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Satsang with Sri Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati
PRATAÙ SMARAËAM
1 of 5
Introduction
The meditator and the object of meditation are different from each other in
one type of meditation
Prätaù is dawn and smaraëam is remembrance or meditation. Prätassmaraëam is
thus, meditation at dawn. The meditation is upon the Self, the very meditator.
Usually, meditation involves a division of meditator and that upon which he or
she meditates. We meditate upon or concentrate on a form, a name, or some
object or thing other than ourselves. If it is a worshipful meditation, a meditation
on something reverential, we call it mental worship or upäsana. Thus, one type of
meditation is of the nature of worship or upäsana. In such meditation, the
meditator and the object of meditation are different from each other. This is
quite valid as a kind of meditation and is a step in the right direction. Such
meditation, of the nature of worship, is meant to prepare our minds. When we
worship the Lord, we gain His grace or favor, which removes the impurities of
our minds. While we attain the purification of the mind, we can also develop
focus, the single pointedness or concentration of the mind.
Mental worship or meditation requires us to be free of the impurities of likes
and dislikes
What is meant by purification of the mind? It implies that the mind
becomes free from the impurities of likes and dislikes. It is these likes and
dislikes, which give rise to such impulses as anger, jealousy, and greed.
Whenever such impulses arise in the mind, it gets disturbed. It is our common
experience that when we are jealous, hurt, or angry, the mind gets disturbed and
at that time, we do not have the capacity to focus on anything. Therefore, in
order to focus our minds and meditate, we need to be free from these impulses.
Even meditation that involves worship or focusing on the chosen deity, the iñöa
devatä, calls for a mind that enjoys purity and concentration.
Karma-yoga helps us get rid of the impurities of likes and dislikes
The first stage in meditation is karma-yoga, the worship of the Lord
through our actions. When I perform an action, my mind and limbs are both
involved. I do not require total concentration of the mind to perform an action.
Therefore, it is relatively easy and the mind has the scope to wander about. To a
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large extent, we get rid of our impulses and likes and dislikes through karma-
yoga. It also prepares us for the second stage of worship, which is at the level of
the mind.
Mental worship enables us to focus totally on the Self
The second stage of worship is upäsana, mental worship, which is
commonly known as meditation. In upäsana, the mind has less scope for
wandering and, therefore, it is relatively more difficult. Mental worship requires
the purification and focus of the mind, and such worship makes the mind very
refined. Over time, the mind becomes so refined that we are able to let go of
everything; we gain the capacity to withdraw the mind from all external
preoccupations so that it can be totally focused upon the Self. This is the final
stage of meditation, the meditation upon the Self, in which the mind has no room
for any movement at all. This is the highest form of meditation. In Vedanta, this
is called nididhyäsanam.
Listening to Vedanta is a deliberation upon the Self
Sage Yäjïavalkya tells his wife Maitreyé that the Self must be seen and
realized or intimately known.
AaTma va Are ÔòVy> ïaetVy> mNtVy> inidXyaistVy>,
ätmä vä are drañöavyaù, çrotavyaù, mantavyaù, nididhyäsitavyaù.
The Self is to be ‘seen’, heard of, reflected on, and meditated upon
[Båhadäraëyakopaniñad, 2-4-5].
How do I know the Self? You should hear about the Self, çrotavyaù, meaning that
you should listen to the scriptures unfolded by the teacher. The subject matter of
the scriptures or Vedanta is the Self. Therefore, listening to Vedanta is nothing
but a deliberation upon the Self.
Mantavyaù, in order to gain clarity, deliberate upon what you have heard.
Often, when we listen to the teacher, the subject matter seems quite clear.
However, when the influence of the teacher goes away, many doubts arise in our
minds, especially on account of influences from the outside. It then becomes
necessary to resolve all these doubts. Therefore, reasoning and reflecting upon
what we have studied from the teacher will remove our doubts. Thus, śravanam
or listening to the teacher is to be followed by mananam, reflecting upon what we
have listened to, in order to remove all the doubts. As a result of śravanam and
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mananam, the knowledge or our understanding of it becomes clear.
Subsequently, there is nididhyäsanam to remove habitual error.
Nididhyäsanam is the process of owning up to the knowledge of the Self
When we listen to the teacher, we learn that cidänanda rüpaù çivoham, I am
Consciousness, Whole or Complete. Çivoham, I am Çivaù, auspicious. The
teacher tells me that I am of the nature of knowledge and I understand it.
Through mananam, this knowledge becomes free of doubts. However, my mind
falls back into the same old pattern of taking this body to be myself; I habitually
identify with my body, mind, and intellect. This identification has been going on
from time beginningless. Even though I know I am Çiva, I still identify with my
body-mind complex; then, the ‘I’, as though becomes a jéva. Thus, Çiva becomes
jéva and therefore, my knowledge is not beneficial to me. It is not enough to
know that I am Çivaù; I should also live as Çivaù. Only then can I maintain the
distance between the Self and the non-Self. The body is not my Self; I am not the
body; I am not the sense organs; I am not the mind, and I am not the intellect. I
am the witness; I am the Çivaù; I am brahman, and I am the limitless. The
separation between the Self and the non-Self is created during çravanam and
mananam. Only when the knowledge of this separation becomes real in our day-
to-day living does it become beneficial to us. This process of owning up to the
knowledge is nididhyäsanam.
To illustrate nididhyäsanam, we normally tell the story of a beggar who
turned into a multi-millionaire upon winning a lottery. He acquired everything,
a big mansion, a big car etc., but the transformation from beggar to wealthy
person did not take place in his mind. He continued to go back to the old habit
of picking things up from the sidewalk or stretching out his hand when food was
being distributed for free etc. This is habitual behavior. Another illustration is
that of a newly married woman in her in-laws’ home where everything is done
differently from her parents’ home. The customs are different and the way food
is cooked is different. It takes time for her to blend into her new family; she
forgets this again and again, and often reverts to doing things the way she is
used to doing them. This is habitual error or mechanicalness.
Nididhyäsanam brings about alertness
We do many things mechanically, without much deliberate thinking.
Habitually, we have been taking this body-mind complex to be ourselves. In
spite of knowing that I am brahman, I as though become a jéva because of the old
habit and the knowledge that I am Çiva is not available to me at that time. For
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example, I often decide that I am not going to get angry and that I am going to be
kind. However, anger sometimes takes over and I forget my resolve.
Afterwards, I reflect that I should not have said this or done that, but I realize
that at the time of anger, I was not alert and therefore, my old habits took hold of
me. The third stage, nididhyäsanam, is a kind of meditation where there is
alertness about my true nature. That is the meditation upon the Self, the
meditation upon the meditator.
Prataù Smaraëam reveals the nature of the Self and is ideal for nididhyäsanam
The three verses of Prataù Smaraëam are of the nature of the third kind of
meditation, which is upon the Self. They are very beautiful verses in which the
essence of Vedanta is contained. It is the glory of Çré Çaìkaräcärya that he can
write as many as a thousand verses to teach all of Vedanta as in the Upadeça
Sähasré or 581 verses as in the Vivekacüòämaëi or a mere three verses as in this
stotra, or even a single verse as in the Ekaçloké, and still reveal the essence of
Vedanta.
We need leisure to contemplate upon these three verses. In the
Vivekacüòämaëi [32], Çré Çaìkräcärya defines Vedantic bhakti or devotion as the
continuous contemplation of the truth of one’s ätmä, svätmatattvänusandhänaà
bhaktirityapare jaguù. Anusandhänam is meditation upon svasvarüpa, one’s own
true nature, and is the highest form of devotion. These three verses enable us to
deliberate upon our true selves.
We constantly play different roles throughout the day
In guided meditation, we typically say that it is necessary to set aside
some time to deliberate upon oneself because in our day-to-day living we are not
true to our nature. In fact, we live differently than what we are. We put on some
costume or the other all the time: that of a wife, a parent, a physician etc., and we
keep changing the different costumes we wear.
Every situation requires that we respond to it in an appropriate manner.
Thus, every situation invokes a different kind of self from me: sometimes it is the
parent, sometimes it is the spouse, sometimes it is the child, and at some other
times, the friend. Thus, I play a variety of roles throughout the day. We have to
relate to the world and each relationship requires an appropriate response from
me. Thus, in the presence of my father, the son in me is invoked. That is the
only appropriate way to relate to my father. In the presence of my son, however,
I become the father. In the presence of my teacher, I am an obedient, devoted
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disciple, and when I am required to teach, I am a guru. Thus, every situation
requires me to behave in an appropriate manner and invoke the appropriate self.
I am like an actor putting on different costumes, e.g., that of a king, beggar, or
minister. These are but different costumes. I do know myself as a person related
to somebody or something. But who am I when I am not related? Who am I out
of all these costumes? Who is the one playing these roles?
Who am I?
Naturally, the one who is playing the role is different from the roles.
When the same actor can become king, beggar, or minister, it is very clear that he
is not any one of those. He is different from all of the roles. He is in all of them
and yet, different from all of them. Similarly, I can be a father, son, or brother
provided I am different from all of those roles. I need to know who I am when
all the costumes are removed. It is not enough to know ourselves as we do now,
as the relative person. It is necessary to know who I am when I am not related to
anything. Who is the invariable absolute person? Who is the one in every
costume, yet different from each? Who is he? It is necessary to know the Self of
all these roles.
Why should I know my true Self? What do I get out of it? All these years
have gone by quite satisfactorily without my knowing this Self; in functioning as
a physician or attorney, it is not necessary to know who I am. It is perhaps
alright for a renunciate to know the Self, but what is the use of this knowledge
for people like us who are involved in day-to-day life? Does this knowledge of
the nature of my Self have any relevance to the life I am leading now?
Knowledge of the Self enables us to not be affected by the problems of the
roles
Yes, this knowledge of the Self does have a tremendous relevance in day-
to-day life. It is the most relevant thing to everyone, whether renunciate or
householder. If I know the relative self as being the relative self, it is fine.
