Vivekachudamani by Sri Shankara: Resources and PDF downloads | Translation by Sri Ramana Maharshi | Advaita Vedanta | Crest Jewel of Discrimination

Here are some resources and links relating to this superb traditional Advaita Vedanta text that gives us a step-by-step method for Self-Realisation and Liberation.

Attributed to Sri Shankara, written approximately 1400 years ago, Vivekachudamani (‘The Crest Jewel of Discrimination’ or the ‘The Highest Treasure of Wisdom’) was also recommended by Sri Ramana Maharshi who said this text explains ‘…in detail the points that have to be grasped by those who seek liberation, and thereby directing them to the true and direct path‘:

Shankara’s Vivekachudamani as translated by Sri Ramana Maharshi: https://tomdas.com/2019/03/04/vivekachudamani-as-translated-by-sri-ramana-maharshi/

Sri Ramana’s introduction to Vivekachudamani where he summarises the entire path to liberation: https://tomdas.com/2019/02/25/ramana-maharshis-introduction-to-shankaras-crest-jewel-of-discrimination-vivekachudamani-and-summary-of-its-teachings/

The 10 most important verses of Vivekachudamani as selected by Sri Ramana Maharshi: https://tomdas.com/2020/05/14/the-ten-most-important-verses-of-shankaras-vivekachudamani-according-to-sri-ramana-maharshi/

Is Vivekachudamani sexist? https://youtu.be/VPZw6cgczLw

A more traditional verse by verse translation of Vivekachudamani by Swami Madhavananda: https://tomdas.com/2018/10/01/vivekachudamani-crest-jewel-of-discrimination-by-shankara/

A more accurate verse by verse translation of Vivekachudamani with word for word transliteration and translation by Achyarya Pranipata Chaitanya:

Q. Is it your view that Nirvikalpa Samadhi leads to Liberation? | Advaita Vedanta | The 108 Upanishads PDF Download

See below for the link to download the 108 Upanishads as a PDF file

Tom: note this is not my view, but the view of Vedanta, ie. the Upanishads, also known as Shruti. The Upanishads and Jnanis state this again and again in various ways. The highest authority in the Vedanta teachings are the Upanishads. In fact, strictly speaking, ‘Vedanta’ simply refers to the teachings found in the Upanishads. If we actually read the Upanishads for ourselves – there are 108* classical Upanishads – we will see this same teaching being given again and again.

eg.

The knot of ignorance in the heart is broken completely only when one sees his Self as secondless through Nirvikalpa Samadhi

~ Adhyatma Upanishad 1.17

Hasn’t Guru Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi told us that all paths must end in Silence, also known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi, also known as Jnana, which is nothing other than the Pure Objectless Self!

However, to answer your question directly, it is also my own view. My views on this remain unchanged – what made you think otherwise?**

Namaste and Pranams 🙏

*There are classically 108 Upanishads, all of which are considered to be authoritative in Vedanta teachings. However 10-12 of the Upanishads have more recently been designated ‘Major Upanishads’ as these are the ones that Sri Shankara wrote commentaries upon, and the remaining 96-98 Upanishads are often referred to as ‘Minor Upanishads’. However strictly speaking the so-called Minor Upanishads are no less important than the so-called major ones, and traditionally many think the Minor Upanishads are for the more advanced students of Vedanta. Often the ‘Minor’ Upanishads teach a very clear and direct approach to Vedanta, so perhaps Shankara just commented on those Upanishads that were less easy to understand? Either way, read them for yourself if you get the chance. You can find them here:

**This reply was given to someone who thought my views on this matter had changed

Q. Why do the Upanishads repeatedly state the Self is located ‘within the body’ in the ‘Heart’ or ‘Cavern of the Heart’? | Advaita Vedanta

Tom: Why do the Upanishads constantly repeat and say the Self is located within the body, in the ‘heart’ or ‘cavern of the heart’ within the body? Why is this repeated time and time again? At the same time it is said the the Self is nothing to do with the body? And at the same time it is said the Self is All, everywhere?

Answer (also from Tom): It is because the Upanishads and vedanta scriptures again and again tell us to turn our attention away from objective phenomena and towards the Divine Within, which is nothing but Our True Self, the I Am, the Subject.

ie. It is only to help us turn within that the scriptures say ‘it is in the heart, located in the body, the size of a thumb’, etc, etc.

eg. from the Katha Upanishad:

2.1.12 The Puruṣa (Self), of the size of a thumb, resides in the middle of the body as the lord of the past and the future, (he who knows Him) fears no more. This verily is That.

and

2.3.17. The Purusha of the size of a thumb, the internal atman, is always seated in the heart of all living creatures; one should draw him out from one’s own body boldly, as stalk from grass; one should know him as pure and immortal; one should know him as pure and immortal.

