Advaita Vedanta: Is samadhi required for Self-Realisation according to Shankara and the Upanishads?

There are several views on this topic, but in this post we will see what the Advaita scriptures say and what Shankara has written on this in his commentaries.

In some texts that are attributed to Shankara, such as Vivekachudamani, the case is clearly presented – these texts clearly state that Samadhi is definitely required for Self-Realisation to occur. Whilst this is the most widely held view, and by far the dominant traditional view for at least the last one thousand years and more, and also the view of the four Shankara Mathas that have been entrusted with handing down Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta tradition to each generation, there are a minority who state that Vivekachudamani is not a genuine work of Shankara.

Therefore in this post we will look at what was written by Shankara in his commentaries, the authorship of which is not in doubt:

Please see this link here to read the discussion of this topic.

Gaudapada & Shankara: The Self is Attainable by ‘Samadhi’ | What is Samadhi according to Advaita Vedanta | Vedantic Samadhi

According to Advaita Vedanta, what is meant by Samadhi? And is this Samadhi necessary for Self-Realisation?

If you read the following carefully, you will see that Sri Gaudapada (in his Mandukya Karika) and Sri Shankara (in his commentary upon the Mandukya Karika) are both stating the following:

  1. The Self is realisable through Samadhi
  2. In Samadhi there are no thoughts present
  3. In Samadhi there are no gross or subtle objects present
  4. This Samadhi is not a state of mind, for the mind (and other objects) are not present in Samadhi
  5. This Samadhi leads to Jnana (Knowledge)

Whilst this is clearly explained in texts such as Shankara’s Vivekachudamani (see here for the series of verses in Vivekachudamani that emphasise the need for Samadhi) and many other Advaita texts, there are a minority who dispute the authorship of these texts saying it was not the original Shankara but a later Shankara that wrote these other texts. So here I will quote from Gaudapada’s Karika (Gaudapada’s commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad) and Shankara’s commentary on this.

Both Gaudapada and Shankara are considered authorities in Advaita Vedanta and in the case of these texts there is no dispute in the authorship – ie. everyone agrees that Gaudapada authored the Mandukya Karika and that Shankara’s commentary on this was actually authored by Shankara – so we can be clear this is the correct teaching that represents their views. Let us see:

1. The Self is realisable only through Samadhi

The Self (Atman) is beyond all expression by words beyond all acts of mind; It is absolutely peaceful, it is eternal effulgence free from activity and fear and it is attainable by Samadhi.

~ Gaudapada, Mandukya Upanishad Karika 3.37

Some people translate the last phrase differently, but when we look at Shankara’s commentary on the verse, we can see the meaning is made clear, ie. the above translation is the correct one – the Self is attainable by Samadhi. In fact Shankara goes further, he states the Self is only realised through Samadhi:

Shankara’s commentary from the above verse from Gaudapada 3.37 states:
…The Self (Atman) is denoted by the word Samadhi as it can be realised only by the knowledge arising out of the deepest concentration (on its essence), Samadhi. Or the Self (Atman) is denoted by Samadhi because it is the object of concentration, the Jiva concentrates his mind on the Self (Atman)…

[Edit: since writing this article it has been pointed out to the me that the underlined word ‘only’ does not appear in the original Sanskrit, but this was an overzealous addition by the translator of this verse, Swami Nikhilananda, when he translated the commentary into English]

2. In Samadhi no thoughts are present

Now others will say that Samadhi doesn’t mean that all thoughts should cease, as that is yogic samadhi, and vedanta samadhi is something different in which thoughts and objects of perception can be present. However, what do Gaudapada and Shankara say? If we read carefully and slowly we will see that this question is also clarified:

In the next verse Gaudapada writes in verse 3.38 of his Mandukya Karika that all thoughts have stopped and that this leads to Jnana (Knowledge). Note that this verse is a continuation following on from the previous verse which has just stated the Self can be realised by Samadhi:

There can be no acceptance or rejection where all mentation stops. Then knowledge is established in the Self and is unborn, and it becomes homogenous

~Gaudapada, Mandukya Karika 3.38

We can see the emphasis is on cessation of all thoughts (‘all mentation stops’), implying this is what will happen in Samadhi. Then self-knowledge is established, the verse goes on to say, ie. once all mentation has stopped, then self-knowledge is established. Shanakra states this Self-Knowledge is unborn, meaning it was never created and is not subject to birth and death. This self-knowledge is also homogenous, meaning there are no differences in it whatsoever. This is another way of stating there are no objects perceived, for the presence of objects would make it heterogenous, not homogenous. Note that thoughts are also objects.

Again, some state this is not the correct interpretation of the verse, and that homogenous does not mean there are no objects present, but let us see what Shankara has to say in his commentary on the above verse:

Shankara’s commentary on this verse 3.38 is as follows:

…therefore there is no rejection or acceptance in It, where thought does not exist. That is to say, how can there be rejection or acceptance where no mentation is possible in the absence of the mind? As soon as there comes the realisation of the Truth that is the Self, then, in the absence of any object, knowledge (Jnanam) is established in the Self, like the heat of fire in fire. It is then birthless (ajati) and becomes homogenous.

Again, we can see that Shankara is clear that there are no thoughts, and therefore no mind (as mind is just the presence of thoughts, or the movement of thinking).

3. In Samadhi there are no gross or subtle objects present

Shankara also states clearly that Jnana (Self-Knowledge) arises in the absence of any objects being present in the above quote, the commentary on verse 3.38.

Later on we see this same theme being repeated, ie. that there are no objects or appearances present in this Samadhi which leads to Brahman-Realisation (ie. Liberation):

‘…when the mind becomes quiescent and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman’
~ Gaudapada, Mandukya Upanishad Karika 3.46

Shankara clarifies this further in his commentary on Mandukya Karika 3.46:

‘When the mind brought under discipline by the above-mentioned methods, does not fall into the oblivion of deep sleep, nor is distracted by external objects, that is to say, when the mind becomes quiescent like the flame of a light kept in a windless place; or when the mind does not appear in the form of an object – when the mind is endowed with these characteristics, it verily becomes one with Brahman.’

~ Shankara in his commentary on Gaudapada’s Mandukya Karika 3.46

We can see that Shankara is stating in Samadhi, which was earlier advocated as the means to liberation, is devoid of objective phenomena when he writes ‘the mind does not appear in the form of an object’ above. We can also see that he is stating there are no thoughts in Samadhi, when he writes ‘when the mind becomes quiescent’.

Anandagiri, a 13th century commentator on Shankara’s works, confirms this in his comments on Karika 3.46:
‘The external objects are nothing but the activities of the mind itself.’

So we can see that mind activity and external objects are one and the same, and that samadhi is devoid of both

4. This Samadhi is not a state of mind, for the mind (and other objects) are not present in Samadhi

So we can see that Samadhi is not simply a state of mind – Shankara states it is the absense of mind and thought and objects. How can samadhi be a state of mind if there is no mind present in Samadhi? Samadhi is beyond the mind. Samadhi is the Self.

States of mind come and go, and the mind, being an object, is a part of Maya. However Samadhi is to abide as Self.

This is the meaning of nididhyasana – to abide as Self, the pure Consciousness that we already are. It is explained in detail in traditional advaita texts like Vivekachudamani and Advaita Bodha Deepika, and Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings point us unwaveringly to this same teaching too.

5. This Samadhi leads to Jnana (Knowledge)

Well I have no further quotes for you in this section – you should hopefully already be able to see from the quotes given above that Jnana arises from Samadhi, and this Samadhi is devoid of thoughts and objects. However, in this section I will re-present the above quotes with the emphasis on Samadhi leading to Jnana. In order to do this I have abbreviated some of the quotes (as indicated by ‘…’), the unabbreviated versions being present above:

Eg. here Gaudapada states the Atman can be attained through Samadhi.

‘The Self (Atman)…is attainable by Samadhi.’ ~ Gaudapada, Mandukya Upanishad Karika 3.37

Shankara goes further and states that only Samadhi leads to Knolwedge in his commentary on the above verse:

…The Self (Atman)…can be realised only by the knowledge arising out of…Samadhi.’

Then Gaudapada also states that when all thought ceases Knowledge arises:

‘…where all mentation stops. Then knowledge is established in the Self…’ ~Gaudapada, Mandukya Karika 3.38

Shankara’s commentary on this above verse 3.38 unsurprisingly states the same:

in the absence of any object, knowledge (Jnanam) is established in the Self…’

Conclusion

So hopefully we can now clearly see that, according to Gaudapada and Shankara:

  1. The Self is realisable only through Samadhi
  2. In Samadhi there are no thoughts present
  3. In Samadhi there are no gross or subtle objects present
  4. This Samadhi is not a state of mind that comes and goes, for the mind (and other objects) are not present in Samadhi
  5. It is only this Samadhi that leads to Jnana (Knowledge)

I hope the above verses are of help for you. The above is just one of a series of articles I have written on this topic – please see below for some of the other posts that discuss this further.

Namaste

Tom

Also see:

The need for nirvikalpa samadhi according to Advaita Vedanta – Swami Advayananda | Swami Chinmayananada

HOW SWAMI SATCHITANANDENDRA SARASWATI (SSS) DEFINES NIDIDHYASANA (VEDANTIC MEDITATION)

Shankara: How to Meditate for Self-Realisation |Nididhyasana | Samadhi

Advaita Vedanta: Gaudapada’s Method (Mandukya Upanishad Karika)

Recommended Reading: Books for Enlightenment, Liberation and Self-Realisation

What exactly is Jnana (knowledge) according to Shankara and Gaudapada and the scriptures?

Shankara: how to Realise the Self (Shankara’s commentary on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad)

The Waking State is another Dream | Shankara, Gaudapada, Upanishads | Advaita Vedanta | Sri Ramana Maharshi

Here we will see, using quotes from Gaudapada, Shankara, the Upanishads and Sri Ramana Maharshi that the same essential teaching is taught regarding the reality of the waking and dream states – namely that they are both equally unreal, that both waking and dream are dream!

Gaudapada

Tom: Here is verse 1 from chapter 2 of Gaudapada’s Mandukya Karika (Gaudapada’s four chapter commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad), my comments are in red:

2.1. Harih Aum. The wise declare the unreality of all entities seen in dreams, because they are located within the body and the space therein is confined.

