Location: India

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sloka - 29 and 30

Hari OM


svabodhe naanyabodhechchhaa bodharuupatayaatmanaH .
na diipasyaanyadiipechchhaa yathaa svaatmaprakaashane .. 29..

Pada artha:
Swa-bodhe: to know itself
Na: not
Anya bodha ichha: need for other knowledge
Bodha roopatayaa: because its form is knowledge itself
Atmnaha: one’s own
Na: not
Deepasya: for a lamp
Anya-deepa-ichha: need for another lamp
Yatha: just as
Swaatma-prakashane: to illumine oneself

A lighted-lamp does not need another lamp to illumine its light. So too, Atman which is Knowledge itself needs no other knowledge to know it.

Acharya explained in the last sloka that the Atman is the sole illuminator of all the actions. Here in this sloka, we learn that the illuminating Atman does not need another illuminator to illumine it.

Light is necessary to see objects in dark, but when we have a lighted lamp, we do not need another source of light to see the lamp. There is no need of a lamp to see the sun which illumines all the objects of the world as the Sun itself is self-luminous. Similarly, to realize and experience Self, which is verily consciousness and self luminous, there is no need of any other consciousness. Acharya here is teaching that the Self which is the only reality, does not need another illuminator.

The Self as we learnt is the sole illuminator. As the Katha Upanishad’s famous sloka which was also mentioned in the previous slokas comment says “the sun, moon, stars, fire and all derive their illuminating power only from the Self”, It is that absolute consciousness because of which all appear as conscious.
Self is verily consciousness and if there is another illuminator that illuminates it, then there should be a second consciousness which is not possible. And this second consciousness if exists, would need a third consciousness to illumine it and that a third one and thus it would lead to infinite regression only. Thus Atman is self luminous, Also it is impossible to deny one’s existence and there is never a need of any external aid to prove that ‘I’ exist. The awareness of existence is ever present. Thus, Atman is self luminous.

Also, consciousness and ignorance are opposites like darkness and light. Hence, there is never a need of another illuminator to know Self which is verily consciousness. For example, in darkness, a object cannot be seen, but when there is light, the object is clearly perceived. Thus that which brings this light can never be in darkness. Hence there is never a need of another lamp to see a lighted lamp, as there can never be darkness and light together. Just like the lamp that does not require another lamp to illumine it as all darkness is removed by the lamp itself, Self which is verily consciousness can never depend on another consciousness to illumine it.


nishhidhya nikhilopaadiinneti netiiti vaakyataH .
vidyaadaikyaM mahaavaakyairjiivaatmaparamaatmanoH .. 30..

Pada artha:
Nishidya: after negating
Nikhilopaadinaam: all conditionings
Na iti: ‘not this’
Iti: thus
Vakyataha: from the scriptural statements
Vidhyaat: know
Ekyam: oneness
Mahavakyaihi: by the great mahavakyas
Jeevatma paramaatmanoho: of the individual and soul and the supreme soul

By a process of negation of the conditionings (Upadhis) through the help of the scriptural statement ‘It is not this, It is not this’, the oneness of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, as indicated by the great Mahavakyas, has to be realized.

Acharya Sankara in the last slokas explained about the self illumining nature of Atman. In this sloka, Acharya is explaining that one should realize the true nature of Self by the negation of the upadhis.
The Atman as we learnt is distinct from the three bodies and remains ever unaffected, also as we learnt in the previous slokas, it is only due to the ignorance of one’s nature and by non discrimination of Self and non self, of the reality and the illusion that all duality and hence misery arises.

As we have learnt in Vakya Vritti, the Upanishads teach two methods of realizing the nature of Self, the direct method and the negation method. The direct method is by pointing out the nature of the Atman as that of existence-consciousness and bliss and the negation method is by negating all the adjuncts of the atman and hence by realizing the true nature of Self as distinct from the illusory adjuncts. By negating all the adjuncts, that which remains at the end is the negator alone. And the nature of this negator is realized as that of existence, consciousness and bliss which is verily Brahman. Thus the unity of the Brahman and Atman as the Mahavakyas “Aham Brahmasmi”, “Tat Tvam Asi”, “Ayam Atma Brahma” etc. propound is realized.

