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Tattva Bodha [ Reality or True Nature of

Self ] by Sri Shankaracharya 1


Written by Sri Shankaracharya:

Tattva Bodha is a Prakarana Grantha. Tattva means Reality or True Nature of Self and
Bodha means Knowledge, thus the meaning of Tattvabodha is Knowledge about the
Reality or Knowledge about the True Nature of Self.Every one of us is seeking
happiness only, happiness which is permanent. This is because, we think that we are
not happy always and by achieving something or performing something, we would get
that happiness which stays with us permanently. If we know that we are happy all the
time and the happiness is our very nature, then there will not be any seeking at all,
but man doesnt know this and performs action towards to achieve something in the
world which he thinks will give him permanent happiness. But none of the object of
the world is permanent and hence none of the objects can give permanent happiness,
but still because of the intense desire for happiness he never gives up and hence goes
on and on performing action and in the process experiences happiness or sorrow. He
will not get the permanent happiness if he is seeking in the world, the little temporary
happiness which he gets while he is performing action influence him to do more and
more action and make him think he will get a permanent happiness. An object which
is permanent alone can give permanent happiness and according to Scriptures there is
only one thing which is permanent, which is Ultimate Reality of Brahman. This
Ultimate Reality of Brahman is ones own very nature of Self. The nature of Self is
Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. Thus, the Self itself is of the nature of Bliss, but
because of ignorance we do not know that we are Bliss. We are ignorant and are
searching for Bliss outside. This ignorance vanishes when there is knowledge about
the Self and this Self-Knowledge is the Ultimate Knowledge knowing which nothing
else left to be known.When the ignorance vanishes, then the seeking of happiness is
stopped, because one understands that he is already bliss and nothing else is required
for that bliss. Thus by Self-Knowledge which is the scriptures speak about removes
the darkness of ignorance. Once a person gets Self Knowledge, he sees only Self in
everybeing and hence not excited about anything in the world. He will be always at
peace and revels in the bliss of the Self, just stays as witness of whatever happens to
him. Thus if any unfavourable situation comes to him, he is not affected by it and
revels only the Bliss of the Self. Also the knowledge about the Self is the Ultimate
Knowledge, knowing which everything else will be known.In Mundaka Upanishad,
Shaunaka asks Angiras the same questionkasminu Bhagavo vijnaathae sarvamidham
vijnaatham Bhavathihi
O Adorable Lord!! (which is that thing) which having been known, all this becomes
known?
Angiras explains about the Ultimate Reality of Brahman to Shaunaka as an answer to
his question. The Ultimate Reality of Brahman is the Supreme Cause for the world and
the Ultimate Reality of Brahman which is same as the Self, when realized there will be
nothing else left to be known.
Tattva Bodha 1
Vaasudevandra Yogindram nathva Gnaanam Pradham Gurum
Mumukshunaam Hitharthaaya TattvaBodhobhidhiyathae
Having prostrated Vaasudevandra Yogindram who is the embodiment of Knowledge,
this work of Self-knowledge (Tattva Bodha) is expounded to the seekers.
This is the invocation sloka for this text Tattvabodha, where Sri Sri Shankara offers
his prostrations and also gives the Anubandha Chatushthayam. Here Sri Sri
Shankara is offering his prostrations to his Guru Govindapada, Vasudeva is another
name of Govinda. He praises his Guru as Yogindram which means King of Yogis and
also tells as the embodiment of Knowledge. It can also be taken that Sri Sri Shankara
is prostrating to Jagadguru Lord Krishna who is also called as Vasudeva.
After offering prostrations Sri Sri Shankara gives the anubandha chathushthayam of
this work. There are four things which will be explained in the beginning of any
vedantic work. They are Adhikaari, Vishayam, Prayojanam and Sambhandham.
Adhikaari: Adhikaari is the person who is eligible to take up this learning. Here Sri Sri
Shankara mentions Mumukshu as the adhikaari who can take up this learning.
Mumukshu is one who has burning desire to get liberated from this Samsaara.
Vishayam: Vishayam is the subject matter of any work. Here vishaya is Tattva Bodha
or Knowledge about Self.
Prayojanam: Phalam is the fruit of learning this. Here the Phalam is Self-Knowledge,
which will help him to overcome the Samsaara.
Sambhandham: Sambhandham is the relation between vishayam and prayojanam.
When the Vishayam is known, one gets the prayojanam, that is one gets liberated from
the samsaara.
Tattva Bodha 2
Saadhanachatushthayasampanna Adhikarinaam Moksha saadhana Bhootham
Tattvavivekaprakaaram vakshyaamaha
Those who follow the four-fold qualification (Saadha Chatushthayam), which are the
means for liberation, are told about the mode of discrimination.
Saadhana Chatushthayam Kim?
What is Saadhana Chatushthayam?
Nithya Anithya Vasthu Vivekaha {Discrimination between the real and the unreal}
Iham Uthraartha Phala Bhoga Viragaha {Dispassion to the enjoyment of fruits of ones
own action here and hereafter.}
Shamaadhi Shatka Sampatthihi {Six discipline starting from Shama}
Mumukshutvamchethi {Burning desire for liberation.}
The primary goal for each and everyone in the world is happiness only, realizing ones
own nature of Self alone can give Permanent Happiness. In the invocation sloka, Sri
Sri Shankara mentioned that adhikaari for learning this work, who are Mumukshus
and the subject matter is Tattvabodha or Self-Knowledge. There are many benefits of
gaining Self Knowledge. When a person gets the Self-Knowledge, all his doubts and
questions vanishes, his mind will be very clear of his nature and the nature of the
world.
Knowledge about the Self is the Ultimate Knowledge as Mundaka Upanishad says,
Brahmavidhyam sarvavidhyaam Prathishtaam
Brahmaa Vidhya is the Support of all kinds of Knowledge
Brahman is the Supreme source of all that is experienced in the world, which is not
different from ones own nature of Self, and when one gets the Self-Knowledge he will
be satisfied from all thirst of Knowledge. When the person gets the Self-Knowledge, he
will be completely satisfied and hence he will always be happy at all points of time. He
need not seek anything in the world for the sake of Bliss {Aananda} as the person
realizes that happiness is his very nature. When he realizes that he is nothing but the
happiness only, there will be no moment when he will not be happy and hence no
situation can affect him. He will neither be attracted by anything in the world nor will
he be affected by any situation whether it is good or bad. He will always be balanced
and see every experience of the world in the same way. The mind of such a person will
always revels in the knowledge about the Self and hence such a person is liberated
from this vicious circle of Samsaara. Mumkshu is one who desires to get that Self-
Knowledge there by get these benefits or who desires to get liberated from Samsaara.
After prostrating to his Guru, Sri Sri Shankara starts the text by telling the
qualification that the seeker has to be endowed with which he will be able to enquire
into the Self and there by realize ones own nature of Self. When a teacher has to take
a subject in a class, for the student to be benefited from the teaching he should have
some eligibility. Only when he has some qualification he will be able to apprehend
clearly of what the teacher is teaching. Here the subject matter is Self-Knowledge and
when a qualified student learns from the teacher, he will be able to apprehend clearly
of what the Guru is teaching. It doesnt mean that only those who have these
qualifications should learn, but it is important to understand that only those who are
endowed with these qualifications will be able to apprehend the Reality better.
Therefore seeker has to practice and get qualified to understand the teaching better.
Only when the teachings are understood perfectly, the seeker will be able to
contemplate on the Reality and there by get liberated. Therefore these four-fold
qualifications are the means for the liberation.
What are the qualifications? Sri Sri Shankara gives the four fold qualification required
for the seeker to apprehend the teaching of the Guru better, which will help him in
realizing ones own nature of Self and there by get liberated from this world. First, Sri
Sri Shankara gives what are the four fold qualifications and then explains each of the
qualification.
1. Viveka {Discrimination}: Discrimination between the Real and the Unreal Objects
2. Vairagya {Dispassion}: Dispassion towards the enjoyment of the results of the
actions.
3. Sat Sampthih {Discipline}: Six Disciplines which are Shama, Dhama, Uparama,
Thithiksha, Shraddha and Samadhaana
4. Mumukshuthvam {Desire}: Desire to get liberated.
After mentioning these four-fold qualifications, he explains each and every
qualification starting from Discrimination.
Tattvabodha 3
Nithya Anithya Vasthu Vivekaha kaha?
What is discrimination between real and unreal?
Nithya Vasthu Ekam Brahmaa Tathvyathiriktam Sarvam Anithyam
Brahman alone is real, other than Brahman everything is unreal.
Ayameva Nithya Anithya Vasthu Vivekaha
This is what is called discrimination between real and unreal.
After mentioning what are the four-fold disciplines he is now explaining each of the
qualification. The work is in the form of a dialogue between Guru and Student. The
Guru mentioned what are the Sadhana Chatushthayam and its definition. The first
qualification that the Guru told his Students is Discrimination. The definition he gave
for Discrimination as the discrimination between the Real and Unreal thing. Now when
this is told to the Student, the student asks the Guru what is meant by discrimination
between real and unreal. To this question, the Guru replies as Brahman alone is Real
and all others are unreal.
The natural tendency of the mind when it sees and likes an object of the world is to
desire to possess the object thinking that the object will give permanent happiness. All
the objects of the world are not permanent, they are only temporary and therefore the
objects of the world can give only temporary happiness. The objects of the world are
finite, because they are limited by space and time and therefore the happiness which
seems to come from the objects of the world is also limited by space and time. There is
only one thing which is permanent which is beyond the limitations of space and time
which the scriptures tell as the Ultimate Reality of Brahman which is nothing but ones
own nature of Self.
Mandukya Upanishad say,
Om ithyetad aksharam idam sarvam tasya upa vyakyaanam Bhootham Bhavath
Bhavishya sarvam Omkaara eva. Yechaanyath threkaalatheetham thadhapya omkaara
eva
Aum, the word, is all this. A clear explanation of it is: all that is past, present and
future, verily, is Aum. That which is beyond the three periods of time is also, indeed,
Aum
Sarvamhyaethath Brahmaa Ayam Athma Brahmaa
All this is verily Brahman. This Atman is Brahman.
Taitreeya Upanishad says,
Sathyam Jnaanam Anantham Brahmaa
Brahman is Existence-Consciousness-Infinite.
Brahman is all-pervading and Eternal and beyond all limitations which is very clear
from the above words of Srutti. When there is proper discrimination between Real and
Unreal things, one will get clear conviction that the objects of the world can give only
temporary happiness. Thus the proper discrimination will lead to dispassion towards
the objects of the world.
Tattvabodha 4
Viraagaha kaha?
What is Dispassion?
Iha Swarga Bogashu Icha Rahithyam
The absence of desire for the enjoyment (of the fruit of ones action) in this world as
also in any other world.
Any action in this world is done to get happiness by attaining something, either some
object or position or fame etc. The action is influenced by the desire to attain the
same. But since nothing in the world is permanent, though it seems that the
possession is giving happiness, it will go out from the person at some point of time and
hence that time it will give only sorrow. Therefore none of the worldly objects will give
permanent happiness. Since Brahman alone is permanent which is not different from
ones own nature of Self, it alone can give permanent happiness. Since all the worldly
objects though seem to give happiness, later will give only sorrow, it is wise to desire
for that which is permanent, i.e Brahman.
Guru has already told his student that Brahman alone is Real and rest all are unreal.
Thus when a seeker discriminates between the Permanent and Impermanent, the
passion for the worldly objects will go away. The extroverted mind will naturally go out
towards the worldly objects and therefore it is important that the seeker withhold the
mind from going out knowing that the object cannot give permanent happiness.
Though one may know that Brahman alone is real and rest all are unreal, it is not
natural to withhold the mind from the unreal objects straightaway and hence the
seeker may find it tough to get that vairagyam though it is known that the worldly
objects are impermanent. Therefore disciplining oneself will help the seeker to get the
vairagyam. Once a person gets the perfect dispassion knowing clearly that worldly
objects are impermanent, his mind will be calm and hence will be able to apprehend
the reality very clearly.
Tattvabodha 5
Shamaadhi Saadhana Sampatthi kaa?
What is the accomplishment of Saadhana starting from Shama?