Tom: Gaudapada is essentially stating something we already know, namely that we dream of many things, but all these things we dream of are not actually real. They are all projections of the mind, which is what Gaudapa means by ‘located within the body and the space therein is confined’

2.2. The dreamer, on account of the shortness of the time involved, cannot go out of the body and see the dream objects. Nor does he, when awakened, find himself in the places seen in the dream.

Tom: Again, Gaudapada is stating what we already know about dreams. Shankara in his commentary on this verse explains this means that if we dream of going to a far away land many hundreds of miles away that would take several months to travel to, there is not enough time in dream, which only lasts a few hours, to actually travel there. Similarly, when we wake from the dream, we do not find ourself in this dream location far away.

2.3. Scripture, on rational grounds, declares the non-existence of the chariots etc. perceived in dreams. Therefore the wise say that the unreality established by reason is proclaimed by scripture.

Tom: Gaudapada in verses 2.1 and 2.2 has shown that the many things perceived in dreams are not real on the basis of our own experience. Now he is stating the same based on scripture, referring to Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3.10, which states, referring to a dream about chariots:

‘There are no chariots, nor animals to be yoked to them, nor roads there, but he creates the chariots, animals and roads. There are no pleasures, joys, or delights there, but he creates the pleasures, joys and delights. There are no pools, tanks, or rivers there, but he creates the pools, tanks and rivers. For he is the agent’.

The idea from Gaudapada is that if we dream of a chariot, that chariot is not real, as confirmed by scripture. Note that the teaching that is given in the next two verses is essentially the same as the teaching given in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3 (please see this link for more).

2.4. The different objects seen in the confined space of dreams are unreal on account of their being perceived. For the same reason, ie. on account of their being perceived, the objects seen in the waking state are also unreal. The same condition ie. the state of being perceived exists in both waking and dreaming. The only difference is the limitation of space associated with dream objects.

Tom: Gaudapada is now equating the dream and waking states, stating that just as dream objects are perceived but not real, the same is with the waking state objects – they are also perceived yet utterly unreal. Does this mean we are to consider the waking state as unreal as a dream? The answer is yes, let us see:

2.5. Thoughtful persons speak of the sameness of the waking and dream states on account of the similarity of the objects perceived in both states on the grounds already mentioned.

Tom: The translation used thus far is that of Swami Nikhilanananda of the Ramakrishna Order. Swami Gambhirananda, also of the Ramakrishna Order, translates the last line of verse 2.5 as the wise say that the dream and the waking states are one.

Shankara

In his commentary on Gaudapada Karika verse 2.5 (above) Shankara states ‘…therefore discriminating people speak of the sameness of the states of waking and dream.

We can see that Gaudapada and Shankara are both explicitly stating that the waking state is another form of the dream state, and whilst we often distinguish between waking and sleep, they are actually both dream states, and all that is perceived within waking and dream are equally unreal.

Again, note that this teaching is also given in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3

We see the same teaching given much more concisely in Shankara’s masterpiece, Vivekachudamani:

170. In dreams, when there is no actual contact with the external world, the mind alone creates the whole universe consisting of the experiencer etc. Similarly in the waking state also; there is no difference. Therefore all this (phenomenal universe) is the projection of the mind.

Tom: We can see that Shankara is saying that the mind projects both the dream state and the waking state. Note that this is essentially equating the mind with maya. Shankara goes on to reiterate this view in subsequent verses:

171. In dreamless sleep, when the mind is reduced to its causal state, there exists nothing (for the person asleep), as is evident from universal experience. Hence man’s relative existence is simply the creation of his mind, and has no objective reality.

177. The mind continually produces for the experiencer all sense-objects without exception, whether perceived as gross or fine, the differences of body, caste, order of life, and tribe, as well as the varieties of qualification, action, means and results.

Tom: Above we can see that Shankara has equated Mind with Maya. Now he will equate Mind with Ignorance. We can deduce that all three, Mind-Maya-Ignorance, are just three names for the same phenomenon:

180. Hence sages who have fathomed its secret have designated the mind as Avidya or ignorance, by which alone the universe is moved to and fro, like masses of clouds by the wind.

Sri Ramana Maharshi

Like Shankara and Gaudapada, Sri Ramana also equates ignorance and maya, and he further says the same phenomenon is also called ego, jiva, conceit, and impurity – ie. all these various words mean the same thing, and that this ignorance is essentially the ‘I am the body idea’ – see here, taken from the text Vichara Sangraham (Self-Enquiry) in the answer to question 3:

Sri Ramana Maharshi:…Therefore, the ‘I-consciousness’ which at first arises in respect of the body is referred to variously as self-conceit (tarbodham), egoity (ahankara), nescience (avidya), maya, impurity (mala), and individual soul (jiva).

In question 10 of the same text, Vichara Sangraham (Self Enquiry), Sri Ramana says the following:

Question: If the entire universe is of the form of mind, then does it not follow that the universe is an illusion? If that be the case, why is the creation of the universe mentioned in the Vedas?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: There is no doubt whatsoever that the universe is the merest illusion. The principal purport of the Vedas is to make known the true Brahman, after showing the apparent universe to be false. It is for this purpose that the Vedas admit thecreation of the world and not for any other reason…this world arose like a dream on account of one’s own thoughts induced by the defect of not knowing oneself as the SelfThat the world is illusory, everyone can directly know in the state of Realisation which is in the form of experience of one’s bliss-nature.

In the text Nan Yar? (Who Am I?), Sri Ramana writes:

Sri Ramana Maharshi:…The world should be considered like a dream.

Question: Is there no difference between waking and dream?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Waking is long and a dream short; other than this there is no difference. Just as waking happenings seem real while awake, so do those in a dream while dreaming.

So, what now? Now we must put the teachings into practice to realise the truth of them:

Also see:

Shankara: How to Meditate for Self-Realisation| Vivekachudamani | Nididhyasana |

Advaita Vedanta: Gaudapada’s Method (Mandukya Upanishad Karika)

What exactly is Jnana (knowledge) according to Shankara and Gaudapada and the scriptures? | Advaita Vedanta | Mandukya Upanishad and Karika

It is said that the suffering can only end when the Self is realised, and that the Self can only be realised through Jnana, which means ‘knowledge’. This ‘knowledge’ is tantamount to and synonymous with liberation itself. So, what is this Jnana? Often the word is not clearly defined in vedanta scriptures so the exact meaning of the word is lost. Many people think that jnana refers to knowledge in the intellect or mind, but this is an incorrect understanding.

For those of you who are familiar with the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, you will know that Sri Ramana makes the meaning clear for us: Jnana is just another word for the Self. The Self ‘knows’ itself by Its-Self. Jnana just means being the Self, devoid of objects or any arising phenomena.

However, what do the traditional scriptures say? Well, as usual, they same the same as Sri Ramana. Jnana just means Being Self, devoid of all arising phenomenal objects. In Gaudapada’s masterpiece, his commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad also known as Mandukya Karika or Gaudapada Karika, the entirely of Vedanta is unfolded and explained. We also have Shankara’s commentary on Gaudapada’s writing to guide us further.

Gaudapada’s Karika and Shankara’s commentary on Gaudapada

One other advantage about using Shankara’s commentary on Gaudapada’ Karika is that whilst the same teachings are often given in shorter simpler texts written by Shankara (ie. the prakarana granthas or ‘instruction manuals’), some people (usually those who disagree with the teachings of these shorter texts!) debate whether or not Shankara actually wrote the shorter texts. Whilst most scholars still think that it is highly likley that Shankara did write these prakarana granthas, there is enough of a minority who disagree.

However this is not the case with Shankara’s commentary on Gaudapada Karika – there is almost universal agreement that this is clearly an authentic work of Shankara’s. In the quotes below I have used the translation from Swami Gambhirananda taken from the book ‘Eight Upanishads with the commentary of Sankaracarya’, which is one of the more literal translations available. This does make it slightly harder to read at times, but it means the meaning, once deciphered, is generally clearer.

Gaudapada’s Karika is composed of four chapters. In the first two chapters Gaudapada relentlessly drives home the point that all phenomenal arisings in the waking state are utterly illusory, just like in a dream all objects in the waking state are projected imaginings, and are a product of Maya. This includes all subtle objects such as knowledge in the intellect, which is said to be more Maya. ie. knowledge in the intellect and ignorance are both ignorance and illusion. In Shankara’s commentary he agrees with this and further supplements Gaudapada’s reasoning (see chapter 2 verses 1-19 and verses 31-36 of Gaudapada’s Karika and Shankara’s commentary for this).

In fact in verse 2.5 Gaudapada encourages the seeker to consider the waking and dream states to be a single dream state rather that two distinct states called waking and dream, with Shankara again agreeing in his commentary on this verse. This is why the Self is said to be beyond both knowledge and ignorance.

Knowledge vs experience

Note that some people contrast intellectual knowledge with experience, stating that intellectual knowledge is what is needed rather than experiences, which come and go. However, note that according to Gaudapada’s framework, intellectual knowledge is just a subtype or class of experience, as it too comes and goes and is subject to change, hence all intellectual knowledge ultimately is just maya or dream-like illusion. It should be obvious to us if we discern – what is ordinarily called knowledge, ie. knowledge in the mind or intellect, is actually just a form or type of experience!

Jnana defined

So back to Jnana. How does Gaudapada define this? How does Shankara define this? We see a definition in Chapter 3 verse 33, as follows:

33. They say that the non-conceptual knowledge (Jnanam), which is birthless, is non-different from the knowable (Brahman). The knowledge that has Brahman for its content is birthless and everlasting. The Birthless is known by the Birthless.

Shankara starts his commentary on this verse as follows:

The knowers of Brahman say that absolute Jnanam, knowledge, which is akalpakam, devoid of all imagination (non-conceptual), and is therefore ajam, birthless…

We can see that here both Gaudapada and Shankara are stating that the nature of Jnana is basically the same as the Self, as follows:

-It is non-conceptual, ie. not of the intellect or mind. The work Gaudapada uses is akalpakam, which means without kalpas or without thought/concepts/imaginings. Earlier in Gaudapada Karika Gaudapada has in several successive verses driven home the point that the entire waking state is born of imagination (kalpa), so to state that Jnana is akalpalkam means that is it without any dream or waking state objects whatsoever. Shankara in his commentary has taken this meaning of the word kalpa to mean ‘imaginings’ in this sense.

-It is birthless and everlasting; and what is birthless and everlasting apart from the Self?

