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Aparokshanubhuti by Adi Sankara: Advaita Vedanta in a Capsule

By T.N.Sethumadhavan July 2010


The truth affirmed by the Advaitins happens to be beyond the comprehension of the
ordinary mind, but the mind of man is not the measure of reality. - r.S.!adha"rishnan
Introduction
#ur ancient teachers have left behind a treasury of useful and convenient means of
understandin$ %edanta, the science of life, contained in the prasthana traya vi&. the
Bha$avad 'ita, the (panishads and the Brahma Sutras. #ne such stream of teachin$ is
throu$h their )or"s called prakiriya granthas. * Prakarana Grantha is a (ser+s ,anual
or a 'uide Boo" )hich e-plains in simple terms )ithout much of discussions and
elaborations, the $reat philosophical truths developed in a Sastra Grantha )hich bears
the stamp of authority. Some of the famous prakarana granthas are %ive"a .hudamani,
/ancha asi, *tma Bodha, Tatva Bodha, ri"-risya %ive"a, Sadhana /ancha"am,
%edanta Sara and so on.
Aparokshanubhuti is the one of such important prakriya granthas on *dvaita %edanta
)ritten by *di San"ara. 0t contains 111 verses or slokas. The central theme of the boo" is
the identity of the individual self )ith the (niversal Self. This identity is reali&ed throu$h
the removal of the i$norance that hides the truth, by the li$ht of vichara or en2uiry alone.
T34,4 #5 T34 T46T7
REMOVA O! I"#ORA#CE

$%RO&"% E#'&IR(

!OR REAI)I#" O&R I*E#$I$( +I$% ,RA%MA#


To those )ho have neither the time nor the opportunity to $o throu$h the $reat
commentaries on the (panishads or the classical )or"s of San"ara, this boo" )ill be an
incomparable assistant in their search for the spiritual truth and to understand the entire
*dvaita /hilosophy )ithin a short and simple compass.
The meanin$ of the )ord Aparokshanubhuti is as follo)s. Aks means eyes. para-aksa
means somebody+s eyes. 3ence Paroksa means throu$h the eyes of someone else or a
secondhand or a re-user in the modern terminolo$y. Aparoksa means 8not secondhand+
i.e. first hand or ori$inal or direct. Anubhuti means e-perience. Thus the very name of the
te-t indicates the e-perience of some thin$ directly by us and not throu$h somethin$ else
9indirect:. That e-perience is the "no)led$e of the Self, the Atman, the Brahman,
Purusha. 9*ll these italici&ed )ords are synonyms and not different.:
San"ara+s thesis7
Till )e develop the capacity to distin$uish bet)een Brahman and the thin$s that
)e see around us in this )orld, )e )ill continue to remain under the illusion that
our body is the *tman.
The phenomenal )orld is an illusion and )hat is beyond all such phenomena is
Brahman, the *bsolute Truth.
4-amine the reason for this illusion. 5ind out for yourself that i$norance or
*vidya or ,aya is the cause of such illusion.
!eali&e the identity of the individual self, *tman )ith the (niversal Self,
Brahman.
Then he prescribes fifteen steps to attain this Truth and cautions a$ainst ei$ht
impediments that )ill come in the )ay of achievin$ this $oal.
I-norance C%A.$ER /
*t present )e are over-po)ered by physical lon$in$s, emotional demands, intellectual
perversions and absence of discrimination, as a result of our total identification )ith
them. The aim is to $et liberated from these fetters and try to be a master of our body,
mind and intellect. This te-t $uides us in a scientific manner ho) to $o about this
stupendous tas".
Just li"e )e have e-aminations li"e .*T, *0444 etc )hich determine the minimum
standards re2uired of a student for pursuin$ hi$her levels of studies in the respective
fields, San"ara indicates here the four basic credentials re2uired of a student before he
embar"s on a study of Spiritual sub;ects.
These four credentials are 1. ispassion (airagya:, 2. iscrimination 9iveka!, <. Si-
treasures of discipline li"e the control of the mind 9shad sampatti: and 1. =earnin$ for
liberation from the bonda$e of i$norance 9mumuskhuta:. These basic 2ualifications are
called Sadhana "hatushtaya - the >uartet of /ractice. 3e is considered $ood for study of
the sub;ect of %edanta )ho has these 2ualifications.
