Hindu Bhakti Stotras (Devotional Hymns) Index
Atma Bodha (By Adi Shankaracharya)
By Adi Shankaracharya; Translated by P. R. Ramachander
Works of Adi Shankaracharya, Stotras of Adi Shankaracharya, Hymns of Adi Shankara, Bhashyas of Adi Shankara, Soundaryalahari, Shivanandalahari, Atma Bhodha, Vivekachudamani, Bhaja Govindan, Mahishasura Mardhini Stothram
1. I am composing the ATMA-BODHA, this treatise of the Knowledge of the
Self, for those who have purified themselves by austerities and are
peaceful in heart and calm, who are free from cravings and are desirous
2. Just as the fire is the direct cause for cooking,
so without Knowledge no emancipation can be had. Compared with all
other forms of discipline Knowledge of the Self is the one direct means
3. Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in
conflict with or opposed to ignorance. Knowledge does verily destroy
ignorance as light destroys deep darkness.
4. The Soul appears to be
finite because of ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed the Self which
does not admit of any multiplicity truly reveals itself by itself: like
the Sun when the clouds pass away.
5. Constant practice of knowledge
purifies the Self (‘Jivatman’), stained by ignorance and then
disappears itself – as the powder of the ‘Kataka-nut’ settles down
after it has cleansed the muddy water.
6. The world which is full of
attachments, aversions, etc., is like a dream. It appears to be real,
as long as it continues but appears to be unreal when one is awake
(i.e., when true wisdom dawns).
7. The Jagat appears to be true
(Satyam) so long as Brahman, the substratum, the basis of all this
creation, is not realised. It is like the illusion of silver in the
8. Like bubbles in the water, the worlds rise,
exist and dissolve in the Supreme Self, which is the material cause and
the prop of everything.
9. All the manifested world of things and
beings are projected by imagination upon the substratum which is the
Eternal All-pervading Vishnu, whose nature is Existence-Intelligence;
just as the different ornaments are all made out of the same gold.
The All-pervading Akasa appears to be diverse on account of its
association with various conditionings (Upadhis) which are different
from each other. Space becomes one on the destruction of these limiting
adjuncts: So also the Omnipresent Truth appears to be diverse on
account of Its association with the various Upadhis and becomes one on
the destruction of these Upadhis.
11. Because of Its association
with different conditionings (Upadhis) such ideas as caste, colour and
position are super-imposed upon the Atman, as flavour, colour, etc.,
are super-imposed on water.
12. Determined for each individual by
his own past actions and made up of the Five elements – that have gone
through the process of “five-fold self-division and mutual combination”
(Pancheekarana) – are born the gross-body, the medium through which
pleasure and pain are experienced, the tent-of-experiences.
five Pranas, the ten organs and the Manas and the Buddhi, formed from
the rudimentary elements (Tanmatras) before their “five-fold division
and mutual combination with one another” (Pancheekarana) and this is
the subtle body, the instruments-of-experience (of the individual).
Avidya which is indescribable and beginningless is the Causal Body.
Know for certain that the Atman is other than these three conditioning
15. In its identification with the five-sheaths
the Immaculate Atman appears to have borrowed their qualities upon
Itself; as in the case of a crystal which appears to gather unto itself
colour of its vicinity (blue cloth, etc.,).
discriminative self-analysis and logical thinking one should separate
the Pure self within from the sheaths as one separates the rice from
the husk, bran, etc., that are covering it.
17. The Atman does not
shine in everything although He is All-pervading. He is manifest only
in the inner equipment, the intellect (Buddhi): just as the reflection
in a clean mirror.
18. One should understand that the Atman is
always like the King, distinct from the body, senses, mind and
intellect, all of which constitute the matter (Prakriti); and is the
witness of their functions.
19. The moon appears to be running when
the clouds move in the sky. Likewise to the non-discriminating person
the Atman appears to be active when It is observed through the
functions of the sense-organs.
20. Depending upon the energy of
vitality of Consciousness (Atma Chaitanya) the body, senses, mind and
intellect engage themselves in their respective activities, just as men
work depending upon the light of the Sun.
