Upadesa Sahasri (A Thousand Teachings)
By Adi Sankaracharya, Translated by Swami Jagadananda
Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai
Part - I [Prose]
Chapter - I
A method of enlightening the disciple
1. We shall now explain a method of teaching the means to liberation for the benefit of those aspirants after liberation who are desirous (of this teaching) and are possessed of faith (in it).
2. That means to liberation, viz., Knowledge, should be explained again and again until it is firmly grasped, to a pure Brahmana disciple who is indifferent to everything that is transitory and achievable through certain means, who has given up the desire for a son, for wealth and for this world and the next, who has adopted the life of a wandering monk and is endowed with control over the mind and senses, with compassion etc., as well as with the qualities of a disciple well-known in the scriptures and who has approached the teacher in the prescribed manner and has been examined in respect of his caste, profession, conduct, learning and parentage.
3. The Sruti also says, “A Brahmana after examining those worlds which are the result of Vedic actions should be indifferent to them seeing that nothing eternal can be achieved by means of those actions. Then, with fuel in his hands he should approach a teacher versed in the Vedas and established in Brahman in order to know the Eternal. The learned teacher should correctly explain to that disciple who has self-control and a tranquil mind and has approached him in the prescribed manner, the knowledge of Brahman revealing the imperishable and the eternal Being”. For only when knowledge is firmly grasped, it conduces to one’s own good and is capable of transmission. This transmission of knowledge is helpful to people, like a boat to one who wants to cross a river. The scriptures too say, “Although one may give to the teacher this world surrounded by oceans and full of riches, this knowledge is even greater than that”. Otherwise there would be no attainment of knowledge. For the Srutis say, “A man having a teacher can know Brahman”, “Knowledge received from a teacher alone (becomes perfect)”, “The teacher is the pilot”, “Right Knowledge is called in this world a raft”, etc. The Smriti also says, “Knowledge will be imparted to you” etc.
4. When the teacher finds from signs that knowledge has not been grasped (or has been wrongly grasped) by the disciple he should remove the causes of non-comprehension which are: past and present sins, laxity, want of previous firm knowledge of what constitutes the subjects of discrimination between the eternal and the non-eternal, courting popular esteem, vanity of caste etc., and so on, through means contrary to those causes, enjoined by the Srutis and Smritis, viz., avoidance of anger etc., and the vows (Yama) consisting of non-injury etc., also the rules of conduct that are not inconsistent with knowledge.
5. He should also thoroughly impress upon the disciple qualities like humility, which are the means to knowledge.
6. The teacher is one who is endowed with the power of furnishing arguments pro and con, of understanding questions and remembering them, who possesses tranquillity, self-control, compassion and a desire to help others, who is versed in the scriptures and unattached to enjoyments both seen and unseen, who has renounced the means to all kinds of actions, who is a knower of Brahman and is established in it, who is never a transgressor of the rules of conduct and who is devoid of shortcomings such as ostentation, pride, deceit, cunning, jugglery, jealousy, falsehood, egotism and attachment. He has the sole aim of helping others and a desire to impart the knowledge of Brahman only. He should first of all teach the Sruti texts establishing the oneness of the self with Brahman such as, “My child, in the beginning it (the universe) was Existence only, one alone without a second”, “Where one sees nothing else” “All this is but the Self”, “In the beginning all this was but the one Self” and “All this is verily Brahman”.
7-8. After teaching these he should teach the definition of Brahman through such Sruti texts as “The self, devoid of sins”, “The Brahman that is immediate and direct”, “That which is beyond hunger and thirst”, “Not-this, not-this”, “Neither gross nor subtle”, “This Self is not-this”, “It is the Seer Itself unseen”, “Knowledge-Bliss”, “Existence-Knowledge-Infinite”, “Imperceptible, bodiless”, “That great unborn Self”, “Without the vital force and the mind”, “Unborn, comprising the interiorn and exterior”, “Consisting of knowledge only”, “Without interior or exterior”, “It is verily beyond what is known as also what is unknown” and “Called Akasa (the self-effulgent One)”; and also through such Smriti texts as the following: “It is neither born nor dies”, “It is not affected by anybody’s sins”, “Just as air is always in the ether”, “The individual Self should be regarded as the universal one”, “It is called neither existent nor non-existent”, “As the Self is beginningless and devoid of qualities”, “The same in all beings” and “The Supreme Being is different” – all these support the definition given by the Srutis and prove that the innermost Self is beyond transmigratory existence and that it is not different from Brahman, the all-comprehensive principle.
9. The disciple who has thus learnt the definition of the inner Self from the Srutis and the Smritis and is eager to cross the ocean of transmigratory existence is asked, “Who are you, my child ?”
10-11. If he says, “I am the son of a Brahmana belonging to such and such a lineage; I was a student or a householder and am now a wandering monk anxious to cross the ocean of transmigratory existence infested with the terrible sharks of birth and death”, the teacher should say, “My child, how do you desire to go beyond transmigratory existence as your body will be eaten up by birds or will turn into earth even here when you die ? For, burnt to ashes on this side of the river, you cannot cross to the other side”.
12-13. If he says, “I am different from the body. The body is born and it dies; it is eaten up by birds, is destroyed by weapons, fire etc., and suffers from diseases and the like. I have entered it, like a bird its nest, on account of merit and demerit accruing from acts done by myself and like a bird going to another nest when the previous one is destroyed I shall enter into different bodies again and again as a result of merits and demerits when the present body is gone. Thus in this beginningless world on account of my own actions I have been giving up successive bodies assumed among gods, men, animals and the denizens of hell and assuming ever new ones. I have in this way been made to go round and round in the cycle of endless births and deaths, as in a Persian wheel by my past actions and having in the course of time obtained the present body I have got tired of this going round and round in the wheel of transmigration and have come to you, Sir, to put an end to this rotation. I am, therefore, always different from the body. It is bodies that come and go, like clothes on a person”, the teacher would reply, “You have spoken well. You see aright. Why then did you wrongly say, ‘I am the son of a Brahmana belonging to such and such a lineage, I was a student or a householder and am now a wandering monk ?”
