt and sensed by us in so many ways something like a
dream, an illusion?


Maharshi: There is no alternative
for you but to accept the world as unreal if you are seeking
the truth and the truth alone, for the simple reason that
unless you give up the idea that the world is real your mind
will always be after it. If you take the appearance to be
real you will never know the real itself, although it is the
real alone that exists. This point is illustrated by the
analogy of the snake in the rope. You may be deceived into
believing that a piece of rope is a snake. While you imagine
that the rope is a snake you cannot see the rope as a rope.
The non-existent snake becomes real to you, while the real
rope seems wholly non-existent as such.


Questioner: It is easy to accept
tentatively that the world is not ultimately real, but it is
hard to have the conviction that it is really


Maharshi: Even so is your dream
world real while you are dreaming. So long as the dream
lasts everything you see and feel in it is real.


Question: Is then the world no
better than a dream?


Maharshi: What is wrong with the
sense of reality you have while you are dreaming? You may be
dreaming of something quite impossible, for instance, of
having a happy chat with a dead person. Just for a moment,
you may doubt in the dream, saying to yourself, ‘was he not
dead?’, but somehow your mind reconciles itself to the dream
vision, and the person is as good as alive for the purposes
of the dream. In other words, the dream as a dream does not
permit you to doubt its reality.


It is the same in the waking state,
for you are unable to doubt the reality of the world that
you see while you are awake. How can the mind which has
itself created the world accept it as unreal? That is the
significance of the comparison made between the world of the
waking state and the dream world. Both are creations of the
mind and, so long as the mind is engrossed in either, it
finds itself unable to deny their reality. It cannot deny
the reality of the dream world while it is dreaming and it
cannot deny the reality of the waking world while it is
awake. If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind
completely from the world and turn it within and abide
there, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self which
is the substratum of all experiences, you will find the
world of which you are now aware is just as unreal as the
world in which you lived in your dream.


Question: We see, feel and sense the
world in so many ways. These sensations are the reactions to
the objects seen and felt. They are not mental creations as
in dreams, which differ not only from person to person but
also with regard to the same person. Is that not enough to
prove the objective reality of the world?


Maharshi: All this talk about
inconsistencies in the dream world arise only now, when you
are awake. While you are dreaming, the dream was a perfectly
integrated whole. That is to say, if you felt thirsty in a
dream, the illusory drinking of illusory water quenched your
illusory thirst. But all this was real and not illusory to
you so long as you did not know that the dream itself was
illusory. Similarly with the waking world. The sensations
you now have get coordinated to give you the impression that
the world is real.


If, on the contrary, the world is a
self-existent reality (that is what you evidently mean by
objectivity), what prevents the world from revealing itself
to you in sleep? You do not say you did not exist in your


Questioner: Neither do I deny the
world’s existence while I am asleep. It has been existing
all the while. If during my sleep I did not see it, others
who were not sleeping saw it.


Maharshi: To say you existed while
asleep, was it necessary to call in the evidence of others
so as to prove it to you? Why do you seek their evidence
now? Those others can tell you of having seen the world
during your sleep only when you yourself are awake.


With regard to your own existence it
is different. On waking up you say you had a sound sleep,
and so that extent you are aware of yourself in the deepest
sleep, whereas you have not the slightest notion of the
world’s existence then. Even now, while you are awake, is it
the world that says, “I am real”, or is it you?


Questioner: Of course I say it, but
I say it of the world.


Maharshi: well then, that world,
which you say is real, is really mocking at you for seeking
to prove its reality while of your own reality you are


You want somehow or other to
maintain that the world is real. What is the standard of
reality? That alone is real which exists by itself, which
reveals itself by itself and which is eternal and


Does the world exist by itself? Was
it ever seen without the aid of the mind? In deep sleep
there is neither mind nor world. When awake, there is the
mind and there is the world. What does invariable
concomitance mean? You are familiar with the principles of
inductive logic which are considered the very basis of
scientific investigation. Why do you not decide this
question of the reality of the world in the light of those
accepted principles of logic?


Of yourself, you can say “I exist”.
That is, your existence is not mere existence, it is
existence of which you are conscious. Really, it is
existence identical with consciousness.


Questioner: The world may not be
conscious of itself, yet it exists.


Maharshi: Consciousness is always
Self-consciousness. If you are conscious of anything you are
essentially conscious of yourself. Unselfconscious existence
is a contradiction in terms. It is no existence at all. It
is merely attributed existence, whereas true existence, the
SAT, is not an attribute, it is the substance itself. It is
the Vastu (Reality). Reality is therefore known as SAT-CHIT,
being consciousness, and never merely the one to the
exclusion of the other. The world neither exists by itself,
nor is it conscious of its existence. How can you say that
such a world is real?


And what is the nature of the world?
It is perpetual change, a continuous, interminable flux. A
dependent, unselfconscious, ever-changing world cannot be


Question: Are the names and forms of
the world real?


Maharshi: You won’t find them
separate from the substratum (Adhishtana). When you try to
get at name and form, you will find reality only. Therefore
attain the knowledge of that which is real for all


Question: Why does the waking state
look so real?


Maharshi: We see so much on the
cinema screen, but it is not real. Nothing is real there
except the screen. In the same way in the waking state,
there is nothing but Adhishtan(substratum). Knowledge of the
world is knowledge of the knower of the world. Both go away
in sleep.


Question: Why do we see such
permanency and constancy in the world?


Maharshi: It is seen on account of
wrong ideas. When someone says that he took a bath in the
same river twice, he is wrong because when he bathed for the
second time the river is not the same as it was when he
bathed for the first time. On looking twice at the
brightness of a flame a man says that he sees the same
flame, but this flame is changing every moment. The waking
state is like this. The stationary appearance is an error of


Question: Where is the


Maharshi: Pramata (the


Question: How did the knower


Maharshi: On account of the error of
perception. In fact, the knower, and his misperceptions
appear simultaneously, and when the knowledge of the Self is
obtained, they disappear simultaneously.


Question: From where did the knower
and his misperceptions come?


Maharshi: Who is asking the


Questioner: I am.


Maharshi: Find out that “I” and all
your doubts will be solved. Just as in a dream a false
knowledge, knower, and known rise up, in the waking state
the same process operates. In both states on knowing this
“I” you know everything and nothing remains to be known. In
deep sleep, knower, knowledge and known are absent. In the
same way, at the time of experiencing the real “I” they will
not exist. Whatever you see happening in the waking state
happens only to the knower, and since the knower is unreal,
nothing in fact ever happens.


