Ask a question About the Book: It is one of the most important works of Shankaracharya on Advaita philosophy. The central theme of the book is the identity of the individual self and Universal self. This identity is realized through the removal of the ignorance that hides the truth, by the light of Vichara or enquiry alone. To those who have neither the time nor the opportunity to go through the classical works of Shankara, this book will be an invaluable guide in their quest after spiritual truth. Aparoksanubbuti is one such little manual, which, while presenting a brief description of Vedanta, deals specially with that aspect of it which relates to the realization Anubhuti of the highest Truth.
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OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Herein is expounded the means of attaining Self-realisation [Aparokshanubhuti] for the acquisition of final liberation. Only the pure in heart should constantly and with all effort meditate upon the truth herein taught.
The four preliminary qualifications necessary for attaining true knowledge, such as dispassion and the like, are acquired by men by propitiating the Lord, through austerities and the performance of duties pertaining to their social order and stage in life.
Abandonment of desires at all times is called sama and restraint of the external functions of the organs is called dama.
Turning away completely from all sense-objects is the height of uparati, and patient endurance of all sorrow or pain is known as titiksha, which is conducive to happiness. Implicit faith in the words of the Vedas and the teachers who interpret them is known as shraddha, and concentration of the mind on the one Reality [Brahman] is regarded as samadhana. Only that person who is in possession of the said qualifications as means to true knowledge should constantly reflect with a view to attaining knowledge, desiring his own good.
Knowledge is not brought about by any other means than enquiry [vichara], just as an object is nowhere perceived without the help of light.
Who am I? How is this world created? Who is its creator? Of what material is this world made? This is the way of that enquiry. I am neither the body, a combination of the five elements of matter, nor am I an aggregate of the senses; I am something different from these.
Everything is produced by ignorance and dissolves in the wake of true knowledge. The various thoughts must be produced by the creator. Such is this enquiry. The material cause of ignorance and thought is the One without a second, subtle [not apprehended by the senses] and unchanging Existence [Sat], just as the earth is the material cause of the pot and the like.
Self is verily One and without parts, whereas the body consists of many parts; and yet people see these two as one! What else can be called ignorance but this? Self is the ruler of the body and is internal, the body is the ruled and is external; and yet people see these two as one!
Self is all consciousness and holy, the body is all flesh and impure; and yet people see these two as one! Self is the Supreme illuminator and purity itself; the body is said to be of the nature of darkness; and yet people see these two as one!
Self is Eternal, since it is Existence itself; the body is transient, as it is non-existence in essence; and yet people see these two as one! The luminosity of Self consists in the manifestation of all objects. Its luminosity is not like that of fire or any such thing, for in spite of the presence of such lights darkness prevails at night.
How strange is it that a person ignorantly rests contented with the idea that he is the body, while knowing it as something belonging to him and therefore apart from him, even as a person who sees a pot knows it as apart from him! I am verily the Ultimate Reality, being equanimous, quiescent, and by nature Absolute existence, knowledge, and bliss.
I am not the body which is non-existence itself. This is called true knowledge by the wise. I am without any change, without any form, free from all blemish and decay. I am not subjected to any disease, I am beyond all comprehension, free from all alternatives and all-pervading.
I am without any attribute or activity, I am Eternal, ever-free, and Imperishable. O you ignorant one! Why do you assert the blissful, ever-existent Self, which resides in your own body and is evidently different from it, which is known as Purusha and is established by the sacred scriptures as identical with Reality, to be absolutely non-existent? Try to know, with the help of the scriptures and reasoning, your own Self, which is different from the body, [not a void but] the very form of Existence, and very difficult for persons like you to realise.
The Supreme Self known as "I" is but One, whereas the gross bodies are many. So, how can this body be the Self? This is learnt from the fact that when we speak of the body we say, "This is mine". It is a fact of direct experience that the "I" is without any change, whereas the body is always undergoing changes. Wise men have ascertained the real nature of the Self from the scriptures which says, "There is nothing higher than He [Self]".
Again, the scripture has declared in the Purusha Sukta that, "All this is verily the Self". So, also it is said in the Brihadaranyaka that, "The Self is completely unattached". How can this body wherein inhere innumerable impurities be the Self? There again it is clearly stated that, "The Self is self-illumined". So, how can the body which is inert, insentient and illumined by an external agent be the Self?
Moreover, the Karma Kanda also declares that the Self is different from the body and permanent, as it endures even after the fall of the body and reaps the fruits of actions performed in this life.
Even the subtle body consists of many parts and is unstable. It is also an object of perception, is changeable, limited and non-existent by nature. So, how can this be the Self?
The immutable Self, the substratum of the ego, is thus different from the body and the subtle bodies, and is identical to Reality, the Lord of all, the Self of all; It is present in every form and yet transcends them all. Thus, the enunciation of the difference between the Self and the body has indirectly asserted, indeed, after the manner of the logic and reasoning, the reality of the phenomenal world. But what end of human life [virtuous deeds, attaining prosperity, satisfying desires or final liberation] is served thereby?
Thus, the view that the body is the Self has been denounced by the enunciation of the difference between the Self and the body. Now is clearly stated the unreality of the difference between the two.
No division in consciousness is admissible at any time as it is always One and the Same. Even the individuality of a living being must be known as false, like the delusion of seeing a snake instead of the rope. As through the ignorance of the real nature of the rope, the very rope appears in an instant as a snake, so also does pure consciousness appear in the form of the phenomenal universe without undergoing any change.
