Shri Shankara Acharya’s Vakyavritti Verse 24
“He for whose sake alone son and wealth are loved, the witness, the object of utmost endearment – that am I. This you must understand”.
Why do we love the objects of the world? Because they add to the delight of ourselves. It is for the sake of the Self that we love nature, art, friends, study and so forth.
Nobody says: “I love you for the sake of my death”. When we confer affection on any object, we do so, as John Stuart Mill has said, to relieve ourselves of a feeling of want which we would otherwise feel.
Avarice is a great vice but its origin is misunderstood love of Self; so is love of a dear friend or relative. How often him whom we love today we wish to forsake tomorrow when he no longer promotes our delight.
The love of Shri Ramachandra for truth was an example of self-purification. If the Self can be exalted without the aid of a material object we grow indifferent to matter, like Newton and other great thinkers.
When asked why he sacrificed the privilege of being a high-class and aristocratic Brahmin by loving the untouchables and associating with them, the Saint Universal replied: “They are my own Self. I cannot feel free or happy unless they are free and happy”.
One of the great conclusions that can be drawn from this verse is that self-exaltation through abstract concentration on virtue and truth gives far greater happiness than love of the concrete, unless it is to serve others.
Unless love evokes service it is a burdensome passion, and it is the service of Self which really matters. Love of letters and philosophy refines the self and makes it lighter; we do not love them for their own sake.