However, the relative self is taken to be the true Self. For example, it is well as
long as an actor, who is playing the role of beggar, remembers that he is playing
the role of beggar. But then, if he identifies with the role to the extent that he
behaves like one, the fact that he is a multi-millionaire is of no use to him because
he takes himself to be a beggar. Only when he is aware that he is only playing
the role of a beggar will he be aware of his true identity! Isn’t it so? It is only
when the actor is aware of his true identity that all the problems that belong to
the beggar will remain at the level of the role and not affect him. As a beggar, he
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will be insulted, slapped, or favored; these are features of the role. When
someone insults him, tears flow out of his eyes. Yet, he knows that the problems
of the role do not touch him. Thus, in spite of doing what is to be done, he enjoys
his freedom and is able to perform his role effectively. If he identifies with the
role, however, he cannot perform his role effectively. Similarly, we should also
recognize that all of our transactions are carried out by the relative person.
It is necessary that we should know the true identity of the person who is
playing these roles. When one knows the true identity, the roles remain roles
and what happens at the level of the roles does not affect us. Otherwise, we are
not playing a role, but become the role itself. That is what is happening to us
right now in our roles; there is no distance between the person and the roles.
That is why there is sorrow and suffering or hurt and guilt in our lives. If we
could maintain a distance and assert our independence, everything would
become a play. You can enjoy even an insult. Even while the actor is crying in
his role as a beggar, he is pleased that he is crying well. He can enjoy the crying
because it is not real; his begging is not true begging because of the distance he
maintains between himself and the role. In fact, the actor knows that his acting is
going to earn him a few millions!
Self-knowledge is absolutely necessary for everybody. There is a false
notion that this knowledge is for sannyäsis or retired people. It is wonderful to
have this knowledge anytime in life. The ability to create a distance between the
actor and the role enables us to live our lives more fully. Who is this actor? It is
to know this that I meditate at dawn. I can let go of all my costumes and roles
and look at myself as I am, apart from my roles, and see the beauty of my own
self. It is not always beneficial to see the realities because the realities can also be
unpleasant. Fortunately, however, the reality of the Self is so wonderful that it is
most satisfying and fulfilling to see ourselves for what we are.
Meditation is most beneficial to us early in the morning
Why do I meditate upon myself at dawn? It is then that my mind is well
rested after a full night’s sleep and is sättvik. The mind is sättvik when it is quiet,
tranquil, and contemplative. As the sun rises, the mind becomes more active and
is then räjasik. The sun represents rajas, activity. When the sun sets, tamas comes
with the darkness. We don’t want tamas or rajas. We want to be awake, yet
quiet. We want a mind that is quiet, but not sleepy. Early in the morning, the
mind is fresh. None of the problems and the situations of the day have taken
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hold of it and therefore, this is the time of the day when the meditation is most
beneficial to us
1
.

1
Transcribed by Richa Choudhry and edited by Krishnakumar (KK) S. Davey and Jayshree
Ramakrishnan.
www.AVGsatsang.org
Satsang with Sri Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati
PRATAÙ SMARAËAM
2 of 5
1
In these three verses, the nature of the Self is revealed very beautifully by Ädi
Çaìkara.
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prätassmarämi hådi saàsphuradätmatatvaà saccitsukhaà paramahaàsagatià
turéyam, yatsvapnajägarasuñuptamavaiti nityaà tadbrahma niñkalamahaà na
ca bhütasaìghaù.
Early in the morning, I remember the shining truth of the Self in the
heart, that which is ever present, the limitless Awareness, the supreme
goal of sannyäsés, known as the ‘fourth’, which always witnesses
dream, waking, and deep sleep. I am that undivided brahman and not
an aggregate of elements.
Prätaù, early morning. Smarämi, I remember. Hådi, in the heart, by which
we mean the mind. Saàsphurat, shining. Ätmatatvam, the truth of the Self.
I can recognize the Self, which is the truth, in my heart or mind only when I
withdraw my attention from everything else
In the early morning, at dawn, I remember. Remembrance is possible only
when you already know something. Remembrance and memory presuppose
experience. You can only remember what you have already experienced. When
a teacher says that he remembers, he already knows. So what is it that I
remember? I remember the truth of the Self. What is the nature of this Self? Its
nature is to shine. Where is it shining? It is shining in my heart. The truth of the
Self is that it is shining in my heart. In fact, we should not say the truth of the Self
because the Self is the truth. We can say the truth that is the Self, or the truth of
the Self to mean the truth of what I consider myself to be; the Self implies the ‘I’.
The Self is all-pervasive, and therefore, it shines everywhere. However, it
shines most wonderfully in the mind. Even though most surfaces reflect the rays
of light off our faces, the mirror reflects the face most clearly. Similarly, even
though the Self is everywhere, the heart or mind is the place where the Self
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shines most gloriously in its own light. It is here that the Self or ätmä is
recognized in its true nature.
When can I remember the Self that shines in my heart? It is when my
attention is focused only upon my heart, which means that my attention is
withdrawn from everything else. My attention should be on whatever I want to
see. For example, if I want to see something through a pair of binoculars, I must
first look in the direction of the object and then focus on the object; it is a means
of seeing and should be focused properly on the object. Just as we need to focus
the binoculars, so also do we need to direct our minds toward the Self in order to
see it clearly. My attention should be focused on the subtlest aspect of my Self.
For that, my mind should be free from the preoccupation with everything else. It
should be directed to the core of my being. By core, we do not mean any
particular place. By heart we do not mean any particular place either, even
though the heart is conventionally the focus of attention during meditation. In
the Yoga-Çästra, the heart is recommended as a place of concentration in order to
meditate and, therefore, it is customary to use the word heart, but by the use of
the word heart we mean the core of one’s being, the core of one’s mind, that from
which the idea of ‘I’ originates. Thus, I concentrate my attention on the ‘I’. The
Self shines in the core of my being, the core of my heart, my mind.
What I take myself to be determines how I think or act
What do I think I am right now? Right now, I take myself to be a man or
woman, a speaker or listener, a doer, an enjoyer, a limited being, an ego etc. For
example, right now, I am a speaker and you are a listener. Later, it is possible
that I may become a listener and you may become a speaker. At lunch, I become
a bhoktä, an enjoyer. After lunch, you may become a walker and I may become a
sleeper. How can it be possible that I can be a speaker or listener or doer or an
enjoyer? How is it possible that I can be so many different things?
An example of this is the nature of crystal. What is the true color of
crystal? If you put a yellow flower in front of a crystal, it appears to be yellow; if
you place a blue flower, the crystal appears to be blue, and so on. The crystal
seems to be changing its colors all the time. In reality a crystal is transparent. It
does not have a color of its own. If it looks into a mirror to determine its color, it
will see that it is yellow sometimes, blue at some other times, and so on.
Similarly, I look in the mirror of my mind and declare myself different every
time. When I am talking I say I am a speaker, I call myself a listener when the
ears are listening, and I say I am a thinker when the mind is thinking. In fact,
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listening takes place at the level of ear, but on account of my identifying with the
ears, I say that I am a listener. Talking takes place at the level of speech, but on
account of my identifying with my speech, I say I am the speaker and, similarly,
thinking takes place at the level of the mind, but on account of my identifying
with the mind, I say I am a thinker.
We are what we take ourselves to be. It doesn’t matter what we really are;
what matters is what we take ourselves to be. In the same way, it doesn’t matter
what an object is, what matters is what we take it to be. For example, in the
twilight, I mistake a rope lying in front of me to be a snake. Even though it is
really a rope, my reaction is based upon what I take it to be. I see it and I jump,
but someone else who sees it for what it is, may wonder why I am jumping. He
sees a rope, but I see a snake. I am not jumping at the rope; I am jumping at the
sight of the snake. Thus, I respond to a situation based upon how I see it. What
is important in our lives is what we understand and how we interpret it. We
generally live in the world of our own interpretations. How we interpret
something may be quite different from how it is in reality. We rarely live in the
objective world, the world as it is.
Whenever I meet you, it is not to you that I respond; instead, I respond to
the person you are in my interpretation. If my interpretation is that you are my
friend, my behavior is of one kind. Otherwise, my response to you is different.
If I interpret that you don’t like me, my response is of one kind; if I interpret that
you like me, my response is of another kind. It doesn’t matter what you are! We
don’t understand why someone acts in a certain manner or talks in a particular
way, but, he has a perfect justification for his actions. From your stand point you
are an angel, but he does not think so. More often than not, there is no
compatibility between what the realities are and what we take them to be.
Therefore, there are all kinds of conflicts and misunderstandings. It is not what I
take myself to be, but what I am that is important.
Every false notion of the Self is the cause of sorrow
Right now I take myself to be a speaker, listener, thinker, talker, man,
woman, father, or mother, or to be successful, unsuccessful, handsome, not
beautiful etc. There are infinite such complexes. Every complex is a source of
sorrow, sadness, and pain. Even if I take myself to be good-looking, it is a cause
for sorrow. If I take myself not to be good-looking, it is, of course, a cause for
sorrow. Similarly, taking my self to be successful can also be as much of a cause
for sorrow, as is taking myself to be unsuccessful. The former is a cause for
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sorrow that is yet to come, while the latter is a cause for immediate sorrow.
Every false notion about my self is a cause of my sorrow and unhappiness.
Vedanta explains to us there is no basis for our sorrow and unhappiness, other
than our own misconceptions or misapprehensions about the Self. This
misapprehension of the Self also causes a misapprehension about the world.
Thus, my projections upon my Self extend to the people around me and then to
the world around me.
Tatvam is the truth, and anäropita tatvam is that which is free from
adhyäropa, superimposition. Ätmatatvam is the truth free from superimposition or
the reality of the truth about my Self. Right now I have a notion about myself.
We meditate upon ourselves all the time and that meditation determines our
whole life. At any moment, I am as good as I take myself to be. All my thoughts,
desires, actions, and responses are determined by what I take myself to be. For
example, when I am sitting on the dais, I have a notion that I am a teacher and
you have the notion that you are listeners or students. Sometimes, the notions
are confused, leading to lots of problems. What I do is determined by what I
take myself to be. What I take myself to be determines the way I think, desire,
and respond. It is not determined by what I really am, but what I take myself to
be.