-It is known by itself (the birthless is known by the birthless), ie. it is the Self that ‘knows’ the Self by Its-Self. Here I have put the word ‘know’ in quotes as it is not knowledge in the normal sense, as knowledge in the mind is necessarily conceptual, but here we are speaking of or pointing to a non-conceptual ‘knowledge’, the word ‘knowledge’ being used for want of a better word to describe something that is essentially beyond description.

Later in his commentary on the same verse Shankara writes:

By that unborn knowledge, which is the very nature of the Self, is known – It knows by Itself – the birthless reality, which is the Self. The idea being conveyed is that the Self being ever a homogenous mass of Consciousness, like the sun that is by nature a constant light, does not depend on any other knowledge (for Its revelation).

Again, we can see that idea is that the nature of Self is Knowledge/Jnana, in the same way the nature of the sun is to shine.

The word ‘homogenous’ means without any variation whatsoever, ie. without any subtle or gross objects arising in the consciousness.

No phenomenal arisings in the Self/in Jnana

Shankara continues his commentary on Gaudapada’s Karika verse 3.33, commenting that with Self-realisation all ideation has been driven out of the mind, and that there are no external objects of perception present either. The mind becomes still, and the still mind is no-mind – it is verily the Self, Jnana:

It has been said that when the mind is divested of ideation by virtue of the realisation of Truth that is Brahman, and when there is an absence of external objects (of perception), it becomes tranquil, controlled, and withdrawn, like fire that has no fuel. And it has further been said that when the mind thus ceases to be mind, duality also disappears.

Gaudapada and Shankara have already stated that Jnana is akalpakam. Shankara explains in his commentary that this word akalpakam means that it is devoid of all imagination. It should be noted that in Chapter 2 Gaudapada has said that everything that arises in both the waking and dream states is due to imagination (kalpa), eg. in verses 2.10-2.12, so it should be clear that by stating Jnana is akalpakam it means it is without any objects.

In his commentary on verse 3.33 above, Shankara is stating that realisation occurs when the phenomenal arisings, gross and subtle, have all ceased to arise, duality disappears, ie. Jnana is attained, or the Self has been realised. He is building on the previous two verses from Gaudapada, 3.31 and 3.32 which have already established this:

3.31 All this that there is – together with all that move or does not move – is perceived by the mind (and therefore all is is but the mind); for when the mind ceases to be the mind, duality is no longer perceived.

3.32 When the Truth of Atman has been realised, the mind ceases to think; then the mind attains the state of not being the mind. In the absence of things to be perceived, it becomes a non-perceiver.

You will also see that Jnana is being equated with a still mind – a mind that is no longer active – and a still mind that never moves again is no longer the mind – it is the Self. Again, for those of you who are familiar with Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching, he has already made all of this clear to us. For those of you who are not convinced, we have Shankara’s commentary on these verses to make it all the clearer for us:

Shankara’s commentary on verse 3.31:

This duality as a whole, that is mano-drsyam, perceived by the mind; is nothing but the mind, which is itself imagined – this is the proposition [Tom: ie. meaning of the verse]. For duality endures so long as the mind does, and disappears with the disappearance of the mind.

For when the mind ceases to be mind when, like the illusory snake disappearing in the rope, the mind’s activity stops through the practice of discriminating insight and detachment, or when the mind gets absorbed in the state of sleep, duality is not perceived. From this non-existence is proved the unreality of duality. This is the purport. How does the mind cease to be the mind? This is being answered [in the next verse and commentary]:

We can see that Shankara is equating the mind with Maya and with ignorance , something that is commonly done in vedanta texts – eg. in Shankara’s Vivekachudamani. Shankara states that it is the mind that projects all of duality (as per Chapter’s 1 and 2 of Gaudapada’s Karika which states the same), and that duality ceases when the mind ceases. Shankara states that through discrimination (viveka) and detachment (vairagya) the mind’s activity stops, and so it is the still or unmoving mind that is the result of viveka and vairagya, which is exactly the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. When the mind is no longer active, duality is not perceived, Shankara’s states, like in deep sleep.

Shankara’s commentary on verse 3.32:

The Truth that is Self…The Truth of the Self which follows from the instruction of the scriptures and teacher, when as a consequence of that, there remains nothing to be thought of, and the mind does not think – as fire does not burn in the absence of combustible things. At that time it attains the state of ceasing to be the mind. In the absence of things to be perceived, that mind becomes free from all illusion of perceptions. This is the idea.

Again, we see that Shankara is stating that the practice of viveka and vairagya (discrimination and renunciation) leads to the mind becoming still and this gives rise to realisation of Truth that is Self. Thereafter the mind stops thinking ‘as fire does not burn in the absence of combustible things’.

He, like Ramana, states that the mind feeds on sense objects or ‘things perceived’. In the ‘absence of things to be perceived‘, the mind no longer has any food or fuel and so burns out. This gives us the imagery of the flame of mind/egotism being extinguished, ie. nirvana, which literally means extinguishment (of a flame or fire).

Deep Sleep vs Stillness of Mind (Samadhi)

We have already covered 3.33 above. The next two verses, verse 3.34 and 3.35 explain the difference between the still or controlled mind and Deep Sleep – it is important note this only has to be done as Gaudapada has explained (and Shankara has agreed) that there are no gross or subtle objects present when the mind is stilled/controlled.

The natural question is therefore what is the difference between the Still Mind and Deep Sleep? If there were objects present when the mind is still, why the need to point out the difference between the Still Mind and Deep Sleep? Or surely the response would simply be that when the mind is controlled, objects are still or can still be present. However this is not the explaination given by Gaudapada, and Shankara is even stronger in his commentary.

I will not go into these verses here, as we are straying from the essence of this post, but you are welcome to look them up yourself. Sri Ramana Maharshi has given his own explanation of the difference between the still mind and deep sleep which you can read here if you wish, and you will find that it is essentially the same explanation given by both Gaudapada and Shankara.

A Practical Method for Self-Realisation

Thereafter next few verses carry on along similar lines reiterating similar points – you can find some of them here.

Finally Gaudapada ends chapter three in a marvellous crescendo by describing a practical method to attain liberation for those who remain stuck in Maya (Shankara in his commentary states that the method is for those who remain unliberated and fearful), which you can read on this link below.

You will see that Gaudapada is stating that the means to liberation is to control, or make still, the mind. We can infer that this is also the way to Jnana. He then outlines a method on how to still the mind, pointing out what the still mind is and what it isn’t:

Advaita Vedanta: Gaudapada’s Method (Mandukya Upanishad Karika)

Another definition of Jnana by Shankara

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, verse 4.4.20, states the following:

20. It [Brahman] should be realised in one form only, (for) It is unknowable and eternal. The Self is taintless, beyond the (subtle) ether, birthless, infinite and constant.

Here we can see that the Upanishad is stating that Brahman is unknowable. So what of Self-Knowledge or knowledge of Brahman that is so often spoken about? Shankara explains this contradiction in him commentary on this verse:

The knowledge of Brahman too means only the cessation of the identification with extraneous things (such as the body). The relation of identity with It [Brahman] has not to be directly established, for it is already there. Everybody always has that identity with It, but it appears to be related to something else. Therefore the scriptures do not enjoin that identity with Brahman should be established, but that the false identification with things other than That should stop. When the identification with other things is gone, that identity with one’s own Self which is natural, becomes isolated; this is expressed by the statement that the Self is known. In Itself It is unknowable – not comprehended through any means. Hence both statements are consistent.

We can see that Shankara is stating that Brahman is indeed unknowable, and that Jnana, or knowledge, only signifies the cessation of identification with extraneous things, ie. loss of identification with objects, specifically the body-mind. We do not need to affirm our identity as Brahman, as we already are and always have been and always will be Brahman. Any affirmation of Brahman would simply be on the level of thought or concepts, and so it would be Maya, or more ignorance. But once the false identification has been removed, then the Self naturally shines as itself, and this lack of wrong-knowledge, or lack of wrongly identifying as the body-mind, is what is called ‘Jnana’ or ‘knowledge’.

Do we need to turn away from the world of objects to realise the Self? | Advaita Vedanta | Sri Ramana Maharshi | Upanishads | Shankara

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Also see:

Ramana Maharshi: how to abide as the Self

Shankara: How to Meditate for Self-Realisation

Shankara: How to realise the Self (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Commentary)

The entire path explained: the Path of Sri Ramana

Here is what the Vedanta scriptures, such as the Upanishads and the writings of Sri Shankara and Sri Gaudapada say, together with quotes from Sri Ramana Maharshi:

The Lord created the senses out-going: therefore, one sees outside and not the Self within. Some intelligent man, with his senses turned away (from their objects), desirous of immortality, sees the Self within.
~ Katha Upanishad 2.1.1

In his commentary on this above verse (Katha Upanishad 2.1.1), Shankara writes:

‘…the perceiver sees the external objects which are not-Self/not the Atman, such as sound, etc., and not the Self within. Though this is the nature of the world, some (rare) discerning man, like turning back/ reversing the current of a river, sees the Self within…The group of sense organs, beginning with the ear, should be turned away from all sense-objects. Such a one, who is purified thus, sees the indwelling self. For it is not possible for the same person to be engaged in the thought of sense-objects and to have the vision of the Self as well.

Dwelling on external objects will only increase evil propensities, so wisely recognising this fact, one should abandon external objects and and constantly attend to one’s true nature within, the Atman [the Self].
~ Shankara, Vivekachudamani

(Note, there are so many quotes from Shankara’s Vivekachudamani which advocate turning within/away from objects that they would ovewhelm this post, but you can find some of these quotes compiled together here in a separate post.)