Question: Is the light which gives
the “I” sense identity and knowledge of the world ignorance
or chit, consciousness?


Maharshi: It is only the reflected
light of CHIT that makes the “I” believe itself different
from others. This reflected light of Chit also makes the “I”
create objects, but for this reflection there must be a
surface on which the reflection takes place.


Question: What is that


Maharshi: On realisation of the Self
you will find that the reflection and the surface on which
it takes place do not actually exist, but that both of them
are one and the same Chit. There is the world, which
requires location for its existence and light to make it
perceptible. Both rise simultaneously. Therefore, physical
existence and perception depend upon the light of the mind
which is reflected from the Self. Just as cinema pictures
can be made visible by a reflected light, and only in
darkness, so also the world pictures are perceptible only by
the light of the Self reflected in the darkness of Avidya
(ignorance). The world can be seen neither in the utter
darkness of ignorance, as in deep sleep, nor in the utter
light of the Self, as in Self-realisation or


From Aitareya Upanishad, I, iii, 12


Atman (the individual self thus
embodied) has three abodes, three conditions of sleep. This
is one abode, this is another, this is the third.


[Note: The reference is to the
three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. An
unenlightened person, during the waking state, is ignorant
of truth and takes the unreal to be real. Therefore the
waking state is not, for him, different from




A small treatise on Vedanta

By Sri Sankaracharya


AUM. . The VIRAT is said to be the
sum total of all the quintuplicated five elements and their
effects. This is called the gross body of the Atman (soul).


Waking is that state, where the
senses give rise to the knowledge of objects. The Atman,
which identifies Itself with both the waking state and the
gross body, is known as the VISHVA


These three (the gross body, the
waking state and the VISHVA) together are represented by the
first letter ‘A’ in the syllable ‘AUM’.


[Note: ‘Quintuplicated’: A
particular process by which the five elementary constituents
of the universe are said to be compounded with one another
to form grosser entities that serve as units in the
composition of the physical universe.]


2. The five unquintuplicated
rudimentary elements and their effect, the subtle body, both
together constitute what is called the HIRANYAGARBHA. The
material subtle body has seventeen parts, viz. the five
vital forces, the ten organs of perception and action, the
mind and the intellect. This is said to be the subtle body
of the Atman (soul).


3. When the sense-organs are
quiescent or withdrawn, the knowledge arising out of
impressions of the waking state and the imaginary objects
there perceived, are together called the dream state. The
TAIJASA is the Atman which identifies Itself with both the
dream state and the subtle body. These three, i.e. the
subtle body, the dream state and the TAIJASA are represented
by the second letter ‘U’ in ‘AUM’.


4. Bound up with reflection of
Pure-consciousness, the Nescience, which hides the Atman and
is the cause of both the gross and the subtle bodies, is
called the ‘AVYAAKRTA’ or undifferentiated. This is the
causal body of the Atman. This is neither existent nor
non-existent, nor even both existent and non-existent;
neither different from, nor identical with, nor both
different from and identical with, the Atman. This Nescience
is neither composite, nor non-composite, nor both composite
and non-composite, but removable by the knowledge of the
identity of Brahman and the Atman alone.


When all thoughts cease and the
determinative intellect, too, lapses into its causal
condition, the state of deep-sleep appears. The personality
appropriating these two, i.e., the causal-body and the
deep-sleep state is described as ‘PRAJNA’.


These three (the causal-body
Nescience, the deep-sleep state and the PRAJNA) are
symbolised by the last letter ‘M’ in ‘AUM’.


Now, ‘A’ the waking-personality,
should be resolved into ‘U’, the dream-personality, and the
‘U’ into ‘M’ i.e., the deep-sleep personality. Again, the
‘M’ should be reduced into ‘AUM’ and the ‘AUM’ into ‘I’. I
am, the Atman, the Witness of all, the absolute of the
nature of Pure Consciousness; I am neither Nescience nor
even its effect but I am Brahman alone, Eternally Pure, Ever
Enlightened, Eternally Free and Existence Absolute. I am the
Bliss Absolute, One without a second and the Innermost


Remaining in this state of absolute
identification is what is called ‘SAMADHI’ or the
Super-conscious state.


‘Thou art That’, ‘I am Brahman’,
‘Consciousness-Bliss is Brahman’, ‘This Self is Brahman’,
etc. all these Srutis, i.e., the Upanisadic sayings (known
as Mahavakyas or the great dictum) are direct evidences to
the identity of the Atman, the individual soul, and Brahman.
This is what is called ‘PANCHKARANAM’ or


Here ends the small treatise named
‘PANCHIKARANAM’ by Bhagavan Sri Sankaracharya.


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The Five Great Elements

Further elaboration of


By Sri Suresvaracharya

Sri Sankaracharya’s worthy


1. AUM is the essence of all the
Vedas and reveals the highest Truth. The method of
concentration of mind through that AUM is hereby being
expounded for the sake of the aspirants after


2. The Supreme Brahman (Supreme
Reality), eternally free and immutable, existed alone. That
owing to the superimposed identity with its own Maya became,
as it were, the seed of the universe as the unformed and the


[Note: ‘Maya’: It is the power
of Brahman transforming itself into the universe and is the
cause of all illusions. Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas are the
three constituent essence of Maya. It is neither real nor
unreal and hence inexplicable. It cannot be proved by
reasoning which itself a product of ignorance or Maya. And
with the knowledge of the identity of Jiva (Individual soul)
and Brahman Maya disappears just as the mistaken idea of a
snake is removed when right knowledge reveals that a rope
was mistaken for a snake. The illusory idea of snake was
superimposed upon the rope.


‘Seed’: Brahman, the Pure, Unalloyed
Consciousness is neither the cause nor the effect of
anything. Only when it is associated with Its own power,
Maya, It (Saguna-Brahma) is said to be Ishvara, the cause of
the universe.]


(How the unconditioned Brahman
appears to be the cause of the universe has been depicted in
the preceding verse. Now the process of gradual
super-imposition of the so-called creation on It is being

3. From That originated Space
(akasha), which is characterised by sound. From Space, Air,
having the characteristic of touch, came into existence.
Thence again Light, characterised by form was produced. From
Light arose Water, of the nature of taste. From Water came
out Earth with its distinctive quality of smell.



