Select Works of Sri Sankaracharya, tr. by S. Venkataramanan, , at sacred-texts.com
This treatise called "Knowledge of Self" is written for the sake of those whose sins have been destroyed by austerities and who, with a tranquil mind and free from attachment, long for liberation. (1).
Compared with all other means, knowledge is the only direct means to liberation. As cooking is impossible without fire, so is liberation impossible without knowledge. (2).
Ritual cannot dispel ignorance, because they are not mutually contradictory. But knowledge
surely destroys ignorance, as light destroys the densest darkness. (3).
The self appears to be conditioned by virtue of ignorance. But when that (ignorance) is destroyed, the unconditioned self shines by its own light, like the sun when the clouds have disappeared. (4).
Having purified, by repeated instruction, the soul that is turbid with ignorance, knowledge should efface itself, as the paste of the cleaning-nut does with water. * (5).
The phenomenal world, abounding in desire, hatred, etc., is verily like a dream. While
it lasts, it seems to be real, but, when one awakes, it becomes unreal. (6).
Like the (illusion of) silver in mother-o’-pearl, the world appears to be real only until the Supreme Self, the immutable reality behind everything, is realised. (7).
Like bubbles in water, the worlds are born, remain and dissolve in the Supreme Lord that is the material cause and foundation of all things. (8).
On the eternal Vishnu, who is pure existence and consciousness, as the common factor, all these various appearances are superimposed, like wristlets and other forms on gold. (9).
Like space, the Lord Vishnu, coming in contact with various conditions, appears to be different by reason of their differences, but is seen to be undifferentiated when those (conditions) are destroyed. (10).
Only by virtue of varying conditions are caste, name, periods of religious life, etc., imposed on the self, like taste, colour and other distinctions imposed on water. (11).
The place for experiencing happiness and misery, which is made up of the fivefold compounds of the great elements and is obtained as the result of past actions, is called the (dense) body. (12).
The instrument of enjoyment, which is made up of the uncompounded elements and which consists of the five life-forces, the mind, the consciousness, and the ten senses *, is the subtle body. (13).
The beginningless illusion that is indefinable is called the causal body. One should understand the self as other than these three bodies (or conditions). (14).
The pure self, by the relation of the five sheaths, etc., appears to assume their respective natures, like a crystal reflecting a blue cloth, etc. (15).
One should separate the grain of the pure inner self from the chaff of the body and- other sheaths by the threshing of reason. (16).
Although the self is at all times and in all things, yet it cannot shine in everything, but will shine only in the consciousness, just as a reflection will appear only in polished surfaces. (17).
One should understand the self to be always like a king, different from the body, senses, mind, consciousness, and eyes, the witness of their activities. (18).
To the indiscriminating, the self appears to be active while (in reality) the senses (alone) are active, in the same way that the moon is seen as if running, when the clouds move. (19).
The body, senses, mind and consciousness, carry on their respective activities by depending on the consciousness of the self, like men depending on the sun's light. (20).
Owing to indiscrimination, men attribute the qualities and activities of the body and the senses to the self that is pure existence and consciousness *, in the same way as blue colour is attributed to the sky. (21).
Moreover, the nature of doer, etc., that belongs to the conditioning mind, is attributed to the self, just as the motion, etc., of water is attributed to the refection of the moon therein. (22).
Passions, desires, happiness, misery, etc., exercise their function when the consciousness is present, and do not exist in deep sleep when the consciousness is absent. They belong, therefore, to the consciousness and not to the self. (23).
As light is the very nature of the sun, coldness of water, heat of fire, so are being, consciousness, bliss, eternity and absoluteness the very nature of the self. (24).
By indiscriminately mixing up the aspect of being and consciousness of the self with the function of the individual consciousness, there springs up the idea "I know." (25).
The self undergoes no modification, nor can knowledge arise in any manner from individual consciousness (alone). And yet, one ignorantly imagines that the individual soul knows, does and sees everything well. (26).
By mistaking the self to be the individual soul, as a rope for a serpent, one is subject to fear. But if he realises, "I am not the individual soul, but the Supreme Self," then he is free from fear. (27).
The self alone illumines the consciousness; the senses, etc., as a light reveals the pot and other objects; (but) one's own self is not illumined by the illuminable objects. * (28).
The very nature of the self being knowledge, it does not depend, for a knowledge of itself, on any other knowledge, in the same way as a light does not need another light to reveal itself. (29).
Eliminating all limitations with the help of the passage "not this, not this," one should realise the identity of the individual soul and the supreme self by means of the principal scriptural passages. (30).
The body and other objects of perception are the products of ignorance and are as evanescent as bubbles. The self that is unconditioned is other than these and should be understood as "I am Brahman." (31).
Birth, old age, decay, death, etc., are not for me, because I am other than the body. Sound and other objects of sense have no connection with me, for I am other than the senses. (32).
I am not the mind, and, therefore, sorrow, desire, hatred, fear, etc., are not for me. As declared by the scripture, the self is neither the senses nor mind, but is unconditioned. (33).
I am attributeless, functionless, eternal, doubtless, stainless, changeless, formless, eternally free, and unconditioned. (34).
Like ether, I pervade everything, inside and outside. I am imperishable, ever the established (truth), alike to all, unattached, unconditioned, imperturbable. (35).
I am that very supreme Brahman that is reality, knowledge and infinity, that is ever unconditioned and ever free, the one undivided bliss that is without a second. (36).
Such incessant impression on the mind that "I am only Brahman" removes the turbulences of ignorance, as the elixir of life cures all diseases. (37).