Ätmatatvam smarami, I meditate upon the true nature of myself and that is
possible only when I let go of all the roles. I recognize that I take myself to be the
speaker because of my identification with the organ of speech. Therefore, I let go
of all identification: I am not a speaker, hearer, thinker, walker, enjoyer, father, or
a mother; all these are just roles I play. I meditate early in the morning upon the
true nature of myself that is devoid of all the roles. Then who am I without these
roles? Who am I meditating upon? The second line says sat cit sukham. Sat is
Existence, cit is Awareness, and sukham is änanda, Happiness. Sat is that which is,
it is always present and can never cease to be.
The Self is cit
Cit is ever-shining, self-effulgent, shining on its own. Only one thing in
this creation is self-effulgent; everything else shines after it. For example, the sun
shines and the moon also shines. The difference is that the sun is shining in its
own light whereas the moon is shining in the reflected light of the sun. The sun
is self-effulgent; that is, it does not need any other source of light but its own.
The moon is not self-effulgent. The part of the moon which shines is illumined
by the sun; the other part which is not illumined by the sun does not shine. That
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is why there are variations in the moon, but no variations in the sun. There is no
crescent sun. The sun is eclipsed occasionally, but there is no other change
because the sun is self-shining unlike the moon. Similarly, the electricity shines
and the bulb shines after it. The bulb is not self-effulgent; it can only shine when
it has the grace of electricity.
Nothing in the entire universe is self-shining, although we say that the sun
is self-shining for illustrative purposes. From a Vedantic standpoint, the sun is
also not self-shining. Does the sun always shine? For whom does the sun shine?
It shines for the sighted person. Is it not so? Does the sun shine for the blind
person? Does it shine for the sleeping person? The sun does not enter into my
dream world, or sleep world, or exist when I close my eyes. By definition, that
something is self-shining implies that it shines in all conditions and in all
situations without being dependent upon anything else. In fact, the sun shines
because my eyes illumine the sun. The sun does not shine for me when I close
my eyes in the waking state or in my dream or when I am sleeping; you can say
my eyes illumine the sun. The eyes are also not self-effulgent. It is the mind that
illumines the eyes. When the mind is not behind the eyes, the eyes cannot
perform their function. Often, even though something is present right in front of
me, I don’t see it. I don’t see what I am looking at when my mind does not direct
my eyes to see it. I am not attentive then. Our eyes cannot perform the action
of seeing if they are not backed by the mind. We can say that the eyes shine
because the mind shines. However, the mind is also not self-effulgent. The mind
can shine only when it is illumined by Awareness, when it is illumined by the
Self. The mind shines in the light of Consciousness, Awareness, or the Self.
In the example of the sun and the moon, the world shines at night because
the moon shines; the moon shines because the sun shines; the sun shines because
it is self-effulgent. In truth, the sun shines because my eyes shine; the eyes shine
because the mind shines; the mind shines because the Self or the Consciousness
shines. What causes the Self to shine? The Self shines because it is its nature to
shine, the Self cannot but shine. It shines effortlessly. It is cit, self-shining.
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tameva bhäntamanubhäti sarvaà tasya bhäsä sarvamidaà vibhäti
Everything shines after him who alone shines. By his light all this
shines variously.
The ‘I’ is ever shining; it is self-effulgent. When it is pitch dark and I ask you,
“Are you there?” You say, “Yes I am here.” How do you say you are there? Do
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you see yourself? In order for you to determine your presence, you do not need
a flashlight. You do not need to think whether you are there or not. You don’t
need to think, touch, or see. You don’t need to do anything to know your own
presence. Is that not so?
The Self is sat
How do you know that you are? Is it because the sun is shining? Is it
because your mind is thinking? What is it because of which you know that ‘you
are’? You do not need anything to know that. That ‘I am’ is a self-revealing fact.
Therefore, the sense of ‘I am’ is cit, self-shining, and it is always there, sat. It
cannot be that the ‘I’ is not there at any point of time. During the waking state, I
am always saying, ‘I am’, ‘I am’. The ‘I am’ is always there behind all my
knowledge and cognition. Is it not so?
When I say I am a father, son, woman, tall, short, happy, unhappy,
speaker, or singer, the ‘I am’ is constant. This ‘I am’ informs all the roles just as
the actor informs all the roles, whether of a beggar, king, or minister. Even there,
‘I am’ informs all the roles. Can there be any time in the waking state when the
sense of ‘I am’ ceases to be? Is it possible for me to ever experience that ‘I am
not’? Sometimes I may get lost and not be present in a particular place and then I
am not there. However, I am there at some place. Whether lost or not lost,
happy or unhappy, the reality of ‘I am’ can never be denied. Even for me to be
lost, the fact is I have to be there to begin with. For me to meditate upon ‘I am
not’, I have to be there to begin with. Is it not so? The meditator must be there to
meditate upon anything; therefore, can you meditate upon ‘I am not’? The
experiencer can never be denied. The sense that ‘I am’ is constantly flowing as
the substratum of all of my thoughts and cognitions.
A similar experience exists even in a dream; I may have a different body, I
may be in a different world, and I may have a different experience, but that ‘I
am’ is an undeniable fact! How about the deep sleep state?
Can you say that you do not know anything in deep sleep and that maybe
you are not present in that state? If you are not present or did not exist in deep
sleep, who is it that wakes up in the morning? When you wake up in the
morning do you say that ‘I’, the one who was not there, have woken up? You
would say that ‘I’, who was there, have woken up! When you wake up in the
morning, do you think you have come from nowhere? Or do you know that the
‘I’ who went to sleep is the ‘I’ who has woken up? We all have the cognition
upon waking up that the ‘I’ who went to sleep is the same ‘I’ who has woken up!
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Sometimes we do wish that a whole new ‘I’ wakes up and this saàsära vanishes.
We all wish to start all over again! But no such luck; we are stuck with this ‘I’!
The one who wakes up is the one who went to sleep. I know this very well.
When I wake up in the morning, it is not that a previously non-existent ‘I’ comes
into existence. I do know that the ‘I’, who has always been, was sleeping and is
now awake. That shows that even in deep sleep, the ‘I’ remains present. It is a
continuous existence.
For example, the one who was here yesterday is sitting here again today.
Isn’t our recollection or recognition that the one who was sitting on the chair
yesterday is the one who is here again today? The ‘I am’ is always there; it is
never that ‘I am’ is not. Whether I am bad or good keeps on changing, and
where I am changes and what I am changes, but that I am never changes. ‘I am’
is ever present in all the three states of existence: waking, dream, and deep sleep.
Sat means that it is ever existent.
Why does the ‘I’ exist? The pot is because the clay is; when the clay is not,
the pot is not. The clay is because of its molecules; when the molecules are not,
the clay is not. The molecule is because of its atoms; when the atoms are not, the
molecule is not. The atom is because of its atomic particles. Similarly, every
effect exists because of its cause. This chain of cause and effect should end
somewhere. Where does it end? It ends in the Self. The Self is and therefore,
everything else is. There is no cause beyond the Self. This asking of why has to
come to end at some point; I am because I am.
The Self is änanda
The world is because I am, but I am because I am. ‘I am’ is cit, and ever
shining, and the nature of I is änanda, Happiness, Limitlessness, Wholeness, or
Completeness. This is where there can be lot of problems in our understanding.
We have no difficulty in understanding ‘I am’, sat. It is all clear that I am, I shine,
and I am self-effulgent, ever shining, cit. But how am I sukham or änanda,
Wholeness, Limitlessness, and Happiness?
Here, Çré Çaìkaräcärya says that the truth of my Self is sat cit sukham. At
dawn, he asks us to meditate upon the fact that I am sat cit änanda. However,
when I believe that I am not any of these how can I meditate upon what I am
not? Vedanta wants us always to be in the real world, never in the imaginary
world. We are always in the imaginary world and Vedanta wants us to drop all
these projections and be in the real world as it is.
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How can you say that the ‘I’ is happiness or limitlessness? My experience
is that this ‘I’ is anything but happiness! Look at how much sadness there is in
the world! Though Vedäntins repeatedly say that you are happiness, it does not
register in our minds at all. To illustrate this, another story is told. A person
who has been listening to Vedanta continuously for a month meets his teacher
and says, “Yesterday, I had an argument with my wife. She said that I am a fool!
How could she call me a fool? I could not sleep at all last night!” The teacher
says, “Look, for a month I have been saying to you that you are brahman day and
night, and that has had no effect on you. Now, your wife says once that you are
a fool and it has had so much effect on you!” Thus, when someone calls us
stupid, that seems to ring a bell, but when the teacher tells us that we are
brahman, that does not seem to register at all!!
Änando’ham, I am of the nature of Happiness. Let us briefly examine this
proposition. When am I happy? I am happy with that which I love. For some,
their pet is their best friend and makes them happy. Why? It is because the pet
is their source of happiness. Where is happiness? Where there is love, there is
happiness. Everyone loves happiness, is not that so? Nobody wants to be
unhappy. If I have my way, I would not like to be unhappy even for a moment.
There is a natural love for happiness. Nobody need teach me that I should be
happy because I am born with love for happiness. Pujya Swami Dayanandaji
used to tell us to offer the best flowers, clothes, food etc. when performing
mänasa püjä or mental püjä. Similarly, here, why not imagine that absolute
happiness is my true nature!
Whatever is an object of my happiness also becomes an object of my love.
I love other people and things conditionally: as long as they give happiness, so
long do they remain the object of my love. The moment they stop giving me
happiness, they are no longer an object of my love.
I love happiness. Naturally, therefore, I love that which is the source of
happiness or cause of happiness. That which I look upon as a source or cause of
happiness becomes an object of happiness. We love many things in this world
because we look upon them as a source of happiness. When my mind decides
that something is no more a source of happiness, my love for it also disappears.
My love for everything in the world is thus dependent upon how long the
person, situation, or object gives me happiness; otherwise, it ceases to be an
object of love. We are totally selfish.
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My love for my dearest object is also conditional. As long as that object
remains favorable or conducive to me, so long do I love it. For example, my love
changes when the child that I initially love starts talking back to me. Thus, my
love for anyone and anything is conditional. We all are calculating people. We
always look after our own well-being.
