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Ishvara Gita - Sri Vaishnava Commentary - Chapter 2 - Sankhya Yoga – Knowledge pertaining to the Individual Self

NOTE: Prior to reading this article, we request you to read the preludes to comprehend the concepts discussed here clearly --- [1][2][3][4][5]. Previous Chapter of the Ishvara Gita is accessed here.
Chapter 2 of the Ishvara Gita is a discourse on the nature of the self and expands upon the topics Krishna deals with in Chapter 2-6, Chapter 8 and Chapter 13 of the Gita.  In this chapter, Shiva explains the third question of the rishis - “kaścidātmā - What is the “Atma”?”
This is a big chapter. So, for convenience, we have divided the chapter into sections, so that readers can pick up on where they left off (if that is the case) and also understand the topic and context under consideration at any given section of the chapter.
The sections are as follows:
Shiva now discourses to the listening rishis about the nature of the jīvātma as follows:
avācyametad vijñānamātmaguhyaṃ sanātanam yanna devā vijānanti yatanto 'pi dvijātayaḥ (1)
(Shiva said), “Brahmins! This eternal knowledge of the self is secret and cannot be described in words (adequately). Even the gods, despite their efforts, do not understand it.
idaṃ jñānaṃ samāśritya brahmabhūtā dvijottamāḥ na saṃsāraṃ prapadyante pūrve 'pi brahmavādinaḥ (2)
Meaning: Practicing this knowledge, the foremost of the twice born attained the highest similarity to Brahman. Even in the ancient times, those propagators of self-knowledge did not return to samsāra (those who practiced this jnāna yoga).
brahmabhūtā - “āvirbhūta brahmarūpo bhavati” – The wise who know the essential nature of the self through jnāna yoga become one in whom there is the highest similarity to Brahman in terms of freedom from the distress of hunger, thirst, sorrow, infatuation, old age and death.
brahmavādinaḥ” – Those who propagate the knowledge of the individual self known as “brahma” as it is all-pervasive in knowledge.
guhyād guhyatamaṃ sākṣād gopanīyaṃ prayatnataḥ vakṣye bhaktimatāmadya yuṣmākaṃ brahmavādinām (3)
Meaning: This is the secret of secrets and should be protected with effort. I am going to speak about it to you, who are expounders of the knowledge regarding the self, who are having devotion to the Lord Narayana (who is also the means to attain the individual self).
Now, Rudra commences his discourse on the self. First, he begins by describing the embodied self in association with the body. Later, he proceeds to describe the self in its’ pure state, detached from prakrti.
ātmā yaḥ kevalaḥ svasthaḥ śāntaḥ sūkṣmaḥ sanātanaḥ asti sarvāntaraḥ sākṣāccinmātrastamasaḥ paraḥ so 'ntaryāmī sa puruṣaḥ sa prāṇaḥ sa maheśvaraḥ sa kālo 'gnistadavyaktaṃ sa evedamiti śrutiḥ  (4-5)
Meaning: The self is unmingled, ie, distinct from the body (kevalaḥ), self-dependent, ie, not relying on the body for existence (svasthaḥ), tranquil, ie, its’ essential nature is not affected by changes (śāntaḥ), subtle (sūkṣmaḥ), eternal as it is imperishable (sanātanaḥ). It is present inside every diverse being such as gods, men etc (sarvāntaraḥ),  it is sentient by nature (cinmātra), it is higher than prakrti or different to it (tamasaḥ paraḥ).
It is called “antaryāmīn” as It is the inner controller of the body. It is called “puruṣaḥ” as it existed prior to the body (purā āsīt iti puruṣaḥ). It is called “prāṇaḥ” as it is the supporter of the movable and immovable which would be lifeless without it.
It is called “maheśvaraḥ” as it is the great lord in relation to the body, mind and senses. It is called “kāla” as it holds together the body made of an aggregate of elements. It is called “agni” as it is the leader of the mind, senses and body. It is called “avyaktaṃ” as it is not manifest to the senses. It is described in this manner by the shruti.
All this is a description of the jīvātma in its’ embodied state, as being different from the body. By saying the Jīva is the controller, the indweller of the body, the imperishable, etc, the objective is to show that even in its’ embodied state, it is different from the body which is perishable, the controlled, etc. Dehātma Bhrama is thus dispelled by Shiva here.
Jīva is mentioned in singular (as in “he is present in all beings”) because all jīvās are identical and hence, collectively can be referred to in the singular. Just as several identical grains of rice are simply called “rice”, the innumerable identical jīvās are called “jīva”.
maheśvaraḥ” - Gita 13.22 refers to the  jīvātma as “maheshvara” (upadrastanumanta ca bharta bhokta mahesvarah). ShrI Ramanuja explains the meaning of the term thus – The individual self is the supporter and ruler of the body, senses and mind, and by making the body subservient to himself, he is called “Maheshvara” or the ”Great Lord”.
“kāla” - sankalanāt iti kāla – The body is “bhūta-sangraha” or an aggregate of elements. The self holds this body together, as it perishes without the self dwelling in it.
“sa evedamiti śrutiḥ” – Now when Rudra described the Jīva as Antaryamin, Maheshvara, etc the Rishis objected, “Aren’t these the names of Sriman Narayana, the Supreme Lord? How are you applying these names to the Jīva?” – To dispel these doubts, Rudra says, “O Rishis! What I am saying is not of my own imagination. The individual self is indeed described in such a manner by the Upanishads”.
The Jīva is described as such in the Taittiriya Upanishad, Svetasvatara Upanishad, Katopanishad, Prasnopanishad and other Upanishads in this manner.
If the self is distinct from the body, then what is its’ relationship with the body? That is explained under.
asmād vijāyate viśvamatraiva pravilīyate sa māyī māyayā baddhaḥ karoti vividhāstanūḥ (6)
Meaning: From this self, the Universe is born and in him, ie, abiding in him (tatra), it is dissolved. He (the jīva) is māyī, ie, one who possesses or is inseparably associated with “prakrti” which is called “māya”. In association with prakrti (māyā), he makes himself distinguished by diverse bodies like deva, manushya, etc.
When it is said that the Universe arises from the Jīvātma, it is meant that the various forms such as man, deva etc arise on account of the karmas of the Jīvātma which determines the bodies. It is also dissolved in the Self. This means that during dissolution,  when the Universe is rendered in the unmanifested state, even then it exists dependent on the Self which is the cause and support (Ashraya) of the unmanifest prakrti which does not have gross forms.
However, the self is not a cause of the Universe by nature. It becomes a cause or effect on account of avidya brought on by karmas, which cause association with prakrti. That is brought out by the term “māyī” – the self is a possessor of, or inseparably associated with prakrti.
If the Jīva associates with prakrti in this manner, does it mean he is tainted by prakrti? Rudra dispels this notion by highlighting the difference between the Atma and the body in the next shloka. This also opens the discussion to move from the embodied self to the state of the pure self, completely detached from the body.
So far, the self dwelling in the body was described as “maheshvara”, “antaryamin” etc. Now Rudra describes the self as it is in the pure state, devoid of embodiment. This difference is to be noted.
na cāpyayaṃ saṃsarati na ca saṃsāramayaḥ prabhuḥ nāyaṃ pṛthvī na salilaṃ na tejaḥ pavano nabhaḥ (7)
Meaning: The individual self (by nature) does not undergo births and deaths, and nor is he, the powerful one (prabhu), associated with the body that is “saṃsāra” as it is the cause of transmigration. He is not (made of) Earth, Water, Fire, Wind or Ether.
The jīva is called “prabhu” as it is the master of the body and is in its’ pure state is all-powerful and capable of existing and doing actions independently from the body. The body is referred to by the term “saṃsāramaya” as it is subject to transmigration and the self in its’ pure state is not associated with such a body.
“He is not wind, ether etc” means “he is not made of wind, ether etc” as his essential nature is distinct from all these”.
na prāṇo na mano 'vyaktaṃ na śabdaḥ sparśa eva ca na rūparasagandhāśca nāhaṃ kartā na vāgapi (8)
Meaning: He is not (associated with) the vital breath, nor (associated with) mind, nor (associated with) unmanifest prakrti, not (associated with) sound, nor touch. He is not (associated with) form, color, taste or smell, not the doer of actions (like walking, etc which are functions of the body) and not (associated with) speech.
All of the above is the condition of the Jīva in its’ pure state. It is only in the state of embodiment that it acquires these characteristics.
When it is said “he is not the vital breath, mind, etc.”, it is meant he is not associated with these in the pure state. Owing to inseparable association with the body of a man, one can say “I am a man”. Similarly, owing to inseparable associations with vital breath, mind etc in the embodied state, the Jīva can be called “vital breath”, “mind” etc. But such associations do not exist in the pure state and that is being pointed out here.
na pāṇipādau no pāyurna copasthaṃ dvijottamāḥ na kartā na ca bhoktā vā na ca prakṛtipūruṣau
na māyā naiva ca prāṇāścaitanyaṃ paramārthataḥ (9)