14-15. If the disciple says, “How did I speak wrongly, Sir ?”, the teacher would reply, “Because by your statement, ‘I am the son of a Brahmana belonging to such and such a lineage etc.,’ you identified with the Self devoid of birth, lineage and purificatory ceremonies, the body possessed of them that are different (from the Self)”.
16-17. If he asks, “How is the body possessed of the diversities of birth, lineage and purificatory ceremonies (different from the Self) and how am I devoid of them ?”, the teacher would say, “Listen, my child, how this body is different from you and is possessed of birth, lineage and sanctifying ceremonies and how you are free from these”. Speaking this he will remind the disciple saying, “You should remember, my child, you have been told about the innermost Self which is the Self of all, with its characteristics as described by the Srutis such as ‘This was existence, my child’ etc., as also the Smritis and you should remember these characteristics also”.
18. The teacher should say to the disciple who has remembered the definition of the Self, “That which is called Akasa (the self-effulgent one) which is distinct from name and form, bodiless and defined as not gross etc., and as free from sins and so on, which is untouched by all transmigratory conditions, ‘The Brahman that is immediate and direct’, ‘The innermost Self’, ‘The unseen seer, the unheard listener, the unthought thinker, the unknown knower’, which is of the nature of eternal knowledge, without interior or exterior, consisting only of knowledge, all-pervading like the ether and of infinite power – that Self of all, devoid of hunger etc., as also of appearance and disappearance, is, by virtue of Its inscrutable power, the cause of the manifestation of unmanifested name and form which abide in the Self through Its very presence, but are different from It, which are the seed of the universe, are describable neither as identical with It nor different from It and are cognized by It alone.
19. “That name and form though originally, unmanifested, took the name and form of ether as they were manifested from that Self. This element called the ether thus arose out of the supreme Self, like the dirt called foam coming out of transparent water. Foam is neither water nor absolutely different from it. For it is never seen apart from water. But water is clear and different from the foam which is of the nature of dirt. Similarly, the Supreme Self, which is pure and transparent, is different from name and form, which stand for foam. These – corresponding to the foam – having originally been unmanifest, took the name and form of the ether as they were manifested.
20. “Name and form, as they became still grosser in the course of manifestation, assumed the form of air. From that again they became fire, from that water and thence earth. In this order the preceding elements penetrated the succeeding ones and the five gross elements ending with earth came into existence. Earth, therefore, possesses the qualities of all the five gross elements. From earth, compounded of all five great elements, herbs such as paddy and barley are produced. From these, after they are eaten, are formed blood and the seed of women and men respectively. These two ingredients drawn out, as by a churning rod, by lust springing from ignorance and sanctified by Mantras, are placed in the womb at the proper time. Through the infiltration of the sustaining fluids of the mother’s body, it develops into an embryo and is delivered at the ninth or tenth month.
21. “It is born, or is possessed of a form and a name and is purified by means of Mantras relating to natal and other ceremonies. Sanctified again by the ceremony of investiture with the holy thread, it gets the appellation of a student. The same body is designated a house-holder when it undergoes the sacrament of being joined to a wife. That again is called a recluse when it undergoes the ceremonies pertaining to retirement into the forest. And it becomes known as a wandering monk when it performs the ceremonies leading to the renunciation of all activities. Thus the body which has birth, lineage and purificatory ceremonies different (from the Self) is different from you.
22. “That the mind and the senses are also of the nature of name and form is known from the Sruti, ‘The mind, my child, consists of food’.
23. “You said, ‘How am I devoid of birth, lineage and sanctifying ceremonies which are different (from the Self) ?’ Listen. The same one who is the cause of the manifestation of name and form and who is devoid of all connection with sanctifying ceremonies, evolved name and form, created this body and entered into it (which is but name and form) – who is Himself the unseen Seer, the unheard Listener, the unthought Thinker, the unknown Knower as stated in the Sruti text, ‘(I know) who creates names and forms and remains speaking.’ There are thousands of Sruti texts conveying the same meaning, for instance, ‘He created and entered into it’, ‘Entering into them He rules all creatures’. ‘He, the Self, has entered into these bodies’, ‘This is your Self’. ‘Opening this very suture of the skull He got in by that door’, ‘This Self is concealed in all beings’, ‘That Divinity thought – let Me enter into these three deities.’
24. “Smriti texts too elucidate the same truth; for example, ‘All gods verily are the Self’, ‘The Self in the city of nine gates’, ‘Know the individual Self to be Myself’, ‘The same in all beings’, ‘The witness and approver’, ‘The Supreme Being is different’, ‘Residing in all bodies but Itself devoid of any’, and so on. Therefore it is established that you are without any connection with birth, lineage and sanctifying ceremonies”.
25. If he says, “I am in bondage, liable to transmigration, ignorant, (sometimes) happy, (sometimes) unhappy and am entirely different from Him; He, the shining One, who is dissimilar in nature to me and is beyond transmigratory existence, is also different from me; I want to worship Him through the actions pertaining to my caste and order of life by making presents and offerings to Him and also by making salutations and the like. I am eager to cross the ocean of the world in this way. So how am I He Himself ?”
26. The teacher should say, “You ought not, my child, regard it so; because a doctrine of difference is forbidden.’ In reply to the question, “Why is it forbidden”, the following other Sruti texts may be cited: “He who knows ‘that Brahman is one and I am another’ does not know (Brahman)”, “He who regards the Brahmanical caste as different from himself is rejected by that caste.” “He who perceives diversity in Brahman goes from death to death”, and so on.
