By Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda
Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai


1. Salutation to the lotus feet of my Guru Sri Sankarananda whose only work is to destroy the monster of primal nescience together with its effect, the phenomenal universe.

2. This discussion about the discrimination of Truth (Brahman) (from untruth) is being initiated for the easy understanding of those whose hearts have been purified by service to the pair of lotus feet of the Teacher.

3. The objects of knowledge, viz., sound, touch, etc., which are perceived in the waking state, are different from each other because of their peculiarities; but the consciousness of these, which is different from them, does not differ because of its homogeneity.

4. Similar is the case in the dream state. Here the perceived objects are transient and in the waking state they seem permanent. So there is difference between them. But the (perceiving) consciousness in both the states does not differ. It is homogeneous.

5. A person awaking 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 'want of knowledge' is perceived.

6. This consciousness (in the deep sleep state) is indeed distinct from the object (here, ignorance), but not from itself, as is the consciousness in the state of dream. Thus in all the three states the consciousness (being homogeneous) is the same. It is so in other days too.

7. Through the many months, years, ages and world cycles, past and future, consciousness is the same; it neither rises nor sets (unlike the sun); it is self-revealing.

8. This consciousness, which is our Self, is of the nature of supreme bliss, for it is the object of greatest love, and love for the Self is seen in every man, who wishes, 'May I never cease to be', 'May I exist forever'.

9. Others are loved for the sake of the Self, but the Self is loved for none other. Therefore the love for the Self is the highest. Hence the Self is of the nature of the highest bliss.

10. In this way, it is established by reasoning that the individual Self is of the nature of existence, consciousness and bliss. Similar is the supreme Brahman. The identity of the two is taught in the Upanishads.

11. If the supreme bliss of the Self is not known, there cannot be the highest love for it. (But it is there). If it is known, there cannot be attraction for worldly objects. (That too is there). So we say, this blissful nature of the Self, though revealed, is not (strictly speaking) revealed.

12. A father may distinguish the voice of his son chanting (the Vedas) in chorus with a number of pupils but may fail to note its peculiarities, due to an obstruction viz., its having been mingled with other voices. Similar is the case with bliss. Because of observation, it is proper to say that the bliss 'is known yet unknown'.

13. Our experience of the articles of everyday use is that they 'exist', they 'reveal'. Now an obstruction is that which stultifies this experience of existence and revelation and produces the counter-experience that they are not existing, they are not revealing.

14. In the above illustration the cause of the obstruction to the voice of the son being fully recognised is the chorus of voices of all the boys. Hence the one cause of all contrary experiences is indeed the beginningless Avidya.

15. Prakriti (i.e. primordial substance) is that in which there is the reflection of Brahman, that is pure consciousness and bliss and is composed of sattva, rajas and tamas (in a state of homogeneity). It is of two kinds.

16. When the element of sattva is pure, Prakriti is known as Maya; when impure (being mixed up with rajas and tamas) it is called Avidya. Brahman, reflected in Maya, is known as the omniscient Isvara, who controls Maya.

17. But the other (i.e. the Jiva, which is Brahman reflected in Avidya) is subjected to Avidya (impure sattva). The Jiva is of different grades due to (degrees of) admixture (of rajas and tamas with sattva). The Avidya (nescience) is the causal body. When the Jiva identifies himself with this causal body he is called Prajna.

18. At the command of Isvara (and) for the experience of Prajna the five subtle elements, ether, air, fire, water and earth, arose from the part of Prakriti in which tamas predominates.

19. From the sattva part of the five subtle elements of Prakriti arose in turn the five subtle sensory organs of hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.

20. From a combination of them all (i.e. sattva portions of the five subtle elements) arose the organ of inner conception called antahkarana. Due to difference of function it is divided into two. Manas (mind) is that aspect whose function is doubting and buddhi (intellect) is that whose functions are discrimination and determination.

21. From the rajas portion of the five elements arose in turn the organs of actions known as the organ of speech, the hands, the feet, and the organs of excretion and generation.

22. From a combination of them all (i.e. the rajas portions of the five subtle elements) arose the vital air (Prana). Again, due to difference of function it is divided into five. They are Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana.

23. The five sensory organs, the five organs of action, the five vital airs, mind and intellect, all the seventeen together from the subtle body, which is called the Suksma or linga sarira.

24. By identifying himself with the subtle body (and thinking it to be his own), Prajna becomes known as Taijasa, and Isvara as Hiranyagarbha. Their difference is the one between the individual and the collective (i.e. one is identified with a single subtle body and the other with the totality of subtle bodies).

25. Isvara (as Hiranyagarbha) is called totality because of his sense of identification with all the subtle bodies (of the universe). The other (the Taijasa) is called 'individual" because it lacks this knowledge (and is conscious only of his self, being identified with his own subtle body).

26. To provide the Jivas with objects of enjoyment and make the bodies fit for such enjoyment, the all-powerful Isvara has made each of the (subtle) elements partake of the nature of all others.

27. Dividing each element into two equal halves and one half of each again into four (equal parts) the Lord mixed the subtle elements so that each gross element thus formed should contain one half of its own peculiar nature and one eighth of that of each of the other four.

28. From these composite elements the cosmic egg arose, and from it evolved all the worlds as well as all the objects of experience and the bodies in which the experience take place. When Hiranyagarbha identifies himself with the totality of gross bodies he is known as Vaisvanara; when Taijasas do so with individual gross bodies (e.g.) of the devas, men or lower animals, they are known as Visvas.

29. They see only external things and are devoid of the knowledge of their true inner nature. They perform actions for enjoyment, and again they enjoy for performing action.

30. They go from birth to birth, as worms that have slipped into a river are swept from one whirlpool to another and never attain peace.

31. When the good deeds performed by them in past births bear fruit, the worms enjoy rest being lifted from the river by a compassionate person and placed under the shade of a tree on the bank.

32. Similarly, the Jivas (finding themselves in the whirlpool of samsara), receive the appropriate initiation from a teacher who himself has realised Brahman, and differentiating the Self from its five sheaths attain the supreme bliss of release.

33. The five sheaths of the Self are those of the food, the vital air, the mind, the intellect and bliss. Enveloped in them, it forgets its real nature and becomes subject to transmigration.

34. The gross body which is the product of the quintuplicated elements is known as the food sheath. That portion of the subtle body which is composed of the five vital airs and the five organs of action, and which is the effect of the rajas aspect of Prakriti is called the vital sheath.

35. The doubting mind and the five sensory organs, which are the effect of Sattva, make up the mind sheath. The determining intellect and the sensory organs make up the intellect sheath.

36. The impure Sattva which is in the causal body, along with joy and other Vrittis (mental modifications), is called the bliss sheath. Due to identification with the different sheaths, the Self assumes their respective natures.

37. By differentiating the Self from the five sheaths through the method of distinguishing between the variable and the invariable, one can draw out one's own Self from the five sheaths and attain the supreme Brahman.

38. The physical body present in one's consciousness is absent in the dreaming state, but the witnessing element, pure consciousness, persists (in both the waking and dreaming states). This is the invariable presence (anvaya) of the Self. Though the self is perceived, the physical body is not; so the latter is a variable factor.

39. Similarly, in the state of deep sleep, the subtle body is not perceived, but the Self invariably witnesses that state. While the self persists in all states the subtle body is not perceived in deep sleep and so it is called a variable factor.

40. By discrimination of the subtle body (and recognition of its variable, transient character), the sheaths of the mind, intellect, and vital airs are understood to be different from the Self, for the sheaths are conditions of the three gunas, and differ from each other (qualitatively and quantitatively).

41. Avidya (manifested as the causal body of bliss sheath) is negated in the state of deep meditation (in which neither subject nor object is experienced), but the Self persists in that state; so it is the invariable factor. But the causal body is a variable factor, for though the Self persists, it does not.

42. As the slender, internal pith of munja grass can be detached from its coarse external covering, so the Self can be distinguished through reasoning from the three bodies (or the five sheaths). Then the Self is recognised as the supreme consciousness.

43. In this way the identity of Brahman and Jiva is demonstrated through reasoning. This identity is taught in the sacred texts in sentences such as 'That thou art'. Their method of explaining the truth is through the elimination of incongruous attributes.

44. Brahman becomes the material and efficient cause of the world when associated with those aspects of Maya in which there is a predominance of tamas and sattva respectively. This Brahman is referred to as 'That ' in the text 'That thou art'.

45. When the supreme Brahman superimposes on Itself Avidya, that is, sattva mixed with rajas and tamas, creating desires and activities in It, then it is referred to as 'thou'.

46. When the three mutually contradictory aspects of Maya are rejected, there remains the one individual Brahman whose nature is existence, consciousness and bliss. This is pointed out by the great saying 'That thou art'.

47. In the sentence 'This is that Devadatta', 'this' and 'that' refer to different time, place and circumstances. When the particular connotations of 'this' and 'that' are rejected, Devadatta remains as their common basis.

48. Similarly, when the adjuncts, Maya and Avidya (the conflicting connotations in the proposition 'That thou art') of Brahman, and Jiva, are negated, there remains the indivisible supreme Brahman, whose nature is existence, consciousness and bliss.

49. (Objection): If the denoted object (of 'That thou art' i.e., Brahman) is with attributes, then it becomes unreal. Secondly, an object without attributes is neither seen nor is possible to conceive.

50. (Reply with a counter question): Does the objection you have raise relate to Brahman without attributes or with attributes? If the first, you are caught in your own trap; if the second, it involves logical fallacies of infinite regress, resting on oneself, etc.

51. The same logical fallacies may be shown in any object having substance, species, quality, action, or relationship. So accept all these attributes as existing (superimposed on) by the very nature of things.

52. The Self is untouched by doubts about the presence or absence of associates, connotations and other adventitious relationships, because they are superimposed on it phenomenally.

53. The finding out or discovery of the true significance of the identity of the individual self and the Supreme with the aid of the great sayings (like Tattvamasi) is what is known as sravana. And to arrive at the possibility of its validity through logical reasoning is what is called manana.

54. And, when by sravana and manana the mind develops a firm and undoubted conviction, and dwells constantly on the thus ascertained Self alone, it is called unbroken meditation (nididhyasana).

55. When the mind gradually leaves off the ideas of the meditator and the act of meditation and is merged in the sole object of meditation. (viz., the Self), and is steady like the flame of a lamp in a breezeless spot, it is called the super-conscious state (samadhi).

56. Though in samadhi there is no subjective cognition of the mental function having the Self as its object, its continued existence in that state is inferred from the recollection after coming out of samadhi.

57. The mind continues to be fixed in Paramatman in the state of samadhi as a result of the effort of will made prior to its achievement and helped by the merits of previous births and the strong impression created through constant efforts (at getting into samadhi).

58. The same idea Sri Krishna pointed out to Arjuna in various ways e.g., when he compares the steady mind to the flame of a lamp in a breezeless spot.

59. As a result of this (nirvikalpa) samadhi millions of results of actions, accumulated in this beginningless world over past and present births, are destroyed, and pure dharma (helpful to the realisation of Truth) grows.

60. The experts in Yoga call this samadhi 'a rain cloud of dharma' because it pours forth countless showers of the bliss of dharma.

61. The entire network of desires is fully destroyed and the accumulated actions known as merits and demerits are fully rooted out by this samadhi.

62. Then the great dictum, freed from the obstacles (of doubt and ambiguity), gives rise to a direct realisation of the Truth, as a fruit in one's palm - Truth which was earlier comprehended indirectly.

63. The knowledge of Brahman obtained indirectly from the Guru, teaching the meaning of the great dictum, burns up like fire all sins, committed upto that attainment of knowledge.

64. The direct realisation of the knowledge of the Self obtained from the Guru's teaching of the great dictum, is like the scorching sun, that dispels the very darkness of Avidya, the root of all transmigratory existence.

65. Thus a man distinguishes the Self from the five sheaths, concentrates the mind on It according to the scriptural injunctions, becomes free from the bonds of repeated births and deaths and immediately attains the supreme bliss.


1. Brahman, who is, according to Shruti, the non-dual reality, can be known by the process of differentiation from the five elements. So this process is now being discusses in detail.

2. The properties of the five elements are sound, touch, colour, taste and smell. In Akasa (ether), air, fire, water and earth, the number of properties successively are one, two, three, four and five.