Meaning: O Best of Dvijas! This individual self is not (associated with) hands, feet, anus or genitals. He is not the cause of the activities of the body (which is caused by prakrti) and is not the enjoyer of pain and pleasure (ie, his true nature is different from that of being the enjoyer). He is not the causal prakrti that transforms into the body, senses etc and is not the puruṣa or one situated in this body made of prakrti experiencing desire, hatred etc. This Atma which is sentient by nature (caitanyaṃ) is not the body made of prakrti (māyā) and it is not the support of the movable and immovable bodies (prāṇā).
In the previous shlokas 4-5, Rudra had said the self is prāṇā, etc. Now he is saying the self is not prāṇā etc. How is this? It is because in shlokas 4-5, the embodied self was described as distinct from the body it inhabited. In these shlokas, the condition of the pure self distinct from the embodied self is being described.
“na kartā” – The individual self is not the performer of activities. It is the prakrti which transforms into the body and the senses which performs the activities. Since prakrti is insentient, it requires association with the sentient self to perform activities. The self cannot make prakrti operate unless the prakrti has transformed into the body and senses, either. In this manner, prakrti is the cause of activities.
“na ca bhoktā”  - In samsārā, the embodied jīva is indeed a “bhoktā” or the experiencer of pain and pleasure from activities performed by prakrti in accordance to the self’s karma. By saying that the individual self is not bhokta what is meant is that its’ pure state is different from the condition of enjoying pain and pleasure since the liberated self has no karmas and no association with prakrti.
na ca prakṛtipūruṣau” – The term “prakrti” here refers to the cause of the body, indriyās, etc which are its’ modifications. The essential nature of the self is not of the nature of this prakrti. It was already said in the previous shloka that the self is “na avyaktaṃ” where “avyaktaṃ” also refers to the causal prakrti – to avoid redundancy, “na avyaktaṃ” is taken as “not associated with the causal prakrti” and “na ca prakṛti” here is taken as not having the nature of the causal prakrti.
“puruṣa” means one who dwells in the body which is a modification of the causal prakrti. Thus, in association with this causal prakrti in the form of the body, he experiences modifications like desire, anger etc. The individual self in its’ pure state does not have desire, hatred etc.
“na māyā” – the insentient body is called “māyā” as it is made of prakrti that bewilders and enchants in wondrous ways. “māyā” does not mean “unreal” here. The self is not of the nature of the body. Earlier it was said the self is not associated with a transmigrating body in its’ pure state (na ca saṃsāramaya). Now it is being said he is also not of the nature of the body for strength of clarification.
“naiva ca prāṇā” - The embodied self is called “prāṇā” as it supports the movable and immovable bodies in samsārā, which would perish without the self animating them. Since the pure self does not have this quality either in the liberated state, it is said to be different from prāṇā. Its’ true nature is knowledge, which is indicated by “caitanyaṃ”.
While it is true that the pure self can assume bodies in the liberated state (sa ekadha bhavati tridha bhavati…~Ch. Up), these bodies are not assumed as a result of karma, but for sport and the self is not dependent on them. So, when it is said “the self in the pure state is not the supporter of bodies”, it means that the self does not need to be a supporter of bodies, but does not rule out assumption of bodies for sport.
This clarifies that the Jīva does not get tainted by association with prakrti. Rudra gives a few analogies below to make this difference between the individual self and the body absolutely clear.
yathā prakāśatamasoḥ sambandho nopapadyate tadvadaikyaṃ na saṃbandhaḥ prapañcaparamātmanoḥ (10)
Meaning: Just as light and darkness have no relationship, in a similar manner there is no relationship of identity between the self and the body (prapancha).
prapancha” refers to the body – “prakrishta pancha” – eminently manifest or visible, as opposed to the unmanifest or invisible self. Or, “prapancha” means manifoldness, and thus refers to the body which is characterized by diversity in the form of man, deva etc.
This example brings out the fact that the jīva is distinct from the body. The idea is, just as light is diametrically opposite of darkness, similarly the imperishable, unchangeable jīva is diametrically opposed to the perishable, changeable body.
However, a pūrvapakṣa may arise – Light does not exist in the presence of darkness and vice-versa. So does this mean that the jīva cannot exist when the body does and vice-versa? To dispel this objection, Shiva gives another analogy below:
chāyātapau yathā loke parasparavilakṣaṇau tadvat prapañcapuruṣau vibhinnau paramārthataḥ (11)
Meaning: Just as shadow and light are different from each other in this world, in that manner, the body (Prapancha) and the individual self (puruṣa) are different.
Shadow can exist in the presence of light and is yet distinct from it. Thus, this refutes the objection that one cannot exist in the presence of the other and yet be different.
This analogy also brings out the inseparable association and dependence of the body on the self. Just as shadow can only exist when there is light, similarly the body can only exist so long as the self abides in it. Just as shadow is inseparably associated with light, the body is inseparably associated with the self.
Now, having given analogies, Rudra also provides a logical refutation of why Jīva svarUpa cannot be the same as prakrti.
yadyātmā malino 'svastho vikārī syāt svaroopataḥ nahi tasya bhavenmuktirjanmāntaraśatairapi (12)
Meaning: If it is said that jīvātma is inherently impure, not independent, ie, dependent on the body and changeable by nature, then it can never attain liberation even after a hundred births.
In this verse, we see a direct affirmation that the subject matter of the discussion is the jIva and not Ishvara, because ‘liberation’ is meaningful only for jIvAtmA.
If the jīva is impure by nature, it can never get rid of the karmas to do sādhana and attain moksha. Liberation requires dissociation from the body and thus if the jīva is dependent on the body for its’ existence, it will not be possible. If the jīva is changeable in its’ essential nature, then there could be no distinction between jīva and prakrti, and thus, liberation is not possible for a Jīva if its’ essential nature of knowledge is changeable. So, the very idea of liberation will be lost.
This contradicts the dvaita stance of “tAmasa jīvās” who are inherently wicked. Just an observation.
If the self is not identical with the body, then how does it acquire characteristics such as sukha, dukha etc? Rudra explains below.
paśyanti munayo yuktāḥ svātmānaṃ paramārthataḥ vikārahīnaṃ nirduḥ khamānandātmānamavyayam (13)
Meaning: The munis who are eligible for liberation, perceive their own self as it is in reality, devoid of changes in its essential nature, free of misery (in its’ true condition), blissful by nature and imperishable.
Before explaining why the embodied jīvās exhibit characteristics of the body despite being different from it, Rudra again summarizes the characteristics of the Jīva in its’ pure state for proper understanding.
When it is said jīva is blissful by nature, it implies it is knowledge by nature as well.
If this is the true nature of the Jīva, then why do we not feel this and are instead identifying ourselves with attributes of prakrti? Answer is below.
ahaṃ kartā sukhī duḥkhī kṛśaḥ sthūleti yā matiḥ sā cāhaṅkārakartṛtvādātmanyāropyate janaiḥ (14)
Meaning: “I am the doer”, “I am happy”, “I am unhappy”, “I am lean”, “I am fat” – such perceptions are caused by ahaṅkāra or “I-ness”, which is identification with the body and claiming ownership. They are superimposed on the Atman.
Ahankara here refers to “I-ness”, which is claiming ownership of the attributes and actions body, and thus identifying oneself with the body. The Atman is distinct from this according to the wise who know the Vedas, which is again brought out in the next verse.
vadanti vedavidvāṃsaḥ sākṣiṇaṃ prakṛteḥ param bhoktāramakṣaraṃ śuddhaṃ sarvatra samavasthitam (15)
Meaning: The knowers of the Veda speak of the Atman as the perceiver, ie, cause of intellect (sākṣiṇaṃ), separate from prakrti (prakṛteḥ param). It is (in association with prakrti) the enjoyer of pain and pleasure (bhoktāram), imperishable (akṣaraṃ), pure by nature (śuddhaṃ), abiding equally or alike  in the bodies of devas and the rest (sarvatra samavasthitam).
This is an echo of Gita 13.23 and 13.29. As it is instructed that one should have “samadarShana” or see the identical natures of all the jīvāsdwelling in the bodies, the term “sarvatra samavasthitha” is used.
“sarvatra samavasthitam” – The bodies of devas and others is denoted by “sarvatra”. The term “samavasthitham” means that the Jīvātma abides equally in all these bodies as the Supporter, Ruler and Master for whose sake the body exists (Sesin). This is the interpretation of shrI rAmAnuja.
bhoktāram” – It should be understood that the Jīva is the experiencer of pain and pleasure resulting from activities of the body and not the insentient body that is the experiencer.