27. These Srutis show that transmigratory existence is the sure result of the acceptance of (the reality of) difference.
28. “That, on the other hand, liberation results from the acceptance of (the reality of) non-difference is borne out by thousands of Srutis; for example, after teaching that the individual Self is not different from the Supreme One, in the text, “That is the Self, thou art That”, and after saying, “A man who has a teacher knows Brahman”, the Srutis prove liberation to be the result of the knowledge of (the reality of) non-difference only, by saying, ‘A knower of Brahman has to wait only so long as he is not merged in Brahman’. That transmigratory existence comes to an absolute cessation, (in the case of one who speaks the truth that difference has no real existence), is illustrated by the example of one who was not a thief and did not get burnt (by grasping a heated hatchet); and that one, speaking what is not true (i.e., the reality of difference), continues to be in the mundane condition, is illustrated by the example of a thief who got burnt.
29. “The Sruti text commencing with ‘Whatever these creatures are here, whether a tiger or’ etc., and similar other texts, after asserting that ‘One becomes one’s own master (i.e., Brahman)’ by the knowledge of (the reality of) non-difference, show that one continues to remain in the transmigratory condition in the opposite case as the result of the acceptance of (the reality of) difference, saying, ‘Knowing differently from this they get other beings for their masters and reside in perishable regions’. Such statements are found in every branch of the Veda. It was, therefore, certainly wrong on your part to say that you were the son of a Brahmana, that you belonged to such and such a lineage, that you were subject to transmigration and that you were different from the Supreme Self”.
30. Therefore, on account of the rebuttal of the perception of duality, it should be understood that, on the knowledge of one’s identity with the Supreme Self, the undertaking of religious rites which have the notion of duality for their province and the assumption of Yajnopavita etc., which are the means to their performance, are forbidden. For these rites and Yajnopavita etc., which are their means, are inconsistent with the knowledge of one’s identity with the Supreme Self. It is only on those people that refer classes and orders of life etc., to the Self that Vedic actions and Yajnopavita etc., which are their means, are enjoined and not on those who have acquired the knowledge of their identity with the Supreme Self. That one is other than Brahman is due only on account of the perception of difference.
31. “If Vedic rites were to be performed and not meant to be renounced, the Sruti would neither have declared the identity of oneself with the Supreme Self unrelated to those rites, their means, castes, orders of life, etc., which are the conditions of Vedic actions, in unambiguous sentences like ‘That is the Self, thou art That;’ nor would it have condemned the acceptance of (the reality of) difference in clauses such as ‘It is the eternal glory of the knower of Brahman’, ‘Untouched by virtue, untouched by sin’, and ‘Here a thief is no thief’, etc.”
32. “The Srutis would not have stated that the essential nature of the Self was in no way connected with Vedic rites and conditions required by them such as a particular class and the rest, if they did not intend that those rites and Yajnopavita etc., their means, should be given up. Therefore, Vedic actions which are incompatible with the knowledge of the identity of oneself with the Supreme Self, should be renounced together with their means by one who aspires after liberation; and it should be known that the Self is no other than Brahman as defined in the Srutis”.
33. If he says, “The pain on account of burns or cuts in the body and the misery caused by hunger and the like, Sir, are distinctly perceived to be in me. The Supreme Self is known in all the Srutis and the Smritis to be ‘free from sin, old age, death, grief, hunger, thirst, etc., and devoid of smell and taste’. How can I who am different from Him and possess so many phenomenal attributes, possibly accept the Supreme Self as myself, and myself, a transmigratory being, as the Supreme Self ? I may then very well admit that fire is coll ! Why should I, a man of the world entitled to accomplish all prosperity in this world and in the next and realise the supreme end of life, i.e., liberation, give up the actions producing those results and Yajnopavita etc., their accessories ?”
34. The teacher should say to him, ‘It was not right for you to say, ‘I directly perceive the pain in me when my body gets cuts or burns’. Why ? Because the pain due to cuts or burns, perceived in the body, the object of the perception of the perceiver like a tree burnt or cut, must have the same location as the burns etc. People point out pain caused by burns and the like to be in that place where they occur but not in the perceiver. How ? For, on being asked where one’s pain lies, one says, ‘I have pain in the head, in the chest or in the stomach.’ Thus one points out pain in that place where burns or cuts occur, but never in the perceiver. If pain or its causes viz., burns or cuts, were in the perceiver, then one would have pointed out the perceiver to be the seat of the pain, like the parts of the body, the seats of the burns or cuts.
35. “Moreover, (if it were in the Self) the pain could not be perceived by the Self like the colour of the eye by the same eye. Therefore, as it is perceived to have the same seat as burns, cuts and the like, pain must be an object of perception like them. Since it is an effect, it must have a receptacle like that in which rice is cooked. The impressions of pain must have the same seat as pain itself. As they are perceived during the time when memory is possible (i.e., in waking and dream, and not in deep sleep), these impressions must have the same location as pain. The aversion to cuts, burns and the like, the causes of pain, must also have the same seat as the impressions (of pain). It is therefore said, ‘Desire, aversion and fear have a seat common with that of the impressions of colours. As they have for their seat the intellect, the knower, the Self, is always pure and devoid of fear’.
36. “’What is then the locus of the impressions of colours and the rest ?’ ‘The same as that of lust etc.,’ ‘Where again are lust etc., ?’ ‘They are in the intellect (and no where else) according to the Sruti – lust, deliberation, doubt’. ‘The impressions of colours and so forth are also there (and nowhere else) according to the Sruti – what is the seat of colours ? The intellect’. That desire, aversion and the like are the attributes of the embodiment, the object and not the Self, is known from the Srutis ‘Desires that are in the intellect’, ‘For he is then beyond all the woes of his heart (intellect)’. ‘Because It is unattached’, ‘Its form untouched by desires’ and from Smritis such as ‘It is said to be changeless’, ‘Because It is beginningless and without attributes’ and so on. Therefore (it is concluded that) impurity pertains to the object and not to the Self.