Yet, our love for one thing is unconditional. It is the love for our selves. I
love myself under all conditions. My love for everybody else is conditional in
that I love them as long as they help me in loving myself. My love affair with the
world goes on as long as the world helps me to love myself. The moment it
doesn’t help me, I don’t want it anywhere near me. I want distance, space from
the world. Thus, my love for myself is unconditional and my love for everything
else is conditional. Swami Dayanandaji points out that we all like to look at
ourselves all the time because of our unconditional love for ourselves. We even
like to look at the distorted reflection of ourselves on any reflecting surface, e.g.,
the surface of a car. We don’t miss the opportunity to look at ourselves. When
we all love our bodies so much, what to talk of our selves? We all know that the
body is not the Self, yet, we look upon it as the Self and therefore, it becomes an
object of unconditional love. Then, what about the Self, the true Self? I am the
object of unconditional love. Love and happiness always go together. That
which is an object of happiness is an object of love. I love myself unconditionally
and therefore, I am of the nature of unconditional happiness, sat cit sukham.
My mind needs to be made introverted to appreciate änanda
Ätmä, the Self, is of the nature of happiness because it is an object of
unconditional love. If the Self is of the nature of happiness, how is it that I don’t
experience it all the time? The Self is sat cit änanda; therefore, I am, I shine, and I
am complete. That I am, sat, is always experienced by me and that I am cit,
always shining, is also experienced by me. If änanda is my nature, why is it not
experienced by me?
In order to experience the sat and cit aspects of my nature, no particular
qualification or effort is needed, but to appreciate änanda, a specific effort is
needed; my mind should be directed to where the Self is shining. As long as my
mind is scattered or preoccupied with the objects of the world, I do not
experience änanda even though I am of the nature of Happiness. Therefore, my
mind needs to be made free from all its occupations and become introverted and
Self-centered, centered upon the Self.
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The extroverted nature of the mind is due to likes and dislikes
Why is it that my mind is running away? Why is it extroverted and
agitated? It is on account of the likes and dislikes in my mind. My likes and
dislikes or attachments and aversions are the cause of the distraction of my mind.
In fact, they pull my mind away from my Self and cause it to be drawn to the
objects of the world. When I like something, my mind thinks of that object.
Again, when I dislike something, my mind thinks of that object as well. It would
be nice if my mind could at least be free of the thoughts of what I dislike; but my
mind unfortunately keeps going back to the object of my dislike. Thus, my mind
is occupied with that which I like because I enjoy thinking about it and with that
which I don’t like because it doesn’t want to think about it. My mind wants to
get rid of it. This is how my likes and dislikes pull my mind away from the Self
and turn it towards the objects of the world. To contemplate on my Self, it is
necessary to make my mind free from likes and dislikes and attachments and
aversions through karma-yoga and upäsana.
Our deep sleep state shows the Self to be the source of all happiness
That the Self is of the nature of happiness can also be understood from
some other experiences. In the deep sleep state, I experience the freedom of the
happiness that is my own Self, I am totally free. Is it not that I am free from all
my complexes at that time? Is it not that I am free from all my constant demands
and expectations? Is it not that I am free from my self-consciousness at that
time? While awake, I am very conscious of myself and I want to be presentable,
e.g., my hair must be parted in the right manner, my glasses should be put on in
the right way etc.! It is such a huge burden. That is why the beauticians make a
lot of money! This is a burden I carry all the time in my waking state. This
burden continues in the dream state. I am free from this burden of self-
consciousness only in deep sleep.
When I am sleeping I don’t know where I am, how I look etc. You can
take as many photographs of me as you want; I’ll not resist, I’ll not object! In the
waking state I will sit properly, smile, and pose for a picture. Whereas, when I
am sleeping, it doesn’t matter; my hands and legs could be in any direction, my
hair could be messed up!! That means I am free from self-consciousness, all
complexes, the burden of being presentable, or the burden of proving myself. In
the deep sleep state, I experience total freedom! In fact, we feel total happiness in
the deep sleep state and that is why we all love to sleep. This love is the source
of happiness. Our natural love for sleep shows that happiness has to be there.
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Nobody complains about sleep because it is the most pleasurable thing.
Everybody looks forward to it. We all make meticulous preparation to go to
sleep: the bed has to be right, the sheets and the comforter have to be very
proper, etc. And we are very reluctant to finish this experience. When the alarm
goes off in the morning, we dislike it intensely. No one wants to give up the
experience of sleep. All this shows that we experience happiness in deep sleep.
What makes me happy in deep sleep? There is no object of happiness in
deep sleep that otherwise brings me happiness in the waking state. There is only
my Self; yet, I am happy. This shows that I am the source of that happiness. The
deep sleep experience also shows that freedom is my nature. Pujya Swami
Dayanandaji always points out that the moment of deep sleep is the moment of
happiness. This happiness does not arise from an object, but from your own Self.
Any object of happiness in the other two states is only an instrument; it merely
becomes a cause that directs me to my own Self and enables me to experience
that Self.
Whenever I am happy, it is the experience of my own Self. It is the only
source of happiness. There is no other source of happiness, even though I
believe that the different people and objects of the world make me happy. The
world only creates a condition in which I can experience my Self. It is when
something conducive or desirable happens that my mind becomes Self-centered,
and then, I experience my Self. Thus, when we analyze our experiences, it
becomes very clear that happiness is the nature of the Self.
One can meditate upon the happiness of one’s Self by recalling joyful
experiences
In the morning, therefore, I meditate upon myself; the happiness that I
am. How do you do that? Well, while meditating, you recall an experience of
happiness, e.g., getting an unexpected promotion in your job or visiting the
Grand Canyon. Recall such a moment where you were completely lost and
meditate on that moment. Remind yourself that it was not the promotion or the
Grand Canyon which brought you the happiness; it was yourself. You were
experiencing your Self at that time. The promotion or the Grand Canyon just
became an occasion to bring out your own Self. Whenever you are happy, the
object of happiness is merely an occasion or instrument, something incidental
that serves to bring you your own Self. Thus, one can meditate upon the
happiness of one’s own Self by recalling joyful experiences. Someday you see
the beauty of a rising sun or a full moon and all your anxieties and unhappiness
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go away. Or it could be a moment when you are lost in a poem, song etc.
Remind yourself that such moments bring out the true nature of your Self. The
worrying, anxious, sad, or unhappy self is not you.
The Self is the ultimate goal of those who can separate the Self from the non-
Self
Paramahaàsagatim. Gatim, the ultimate goal of the paramahaàsa, the seeker
or sannyäsi. If I am sat cit änanda, how is it that I don’t experience it? Is that
experienced only by paramahaàsas? One who has the ability to separate the Self
from the non-Self is called a paramahaàsa. Haàsa is a mythological swan, which
is said to separate milk from water. This swan is supposed to eat pearls at
Mänasarovar. It is a very beautiful kalpana that it separates milk from water.
Nobody can do this because milk and water are so intrinsically mixed; even
though they are two, they appear to be one. It is like the mixing of ätmä and
anätmä. For example, the iron ball that is placed in a furnace becomes so hot that
the fire totally pervades the iron. The iron then seems to acquire the quality of
the fire; it becomes red and hot. The fire also seems to acquire the quality of the
iron when it appears round. This is called mutual superimposition. The iron
and fire become so identified with each other that each seems to take on the
attribute of the other. Where there are two, there appears to be one. What one
needs to do is to separate the iron from the fire. The red color and the heat
belong to the fire, while the round shape belongs to the iron. This kind of
separation is called viveka, discernment or discrimination, and it should take
place in our minds. Ätmä, the Self or Consciousness, and anätmä, the non-Self or
the body-mind-intellect complex, are so intimately identified with each other that
you cannot separate the two. That is why where there are two things, there is a
bhrama, an illusion, of there being only one. Thus, what I call ‘I’, the ego, is, in
fact, made of two: the Self and the non-Self, the puruña and prakriti,
Consciousness and matter. This delusion of seeing one where there are two is
the cause of all our complexes and problems. The haàsa or swan is believed to be
able to separate milk from water. Similarly, a paramahaàsa is one whose mind is
subtle and can discriminate between the Self and the non-Self, dåçyate tvagryayä
buddhyä sükñmayä sükñmadarçibhiù [Kaöhopaniñad, 1-3-12], ‘however, he is seen by
the people of subtle vision with a sharp, subtle intellect’.
The Self merely witnesses the three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep
Turéyam is the fourth state. It is the fourth with reference to the three other
states that are witnessed: jägarat or the waking state, svapna or the dream state,
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and suñupta or the deep sleep state. Yatsvapnajägarasuñuptamavaiti nityam, that
which always witnesses the dream, waking, and deep sleep stages. Yat nityam
avaiti, it is that which always witnesses.
We go through these three states everyday. Who is it that goes through
these experiences? It is the one who experiences the waking, dream, and deep
sleep states. Is the one who experiences the waking state the same person who
experiences the dream state? In other words, when you dream, do you
remember the waking state? You may be a physician or an attorney in the
waking state, but you may potentially be an entirely different person in your
dream. You may have had a delicious dinner just before going to sleep; yet, you
could be hungry in your dream! Thus, the stomach of the waker may be full, but
the dreamer may experience hunger. Therefore, is it not that the waker is a
totally different person from the dreamer?
The dream appears to be very real during the experience of the dream.
While dreaming, nobody says that the dream is a projection of his or her mind. If
someone hurts you or praises you, you do experience unhappiness or happiness.
Only when you wake up are you wise, not when you are dreaming! Thus, when
the dreamer comes, the waker goes away. You do not remember any part of the
waker at all in your dream. This is akin to the complete disappearance of the
beggar-actor when the actor plays the role of a king. When the same actor
performs the roles of a beggar, king, and minister, each of these three roles
excludes the other. When the king appears, the beggar is gone; when the
minister appears, the king and the beggar are gone, and when the beggar
appears, the king and the minister are gone. Similarly, when I go into the deep
sleep state, there is neither the dreamer nor the waker. When I wake up there is
no dreamer or sleeper either. Now, I know myself as the waker, dreamer, and
sleeper.
Turéyam ätmatatvam. While the roles of king, beggar, and minister exclude
one another, is there someone who is not excluded or displaced? Is it not the
actor? To illustrate with a different example, a bangle is different from an
earring or a chain. When I think of the bangle, I don’t think of the earring or the
chain; when I think of the chain, I don’t think of the other two. Thus, each one
excludes the other two. All these cannot exclude one thing however: the gold.