#$ airagya
%aira$ya is the complete and constant detachment to all sense ob;ects of the )orld or of
heaven. * mind soa"ed in vaira$ya does not turn bac" to)ards sense ob;ects even
unconsciously. 4ven if it comes across sense ob;ects accidentally it ma"es a 2uic" retreat
from them as one detests the droppin$s of a cro). %aira$ya is such an attitude of mind.
%$ iveka
%ive"a or discrimination is the capacity to distin$uish bet)een nitya and anitya. #nly
*tman 9the seer: is permanent (nitya!. *ll others 9the seen: are impermanent (anitya!.
*tman by its very nature is .onsciousness )hich illumines all e-periences in every part
of time vi&. past, present and future. 0t is an 4ternal 0lluminator, a 21 6 ? Source of
/o)er Supply )ithout any load-sheddin$. But the ob;ects of the )orld )hich are
perceived by the *)areness or *tman throu$h the instruments of body, mind and intellect
are ever chan$in$ and impermanent. The *)areness 9*tman: is the perceiver, a )itness
or seer (drig! and the ob;ects of the )orld includin$ the sense or$ans, the mind and the
intellect 9buddhi: are the perceived or seen (drisyam!. The seen is finite and transient
)hile the seer is infinite, chan$eless and eternal. San"ara says that the one )ho has firm
conviction based on e-perience born out of contemplation and meditation that *tman, the
Self is eternal and all the rest is impermanent is said to have viveka 9discrimination:.
&$ Shad Sampatti
a: Sama and b:ama
/revious impressions that are lyin$ dormant in the mind as )ell as contact of the mind
)ith the e-ternal ob;ects $ive rise to desires. Ne$atin$ desires that al)ays crop up in our
minds is Sama )hile preventin$ the sense stimuli to enter our system is ama. Sama is
the control of desire that disturb the mind internally )hile ama is the restrainin$ of the
e-ternal ob;ects from castin$ their s)ay on the mind throu$h sense or$ans.
c! 'parati and d! (itiksha
The condition of the mind )here it does not run after sense ob;ects because of its
)ithdra)al from these fields is uparati. (parati differs from sama and dama in that )hile
practicin$ sama and dama there is an effort to restrain the mind+s out$oin$ propensities,
in uparati the e2uipoise of the mind becomes spontaneous and no further effort is needed
for e-pandin$ it. The capacity to endure silently the vicissitudes of life is titiksha$
e:Sraddha and f: Samadhana
To have full and implicit faith and devotion in the %edas and the )ords of the teachers
9)ho interpret them: is "no)n as Sraddha, The sin$le pointed concentration of the mind
constantly on the Truth, Sat) i.e. Brahman is re$arded as Samadhana.
*$ +umukshuta
5irm conviction and burnin$ desire 9a very hi$h motivation: to "no) about )hen and
ho) one can $et rid of the bonds of this )orld 9birth and death or liberation: is
+umukshuta.

The four sadhanas enumerated above are nothin$ but a course of personal discipline to
attain to that state of mind )hich )ill be capable of absorbin$ the teachin$s of a 'uru
and en2uire into the nature of the !eality. They are illustrated as under.
Sadhana .hatushtaya
%aira$ya %ive"a
Shad Sa0patti
@A@
,umu"shuta
Sama ama (parati Titi"sha Sraddha Samadhana
4ndo)ed )ith the above 2ualifications and after ac2uirin$ tran2uility of mind throu$h
sadhana, a person should strive hard to maintain the same by constantly reflectin$ on the
impermanent nature of the )orld and concentrate on the hi$hest Truth till he attains
enli$htenment i.e. liberation from the bonda$e of i$norance.
Re0oval o1 I-norance 9,ethodolo$y - 4n2uiry: C%A.$ER 2
San"ara no) indicates as to ho) the i$norance can be removed.