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…It is the cessation of all phenomena…This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realised. ~Mandukya Upanishad

In Shankara’s commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad, in his introduction to the text he writes:

Just as the normal state of a man, afflicted by disease, consists in his getting cured of the disease, similarly the normalcy of the Self, stricken with identification with misery, is regained through the cessation of the phenomenal universe of duality…since the phenomenal world of duality is a creation of ignorance, it can be eradicated through knowledge…

In his commentary on Katha Upanishad verse 1.2.20 Sri Shankara writes:

‘…One whose intellect has been withdrawn from all objects, gross and subtle, when this takes place, this is known as ‘inactivity of the sense organs’. Though this ‘inactivity of the sense organs’ one sees that glory of the Self. ‘Sees’ means he directly realises the Self as ‘I am the Self’ as thereby becomes free from suffering’

When the mind…remains unshakable and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.
~ Gaudapada, Mandukya Upanishad Karika

When the mind, after realizing the knowledge that Atman alone is real, becomes free from imaginations and therefore does not cognize anything, for want of objects to be cognized, it ceases to be the mind.
~ Gaudapada, Mandukya Upanishad Karika

The mind severed from all connection with sensual objects, and prevented from functioning out, awakes into the light of the heart, and finds the highest condition. The mind should be prevented from functioning, until it dissolves itself in the heart. This is Jnana, this is Dhyana, the rest is all mere concoction of untruth.
~ Amritabindu Upanishad

As long as the objective universe is perceived one does not realise the Self.
~ Yoga Vasishta

The Self (Atman) is beyond all expression by words beyond all acts of mind; It is absolutely peaceful, it is eternal effulgence free from activity and fear and it is attainable by Samadhi
~ Gaudapada, Mandukya Upanishad Karika 3.37

Shankara’s commentary from the above verse from Gaudapada 3.37 states:

…The Self (Atman) is denoted by the word Samadhi as it can be realised only by the knowledge arising out of the deepest concentration (on its essence), Samadhi. Or the Self (Atman) is denoted by Samadhi because it is the object of concentration, the Jiva concentrates his mind on the Self (Atman)…

In the next verse Gaudapada writes in verse 3.38 of his Mandukya Karika:

There can be no acceptance or rejection where all mentation stops. Then knowledge is established in the Self and is unborn, and it becomes homogenous

Shankara’s commentary on this verse 3.38 is as follows:

…therefore there is no rejection or acceptance in It, where thought does not exist. That is to say, how can there be rejection or acceptance where no mentation is possible in the absence of the mind? As soon as there comes the realisation of the Truth that is the Self, then, in the absence of any object, knowledge (Jnanam) is established in the Self, like the heat of fire in fire. It is then birthless (ajati) and becomes homogenous.

In his commentary on the Katha Upanishad, verse 2.1.2, Shankara writes:

The natural tendency to see external objects, which are not-Self, is the cause of ignorance, the obstacle to the realisation of the Self. The desire of external/outward enjoyments pertaining to this world and the next, which are presented by ignorance, is another obstacle. The realisation of the Self being impeded by these two, ignorance and desire, men with little intelligence pursue only external objects of desire….This being so, the intelligent, knowing the certain immortality of concentration in the inner Self

When the five organs of perception become still, together with the mind, and the intellect ceases to be active: that is called the Supreme State [Brahma-Vidya or Self Knowledge]
~Katha Upanishad 2.3.10

Shankara’s commentary on this above verse (Katha Upanishad, verse 2.3.10) states the following:

‘At the time when the five senses…, together with the mind…, which is now no longer functioning and thinking, are at rest in the Self alone, after turning away from objects, and with the intellect…no longer engaging with its functioning, that they call the highest state [Brahma-Vidya or Self-Knowledge].’

That which is not seen, though within us, is called the eternal and indestructible Self.
~ Yoga Vasishta

After knowing that by which you know this world, turn the mind inward, and then you will realise the effulgence of the Self.
~ Yoga Vasishta

Strenuously withdrawing all thoughts from sense objects, one should remain fixed in steady, non-objective [ie. subjective] enquiry. This, in brief, is the means of knowing one’s own real nature; this effort alone bring about the sublime inner vision.
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Ramana Gita

If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Maharshi’s Gospel

Q. When will the realization of the Self be gained?
Sri Ramana: When the world which is what-is-seen [ie. objects] has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer.
Q. Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is there?
Sri Ramana: There will not be.
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition’s and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear…All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent.
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

Therefore, when the world appears, the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears the world does not appear.
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears.
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

When the mind that is subtle goes out through the brain and the sense organs, the gross names and forms appear; when it stays in the heart, the names and forms disappear. Not letting the mind go out, but retaining it in the Heart is what is called “inwardness” (antarmukha). Letting the mind go out of the Heart is known as “externalisation” (bahir-mukha). Thus, when the mind stays in the Heart, the ‘I’ which is the source of all thoughts will go, and the Self which ever exists will shine.
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

Desirelessness is wisdom. The two are not different; they are the same. Desirelessness is refraining from turning the mind towards any object. Wisdom [Jnana] means the appearance of no object.
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

Q. How long should inquiry be practised?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: As long as there are impressions of objects in the mind, so long the inquiry “Who am I?” is required
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?

Also see: Ramana Maharshi: how to abide as the Self, the world is not real, attend to yourself

How to attain Brahman according to Advaita Vedanta (Sri Gaudapada’s Mandukya Karika)

The following summarises the spiritual method advised by Sri Gaudapada, the great-guru of the more famous Sri Shankara. It is taken from Chapter 3 of Gaudapada’s Karika (Gaudapada’s commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad),  one of the earliest, most authoritative and most-influential of Advaita Vedanta Scriptures.

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42. The mind distracted by desires and enjoyments should be brought under control by proper means; so also the mind enjoying pleasure in inactivity (laya). For the state of inactivity is as harmful as the state of desires.

43. Turn back the mind from the enjoyment of desires, remembering that they beget only misery. Do not see the created objects, remembering that all this is the unborn Atman.

44. If the mind becomes inactive, arouse it from laya [inactivity]; if distracted, make it tranquil. Understand the nature of the mind when it contains the seed of attachment. When the mind has attained sameness, do not disturb it again.

45. The yogi must not taste the happiness arising from samadhi; he should detach himself from it by the exercise of discrimination. If his mind, after attaining steadiness, again seeks external objects, he should make it one with Atman through great effort.

46. When the mind does not lapse into inactivity [laya] and is not distracted by desires, that is to say, when it remains unshakable and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.

I have written a short commentary on the above verses entitled Advaita Vedanta: Gaudapada’s Method which further explains the above verses.

You can read the entire text of Gaudapada’s Karika here: Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika

Shankara: the highest truth

Right at the end of his masterpiece entitled Vivekachudamani (which essentially means ‘The Highest or Supreme Wisdom’), Shankara makes a series of radical and emphatic non-dual declarations which he states is the highest or ultimate truth.

In his usual style, he reinforces the point he wishes to make in successive verses, building up to a crescendo which culminates in verse 574, the most famous of these verses.

This well-known verse was actually copied by Shankara from The Upanishads and is also found in the works of Sri Gaudapada, Shankara’s guru’s guru.

Om and blessings!

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Shankara the scriptures will never allow duality

Shankara bondage is mere thought

Shankara bondage is a mirage

Shankara no seeker no liberation

The Ultimate or Highest Truth according to the Upanishads

There is a famous verse in the Upanishads that explicitly and specifically proclaims to hold the highest truth.

This verse was considered important enough that it was also incorporated into Shankara’s masterpiece Vivekachudamani and also Gaudapada‘s main work, his commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad (the Mandukya Karika).

In fact it is the only verse that I know of that is repeated not only in more than one Upanishad, but is also repeated by the two greatest traditional exponents of Advaita Vedanta (ie. Shankara and Gaudapada) in their subsequent works. Sri Ramana Maharshi also wrote a version of this verse.

Here is the verse:

There is neither destruction (Nirodha) nor creation (Utpatti), none in bondage (Bandha) and none practicing disciplines (Sadhaka). There is none seeking Liberation (Mumukshu) and none liberated (Mukta). This is the ultimate or highest truth (Paramartha).’

As I said above, this verse is found repeated in the Amritabindu Upanishad in verse 10, in the Atma Upanishad in verse 2.31. It was later incorporated by both Gaudapada (Mandukya Karika 2.32) and Shankara (Vivekachudamani verse 574) in their writings. Sri Ramana Maharshi also wrote a version of this verse himself which can be found as verse B28 in the text Guru Vachaka Kovai.

What do you think of this verse?

Does stillness of mind lead to liberation?

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Advaita Bodha Deepika is a traditional text and a masterpiece, summarising the methods and techniques of advaita vedanta. It was a favourite text of Sri Ramana Maharshi and was often recommended by him. Here is what it says about how to attain liberation, the following is from Chapter 3:

17…Master: With complete stillness of mind, samsara will disappear root and branch. Otherwise there will be no end to samsara, even in millions of aeons (Kalpakotikala).
18. Disciple: Cannot samsara be got rid of by any means other than making the mind still?
M: Absolutely by no other means; neither the Vedas, nor the shastras nor austerities, nor karma, nor vows, nor gifts, nor recital of scriptures of mystic formulae (mantras), nor worship, nor anything else, can undo the samsara. Only stillness of mind can accomplish the end and nothing else.
19. D: The scriptures declare that only Knowledge can do it. How then do you say that stillness of the mind puts an end to samsara?
M: What is variously described as Knowledge, Liberation, etc., in the scriptures, is but stillness of mind.
D: Has any one said so before?
20 M: Sri Vasishta had said…

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Beloved Ramana Maharshi says the same in Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 141:

All the jnana* scriptures that teach the way to redemption proclaim in unison that restraining and stilling the mind is the best means for liberation. This is also emphasised by jnanis*. If, after a certain amount of study, one knows this to be the inner purport of the scriptures, one should then direct ones whole effort towards that [practice]. What is the use of continuously studying more and more scriptures without doing this?

*Jnana, literally meaning knowledge, refers to the teachings of spiritual liberation, whereas jnani, literally ‘knower’, refers to the spiritually liberated sage.


In Ramana’s ‘Who am I?’, the question as to the nature of Jnana arises and is simply answered:

Questioner: What is wisdom-insight (jnana-drsti)?
Ramana Maharshi: Remaining quiet is what is called wisdom-insight.


The Katha Upanishad states the same, in verse 2.3.10:

When the five organs of perception become still, together with the mind, and the intellect ceases to be active: that is called the Supreme State [Brahma-Vidya or Self Knowledge].

Shankara’s commentary on this above verse (Katha Upanishad, verse 2.3.10) states the following:

‘At the time when the five senses…, together with the mind…, which is now no longer functioning and thinking, are at rest in the Self alone, after turning away from objects, and with the intellect…no longer engaging with its functioning, that they call the highest state [Brahma-Vidya or Self-Knowledge].’