37-38. “Therefore you are not different from the supreme Self in as much as you are devoid of impurities such as the connection with the impressions of colours and the like. As there is no contradiction to perceptional evidence etc., the supreme Self should be accepted as oneself according to the Srutis. ‘It knew the pure Self to be Brahman’, ‘It should be regarded as homogeneous’, ‘It is I that am below’, It is the Self that is below’, ‘He knows everything to be the Self’, ‘When everything becomes the Self’, ‘All this verily is the Self’, ‘He is without parts’, ‘Without the interior and exterior’, ‘Unborn, comprising the interior and exterior’, ‘All this verily is Brahman’, ‘It entered through this door’, ‘The names of pure knowledge’, ‘Existence, Knowledge, Infinite Brahman’, ‘From It’, ‘It created and entered it’, ‘The shining One without a second concealed in all beings and all-pervading’, ‘In all bodies Itself bodiless’, ‘It is not born and does not die’, ‘(Knowing) dream and waking, He is my Self, thus one should know’, ‘Who (knows) all beings,’ ‘It moves and moves not’, knowing It, one becomes worthy of being worshipped, ‘It and nothing but It is fire’, ‘I became Manu and the sun’, ‘Entering into them He rules all creatures’, ‘Existence only, my child,’ ‘That is real, That is the Self, thou art That’.
“It is established that you, the Self, are the supreme Brahman, the One only and devoid of every phenomenal attribute, from the Smritis also such as ‘All beings are the body of One who resides in the hearts of all,’ ‘Gods are verily the Self’, ‘In the city of nine gates’, ‘The same in all beings’, ‘In a Brahmana wise and courteous’, ‘Undivided in things divided and ‘All this verily is Vasudeva (the Self).’”
39. If he says, “If, Sir, the Self is ‘Without interior or exterior’, ‘Comprising interior and exterior, unborn’, ‘Whole’, ‘Pure consciousness only’ like a lump of salt, devoid of all the various forms, and of a homogeneous nature like the ether, what is it that is observed in ordinary usage and revealed in Srutis and Smritis as what is to be accomplished, its (appropriate) means and its accomplishers and is made the subject-matter of contention among hundreds of rival disputants holding different views ?”
40. The teacher should say, “Whatever is observed (in this world) or learnt from the Srutis (regarding the next world) are products of Ignorance. But in reality there is only One, the Self, who appears to be many to deluded vision, like the moon appearing more than one to eyes affected by amaurosis. That duality is the product of Ignorance follows from the reasonableness of the condemnation by the Srutis of the acceptance of (the reality of) difference such as ‘When there is something else as it were’, ‘When there is duality as it were, one sees another’, ‘He goes from death to death’, ‘And where one sees something else, hears something else, cognizes something else, that is finite and that which is finite is mortal’, ‘Modifications (i.e., effects e.g., an earthen jar) being only names, have for their support words only, it is earth alone (i.e., the cause) that is real’ and ‘He is one, I am another’. The same thing follows from the Srutis teaching unity, for example, ‘One only without a second’, ‘When the knower of Brahman’ and ‘What delusion or grief is there ?’”
41. “If it be so, Sir, why do the Srutis speak of diverse ends to be attained, their means and so forth, as also the evolution and the dissolution of the universe ?”
42. “The answer to your question is this: Having acquired (having identified himself with) the various things such as the body and the rest, considering the Self to be connected with what is desirable and what is undesirable and so on, though eager to attain the desirable and avoid the undesirable by appropriate means – for without certain means nothing can be accomplished – an ignorant man cannot discriminate between the means to the realisation of what is (really) desirable for him and the means to the avoidance of what is undesirable. It is the gradual removal of this ignorance that is the aim of the scriptures; but not the enunciation of (the reality of) the difference of the end, means and so on. For it is this very difference that constitutes this undesirable transmigratory existence. The scriptures, therefore, root out the ignorance constituting this (false) conception of difference which is the cause of phenomenal existence by giving reasons for the oneness of the evolution, dissolution, etc., of the universe.
43. “When ignorance is uprooted with the aid of the Sruti, Smriti and reasoning, the one-pointed intellect of the seer of the supreme Truth becomes established in the one Self which is of the nature of pure Consciousness like a (homogeneous) lump of salt, all-pervading like the ether, which is without the interior and exterior, unborn and is within and without. Even the slightest taint of impurity due to the diversity of ends, means, evolution, dissolution and the rest is, therefore, not reasonable.
44. “One who is eager to realise this right knowledge spoken of in the Sruti should rise above the desire for a son, wealth and this world and the next which are described in a five-fold manner and are the outcome of a false reference to the Self, of castes, orders of life and so on. As this reference is contradictory to right knowledge, it is intelligible why reasons are given regarding the prohibition of the acceptance of (the reality of) difference. For when the knowledge that the one non-dual Self is beyond phenomenal existence is generated by the scriptures and reasoning, there cannot exist side by side with it a knowledge contrary to it. None can think of chillness in fire or immortality and freedom from old age in regard to the (perishable) body. One, therefore, who is eager to be established in the knowledge of the Reality should give up all actions with Yajnopavita and the rest, their accessories, which are the effects of ignorance”.
Here ends a method if enlightening the disciple
Chapter - II
The knowledge of the
changeless and non-dual self
45. A certain Brahmacharin, tired of the transmigratory existence consisting of birth and death and aspiring after liberation, approached in the prescribed manner a Knower of Brahman established in It and sitting at ease and said, “How can I, Sir, be liberated from this transmigratory existence ? Conscious of the body, the senses and their objects, I feel pain in the state of waking and also in the state of dream again and again after intervals of rest in deep sleep experienced by me. Is this my own nature or is it causal, I being of a different nature ? If it be my own nature, I can have no hope of liberation as one’s own nature cannot be got rid of. But if it be causal, liberation from it may be possible by removing the cause.”
