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.”
It has been established by incontestable reasoning that the body is not the Self.
The arguments of Charvaka, who maintained that the body was the Self, are as hollow as the clear sky in autumn. Even a man of little reasoning power can see that the body which changes every minute and is inert oannot be the Self, which is sentient, immutable and imperishable.
Things which exist and function in the realm of time-space are perishable, and the body is no exception to this rule.
Many of the Tang Emperors tried to make their bodies immortal by resorting to the Taoist elixir, but they died all the same.
An Indian pundit who claimed to have discovered the secret of physical immortality came to China and offered to disclose it to the Tang Emperor. The elixir was prepared with great care, but the pundit died the same night its preparation was completed.
The chief value of life is that it can be a means to realize the immortality of the spirit, consciously; all attempts to immortalise the body will fail miserably.
What is the Self? How are we to know that it is immortal and imperishable?
These questions are natural and much of our peace depends on answering them. If there is no immortal element in the human personality, then all attempts to achieve the high ethical ideal and that of mysticism are bound to fail.
In the following verse the holy Acharya reveals the secret of the Self.