Samo Dama UparamasTitiksha Sraddha Samadhaanam Cha Ithi
They are Sama, Dama, Uparama, Titiksha, Sraddha, and Samadhana.
Viveka is discrimination between real and the unreal objects and as per the scriptures
there is only one thing which is real which is Ultimate Reality of Brahman. This
Ultimate Reality of Brahman is identical to ones own nature of Self. When there is
proper discrimination between real and the unreal objects, dispassion will be
developed in the mind. When there is no dispassion, the mind will be extroverted and
such an extroverted mind will not be able to apprehend the Reality. Therefore when
there is proper dispassion knowing that none of the objects of the world is Real, then
the seeker will be able to apprehend the teachings of the Guru very clearly. To get this
kind of proper discrimination, the mind has to be disciplined. After explaining about
the dispassion, Sri Sri Shankara here explains about the six disciplines. These six
disciplines are Sama, Dama, Uparama, Titiksha, Shraddha, and Samadhanam. He
then also explains each one of the discipline.
Samaha Kaha?
What is Sama?
Mano Nigrahaha.
Control or mastery of mind.
Damaha Kaha?
What is Damaha?
Chakshuraadhi Baahyaendra Nigraha
Control of sense organs like eyes etc.
Uparamaha Kaha?
What is Uparama?
Svadharma Anushtaana Eva
Strict observance of ones own duty.
The first discipline is Sama which means control of the mind. By Viveka, one can
discriminate which is Real and which is Unreal. Thus by proper discrimination, the
seeker will understand that all the objects of the world are not real and hence cannot
give permanent happiness which is the Ultimate Goal of everyone in the world. Thus
by knowing that all the objects of the world are temporary one has to control the mind
from going towards the worldly objects through desire. Thus, Sama is the internal
control of the mind. Dama is control of sense organs or external control of the mind.
When the desires for the worldly objects in the mind are controlled through
discrimination and dispassion, then the external control will also be achieved. Once
the mind is controlled internally and externally through the control of sense organs,
the seeker has to concentrate on performing his duty which is the Vedantic Sadhana
of Srvana, Manana and Nityadhyaasana. Sravana is systematic, consistent study of
scriptures from a competent Guru for a length of time, Manana is reflecting the
teaching in the mind logically so that one gets strong intellectual conviction over the
teaching of the Guru and Nithyadhyasana is contemplating on the teaching of the
Guru during all the time.
Tattvabodha 6
Titiksha kaa?
What is Titiksha?
Sheethoshna Sukkha Dukkhaadhi Sahishnuthvam
The endurance of heat and cold, happiness and sorrow etc is called Titiksha
Sraddha Kidrishi?
What is Sraddha?
Guru Vedanta Vakyadhishu Vishvaasaha Sraddha.
Faith in the words of the Guru and Vedanta is called Sraddha
Samadhanam Kim?
What is Samadhanam?
Chitta Ekaagratha
Single-pointed mind.
Once the mind is controlled both internally and externally, the mind has to be
withdrawn completely from the sense objects. It is only through the mind the dualities
of Happiness-Sorrow etc are enjoyed. When the mind is controlled and senses are
withdrawn from the sense objects, then dualities of happiness or sorrow cannot affect
such a seeker. This forbearance of dualities is called Titiksha.
Shraddha is having faith in the words of the Guru and Scriptures. The words of the
Guru and scriptures are not different. Guru, who always revels in the Ultimate Reality
of Brahman, teaches the scriptures to the student through his direct experience of the
Self. Though, initially the words of the Guru might seem illogical, faith in the words of
the Guru and Shasthram is very important.
Once the mind is controlled and heard the words of the Guru, the mind should always
be focused only on the teaching of the Guru. This is called Samadhanam. Only a calm
controlled mind will be able grasp the teaching. Thus the six disciplines starting from
Sama.
Mumukshutvam Kim?
What is Mumukshutvam?
Mokshomae Bhooyaath Ithi Ichaa
I should have liberation such a desire is called Mumukshutvam.
Mumukshuthvam is the fourth qualification. This is very important for the seeker
because without the desire for liberation there cannot be any liberation. One has to
know that he is in bondage only then he will desire for liberation. Therefore
Mumukshutvam is the desire to be completely free from all sorrows and sufferings
there by stay eternally happy. This eternal happiness can be got only by realizing ones
own nature of Self which is what Scriptures also say. If there is no desire to get
liberated then the scriptures cannot be of any meaning to such people. A person who
has the desire to get liberated is called Mumukshu.
Ethath Saadhana Chatushthayam
These are the four-fold qualification.
Tatastattvavivekasya Adhikarino Bavanthi.
Thus after having acquired the four-fold qualification, one becomes the Adhikaari or fit
person to enquire into the truth.
These are the four-fold qualifications which a seeker has to practice which will make
him fit for enquiring into the Ultimate Reality of Brahman. Only when a seeker is
endowed with all these four fold qualifications will he be able to apprehend the Reality
very clearly.
Tattvabodha 7
Tattvavivekaha Kaha?
What is enquiry into the truth?
Atma Satyam Thadanyath Sarvam Mithyethi
Atman alone is real. All things other than Atman are unreal. The firm conviction on
this statement is called TattvaViveka
Sri Sri Shankara previous explained the qualifications which makes one fit to enquire
into the Ultimate Reality of Brahman. After explaining the qualifications here he is
explaining what is Enquiry into Brahman. The Ultimate Reality of Brahman is of the
nature of Existence. The nature of Self is same as the nature of Brahman which can
be known through Mahavakyas of the Upanishads. Sri Sri Shankara here says Self
alone is Real and rest all are not real and such a discrimination of Self from non-Self
is Tattvavivekah.
According to scriptures, Self alone is Eternal.
Mandukya Upanishad says,
Aum ithi ethath aksharam idhagum sarvam thasya upvyakyaanam bhootham
bhavath bhavishyath ithi sarvam omkaara eva. Echchaanyath thrikaalaatheetham
thadhapya omkaara eva.
Aum, the word is all this. A clear explanation of it is: All that is past, present and
future is Aum only. That which is beyond the three periods of time is also, indeed,
Aum.
The above statement clearly shows that Self is beyond time. Scriptures also show that
Self is beyond space as well
The second sloka of Mandukya says,
Sarvam ethath Brahmaa
Everything is verily Brahman
Isavasya Upanishad starts by saying
Isavasya idham sarvam ethkinchit jagathyaam jagat
Whatever moves here in this world, everything is pervaded or covered by God (Ultimate
Reality of Brahman).
From the above statements of the scriptures it is very clear that Self is beyond space
and time. This Self is one without the second.
Chandogya Upanishad (6:2:1) says,
Ekameva adviteeyam
One without the Second.
Thus from the above Upanishadic statements it is clear that non-dual Self alone is
Real. The objects of the world are undergoing changes continuously. A changing entity
cannot be real, therefore the objects of the world are not really real, but they are
apparently real only. Self is the substratum of the world.
Thus we have to differentiate between Self and non-Self as all other objects other than
the Self is not real.
Tattvabodha 8
Self-Knowledge or realizing ones own nature of Self alone can give Eternal Happiness.
When a person realizes ones own nature of Self, he will always abide in non-dual bliss,
nothing in the world can affect such a person.
Atma sathyam thadanyath sarvam mithyaethi
Atman alone is Real rest all are unreal
Here Sri Sri Shankara has introduced 3 important terms Atman, Sathyam and Mithya.
Atman is the Self alone is Real, rest all are anatma, Anatma is unreal.
Let us analyze this by means of an example. There are many types of furniture, in all
these furnitures wood is the substratum. All the wooden furnitures are wood only but
in different name and form. There is no separate entity called wooden chair without
wood, thus any name and form cannot have an independent existence other than the
wood. Before the creation of different forms of wooden furnitures wood alone was
there, after the creation of various wooden furnitures wood alone is there and after the
destruction of the furnitures wood alone will be there. Thus we can say wood is
Sathyam, the name and form that is given to the wood is Mithya which means doesnt
have a real existence apart from wood. Similar is the case with Gold and Gold
ornaments. Gold ornaments cannot exist separate from the Gold. Thus with respect to
the ornaments, Gold is Sathyam and all the ornaments are Mithya in the substratum
of Gold because ornaments are only different names and forms of the Gold. In the
same way, all the objects that are seen in the world are different names and forms of
one Atman only. Atman is the substratum of the universe. The universe cannot have a
independent existence apart from the Self and hence Atman is Real and the Universe
is Mithya. All other things other than the Self is Anatma and Tattvaviveka is
discriminating between Atma and Anatma or non-Self knowing that Atman alone is
Sathyam and Anatma is Mithya in the substratum of Atman.
Sri Sri Shankara then explains what is Atman and the nature of Atman.
Tattvabodha 9
Atma kaha?
What is atman?
Sthoola Sukshma Karana Shareeradhvyathirikthaha Panchakosatheethaha San
Avasthraathraya Saakshi Sat Chit Ananda Swaroopaha San Yasthishtathi Sa Atma
That which is other that Sthoola, Sukshma, Kaarna Shareeram (Gross, Subtle and
Causal body), which is beyond the five sheaths and which is of the nature of
Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute is Atman
In this sloka Sri Sri Shankara is giving an eloborate explanation of what is Atman and
from this explanation we can understand what is Anatman. He starts by telling which
are the Anatma and then tells the real nature of the Self.
Sthoola Sukshma Kaarana Shareeraadh Vyathirikthah:
Our body can be divided as gross body, subtle body and causal body. Gross body is
the external physical body which is visible to us as well as for others, subtle body is
inner body which is invisible which includes mind, and causal body is Avidya or
ignorance. Self is not any of these bodies.
Panchakosa Atheethaha:
The 3 body consists of 5 layers which are
Aannamaya kosa, Pranamaya kosa, Manomaya kosa, Vijnaanamaya kosa and
Anandamaya kosa. The Kosa means Sheath ie., like we say the sword is in the sheath
so the sword is not sheath the sword is in the sheath likewise Self is in the sheath.
Self is not any of these kosas as Self is not gross, subtle or causal body, but here Sri
Sri Shankara says Self is beyond 5 Kosas
Avasthathraya Saakshi:
There are 3 avasthas which are Jagrat or waking state,
Swapna or dream state and Sushupthi or deep sleep state. Sri Sri Shankara mentions
Self as the witness of these three states. Witness should be something different from
the thing it witnesses.
Sat Chit Aananda Roopam:
Self is of the nature of Sat-Chit-Aananda or Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.
An entity can be defined by three types of lakshanas
1. Vyaavritta lakshana: this is by negating of what that entity is not. Here the three
bodies (Sthoola Sukshma & Karana) are negated as not Self.
2. Thatastha lakshana: this is a relative definition. Sri Sri Shankara mentions Self as
the witness of the three states. A witness is never affected by that it witnesses. Self is
the witness of the three states and hence it is not affected by the three states.
3. Swaroopa lakshanam: this is a definition by telling the nature of the entity. Sri Sri
Shankara mentions Self as the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.
Sri Sri Shankara later explains each of the term above, Shareerathrayam,
Panchakosa, Avasthathrayam and Sat-Chit-Aananda roopam.
Tattvabodha 10
Sthoola Shareeram Kim?
What is Sthula Sareeram (Gross Body)?
Pancheekritha Panchamahabhoothaihi Kritham Satkarmajanyam
Sukha Dukhaadhi Bhogaayathanam Sareeram, Asthi Jaayathae
Vardhathae Viparinamathae Apaksheeyathae Vinashyatheethi
Shad Vikaara Vadhethat Sthoola Shareeram
That which is composed of five elements after they have undergone the process called
Panchikarana, born as result of good actions of the past, acts as an hutment to enjoy
the happiness and sorrow which has got Existence, Birth, Growth, Maturity, Decay
and Death. This is gross body
In the previous sloka Sri Sri Shankara gave the definition of Atman, he first negated
the three bodies which are gross, subtle and the causal body as not Self. To
understand that these three bodies are not atman we have to know what these three
bodies are, what are its nature, so that we can clearly understand that statement
sthoolasukshmakaarana shareeraadh vyathirikthah. Here Sri Sri Shankara gives the
explanation of Gross body.
The gross body is the external physical body which is visible to others and us. Here Sri
Sri Shankara gives two ways of the creation of this gross body. One is the generic way
and other is the specific way. Generic way is generic to all the gross bodies of the
world, gross body is the product of the 5 basic elements or Pancha mahabhoothas.