As mentioned earlier, the jīva is referred to in the singular because all jīvāsare identical in nature, thus as “rice grains” can be called “rice”, “jīvās” are called “Atma” or “jīva”.
tasmādajñānamūlo hi saṃsāraḥ sarvadehinām ajñānādanyathā jñānaṃ tacca prakṛtisaṃgatam (16)
Meaning: Therefore, samsāra of all embodied beings is indeed due to the body made of prakrti which is of a different nature to the jīvātma. Due to ignorance (non-comprehension of the difference between the Atma with the body) and different conception (ie, thinking the body to be the self), the jīva gets united with the bodies made of prakrti (and transmigrates).
“tasmādajñānamūlo” – Here, “ajñāna”  refers to  the body made of prakrti which is different in nature from the jīva that is called “jñāna” as it is knowledge by nature.
ajñānādanyathā jñānaṃ” - ajñānām” is non-comprehension of the difference between Atma and body. “anyathā jñānaṃ” is mistaking the Atma to be the body itself. The next verse describes how this type of wrong knowledge arises.
nityoditaḥ svayaṃ jyotiḥ sarvagaḥ puruṣaḥ paraḥ ahaṅkārāvivekena kartāhamiti manyate (17)
Meaning: The jīva, whose essential nature is ever rising above all changes (nityoditaḥ), which is self-luminous  (svayaṃ jyotiḥ), which is everywhere (sarvagaḥ), which dwells in the bodies of deva, manushya, etc (puruṣaḥ), which is distinct from prakrti (paraḥ), is mistakenly thought to be the doer of actions which are actually caused by prakrti transforming into the body and senses, due to “ahaṅkārā” and “aviveka”.
“ahaṅkārā” is considering the actions and functions of the body as one’s own. “aviveka” is non-discrimination of body and self.  It should be implied that where there is “ahaṅkārā”, there is “mamakārā”.
The next verse declares that seers with discrimination can understand the true nature of the Atman.
paśyanti ṛṣayo 'vyaktaṃ nityaṃ sadasadātmakam pradhānaṃ prakṛtiṃ buddhvā kāraṇaṃ brahmavādinaḥ (18)
Meaning: The seers perceive that jīva which is beyond the range of the senses (avyaktaṃ), eternal as it suffers no changes to its’ essential nature (nityaṃ), who is constituted by the effected and causal states in samsAra (sadasadātmakam), the prominent prakrti which is “pre-eminent” as compared to the inferior insentient prakrti (pradhānaṃ prakṛtiṃ). The expounders of the self understand that (jīva) to be the Cause (the seat of experiences such as pain and pleasure).
Gita 7.5 refers to the jīva as “yedaṃ dhāryate jagat” – This jīva sustains the Universe, as without it, the Universe has no purpose for existence. Thus, it is the cause of existence of the Universe.
“sadasadātmakam”“sat” refers to the effected state during creation when the attributive knowledge of the individual self (dharma-bhūta-jnāna) has blossomed and it assumes the forms of gods, men, etc.  The self is referred to as “asat” in the causal state during pralaya because its attributive knowledge (dharma-bhūta-jnāna) is reduced and it is in slumber, almost indistinguishable from insentient matter. The self is called “sadasadātmakam” as it is belonging to these two states in samsāra. This is the explanation of bhagavad bhāshyakārar under Gita 13.12.
The self is not a cause or effect by nature. It becomes a cause or effect on account of avidya brought on by karmas, which cause association with prakrti. That is why “ātmakam” is used to denote it as a condition of the self.
“brahmavādinaḥ buddhvā kāraṇaṃ” – Brahmavādis are who propagate the knowledge of the individual self known as “brahma” as it is all-pervasive in its’ pure state. They understand the self to be the Cause in the sense that it is the seat or locus of experiences such as pain and pleasure, and not the insentient body. The Gita refers to the self as the Cause in this manner in 13.20 (bhoktrtve hetuh ucyate).
tenāyaṃ saṃgato hyātmā kūṭastho 'pi nirañjanaḥ svātmānamakṣaraṃ brahma nāvabuddhyeta tattvataḥ (19)
Meaning: Though the Atma is unchanging as it is devoid of the changes arising from bodily connections (kutastha) and pure in its’ essential nature (nirañjanaḥ), by association with prakrti, it does not know itself as imperishable (akṣaraṃ), and as vast on account of its’ knowledge (brahma).
kūṭastha” – The self which is unchanging in its’ essential nature. Shri Ramanuja explains as follows under Gita 15.16 – The liberated self, is devoid of the association with prakrti. Therefore, none of the bodies of Brahma and others, which are products of prakrti, can be said to belong to the Atma in its’ pure state, devoid of karmas. Because such bodies can be claimed as ours only due to karma. Innumerable meanings of the term “kūṭastha” is provided under Gita 6.8 as well by the Acharya.
brahma” - The jīva is called “brahma” in its’ pure state devoid of connection with prakrti because it is free of limitations and its’ dharma-bhūta-jnāna (DBJ) expands infinitely. The Svetasvatara Upanishad (5.9) declares this by saying “sa cānantāya kalpate”  - The individual self is capable of infinity (in knowledge)
If he does not comprehend himself as imperishable and all-pervasive in knowledge in reality, how does he see himself? The next shloka answers this.
anātmanyātmavijñānaṃ tasmād duḥkhaṃ tathetaram ragadveṣādayo doṣāḥ sarve bhrāntinibandhanāḥ karmaṇa yasya bhaved doṣaḥ puṇyāpuṇyamiti sthitiḥ tadvaśādeva sarveṣāṃ sarvadehasamudbhavaḥ (20-21)
Meaning: He (therefore) has comprehension of that which is not the Atman (namely, the body) as the Atman, and thus, there is misery. Because of this, defects beginning with desire, hatred and other faults appear, binding him to delusion. By which (performance of) actions, arises defect situated in the form of puṇya and pāpa (a-puṇya) -- this is the indeed the state of all the beings that are existing as embodied in different bodies of man, deva, etc.
On account of association with prakrti, he does not know himself and considers qualities of prakrti as his own, resulting in misery. The next shloka then states how one should know oneself as he truly is.
nityaḥ sarvatrago hyātmā kūṭastho doṣavarjitaḥ ekaḥ sa bhidyate śaktyā māyayā na svabhāvataḥ (22)
Meaning: The Atma is eternal as it is imperishable (nityaḥ), ubiquitous or everywhere, in all bodies (sarvatraga), unchanging (kūṭastha) and devoid of defects in its’ essential nature (doṣavarjitaḥ). It is one or identical everywhere (ekaḥ), but distinguished (as man, deva etc) by the power of prakrti known as “māyā” and not by its essential nature.
ekaḥ” refers to the fact that the Atma, which is ubiquitous as conveyed by “sarvatragah”, is of one or identical nature only everywhere – that of knowledge and bliss. However, due to the power of prakrti, which fashions bodies of man, deva etc., and causes contractions and expansions of dharma-bhūta-jnāna it is distinguished as such accordingly. The differences seen in different jīvāsare not due to differences in their essential nature (na svabhāvataḥ) but due to prakrti.
This statement is not indicating the advaita proposition of one self seen as many by māyā. This is proven by the fact that shloka says “na svabhāvataḥ” – it doesn’t differ by its nature, which suggests that the question is only as to whether the Jīvās in different beings are identical in natures or different. The actual plurality is real, otherwise there is no need to say there is no difference in their essential natures.
The differences are due to prakrti that is denoted by “māyā” as it causes bewilderment. And since bewilderment and delusion of the jīva was the theme of the previous shlokas, it is correct to interpret “māyā” as prakrti only here and not in terms of “unreality” etc.
This statement “na svabhāvataḥ” also contradicts the dvaita theory of inherent differences in jīva svarUpa.
tasmādadvaitamevāhurmunayaḥ paramārthataḥ bhedo vyaktasvabhāvena sā ca māyātmasaṃśrayā (23)
Meaning: On account of this, the munis say that “advaita” or “sameness/identity of individual selves in terms of essential natures” is alone the highest truth. Differences are of the nature of the body which is “vyakta” or manifest form, and association with the triguṇās which constitute the character prakrti that is “māyā” (hence called māyātma).
Having explained that the selves are all essentially identical in nature, and distinguished by forms of man, deva etc, in the previous shloka, Rudra says that it is because of this that munis say there is sameness or oneness everywhere.
What is the ultimate truth – Is the Atma really different permanently as man, deva etc? Or are all jīvās identical in their essential natures? The answer is that the highest truth is that they are all identical in their essential natures despite dwelling in different bodies, and so “advaita” or oneness/identity of essential natures of the jīvāsis the truth.
What causes bheda then? It is the body of man, deva etc called “vyakta” as it is manifest, and also association with the triguṇās which constitute prakrti known as māyā; hence these triguṇās are called “māyātma”.
That this again does not support Shankaracharya’s advaita is proven by the fact that the shloka attributes differences to “vyakta” or the body, which implies that the truth of “advaita” is only identity in essential natures, and not existence of only one self. The context of the question is to ascertain what is the essential nature of the self – is it the differences we see, or something other than that. The word “tasmād” also indicates that the oneness is due to identical natures of several selves and not because of one self only.