21. Fools, because they
lack in their powers of discrimination superimpose on the Atman, the
Absolute-Existence-Knowledge (Sat-Chit), all the varied functions of
the body and the senses, just as they attribute blue colour and the
like to the sky.
22. The tremblings that belong to the waters are
attributed through ignorance to the reflected moon dancing on it:
likewise agency of action, of enjoyment and of other limitations (which
really belong to the mind) are delusively understood as the nature of
the Self (Atman).
23. Attachment, desire, pleasure, pain, etc., are
perceived to exist so long as Buddhi or mind functions. They are not
perceived in deep sleep when the mind ceases to exist. Therefore they
belong to the mind alone and not to the Atman.
24. Just as
luminosity is the nature of the Sun, coolness of water and heat of
fire, so too the nature of the Atman is Eternity, Purity, Reality,
Consciousness and Bliss.
25. By the indiscriminate blending of the
two – the Existence-Knowledge-aspect of the Self and the thought-wave
of the intellect – there arises the notion of “I know”.
never does anything and the intellect of its own accord has no capacity
to experience ‘I know’. But the individuality in us delusorily thinks
he is himself the seer and the knower.
27. Just as the person who
regards a rope as a snake is overcome by fear, so also one considering
oneself as the ego (Jiva) is overcome by fear. The ego-centric
individuality in us regains fearlessness by realising that It is not a
Jiva but is Itself the Supreme Soul.
28. Just as a lamp illumines a
jar or a pot, so also the Atman illumines the mind and the sense
organs, etc. These material-objects by themselves cannot illumine
themselves because they are inert.
29. A lighted-lamp does not need
another lamp to illumine its light. So too, Atman which is Knowledge
itself needs no other knowledge to know it.
30. By a process of
negation of the conditionings (Upadhis) through the help of the
scriptural statement ‘It is not this, It is not this’, the oneness of
the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, as indicated by the great
Mahavakyas, has to be realised.
31. The body, etc., up to the
“Causal Body” – Ignorance – which are objects perceived, are as
perishable as bubbles. Realise through discrimination that I am the
‘Pure Brahman’ ever completely separate from all these.
32. I am
other than the body and so I am free from changes such as birth,
wrinkling, senility, death, etc. I have nothing to do with the sense
objects such as sound and taste, for I am without the sense-organs.
I am other than the mind and hence, I am free from sorrow, attachment,
malice and fear, for “HE is without breath and without mind, Pure,
etc.”, is the Commandment of the great scripture, the Upanishads.
I am without attributes and actions; Eternal (Nitya) without any desire
and thought (Nirvikalpa), without any dirt (Niranjana), without any
change (Nirvikara), without form (Nirakara), ever-liberated (Nitya
Mukta) ever-pure (Nirmala).
35. Like the space I fill all things
within and without. Changeless and the same in all, at all times I am
pure, unattached, stainless and motionless.
36. I am verily that
Supreme Brahman alone which is Eternal, Pure and Free, One, indivisible
and non-dual and of the nature of Changeless-Knowledge-Infinite.
The impression “I am Brahman” thus created by constant practice
destroys ignorance and the agitation caused by it, just as medicine or
Rasayana destroys disease.
38. Sitting in a solitary place, freeing
the mind from desires and controlling the senses, meditate with
unswerving attention on the Atman which is One without-a-second.
The wise one should intelligently merge the entire world-of-objects in
the Atman alone and constantly think of the Self ever as contaminated
by anything as the sky.
40. He who has realised the Supreme,
discards all his identification with the objects of names and forms.
(Thereafter) he dwells as an embodiment of the Infinite Consciousness
and Bliss. He becomes the Self.
41. There are no distinctions such
as “Knower”, the “Knowledge” and the “Object of Knowledge” in the
Supreme Self. On account of Its being of the nature of endless Bliss,
It does not admit of such distinctions within Itself. It alone shines
42. When this the lower and the higher aspects of the
Self are well churned together, the fire of knowledge is born from it,
which in its mighty conflagration shall burn down all the fuel of
ignorance in us.
43. The Lord of the early dawn (Aruna) himself has
already looted away the thick darkness, when soon the sun rises. The
Divine Consciousness of the Self rises when the right knowledge has
already killed the darkness in the bosom.
