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

Whilst there are many wonderful books and texts to read, I want to focus here on books and scripture that:

  1. comprehensively deals with the path to liberation
  2. in a clear and unambiguous way that is easy to understand for the true and genuine seeker of liberation
  3. with few/minimal detours
  4. but still provides the necessary depth of teaching
  5. in order to effectively bring about Liberation

Where possible I have provided a link to Downloadable PDF versions of each of the books recommended in the sections below. I recommend you obtain a copy of all of the books recommended. Towards the end of this post I also give a suggested order in which you can read the books.

I hope you find these resources to be of value

Best Wishes & Namaste


How to read the books

The point of this list of books is not for you to simply read lots of books!

As I have only selected books which each contain the entire teaching required for liberation, a deep study of any single one of the texts is all that is required. That said, I do recommend you obtain copies of ALL the books listed as most people will benefit from slowly working their way through all the texts, as each book gives the same teaching in a slightly different way, and repetition will drive the teachings home in a progressively deeper way over time.

The purpose of the books is to outline the essential cause of suffering and the remedy for it. The theory given in the books is then meant to be put into practice. Once the essential teaching has been understood and the desire to put the teachings earnestly into practice has arisen, there is no need to read more and more, as this can get in the way of actual practice.

However, if the teaching has not been understood or the strong desire to put the teachings into practice has not arisen, then the recommendation is to continue reading, but to read slowly. Take your time, study the teachings presented, make sure you understand them step by step but fully and deeply. Take your time to ensure you not only intellectually understand the texts but that your understanding sinks deeper into the feeling or experiential level where it can actually result in a lasting change. Staying with a single powerful quote and allowing that quote to penetrate into the depths of your being, so lasting change is created, is more useful than reading an entire volume and understanding the theory on a superficial intellectual level only.

Put the teachings into practice. If you have read the teachings several times but find you are not putting them into practice, it means that you probably haven’t grasped the depth of the teachings and perhaps you are relating to them predominantly on an intellectual level only. This may be a signal that you should slow down and take more time over each teaching point before moving on to the next teaching. Alternatively it may be a signal to speak directly to a teacher about such matters to seek clarity about the teachings.

The books

Texts by Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ramana gave many varied teachings to those who approached him. He naturally and spontaneously adapted the teachings to the level of the seeker before him, and some of these teachings therefore seem contradictory, and this can give rise to confusion about what Sri Ramana’s actual teaching was. However, in the short texts that Sri Ramana himself wrote, we see a very clear, unambiguous and consistent teaching that outlines the direct and true path to liberation.

Many state that the short text, Who am I?, written by Sri Ramana Maharshi contains all you need to attain liberation. And I would agree!

Together with two more of Sri Ramana’s writings, Upadesa Saram (The Essence of Instruction) and Ulladu Narpadu and Supplement – click on the links for downloadable PDF versions – a comprehensive set of teachings for liberation is given to us in concise form by Sri Ramana Maharshi.

The above three texts can also all be found in the Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, which also contains other beautiful works including Sri Ramana’s translation of Shankara’s Vivekachudamani, itself another recommended text (see below).

The Path of Sri Ramana

This is the text I most commonly recommend reading and the book I recommend you read firstThe Path of Sri Ramana by Sri Sadhu Om. Sri Sadhu Om spent several years with Sri Ramana and many consider this book to be an authority on Sri Ramana’s teachings and how to put them into practice. This text explains in detail the entire path to liberation in a way that is easy to understand.

Whilst the three texts from Sri Ramana Maharshi mentioned in the section above contain all the teachings needed, I have found that many people are unable to understand or even see what these short texts are saying despite it all being laid out. This may be in part due to the concise nature of Ramana’s own words, together with some technical terms and a language barrier, but also because the ego-mind will not always allow the true teachings to be seen.

The Path of Sri Ramana explains all the teachings clearly and in detail so the true teaching cannot be missed or ignored by the ego-mind that may be trying to distort or alter the teachings in order to avoid its own demise. It also clearly explains what the path is NOT, and so keeps the seeker away from paths that seem or appear to be similar to the true path, but are actually routes to more delusion rather than Liberation.

