Discrimination’ is one of the greatest texts written by Adi Sankaracharya, in
581 verses, as an introduction to
Vedanta. A careful study of these verses
will be of immense help to the aspirants on the spiritual path. Given below
are selected slokas from this work maintaining the continuity of the
narrative. The bare translations (leaving out the detailed commentary) are
based on those of Swami Chinmayananda in ‘Talks on Sankara’s ‘Vivekachoodamani’
published by the Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai.
PERCEIVED “I” –FACTOR —FALSE
जानाम्यहं सर्वमिति प्रतीतिः
fleeting. How then can the apparent “I
know all” be true of the ego etc. which are momentary.
etc. It is always there, even in
deep-sleep. “It is unborn, Eternal”,
says Sruti herself. Different, therefore, from the gross and the
subtle is Paramatman
in all things which are liable to change, must doubtless be Eternal and
Changeless. Again and again, the unreality of the gross and the subtle bodies
is clearly perceived in one’s fancy, dream and deep-sleep.
with the ego or the subtle body, all of which are the imaginations of the
intellect. By realising your own Self
which is Absolute Knowledge, which cannot be denied in the three periods of time,
attain to the state of supreme Peace.
family, lineage, name, form and order in life – attributes of the body which is
like a foul corpse. So too, renounce
your ideas of agency etc. – attributes of the subtle body. Thus become the very essence of Absolute
प्रतिबन्धाः पुंसः संसारहेतवो दृष्टाः
मूलं प्रथमविकारो भवत्यहंकारः ॥२९८॥
obstacles also which hurl man into a whirl of births and deaths. Their one root — for the reasons given above – is the ego,
the first modification of ignorance.
मुक्तिवार्ता विलक्षणा ॥२९९॥
with this vile ego, so long there should not be even the slightest talk about
liberation, which is unparalleled.
पूर्णः सदानन्दः स्वयंप्रभः ॥३००॥
the moon freed from the eclipse, man gains his true nature and becomes
Untainted, Infinite, Ever-blissful and Self-effulgent.
by the intellect, which is deluded by “nescience” and which is perceived in
this body as “I am-so-and-so” — when this
ego-sense is totally annihilated, one attains an unobstructed identity with
there is no transmigration for You, who are immutable and Eternally the Same,
Knowledge-Absolute, Omni-present, Bliss-Absolute and of unsullied glory.
AND VASANAS – RENOUNCE
ego, not a single moment’s rest should be given to it to ruminate over
sense-objects. That is verily the cause
of its returning to life, just like water is the cause for the flowering of a
citron tree, that has dried up before.
संस्थित एव कामी
कामयिता कथं स्यात्।
body, is greedy of sense-pleasures. How
can one devoid of the body-idea be greedy?
Hence, the tendency to ruminate over sense-objects is, indeed, the cause
for the “bondage of becoming”, and the idea of distinction or duality.
कार्यं कार्यवृद्ध्या च वासना
पुंसः संसारो न निवर्तते ॥३१३॥
egocentric “work” increases, and when there is an increase in egocentric ”work”, there is an increase in vasanas
also. Thus, man’s transmigration never
comes to an end.
चिन्तया क्रियया बहिः ॥३१४॥
chain-of-transmigration, one should burn to ashes these two, for, thinking of sense-objects and doing selfish
action lead to increase of vasanas.
यथा तमिस्रा ॥३१८॥
has risen to expression, the ego-centric vasanas will readily disappear, as the
most intense darkness completely disappears in the glow of the rising sun.
सति कर्मबन्धे ॥३२०॥
external and internal to vanish, and meditating upon the Reality, the
Bliss-Embodied, one should pass one’s time watchfully for any residual prarabdha
प्रमादो ब्रह्मनिष्ठायां न कर्तव्यः कदाचन ।
attunement with Brahman. Bhagavan Sanatkumara, the Creator’s own son, has
called inadvertence death itself.