[Note: The grosser the element
the more are the qualities in it. Quality exclusive to each
element, and also those retained by the succeeding elements
from the preceding ones are being described here in a
concise way.]

4. 5. & 6.

Space (Akasha) has the quality of
sound only. Air possesses the double qualities of sound and
touch. Light or Fire is said to have the triple qualities,
sound, touch and form. Water has got four qualities- sound,
touch, form and taste, whereas Earth is endowed with five
qualities, viz., sound, form, taste and smell. Out of all
these subtle elements came into being the great, universal,
all-pervading principle, called ‘SUTRA’.


[Note: ‘Sound only’: The subtle,
i.e. the rudimentary, uncompounded elements have got their
own characteristic respective qualities of sound, touch,
form, taste, and smell only.


‘SUTRA’: The total vital force
before manifestation, is the soul that pervades the universe
like a thread passing through the beads of a garland. (The
word ‘sutra’ means thread). It is also called ‘PRANA’ for
having the power of activity. ‘HIRANYAGARBHA’ is its another
name. The consciousness identifying itself with the
aggregate of all subtle bodies is known as ‘SUTRA’ or
‘HIRANYAGARBHA’, whereas the consciousness associating
itself with the individual subtle body is called ‘TAIJASA’.
In fact, the same principle viewed collectively and
individually appears as the two.]


(Like the origin of the subtle
bodies from the subtle elementary constituents, the creation
of the gross elements and bodies through their
quintuplication is now being described.)



7. Those subtle elements produced
the gross ones, from which, again, the VIRAT- the Macrocosm
or the objective totality- came into existence. The learned
call the elements as gross only after their undergoing the
process of quintuplication.



the consciousness which identifies itself with all the gross
bodies in the universe. The process of quintuplication is
now being explained in the following three


8. 9. & 10.

Each of the several elements, Earth
etc., must be divided into two equal parts. One of these two
parts should be further split into four equal parts. Now to
one half of each element should be added one quarter of each
of the other four halved elements towards the formation of
one gross element. Thus in Space (akasha) there will be five
constituent parts. Half of it will be Space (akasha) and the
other half will consist of the four parts contributed
together by all the other four elements. Thus it is known in
the case of the other four elements, like air, etc. This
process is the fivefold combination according to the



[Note: ‘Fivefold etc.’: i.e.,
quintuplication. The first originated five subtle
uncompounded elements cannot produce the gross objects of
the universe. They have to go through this fivefold
combination in the above-mentioned proportion to do the
same. So, according to this process, although every gross
element has got some part of the other elements too, in it-
still it retains its own name owing to the preponderance of
its own part.]


(That the compounded elements go
into the formation of the gross Universe is being stated



11. .The gross elements are all
compounded. These produce the VIRAT, i.e., the sum total of
all the gross bodies. This is the gross body of the
disembodied Atman (soul).



[Note: ‘VIRAT’: Here Virat means
the aggregate of all the gross bodies. In fact, the
Consciousness associated with those bodies is what the word
‘Virat’ or ‘Vaishvanara’ denotes. Because of its appearing
as diverse in form It is called ‘VIRAT’. Identifying Itself
with all the individual souls It is known as


(The whole creation which is a
superimposition on the Atman (soul) is being shown in its
threefold aspect.)



12. The one indivisible Brahman
appears threefold through illusion and not in reality. These
three forms are- ‘the sphere of the gods’, ‘the sphere
pertaining to the body’, and ‘the sphere of the


(That the respective gods associated
with the particular senses set them in action is being
stated here.)


13. The senses being stimulated by
the respective gods give rise to the knowledge of objects.
That knowledge coming through the apprehension of the
external objects like sound etc. is called the waking



[Note: ‘The senses’: The organs
of perception together with the organs of action.


‘The respective gods’: The Macrocosm
(Brahmandam) is represented in miniature in the Microcosm
(Pindandam). So the senses of knowledge and action do their
work aided by the respective universal principles in the
Macrocosm, called gods.]


(For the sake of clear
understanding, the threefold division, mentioned previously,
is being further illustrated in the following fifteen


14. The sense of hearing belongs to
the body, whereas, what is heard, namely, sound, belongs to
the sphere of the elements. And the quarters, in this
connection, are said to be included in the sphere of


[Note: ‘The elements’:
(Adhibhuta) here means the objects of the respective sense.
The sense-organs originate from the Sattwa quality of the
subtle elements.


‘And the quarters’: i.e., the
deities associated with them entered the ears in the form of
the sense of hearing. (AitareyaUpanishad

15. The sense of touch, it is said,
belongs to the body and what is touched, characterised by
the sense of touch pertains to the sphere of elements. And
the god of air is here the presiding deity.


[Note: ‘God of air’: Herbs and
trees entered the skin in the form of the hairs (Aitareya
Upanishad 1.4). Although cited in the Sruti (Scripture) as
deities, herbs and trees are not known as such. So air,
which dominates them, has been designated as the presiding
deity here.]

16. The sense of vision belongs to
the body. That which is seen, characterised by form,
pertains to the sphere of elements and the Sun is the
corresponding deity in the sphere of the gods.


[Note: ‘The Sun’: The Sun-god,
in the form of the sense of seeing, entered the eyes.
Aitareya Upanishad 2.4.]

17. The sense organ of taste belongs
to the body and what is tasted by the tongue belongs to the
sphere of elements. Varuna (water), the god, is the
presiding deity in the tongue.


[Note: ‘Varuna’: Taste implies
water which is dominated by the deity Varuna. That Varuna,
too, is a deity, is evident from the Sruti (scripture) (Sham
No Mitrah Sham Varunah) meaning May Mitra, the deity who
owns Prana and Day; and Varuna, the deity who owns Apana and
Night, bestow on us all happiness.- Taittiriya Upanishad

18. The sense organ of smell is said
to be belonging to the body. That which is smelt, possessed
of the nature of smell, belongs to the sphere of the
elements, and the earth-god is here the presiding


[Note: ‘Earth-god’: The sense
organ of smell is derived from the earth. So the Earth-god
has been said here to be the presiding deity. In the Sruti
(Vaayuhu Praano Bhootvaa Naasike Praavishat) meaning Air, in
the form of Prana, entered the nostril Aitareya Upanishad
2.4. Air has been described as the deity of the organ of
smell, still air-god should be understood as subsidiary to
the Earth-god.]

19. The organ of speech is said to
be belonging to the body, whereas, that which is spoke, of
the nature of sound, belong to the sphere of elements. The
Fire-god is the presiding deity.