There exists no other material cause of this phenomenal universe except the Supreme Reality. Hence, this whole universe is but the changeless, Absolute Reality and nothing else. From such a declaration from a scripture as, "All this is Self", it follows that the idea of the pervaded and the pervading is illusory. This Supreme Truth being realised, where is the room for any distinction between the cause and the effect? Certainly the scripture has directly denied manifoldness in the Reality.
The non-dual cause being an established fact, how could the phenomenal universe be different from It? Moreover, the scripture has condemned the belief in variety with the words, "The person who sees variety in This, goes from death to death. Inasmuch as all beings are born of Reality, the Absolute Self, they must be understood to be verily Reality. The scripture has clearly declared that Reality alone is the substratum of all varieties of names, forms and actions.
Just as a thing made of gold ever has the nature of gold, so also a being born of Reality has always the nature of Reality.
Fear is attributed to the ignorant one who rests after making even the slightest distinction between the individual spirit [jivatman] and the absolute Self [Paramatman]. When duality appears through ignorance, one sees another; but when everything becomes identified with the Self, one does not perceive another even in the least.
In that state when one realises all as identified with the Self, there arises neither delusion nor sorrow, in consequence of the absence of duality. The scripture in the form of the Brihadaranyaka has declared that the Atman, which is the Self of all, is verily the one Reality. This world, though an object of our daily experience and serving all practical purposes, is, like the dream world, of the nature of non-existence, inasmuch as it is contradicted the next moment.
The dream is unreal in waking, whereas the waking experience is absent in the dream. Both, however, are non-existent in deep sleep which, again, is not experienced in either. Thus, all the three states are unreal inasmuch as they are the creation of the three fundamental operating principles that make up the mind and physical manifestation [gunas]; but their Witness, the underlying Reality, beyond all these operating principles is Eternal, One and consciousness itself. Just as earth is described as a jar, gold as an earring, and a mother-of-pearl [iridescent nacre] as silver, so is Reality described as a living Being.
Just as blueness in the sky, water in the mirage, and a human figure in a post are but illusory, so is the universe in the Self. Just as the appearance of a ghost in an empty place, of a castle in the air, and of a second moon in the sky is illusory, so is the appearance of the universe in Reality.
Just as it is water that appears as ripples and waves, or again it is copper, that appears in the form of vessel so it is the Self that appears as the whole universe. Just as it is earth that appears under the name of a jar, or it is threads that appear under the name of a cloth, so it is the Self that appears under the name of the universe. This Self is to be known by negating the names. People perform all their actions in and through Reality, but on account of ignorance they are not aware of that, just as through ignorance people do not know that jars and other earthenwares are nothing but earth.
Just as there ever exist the relation of cause and effect between earth and a jar, so does the same relation exist between Reality and the phenomenal world; this has been established here on the strength of scriptural texts and reasoning. Just as the consciousness of earth forces itself upon our mind while thinking of a jar, so also does the idea of ever-shining Reality flash on us while contemplating on the phenomenal world.
Self, though ever pure to a wise man, always appears to be impure to an ignorant one, just as a rope always appears in two different ways to a knowing person and an ignorant one. Just as a jar is all earth, so also is the body all consciousness. The division, therefore, between the Self and non-Self is made by the ignorant to no purpose. Just as a rope is imagined to be a snake and a mother-of-pearl to be a piece of silver, so is the Self determined to be the body by an ignorant person.
Just as earth is thought of as a jar, which is made of it, and threads as a cloth, so is the Self determined to be the body by an ignorant person. Just as gold is thought of as an earring and water as waves, so is the Self determined to be the body by an ignorant person. Just as the stump of a tree is mistaken for a human figure and a mirage for water, so is the Self determined to be the body by an ignorant person.
Just as a mass of wood work is thought of as a house and iron as a sword, so is the Self determined to be the body by an ignorant person. Just as one sees the illusion of a tree on account of water, so does a person on account of ignorance see Self as the body.
Just as to a person going in a boat everything appears to be in motion, so does a person on account of ignorance see Self as the body. Just as to a person suffering from jaundice white things appear as yellow, so does a person on account of ignorance see Self as the body. Just as to a person with defective eyes everything appears to be defective, so does a person on account of ignorance see Self as the body.
Just as a firebrand, through mere rotation, appears circular like the sun, so does a person on account of ignorance see Self as the body.
Aparokshanubhuti – Self-Realization – Shankaracharya
Herein is expounded the means of attaining to Aparokshanubhuti Self-Realization for the acquisition of final liberation. Only the pure in heart should constantly and with all effort meditate upon the truth herein taught. The four preliminary qualifications the means to the attainment of knowledge , such as Vairagya dispassion and the like, are acquired by men by propitiating Hari the Lord , through austerities and the performance of duties pertaining to their social order and stage in life. The indifference with which one treats the excreta of a crow - such an indifference to all objects of enjoyment from the realm of Brahma to this world in view of their perishable nature , is verily called pure Vairagya.
Aparokshanubhuti: of Sri Shankaracharya
Mazule Bronze and wood statues, books and apparel. This negation…which should go on all the time…is one half of the process of self inquiry. Although psychology as a science is in shankarachadya infancy in the West, the exploration of the mind or consciousness has been going on elsewhere along scientific lines for thousands of years, probably forever. It is immediate liberation. The word Aparokshanubhuti is a compound. The body also being within the phenomenal world and therefore unrealhow could Prarabdha exist? It is the ruler of everything and the essence of everything.
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