3e says that Bno)led$e is not brou$ht about by any other means than ichara, ;ust as an
ob;ect cannot be seen by any other means than a li$ht.
a)n of "no)led$e is not possible )ithout ri$ht en2uiry. There are various methods for
self-revelation li"e ,apa) tapa) dhyana) karma) upasana etc. But )ithout the ri$ht
comprehension the final reali&ation cannot come because it is i$norance, avidya, )hich
has )ithheld the li$ht of Bno)led$e from us. To $et at "no)led$e )e have therefore to
remove this *vidya. But so lon$ as )e "eep ourselves busy )ith "arma, upasana etc. )e
remain under their )ave. #nly )hen )e investi$ate into the real nature of this *vidya, it
$radually pulls out and ultimately disappears. Then alone Bno)led$e of the !eality
shines by itself.
-o. to seek the Brahman/Atman0
The en2uiry into the nature of Truth starts by considerin$ the follo)in$ 2uestions.
1. Cho am 0D
2. 3o) is this )orld createdD
<. Cho is its creatorD
1. #f )hat material this )orld is madeD
0n this analysis the cru- of the matter is to "no) )ho )e are. 0n findin$ out an ans)er to
the 2uestion ECho am 0FD Bha$van !amana ,aharshi spent his entire lifetime. Sri
Nissar$adatt ,ahara; said E0 am ThatF. The ,ahava"ya of .hando$ya (panishad
announces )ith a loud voice Etatvam asiF or EThou art That.F Cho is that ET3*TDF That
is the sub;ect matter of en2uiry.
Ce "no) our name, our body, parenta$e, official status, loan outstandin$, e-mail 0, our
stren$th, )ea"ness and threats and so on and so forth ad infinitum$ But do )e "no) )ho
)e really areD The ans)er invariably is that )hile )e "no) that )e are, )e do not "no)
)hat our real nature is.
The four 2uestions mentioned above set the tone and direction in )hich the en2uiry and
the thin"in$ process should proceed for findin$ out the ans)ers to the ve-ed issues.
No) step by step the reports of the psycho-patholo$ical tests conducted on the issues
involved are bein$ presented to us by Bha$avadpada *di San"ara.
3e says E0 am neither the body )hich is a combination of the five elements of matter nor
am 0 an a$$re$ate of the senses. 0 am somethin$ different from these. This is the )ay of
the en2uiryF.
The 1
st
2uestion ECho am 0DF is ans)ered. 0 cannot be the body )hich is made up of five
elements and )hich is perishable in nature. The .onsciousness in me is constant and
never chan$in$ but the physical body is ever chan$in$ and liable to be destroyed one day.
Similarly, )e are the users of the sense or$ans li"e ears, eyes etc and )e are not the
a$$re$ate of them because )e are a)are that there is somebody else )ithin us )ho
en;oys or suffers because of these sense or$ans. Ce also "no) that these sense or$ans are
of no use )hen they are not activated by another force. This life $ivin$ force is
.onsciousness. This consciousness operates )ithin us in all the three states of )a"in$,
dreamin$ and deep sleep.
ST*T4S #5 .#NS.0#(SN4SS
@A@
C*B0N' !4*, 44/ SG44/

0n the )a"in$ state, )e thin" )e are the body, the physical bein$ and conse2uently feel
ourselves as stron$ or )ea", beautiful or u$ly, short or tall, lean or obese, diabetic or
cancerous etc. 0n the dream state, re$ardless of our physical structure, )e ma"e a holiday
trip to a forei$n land. 0n this stran$e land )e are turned into spectators and victims of our
o)n thou$hts stored in our mental stron$ rooms $athered durin$ the current birth as )ell
as in our past avatars. Ce suffer or en;oy the conse2uences of this holiday trip as lon$ as
the trip lasts and )e lau$h at or i$nore the )hole dream e-perience on returnin$ to our
o)n native place of the )a"in$ state. 0n the deep sleep state, )e $o to a place )here there
is no mental or physical disturbance and hence find it very peaceful. *t this state )e
cannot assert or deny our o)n e-istence. There is one more state called (uriya )hich
re2uires another platform to deal )ith.
*lthou$h )e pass throu$h these states of mind every day, )e cannot say )ith certainty
)hich of them really conforms to our real nature because our real nature is different from
the body and sense or$ans.
