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.. Atma Bodha ..

; aA(m boD ;

nm, €Ff¬rAndgzpAdAMbjmn  .
{ kkm Z
namaH shriisha Nkaraanandagurupaadaambujanmane .
savilaasamahaamohagraahagraasaikakarmaNe ..
{ paJN hadashii

`I bow at the lotus feet of the Guru, Shankara, whose fun tion
is to eliminate the alligator of delusion (moha) with all its bran hes.'

Atma Bodha, meaning self knowledge, was omposed by Adi Shankara

sometime in the 8th entury.

To quote Sri Radhakrishnan `The Advaitism of Shankara is a system

of great spe ulative daring and logi al subtlety . Its austere
intelle tualism, its remorseless logi , whi h mar hes on indi erent to
the hopes and beliefs of man, its relative freedom from theologi al
obsessions, make it a great example of a purely philosophi al s heme . It
is impossible to read Shankara's writings, pa ked as they are with serious
and subtle thinking, without being ons ious that one is in onta t with a
mind of a very ne penetration and profound spirituality . With his a ute
feeling of the immeasurable world, his stirring gaze into the abysmal
mysteries of the spirit, his unswerving resolve to say neither more nor
less than what ould be proved, Shankara stands out as a heroi gure of
the rst rank in the somewhat motley rowd of the religious thinkers of
medieval India ....

Shankara taught us to love Truth, respe t reason and realize the

purpose of life . Twelve enturies have passed, and yet his in uen e is

His in uen e on Indian philosophy is so enormous that most of the

later philosophies that evolved in India had either to agree with him or
disagree with him, quoting him nevertheless.

Shankara, in his indisputable style, allows a pla e for Karma and

Bhakti while emphasising the prime ne essity of GYAna for the realization
of the Self . For example, while ommenting on Bhagvadgita 18.45,
he takes Bhakti to be identi al to GYAna by quoting 7.16-18 of
the gItA where Krishna says that a GYAni is one of His Bhaktas.

In Viveka hudamani, he goes on to say that Bhakti is one of

the most ondu ive auses for liberation . Similarly, in the third verse of

atma bodha, he says that karma is not opposed to ignoran e, though it an
not destroy ignoran e . Undoubtedly a great religious reformer and
philosopher, Shankara embra es within his fold all pantheism while
maintaining the prin iple of non-duality.

Though Shankara is famous for his ommentaries (bhaashhya-s) on the

three major texts onsidered as `laun hing pad' for liberation
(prasthaanatrayii, the triple annon),
namely bhagvad gItA, brahmasuutra-s, and upanishhad-s, he has
omposed a large number of stotra-s (hymns in praise of various gods) and
also brief expositions in prose and verse (prakaraNa-s ). Atma Bodha falls
into the last ategory . A rare but an ex ellent ommentary of this work in
Sanskrit has been provided by Swami kRishhNaanandaashramii and has been
translated in to english by Vidyaratna Menon . Other noteworthy
translations of the text are by Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Nikhilananda,
TMP Mahadevan, and Parthasarathy, to name a few.

The text of aatmabodha avoids the te hni alities found in the

vedas, but onveys the message of jnana yoga (the path of knowledge) to
the layman . In a short ompendium of sixty eight stanzas, the knowledge of
the Self is des ribed in an unique and simple style . Shankara starts with
the requirements of the aspirant, and goes on to explain the nature of
world -Samsara, the embodiments of the soul, the in uen e of maayaa and the
superimposition of Atman . He des ribes the meditation te hnique based on
aphorism `I am Brahman,' the supreme being,
`Aham Brahmasmi', and elu idates the fruits of Self-realization and the
state of the jivanmukta (liberated soul).

Sin e the realization of the Self an not be had from books or

s riptures, Shankara insists on the ne essity of instru tion by a
Self-realized Guru (tea her). The intense desire to liberate and the
e ort required by the saadhaka (aspirant) is emphasized . If there is no
e ort, there an not be a result . As Sri Radhakrishnan says `People in
our so iety have resolved to renoun e nothing, but wish to enjoy the fruit
of renun iation.' The vedanta kesari puts it `The goal we desire (should
be) to rea h the ideal so iety of the prophets, a so iety of just,
pea eful, morally and intelle tuially progressive ommunity of non
atta hed and responsible individuals, the means we adopt therefore must be
worthy of the ends . Then only the real age of millennium will dawn wherein
one feels that the whole world is one's family of kith and kin, a pla e
for nothing but love and fellow feeling, in short a vasudhaivakuTumbakam.h
(universe as a family).'