Earlier in the Katha Upanishad we see the following verse:

The Lord created the senses out-going: therefore, one sees outside and not the Self within. Some intelligent man, with his senses turned away (from their objects), desirous of immortality, sees the Self within.
~ Katha Upanishad 2.1.1

In his commentary on this above verse (Katha Upanishad 2.1.1), Shankara writes:

‘…the perceiver sees the external objects which are not-Self/not the Atman, such as sound, etc., and not the Self within. Though this is the nature of the world, some (rare) discerning man, like turning back/ reversing the current of a river, sees the Self within…The group of sense organs, beginning with the ear, should be turned away from all sense-objects. Such a one, who is purified thus, sees the indwelling self. For it is not possible for the same person to be engaged in the thought of sense-objects and to have the vision of the Self as well.

In his commentary on Katha Upanishad verse 1.2.20 Sri Shankara writes:

‘…One whose intellect has been withdrawn from all objects, gross and subtle, when this takes place, this is known as ‘inactivity of the sense organs’. Though this ‘inactivity of the sense organs’ one sees that glory of the Self. ‘Sees’ means he directly realises the Self as ‘I am the Self’ as thereby becomes free from suffering’


The Amritabindu Upanishad equates the controlled/stilled mind with Jnana (knowledge) and liberation:

2. It is indeed the mind that is the cause of men’s bondage and liberation. The mind that is attached to sense-objects leads to bondage, when unattached from sense-objects it tends to lead to liberation. So they [the sages] say.
3. Since liberation is based on the mind devoid of desire for sense objects, therefore, the mind should always be made free of such desire, by the seeker after liberation.
4. When the mind, with its attachment for sense-objects annihilated, is fully controlled within the heart and thus realises its own essence, then that is the Supreme State (Brahma-Vidya or Self-Knowledge is gained).
5. The mind should be controlled [made still] so that it becomes merged in the heart. This is Jnana (knowledge) and this is Dhyana (meditation). All else is argumentation and verbiage.

The Advaitic giant, Sri Gaudapada, (Shankara’s guru’s guru) writes in his Mandukya Karika:

The controlled mind is verily the fearless Brahman’ Chapter 3, verse 35

And in verse 37 of the same chapter he writes:

[Atman is] beyond all expression by words and beyond all acts of mind; It is all peace, eternal effulgence free from activity and fear and attainable by samadhi’ Chapter 3, verse 37

In the wonderfully authoritative Advaita Vedanta text Yoga Vasistha it is written:

The rock-like state in which all thoughts are still and which is different from the waking and dream states, is one’s supreme state [Brahma-Vidya or Self-Knowledge].

And elsewhere in the same Yoga Vasistha it is said:

Just as the great ocean of milk became still when the Mandara Mountain (with which it was churned by the Devas and the Asuras) became still, even so the illusion of samsara comes to an end when the mind is stilled.

And again from Yoga Vasistha…

He who casts away from his mind all objects ofperception and, attaining perfect quiescence, remains still as space, unaffected by sorrow, is a liberated man; he is the Supreme Lord.


Shankara states the same multiple times, eg, in Vivekachudamani, and also in his many commentaries, eg. in his commentary upon the Kena Upanishad – in his introduction to the Kena Upanishad Shankara writes:

And [the Self] being eternal, it is not to be secured by any means other than the cessation of ignorance. Hence the only duty is to renounce all desires after the realisation of the unity of the indwelling Self and Brahman.

Also see:

The key to nonduality and yoga

In brief: How to attain liberation

The ‘ultimate means’ to liberation

Shankara on Samadhi (stillness of mind)

Ramana Maharshi: be still

Ramana Maharshi: a quick and simple method to self-realisation

False enlightenment

Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika

For a brief exposition on how to practically apply these teachings on liberation see here: Advaita Vedanta: Gaudapada’s Method

Translation by Swami Nikhilananda

The Mandukya Upanishad is 12 verses on AUM Mantra. It is often cited as the most important of the upanishads. Gaudapada’s Karika is commentary relating to those 12 verses and is one of the most important and authoritative texts in the Advaita Vedanta tradition.

Chapter I [of Gaudapada’s Karika] – Agama Prakarana (The Chapter based on Vedic Testimony)

Mandukya Upanishad – Verses I-VI:

I: Harih Aum! AUM, the word, is all this, the whole universe. A clear explanation of it is as follows: All that is past, present and future is, indeed, AUM. And whatever else there is, beyond the threefold division of time—that also is truly AUM.

II: All this is, indeed, Brahman. This Atman is Brahman. This same Atman has four quarters.

III: The first quarter is called Vaisvanara, whose sphere of activity is the waking state, who is conscious of external objects, who has seven limbs and nineteen mouths and who is the experiencer of gross objects.

IV: The second quarter is Taijasa, whose sphere of activity is the dream state, who is conscious of internal objects, who is endowed with seven limbs and nineteen mouths and who is the experiencer of subtle objects.

V: That is the state of deep sleep wherein one asleep neither desires any object nor sees any dream. The third quarter is Prajna, whose sphere is deep sleep, in whom all experiences become unified, who is, verily, a mass of consciousness, who is full of bliss and experiences bliss and who is the door leading to the knowledge of dreaming and waking.

VI: He is the Lord of all. He is the knower of all. He is the inner controller. He is the source of all; for from him all beings originate and in him they finally disappear.

Gaudapada’s Karika

1 Visva is all—pervading, the experiencer of external objects. Taijasa is the cognizer of internal objects. Prajna is a mass of consciousness. It is one alone that is thus known in the three states.

2 Visva is the cognizer through the right eye; Taijasa is the cognizer through the mind within; Prajna is the akasa in the heart. Therefore the one Atman is perceived threefold in the same body.

3—4 Visva experiences the gross; Taijasa, the subtle; and Prajna, the blissful. Know these to be the threefold experience. The gross object satisfies Visva; the subtle, Taijasa; and the blissful, Prajna. Know these to be the threefold satisfaction.

5 The experiencer and the objects of experience associated with the three states have been described. He who knows these both does not become attached to objects though enjoying them.

6 Surely a coming into existence must be predicated of all positive entities that exist. Prana manifests all inanimate objects. The Purusha manifests the conscious beings in their manifold forms.

7 Some of those who contemplate the process of creation regard it as the manifestation of God’s powers; others imagine creation to be like dreams and illusions.

8 Those who are convinced about the reality of manifested objects ascribe the manifestation solely to God’s will, while those who speculate about time regard time as the creator of things.

9 Some say that the manifestation is or the purpose of God’s enjoyment, while others attribute it to His division. But it is the very nature of the effulgent Being. What desire is possible for Him who is the fulfillment of all desires?

Mandukya Upanishad Verse VII:

VII: 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 realized.

 Gaudapada’s Karika continued

10 Turiya, the changeless Ruler, is capable of destroying all miseries. All other entities being unreal, the non—dual Turiya alone is known as effulgent and all—pervading.

11 Visva and Taijasa are conditioned by cause and effect. Prajna is conditioned by cause alone. Neither cause nor effect exists in Turiya.

12 Prajna does not know anything of self or non—self, of truth or untruth. But Turiya is ever existent and all—seeing.

13 Non—cognition of duality is common to both Prajna and Turiya. But Prajna is associated with sleep in the form of cause and this sleep does not exist in Turiya.

14 The first two, Visva and Taijasa, are associated with dreaming and sleep respectively; Prajna, with Sleep bereft of dreams. Knowers of Brahman see neither sleep nor dreams in Turiya.

15 Dreaming is the wrong cognition and sleep the non—cognition, of Reality. When the erroneous knowledge in these two is destroyed, Turiya is realized.

16 When the jiva, asleep under the influence of beginningless maya, is awakened, it then realizes birthless, sleepless and dreamless Non—duality.

17 If the phenomenal universe were real, then certainly it would disappear. The universe of duality which is cognized is mere illusion (maya); Non—duality alone is the Supreme Reality.

18 If anyone imagines illusory ideas such as the teacher, the taught and the scriptures, then they will disappear. These ideas are for the purpose of instruction. Duality ceases to exist when Reality is known.

Mandukya Upanishad – Verses VIII-XI:

VIII: The same Atman explained before as being endowed with four quarters is now described from the standpoint of the syllable AUM. AUM, too, divided into parts, is viewed from the standpoint of letters. The quarters of Atman are the same as the letters of AUM and the letters are the same as the quarters. The letters are A, U and M.

IX: Vaisvanara Atman, whose sphere of activity is the waking state, is A, the first letter of AUM, on account of his all— pervasiveness or on account of his being the first. He who knows this obtains all desires and becomes first among the great.

X: Taijasa Atman, whose sphere of activity is the dream state, is U, the second letter of AUM, on account of his superiority or intermediateness. He who knows this attains a superior knowledge, receives equal treatment from all and finds in his family no one ignorant of Brahman.

XI: Prajna Atman, whose sphere is deep sleep, is M, the third letter of AUM, because both are the measure and also because in them all become one. He who knows this is able to measure all and also comprehends all within himself.

Gaudapada’s Karika continued

19 When it is desired to describe the identity of Visva and the letter A, the chief ground given is the fact that each is the first in its respective sphere. Another reason for this identity is the all—pervasiveness of each.

20 The clear ground for realizing Taijasa as of the same nature as the letter U is the common feature of superiority. Another plain reason for such identity is their being in the middle.

21 The indisputable reason given for the identity of Prajna and M is the common feature that both are the measure. The other reason for such identity is another common feature, namely, that both represent the state of mergence.

22 He who knows for certain the similarity of the three states and the three letters of AUM, based upon their common features, is worshipped and adored by all beings and also is a great sage.

23 Through meditation on A the seeker attains Visva; through meditation on U, Taijasa; and through meditation on M, Prajna. Meditation on the “soundless” brings no attainment.

Mandukya Upanishad – Verse XII:

XII: The Fourth (Turiya) is without parts and without relationship; It is the cessation of phenomena; It is all good and non—dual. This AUM is verily Atman. He who knows this merges his self in Atman—yea, he who knows this.

End of Mandukya Upanishad

Gaudapada’s Karika continued

24 AUM should be known quarter by quarter. There is no doubt that the quarters are the same as the letters. Having understood AUM quarter by quarter, one should not think of anything else.

25 The mind should be concentrated on AUM. AUM is the fearless Brahman. He who is always absorbed in AUM knows no fear whatever.

26 AUM is verily the Lower Brahman. It is also stated to be the Higher Brahman. AUM is beginningless and unique. There is nothing outside it. It is unrelated to any effect and is immutable.

27 AUM is, indeed, the beginning, middle and end of all things. He who has realized AUM as immutable immediately attains the Supreme Reality.

28 Know AUM to be Isvara, ever present in the hearts of all. The calm soul, contemplating AUM as all—pervading, does not grieve.