Furthermore, “māyātma” clearly signifies the triguṇās that constitute this “māyā” which is prakrti that causes bewilderment in many ways.
Now, Rudra gives an analogy to explain how the Atma remains unaffected by association with prakrti.
yathā hi dhūmasaṃparkānnākāśo malino bhavet antaḥ karaṇajairbhāvairātmā tadvanna lipyate (24)
Meaning: Just as by the association of smoke, the sky does not become dark, so also the Atma does not become polluted by the dispositions that are ruchi-s/desires (bhāva) that arise from the mind.
Smoke can obscure the sky, but the blue color of the sky remains intact and does not literally become darkened. Similarly, the Atma may get enveloped by the desires or inclinations that stem from the mind. But its’ essential nature is not affected. Such is the idea.
Now a question arises – Though the Atma remains unspoilt in its’ essential nature, the karma-vAsaNa-ruchis cause contraction and expansion of the dharma-bhūta-jnāna (attributive knowledge).  If the attributive knowledge of the Atma gets affected by these ruchi-s or karmas, would it remain that way or is there any redemption? Rudra answers.
yathā svaprabhayā bhāti kevalaḥ sphaṭiko 'malaḥ upādhihīno vimalastathaivātmā prakāśate (25)
Meaning:  Just as a pure crystal shines by its’ own luster, without any limitation, similarly the pure Atma shines (by virtue of its’ dharma-bhūta-jnāna).
The luster is the inseparable attribute of a crystal. It is not visible when the crystal is dirty, but when the dirt is washed off, it shines out. Similarly, the Atma’s natural condition is being characterized by the inseparable attribute of dharma-bhūta-jnāna (DBJ). The karmas contract this DBJ in the same manner that dirt hides the crystal. However, when the karmas are removed, this DBJ expands without limitation, and the jīvātma is omniscient in the pure, liberated state.
If the jīva has attributive knowledge (DBJ), then what is its’ svarUpa? Shiva clarifies below:
jñānasvarūpamevāhurjagadetad vicakṣaṇāḥ arthasvarūpamevājñāḥ paśyantyanye kudṛṣṭayaḥ (26)
Meaning: The wise call this mover (jīvātma) as being of the nature of knowledge. But those who are unintelligent and with crooked sight understand it as the nature of a material object.
“Jagat” – This refers to the jīva and it is called “jagat” here as it moves in samsārā.
This shloka clarifies that not only does the Atma have knowledge as its’ attribute (dharma-bhūta-jnāna), but its’ svarUpa is also made of knowledge. By its’ svarupa-jnāna, atma reveals itself to itself as “I” and is sentient. Its’ DBJ reveals itself and external objects to the Atma. As DBJ lacks “I-ness” and cannot reveal itself to itself, it is insentient and an inseparable attribute of the jīva.
kūṭastho nirguṇo vyāpī caitanyātmā svabhāvataḥ dṛśyate hyartharūpeṇa puruṣairbhrāntadṛṣṭibhiḥ (27)
Meaning: The jīvātma is common to many bodies (kūṭastha), devoid of triguṇās (nirguṇa), pervading the body, sentient by nature. The men of deluded sight perceive this jīvātma as having the nature of material objects.
“kūṭastha” – The self is alike in all beings. That is to say, it does not have forms of man, deva, etc., but inheres alike in all bodies of men, deva etc. Despite abiding in these bodies, it is devoid of the triguṇās of prakrti which constitute the bodies and is of the nature of the self.
The jīva is not composed of the triguṇās and hence is “nirguNa”.
yathā saṃlakṣyate raktaḥ kevalaḥ sphaṭiko janaiḥ raktikādyupadhānena tadvat paramapūruṣaḥ (28)
Meaning: Like a pure crystal which in association with a red object such as Gunja seeds appears as red, similarly the jīvātma, the dweller in the body and which is superior to the body (paramapūruṣaḥ) is seen (as differentiated into various dispositions and bodies of deva, man etc)
paramapūruṣaḥ” – The Atma is “pūruṣa” as it dwells in the body. It is “paramapūruṣaḥ” as it is superior to prakrti or the body it dwells in.
When a pure crystal is seen through a red object, it appears red. Here, the red color of a red object is real and not something unreal. So, the perception is of the real. The error lies in the non-apprehension of the true color of the crystal and the difference between the crystal and the red color which belongs to something else. This is the yathārtha-khyāti (sat-khyāti) vāda of Vishishtadvaita.
When someone sees a rope and mistakes it for a snake, does it mean he saw an unreal snake? No. He saw certain characteristics of the rope such as its coils etc which resemble the snake, and did not apprehend the characteristics which distinguish the rope from the snake (such as being insentient, made of fiber etc). Thus, even after the error is realized, the characteristics of coils etc persist and are real. There is no unreal entity seen. Similarly, there is the real perception of differences, but there is non-apprehension of the fact that the differences pertain to the body, and non-apprehension of the true characteristics of the Atman.
The differences of the Atman in embodiment are real, but do not belong to the Atman. They are caused by triguṇās, bodies, etc.
tasmādātmākṣaraḥ śuddho nityaḥ sarvagato 'vyayaḥ upāsitavyo mantavyaḥ śrotavyaśca mumukṣubhiḥ 29
Meaning:  Hence, the jīvātma, which is imperishable (akṣaraḥ), pure by nature (śuddha), eternal (nityaḥ), ubiquitous, ie, present in all beings (sarvagata) and not subject to change in its’ essential nature (avyayaḥ) should be heard, thought of and meditated upon by the seekers of liberation from material desires.
After describing in detail the characteristics of the jīvātma, its distinction from the body and how it acquires certain characteristics while being embodied, Shiva now teaches the injunction that the jīvātma is to be meditated upon in the next few shlokas, which is the focus of karma and jnāna  yogas.
Here “mumukkshu” means those seeking liberation from material desires. Knowledge of the Jīva grants the experience of the intrinsic bliss of the jīva to the exclusion of material enjoyments. This purushartha is higher than material objects of enjoyment. But it is not ultimate mukti which is granted only by knowledge of Brahman.
Having said in the previous shloka that one who meditates on the individual self is a mumukkshu, Shiva now describes the state of such a yogi immersed in self-contemplation.
yadā manasi caitanyaṃ bhāti sarvatragaṃ sadā yogino 'vyavadhānena tadā saṃpadyate svayam (30)
Meaning: When the Atma, which is of the nature of knowledge, appears everywhere in all bodies, always shines in the mind of the Yogin unceasingly, it gets attained (ie, the yogi experiences the bliss of the jīvātma).
yadā sarvāṇi būtāni svātmanyevābhipaśyati sarvabhūteṣu cātmānaṃ brahma saṃpadyate tadā (31)
Meaning: When he (the aforementioned yogi) sees all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings, the individual self which is called “brahma” in its pure state on account of being free of limitations, is attained (by the yogi).
This is the same as Gita 6.29. We do not need to say anything new. Quoting bhagavad bhāshyakāra’s divya vyakhyana:
All selves are equal, are of identical natures with no difference in their essential natures. Differences lie in the body and not in the essential nature of the self. Differences also arise in the dharma-bhūta-jnāna due to association with varying degrees of karmas. When the karmas are cleansed, there is no differences in the dharma-bhūta-jnāna as well, which is infinite.
A number of doubts can arise here. If the Yogi has to see himself in other selves, does it mean he is supported by these other selves? Similarly, if he needs to see other selves in him, does it mean he is the supporter of these other selves? Further, as he is atomic in size, how can he abide in all the selves? Doesn’t this contradict the shāstra?
These objections are discarded by the fact that it has been established the selves have identical essential natures. The idea is, he who has had a vision of the self, apprehends its’ similarity in the other selves, and in them, he sees the similarity with himself. If a number of objects are exactly identical, it means that by seeing one, he has seen them all. Thus, there may be many rice grains, but being identical to each other, one can say, “This is the same rice I saw there”.  Similarly, though the selves are different individually distinct entities, they are all identical and equal. So, he who has perceived himself has also seen the other selves.
yadā sarvāṇi bhūtāni samādhistho na paśyati ekībhūtaḥ pareṇāsau tadā bhavati kevalaḥ (32)
Meaning: When such a yogi, who is in samādhi or the most mature stage of contemplation of the self, does not perceive other beings (as different) and becomes one with that another (second person), he becomes “kevalaḥ” or completely immersed in the blissful experience of the self.
This is similar to Gita 6.32. In the most mature state of jnāna-yoga or Atma sākṣātkāra, the yogi, because of the similarity between his own self and other selves which have uncontracted dharma-bhūta-jnāna in their essential natures,  views his own pleasures and pains as being not different from those of others of the same kind. This is because he sees others as identical to himself. This was explained above.