[Note: ‘Fire-god’: The Fire-god,
in the form of the organ of speech, entered the mouth.
Aitareya Upanishad 2.4.]


(Like the five organs of perception,
the five organs of action too, which originate from the
‘Rajas’ quality of the subtle elements, have got their
respective deities.)

20. The organ of hands, it is said,
belongs to the body. That which is handled is in the sphere
of elements and the god Indra is there the presiding


[Note: ‘Indra’: “Indra is the
god of my strength”. “Strength is considered to be contained
in the arms”. Such sentences in the scriptures describe
Indra as the deity of the hands.]

21. The organ of feet is said to be
pertaining to the body, whereas that, which is, in this
connection, the object or place gone to, belongs to the
realm of elements. God Vishnu is the presiding deity


22. The excretory organ is in the
sphere of the body. Excrescence is of the sphere of the
elements. The god of death is the corresponding presiding


23. The generative organ belongs to
the body. The objective source of pleasure is the
corresponding factor in the sphere of the elements. God
Prajapati is the corresponding deity.


[Note: ‘Prajapati’: “Water in
the form of seminal fluid entered the generative organ”
(Aitareya Upanishad 2.4.). Water has been observed as the
deity, still it is to be understood that by the word ‘water’
there, Prajapati, the god of reproduction has been hinted

24. The mind is said to be in the
realm of the body. Whatever is thought of, belongs to the
world of elements. The moon-god is the presiding deity of
the mind.


25. The determinative intellect
(buddhi) is in the sphere of the body, whereas whatever is
subject to determinative intellection belongs to the sphere
of the elements, and in the sphere of gods, Brhaspati stands
as the presiding deity.


[Note: ‘Brhaspati: From Agamas
(Tantras) (Brhaspatiriva Budhyaa) meaning May I become like
Brhaspati in intellect.]

26. Likewise, the sense of ego is in
the bodily plane and all that concerning which the sense of
ego is exercised belongs to the world of elements. The god
Rudra, is the presiding deity.


27. The contemplative faculty
(chittam) is said to be in the bodily realm and that which
is the object of reasoning belongs to the sphere of the
elements. The ‘Kshetrajna” or the witnessing Consciousness
is the corresponding deity in the sphere of the gods.


28. Ignorance (Tamah), it is said,
belongs to the bodily sphere, whereas the mutations
happening therein are in the sphere of the elements. The
supreme “God-head” is the presiding deity.


[Note: ‘Ignorance’: The causal
body./ ‘God-head’: Ishvara, the cause of the world who
controls Maya. For more explanation see Pages “Nature of
Reality” and “Maya” ]

29. Thus by ‘waking state’ is meant
the knowledge of the respective objects resulting from the
operation of senses, both external and internal, aided by
their corresponding deities.


(The first letter ‘A’ of the
syllable ‘AUM’ represents the gross body, the waking state
and the Consciousness called ‘VISHVA’ associated with them.
Now the word ‘VISHVA’, of the text is being explained

30. That which identifies Itself
with both the waking state and the body, which is the seat
of the senses, is described as the VISHVA.



[Note: ‘The body’: In the waking
state, Consciousness identifies Itself with the gross body
and in doing so, It evidently identifies Itself with the
subtle body, which is contained by the former one. This has
been hinted at by saying that the gross body is the seat of
the senses (i.e., of the subtle body. The causal body,
ignorance, the basis of the subtle body, too, comes into the
picture and is identified with himself by Vishva. So, as a
matter of fact, Vishva identifies Itself with all the three
bodies. (Sukshmashariramaparityajya
Stoolsharirapraveshtavaat Vishvah) meaning Consciousness
having entered, as it were, the gross body without giving up
Its identification with the subtle body is called


(Vedanta always strives to establish
the identity of the individual and the Universal


(Continued below)


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In the preceding verse VISHVA has
been said to be one with the gross body, and in verse 11 it
has been stated that the compounded elements go to form the
VIRAT. That this is possible only in case where the two are
identical, is being described now.


This VISHVA (the individual
Consciousness identifying Itself with the waking state and
the gross body) must be looked upon as identical with VIRAT
(the Microcosmic Consciousness) so that duality may be


In the following seven verses
(31-37) the subtle body of the Atman (soul) is being


31 to 34.


The sense organs of perception are
five, viz., the organs of hearing, touch, vision, smell and
taste. The organs of action, too, are five, namely, that of
speech, the hands, the feet, and the organs of excretion and


There are four internal organs,
namely, the mind, the intellect, the ego and the apparatus
of contemplation. The mind is that which considers the pros
and cons of a subject, and the intellect is that faculty
which determines. Likewise, the principle of ego is said to
be of the nature of the sense of ownership, and Chitta or
memory is that factor which remembers.


[Note: ‘Internal organs’: The
inner organ (ANTAHKARANA) is called Manas (Mind), Buddhi
(Intellect), Chitta (faculty of contemplation and memory),
and Ahmkara (Ego) owing to its different functions. Manas
(mind) when it cannot determine an object (doubting). Buddhi
(intellect) when it is assured of the nature of the object
(determines). The Chitta (memory) when it remembers.
Ahamkara (ego) when it identifies with itself with the body
as its own Self.


From Viveka Chudamani of
Sankaracharya: verses 93/94: The inner organ (Antahkarana)
is called Manas, Buddhi, Ahamkara or Chitta, according to
their respective functions. Manas from its considering the
pros and cons of a thing; Buddhi, from its property of
determining the truth of objects. The Ahamkara (ego), from
its identification with this body as one’s own self. Chitta,
from its function of remembering things it is interested


‘Pros and cons’: When a person
cannot determine whether an object is this or that, and
whether or not to perform a particular action, Manas or the
mind is then said to be functioning .]


35. & 36.

SAMANA- all these are called the five vital forces. The
subtle elements are also five in number, viz., space, air,
fire, water and earth. All these five groups together with
Nescience (ignorance of our real nature), Desire, and Action
(also called or described as eight ‘cities’) go to form the
LINGA body. This is the illusory subtle body of the
innermost Self or Atman.


[Note: ‘Prana’: From Viveka
Chudamani of Sri Sankaracharya: Verse 95: “One and the same
Prana (vital force) becomes Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and
Samana according to their diversity of functions and
modifications, like gold, water, etc.” (Just as the same
gold is fashioned into various ornaments, and as water takes
the form of foam, waves etc.)].