The bangle can declare it is not the earring or the chain, but it cannot say that it is
not gold. The bangle cannot be without gold. That which cannot be excluded in
all these mutually exclusive and changing roles or states is the gold. In Vedantic
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terms, the bangle or earring is superimposed upon the gold. Is the bangle an
entity different from the gold? Is it independent of the gold? No; if you remove
the gold, nothing remains. Whereas the gold can be without the bangle, the
bangle cannot be without the gold. That is why the bangle can be replaced by
other names and forms such as an earring or necklace. Each name and form
displaces other names and forms, but its content cannot be displaced. Gold is the
content of the bangle, earrings, necklace, etc. It can be called the adhistäna or
substratum upon which all the names and forms are superimposed.
The separation of the substratum or satyam from the superimposition or
mithyä has to take place in the mind
The substratum cannot be displaced; only the superimposition can be
displaced. In Vedantic terms, gold is called satyam and the bangle is mithyä.
Mithyä is incidental; it comes and goes. When a bangle is melted down, it can
take another form, e.g., an earring, chain or necklace. Names and forms are
subject to being displaced or changed; they are limited because they are
incidental. Therefore, what is inherent in the ornament? The gold is inherent.
For example, a crystal is inherently colorless and transparent, whereas the colors
it acquires, red or yellow, are incidental. You should know the difference
between the inherent and the incidental. The inherent is called satyam and the
incidental is called mithyä. The inherent is called the substratum and the
incidental is called the superimposition. Similarly, the actor is the substratum
and his roles are but incidental.
We find the combination of satyam and mithyä everywhere and that is the
cause of confusion. Satyam never appears by itself; it always puts on the costume
of mithyä. Without mithyä, we can’t see satyam. For example, gold always comes
with a name and form, just as the actor typically appears in a role. That is why
viveka is required. When you look at the beggar on the stage, the separation takes
place in your mind. The beggar is only a costume. The separation of the
substratum from the superimposition has to take place in our minds.
The waker, dreamer, and sleeper are like the roles of beggar, king, and
minister. Are they three? Suppose you have to order a cup of tea, would you
order a separate cup each for the beggar, king, and minister? Even though they
appear to be three entities, there is only one. The actor is called the fourth!
However, there are not four people, but only one person. As long as we think
that they are independent entities, the teacher points out the actor as the fourth
one; the one who is in and through all the three roles. There is only one; the
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other three are only appearances. Is the fourth one affected by the other three?
No. The virtues and vices of the roles do not touch him. The fourth is unaffected
by the three roles. While supporting the three, he remains independent of them.
Those three cannot exist without him, but he can exist without the three roles.
The dependence of the roles upon the actor is mithyä and the independence of the
actor from the roles is satyam.
Thus, there is really one, not three. There is someone who acts as a waker
by identifying with the gross body; he acts as a dreamer when he identifies with
the subtle body, and acts as a sleeper when he identifies with the causal body. Is
he free of these three bodies and states? He is independent of them. He supports
all of them. He is the substratum of each and is not limited by them at all! He is
one who witnesses and illumines all the three states. Why do we call him a
witness? A witness is always different from that which is witnessed. The seer is
always different from what he sees. A knower is different from what he knows.
The Self is the seer, knower, witness, and illuminator of the waker, dreamer, and
sleeper. That is, he is different from all of them, independent of all of them, and
unaffected by all of them. He is like the actor who goes through different
costumes without being affected by them.
Witnessing is not an act and the Self, in simply being, illumines the three
states
Nityam avaiti, he always witnesses. To illumine or shine is his nature.
Witnessing is not an act. We commonly say the sun shines, illumines the whole
world, etc. Illumine is a verb, and a verb always denotes an action. In Sanskrit,
it is called a kriya-pada; kriya is action and pada is verb. When I say I am eating
the food, it means I am performing the action of eating. Similarly, when we say
that the sun illumines the world, it means that the sun performs the act of
illuminating the world. But does the sun have to ’do’ something to illumine the
world? All the sun has to do is shine; illumination takes place. Although we use
the word illumination, no action is actually involved. The sun, simply in being
the sun, illumines the whole world. Similarly, the Self, in simply being,
witnesses or illumines the waking, dream, and deep sleep states. Therefore,
avaiti, he witnesses. Even in using the word witness, we are assigning some kind
of an action to the Self, some kind of a role. However, he is not a witness. All
that is said is that the waking, dream and deep sleep states shine in his light.
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I am neither the gross nor the subtle body
Tadbrahma niñkalamaham. Tadbrahma aham, that limitlessness, I am.
brahman means limitless in the sense of bigness, growth. I am that brahman,
which is unqualified or limitless. If I am limitless, what am I not? I am nothing
else but limitless. What am I not then? Na ca bhütasaìghaù. Bhüta is elements,
saìghaù is an aggregate. I am not an aggregate of elements, e.g., space, air, fire,
water, and earth that make up this body. The gross and subtle states are made
up of the five elements. Our subtle body is an aggregate of the subtle
components of the five elements, while our gross body is an aggregate of the
gross components of the five elements. When it is said here that I am not the
aggregate of the five elements, it means that I am neither the gross nor the subtle
body. I am not anätmä. I am the one who is the witness or illuminator, the one
who imparts this existence. I am that brahman.
Niñkalam. Kala means part and therefore, niñkalam is part-less, undivided,
or whole. I am not a part of brahman. I am not a part of God. Who am I? I am
the whole, undivided aspect of God.
This is what Çré Çaìkaräcärya asks us to meditate upon at dawn. The first
verse, thus, declares that I am sat cit änanda. I am the sat cit sukham, Existence,
Awareness, and Happiness. I am not this not this gross body, the physical body;
neither am I the subtle body, the mind. I am the witness, the illuminator of the
gross and subtle bodies
1
.

1
Transcribed by Richa Choudhry and edited by Krishnakumar (KK) S. Davey and Jayshree
Ramakrishnan.
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Satsang with Sri Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati
PRATAÙ SMARAËAM
3 of 5
2
The nature of the Self is further explained in the second verse.
9l6¬=l|P P+Bl 4¬BlP¬¹4 4l¬l |4¬l|-6 |+|G¬l 4(+¤(T·
4 +|6 +|6 4¬|+|+¬Pl H4l¬- 6 (4(4P=P¬46Pl¸¹¤«P¸+
prätarbhajämi manasä vacasämagamyaà väco vibhänti nikhilä yadanugraheëa,
yaà neti neti vacanirnigamä avocuù taà devadevamajamacyutamähuragryam.
Early morning, I worship him in the mind who cannot be conceived
by speech, by whose blessing all the words are manifest and whom
the Vedas described by the words ‘not this, not this’. That one, they
say, is the foremost, the Lord of the deities, the unborn and
changeless.
The first verse begins with the word prätassmarämi, at dawn I remember,
whereas the second verse begins with prätarbhajämi, at dawn I worship. What
does worship mean here? This is a different kind of worship. This is not the
conventional worship involving the separation or duality between the
worshipper and the worshipped. Normally, when I say I worship the Lord, there
is a separation between the Lord, the worshipped, and me, the worshipper.
When Çré Çaìkaräcärya says prätarbhajämi, it does not mean I worship the Self as
someone who stands apart from the Self. I worship the Self as my own Self.
Here, worship means identification.
Ultimately, we become what we worship
Worship always involves identification. When you worship someone or
something, there is identification. You dwell upon the object of worship. For
example, when you worship your teacher, you always think of him very fondly,
with reverence, respect, and love. If the worship is very intense, we find that in
course of time, the worshipper slowly starts identifying and imbibing the
qualities of that which is worshipped. For instance, there are many worshippers
of Lord Hanumän who imbibe his qualities. We also observe that when a child
adores a parent, he or she starts talking and acting in the same manner as the
parent. This happens due to identification. This is the whole idea of upäsana;
you ultimately become what you are worshipping.
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What is the culmination of worship? Lord Krishna says, “Those who
worship a devatä become that devatä, and those who worship Me become Me.”
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yänti devavratä devänpitènyänti pitåvratäù,
bhütäni yänti bhütejyä yänti madyäjino'pi mäm.
Those who are committed to the gods reach the world of the gods.
Those who are committed to the manes reach the plane of the manes.
Those who worship spirits go to the realm of the spirits. Whereas
those who worship Me, reach Me [Bhagavad Gita, 9-25].
We become what we worship. What we are today is the result of what we
worshipped in the past. We cannot change that. But we can change what we
want to be in the future. What shall we be in the future? We shall become what
we worship today.
Lord Krishna says,
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yaà yaà väpi smaranbhävaà tyajatyante kalevaram,
taà tamevaiti kaunteya sadä tadbhävabhävitaù.
And also, at the time of death, giving up the body, whatever he
remembers, that alone he reaches, O son of Kunti, being always in the
same state [Bhagavad Gita, 8-6].
With whatever thought the jéva departs at the time of death, that is what he
becomes. Thus, we become what we are thinking. It is a very serious matter.
Meditation or worship implies deliberately planting a certain desirable flow
of thought
We cannot get away by simply entertaining a thought and thinking that
no one else in the world knows about it. Every thought that occurs has an
impact. If you repeatedly entertain a particular thought, your mind gets
influenced by it totally. It assumes that form and slowly becomes that! That is
the nature of the mind. It can be molded into any form like wax. That is the idea
behind upäsana, meditation. If I think of flying all the time, I might become a
bird. If I keep entertaining business thoughts, I become a business person.
www.AVGsatsang.org 3
Meditation is deliberately planting a certain desirable thought flow in my mind.
I decide what I want to think; I do not let my mind decide that. I control my
mind by chanting ‘Räma, Räma’. I want to think about nothing else. That is the
principle of worshipping. It is a becoming.
The Self is beyond the reach of words, the sense organs, and the mind
In what way do I worship the Self? Here, worship is owning up to what I
am. Normally, what I worship is something that I visualize in my mind. Can I
visualize the Self in my mind? Çré Çaìkaräcärya says, manasä vacasämagamyam.
Agamyam is that which cannot be reached or that which is out of reach. Manasä
vacasämagamyam is that which is not within the reach of the mind and speech or
word.