See this post where Sri Ramana makes the teaching clear: Remove Nama-Rupa (Name & Form) to reveal Sat-Chit-Ananda (the Self)

Shankara teaches two methods to ‘attain liberation’ (Self-Knowledge or Atma-Jnana) | Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati (SSS) | Advaita Vedanta

Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati (SSS) was a great Sanskrit scholar who made an extensive study of Shankara’s writings and commentaries and subsequently wrote many books on Advaita Vedanta. According to SSS, there are essentially 2 methods to ‘attain liberation’ outlined by Sri Shankara:

1. Firstly, in those who are ripe, merely hearing (sravana) a teaching equating oneself with Brahman, will result in liberation. For some who are slighlty less ripe, some repeated contemplation (manana) upon this teaching will be required too. (Tom’s addition: A ripe mind may be a mind that is rendered extremely pure and subtle by long and sustained spiritual practice, or a mind may be ripe due to other more mysterious factors including ‘God’s Grace’.)

2. Secondly, for those who are not able to ‘attain liberation’ merely by hearing +/- contemplating a teaching such as ‘you are that’, one must also undergo prolonged meditation (nididyasana) which will directly result in liberation.

We can see that Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi broadly states the same here.

SSS in his text the Theory of Vedanta writes on p. 153:

‘In addition to Karma and Upasana, there is a kind of concentrated contemplation called the Adhyatma-Yoga which leads to immediate intuition [of Brahman, ie. Self Realisation]’

You can see that SSS is stating that this Adhyatma-Yoga is not classified as ‘karma’ or action, and is also not classed as Upasana (meditation on objects), but is something else that is a direct means of knowledge or liberation.

SSS writes in ‘The Method of Vedanta’ p. 147:

‘The aim of the one practising sustained meditation (nididhyasana) is different [to Upasana, defined here as meditation on forms/objects]. He tries to attain direct vision of reality (here in this very world) by turning his mind away from all else [ie. all objects]. And there is the difference — as against upasana — that after the rise of knowledge nothing further remains to be done. It is this sustained meditation that is referred to at Kathha Upanishad I.ii.12 by the name ‘Adhyatma Yoga’. In the Gita it is sometimes called ’Dhyana Yoga’ (e.g. XVI11.52). In the Mandukya Karikas it is called ’restraint of the mind’ (G.K.III.41, etc.). Its nature is described there in that latter work. Everywhere its result is described in the same way as right metaphysical knowledge, and from this comes immediate liberation (sadyo-mukti).’

You can see that SSS defines Upasana as meditation upon objects, and that this is considered to be action or karma (and so will not directly lead to realisation), whereas nididhyasana is a special type of meditation which involves turning away from objects, and this type of meditation is not considered to be ‘karma’ or action, but a direct means to knowledge (as karma pertains to objects only, not to the actionless subject).

Here again this is stated more clearly in the introduction to the text Adhyatma Yoga:

‘The subject dealt with here viz. Adhyatma Yoga, also known as Dhyana Yoga, Mano-nigraha Yoga, Samadhi Yoga and Nidhidhyasana, is treated these days as a Kartru Tantra Sadana. But in the Shankara Bhashya throughout, this Adhyatma Yogi or Dhyana Yoga is treated as a Vastu Tantra Sadhana’

Kartru Tantra Sadana means action, which being limited, will therefore not lead to something unlimited (ie. liberation or the Self). Vastu Tantra Sadhana means something that will lead directly to the Supreme Truth (Vastu), ie. that which is a means of Knowledge or Liberation.

In summary, SSS writes on p 143 of The Method of Vedanta’:

‘the highest kind of candidate is able to acquire immediate intuitive vision that his Self is the Absolute from merely hearing the relevant upanishadic texts once. These people who realize the goal by merely hearing the texts once have nothing further to do…

‘…But those who are not able to acquire intuitive knowledge of the meaning of the texts in their own direct experience have to go on hearing the texts and reflecting over them to remove the doubts that prevent their meaning being understood, and they have to continue with this until intuitive knowledge arises. For we see that those of dull understanding acquire knowledge through diligent repetition…

‘…But those who cannot acquire intuitive knowledge of reality by hearing and reflection alone have to resort to sustained meditation also. In any case, the general rule is that hearing and the rest have to be continued until there is intuitive knowledge of reality. For attainment of intuitive knowledge of reality is their purpose’

To see how SSS and Shankara define meditation or nididhyasana, see here: What is Vedantic Meditation?

To see how Sri Ramana gives the same teaching, see here: Sravana alone can result in Self-Realisation! Sri Ramana Maharshi on Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana

I bow down to my Own True Self! | Yoga Vasistha

Here is a prayer or salutation that was read out by someone at Satsang this Thursday. It is taken from the wonderful text Yoga Vasistha, where it is referred to as a prayer:

Salutations to that reality in which all the elements, and all the animate and inanimate beings shine as if they have an independent existence, and in which they exist for a time and into which they merge.

Salutations to that consciousness which is the source of the apparently distinct threefold divisions of knower, knowledge and known, seer, sight and seen, doer, doing and deed.

Salutations to that bliss absolute (the ocean of bliss) which is the life of all beings whose happiness and unfoldment is derived from the shower of spray from that ocean of bliss.