‘Prana’: The same Prana, the vital
force, is called the Prana while inhaling and exhaling; the
Apana while excreting; Vyana while it pervades the entire
body; Udana when it helps passing out from the body Samana
when it assimilates food and drink. Prana is said to be
seated at the tip of the nose, being directly felt there,
Apana in the excretory organ, Vyana in the entire body,
Udana in the throat (generally the subtle body passes out
through this exit), and Samana in the middle part of the


‘Nescience’: Ignorance of our real
nature as the blissful Self. This ignorance leads to desire,
which pushes one into action, the cause of countless


‘The eight cities’: 1. The five
organs of perception. 2.The five organs of action. 3.The
five vital forces. 4.The five subtle rudimentary elements.
5. The inner organ consisting of the mind, intellect, etc
(Antahkarana), 6. Nescience (ignorance), 7.desire and


‘Linga body’: The subtle body. The
word ‘subtle body’ may, in ordinary parlance, mean something
like a spirit or ghost, so in Vedanta, ‘Linga’ body is a
better term. It is formed out of the eight aforesaid


‘Illusory’: This indicates that this
body is not real.


‘Subtle body’: Made up of the eight
cities (see Brhadaranyaka Upanishad]


(The workings of the subtle body are
being elaborated further in verses 37-38.)


37. & 38.

Dream is the state conditioned by
the inactivity of the senses, the potency of the impressions
of waking state and the functioning of consciousness in the
role of both the subject and object. The ego, which has the
sense of ownership in relation to both (the dream state and
the subtle body), is called TAIJASA.


(The wise one should look upon this
TAIJASA as identified with HIRANYAGARBHA, the subtle
objective totality.)


(Thus explaining the subtle body,
the dream state and the consciousness associated with them
all these together representing the letter ‘U’- the author
now proceeds to show the causal body, the state through
which it is endowed with experiences, and the consciousness
combined with both, in order to explain the last letter ‘M’
of AUM. Verses 39-40.)


39. & 40.

Bound up with the reflection of Pure
Consciousness, the Nescience of the Atman (soul), the cause
of the gross and subtle bodies constitutes the Unmanifested,
also called Undifferentiated (i.e., un-named and unformed).
This is neither existent nor non-existent nor both existent
and non-existent. It is neither different from, nor
identical with the Atman.


[Note: ‘Nescience’: Maya,
Avidya, Ajnana, Avyakta, Avyakrita, Nescience, Prakrti-
these terms are often synonymously used.]


41. It (this Nescience), is neither
made up of parts, nor is it non-composite, nor even both
composite and non-composite. By virtue of its being unreal,
it is liable to elimination by the comprehension of the
identity of Brahman and Atman.



[Note: ‘Unreal’: Because it is
wrongly imputed to the Atman (soul). All wrong imputations
(Adhyaropa or superimposition) vanish at the dawn of the
knowledge of the real nature of the thing. As when in the
dark, a rope is mistaken for a snake. The idea of a snake
being superimposed upon the rope. The illusory idea of the
snake vanishes the moment the true identity of the rope is
realised. When the rope is known to be distinct from the
snake (in a rope-snake superimposition), the snake then is
said to be unreal. It is then neither in the rope nor
elsewhere. The rope does not actually change into a snake,
but only appears to be a snake, an illusion caused by


This is called the VIVARTA-VADA
theory, the only pivot on which the structure of the ADVAITA
VEDANTA philosophy stands. As a snake is the VIVARTA of a
rope, so is the universe the VIVARTA of Brahman (the Supreme
Reality). This illusion, consisting of only name and form,
can be removed only by the knowledge of Brahman. The removal
of the illusion is called APAVADA. Appearing as something
else is called VIVARTA.]


(After expounding the nature of the
causal body, the state of deep-sleep, associated with it is
now being explained.)



42. On the analogy of the Banyan
tree in the seed, when all  thoughts vanish and when
the determinative intellect merges into its causal
condition, the state of deep-sleep dawns.



[Note: ‘All thoughts
vanish…’: All thoughts vanish in the state of final
liberation, and sometimes in the waking state, too, when the
mind is free of all ideas, but that cannot be said to be the
deep-sleep state. The mind etc., gets merged in the causal
condition, i.e., ignorance, at the time of (or during the
state of) deep-sleep, from which again, everything springs
up during the waking and dream states.]



(Continued below)


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43. The personality which
appropriates these two (the deep-sleep state and the causal
body) is described as PRAJNA. One should look upon this
PRAJNA as one identical with the Great Cause of the
universe, ISHVARA.



[Note: ‘Prajna’: Consciousness
in a state of deep-sleep is termed Prajna. In the waking
state the Self is called Vishva, in the dream state Taijasa.
In deep-sleep, though the Prajna remains unified with
Brahman (the Supreme Reality), owing to its being covered
with ignorance, its knowledge is limited. TURIYA is beyond
these three states, where the Soul, divested of all
ignorance, becomes fully aware of its perpetual identity
with Brahman.


‘Identical with the Great Cause of
the universe’: The knowledge of identity of the individual
soul with the universal one is the only thing that Vedanta
aims at.]


(That all these manifold divisions
like Vishva, Taijasa, etc., being of illusory nature, do not
actually mar the non-duality of the Absolute Self is being
described now.)




44. The Ultimate Reality which is of
the nature of Pure Consciousness, though one, appears,
through illusion as the multitude of Vishva, Taijasa,
Prajna, Virat, Sutra (Hiranyagarbha) and Akshara



[Note; ‘Multitude’: Duality
appears only owing to the illusory limiting


‘Akshara’: i.e. Ishvara, the
Consciousness associated with the collective causal


(In reality truth is only One and
That, through illusion, appears as many. The way to attain
this knowledge through the process of Apavada, i.e.,
sublation, is being shown now.)




45. The three forms, Vishva, Taijasa
and Prajna, must be contemplated as identical with Virat,
Sutratma and Akshara respectively, so that the non-existence
of the difference of those entities may be



[Note: ‘Apavada’: It is the
negation of the illusory super-imposition, consisting of
only name and form, and the consequent discovery of Brahman,
the underlying Reality.


‘non-existence’: The three
individual forms of consciousness, after sublation, become
identical with the three collective forms of Consciousness,
and so only the latter three remain in place of six. How
these three also are progressively reduced into One Pure
Consciousness will be shown later.]