3. Echoes arise in the Akasa (ether), and hence we infer that the property of Akasa is sound. Air makes a rustling sound when it moves, and it feels neither hot nor cold to the touch. A fire in flame makes a characteristic crackling sound.

4. A fire feels hot, and its colour is red. Water makes a characteristic rippling sound; it is cold to the touch; its colour is white, and it is sweet in taste.

5. The earth makes a characteristic rattling sound; it is hard to the touch; its variegated colours are blue, red and so forth; it is sweet, sour and so forth in taste.

6. The earth emits smells, both pleasant and unpleasant. Thus the characteristic properties of the five elements are well classified. The five senses (which perceive them) are hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.

7. The five senses successively function through the external apparatus, the gross organs, the ears, the skin, the eyes, the tongue and the nose. The senses are subtle; their presence is to be inferred from their functions. They often move outwards.

8. But sometimes we hear the sounds made by our in-going and out-going breaths, and we hear buzzing sound when our ears are stopped. We feel an internal sensation of hot and cold when food and water are swallowed.

9. When our eyes are closed, we see inside the absence of light, and in belching we experience taste and odour. Thus the sense organs give rise to experience of things within the physical body.

10. The various actions of man can be classified into five groups; speech, grasping, movement, excretion and enjoyment of sexual intercourse. Action performed in agriculture, commerce, service and so forth may be included into one or other of the groups.

11. The five groups of actions are performed through the five organs of action - the mouth, the hands, the feet, the anus and the genitals.

12. The mind, the ruler of the ten organs of sense and action, is situated within the lotus of the heart. As it depends on the organs of sense and action for its functions in relation to external objects, it is called an internal organ (antahkarana).

13. The mind enquires into the merits and defects of the objects which are perceived by the senses. Sattva, rajas and tamas are its three constituents, for through them the mind undergoes various modifications.

14. Non-attachment, forgiveness, generosity, etc., are products of sattva. Desire, anger, avarice, effort, etc., are produced by rajas.

15. Lethargy, confusion, drowsiness, etc., are produced by tamas. When sattva functions in the mind, merit is acquired; when rajas functions, demerit is produced.

16. When tamas functions, neither merit nor demerit is produced, but life is wasted for nothing. Of the modifications of the mind that of I-consciousness is the agent. In the practical world also we do the same.

17. It is quite evident that the objects in which sound, touch etc., are clearly discernible are products of the five elements. With the help of scriptural texts and reasoning it can be conceived that even for the senses and the mind the subtle elements are the basis.

18. Whatever of this world is perceived by the senses, the organs of action, the mind, reasoning and the scriptural texts, is referred to as 'this' (idam) in the Shruti text that follows.

19. "Before all this was created there was Being alone, one only, without a second; there was neither name nor form", so said Aruni.

20. Differences are of three kinds: The difference of a tree from its leaves, flowers, fruits etc., is the difference within an object. The difference of one tree from another tree is the difference between objects of the same class. The difference of a tree from a stone is the difference between objects of different classes.

21. Similarly doubt may arise that the one and only reality (Sat or Brahman) may also have differences. So all the three kinds of differences have been negated by the Shruti in three words denoting the oneness of Brahman, Its definiteness and rejection of duality respectively.

22. One cannot doubt that Brahman, the one and only reality, has no parts, for Its parts cannot be conceived of. Names and forms cannot be Its parts, for before creation they did not arise.

23. As creation means the appearances of names and forms, they cannot exist before creation. Therefore like the Akasa, Brahman is partless (and there is no difference with It.)

24. The difference between objects of the same class can have no reference to Sat, for nothing else exists. One object differs from another on account of its name and form, whereas Brahman is absolutely without name and form.

25. And about non-existence: we cannot say that it (is something that) exists. So it cannot serve as a pratiyogin. If so, how can there be vijatiya difference?

26. So it is established that Sat is one only without a second. But there are still some who get confused by texts and say that Asat (nothing) existed before creation.

27. As a man who has fallen into the sea is bewildered and loses the power of exercising his senses, so they too become afraid and nervous when they hear of the Reality as one only without parts.

28. The teacher Gaudapada speaks of the great fear of some yogins who are devoted to Brahman with form, regarding the objectless super-conscious state.

29. This identification with the ungrasped and ungraspable Reality is difficult to achieve. They are indeed seeing fear in the fearless.

30. The highly respected Bhagavatpada Sankara also refers to the Madhyamikas, experts in dry ratiocination (contradicting the vedic view), as confused regarding the self-existent Brahman who is beyond thought.

31. These Buddhists, merged in darkness, and seeing through the one eye of inference and neglecting the authority of the Vedas, reached only the 'nothingness'.

32. (We ask the Buddhists): When you said, 'nothing existed' did you mean it (nothing) was connected with existence (Sat) or it (nothing) was of the nature of existence? In either case its nothingness is contradicted.

33. The sun does not have the attribute of darkness; nor is it itself of the nature of darkness. As existence and non-existence are similarly contradictory, (you cannot predicate something about nothing, so) how do you say 'nothing existed'?

34. (The Buddhists retort): (According to you Vedantins) The names and forms of Akasa and other elements are conjured up by Maya in (or on) Sat, the existence or Reality. Similarly (according to us) they (names and forms) are illusively produced by Maya in (or on) non-existence, Asat. (Reply): Our answer is, 'May you live long', i.e. you have fallen into a logical trap.

35. If you affirm that name and form attributed to an existing thing: are both creations of Maya (an illusory principle), then tell us what is the substratum upon which Maya creates names and forms; for illusion without a substratum, is never seen.

36. (The opponent says): In the Vedic text 'Existence was (sat asit)' if the two words mean differently then two separate things come in. If the words refer to the same thing, then there is tautology. (The Vedantins replies): Not that, i.e., the two terms certainly refer to the same thing, but identical statements like this are seen in usage.

37. We all use the expressions, 'What has to be done has been done', 'speech is spoken', and 'A burden is borne'. The Vedic text 'Existence was' is meant for those whose minds are accustomed to such expressions.

38. Such text as 'Before creation' spoken in reference to Brahman who is timeless, are meant for beginners who are used to the idea of time. They do not imply the existence of duality.

39. Objections are raised and answered from the point of view of duality. From the stand point of pure non-duality neither questions nor answers are possible.

40. What remains after dissolution is an unmoving and ungraspable, unnamed and unnamable, unmanifest, indefinite something, beyond light and darkness, and all-pervading.

41. (Objection): When the molecules of the four elements earth, water, fire and air are dissolved, we may have an idea of the dissolution of those elements; but how can our intellect grasp the dissolution of ak which is not composed of molecules? Hence Akasa is eternal.

42. (Reply): If your mind can conceive of the existence of Akasa in the total absence of the (atomic) world (of names, forms and motions) why could we not conceive of Sat without Akasa?

43. If the opponent holds that Akasa can be perceived in the absence of the rest of the world, we may ask: Where can it be seen except as light and darkness? (i.e. what you seem to perceive is not Akasa but light and darkness). Besides, according to the opponent's view Akasa cannot be perceived by the senses.

44. Brahman the pure existence (without any reference to the world) can be experienced without an iota of doubt, when all mentations cease. And what we experience is not nothing, for we are not conscious of the perception of nothing.

45. (Objection): The idea of existence is also absent in the state of quiescence. (reply): It does not matter. Brahman is self-revealing and the witness of the tranquil mind. It can be easily perceived by men inasmuch as it is the witness of the cessation of all mentations.

46. When the mind is void of all mentations we experience the witness or obscuring consciousness (in its purity) as calm and unagitated. Similarly prior to the functioning of Maya the existence, Sat, remained (in its purity) as quiescence, calm and unruffled.

47. As the power to burn exists in fire, so the power Maya, which has no existence independent of Brahman and which is inferred by its effect, exists in Brahman. Before the effect appears, the power behind the effect is not directly experienced by anyone anywhere.

48. The power of a substance is not the substance itself, as for instance, the power to burn is not the fire itself. (Similarly, Maya, which is the power of Brahman, is not Brahman). If Power is something other than Brahman, then define its nature.

49. (If you say the nature of) Maya is 'nothingness' (then you contradict yourself inasmuch as in verse 34) you said that 'nothing' is an effect of Maya (and an effect of a thing cannot be its nature, an effect being poterior to the thing). (So you will have to admit that) Maya is neither sunyam, non-existence nor Sat, existence, but it is as it is (i.e. something undefinable by the two terms).

50. This peculiar nature of Maya is corroborated by the Vedic text which purports, there was neither non-existence nor existence then (i.e., before creation) but there was darkness (by which is meant Maya). This attribution of existence to darkness (or Maya) is due to its association with existence, not by virtue of itself, in as much as it (existence) is denied to it (in the just mentioned Vedic passage).

51. Hence like nothingness, Maya also cannot be a distinct entity in its own right. In the world too, an able man and his ability are not considered two but one.

52. If it is argued that increase in one's power leads to the prolongation of his life (we counter it by saying that) the prolongation is not the result of power but the effects thereof, such as war, agriculture, etc.

53. Power is now here considered to be independent of its substratum. Before creation no effects of power existed. What grounds are there for assuming a duality?

54. Power does not operate in the whole of Brahman but only in a part of it. Earth's power of producing pots is not seen in all earth but in a portion or mode of earth only, viz., in clay, i.e., earth mixed with water.

55. The Shruti says: 'Creation is only a quarter of Brahman, the other three quarters are self-revealing' (i.e., not dependent on Maya's effects for its revelation). Thus does the Shruti say Maya covers but a part of Brahman.

56. In the Gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna: 'The world is sustained by a part of Mine', indicating that the world is sustained by a part of the Lord.

57. The Shruti supports the same view: 'The supreme spirit, pervading the world on every side, yet extends ten fingers beyond it'. In the Sutras, too, Brahman is declared to transcend the world of differences.

58. Shruti, the well-wisher of the questioner, being asked whether Maya pervades the whole or part of Brahman, speaks of the partless as having parts in order to explain the non-dual nature of Brahman, by giving illustrations.

59. With Brahman as its basis, Maya creates the various objects of the world, just as a variety of pictures are drawn on a wall by the use of different colours.

60. The first modification of Maya is Akasa. Its nature is space i.e., it gives room to things to exist and expand. Akasa derives its existence from Brahman, its substratum.

61. The nature of Brahman is existence only. Brahman is spaceless but Akasa has both space and existence as its nature.

62. Akasa also has the property of (conveying or communicating) sound, which Brahman does not have. Thus Akasa has two properties, sound and existence, whereas Brahman has only one existence.

63. The same Sakti (power) i.e. Maya which has conjured up Akasa in the real entity, Sat or Existence has also produced the difference between them, after having shown their identity.

64. It is Sat which appears as Akasa, but ordinary people, and the logicians say that existence is a property of Akasa. This is only to be expected, for Maya is the conjurer.

65. It is common knowledge that correct understanding makes a thing appear as it is in itself and illusion makes it appear differently.

66. A thing appears to be quite different after a thorough discussion of the Vedic passage (concerned) from what it appeared before such a discussion. So let us now discuss the nature of Akasa.

67. Brahman and Akasa are different entities. Their names are different, and the ideas conveyed by their names too are different. Brahman pervades air and other objects. Such is not the case with Akasa. This is what we know to be the difference.

68. The entity, Sat, being more pervading, is the locus or substance; and Akasa (being less pervading) a content or an attribute. When, by the exercise of reason or intellect, Sat is separated from Akasa, tell me what the nature of Akasa is (i.e., it is reduced to nothing).

69. If you hold that (when existence is abstracted from it) Akasa still remains as space, we reply, it should be ragarded as 'nothing'. If you say: 'It is different from Asat as well as from Sat' you shift your position (for you do not admit anything which is different from both, which we, of course, hold.

70. If you argue that Akasa is evident, then we reply: let it be; it is to the credit of the products of Maya. The appearance of an object which is in fact non-existent is an illusion (mithya) just as that of the elephant seen in a dream.

71. As there is a distinction between a class, and a member of a class, a living man and his body, and the possessor of an attribute and the attribute, so there is a distinction between existence (Brahman) and Akasa. What is there to wonder at?

72. If you say that granting intellectually that there is a distinction between Akasa and Brahman, yet in practice one does not feel convinced of it, we ask, is such an absurd conclusion due to lack of concentration or tenacious doubt?