The Path of Sri Ramana also is one of the few texts that not only explains the path of Knowledge (Jnana) but also clearly outlines the path of Love & Devotion (Bhakti) and the path of Karma (action) in a clear and logical manner.

Another text that is also of value is the wonderful Sadhanai Saram (The Essence of Sadhana or Spiritual Practice), also written by Sri Sadhu Om. This text contains many gems and the teachings are given through a series of verses grouped by topic. I recommend you read the Path of Sri Ramana Parts 1 and 2 before you read Sadhanai Saram to gain the full benefit of the text.

Similarly, another valuable text is The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention by Sri Sadhu Om. This text expands upon and clarifies the essential teachings given in The Path of Sri Ramana and Sadhanai Saram, giving the seeker helpful hints and pointers on how to attain self-realisation, and explains in greater detail the exact nature of self-enquiry and self-surrender. Some aspects of the teachings given in ‘The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention’ may be slightly confusing when read in isolation (they should not be confusing when read in context of the entire text). Therefore in order to avoid the teachings being distorted and taken out of context, I strongly recommend that you read The Path of Sri Ramana and Sadhanai Saram first, and take the time to fully understand the teachings in these books first, before reading this text.

Guru Vachaka Kovai (Garland of Guru’s Sayings)

Whilst not strictly written by Sri Ramana, the text Guru Vachaka Kovai was extensively checked and amended by Sri Ramana. It was written by one of his closest devotees, Sri Muruganar, and is widely considered to be the most authoritative collection of verbal teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. The foreword of the book published by Sri Ramana Ashram states the following about Guru Vachaka Kovai:

‘…[Guru Vachaka Kovai] provides the most precise, systematic and authoritative exposition of Sri Bhagavan’s teaching, explaining step by step the theory, the practice and the experience of jnana, the Truth supreme which is Being as Life Eternal, Pure Awareness, Perfect Bliss. Thus, the most comprehensive collection of the Maharshi’s sayings is Guru Vachaka Kovai…

My recommendation is, after having read the introduction and introductory verses, to start with the verses towards the end of the book which deal directly with the nature of liberation and work your way towards the front of the book.

There is also a small but wonderful text called Guru Ramana Vachana Mala which concisely and accurately summarises the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi as well as the teachings of Advaita Vedanta, as per verse 3 of the text. This text takes 300 of the verses from Guru Vachaka Kovai and arranges them for easy consumption, so it is a much more concise read than the longer Guru Vachaka Kovai.

Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam

This is the English translation, by Robert Butler, of a text written by Sri Muruganar, one of the closest devotees of Sri Ramana for over 20 years, and someone who themselves attained Self Realisation in Bhagavan’s presence.

In this beautiful text Sri Muruganar describes how Sri Ramana captured his heart and led him to direct realisation of his True Self that was also the True Nature of his Guru, Sri Ramana Maharshi. Whilst all the teachings are presented here, unlike the texts above, they are not done so in an especially clear, logical or systematic way. However, the verses are infused with Bhakti and are dripping with Wisdom throughout, and they do point the direct path to liberation.

Strictly speaking this text does not meet the criteria that I have set out at the top of this page. So why have I therefore included it in this list? Well this text probably comes nearest to my own experience of Guru Sri Bhagavan Ramana and his effect on me, plus it contains many deep truths that are seldom found elsewhere – hence it is recommended! Please note that the verses by Sri Muruganar in the book The Seven Steps to Awakening are taken from Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam.

Whilst I do have a PDF copy of the book, you can easily (and cheaply) support the translator and buy the PDF for yourself here or buy it in paperback here.

Sri Ramana Gita

I also recommend the Sri Ramana Gita

Books by Lakshmana Sarma

Lakshmana Sarma (LS), who often wrote under the pseudonym ‘Who?’, was a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana for more than twenty years. He was one of only two devotees (the other being Sri Muruganar) who received extensive and comprehensive 1-to-1 tuition from Sri Ramana Maharshi on the meaning of his teachings, and the only devotee who received extended tuition on the text Ulladu Narpadu (40 verses on Reality, see above), which lasted several years. It is therefore unsuprising that Sri Ramana said that LS’s translation of and commentary on Ulladu Narpadu titled ‘Revelation’ was the best one available.

