Select Works of Sri Sankaracharya, tr. by S. Venkataramanan, , at sacred-texts.com
I salute the Lord of Lakshmî, the cause of creation, preservation and dissolution, the Lord of the universe possessing inconceivable power, omniscient, infinite in form, free of all bondage, the ocean of unbounded bliss, the concentration of pure knowledge. (1).
I ever prostrate to the lotus-feet of Him by whose grace I always realise the nature of the
self to the effect that I alone am the Supreme and that all things are merely superimposed on me. (2).
Sorely afflicted by the sun of the three miseries *, and perplexed in mind, some one, after acquiring the qualifications of mind-control, etc., asks the good Master as follows. (3).
O Lord, out of mere mercy, tell me briefly bow I may, without (much) effort, be liberated from this bondage of births and deaths. (4).
(The Master replies.) The manner of thy speech seems to me to be excellent. I shall explain to thee clearly which is which. Listen with an attentive mind. (5).
The knowledge relating to the identity of the individual soul and the Supreme Self that arises from texts like "That thou art," is the means to liberation. (6).
What is the individual soul? What is the Supreme Self? How can there be identity between the two? And how can texts like "That thou art" express the same? (7).
We shall explain it (thus). What else, indeed, is the individual soul except thou alone. Thou that questionest me, 'who am I', art Brahman itself, without doubt. (8).
I have not yet clearly grasped, O Lord, even the meaning of the words, "I am Brahman." How can I understand, tell me, the meaning of the sentence (as a whole)? (9).
What thou sayest is true and free from reproach. For, a knowledge of the word-meaning is indeed essential for the understanding of the sentence-meaning. (10).
Why dost thou not understand thyself,—thou whose very nature is reality and bliss and (pure) consciousness that is the witness of the individual consciousness and all its workings? (11).
Leaving aside all thought relating to the body, etc., thou shouldst ever meditate upon
that whose nature is reality, bliss, and knowledge and which is the witness of consciousness, as thyself. (12).
Because the body has form, etc., like an earthen vessel or other object, and is, like an earthen vessel, composed of the (five) great elements, ether, etc., it cannot be the self. (13).
If, for the reasons aforesaid, this body is not the self; reveal the self, then, as clearly as a berry in the hand. (14).
As the witness of an earthen pot is different, from the pot and is not the pot in any sense, so is the witness of the body. Understand, therefore, "I am not the body." (15).
Conclude, in the same way, "I am the witness of the senses and not the senses themselves." So, too, understand, "I am not the mind, the consciousness, or the life-force." (16).
Also "I am not the combination (of these)." Understand, thus, by intelligent reasoning, the witness that is distinct from the object. (17).
Understand “I am He by whose mere proximity, the body, senses and other object become of (all) activities like selection, etc. (18).
Understand “I am that inner self which impels, the consciousness, etc., but is itself unchanging, like the lodestone. (19).
Understand “I am He by whose proximity, the body, senses, mind, and life-forces, though motionless, vet seem like the self that is not so. (20).
'My mind had gone elsewhere, but has now been steadied.' Understand "I am He who knows the above activity of the mind." (21).
Understand “I am He who is the direct witness, himself changeless, of waking, dream and sleep, and of the presence and absence of objects, and of all phases of consciousness. (22).
As it is admitted that the light revealing (the presence of) a pot is other than the pot, so am I of the nature of knowledge, the dweller in the body that reveals the body. (23).
Understand "I am the witness that is the dearest of all, for whose sake alone, sons, wealth and other objects are dear." (24).
Understand "I am the witness who, being himself the object of highest love, feels 'let me never cease to be, but let me ever exist.'" (25).
The consciousness that is the witness is said to be the meaning of the word "thou." The
self is the witness and the knower, because it is devoid of change. (26).
By the word "thou" is denoted that which is different from the body, senses, mind, life-forces, and ego, and is entirely devoid of the six states * or other change. (27).
Having thus understood the meaning of "thou," one should then contemplate the meaning of "that," both by eliminating what is not 'that' and by means of direct definitions thereof. (28).
