This week we will observe the jayanti of Adi Sankaracharya, one of the greatest of Self-realised souls and philosophers this world of ours has produced. Leaving home, in a spirit of renunciation and aspiration to realise the Reality at the tender age of eight years, he completed an unbelievable mission in the span of just a few years, passing away in his thirty-second year. During that period he did what is known as digvijaya (conquest of the quarters), carrying the banner of Advaita Vedanta, the supreme philosophy of absolute monism, into the four corners of India and overcoming all lesser schools of philosophy through his convincing, irrefutable arguments. His incredible work remains dynamically living, active and ever progressive even to this day, more than twelve hundred years after he propounded his doctrine.
quintessence of Advaita Vedanta is to affirm the truth and reality of your
essential, eternal, divine identity and to resolutely reject the error of
thinking of yourself as a finite human creature having a name and form,
beginning and end, and subject to changes such as birth, death, old age,
disease, decay, pain, sorrow, suffering etc. Resolutely rejecting this error and
simultaneously affirming your eternal, unchangeable divine identity is the
center of Advaita Vedanta sadhana. They call it affirming and rejecting,
pushtikarana and nirakarana — neti, neti.
most popular work, Vivekachudamani, is a call to discrimination between the Self
and non-Self— atma-anatma viveka. Atma is sat (existence absolute). Anatma is
appearance only, temporary in time, limited in space, perishable; it is kshara
purusha (perishable being). Atma is akshara purusha (imperishable being)—ajo
nit yah sasvato’yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire (Unborn, eternal,
changeless and ancient, the Self is not killed when the body is killed). Thus
the Vivekachudamani is a discourse, a treatise and a sadhana on discrimination
between the Self and the non-Self.
second work of his, Atma Bodha, is a light upon what the Self is. As you
discriminate between the Self and the non-Self, you get a good knowledge of what
the non-Self is, so you can reject it; you will not be deluded by it. You can
free yourself from the veil of delusion by knowing the nature of anatman. And
then, to be rooted in the Reality, to be fixed in It firmly, to be able to
think, reflect and meditate upon it and to awaken the correct awareness within
your consciousness, a thorough study of what the Self is of great importance and
value. To that end, Atma Bodha can be the way that God can gradually answer your
prayer, “tamaso ma jyotir gamaya” and “dhiyo yo nah prachodayat”
(“From darkness lead me unto Light” and “May He illumine our
To avoid that which is wrong, we have to get a knowledge of what wrong is; and to pursue and practise that which is right, we have the need to have a knowledge and a grasp of what right is, of what Reality and Truth is. Thus both the negative and positive aspects of Vedantic admonition are of equal importance in making the mind aware of its error and to make the intellect grasp the truth.
Brahman is the reality to be attained, why unnecessarily know about the world,
prapancha, samsara? The answer is that because you want to free yourself from
the delusion of the world, you must know the tricks of this deluding appearance.
Indeed, you must know everything about it, because it comes in numerous subtle
the world is outside us, but, by and large, the world or prapancha or samsara is
within us. We have to understand that. What is it within us that makes us regard
prapancha to be real and makes us move towards it, get attached to it, get bound
by it? What is it within us? That has to be rooted out, eradicated first. Thus
the study of avidya or maya within is the key to freeing ourselves from delusion
and rising from darkness to Light.
again and again reiterated: “Thou art immortal Soul. Thou art not this body
nor this mind. They are upadhis, limiting adjuncts temporarily added on to you;
they are there as part of your lesser personality, your earth consciousness. But
you are also there far beyond them, transcending them, a divine personality, a
supra-human spiritual reality, untouched by time and space, not bothered by
pain, sorrow and suffering.”
then, is to be heard, reflected upon and meditated upon. May you direct all your
attention to the practice of this truth which shall make you free. For it is
this truth that arouses in us our kinship with the eternal, universal Reality
paramatman. May the grace of the Lord grant you success in this sadhana of being
what you really are and of resisting the pull of the lower mind to make you
imagine that you are something other than this Reality.
Constantly you have to reject the attempts of the mind and its age-old, inveterate tendencies to keep itself tied down to a lower level of ignorance and mistaken identity. It should be given no quarter. By
strength of your will-power, your positive, awakened consciousness and your
resolute and determined sankalpa to attain realisation in this very body, you
must keep this process up. You must shine with an effulgent inner awareness of
your own essential, immortal and imperishable divine identity. Your interior
should be a mass of effulgence, of jnana prakasa. There should be a state of
jnana bodha within, a state of wakefulness within—no slumber. For this you
must pray, and for this you must practise.
week be permeated by the spirit of Jagat Guru Adi Sankaracharya, the Advaita
Acharya, and may it have the effect of successfully lifting up your
consciousness from the present, ordinary, humdrum human level of earth
consciousness into a lofty, sublime higher spiritual level of a divine spiritual
This article has been reproduced from "Awake! Realise Your Divinity! by Swami Chidananda.
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