This powerful idea is contained in many of the scriptures. For example,
the Self is described elsewhere as yato väco nivartante, apräpya manasä saha
[Taittiréyopaniñad, 2-4], that from which speech returns along with the mind
without reaching. The Self is beyond the reach of the word; you cannot describe
it in words, nor can you visualize it in your mind. In the Kenopaniñad [1-3], the
Self is described as na tatra cakçurgacchati na väggacchati no manaù, that where the
eyes do not objectify that (brahman); the organ of speech does not objectify (that
brahman); the mind does not (objectify that brahman). The Self is beyond the
reach of the eyes, words, speech, or the mind. The eye stands for all the organs
of perception, therefore, the Self cannot be perceived by any of the organs of the
perception. Thus, all the conventional means of understanding an object have
been denied. Usually, we can understand a thing by either of two means: when
somebody describes it to us, or when we can perceive it through our organs of
perception. If we can then visualize it in our mind, we can say we know it.
Thus, to feel that I know something, I should be able to visualize it in my mind or
perceive it through my sense organs or describe it in words. However, the Self
that I am worshipping at dawn cannot be described in words, visualized, or
perceived through the sense organs. It is beyond the reach of words, the sense
organs, and the mind.
Manasä vacasämagamyam. Here, speech stands for all the organs of action
and all the organs of perception. The Self is beyond the reach of the organs of
perception, the organs of action, and the mind. That is, the Self cannot be
objectified by the organs of perception. Our organs of perception are equipped
to perceive only the objects of the world, the non-Self. The Self is the illuminator
of the organs of perception. This question is asked in the Kenopaniñad [1-1]:
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T+|96l 4l¬|PPl 4(|-6 ¬1H- ~l× T 7 (4l 4+|±+ {+
keneñitaà patati preñitaà manaù kena präëaù prathamaù praiti yuktaù,
keneñitäà väcamimäà vadanti cakçuù çrotraà ka u devo yunakti.
Willed by whom does the mind fall (on objects as though) it is forced?
Directed by whom does the main Präëa function? Willed by whom do
(the people) speak these words? Which effulgent principle, indeed,
directs the eyes and ears?
In this kärya-kärana-sanghäta or the body-mind complex, we find that the
organs of perception and action, and the mind go about doing their respective
jobs. We do know that the organs of perception, the organs of action, and the
mind are nothing but products of matter. They are all inert; yet, they seem to
function as though they are conscious entities. There must be a conscious
principle, which imparts consciousness to them. For example, when we see a
rotating fan, the question may arise as to what makes it rotate? The question
arises because we don’t see anything that is moving the fan; we do know that the
fan cannot move by itself. There is something, which makes a fan rotate or a
bulb glow. It is electricity. Similarly, what is that principle, which makes our
organs of perception and action, and the mind function? The teacher says,
çrotrasya çrotraà manaso mano yad väco ha väcam [Kenopaniñad, 1-2], it is the ear of
the ear, the mind of the mind, and the speech of speech. This statement does not
mean that there is an ear in the ear, but that there is something because of which
the ears are able to perceive sound. What is it that imparts to the ear, the
capacity to perceive sound? What is it that imparts to the eyes, their capacity to
see form and color? They would not have the capacity by themselves. They are
inert and yet, they perform their actions as though they are conscious entities.
Therefore, the teacher says that it is the Consciousness, the Self, because of which
the eyes see, the ears hear, the mind thinks, and Präëa or the vital airs also
perform their actions. The idea is that the organs of perception are able to
function, and perceive objects only because of the Self and therefore, cannot
objectify the Self.
For example, a bulb illumines the various objects such as pots and
furniture in a room. The furniture, which itself is being illumined by the bulb,
cannot illumine the bulb. The objects of the world, which are illumined by the
sun, cannot illumine the sun. That which is illumined is inert; that which
illumines is conscious. Therefore, the inert cannot illumine the conscious. The
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eyes have the capacity to illumine the objects of the world, but have no capacity
to illumine the Self. We are able to illumine objects because of the Self.
Therefore, it is said that ätmä, the Consciousness, is beyond the reach of the
organs of perception. The organs of perception can only illumine the inert
objects of the world. The Consciousness is self-effulgent and self-shining and
therefore, does not require the organs of perception to be illumined. It does not
require to be grasped by the organs of action and does not require to be
visualized by the mind.
When we meditate on something, we typically try to visualize it in our
minds. Thus, when we attempt to meditate upon the Self, the tendency is to
visualize it in the mind. Here, it is said that we cannot visualize it in our minds,
describe in words, or perceive it through our sense organs. This is told to either
frustrate us or calm us down. We are told, ‘It cannot be described by words;
don’t attempt to do so, calm down. It cannot be objectified by the sense organs;
let them stay where they are and stop objectifying. It cannot be visualized by the
mind; let the mind stop trying to visualize it.’ The sense organs, mind, and
words can only function in the realm of the non-Self. What can my eyes see?
With my eyes, I can only see that which is other than me! For example, what can
my eyes see through a telescope? Only something that is other than me! Can I
see my eyes through a telescope? Can my eyes see themselves through the
telescope, which is itself the means of seeing? Similarly, through a small hole in
a door, I can see whoever is on the other side. It is, however, not possible for me
to see my own eyes through that hole. Can it be possible that the seer can see
himself through the means of seeing? No. You cannot simultaneously be the
seer and the seen. I simply cannot visualize myself. I am the one who visualizes;
the seer.
In this meditation, I am trying to visualize ätmä. What am I trying to do?
I am trying to create a split in my own Self: on the one hand, I am the one who
visualizes, and on the other hand, I am trying to visualize myself. But I cannot
do so. I have to stop the activity of describing through words, and objectifying
with the sense organs, or with the mind. Let all these activities stop. Relax.
Calm down. Just be. You don’t need to experience yourself. You are of the
nature of the very experience. You are self-shining; you don’t have to become
something. I am worshipping that which is beyond the reach of the mind, the
faculty of speech, and perception. I am worshipping my own Self.
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The non-Self is able to reveal objects only due to the presence of the Self
Väco vibhänti nikhilä yadanugraheëa. Yadanugraheëa, by whose grace, nikhilä
väco vibhänti, all these words manifest, is speech also manifest. What makes
speech function? Again, the Kenopaniñad [1-5], says,
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yadväcä'nabhyuditaà yena vägabhyudyate,
tadeva brahma tvaà viddhi nedaà yadidamupäsate.
“Brahman is that very (consciousness) which one does not know with
the mind and by which (consciousness), they say, the mind is known”
– (Thus) you understand. This (deity), which (people) meditate upon,
is not (brahman).
Speech reveals words, and through words, speech reveals various objects and
ideas. The Self is that which cannot be revealed by speech, but that because of
which speech reveals. It is that which cannot be seen by the eye, but because of
which the eyes see. It is that which cannot be thought of by the mind, but
because of which the mind thinks. The mind does not have the capacity to think
on its own; it is only because of the grace of the consciousness imparted by the
Self that the mind is able to think. It is due to grace of the consciousness
imparted by the Self that the eyes, ears, and other organs of perception can
illumine objects. It is by the grace of the consciousness imparted by the Self that
the vital airs function. Therefore, the Self is beyond the reach of the non-Self.
The non-Self cannot illumine the Self; in addition, the non-Self is able to reveal
the objects only because of the presence of the Self.
Väco vibhänti nikhilä yadanugraheëa, by whose grace or in whose presence
nikhilä väca, all this speech, in fact, reveals the objects. That is, in His presence,
the mind, organs of perception, and organs of action function, but He is beyond
the reach of the mind, organs perception, and organs of action. This is said in
order to help us gain the knowledge of the Self. In order to gain knowledge of an
object, we use our organs of perception. When we see or hear, we feel or
experience, or when we visualize with our minds, we feel we know the object.
Thus, our knowledge is through our organs of perception and the mind.
To know a clock, which is in front of me, I require my eyes. The clock
does not have the capacity to reveal itself unless my eyes illumine it. The
furniture in a dark room does not have the capacity to reveal itself, unless it is
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illumined by a lamp. It is inert and needs another source to illumine it. So also,
the objects of the world are inert and require the organs of perception to illumine
them. The organs of perception require the light of the mind, which, in turn,
requires the light of Consciousness to illumine them. In Vedantic terminology,
all of these are inert, jada; that is, they require the light of Consciousness for their
revelation. But Consciousness itself, being self-effulgent and self illumining,
does not require the eyes and ears to illumine it. For example, in a dark room,
we require a lamp to illumine the furniture to know that the furniture is; the
furniture cannot make itself known. But we don’t need another lamp to know
that this lamp is; the lamp reveals itself. Similarly, we require the organs of
perception and the mind to know the objects of the world because they cannot
reveal themselves.
It is necessary to quieten the organs of perception and the mind to recognize
the Self even though the Self is self-effulgent
We all shine in the light of Consciousness, but do we need the mind to
reveal the Consciousness? No. Consciousness is self-shining. It does not require
the mind or the sense organs to reveal it. They shine because of the
Consciousness, while Consciousness shines in its own light. It shines and
everything shines after it. Therefore, the activity of the organs of perception
should be dropped in order to know the Self. Don’t try to ‘perceive’ the Self
because it is beyond the organs of perception. Don’t try to see the Self; don’t try
to touch the Self; don’t try to smell the Self, and don’t try to taste the Self. We
have a tendency to grasp all things through our organs of perception or action;
don’t try to do that. Don’t try to visualize with the mind because it is because of
‘that’ that the mind visualizes. When all the attempts on the part of the organs of
perception and mind are stopped, we recognize the Self, which always shines.
We recognize the Self as the self-shining Consciousness. In fact, It shines even as
the mind and the sense organs function. However, because of the clutter of
many things in the mind, we do not recognize it. To recognize the Self, it
becomes necessary to make our mind and organs of perception quiet. Therefore,
we try to make our sense organs quiet in meditation. In meditation, there is
nothing to be seen, heard, or touched. You tell the mind also to be quiet, with
nothing to be visualized or thought of. Then, what remains is the unadulterated
Consciousness, and that is what you are. You are that even when the mind is
functioning. It is not that the Consciousness becomes evident only when the
mind is not functioning. When the mind is functioning, we confuse the mind
with Consciousness. Therefore, it is necessary to quieten the organs of
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perception and the mind to recognize that Self or the Consciousness is self-
shining. Hence, the Self is said to be manasä vacasämagamyam, that which is
beyond the reach of the mind and the sense organs, and moreover, väco vibhänti
nikhilä yadanugraheëa, that by whose grace the mind and the sense organs
perform their functions. Then, how do the Upanishads teach of this Self?