The 5 elements are Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These 5 elements undergo a
process of grossification called Panchikara and thus form the body.
The process of Panchikara is later explained by Sri Sri Shankara. The specific way is
gross body of human is because of good action (satkarma janyam) done in the
previous births. Human birth is considered to be more sacred than the birth as any
other species. The body is used to experience the pleasure and pain (sukha dukhaadhi
bhogaayathanam shareeram).
Nature of gross body:
The nature of gross body is that the body is subjected to continuous changes. There
are six changes or six ways of disintegration
1. Asti: The body stays in the foetus of the mother in the potential form before being
born
2. Jayathe: The body the comes out from mothers womb and it is born
3. Vardhathe: The body grows from childhood to manhood.
4. Viparinamathe: The body matures.
5. Apaksheeyathe: The body then starts decaying
6. Vinashyathi: Finally the body perishes.
The body thus goes through these six modifications or shadvikaaraas. Next Sri Sri
Shankara explains about Subtle body.
Tattvabodha 11
Sookshma Sareeram Kim?
What is Sookshma Sareeram (Subtle body)?
Apancheekritha Panchamahaboothaihi kritham Satkarmajanyam
Sukkha Dukkhaadhi Bhogasaadhanam PanchaJnaanendriyani Pancha
Karmendriyani Panchapranadayaha Manaschaekam Bhudhischaeka Evam Saptha
Dashakalaabhihi saha yaththistathi tatsookshmasareeram
That which is composed of five elements before undergoing the process called
Pancheekaranam, which is born out of good action, which is the instrument to
experience the pleasure and pain, and which contains 5 sense organs, 5 organs of
action, 5 pranas (Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana), Mind and the Buddhi
with the total of 17. This is subtle body.
Sthoola shareeram or Gross body is formed by the grossfication of the 5 basic
elements by a process called Panchikaranam, but Sookshma shareeram or subtle
body is formed before this process of Pancheekaranam. The subtle body is because of
good action (satkarma janyam) done in the previous births. Subtle body is the
instrument through which pleasure or pain is experienced (Sukkha Dukkhaadhi
Bhogasaadhanam). The Subtle body consists of seventeen components; they are 5
organs of Perception (Pancha Jnana Indriyaani), 5 organs of action (Pancha Karma
Indriyaani), 5 vital air (Pancha Pranah), Mind (Manas) and Intellect (Bhudhih). These
seventeen constitute the Subtle body.
Now Sri Sri Shankara then goes on the explain each of the components of the Subtle
body.
Srothram Tvak Chakshuhu Rasanaa Graanam ithi Pancha Jnaanendriyaani
Ear, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose are the 5 Jnaana indriyaas (organs of perception).
Srothrasya Digdevathaa
The presiding deity of ear is Space
Tvacho Vaayuhu
Of the skin the Air
Chakshushaha Suryaha
Of the eyes the Sun
Rasanaaya varunaha
Of the tongue the Water
Graanasya Ashwinao
Of the nose the Aswini twins
Ithi Jnaanendriya Devathaaha
Thus are the presiding deities of the organs of knowledge (Jnaana Indriyaas)
Organs of Knowledge:
The five organs of Knowledge are Ear (Srothram), Skin (Tvak), Eyes (Chakshushah),
Tongue (Rasanaa), Nose (Graanam), these above constitue the 5 organs of Perception.
Each of the organs of perception has a presiding deity. The presiding deity of ear is
Space, of skin is Air, of Eye is Sun, of Tongue is Water and of Nose is Aswini Kumars.
Tattvabodha 12
Srothrasya Vishayaha Shabdhagrahanam
The field of experience of ear is the reception of sound
Tvacho vishayaha sparshagrahanam
For skin, the field of experience is sense of touch
Chakshusho vishayaha roopagrahanam
For eyes, the field of experience is perception of forms
Rasanaaya vishayaha rasagrahanam
For tongue, the field of experience is sense of taste
Graanasya vishayaha Gandhargrahanam Ithi
For nose, the field of experience is sense of smell.
Organs of Action:
Vaak Paani Paadha Paayu Upasthaaneethi pancha Karmaendriyaani
Speech, Hands, Legs, Anus, and the Genitals are the five Karma Indriyas (the organs
of action).
Vaacho devathaa vahnihi
The presiding deity of speech is Fire
Hasthayorindraha
Of Hands, Indra
Padayor Vishnuhu
Of Legs, Vishnu
Paayor Mrityuhu
Of the Anus, Mrituhu (the Lord of Death)
Upasthasya Prajaapathihi
Of the Genitals, Prajapathi
Ithi Karmaendriya devathaaha
Thus the presiding deities for the organs of action.
Vaachovishayaha Bhaashanam
The function of organ of speech is to speak
Panyorvishayaha vasthugrahanam
The function of hands is to grasp things
Padayorvishayaha gamanam
The function of legs is locomotion
Payorvishayaha Malathyagaha
The function of Anus (excretory organ) is the elimination of the waste products
Upasthasya vishayaha Ananda Ithi
The function of genital organ is pleasure.
After explaining about the organs of perception, Sri Sri Shankara then explains about
the organs of action. There are 5 organs of action, they are speech, hands, legs, anus
and the genital organs. Like the organs of perception, the organs of action also have
presiding deity and definite function. The presiding deity for speech is fire, for hand is
Indra, for leg is Vishnu, for anus is Lord Death, for genital organs the presiding deity
is Prajapathi. The function of organ of speech is speaking, the function of hands is to
hold things, the function of legs is to move, the function of anus is to eliminate out the
waste products and the the function of genital organ is pleasure.
Sri Sri Shankara explains about the other components of subtle body like 5 vital air,
mind and intellect later while explaining about Pancha kosas or 5 sheaths. We will
learn about the Kaarana Shareera or Causal body.
Tattvabodha 13
Kaarana Shareeram Kim?
What is Kaarana Shareeram?
Anirvaacha Anaadhi Avidya Roopam Sareeradhvasya Kaaranamaathram
Satswaroopaajnaanam Nirvikalpakaroopam yadasthi tat KaaranaSareeram
That which is inexplicable, without any beginning, of the form of ignorance, the cause
for the other two bodies, ignorant of ones own Self, free from duality, is the karana
sareeram or the causal body.
In this sloka, Sri Sri Shankara is explaining about the causal body. According to
scriptures, there is only Ultimate Reality of Brahman present. We all are nothing but
the Ultimate Reality of Brahman which is of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-
Bliss. But this nature of Self is not known because of ignorance.
Ignorance has 2 aspects, Avarana Shakti or vieling power and Vikshepa Shakti or
projecting power. During the state of deep sleep there is only Avarana. There are no
dualities experienced but there is only ignorance as one says after waking up Aham
Kimapi na jaanaami Sukkhaenamaya Nidranubhuyatha I dont know anything but
had a very good sleep. This veiling of the real nature of Self by ignorance only leads to
the projection of other things and hence ignorance is the cause of the other two
bodies, subtle and gross.
Ignorance is never really present, it is only seemingly present and hence it is only an
illusion in the Reality. Illusion can never be explained in the similar way ignorance
also cannot be explained, thus Sri Sri Shankara here says that avidya is
anirvachaniya.
Ignorance doesnt have any beginning, as any illusion doesnt have any beginning. But
ignorance has its end when the knowledge dawns. The snake, which was only an
illusion in the rope, when the rope is known. In the similar way, when one gets the
knowledge about ones own nature of Self, the ignorance vanishes. During the state of
deep sleep, one identifies himself with the causal body. During that state there are no
dualities, there is only ignorance and hence causal body is devoid of all duality, but
this is the cause of all the dualities. Thus Causal body is in the form of ignornace,
which is explicable, which is beginningless, which veils the Real nature of Self, which
is the cause of the other two bodies and which is devoid of duality.
Next Sri Sri Shankara starts his explanation about the 3 states of experience (Waking,
Dream and Deep-sleep states).
Tattvabodha 14
Avasthythrayam Kim?
What are the three states of experiences?
Jaagrat Swapna Sushupthi Avasthaaha
waking, dreaming and the deep sleep state are the three states of experiences
Jaagradavasthaa Kaa?
What is Jaagradavastha (Waking state)?
Srothoraadhi Jnaanaindriyaihi Shabdhaadhi Vishayiashcha Jnaayatham Ithi Yath
Saa Jaagrath Avasthaaha. Sthoola Shareeraabimaani Athma Vishwa Ithyuchathae
The state of experience in which the organs of perception perceives its sense objects is
the waking state. The Self identifying itself with the gross body is called Viswa
After explaining about Shareerathrayam or the three bodies which are Sthula (gross),
sukshma (subtle) and kaarana (causal) Shareeram, here Sri Sri Shankara starts his
explanation on the three states of experience. The three states of experience are
waking state, dream state and the deep sleep state. During the waking state, Self
identifies itself with the gross body. During this state of experience, all the three
bodies are present (gross body, subtle body and the causal body). The organs of
knowledge like eye, ear etc goes out as directed by the mind to the outside world and
percieves the objects of the world. Kaarana Shareeram or causal body is the cause of
the other two bodies which are Sthoola Shareeram and Sukshma Shareeram. The
Sukshma Shareeram which is the product of ignorance only, is present which directs
the sense organs to go out to the outside world to percieve the objects of the world.
Hence we can say that all the three bodies are present during the waking state. The
Self which identifies himself with the gross body is called Viswa.
Swapnaavasthaa Kethi Cheth
What is Swapnaavasthaa (Dream state)?
Jaagradhavasthaayam Yad Drishtam Yad Srtuthaam Tajjanitha Vasanayaa
Nidrasamayae yaha Prapanjaha yaha pratheeyathae saa Swapnaavasthaa Sukshma
Sareeraabhimaani Atma Taijasa Ithyuchathae
The world that is projected during the time of sleep from those that we see, that we
hear during the waking state is called the dream. The Self which identifies itself with
the subtle body is called Taijasa
During the waking state, many objects in the world are experienced through the sense
organs directed by the mind. The experiences that are had during the waking state
forms an impression in the mind. Those impressions that are formed in the mind by
the interaction with the world during the waking state, comes out as dream during the
dream state. The dream world that is seen during the dream state is unreal from the
standpoint of the waker. During the dream state, one is not aware of ones own
physical body, hence during the dream state there is no body and even sense organs
are not present. The subtle body in the form of mind and the causal body are only
present during the dream state. The Self which identifies itself with the Subtle body is
called Taijasa.
Tattvabodha 15
Athaha Sushupthiavasthaa Kaa?
What is Sushupthi Avashta (Deep Sleep state)?
Aham Kimapi na jaanaami Sukkhaenamaya Nidranubhuyatha
Ithi Sushupthi Avasthaa Kaarana Sareerabimaani Atham Prajna Ithyuchathae
The state in which one doesnt know anything, in which there is only bliss during the
sleep is the deep sleep state. The Self that identifies with the causal body is called
Prajna
During the deep sleep state, there is neither gross body nor subtle body but there is
causal body which is ignornace. When a person wakes up after a deep sleep says that
I dont know anything. All dualities are percieved by the mind and since the mind is
not present in the state of deep sleep there is non-dual bliss, but still there is
ignorance.
Ignorance has 2 aspects one is the vieling power and other is the projecting power.
During the deep sleep there is only vieling of the Self and there is no projection. All the
sorrows and sufferings occur only because of the duality which are percieved by the
mind, but since there are no duality as there is no mind in deep sleep state, one
experiences only bliss in that state. The Self which identifies itself with the causal
body is called Prajna.
The explanation of the three states of experience are over and Sri Sri Shankara then
explains the Pancha kosa or five sheaths.
Tattvabodha 16
Pancha kosaha ke?
What are the five sheaths?
Annamayaha pranamayaha manomayaha vignaanamayaha anandamayashchethi
The five sheaths are Food sheath, Vital Air sheath, Mental Sheath, Intellectual Sheath,
and the Bliss Sheath.
Annamayaha Kaha?
What is Annamaya kosa?
Annarasaenaiva Bhoothva Annarasaenaiva vridhim prapya Annaroopa Prithivyaam
yadhviliyathae Thadannamayaha kosaha Sthoola Shareeram
That which is born of food, that which grows by food, and goes back to earth, which is
of the nature of food, is called the food sheath the gross body.