The Yogi sees the similarity in himself and other selves and feels, “I am not different to any other”. Thus, ther differences of man, deva etc are not perceived. And meditating on this state of acute similarity, he even feels that pleasures and pains of others are his as well.
This is the highest attainment of yoga or meditation on the self.
kevalaḥ” – He becomes immersed in the self alone, to the exclusion of other things. He no longer has material attachments. This shloka should clarify the theme of the Kaivalya Upanishad which we had previously interpreted as jīvātma-centric only.
yadā sarve pramucyante kāmā ye 'sya hṛdi sthitāḥ tadāsāvamṛtībhūtaḥ kṣemaṃ gacchati paṇḍitaḥ (33)
Meaning: When all the desires in his heart leave him, that knower of the self becomes immortal (or he is united in contemplation of the immortal self) and obtains happiness which is the intrinsic bliss of the individual self.
Note that this shloka – “yadā sarve pramucyante kāmā ye 'sya hṛdi sthitāḥ” is an explanation of the Kaivalyopanishad mantra “te brahmalokeṣu parāntakāle parāmṛtāḥ parimucyanti sarve
Whether this kaivalyam is a permanent, lower moksha, or whether it is only experienced in samsAra is a moot point. But it is an insignificant issue. If taken as permanent moksha, becoming immortal refers to going to the abode which is beyond viraja but on the outskirts of paramapada (sri vaikunta) and experiencing the bliss of the self. Otherwise, “becoming immortal” means the state of being immersed in contemplation of the immortal self and experiencing its’ intrinsic bliss in samsAra, and not being immersed in material enjoyments.
Our opinion is that an eternal lower abode for experiencing the self exists, but it is likely that nobody reaches it as paramAtma will ensure they attain knowledge of Brahman and progress to Brahmopāsaṇa. This resolves all issues.
yadā bhūtapṛthagbhāvamekasthamanupaśyati tata eva ca vistāraṃ brahma saṃpadyate tadā (34)
Meaning: When he perceives that the differences of the beings are situated in one (identical class of) Jīva, and from that one (identical class of) Jīva only, the detailedness of men, deva etc occur, then he attains the (experience of the) Self called “brahma” in its’ pure state devoid of limitations.
When it is said that differences are situated in one, it only means that all differences of body, disposition, etc are sustained by individual selves which are exactly identical to each other.
Consider the statements, “This sack of rice” or “This is rice” – Here, “rice” though being singular signifies several rice grains which are different from each other, but absolutely identical in their natures. Similarly, “one” signifies a class of jīvās identical to each other. Thus, plurality alone is indicated and this is not an endorsement of Shankaracharya’s advaita.
yadā paśyati cātmānaṃ kevalaṃ paramārthataḥ māyāmātraṃ jagat kṛtsnaṃ tadā bhavati nirvṛtaḥ (35)
Meaning: When he perceives the highest truth of the Atma as distinct from prakrti (kevalaṃ) and the Universe being simply prakrti which is of a bewildering nature (māyāmātraṃ), he becomes tranquil (ie, not affected by sorrows or joys, not hankering after material objects of enjoyment).
The Atma is cinmātraṃ or made of knowledge, while the entire universe consisting of gross forms is “māyāmātraṃ” or made of prakrti. As prakrti bewilders and enchants us, causing confusion, it is called “māyā”.
yadā janmajarāduḥkhavyādhīnāmekabheṣajam kevalaṃ brahmavijñānaṃ jāyate 'sau tadā śivaḥ (36)
Meaning: When the knowledge of the Self (jīvātma) which is called “brahma” in its’ pure state as it is devoid of limitations, is attained, which is a matchless medicine for birth, old age, misery and disease, he becomes “śivaḥ” or agreeable to himself.
The idea is, the self is blissful by nature and so it is extremely agreeable to one who is experiencing it and hence is called “śivaḥ”.
yathā nadīnadā loke sāgareṇaikatāṃ yayuḥ tadvadātmākṣareṇāsau niṣkalenaikatāṃ vraje (37)
Meaning: Just as the rivers and rivulets get mingled with the ocean and become one with it, in that manner, the mind (Atma) becomes united with the imperishable and partless jīvātma.
The individual selves does not have any intrinsic differences and are to be considered as identical in nature to one another by a seeker of liberation. The mind is denoted by “Atma” here and it is the cause of seeing distinctions of man, deva etc.
Therefore, the analogy is that when the rivers like Ganga, Saraswati, etc mingle with the ocean, then they lose their names and water colors of white, green etc . There is no identity between river and sea water, but there is a giving up of the form of difference. Similarly, the mind of the meditator, when directed towards contemplation of the self which is identical in all beings, loses the perception of differences like man, deva etc.
The idea is that, the rivers are not capable of bringing about a change in the ocean such as increasing or decreasing etc. Their previous names and colors will get lost in the ocean. They get a different name and different form, ie, everything will just be called “Ocean”. Similarly, when the mind is attuned towards the true nature of the jīvātma, it no longer causes perception of differences such as man, deva, etc and just see everything as “this is jīvātma” only.  
tasmād vijñānamevāsti na prapañco na saṃstitiḥ ajñānenāvṛtaṃ loko vijñānaṃ tena muhyati (38)
Meaning: Therefore, this jīvātma known as “vijñānam” alone exists (permanently), not the body or the (condition of) existence in the body. The jīva (vijñānam) gets enveloped by the body made of prakrti which is “ajñāna”, and thus the world (ie, the jīvās dwelling in the world) gets deluded.
vijñānam” refers to the jīvātma which is knowledge by nature. “ajñāna” refers to the body made of prakrti which is different from the jīva which is called “jñāna” due to its’ jñāna -svarūpa.
Prapañca refers to the body. How can it be said that the body does not exist? Does this support the theory of mithyavāda? The answer is no.
When it is said “jīva alone exists, not the body or the condition of existence”, it is meant that the jīva alone is imperishable and hence constant at all times. Whereas, the body is perishable and the condition of existence in the body is also temporary and ceases at some point upon liberation.
For example, consider a gold pot. The pot can be broken down into gold. Then the gold can be refashioned into ornaments. Thus, the pot no longer exists. This does not mean the pot or gold is unreal, but it has undergone a change in form as matter is perishable and subject to change. Similarly, the body is said to not exist as it undergoes changes and upon death it becomes ash, whereas the Jīva ever exists as it does not undergo changes.
Thus, the vishṇu purāṇa says:
evaṃ vyavasthite tattve mayāham iti bhāṣitum /pṛthakkaraṇaniṣpādyaṃ śakyate nṛpate katham // (~vishNu purAN . 2.13.100)
That entity which is never changed or modified by a change in time etc., is real! What is that entity, O King? (It is the jīvātman who retains its knowledge).
The jīva is imperishable and unchanging, and thus is said to exist, as it never ceases to exist. Thus it is called “sat”. The body is perishable and subject to change, hence called “asat”. Our existence in this body is also temporary and subject to change (when we get liberated), so it is also not said to exist.
It is to point out that this means “temporary” and not “unreal” as the advaitins take it, that the jīva is referred to specifically as “vijñānam”. For it brings out the fact that the jīva is knowledge by nature and thus unchanging and imperishable, whereas prakrti is not made of knowledge, and thus perishable (hence said to not exist).
Now, this shloka raised the same doubt in the minds of the listening munis when Shiva said “body does not exist”. Did he endorse advaita-vāda? To clarify his stand, Shiva himself explains his statement further.
tajjñānaṃ nirmalaṃ sūkṣmaṃ nirvikalpaṃ yadavyayam ajñānamitarat sarvaṃ vijñānamiti me matam (39)
Meaning: That jīva which is of the nature of knowledge is pure, subtle, unchanging and imperishable. Everything else (the bodies made of prakrti) is “ajñāna” or different in nature from the jīva which is “jñāna”. Everything is (pervaded by) the jīvātma (vijñāna). This is my opinion.
Shiva clarifies here that when he said “body does not exist”, he meant that it is of a different nature (perishable) than the jīva (imperishable) and not because he thinks the body  is unreal, etc. That is why the words “nirvikalpaṃ” and “avyayam” are used.
sarvaṃ vijñānam” means that all matter in the Universe is pervaded, ie, penetrated by the jīva. For every entity other than the self can be pervaded by the self, which is subtler than them. Thus, there are 2 real entities (the self and prakrti) and not one alone that is seen as many.
me matam” – Not only is this the conclusion of the Vedanta, but it is also my (Shiva’s) opinion, as have personally realized it by meditation and am a learned person. Perception of duality is alone correct (since Jīva pervades everything and there are thus two entities) and not kevala advaita of māyāvādis– this is my (Shiva’s) opinion.
etad vaḥ paramaṃ sāṃkhyaṃ bhāṣitaṃ jñānamuttamam sarvavedāntasāraṃ hi yogastatraikacittatā (40)
Meaning:  I have thus spoken to you about the highest knowledge known as “sāṃkhya” or “Intellect”, which is the truth about the Self determinable by the intellect. It is the essence of the Vedanta (on matters relating to the self). Yoga is the single minded concentration of the mind in performance of prescribed duties.
