From the highest point of view, liberation is liberation and there are no stages in it

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 53                   , “On completion of the fruit of the actions of prarabdha, the jnani enters the state of absolute liberation. There is no further birth for him. He enjoys the unsurpassable bliss which is called the abode of Vishnu. “ Commentary When the impact of karma, the fruition of which …

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Shri Shankara does not endorse the doctrine of prarabdha karma

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 52 “After the destruction of those actions whose fruition has not yet begun, the jivan-mukta lives on for a while, his life being maintained by the past karma which has begun to produce results.” Commentary In this verse the traditional view of the jivan- mukta’s continued life in this world …

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A man can gauge the extent of his spiritual awakening

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 51 “All-limitations of cause and effect having ended, unconditioned by the subtle and the gross bodies, no longer attached to the chain of action, the disciple is immediately liberated from nescience.” Commentary This verse describes the state of nirvana, which should constantly be reflected upon. A man can gauge the …

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A real Guru must be a teacher of the holy Shruti

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 50 “When the conviction of the truth of the holy dictum is attained by the grace of the teacher, and the holy Shruti, then the aspirant is wholly freed from the limitations of sansara and its cause, nescience.” Commentary The greatest prominence is given in the holy teachings to the …

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Discipline and meditation, and devotion to the Lord, are essential

Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 49 “One should practise mental control to the utmost and continue hearing and cogitating, until the deep sense of the sentence ‘I am Brahman’ is clearly and firmly understood.” Commentary Discipline and meditation, as well as devotion to the Lord, are essential until the Self is fully realized. Many people relax …

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The attributes of time and place have to be excluded

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 48 ’’The only possible interpretation of sentences such as ‘That Thou Art* is an interpretation based on the omission of inconsistent qualities just as with the words that compose the sentence ‘He is this’.” Note: In the sentence ‘He is this’ He, the person seen yesterday in a different place, …

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Qualities of being directly known and being indirectly known

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 46 “As the qualities of being directly known and being indirectly known, of being absolute and having a second, beside itself, exclude one another in one and the same substance, therefore- the indirect meanings have to be taken”.           . Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 47 ’’When taking the direct meaning …

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Both jiva and Ishvara indicate pure consciousness, Brahman, and nothing more

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 45 “That which, conditioned by Maya, is the womb of the universe, which is characterized by omniscience and so forth, is of the nature of existence and so forth, is qualified and indirectly known, is the direct meaning of the word ’That’.” Commentary The word ‘That’ in ’That Thou Art’ …

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The identity of jiva and Brahman

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 42 “Sentences such as ‘That Thou Art’ teach the identity of jiva and Brahman by the use of the indirect meanings of ‘That’ and ‘Thou’.” Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 43 “Thus by rejecting the two direct meanings we carefully show how the sentence reveals its meaning”. Shri Shankara Acharya’s …

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An intellect set on sattva (light) is essential

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 40 ‘When the identity of jiva and Brahman is firmly grasped by the intellect, then the erroneous conception that ‘Thou’ means anything other than Brahman will go for ever”. Commentary For a long time the candidate to liberation will continue to think that theoretically he may be Brahman but practically …

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The nature of consciousness is infinity and bliss

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 39 “The innermost consciousness of man is the infinite bliss without a second ,and the infinite bliss without a second is none other than the innermost consciousness of man”. Commentary It may be asked what is the nature of the Self of man which is pure consciousness and entirely distinct …

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The Yogi meditates on the identity of his Self with the divine Self

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 38 “This great sentence does not imply the coexistence of the individual and the cosmic Self, nor does it mean that a particular aspect of Brahman is the Self. According to the wise, it affirms the basic identity of ‘That’ and ‘Thou’ without any reservation or condition”. Commentary The dualist …

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Man has to understand what is his own real Self

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 37 “So far the meanings of the words ’That’ and ’Thou’ have been explained. Now we proceed to deal with the meaning of the whole sentence, which consists in the absolute identity of the words ‘That’ and ‘Thou ‘.” Commentary The final enlightenment of the individual spirit in its infinite, …