After explaining about the three states of experience Sri Sri Shankara starts his
explanation on the Pancha kosas or five sheaths. The five sheaths are Annamaya kosa
(Food Sheath), Pranamaya Kosa (Vital Air Sheath), Manomaya kosa (Mind Sheath),
Vijnaanamaya Kosa (Intellect Sheath) and Anandamaya Kosa (Bliss Sheath). These five
sheaths seem to cover the Self because of ignorance of ones own nature of Self. Self or
Atman cannot be covered, but it only seem to cover because of illusory ignorance.
When the Self identifies itself with the various sheaths, the Self seem to be limited by
these sheaths. The three bodies is divided among the five sheaths. Annamaya kosa
refers to Sthula Shareeram. Pranamaya, Manomaya and Vijnaanamaya refers to
Sookshma Shareeram which has 17 components (5 organs of perception, 5 organs of
action, 5 vital air, mind and intellect). Anandamaya refers to the Kaarana Shareeram.
The first Sheath is the food sheath or Annamaya kosa. This sheath refers to the gross
body. As Sri Sri Shankara mentioned while he was explaining Sthula Shareera or
gross body, the gross body is subjected to six modifications starting from the birth to
death. The food that the parents eat only is helping in the creation of this gross body.
Once the body gets birth, the body sustains because of food only and after some point
of time the body decays and dies. After death the body goes back to earth itself. Thus
gross body is nothing but the modification of food from birth to death.
Tattvabodha 17
Praanamayaha kaha?
What is Praanamaya kosa?
Praanaadhyaaha Panchavaayavaha Vaagaadheendryapanchakam praanamaya
koshaha
The Pancha Prana such as Prana etc (Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udhana, Samaana)
together with the five organs of action such as speech etc (Speech, Hands, Legs, Anus,
and Genital organs) forms the Praanamaya kosa
The Self seems to be enclosed by the five sheaths or pancha kosas because of
ignorance. The first sheath is the food sheath which corresponds to the gross body.
The next sheath is Pranamaya kosa. This constitutes the vital air or prana along with
the five organs of action (Speech, Hands, Legs, Anus and Genital organs).
The vital air can be divided into 5 based on their functions, they are
1. Prana: responsible for respiration the upper part of the body
2. Apana: reponsible for excretion the lower part of the body
3. Vyana: responsible for circulation throughout the body
4. Samana: responsible for digestion
5. Udhana: during the time of jumping, floating active at the time of death to help
Atma to pass out of the Sthula Shareeram.
The identification of Self with these five pranas along with the organs of action
constitute the Pranamaya Kosa.
Manomayaha kosaha kaha?
What is mano maya kosa?
Manashcha Jnaanendriyapanchakam milithva yo bhavathi sa manomayaha kosaha
The mind along with the five organs of perception form the Manomaya kosa
The next sheath is the Manomaya kosa or Mind sheath which constitues of mind and
5 organs of perception. Mind is the place where we experience emotions and feelings.
The organs of perception like (Eyes, Ears, Tongue, Nose, Touch) serve as the windows
for the mind which stimulates the emotions and feelings.
The identification of Self with the mind is Manomaya Kosa.
Tattvabodha 18
Vijnaanamayaha kaha?
What is Vignaanamaya kosaha?
BhuddhiJnanaendriyapanchakam milithva yo bhavathi sa Vignaamaya kosaha
The intellect along with the five organs of perception is called the Vignaanamaya
kosaha
The subtle body has seventeen parts which include 5 organs of perception, 5 organs of
action, 5 vital air, mind and intellect. The intellect which is the deciding faculty
whereas mind is of the nature of doubts. The identification of Self with the intellect
along with the 5 organs of perception constitute the Vijnaanamaya kosa.
Anandamayaha kaha?
What is anandamaya kosa?
Evameva kaaranashareerabhothaavidyastham malinasatvam
Priyaadhivrittisahitham sat Anandamayaha kosaha
Established in Avidya or ignorance, which is of the form of the causal body, of impure
nature united with the vrittis such as Priya (Priya, Moda and Pramoda)
Ignorance forms the causal body of the Self and this causal body constitute the
Ananadamaya kosa. When a person in deep sleep one experiences only Bliss. There
are three types of happiness, which are Priya, Moda and Pramoda.
Priya is the type of happiness which one gets when he sees an object he likes.
Moda is the happiness which one gets when possesses the object.
Pramoda is the happiness which one gets when he enjoys the objects which he is
possessing.
Anandamaya kosa is associated with these three states of mind or vrittis.
Ethathkosapanchakam
These are the five sheaths.
Thus are the 5 sheaths or pancha kosas. They only seem to cover the Self because of
ignorance but never really covered. In the next sloka Sri Sri Shankara explains how
Self is different from these five sheaths.
Tattvabodha 19
Madiyam shareeram madiyaha pranaha madiyam manashcha madiyaa
bhudhirmadiyam Jnaanamithi Svenaiva Thadh yathaa Madhiyathvaena Jnaatham
Katakakundala Grihadhikam Svasmaadh Bhinnam Panchakoshadhikam
SvasmadhBhinnam Madhiyathvena Jnaathamaathma na bhavathi
Just as one may say bangles, earrings, house etc are mine, but still the knower is
different from them, in the similar way, even if one say my body, my pranas, my mind,
my intellect, the Self is different from the five sheaths
For the question of What is Atman? Sri Sri Shankara gave the explanation as Atman
is different from the three bodies of Gross, Subtle and Causal body and beyond the
five sheaths. After explaining the Shareerathrayam and Pancha Kosas here Sri Sri
Shankara explains how Atman is different from the five sheaths by means of an
example.
When we experience something, there are two things which are subject and object and
object is always different from the subject. The possessions that we might have is
always different from us as we always call those possessions as Mine. We might say
My Bangle, My Chain, My House etc. whenever we use such expression, that
object which we possess is always different from us.
In the same way, we might use the expression as My Body, My Prana, My Mind,
My Intellect etc. we can infer that Atman is different from these sheaths. It is
because of the wrong identification with one these five sheaths makes one think that
Self is limited. Self can never be limited but it is only because of ignorance of ones own
nature of Self will one think that he is limited by body and mind.
We experience the body and mind during the waking state, we do not have the
experience of body but do have the experience the mind in the form of dream during
the state, and in deep-sleep state there is no experience at all but only pure bliss.
Thus we dont all the time experience all the five sheaths at all time. It is only for the
time being that we are experiencing the body and the mind. The experienced body and
mind should be different from me and hence body and mind are not Self and since Self
is the experiencer of the body and mind, it is far beyond the five sheaths or Pancha
Kosas.
Thus Sri Sri Shankara here proved that Self is different from three bodies and beyond
the five sheaths. Sri Sri Shankara next explains the nature of Self, Sat-ChitAnanda.
Tattvabodha 20
Atma tharhi kaha?
Where does Atman dwell?
Sat Chit Ananda swaroopah
It is of the nature of Sat-Chit-Anandam (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss)
Sat kim?
What is Sat?
Kaalathrayaepi thishTatheethi sat
Sat is that which remains unchanged in the three periods of time.
Atman is that which is different from the three bodies, Sthula, Sukshma and Kaarna
Shareeram, and it is beyond the Pancha Kosas, it is the witness of all the three states
of experience (Jagrat, Swapa and Sushupthi). Sri Sri Shankara first explained about
the Anatman, Shareerathrayam and Pancha Kosas. He also explained through
example that Self is different from the Pancha Kosas. Sri Sri Shankar now starts his
explanation on the real nature of Atman or Self. The nature of Self is Sat (Existence),
Chit (Consciousness) and Anandam (Bliss).
Sat is that which exists on all three periods of time without undergoing any change.
The three periods of time are past, present and future. Let us analyze it by means of
an example.
Let us consider a pot. Before pot was made, there was only clay. After pot is made, we
have name and form of clay as pot, but it is only clay which is assuming that name
and form and hence clay is the substratum of pot. After the destruction of pot, there
will not be any pot but the clay will remain. It was clay which existed throughout, but
assumed a name and form for a short period as pot and thus we can say that Clay is
the Existence principle behind the pot. In the same way, before the creation of the
world there was only Sat which was existing.
As Chandogya says,
Sat eva soumya idham agre aaseet ekamevaadviteeyam
O good looking one! in the beginning this was Existence Only, one without the second.
Thus before the creation there was only Sat. After the creation also there is only Sat as
the substratum of the world and its object and once the world and its objects
dissolutes Sat alone will remain. Thus Sat alone remains on all the times. Whatever
seems to exist in the world is Atman only but in temporary name and form even as
clay temporarily having name and form as pot. There is no pot at all separate from
clay, in the same way there is no world separate from Atman. Thus it is Atman what
was existing, which is now existing, and which alone will be exist and we can say
Atman alone Satyam.
Mandukya Upanishad says,
Aum ithi ethath aksharam idhagum sarvam thasya upvyakyaanam bhootham
bhavath bhavishyath ithi sarvam omkaara eva. Echchaanyath thrikaalaatheetham
thadhapya omkaara eva.
Aum, the word is all this. A clear explanation of it is: All that is past, present and
future is Aum only. That which is beyond the three periods of time is also, indeed,
Aum.


Tattva Bodha [ Reality or True Nature of
Self ] by Sri Shankaracharya II
Tattvabodha 21

Chit Kim?
What is Chit?Jnaanaswaroopah
It is of the nature of absolute KnowledgeAtman is of the nature of Sat-Chit-Anandam
(Existence-Consciousness-Bliss). Existence is that which exists on all three periods of
time, past, present and future. Atman alone was there before, atman alone is there
now and atman alone will be there, thus atman is ever existent and eternal. Atman is
the substratum of whatever seems to exist even as clay is substratum of the pot. Pot is
just name and form which the clay seems to have but essentially there is no pot but
only clay. In the same way, the world is only name and form which the Atman seems
to take but essentially there is no world but only Atman. The Existence is known
through the nature of Consciousness and it is because of the Conscious nature of
Atman there is always pulsation as I Am, I Am. All the experiences of the world is
because of Consciousness. If there is Consciousness the world and its objects exist, If
there is no Consciousness there is no world at all.Whatever we experience in the world
is because of Consciousnes and hence it is only Consciousness which illumines the
objects of the world which makes us to experience the object. Consider a room with a
light. The objects in the room are seen because of the presence of light in the room
and thus those objects in the room serves as the medium through which the presence
of light is known. Without light, the existence of objects cannot be known. Thus the
objects of the room depend on light. If there are no objects in the room, then we
cannot say that there is no light in the room. If there are any objects in the room, it
illumines that object, if there are no objects the light still exists. Thus the object
depends on the light for its existence, whereas the light stays independent irrespective
of whether objects are there in the room or not illumining everything in
the room.In the same way, the Consciousness illumines everything in the world. The
experiences that we get from the objects of the world serves as the medium to reveal
the presence of Consciousness. Even when there are no objects of experience the
Consciousness still remains as it doesnt depend on anything. On the contrary, all the
objects of the world depend on Consciousness, even our body and mind depend on
Consciousness. They borrow the sentiency from Consciousness and thus we are able
to transact with the world. Since it is only because of Consciousness everything is
known, Sri Sri Shankara explains this as Jnaana Swaroopam, of the nature of
Absolute Knowledge.
During the Waking state, we experience the objects of the world through the sense
organs directed by the mind. The mind as such cannot function, but borrows the
sentiency from Atman which is of the nature Consciousness. So for all our experiences
during the waking state, Atman stays as the witness illuming everything.
During the Dream state, the sense organs dont function. The impressions formed in
the mind because of transcations that we had with world during the waking state,
comes out as dream. It is only Consciousness which illumines the mind because of
which we have the dream state.
During the Deep Sleep state, there are no experiences at all. The mind merges into the
cause and there is only pure bliss. It cannot be said that since there are no experience
even Consciousness is not present. When the person wakes up from the sleep, he says
He dont know what happend during sleep. This ignorance is also illumined by
Consciousness only. Though the recognizable medium is not present, still
Consciousness exists on all the time. Thus Consciousness is present on all the three
states of experience staying as a witness.