As the self is determined by the intellect, the knowledge pertaining to it is called “sāṃkhya” or “intellect”. The disposition of mind (buddhi) which is cultivated for the performance of duties without desire for their fruits such as svarga, etc (karma-yoga) preceded by knowledge of the self and which thus constitutes the means of attaining release, is called as Yoga.
Rudra now proceeds to elaborate the importance of karma-yoga in realizing the self.
yogāt saṃjāyate jñānaṃ jñānād yogaḥ pravartate yogajñānābhiyuktasya nāvāpyaṃ vidyate kvacit (41)
Meaning: Knowledge of the Self is produced from resolution to perform prescribed duties (yoga). Conversely, from the preliminary knowledge of the Self, the resolution to perform prescribed duties is born. For one endowed with both, there is nothing to accomplish, ie, he has already done all that he needs to do (to attain the vision of the self).
Performance of prescribed duties (karma yoga) with single minded resolution and detachment to fruits like svarga, etc leads to meditation on the self (jnāna yoga). However, even such a performance of duties is preceded by the understanding that the self is different from the body. Such a general understanding is required to relinquish desire for fruits.
So, either karma-yoga (performance of desireless action) can lead to jnāna yoga (meditation on the self). This in turn leads to a vision of the self. Alternatively, since karma-yoga already has the knowledge component (understanding the self as distinct from the body), it can directly lead to a vision of the self, without requiring jnāna yoga or meditation on the self after renunciation of actions.
Rudra next says that one can attain the self by either karma-yoga leading to jnāna-yoga, or by karma-yoga itself, skipping the need for jnāna-yoga.
yadeva yogino yānti sāṃkhyaistadadhigamyate ekaṃ sāṃkhyaṃ ca yogaṃ ca yaḥ paśyati sa tattvavit (42)
Meaning: That which the yogIs (those skilled in actions) attain, that is also attained by Samkhya or the knowledge pertaining to the self. Those who perceive the knowledge of the self (Samkhya) and skill in actions (yoga) as one, they are knowers of the truth.
Yoga is skill in action. “Skill” refers to evenness of mind, not attached to fruits. The idea is that such yoga, or performance of actions with no desire for fruits, preceded by a preliminary understanding of the self being different from the body leads to a devotion to knowledge, which results in the state of being established in firm knowledge and this generates the vision of the Self. Thus, it is possible to gain this vision of the self through karma yoga only, rather than meditating on it (jnāna-yoga) after learning about it (sAmkhya).
anye ca yogino viprā aiśvaryāsaktacetasaḥ majjanti tatra tatraiva na tvātmaiṣāmiti śruti (43)
Meaning: O Brahmanas! Other yogis who are attached to aishvarya in the form of fruits such as svarga, etc get submerged in that (experiences of those fruits) itself.  The shruti says that they are not masters of their minds.
Rudra next declares that compared to these petty fruits that the other Yogis seek, the Jīvātma is a most superior object of attainment. These other yogis seek svarga, or even superhuman powers of the body, etc. which are perishable fruits.
Having described how the vision of the self is to be attained through karma or jnāna-yogas, and how the self is a superior purushārtha to objects of prakrti, Shiva now summarizes the characteristics of the individual self which is to be meditated upon by those engaged in a vision of the self.
yattat sarvagataṃ divyamaiśvaryamacalaṃ mahat jñānayogābhiyuktastu dehānte tadavāpnuyāt (44)
Meaning: That (jīvātma) which is ubiquitous or everywhere on account of being in all bodies (sarvagataṃ), which is bright or self-luminous (divyam), the supreme as it is the Lord of its’ body, mind and senses (aiśvaryam), immutable (acalaṃ) and great on account of being the doer (mahat) is attained by those who are yoked to jñāna-yogā at the time of death.
Before describing how to meditate on the self, Shiva basically summarizes the characteristics of the individual self in a nut-shell that he had elaborated earlier.
The jīvātma is called “mahat” as it has doership (kartrtva) and all this depends on its’ wish.
The kaivalyārtis can thus attain the experience of the jīvātma upon death. Now, how should they meditate on the Atman? Shiva explains as follows:
eṣa ātmāhamavyakto māyāvī parameśvaraḥ kīrtitaḥ sarvavedeṣu sarvātmā sarvatomukhaḥ (45)
Meaning: (Meditate thus:) I am this jīvātma, which is described in all the vedas as unmanifest to the senses (avyakta), the possessor of the body made of prakrti known as “māyā” as it deludes in wondrous ways (māyāvī), the complete Ruler of each individual body, mind and senses (parameśvaraḥ), that resides in all beings (sarvātmā), that penetrates everywhere by its’ knowledge (sarvatomukhaḥ).
These and the next few shlokas summarize how a jnāna-yogi should meditate on the Atman. As Shiva himself is a jnāna -yogi, it is most appropriate for him refer to himself as “I” here.
parameśvaraḥ” – Those who think that the body is the self, believe that the self has perished when the body perishes.Therefore, it is necessary to understand that though the body perishes, the indwelling self does not get destroyed. Thus, “parameśvaraḥ” is fittingly interpreted as the imperishable self which is the ruler of the perishable body, mind and senses.
sarvatomukhaḥ” – The term “mukha” means mouth or face, and in a general sense, it means any opening. “sarvataḥ” means everywhere. This means, that which has openings, or pathways everywhere. In other words, the jīva can penetrate everywhere because its’ knowledge is all-pervasive. This is based on shri parāsara bhattar’s interpretation.
“sarvātmā” – The self resides in all beings such as man, deva etc.
The jīva is referred to in the singular because all jīvās are identical in nature, thus as “rice grains” can be called “rice”, “jīvās” are called “Atma” or “jīva”.
By saying “ahaM”, shiva is implying that the yogi must meditate on the jīvātma in this manner. Note that Shiva can say “ahaM” here because he really is a jīvātma and he too is a yogi who is putting this knowledge in practice, ie, he is meditating in this manner.
sarvakāmaḥ sarvarasaḥ sarvagandho 'jaro 'maraḥsarvataḥ pāṇipādo 'hamantaryāmī sanātanaḥ (46)
Meaning: I possess all desires, I possess all tastes, I possess all smells. That is to say, I experience them all. I am immutable in my essential nature (ajaraḥ) and different to the body which is associated with destruction (amaraḥ). I have hands and feet everywhere, ie, I am able to perform everywhere the works of hands and feet (sarvataḥ pāṇipāda), I am the inner controller of the body (antaryāmī) and eternal (sanātanaḥ).
The jīva is the true experiencer of all tastes, smells, etc. Not the insentient body. Thus, the distinction between the sentient self and the insentient body should always be contemplated upon.
When it is said the jīva has hands and feet everywhere, it is meant that it can perform the tasks of hands and feet everywhere even without requiring hands and feet.  This is because the self in its’ pure state has no limitations and its’ dharma-bhūta-jnāna (attributive knowledge) is all-pervasive. ShrI Ramanuja explains it thus under Gita 13.14.
apāṇipādo javano grahītā hṛdi saṃsthitaḥ acakṣurapi paśyāmi tathākarṇaḥ śṛṇomyaham (47)
Meaning: I dwell in the heart. Even without legs and hands, I move quickly and hold things, without eyes I see, without ears I hear.
The jīva can do the tasks of legs, hands, eyes and ears without the actual organs because of its’ all-pervasive dharma-bhūta-jnāna in its’ pure state. It is its’ natural condition. This is as per Gita 13.14 again.
vedāhaṃ sarvamevedaṃ na māṃ jānāti kaścana prāhurmahāntaṃ puruṣaṃ māmekaṃ tattvadarśinaḥ (48)
Meaning:  I know all this, i.e., I perceive everything through my dharma-bhūta-jnāna. But some (the ignorant) do not know me (as the perceiver, distinct from the body). Those who know the truth, consider me as the great “purusha” or indweller of the body.
The jīvātma is a knower. The insentient body is not a knower. “kaScana” refers to those ignorant people who do not know the distinction.
mahāntaṃ” – the jīva is great on account of its’ doership (kartrtva).
paśyanti ṛṣayo hetumātmanaḥ sūkṣmadarśinaḥ nirguṇāmalarūpasya yattadaiśvaryamuttamam (49)
Meaning: The rishis or seers of the Atma (kaivalyārtis) who are capable by their mind, of visualizing the subtle jīva (sūkṣmadarśinaḥ), perceive (experience) that wealth, ie, the bliss of the jīvātma (aiśvarya) superior to the experiences of prakrti (uttamam), which is of the nature of being devoid of triguṇās and is pure.
“ṛṣayo” here refers to the kaivalyārtis are the jignyāsus mentioned in Gita 7.16. They experience the intrinsic bliss of the Atma, which is superior to the experiences of sense objects as it is devoid of the triguṇās of prakrti.
Having described how to meditate on the Jīva, Shiva now embarks on a new topic of discussion – how to gain such a perception of the self. For in order to gain the vision of the self, Brahman has to be meditated upon as the means. Hence, Shiva is going to describe the meditation on Brahman to attain the self.