73. If the first, be attentive by fixing the mind through meditation. If the other, then study the matter carefully with the help of reasoning and evidence. Then the conviction of the truth of the distinction between Brahman and Akasa will be firm.

74. By means of profound meditation, evidence and logical reasoning, Brahman and Akasa can be known to be different from one another. The Akasa will not appear as real nor Brahman as having the property of space-giving.

75. To a knower Akasa shows its illusoriness and Brahman also always shines unassociated with its properties.

76. When one's impressions (about the true natures of Sat and Akasa) are thus quite deepened (by constant reasoning and meditation) one is amazed to see a person attributing reality to Akasa and suffering from ignorance about reality being pure existence (void of all attributes).

77. Thus when the unreality of Akasa and the reality of Brahman are firmly established in the mind, one should follow the same method and differentiate Brahman, whose nature is pure existence, from air and other elements.

78. The real entity (Brahman) is all-pervasive; the range of Maya is limited, that of Akasa is more limited and that of the air yet more so.

79. The following are the properties air is known to possess: ability to absorb moisture, perceptibility to the same of touch, speed and motion. Existence and the properties of Maya and Akasa are also found in air.

80. When we say, air exists, we mean that it does so by virtue of the universal principle, existence. If the idea of existence is abstracted from air what is left is of the nature of Maya i.e. a non-entity. The property of sound that is found in air is of Akasa.

81. (Objection): It was stated before (in 67) that existence was a natural concomitant of everything and that Akasa was not. Now you say that Akasa is concomitant of air. Do they not contradict?

82. (Reply): We implied before that space as an attribute of Akasa was not found in air; we now say that the ability to produce sound, which is also the attribute of Akasa is found in air. Where is the contradiction?

83. (Objection): If you argue that because air is different from the real entity it is unreal, why do you not infer that air, perceived by the senses being different from Maya, is not unreal like Maya?

84. (Reply): Air is unreal because its nature partakes of the nature of Maya. Unreality is common to Maya, and its effects, because both differ from reality (existence), although Maya, being power, is not subject to perception whereas its effects are.

85. There may be sub-divisions within non-existence. But what is the use of considering them here?

86. What is real in air is Brahman, Sat; other portions are unreal as in Akasa. Having made a deep impression (in your mind) about the unreality of air (by reason and meditation) give up (the false notion about the reality of) air.

87. In the same way we can think of fire which has a more limited range than air. A similar consideration will point to the relative extension of the other elements which envelop the universe (e.g. water and earth).

88. Fire is formed from a tenth part of air, and in this way each element is one tenth as extensive as the preceding one. This is the traditional theory described in the Puranas.

89. Heat and light are the specific properties of fire in addition to the properties of the entities from which it is derived, namely existence, a pseudo-reality apart from existence and perceptibility to the senses of sound and touch.

90. Endowed with these properties of Brahman, Maya, Akasa and air, respectively, fire has colour as its specific property; apart from existence, all the other properties of fire are unreal. Understand this by discrimination.

91. Since the reality of fire as Brahman and its unreality apart from Brahman has been established, it is easy to understand the unreality of water apart from Brahman since it consists of only one-tenth part of fire.

92. Its existence, its pseudo-reality apart from existence, its perceptibility to the senses of sound, touch and sight are taken from the entities from which it is derived (namely, Brahman, Maya, Akasa, air and fire respectively). Its specific property is perceptibility to the sense of taste.

93. Since the illusory character of water considered apart from existence has thus been established, let us now take the case of earth, which arises from one-tenth part of water.

94. The earth has for its properties existence, a pseudo-reality apart from existence and perceptibility to the senses of sound, touch, sight and taste. Its specific property is perceptibility to the senses of smell. Their difference from Brahman should be understood.

95. The illusory character of earth is realised when it is considered apart from existence. One-tenth part of it forms the cosmos.

96. The cosmos contains the fourteen worlds and all the living beings suited to each world.

97. If we abstract from the cosmos the existence which underlies it, all the worlds and all objects are reduced to a mere illusory appearance. What does it matter even if they still continue to appear?

98. When a deep impression has been created in the mind about the elements and their derivatives and Maya being of the same category (viz., of non-existence), the understanding of the real entity as non-dual will never be subverted.

99. When the Reality has been comprehended as non-dual and the world of duality has been differentiated, their pragmatic action (however) will continue as before.

100. The followers of Sankhya, Vaisesika, the Buddhist and other schools have established with quite an array of arguments (the real nature of) the multiplicity in the universe. Let them have these. We have no quarrel with them. (In the pragmatic world we too accept them all.)

101. There are philosophers who, holding an opposite view, disregard the real non-dual entity. That does not harm us, who (following the Veda, reason and experience, are convinced of our own unshakable position and therefore) have no regard for their conclusion.

102. When the intellect disregards the notions of duality, it becomes firmly established in the conception of non-duality. The man who is firmly rooted in the conviction of non-duality is called a Jivanmukta (liberated in life).

103. Sri Krishna says in the Gita: 'This is called having one's being in Brahman, O Partha. None, attaining to this, becomes deluded. Being established therein, even at the last moment, a man attains to oneness with Brahman'.

104. 'At the last moment' means the moment at which the mutual identification of the illusory duality and the one secondless reality is annihilated by differentiating them from each other; nothing else.

105. In common parlance the expression 'at the last moment' may mean 'at the last moment of life'. Even at that time, the illusion that is gone does not return.

106. A realised soul is not affected by delusion and it is the same whether he dies healthy or in illness, sitting in meditation or rolling on the ground, conscious or unconscious.

107. The knowledge of the Veda acquired (during the waking condition) is daily forgotten during dream and deep sleep states, but it returns on the morrow. Similar is the case with the knowledge (of Brahman) - it is never lost.

108. The knowledge of Brahman, based on the evidence of the Vedas, is not destroyed unless proved invalid by some stronger evidence; but in fact there is no stronger evidence than the Vedas.

109. Therefore the knowledge of the non-dual Reality (thus) established by the Vedanta is not falsified even at the last moment (whatever interpretation be taken). So the discrimination of the elements (from the non-dual Reality) surely ensures peace abiding or bliss ineffable.


1. It is possible to know Brahman which is "hidden in the cave" (i.e., the five sheaths), by differentiating It from them. Hence the five sheaths are now being considered.

2. Within the 'physical sheath' is the 'vital sheath'; within the 'vital sheath' is the 'mental sheath'; still, within is the 'intellectual sheath' or the 'agent sheath' and still within is the 'blissful sheath' or the 'enjoyer sheath'. This succession (of one within another) is the 'cave' (that covers the Atman).

3. The body which is produced from the seed and blood of the parents, which are in turn formed out of the food eaten by them, grows by food only. It is not the Self, for it does not exist either before birth or after death.

4. This body did not exist in the previous birth; then how could it have produced this birth? (For that would be an effect without a cause). Without existing in the future birth it cannot enjoy the results of action accumulated here (in this birth). (And hence it would be a case of 'one does and another enjoys the fruits thereof' - which is unreasonable).

5. The vital airs which pervade the body and give power and motion to the eyes and other senses constitute the vital sheath. It is not the Self because it is devoid of consciousness.

6. That which gives rise to the ideas of 'I' and 'mine' with regard to one's body, house and so forth, is the mind sheath. It is not the Self because it has desires and is moved by pleasure and pain, is subject to delusion and is fickle.

7. The intellect which has the reflection of pure consciousness, and which pervades the whole body up to the tips of the fingers in the waking state but disappears in deep sleep, is known as the intellect sheath. It also is not the Self because it too is changeable.

8. The inner organ functions as the agent and also the instrument. Hence though one, it is treated as two, viz., the intellect sheath and the mind sheath. Their fields of operation are the inner world and the outer world respectively.

9. There is a position or function (of the intellect) which, at the time of enjoying the fruits of good actions, goes a little farther inward and catches the reflection of the bliss and at the end of this enjoyment, merges in deep sleep. (This is what is known as the sheath of bliss).

10. This bliss sheath also cannot be the Self because it is temporal and impermanent. That bliss which is the source of this reflection is the Self; for it is eternal and immutable.

11. (Objection): By granting that the sheaths beginning with that of food (body) and ending in that of bliss (joy or sleep) are not the Self, yet (when they are negated), no further object remains to be experienced.

12. (Reply): True, bliss sheath etc., are experienced and not anything else. Yet who can deny that by which these are experienced?

13. As the Self is Itself of the nature of experience only. It cannot be an object of experience. Since there is no experiencer nor any experience other than It, the Self is unknowable - not because It does not exist but because It cannot be an object of experience.

14. Objects of taste like sweet and bitter, impart their tastes to others, that is their nature, they do not stand in need of their being imparted to themselves. Nor are there other things to impart those tastes to themselves.

15. Just as there is nothing to hinder a thing from possessing its natural flavour even without being flavoured by another thing, even so the Self there stands four-square as the experience (viz., the awareness) even when It is not experienced (as an object of experience).

16. The Shruti declares: 'This Atman is self-revealing'; 'Before the evolution of the universe, the Self alone was shining'. 'It shining, all follow (i.e., shine); by Its shine the universe shines (i.e., is revealed).'

17. How can that, by which the whole universe is known, by known by anything else? By what can the knower be known? The mind etc., the instruments of knowledge, can know their own percepts only.

18. The Self knows all that is knowable. There is no one to know It. It is consciousness or knowledge itself and is different from both the known and the unknown (as also of the knowable and the unknowable).

19. How can a man teach scriptures to one who is a man only in form but who is so dull as not to experience what consciousness is in every act of knowing a thing?

20. As it is shameful for a man to express doubt if he has a tongue or not, so also it is shameful to say, 'I do not know what consciousness is. I must know it now'.

21. From whatever objects are perceived, dismiss the objects and what remains, viz., the pure consciousness, the awareness only, is Brahman. Such an understanding is called the determination of the nature of Brahman.

22. By dismissing the objective element, i.e., the five sheaths. That is the real nature of the Self (viz., pure consciousness). Non-existence cannot be attributed to it.

23. One's self is surely existing; there cannot be any opposition to that. Were it not so, who could be the opponent?

24. Nobody, except through delusion, can entertain the idea that he does not exist. So the Shruti thus exposes the falsity of the position of one who denies the existence of the Self.

25. 'He who believes Brahman to be non-existent, becomes non-existent himself'. It is true the Self can never be an object of knowledge. But you must accept the existence of the Self (identified with one's own existence) as a fact.

26. If you ask what sort of thing the Self is, then we reply that the Self cannot be described as being 'this' or 'that'. It cannot be conceived as being 'like this' or 'like that'; so take it as your own real nature.

27. An object which the senses can perceive can be said to be 'like this'; an object which is beyond the range of sense perception is said to be 'like that'. That which is the subject cannot be an object of the senses. But as it is the very Self of everyone, it cannot be said to be beyond the ken of perception.

28. Though it cannot be made an object of knowledge, the Self is still felt very directly. So it must be self-revealing. Existence, consciousness and infinity, the indications used for Brahman, are all present here also (in the Self).

29. Existence is what cannot be negated. If the Self which is the witness of the perishable world becomes perishable, then who will be the witness to the fact of its perishability? For destruction without a witness of it cannot be postulated.

30. When all forms are destroyed, the formless space still remains. So, when all the perishable things are destroyed, what remains is that, (i.e. the imperishable Brahman or Self).

31. In the opponent objects 'nothing remains' after everything (name and form) has been destroyed, then we reply that what you describe as 'nothing' is the Self. Here the language alone differs. But there surely remains something (viz., the witness) after the destruction of all.

32. It is for this that the Shruti in the passage "That Atman is 'not this, not this'" negates all objects (having names and forms), but keeps the 'that' (i.e. Atman) intact.

33. The entire world (severally and collectively) that can be referred to as 'this' can be negated, but the thing which is not 'this' can never be negated and this indestructible witness is the Self.

34. Thus has been established (here) the eternal existence of the Self which, according to the Shruti, is Brahman; and Its nature of pure consciousness has already been proved by statements like 'It is awareness itself'.

35. Being all-pervasive, Brahman is not limited by space; being eternal, It is not limited by time; and being of the nature of everything, It is not limited by any object. Thus Brahman is infinite in all three respects.

36. Space, time and the objects in them being illusions causes by Maya, there is no limitation of Brahman by them. Infinity of Brahman is therefore clear.

37. Brahman who is existence, consciousness and infinity is the Reality. Its being Ishvara (the Omniscient Lord of the world) and Jiva (the individual soul) are (mere) superimpositions by the two illusory adjuncts (Maya and Avidya, respectively).

38. There is a power (called Maya) of this Ishvara which controls everything. It informs all objects from the bliss sheath (to the physical body and the external world).

39. If the particular attributes of all objects are not determined by this power, there would be chaos in the world, for there would be nothing to distinguish the properties of one object from those of another.

40. This power appears as 'conscious' because it is associated with the reflection of Brahman. And because of Its association with this power, Brahman gets Its omniscience.

41. Brahman is called the individual soul (Jiva) when It is viewed in association with the five sheaths, as a man is called a father and a grandfather in relation to his son or his grandson.

42. As a man is neither a father nor a grandfather when considered apart from his son and his grandson, so Brahman is neither Ishvara nor Jiva when considered apart from Maya or the five sheaths.

43. He who knows Brahman thus becomes himself Brahman. Brahman has no birth. So he also is not born again.


1. In this section we shall discuss the world of duality created by Ishvara and Jiva. By such critical discussion, the limit of duality causing the bondage which the Jiva has to renounce will be clear.

2. The Svetasvatara Upanishad says: 'Know Maya as Prakriti and Brahman associated with Maya as the great Ishvara' (who imparts existence and consciousness to it and guides it). It is He who creates the world.

3. The Aitareya Upanishad says that before creation there was Atman only, and He thought, 'Let me create the world', and then He created the world by His will (to create).

4. The Taittiriya Upanishad says that from the Self or Brahman alone arose in succession the whole creation including Akasa, (ether), air, fire, water, earth, vegetation, food and bodies.

5. The Taittiriya Upanishad says that desiring 'I shall be many, so I shall create', the Lord meditated; and thus created the world.

6. The Chandogya Upanishad says that before creation Brahman or the Self alone existed, and that His nature was pure existence. He desired to become manifold and created all things including fire, water, food and beings born of eggs and so forth.

7. The Mundaka Upanishad says that just as sparks emanate from a blazing fire, so from immutable Brahman arose different animate and inanimate things.

8. It is also said that before its manifestation the whole world existed in Brahman in a potential form; then, assuming name and form it came into being as Virat.

9. From Virat came into being the ancient law-givers, human beings, cattle, asses, horses, goats, and so on, both male and female, down to the ants. Thus says the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

10. According to these Shrutis Brahman or Atman Himself, assuming manifold forms as the Jivas, entered into these bodies. A Jiva is so called because it upholds vitality (the Pranas) (in a body).

11. The substratum or the pure consciousness, the subtle body and the reflection of pure consciousness on the subtle body - these three together constitute a Jiva.

12. Maya of the great Ishvara has, like its power of creation, another power which deludes all. It is this power which deludes the Jiva.

13. The Jiva, thus deluded to believe himself to be powerless and identified with a body, becomes subject to grief. Thus is described in brief the duality created by Ishvara.

14. In the Saptanna Brahmana of the Veda there is a description of the duality created by the Jiva. By action and reflection the Jiva creates seven kinds of food (objects on experience).

15. One kind is meant for men, two for the celestial beings, the fourth for the lower animals and the remaining three for the Self. Thus the food is divided.

16. Grains such as wheat (are for men), (the ingredients of) the full-moon and the new-moon sacrifices (are for the Devas), milk (is for the lower animals); and the mind, the speech and the vital airs (are for the Self) - these are the seven kinds of food.

17. Though all these objects are in themselves created by Ishvara, still by action and reflection the Jiva has converted them into his objects of enjoyment, hence they are said to be his creation.

18. As they are created by Ishvara and become objects of experience and enjoyment for the Jiva, so they are related to both, just as a woman is related both to the parents who brought her into being and to the husband who loves her.

19. In the actual creation of the objects the modifications or functions of Maya, the power of the Lord are the cause; whereas for the actual enjoyment of those objects it is the modifications or functions of the inner organs of the Jivas that are responsible.

20. Objects created by Ishvara (e.g., gems) do not alter; they remain the same. But gems may affect different people differently according to their mental states.

21. One man may feel happy on obtaining a gem, whereas another may feel disappointed at failing to obtain it. And a man uninterested in it, may only look on and feel neither happy nor disappointed.

22. The Jiva creates these three feelings of happiness, disappointment or indifference with regard to the gem, but the nature of the gem as created by Ishvara remains the same throughout.

23. Through personal relationships, one and the same woman appears differently as a wife, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, a cousin and a mother; but she herself remains unchanged.

24. (Objection): These different relationships may be seen, but no changes in the woman's appearance are seen to result from other people's ideas about her.

25. (Reply): Not so. The woman has a subtle body as well as a physical body composed of flesh etc. Although other people's ideas about her may not affect her physical body, yet they can change her mental state.

26. (Objection): Though it may affect the objects perceived in the states of delusion, dreaming, remembering and imagining, the mind cannot affect the objects perceived through the senses in the waking state.

27. (Reply): True, Acharya Shankara, Sureshvara and others acknowledge the fact that the mind assumes the form of the external object with which it comes into contact and modifies that form to suit its purposes.

28. Sri Shankara says that just as melted copper assumes the form of the mould into which it is cast, so the mind assumes the form of the object perceived by it.

29. Or just as sunlight assumes the forms of the objects which it illumines, so the mind assumes the forms of the objects which it perceives.

30. (Sri Sureshvara holds): Out of the cogniser (i.e. the Jiva) cognition (an appropriate modification of the mind) is produced. Thus born, the modification proceeds towards the object of cognition until it gets into touch with the object, when it assumes the form of the object (which is known as the cognition of the object).

31. So we see there are two kinds of objects, the 'material' and the 'mental'. The 'material' is the object cognised by mind being modified, by the form of the material object. And the 'mental' is cognised by the witness-consciousness (as the Jiva being affected by the 'material' coming in contact with the mind and evoking its latent desire for enjoyment).

32. By the application of the double method of agreement and difference we come to the conclusion that it is the 'mental' creation which causes bondage to the Jiva, for when these 'mental' objects are there, pleasure and pain are also there; when they are not, there is neither pleasure nor pain.

33. In dream, when external (material) objects are absent, man is bound by the intellect to pleasure and pain, although outer objects are not perceived. In deep sleep, in a faint and in the lower Samadhi (when the mental functions are temporarily suspended), no pleasure or pain is felt inspite of the proximity of outer objects.

34. A liar told a man whose son had gone to a far-off country that the boy was dead, although he was still alive. The father believed him and was aggrieved.

35. If, on the other hand, his son had really died abroad but no news had reached him, he would have felt no grief. This shows that the real cause of a man's bondage is his own mental world.

36. (Objection): This amounts to pure idealism and it deprives external objects of all significance. (Reply): No, because we accept the fact that external objects give shape to the modifications of the mind (which create the mental world).

37. Or, we may admit that external objects serve little useful purpose, yet we cannot dispense with them altogether. In any case, cognition is concerned with the existence of objects and not with their utility.

38. (Objection): If the mind causes bondage by giving rise to the phenomenal world, the world could be made to disappear by controlling the mind. So only Yoga needs to be practised; what is the necessity of knowledge of Brahman?

39. (Reply): Though by controlling the mind duality can be made to disappear temporarily the complete and final destruction of the mental creation is not possible without a direct knowledge of Brahman. This is proclaimed by the Vedanta.

40. The duality of Ishvara creation may continue, but the non-dualist, when conceived of its illusoriness, can nonetheless know the secondless Brahman.

41. When all duality disappears at the time of the dissolution of the universe, the secondless Atman still remains unknown, because then, as in deep sleep, there is no teacher and no scripture, though there may be absence of duality.

42. The world of duality created by Ishvara is rather a help than an obstacle to a direct knowledge of the non-duality. Moreover, we cannot destroy the creation, so let it be. Why are you so much opposed to it?

43. The world of duality created by Jiva is of two kinds: that which conforms and that which does not conform with the scriptural injunctions. The former should be kept in mind until Brahman is realised.

44. Reflection on the nature of the Self as Brahman is the mental world that conforms with the scriptural injunctions. Even this duality in conformity with the scripture is to be renounced after Brahman is realised. This is the direction of the Shruti.

45. 'An intelligent person, who has studied the scriptures and has repeatedly practised what they enjoin should renounce them after knowing the supreme Brahman, just as a man throws aside a flaming torch at the end of his journey'. [Amritanada Upanishad]

46. 'An intelligent person, who has studied the scriptures and has practised what they enjoin should discard them after experiencing Brahman as his Self, just as a man discards the husk when he has found the grain'. [Amrita-Bindu Upanishad]

47. 'A wise man, having experienced Brahman as his Self, should keep his higher intuitive faculty (prajna) united with Brahman. He should not oppress his mind with many words, for they are a mere waste of energy'. [Brihadaranyaka Upanishad]

48. It has been clearly told in the Shruti: 'Know that One and give up other talks' [Mundaka Upanishad] and 'A wise man should restrain his speech and keep it within the mind'. [Katha Upanishad]

49. The duality of the mental creation of man which is not in conformity with the scripture is of two kinds, violent and dull. That which gives rise to lust, anger and other passions is called violent and that which gives rise to day-dreams is called dull.

50. Before starting the study into the nature of Brahman it is necessary to give up both; for, mental poise and concentration are the two prerequisites for the study of Brahman, so says the Shruti.

51. in order to achieve and to be established in, the state of liberation these two must be given up. One who is subject to the urges of lust and other passions is unfit for liberation in life.

52. You may say: Let there be no liberation in life; I am satisfied if there is no birth anymore. We reply: Then (if the desires remain), you will have births also. So be satisfied with heaven only.

53. If you say that the pleasures of heaven are defective, having waning and gradation, and so are to be renounced, then why don't you give up this source of all evils, the passions?

54. If cherishing the false idea that you have attained liberation, you do not completely give up these passions, you transgress the laws of the scriptures and are self-willed.

55. Sri Sureshvara says that one who pretends to be a knower of Brahman and yet lives without moral restraint is like a dog that eats unclean things. [Naiskarmyasiddhi-IV-62]

56. Before knowledge, you suffered only from the pain of your own mental imperfections; but now, you suffer the censure of the world as well. How glorious is the effect of your knowledge?

57. O! Knower of Truth, do not sink to the level of pigs in the sty! Freeing yourself from all the defects arising from your mind, be worshipped by the world like a god.

58. The scriptures dealing with liberation proclaim that these urges of passions can be overcome by (constantly) thinking over the fettering nature of the objects of desire. Adopt these means, conquer the passions and be happy.

59. (Objection): All right, let defects such as the impact of passions be removed, but what is the harm in letting the imagination play on the objects of desire? (Reply): Such mental preoccupation with the objects of desire is the very seed of all evils, so says Lord Sri Krishna.

60. 'If a man dwells mentally on any object of desire, he will become attached to it. Attachment gives rise to a longing for it and the frustration of desire leads to anger.' [Gita-II.62]

60(a). 'From anger comes delusion and from delusion loss of memory. From loss of memory comes the ruin of discrimination and from the ruin of discrimination the man perishes'.

61. This tendency of thinking on objects may be overcome by meditation on the attributeless Brahman. This can gradually be done at ease by first meditating on Ishvara.

62. One who has understood intellectually the nature of the secondless Brahman and who is free from the defects of intellect, should live in solitude and over a long period practise the Japa of Aum and thus control the vagaries of the mind.

63. When the 'mental world' is thus conquered, (other) modifications of the mind (gradually) cease - the mind keeps mum like a dumb person. This method was variously explained by Vasistha to Rama.

64. With the direct knowledge of the unsubstantiality of the phenomenal world arises the profound bliss of Nirvana.

65. A steady and concentrated study of the scriptures and discussion on the truth with the teacher and other learned persons lead to the conviction that the calm of deep reflection born of the disappearance of the last vestiges of desires and passions is the highest state.

66. If sometimes owing to actions performed in previous births the mind of a reflective man is distracted by desire, then it may be brought back to a peaceful state by the constant practice of spiritual meditations.

67. That man whose mind is not subject to distraction is not merely a knower of Brahman but Brahman Itself - so declare the sages versed in the scriptures of Vedanta.

68. One whose mind does no longer dwell on whether he knows Brahman or not but who remains identified with pure consciousness or knowledge is not merely a knower of Brahman but Brahman Itself.