As Vidyaranya says in Panchadasi,
Supthothithasya soushuptha thamobodho Bhaveth smrithih
sachaavabudha vishayaa avabudham thatthadhaa thamah
A person awakening from deep sleep consciously remembers his lack of perception
during that state. Remembrance consists of objects experienced earlier. It is therefore
clear that even in deep sleep ignorance is perceived
Swami Paramarthananda Saraswati gives the following five definitions for
Consciousness:
1. Consciousness is not Part of the body, not a Property of the body and not a Product
of the body.
2. Consciousness is separate and independent entity which is pervades and enlivens
the body.
3. Consciousness is not limited by the boundaries of the body. Atman is beyond the
limitations of space and time. It is the substratum of the entire world which includes
individual as well. Thus Consciousness is not limited by the boundaries of the body
but Consciousness is the substratum of the body.
4. Consciousness exists even after the fall of the body. In deep-sleep there is no body
at all, but Consciousness still exists. Death is also very similar to deep-sleep only and
even after the fall of body, Consciousness still exists.
5. Consciousness is not recognizable when the medium is absent.
Tattvabodha 22
Anandah kah?
What is Ananda?
Sukhaswaroopah
Of the nature of Absolute Happiness
Happiness is the Ultimate Goal every human being in the world and Sri Sri Shankara
say that Happiness is ones own very nature. Atman is the substratum of the world
that is seen and hence Atman is all pervading and hence infinite. Thus Atman is
always complete and wherever there is completeness there will be happiness. Since we
dont know that we are Infinite, All-Pervading Atman, we think that we are incomplete
and thus search for things in the world which would make us complete and thus the
search of happiness is into the world. Even the momentary happiness that is got from
the worldly objects is also the happiness of Atman only because when the desire of a
person is satisfied at that moment he feels complete and thus experiences the
happiness. The happiness is ever present and these objects of desire seem to produce
happiness. Wind seems to be clearing the cloud and producing the vision of Sun but
the fact is Sun is ever shining. The objects of desire are like the wind which
momentarily clears the cloud of happiness. Thus happiness is our very nature.
There is no happiness in the objects of the world. An object which gives happiness to
one doesnt give happiness to others, thus we can clearly understand that objects of
the world have neither happiness nor sorrow. It is only our imagination that we are
incomplete and would get that completeness only after getting the object of desire.
When one realizes this very nature of Self, for him there will exist only Atman and
hence there will be nothing to desire for in the world and hence will always revel in the
bliss of the Self. It is only when a person sees duality or something different from him
he gets the sense of incompleteness. In deep sleep there is no duality, all dualites gets
merged into the cause and thus during that state of deep sleep one experiences the
non-dual bliss, but still there is ignorance and hence this bliss lasts for short period
only. But when a person realizes Atman as his very nature then such a person sees
only Atman and hence doesnt percieve any duality. Such a person revels in non-dual
bliss only all the time.
evam satchitananda svaroopam svaatmaanam vijaaneeyath
Thus one should know oneself to be of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss
Absolute.
Atman which is of the nature of Existence-Consciousnes-Bliss Absolute. We have
understood clearly that it is our very nature.
Sri Sri Shankara then starts his explanation on the creation of the world.
Tattvabodha 23
ATha chathurvimshathithatvothpathiprakaaram vakshyaamah
Now, we shall explain the evolution of the twenty-four Tattvas
Brahmaashyraa satvarajasthamogunaathmika maayaa asthi
Depending on Brahman for its existence is Maya, whcih is of the nature of three
gunas, Satva, Rajas and Tamas
After explaining about the Atman now Sri Sri Shankara starts his explanation on
creation. So far we learned the enquiry at the microcosm level, now comes the enquiry
at the macrocosm level.
Just to recap, Atman is of the nature of Sat Chit and Anandam. Sat means that which
exists for all the three periods of time, Chit means is Consciousness which reveals the
Existence principle and Anandam is the Absolute Bliss which is not conditioned by
anything.
Sri Sri Shankara also explained in the beginning that Atman alone is real and rest all
is unreal. So the world that we see is mithya or unreal only. Now a question may come
of how this mithya jagat or unreal world is created. Thus Sri Sri Shankara now starts
his explanation on the creation of the world.
Before the creation of the world there was only Brahman. The word Brahman and
Atman are synonymous only but only difference is the way it is been used. Atman is of
the nature of Sat, Chit and Anandam in the same way Brahman is also of the nature
of Sat, Chit and Anandam but Atman is used to point to the Conscious principle at the
microcosm level whereas Brahman is used to point the Conscious principle at the
macrocosm level. Both are same only.
If we have room the space inside the room is called the room space, when the walls of
the room are pulled down, then the space can no more be called as the room space
but the total space. Even when there is wall in the room, the room space is not
different from the total space but it only seems that the walls of the room are limiting
the space. In the same way when the body falls, then the only one thing which is
Brahman. The body only seems to limit Consciousness.
There are two factors responsible for this process of creation. One of the factors is
Brahman. The other factor is Maya. The world that we see now was existing in
Brahman in potential form even as tree existing in the seed in the causal form which
is Maya. Brahman is the efficient cause and Maya is the material cause. Maya is not
something that can exist independently because as per the scriptures there is only
Real and Eternal entity which is Brahman. Maya depends on Brahman for its
existence. So Brahman through the power of Maya created the world. The world is not
really created, but got manifested from the potential form. Maya doesnt have any
beginning like Brahman and hence the world also doesnt have any beginning. This
Maya is of the nature of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
Sattva guna causes the effect of Jnaana or knowledge, Rajo guna causes the effect of
activity and Tamo guna causes the effect of Inertness. Thus Brahman through the
power of Maya created the world which has both sentient entities and the insentient
entities. Maya has two powers one is the Avarana Shakti or vieling power and other is
Vikshepa Shakti or projecting power. Brahman is vieled and other things or Anatmas
are projected by the power of Maya.
Tattvabodha 24
thathah aakaashah samBhoothah
From that (Maya), Akasha is born
aakaashaad vaayuh
From Akasa, (came)Air.
vaayosthejah
From Air, (came) Fire
Thejasa aapah
From Fire, (came) water.
adhbyah priThivee
From water, (came) earth.
Before the creation of the world there were only two entities namely Brahman and
Maya. Brahman is the Existent and Consciousness principle which is nirguna and
which doesnt undergo any change. Maya is the power of Brahman which is a
dependent entity, which is triguna (sattva, rajas and tamas), and which undergoes
change. Maya is the material through which the world is created. Therefore before the
manifestation of the world, the world was present in potential form in Brahman even
as before the manifestation of pot from clay, the pot was present in the potential form
in the cause of clay. The pot is not something newly created but the evolution of pot is
just the modification of the clay into a particular form, in the same way the world that
was also present in its cause which is Maya and the evolution of the world is the
modification of the Maya into name and form. Brahman is the substratum and Maya
which is the dependent entity borrows the sentiency from Brahman for its existence.
The process of evolution happens in four levels. The first is the evolution of pancha
Sukshma Bhoothas or 5 subtle elements which are Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
From these Pancha Bhoothas comes the Sukshma Bouthikas or subtle bodies. From
the 5 Sukshma Bouthikas are born the Pancha Sthoola Bhoothas and from that
comes the Sthoola Bouthikas or gross body. Thus the evolution happens in four levels.
From Maya first came the Space. Space is the most subtle element which has one only
quality that of sound. From Space came the Air which has quality of sound and touch.
From air came fire which has the quality of sound, touch and sight. From fire came
the water, which has the quality of sound, touch, sight and taste. Finally from the
water came the earth which has the qualities of sound, touch, sight, taste and smell.
After the evolution of these Pancha Bhoothas came the subtle bodies.
Tattvabodha 25
etheshaam panchathathvaanaam madhyae aakaashasya saatvikaamshaath
srothrendriyam sambhootham
From among these five great elements, out of the satvic aspect of the akasha, is
evolved the ear, the organs of hearing
vaayoh saathvikaamshaath tvagindriyam sambhootham
From the satvic aspect of Vayu (Air), is evolved the skin, the organ of touch.
agneh saatvikaamshaath chakshurindriyam sambhootham
From the satvic aspect of Fire, is formed the eye, the organ of sight.
jalasya saatvikaamshaath rasanendriyam sambhootham
From the satvic aspect of Water, is formed the tongue, the organ of taste.
prithivyaah saatvikaamshaath grnendriyam sambhootham
From the satvic aspect of Earth, is formed the organ of smell, the nose.
The five subtle elements of Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth came from Maya. Maya is
an insentient entity which cannot create by itself, but borrows the sentiency from
Brahman and thus from Maya came these five subtle elements. Maya has 3 qualities
that of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas and since 5 subtle elements have come from Maya
these 5 elements also have these three qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. These 5
subtle elements then produce 5 subtle elementals or Pancha Bouthikaani. From the
Sattvic part of the 5 subtle elements, the 5 organs of knowledge (Jnaana Indriyaas)
evolve.
From the sattvic part of Space, Ears which are the organs of hearing evolve. Space has
only the quality of sound and thus from the subtle element of space came the organ of
hearing. Air has the quality of touch and hence from the sattvic part of Air came the
organ of touch, Skin. Fire has the quality of form, and hence from the sattvic part of
fire came the organ of Eye. Water has the quality of taste and hence from the sattvic
part of water came the organ of taste, Tongue. Earth has the quality of smell and
hence from the sattvic part of earth came the organ of smell, Nose.
Etheshaam Panchathatvaanaam SamashtiSaathvikaamshaath
Manobhudhiranhankaara Chiththaanthaha Karnaani Samboothaani
From the Satvic aspect of the five elements comes the Anthahkaranam (the inner
instrument) constituted of the Manas, Bhudhi, Ahamkara, and the Chitta.
Sankalpa vikalpaathmakam Manaha
Manas is of the nature of indecision or doubt
Nishchayaathmikaa Bhudhihi
Intellect is of the nature of decision
Ahamkarthaa AhamkaarahaI am the doer the sense of ego, Ahamkaarah
Chinthanakarthru Chiththam
The remembering faculty is called Chitta
Manaso Devathaa chandramaaha
The presiding deity of the mind is the moon.
Budhehae Brahma
The presiding deity of the intellect is Brahma
Ahamkaarasya Rudraha
For the ego, it is Rudra
Chittasya Vaashudevaha
For the chitta, it is Vasudeva
From the total Sattvic part of the 5 subtle elements came the Anthahkaranam or the
inner instrument. Anthahkarana is known with 4 names based on its functionality
and each aspect of the Mind has got a presiding deity.
1) Manas or Mind: That functionality of Anthahkaranam which vacillates between all
the possible solutions for a problem as Whether I should study scriptures or not?,
Whether I should go to office or not? etc. These kinds of confusion state of mind
denote the Manas aspect of the Anthahkaranam. The presiding deity for Manas is
Moon god.
2) Budhhi or Intellect: That functionality of Anthahkaranam which provides the
decision as I have to go to office, I have to do this etc is the functionality of the
intellect. The presiding deity of intellect is Brahma
3) Ahamkaaram: That functionality of Anthahkaranam which has the sense of
doership as I have done this. This project has been done by me etc is the
functionality of the Ego. The presiding deity for Ego is Rudra
4) Chittam: That functionality of Anthahkaranam which remembers things. This
tastes as the same as I had taste in that hotel This is the car that I saw yesterdayetc
is the functionality of the Chitta. The presiding deity of chitta is Vasudeva.
Tattvabodha 26
etheshaam panchatatvaanaam madhye aakaashasya rajasaamshaath vaagindriyam
sambhootham
Among these five elements, from the Rajas aspect of space, is formed the organ of
Speech.
vaayoh rajasaamshaath paaneendriyam sambhootham
From the Rajas aspect of Vayu (Air), is formed the Hand.
vanheh raajasaamshaath paadhendriyam sambhootham
From the Rajas aspect of Fire, is formed the Leg.
jalasya rajasaamshaath upasThendriyam sambhootham
From the Rajas aspect of Water, the Genitals of formed.
priThivyaah rajasaamshaath gudhendriyam sambhootham
From the Rajas aspect of Earth, the Anus is formed.
etheshaam samashtirajasaamshaath panchapranaah samBhoothaah
From the total Rajas aspect of all these five elements, the five vital airs are born.