46. The teacher said to him, “Listen, my child, it is not your nature but causal”.
47. Told thus the disciple said, ‘What is the cause, what will bring it to an end and what is my nature ? That cause being brought to an end, there will be the absence of the effect and I shall come by my own nature, just like a patient who gets back the normal condition (of his health) when the cause of his disease is removed”.
48. The teacher said, “The cause is Ignorance, Knowledge brings it to an end. When Ignorance, the cause, will be removed, you will be liberated from the transmigratory existence consisting of birth and death. You will never again feel pain in the states of waking and dream”.
49.The disciple said “What is that Ignorance ? What is its seat ? (What is its object?) and what is Knowledge by means of which I may come by my own nature?”
50. The teacher said, “You are the non-transmigratory Supreme Self, but you wrongly think that you are one liable to transmigration. (Similarly), not being an agent or an experiencer you wrongly consider yourself to be so. Again, you are eternal but mistake yourself to be non-eternal. That is Ignorance.”
51. The disciple said, “Though eternal, I am not the Supreme Self. My Nature is one of transmigratory existence consisting of agency and experiencing of its results, as it is known by evidences such as sense-perception etc. It is not due to Ignorance. For it cannot have the innermost Self for its object. Ignorance consists of the superimposition of the qualities of one thing on another e.g., well-known silver on well-known mother-of-pearl or a well-known human being on a (well-known) trunk of a tree and vice versa. An unknown thing cannot be superimposed on a known one and vice versa. The non-Self cannot be superimposed on the Self, for It is not known. Similarly, the Self cannot be superimposed on the non-Self for the very same reason”.
52. The teacher said to him, “It is not so. There are exceptions. For, my child, there cannot be a rule that it is only well-known things that are superimposed on other well-known things, for we meet with the superimposition of certain things on the Self. Fairness and blackness, the properties of the body, are superimposed on the Self which is the object of the consciousness ‘I’, and the same Self is superimposed on the body”.
53. The disciple said, “In that case the Self must be well-known owing to Its being the object of the consciousness ‘I’. The body also must be well-known, for it is spoken of as ‘this’ (body). When this is so, it is a case of mutual superimposition of the well-known body and the well-known Self, like that of a human being and the trunk of a tree or that of silver and mother-of-pearl. (There is, therefore, no exception here). So what is the peculiarity with reference to which you said that there could not be a rule that mutual superimposition was possible of two well-known things only ?”
54. The teacher said, “Listen. It is true that the Self and the body are well-known, but they are not well-known to all people to be objects of different knowledges, like a human being and a trunk of tree. (Question). How are they known then ? (Reply). (They are always known) to be the objects of an undifferentiated knowledge. For, no one knows them to be the objects of different knowledges saying, ‘This is the body’ and ‘This is the Self’. It is for this reason that people are deluded about the nature of the Self and of the non-Self and say, ‘The Self is of this nature’ and ‘It is not of this nature’. It was this peculiarity with reference to which I said that there was no such rule (viz., only well-known things could be superimposed on each other).”
55. Disciple: “Whatever is superimposed through Ignorance on anything else is found to be non-existent in that thing, e.g., silver in mother-of-pearl, a human being in the trunk of a tree, a snake in a rope and the form of a frying pan and blueness in the sky. Similarly, both the body and the Self, always the objects of an undifferentiated knowledge, would be non-existent in each other if they were mutually superimposed. Just as silver etc., superimposed on mother-of-pearl and other things and vice versa are always absolutely non-existent. Likewise, the Self and the non-Self would both be non-existent if they were similarly superimposed on each other through Ignorance. But that is not desirable as it is the position of the Nihilists. If, instead of a mutual superimposition the body (alone) is superimposed through Ignorance on the Self, the body will be non-existent in the existing Self. That is also not desirable. For it contradicts sense-perception etc. Therefore the body and the Self are not mutually superimposed due to Ignorance. (If they are not superimposed) what then ? They are always in the relation of conjunction with each other like pillars and bamboos”.
56. Teacher: “It is not so. For in that case there arises the possibility of the Self existing for the benefit of another and being non-eternal. The Self, if in contact with the body, would be existing for the benefit of another and be non-eternal like the combination of pillars and bamboos. Moreover, the Self, supposed by other philosophers to be conjoined with the body, must have an existence for the sake of another. It is, therefore, concluded that devoid of contact with the body the Self is eternal and characteristically different from it”.
57. Disciple: “The objections that the Self as the body only is non-existent, non-eternal and so on, hold good if the Self which is not conjoined with the body were superimposed on it. The body would then be without a Self and so the Nihilist position comes in”.
58. Teacher: “No. (You are not right). For we admit that, like the ether, the Self is by nature free from contact with anything. Just as things are not bereft of the ether though it is not in contact with them, so, the body etc., are not devoid of the Self though It is not in contact with them. Therefore the objection of the Nihilist position coming in does not arise.
59. “It is not a fact that the absolute non-existence of the body contradicts sense-perception etc., inasmuch as the existence of the body in the Self is not known by these evidences. The body is not known to exist in the Self by perception etc., like a plum in a hole, ghee in milk, oil in sesame or a picture painted on a wall. There is, therefore, no contradiction to sense-perception etc.”
60. Disciple: “How can then there be the superimposition of the body etc., on the Self which is not known by sense-perception etc., and that of the Self on the body ?”
61. Teacher: :It is not a (valid) objection. For the Self is naturally well-known. As we see the form of a frying pan and blueness superimposed on the sky, there cannot be a rule that it is things known occasionally only on which superimposition is possible and not on things always known”.
