The Self of man is the same as the consciousness absolute2 min read

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?”


The Advaita dictum ‘Thou art Brahman’ is established by dialectics in this verse. There are two categories in sansara, the real and the unreal. The unreal is the object, passing and never fixed; whereas the real is the self-luminous, ever-shining light which illumines both the subject and the object but which in the lower sense may be said to be the subject. In the highest sense we cannot call Brahman a subject.

One cannot deny that there is an individual consciousness. ‘I think’, ‘I feel’, ‘I will’, ‘I know’, is an undeniable fact. Is the object real? If it is, then the subject, being entirely opposed to it, cannot be real at the same time. If the subject is real, then its qualities such as immutability, blissfulness owing to its being the dearest of all things, and its power of witnessing and revealing all objects cannot be called unreal.

The subject and object are not the same. The individual consciousness which functions as the mental operations is not its own witness.

The conclusion is that the Self of man, which shorn of all its mental adjuncts is nothing but pure consciousness, is the same as the consciousness absolute – the cosmic consciousness.

If we do not accept this convincing conclusion reached by the dialectics of Shri Shankara, we will have to relegate the cosmic consciousness into the realm of objectivity and as such it will have to be limited, mortal and inert. One does not have to stretch the imagination too far to understand this point of view.

Though established by reasoning, the truth is to be known by contemplation and discipline. The supreme test is experience, and the experience of the holy sages and even your own experience establishes the fact ‘That Thou Art’.

How the supreme spiritual experience of reality arises in the human mind is indicated in the following verse:

Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse  12