The Song Of Self – Second Verse

Atma Shatagam—Adi Shankaracharya  788-820 BC

 

Na cha prana sangno , na vai pancha vayuhu

Na va sapta dhatur, na va pancha koshaha

Na vak paani padau, na chopastha payu

Chidananda roopah shivoham shivoham  ||(2)||

न् च प्राण सज्ञों , न वै पञ्चवायु:

न वा  सप्त धातुर , न वा पञ्चकोश्:

न वाक् पाणी पादौ न चोपस्था पायु:

चिदानंद रूपः शिवोहम शिवोहम ||२||

Meaning:

Neither can I be termed as air (the breath of life – mula prakriti) nor the five vital airs (panch prana) nor the seven material essences (that make up the gross body: namely- Rasa-lymph, Rakta- blood, Mamsa- Flesh, Meda- Fat, Asthi- bone, Majja – marrow and Sukra- Semen.) These seven elements make up the gross body, and atma is not this gross body. Nor am I the five sheaths- the layers of limitation that help to build the personality namely: food, air, mind, knowledge or wisdom and pleasure

 Nor can you say that I am the five instruments (organs of action) of elimination, namely – faculty of speech, nor the faculty of grasping (hands), nor the faculty of moving (legs), nor the faculty of procreation and nor that of excretion.

 I am indeed, that eternal knowing and love. I am Shiva (Auspiciousness, the silence) of the nature of pure Consciousness and Bliss. I myself am the spiritual joy of pure consciousness – Shiva; Shivoham, Shivoham. 

Further elaboration:  

We experience everything through and with our Gross body, our external self.  The minute we are born, out of the womb, our process of externalisation begins. Also, as we grow, the further enmeshed we get in this gross self, dowsing the inner self to a deep slumber.  The causal body is the storehouse of Karma, and the events get manifested on our gross body due to our Karmic cycle. Likewise, our atman or soul experiences the inner universe. The inner self or the jivatma is awakened in the sleep state unlike the causal body which functions in the waking state.

Thus, the saint sings and tries to explain that the atman is different or separate from the Gross body. Due to ignorance the man, jiva, identifies himself with the gross and the causal body, depending on sleep or wakeful state. Thus, we are enmeshed and engulfed in this exterior self; suffer and live, relive through these illusionary experiences.  Because the source we all are born out of is nameless, formless, devoid of attributes and plays no role in our joys or in our sufferings; Shankarcharya says, this true self is who we are, the name less, formless one, only pure consciousness and bliss; that is all we all truly are.

If anyone has seen Bruce Lee’s series “Longstreet” Episode 1.1 where he teaches his student “The way of intercepting fist” Bruce Lee talks of the importance of being like water. The closest description, explanation that can be related to this is what Bruce lee says, “Be Like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. If you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

 Being like water is probably the closest we can get to becoming Him, The Supreme Being.  Water is called by different names in different languages, yet it is the same. Water is called by different names in different languages, yet it is the same. Water mixed with anything becomes that thing or part of that thing, tea- coffee- milk- yet does not become that. It retains itself, its identity. It is attached or used to fill a purpose. Water takes the shape of the container, can be frozen to make ice; can be boiled to make steam or vapour, yet remains water. It takes the shape of the container in its own self continuing to remain formless, shapeless and tasteless too. It remains unique in its identity and is still the elixir of life.

Water seeps through cracks, finds its way, a raindrop falls, touches the ground, becomes a stream, flows to merge with the river, changing shape, colour, taste, along the way, always learning,  moving on, intent and focused on the real goal. Water flows ceaselessly till it does not merge and become one with the ocean. That raindrop finds its way to the ultimate because it is changing, moving on. If it refuses to flow, becomes rigid, it stagnates and stinks, useless and neglected.

Similarly, what is inside us is reflected on the outside. If we are unyielding and rigid, we perceive all else also with the same eye and become hard, unyielding.  If, we but for a moment, can close our eyes and really see, we will realise that change is the way of life. Learning is through change, wisdom is from learning to change and realisation comes with change. We are but a part of this surreal drama and the only truth is never changing. The rest is transient, comes and goes. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

This reminds me of a story. “A talented sculptor created a beautiful sculpture of God, the people praised him, and asked him how was he able to create such a beautiful thing. The sculptor said, “The sculpture was already there in the stone, I just removed the unessential parts.” Similarly, when we begin to meditate, contemplate, the unessential fades away and truth reveals itself. And we realize that we are indeed, that eternal knowing and love.