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Life has to be studied on a very long-term view

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 36 “That which the holy Shruti declares to be the giver of the fruits of human actions and the cause of man’s individual existence – that is Brahman. This you must understand”. Commentary Two further reasons are adduced to mature the conviction of the truth about Brahman and the Self. …

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Brahman controls the soul and there is nothing arbitrary in its functions

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  35 “That which the Vedas declare to have entered all beings as their individual soul (jivatman) and to be their controller – that is Brahman. This you must understand”. Commentary This is also a verse for meditation. Brahman is not some powerful dweller in the skies or a transcendent principle …

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Over and above all man seeks liberation from limitations

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 34 “That which has been very carefully established in the Vedanta as the only goal for the seekers of final release – that is Brahman. This you must understand”. Commentary Here is a further explanation of Brahman to be meditated upon. Although the authority of holy Shrutl is unchallenged, reasoning …

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When Brahman is known, nothing knowable remains unknown

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  32 “That by whose knowledge all that is knowable is known, as the Shruti proves by the illustrations of the clay and the pot, is Brahman. This you must understand”. Commentary In this verse there are two statements. One is that Shruti is the source of knowledge about Brahman. It …

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Brahman is omniscience, omnipotence and the supreme Lord of the universe

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  31 “He whose omniscience, overlordship and . omnipotence are spoken of by the Veda is Brahman. This you must understand”. Commentary Deussen and other Western interpreters of Vedanta have failed to understand the real nature of the Absolute. We cannot know the nature of the Absolute by the intellect because …

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Man loves reality, and that reality is the Supreme Self

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  30 “That beyond which there is no higher bliss, which is of the nature of existence-knowledge, which is defined as truth and is perfect – that is the Supreme Self”.                                 . Commentary Here is not a definition but a partial description of the Supreme Self, Paramatman (God). In what terms …

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The direct cognition of the splendour of the Self, or God, within

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  28 Having understood what is implied by the word ’Thou’, meditate next on the meaning of the word ‘That’, using the negative method of eliminating what is not ‘That’ and the positive method based on the direct definition of ‘That’. Commentary Two processes of meditation directed to achieving a right …

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The Self being an entity beyond time and space cannot be the body, senses, mind or ego.

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  27 “‘Thou’ means that entity which is completely free from the changes caused by the six attributes and which is neither the body, nor the senses, nor the mind, nor the vital force, nor the ego”. Commentary The six changes referred to in the above statement are birth, separative existence, …

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That which changes is perishable because it exists and functions in time and space

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  26 “The meaning of the word ‘Thou’ in the great sentence ‘That Thou Art’ is ‘the pure knowledge which is the witness’. The Self is the witness as well as the knower, because it undergoes no modifications”. Commentary This verse is a commentary on the famous dictum ‘That Thou Art’, …

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The first thing that a man has to realize is that he is not the mind

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  25 “He who is the seer, who being the object of highest love says: ‘May I never suffer extinction, may I always exist’ – that am I, This you must understand”.       Commentary This verse is an explanation of the preceding verse. The first thing that a man has to realize …

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The Self, which reveals, the mind and the body, is not the mind and the body but is different from them

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  23 “Just as the light of a lamp which reveals a pot is different from the pot, so I, the embodied Self which reveals the body, being of the form of consciousness, am different from the body”. Commentary This is another convincing argument. Let Hume and Locke reason as they …

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They often confound Self with mind and attribute changes of the mind to the Self

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  22 “He who cognizes the waking, dreaming and sleeping states of consciousness, who is immutable, who witnesses the presence and absence of objects – that am I. This you must understand”. Commentary People ask: “What is Self? What am I?” They often confound Self with mind and attribute changes of …

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My mind had moved elsewhere but now is still

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  21 “‘My mind had moved elsewhere but now is still.’ He who thus knows the vritti of the mind – that am I. ‘ This you must understand”. Commentary                                                                                                      ‘ Sometimes the mind is active, sometimes it is at peace; sometimes it is subject to excitement, anger, love or hate, …

