Monthly Archives: January 2014

THE SONG OF SELF – FIRST VERSE

Atma Shatagam—Adi Shankaracharya  788-820 BC

 

“Mano bhudhya -hankara chittani naham

Na cha shrotra jihve ,na cha ghranna netre

Na cha vyoma bhumir na tejo na vayuhu

Chidananda roopah shivoham shivoham”

मनो बुध्य हंकार चित्तानि  नाहम,

न् चा श्रोत्र जिह्वे न् च घ्राण नेत्रे

न् चा व्योम भुमिर न् तेजो न वायु:

चिदानंद रूपह: शिवोहम शिवोहम

Meaning:

I am not mind nor intellect,thought  nor ego, or some form of the supreme being; I  neither have ears , nor tongue and I neither have nose (nostrils) nor eyes; I am not the sky , earth , light or the wind;  Nor the reflection of inner self.

I am beyond that, I am not ether, nor the earth nor the fire nor the wind; I am fortunate, joyful, and Supreme Being who is the very emblem of truth, knowledge and eternal bliss.

I am indeed, that eternal knowing and bliss, I am the spiritual joy of pure consciousness – Shiva; I am love and pure consciousness.

Further elaboration:

When the world came into being, something must have existed before from which or through which the world happened, right?  It is the million dollar question we all ask; “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” If God did create this universe, then where was God before this universe got created and why the need to create this world at all? The popular belief is; only space existed and a stir was created, ‘Kshobh’; this stir brought the world into existence and with it space and time was occupied by creation, His creation.

The logical conclusion that we can draw here is that since we all are beings that came from the Kshobh, then we are a part of the initial stir, maybe a miniscule part, nevertheless a part of the Creator of the kshobh; the creator too by extension.  Thus, moving a little further with the same analogy, we being a part of the creator, we have it in us, each and every one of us, that potential to be Him, the Creator. So, if we are the creator ourselves or have the potential to become Him then we, our real core self, definitely is nameless and formless like the Creator.

This is exactly what Shankaracharya sung when he was merely eight years old!  He says that we are not the mind, intellect nor ego. The Self within us is He, the creator and the self, is so engrossed in the gloss on the outside that we miss mobile casino the Self and describe the self only. Thus, the Self, or the creator has become a mere spectator, probably like the ignition key in the car, when you start the car, once is all you need to click and turn. Then the driver and the machine take over. Similarly, God created the world and we human beings took over. He stepped aside. But the God within us is beneath all our human layers of differentiation and ego; as a mute observer.

Manduka Upnishad (III.I.I) has a small story about two birds sitting on a branch

“Two birds that are ever associated and have similar names,

Cling to the same tree.

Of these one eats the fruit of divergent tastes,

And the other looks on without eating.”

Meaning: The two birds are self and Self, the outer self and the inner Self. It is a beautiful allegory; where the Supreme Self is sitting on a tree, a witness, watching, not participating, and doing nothing in fact.  The small self or the outer self is eating fruit of divergent tastes and reacting, behaving according to the taste of the fruit just savoured; while the Self looks on.

The next verse in the same chapter, same Upanishad further says:

“On the same tree, the individual soul remains drowned (i.e. stuck), as it were;

And so it moans, being worried by its impotence.

When it sees the other, the adored Lord, and His glory,

Then it becomes liberated from sorrow.” (Manduka, III.I.2)            

 

Meaning: The tree is supposed to be the body or the human self and on the same tree the individual soul is supposed to be drowned, stuck, indulging in its divergent tastes mentioned in the prior verse.  Thus, very aptly put, it simply implies and explains what the Shankaracharya has sung in this verse.

I am that, your inner Self; and your self is so busy with the small things of life, it (the outer self) adamantly refuses to take time and look within, seek the answer to the profound question; “Who am I?”

When we do take time, and the occasion comes, to look at the higher Self within us that we adore His glory and come to believe that we can be liberated. And in due course with practice and sadhana we move towards our goal of Self- realisation.

Thus, the human being enshrines both the selves. The higher Self is the supreme Divinity, God, Lord and Creator, whatever we choose to call Him. The lower self is us, the mortal human being going on with the daily life, trying to give meaning and understanding to our true goal of life. And, one day it becomes imperative that we awaken to the inner Self, and realise the Supreme Being within us.