C%A.$ER 3
The 2
nd
and <
rd
2uestion re$ardin$ the cause of the )orld and )ho created it respectively
is ans)ered no). To state in simple terms, the problem is )hat )e see is not real and
)hat is real )e do not see. Then ho) to solve the pu&&leD To put it differently, ho) is this
pluralistic phenomenon bornD 3o) is it )e perceive the phenomenal )orld but not the
TruthD
The ans)er $iven here is that all this is the result of our o)n i$norance, our o)n mental
modifications. The non-apprehension of the reality has brou$ht about the
misapprehension of the reality. This is ;ust a deception of the mind. Chen the intellect
fails to ;ud$e correctly, the mind )ill start its o)n pro;ections based on its vasanas, pre-
e-istin$ tendencies. Chen the ri$ht "no)led$e da)ns, the pluralistic )orld disappears
completely.
5or e-ample, in the inade2uate li$ht, )e confuse a lamp-post for a $host. This
misapprehension of reality vanishes no sooner a ri$ht apprehension of the post arises in
us on account of a torch li$ht. The post is there only, all the time. But )e superimposed
our i$norant ima$ination of a $host on it and misunderstood the post to be a $host and
started perspirin$ on account of fear. Chen the torch li$ht is focused on the post the
$host completely disappeared. This is ;ust a tric"ery of the mind. Thus the cause for the
confusion and fear is no)here else than in our i$norance of the true nature of the post.
Similarly, in our i$norance, )e pro;ect a )orld of plurality and identify )ith it.
.onse2uently, )e under$o all the trials and tribulations of the )orld. Thus the cause for
the phenomenal )orld that is spread before us lies in the i$norance that covers the reality
)hich is called ,aya.
Chen )e start en2uirin$ )ho the creator of this )orld is, the inevitable ans)er $iven by
San"ara is that )e alone are the creator of the universe by virtue of the modifications of
our mind. *s the a$itated mind created the $host, so too the mind created the a$itated or
a$reeable )orld. 0n deep sleep )hen there is no mind there is no )orld.
The 1
th
2uestion 8of )hat material this )orld is madeD+ is replied no). *ccordin$ to
%edanta three factors of production are re2uired to create any ob;ect. They are the
material cause, the efficient cause and the instrumental cause. 5or e-ample in ma"in$ a
clay pot, clay is the ra) material or the material cause, the potter )ho ma"es it is the
efficient cause and the )heel )ith the help of )hich the pot is made is the instrumental
cause.
Ce have seen earlier that non-apprehension (avarana or veilin$ or the i$norance: of the
!eality $ives rise to its misapprehension 9vikshepa or pro;ectin$: as the pluralistic
phenomenal )orld. The material cause for both these i.e. i$norance of the !eality and the
conse2uent inaccurate thin"in$ about it, is the one subtle and unchan$in$ Sat 94-istence:.
This entity called Sat is the #ne )ithout a second i.e. it is a homo$enous )hole )ithout
any division or parts. 0t is subtle because it is not apprehended by the mind, intellect and
sense or$ans and unchan$in$ because it is al)ays constant )ithout any modifications.
Thus )hat )e see around us are mere pro;ections arisin$ out of our o)n various thou$hts.
This is e-plained by the follo)in$ illustration.
.lay is the material cause for all the pots that have come about from the clay. The pots
are nothin$ but different forms of clayH )hen they are bro"en they are no more called as
pots and become clay only. 0t follo)s that pots are only clay and that 8potF is in our
minds only and it has no independent e-istence other than clay. Thus clay is the only
!eality.
Similarly the unchan$in$ Sat 94-istence: is the only !eality out of )hich the universe is
pro;ected. So our i$norance and the thou$ht process are different e-pressions of the
unchan$in$ .onsciousness or Sat or 4-istence.
San"ara says E0 am the only #ne, the Subtle, the Bno)er, the Citness, the 4ver 4-istent,
the (nchan$in$, so there is no doubt that 0 am That 9Brahman:F.