दृष्ट्वा विद्वांसमपि विस्मृतिः।
धीर्दोषैर्योषा जारमिव प्रियम्॥३२३॥
the sense-objects, forgetfulness torments him through the evil propensities of
the intellect, as a woman torments her doting paramour.
शैवालं क्षणमात्रं न तिष्ठति।
माया प्राज्ञं वापि पराङ्मुखम्॥३२४॥
away for a moment, but closes up to cover the water again, so also Maya, or
Nescience, covers even a wise-man, if he ever gets extrovert.
कामात्पुंसः प्रवर्तनम् ॥३२६॥
it reflects upon their qualities. From
mature reflection arises desire. After
desiring, a man sets about to gain that thing, and thus fulfil his desire.
ब्रह्मविदः समाधौ ।
भव सावधानः ॥३२९॥
of Brahman there is no greater death than inadvertence to meditation. But the man who meditates regularly attains
complete success. (Therefore) carefully
meditate (upon Brahman) in your mind.
IN THE ONE, NO PLURALITY
जीवतो यस्य कैवल्यं विदेहे स च केवलः।
भेदं भयं ब्रूते यजुःश्रुतिः ॥३३०॥
living, is alone; really aloof after the dissolution of the body. The Yajurveda
declares that there is fear for one who sees even the least bit of distinction.
यः स्वात्ममतिं करोति।
स मलिम्लुचो यथा ॥३३२॥
objective Universe, which has been denied by hundreds of Srutis and reasonings,
suffers one misery after another, like a thief – for he indulges in something
the Reality, and is free from Nescience, attains to the eternal glory of the
Atman. But he who dwells on the
‘unreal’, is destroyed. That this is so is illustrated in the case of one who
is not a thief and one who is a thief.
पदवी विमुक्तेः ॥३३६॥
the mind becomes quiet, and in the quiet mind arises the vision of the Paramatman.
When “that” is perfectly realised, the chain of births and deaths is broken. Hence the shutting out of the external world
is the initial step for reaching liberation.
अन्तर्बहिः स्वं स्थिरजङ्गमेषु
यः स्थित एष मुक्तः ॥३३९॥
through his mind in all moving and unmoving objects and observing it as their
substratum, renounces all superimpositions and remains as the Absolute and the
Self” is the means of release from all sense of bondage. There is nothing higher than realising the
“Universe-as-the-Self”. One realises this state by excluding the objective
world through steadfastness in the Eternal Atman.
कथं नु घटते देहात्मना तिष्ठतो
करणीयमात्मनि सदानन्देच्छुभिर्यत्नतः ॥३४१॥
objective-world possible for him who lives identified with the body, whose mind
is attached to the perception of external objects, and who performs various
acts for that end? This exclusion should
be carefully practised by sages who have renounced all kinds of duties and
actions and objects,
Eternal Atman and who wish to possess undying Absolute Bliss.
हि वासनाः ॥३४३॥
suddenly destroy the ego, once it has become strong –except for those who have
become perfectly calm through nirvikalpa samadhi. Indeed, desires are the effects of
पुरुषं विक्षेपयति तद्गुणैः ॥३४४॥
of the ‘veiling power’ confuses the man with storms of egoistic ideas, and
distracts him through the attributes of that agitation.
नहि तदा यदि चेन्मृषार्थे ॥३४५॥
“projecting power” unless the “veiling power” is perfectly rooted out. And that covering over the Atman naturally
vanishes when the subject is perfectly distinguished from the objects, like
milk from water. But the victory is undoubtedly complete and it becomes free
from all obstacles, when there is no oscillation of the mind due to the false
पुनर्न संसृतिः ॥३४६॥
direct realisation distinguishes the true nature of the ‘subject’ from that of
the ‘object’ and snaps the bond of delusion created by Maya. There is no more
transmigration for one who has liberated himself from this.
indeed, when Reality is fully experienced.
Soon follows the destruction of false understanding and the cessation of
misery— brought about by agitations, created by the false knowledge.
दृष्टं सम्यग्रज्जुस्वरूप विज्ञानात् ।
ज्ञातव्यं बन्धमुक्तये विदुषा ॥३४९॥
when its true nature is fully comprehended –
place and (3)the fear arising from the snake.
nature of things in order to break his bonds.