Commenting on the rst verse of Atma Bodha, the sanskrit

ommentator, Swami kRishhNaanandaashramii, remarks that Sri Shankara harya
omposed the three great bhashyas (of the upanishhads, gItA, and brahma
suutra) for the guidan e of people quali ed by birth, environment,
ir umstan es, and mental, moral and spiritual development . Out of great

ompassion for the rest of the masses, Shankara omposed aatmabodha for
explaining the knowledge of the Self.

The treatise of the knowledge of self, aatmabodha, is meant for

those whose sins have been destroyed by religious austerities, who are
alm, devoid of atta hment and are persons desirous of liberation
(i.e . mumukShu-s desirous of mokSha).
The quali ed are those who have the four fold requisities, 1.
dis rimination between real and unreal (viveka) 2. non-atta hment (i.e
indi erent to the results of one's a tion) 3. desire for
eman ipation (mumukShu-s) and 4. the six fold qualities,

a . saama (restraint of internal senses)

b . daama (restraint of external senses)

. uparati ( ontrol of senses, without jumping from one obje t to another)

d . samaadhaana (mind onstantly on the Self)

e . titiikShaa (indi erent enduran e)

f . shraddhaa (faith).

The rest of the sixty seven verses may be roughly lassi ed in to the following
subje ts, means for eman ipation (2-5), sa.nsaara (6-12), various shariira-s
(embodiments) (13-19), adhyaasa (15-19), aha.nkaara (26-30), do trine of
neti-neti (31-36), saadhanaa (37-39), self-realization (40-46), vision of a
GYAnii and hara teristi s of a jivanmukta (47-53), and nally the nature
of Brahman (54-68).

May the great aa haarya, one of the greatest persons to gra e this
planet, Shankara, make us aware of His gra e.

; aA(mboD, ;
.. aatmabodhaH ..
tpoEB, "FZpApAnA\ fAtAnA\ vFtrAEgZAm^ .
mm"ZAmp #yo_ymA(mboDo EvDFyt  ; 1;
boDo_ysADn  <yo Eh sA"Amo"{ ksADnm^ .
pAk-y vE¡v>+An\ EvnA mo"o n EsyEt ; 2;
aEvroEDtyA km nAEvA\ EvEnvt y  t^ .
EvAEvA\ Enh(yv t jE-tEmrs¿vt^ ; 3;
pErQCà ivA+AnAàAf  sEt kvl, . var avEQCà
-vy\ þkAft A(mA m  GApAy
\_fmAEnv ; 4;
a+Anklq\ jFv\ +AnA<yAsAE’Enm lm^ .

k(vA +An\ -vy\ n[y  >jl\ ktkr  Zvt^ ; 5;
s\sAr, -v=ntSyo Eh rAg’  qAEdsR^kl, .
-vkAl  s(yvd^BAEt þboD  s(ysd^Bv  t^ ; 6;
tAv(s(y\ jgd^BAEt fE?tkArjt\ yTA .
yAvà +Ayt  b}œ svA ED¤Anm’ym^ ; 7;
upAdAn  _EKlADAr  jgEt prm  ˜r .
sg E-TEtlyAn^ yAEt b“dAnFv vAErEZ ; 8;
sEQ dA(myn-yt  En(y Ev ZO þkESptA, .
&y?tyo EvEvDA, svA hAVk  kVkAEdvt^ ; 9;
yTAkAfo ãqFk  fo nAnopAEDgto EvB, .
td^B dAd^EBàvd^BAEt tàAf  kvlo Bv  t^ ; 10;
nAnopAEDvfAd  v jAEtvZA €mAdy, . var jAEtnAmA€mAdy,
aA(myAroEptA-toy  rsvZA Ed B  dvt^ ; 11.
p\ FktmhABts\Bv\ km s\E tm^ .
frFr\ sKd,KAnA\ BogAytnmQyt  ; 12;
p\ þAZmnobEˆdf EdýysmEvtm^ .
ap\ FktBto(T\ s#mA½\ BogsADnm^ ; 13;
anAEvAEnvA QyA kArZopAEDzQyt  .
upAEDE/tyAdymA(mAnmvDAry  t^ ; 14;
p\ kofAEdyog  n tmy iv E-Tt, .
fˆA(mA nFlv-/AEdyog  n -PEVko yTA ; 15;
vp-tqAEdEB, kof {y ?t\ y?(yvGAtt, .
aA(mAnmtr\ fˆ\ EvEvQyAXl\ yTA ; 16;
sdA sv gto_=yA(mA n sv /AvBAst  .
bˆAv  vAvBAs  t -vQC q þEtEbMbvt^ ; 17;
dhEdýymnobEˆþkEt<yo Evl"Zm^ .
td^vEsAE"Z\ EvAdA(mAn\ rAjv(sdA ; 18;
&yApt E vEdýy
 vA(mA &yApArFvAEvv  EknAm^ .
d[yt _B}q DAv(s DAvEàv yTA ffF ; 19;
aA(m { tymAE€(y dhEdýymnoEDy, .
-vE‡yAT  q vt t syA lok\ yTA jnA, . 20;
dhEdýygZAkmA yml  sEQ dA(mEn .
ay-y(yEvv kn ggn  nFltAEdvt^ ; 21;
a+AnAmAnsopAD  , kt (vAdFEn A(mEn .
kS=yt  _Mbgt  dý lnAEd yTAMBs, . 22;
rAg QCAsKd,KAEd bˆO s(yA\ þvt t  .