(After consulting with Sri Ramama, LS wrote the commentary on Ulladu Narpadu as he was unhappy at seeing how some devotees had misunderstood and misrepresented Sri Ramana’s teachings; in his other works below we can see the LS is similarly trying to share Bhagavan Sri Ramana’s true teaching and dispell false notions on what the teaching actually is.)

LS was also well-versed in Sanskrit and the traditional Vedanta scriptures and teachings. In LS’s book entitled ‘Maha Yoga‘, he explains Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings in the context of the Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta; this book also goes though the various misconceptions that others have made both of Sri Ramana’s teachings and of the traditonal Vedanta teachings and set’s them straight, making it a very useful text to distinguish Sri Ramana’s teachings from other similar-sounding teachings that are often promimently on offer in the spiritual marketplace.

In a similar vein is another work of LS entitled Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad (also titled ‘The Supreme Science as Taught by Sri Ramana’). This also is a wonderful text to give the correct view of Sri Ramana’s teachings and dispel the seeker of false teachings and erroneous views. You can download a PDF copy from David Godman’s website here, but unfortunately this version has been edited and altered by David Godman; whist I am sure this has been done with the best of intentions, I have by chance found at least one example where David Godman’s edits have subtly or potentially distorted the meaning of the teaching (I have found this to be the case with several of David Godman’s publications), so if you are able to I recommend you buy a paperback copy of the original text published by Sri Ramana Ashram instead, as it is likely to be a truer representation of the teachings.

The wonderful text Guru Ramana Vachana Mala was compiled by LS, and has already been mentioned above.

Note that LS was fluent in English, in both speaking and writing, and the English translations of his works were done by himself, making them all the more valuable to non-Tamil speaking devotees who can read English.

In general the books by LS may not be as direct and detailed in how they describe self-enquiry as the books by Sri Sadhu Om and other books higher up on this list, but they do provide the reader with a good intellectual and philosophical understanding of Bhagavan Sri Ramana’s teachings and this may be of great benefit to many seekers.

Traditional Vedanta Texts

Whilst there are many wonderful traditional scriptures that one can read, there are a few traditional texts that clearly explain the entire path unambiguously for the genuine seeker of liberation, with minimal detours as possible.

Traditionally the most important of these is Vivekachudamani written by Sri Shankacharya. This is arguably today the single most important and influential scripture in Advaita Vedanta. Whilst Vedanta is primarily based upon the Upanishads, the teachings in the Upanishads are not always clearly and systematically explained. There are also different ways of interpreting these texts, and many Traditional lineages themselves have very questionable interpretations of the texts, and this can give rise to doubts. One danger is that one may end up engaging in too much extensive scriptural study, which in itself may take decades – even then one may still have doubts!

Vivekachudamani summarises and systematises the teachings of the Upanishads and has been used as a gold-standard for Advaita Teachings since it was written approximately 1400 years ago. The repetition present in the verses, the way the same topic is often spoken of in different ways, and the way the teaching is present throughout the text (ie. the teachings are given at the beginning, middle and end of the text) means that the true meaning of the text cannot easily be distorted, altered, misunderstood or wrongly interpreted.

Whilst most scholars and traditionalists agree that Vivekachudamani was likely written by Shankara, some dispute the authorship of the text and state it was written by a later Shankaracharya in the same lineage. Regardless of who the author was, there is not a single teaching present in Vivekachudamani that cannot also be found in the Upanishads, which are the source texts for Vedanta, and of course the authors of the Upanishads also remain unknown to us. Countless sages in the last 1400 years, including Sri Ramana Maharshi, have also testified the greatness of this text, stating this text teaches the way to liberation.

Sri Ramana Maharshi also translated the entirety of Vivekachudamani into Tamil and wrote an introduction to the text in which he states that Vivekachudamani reveals the direct path to liberation. Both of these by Sri Ramana are also recommended. Many other sages over the centuries have also praised Vivekachudamani as clearly showing the true path to Liberation.

Another traditional text that shows us the complete path is Advaita Bodha Deepika. It too is a text that was recommended by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, and so I also recommend you read it. Whilst Vivekachudamani clearly explains the correct path, this text not only does this, but it also describes why other (false) paths do not work and how to avoid them. Some people find it to be more accessible as it is written in a question and answer format in prose, rather than in verse (Vivekachudamani is written in verse form).