(Here the identity of words and
their meanings are being shown so that by way of sublating
the above three as described in the preceding verse, the
words, too, will get merged in Pure Consciousness




46. ‘AUM’ is the entire universe
constituted by the three selves, Vishva, Taijasa and Prajna.
This is so because there is no ultimate difference between
the name and the named (entity) and also because the two are
never cognized in mutual separation.



[Note: ‘Entire universe’: A =
Vishva + individual gross body + waking state.


U = Taijasa + individual subtle body
+ dream state


M = Prajna + individual causal body
+ deep-sleep state


‘Name and named’: as leaves are
covered by arteries, so all names are pervaded by AUM
(Chandogya Upanishad 2.23.3). The modification being only a
name arising from speech. (Chandogya Upanishad


(The identity of AUM in general with
the whole universe has been spoken of. Now the parts (A, U,
M ) are being shown as one with their respective


(Continued below)



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47.  The constituent letter ‘A’
is Vishva and the letter ‘U’ is to be considered as Taijasa,
while the last letter ‘M’ is one with Prajna. Thus the
identity of these constituent parts of ‘AUM’ and the three
selves must be comprehended in the proper order.



(So far contemplation preparatory to
Samadhi (a state of absorption with the Ultimate Truth) has
been described. Now the process which immediately leads to
that state is being narrated.)



48.  Even prior to the time of
Samadhi contemplating on this Truth with great care, one
should resolve all these progressively in the order of
gross, subtle and causal states into the Supreme Atman
(soul), which is of the nature of Pure Knowledge.



Note: ‘Samadhi’: The state of
complete absorption in the Absolute and non-dual Brahman
(Supreme Reality), arrived at as a result of discrimination
and deep contemplation with the help of ‘AUM’ as stated


‘With great care’: Because such
contemplation can be done by one with unswerving
perseverance, patience, faith and renunciation only.


(How these are to be progressively
merged into the Pure Consciousness, is being shown




49.  The waking personality of
Vishva, symbolised by ‘A’ must be resolved into ‘U’ (i.e.,
the dream personality). The subtle radiant personality of
dream, the Taijasa, symbolised by ‘U’ must be merged into
‘M’ (i.e., the personality of deep-sleep). Again, the
Prajna, that deep-sleep Consciousness symbolised by ‘M’ and
which is the causal personality, must be finally reduced to
the Atman, of the nature of Pure Consciousness.


[Note: ‘Finally reduced’: This
sort of meditation is called Laya Upasana or Ahamgraha
Upasana- meditation with the help of the sacred


(It has been said how the whole
universe has to be reduced to the Supreme Atman (Soul) which
is of the nature of Pure Consciousness. Now by way of
showing the process of attaining the ‘SAMPRAJNATA SAMADHI’,
the essential characteristics of the Atman are being
presented here. Verses 50-51)


50. & 51.

I am the Atman, the Pure
Consciousness, eternally pure and Intelligence Absolute,
ever free and One without a second. I am the Bliss Infinite.
I am Vasudeva, the all-pervading Supreme Spirit and I am
‘AUM’. Thus comprehending, the contemplative faculty must
also be merged into that Witness, the Absolute


[Note: ‘Bliss Infinite’: All
enjoyments culminate in Brahman which is of the nature of
Supreme Bliss. (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3.32). The Avyakta
or the Aksharatma is, as it were, a part of Brahman through
the limiting adjunct ignorance; the Sutratma or the cosmic
mind is again a part of that Avyakta, and the Virat, i.e.,
the Cosmic Soul identified with the gross universe is
considered to be a fraction of the Sutratma. Even the bliss
of the Virat-hood is something beyond the comprehension of
the finite minds of ours. So Brahman is Bliss


‘Vasudeva’: From Vishnu Purana: “As
He (the Supreme Spirit) evenly pervades everything, so the
wise ones call Him Vasudeva”.


‘The comprehending’: Here the
process of attaining ASAMPRAJNYAAT SAMADHI or Nirvikalpa
Samadhi is being described. This comprehending- i.e., after
practising the Savikalpa Samadhi for long. Savikalpa Samadhi
is that state where the mind assumes the form of Brahman
(Supreme Spirit) and rests on it with the distinction
between the subject and object still persisting. When with
the deepening of that state the duality of subject and
object vanishes altogether, and the aspirant becomes one
with Brahman, the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi is said to
have been achieved. So the former kind of Samadhi culminates
into this.


‘Contemplative faculty’: The faculty
involving the threefold divisions of meditation, meditator
and the meditated.


‘Witness’: Because it directly
illumines everything superimposed on it without the mediacy
of any modification of the mind it is called the


(The state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi is
being narrated now)


52. When the contemplative mind is
merged into the Atman (Soul), the Pure Consciousness, then
it should not be disturbed. One should then remain as that
Infinite Consciousness like the full and motionless



[Note: ‘One should then remain’:
From Mandukya Karika 3.44.: Shamapraaptam Na Chaalayet etc.
When the mind, free from all obstacles, is controlled, do
not distract it any more. Do not linger on the bliss that
comes from the Savikalpa Samadhi but be unattached through


(Constant practice of this Samadhi
gradually culminates in realisation.)

53. Thus attaining perfect
absorption through constant practice, an aspirant, endowed
with faith and devotion, and having overcome the senses and
anger, perceives (realises) the Atman; the One without a


[Note: ‘Endowed with faith and
devotion’: These virtues have to be constantly and most
reverentially practised for long till realisation dawns.
From Yoga Sutra 1.14: “Sa Tu Deerghakala Nairantarya
Satkaarsevito Drdhabhoomihi- meaning : Firmness of the
ground is achieved through long and constant practice with


(It may be argued that such constant
practice is not possible in the presence of mundane duties.
In reply it is being brought to our notice that renunciation
of, or aversion to, all perishable objects, the most
important pre-requisite for an aspirant, has to be developed
firmly right through the period of that

54. This empirical world, as a
whole, is of the nature of sorrow in the beginning, in the
middle, and in the end. Therefore, after renouncing
everything an aspirant should steadfastly be establish in


[Note: ‘Nature of sorrow’: From
Gita 13.8. : Reflection on the evils of birth, death, old
age, sickness and pain- all these produce sorrows.
Indifference to sense objects is born of this reflection and
gradually one turns towards the Atman for attaining freedom
from all sorrows.