तु कदापि नान्यथा ॥३५१॥
with fire manifests as fire, the intellect manifests itself as the knower and
the known through the immanence of Brahman. These two – the effects of the intellect – are
observed to be unreal as in delusion, dream and imagination; so too, the
modifications of Prakriti, from the ego down to the gross body and all
the sense-objects are also unreal. Their
unreality is, indeed, due to their being subject to change every moment. And the
Atman never changes.
स्वयमेव शाम्यति ॥३५३॥
between the Real and the unreal, establishing the Truth by the insight of his
Knowledge and realising his own Self to be unbroken Knowledge, becomes free and
himself attains Peace.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the heart’s ‘knots of ignorance’ are completely destroyed.
समाधावस्य सर्वो विकल्पो
concepts are fancied in the Supreme Self which is Absolute and non-dual, due to
inherent defects of the intellect. When
the real nature of Brahman is realised in Samadhi all these concepts are
परमुपरतः क्षान्तियुक्तः समाधिं
कलयति यतिः स्वस्य सर्वात्मभावम्।
निवसति सुखं निष्क्रियो निर्विकल्पः॥३५६॥
withdrawn from sense-objects, steadfast in silently enduring, struggling to
attain Samadhi, the seeker always contemplates on his own Self as the
Self in the universe. Destroying, by
these means, all imaginations which arise from the blindness of ignorance, he
lives blissfully as Brahman, free from egocentric actions and oscillations of
चेतः स्वमहं चिदात्मनि।
birth and death who, having attained Samadhi, merge the objective world, the sense-organs,
the mind, nay, the very ego, in the Atman, the Knowledge Absolute; none else who blabber about their indirect
extremely subtle and cannot be reached by the gross out-going tendency of the
mind. It is accessible to noble ones
with extremely pure intellects, through Samadhi, brought about by an
extra-ordinary subtlety of the mind.
लक्षगुणमनन्तं निर्विकल्पकम् ॥३६५॥
hundred times superior to “listening” and “meditation” a hundred thousand times
superior to “reflection”; but Nirvikalpa Samadhi is infinitely more
definitely manifest, never otherwise, for then, the mind being unsteady, is apt
to be mixed with other perceptions.
शमेन विलयं यायादहंवासना।
ब्राह्मी सदा योगिनः
एव सततं कार्यः प्रयत्नान्मुनेः ॥३६९॥
sense organs, control of the senses serves to control the mind, and by
controlling the mind the ego is destroyed; this gives the Yogi an Absolute Realisation of
the Bliss of Brahman. Hence the man of
reflection should always strive to quieten his mind alone.
यच्छ च बुद्धिसाक्षिणि।
परमां भजस्व ॥३७०॥
restrain the mind in the intellect and this again restrain in the “Witness of
the Intellect”, and merging that too in the Infinite Absolute Self, gain
बहिस्त्यागो विरक्तस्यैव युज्यते।
विरक्तस्तु मुमुक्षया ॥३७३॥
this internal and external renunciation; for the man of dispassion, out of his
desire to be free, readily renounces both internal and external attachments.
शक्नोति त्यक्तुं ब्रह्मणि निष्ठितः ॥३७४॥
thoroughly established in Brahman, can give up his external attachment for
objects and internal attachment to the ego etc.
नान्यतरेण सिद्ध्यति ॥३७५॥
dispassion and discrimination in an aspirant are like the two wings of a bird;
unless both are active, no one can take the help of just one and fly to the
creeper of liberation which grows, as it were, atop a bungalow.
परं सुखस्य जनकं पश्यामि वश्यात्मन–
सदात्मनि सदा प्रज्ञां कुरु श्रेयसे ॥३७७॥
better generator of happiness than dispassion and if that is coupled with a
clear Realisation of the Self, it brings about absolute sovereignty, within and
without. And since this is the gateway to
the damsel of permanent liberation, so for your own well-being be dispassionate
both within and without, always fixing your mind on the Eternal Self.