62. Disciple: “Sir, is the mutual superimposition of the body and the Self made by the combination of the body etc., or by the Self ?”
63. The teacher said, “Does it matter if it be made by the one or the other ?”
64. Questioned thus the disciple said, “If I were only a combination of the body etc., I would be non-conscious and would exist for the sake of another only. Therefore the mutual superimposition of the body and the Self could not be made by me. If on the other hand, I were the Self I would be characteristically different from the combination of the body etc., would be conscious and, therefore, would exist entirely for myself. So it is I, a conscious being, who make that superimposition, the root of all evils, on the Self”.
65. Thus told, the teacher said, “Do not make any superimposition, if you know it to be the root of all evils”.
66. Disciple: “Sir, I cannot but make it, I am not independent. I am made to act by someone else.”
67. Teacher: “Then you do not exist for yourself as you are non-conscious. That by which you are made to act like one dependent on another is conscious and exists for itself. You are only a combination (of the body and other things).”
68. Disciple: “How am I conscious of pain and pleasure and also of what you say, if I be non-conscious ?”
69. Teacher: “Are you different from the consciousness of pain and pleasure and from what I say or not ?”
70. The disciple said, “It is not a fact that I am not different from them. For I know them to be objects of my knowledge like jars and other things. If I were not different, I could not know them. But I know them; so I am different. If I were not different, the modifications of the mind called pain and pleasure and the words spoken by you would exist for themselves. But that is not reasonable. For pleasure and pain produced by sandal paste and a thorn respectively and also the use of a jar are not for their own sake. Therefore the purposes served by sandal paste etc., are for the sake of me who am their knower. I am different from them as I know all things pervaded by the intellect”.
71. The teacher said to him, “As you are possessed of consciousness, you exist for yourself and are not made to act by anyone else. For an independent conscious being is not made to act by another as it is not reasonable that one possessed of consciousness exists for the sake of another possessing consciousness, both being of the same nature like the lights of two lamps. Nor does one possessed of consciousness exist for the sake of another having no consciousness; for it is not possible that a thing exists for itself for the very fact that it is non-conscious. Nor again is it seen that two non-conscious things exist for each other, as wood and a wall do not serve each other’s purpose”.
72. Disciple: “But it may be said that the servant and the master are seen to serve each other’s purpose though they are equally possessed of consciousness.
73. Teacher: “It is not so. For I speak of consciousness belonging to you like heat and light to fire. It is for this reason that I cited the example of the lights of two lamps. Therefore, as changeless and eternal consciousness, like the heat and light of fire, you know everything presented to your intellect. Thus when you always know the Self to be without any attribute, why did you say, ‘I experience pain and pleasure again and again during the states of waking and dream after intervals of rest in deep sleep ?’ And why did you say, ‘Is it my own nature or causal ?’ Has this delusion vanished or not ?”
74. To this, the disciple replied, “The delusion, Sir, is gone by your grace; but I have doubts about the changeless nature which, you say, pertains to me”.
Teacher: “What doubts ?”
Disciple: “Sound etc., do not exist independently as they are non-conscious. But they come into existence when there arise in the mind modifications resembling sound and so on. It is impossible that these modifications should have an independent existence as they are exclusive of one another as regards their special characteristics (of resembling sound etc.,) and appear to be blue, yellow, etc. (So sound etc., are not the same as mental modifications). It is therefore inferred that these modifications are caused by external objects. So it is proved that modifications resemble sound etc., objects existing externally. Similarly, these different modifications of the mind also are combinations and therefore non-conscious. So, not existing for their own sake they, like sound etc., exist only when known by one different from them. Though the Self is not a combination, It consists of Consciousness and exists for Its own sake; It is the knower of the mental modifications appearing to be blue, yellow and so on. It must, therefore, be of a changeful nature. Hence is the doubt about the changeless nature of the Self”.
75. The teacher said to him, “Your doubt is not justifiable. For you, the Self, are proved to be free from change and therefore perpetually the same on the ground that all the modifications of the mind without a single exception are (simultaneously) known by you. You regard this knowledge of all the modifications which is the reason for the above inference as that for your doubt. If you were changeful like the mind or the senses (which pervade their objects one after another), you would not simultaneously know all the mental modifications, the objects of your knowledge. Nor are you aware of a portion only of the objects of your knowledge (at a time). You are, therefore, absolutely changeless”.
76. The disciple said, “Knowledge is the meaning of a root and therefore surely consists of a change; and the Knower (as you say) is of a changeless nature. This is a contradiction.”
77. Teacher: “It is not so. For the word knowledge is used only in a secondary sense to mean a change called an action, the meaning of a root. A modification of the intellect called an action ends in a result in itself which is the reflection of Knowledge, the Self. It is for this reason that this modification is called knowledge in a secondary sense, just as the action of cutting a thing in two is secondarily called its separation in two which is the ultimate result of the action of cutting the thing.
78. Being told thus, the disciple said, “Sir, the example cited by you cannot prove that I am changeless”.
Teacher: “How ?”
Disciple: “For, just as the ultimate separation (into two) is used secondarily for the action of cutting which is the meaning of a root, so the word knowledge is used secondarily for the mental modification which is the meaning of a root and which ends in the result that is a change in Knowledge. The example cited by you, therefore, cannot establish the changeless nature of the Self”.
79. The teacher said, “What you say would be true if there were a distinction existing between the Knower and Knowledge. For, the Knower is eternal Knowledge only. The Knower and Knowledge are not different as they are in the argumentative philosophy.”
80. Disciple: “How is it then that an action ends in a result which is Knowledge.
81. The teacher said, “Listen. It was said that the mental modification, called an action, ended in a result which was the reflection of Knowledge. Did you not hear it ? I did not say that a change was produced in the Self as a result (of the modification of the mind”).