‘In the beginning’: From Panchadasi
7.139 Wealth is hard to acquire. Its protection entails lots
of worries. When lost or spent, it becomes the cause of
untold sorrows. Fie on such wealth! Panchdasi 7.140.141: In
this way everything has to be discriminated.


‘After renouncing’: From Mundaka
Upanishad 1.2.12. : Not by rituals, not by progeny or
wealth, but by renunciation alone immortality has to be
achieved. / Arriving at the conclusion through reasoning
that the worlds, acquired by rituals, are impermanent, a
Brahmin (an aspirant ) in a spirit of dispassion, renounces
everything, knowing those rituals full well as not conducive
to the attainment of Brahman (Supreme Spirit). For the
Knowledge of Brahman the aspirant must go with wood-fuel in
his hand (or some flowers etc. as offerings, in a spirit of
service and humility) to the teacher (Guru) who is endowed
with Vedic learning and thoroughly merged in Brahman. (This
knowledge does not come without being taught by a


(Perfect satiety is the due outcome
of realisation.)

55. For him, who sees the
all-pervading Atman, of the nature of supreme peace and
bliss and the sole reality, there remains nothing more to be
attained and nothing more to be known.



[Note: ‘Nothing more to be
attained’: All enjoyments or joys being included in the
Bliss of Brahman, nothing more achievable is left behind. So
a man of Knowledge is free from all duties, and he is no
linger bound by any injunctions.


‘Nothing more to be known’: Because
by knowing Him everything becomes known. Brahman alone, and
nothing else, really exists. So when Brahman is known,
nothing more remains to be known.]


(The state of perfection (where
nothing more remains to be achieved or known) is further

56. A wise one attain the acme of
life having nothing more to be achieved, and thus becomes
eternally free although still living. With the whole of his
mind and heart thoroughly filled with the Atman, he does not
perceive this world.



[Note: ‘Eternally free’: During
the time of Samadhi as well as when he is busy with outward


‘Still living’: This is called
Jivanmukti. When the knowledge of the Self-Brahman is
attained, one is said to be liberated. But the body has to
work out its pre-destined term of existence due to
Prarabdha. So till the Prarabdha is exhausted through
experience, such a man is called liberated while still
living (Jivanmukta). After the fall of the body, the same is
said to be Videhamukta (i.e., one who has attained
disembodied or absolute freedom).


Prarabdha : There are three kinds of



1.Sanchita-i.e., those accumulated
in previous countless births (lives).


2. Agami Those that have yet to come
i.e.those that are done in this life after the attainment of


3. Prarabdha. Part of the
accumulated results of the past actions (i.e., Sanchita)
which has started bearing fruit by giving birth to the
present body is called Prarabdha. The knowledge of Brahman
destroys all the results of the past accumulated actions
(Sanchita) and makes impotent those that are done after
attainment of Knowledge (Agami), for, the realised man is
not at all touched by them. But the Prarabdha persists and
runs its own course by producing various experiences till
death. This is the state of Jivanmukti. When the Prarabdha
exhausts itself, the body of the liberated man falls and he
attains the state of Videha-mukti i.e., disembodied or
Absolute liberation. (Brahma sutras


‘Does not perceive’: Although he may
perceive the appearance of the world comprising name and
form, still that has no reality for him and he is always
fully conscious of Supreme Atman, for him and he is always
fully conscious of Supreme Atman, his real nature, the
substratum of all illusory imputations.]


(That an emancipated soul is always
free even while engaged in worldly activities is now being

57. Sometimes even when he perceives
duality in the ordinary course of life, he does not really
perceive it as different from the Ever-Conscious Atman, for
Consciousness runs in and through all.



[Note: ‘Sometimes’: When not in
the state of Samadhi. An ignorant man always sees duality as
real and is attached to it. To a man of knowledge, the world
of name and form appears, no doubt, but that has no reality
for him and he is also not lured by it.


‘Does not really perceive it’:
Because whatever he perceives is just a false appearance.
This false appearance of name and form is due to Prarabdha
which has got to be exhausted through experience.


A man of knowledge does only what is
good and beneficial for mankind. Although not bound by any
law, the good habits, which he practised for long till the
attainment of knowledge, persist, and he never transgresses
the time honoured customs and the sanctions of the
scriptures. Sri Sureshvaracharya says in his immortal book
‘Naishkarmya-Siddhihi’ : “If a man who has realised the
non-dual Truth, goes out of bounds, then as regards
consuming impure and forbidden things, what makes the
difference between him and a dog?” 4-62.


“All qualities like non-violence
etc., (Gita Ch.12, Shlokas 13 to20), attend a man of
realisation automatically and they have not to be practiced
with effort.” 4-69.


Gita Ch.12/ 13 to 20 :

13. He who hates no creature, who is
friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from
attachment and egoism, balanced in pleasure and pain, and

14. Ever content, steady in
meditation, possessed of firm conviction, self-controlled,
with the mind and intellect dedicated to Me, he, My devotee,
is dear to Me.

15. He by whom the world is not
agitated and who cannot be agitated by the world, and who is
freed from joy, envy, fear and anxiety- he is dear to

16. He who is free from wants, pure,
expert, unconcerned, and untroubled, renouncing all
undertakings or commencements- he who is thus devoted to Me,
is dear to Me.

17. He who neither rejoices, nor
hates, nor grieves, nor desires, renouncing good and evil,
and who is full of devotion, is dear to Me.

18. He who is the same to foe and
friend, and also in honour and dishonour, who is the same in
cold and heat and in pleasure and pain, who is free from
attachment. (Honour and dishonour indicates at the level of
the intellect; cold and heat indicates at the physical
level; pleasure and pain indicates at the level of the mind
or the emotional sphere of the mind)

19. He to whom censure and praise
are equal, who is silent, content with anything, homeless,
of a steady mind, and full of devotion that man is dear to

20. They verily who follow this
immortal Dharma (doctrine or law) as described above,
endowed with faith, regarding Me as their supreme goal,
they, the devotees, are exceedingly dear to Me.




(It has been said that wise one
never accepts duality as anything real. Now his angle of
vision is being explained further.)



Moreover, a man of perfection
perceives the world of duality as unreal even as one may see
two moons and mistake directions though fully knowing the
correct stand all the time. The illusion of his body lingers
away to the liquidation of his Prarabdha.



[Note: ‘Two moons’: Like wise
the One Brahman (Supreme Reality) appears as many due to
various limiting adjuncts arising out of


‘Mistake directions’: The Supreme
Atman, similarly, is mistaken as the universe.