69. This liberation in life is the final step attained by sublating or removing the mental creations of the Jiva (projected on the world of Ishvara). So in this chapter we have described how the duality created by the Jiva differs from that created by Ishvara.


1. That by which a man sees, hears, smells, speaks and distinguishes sweet and bitter tastes etc., is called consciousness. ['Prajnanam Brahma' - Aitareya Upanishad III-i-1]

2. The one consciousness which is in Brahma, Indra and other gods, as well as in human beings, horses, cows, etc., is Brahman. So the consciousness in me also is Brahman.

3. The infinite, supreme Self remains manifested in this world as the witness of the functions of the intellect in the body, fit for Self-knowledge and is designated as 'I'.

4. By nature infinite, the supreme Self is described here by the word Brahman. The word 'Asmi' (am) denotes the identity of 'Aham' (I) and 'Brahman'. Therefore 'I am Brahman' (is the meaning of the text). ['Aham Brahmasmi' - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad I-iv-10]

5. Before the creation there existed the Reality, one only, without a second and without name and form. That is even now (after creation) exists in a similar condition is indicated by the word 'That'. ['Tattvamasi' - Chandogya Upanishad VI-viii-15]

6. The principle of consciousness which transcends the body, senses and mind of the enquirer is here denoted by the word 'thou'. The word 'Asi' (art) shows their identity. That identity has to be experienced.

7. By (pronouncing) the word 'this' it is meant that the Atman is self-luminous and directly experienced. That is known as Pratyagatman which is the indwelling principle covering everything between egoity and the body. ['Ayamatma Brahma' - Madukya Upanishad 2]

8. The essence of the entire visible universe is denoted by the word Brahman. That Brahman is of the nature of the self-luminous Atman.


1. As there are four stages in the painting of a picture, so there are four stages in the modification of the supreme Self.

2. In a picture we have the clean canvas, stiffening with starch, drawing of the outlines and the application of colour. In the case of the Self there are correspondingly the pure consciousness, the in-dwelling consciousness, the one identified with the totality of all the subtle bodies and that with the totality of all the physical bodies.

3. The naturally white canvas is the basis of the picture; by the application of starch it is stiffened; the outlines are drawn with a black pencil; and when the appropriate colours are applied to it, the picture is complete.

4. Brahman by nature is pure consciousness; with Maya He is called the in-dwelling spirit; in relation to the subtle bodies He is the totality of souls identifying Himself with them, and in relation to the gross bodies He is again the one identifying Himself with their totality.

5. As in a picture on a canvas there are superior and inferior objects, so in the supreme Lord there are grades of beings from Brahma down to the animate and inanimate objects.
6. The men in a picture are painted wearing clothes of different kinds and the clothes are so painted that they appear as real as the canvas of the picture.

7. On consciousness are superimposed various forms. In each of them there is a reflection, i.e., a special function of consciousness. They are known as the Jivas and are subject to the process of birth and death.

8. Ignorant people imagine that the colours representing the clothes of the figures are real clothes, as real as the canvas on which the picture is superimposed. Similarly the ignorant imagine that the transmigrations of the Jivas are undergone by the supreme Spirit, the substratum, on which the Jivas are superimposed.

9. Just as the hills etc., in a picture are not painted as dressed in clothes, so the inert objects like earth, are not endowed with the reflection of consciousness.

10. The confusion of considering this transmigration (with the attendant pain and pleasure) as real and affecting the supreme Self is called nescience. It is removed by the knowledge of Reality.

11. It is the Jiva, a 'reflection' of the Self, which is affected by the pain and pleasure of this transmigratory life, but not the real Self. This understanding is called knowledge. It is achieved through discrimination.

12. Therefore one should always enquire into the nature of the world, the individual Self and the supreme Self. When the ideas of Jiva and Jagat (world) are negated, the pure Atman alone remains.

13. By negation it does not mean that the world and Jiva cease to be perceptible to the senses, it means the conviction of their illusory character. Otherwise people would be automatically liberated in deep sleep or in a faint.

14. 'The supreme Self alone remains' also means a conviction about Its reality and not non-perceiving of the world. Otherwise there would be no such thing as liberation in life.

15. The knowledge arising from discrimination is of two kinds, indirect and direct. This process of discrimination ends in the achievement of the direct knowledge.

16. The knowledge that 'Brahman is' is indirect, the knowledge that 'I am Brahman' is direct.

17. We now consider the nature of the Self with a view to having its direct experience, through which the Jiva is immediately liberated from all worldly fetters.

18. The Self as consciousness absolute is spoken of as Kutastha, Brahman, Jiva and Ishvara, just as, for instance, Akasa (ether) is called 'pot-Akasa', 'all embracing Akasa, Akasa conditioned by water' and 'Akasa conditioned by a cloud'.

19. The sky with clouds and stars reflected in water contained in a pot which encloses space, is known as 'Akasa in water'.

20. The sky reflected in water particles forming a cloud suspended in space is known as 'Akasa in a cloud'.

21. As a cloud is composed of water in a particular state, it is therefore reasonable to assume the existence of the reflection of Akasa in a cloud.

22. The consciousness which is conditioned by the gross and subtle bodies, on which they are superimposed and which knows no change, is known as Kutastha.

23. On the Kutastha is superimposed by imagination in the intellect (buddhi). The reflection of Kutastha in the intellect is animated by vitality and is called the Jiva. It is subject to transmigration.

24. As the Akasa in a pot is concealed by the Akasa reflected in the water with which the pot is filled, so Kutastha is obscured by Jiva. This principle is called mutual obscuring or superimposition.

25. Under the delusion of mutual superimposition the Jiva cannot discriminate and realise that he is not Jiva but Kutastha. This non-discrimination is beginningless and is known as the primal nescience.

26. Nescience or Avidya has two functions: Avarana or the power to conceal and Viksepa or the power to project. The power of Avarana creates such ideas as 'Kutastha shines not nor exists'

27. If a wise man asks an ignorant man about Kutastha, he replies: 'There is no such thing as Kutastha. It does not manifest nor exist'. Thus he feels and says.

28. The opponent may raise such questions as: 'How did the self-luminous Kutastha come to have ignorance; and without it how could there be obscuring?' Such arguments are falsified by one's (direct) experience.

29. If one disbelieves one's own experience and since logic is not final, how can one know the truth about anything by mere reasoning?

30. The chief function of reasoning is to explain things clearly. One should employ logic following one's own experience and not misuse it.

31. That we do have experience of ignorance and its obscuring power has already been shown. So rather argue that Kutastha and nescience are not contradictory.

32. If Kutastha were contradictory to ignorance and its obscuring power then who is the experiencer of this obscuring? It is the discriminating knowledge which is contradictory to ignorance, as is seen in a knower of truth.

33. On Kutastha, covered over by (the concealing power of) ignorance, are projected or superimposed the subtle and gross bodies, thus producing the Chidabhasas or Jivas. It is like the superimposition of silver on a mother of pearl. This is called projection or Viksepa.

34. In the illusion 'This is silver', the pearl oyster shell is the thing perceived and is real, but by an error these notions, viz., 'this-ness' and its 'reality', are transferred to the imaginary silver. In the same way the ideas of 'Self' and 'existence' which belong to Kutastha are transferred to the Jiva through the error caused by nescience.

35. As the blue exterior and triangular form of the mother of pearl are lost to the vision, so the non-tactility and blissness of Kutastha are obscured by superimposition.

36. in the illustration that which is superimposed is called silver; so with the power of illusory projection that which is superimposed on Kutastha is called 'I', ego, or the sense of individuality.

37. As people think of 'this' (something seen) as silver though they really see the mother of pearl, so in self-cognition the Self is mistaken for the ego.

38. In the illustration the idea of 'this' and the idea of silver are not identical, similarly, in the human personality the idea of Self and the idea of ego are not identical. In both there is a common element and also a variable element.

39. People use such expression as 'Devadatta himself is going', 'you yourself see this', and 'I myself am unable'.

40. The demonstrative pronoun 'this' is common to such diverse perceptions as 'This is silver', 'This is cloth' and so forth. Similarly, the word 'self' is applied to all three persons, first, second and third 'I', 'you' and 'he'.

41. (Doubt): The concept 'I' (egoity) may be different from the concept of the Self (Atman), but what has this to do with Kutastha? (Reply): The word 'self' denotes Kutastha and vice versa.

42. (Doubt): 'Self' merely excludes the idea of another and does not say anything about Kutastha. (Reply): This 'exclusion of others' is the 'Self' of Kutastha. So exclusion is in favour of our idea.

43. People ordinarily use Self and Atman as synonymous terms; and so both terms are never used together. In fact each of these terms excludes the idea of 'another'.

44. (Doubt): We often use such expressions as 'The pot itself does not know'. Hence the word 'Self' is applied to an inanimate object. (Reply): Such language is used because Atman is the basis of the inanimate objects also.

45. It is not the immutable Kutastha or Atman which makes the difference between the animate and the inanimate; it is the Jiva, the reflection of Kutastha in the intellect, which makes the difference.

46. Just as the conscious Jiva is created by illusion based on Kutastha, even so, on it the inanimate objects are created by Avidya.

47. (Doubt): Like the word 'Self' the words 'this' and 'that' can be applied to all persons, 'I' and 'he', etc. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the objects denoted by 'this' and 'that' are also the Atman.

48. (Reply): 'This' and 'that' do not refer only to 'I' 'you' and 'he' (as distinct entities), but also to Atman, which is the common element in them all. They are like 'correctness', 'incorrectness', etc., not synonymous with Atman, (because they are of wider denotation.)

49. Besides, the ideas of 'this' and 'that' the 'Self' and 'the other' 'you' and 'I' are opposite pairs it is well known in society. There is no doubt about that.

50. The opposite of 'the other' is the Self, which is the same as the Kutastha. The opposite of 'you', however, is 'I', which is the egoism, the Jiva, which is superimposed on Kutastha.

51. As the distinction between 'silver' and 'this' is clear, so also the difference between 'I' and 'Self'. But the people in the grip of delusion identify 'I' with the immutable Self.

52. That the superimposition causing the identity of 'I' and 'Self' is caused by nescience has already been treated. When this nescience is negated, its effect is also terminated.

53. The veiling of the real nature of the Self and the identity superimposition, are caused by nescience, and they are destroyed when nescience is negated. But so long as the fructifying Karma continues, the mind and body, the effects of illusory projection of nescience, continue.

54. The logicians hold that when the material cause of an object has been destroyed its effect continues to appear for the next moment. Similarly why cannot the body of a knower of truth persist for some time when its cause, the nescience, has been destroyed?

55. According to the logicians the cloth keeps its form for the next second - the threads (its material cause) that last for a few days are destroyed. On the same reasoning, the body may persist for a proportionately long time when its cause, the ignorance of countless ages, is destroyed.

56. (Doubt): The logicians have assumed the truth of this theory without any proof. (Reply): We assume it on the ground of Shruti, experience and reasoning; why should it be improper?

57. There is no use entering into a controversy with the unreasonable Logicians. The fact is that the difference between Jiva and Kutastha is caused by illusion.

58. People who consider themselves scholars and the hair-splitting logicians overlook the authority of the Veda and wander due to their imperfect reasoning.

59. Some others accept the authority of the Vedas; but owing to their inability to harmonise the meaning of the texts which have gone before with those that follow, they become confused. They take some isolated passages out of context and quote them in support of their own views.

60. The materialists (Lokayatas) and vulgar persons depending on false perceptual evidence, regard the aggregate beginning with the Kutastha and ending in gross body as the Atman.

61. To support their materialist views, they quote some passages from the Shruti to show that the gross body is the Atman, which is the doctrine of Virochana.

62. There are other thinkers who point out that the body dies and decays when life leaves it. They conclude that the Atman is something other than the gross body.

63. There are others who think that in such expressions as 'I am speaking', the senses together with the intellect are seen to be distinct from the gross body and that therefore they are the Atman.

64. In the Shruti we hear of the senses, such as speech and so forth, quarrelling among themselves, which implies that they have consciousness. Therefore some thinkers have concluded that the senses are the Atman.

65. The followers of the school of Hiranyagarbha hold the vital airs (Pranas) to be the Atman. They point out that when the eye and other senses are inoperative the vital airs still continue to function, keeping the man alive.

66. The vital airs continue functioning even in sleep. In some Shruti passages the vital sheath is given pre-eminence and dealt with in detail.