82. The disciple said, “How then am I who am changeless, the knower, as you say, of all the mental modifications, the objects of my knowledge ?”
83. The teacher said to him, “I told you the right thing. The very fact (that you know simultaneously all the mental modifications) was adduced by me as the reason why you are eternally immutable”.
84. Disciple: “If this is so, Sir, what is my fault when the mental changes resembling sound etc., and resulting in the reflection of Knowledge, My own nature, are produced in Me who am of the nature of changeless and eternal Consciousness?”
85. Teacher: “It is true that you are not to be blamed. Ignorance, as I told you before, is the only fault”.
86. Disciple: “Sir, why are there the states of dream and waking (in me) if I am absolutely changeless like one in deep sleep ?”
87. The teacher said to him, “But you always experience them (whenever they arise).”
88. Disciple: “Yes, I experience them, at intervals but not continuously”.
89. The teacher said, “They are then adventitious only and are not your own nature. They will surely be continuous if they were self existent like Pure Consciousness which is your own nature. Moreover, they are not your own nature inasmuch as they are non-persistent like clothes and other things. For what is one’s own nature is never seen to cease to persist while one is persisting. But waking and dream cease to persist while Pure Consciousness continues to do so. Pure Consciousness, the Self, persisting in deep sleep, whatever is non-persistent (at that time) is either destroyed or negated inasmuch as adventitious things, never the properties of one’s own nature, are found to possess these characteristics; for example, the destruction of money, clothes, etc., and the negation of things acquired in dream or delusion are seen”.
100. Disciple: “But, Sir, when this is so, Pure Consciousness Itself has to be admitted to be adventitious like waking and dream. For it is not known in deep sleep. Or, (it may be that I have adventitious consciousness or) am non-conscious by nature”.
101. Teacher: “No. (What you say is not right). Think over it. It is not reasonable (to say so). You may look upon Pure Consciousness as adventious (if you are wise enough); but we cannot prove It to be so by reasoning even in a hundred years, nor (can It be proved to be so) even by a dull man. As the consciousness (that has for its adjuncts mental modifications) is a combination, no one can prevent its existence for the sake of another, its manyness and destructibility by any reasoning whatever; for we have already said that whatsoever does not exist for itself is not self-existent. As Pure Consciousness, the Self, is self-existent. No one can prevent Its independence of other things inasmuch as It never ceases to exist”.
102. Disciple: “But I have shown an exception, namely, I have no consciousness in deep sleep.”
103. Teacher: “No, you contradict yourself”.
Disciple: “How is it a contradiction ?”
Teacher: “You contradict yourself by saying that you are not conscious when, as a matter of fact, you are so”.
Disciple: “But, Sir, I was never conscious of consciousness or anything else in deep sleep.”
Teacher: “You are then conscious in deep aleep. For you deny the existence of the objects of Knowledge (in that state), but not that of Knowledge. I have told you that what is your consciousness is nothing but absolute Knowledge. The Consciousness owing to whose presence you deny (the existence of things in deep sleep) by saying, ‘I was conscious of nothing’ is the Knowledge, the Consciousness which is your Self. As It never ceases to exist, Its eternal immutability is self-evident and does not depend on any evidence; for an object of Knowledge different from the self-evident Knower depends on an evidence in order to be known. Other than the object the eternal Knowledge, that is indispensable in proving non-conscious things other then Itself, is immutable; for It is always of a self-evident nature. Just as iron, water, etc., which are not of the nature of light and heat, depend for them in the sun, fire and other things other than themselves, but the sun and fire themselves, always of the nature of light and heat, do not depend forr them on anything else; so, being of the nature of pure Knowledge It does not depend on an evidence to prove that It exists or that It is the Knower.”
104. Disciple: “But it is transitory knowledge only that is the result of a proof and not eternal Knowledge”.
105. Teacher: “No. There cannot reasonably be a distinction of perpetuity or otherwise in Knowledge. For it is not known that transitory Knowledge is the result of a proof and not eternal Knowledge, as Knowledge Itself is such a result”.
106. Disciple: “But eternal Knowledge does not depend on a Knower while transitory Knowledge does so as it is produced by an intervening effort. This is the difference”.
107. Teacher: “The Knower which is the Self is then self-evident as It does not depend on any evidence (in order to be proved).”
108. Disciple: “(If the Knowledge of the Self be independent of an evidence on the ground that It is eternal), why should the absence of the result of an evidence with regard to the Self be not so on the same ground ?”
Teacher: “No, it has been refused on the ground that it is pure Knowledge that is in the Self”.
109. “Whom will the desire (to know a thing) belong to, if the Knower depend on an evidence in order to be known ? It is admitted that one who is desirous of knowing a thing is the knower. His desire of knowing a thing has for its object the thing to be known and not the knower. For, in the latter case, there arises a regressus ad infinitum with regard to the knower and also with regard to the desire to know the knower, inasmuch as the knower of the knower and so on (are to be known). Moreover, there being nothing intervening, the knower, the Self, cannot fall into the category of the known. For a thing to be known, becomes known, when it is distanced from the knower by the birth of an intervening desire, memory, effort or an evidence on the part of the knower. There cannot be the knowledge of an object in any other way. Again it cannot be imagined that the knower himself is distanced by anyone of his own desire etc. For memory has for its object the thing to be remembered and not one who remembers it; so has desire for its object the thing to be desired and not one who desires it. There arises, as before, an inevitable regressus ad infinitum if memory and desire have their own agents for their objects.