The Upanishads describe the Self through a process of negation since It is
devoid of attributes and limitations
Yaà neti neti vacanirnigamä avocuù. Nigamä is the Vedas or Upanishads.
Avocuù means describes. The Upanishads describe the Self in terms of neti neti or
not this, not this. The Upanishads describe the Self through the process of
negation. That is, what you visualize is not the Self. The one who objectifies is
the Self, but not the object that is objectified. All the attributes and qualifications
are negated. The self or Consciousness is unqualified. It is free of all attributes
and limitations. The ultimate truth or the ultimate reality, which we may call
brahman, Self, ätmä, paramätmä, éçvara, Räma or Krishna, is devoid of all attributes
and limitations. An attribute automatically means a limitation; it excludes some
other attribute. For example, when we say a particular person is great, the
greatness, which is an attribute, implies that he is not little. Or, when we say that
a particular flower is red, we mean that it is not green or yellow; it limits the
flower to redness and excludes everything else. Any entity that posses an
attribute or qualification is limited because it is confined only to that and can be
nothing else. But the ultimate truth is that which cannot exclude anything.
Truth is that which includes everything. If God is in heaven, it means that
He is not on the earth. Different religious sects describe their gods as being in
different heavens. Some say that their god is in Vaikunta, while others say that
their god is in a place beyond Vaikunta. Almost everyone, except the Vedäntins,
talks about heavens. In India, most people are Dvaitins. The followers of Lord
Näräyaëa call their heavens Vaikunta; the followers of Lord Çiva call it Kailäsa,
and the followers of Lord Krishna call it Gokula. That is where their god is and
you will go there if you are devoted to that particular god. But the point is that if
Lord Krishna is confined to Gokula, he is not here on this earth. However
wonderful and divine that god is, as long as he is confined to a place, so long is
he not in any other place. That is why we say that nothing can be outside the
purview of God; otherwise, God becomes limited. In order for God or Truth to
be limitless, It must be all-inclusive. There can be nothing that can be apart from
the Truth or God. Even hell cannot be apart from God; neither can evil be
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independent of It. Therefore, we say that God is apart from both dharma and
adharma, virtue and vice. If God is only good, He is not bad; that means there is
something that is excluded from God and therefore, God becomes limited. We
say God is beyond both good and bad. He includes both and He is, yet, beyond
both, just as the actor plays both the beggar as well as the king, while he is
himself neither beggar nor king. Therefore, the actor pervades and also
transcends both roles. Therefore, the Truth is both immanent as well as
transcendent. In these verses, the teacher describes the Truth, which transcends
all limitations, attributes, and conditions.
The implied meaning of the words of the scriptures, not their literal meaning
describe the Self
A word can only describe that which is limited. Whatever word you use,
ätmä or brahman, it really cannot describe brahman because every word describes
a certain concept. A word is a sound symbol for describing a concept. When we
say ‘clock’, the clock is a concept. Similarly, the word ‘pot’ is a concept. The
concept is the form and the word is the name; they are the name and form. All
words describe concepts, which are limited. Thus, the words ‘God’, ‘ätmä’, or
‘brahman’ cannot really describe the Self.
What is ätmä? You could say that ätmä is the ‘I’. However, describing it as
‘I’ is also not sufficient because ‘I’ excludes ‘you’. When we say brahman is great,
we exclude that which is small. The description of one concept always excludes
another concept. Thus, the word ‘God’ cannot describe what we want to
describe. Nigamä avocuù, the scriptures talk about it. The scriptures say that God
is beyond words; yet, the scriptures consist of only words. The Upanishads say
that God or brahman is beyond words, and this statement itself is said in words.
If words can never describe the Truth or brahman, does it mean that we will never
know the Truth? Vedäntins say that the Truth or brahman cannot be the
väcyärtha, the literal meaning conveyed by words, but are the lakñyärtha, the
implied meaning of the words.
The words are like the pole used in a pole vault. The pole is used to vault
over a high bar, as high as eight or nine feet. One has to necessarily let go of the
pole to cross the bar. If one holds on to the pole, one will not be able to cross the
bar; on the other hand, if one does not use the pole, one will not be able to rise as
high as one needs to. The pole itself is used to transcend the pole. Similarly, in
describing brahman words are used to transcend words. If you use the words
properly, they will enable you to transcend the words. Therefore, the teachers
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communicate with us through the words and we have to understand their
lakñyärtha, not their väcyärtha.
Neti neti, it is not this, it is not this. What is negated is the väcyärtha, the
literal meaning of the words. All the attributes are negated in brahman. The Self
or ‘I’ is free from all attributes and qualifications. Everything in this world has
qualities. Is it not so? ‘I’, the knower is always different from the known. For
example, the knower of a pot is different from the pot. All attributes are known
to us. Therefore, ‘I’, the Self must be free of all the attributes because all
attributes are known to me.
Pujya Swami Dayanandaji tells this story of a person who once came to
him and complained, "I am restless, I am agitated." Swamiji said, "You are all
silence." "But Swamiji, I tell you I am restless and agitated." Swamiji told him
again that he was all silence. The person got more and more agitated as Swamiji
kept telling him that he was all silence. Finally, Swamiji asked him, "How do
you know you are agitated?" “I can see that my mind is agitated.” "Okay, your
mind may be agitated. Now, you are the knower of the agitation in your mind.
The knower is always different from the known. Therefore, as the one who
knows of the agitation in your mind, you are indeed free of the agitation.
Otherwise, you would not know of the agitation."
You can know the movement of a train, only when you are standing on a
platform that does not move. If you are in a moving train adjacent to another
train, which is also moving at the same speed, you will not see the movement of
your train. To notice a movement, you have to be free of the movement. To
notice an agitation, you should be free from that agitation. To notice a change,
you have to be apart from that change. To know an attribute, you have to be free
of that attribute. Therefore, who is the Self? Who is the ‘I’? What is
Consciousness? It is devoid of all limitations, attributes, qualifications, and
conditions. It is the one which illumines all the attributes, conditions, and
qualifications.
The scriptures reject the many ideas that arise in our minds: I am tall; neti,
you are not. I am fat; neti, you are not. I am short; neti, you are not. I am a
woman; neti, you are not. I am a man; neti, you are not. I am good; neti, you are
not. I am bad; neti, you are not. I am a doer; neti, you are not. I am a non-doer;
neti, you are not.
Each one of these qualifications is negated because each of these ideas
arises when we identify with one or the other aspect of our personalities. It is the
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body or mind, which performs various actions in identification with the ‘I am’.
When the body is not acting, I say I am not acting. But the Self is devoid of the
idea of acting; acting or not acting belongs only to the non-Self, matter. Not
doing anything is also an attribute of the body and the mind. The Self, ‘I’, is
beyond the idea of doing and not doing, right and wrong, good and evil, dharma
and adharma. The Self, which is beyond all pairs of opposites, is attribute-less. It
is self-shining; therefore, you don’t need the sense organs or mind to illumine the
Self. It is beyond all limitations, self-existing, self-shining, and because of which
everything is illumined. You don’t have to make any effort to reach, know, or
experience it. You are That. You don’t have to experience yourself because you
are. The question of experiencing comes only when there is something other than
you. You cannot be an object of your own experience. You don’t need to
experience because you are what you are trying to be. Just be; because that is
your nature.
Taà devadevamajamacyutamähuragryam. Deva means god, the shining one.
Devadevam is the God of gods, the illuminator of all shining ones. The sun is a
deva or devatä. Other devas include the moon, fire etc. Brahman is called devadeva,
the one who also illuminates all the devatäs, deities. The sun and the moon shine
in the light of the Consciousness; they are not self-effulgent. Ajam is birth-less,
and acyutam is changeless. Agryam is the foremost, the first one, the one who is
the cause the substratum; he is there even when nothing else is
1
.

1
Transcribed by Richa Choudhry and edited by Krishnakumar (KK) S. Davey and Jayshree
Ramakrishnan.
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Satsang with Sri Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati
PRATAÙ SMARAËAM
4 of 5
3
The first verse describes the Self as sat cit änanda, while the second verse
describes It as self-effulgent. In the third verse, the Self is described as the Self of
all.
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prätarnamämi tamasaù paramarkavarëaà pürëaà sanätanapadaà
puruñottamäkhyam, yasminnidaà jagadaçeñamaçeñamürttau rajjväà
bhujaìgama iva pratibhäsitaà vai.
Early in the morning, I bow to the limitless, that which is beyond
darkness, which has the lustre of the sun, which is the changeless
support known as the supreme being, in whose limitless form the
entire universe has appeared like a snake upon a rope.
Prätarnamämi, early in the morning, I bow down to you, I salute you. We
bow down to one who is worthy of worship and reverence. When I stand erect, I
have a long shadow, and when I bow down, my shadow becomes shorter and
shorter; when I fall flat, and there is no shadow at all. Bowing down is a symbol
of falling flat at the feet of the Lord, the revered one. Falling flat means that I am
not there, only the Lord is there. The ultimate limit of salutation is that I, who
am saluting, am not there; only you, whom I salute, are there. The ultimate
meaning of namaskära is non-duality. I completely erase my ego and become one
with you. It is like a river merging into the ocean. The river bows down to the
ocean. That is, the name and form of the river is given up. The river is no more a
river. One may think that the river is completely destroyed when it merges with
the ocean. Yet, in doing that, the river only gives up its limitation of ‘riverness’.
It is now a limitless ocean, boundless. By giving up its boundaries, it becomes
boundless. It is not that the river has become the ocean; the river does not have
to physically merge into an ocean to realize its true nature. What is a river? It is
only water. It becomes a river by identifying with a name and form. An ocean is
also water. When the river recognizes that it is water, it is liberated. The river’s
merging into the ocean means that it loses its ‘riverness’ and ‘becomes’ the ocean.
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Prätarnamämi, early in the morning I bow down, I salute the Lord, the Self.
Even the ego doesn’t remain; there is only the Self. The duality is completely
dropped and that is what is meant by namämi.
Tamasaù paramarkavarëam. Tamas means darkness. Param is beyond.