sq=tO nAE-t tàAf  t-mAd^bˆ-t nA(mn, ; 23;
þkAfo_k -y toy-y f {(ym`n  y To ZtA .
-vBAv, sEQ dAndEn(yEnm ltA(mn, ; 24;
aA(mn, sEQ d\f– bˆv EErEt ’ym^ .
s\yo>y AEvv kn jAnAmFEt þvt t  ; 25;
aA(mno EvE‡yA nAE-t bˆbo Do n jAE(vEt .
jFv, sv ml\ +A(vA +AtA dý£Et mEt ; 26;
r>jsp vdA(mAn\ jFv\ +A(vA By\ vh  t^ .
nAh\ jFv, prA(m  Et +At\  EàB yo Bv  t^ ; 27;
aA(mAvBAsy(y  ko bˆ^yAdFnFEdýyAyEp .
dFpo GVAEdv(-vA(mA jX { -t
{ nA vBA-yt  ; 28;
-vboD nAyboD  QCA boD!ptyA(mn, .
n dFp-yAydFp  QCA yTA -vA(mþkAfn  ; 29;
EnEqy EnEKlopADFà  Et n
 tFEt vA?yt, .
EvAd{ ?y\ mhAvA?y { jF vA(mprmA(mno, ; 30;
aAEvk\ frFrAEd d[y\ bd^bdv("rm^ .
etE’l"Z\ EvAdh\ b}œ Et Enm lm^ ; 31;
dhAy(vAà m  jmjrAkA[y lyAdy, .
fNdAEdEvqy { , s½o EnErEdýytyA n ; 32;
amn-(vAà m  d,KrAg’  qByAdy, .
aþAZo mnA, fB} i(yAEd €EtfAsnAt^ ; 33;
( et-mA>jAyt  þAZo mn, sv  EdýyAEZ .
K\ vAy>yo EtrAp, pETvF Ev˜-y DAErZF ;) doubtful addition
Eng Zo EnE ‡yo En(yo EnEv kSpo Enr\jn, .
EnEv kAro EnrAkAro En(ym?to_E-m Enm l, ; 34;
ahmAkAfv(sv \ bEhrtg to_Qyt, .
sdA sv sm, Esˆo En,s½o Enm lo_ l, ; 35;
En(yfˆEvm?t { kmKXAndm’ym^ .
s(y\ +Anmnt\ y(pr\ b}œAhm  v tt^ ; 36;
ev\ EnrtrA<y-tA b}œ {vA-mFEt vAsnA .
hr(yEvAEv"  pAn^ rogAEnv rsAynm^ ; 37;
EvEv?td  f aAsFno EvrAgo EvEjt  Edýy, .
BAvydkmA(mAn\ tmntmnyDF, ; 38;
aA(my  vAEKl\ d[y\ þEvlA=y EDyA sDF, .
BAvydkmA(mAn\ Enm lAkAfv(sdA ; 39;
!pvZA Edk\ sv EvhAy prmAT Evt^ .