Ignorance as Acharya explained in verse 25, is caused only when the attributes of the insentient physical body and the inner organs are falsely imposed on the Self. Hence Self seems to be limited which thus gives rise to miseries. Self is neither the gross body which perishes nor the subtle body which is insentient and is neither the causal body which is not existent in deep sleep. Thus that which is ever present has to be known by negating all the adjuncts.

It is only be false identification of the Self by the gross, subtle and causal bodies that all the duality arises, Hence the negation process is explained here by the Acharya as a means of attaining liberty from all the illusory limiting adjuncts. By the power of discrimination of the reality and the non reality, one gains conviction on the nature of the Self and eventually, the identity of Brahman and Atman as propounded by the Mahavakyas is realized.

Thus in this verse, the way of Self realization by the way of negation of the limiting adjuncts is explained.

Hari OM

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.

Believe the sloka image has wrong wordings of "nikhila upaadeen" instead of "nikhila upadeenaam" cause as far as my knowledge goes, there is no word "upaadeen" in sanskrit.

Regarding the "two methods of realizing the nature of Self, the direct method and the negation method" - this is totally wrong as this goes against the very concept of Vedanta which proclaims in many places that "the self is realized through knowledge alone" --- there is no two paths to the reality, there but exists only one path...... All other paths of devotion, karma etc. just lead to the final path of knowledge.

Mallika, can you please provide the source of this statement???

BTW, as we all know there are mainly three sub schools of Advaita Vedanta - Bhamathi school following the Bhamathi sub commentary of vachaspathi mishra plus its sub commentaries, Vivarana school following the panchapaadika of padmapaada and Vartika school following the vartikas of sureshwaracharya.

These schools differ about as to whether the direct proclamation of the Self as SAT CHIT ANANDA is primary or the negation method of NETI NETI is primary. It is but a controversial subject and dont want to enter into much debates-analysis on the same.

But we can guess that the neti neti prakriya negates everything apart from the Self & this should follow/will follow by the assertion of the Self as "SAT CHIT ANANDA". Thus we can in a way say (following the vivarana school) that assertion is primary and negation leads to assertion.

Thus there is no two methods but just that one is primary and the other is secondary or auxiliary.

This is where the vivarana school defines lakshana of the Self in three progressive ways which are:

1. Vyaavritta lakshana or distinctive definition of neti neti
2. Thatastha lakshana - as the substratum of the illusory world -- even as a house is indicated as "the one wherein the crow is sitting" - the crow is temporary and will vanish but is just used to point to the house - similarly illusory world is just used to point out its non-dual reality substratum of Brahman
3. Svaroopa lakshana - as SAT CHIT ANANDA

The problem with the approach of negation as primary will basically be that it may lead a person to think that the negator is void or shoonya -- there are other technical arguments posed against the same by Vivarana school as well as Sarvajnaatman in Sankshepa Saareeraka (sorry that I dont remember the arguments now and dont have the books over here with me as well).

More than getting involved in too much controversies, we should remember that all these distinctions are only at the empirical level. Once a seeker progresses, he goes beyond the empirical level & then there is nothing but knowledge or Self alone. Since Self alone exists, realization is but knowing that "I am the Self" which doesn't require any negation but only assertion or aparoksha anubhava of one's own existence or being conscious of one's own existence. Negation is valid only so long as a person sees duality or is at the empirical level. Once a person gets the conviction that there is no duality and dual world is only an illusion, then there is nothing but the Self alone, one without a second.

Hope the above is clear that there are no two methods to realize the Self but one and only one method of "knowing the Self".

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

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