3ere )e have to be clear )hat the )ord E0F stands for. Thin" of a sentence )hich reads E0
"no) that 0 e-ist.F 0n the phrase that Ethat 0 e-istF the E0F connotes the e$o )hile in the
phrase 80 "no)F the E0F connotes the sub;ect. *lthou$h the E0F is common, in one case
E0F is the observer, the "no)er, and the sub;ect )hile in the other case the E0F is the
observed, the "no)n, and the ob;ect. *t the macro level the sub;ective 80F is the Supreme
Bno)er. The E0F at the micro level, the e$o )hen it is divested of its limitin$ factors li"e
body, mind and intellect etc becomes one )ith That, the Brahman at the macro level. The
limitin$ factors are but the creation of i$norance.
This leads us to the conclusion that )e are different from body. Ce are /ure 4-istence,
the one )ithout a second.
*i11erence bet4een ,ody and At0an ch5
*tman is verily one and )ithout parts, )hereas the body consists of many parts.
*tman is the ruler of the body and is internalH the body is the ruled and is e-ternal.
*tman is all consciousness and holy, the body is all flesh and impure.
*tman is the 9supreme: 0lluminator and purity itselfH the body is said to be of the
nature of dar"ness.
*tman is eternal, since it is 4-istence itselfH the body is transient, as it is non-
e-istence in essence.
San"ara )onders, E=et, surprisin$ly the people consider these t)o as one. Chat can be
more i$norance than thisDF
.onfusion in "no)led$e is the symptom of i$norance. 0t is because of i$norance that a
post is mista"en as a $host. 3o)ever the i$norance does not operate at full throttle
because there is some common lin" bet)een the ori$inal and the fla)ed ones or the real
and the apparent li"e shape, color etc. bet)een the post and the $host. But the confusion
or the nature of i$norance is full in the case of the body and the *tman because there is
nothin$ common bet)een them and on the other hand they are opposed to each other in
all respects.
The body is under$oin$ chan$e every minute and therefore that )hich is chan$in$ cannot
be eternal. 3ere a problem crops up. *lthou$h the body can be considered as non-eternal
ho) it can be non-e-istent. The e-istence of the body is there for all to see, despite its
bein$ of temporary nature. %edanta describes this "ind of e-istence as vyavaharika satta,
a relative e-istence. #n a closer e-amination of its real nature the so called tan$ible body
disappears and ceases to e-ist one day or the other. 3ence it is referred to as non-e-istent
in essence, even thou$h it may appear to e-ist for the time bein$ for those )ho do not
care to devote more time and attention to analy&e this issue.
EThe luminosity of *tman consists in the manifestation of all ob;ects. 0ts luminosity is
not li"e that of fire or any such thin$, for 9in spite of the presence of such li$hts: dar"ness
prevails at ni$ht 9at some place or other:.F
The li$ht of *tman ma"es us see everythin$H such li$ht is not li"e that of fire, for )ithout
fire, )e cannot see anythin$ in dar"ness )hile *tman ma"es us see everythin$ at all
times. The difference bet)een the ordinary li$ht, includin$ sun li$ht, and *tman is
brou$ht out here. #rdinary li$ht cannot illumine everythin$ because in spite of such a
li$ht there are al)ays some places to )hich that li$ht cannot reach. 0n the case of atman
its li$ht i.e. .onsciousness, enables us to comprehend everythin$ at all times includin$
the dar"ness as )ell as li$ht referred to above.
San"ara concludes this topic by sayin$ E3o) stran$e is it that a person i$norantly rests
contented )ith the idea that he is the body, )hile he "no)s the fact that the body is
merely somethin$ belon$in$ to him and therefore it is apart from him. This is li"e a
person )ho sees a pot "no)s that it merely belon$s to him and that it is apart from himFI
6no4led-e o1 ,rah0an ch 7
The real "no)led$e and the real )isdom are defined ne-t. San"ara says7
0 am verily Brahman, bein$ e2uanimous, 2uiescent, and by nature absolute
4-istence, Bno)led$e, and Bliss.
0 am )ithout any chan$e, )ithout any form, free from all blemish and decay.
0 am not sub;ected to any diseaseH 0 am beyond all comprehension, free from all
alternatives and all-pervadin$.
0 am )ithout any attribute or activityH 0 am eternal, ever free, and imperishable.
0 am free from all impurityH 0 am immovable, unlimited, holy, undecayin$, and
immortal.