Bereft of all taint of phenomenal existence, characterised by phrases like "not dense, etc.",
qualified by non-objectivity, etc., free from the stain of nescience, (29),
Bliss unsurpassed, reality, knowledge, and existence by nature, all-filling,—'that' is spoken of as the Supreme Self. (30).
Understand that to be the Brahman in respect of which the Vedas assert omniscience, supreme lordship and omnipotence. (31).
Understand that to be the Brahman of which the Vedas explain, by various illustrations like clay *, etc., that, by knowing it, all things are known: (32).
Understand that to be the Brahman, of which the Vedas enunciate infinitude and, to establish it, declare the universe to be the effect of that. * (33).
Understand that to he the Brahman which, in the Vedânta, is established, by close reasoning, as the (only) thing to be realised by the aspirants for liberation. (34).
Understand that to he the Brahman which is spoken of in the Vedas as having entered all beings as their souls and controlling them. (35).
Understand that to be the Brahman which alone is spoken of in the Vedas as the bestower of the reward of actions and the originator of the cause † of individual existence. (36).
The meanings of the words 'that' and 'thou' have been determined. The meaning of the sentence will now be dealt with. This sentence-meaning is the identity between those same two word-meanings. (37)
The accepted meaning of the sentence, in this case, is neither co-existence nor particularisation. The meaning of the sentence, as accepted by the wise, is essential identity without reservation. (38).
What appears as the inner consciousness is that whose characteristic is secondless bliss, whose nature is secondless bliss, and whose sole definition is inner consciousness. (39).
When the mutual identity of the two is thus understood, then only will the non-Brahmanness of the word-meaning 'thou' be eliminated. (40).
as also the unknownness of the word-meaning of 'that.' If it be so, what then? Listen. The inner consciousness remains absolutely as infinite bliss by nature. (41).
Further, a sentence like 'that thou art,' in order to denote identity, proceeds on the basis of the secondary * meaning of the two words 'that' and 'thou.' (42).
We shall carefully explain how the sentence makes its own meaning clear, by excluding the expressed meanings of the two words, which are mixed up. (43).
The consciousness, conditioned by the mind, which appears as the connecting link between the idea "I" and the word "I", is expressed by the word "thou". (44).
The first cause of the worlds, conditioned by nescience (mâyâ), characterised by omniscience, etc. *, of the nature of reality, etc. †, and affected by non-cognisability, is expressed by the word "that". (45).
(But) cognisability and non-cognisability, having a second and being .infinite, are inconsistent in respect of the same thing. Hence is the necessity for the derived (or secondary) meaning. (46).
When the adoption of the primary meaning is inconsistent with other (established) proofs, the adoption of a meaning not unconnected with the principal meaning, is called the derivation of meaning (lakshanâ). (47).
The derivation of meaning, in the case of passages like "that thou art", is a partial derivation, and no other as in the case of the words in sentences like "This is he". (48).
Until the sentence-meaning of "I am Brahman" is firmly understood, so long should one possess control of mind, etc., and practise (the expedients of hearing, * etc.). (49).
When, by the grace of the Vedic teacher, one gets a firm understanding (of the above sentence), then is he entirely free from phenomenal condition and its cause. † (50).
All ends and means destroyed, unconditioned by the elements and the subtler bodies, and free from the bonds of action, such a one is immediately liberated. (51).
When, by the destruction of the bondage of past actions not yet ripe for enjoyment, one becomes liberated while living, he remains as such for a short time by virtue of such of his past actions as have brought about his present life. (52).
(Thereafter) he attains absolute liberation without any more birth, which is of the nature of unsurpassed bliss and is known as the supreme abode of Vishnu. (53).
Here ends the Commentary on the Text.
184:* See footnote on page 86.
191:* Birth, existence, growth, maturity, decay, and death.
192:* By knowing clay, all clay things like pot, etc., are known.
193:* i.e., Brahman is the cause of the universe.
193:† Mâyâ or nescience.
195:* Lakshya, secondary, indirect or derived, as opposed to vächya, primary, direct or expressed.
196:* Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence.
196:† Reality, knowledge, infinity.
197:* Hearing, meditation and concentration.
197:† Nescience or mâyâ.