In the Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Ramana has translated several traditional Advaita texts himself, all of which are recommended. These include texts from both the Vedanta and Tantra traditions (the Agamas are the source texts for several Hindu Tantric schools).

There are many other wonderful traditional Advaita texts such as the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Avadhuta Gita, Ashtavakra Gita, Ribhu Gita, Uddhava Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, etc, and these are also well worth reading, but the last one I want to mention here is the wonderful Yoga Vasishta. This is one of the most important traditional texts in Advaita Vedanta in which the teachings are clearly and unambiguously explained in a systematic way. It is also of historical interest as it is one of the few Vedanta Scripture that clearly gives us an idea of what Vedanta was like prior to Shankara. You can read about it more in the link I have just provided above and you will also find further links to key teachings from the text which are also well-worth exploring.

The Ribhu Gita is mentioned above and there is a text called ‘The Essence of the Ribhu Gita‘ which is a great hard-hitting Advaita text and provides a good summary of the essential Advaita teachings. It is also reported that Sri Ramana Maharshi specifically recommended recitation of Chapter 26 of the Ribhu Gita in order to attain self-realisation.

Other contemporary books

You may find that some of your favourite spiritual books do not feature on this list. It may be that I simply haven’t come across that book, but it also may be that I have come across it, but have not included it here as I do not feel it fulfils the criteria I have set out at the top of this post.

As you (hopefully) become familiar with the teachings presented in the above texts – they all present the same essential teaching by the way – you may start to see how these teachings are often NOT the same as other teachings that are more widely available in today’s contemporary spiritual marketplace. Initially it may seem that all non-dual teachings are pointing to the same essence in their own way, but as you become more familiar with the teachings, you will start to see differences emerge, and these differences can make all the difference!

If a well-known teacher is not mentioned in the above list, the chances are that I do not recommend them.

Here are some more contemporary books that I also recommend. Again, the same essential teaching that is given in the above texts are also given in these.

First is The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford. This book’s tone may not be for everyone, but wonderful teachings are presented nonetheless. As well as outlining a path to liberation, this book also outlines various strategies the ego-mind uses to ‘prevent’ liberation from occurring. Understanding these ‘ego preservation strategies’ is very useful, especially if you can see them operating in yourself and put and end to them. I addition to The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss, I would also highly recommend ‘Seven Steps to Awakening which is compiled by the same author. Other books of Michael Langford’s are also well worth reading and recommended, such as The Importance of Practice and Effort‘, ‘How to Practice the Teachings‘, and ‘Manonasa‘ – these books each further clarify the teachings for those who require this. The book ‘Manonasain particular clarifies the nature of liberation in particular detail for those who are interested.

Taken together, the above books by Michael Langford are some of the most powerful books I have come across with respect to enlightenment/self-knowledge/liberation, and so they are all highly recommended.

Another book I’d like to tentatively recommend is Happiness and the Art of Being by Michael James. I hesitate to and only tentatively recommend this book as it is the one book on this list I haven’t actually fully read myself – I’ve only skimmed through it and read the first few pages of the introduction – but I have been very impressed by what I have read thus far, so hence it makes this list. I feel the author has a wonderful understanding of Sri Ramana’s teachings and manages to shines a light on the true Vedanta rather than many of the ‘drier’ intellectual (ie. false) versions of Vedanta that are currently in circulation. He also studied Ramana’s teachings directly with Sri Sadhu Om, who wrote the Path of Sri Ramana (see above), and has made his own translations of Sri Ramana’s works including Guru Vachaka Kovai, so I feel fairly confident the teachings will be in line with the above teachings. There are also many gems and detailed insights in this book I have found when skimming through that I have not found elsewhere, which is another reason this book makes the cut. The author has made the book available for free online on the link above, but if you are able to, I encourage you to make a donation to help support the author.