29 One who knows AUM, which is soundless and also endowed with infinite sounds, which is all good and the negation of duality, is a real sage and none other.

Chapter II [of Gaudapada’s Karika] — Vaitathya Prakarana (The Chapter on Illusion)

1 Harih Aum. The wise declare the unreality of all entities seen in dreams, because they are located within the body and the space therein is confined.

2 The dreamer, on account of the shortness of the time involved, cannot go out of the body and see the dream objects. Nor does he, when awakened, find himself in the places seen in the dream.

3 Scripture, on rational grounds, declares the non—existence of the chariots etc. perceived in dreams. Therefore the wise say that the unreality established by reason is proclaimed by scripture.

4 The different objects seen in the confined space of dreams are unreal on account of their being perceived. For the same reason i.e. on account of their being perceived, the objects seen in the waking state are also unreal. The same condition i.e. the state of being perceived exists in both waking and dreaming. The only difference is the limitation of space associated with dream objects.

5 Thoughtful persons speak of the sameness of the waking and dream states on account of the similarity of the objects perceived in both states on the grounds already mentioned.

6 If a thing is non—existent both in the beginning and in the end, it is necessarily non—existent in the present. The objects that we see are really like illusions; still they are regarded as real.

7 The utility of the objects of waking experience is contradicted in dreams; therefore they are certainly unreal. Thus both experiences, having a beginning and an end, are unreal.

8 The objects perceived by the dreamer, not usually seen in the waking state, owe their existence to the peculiar conditions under which the cognizer i.e. the mind functions for the time being, as with those residing in heaven. The dreamer, associating himself with the dream conditions, perceives those objects, even as a man, well instructed here, goes from one place to another and sees the peculiar objects belonging to those places.

9—10 In dreams, what is imagined within the mind is illusory and what is cognized outside by the mind, real; but truly, both are known to be unreal. Similarly, in the waking state, what is imagined within by the mind is illusory and what is cognized outside by the mind, real; but both should be held, on rational grounds, to be unreal.

11 If the objects perceived in both waking and dreaming are illusory, who perceives all these objects and who, again, imagines them?

12 It is the self—luminous Atman who, through the power of Its own maya, imagines in Itself by Itself all the objects that the subject experiences within and without. It alone is the cognizer of objects. This is the decision of Vedanta.

13 The Lord (Atman), with His mind turned outward, imagines in diverse forms various objects either permanent, such as the earth, or impermanent, such as lightning, which are already in His mind in the form of vasanas, or desires. Again, He turns His mind within and imagines various ideas.

14 Those that are cognized internally only as long as the thought of them lasts and those that are perceived outside and relate to two points in time, are all mere objects of the imagination. There is no ground for differentiating the one from the other.

15 Those that exist within the mind as subjective ideas and are known as unmanifested and those that are perceived to exist outside in a manifested form, both are mere objects of the imagination. Their difference lies only in the difference of the organs by means of which they are perceived.

16 First of all is imagined the jiva, the embodied individual and then are imagined the various entities, both external such as sounds, forms, etc. and internal such as the pranas, sense— organs, etc., that are perceived to exist. As is one’s knowledge so is one’s memory.

17 As a rope lying in darkness, about whose nature one remains uncertain, is imagined to be a snake or a line of water, so Atman is imagined in various ways.

18 When the real nature of the rope is ascertained, all misconceptions about it disappear and there arises the conviction that it is nothing but a rope. Even so is the true nature of Atman determined.

19 Atman is imagined as prana and other numberless ideas. All this is due to maya, belonging to the effulgent Atman, by which It appears, Itself, to be deluded.

20 Those conversant with prana describe Atman as prana; those conversant with the elements, as the elements; those conversant with the gunas, as the gunas; and those conversant with the tattvas, as the tattvas.

21 Those acquainted with the padas call It the padas; those acquainted with objects, the objects; those acquainted with the lokas, the lokas; those acquainted with the gods, the gods.

22 Those conversant with the Vedas describe Atman as the Vedas; those conversant with the sacrifices, as the sacrifices; those conversant with the enjoyer, as the enjoyer; and those conversant with the objects of enjoyment call It the objects of enjoyment.

23 The knowers of the subtle call It the subtle and the knowers of the gross, the gross. Those that are familiar with the Personal Deity call It the Personal Deity and those that are familiar with the void, the void.

24 Those that know time call Atman time and those that know space call It space. Those versed in the art of disputation call It the object of dispute; and those knowing the worlds call It the worlds.

25 The knowers of the mind call Atman the mind; the knowers of the buddhi, the buddhi. The knowers of the chitta call It the chitta; and the knowers of righteousness and unrighteousness call It righteousness and unrighteousness.

26 Some say that Atman consists of twenty—five cosmic principles; some, of twenty—six principles; some, again, of thirty—one principles; while there are yet others who describe It as consisting of an infinite number of principles.

27 Those who know how to gratify others call Atman gratification; those who are conversant with the asramas call It the asramas. The grammarians call It the masculine, feminine and neuter genders; and still others, the Higher Brahman and the Lower Brahman.

28 The knowers of creation call It creation; the knowers of dissolution, dissolution; and the knowers of preservation, preservation. In truth, all such ideas are always imagined in Atman.

29 The disciple grasps only that idea which is presented to him by his teacher. Atman assumes the form of what is taught and thus protects the disciple. Absorbed in that idea, he realizes it as Atman.

30 Atman, though non—separate from all these ideas, appears to be separate. He who truly knows this interprets, without any fear, the meaning of the Vedas.

31 As dreams, illusions and castles in the air are viewed, so is the tangible universe viewed by the wise, well versed in Vedanta.

32 There is neither dissolution nor creation, none in bondage and none practicing disciplines. There is none seeking Liberation and none liberated. This is the absolute truth.

33 Atman is imagined as the unreal objects that are perceived to exist and as Non—duality as well. The objects, too, are imagined in the non—dual Atman. Therefore Non—duality is Bliss.

34 The diversity in the universe does not exist as an entity identical With Atman, nor does it exist by itself. Neither is it separate from Brahman nor is it non—separate. This is the statement of the wise.

35 The wise, who are free from attachment, fear and anger and are well versed in the Vedas, have realized Atman as devoid of all phantasms and free from the illusion of the manifold and as non—dual.

36 Therefore, knowing Atman as such, fix your attention on Non—duality. Having realized Non—duality, behave in the world like an inert object.

37 The illumined sannyasin does not praise any deity, does not salute any superior and does not perform rites to propitiate departed ancestors. Regarding both body and Atman as his abode, he remains satisfied with what comes by chance.

38 Having known the truth regarding what exists internally as also the truth regarding what exists externally, he becomes one with Reality, he exults in Reality and never deviates from Reality.

Chapter III [of Gaudapada’s Karika] – Advaita Prakarana – (The Chapter on Non—duality)

1 The jiva, betaking himself to devotional worship, abides in the manifest Brahman. He thinks that before the creation all was of the same nature as the birthless Reality. Therefore he is said to possess a narrow intellect.

2 Therefore I shall now describe Brahman, which is unborn, the same throughout and free from narrowness. From this one can understand that Brahman does not in reality pass into birth even in the slightest degree, though It appears to be manifest everywhere.

3 Atman, which is like akasa (infinite space), is said to be manifested in the form of jivas, which may be likened to the akasas enclosed in pots. The bodies, also, are said to be manifested from Atman, just as a pot and the like are created out of akasa. As regards the manifestation of Atman this is the illustration.

4 As, on the destruction of the pot etc., the akasa enclosed in them merge in the great akasa, so the jivas merge in Atman.

5 As the dust, smoke, etc. soiling the akasa enclosed in a particular pot do not soil the other akasas enclosed in other pots, so also the happiness, miseries, etc. of one jiva do not affect other jivas.

6 Though the diversity of forms, functions and names of the akasas associated with different receptacles is admitted, yet this does not imply any real differentiation in akasa itself. The same is the conclusion regarding the jivas.

7 As the akasa enclosed in a pot is neither an effect nor a part of the real akasa, so the jiva is neither an effect nor a part of atman.

8 Children regard akasa as being soiled by dirt; likewise the ignorant regard Atman as being similarly soiled.

9 Atman, in regard to Its birth and death, Its going and coming i.e. rebirth and Its dwelling in different bodies, is not unlike akasa.

10 All aggregates are produced by Atman’s maya, as in a dream. No rational argument can be given to establish their reality, whether they are of equal status or whether some are superior to others.

11 The Supreme Self is the self of the five sheaths, such as the physical and the vital, which have been described in the Taittiriya Upanishad. That the Supreme Self is like akasa has already been stated.

12 The same akasa dwells within both the earth and the stomach; likewise, the same Brahman dwells within the pairs described in the Madhu—Brahmana.

13 The identity of the jiva and Atman is praised by pointing out their non—duality; multiplicity is condemned. Therefore non— dualism alone is free from error.

14 The separateness of the jiva and Atman, which has been declared in the earlier section of the Upanishads, dealing with the creation, is figurative, because this section states only what will happen in the future. This separateness cannot be the real meaning of those passages.

15 The scriptural statements regarding the creation, using the examples of earth, iron and sparks, are for the purpose of clarifying the mind. Multiplicity does not really exist in any manner.

16 There are three stages of life, corresponding to the threefold understanding of men: inferior, mediocre and superior. Scripture, out of compassion, has taught this discipline for the benefit of the unenlightened.

17 The dualists, firmly clinging to their conclusions, contradict one another. The non—dualists find no conflict with them.

18 Since Non—duality is Ultimate Reality, duality is said to be Its effect. The dualist sees duality in both the Absolute and the relative. Therefore the non—dualist position does not conflict with the dualist position.

19 The unborn Atman becomes manifold through maya and not otherwise. For if the manifold were real, then the immortal would become mortal.

20 The disputants assert that the unborn entity (Atman) becomes born. Now can one expect that an entity that is birthless and immortal should become mortal?

21 The immortal cannot become mortal, nor can the mortal become immortal. For it is never possible for a thing to change its nature.

22 How can one who believes that an entity by nature immortal becomes mortal, maintain that the immortal, after passing through change, retains its changeless nature?

23 Corning into birth may be real or illusory; both views are equally supported by the scriptures. But that view which is supported by the scriptures and corroborated by reason is alone to be accepted and not the other.