Thus, to conclude the first verse, once we are conscious and awakened to the inner Self, how can we be anything but that Supreme Being enmeshed and hidden Within? We are that Supreme Consciousness, pure love and Bliss and all else; the fire, water, ether; our senses, eyes, ears all fade into oblivion and lose significance. We suddenly realise we are not that, none of the above. We are indeed, that eternal knowing and bliss, We are the spiritual joy of pure consciousness – Shiva; I am love and pure consciousness.

 

Who Am I? – Introduction

Who Am I? – Introduction

This probably is the most ubiquitous question which has bothered everyone.  All of us at some point, stage, age wonder about the self; our real purpose or goal of life. Why we are here and what we have been sent to accomplish or achieve? During our most depressing moments we strive for answers and lean towards introspection searching for meaning; trying to fathom the reason why events are happening the way they are and what is the logic behind all this.

Every human being is unique and every event in the person’s life occurs for a reason or purpose. It is for the individual to figure out the reason and unravel the mystery of who he/she is and his/her real goal of life.

As kids we are so self – absorbed and self – centric that nothing outside of the self we bother to acknowledge, probably the core reason why children are usually happy and so self – assured. All they seek is immediate fulfilment of needs and they are smiling, innocent and in blissful state.  As we grow we begin to get enmeshed with relationships, identity roles, emotional game plays and the more we spread our web the further tightened gets the grip of the web.  Without any realisation, we find ourselves caught in the vicious grip of life, pathways in every direction, leading everywhere, purpose less; mindless and unending. This begins gradually with teenage and hits us as midlife crisis when we find ourselves stuck, unable to move ahead, doing everything right, yet continuously hitting dead ends and experiencing failures or setbacks.

Every lamp has the same potential to burn and emanate light, but it needs some external being, source to illuminate it once. Every seed has the potential to become a fruit bearing tree but again, it needs ideal soil, fertiliser and the tender hand of a loving, wise gardener who will nurture the seed and see it grow to its full potential.  Every stream, rivulet flows ceaselessly moving ahead washing different shores and merging with different rivers; in an attempt to merge with the ocean and become one with it. Every egg hatches into a beautiful chick with proper care.  The beautiful butterfly goes through a long drawn incubation period, in the very unbecoming and ugly larva, caterpillar stage. We all have the potential to become one with the divine or returning to our original state provided we know who we are, why we are here, and how we need to live our life so as to realise our true goal of life.

It is a very striking point to note that when the universe began it was in such a pristine pure state; science and spirituality were one, Religion was one, and we all were one. Every householder was a saint, enlightened and achieving the real goal of life. With time ominously dark clouds started to appear, wisdom became a restricted property. Religion became Religions, and Science and spirituality parted ways. Science looked for reason and doubted everything, Spirituality became the mute spectator. We have uprooted our own culture and heritage in our greed for wealth and scientific advancement. What every householder knew then is an enigma to almost the whole nation now.

 Adi shankaracharya could answer with such simplicity and lucidity then, in 788 – 820 BC; at the mere age of 8; we, today, are yet to decipher and capture the essence of those verses.  This realised soul knew the reason, purpose, source of his existence and the role he had come to play in the short life that God had blessed him with. He sings the beautiful ATMA SHATAKAM, the song of self,  Or NIRVANA SHATAKAM , illustrating and trying to answer the  fundamental question- “who am I?”

Adi Shankaracharya, wandering in Himalayas, seeking his guru, was asked by a seer, “who are you?” The sage the boy was talking to was none other than Swami Govindacharya himself, the teacher Shankarcharaya was searching for.  How the student introduced himself to his Guru is beautifully portrayed in these enlightening verses.

Deep contemplation and repetition of these verses with bhava Or the right attitude , is said to lead to the absolute and bring self- realisation to the seeker.  That is why the name Nirvana Shatakam; Nirvana is the complete equanimity , peace, tranquillity, freedom and joy. Shatakam are the count of 6 verses , the length of this poem. Similarly, atma shatakam; atma is the true self. These are the 6 verses which help one realise their true self, and lead to self-realisation or nirvana.

These verses date back to 788 – 820 CE and speak of non- dualism in the Hindu philosophy and teachings. They form the basic core of Advaita philosophy and find a space in Mandukya upnishad also.

 

In the forthcoming articles, in this series, the writer makes a humble attempt to rewrite a verse at a time; making an attempt to explain and also understand the essence of this most enlightening verses by this unparalleled great seer.  Hopefully, the reader and the writer can take a small step forward on the path of freedom and self-realisation.