‘Lingers away’: Because false
appearance cannot in any way contradict Knowledge and


(What has been said in the previous
verse is now being corroborated with the authority of the




59. The Upanishad says, “As long as
the Prarabdha lasts” etc. The persistence of the Prarabdha
in the case of the liberated one sustains only the
appearance of the body etc., with no deluding


[Note: ‘As long as’: Ignorance
(Maya) is said to have two powers viz., the veiling power
(Aavarana Shakti) and the power of projection (Vikshep
Shakti). The former conceals the real nature of Brahman
(Supreme Reality) and the latter gives rise to the illusion
of name and form. The Knowledge of Brahman negates and
completely destroys the veiling power, but the power of
projection, although negated, i.e., known as false, persists
till the exhaustion of the Prarabdha and gives rise to the
appearances of name and form for that duration. A man of
Knowledge has to deal with these names and forms till death
but he has no sense of reality in them. Even after (the
identity of) the rope is known, it may resemble a snake, but
the sense of reality in the snake is gone for ever.
Similarly, the appearance of the body and the world may
persist but the balanced mind of a liberated man is not
adversely affected by it.


Compare from Chandogya Upanishad
8.12.1 “O Indra, this body is mortal, always held by death.
It is the abode of the Self, which is immortal and
incorporeal. The embodied self is the victim of pleasure and
pain. So long as one is identified with the body, there is
no cessation of pleasure and pain. But neither pleasure nor
pain touches one who is not identified with the


(A man of Knowledge never accepts
the appearance of duality presented by his Prarabdha as
real, because one who has known the truth is always free
i.e., not merely after the fall of the body but even when
living; not merely when in Samadhi but even when engaged in
outward activities. The moment one attains Knowledge one
verily becomes Brahman: (Brahma Ved Brahmavaiva Bhavati)
from Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.9. and so, in spite of the
persisting appearance of the body etc., due to Prarabdha,
such a person is not at all affected by them.


After his Prarabdha is exhausted
through experience the enlightened one attains disembodied


60. 61.& 62.

After the residual Prarabdha has
been gone through, the enlightened one attains that status
of Vishnu, the Supreme Reality, attains that, which is free
from the darkness of Nescience and divested of all
appearances, which is of the nature of stainless
consciousness and absolute purity, which transcends mind and
speech and the distinctions of name and the named, which is
neither to be shunned nor to be accepted, and which is of
the nature of self-luminous Consciousness and


[Note: ‘Gone through’: i.e.,
after the dissolution of his body.


‘Vishnu’: The all-pervading Brahman,
one without a second.


‘Divested etc.’: This is the state
of disembodied liberation where name and form no longer
appear at all.


‘Stainless’: Having no connection
with ignorance or its effects.


‘To be shunned’: There being nothing
apart from Atman with whom the liberated soul is completely


(For the benefit of the seekers
after liberation, the pre-requisites, i.e., the absolutely
necessary conditions for going through this course of
Sadhana (training) are being enumerated now.)


63. This treatise must be studied
and properly understood under men of God-realisation. One
must bring to bear on the study proper dispositions like
humility, loving service, etc., to the teacher.



[Note: ‘Treatise’: This
“Varttika-Prakarana” is generally a collection of
explanatory verses where things, spoken of in the main
composition, are elucidated; things not spoken of, are
illustrated, and things imperfectly stated, are clearly
shown. ‘Prakarana’ is a small work which deals concisely
with the main theme, avoiding detailed consideration of the


‘Under men of God-realisation’: An
aspirant must go a spiritual guide (guru), a realised soul,
for enlightenment.


Bhagavan Sri Sankaracharya in his
commentary on the Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12. says “One though
well versed in the scriptures should not search
independently after the knowledge of Brahman. Compare
Chandogya Upanishad 6.14.12. A man who has accepted a
teacher attains true Knowledge.


‘Humility etc.’: The reference is to
the twenty virtues enumerated in the Gita, Ch.13, verses 7
to 11.


Gita Ch.13


1. Humility, unpretentiousness,
non-injury, forgiveness, uprightness, service of the
teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-control.

2. Indifference to the objects of
the senses and also absence of egoism, perception of (or
reflection on) the evil in birth, death, old age, sickness
and pain.

3. Non-attachment,
non-identification of the Self with son, wife, home and the
rest, and constant even-mindedness on the attainment of the
desirable and the undesirable.

4. Unswerving devotion unto Me by
the Yoga of non-separation, resort to solitary places,
distaste for the society of men.

5. Constancy in Self-knowledge,
perception of the end of true knowledge- this declared to be
knowledge, and what is opposed to it is


‘Service etc.’: From Gita, 4.34.
“Know that by prostrating thyself, by questions and by
service, the wise who have realised the Truth will instruct
thee in that Knowledge”.



The disciple must be well equipped
with all these qualifications and then the teacher, too,
should instruct such a disciple properly. Sri Sankaracharya,
in his commentary on Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.13. says: on the
part of the teacher, too, it is obligatory that he should
instruct a disciple properly equipped with all the virtues
as enumerated in the scriptures, and thus help him to cross
the ocean of ignorance.]


(After having learnt the true
purport of this book under the guidance of efficient and
realised teachers one should devote one’s life and soul to
the practice of the grand theme, dealt with


64. One striving earnestly for union
with the Supreme, possessing excellence of understanding,
and detachment from pleasures of both earthly and heavenly
character, must practice this science thoroughly and with
determined efforts during twilights, all his


[Note: ‘Possessing etc’: One who
has done Hearing (Shravanam), and Reasoning (Mananam) for a
considerable length of time and has thus qualified himself
for contemplation (Nididhyasanam) on the Atman.


‘Detachment etc.’: Detachment means
Vairagyam or the renunciation of both the earthly and
heavenly enjoyments.


‘With determined efforts’: Avoiding
all social formalities, giving up the ideas of decorating
the body, and abandoning too much studies of the scriptures,
try, to totally remove the superimposition that has come
upon you.

270.(Sri Sankaracharya)


‘Twilights’: During twilights one
should repeat, too, this treatise, with proper


‘All his life’: It becomes firmly
grounded by long, constant practice with great love (for the
goal to be attained). Yoga Sutra 1.14. Also from Gita 18.52:
Success does not come in a day, but by long continued


Here ends the ‘Varttika’ composed by
Sri Suresvaracharya on ‘Panchikaranam’ of Bhagavan Sri

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