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No motion or action can he attributed to the real Self

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  20 ‘’The Self, the ultimate reality, in whose proximity the body, senses, mind and vital force, though by nature inert, appear to be conscious like the Self – that am I. This you must understand.” Commentary According to the Sankhya view which is recognized in Vedanta, no motion or action …

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The cardinal truth of the Advaita philosophy

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  19 “That innermost Self which, changeless by nature, puts in motion the intellect and so forth, as the loadstone, the iron – that am I. This you must understand”. Commentary Here is the cardinal truth of the Advaita philosophy. The Self, which is one and universal and all-pervasive, is the …

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The jiva has to be awakened to the spiritual wisdom

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  18 “That by whose proximity the body, the senses and other such objects acquire the power to act, to select and to differentiate – that am I. This you must understand”. Commentary Having established by reasoning that the Self is neither the mind nor the senses, nor a combination of …

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The Self is not a combination of the mind and the senses

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  17 “Neither am I the aggregate of the senses or the mind. Come to a clear conviction through reasoning (anumana) that the seer is distinct from the seen”. Commentary That the Self is a combination of the mind and the senses is a plausible theory, but it is untrue. Some …

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Our whole life and happiness depend on what we think ourselves to be

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  16 ‘The same argument shows that I, who am the witness of the senses, am not the senses. Thus I am not the mind, intellect or vital force; this you must understand”. Commentary The same argument leads to the conclusion that the Self is different from the senses and the …

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Things which exist and function in the realm of time-space are perishable

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  14 The disciple said: “If this body is not the Self, as has been demonstrated by this reasoning, then please be good enough to tell me what the Self is? I want the matter to be as plain as a gooseberry on the palm of the hand.” Commentary It has …

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The light of the Self shines through and floods the whole mental consciousness

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  12 “Abandoning the mind which identifies itself with the body and the other adjuncts, meditate steadfastly with faith on the truth that your own Self is the mind’s witness, of the form of knowledge, and reality and bliss by nature”. Commentry This is the method of meditation by which the …

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The Self of man is the same as the consciousness absolute

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  11 “Thou art the witness of thy mind (antahkarana) and its mutations (vrittis). Thou art of the form of pure consciousness. Being existence and bliss, how art thou not the Self?” Commentary The Advaita dictum ‘Thou art Brahman’ is established by dialectics in this verse. There are two categories in …

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The meaning of words must be understood before the meaning of the whole sentence becomes clear

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  10 The teacher said: “Thy words, O honoured one, are true and there is no taint in them. Know that the meaning of the words must be understood before the meaning of the whole sentence becomes clear”. Commentary The holy teacher in reply addresses the disciple as ’Bhavan’ which is …

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The cause of suffering of any kind, whether physical or mental or psychic, is nescience

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 7 The disciple said; “What is the jiva (the individualised consciousness)? What is the highest Self? How is the identity of the two to be accepted? In what way do the holy texts such as ’That Thou Art’ explain this?” It has been established once for all that the cause …

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Over-fondness for speculative knowledge is considered a cause of bondage

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 6 “The only means of release from all limitations is the knowledge of the identity of the individual consciousness with Brahman. This knowledge is born of the study of the great sentences such as ’That Thou Art’.’’ Commentary This is an important verse. It does not prescribe a long and …

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Man is not born to be the food of grief and woe

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 3 A certain aspirant who was conscious of the afflictions caused by the extreme heat of the threefold sufferings and was agitated and restless in his mind acquired the disciplinary qualifications of self-control and so forth, and approaching his master asked as follows. Commentary Every man in the realm of …

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Shri Shankara Acharya describes some aspects of the Absolute

Vakyavritti by Shankara Acharya Verse 1 To Him who is the sole cause of the genesis, preservation and withdrawal of the world, who is the only ruler of the universe, who assumes phenomenally the form of the universe of endless multiplicity, who is omniscient, infinite, without any limitation, who is an ocean of limitless bliss, …

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