The five subtle elements are Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. From these five subtle
elements, the subtle body is formed. From the Satvic part of the five subtle elements
organs of knowledge (Jnaana Indriyaas) and mind is formed.
Now from the Rajasic part of the five subtle elements, 5 organs of action (Karma
Indriyaas) are formed.
From the Rajasic part of Space are formed the organ of Speech.
From the Rajasic part of Air, the Hand is formed.
From the Rajasic part of Fire, the Leg is formed.
From the Rajasic part of Water, organ of Genital are formed.
From the Rajasic part of Earth, the organ of Excretion is formed.
Thus from the Rajasic part of subtle elements the organs of action (Karma Indriyaas).
The Rajasic part of the subtle elements in total forms Pancha Prana or the five vital
air. Prana is one only but based on the functionality of Prana it is known in five
aspects. We already learned about the Pancha pranas when we were learning the
Pancha kosas. To recap, the five pranas are
1. Prana this is responsible for respiration
2. Apana this is resposible for excretion
3. Vyana this is responsible for circulation
4. Udana during jumping, floating and at the time of death
5. Samana responsible for digestion
etheshaam panchathatvaanaam taamasaamshaath pancheekrithapanchathatvaani
bhavanthi
From the Tamas aspect of these five subtle elements, the grossified five elements are
born
Pancheekaranam katham ithi cheth.
What is the meaning of panchikarana (grossification)?
etheshaam panchamahaaBhoothaanaam taamasaamshasvaroopam ekamekam
bhootham dvidhaa vibhajya ekamekamardham prithak thushneem vyasThaapya
aparamaparamardham chathurdhaa vibhajya svaardhamanyeshu ardheshu
svabhaagachathushtayasamyojanam kaaryam. thadhaa pancheekaranam bhavathi.
ethebhyah pancheekrthapanchamahaabhoothebhyah sthoolashareeram bhavathi.
If it is asked how this panchikarana (grossification) takes place, it is as follows:
1. The Tamas aspect of each of the five elements divide into two equal parts
2. One half of each remains intact.
3. The other half of each gets divided into four equal parts.
4. Then, to the intact half of one element, one one-eighth portion from each of the
other four elements gets joined.
5. Then Panchikarana (the process by which the subtle elements become the gross
elements) is complete.
From these five grossified elements the gross body is formed.
evam pindabrahmaandayoraikyam sambhootham
Thus there is the identity between the Pindanda and the Brahmanda i.e., the
microcosm and macrocosm.
From the Tamasic part of the five elements the Sthula Shareeram is formed. The
Sthula Shareeram is formed through a process called Pancheekaranam.
The process is as follows:
1. Every element is not a pure element like that of the subtle body but combination of
all the other elements.
2. Each element is divided into two halves.
3. First half by the element and second by the other 4 elements.
Space = 1/2 Space + 1/8 Air + 1/8 Fire + 1/8 Water + 1/8 Earth
Air = 1/2 Air + 1/8 Space + 1/8 Fire + 1/8 Water + 1/8 Earth
Fire = 1/2 Fire + 1/8 Space + 1/8 Air + 1/8 Water + 1/8 Earth
Water = 1/2 Water + 1/8 Space + 1/8 Air + 1/8 Fire + 1/8 Earth
Earth = 1/2 Earth + 1/8 Space + 1/8 Air + 1/8 Fire + 1/8 Water
To explane better if we consider a wodden table, since it is wood it half portion is of
Earth element and remaining are of Air, Fire, Water and Space. How is it? If we burn
the wodden table the wood softens showing the presence of Water element and as it
burns it proves of Fire element, and the smoke are of Air element and the table which
ahd occupied the space shows the Space element.
Thus the Pancheerkaranam process and thus the Sthula Shareeram is formed. The
individual gross body is called Pindanda; the gross world is called Brahmanda. There
is identity between the individual physical body and the gross world as both are made
of the five elements.
Thus Sri Sri Shankara completes the theory of Creation. Next Sri Sri Shankara
explains about Jiva and Isvara.
Tattvabodha 27
sthoola shareera abhimaani jeevanaamakam brahmaprathibimba bhavathi. sa eva
jeevah prakrthyaa svasmaath isvaram bhinnathvena jaanaathi.
The reflection of Brahman (in Sukshma Shareeram) which identifies itself with the
Sthula Shareeram is called Jiva. This Jiva, by nature takes Isvara to be different from
him.
avidhyopaadhih san aathmaa jeeva ithyuchathe.
maayopaadhih san isvara ithyuchyathe.
Consciousness conditioned by Avidya is called Jiva. Consciousness conditioned by
Maya is known as Isvara.
evam upaaDhiBhedhaath jeeveshwaraBhedhadrishtih yaavathparyantham thisTathi
thaavathparyantham janmamaranaadhi roopa samsaarah na nivarthathe.
thasmaathkaaranaath na jeeveshvarayorBhedhabhudhih sveekaryaah
So long as the notion, which is due to difference in the conditionings, that Jiva and
Isvara are different, remains, until such time, there is no redemption from Samsara
which is of the form of repeated birth, death etc.
Due to that reason, the notion that Jiva is different from Isvara should not be
accepted.
Sri Sri Shankara now starts his explanation on Jiva and Isvara. As per scriptures,
there is only one Eternally existing Conscious entity which is termed as Brahman or
Atman. The reflection of Brahman in the intellect is Jiva. Intellect in itself is the
product of Ignorance. The Jiva because of ignorance of ones own nature of Self, gets
identified with the Sthula Shareeram. Because of ignorance, the Jiva thinks that he is
different from the Isvara. Reflection cannot exist without the original and the reflection
exists as long as there is reflection medium. The reflecting medium is the intellect and
the reflected consciousness is the Jiva.
Bharati Teertha have described Jiva in Drig Drishya Viveka as
Saakshinah puratho Bhaatham lingam dhehena samyutham
chithichaayaa samaveshaath jeevah syaath vyavahaarikah
The Sukshma Shareeram in close proximity to the witness and identified with the
Sthula Shareeram, due to the influence of the reflection of Conscoiusness, Shines and
becomes the Jiva at the empirical level
Self gets reflected in the Intellect and this reflected consciousness gets identified with
the body which is called as Jiva at the empirical level. It is only this reflected
consciousness which gives sentiency to the thoughts in the mind and the body and
nothing can exist without a Sakshi which is the Self. The reflected consciousness
which enlivens the other thoughts in the mind experiences the world and all the
transactions with the world happens through the body. Thus Jiva is Consciousness
only conditioned by Ignorance.
Isvara is Consciousness only conditoned by Maya. Isvara has the quality of All-
pervading and All-knowing whereas Jiva because of ignroance of ones own nature of
Self considers himself to be limited and sees Isvara as something different from him.
Isvara through the power of Maya created the world for the enjoyment of Maya and
Jiva who is under the control of Maya because of the wrong notion that he is limited
and different from Isvara goes from birth to birth in this world. Thus as long as Jiva
considers himself to be different from the Isvara, he will travel from birth to birth in
the ocean of Samsaara.
Bharati Teertha says in Drig Drishya Viveka as
anthardrigdrishyayorBhedham bahishcha brahma sargayoh
aavrinothyaparaa shakthih saa samsaarasya kaaranam
The veiling power of Maya veils the distinction between the Seer and the seen within,
and the Reality and the Creation outside. It is the cause of Samsaara
aavrithau thu vinashtaayaam Bhedhe Bhaathe apayaathi thath
When the veiling is destroyed the difference becomes clear and that (notion of finitude)
goes away
Seer is the Self and Seen is Body and Mind complex, because of improper
discrimination between Atman and Anatman we misunderstand the Body and Mind
complex to be Self.
Brahman is the Substratum of the world and the world is only an illusion in the
substratum of the world but because of vieling power of Maya the world seem to be
real and Isvara also seem to be real. When such wrong notions are there in the mind,
this is the cause of Samsaaram. When this veiling is removed through the knowledge
that Self alone exists, then the distinction between Atman and Anatman becomes
very clear. That is what is called as Liberation or Moksham.
Tattvabodha 28
nanu saahamkaarasya kinchijnasya jeevasya nirahkaarasya sarvjnasya Isvarasya
tatvamasi ithi mahavaakyaath kathamabhedhabhudhih syaadhubhayoh
virudhadharmaakraanthathvaath.
But the Jiva is endowed with ego and his knowledge is limited. (Whereas) Isvara is
without ego and is omniscient. (Then) how can there be indentity, as stated in the
Mahavakya Tat Tvam Asi, between these two who are possessed of contradictory
characteristics?
ithi cheth na. sthoola sookshma shareeraabhimaani tvampadha vaachyaarthah.
upaadhivinirmuktham samaadhidhashaasampannam shudhdham chaithanyam
tvampadha lakshyaarthah.
evam sarvajnathvaadhivishishta isvarah thathpadha vaachyaarthah.
upaadhishoonyam shudhdhachaitanyam thathpadhamakshyaarthah.
evam cha jiva isvarayo chaitanyaroopena abhedhe bhaadhakaabgaavah.
If said, no. The literal meaning of the word Thou is the one who identifies himself
with gross and subtle bodies (jiva).
The implied meaning of the word Thou is Pure Consciousness which is free from all
conditionings.
So also the literal meaning of the word That is the Isvara having Omniscience etc as
its quality. The implied meaning of the word That is the Pure Consciousness free from
all conditionings.
Thus there is no contradiction regarding the identity between Jiva and Isvara from the
stand point of Consciousness.
Sri Sri Shankara explained about who jiva is and who Isvara is. Jiva is the reflected
consciousness on the Intellect and identifies himself with the Sthula Shareeram. Jiva
is atman alone but with the upadhi of Avidya. Avidya is never real, it is illusion only
and hence the upadhi or limitation is also illusory only.
The space inside the pot is never limited by the boundaries of the pot, but only seems
to limit the space, thus the space inside the pot is in essence same as the universal
space. In the same way the Atman only seems to be limited by the upadhi of Avidya.
When Avidya vanishes then there is no reflection and hence no jiva at all.
Isvara has the upadhi of Maya. Jiva because of ignorance thinks himself to be different
from Isvara, sees the world as real and thus gets bonded into the samsaara and hence
travels from birth to birth.
After explaining about Jiva and Isvara, an opponent (or a student to his Guru) raises a
doubt. Jiva and Isvara are having contradicting qualities. Jiva is ever limited and
endowed with ego, whereas Isvara is omniscient and omnipotent. But as per
scriptures, Jiva and Isvara are one and the same. How is this possible?
To this question Sri Sri Shankara gives the answer. There are two kinds of sentence,
one is the sentence which give the direct meaning and other is the sentence which
gives the meaning indirectly. In the sentence Rama goes the meaning is very direct
that A person called Rama goes. In the sentence The White runs, we cannot take
the direct meaning as color white cannot run. Therefore the color white has to be
attributed to something else to make the sentence meaningful so that the sentence
indirectly gives the meaning that The Red Horse runs.
In the same way, the direct meaning of Tvam pada is the jiva endowed with body and
mind. But Jiva is nothing but Consciousness with the limitation of Ignorance. If there
is no ignorance there are no limitations and hence no jiva also. Thus the indirect
meaning of Jiva is Consciousness or Atman only. In the same way, the direct meaning
of Tat pada is Isvara with the qualities of Omnipotent, Omniscient etc. Again this
quality of Isvara is conditioned by the Maya. When Maya is removed, these qualities
will cease to exist and hence Isvara also in essence Atman alone which is the implied
meaning of the Tat pada. Thus there is no contradiction at all as both Jiva and Isvara
are in essence Atman only. Jiva and Isvara are different from the empirical level as the
very characteristics of Jiva and Isvara are different but from the Ultimate Standpoint
there are one and the same. The empirical level is not real as these exist only as long
as there is Avidya. When Avidya vanishes by the knowledge that I am Brahman then
all distinctions vanish and what will exist is Sat Chit Ananda Atman.