67. The people devoted to worship call the mind as the Atman. They argue that the vital airs have no faculty of enjoyment, but that the mind has.

68. The Shruti says that the mind is the cause of the bondage and the release of man and it speaks of the mind-sheath; therefore these people conclude that the mind is the Atman.

69. The Buddhists believe that the Atman consists of the momentary states of the intellect, because the intellect, endowed with the faculty of understanding, is the basis of the mind and through it the mind grasps matter.

70. The internal organ (Antahkarana) has two kinds of vrittis, viz., the 'I'-consciousness, and 'this' consciousness. The first constitutes the intellect, the subject-consciousness and the second the mind, the object-consciousness.

71. Since without the sense of egoity, it is not possible to cognise the outer world, it is clear that the idea of egoity is the cause of the mind and without it the cognisance of the external world is impossible.

72. As 'I' - consciousness appears and disappears every moment, the intellect is transitory and it needs no further principle to illumine it.

73. The intellect sheath is the Self. The whole world is cognised by it, and birth and death, pleasure and pain, affect it. So say some Vedic texts.

74. The intellect is momentary like the flashes of lightning in a cloud or the twinkling of an eye, and that because we know of no other Self beyond the intellect, the Self is nothing or void. So say the Madhyamika Buddhists.

75. Quoting the Shruti, 'In the beginning all this was non-existent (Asat)', the Buddhists say that perception and the objects of perception are the creations of illusion.

76. The Vedantins refute them by saying that there can be no illusion without a substratum which is not an illusion. The existence of the Atman must be admitted. Even the void has a witness; if not, it would be impossible to say, 'There is a void'.

77. The Vedic view, say the Naiyayikas, in that beyond the intellect sheath there is yet another sheath, the bliss-sheath. It is existing (not something that does not exist).

78. Other philosophers, recognising the authority of the Shruti, still dispute variously as to whether the Atman is atomic in size or all-pervasive, or something between the two.

79. There are philosophers called Antaralas who hold that Atman must be atomic in size because it is said to pervade capillaries as fine as a thousandth part of a hair.

80. In support of their thesis they quote many Vedic texts, which describe Atman as 'smaller than the smallest', 'minuter than an atom' and 'more refined than the most refined'.

81. They produce as an authority the Vedic text which says: Jiva is the hundredth part of the tip of a hair which has already been divided into a hundred parts.

82. The Digambaras hold that Atman is of medium size because it animates the body from head to foot. They too quote the Veda: 'Atman, the conscious principle, pervades the body from the head to the tips of the nails'.

83. They state that Atman become subtle and enters into the finest capillaries, as the arms of a man slip into the sleeves of a coat.

84. They conclude that the Atman is of medium size but that it is capable of adapting itself to any size. It enlarges or diminishes its size to accommodate itself to the parts of the bodies into which it enters.

85. This view is not valid, because if the Atman has parts it must be perishable like a pot. In that case there will arise the two logical fallacies viz., the cause will not produce any effect and an effect will have homogeneous cause.

86. So the Atman is neither atomic nor of medium size, but is infinite, partless and like Akasa all-pervasive. This view accords with the Shruti.

87. Thus about the nature of the Atman there are many differences of opinion, whether it is unconscious, conscious, or a compound of the two.

88. The followers of Prabhakara and the logicians state that Atman is by nature unconscious; it is a substance like Akasa and consciousness is its attribute, as sound is an attribute of Akasa.

89. They state that not only consciousness, but also desire, aversion, effort, virtue, vice, pleasure and pain, and also the impressions are the attributes of the Atman.

90. According to them, Atman and the mind combine together due to the effects of previous actions and this combination produces the different properties. When the past Karma ceases to operate as cause, the Jiva goes into deep sleep and the properties too become latent.

91. The Atman possesses intelligence and is therefore called intelligent; it manifests intelligence in the form of desire, aversion and effort. As a doer it performs good and bad deeds and is, in consequence, the experiencer of pleasure and pain.

92. In this life, subject to action, Atman sometimes experiences happiness; so too, when it takes birth in other bodies, desire, etc., arise due to Karma.

93. They further hold that despite its all-pervasiveness Atman goes from birth to death. The whole ritual part of the Veda (Karma-kanda), they say, supports them.

94. The first of the sheaths, the bliss-sheath which persists in the state of deep sleep and which does not manifest consciousness fully, is taken as Atman by the followers of Prabhakara and some logicians. What they state to be the nature of the Self, is in fact, characteristic of the bliss-sheath.

95. The followers of Bhatta hold that consciousness is hidden in Atman and that its nature is both consciousness and unconsciousness. This is inferred from the fact of the remembrance of sound sleep by the awakened man.

96. 'I became unconscious and slept', such feeling expresses the memory of that inert state which he actually experienced. But this remembrance of unconsciousness in deep sleep would not be possible unless there were at the same time a conscious element.

97. The Bhattas say that the Shruti declares; 'In sleep neither the seer nor seeing is absent'. Therefore the nature of Atman is both luminous and dark, like that of a fire-fly.

98. The Sankhyas, who separate Purusha and Prakriti, reject the possibility of both consciousness and unconsciousness being the nature of Atman. According to them the Atman is without parts and must be of the nature of consciousness only.

99. Unconsciousness is the nature of Prakriti (the primordial substance) which is ever-changing and composed of three modes, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The Prakriti functions for experience and release of the Atman.

100. Though Purusha is non-contactible and pure, he is said to be subject to bondage and release because of a confusion between the natures of Prakriti and Purusha. The Sankhyas, like the earlier Naiyayikas, postulate a plurality of Selves and explain how different individuals have different destinies to fulfil in this life. The release of the individual Purusha is due to his knowledge of his real nature.

101. They quote the Shruti which says that Prakriti, the undifferentiated matter, which is unmanifested, is not the same as Mahat, the differentiated matter and that the Spirit is unattached and pure.

102. The Yogis postulate the existence of Ishvara. Prakriti functions owing to the proximity of consciousness and Ishvara is the controller of Prakriti. He is quite distinct from and superior to the Jivas, says the Shruti.

103. The Shruti declares that Ishvara is the Lord of Jivas and also of Prakriti. He controls the Gunas too. In the Aranyaka part of the Shruti He is respectfully called the Inner Controller.

104. Here too there are many philosophers who by their arguments maintain different views about Ishvara. They quote suitable texts from the Shruti and interpret them according to their light.

105. According to Patanjali, Ishvara is a Special Purusha free from miseries, actions, birth and death, enjoyment and suffering and the latent impressions; Ishvara, like Jiva, is non-attached and conscious.

106. As person with a special nature, Ishvara rules the universe. Without His rulership there would be no one to regulate bondage and release.

107. The Shruti declares that Nature functions in fear of Ishvara. He is the ruler though unattached. The rulership is appropriately vested in Ishvara, who is not affected by sufferings, works and so forth.

108. It is a fact that the Jivas, too, are not affected by sufferings etc., as they too are unattached; but when they fail to comprehend their real nature, they imagine that they are affected by sufferings, works and so forth.

109. The logicians deny the controlling power to Ishvara, because He is detached. They invest Him with the qualities of eternal knowledge, effort and desire.

110. They say that owing to His possessing these three qualities Ishvara is the Lord of the universe. In support they quote the Shruti verse: 'He has true desires and resolves'.

111. Ishvara being endowed with eternal knowledge and other cognate attributes must be ever engaged in the creation of the world. He must therefore be Hiranyagarbha who is endowed with a subtle body.

112. The glory of Hiranyagarbha has been given in detail in the Udgitha Brahmana. He, the totality of all subtle bodies, is not to be considered a Jiva because He is free from desires and Karma.

113. The worshippers of Virat hold that no subtle body is seen without a physical body. So Virat, who has a physical body with head and other organs, is the real Ishvara.

114. The Shruti says that the form of Virat is the form of the universe, extending in all directions with an infinite number of heads and eyes. So they meditate on Virat.

115. Then there are worshippers who object to the worship of Virat on the ground that according to this conception of Virat even insects and worms will have to be regarded as Ishvara. So the four-faced Brahma, the creator, is Ishvara and nobody else.

116. So say people who worship the creator Brahma for obtaining children and quote passages which say, 'Brahma created the people'.

117. The Bhagavatas call Vishnu the only Ishvara because the lotus-born Brahma issued from the navel of Vishnu.

118. The Saivas on the authority of their Agamas declare Shiva alone to be Ishvara, as according to a tradition in the Puranas, Vishnu in spite of all his efforts could not discover the feet of Shiva.

119. The followers of the creed of Ganesha say that the elephant-faced Lord is the only Ishvara for Shiva in order to conquer the demons of the three cities worshipped Ganesha.

120. There are many other sects which try to declare their own favourite deity to be the supreme. They quote hymns from Shruti and alleged traditions in support of their views.

121. So every entity from the Inner Ruler to inert objects is considered as Ishvara by someone or other, for we find that even the sacred fig tree, the sun-plant and the bomboo etc., are worshipped by the people as family deities.

122. Those who are desirous of ascertaining the real truth study the Shruti and logic. Their conclusion is the same, that Ishvara is one only and this fact we have set forth in this chapter.

123. The Shruti says that Maya is Prakriti, the material cause of the universe, and the Lord of Maya is the great Ishvara who pervades the whole universe, consisting of sentient and insentient objects which are like parts of that Ishvara.

124. The correct definition of Ishvara is available from the Shruti text. Then there will be no clash with even the worshippers of trees and so forth as Ishvara.

125. The [Nrisimha-Uttara-]Tapaniya Upanishad declares Maya to be Tamas or darkness. The empirical experience of all is evidence for the existence of Maya, says the Shruti.

126. The Shruti points to the universal experience of the insentient and illusory nature of Maya, as displayed by persons of undeveloped intellect, such as children and dullards.

127. The nature of the poet and other inert objects exhibits insentiency (which is a characteristic of Maya). People say that the intellect feels shy to fathom the depths of Maya.

128. All people admit in their experience existence of Maya. From the logical point of view Maya is inexplicable. Shruti too declares it to be neither existence nor non-existence.

129. Since the effects of Maya are undeniably manifest, its existence cannot be denied. Being stultified by knowledge, it cannot really be said to exist. From the point of view of (absolute) knowledge (of the Atman) it is always inoperative and hence negligible.

130. Maya is looked upon in three ways. From the point of view of knowledge and Shruti it is negligible; for empirical reason it is indefinable and for the ordinary people it is real.

131. Maya exhibits the appearance and disappearance (in waking or sleeping state) of the world, just as by rolling and unrolling a picture on a canvas it is exhibited or withdrawn.

132. Maya is dependent, for in the absence of the cognising faculty the effects of Maya cannot be experienced. Again in one sense it is independent too, for it can make the non-attached Atman appear to be attached.

133. Maya transforms the immutable Kutastha, the ever association-less Atman, phenomenally into the form of the universe. Casting the reflection of Atman on itself, Maya Creates Jiva and Ishvara.

134. Without in any way affecting the real nature of Atman, Maya creates the world. It makes the impossible look possible. How astonishingly powerful Maya is!

135. As fluidity is the nature of water, heat of fire and hardness of stone, so the making of the impossible possible is the nature of Maya. It is unique in this respect.

136. The magic show looks wonderful and inexplicable as long as the magician is not directly known, but when the magician is so known, the magic show is known as such and is no longer wonderful.

137. Those who believe in the reality of the world regard the effects of Maya as wonderful. But since the nature of Maya itself is astonishing, one need not wonder at its power.

138. By raising objections to the wonderfulness of Maya we do not solve the mystery. Besides, we also can raise serious counter objections. What is essential is that we should eradicate Maya by systematic enquiry. Further arguments are useless, so do not indulge in them.

139. Maya is an embodiment of marvellousness and doubt; the wise must carefully find out means and make effort to remove it.

140. (Doubt): But the nature of Maya must be determined before trying to eradicate it. (Reply): All right, do so! Apply the popular definition of magic on Maya.

141. People understand that to be Maya which though clearly seen is at the same time beyond all determination, as in the case of magic.

142. The world is clearly seen, but its nature defies definition. Be impartial, and regard the world as nothing but a delusion, the product of Maya.

143. Even if all the learned people of the world try to determine the nature of this world, they will find themselves confronted at some stage or other by ignorance.