24 From such scriptural passages as, “One does not see any multiplicity in Atman” and “Indra (the Supreme Lord), through maya, assumes diverse forms”, one knows that Atman, though ever unborn, appears to have become many only through maya.

25 Further, by the negation of the creation, coming into birth is negated. The causality of Brahman is denied by such a statement as “Who can cause It to come into birth?”

26 On account of the incomprehensible nature of Atman, the scriptural passage “Not this, not this” negates all dualistic ideas attributed to Atman. Therefore the birthless Atman alone exists.

27 What is ever existent appears to pass into birth through maya, yet from the standpoint of Reality it does not do so. But he who thinks this passing into birth is real asserts, as a matter of fact, that what is born passes into birth again.

28 The unreal cannot be born either really or through maya. For it is not possible for the son of a barren woman to be born either really or through maya.

29 As in dreams the mind acts through maya, presenting the appearance of duality, so also in the waking state the mind acts through maya, presenting the appearance of duality.

30 There is no doubt that the mind, which is in reality non—dual, appears to be dual in dreams; likewise, there is no doubt that what is non—dual, i.e. Atman, appears to be dual in the waking state.

31 All the multiple objects, comprising the movable and the immovable, are perceived by the mind alone. For duality is never perceived when the mind ceases to act.

32 When the mind, after realizing the knowledge that Atman alone is real, becomes free from imaginations and therefore does not cognize anything, for want of objects to be cognized, it ceases to be the mind.

33 Knowledge (Jnana), which is unborn and free from imagination, is described by the wise as ever inseparable from the knowable. The immutable and birthless Brahman is the goal of knowledge. The birthless is known by the birthless.

34 One should know the behavior of the mind which, being endowed with discrimination and free from illusions is under control. The condition of the mind in deep sleep is not like that but is of a different kind.

35 The mind is withdrawn in deep sleep, but it is not so when the mind is controlled. The controlled mind is verily the fearless Brahman, the light of whose omniscience is all—pervading.

36 Brahman is birthless, sleepless, dreamless, nameless and formless. It is ever effulgent and omniscient. No duty, in any sense, can ever be associated with It.

37 Atman is beyond all expression by words and beyond all acts of the mind. It is great peace, eternal effulgence and samadhi; It is unmoving and fearless.

38 Brahman is free from mental activity and hence from all ideas of acceptance or relinquishment. When knowledge is established in Atman it attains birthlessness and sameness.

39 This yoga, which is not in touch with anything, is hard for yogis in general to attain. They are afraid of it, because they see fear in that which is really fearlessness.

40 Yogis who are ignorant of Non—duality depend on the control of the mind for attaining fearlessness, the destruction of misery, Self—Knowledge and imperishable peace.

41 The mind is to be brought under Control by undepressed effort; it is like emptying the ocean, drop by drop, with the help of a blade of kusa grass.

42 The mind distracted by desires and enjoyments should be brought under control by proper means; so also the mind enjoying pleasure in inactivity (laya). For the state of inactivity is as harmful as the state of desires.

43 Turn back the mind from the enjoyment of desires, remembering that they beget only misery. Do not see the created objects, remembering that all this is the unborn Atman.

44 If the mind becomes inactive, arouse it from laya; if distracted, make it tranquil. Understand the nature of the mind when it contains the seed of attachment. When the mind has attained sameness, do not disturb it again.

45 The yogi must not taste the happiness arising from samadhi; he should detach himself from it by the exercise of discrimination. If his mind, after attaining steadiness, again seeks external objects, he should make it one with Atman through great effort.

46 When the mind does not lapse into inactivity and is not distracted by desires, that is to say, when it remains unshakable and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.

47 This Supreme Bliss abides in the Self. It is peace; it is Liberation; it is birthless and cannot be described in words. It is called the omniscient Brahman, being one with the birthless Self, which is the true object of knowledge.

48 No jiva ever comes into existence. There exists no cause that can produce it. The supreme truth is that nothing ever is born.

Chapter IV [of Gaudapada’s Karika] — Alatasanti Prakarana (The Chapter on the Quenching of the Fire—brand)

1 I bow to the best among men, who, by means of knowledge, which is like akasa and which is non—different from the goal of knowledge, realized the nature of the jivas (dharmas), which, too, are like akasa.

2 I bow to the yoga known as asparsa, taught in the scriptures, which promotes the happiness and well—being of all creatures and is free from strife and contradictions.

3 Some disputants postulate that only an existing entity can again come into existence, while other disputants, proud of their intellect, postulate that only a non—existing entity can come into existence. Thus they quarrel among themselves.

4 An existing entity cannot again come into existence (birth); nor can a non—existing entity come into existence. Thus disputing among themselves, they really establish the non—dualistic view of ajati (non—creation).

5 We approve the ajati (non—creation) thus established by them. We have no quarrel with them. Now hear from us about Ultimate Reality, which is free from all disputations.

6—8 The disputants assert that the unborn entity (Atman) becomes born. How can one expect that an entity that is birthless and immortal should become mortal? The immortal cannot become mortal, nor can the mortal become immortal. For it is never possible for a thing to change its nature. How can one who believes that an entity by nature immortal becomes mortal, maintain that the immortal, after passing through change, retains its changeless nature?

9 By the prakriti, or nature, of a thing is understood that which, when acquired, becomes the essential part of the thing, that which is its characteristic quality, that which is its inalienable nature from its very birth, that which is not extraneous to it and that which never ceases to be itself.

10 All the jivas are, by their very nature, free from senility and death. But they think they are subject to senility and death and by the very power of thought they appear to deviate from their true nature.

11 The disputant according to whom the cause itself is the effect must maintain that the cause is born as the effect. If it is born, how can it be called birthless? If it is subject to modification, how then can it be said to be eternal?

12 If, as you say, the effect is non—different from the cause, then the effect too must be unborn. Further, how can the cause be eternal if it is non—different from the effect, which is born?

13 There is no illustration to support the view that the effect is born from an unborn cause. Again, if it is said that the effect is produced from a cause which itself is born, then this leads to an infinite regress.

14 How can they who assert that the effect is the cause of the cause and the cause is the cause of the effect, maintain the beginninglessness of both cause and effect?

15 Those who say that the effect is the cause of the cause and that the cause is the cause of the effect maintain, actually, that the creation takes place after the manner of the birth of father from son.

16 If causality is asserted, then the order in which cause and effect succeed each other must be stated. If it is said that they appear simultaneously, then, being like the two horns of an animal, they cannot be mutually related as cause and effect.

17 The cause that you affirm, cannot be established as the cause if it is produced from the effect. How can the cause, which itself is not established, give birth to the effect?

18 If the cause is produced from the effect and if the effect is, again, produced from the cause, which of the two is born first upon which depends the birth of the other?

19 The inability to reply to the question raised above, the ignorance about the matter and the impossibility of establishing the order of succession if the causal relation is admitted clearly lead the wise to uphold, under all conditions, the doctrine of ajati, or non—creation.

20 The illustration of the seed and the sprout is something which is yet to be proved. The illustration i.e. the middle term, which itself is not yet proved, cannot be used for establishing a proposition to be proved.

21 The ignorance regarding the antecedence and the subsequence of cause and effect clearly proves the absence of creation (ajati). If the jiva (dharma) has really been born, then why can you not point out its antecedent cause?

22 Nothing whatsoever is born, either of itself or of another entity. Nothing is ever produced, whether it be being or non—being or both being and non—being.

23 The cause cannot be produced from a beginningless effect; nor can the effect be produced from a beginningless cause. That which is without beginning is necessarily free from birth.

24 Subjective knowledge must have an object for its cause; otherwise variety becomes non—existent. Further, from the experience of pain, the existence of external objects, accepted by the dualistic scriptures, must be admitted.

25 The dualists, by force of reason, assert that there is a cause of subjective knowledge. But from the standpoint of the true nature of things we assert that the so—called cause is, after all, no cause.

26 The mind is not related to external objects or to the ideas that appear as such objects. This is so because objects are non— existent and the ideas that appear as external objects are not distinct from the mind.

27 The mind does not enter into the causal relation in any of the three periods of time. How can it ever be subject to delusion, when there is no cause for such delusion?

28 Therefore neither the mind nor the objects perceived by the mind are ever born. To see their birth is like seeing the footprints of birds in the sky.

29 The cause, Brahman, from which the birthless mind is asserted, by the dualists, to have been born is itself unborn. Because Brahman is ever unborn, therefore it is never possible for It to be other than what It is.

30 If, as the dualists contend, the world is beginningless, then it cannot be non—eternal. Moksha (Liberation) cannot have a beginning and be eternal.

31—32 If a thing is non—existent in the beginning and in the end, it is necessarily non—existent in the present. The objects that we see are really like illusions; still they are regarded as real. The utility of the objects of waking experience is contradicted in dreams; therefore they are certainly unreal. Both experiences have a beginning and an end.

33 All entities seen in dreams are unreal, because they are perceived inside the body. How is it possible for things that are perceived to exist, really to exist in Brahman, which is indivisible and homogeneous?

34 It is not reasonable to think that a dreamer actually goes out in order to experience the objects seen in the dream, because of the discrepancy of the time involved in such a journey. Nor does he, when awakened, find himself in the places seen in the dream.

35 The dreamer, after awaking, realizes the illusoriness of the conversations he had with friends etc. in the dream state. Further, he does not possess in the waking state anything he acquired while dreaming.

36 The dream body is unsubstantial because the other i.e. the physical body, different from it, is perceived. Like the dream body, all things cognized by the mind are unsubstantial.

37 Since the experience of objects in dreams is similar to the experience of objects in the waking state, waking experience is regarded as the cause of dream experience. It is only by him who admits waking experience to be the cause of dream experience that waking experience can be regarded as real.

38 All entities are said to be unborn, since birth cannot be established as a fact. It is utterly impossible for the unreal to be born of the real.

39 A man filled with the impressions of the unreal objects seen in the waking state sees those very things in dreams as well. But he does not see in the waking state the unreal objects seen in dreams.

40 The unreal cannot have another unreality for its cause, nor can the real have the unreal for its cause. The real cannot be the cause of the real. And how utterly impossible it is for the real to be the cause of the unreal!

41 As a person in the waking state through false knowledge appears to handle objects, whose nature is inscrutable, as if they were real, so also, in dreams, he perceives, through false knowledge, objects whose existence is possible in the dream state alone.

42 Wise men teach causality only for the sake of those who, afraid of non—creation, assert the reality of external objects because they perceive such objects and also because they cling to various social and religious duties.