A suggested reading order

All of the above texts contain the same essential teaching presented in slightly different ways, so if you find that you are drawn to one particular book, it is generally good to read that one first, as that is the text you will be most motivated to read. However here is my suggested reading order:

  1. The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1 & 2 by Sri Sadhu Om – these two books clearly describe the entire spiritual path and form a great foundation for beginners and advanced seekers alike. If these texts are put into practice, no further books are required.
  2. Sadhanai Saram by Sri Sadhu Om – this is sometimes referred to as ‘part 3’ of the above and consolidates the above teachings as well as giving further clarity to the path. The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention also gives further explanation and clarification on how exactly to do self-enquiry/self-surrender.
  3. Who am I?, Upadesa Saram and Ulladu Narpadu & Supplement – all by Sri Ramana Maharshi. These short texts will be more fully appreciated and easier to understand having read the above 3 books by Sri Sadhu Om.
  4. The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford
  5. Seven Steps to Awakening, together with other books by Michael Langford
  6. Maha Yoga and Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad by Lakshmana Sarma. Maha Yoga explains Sri Ramana’s teachings in relation to traditional Upanishadic and Vedanta teachings and both books also take the time to point out false and incorrect understandings of Bhagavan Ramana’s teachings.
  7. Vivekachudamani by Shankara
  8. Advaita Bodha Deepika
  9. Guru Vachaka Kovai & Guru Ramana Vachana Mala & Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam
  10. Sri Ramana Gita
  11. Advaita texts translated by Sri Ramana in the Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi
  12. Yoga Vasistha & The Essence of the Ribhu Gita
  13. Happiness and the Art of Being

Q. I don’t really care for Sri Ramana or Vedanta, etc – I just want very clear teachings on liberation in plain language without any mystical mumbo jumbo – what books do you recommend?

In this case I recommend you read ‘The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss’ by Michael Langford. This is a wonderful and straight-forward presentation of the teachings stripped of mysticism and obscure language. However – these teachings may be too direct for some – you were warned!

Michael Langford has created another compilation called ‘Seven Steps to Awakening’ which is a collection of quotes from various sources which give a traditional and scriptural backing to the teachings given in ‘The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss’.

These two books work very well together and are 2 of the most powerful books I have come across with respect to spiritual liberation.

Q. My main interest is in Advaita Vedanta teachings – which books are best?

The best introduction to the Vedanta teachings I have come across are actually The Path of Sri Ramana Parts 1 & 2. Maha Yoga explains in detail Sri Ramana’s teachings in the context of traditional Vedanta and also explains how many have misinterpreted and distorted the teachings; similarly Sri Ramana paravidyopanishad is also very clear. After this, I would recommend the traditional texts Advaita Bodha Deepika and then Vivekachudamani, followed by the traditional Advaita texts Sri Ramana translated that can be found in the Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi, and then The Essence of the Ribhu Gita and Yoga Vasistha. Lastly I would recommend you read Happiness and the Art of Being which is also a very good text on Vedanta teachings.

My main interest is in Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Teachings – what do you recommend?

I would recommend the Path of Sri Ramana Parts 1 & 2, then Sadhanai Saram, followed by the suggested reading order I gave above. If you have a particular tendency towards Devotion or Bhakti, I especially recommend Sri Guru Ramana Prasadam.

Q. Why is my favourite spiritual book not on your list of books?

It may be that I haven’t read it, or it may be that it doesn’t in my view fulfil the criteria I have outlined at the top of the post.

If a well-known teacher is not mentioned in the above list, the chances are that I do not recommend them.

Q. I know you have written various blog posts on Zen and Buddhism. Why do texts from these traditions not feature on your list?

Yes, I have written several posts on Zen and Buddhism – please see the hyperlinks in the question above for examples. I do think they are wonderful traditions but I haven’t found a book from those traditions that gives a complete teaching with sufficient detail that fits the criteria at the top of the post without also creating much ambiguity and confusion about the path. Many of the texts fall short in my view, which is not to say the traditions themselves fall short necessarily, although they may depending on how they are taught. I have found that the above recommended texts are much clearer and more straightforward, and therefore more effective. However I will let you decide!

ps. here is a post I have written comparing Buddhism with Vedanta and Sri Ramana’s teachings.

