Location: India

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sloka - 27 and 28

Hari OM,


rajjusarpavadaatmaanaM jiivaM GYaatvaa bhayaM vahet.h .
naahaM jiivaH paraatmeti GYaata.nchennirbhayo bhavet.h .. 27..

rajju-sarpa-vat: like a serpent in a rope
aatmaanam: oneself
jeevam: as the ego
jnaatva: considering
bhaya,: fear
vahet: carries (or) is overcome
na: not
aham: I
jeevaha: the individuality or the ego
paraatmaa: the supreme Self
iti: thus
jnaataha: having understood
chet: if
nirbhaya: fearlessness
bhavet: can be

Just as the person who regards a rope as a snake is overcome by fear, so also one considering oneself as the ego (Jiva) is overcome by fear. The ego-centric individuality in us regains fearlessness by realizing that It is not a Jiva but is Itself the Supreme Soul.

In the previous slokas we have learnt that all the thoughts and experiences are only due to the ignorance of one’s real nature. In this sloka, Acharya is explaining the same through an example.
In darkness, person ignorant of the existence of the rope sees the rope and mistakes it as a snake and is overcome with fear. But once his ignorance is lost and he realizes the existence of rope, the illusory snake and with it, the fear it caused immediately vanishes. Thus all such misapprehensions and fears are only due to the ignorance of the reality of the rope.

Similarly, for a ignorant one, who considers Self as limited Jiva endowed with the gross and the subtle bodies, there always will be misery, anger, fear etc. due to the duality and limitedness. Acharya Sankara explains this concept through many beautiful examples in his Aparoksha Anubhuti, just as how a person going in a boat sees all objects as moving, or just as how the stump of a tree is mistaken as a man and just as how a distant hill appears to be small, similarly, the ever blissful Self is perceived as experiencing anger, agony, misery etc. only due to ignorance.

Like the illusory snake, the gross and the subtle bodies are perceived as the real and in this ignorance, due to ego, one seems to experience illusory sorrows. The superimposition of the snake vision on a rope takes place only when the existence of the rope is not perceived; similarly all the miseries arise only due to the ignorance of one’s own nature. But once one realizes the true nature of Self as that of Bliss, there is no emotions nor feelings nor any misery, like the fear of the illusory snake vanishing on seeing the rope in light, all the miseries vanish and there is but bliss.


aatmaavabhaasayatyeko buddhyaadinindriyaaNyapi .
diipo ghaTaadivatsvaatmaa jaDaistairnaavabhaasyate .. 28..

Pada artha:
Atma: the Self
Avabhasyati: illumines
Ekaha: single
Budhyaadini: intellect etc.
Indriyaani: sense organs
Api: also
Deepaha: lamp
Ghataadivat: like the pots etc.
Swatmaa: itself
Jadaihi: inert
Tehe: by themselves
Na : not
Avabhasyate: illumined

Just as a lamp illumines a jar or a pot, so also the Atman illumines the mind and the sense organs, etc. These material-objects by themselves cannot illumine themselves because they are inert.

In the last slokas Acharya Sankara explained the notions of “I know”, “I feel” etc. arise only due to the blending of the consciousness aspect of Self and the thought wave of the intellect and that Self can never be the expereincer of any experiences but it is only the Jeeva endowed with the inner organs and ego that goes through all the pains and pleasures and it is only due to ignorance that one falsely imposes all the attributes on Self. Acharya also explained through example that by realizing the true nature of Self, all the bondages are to be over come.

Here in this sloka, Acharya is explaining about the Atman as the illuminator of all actions of the intellect and the sense organs. It is but consciousness. And it is only due to this consciousness that the senses and the inner organs seem to function. Just as how a jar or a pot is seen only due to the light that illumines it, similarly, Atman illuminates all the actions and experiences.

The mind, intellect and the organs of action and knowledge are made of inert matter and hence can never illumine themselves; i.e. they are insentient. A pot by itself can never reveal itself, but it is only due to the light that illumines it can be seen. Similarly, it is because of the consciousness or the awareness that the actions of the mind are illumined and one gets the experience as “I thought about this”, “I feel cold” etc.
The Kena Upanishad explains this beautifully as “Atman is that which is the ear of the ear, which is the mind of mind, the speech of speech etc. It is that by which the mind is thought and the by which the man sees the activities through the eye.” Thus as the Mahavakya says, this consciousness is the Self or “pragjyanam Brahma”. Self thus is the illuminator of all the modifications of the intellect.

Thus Acharya is explaining here that the apparent luminous nature of the mind and the sense organs is in reality due to the Atman which is their substratum and the mind just like the pot or the pitcher can never be sentient.

With regards,
Mallika R
What you have is God's gift to you and what you do with what you have is your gift to God


Blogger vedanta said...


Prostrations to all.

Sankara beautifully explains the same essence in Dakshinamurthy Ashtakam thus:

Nana chidra ghatodarasthitha deepa prabhaa bhaasvaram
Jnaanam yasya tu chakshuraadi karanahdvaaraa bahispandhathe
Jaanaami ithi tameva bhaantham anubhaati etat samastham jagat
Tasmai sree gurave namah idam sree dakshinamurthaye

As the light inside a pot with holes makes other things outside shine, similarly it is but the light of the Self which passes through the pot of body and holes or chidraas of indriyaas and thereby illumines external objects -- similarly it is the light of the Self following which (the experience that "I know" or "I exist") the entire world shines or is existent, to that Guru who is Dakshinamurthy, I offer my prostrations.

There are many slokas from sruthi and smrithi about the same. Kena statement has already been said by Mallika. Katha upanishad says the famous sloka of "Na Tatra sooryo bhaathi", the same import is found in gita (many places -- 13th chapter, jyotishaam api tad jyothih tamasah param uchyate, 15th chapter, na tad bhaasayathe sooryo na shashaanko na paavakah") etc.

One small correction in Mallika's mail --- mahavakya is not "pragjyaanam brahma" but "prajnaanam brahma" - the "JNA" in prajnaanam is similar to knowledge of JNAANAM -- thus it is written in english as PRAJNAANAM and not PRAGJYAANAM.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

8:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home