ATMA BODHA (Knowledge of the Self ) –Sri Shankaracharya …Verses 1-15
After a devotee sent to Sri Bhagavan a Tamil translation of Shankaracharya’s Atma Bodha, Bhagavan composed a new translation in Tamil. He did this translation very rapidly, working even at night, using a flashlight!
`Can Shankara, the enlightener of the Self, be different from one’s own Self? Who but he, does this day, abiding as the inmost Self in me, speak this in the Tamil language?’ – Sri Bhagavan
1. This ‘Atma Bodha’ is meant to fulfill the want of the seekers of liberation who, by their prolonged tapas, have already cleansed themselves of impurities and become mentally peaceful and free from desires.
2. Of all the means to liberation, knowledge is the only direct one — as essential as fire to cooking; without it, liberation cannot be gained.
3. Not being opposed to ignorance, karma does not destroy it. On the other hand, knowledge destroys ignorance as surely as light does darkness.
4. Owing to ignorance, the Self now appears to be covered up; on the removal of ignorance, the pure Self will shine forth of Itself, like the sun after the dispersal of clouds.
5. The jiva is mixed up with ignorance. By constant practice of knowledge the jiva [?]becomes pure, because knowledge disappears (along with ignorance), as the cleansing nut with the impurities in the water.
6. Samsara is full of likes and dislikes and other opposites. Like a dream, it seems real for the time being; but, on waking, it vanishes because it is unreal.
7. So long as the substratum of all, the non-dual Brahman is not seen, the world seems real — like illusory silver in a piece of mother-of-pearl.
8. Like bubbles rising on the surface of the waters of the ocean, all the worlds arise from, stay in and resolve into the Supreme Being (Paramesa) who is the root cause and prop of all.
9. In the Being-Consciousness-Bliss, which is all permeating, eternal Vishnu, all these diverse objects and individuals appear (as phenomena) like various ornaments made of gold.
10. Just as the all-pervading akasa (ether) appears fragmented in different objects (as in a pit, a jar, a house, a theatre hall, etc.) but remains undifferentiated on the limitations falling away, similarly with the single, non-dual ruler of the senses (seeming to function as gods, men, cattle, etc.).
11. The traits, etc., are also superimposed. Pure water (tasteless by itself) tastes sweet, bitter, salty etc., according to the admixture in it (upadhis). Similarly, race, name status, etc., are all superimposed on the non-dual Self of all.
12. The gross body made up of the five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) is meant to reap the fruits of past actions in the shape of pleasure and pain.
13. The subtle body consisting of the five airs, the mind,intellect, the ten senses and made up of subtle elements is also meant for enjoyment (as in dreams).
14. Inexpressible and beginningless ignorance is said to be the causal body (as in deep sleep). Know the Self to be other than these three upadhis.
15. Just as a clear crystal (itself colourless) appears red, blue, yellow, etc., according to the background, so also the Self, pure and untainted, seems to be identical with the body, the senses, the mind, intellect or blissful ignorance (panchakosas) when in contact with them.
May 28, 2013