pErpZ \E dAnd-v!p  ZAvEt¤t  ; 40;
+At+An+  yB
 d, pr nA(mEn Evt  .
E dAnd { k!p(vAŒF=yt  -vym  v tt^ ; 41; var Eh ;
evmA(mArZO yAnmTn  stt\ kt  .
uEdtAvgEt>vA lA svA +An  Dn\ dh  t^ ; 42;
azZ  nv boD  n pv \ stms  ãt  .
tt aAEvB v  dA(mA -vym  vA\fmAEnv ; 43;
aA(mA t stt\ þA=to_=yþA=tvdEvyA .
tàAf  þA=tvd^BAEt -vkWABrZ\ yTA ; 44;
-TAZO pzqvd^B}A(yA ktA b}œEZ jFvtA .
jFv-y tAE‚vk  !p  tE-md£ Envt t  ; 45;
t(v-v!pAnBvAd(pà\ +Anm\jsA .
ah\ mm  Et A+An\ bADt  Edg^B}mAEdvt^ ; 46;
sMyE`v+AnvAn^ yogF -vA(my  vAEKl\ jgt^ .
ek\ sv mA(mAnmF"t  +An "qA ; 47;
aA(m{vd\ jg(sv mA(mno_yà Evt  .
mdo y’d^GVAdFEn -vA(mAn\ sv mF"t  ; 48;
jFvm?t-t tE’’An^pvo pAEDgZA-(yj t^ .
sEQ dAnd!p(vAt^ Bv  d^B}mrkFVvt^ ; 49;
tF(vA mohAZ v\ h(vA rAg’  qAEdrA"sAn^ .
yogF fAEtsmAy?t aA(mArAmo EvrAjt  ; 50;
bAAEn(ysKAsE?t\ Eh(vA(msKEnv t, .
GV-TdFpv(-v-T\ -vAtr  v þkAft  ; 51; var dFpvQC˜dtr
upAED-To_Ep tˆm { rEl=to &yomvmEn, .
sv EvmYvE¤  ds?to vAyvQ r  t^ ; 52;
upAEDEvlyAE’ ZO EnEv f q\ Evf mEn, .
jl jl\ Evy•oEm} t  j-t  jEs vA yTA ; 53;
ySlABAàApro lABo y(sKAàApr\ sKm^ .
y>+AnAàApr\ +An\ td^b}œ (yvDAry  t^ ; 54;
yd^d£^vA nApr\ d[y\ yd^B(vA n pnB v, .
y>+A(vA nApr\ +  y\ td^b}œ (yvDAry  t^ ; 55;
Ety gv mD, pZ \ sEQ dAndm’ym^ .
ant\ En(ym  k\ yd^b}œ (yvDAry  t^ ; 56;
at•AvE!p  Z vdAt { l #yt  _vym^ .
aKXAndm  k\ ytd^b}œ (yvDAry  t^ ; 57;
aKXAnd!p-y t-yAndlvAE€tA, .

b}œAA-tArtMy  n Bv(yAnEdno_EKlA, ; 58;
t?tmEKl\ v-t &yvhAr-tdEvt, . var &yvhArE–dEvt,
t-mA(sv gt\ b}œ "Fr  sEp ErvAEKl  ; 59;
anv-Tlm -vmdFG mjm&yym^ .
a!pgZvZA Hy\ td^b}œ (yvDAry  t^ ; 60;
yd^BAsA BA-yt  _kA Ed BA-y{ y  n BA-yt  .
y n sv Emd\ BAEt td^b}œ(yvDAry  t^ ; 61;
-vymtb Eh&yA =y BAsyàEKl\ jgt^ .
b}œ þkAft  vE¡þt=tAysEpXvt^ ; 62;
jgE’l"Z\ b}œ b}œZo_yà Ek\ n .
b}œAyd^BAEt  EmLyA yTA mzmrFE kA ; 63;
d[yt €yt yd^b}œZo_yà td^Bv  t^ .
t‚v+AnAQ td^b}œ sEQ dAndm’ym^ ; 64;
sv g\ sEQ dA(mAn\ +An "En rF"t  .
a+An "n  "
 t BA-vt\ BAnmDvt^ ; 65;
€vZAEdEBzŒF=t+AnAE`npErtAEpt, .
jFv, sv mlAm?t, -vZ vd^ott  -vym^ ; 66;
ãdAkAfoEdto A(mA boDBAn-tmo_pãt^ .
sv &yApF sv DArF BAEt BAsyt  _EKlm^ ; 67;
Ed`d fkAlAnp  #y sv g\
fFtAEdãEà(ysK\ Enr\jnm^ .
y, -vA(mtFT \ Bjt  EvEnE ‡y,
s sv Ev(sv gto_mto Bv  t^ ; 68;
; iEt f\krA Ay EvrE t aA(mboD, smA=t, ;

Referen es in introdu tion

in lude notes from the translations by Swami Nikhilananda,
TMP Mahadevan, Vidyaratna Menon, and the sanskrit ommentary by Swami
Krishnanandashrami . Transliteration is by Kim Poulsen (
Comments by Giridhar giridhar hemeng.iis
Additional proofreading by Avinash Sathaye,
David Lyttle dhlyttlehotmail. om, and Sunder Hattangadi sunderhhotmail. om

Please send orre tions to sanskrit heerful. om

Last updated November 23, 2008