44. Atman is an
ever-present Reality. Yet, because of ignorance it is not realised. On
the destruction of ignorance Atman is realised. It is like the missing
ornament of one’s neck.
45. Brahman appears to be a ‘Jiva’ because
of ignorance, just as a post appears to be a ghost. The
ego-centric-individuality is destroyed when the real nature of the
‘Jiva’ is realised as the Self.
46. The ignorance characterised by
the notions ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ is destroyed by the knowledge produced by
the realisation of the true nature of the Self, just as right
information removes the wrong notion about the directions.
Yogi of perfect realisation and enlightenment sees through his “eye of
wisdom” (Gyana Chakshush) the entire universe in his own Self and
regards everything else as his own Self and nothing else.
Nothing whatever exists other than the Atman: the tangible universe is
verily Atman. As pots and jars are verily made of clay and cannot be
said to be anything but clay, so too, to the enlightened soul and that
is perceived is the Self.
49. A liberated one, endowed with
Self-knowledge, gives up the traits of his previously explained
equipments (Upadhis) and because of his nature of Sat-chit-ananda, he
verily becomes Brahman like (the worm that grows to be) a wasp.
After crossing the ocean of delusion and killing the monsters of likes
and dislikes, the Yogi who is united with peace dwells in the glory of
his own realised Self – as an Atmaram.
51. The self-abiding Jivan
Mukta, relinquishing all his attachments to the illusory external
happiness and satisfied with the bliss derived from the Atman, shines
inwardly like a lamp placed inside a jar.
52. Though he lives in the
conditionings (Upadhis), he, the contemplative one, remains ever
unconcerned with anything or he may move about like the wind, perfectly
53. On the destruction of the Upadhis, the contemplative
one is totally absorbed in ‘Vishnu’, the All-pervading Spirit, like
water into water, space into space and light into light.
That to be Brahman, the attainment of which leaves nothing more to be
attained, the blessedness of which leaves no other blessing to be
desired and the knowledge of which leaves nothing more to be known.
Realise that to be Brahman which, when seen, leaves nothing more to be
seen, which having become one is not born again in this world and
which, when knowing leaves nothing else to be known.
that to be Brahman which is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute, which
is Non-dual, Infinite, Eternal and One and which fills all the quarters
– above and below and all that exists between.
57. Realise that to
be Brahman which is Non-dual, Indivisible, One and Blissful and which
is indicated in Vedanta as the Immutable Substratum, realised after the
negation of all tangible objects.
58. Deities like Brahma and others
taste only a particle, of the unlimited Bliss of Brahman and enjoy in
proportion their share of that particle.
59. All objects are
pervaded by Brahman. All actions are possible because of Brahman:
therefore Brahman permeates everything as butter permeates milk.
Realise that to be Brahman which is neither subtle nor gross: neither
short nor long: without birth or change: without form, qualities,
colour and name.
61. That by the light of which the luminous, orbs
like the Sun and the Moon are illuminated, but which is not illumined
by their light, realise that to be Brahman.
62. Pervading the entire
universe outwardly and inwardly the Supreme Brahman shines of Itself
like the fire that permeates a red-hot iron-ball and glows by itself.
Brahman is other than this, the universe. There exists nothing that is
not Brahman. If any object other than Brahman appears to exist, it is
unreal like the mirage.
64. All that is perceived, or heard, is
Brahman and nothing else. Attaining the knowledge of the Reality, one
sees the Universe as the non-dual Brahman,
65. Though Atman is Pure
Consciousness and ever present everywhere, yet It is perceived by the
eye-of-wisdom alone: but one whose vision is obscured by ignorance he
does not see It; as the blind do not see the resplendent Sun.
The ‘Jiva’ free from impurities, being heated in the fire of knowledge
kindled by hearing and so on, shines of itself like gold.
Atman, the Sun of Knowledge that rises in the sky of the heart,
destroys the darkness of the ignorance, pervades and sustains all and
shines and makes everything to shine.
68. He who renouncing all
activities, who is free of all the limitations of time, space and
direction, worships his own Atman which is present everywhere, which is
the destroyer of heat and cold, which is Bliss-Eternal and stainless,
becomes All-knowing and All-pervading and attains thereafter
Thus concludes Atma-Bodha.