yanna devā vijānanti mohitā mama māyayā vakṣye samāhitā yūyaṃ śṛṇudhvaṃ brahmavādinaḥ (50)
Meaning: Listen attentively, O Brahmavadis! I will tell you about that (paramātma) which devas like Indra do not understand, as they are deluded by prakrti which is my māyā. (That is to say, it is the māyā of the Lord who is similar to me.)
The succeeding shlokas talk about the Lord who is meditated as part of jnāna -yOga or Atma-sAkshAtkAra. Thus, Rudra calls for close attention.
“mama māyayā” – When Shiva says “my māyā, then it refers to the māyā of the Lord Narayana who is similar to him. The shruti itself says “paramam sāmyam upaiti”. A meditator of the individual self not only sees other selves as similar to him, but also sees the Lord as similar to him. Both the individual self (in its’ pure state) are devoid of karma and have uncontracted knowledge. The self also dwells in all beings, so does Paramatma.
The Yogi meditating on similarities with Paramatma to attain the self thinks thus – “Both I and Bhagavan are not different from each other, as we both have uncontracted knowledge”. Thus, dwelling on similarities with paramātma, he does not see a difference between paramAtma and himself.  
It is this logic that Shiva uses to say “my māyā” – it means “the māya of the Lord Narayana who is similar to me (Shiva)”. This is similar to saying, “This same rice in Shop A is in Shop B as well” – though rice grains in Shop A and B are distinct, they are said to be the same on account of similarity.
This logic is supported in the shruti where the beheading of Rudra is linked to the pravargya replacing the yajna-shira in the brāhmanās. There, the head of Rudra mentioned to become pravargya (sa pravargya abhavat). In reality, the head of Rudra is not pravargya, but since both Rudra’s head and the pravargya were affixed on to Rudra’s body and the sacrifice respectively, they are identified on account of similarity. Similarly, Rudra says “mama māyayā” due to his similarity with the Lord.
One cannot attain the experience of the individual self without surrendering to the Lord and meditating on him as the means. However, the seeker of the individual self meditates on the Lord only to gain a vision of the individual self, and not to attain the Lord himself.
The description of the Lord is a necessary component of jnāna yoga, and Rudra will elaborate on that below. But before that, he clarifies his own nature as a Jiva to show that though he used the term “mama māyayā” on account of similarity with the Lord, he as a Jiva is not the Lord and distinct from him. He gives the reason for his supreme similarity with the Lord in the next shloka.
nāhaṃ praśāstā sarvasya māyātītaḥ svabhāvataḥ prerayāmi tathāpīdaṃ kāraṇaṃ sūrayo viduḥ (51)
Meaning: I am not the Master of all actions, as my essential nature (svabhāvataḥ) surpasses or is higher than the body which is “māyā” and is the performer of actions. Even though I impel or direct (actions of the body by virtue of karmas), the wise know the Cause of this (as prakrti).
Before describing paramātma, Rudra once again summarizes the distinction between the jīvātma and prakrti for good measure. He uses “aham” to denote the Jīva because he himself is a Jīva, similar to other Jīvās. This is to clarify that though he is similar to the Lord on account of “māyātītaḥ svabhāvataḥ”, he is not identical with him. This is to be noted.
This is an echo of the gIta 13.20 where bhagavān clarifies that the activities are carried out by the prakrti which transforms into the body and senses, in conjunction with the self.  Since these activities are based on karmas of the self, the experience of pain and pleasure is by the self only.
The crux of the matter is that – prakrti acts, the self experiences. In this manner, since prakrti is the cause of activities, the self is not the master. But since these activities are based on karmas associated with the self, the self is said to impel these activities.
Rudra uses “aham” here to denote the individual self, because he himself is a Jīva practicising this knowledge.
So, the jnāna-yogi first understands that he is the non-doer, distinct from prakrti. Then, Rudra declares such a yogi must meditate on the Lord to attain the vision of the self.
Small note - “praśāstā sarvasya” is taken as “praśastā sarvasya” in some readings. It would then mean “I am not to be considered as fit or suited for activities” – which results in the same meaning that the self is not to be associated with actions as the Cause.
yanme guhyatamaṃ dehaṃ sarvagaṃ tattvadarśinaḥ praviṣṭā mama sāyujyaṃ labhante yogino 'vyayam (52)
Meaning: The tattvadarshis enter (attain) that highest secret of mine which is my indwelling Lord associated with a divine auspicious body (dehaṃ), who is omnipresent (in them as well). The yogis who are not covered by ignorance, ie, whose knowledge is unobstructed (avyayam), attain similarity with me, ie, they attain similarity of the state of being free of hunger, old age, etc with the Lord who is similar to me.
The Ishvara gīta describes a specific type of upāsaṇa that seeks to attain the experience of the individual self. To attain this, one must meditate on the Lord, who is the means to rid us of karmas obstructing us from such experience of the individual self.
Since this is a study of the individual self, the study is incomplete without understanding that the Lord is the indweller of the individual self as well. Thus, rather than saying “meditate on Narayana in Sri Vaikuntha”, Rudra is saying “Meditate on Narayana as my innerself, who is having an auspicious body”.  The idea is to emphasize that the Lord is the innerself of the Jīvātma which is to be sought after.
guhyatamaṃ” – If the individual self is “guhyaṃ” or a secret, then the Lord who is the indweller of the self is “guhyatamaṃ”, the greatest secret. This clarifies that Rudra is talking about his indweller and not himself.
dehaṃ” – Since the supreme self is inseparably associated with an aprAkrta-deha, he is called “deham”. We say “I am a man”, “I am a deva” because we are inseparably associated with a man body, deva body etc. Similarly, Paramatma is inseparably associated with an auspicious non-material body, and so is called “dehaṃ”. The idea is that, the indweller of Rudra is the One who has an auspicious body to be meditated upon by these yogins desiring the experience of the self.
sarvagaṃ” – This further confirms that Rudra is talking about his indweller. Rudra clarifies that his indwelling Lord is omnipresent, ie, he is not just present in Rudra, but in everyone.
The injunction is to meditate on the auspicious body of the Supreme Self. Who is this Supreme Self? He is the same as the indweller of Rudra, who is everywhere.
When the meditation is to be on the individual self, why is Rudra prescribing meditation on the Supreme Self? The reason is because it is far easier to meditate on the auspicious qualities of the Supreme Self than the individual self, and so even for those seeking the bliss of the individual self, meditation on the Lord is recommended to purify the mind, rid himself of sins obstructing his yoga and also to attain a similar state to the Lord.
This is because the Lord is in a state of peace which is the very limit of bliss (nirvāṇa), and by meditation on him, the kaivalyārti attains a similarity of state which is peace, the very limit of the bliss of the jīva. This is the state of being free from the blemishes of hunger, thirst, sorrow, infatuation, old age and death, which are similar for both the Lord and the jīva in its’ pure state.
This is reteirated by Gita 6.15 as follows:
yuñjannevaṃ sadā''tmānaṃ yogī niyatamānasaḥ। śāntiṃ nirvāṇaparamāṃ matsaṃsthāmadhigacchati।। (~Gita 6.15)
(The seeker of the individual self) focusing his mind on me (bhagavān), the Supreme Person who is most delectable and excellent, ie, on my divine auspicious body, with his sins eradicated by virtue of contact with me, whoever holds his mind placid, attains, like me, peace which is the very limit of bliss (nirvāṇaparamāṃ).
Note that these yogis do not attain the Lord, but they attain the experience of intrinsic bliss of the jīva divested of matter by attaining a state similar to that of the Lord which is freedom from hunger, etc.   
mama sāyujyaṃ - The similarity with the Lord, who is similar to Rudra. A jnāna-yogi essentially sees – 1) Himself as similar to all other individual selves being identical in nature, 2) Himself as similar to the Lord in terms of being identical in characteristics like purity, freedom from karmas and all-pervasive knowledge. Thus, such a Yogi sees sameness everywhere, ie, he does not see other entities including the Lord as different from himself. He thinks, “I am not different from the other jīvās by nature, and I am not different from the Lord in certain characteristics”. Thus, Rudra says “they attain my similarity” meaning, “they attain the similarity with the Lord, who is similar to me”.
Being an accomplished jnāna -yogi, Rudra only sees himself in the Lord, and the Lord in himself. That is to say, he does not see a difference between himself and the Lord in terms of essential characteristics of being pure, divested of karma and all-pervasive knowledge. Thus, he uses “mama” to emphasize that the Lord is essentially non-different from him in these characteristics.
This also explains how Rudra used “mama māyayā” in shloka 50.
A simple example – A person says, “This rice in Shop A is the same as the rice in Shop B”. Now, the rice in Shop A is not the Rice in Shop B. They are two distinct entities. However, since they are both identical, it is said that the rice in Shop A is the same as the rice in Shop B.
Similarly, both Rudra (a jīva in jnāna-yoga), and the Lord are pure, divested of karmas and have all-pervasive knowledge in their true condition. That being the case, is it not perfectly justified for Rudra to say “my similarity” due to identical characteristics? At the same time, he is also conscious that he is not the Lord in terms of being a distinct entity.
This shows that not only does Rudra preach this knowledge, but he also practices it.
ye hi māyāmatikrāntaḥ mama yā viśvarūpiṇī labhante paramāṃ śuddhiṃ nirvāṇaṃ te mayā saha (53)
Meaning: Overcoming my (ie, the Lord’s) “māyā” known as prakrti, which is of the form of this Universe, they obtain the highest limit of bliss which is pure (ie, the experience of the self in its pure state, devoid of prakrti), with me (ie, the Lord).   
Again, “my māyā” refers to the māyā of Bhagavan, but Rudra considering himself as similar in nature to this Lord, speaks of it as his māyā. This was already established by the usage of “mama sāyujyaṃ” earlier.
As mentioned in Gita 6.15 which was quoted earlier, “nirvāṇa paramāṃ”, which is the same as this shloka’s usage of “paramāṃ śuddhiṃ nirvāṇaṃ” refers to the state of peace which is the very limit of bliss, which involves freedom from blemishes of hunger, thirst, sorrow, infatuation, old age and death and is pure as it is divested of prakrti.
mayā saha”  - They attain that state with me, meaning, they attain that condition similar to the state the Lord is abiding in, which is similar to my state as well.
na teṣāṃ punarāvṛttiḥ kalpakoṭiśatairapi prasādānmama yogīndrā etad vedānuśāsanam (54)
Meaning: They do not have to come to this world (they do not have rebirth) for hundreds and crores of kalpas due to my (the similar Lord’s) grace. This is the mandate of the Vedas.
This state of experience of the bliss of the individual self, divested of prakrti and free of blemishes like old age, hunger, etc. could be the lower mukti described as per the shAstras. Bhagavan is “muktānāṃ paramḥ gatiḥ” – the highest mukti, which implies automatically that a lower mukti exists, which in turn refers to this kaivalya-mukti involving experience of the individual self. Thus, they overcome mAya or prakrti and crossing it, they do not return.
Alternatively, this need not be taken as a state of mukti but only as a state in samsAra relatively free from the afflictions of old age, etc while experiencing the bliss of the self. Thus they are said to overcome mAya or prakrti in the sense of not being affected by it. These yogIs eventually progress to bhakti yoga and attain mukti proper. Thus, they are not said to return.
ShrI vedAnta desikan gives both views and favors the latter view.
nāputraśiṣyayogibhyo dātavyaṃ brahmavādibhiḥ maduktametad vijñānaṃ sāṃkhyayogasamāśrayam (55)
Meaning: This knowledge pertaining to the individual self discernable by the intellect (sāṃkhya) connected with the skill of action (yoga) explained by me, should not be imparted to anyone other than the yogIs seeking knowledge of the self, their disciples and their sons.
This concludes the 2nd chapter of Ishvara gIta. One who reads this will have a thorough understanding of the true nature and characteristics of the individual self.