0 am not the body )hich is non-e-istence itself. 0 am the /ure .onsciousness, Brahman,
/urusha. This is called true Bno)led$e by the )ise.
The *tman is Brahman as there is not a sin$le characteristic differentiatin$ the t)o. 0n
other )ords, there are no t)o entities called *tman and Brahman. 0t is the same entity
*tman that is called sometimes Brahman. Chen a person ma"es an en2uiry into the real
nature of the e-ternal )orld he arrives at one conclusion that is Brahman. Chen he
en2uires about himself he is lead to *tman )herefrom the e-ternal )orld emanated as )e
have discussed earlier. Thus he reali&es that )hat he has believed all alon$ as Brahman,
the substratum of the universe, is but his o)n Self, *tman, he himself. So it is said in
,andu"ya (panishad 92: 8*ll this is verily Brahman, this *tman is Brahaman+.
Sometimes *tman is also called /urusha. San"ara then ar$ues that even on a rational
basis, 80+ is different from the physical body. 3e establishes that even if )e don+t believe
in the scriptures, the very intellect that is $iven to us )ill tell us that )e are not the body
but somethin$ beyond the body.
Thus by the differentiation bet)een the body and the *tman, the Self, the idea that 8the
body is the Self, *tman+ is ne$ated. 0f the body is not the Self, does it mean that the body
is a separate entity from the SelfD This doubt as to )hether the body is a separate entity
from the *tman is no) clarified. 0t is stated that the body has no e-istence independent of
the *tman ;ust as the )aves do not e-ist independently of )ater. 0n fact the *tman alone
e-ists and it is throu$h i$norance that one sees it as appearin$ in the forms of the body
and the li"e ;ust as )ater alone e-ists but )e loo" at it as )aves or ocean. Then )hat
about .onsciousnessD
0t is ans)ered ENo division in .onsciousness is admissible at any time as it is al)ays one
and the same. 4ven the individuality of the Jiva must be "no)n as false, li"e the delusion
of a sna"e in a ropeF.
0n dar"ness a rope lyin$ on the road is mista"en as a sna"e and as a result )e suffer from
fear. The prime cause for fear is thus the delusion or i$norance about the real ob;ect.
San"ara says that .onsciousness 9Brahman: enli$htens and enlivens everythin$ in the
universe. 0t is The #ne, The *bsolute and )hich is )ithout any parts. 0t is 0ndivisible ;ust
as air contained in a small mu$ or medium si&ed ;ar or a lar$e buc"et is one and the same
as it is pervaded every)here. 0t follo)s that the containers are many )hile that )hich is
contained is one )hich is indivisible. So too, the containers of consciousness may vary
li"e a human bein$, a bird or an animal but the contained i.e. .onsciousness as such
remains al)ays uniform and a sin$le entity )ithout any distinction or division.
5rom this an$le, the individuality of 1iva )hich is consciousness in a human body is also
false as in the case of delusion of a sna"e in a rope. So lon$ as a person is in i$norance,
he thin"s himself as a ;iva, havin$ an individuality of its o)n apart from Brahman. But
)ith the da)n of real "no)led$e, he reali&es himself as one )ith Brahman and this
;ivahood appears to him as nothin$ but an illusion of a sna"e on the rope.
*s throu$h the i$norance of the real nature of the rope the very same rope appears as a
sna"e, so too pure .onsciousness appears in the form of the phenomenal universe )ithout
under$oin$ any chan$e in itself. The effect is not different from the cause as a pot is not
different from clay of )hich it is made. The names and the forms )e observe in the effect
)hich differentiate it from the cause are ;ust a convention and are found non-e-istent
)hen their nature is en2uired into. 3ence it is declared that the material cause of the
universe is Brahman and so the )hole universe is Brahman.
Just as the rope is the substratum of the illusion of a sna"e, so Brahman is the substratum
of all the names and forms )e notice as the universe. These names and forms 9universe:
are no doubt illusory, but even illusory thin$s re2uire a substratum for them to be
pro;ected upon ;ust as the motion picture in a cinema hall thou$h illusory re2uires a
screen to be pro;ected upon. Just as the ornaments made out of $old ac2uire the 2uality of
$old, the universe )hich is a bein$ born of Brahman has al)ays the nature of Brahman.