Tattvabodha 29
Evam cha vedaanthavaakyaih sadgurupadeshena cha sarveshvapi Bhootheshu
yeshaam brahmabhudhiruthpannaa the jeevanmukthaah ithyarthah
Thus by the words of Vedanta imparted by a competent teacher, those in whom the
knowledge of Brahman in all beings is born, they are the Jivanmktas (liberated even
while living).
nanu jeevanmukthah kah?
yaThaa dehoham purushoham braahmanoham shudhrohamasmeethi
dhrudanishchayasthaThaa naaham braahmanah na shoodhrah na purushah
kinthu asangah satchithaananda svaroopah prakaasharoopah sarvaantharyaamee
chidhaakaasharooposmeethi drudanishchaya roopah aparoksha jnaanavaan
jeevanmukthah
Just as one has the firm belief that I am the body, I am a man, I am a Brahmin,
I am a Sudra, so also I am not a Brahmin, I am not a Sudra, I am not a man,
but I am unattached, of the nature of Satchidaananda, effulgent, the indweller of all,
the formless Consciousness thus one having this firmly ascertained Aparoksha
Jnaana is the Jivan muktha.
Sri Sri Shankara after explaining about the creation process, explained about Jiva,
Isvara and how they are both are not different essentially. Jiva because of ignorance
thinks himself to be different from Isvara. But essentially both Jiva and Isvara are
nothing but Pure Consciousness only. This is what the scriptures propound through
the mahavakyas like Tat Tvam Asi.
Here Sri Sri Shankara explains about the Jiva muktha who knows their own essential
nature as Consciousness through immediate experience. When a person does the
vedantic sadhana of Sravana, Manana and Nithyaadhyaasana, he gets the knowledge
that I am Brahman and there is nothing apart from Brahman. Sravana is listening to
Vedantic Scriptures from a competent Guru for a length of time. Manana is reflecting
the teaching in the mind through the use of proper logic so that whatever is been
learnt are understood without any doubt. Once the teachings are clear without any
doubt, the seeker has to contemplate all the time, this is called Nithyaadhyaasanam.
When a seeker gets the Ultimate Knowledge that I am Brahman he is liberated from
the ocean of Samsaara. He is called a jivan muktha. The knowledge is not just an
intellectual knowledge but an immediate experience of the scriptural statement.
We know that we are human. If somebody asks Are you Human?, we never think
even for a second to say the answer, the answer will be very spontaneous that Yes.
We never contemplate as I am Human, I am Human etc. Because we clearly know
that we are human, we are not animals. Such a strong conviction do we have that we
are humans. In the same way, when a person knows that there is nothing apart from
Brahman, knows very clearly that I am Brahman of the nature of Existence-
Conscoiusness-Bliss, the essence of everything and which is the illuminator of
everything, which is beyond all illumiation. When a person has such a firm
conviction, he is the Jiva Muktha a person who is liberated even while living.
Next Sri Sri Shankara explains about different types of Karma.
Tattvabodha 30
Brahmaivaahamasmi ithi aparokshajnaanena niKhilakarmabandha vinirmukthah
syaath
By the immediate knowledge (Aparoksha Jnaana) that I am Brahman one becomes
free from bondages of all the karmas.
Previously Sri Sri Shankara explained about who is the Jivan Muktha. Here Sri Sri
Shankara explains about how one can become a Jivan Muktha. Scriptures proclaim
that there is only one existent entity, Brahman, which of the nature of Sat-Chit-
Ananda. Brahman is the Supreme Cause of the world and the very substratum of the
world. Whatever that is seen in the world as objects are nothing but Brahman only in
name and form (Nama Roopa). When the name and form are removed there is only
Brahman only. Jiva also essentially Brahman only, but because of ignorance of his
very nature of Brahman, the thinks himself to be limited. Because of this thought of
limitation there is a thought that he is imperfect. He sees the objects of the world as
something different from himself and desires to possess the object thinking that on
possessing the object he would be happy which would never end. Thus to satisfy his
desire of possessing the object thereby to get the happiness he performs actions. Every
action that is performed will yield a result which may be either happiness or sorrow. If
the result is happiness, he would be happy with that possession of object till he
desires for the next higher object and thus performs action to possess that. This
desire-action-result continues on and on and the person even goes from birth to birth
to enjoy the results and perform more action to satisfy the result. Thus he goes into
more and more bondage.
Vidhyaranya tells in Panchadasi that
te paraag darshanah pratyak tattva bodha vivarjitah
kurvate karma bhogaaya karma kartum cha bhunjate
They see only external things and are devoid of the knowledge of their true inner
nature. They perform actions for enjoyments and again they enjoy performing action.
The Moola Kaaranam for all the samsaaram is the ignorance of ones own nature of
Anandam. There is only way out of this Samsaaram, knowing that I am Brahman of
the nature of Bliss only. When one gets this knowledge through the vedantic sadhana
of Sravana, Manana and Nithyaadhyaasana, he overcomes all the Karmas and Karma
Phalas. When one over comes the Karmas, then there is no Samsaaram and thus one
always rejoices in the Eternal Bliss. This is the only way out of Samsaara, there is no
other way.
Tattvabodha 31
karmaani kathiviDhaani santheethi cheth aagaami sanchitha praarabDhaBhedhena
thriviDhaani santhi
jnaanothpathyanantharam jnaanidehakrutham punyapaaparoopam karma yadhasthi
thath aagaameethyaBhiDheeyathe
If it is asked: How many kinds of Karma are there?: (the reply is) there are three kinds
of Karma namely: Agami, Sanchita and Prarabdha. The result of actions good or bad
performed through the body of the jnaani after the dawn of knowledge is known as
Agami
Sanchitham Karma kim?
What is Sanchita Karma?
ananthakotijanmanaam bheejaBhootham sat yathkarmajaatham poorvaarjitham
thishTathi thath sanchitham jneyam
The result of actions performed in (all) the previous births which are in the seed forms
to give rise to endless crores of births (in future) is called Sanchita Karma
Praarabdham Karma kimithi cheth
What is Prarabdha Karma?
idham shareeramuthpaadhya iha loke evam suKhadhuKhaadhipradham yathkarma
thathpraarabDham
Bhogena nastham Bhavathi praarabdhakarmanaam Bhogaadheva kshaya ithi
Having given birth to this body, the action which give results in this very world, in the
form of happiness or misery, and which can be destroyed only by enjoying or suffering
them, is called Prarabdha Karma.
Jivan Muktha is one who has the firm conviction that I am Brahman just like we
have firm conviction as I am human. Once the seeker gets such a firm conviction
that Brahman alone exists everything else are only Mithya or illusion in the Reality.
Thus when a seeker gets the immediate knowledge that there is nothing apart from
Brahman no karmas affect him and hence becomes free from the ocean of Samsaara
as well.
Karma is of three kinds, Sachitha Karma, Prarabdha Karma and Agaamya Karma.
Jiva, because of ignorance of ones own nature of Brahman, does actions so that
because of that action he will get happiness. Thus the jiva does action with the sense
of doership and hence enjoys the punya or papa phalam that come out of the action
he performs. Certain results will be immediate, certain results may take sometime to
give result, the result may be that the Jiva has to take different births to enjoy the
results of the action. Thus Jiva have been taking crores of birth in doing and enjoying
actions and thus accumulates more and more Karma Phalas. Jiva while enjoying the
Karma in his current birth adds on more by performing actions in this birth to satisfy
his desires. In this way the Karmas get accumulated more and more.
The Karma which is accumulated over the past crores of lives is called Sanchitha
Karma. From the Sanchitha Karma, a small tiny portion is enjoyed as Prarabdha
Karma in the current birth. Whatever Karma the jiva does in the birth will be stored
for the future birth which is called Agamya Karma. Prarabdha karma determines the
form of the body and other factors of the current birth. Papas and Punyas that are
done in the previous births determine what kind of form the jiva will take. When there
is pure Punya Karma, jiva goes to higher lokas like Swarga, when there is pure Papa
Karma, jiva goes to lower lokas called Naraka. When there is mixture of Punya and
Papa, and if Punya is predominant, the jiva takes the human form; if Papa is
predominant the jiva takes the animal form. That is why Sri Sri Shankara during his
explanation on Sthoola Shareeram and Sukshama Shareeram, he mentioned
Satkarmajanyam (born out of good karmas).
In higher Lokas or lower Lokas, no Karmas will be added; these Lokas are only to
enjoy the already accumulated Karmas. Thus when jiva goes to Swarga, he will return
back when the Punya Karmas get exhausted. All these Karmas will affect the Jiva only
as long as there is a notion of doership. When the jiva realizes his own nature of
Brahman, then he realizes that he is neither doer nor enjoyer and thus all Karmas
become nullified. Also it is only in the human form the jiva can realize his own nature
of Self. We do not know what will be our next birth and hence it is important that we
realize our own nature of Self in this birth itself without any delay so that we go
beyond the Samsaaram of Birth and Death.
Sri Sri Shankara then explains about how to get freedom from the Karmas. He also
quotes from Srutti for the same.
Tattvabodha 32
sanchitham karma brahmaivaahamithi nishchayaathmakajnaanena nashyathi
The Sanchitha karma is destroyed by the knowledge that I am Brahman
aagaami karma api jnaanena nashyathi kincha aagaami karmanaam
nalineedhalagathajalavath jnaaninaam sambandho naasthi
The Agami Karma is also destroyed by Jnaana and the Jnaani is not affected by it
just as a lotus is not affected by the water on it
kincha ye jnaaninam sthuvanthi Bhajanthi archayanthi thaanprathi
jnaanikrutham aagaami punyam gaChathi
Further those who praise, worship and adore the Jnaani, to them go the result of the
good action done by the Jnaani.
ye jnaaninam nindhanthi dvishanthi dhuKhapradhaanam kurvanthi thaanprathi
jnaanikrutham sarvamaagaami kriyamaanam yadhvaachyam karma paapaathmakam
thadhgachathi
Those who abuse, hate or cause pain or sorrow to a Jnaani to them go the results of
the sinful actions done by the Jnaani.
Here Sri Sri Shankara explains how a person becomes free from the Karmas.
As we learned earlier, Karma is of three kinds, Sanchitha, Prarabdha and Agaami.
Sanchitha Karma is that Karma which is already accumulated through crores and
crores of our birth,
Prarabdha Karma is that which is giving fruits in the current birth.
Agami karma is that which are the results of the actions done in the current birth left
for the future birth.
To perform any action there should be a Doer (Kartha) and the Doer here is the jiva
who is ignorant of his own nature of Anandam. Jiva becomes the Doer when he has
desires and does action to satisfy his desire. Doer enjoys the results of the Karma.
Thus as long as there is Doership, Karma is there.
Thus we have desire -> action -> result becoming never ending cycle, taking a jiva
from birth to birth. The root cause of this Samsaaram is Avidya or ignorance of ones
own nature of Self.
Atma Ajnaanam vanishes by Atma Jnaanam that I am Brahman. When the seeker
gets the Atman Jnaanam that I am the Sat-Chit-Ananda Swaroopam, then he
realizes that Anandam is not outside, it is his own very nature only. Thus desire
vanishes and hence the action also vanishes. Action vanishes because there is no doer
to perform the action as the Jivahood which is cause of ajnaanam is not there. Since
there is no doership there is no bhogtruthvam or enjoyment as well. Sanchitha Karma
and Agamya Karma are only for the Jivas and when a seeker realizes his own nature
of Brahman, no Karma affects him. Such a person crosses over the Samsaaram.
The Prarabdha Karma is only for the body and hence it will be there for the Jnaani till
the fall of the body but the Jnaani will not be affected by it. Why? because the Jnaani
knows that he is not the body and the mind, but Brahman. Knowing that I am
Brahman and what exists is Brahman only, the Jnaani may live in the world just like
any other person. He might even do all worldly things just like normal people knowing
that everything is only illusion; Brahman alone is Real and thus always rejoices in
Eternal Bliss.
As Sri Sri Shankara says in Bhaja govindam
Yogarathova Bhogarathova
Sangarathova Sangaviheenah
yasyath Brahmani ramathe chittam
nandhathi nandhathi nandhathyeva
Let one revel in Yoga or let him revel in enjoyment or let him seek enjoyment in the
crowd or let him revel in solitude away from the crowd. He whose mind revels in
Brahman, he enjoys, verily he alone enjoys.