Q. What about books by Nisargadatta Maharaj such as ‘I Am That?’

Whilst I Am That is a very good book that has inspired many, I have found that the teachings vary a lot depending on whom Nisargadatta Maharaj is speaking to. This is because this book, and others like it, are a record of conversations, so the teaching given varies according to the context it was given it. This means that the highest teaching is not always taught. What then often happens is that the ego-mind or the reader often finds a way to latch onto the lower teachings and use this as a means to perpetuate itself – this is often done unconsciously without the reader realising this. The terminology used such as the use of the phrase ‘I AM’ can be very confusing for some, as sometimes it refers to what Ramana would call the ‘I thought’ or ego, whereas in other parts of the book ‘I AM’ refers to the Self or the Absolute. Basically the essential teaching is not always clearly taught in my view, so hence I do not recommend it. However, if one has read the above recommended books first, then these varying teachings found in books such as ‘I Am That’ will not cause the reader confusion as the essential teaching has already been understood.

If you like Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj’s writings, then I recommend you read ‘The Seven Steps to Awakening’ which contains quotes from various sources including ‘I Am That’ by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. The compiler of the book, Michael Langford, has taken only the highest and most direct teachings and put them together in one place. Highly recommended.

The same critique for I Am That could be said for Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, which is also a record of conversations, so although Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi is also a wonderful book, I do not recommend it here for those who want to go directly for liberation as the essential teaching is not always clearly given. We are however very lucky that Sri Ramana wrote several short texts himself which clearly point the way to liberation without the need to wade through large collections of recorded conversations.

Q. What about other books on Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings not mentioned in the above recommended reading list?

It is very easy for the teachings to be distorted and misunderstood by the ego-mind. Apart from the above books listed, I do not generally recommend other books on Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings. I have found almost all other books on Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings that I have come across contain a level of distortion and misinterpretation. I have found that this often leads seekers away from liberation, even if the author or editor is well-meaning and well-intentioned.

Appendix – a post on Sri Muruganar, Sri Sadhu Om and Lakshmana Sarma

To my knowledge, the only living human being who was said by Sri Ramana Maharshi to have attained Self-Realisation was Sri Muruganar, a devotee of Sri Ramana’s for over 25 years. Muruganar also was one of 2 people who had personal one-to-one tuition from Sri Ramana on the actual deeper meaning of the teachings (the other person was K. Lakshmana Sarma).

Muruganar recorded Sri Ramana’s teaching in the text Guru Vachaka Kovai, which is said by Sri Ramana Ashram to be ‘the most precise, systematic and authoritative exposition of Sri Bhagavan’s teaching, explaining step by step the theory, the practice and the experience of jnana, the Truth supreme which is Being as Life Eternal, Pure Awareness, Perfect Bliss. Thus, the most comprehensive collection of the Maharshi’s sayings is Guru Vachaka Kovai…’

Sri Sadhu Om spent many years with Sri Ramana Maharshi and after Sri Ramana’s death he spent many years with Muruganar. Muruganar said that Sri Sadhu Om was the only person who really understood Sri Ramana’s teachings. Sri Sadhu Om wrote several books on Sri Ramana’s teachings such as The Path of Sri Ramana and Sadhanai Saram (the essence of spiritual practice) and translated them into English himself.

K. Lakshmana Sarma, another long time devotee of Sri Ramana’s, was the only other person (other than Sri Muruganar) to have 1 to 1 tuition on the true meaning of Sri Ramana’s teachings; this tuition lasted several years. Lakshmana Sarma was often unhappy to see people misinterpreting and misunderstanding Sri Ramana’s teachings and he wrote several books such as Maha Yoga and a commentary on 40 verses on reality to explain Sri Ramana’s true teachings, and he translated them into English himself.

Most people, when they hear the teachings, their ego-mind immediately distorts the teaching, and this often converts a liberating teaching into a non-liberating teaching. So the person recording the teaching is of utmost importance if we want to understand the true teaching that will lead to liberation.

I therefore recommend you read the above texts if you want to discover a truly liberating teaching, free from distortion, that will quickly and effectively lead to liberation, which is eternal bliss and the cessation of suffering.

We also have the texts that Sri Ramana Maharshi himself wrote.

You may be pleased to know that I have compiled all of the above (and some more), which you can download for free, on my recommended reading list.

I hope this above information is helpful to you.

Best wishes and Namaste!


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