Sitting in a lonely place, free of all passions, with the senses subjugated, one should contemplate that one infinite self, without thinking of anything else. (38).
A wise man should, by his intelligence, submerge, in the self all that is objective and should ever contemplate the one self that is like unlimited space. (39).
One who has realised the supreme truth gives up everything, such as form, caste, etc., and abides, by nature, in (the self that is) infinite consciousness and bliss. (40).
The distinction of knower, knowledge and the known does not exist in respect of the supreme self. Being sole consciousness and bliss, it shines by itself alone. (41).
The flame of knowledge that arises by this constant churning of meditation on the wood * of the self, will completely burn away the fuel of ignorance. (42).
When knowledge has destroyed ignorance, the self will manifest itself, in the same way as the sun rises as soon as the dawn † of day has dispelled darkness. (43).
The self, that is ever with us, appears, by ignorance, as if it were unattained and, when that (ignorance) is destroyed, attained, like one's own necklace. * (44).
The condition of individual soul has been imposed on Brahman by illusion, as the form of a man on a post, but disappears when the true nature of the individual soul is realised. (45).
The knowledge that arises from the realisation of one's own true nature, directly destroys the illusion of "I" and "mine" which resembles the confusion of the directions. † (46).
The devotee (yogin) that has gained right realisation sees all things, by the eye of knowledge, as existing in his own self, and the one self as all things. (47).
He sees all things as his own self in the same way as one sees pots, etc., as (mere) clay; (for), all this universe is only the self, and there is naught other than the self. (48).
Liberation-while-living means that the wise person, having abandoned his former limitations and qualities, and acquiring the properties of being, consciousness (and bliss), attains Brahman, in the same way as the worm becomes the wasp. (49).
Having crossed the ocean of ignorance and having slain the demons of likes and dislikes, etc., the seer, united to tranquillity, is supremely happy in the enjoyment of the bliss of his own self *. (50).
Leaving aside all attachments to external and transient pleasures, and happy in the bliss of the self, such a one, for ever, shines within, like a light inside a globe. (51).
The seer, though remaining amidst limitations, should yet be unaffected by their qualities, like space. Knowing all, he should be like one that knows not, and should wander about, unattached, like the wind. (52).
When the limitations disappear, the seer merges unreservedly in the Supreme (vishnu), like water in water, space in space, or light in light. (53).
Than gaining which there is no greater gain, than whose bliss there is no higher bliss, than knowing which there is no higher knowledge,—that should be understood as Brahman. (54).
Seeing which naught else remains to be seen, becoming which there is no becoming * again, knowing which naught else remains to be known,—that should he understood as Brahman. (55).
That which is all-pervading, around, above, below, which is being, consciousness and bliss,
which is without a second, without end, eternal, sole,—that should be understood as Brahman. (56).
The immutable, the one uninterrupted bliss, which is indicated by the Vedanta by excluding what is not it,—that should be understood as Brahman. (57).
(The four-faced) Brahma and others, that are but parts of that self which is uninterrupted bliss, become happy, each in his own degree, by possessing a particle of that bliss. (58).
Every object (is such because. it) possesses that. All activity has consciousness running through it *. The Supreme Self, therefore, pervades
the whole universe, as butter is in every part of milk. (59).
That which is neither subtle nor dense, neither short nor long, which is unborn, immutable, devoid of form, quality, caste or name,—that should be understood as Brahman. (60).
By whose light the sun, etc., shine, but which is not illumined by these that are illuminable, and by virtue of which all this (universe) shines *,—that should be understood as Brahman. (61).
Pervading the whole universe, internally and externally, and illumining it, the Brahman shines by itself, like a red-hot iron ball. (62).
The Brahman is different from the universe. There is naught other than Brahman. If anything other than Brahman is perceived, it is as unreal as the mirage in the desert. (63).
Whatever is seen or heard, other than Brahman, cannot be (real). Even that is Brahman, the secondless being, consciousness and bliss, when the reality is known. (64).
He who has the eye of knowledge sees Brahman that is being, consciousness and bliss, in all things; but he who has not the eye of knowledge cannot see it thus, as a blind man cannot see the shining sun. (65).
The individual soul, melted in the fire of knowledge kindled by instruction, etc., is freed from all taints, like gold, and shines by itself. (66).
The self is the sun of knowledge that, rising in the firmament of the heart, destroys the darkness of ignorance, and, pervading all and supporting all, shines—and makes everything shine. (67).
He who, unmindful of (the limitations of) direction, space, time, etc., and perfectly tranquil, attains the sanctum of the self, that is the all-pervading, stainless, eternal bliss
which dispels (all qualities like heat and) cold, etc.,—he becomes all-knowing, all-pervading, and immortal. (68).
Thus ends Knowledge of Self.
161:* The cleaning-nut, rubbed into a paste and thrown into dirty water, clears the water and itself settles down along with the dirt as a sediment.
164:* The five senses of perception and the five motor members of the body.
166:* The self is absolute consciousness as distinguished from buddhi, the individual consciousness.
169:* The mind, senses, etc.
173:* Araṇi wood, used to kindle fire for sacrifices by churning it.
173:† Aruṇa, the charioteer of the sun; the dawn-god.
174:* One appears to search for his necklace and find it, although it has been on his neck all the time.
174:† One who mistakes the directions, north, east, etc., corrects himself as soon as be clearly understands his own position.
176:* This an allegorical explanation, incidentally, of the story of the Râmâyaṇa.
178:* These are the sat (being) and chit (consciousness) aspects of the self. The ânanda (bliss) aspect has been dealt with in the previous verse.
179:* Is manifest; is perceived.