144. Tell us, if you can, how the body and senses came out of the seed, or how consciousness was born in the foetus. What answers will you give to these questions?

145. (The naturalist says): It is the nature of the seed to evolve into the body with the sense-organs and so forth. (Reply): What is the basis of your belief? You will perhaps say, application of the double method of agreement and difference. But it is not confirmed because in a barren woman seed produces nothing.

146. In the end you will have to say, 'I do not know'. Therefore the wise declare this world to be like a magic show.

147. What can be more magical than the fact that the seed in the uterus becomes a conscious individual, that it develops head, hands, feet and other organs, that it passes through the states of childhood, youth and old age and that it perceives, eats, smells, hears, comes and goes?

148. Like the human body carefully consider also a tiny fig seed. How different the tree is from the seed from which it grows! Therefore know all this to be Maya.

149. The logicians and others, proud of their dialectical ability, may feel satisfied with their logical explanations; but the philosopher Sri Harsha Mishra has exposed the error of their positions in his classic 'Khandana' [Khandana-Khandakhadya].

150. Things that are inconceivable should not be subjected to canons of logic; and this world is one such, for the mind cannot conceive of the very mode of its creation.

151. Be convinced that Maya is the cause of this world, whose comprehension surpasses the imagination. In the state of deep sleep we are partly aware of this Maya, the seed of this world.

152. As the tree is latent in the seed, so the waking and dreaming worlds are implicit in deep sleep. Similarly, the impressions of the entire universe are latent in Maya.

153. On the impressions of the whole world, thus latent in the intellect (during sleep) is reflected the immutable consciousness. Though it is not experienced owing to vagueness it can be inferred to exist, in the same way as the reflection of the sky is inferred to exist in the water-particles of a cloud.

154. This seed, the Maya, in association with the reflection of consciousness, which is not fully grasped, develops into the intellect; and in this intellect, the reflection of consciousness becomes plainly visible as the ego.

155. It is said by the Shruti that Jiva and Ishvara are creations of Maya, being reflections of Atman in it. Ishvara is like the reflection of the sky in the cloud; Jiva is like the reflection of the sky in water.

156. Maya is comparable to a cloud and the mental impressions in the Buddhi are like the water-particles which make up the cloud. The reflected consciousness in Maya is like the sky reflected in the water-particles of the cloud.

157. Shruti says that this (pure universal) consciousness reflected in Maya is Ishvara which controls Maya as well. The great Ishvara is the inner ruler, omniscient and cause of the universe.

158. The Shruti, in the passage beginning with 'the consciousness in the deep sleep' and ending in 'He is the Lord of all' describes this 'sheath of bliss' as the Ishvara. [Mandukya Upanishad: 5-6; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: IV-iv-22]

159. The omniscience and other properties of the bliss sheath are not to be questioned, because the assertions of the Shruti are beyond dispute and because everything is possible in Maya.

160. Since nobody has the power to alter the world of waking and dream states which are projected from the bliss-sheath, it is proper to call it the Lord of all.

161. In the bliss-sheath inhere all the desires and mental impressions of all living beings. In as much as it knows them (impressions) all, it is called omniscient.

162. (Doubt): The omniscience, alleged to be the nature of the bliss-sheath, is not evident because the impressions are not known directly. (Reply): Its knowledge of the impressions (though not directly felt) is inferred from observation of its presence in all mentations.

163. Since Ishvara (the consciousness in the bliss-sheath) abides in and activates and controls all the functions of all other sheaths beginning with that of the intellect and elsewhere also in creation, it is called the inner controller.

164. The Shruti says that the Lord abides in the intellect and has the intellect as His body (instrument); but the intellect does not know Him; it is itself controlled by Him.

165. As threads pervade a piece of cloth and constitute its material cause, so the Inner Ruler, pervading the whole universe, is the material cause of the universe.

166. Just as the threads are subtler than the cloth and the fibres of the threads subtler than the threads themselves, even so, where this progress from the subtle to the subtler stops, there do we confront the Inner Ruler.

167. Being minuter than the minute of the second and third degree, the inmost Being is not subject to perception; but by reasoning and by Shruti His existence is ascertained.

168. As a piece of cloth is said to be the body of the threads which become the cloth, so when He has become the universe it is described as His body.

169. When threads are contracted or expanded, or any motion is imparted to them, the cloth similarly behaves - it has no independence at all.

170. Similarly the worldly objects assume the forms in the manner He transforms them according to their past desires and impressions. There is no doubt about it.

171. In the Gita Sri Krishna says: 'O Arjuna, the Lord abides in the hearts of all beings and makes them revolve by His Maya as if mounted on a wheel'. [Gita: XVIII-61]

172. 'All beings' in the above passage means the Jivas or the sheaths of intellect which abide in the hearts of all beings. Being their material cause, the Lord appears to undergo changes with them.

173. By the word 'wheel' is meant the cage of the body with sheaths etc. By saying that all beings are 'mounted on the wheel' is meant that they have come to consider the body as the ego. By the word 'revolve' is meant the performance of good and bad deeds.

174. The meaning of the expression 'The Lord makes them revolve by His Maya', is that the Lord by his power of Maya becomes involved in the intellect-sheath and seems to change with the operations of the intellect.

175. The same meaning is expressed by the Shruti saying that the Lord is called the inner controller. By applying this reason one can come to the same conclusion with regard to the physical elements and all other objects.

176. 'I know what is virtue, but my inclination is not mine to practise it; I know what is vice, but my desisting from it is not mine but His. I do as I am prompted by some god seated in my heart.'

177. From the above verse do not think that individual efforts are not necessary, for the Lord transforms Himself as those efforts.

178. This theory does not contradict the idea of the Lord prompting everything, for one who has known Ishvara to be the controller of things knows his Self as non-attached.

179. Both the Shruti and the tradition declare this knowledge of the non-attachment of the Self to be the cause of release. It is also stated in Varaha-Purana that both the scriptural and the traditional truths are from the Lord.

180. The Shruti declares that in fear of Him the forces of nature operate, showing that His commandments engender fear. So His lordship over all beings is different from His inner Rulership of them.

181. One Shruti passage says that the suns and planets move at the command of the Lord. Another Shruti passage says that the Lord entering the human body controls it from within.

182. The Lord is said to be the source of the universe, for He causes the creation and dissolution of the world. By creation and dissolution are meant the manifestation and demanifestation of the world.

183. The world remains potential as impressions in the Lord and He causes its manifestation in accordance with the past deeds of beings. Creation is like the unrolling of a painted canvas.

184. If the painted canvas is rolled up, the picture is no longer visible. In the same way, when the Karma of beings is exhausted, the Lord withdraws into Himself the universe with all that it contains (i.e., all remain in a latent form).

185. The creation and destruction of the world are comparable to day and night, to the waking and sleeping states, to the opening and closing of the eyes and the activity and quiescense of the mind.

186. Ishvara is endowed with the power of Maya which is the power of manifesting and demanifesting, so the objections to the theory that creation has a beginning or that it is evolutionary or that things are naturally endowed with certain special qualities do not apply to it.

187. Ishvara through the Tamas of Maya is the cause of the inanimate objects and through the reflection of the supreme intelligence Ishvara is the cause of the Jivas.

188. It is objected that the cause of the bodies is that aspect of Paramatman in which Tamas predominates and that of the Jivas is that aspect where intelligence predominates. So Paramatman alone is their cause in accordance with their inner impressions, moral and spiritual actions.

189. Thus Sureshvaracharya, the author of Vartika, has attributed the cause of the animate and inanimate creation to Paramatman and not to Ishvara.

190. Our reply is that Acharya Sureshvara holds Brahman to be the cause of the world, but he has taken for granted the mutual superimposition of Ishvara and Brahman even as that of Jiva and Kutastha.

191. The Shruti explains clearly that from Brahman, who is truth, knowledge and infinity, arose Akasa, air, fire, water, earth, herbs, food, bodies and so forth.

192. Superficially it looks as if Brahman were the cause of the world and that Ishvara were a real entity. This cannot be explained except by the mutual superimposition of the true nature of Brahman on Ishvara and the creativity of Ishvara on Brahman.

193. In a piece of cloth stiffened with starch, the starch becomes one with the cloth; so by the process of mutual superimposition the ignorant conceive Ishvara to be one with Paramatman.

194. As the dull-witted imagine that the Akasa reflected in a cloud is the Akasa absolute, so the undiscriminating do not see the distinction between Brahman and Ishvara.

195. By deep enquiry and by the application of the rules of interpretation to the Vedic text we come to know that Brahman is associationless and unconditioned by Maya, whereas Ishvara is the creator conditioned by Maya.

196. The Vedas declare Brahman to be truth, knowledge and infinity and also that speech and the other organs cannot grasp it. Thus it is determined that Brahman is associationless.

197. Another Shruti says that Ishvara, the Lord of Maya, creates the universe, whereas the Jiva is controlled by Maya. So Ishvara, associated with Maya, is the creator.

198. As the deep sleep state passes into dream state, so Ishvara who is known as the sheath of bliss, transforms Himself into Hiranyagarbha, when He, the one, wills to be many.

199. There are two types of Shruti text describing the creation of the world either as a gradual evolution or as instantaneous. There is no contradiction, for the dream world sometimes arises gradually out of deep sleep, but at other times it arises instantaneously.

200. Hiranyagarbha or Sutratman, otherwise called the subtle-body, is the totality of the subtle bodies of all Jivas. He conceives Himself as the totality of all egos or 'I' - consciousnesses, like the threads of a piece of cloth; and He is said to be endowed with the powers of volition, conation and cognition.

201. The world in its course of evolution comes to rest in Hiranyagarbha, but at this stage it is indistinct, just as an object seen in partial darkness, at dawn or dusk.

202. As the outlines of a picture are drawn in black pencil on a stiffened piece of canvas, so also the subtle bodies indistinctly appear in Hiranyagarbha.

203. Like a tender offshoot of a germinated corn or like a tender plant sprouting, Hiranyagarbha is the tender bud of the world which is still indistinct.

204. In Virat the world appears distinct and shining, like objects in broad day-light or like the figures of a fully painted picture or the fruit of a fully matured tree. In Virat all the gross bodies are plainly seen.

205. In the Vishvarupa chapter and in the Purusha Sukta there is a description of Virat. From the creator Brahma to a blade of grass, all objects in the world form part of Virat.

206. The forms of Virat, such as Ishvara, Hiranyagarbha, Virat, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Agni, Ganesha, Bhairava, Mairala, Marika, Yakshas, demons.

207. Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Sudras, cows, horses and other beasts, birds, fig, banyan and mango trees, wheat, rice and other cereals and grasses;

208. Water, stone, earth, chisels, axes and other implements are manifestations of Ishvara. Worshipped as Ishvara they grant fulfilment of desires.

209. In whatever form Ishvara is worshipped, the worshipper obtains the appropriate reward through that form. If the method of worship and the conception of the attributes of the deity worshipped are of a high order, the reward also is of a high order; but if otherwise, it is not.

210. The Liberation, however, can be obtained through the knowledge of reality and not otherwise. The dreaming does not end until the dreamer awakes.

211. In the secondless principle, Brahman, the whole universe, in the form of Ishvara and Jiva and all animate and inanimate objects, appears like a dream.

212. Maya has created Ishvara and Jiva, represented by the sheath of bliss and the sheath of intellect respectively. The whole perceptible world is a creation of Ishvara and Jiva.

213. From the determination of Ishvara to create, down to His entrance into the created objects, is the creation of Ishvara. From the waking state to ultimate release, the cause of all pleasures and pains, is the creation of Jiva.

214. Those who do not know the nature of Brahman, who is secondless and associationless, fruitlessly quarrel over Jiva and Ishvara, which are creations of Maya.

215. We always approve those who appear to us to be devoted to truth and pity others but do not quarrel with those who are deluded.

216. From the worshippers of objects like grass to the followers of Yoga, all have wrong ideas about Ishvara. From the materialist Charvakas to the followers of Sankhya, all have confused ideas about Jiva.

217. As they do not know the truth of the secondless Brahman, they all are wrong. Where is their liberation or where is their joy in this world?

218. Some may say that these people represent grades of enjoyment from the lowest to the highest. But of what use is it? A man when awake derives no good from the dreams in which he may have played the part of a king or a beggar.

219. Therefore the aspirants to liberation should never engage themselves in disputations about the nature of Jiva and Ishvara. They ought to practise discrimination and realise the reality of Brahman.