विषोपमेषु विषयेष्वेषैव मृत्योः कृति–
जातिकुलाश्रमेष्वभिमतिं मुञ्चातिदूरात्क्रियाः ।
त्यजात्मधिषणां प्रज्ञां कुरुष्वात्मनि
निर्द्वयपरं ब्रह्मासि यद्वस्तुतः ॥३७८॥
objects which are like poison – it is the very image of death; and giving up
your pride of caste, family, order of life, throw far away all selfish
actions. Renounce your identification
with such unreal things as the body and fix your mind upon the Self. For in reality, you are the Witness, Brahman,
untainted by the mind, Non-dual, Supreme.
मानसं दृढतरं संस्थाप्य बाह्येन्द्रियं
विनिवेश्य निश्चलतनुश्चोपेक्ष्य देहस्थितिम्।
पिबात्मनि मुदा शून्यैः किमन्यैर्भृशम् ॥३७९॥
point of concentration, restraining the sense-organs in their respective
centres, holding the body steady and giving up all thought for its maintenance,
attaining identity with Brahman and being One with it, continuously drink the
Bliss of Brahman in your own Self. Of what use are other things? They are entirely false, empty!
त्यक्त्वा कश्मलं दुःखकारणम्।
not-Self which is evil and productive of misery, think of the Self, the Bliss Absolute,
which conduces to liberation.
Self-effulgent Witness of all things, which has the intellect for its
seat. Making this Atman, which is
distinct from the unreal, your point of contemplation, meditate upon it as your
own Self, eliminating all other thoughts.
Atman, with no intervention of any other thought, one must distinctly realise
It as one’s own Real Self.
तेषु तिष्ठेत्स्फुटघटादिवत् ॥३८३॥
this Self, and by renouncing all identifications with the ego etc. one must
live with no concern for them, as if they were trifles like a broken pot or the
ATTENTION TO SELF
upon the Self which is the Witness and Knowledge Absolute, and little by little
making it quiet one must try to realise one’s infinite Self.
sense organs, Pranas, mind and ego which are the projections of one’s
ignorance, let one come to realise the Atman, the indivisible and infinite,
like the great endless sky.
limitations such as a pot, a pitcher, a barn or a needle, space is recognised as one and not
many. So too, Brahman is indeed one,
when denuded of the ego etc.
insignificant unicellular organism, all conditionings are quite unreal.
Therefore one should realise one’s Self as the only existent Principle.
to exist, there, on right discrimination, the Real itself is re-cognised. There is nothing other than it. With the
error removed, the falsely perceived snake itself becomes the rope, so too, the
entire universe is, in truth, only the Atman.
the Self is Indra, the Self is Shiva, the Self is the entire Universe. Indeed,
nothing exists except the Self.
the Self is in front, the Self is behind; the Self is to the South, the Self is
to the North; so too it is above and below.
whirlpool, the bubbles etc. are all in essence nothing but water, so too, the
Chit is everything from the body etc. to the ego. Truly, everything is the homogeneous, pure
and mind is nothing but Brahman. There is nothing but Brahman, which exists
even beyond the pale of prakriti.
Can the pitcher, jug, pot etc. ever by anything other than the mud of
which they are made? As an effect of the wine of Maya, the deluded man talks of
“you” and “me”.
untainted, absolute, limitless, motionless and without modifications; it has
neither an inside nor an outside; it is One Existence and Non-dual and is one’s
own Self. Is there any other thing to be
subject? The Jeeva is nothing but Brahman; the whole expanse of this universe
is nothing but Brahman. Sruti points out Brahman as being non-dual, and it is
an undeniable fact that those who are enlightened, who have established their
identity with Brahman and who have given up their associations with the outside
world, live ever in union with Brahman, Eternal Knowledge and Bliss.
body, he is impure and suffers from birth, death and disease. But when he thinks of himself as the Pure,
the Auspicious, the Immovable, certainly he becomes free from them – the Srutis
also testify to this.