8Chen duality is perceived throu$h i$norance one sees another, one smells another, but
)hen everythin$ is identified as *tman, ho) can one see another or smell anotherD
Brih.(panishad 9iv.J.1J:+. Chen the mind attains that state, )hen one reali&es all as one
*tman no delusion or sorro) arises on account of absence of duality. Therefore the
+ahavakya of Brih.(panishad says EThis *tman is BrahmanF.9ii.J.1K:
0t follo)s that the idea of pervaded and pervadin$ is also illusory as there is no room for
any distinction bet)een the cause and the effect i.e. Brahman and the universe. Therefore
unless a person reali&es the non-dual *tman 9Brahman: there is no escape for him from
the cycle of birth and death.
San"ara illustrates the above discussion about the unity of the (niverse and Brahman as
also about the *tman appearin$ as the body throu$h i$norance by puttin$ forth numerous
e-amples of our ordinary day to day life. 0t is really hi$hly illuminatin$ to read all these
beautiful verses. 3e concludes this masterly e-position )ith a declaration that, EThrou$h
i$norance arises in *tman the delusion of the body )hich a$ain throu$h Self-reali&ation,
disappears in the Supreme *tman. Chen the )hole universe, movable and immovable, is
"no)n to be *tman, and thus the e-istence of everythin$ else is ne$ated, )here is then
any room to say that the body is *tmanDF
!i1teen Steps to Attain 6no4led-e ch8
San"ara no) e-pounds the fifteen steps )ith the help of )hich on should practice
profound meditation at all times on Brahman for the attainment of the desired $oal. These
are enumerated belo).
1. .ontrol of the senses (yama!
2. .ontrol of the mind (niyama!
<. !enunciation (tyaga!
1. Silence (mouna!
J. Space (desa!
L. Time (kala!
?. /osture (asana!
M. !estrainin$ the root (mulabandha!
K. 3oldin$ the body steady (deha-samya!
10. Steadiness of $a&e (drk sthiti!
11. .ontrol of prana (prana-samyamana:
12. Cithdra)al of the mind (pratyahara!
1<. .ontinuous reflection (dharana!
11. .ontemplation on the Self (dhyanam! and
1J. Total absorption (samadhi!
These terms have been $iven special meanin$s by San"ara, althou$h some of them )ere
dealt )ith in the /atan;ali =o$a sutras also. The aspirin$ one )ho practices these fifteen
sadhanas $ets the natural bliss (ananda!. The ordinary bliss is kritrima, a created one,
the creation of the mind throu$h the sense or$ans. (ncreated or natural bliss is our nature.
Then such a person, the master of all the =o$is, becomes perfect, )ithout the necessity of
any further practices. The nature of such a person cannot be an ob;ect either for the mind
or for the speech for the ,unda"a (panishad 9000.00.K: says E3e )ho reali&es the
Supreme Brahman verily becomes Brahman.F 3is nature also mer$es in that of Brahman
)hich is beyond the mind and speech. 9Taittiriya (panishad 00.K:
2bstacles to +editation
Chen a see"er starts his sadhana for Samadhi there )ill inevitably be some obstructions.
These are spelled out as under7
1. *bsence of constant spirit of en2uiry
2. 0dleness
<. *ttraction for sensual pleasures
1. Sleep
J. ullness
L. istraction
?. 4-periencin$ ;oy resultin$ out of concentration
M. Sense of blan"ness arisin$ out of a conflict of desires.
"onstant (hought of Brahman neccesary
Chile thin"in$ of any ob;ect the mind )ill entirely identify itself )ith that alone and
)hile thin"in$ of a void it really becomes blan". But )ith the thou$ht of Brahman, it
attains to perfection. 3ence one should constantly meditate on Brahman to attain
perfection. This is based on the principle 8as you thin" so you become.+ #ne desirin$
perfection should leave aside all thou$hts of duality and fi- one+s mind upon the non-dual
Brahman )hich alone is perfect.
,an has the uni2ue opportunity of reali&in$ Brahman and thus becomin$ free from the
bonda$e of i$norance. But if he does not avail himself of this rare opportunity, he can be
hardly called as a human bein$ as there remains nothin$ to distin$uish him from the
lo)er births li"e animals or insects. Those fortunate fe) )ho at every moment feel their
identity )ith Brahman become completely free from the shac"les of duality and
i$norance. This is the consummation of spiritual practice. 0t is needless to say that they
are respected every)here and by everybody.