43 Those who, because of their fear of the truth of absolute non— creation and also because of their perception of external objects, deny ajati (non—creation) are not affected by the evil consequent on the belief in creation. This evil, if there is any, is insignificant.

44 As an elephant conjured up by a magician is taken to be real because it is perceived to exist and also because it answers to the behavior of a real elephant, so also external objects are taken to be real because they are perceived to exist and because one can deal with them.

45 It is Consciousness, Vijnana, alone that appears to be born or to move or to take the form of matter. But this Consciousness is really ever unborn, immovable and free from the traits of materiality; it is all peace and non—dual.

46 Thus the mind is never subject to birth. All beings, too, are free from birth. Those who know this do not fall into false knowledge.

47 As the line made by a moving fire—brand appears to be straight, crooked, etc., so Consciousness, when set in motion, appears as the perceiver, the perceived and the like.

48 As the fire—brand, when not in motion, is free from all appearances and remains changeless, so Consciousness, when not in motion, is free from all appearances and remains Changeless.

49 When the fire—brand is set in motion, the appearances that are seen in it do not come from elsewhere. When it is still, the appearances do not leave the motionless fire—brand and go elsewhere, nor do they enter into the fire—brand itself.

50 The appearances do not emerge from the fire—brand, because their nature is not that of a substance. This applies likewise to Consciousness, because of the similarity of the appearances.

51—52 When Consciousness is associated with the idea of activity, as in the waking and dream states, the appearances that seem to arise do not come from anywhere else. When Consciousness is non—active, as in deep sleep, the appearances do not leave the non—active Consciousness and go elsewhere, nor do they merge in it. The appearances do not emerge from Consciousness, for their nature is not that of a substance. They are incomprehensible, because they are not subject to the relation of cause and effect.

53 A substance may be the cause of another substance and a non— substance, the cause of another non—substance. But the jivas cannot possibly be anything like a substance or a non— substance.

54 Thus external appearances (objects) are not caused by the mind, nor is the mind caused by them. Hence thoughtful people hold to the principle of absolute non—creation.

55 As long as a person clings to the belief in causality, he will find cause producing effect. But when this attachment to causality wears away, cause and effect become non—existent.

56 As long as a person clings to the belief in causality, samsara will continue to expand for him. But when this attachment to causality wears away, samsara becomes non—existent.

57 The entire universe is created by false knowledge; therefore nothing in it is eternal. Everything, again, as one with Ultimate Reality, is unborn; therefore there is no such thing as destruction.

58 Birth is ascribed to the jivas; but such birth is not possible from the standpoint of Reality. Their birth is like that of an illusory object. That illusion, again, does not exist.

59 The illusory sprout is born of the illusory seed. This illusory sprout is neither permanent nor destructible. The same applies to the jivas.

60 The term permanent or impermanent cannot be applied to the birthless jivas. What is indescribable in words cannot be discriminated about as permanent or impermanent.

61—62 As in dreams the mind acts through maya, presenting the appearance of duality, so also in the waking state the mind acts through maya, presenting the appearance of duality. There is no doubt that the mind, which is in reality non—dual, appears to be dual in dreams; likewise, there is no doubt that what is non—dual i.e. Atman, appears to be dual in the waking state.

63 The dreamer, wandering about in all the ten directions in his dream, sees the whole variety of jivas, born of eggs, moisture, etc.

64 These entities, which are objects of the mind of the dreamer, do not exist apart from his mind. Likewise, the mind of the dreamer is an object of perception of the dreamer alone.

65—66 The waking man, wandering about in all the ten directions in his waking state, sees the whole variety of jivas, born of eggs, moisture, etc. They are the objects of the mind of the waking man and do not exist apart from it. Likewise, the mind of the waking man is an object of his perception alone.

67 Both the mind and the jivas are objects of each other’s perception. Can the one exist independent of the other? The reply of the wise is in the negative. There is no evidence of the existence of the one without the other; they are cognized only through each other.

68—70 As the dream jiva comes into existence and disappears, so also these jivas perceived in the waking state appear and disappear. As the jiva conjured up by the magician comes into existence and disappears, so also these jivas perceived in the waking state appear and disappear. As an artificial jiva comes into existence and disappears, so also these jivas perceived in the waking state appear and disappear.

71 No jiva ever comes into existence. There exists no cause that can produce it. The supreme truth is that nothing ever is born.

72 The world of duality, which is perceived to exist and is characterized by the subject—object relationship, is verily a movement of the mind. The mind, again, from the standpoint of Reality has no contact with any object. Hence it is declared to be eternal and unattached.

73 That which exists on the strength of false knowledge based upon imagination does not really exist. Again, that which is said to exist on the strength of the views advanced by other schools of thought does not really exist.

74 Atman is called birthless (aja) from the standpoint of false knowledge based upon imagination; in reality It is not even birthless. The unborn Atman is said to be born from the standpoint of the false knowledge cherished by other schools of thought.

75 People persistently hold to the idea of unreality i.e. duality. But such duality does not exist. One who has realized the absence of duality is not born again, since there remains no longer any cause for his birth.

76 When the mind finds no cause—superior, inferior, or middling—it becomes free from birth. How can there be an effect without a cause?

77 The birthlessness of the mind, which is free from manifestation and causal relationship, is absolute and constant. For duality i.e. the perceiving mind and its objects is merely an objectification of the mind.

78 Realizing the absence of causality as ultimate truth and not finding any other reason for birth, one attains that state which is free from grief, desire and fear.

79 On account of attachment to unreal objects the mind pursues such objects. But it comes back to its pure state when it attains non—attachment, realizing their unreality.

80 The mind freed from attachment to all external objects and undistracted by fresh objects attains the state of immutability. The wise realize such a mind to be Brahman; It is undifferentiated, birthless and non—dual.

81 The birthless, dreamless and sleepless Reality reveals Itself by Itself; for this Dharma (Atman) by Its very nature is self— luminous.

82 The Lord (Atman) becomes easily hidden because of attachment to any single object and is revealed with great difficulty.

83 The ignorant, with their childish minds, verily cover Atman by predicating of It such attributes as existence, non—existence, existence and non—existence and total non—existence, deriving these characteristics from the notions of change, immovability, combination of change and immovability and absolute negation which they associate with Atman.

84 These are the four theories regarding Atman, through attachment to which It always remains hidden from one’s view. He who knows the Lord to be ever untouched by them indeed knows all.

85 What else remains to be desired by him who has attained the state of the brahmin—a state of complete omniscience and non—duality, which is without beginning, middle, or end?

86 The humility (vinaya) of the brahmins is natural. Their tranquility (sama) is also natural. Further, the control of the senses (dama) comes natural to them. He who has realized Brahman attains peace.

87 Vedanta recognizes the ordinary state of waking, in which duality, consisting of objects and the idea of coming in contact with them, is admitted. It also recognizes a purer ordinary state i.e. the dream state, in which is experienced duality consisting of objects and the idea of coming in contact with them, though such objects do not exist.

88 The wise recognize another state, in which there exist neither objects nor ideas regarding them. This state is beyond all empirical experiences. They describe the three: knowledge, the objects of knowledge i.e. the three states and the supremely knowable i.e. Ultimate Reality.

89 Having known knowledge and the threefold knowable, one after another, the knower, endowed with supreme intellect, attains in this very life and everywhere, the state of omniscience.

90 One should be conversant, at the very outset, with four things. These are as follows: the things to be avoided, the goal to be realized, the disciplines to be cultivated and the tendencies to be rendered ineffective. Of these four, all except the goal to be realized i.e. the Supreme Reality exist only as products of the imagination.

91 All Atmans (Dharmas) are to be known, by their very nature, to be beginningless and unattached like akasa. There is not the slightest variety in there in any way or at any time.

92 All jivas are, by their very nature, illumined from the very beginning. There can never be any doubt about their nature. He who, having known this, rests without seeking further knowledge is alone capable of attaining Immortality.

93 The jivas, from the very beginning and by their very nature, are all peace, unborn and completely free. They are characterized by sameness and non—separateness. The unborn Atman is always established in sameness and purity.

94 Those who always wander in the realm of separateness cannot realize the purity of Atman. Their minds are inclined to differentiation and they assert the separateness of the Atmans. Therefore they are called narrow—minded.

95 They alone in this world are endowed with the highest wisdom who are firm in their conviction of the sameness and birthlessness of Atman. The ordinary man does not understand their way.

96 Knowledge, which is the very essence of the unborn jivas, is itself called unborn and unrelated. This Knowledge is proclaimed to be unattached, since it is unrelated to any other object.

97 To those ignorant people who believe that Atman can deviate from Its true nature even in the slightest measure, Its eternally unrelated character is lost. In that case the destruction of the veil is out of the question.

98 All jivas are ever free from bondage and pure by nature. They are illumined and free from the very beginning. Yet the wise speak of the jivas as capable of knowing Ultimate Reality.

99 The Knowledge of the wise man, who is all light, is never related to any object. All the jivas, as well as Knowledge, are ever unrelated to objects. This is not the view of Buddha.

100 Having realized the Knowledge of the Supreme Reality, which is hard to grasp, profound, birthless, the same throughout, all light and free from multiplicity, we salute It as best we can.

Aum. Peace! Peace! Peace!

Final Salutation by Sri Sankaracharya [in the Mandukya Upanishad]

I salute Brahman, the destroyer of the fear of those who take refuge in It—which, though unborn, appears to be associated with birth through Its own majestic powers; which, though motionless, appears to be moving; and which, though non— dual, appears to have assumed many forms to those whose vision is deluded by the perception of diverse objects and their attributes.

I prostrate myself at the feet of the teacher of my teacher, the most adored among the adorable, who—out of sheer compassion for the beings drowned in the deep ocean of the world, infested by the terrible sharks of incessant births and deaths—rescued, for the benefit of all, this nectar, hardly attainable even by the immortals, from the inmost depths of the ocean of the Vedas by churning it with the rod of his illumined wisdom.

I make obeisance with my whole being to those holy feet—the dispellers of the fear of the chain of births and deaths—of my own great teacher, who, through the light of his illumined wisdom, destroyed the darkness of delusion enveloping my mind; who put an end, for ever, to my appearance and disappearance in this terrible ocean of innumerable births and deaths; and who enables all others, too, that take shelter at his feet, to attain unfailing knowledge of the scriptures, peace and the state of perfect non—differentiation.

Aum Tat Sat