220. (Doubt): Such disputation is a means to the understanding of Brahman. (Reply): It may be so, but be careful to avoid being drowned helplessly in the sea of confusion.

221. (Doubt): All right, but the Vedantins must accept the Sankhya doctrine that Jiva and Ishvara are associationless, pure consciousness and eternal and the Yoga doctrine that Jiva and Ishvara, referred to as 'thou' and 'that' respectively in the dictum 'That thou art', are of a pure nature.

222. (Reply): These two meanings do not accord with the Advaita view. They postulate a difference between Jiva and Ishvara, but in the Advaita doctrine there is no distinction between 'That' and 'Thou'. Statements appearing to make such a distinction are only steps towards understanding of non-duality.

223. Influenced by the beginningless Maya, people think that Jiva and Ishvara are totally different from each other. In order to eliminate this erroneous belief the Vedantin enquires into the meaning of 'That' and 'Thou'.

224. In order to demonstrate the truth of Advaita we have cited the illustration of the Akasa conditioned by a pot, the unlimited Akasa, the Akasa reflected in water and the Akasa reflected in a cloud.

225. In the last two aspects of Akasa the conditioning adjuncts are the water and the cloud, but their basis, the Akasa of the pot and the unlimited Akasa, is pure and unaffected.

226. The sheath of bliss and the sheath of intellect have as their conditioning adjuncts Maya and the modification of Maya called Buddhi respectively, but the basis of both is the one pure Atman, which is immutable.

227. As steps to our doctrine we use as illustrations the doctrines of Sankhya and Yoga. Similarly we accept and make use of the doctrine of the sheath of food, though we do not mean that the food-sheath is really to be identified with the Atman.

228. The Vedantins will accept the doctrines of the followers of Sankhya and Yoga provided they give up the doctrine of the existence of distinction in Atman, the doctrine of the reality of the world and the doctrine of Ishvara being a separate and special Purusha.

229. The Sankhyas hold that, for the Jiva to achieve his object and be liberated, a knowledge of the eternal associationlessness of Atman is enough. We reply that in their view he might just as well think that the pleasures which he obtains from flowers, sandalwood and so forth are also eternal.

230. Just as it is impossible to establish the eternal existence of pleasure derived from flowers and sandalwood, so it is impossible to establish the associationlessness of Atman as long as the world and Ishvara are believed to be realities and ever-existing.

231. If Prakriti is imperishable as the Sankhyas say, she will continue to produce attachment in the Purusha even after the dawn of the knowledge of his complete isolation. If Ishvara is eternal, He will continue to exercise control over the Purusha. In that case the poor Purusha will never have emancipation; his bondage will be real.

232. (Doubt): The idea of attachment to the body and of control is due to ignorance. (Reply): Then you accept the conception of Maya, which is a violation of the shortsighted Sankhya doctrine.

233. (Doubt): To account for the idea of individual bondage and release, the plurality of Selves must be accepted. (Reply): This is unnecessary because Maya is responsible for bondage and release.

234. Don't you see that Maya can make the impossible appear possible? In fact, the Shruti can tolerate neither bondage nor release as real.

235. The Shruti declares that in fact there is no destruction and no origination; none in bondage and none engaged in practice for liberation; no aspirant for liberation and none liberated. This is the transcendental truth.

236. Maya is said to be the desire-fulfilling cow. Jiva and Ishvara are its two calves. Drink of its milk of duality as much as you like, but the truth is non-duality.

237. The difference between Kutastha and Brahman is only in name; in reality there is no difference. The Akasa in the pot and the unlimited Akasa are not distinct from one another.

238. The non-dual reality, as declared in the Shruti, existed before creation, exists now and will continue to exist in dissolution; and after liberation Maya deludes the people in vain.

239. (Doubt): Even the knowers, who attribute the world to Maya, are seen to be engaged in worldly pursuits. So what is the use of realisation? (Reply): No, he is not deluded as before.

240. The ignorant are convinced that the happiness and grief which the world and heaven offer are real; so they do not perceive non-duality, nor think it exists.

241. It is clearly seen that the conviction of the knowers is opposed to the conviction of the ignorant. They are free or fettered according to their conviction.

242. (Doubt): The non-dual reality is not directly perceptible. (Reply): This is not so, for reality is self-evident in the form of consciousness. (Doubt): It is not fully known. (Reply): Is the world fully known to you?

243. Both duality and non-duality are partially known. If from this partial experience you infer the truth of duality, why should you not from same premises infer the truth of non-duality?

244. (Doubt): Duality contradicts non-duality. So when duality is seen manifest everywhere, how can you infer its opposite principle, non-duality? Our consciousness does not contradict duality; so our position is stronger than yours.

245. (Reply): Then listen. Duality is unreal and has no independent existence, for it is a product of Maya. So when duality is negated what remains as reality is non-duality.

246. The whole world is a product of the inscrutable Maya; be convinced of this and know that the fundamental real principle is non-duality.

247. (Doubt): If the idea that duality is real occurs again and again in daily life? (Reply): Repeatedly practise negating this erroneous idea of duality. What is the difficulty in doing so?

248. (Doubt): How long should one continue this practice? (Reply): It is a trouble to continue the pursuit of unreal duality, not so is that of non-duality. For by the practice of non-duality all miseries are destroyed.

249. (Doubt): But even after realisation I suffer from hunger and thirst. (Reply): Who denies it? This suffering is in your egoity (a product of duality) expressed in your use of 'I'.

250. (Doubt): The sufferings may come to the immutable Self, because of identification with the body. (Reply): Do not subject yourself to this identification which is due to mutual superimposition, but practise discrimination for its removal.

251. (Doubt): The superimposition, which is due to the first impressions, suddenly may occur, because of the beginningless association of Jiva and Avidya. (Reply): Then begin new impressions of non-duality by means of repeated discrimination of the truth.

252. Do not say it is reasoning alone which demonstrates the unreality of duality and not our experience, for we daily experience that mysterious is the nature of the world.

253. (Doubt): Consciousness too is mysterious. (Reply): Let it be. We do not say that consciousness is not mysterious, for it is eternal.

254. Consciousness is eternal, for its non-existence can never be experienced. But the non-existence of duality is experienced by consciousness before the duality assumes manifestation.

255. That duality of the phenomenal world is like the pot which is non-existent before it comes into being. Still, its creation is inexplicable. So it is unreal like a product of magic.

256. Now you see that both consciousness and the unreality of the world are immediately experienced, so you cannot still maintain that non-duality is not experienced.

257. (Doubt): Tell me why some who know this truth of Vedanta are still not satisfied with it? (Reply): First tell me why the materialists, who know logic, still believe the body to be the Self?

258. (Doubt): The materialists cannot properly discriminate owing to some defect in their intellect. (Reply): Similarly all those who are dissatisfied with Vedanta have an inadequate comprehension of the truth.

259. The Shruti says that he who has banished from his heart all indwelling desires attains immortality. This is not merely a statement; a knower's actual experience proves it.

260. In another passage it is stated that all the knots of the heart are loosened at the rise of true knowledge. The term 'knots of the heart' has been explained in the commentary to mean the desires of the heart.

261. Owing to lack of true discrimination a man identifies egoism with the Self, and then thinks: 'May this object be mine', and so forth. This is called desire.

262. When a man can dis-identify the Self from egoism, and realise that the Self is in no way connected with egoism, then though he may have crores of desires they will not bind him, because he has cut the 'knot of the conscious with the unconscious'.

263. By the force of the fructifying Karma, a knower may be subject to desires, as in spite of theoretically knowing the truth you are not satisfied.

264. A man who has overcome egoity and realised identity with the changeless consciousness is not distressed by desires or diseases and other changing conditions of body and fortune, just as the growth and death of trees in a forest do not affect him.

265. (Doubt): But it is well known that the immutable Self is ever unaffected by desires even before illumination. (Reply): Do not forget this truth. The realisation that Kutastha is ever dissociated from desires is called the 'snapping of the knot of ignorance'. It is this knowledge which leads to the attainment of the purpose of life.

266. (Doubt): The dull-witted are ignorant of this truth. (Reply): This is what we mean by the 'knot of ignorance', nothing else. The difference between the ignorant and the wise, is the existence of doubt in the former group and its destruction in the latter.

267. From the point of view of the body, senses, mind and intellect, there is no difference between the ignorant and the illumined when they engage themselves in action or abstain from them.

268. The difference between one who has been initiated into the life of Brahmacharya and one who has not is that the former studies the Veda, whereas the latter does not. But as regards food etc., there is no difference. The same applies to the wise and the ignorant.

269. In the Gita it is said that the wise man who has destroyed his desires does not hate what is present nor does he hanker after what he has not. He sits like one who is disinterested. This is called 'snapping the knot of ignorance'.

270. (Doubt): Does the Gita enjoin want of interest? (Reply): No, if it were so, the word 'like' (vat) would be meaningless. (Doubt): He may be disinterested because his bodily organs have lost the power of action. (Reply): Then he is a sick man and not a wise one!

271. These highly intellectual men who equate the knowledge of truth with the disease of consumption are indeed remarkable for the clarity of their intellect! There is, verily, no deed too impossible for such people to perform!

272. (Doubt): Why, the Puranas speak about Jadabharata and others who were completely withdrawn and performed no action. (Reply): But have you not heard also the Vedas speaking of other knowers who ate, played and enjoyed pleasures?

273. Jadabharata and others never gave up food and sleep nor were like sticks and stones. It was because they were afraid of forming attachments that they behaved as if they were completely disinterested.

274. The man who is attached to objects is troubled by the world; happiness is enjoyed by the unattached. Therefore give up attachment if you desire to be happy.

275. The slow-witted who do not understand the essence of the scriptures, express their opinions in various ways. Let them form any opinion they like. We will express our own, which accord with the Vedantic doctrine.

276. Absence of desires, knowledge of reality and withdrawal from action mutually assist one another. Generally all three of them are found together, but sometimes separately too, without the third.

277. The origin, the nature and the result of these virtues differ. The real distinctions between them will be clear to a keen student of scriptures.

278. The origin of detachment is an understanding that the joys derived from objects are impermanent; its nature is a dis-taste for the enjoyment of those objects; and its result is the feeling of being independent of them. These three are peculiar to detachment.

279. The origin of the knowledge of reality is hearing, reflecting and meditating on the reality; its nature is discrimination between the real and the unreal; and its result is the restraint of fresh doubts from arising. These three are peculiar to knowledge.

280. The origin of withdrawal from action is the cultivation of inner and outer control and so forth; its nature is the control of the mind; and its result is the cessation of worldly activities. Thus their differences are described.

281. Of all the three virtues the most essential is the knowledge of the Reality as it is the direct cause of liberation. The other two, detachment and withdrawal, are necessary auxiliaries to knowledge.

282. The existence of the three virtues highly developed in a man is the result of vast store of merit acquired in innumerable past lives. The absence of any one of them is the result of some demerit acquired in the past.

283. Without the knowledge of Reality even perfect detachment and complete withdrawal from worldly actions cannot lead to liberation. A man endowed with detachment and withdrawal, but failing to obtain illumination, is reborn in the superior worlds because of great merit.

284. On the other hand by the complete knowledge of the Reality a man is sure to have liberation, even though his detachment and withdrawal are wanting. But then his visible sufferings will not come to an end owing to his fructifying Karma.

285. The height of detachment is such a conviction of the futility of all desires that one considers like straw even the highest pleasures of the world of Brahma; and the height of spiritual knowledge is reached when one feels one's identity with the supreme Self as firmly as an ordinary man instinctively feels his identity with the physical body.

286. The height of withdrawal from action is the complete forgetfulness of all worldly affairs in the waking state as in the state of deep sleep. There are several intermediate grades which can be known by actual observation.

287. Enlightened men may differ in their behaviour because of the nature of their fructifying Karma. This should not make the learned think otherwise about the truth of knowledge resulting in liberation.

288. Let the enlightened people behave in any way according to their fructifying Karma, but their knowledge is the same and their liberation is the same.

289. On the supreme consciousness the world is drawn like a picture on canvas; thus is Maya superimposed on consciousness. When we forget the adventitious distinctions, consciousness alone remains.

290. This chapter called the 'Lamp of the Picture', when regularly studied, gives an intelligent aspirant freedom from the delusion due to illusive appearances, even though he may see them as before.

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