San"ara boldly declares that those only in )hom this consciousness of Brahman ever
remains are mature and certainly not others )ho merely en$a$e themselves in fruitless
ar$uments and discussions about Brahman by variously interpretin$ the scriptures. 3e
continues that those persons )ho are only clever in discussin$ about Brahman but have
no reali&ation and are very much attached to )orldly pleasures are born and die a$ain and
a$ain as a conse2uence of their i$norance. This e-position, called !a;a =o$a, ends here.
Conclusion ch9
0t may be noted that althou$h there is no material difference bet)een !a;a =o$a as
e-plained here and as found in the =o$a Sutras of /atan;ali in so far as they relate to the
final $oal of !eali&ation, there is a difference bet)een them in the practices to be adopted
for reachin$ that $oal. /atan;ali has prescribed control of the body and prana prior to the
practice of meditation )hereas San"ara here emphasi&es the meditation on Brahman from
the very be$innin$ and thus aims at leadin$ the aspirant directly to the $oal. 3ence the
title of the te-t is aparokshanubhuti.
The cause is concurrent and inherent in the effect but not vice versa$ Thus in the absence
of the effect, the cause as such disappears since there is nothin$ )ith reference to )hich it
may be called as a cause. Chen )e identify )ith the )orld 9effect: it is i$norance.
3avin$ crossed i$norance )hen )e identify ourselves )ith cause only 9Brahman:, the
effect 9)orld: ceases to e-ist. Chen the effect has disappeared ho) can )e call the cause
as a causeD So the idea of the cause also disappears. Thus the cause and effect
relationship comes to an end. This relationship is therefore a mere by product brou$ht
about by the intellect. Thereafter only /ure Brahman 9beyond all relationships: remains
)hich is beyond speech or description. This should be "ept in mind a$ain and a$ain
recapitulatin$ the illustration of the pot and clay )hich says )hether it is the cup or a ;ar
or a pot they are only mere )ords, ;ust names but all of them are nothin$ but the cause,
the clay.9.hando$ya (panishad %0.i.1:
Chen both the cause and effect thus disappeared one is apt to conclude that only Sunya
or a void is left behind. But it is not so. #ne may ne$ate everythin$ but cannot ne$ate
one+s o)n Self. So )hen causality has been ne$ated )hat is beyond all ne$ation is the
very Self of the en2uirer, )hich alone remains as the ultimate reality. San"ara concludes
this te-t )ith the statement that for those )hose mind is completely purified alone this
!a;a =o$a )ill be productive of perfection.
Epilo-ue: r.!adha"rishnan had remar"ed in a different conte-t that San"ara+s ideas are
li"e dar"ness because of heavy and po)erful headli$hts. But humble bein$s li"e us can
al)ays ta"e advanta$e of the po)erful headli$hts of San"ara and remove the dar"ness by
ad;ustin$ their volta$e. This article is an attempt in that direction.
2+ (A( SA(
!eference7
1: *paro"shanubhuti or Self-!eali&ation by S)ami %imu"tananda
2: *paro"shanubhuti or 0ntimate 4-perience of the !eality by
S)ami .hinmayananda
This is a preliminary te-t boo" on %edanta one should read before plun$in$ into the
(panishads. Also read:
1. ,unda"a (panishad - http7NN))).esams"riti.comNessay-chaptersN,unda"a-
(panishad-1.asp-
2. 0sha (panishad - http7NN))).esams"riti.comNessay-chaptersNBoo"-of-Cisdom-O-
0sha-(panishad-1.asp-
<. Suryopanishad - http7NN))).esams"riti.comNessay-chaptersNSun-Corship-O-
Suryopanishad-1.asp-
1. Bena (panishad - http7NN))).esams"riti.com7M0Nessay-chaptersNBena-
(panishad-1.asp-
J. /atan;ali+s =o$a Sutras - http7NN))).esams"riti.comNessay-chaptersN/atan;ali-
=o$a-Sutras-1.asp-