As the Jnaani also might do action like normal person, it is therefore tough to know
who is a Jnaani and who is not. Therefore it is not right to judge anyone by the actions
they are doing. If a person does something bad to a Jnaani, Sri Sri Shankara says, the
Papa Karmas which the Jnaani might have done will go to the person who is harming
him. On the other hand, if someone praises the Jnaani, the Punya Karma which the
Jnaani had done will go to that person. The Jnani thus is not affected by both Papa
karma and Punya karma, hence ever rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
Sri Sri Shankara quotes from Srutti to show that an Atma Jnaani crosses over
Samsaaram and always rejoices in Eternal Bliss.
Tattvabodha 33
thaTha cha atmavith samsaaram theerthvaa brahmaanandha ihaiva praapnothi
Thus the knower of the Self, having crossed the Samsara, attains the Supreme Bliss
here itself
tharathi shokam atmavith ithi srutheh
The Srutti affirms: The knower of the Self goes beyond all the sorrows
thanum thyajathu vaa kaashyaam svapachasya grheTha
vaajnaanasampraapthisamaye mukthaasow vigathaashayah ithi smritheshcha
Let the Jnaani cast his body in Kasi (a sacred place) or in the house of a dog eater
(Chandala), (it is immaterial because) at the time of gaining the knowledge (itself) he is
liberated being free from all results of action. So asserts the Smritis too.
ithi tattvabodhaprakaranam samaaptham
Thus ends the Prakarana called TattavBodha.
Sri Sri Shankara finally tells that the knower of the Self always rejoices only in
Absolute Bliss of the Self and also quotes from Srutti and Smriti to back his words. All
the three types of Karma are only for the Jiva and not to the Atman. Atman is never a
kartha (Doer) and hence it is not a bhoktha (Enjoyer) also. When the Jiva realizes his
own Self, then the Kartha ceases to exist and hence the Karmas which got
accumulated over millions and millions of birth also ceases to exist. To a person who
realized his own nature of Self, nothing can bind him and thus such a person have
crossed the Samsara. Self is already realized and realization is not an event to occur, it
is just a clear understanding of the Mahavakya of the Srutti as in Ayan Atma Brahma
The Self is verily Brahman etc.
When a person gets such a firm conviction on these Upanishadic statements without
any doubt through vedantic sadhana of Srvana, Manana and Nithyadhyaasana, he is
liberated and have crossed the Samsara. He gets a firm conviction that I am neither
body nor senses nor mind nor intellect but Ever Blissful Infinite Atman. All the
Karma phalams are only for the body and the mind, and since the person got the firm
conviction that he is Atman different from gross, subtle and caual body none of the
karma phalams affect him. Therefore such a person goes beyond the temporary
happiness and sorrow which the good and bad phalams respectively can give and
always rejoices in the Absolute Bliss of the Self.
Sri Sri Shankara supports these words of his through the quotation of Srutti from
Chandogya which says
thathi shokam atma vith
The knower of the Self goes beyond all the sorrows
With this we have come to the end of this work of Sri Sri Shankara.
Summary
We will wind up the study of Tattvabodha by summarizing our learning.
Tattavabodha means Self-Knowledge, which means Knowledge about the real nature
of the Self. Self-Knowledge is the Ultimate Knowledge knowing which everything will be
known. This knowledge can be got by constant practice of Vedantic Sadhana of
Sravana, Manana and Nidhidhyaasana. In this work of Sri Sri Shankara, he explains
some of the basic terms that are used in the Upanishads and thus helping to
understand the import clearly.
In the invocation verse, after prostrating to Vasudeva, Sri Sri Shankara gives the
anubandha chathushtayam of the work. The anubandha Chathushthayam is
Vishayam: Self-Knowledge
Prayojanam: Dukha Nivvritti and Sukha Praapti
Adhikaari: Mumukshu, a person who has burning desire to get liberated
Sambandham: learning of this work, reflecting and contemplating on the same.
We can divide this work into 5 topics
1. Sadhana Chathushtayam
2. Atma Anatma Vivekam,
3. Creation
4. Tat Tvam Asi
5. Karma and freedom from Karma
1. Sadhana Chathushtayam
Sri Sri Shankara doesnt start with the explanation of Atman straightaway. He first
gives the four fold qualifications which a seeker should be endowed with, without
which one will not get the full benefit of learning. For any knowledge one should
possess some eligibility criteria without which one will not get full benefit. When a 3rd
Standard student tries to attend a 10th Standard mathematics class, he will not gain
much from it and though he may spend hours together in the class. In the same way,
to apprehend and assimilate the teachings of Guru properly the seeker should possess
these four fold qualifications. The four fold qualifications are
i. Vivekam or Discrimination: A seeker should be able to discriminate between the
Real and Unreal things. As per Scriptures, there is only one Real thing which is
Ultimate Reality of Brahman and rest all are Unreal.
ii. Vairagyam or Dispassion: By proper discrimination between real and unreal things,
the seeker will lose all the desires of the world and will have intense desire towards the
Ultimate Reality.
iii. Shamaadhi Shatka Sampathih: There six disciplines which one should have.
a. Shama: control of mind
b. Dama: control of senses
c. Uparama: withdrawl of senses
d. Titiksha: Endurance to the opposites like heat-cold etc
e. Shraddha: faith in the words of Guru and Vedanta
f. Samadhanam: Single-pointedness
iv. Mumukshuthvam: Intense desire to get liberated
Only when a seeker possess all these four fold qualifications, he will be able to
apprehend the reality very clearly. Till then, the seeker has to continuously practice.
2. Atma Anatma Viveka
After giving the four fold qualifications, he defines atman and anatman. Atman is real
and Anatma is unreal. Then what is Atma and Anatma? Atma is that which is different
gross, subtle and causal body, whcih is beyond the five sheaths, which is the witness
of all the three states of experience, which is of the nature of Existence-
Consciousness-Bliss. When it said that Atman is different from gross, subtle and
causal body, then these bodies represent the anatmas. After giving the definition of
Atman and Anantman, he explains 3 types of body, 5 sheaths, 3 states of experiences
and also the nature of the Self.
i. The 3 types of body are Gross, Subtle and Causal body. The gross body and subtle
body is formed from the five elements only, but gross body is formed after the process
called Panchikaranam whereas subtle body is formed before the process called
panchikaranam. Both the bodies are the result of good deeds done in the past births.
Gross body undergoes six modifications like Asthi (existence), Jayathe (birth),
Vardhathe (growth), Viparinamathe (maturity), Apaksheeyathe (decay) and
Vinashyathi (Death).
Sutble body has 17 parts. 5 organs of Knowledge (Ear, Eye, Tongue, Skin and Nose), 5
organs of action (Speech,Hand, Leg, Excretion and Genital), 5 Vital air (Prana, Apana,
Vyana, Udana and Samana), Mind and Buddhi.
Causal body is of the nature of ignorance, which is beginningless and inexplicable.
Causal body is the cause of other two bodies.
ii The 5 sheaths of the body are
a. Annamaya Kosa or Food Sheath: The food sheath is the gross body, which grows by
food and goes back to earth
b. Pranamaya Kosa or Vital Air Sheath
c. Manomaya Kosa: The mind and five organs of perception.
d. Vijnaanamaya Kosa: The intellect and five organs of perception
e. Anandamaya Kosa: Ignorance along with the vrittis of the mind (Priya, moda and
pramoda).
iii The 3 states of experience
a. Waking State: The state in which all the 3 bodies are present. In this state, the
sense organs are active and percieves the objects of the world as per the direction of
the mind. Self identified with the waking world is called Viswa
b. Dream State: In this state, the mind projects a world similar to the waking world
which is nothing but the impressions formed by the transactions during the waking
state. Self identified with the deam world is called Taijasa
c. Deep Sleep State: The state in which there is no duality whatsoever and happiness
along with ignorance is Deep sleep state. The Self identified with deep-sleep state is
called Prajna
iv Nature of Self
a. Sat: Sat is that which exists on all the three periods of time. Self alone exists on all
three periods of time. All the names and forms that are seen is only an illusion in the
Self. When the names and forms are removed from all the objects of the world, what
remains behind is only Self. Whenever we say The book is, The computer is, the is-
ness revels the Existence principle of the Self
b. Chit: Chit is Consciousness through the objects are known. When we say something
exists, it means that we are conscious about the object. Thus Existence is known
through Consciousness.
c. Anandam: Since there is Self alone present, there is no duality at all to desire for, to
work for and experience happiness or sorrow. Since there is nothing else apart from
the Self, it is ever complete and hence ever blissful.
3. Creation
Initially before the creation started there was only Brahman. Maya is the illusory
power of Brahman from which the five subtle elements are born. The five subtle
elements are space, air, fire, water and earth. Maya has 3 gunas namely Satva, Rajas
and Tamo guna.
i. From the Satvic portion of subtle elements are born the organs of perception, Ear is
born from the Satvic aspect of Space, Skin from Air or Vayu, Eye from Agni, Tongue
from Water and Nose from Earth. From the total Satvic content of the five elements are
born the Anthahkaranam or inner instrument. Antahkaranam consists of 4 aspects,
Mind (doubting nature), Buddhi (deciding nature), Ahamkara (I am the doer nature)
and Chitta (thinking faculty)
ii. From the Rajasic portion of subtle elements are born the organs of action. From the
rajasic aspect of Space is born the Speech, Hand from Air, Leg from Fire, Genitals
from Water and Anus from Earth. From the total Rajasic content of the five elements
are born the five vital air.
iii. From the Tamasic portion of the subtle elements are born the gross body after the
process of Pancheekaranam.
4. Tat tvam Asi
Before explaining about the identity between Jiva and Iswara, Sri Sri Shankara
explains about the term Jiva and Isvara and their respective natures.
i. Jiva is the reflection of Brahman on the intellect which identifies itself with the gross
body and always have the notion that he is different from Isvara. Jiva is
Consciousness limited by Avidya.
ii. Isvara is the reflection of Brahman in Maya. Isvara always abides in the Ultimate
Reality of Brahman. Isvara is Consciousness limited by Maya
Jiva by nature always thinks that he is different from Isvara and as long as there is
this notion, he always goes from birth to birth in the ocean of Samsaaram. Therefore
the only solution to the problem is knowing clearly that there is no difference between
Jiva and Isvara.
Then a question was raised as to how Jiva and Isvara can be identical though having
contracdicting natures, Jiva endowed with ego and limited knowledge whereas Isvara
is without ego and all-knowing. To this Sri Sri Shankara gave the answer, the direct
meaning of the word Jiva is the one who identifies himself with body and mind
complex, but essentially he is Pure Consciousness. In the same way, though Isvara
has the qualities as all-knowing and all-pervading, essentially Isvara is also of the
nature of Pure Consciousness. Thus, though literally they both seem to be having
totally contradictory character, essentially both are identical as both are Pure
Consciousness. When a person knows this identity very clearly that Ultimate Reality of
Brahman is his very nature, he is known as Jiva Muktha. Just as one has the strong
conviction that he is human in the same way, the Jnaani has the strong conviction
that he is Brahman. By experience, he knows clearly that he is nothing but Brahman.
Such a person is free from the Karmas.
5. Karma and Freedom from Karma:
There are three types of Karma.
i. Sanchita Karma: Karma that got accumulated over millions and millions of births
ii. Prarabdha Karma: A part of Sanchita karma which has started giving fruits in the
current Janma
ii. Agami Karma: The karma that are done in the current janma and results are stored
for future janmas.
When a person gets clear conviction that I am Brahman everything else is only an
illusion in the Reality, he crosses over the Samsaaram. The karma phalams are only
for the doer and since doer vanishes after the dawn of knowledge, there is no karma
phalams as well. Such a person always revels only in the bliss of the Self. Such a
jnaani may live in the world just like any other person in the world or may even take
resort to forest, but such a person always revels in the bliss of the Self. Therefore it is
not right to judge any person by the way he behaves in the world. Sri Sri Shankara
goes on to say, when a person does something good to a Jnaani all the good karmas of
the Jnaani the other person will get. On the other hand, if a person hurts or teases or
abuses a Jnaani then all the bad karmas would go to the person. The person may do it
intentionally or unintentionally, if he does bad action to a jnaani like teasing or
abusing, he would get the bad karmas of the Jnaani. Therefore, though Jnaanis are
not respected as Gurus, but still it is always better to avoid disrespecting them
whether in their presence or in their absence. But Jnaani will always remain
unaffected, and will always revel in the Bliss of the Self.