110. Disciple: “But the knower remains unknown if there is no knowledge which has for its object the knower”.
111. Teacher: “No. The knowledge of the knower has for its object the thing to be known. If it has for its object the knower, there arises a regressus ad infinitum as before. It has already been shown that, like the heat and light of the sun, fire and other things, the Knowledge which is changeless, eternal and self-effulgent has an existence in the Self entirely independent of everything else. I have already said that if the self-effulgent Knowledge which is there in the Self were transitory, it would become unreasonable that the Self existed for Itself and that being a combination It would get impurities and have an existence for the sake of another like the combination of the body and the senses. How ? (Reply:) If the self-effulgent knowledge in the Self were transitory, It would have a distance by the intervention of memory etc. It would then be non-existent in the Self before being produced and after being destroyed and the Self, then a combination, would have an existence for the sake of another like that of the eye etc., produced by the combination of certain things. The Self would have no independent existence if this knowledge were produced before it was in It. For it is only on account of the absence or presence of the state of being combined that the Self is known to exist for Itself and the non-Self for another. It is, therefore, established that the Self is of the nature of eternal and self-effulgent knowledge”.
112. Disciple: “How can the knower be a knower if he is not the seat of the knowledge produced by evidences ?”
113. The teacher said, “The knowledge produced by an evidence does not differ in its essential nature whether one calls it eternal or transitory. Knowledge (though) produced by an evidence is nothing but knowledge. The knowledge preceded by memory, desire, etc., and supposed to be transitory and that which is eternal and immutable do not differ in their essential nature. Just as the result of the transitory actions of standing etc., the meanings of roots, preceded by motion etc., and that of the permanent ones not so preceded do not differ in their essential nature and there are, therefore, the identical statements, ‘People stand’, ‘Mountains stand’, etc.; so, the knower, though of the nature of eternal knowledge, is called a knower without contradiction inasmuch, as eternal knowledge is the same as one produced by an evidence (as regards their essential nature)”.
114. Here the disciple starts an objection: “It is not reasonable that the Self which is changeless and of the nature of eternal Knowledge and not in contact with the body and the senses should be the agent of an action like a carpenter in contact with an adze and other instruments. A regressus ad infinitum arises if the Self unconnected with the body, the senses, etc., were to use them as Its instruments. As carpenters and others are always connected with bodies and senses there is no regressus ad infinitum when they use adzes and other instruments”.
115. Teacher: (Reply): “Agency is not possible without the use of instruments. Instruments, therefore, have to be assumed. The assumption of instruments is of course an action. In order to be the agent of this action, other instruments have to be assumed. In assuming these instruments still others have to be assumed. A regressus ad infinitum is, therefore, inevitable if the Self which is not joined with anything were to be the agent.
“Nor can it be said that it is an action that makes the Self act. For an action, not performed, has no existence. It is also not possible that something (previously existing) makes the Self act as nothing (except the Self) can have an independent existence and be a non-object. For things other than the Self must be non-conscious and, therefore, are not seen to be Self-existent. Everything including sound etc., come to exist when they are proved by mental functions resulting in the reflection of the Self in them.
“One (apparently) different from the Self and possessed of consciousness, must be no other than the Self that is free from combination with other things and existing for Itself only.
“Nor can we admit that the body, the senses and their objects exist for themselves inasmuch as they are seen to depend for their existence on mental modifications resulting in the reflection of the Self (in them).”
116. Disciple: “But no one depends on any other evidence such as sense-perception etc., in knowing the body.”
117. Teacher: “Yes, it is so in the waking state. But at death and in deep sleep the body also depends on evidences such as sense-perception etc., in order to be known. Similar is the case with the senses. It is the external sound and other objects that are transformed into the body and the senses; the latter, therefore, also depend on evidences like sense-perception etc., in order to be known. I have said that knowledge, the result produced by evidences, is the same as the self-evident, self-effulgent and changeless Self”.
118. The objector (the disciple) says, “It is contradictory to state that knowledge is the result of evidences and (at the same time) it is the self-effulgent Self which is changeless and eternal”.
The reply given to him is this: “It is not a contradiction.”
“How then is knowledge a result ?”
“It is a result in a secondary sense: though changeless and eternal, It is noticed in the presence of mental modifications called sense-perception etc., as they are instrumental in making It manifest. It appears to be transitory, as mental modifications called sense-perception etc., are so. It is for this reason that It is called the result of proofs in a secondary sense.”
119. Disciple: “Sir, if this is so, independent of evidences regarding Itself, eternal and changeless knowledge, which is the Consciousness of the Self, is surely self-evident and all things different from It and therefore non-conscious, have an existence only for the sake of the Self as they combine to act for one another (in order that the events of the universe may continue uninterruptedly). It is only as the knowledge of the mental modifications giving rise to pleasure, pain and delusion that the non-Self serves the purpose of another. And it is as the same knowledge and as nothing else that it has an existence. Just as a rope-snake, the water in a mirage and such other things are found to be non-existent except only the knowledge by which they are known; so, the duality experienced during waking and dream has reasonably no existence except the knowledge by which it is known. So having a continuous existence, Pure Consciousness, the Self, is eternal and immutable and never ceasing to exist in any mental modification. It is one without a second. The modifications themselves cease to exist, the Self continuing to do so. Just as in dream the mental modifications appearing to be blue, yellow, etc., are said to be really non-existent as they cease to exist while the knowledge by which they are known has an uninterrupted continuous existence; so, in the waking state also they are reasonably really non-existent, as they cease to exist while the very same knowledge continues to do so. As that knowledge has no other knower, it cannot be accepted or rejected by Itself. As there is nothing else (except Myself, the aim of my life is fulfilled by your grace).”
120. Teacher: “It is exactly so. It is Ignorance due to which the transmigratory existence consisting of waking and dream is experienced. It is Knowledge that brings this Ignorance to an end. You have thus attained Fearlessness. You will never again feel pain in waking or in dream. You are liberated from the misery of this transmigratory existence”.
Disciple: “Yes, Sir”.