Tamasaù param is that which is beyond the darkness. Arkavarnam means of the
luster of the sun, the self-shining sun. It is another way of enabling us to see the
nature of ourselves. Darkness, here, stands for ignorance. The Self is beyond the
darkness of ignorance, meaning that which even illumines ignorance. The Self or
Consciousness illumines ignorance. Both ignorance and knowledge are states of
the mind. Therefore, we are also aware of our ignorance. For example, you
know that you do not know the Chinese language. Your awareness of your own
ignorance is also illumined by the Self; then alone can you know it. That which
illumines ignorance is beyond ignorance. Ignorance is also mithyä. The Self is
like the sun in that it is self-shining, self-illumining, or self-effulgent. It is thus
beyond the darkness of ignorance, and even illumines ignorance.
Pürëaà sanätanapadaà puruñottamäkhyam. Pürëam is that which is
limitless; it is filled from all sides like an ocean. Pru is to fill, fill completely.
Sanätanapadam. Sanätana means that which is beyond the limits of time; it is all-
inclusive, beyond the limitations of space. Puruñottamäkhyam is ‘known as the
supreme being’. Puruñottama is the most exalted person or important being.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita [15-16] that there are two kinds of
puruñas: kñara, changing, or the effect and akñara, changeless, or the cause.
Puruñottama is beyond cause and effect.
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dvävimau puruñau loke kñaraçcäkñara eva ca,
kñaraù sarväëi bhütäni küöastho'kñara ucyate.
These two persons (exist) in the world, the perishable and the
imperishable. All beings and elements are called the perishable, the
changeless (is called) the imperishable.
Now, Çré Çaìkaräcärya says a very interesting thing in the last line,
yasminnidaà jagadaçeñamaçeñamürttau rajjväà bhujaìgama iva pratibhäsitaà vai.
Yasmin, in whom; idam jagat, this entire universe; açeñamürttau, in the limitless
form, rajjväà in a rope; bhujaìgam, like a snake; pratibhäsitaà vai, has appeared
indeed.
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Creation is indescribable
What does Vedanta say about creation? Vedanta accepts the creation to be
like the creation of a snake on a rope. A rope is mistaken to be a snake because of
the ignorance of the rope. This ignorance gives rise to the delusion that it is a
snake, or causes the projection of a snake where there is a rope. So is there a
snake or not? If there is no snake, how do you see it? The person who suffers
from the delusion of the snake does indeed see a snake. He has palpitations and
high blood pressure, and is frightened by the snake. A non-existent snake cannot
create all these effects in a person. If there is no snake, it will not be perceived.
On the other hand, if there were a snake, it would not disappear when you throw
light upon it. A Vedäntin would neither say that the snake is, nor that the snake
is not. It is anirvacaniyam, indescribable. There are only two categories: is and is
not; there cannot be a third category. The snake does not fall into any category.
This is the nature of the creation. Just as a snake is created out of a rope, so also
is the universe created from brahman. It is mithyä, unreal. Can you tell me where
the snake is? Is it in the mind? If it were in my mind, the snake should be
wherever my mind is. But it is not so. If the snake is not in my mind, is it in the
rope? If the snake were in the rope, the snake should be wherever the rope is.
Even upon shining light on the rope, the snake should be there; but, it is not.
Thus, the snake cannot be said to be either in the rope or my mind. It is
anirvacaniyam.
Every object in the world has asti, bhäti, priyam, näma, and rüpa
Bhuja means arm; a snake moves on it arms, not on its feet, and that is
why it is called bhuja. Just as a snake appears on the rope, so also, the whole
universe appears in brahman, the Self. What is this universe? It is all the names
and forms. For example, what is a clock? A clock has a name, näma, and a
corresponding form, rüpa; it is, asti; it shines, bhäti, and it is useful, priyam, dear.
Thus, a clock has all five aspects in it: asti, bhäti, priyam, näma, and rüpa. I speak
of a clock because I am aware of it. It shines in my awareness, and it is dear to
me because it is useful to me. Every object in the world has asti, bhäti, priyam,
näma, and rüpa. What separates one object from another is the name and form.
Asti bhäti priyam is the most common denomination. For example, both a bangle
and an earring have the common denominator of gold. We can say that gold
appears as various ornaments: a bangle, an earring, a chain etc. Similarly, asti
bhäti priyam, which is the real content, appears as the different names and forms.
An ornament is gold plus a name and form. Similarly, an object is asti bhäti
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priyam plus a name and form. Just as gold appears as various ornaments, so also,
asti bhäti priyam, sat cit änanda, the Self, or brahman appears as this whole universe
of names and forms. Just as a rope shines as a snake, so also, brahman, asti bhäti
priyam, or sat cit änanda appears or shines as the entire universe of names and
forms.
We should change our focus from näma and rüpa to the fact of asti bhäti
priyam
Yasmin, in whom, açeñam jagat, this entire universe, has appeared. The
entire universe can be reduced to names and forms. This universe of names and
forms is nothing but the manifestation of asti bhäti priyam or sat cit änanda. In the
Éçväsyopaniñad, the first väkya is éçä väsyamidað sarvaà yatkiïca jagatyäà jagat,
whatever is moving or changing, every name and form should be known as
éçvara. This is the Lord, brahman, asti bhäti priyam, or sat cit änanda. That is all that
counts! What counts in an ornament? It is the gold. An earring, bangle, chain,
or any ornament is but gold. All we need to do is change the focus of attention
from the name and form to the gold. Similarly, all we have to do in this world is
to change our focus from the name and form to the fact of asti bhäti priyam. Asti
bhäti priyam is not out there; it is one’s own Self. The whole universe of names
and forms is superimposed upon the ‘I’. It is the ‘I’, the Self, sat cit änanda, which
shines in the varied multitude of names and forms in this universe.
I bow down early in the morning to that Lord who is pürëam, Whole and
Complete, sanätanapadam, the eternal abode, and puruñottamäkhyam, known as
puruñottama in the scriptures. Prätassmarämi, I remember, prätarbhajämi, I
worship, and prätarnamämi, I bow down, I salute
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Transcribed by Richa Choudhry and edited by Krishnakumar (KK) S. Davey and Jayshree
Ramakrishnan.
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Satsang with Sri Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati
PRATAÙ SMARAËAM
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Summary
This is a stotra or hymn consisting of three verses to be meditated upon at dawn.
These verses are an excellent means of meditation if one can remember them
along with their meaning. They are useful for meditating upon the truth of one’s
own Self and to remind ourselves of who we truly are.
It is a good idea to set aside sometime everyday, to step out of all our roles
and duties. All our costumes are given up during this period of meditation. An
actor can perform his role properly only when he is aware of his true nature.
Even when he is acting as a beggar, there is an awareness of who he truly is in
his mind. He doesn’t get lost in his role; if he were to get lost in his role, he
would not be able to act properly. That is the real skill of an actor. Only when
he remembers his true identity in his own mind, can he create a distance between
himself and his role. Only then can he perform his role effectively. Therefore,
we reflect upon these verses in the morning and remind ourselves of our
essential nature.
We get into a rut; we get sucked into this vyavahära of likes and dislikes,
and soon, we are entangled in them. However, we need to be clear of this
vyavahära even while remaining in it. Like the actor who really does not beg
even while begging, we should be able to perform our duties without really
getting affected by them. What happens when the distance between the actor
and the role is not maintained is that the problems of the roles become the
problems of the actor. Therefore, it is necessary to create a distance between the
actor and the role.
These verses help us create a distance between ourselves as actors, and the
roles that we are required to play. When I create the distance, I accept all the
various roles, whether of a daughter, or mother, wife, mother-in-law, or
grandmother. I see that I am separate from all of these roles, free from all their
attributes, and untouched by them. Just as an actor remains untouched by all the
problems pertaining to the roles he plays, so also can I remain untouched by the
problems of my roles, if I create that distance. This is the creation of a distance in
understanding, not a physical distance. It is not a distance where I see myself
standing in a corner, apart from myself. This distance lies in distinguishing
between the person and the personality; it lies in knowing that the person is
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working through the personality or the body-mind complex, which is the
costume given to me to perform various functions. If this distinction between the
person and the personality, the actor and the role, or the Self and the non-Self is
known and maintained, life becomes a play. If we do not maintain the distance,
it becomes saàsära. The only difference between a liberated soul and a saàsäré is
that one maintains the distance while the other doesn’t. Instead, he lumps the
Self or the person and the non-Self or the personality together. Where there are
two, there is a delusion of there being only one. That is why all the problems and
limitations of the personality become the problems and limitations of the person.
This stotra helps you create a distance. The verses help you in a time of
crisis. When you are crying, you can examine who is crying; when you are hurt,
you can ask who is hurt, and when you are insulted, ask who is insulted. It is the
body and the mind that is insulted. It is alright; you are none of that. You
should create a distance because it is true that you are not that.
You are none of the roles that you play. If you remained a mother or
father or a husband or wife, you would always be that. Instead, when one is the
father, he is not the son. When he is the son, he is not the father, and so on.
Therefore, all roles are relative and incidental; the essential you is different from
each of them. Do create a distance between the essential and the incidental. This
is the solution to all our sorrow. Solving all the vyavahärik problems is a different
matter; it is not the concern of the Vedäntin. There is nothing to be sad about.
When we create the distance, we have better composure of mind, and can solve
our problems more easily.
The last verse says that even the two categories of the Self and the non-Self
do not really exist. What you call as the non-Self, the creation, is nothing but the
Self shining as this universe. In the ultimate analysis, there are not two
categories. Even though we are asked to create a distance between the Self and
the non-Self, it is better to recognize that there is only the Self, only one, only
brahman, the Limitless. What does it matter what one wave does to the other
wave because you are not the wave at all; you are the water.
In the last verse, the difference between the Self the non-Self is ultimately
negated. The anätmä or the jagat is not separate from brahman. Brahman is
separate from the jagat, but the jagat is not separate from brahman. The actor is
separate from the beggar, but the beggar is not separate from the actor. The Self
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is separate from the non-Self, but the non-Self is not separate from the Self. This
is the most profound teaching of Vedanta
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Transcribed by Richa Choudhry and edited by Krishnakumar (KK) S. Davey and Jayshree
Ramakrishnan.