~Vasistha’s Yoga (translated by Swami Venkatesananda)

As you can see, the prayer is naturally divided into three sections, with each one corresponding to Sat-Chit-Ananda (Reality-Consciousness-Bliss), which refers to the Self, ie. what we truly are, or Brahman, the Divine Absolute. So this is really a prayer to God, Brahman, or a Prayer to Ourself:

I bow down and worship my Own True Self!

Can the mind or thoughts be controlled? Bhagavad Gita | Advaita Vedanta

Many say that (1) the mind (ie. thoughts) cannot be controlled and (2) the mind need not be controlled for liberation to result. Here is what is written in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 6, verses 35 and 36:

Arjuna: The mind is very restless, turbulent, strong and obstinate, O Krishna. It appears to me that it is more difficult to control than the wind.

Lord Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, what you say is correct; the mind is indeed very difficult to restrain. But by practice and detachment, it can be controlled.

Note the teaching here is clear – the mind can be controlled. Just practice is required. To find out more, please read Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita which explains the meaning of ‘controlling the mind’, the method of doing so, and the result (Moksha)

🙏

Grace of God vs Sadhana (practice) for attaining moksha (liberation)

‘It is mainly through enquiry (vichara) that he who is competent achieves knowledge of the Self; circumstance, time, and the grace of the Lord are but aids to the quest.’

~ Shankara (Vivekachudamani)

Tom: Some say that grace of god is required for liberation and so slacken and shy away from their sadhana. Grace of God is certainly needed, but Grace of God is always here. Shankara reminds us that it is Sadhana ie. Self-enquiry, that is the foremost factor that leads directly to liberation

🙏

Sri Suresvara – Advaita Vedanta Summarised – |Download Naishkarmya Siddhi as PDF

From performance of the daily rituals comes merit (dharma), from merit comes destruction of sin, from this comes purity of mind, from this comes a correct evaluation of transmigratory life, from this comes indifference to it, from this comes desire for liberation, from this comes a search for the means to the latter, from this comes the renunciation of all ritualistic action and its accessories, from this comes practice of yoga, from this the focusing of the mind within, from this a knowledge of the meaning of texts like ‘That thou art’, from this the eradication of nescience [ignorance], from this establishment in the Self alone, according to the texts ‘Verily, being the Absolute (Brahman), he attains the Absolute’* and ‘Released, he is released’**.
~Suresvara (Direct disciple of Adi Shankara) from the text Naishkarmya Siddhi 1.51

*Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.iv.6
**Katha Upanishad II.ii.1

The entire text of Sri Suresvara’s Naishkarmya Siddhi can be downloaded here as a PDF:

Tom’s comments:

I chose this verse as it forms a concise summary of the Advaita Vedanta teaching presented in the text. (There are also many other important points made in the text). We can see the progession to liberation Sri Suresvara outlines is as follows:

  1. Performance of selfless actions (daily rituals) leads to accrual of merit
  2. Merit leads to a pure peaceful (Sattvic) mind
  3. The pure mind is able to accurately reflect and understand that all objects are transient and temporary and so not lasting fulfillment or happiness can be derived from them
  4. This leads to Vairagya or dispassion for sense-pleasures
  5. Vairagya leads to desire for a lasting fulfilment that is not based on the temporary objects, ie. liberation
  6. Desire for liberation leads to a search for a method to attain it
  7. Which leads to renunciation of all action (becoming still) and focusing one’s attention on the Self within
  8. This leads to an understanding of ‘Thou Art That’ as is written in the scriptures, or that our true nature is that of Pure Objectless Consciousness, the Eternal Subject. This is the same as the removal of ignorance
  9. This is Moksha, liberation

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti Om

Q. How can I or Atman be beyond the EXPERIENCER as well as the doer? | Nisargadatta Maharaj

Q. Hello Tom , Thank you for your efforts in helping us. I have a doubt: Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj says that YOU ARE BEYOND THE EXPERIENCER – I understand that experiences changes but the experiencer is constant, but what can be beyond the experiencer, and does that mean we avoid experiences of our lives and even spirtiual realisation is a sort of experience, as we feel more peaceful and joyful, please explain this to me.

Tom:

Great question. The ego is both the experiencer AND the doer. These are both Maya (ie. illusion or fiction) or part of the waking dream. What you are, the Self, is beyond this Maya or waking dream.

Sometimes the Self is said to be the Witness, but this is not actually true, for it is the (fictional) ego that witnesses things/objects, it is also the ego that thinks, that emotes, etc.

The Self is devoid of all phenomena.

This can only really be understood fully by doing Self-Enquiry, eg. as per Sri Ramana’s instructions in the text Who Am I?

eg. See here verse 7 from the Mandukya Upanishad which explains that the Self is not the witness/observer of objects and also the Self is devoid of phenomena (note Turiya is another name for the Self (Atman means Self), as is also explained in the verse):

‘Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss and non—dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realised.’

~Mandukya Upanishad, Verse 7

For more see here in this post and also follow the links cited in the post: