Dakshinamuthy Stothram – Sloka 10 – The Gains – தோத்திர பலன்

Audio Link


Sanskrit Sloka

सर्वात्मत्वमिति स्फुटीकृतमिदं यस्मादमुष्मिन् स्तवे
तेनास्य श्रवणात्तदर्थमननाद्ध्यानाच्च संकीर्तनात् ।
सर्वात्मत्वमहाविभूतिसहितं स्यादीश्वरत्वं स्वतः
सिद्ध्येत्तत्पुनरष्टधा परिणतं चैश्वर्यमव्याहतम् ॥१०॥

Meaning in Tamil

அருட் பெரும் ஜோதியாம் பரம்பொருளே ஆன்மா எனும் அறிவு பூட்டும்

கருவூலமாம் சங்கரனின் இத்தோத்திரம்தனை செவிமடுத்து சிந்தித்து

தியானித்து புகழ்பாடினால் இறையருளின் இருநான்கு வடிவதனின்

நிலையறிந்து மோனஆசானின் அருளுடனே நாலிரு சித்தி பெற்று

பிறவிப் பெருங்கடல் தாண்டி ஈடேறி வீடுபேறு பெற்றிடலாம்

Meaning in English:

Since the Divine Essence in all is made clear in this hymn, hence by listening to it, contemplating on its meaning, meditating on it, and glorifying it, one becomes endowed with the greatness of the knowledge of the Divine Essence ( present in all ); perhaps the Divine Essence by Itself will awaken within him after that again, the eightfold manifestations of Divine powers (Siddhis) unimpeded.

Understanding the Sloka:

Extracted from Swami Paramarthananda’s lectures

iti idam sarvātvamiti spūṭikritam. – In this manner, in nine verses, the sarvātva bhāva which is the essence of all the Upanishads has been taught by me. Adi Śankarācārya says in this manner, in 9 verses, I have taught or condensed the essence of all the upanishads; the essence of prastāna trayam I have given and What is the essence? sarvātmatvam. And what do you mean by sarvātmatvam, sarvam ātma eva. Everything in the creation is ātma alone; other than ātma there is nothing. The so-called anātma is also mithya, which has the content of ātma alone; Just as the so-called ornaments also are not separate substances, they are also nothing but gold with different names. Similarly, the so-called anātma prapancha also is also ātma only, with a different name; Names are different, but the substance is only ātma. And this is called sarvātmatvam, sarvam ātma iti bhavaha, sarvātmatvam. If you want to put in our own language, जीवात्म परमात्म ऐक्र्म् jīvātma paramātma aikyam,; we can also say brahma satya jagat mityā, jīvo brahmaiva na parāḥ. This vedantic essence has been taught by me; Śankarā says:

Where did I teach it? अमुक्षष्मन् स्तवे amuṣmin stave, in this sthoram called dakṣiṇāmūrti Sthothram; here he did not use the word ashtake; because two more added, therefore no more Ashtakam, instead of using the word ashtakam, he uses the word sthavam; Sthavam is the same as sthoram; sthoram means a hymn or praise of the Lord.

In this dakṣiṇāmūrti sthoram, that has been taught and therefore, study of dakṣiṇāmūrti sthoram is equal to the study of the प्रस्तान त्रर्म् prastāna trayam; because the content of dakṣiṇāmūrti sthothram is the same as the content of the prastāna trayam; means upanishads, geetha and brahma sutram. In all the upanishads, Geetha and brahma sutra, whatever has been taught; that is given in capsule form

“Thena”, therefore since dakṣiṇāmūrti sthoram is equal to प्रस्तान त्रर्म् prastāna trayam; अस्र् श्रवणा asya śravaṇā, a person, a seeker of moksha, should do the śravaṇam of this work. (Systematic and consistent study of this work for a length of time under the guidance of a competent teacher). So śrava ṇat; and not only śravaṇam, tat artha mananāt, one should also do the mananam, to find out whether there are any doubts in accepting this teaching. And what is this teaching? There is nothing other than me; the ātma; सवात्य मत्वम sarvātmatvam that means, I alone am in the form of everything; I am all.

And then dhyānāt; and later this has to be assimilated, so that it becomes my second nature; So śravaṇa manana nididhyāsana sādanāni. And then सङ्कीतयनात् saṅkīrtanāt. The word saṅkīrtanāt is given two meanings; for those people who are not fit for śravaṇa manana nididhyāsanam; because they do not have साधना चतुष्टर् संपवत्त sādhanā catuṣṭaya saṃpatti and therefore everything goes above their head, for those unprepared people; the word संकीतयनम saṃkīrtanam means by mere पारार्णम् pārāyaṇam itself they will gradually grow. They need not know the meaning. Let them daily chant this dakṣiṇāmūrti sthothram; that itself will give them sadhana catuṣṭaya saṃpatti; later opportunity for śravaṇam, manana nididhyāsanam. This sthotra will make you climb all those steps. Therefore even pārāyaṇam is a form of sādhana.

On the other hand, if a person is a qualified person and therefore, he has gone through śravaṇa manana nididhyāsanam; for those people, what is the next sādhana? If you call it sādhana, saṃkīrtanam, means after I assimilate this wisdom, I communicate this to others. Communication or sharing is another form of nididhyāsanam. It is a very beautiful form of nididhyāsanam.

And thus by following all these sādhanas, he will get the result; What is the result; सवात्य मत्वमहाववभूशत स्र्ात ् sarvātmatvamahāvibhūti syāt, he will attain the greatest glory, called sarvātmatvam, sarvātmatvam means the wisdom that I am everything. There is no second thing to frighten me; to harass; to torture me; to hurt me, to limit me, to isolate me, there is no second thing at all; this wisdom and this non-dual status is called sarvātmatvam, which is mahāvibhūti, which is the greatest glory called kaivalyam; Non-dual state.

And not only that. Look at the fourth line, aṣṭadāpariṇadam aiśvaryam ca; aṣṭadāpariṇadam aiśvaryam means aṣṭamūrti dakṣiṇāmūrti aikyam. aṣṭadāpariṇadam means eight-fold; ऐश्वर्मय् aiśvaryam is ईश्वरत्वम् īśvaratvam, which means the dakṣiṇāmūrti भावः bhāvaḥ. So, I will attain this status of ashta Moorthy dakṣiṇāmūrti . That means vishvaroopa dakṣiṇāmūrti aikyam;

This equanity is called svamitvam. And this mokṣaḥ is also svastāha, it has come from outside, it is only discovery of the very nature. svastāha means natural freedom; he claims. This is called jīvanmukti which will lead to videhamukti; which is the फलम् phalam.

Dakshinamurthy Stothram- Sloka 9 – Introduction – The concept of Viswa Rupa.

Preamble- The journey so far:

For all of us, Life is nothing but the time spent between the maternity ward and crematorium on the “surface of a tiny rock-ball, rotating around a spherical fire in a tiny galaxy in an ever expanding galaxies ” loosely called as Earth, world, visvam, jagat etc. Tamil poet Kannadasan called the life as the time between between the drop of a water (semen) and the spark of fire lit. ஒரு துளி நீரில் ஜனனம் ஒரு துளி நெருப்பில் மரணம். இதனிடையில் தான் நம் வாழ்க்கையெனும் பயணம்.

In this “real” (or unreal?) world, all of us (none excluded) have one single goal – mitigating our pains and enhancing our pleasures. துன்பத்தைப் போக்கி இன்பத்தை அடைவதே நம் வாழ்வின் குறிக்கோள். Towards this we all carry out nonstop transactions within ourselves, with the world and of course with the “God” – the Unknown.

From a Vedantic perspective, life can be also stated as the journey. When we say “journey” we are not talking about a point to point or time to time journey. We are talking about a journey which is beyond the domain of time and space; beyond our sense and action organs. We are talking about a journey from avidya to vidya; from ignorance to enlightenment; a journey to understand the intricate relationships between the puzzling trio of Ishvara, Jiva and Jagat. Understanding this relationship called Isvara Jnana by the Seeker is the ultimate goal.

The first eight Slokas of Dakshinamurthy Stothram (some call it as Dakshinamurthy Ashtakam) provided us with the essence of this Vedantic perspective. It presented to us, the Vidya viz., knowledge of Atman, which is Pure Awareness, Changeless and unborn Ultimate Reality. We tried to understand that Vidya, the “atma jnanam” (Know Thyself) is an individual’s experiential learning about “atma isvara aikyam” under the able guidance of a Guru. All wisdom is born of spirit of self-enquiry. It dispels the non-understanding and the undivided intelligence shines in its own light. The wisdom has to arrive directly on the individual, no transmitted knowledge can be sufficient for the real enlightenment. Self is self-luminous. When consciousness becomes aware of itself, there manifests the Intelligence itself. That awareness is Vidya. Adi Sankara with the help of examples highlighted the purpose of our life.

The concept of Viswa Rupa:

Our culture is deep rooted in the spiritual ethos of each individual working towards his own ultimate liberation as a fundamental goal of life. This is the unique gift of Vedic philosophy to the world of spirituality. Ordinary mortals like us find it impossible to acquire this Vidya in our cycles of life (birth and death).

Our Vedic Rishis realised our plight and the fact that Brahman as creator or Supreme Consciousness is too abstract to follow and understand. Since everything in nature is God’s creation, so they simply connected the people with Brahman through an icon of personal choice of Ishta Deva as long as it remains only a symbolic representation of the Ultimate Reality; making it possible for all diversities to represent that single transcendental Reality.

This connection/attachment to the Ishta Deva turned into devotion and worship. A farmer may worship the plough, a fisherman his boat, people whatever god and goddesses they propitiate for their aspect of life related to them. God is there and so the happiness of life can be attained by His grace. The medium is not important, our spirit of surrender to Him and dedicated work for a noble cause is the way out to realise Him in the blissful heart.

Next, from the single idol of God (eka rupa), the rishis had to find ways to migrate us to the state of understanding Brahman, i.e., from an Idol to a formless, omnipresent eternal Ultimate Reality. This means that the focus of our actions should shift from “Eka Rupa” to “arupa”; from “saguna” to “nirguna”. For this purpose, the Rishis introduced an intermediate level, an “aneka rupa” called “Visva Rupa” as we progressed towards our goal. Based on the spiritual progress made, the Seeker is introduced to a form which encapsulates all that is perceivable in this universe and beyond.

The challenge next is how do you list out all that is perceivable. Vedic Philosophy found an answer for this question by identifying the principles (“tattva”) by which one could perceive. Different philosophies within our culture identified different number of “tattva”. For example, the Saivites identified 36 “tattvas”. (https://www.saivism.net/articles/tattvas.asp). இதனையே திருமூலரின் திருமந்திரத்திலும் காணலாம்.

முப்பதும் ஆறும் படிமுத்தி ஏணியாய்
ஒப்பிலா ஆனந்தத்து உள்ளொளி புக்கு
செப்ப அரிய சிவம்கண்டு, தான் தெளிந்து
அப்பரிசாக அமர்ந்திருந்தாரே.


முப்பத்தாறு தத்துவங்களையே முக்தியை அடைவிக்கும் சிறந்த ஏணியின் பல படிகளாக அமைத்துக் கொண்டு, ஒப்பில்லாத சிவானந்தத்தைத் தரும் ஒளியில் புகுந்து, சொல்வதற்கு அரிய சிவபெருமானைத் தரிசித்தவர்கள் அந்த சிவத் தன்மையை அடைந்து சிவமாகத் திகழ்வார்கள்.

The Rishis then presented the Visva Rupa of Brahman as a seamless integration of principles or tattvas on the “eka rupa” bringing out the “aneka rupa” of Brahman. If one studies the description of the Visva Rupa of Vishnu, Siva and Devi, one can understand that essentially they all are descriptions of the same tattvas, thus reinforcing the Advaita nature of the Brahman.

Adi Sankaracarya in Sloka 9 picks up representative samples from these tattvas and integrates it with Lord Siva, the Dakshinamurthy and presents to us for our understanding.

We will study this in our next blog.

Dakshinamurthy Stothram- Sloka 6 – Part 2 – The Empty Secret – வெறுமையின் வறுமை

Solar Eclipse

“In deep sleep there is an experience of absence and not an absence of experience”.

Swami Sarvapriyananda

This is exactly what our introductory blog to Sloka 6 talked about. Many and in particular the Sunyavadis mistake this as emptiness, says Adi Sankara in this Sloka. Let us get into the Sloka.

Audio Link


Sanskrit Verse:

राहुग्रस्तदिवाकरेन्दुसदृशो मायासमाच्छादनात्
सन्मात्रः करणोपसंहरणतो योऽभूत्सुषुप्तः पुमान् ।
प्रागस्वाप्समिति प्रबोधसमये यः प्रत्यभिज्ञायते
तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये ॥६॥

Meaning in Tamil

ஆதவ மதி ஒளிமறை இராகு கோளொப்ப

ஆத்மனை மறைத்திடும் மாயை என அறிந்து

ஆழ் உறக்கமதில் ஐயிரண்டு பொறி அடக்கி

முழுமை நிறை தூய ஆத்மனை அடைந்து, பின்

விழித்தெழும் வேளைதனில் தன் உணர்வால்

மீள்எழும் நான் அந்த ஆத்மனே என அறியும்

ஆதி அந்தமிலா மோனநிலை ஆசானாம்

தக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி பொற்பாதம் பணிந்திடுவோம்

Meaning in English

Just Like the Sun and the Moon are Eclipsed by Rahu, the Pure Consciousness is Eclipsed by Maya (for a spiritually ignorant person).  A Spiritually Elevated Soul can enter that state of Unborn Deep Sleep (i.e., Pure Consciousness) by Withdrawing His Sense Organs to such an extent that Only the Real Essence remains. That state (Pure Consciousness) is experienced during Spiritual Awakening whereby one clearly Perceives that “Before I was Sleeping” (by being eclipsed by Maya). Salutations to Him, the Personification of Our Inner Guru Who Awakens This Knowledge through His Profound Silence; Salutation to Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty.

Understanding the Sloka:

राहुग्रस्तदिवाकरेन्दुसदृशो मायासमाच्छादनात् Raahu-Grasta-Divaakare[a-I]ndu-Sadrsho Maayaa-Sama-[A]acchaadanaat

In the first line “divākarendu sadṛśo māyā samācchādanāt”, Adi Śankarācārya quotes the celestial phenomenon of solar & lunar eclipse as an example. He explains that just like the Sun & Moon are eclipsed by Rahu, Pure Consciousness is eclipsed by Maya

“Rahu” in mythological language is a dark snake which swallows the sun/moon; In astrological language, rāhu is only the shadow; that is why it is called chāyāḥ grahaḥ. Therefore, that shadow is eclipsing. We must understand that the eclipsed sun/moon is not non-existent; it is only not-prominent, dominant, pronounced during the eclipse.  However, for the ignorant it appears as though the Sun/Moon is not there during the eclipse.  

Similarly, when the transactions are not there; existence is not prominent. Non prominent existence is not non-existence. Non-transactable existence is non-prominent existence; it is as though nonexistent, but it is not non-existence.And therefore the general existence, in sleep, is as though eclipsed; because of:

  1. maya’s āvanara śakti (veiling power);
  2. resolution of the organs;
  3. end of transactions.

All these three are important; and therefore it is eclipsed as it were. And therefore, Shankaracharya compares this general sattaḥ to the eclipsed Sun and moon.

करणोपसंहरणतो karaṇopa saṃharaṇataḥ; and consequently, because of withdrawal of the kāraṇam. upasaṃharaṇam means withdrawal; kāraṇam means the eleven organs. With the withdrawal of sense and action organs (upasaṃharaṇam of Kāraṇam – karaṇopa saṃharaṇataḥ – करणोपसंहरणत),

सन्मात्रः करणोपसंहरणतो य्योऽभूत्सुषुप्तः पुमान् । San-Maatrah Karanno[a-U]pasangharannato Yo(a-A]bhuut-Sussuptah Pumaan |

अभुत्  the individual Self (abhut – अभुत् – this jīvātma)

सुषुप्ता was in deep sleep (suṣuptāḥ – सुषुप्ता) meaning that without any transactions, in the form of

सन्मात्रा attributeless-unqualified, pure existence (sanmātrahaḥ – सन्मात्रा). This is the essence of the second line.

प्रागस्वाप्समिति प्रबोधसमये यः प्रत्यभिज्ञायते Praag-Asvaapsam-Iti Prabodha-Samaye Yah Pratyabhijnyaayate

Now let us go to the third line. What is the proof for the presence of pure existence in suṣupti? You say it is not available for transaction. That means it is not available for proving also; because proving itself is a form of transaction. So how do you know the pure existence as my true nature?  For this,  we say three प्रमाणस् pramāṇas are there to prove it;

  1. one is Shruti pramāṇas;
  2. another is yukti pramāṇas,
  3. and the third is anubhava pramāṇas.

Of these three pramāṇas, Adi Śankarācāryacharya gives in the third line, the powerful anubhava pramāṇam.

Let us see the Shruti,pramāṇa:

When a person goes to sleep, he is not becoming non-existent; but he is withholding himself into his pure nature called existent; sadā; sat, means existence. He merges into his pure nature of existence. स्वम् अवपतो भवशत svam apito bhavati; The sat which is his svarūpam into that he merges. So the Upanishad does not say he merges into asat. Therefore, Shruti, pramāṇam proves this.

The next one is yukti pramāṇam. Logic; in fact, we need not go to traditional logic; we can go to modern logic; modern science itself; by the law of conservation of energy and matter; nothing can be totally destroyed. An existent thing can never become non-existent. An existent thing can never become non-existent; destruction is what? You are not converting an existent thing into a non-existent thing. When pot is destroyed, what happens? Pot exists in a different form; it becomes what; clay. So, pot never becomes non-existent; then it becomes what; it is existent in a different form. So, there is no destruction, in the form of becoming non-existent. That being so, an existent thing cannot be converted into non-existence and vice versa also. And out of non-existence, an existent thing cannot come out. Out of nothing what comes? Nothing comes;

न सतो ववध्र्ते भावाः, न भावो ववध्र्ते सतः

na sato vidhyate bhāvāḥ, na bhāvo vidhyate sataḥ;

कथम् असतः सत्र् एथः

katham asataḥ satya ethaḥ

Existent-I cannot become non-existent in सुषुशप्त suṣupti and out of the non-existent I, again an existent-I cannot come; and therefore, in sleep I am existent; but not in the form of a qualified-I; I am existing in a different form. When pot is destroyed that potness attribute goes away. Similarly, when I resolve, my individuality goes away, the individuality_less-I. Like the potness_less clay. The attributeless-I am existent. I did not know then. You will not know. Because if you want to know, you have to become a knower. The moment you become the knower, you are no more in sushupthi. It becomes jagrat or swapna. Therefore, what is the second logic; the second pramanam, logic is; an existent thing can never become non-existent;

Then what is the third: अनुभव प्रमाणम् anubhava pramāṇam. And what is the anubhavam pramāṇam. Adi Śankarācārya calls it प्रत्र्शभज्ञा pratyabhijñā; pratyabhijñā means recognition. After waking up, this person says: I slept well; I slept well.  What does it mean? I was very much existent there; as a sleeper. If ‘I’ am not there; the subject (see it as grammatical). If subject is not there; how can you use the verb, ’slept’?. Slept is a verb, whatever be the meaning. So, if you have to use the verb slept, it refers to the locus of the sleep, of the subject of sleep, which is I. And that-I, who slept before, that-I, that-I, am awake now. This is called recognition. and recognition means appreciating the continuity of I, in the sleeping state, as well as the waking state.

Let us take the word recognition itself. Recognition means re-cognition. When I say I recognise you – What do you understand? I have seen you somewhere; I know that you are so and so; and now I am recognising you; That means a continuity of your existence in the past and in the present is indicated. The verb of recognition indicates, the existence of the recognised-object in the past. In the past it existed as what? A cognised-object, and when you see again; it exists as the recognised-object, it existed in the past, as cognised-one, now as a recognised-one, which means continuity. of recognised-object. When I wake up, I am recognising myself. How? I who was sleeper in the past, am the I, which is the waker-in-the-present. ‘I slept well’ means I am recognising myself, which means I appreciate the fact, that I who was a sleeper in the past, am the waker-in-the-present.

Thus, Adi Śankarācārya argues self-recognition is the proof for self-continuity. And self-continuity proves that I existed in sleep also. And that proves in sleep, I am existent; it is not nothingness. Self-recognition proves self-continuity. Self-continuity proves that I am very much in the sleep also. That means sleep is not the state of nothingness.

And therefore, Adi Śankarācārya says प्रभोदसमर्े prabhodasamaye; at the time of waking; प्रत्र्शभज्ञार्ते pratyabhijñāyate; the self is recognised as the what? Self is recognised in what form? प्रागस्वाप्सम् prāgasvāpsam; I slept well before. When does he say? In the waking state; that means how I who am awake; now slept well before, (this is within quote “prāgasvāpsam”, iti pratyabhijñāyate. Self is recognised; therefore, self is continuous; Therefore, jāgrat avastāyām I am, svapna I am; suṣupti I am; I am the existence in all the three states. There is only minor difference. In jāgrat and svapnā, I am the attributed-localised-existence, in suṣupti I am attributeless-unlocalised-existence. And that is why in jagrat avastha, you can refer to your location; once you go to sleep, you do not know the location; and therefore that existence is recognised after waking up. Therefore, through प्रत्र्शभज्ञा प्रमाणम् pratyabhijñā pramāṇam also it is proved that sleep is not a state of nothingness and therefore mādhyamika buddhism is wrong.

Dakshinamurthy Stothram- Sloka 6 – Part 1 – Introduction – The Empty Secret – வெறுமையின் வறுமை – Negating the Sunyavadis


In the fifth verse, Śankarācārya enumerated various systems of philosophy, in which there are varieties of confusion regarding the real nature of “I”; and in this sixth verse, Śankarācārya wants to refute the main system, known as mādhyamika bauddisam; or śūnyavādaḥ; which is one of the main pūrvapakṣis of vedāntaḥ. And Śankarācārya does not refute the other systems, because this shoonya vadi has already refuted others and therefore he becomes the main challenger; and therefore Śankarācārya refutes the śūnyavādaḥ in the 6th verse.

The śūnyavādi points out that the essential nature of me; or the I, is nothingness or emptiness. Not only the individual, even the essential nature of the world is nothingness or emptiness. And in support of this conclusion, he takes our sleep experience as the pramāṇam or truth. In sleep we do not experience anything; there is no objective world. In sleep we do not experience the subject also; so neither ‘seen’ is there; nor is there the ‘seer’; neither the ‘heard’ nor the ‘hearer’. Therefore the subject as well as the object, both of them are not there; and therefore śūnyam is the tatvam is their conclusion.

Now Śankarācārya shows in this verse; that in deep sleep state, it is not śūnyam or emptiness. In deep sleep state, there is pure existence; but it is an unqualified existence; which is not available for any transaction. Only qualified existence is available for transaction; unqualified existence is not available for transaction. And therefore we make a mistake that it is emptiness; because we have a general misconception, whatever is not available for transaction is non-existent. This is one of the intellectual confusions. We think the space is nothingness; because space is not available for transaction. But the truth is that, space is not emptiness or nothingness, it is a positive entity. But generally we mistake space as emptiness, because it is not avialable for seeing, touching or any other local view. The same mistake is extended to the pure existence also; because it is not available for vyavahara. And therefore, in sleep, non-transactional existence is available which is my nature. This is the essence of this verse.

To highlight the mistake or the illusion that Sunyavadis have about “existence or otherwise” Adi Sankara brings out an incident that happened during the “Samudra Manthan” (churning of the ocean) as told in the Puranas.

The story of Rahu & Ketu and Maya

According to Puranas, the birth of Rahu and Ketu dates back to the earliest of times.‘Samudra Manthan’ is regarded as one of the most important events in the history of Hindu civilization. The Solar and Lunar eclipse is also associated with ‘Samudra Manthan’. When the ocean was churned by the Asuras and Devas, ‘Amrit’ was produced. This Amrit was stolen by Asuras and to obtain the Amrit, Lord Vishnu took incarnation in the form of a beautiful damsel ‘Mohini’ and tried to please and distract the demons. On receiving the Amrit, Mohini came to Devas to distribute it to them. ‘Svarbhanu’, one of the asuras changed his appearance to a deva to obtain some portion of the Amrit. However, Surya (Sun) and the Chandra (Moon) realized that Svarbhanu was an Asura and not one of the devas. Knowing this, Lord Vishnu severed Svarbhanu’s head with his discus, the Sudarshan Charka. However, even though his head and body became separated, they still remained immortal as the separate entity because before his head was served, he managed to drink a drop of the nectar from the Amrit. The Head is known as Rahu and the headless body is the Ketu. Since then Rahu and Ketu constantly chase the Sun and the Moon for revenge as they are the cause of separating the head and body of the Asura Rahu. It is a popular belief that when they succeed in catching Sun and Moon they swallow them causing Solar or Lunar eclipse but they can’t hold them for long and Sun and Moon emerge again intact as they also had nectar and are immortal.

Let us study the Sloka 6 in detail , in the next blog which will appear on 30th September

Dakshinamurthy Stothram- Sloka 5 – Who am I ? காயமே இது பொய்யடா !

Audio Link


Sanskrit Verse

द्देहं प्राणमपीन्द्रियाण्यपि चलां बुद्धिं च शून्यं विदुः
स्त्रीबालान्धजडोपमास्त्वहमिति भ्रान्ता भृशं वादिनः ।
तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये ॥५॥

Meaning in Tamil

ஊண் சுவாச பொறிபுலன் சலன புத்தி இவையே

‘நான்’ என முனைவுடன் மடமை கொண்டு வாதிப்பர்,

உணர்வுக்கடிமை மாதரென, முதிரா அறிவுடை பாலனென,

இகபுர இருகண்ணிலா குருடரென, மடமை நிறை மூடரென!

லீலையென மாயை புரி அம்மடமைதனை அழி

ஆதிஅந்தமிலா மோனநிலை ஆசானாம் அருள்மிகு

தக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி பொற்பாதம் பணிந்திடுவோம்

Meaning in English

Those who consider the Body or Prana (Vital Force) or Sense Organs or the Changing Mind or the Void (Total non-existence) as the “I”, are Like the emotionally sensitive women or Naive Innocent Girl Child, or Blind, or a Dull-Headed. They are deluded but they vehemently assert their points. The Inner Guru destroys this great delusion created by the play of the power of Maya. Salutations to Him, the personification of Our Inner Guru who awakens this Knowledge through His profound Silence; Salutation to Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty.

Understanding the Sloka:

देहं प्राणमपीन्द्रियाण्यपि चलां बुद्धिं च शून्यं विदुःDeham Praannam-Api-Indriyaanny-Api Calaam Buddhim Ca Shuunyam Viduh – The various types of false identifications of Ātman that we discussed above viz., deham, pranam, indriyani, calam buddhim and shunyam

स्त्रीबालान्धजडोपमास्त्वहमिति Strii-Baala-Andha-Jaddo(a-U)pamaastv[u-]Aham-Iti – Now let us come to the comparison that Adi Śankarā makes while describing these misconceived people. स्रीबालान्धजडोपमा (strī bāla andha jaḍo pamā). These words should be taken as symbolic of four types of defective intellect, which alone can commit these mistakes:

  1. Stri – an intellect which is suppressed by emotions, which is a hostage of emotions, Emotional thralldom; very typical of womanfolk.
  2. Bāla;- is undeveloped intellect, because a bāla, a child is not capable of thinking; it is not trained; therefore bāla represents undeveloped or untrained intellect. Training through tarka, logical reasoning, he has not gone through;
  3. Andhah – represents unaided intellect; literally the word andhā means blind, and what do you mean by the word blindness here; not using the śāstra pramāṇam, makes a person partially blind. If we have to know the spiritual truth; we require two eyes – external & internal. śāstra cakṣuḥ; buddhi cakṣuḥ, These two should combine for knowledge to take place; If one of them is not there, this person becomes what? partially blind; If both are not there, i.e., no buddhi and no śāstram, totally blind;
  4. The fourth one is jadaḥ; jadaḥa means a retarded intellect, an unintelligent intellect.

भ्रान्ता भृशं वादिनः Bhraantaa Bhrsham Vaadinah. – All these people with the misconceptions have one thing in common; “braandhaaha”- delusion is the only common feature. And not only they are confused and they have got wrong conclusion, the tragic part of this conclusion is they are not available for correction. Therefore Śankarācārya says that these people are not available for reconsideration. This is what the Upanisahads also have said:

avidyāyām andare vartamānā, svayam dhīrāḥ paṇḍitam manyamānāḥ.

They are steeped in ignorance, and also because of their arrogance and adamancy, “svayam dhīrāḥ paṇḍitam manyante”; they think we are omniscient. Therefore Śankarācārya says that even Bhagavan’s compassion becomes useless, in front of them. They always say “I am always right, the other person is always wrong”, These people are called “bhṛśaṃ vādinaḥ”. Śankarācārya says never waste your time, talking to them; talking to such people, is misplaced compassion. bhṛśaṃ means intensely; not ordinarily argumentators, intensely vādinaḥ;

मायाशक्तिविलासकल्पितमहाव्यामोहसंहारिणे – Maayaa-Shakti-Vilaasa-Kalpita-Mahaa-Vyaamoha-Samhaarinne.
Then Śankarācārya looks at himself; Oh my God, somehow I am not in that group of confusion; I have got an intellect, which is free from all these four-fold defects, I have got an intelligent intellect, intelligent enough to understand Brahman, and also I have got shraddha in vedānta śāstram m, and therefore I have rescued myself and if I could get out of this confusion, it is only because of the external aid I got; and what is that external aid, śāstram pramāṇam. And therefore I am indebted to śāstram; And if śāstram could be meaningful to me, I am indebted to another person; it is purely because of guru; In fact, śāstram is made a pramāṇam by guru alone; And therefore Śankarācārya says I am indebted to śāstram and more indebted to the guru, and that guru who destroyed all my confusions. That confusion-destroyer-guru, I offer my prostrations and therefore Guru. Adi Śankarācārya now defines a Guru and has a new title for Guru; what is the title given to guru? māyāśakti vilāsakalpita mahāvyāmoha saṃhāri; to that guru, who is none other than dakṣiṇāmūrti, my namaskaram. That is said in the third line. Now let us see the meaning of this long Sanskrit Word.

saṃhāriṇi – (my guru) is a destroyer; destroyer of what?
vyāmoha – (destroys) confusion, Delusion with regard to one self; self-delusion is called vyāmoha; how did this confusion come? he says;
kalpitam  - created by/caused by - caused by whom?
vilāsa - ; vilāsa has two meanings, one meaning is the sport or play; so vilāsaha means play; Play of what? maya shakthi, the power of māya; play or operation or sport of māya shakthi.

So thus, what will be final translation; the guru who is the destroyer of the great delusion caused by the play of the power of māya.

And therefore, Hey Guro, who is the destroyer of ignorance and consequent delusion permanently, I offer my namaskaram to you.

திருக்குறள், நிலையாமை அதிகாரத்தில் இக்கருத்தினையே இவ்வாறு பிரதிபலிக்கிறது.

நில்லாத வற்றை நிலையின என்றுணரும்
புல்லறி வாண்மை கடை.

நெருநல் உளனொருவன் இன்றில்லை என்னும்
பெருமை உடைத்துஇவ் வுலகு.

குடம்பை தனித்துஒழியப் புள்பறந் தற்றே
உடம்பொடு உயிரிடை நட்பு.

‘அழிகின்ற ஓர் உடம்பு ஆகும் செவிகள்,

கழிகின்ற காலவ் விரதங்கள் தானம், மொழிகின்ற வாக்கு முடிகின்ற நாடி, ஒழிகின்ற ஊனுக்கு உறுதுணை இல்லையே’

என்ற திருமந்திரம் ‘கண்டதே காட்சி, கொண்டதே கோலம்’ எனும் மடமைமிகு கருத்தினை அழிக்க உதவும்.

Dakshinamurthy Stothram- Sloka 5 – Part 1 – Introduction


In Vedanta one of the word which is used quite often is “saṃsāraḥ”.There is also a wonderful Question and Answer in Sanskrit.

Q: सम्सारे किम् सारं ?

A: सदा अनुचिन्थनेमेव सारं

Q: What is the essence of worldly life ?

A: The very fact that you always keep thinking about it is the essence.

Swami Dayananda Saraswathi used to say in his lectures that the word “samsara” has different connotations. Birth-death is samsara; Sukha dukha is samsara ; Household choir is samsara; Wife is called samasaram in Tamil Nadu; “Becoming” is samsara; Subject-object division is samsara ; Doership enjoyership is samasara; The division of “I” and “not I” is samsara; Atma anatma divide is samsara. All these imply a demarcation line between the two. Where does this line run? Not outside . It runs upto and including where “I” sees to feel “I am”.

Therefore when it comes to identification of the Atma (Self) there are many misconceptions (“adyāsahaḥ”) that people have. Adi Śankarācārya identifies the many misconceptions, when it comes to identification of the Atma (Self). These errors in perception are:

1. error of a non-thinking person; the layman like us making erroneous conclusion. This is understandable and correctable

2. error of the so-called thinker, who makes thoughtful errors and comes to wrong conclusion. This kind of people are difficult to correct.

The wrong conclusions that thinker following different philosophies make are as under:

1. Ātma identified with physical body (deha ātmā vādaḥ): The first category of people, misunderstand or conclude that the body (deham) is Ātma. They do not accept anything surviving after the death of the body. For them death is the total destruction of the individual, they do not believe in a mind which can survive; because for them, mind is nothing but functioning brain and emotions are neurological disturbances etc. Thirumoolar, one of the sixty-three Nayanmars and one of the 18 Siddhars, in his main work the Thirumandhiram cautions against this conlusion and states that one can’t avoid rebirth if one adopts this policy as this will result in “attachment” from which one cannot come out.

மலமென் றுடம்பை மதியாத ஊமர்

தலமென்று வேறு தரித்தமை கண்டீர்

நலமென் றிதனையே நாடி யிருக்கின்

பலமுள்ள காயத்தில் பற்றுமிவ் வண்டத்தே.

“இந்த உடல் மலத்தால் ஆனது!” என்று எண்ணி அதை ஒதுக்கிவிட வேண்டும். அவ்வாறு செய்யாமல் அதையே நல்ல தலம் என்று எண்ணி இன்பத்துடன் உடலைத் தரித்துக் கொண்டால், மேலும் உடலில் விளையும் நன்மைகளையே நாடிக்கொண்டு இருந்தால், அந்தப் பற்றின் காரணமாக மீண்டும் மீண்டும் ஒருவனுக்குப் பிறவிகள் தொடர்ந்து கொண்டே இருக்கும்.

Half a century ago, my father a common man like most of us and was the Head Master of a Government run High School gave me this advice when I entered the “Teens”. He used to say in Tamil “கண்டதே காட்சி, கொண்டதே கோலம் என்று இருக்காதே”. At that time I didn’t understand the real meaning. But being with him and watching his “simple living-noble thinking” lifestyle taught me lessons which were definitely not part of the curriculum in my Masters and MBA courses subsequently. I can now visualise and get as to what was he hinting at.

A Tamil scholar and poet Keeran (புலவர் கீரன்) in a discourse on “Thiruvasagam” brings out two interesting observations and ask us to ponder the these two facts which will reinforce my dad’s statement.

  • Among all the living beings, only humans have the capacity to introspect and look at SELF. மனித இனம் ஒன்றே மன சாட்சியை நோக்க முடியும். விலங்கினங்களால் முடியாது.
  • After death, bodies of animals are more valuable than the human body. இறந்தபின் விலங்கினங்களின் உடலுக்கு மதிப்பு அதிகம்;மனித உடலுக்கு அல்ல;

2. Ātma identified with Prana: Then comes another group of people who say that anatomy is not individual, but the physiology is the individual; physiology, the functions of the body; so, for them, prana is I, the ātmā; I breathe, I am alive, I feel hungry, I feel thirsty: on the strength of these and other notions of the sort, some conclude that Prâna is Ātman. Finding that the dead body which is to all appearance quite of the same nature as the living is yet not self-conscious and does not breathe or perform other functions of a living being, they hold that Ātman must be the Prana, the vital principle, whose presence in the body makes it alive and whose departure reduces it to a corpse.

3. Ātma identified with Sense Organs: The third category of people believe that “indrīẏāṇi” – sense organs are the ātmā; I hear, I see, I smell, I cause motion: from an experience of this sort, some rise higher and look upon the indriyas, the sense-organs, as Ātman. As self-consciousness arises only when the sense-organs are active, Ātman must be identical with the sense-organs. There is no evidence of the existence of Prana distinct from the senses; for no motion is observed during sleep when the senses are quiescent: and breathing, &c., visible during sleep are a mere illusion. As the sense-organs do not perceive objects simultaneously, i.e., as the scope of each sense-organ is restricted to one kind of objects and as there are several sense-organs occupying the body, each of them is an Ātman by itself.

4. Ātman identified with Intellect (buddhim): And then the next one” calāṃ buddhiṃ” – calāṃ buddhiṃ means buddhi means consciousness in this context, vijnānam; they say consciousness is ātmā; but calāṃ buddhiṃ, that consciousness is subject to fluctuations; fluctuating, fleeting, flow of consciousness like the water fall, you see the water, but the second-second, the next second, the water fall you see, is not the same waterfall, it has been replaced by another and another. So, you have a seeming continuous water fall, but there is no continuous water fall and continuous existence is only a changing entity. Similarly, that flowing consciousness is the ātmā, is the philosophy of ẏogācāra Buddhist; On the strength of the notion “I understand,” others regard Buddhi (Intellect) as the Ātman.

5. Ātma identified with Emptiness (śūnyam): Another sect argues that if consciousness is subject to arrival and departure: between the two consciousnesses, what should be there? There should be emptiness alone and therefore śūnyam, blankness, emptiness is the ultimate truth in which emptiness the consciousness comes and goes. Because arriving and departing consciousness cannot be permanent; What is the only permanent thing; vacuum; shoonyam; they are called śūnya vāda buddhisam; previous one is ẏogācāra; last one is śūnyam

Adi Śankarācārya discounts all the above false identification of the Ātman in this sloka. We will see the Sloka in the next blog in the coming week.

Dakshinamurthy Sloka 4 – The Light within – அருட் பெரும் ஜோதி

In the last three blogs as introduction to the Sloka, we understood that the core of all of us viz., the inner consciousness known as the ātmā is compared to a maha deepam அருட்பெரும் ஜோதி (the light like Sun). The ātmā is described or revealed by comparing it to a light principle as the nearest example due to its self-luminous and self-evident nature called svayam prakāśatvam.

We also saw through experiments that in every perception, I, the ātmā, is independently self evident; and anātmā the object is dependently evident. The infinite consciousness by itself never illumines anything by itself. It is a upakaranaa or upadhi. It needs a medium to illumine. The medium borrows the light and reflect on the object. The mind borrows light from “me” temporarily and throws it on the object thro the 5 indriyas thro which it escapes.. That is called perception/gnana. The light of consciousness, when reflected at an inner equipment, reaches the object to illumine them. This process of reflecting light on objects and perceiving them through the atma-mind-indriyas combination is called व्रित्त्त पररणाम vritti pariṇāma, and when that takes place alone, the object becomes known. In other words for the knower to know we need cit (light), mind (anthakarana) and organs (indriyas) otherwise the object is masked or unknown (avidya).

With this understanding let us now study the Sloka

Audio Link


Sanskrit Verse:

नानाच्छिद्रघटोदरस्थितमहादीपप्रभा भास्वरं
ज्ञानं यस्य तु चक्षुरादिकरणद्वारा वहिः स्पन्दते ।
जानामीति तमेव भान्तमनुभात्येतत्समस्तं जगत्
तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये ॥४॥

Audio Link


Meaning in Tamil

ஐந்துளைக் குடமுள்ளிட்ட பெருவிளக்கின் ஒளியென

ஐம்பொரிவழி அதிரலையென வெளிப்படும் ஒன்றே,

பரம்பொருளின் பேரொளியால், ‘எனை அறிவேன்’ எனும்

ஆன்மாவின் உள்ளுணர்வில் ஒளிவிடும் இவ்உலகம்! அந்த

ஆதிஅந்தமிலா மோனநிலை பரம்பொருளாம் ஆசான்

தக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி  பொற்பாதம் பணிந்திடுவோம்

Meaning in English:

All this world shines after Him alone shining in the consciousness “I know”—after Him alone whose consciousness, luminous like the light of a mighty lamp standing in the bosom of a many-holed pot, moves outwards through the sense-organs such as the eye. To Him who is incarnate in the Teacher, to Him in the Effulgent Form Facing the South, to Him (Siva) be this bow!

Understanding the Sloka:

Here Śankarācārya wants to point out that the ātmā, the existence consciousness is ever evident and therefore does not require any special process to know. Knowing the ātmā is not a special event taking place by your special effort. Any other object in the world becomes known at a particular time by your special effort and becomes an event in time.

First Line

नानाच्छिद्रघटोदरस्थितमहादीपप्रभा भास्वरंज्ञानं यस्य तु चक्षुरादिकरणद्वारा वहिः स्पन्दते ।

Naanaac-Chidra-Ghatto[a-U]dara-Sthita-Mahaa-Diipa-Prabhaa Bhaasvaram Jnyaanam Yasya Tu Cakssur-Aadi-Karanna-Dvaaraa Vahih Spandate |

ज्ञानं यस्य jñānam yasya; yasya means ātmānaha; ātmānaha jñānam. So, the light of ātmā, the light of consciousness of ātmā is भास्वरम् bhāsvaram; is brilliant; because it has to create a long beam; so it can see even the farthest star, I am able to see. Therefore, it is bhāsvaram; it is brilliant. Brilliant like what?

नानात्छिर घटोदर त्स्थत महादीप प्रभा, nānācchidra ghaṭodara sthita mahādīpa prabhā; like the prabhā, brilliance, like the brilliance of maha deepam; a very bright lamp, so that consciousness of ātmā is brilliant like the brilliance of a very bright lamp or big lamp; घट उदर त्स्थत gada udara sthitha; which is placed within a pot;

वहिः स्पन्दते Vahih Spandate Emerges out as a pulse/light

Second Line

जानामीति तमेव भान्तमनुभात्येतत्समस्तं जगत्. Jaanaamiti Tam-Eva Bhaantam-Anubhaaty-Etat-Samastam Jagat

Continuing from the understanding of the first line which means that we presuppose the word तत् tat meaning that bright light of consciousness, that emerges out (वहिः स्पन्दते) through the five apertures, I know that viz. जानामीति Jaanaam-Iiti And then what happens, each beam of light falls on an object, one beam of light falling on sābda, another falling on sparsa; another falling on rūpa, and the moment the light falls on them; what happens, they all become known or bright; the non-luminous one becomes luminous; I know means what; that has become knowable or luminous.

When I say I know (जानामि) the object, the process of knowledge is only one; Verb is single; but on the two sides of the verb, there is a subject and there is an object. The subject reveals self-evidence; object is dependently evident; Depending on whom? Me. Therefore every jānāmi reveals one dependently evident object and independently evident subject. Adi Sankara uses the words; जानामि इति jānāmi ithi – इत्ति iti indicates a process of cognition of the object by the subject which by itself is self evident भानम् bhānam. Since the cognised object is proved only through cognition; it is called dependently evident; अनुभानम् anubhānam.

Thus जानामीर्त तमेव भान्तम् jānāmīti tameva bhāntam, in every jānāmi statement, that ātmā alone reveals itself and sarvam tam anubhāti. Not Sarvam, but yetat samastaṃ jagat. Śankarā uses the same word, bhāntam and anubhāti. yetatsamastaṃ jagat, the whole universe.

Last Line of the Sloka

तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये Tasmai Shrii-Guru-Muurtaye Nama Idam Shrii-Dakssinnaamuurtaye

tasmai – means prabuddha puruṣāya; to that woken-up person, who is a jnāni; who is liberated; who is the knower, the known and the process , to that jnani my namaskaaram. So tasmai prabuddha puruṣāya, jnānine namaha. And who is that jnāni?

Shree gurumurthaye – who alone is a guru, who alone can serve as a guru and who is my guru, gurumoorthaye.

Namaha – my salutations.

Thus we can see again that a complex concept in Philosophy of knower- known, the relationship between “being” and “knowing” and the process of cognition is explained by Adi Sankara in just two lines using a simple experiment using a pot and a lamp.

இதனையே “உயிர் இடைவிடாது சிவனோடு பொருந்தி நின்று நீண்டு செல்லும் மனமும் சத்தம், பரிசம், ரூபம், இரசம், கந்தம் ஆகிய புலன்களின் உண்மையை அறிந்துவிட்டு, சுத்தமாயை அசுத்தமாயைகள் பற்றாவகை எண்ணி, தலைவனாகிய முழுமுதற் பொருளை அடைதல் சித்தாந்த நெறியாகும்” என திருமூலர் திருமந்திரத்தில் உபதேசிக்கிறார்

2373. நித்தம் பரனோடு உயிருற்று நீள்மனம்
சத்தம் முதல்ஐந்தும் தத்துவத் தால்நீங்கிச்
சுத்தம் அசுத்தம் தொடரா வகைநினைந்து
அத்தன் பரன்பால் அடைதல்சித் தாந்தமே.

Dakshinamurthy Stothram – Sloka 4 – Introduction – Part 3 – Throwing some light on “Light”! – Vedantic Concepts

In our attempt to understand the relationship between “being” and “knowing”, after answering a questionnaire, we conducted two experiments last week; in the first we threw light inside a dark room with the help of a mirror and sun and in the second experiment we spread the light from a oil wick lamp through a “holi” pot in a dark room on five selected objects.

Let us now see the Vedantic Concepts behind these experiments.

The concepts behind the first experiment

In the first experiment, the Sun as the powerful light source ( Maha deepam) is comparable to the ātmā. Just as Sun has got its own light, ātmā has got its own “cit”-consciousness; it is self-evident because one does not need either a Sun or a mirror to see oneself. Remember the Part 1 Blog of Questions and Answers (If someone asks you when you are in a dark room “Are you there?” what response do we give? Yes “I am here”). And the mind of every individual is comparable to the mirror. The entire world is comparable to the dark room.

Now the whole world is seen because of two factors. What are the factors? The mirror_like mind and the Sun_like ātmā. This ātmā and Mind together, both of them are together responsible for the experience of the world. One can view this from two perspectives.

1. You can say mirror, backed by the Sun, illumines the dark room. Similarly, we can say the mind experiences everything backed by ātmā. How the mind borrows consciousness from ātmā; just as the mirror borrows brightness from the Sun. Mind borrows brightness and that mind illumines the world. So here the emphasises is on the mind alone. In Vedānta, when the emphasis is given to the mind, that is called प्रमात् (pramaatR) , the consciousness-backed-mind is called, the knower; and mind the knower, expereinces the world backed by ātmā. Here the emphasis is to the mind, because that is the subject.

2. In the second perspective, you do not say the mind illumines the world. ātmā, the consciousness illumines the world; but you have to acknowledge the role of the mirror. Mirror is very important, therefore you use the expression; through the reflecting medium of mind; through the instrumentality of the mind, ātmā alone illumines the world. And when the instrument is removed, what happens? When the mirror is removed, Sun will continue to shine; but it cannot illumine the dark room; the room will again go dark; Similarly, when the mind mirror is there, ātmā illumines the world. When the mind mirror is closed, the world is dark, not because ātmā has turned inert; but the mind-medium is closed. And therefore the world goes dark.

3. When do you close it? The answer is “During sleep”. What happens to ātmā during sleep.? ātmā continues to be self-evident consciousness, the light like the Sun; but the world goes dark because the medium of mind is closed; even during bright daylight, if the mind closes down, it will be dark.

4. Therefore, who is the illuminator of everything? ātmā, the eternal light. And therefore, whenever you are knowing anything, every knowledge indriya jñānam (śabda jñānam, sparśa jñānam, rūpa jñānam); every perception pre-supposes (indirectly reveals) the presence of ātmā; you do not require a separate proof for the existence of ātmā; Every object that we see in the dark room is thanks to the presence of Sun like ātmā. Even when there is no object, you say nothing is known; that nothing is known is known. That nothing is known is known, again because of the presence of consciousness. And therefore, Sankaracharya says; जानाशम jānāmi; jānāmi means, I know; This is called svayam prakāśatvam of ātmā; self-evidence of ātmā;

So in every perception, I, the ātmā, is independently self evident; and anātmā the object is dependently evident; In every perception, I the ātmā, is independently evident like the sun, and the anātmā is dependently evident like the dark room. This is the learning from the first experiment.

The Concepts behind the Second Experiment

Now let us come to second experiment with “holi” pot.

The room where the lamp is burning is the material world, full of ignorance, known as māyā. Pot is the human body. The Atma/Self that exists in the body is the light. The five holes in the pot are five sensory organs. Experience of the sensory organs is the five objects placed on the holes. They are śabda, sparśa, rūpa, rasa, gandha (five tanmātra-s or rudimentary subtle elements). Amala/Gooseberry is the taste (rasa); Veena is the sound (śabda); musk is the smell (gandha); gem by form (rūpa) and touch (sparśa) by the fan. The earthen lamp that holds the oil and wick is the biological system of the human body. Wick is the mind. Oil that makes the wick to burn is the prāṇa. With all these things, perception of the material world is not possible. Without that light, nothing can be perceived. Similarly, without the Self, nothing can be experienced.

We saw in Part 1 of the Introduction, the process of sighting/experiencing an object. We also termed it as व्रित्त्त पररणाम vritti pariṇāma. Vritti or thought-wave is a modification of the mind through a process. Just as waves and bubbles arise from the surface of the ocean, so also these Vrittis arise from the surface of the mind. The function of a Vritti in the mind is to cause removal of the veil of ignorance covering objects by reflecting the light from the ātmā i.e., only lend existence by throwing light. Gnanam is a process of throwing light (That is why in Tamil they call both the light & and the process of throwing light to uncover Gnana as விளக்கு & விளக்குதல்/விளக்க உரை and not allowing it to escape through the indriyas ( the pot with 5 holes and 5 items).

Every wave of thought in the mind (vritti pariṇāma) is illumined by an awareness – the maha deepa. This maha deepa goes out through thro 5 indriyas and get back to the reflecting medium – mind for “I know” (jaanaami ithi) – The learning from the Second Experiment.

Eg of maha deepa – you are able to see a star million miles away. The kind of illumination that you were able to put it on the star. Amount of illumine that you have put – that is maha deepa.

We should understand that the infinite consciousness by itself never illumines because it is illumination itself like the Sun. It is an upakaranaa or upadhi. It needs a medium to illumine. The medium borrows the light and reflect on the object. The mind borrows light from “me” temporarily and throws it on the object thro the 5 indriyas thro which it escapes.. That is called perception/gnana. The light of consciousness, when reflected at an inner equipment, reaches the object to illumine them.

Here is a pictorial summary.

வேதாந்தத்தின் இக்கருத்துக்களை கவனித்தோமானால், அன்பர் திரு. அப்பாதுரை அவர்கள், வளைதளத்தில் பதிவிட்ட நசிகேதன் கதையில் (கடோபனிஷத் தமிழாக்கம்) ஒரு கவிதை (87) ஞாபகத்திற்கு வருகிறது {http://nasivenba.blogspot.com/2012/03/blog-post_23.html}.

கதிருங் கணப்பொறியுங் கங்குல் கலையுங்

கதிர்க்குங் கணங்களுங் கங்குல் – கதிநாடிக்

கட்கிலியைக் கண்பெறுங் காலையிற் காரிரியக்

கிட்டுங் ககனக் கனல்.

திரவனும் மின்னலும் இருளே. நிலவும் ஒளிவீசும் விண்மீன்களும் இருளே. தன்னறிவைத் தேடி, எளிதில் புலப்படாத ஆன்மாவை அகத்தே அறியும் வேளையில் அண்டத்தின் இருளகற்றும் ஒளி பிறக்கும். அங்கே சூரியனும் பிரகாசிப்பதில்லை; சந்திரனும் தாரகைகளும் பிரகாசிப்பதில்லை; மின்னல்களும் ஏன் தீயும் பிரகாசிப்பதில்லை. அவன் பிரகாசிக்கும் பொழுது எல்லாம் பிரகாசிக்கின்றன; அவனுடைய ஒளியால் இவை எல்லாமே பிரகாசிக்கின்றன. வடமொழிப் பாடலில் ‘அவன்’ என்று குறிப்பிடப்படுவது ஆன்மா. சூட்சுமக் குறிப்பு.

Interestingly, in my exchanges on “Existence” in Twitter last week, I was fortunate to receive an excellent quote from Mr. R. Prabhu. This is from one of the verses of a very well known Siddha – Sivavaakiyar சிவவாக்கியர் which reflects the relationship between the “being” and the “knowing”.

இல்லைஇல்லை என்றுநீர் இயம்புகின்ற ஏழைகாள்,

இல்லைஎன்று நின்றதொன்றை இல்லை என்னலாகுமோ

இல்லைஅல்ல ஒன்றுமல்ல இரண்டும்ஒன்றி நின்றதை

எல்லைகண்டு கொண்டபேர் இனிப்பிறப்பது இல்லையே

With this understanding let us now see the Sloka No 4 in the next blog.

Dakshinamurthy Stothram – Sloka 4 – Introduction – Part 2 – Throwing some light on “Light”! – The experiments

We are used to a “question paper based exam followed by practicals” – Aren’t we? Exactly; that is what we are going to do now in our study of Dakshinamurthy Stothram, Sloka 4.

In the previous introductory blog, we saw through sets of questions and answers, as to how the Self (ātmā) is comparable to the “maha deepam” the great light source. Let us continue the conceptual exploration through two experiments.

Experiment 1 – Sun, Dark Room & Mirror Experiment:

Place some objects inside a pitch-dark room. On a bright & sunny day, position a mirror outside at an angle; open the window of the dark room and try reflecting the sunlight through the window into the dark room by adjusting the angle of the mirror. What do you observe? You see that the objects which are otherwise invisible are illumined by the patch of sun light entering the dark room via the mirror and the window.

The question is: who or what illumines the dark room? The mirror or the Sun?

Suppose we say mirror, can we try the same experiment during midnight; keep the mirror at the same angle or at any other angle and try to illumine. The mirror is not able to provide light. So, we cannot say mirror is the illuminator.

If we say that the Sun alone illumines the dark room and not the mirror, then, what will happen if we remove the mirror? Again, the room will continue to be dark, because if the mirror is not there, with a roof over the room, the sunlight can not directly penetrate in the room and illumine. Therefore, mere Sun alone cannot illumine like mere mirror cannot illumine. Therefore, a combination of both the Sun and the mirror together illumine the objects of the dark room.

Pictorially the above experiment can be summarised as under

So, what are we trying to get out of this experiment. What is the illation here?

Experiment 2 – The “holi” pot and lamp Experiment

Light and place a bright lamp (wick lamp with burning oil) on the surface of the earth within a room which is densely dark. Place a pot having five holes with its mouth down over the lamp. Outside of that pot place (in front of each of the hole), an amala (நெல்லிக்காய்) fruit, veena, musk, good gem and a fan.

Now the question is about the perception of the collection of separate objects. Is it attributed to any of the following viz. Lamp or Oil or Wick or Pot or the objects themselves? What is the significance of the 5 holes and the five objects ? Why only these objects ?

The lamp is not able to directly illumine the objects, because it is covered by a pot with five holes; Therefore cooperation of pot is required in the sense that we need a pot with holes and not just the pot. In a lighter vein, therefore we require a ‘holi pot’.

The pot with holes alone can’t illumine and we require the lamp. The holes without the lamp within, cannot also illumine the ibject.

Same arguments go for the oil, the wick and the objects. None of them are self-illumine too and only those objects which fall within the range of the beam of light that comes out of the holes are perceived.

So, what are we trying to get out of this experiment. What is the illation here?

Well, “Practicals” are over. What did we learn?

Let us get into the details in the blog next week.

To be continued……

Dakshinamurthy Stothram – Sloka 4 – Introduction – Part 1 – Throwing some light on “Light”! – Questions and Answers

We saw in the previous Sloka 3, the vedantic concept of conjoined existence and light in perception of objects and understood that both “being” and “knowing” are nothing but the same (tat tvam asi). In Sloka 4, Adi Sankara throws more light on the “Light”.


Before we venture into the Sloka, I am going to start this blog with three sets of questions.

Set 1

Can you see yourselves in broad day light ?

Can you see your friend in a crowd in the park in the day light ?

Set 2

Can you see yourselves in a pitch dark room ?

Can you see your friend in the same pitch dark room?

Set 3

Do you need a torch to see Sun in the daytime.

Can you see the stars and constellations on a clear night?


These are very simple and innocuous questions. Answering these shouldn’t pose difficulties.

Set 1

Yes. I can see myself in broad light.

Yes. I searched and can see my friend in a crowd in the park.

Set 2

No. I cant see myself physically but I know that I am there.

No. I can’t see my friend in the pitch dark room. I need light.

Set 3

I don’t need a torch to see the Sun in daylight. It is all powerful.

Yes. I am able to see stars and constellations on a clear night.

Explanatory Notes for the answers

Now let us amplify the answers given.

Set 1

Suppose if I ask whether you have seen your friend in the crowd, you will have to look around to see whether he has come or not; which means that a process is required. But when I ask you the question, are you there, you do not take any time, or even thinking. Even before the process of thinking starts, “I am here” is an evident fact.


I don’t need a light to say that I am inside a dark room since I know that I am there. It is self evident as indicated above. But I need a process and a light to see anyone else.


I don’t need an external light to see the Sun in daylight. It is the most powerful light source. It is a “maha deepam”. But the strange fact is I can see the stars which are millions of miles away in the sky on a clear night. Perhaps I have a powerful source of light inside me (a maha deepam) that helps me to see the stars. Maybe ! I don’t know.

Preamble to the Vedic Philosophy behind the “Light”

Apparently in these three sets of questions and answers, the underlying focus is on light and sight. Let us now throw some light on this light.

An object in the world becomes known at a particular time by our special effort. If I have to see my friend in a crowd at the park, it is an event in space and time. I have to turn in that direction and my mind should be behind the eye. Or the eyes will not see. And the light should fall on the crowd; and then a thought should take place in the mind; and that is called vritti pariṇāma, and when that takes place alone, the knowledge of my friend takes place; as an event, in the mind, because of the operation of the sense organ called eye. So, the steps involved in this light throwing process called mano vritti is as under:

1. Some object is there.

2. Light falls on it.

3. You see it through your effort with your eyes.

4. It translates that it is other than you

5. You recognize it through something.

6. It forms a wave thought

7. That gets reflected in a medium to lend existence

The process is nothing complicated. Simple. Isn’t it? But then how do you say “I am here” when you are in a pitch dark room and someone asks you “Where are you?” You even say sometimes “Don’t switch on the light. I am relaxing”. Strange ! Are you self luminous? Exactly. This is called svayam prakāśatvam of ātmā; self-evidence of ātmā; this is a very important concept in vedānta. In India we have people named as Swayam Prakash.

The core of an Individual known as ātmā is not only svayam prakāś but also a “maha deepam” – a great light.

In a lighter vein that is why if we see several Indian movies particularly the historical/mythological ones, you will see in death scenes, a light moves up from the body towards the heaven. We see obituary statements like “The light in our life has merged with the Almighty” even today.

With this introductory understanding that core of all of us viz., the inner consciousness known as the ātmā is compared to a maha deepam (the light like Sun) in, let us proceed toward our goal of understanding the Sloka 4 where Adi Sankara again comes out with simple experiments to drive home the Vedantic Concepts.

To be continued……