  1. Chapter 2 of Ishvara Gita is now up.

  2. Dear Readers,

    We have corrected a few minor errors in this article (Ishvara Gita Chapter 2) as well as the Kaivalya Upanishad commentary ( as part of our regular proof-reading process. Just FYI.

    The errors were so tiny that they do not change anything with respect to the meaning. But nonetheless, due to our adherence to "orAn vazhi", the tradition of our acharyas, we try to correct even the smallest of mistakes. We will continue to do so in the future even if we have uploaded the articles beforehand.

  3. The Madalasa upākhyāna occurs in the Mārkandeya Purana. Madalasa was a queen married to Ritadhvaja. They had 4 sons – Vikrānta, Subāhu, Shatrumardana and Alarka. Madalasa was a brahmavādini and thus used to educate her family on the nature of the self.

    This upākhyāna is very relevant to the Ishvara Gita, for it talks about the nature of the pure self. Naturally, modern day shaivadvaitins and neo-vedantins who are basically attracted to anything that does not involve bhagavad katha, and who consider bhagavad leelas as “inferior knowledge”, have enthusiastically quoted it many times. They have given wrong interpretations of advaita and atheism to this upākhyāna.

    Because of its’ relevance to the Ishvara Gita series, I felt inclined to explain it properly. In the first part of the story, Madalasa sings a lullaby to her child who was crying. This lullaby, also called ullāpana gīta, contains tattvārthas. The shaivadvaitin interpretation of this lullaby can be seen here:

    Similarly, it seems like someone took this section, and made a stotra out of it. Consider this rendition of the song:

    The terms “buddhosi” or “samsara svapna” do not occur anywhere in the actual Purana. It appears to be the work of some overenthusiastic neo-advaitin who ad-libbed the original work. And there are some who praise this manufactured work as a “pinnacle of vedānta” – One comment under that youtube video of the song states that the essence is that consciousness becomes super-consciousness and that becomes Shiva!

    The translator in that website uses the refrain “do not cry” for each shloka. However, on seeing these abysmal explanations, I feel like crying myself!

    Let me interpret the lullaby properly, using the best recension of the purānic text, as follows.


  4. Cont'd from above...

    (This will be a lengthy series of posts. I don't believe this deserves to be an article in itself, so comments will suffice to explain this lullaby).

    śuddho 'si re tāta ! na te 'sti nāma kṛtaṃ hi te kalpanayādhunaiva /
    pañcātmakaṃ dehamidaṃ tavaitan naivāsya tvaṃ rodiṣi kasya hetoḥ // MarkP_25.11 //

    Meaning: (Madalasa’s Lullaby): O Child! You are pure by nature as you are unmingled with prakrti, You are devoid of name (which is used to differentiate), which has been created for you by the making (of a body due to karmas), now. This body of yours, composed of the five elements, is not yours, ie, it is a product of your karmas and hence you do not possess it in your pure state. Neither are you of it (ie, you are not dependent on the body for your existence). Then why do you cry?

    This verse talks about the difference between the individual self and the body. The self is pure as it is not tainted by prakrti and the guṇas. It is devoid of a name, for it is identical everywhere, ie, all Jīvās are identical and cannot be differentiated. The purpose of a name is to differentiate, and such differentiation is not possible for identical selves. The name, or such differentiation, arises from the creation of a body due to karmas. But the self is neither identical with the body, nor is its’ existence dependent on the body.

    ““kalpanayādhunaiva” does not mean “imagination” as shaivadvaitins think. It means formation or creating a body on account of karmas. That is proven by “ādhuna” which means “now” or “as soon as you entered your present body” as well as the next line which says “pañcātmakaṃ dehamidaṃ” – a direct reference to the body.
    The brahma sutras also use the term for denoting creation or formation of the world (akalpayat) in the sutra "kalpanopadeśāca ca, madhvādivadavirodhaḥ". Thus, one can see the flaw in assuming “mithyavāda” and “imaginary” forms when there is a simple explanation without resorting to such theories.

    In addition, the Vishishtadvaitic interpretation offers a clear continuity in thought in first saying the self is pure, then associated with a body made out of karmas, but nonetheless does not have such association and is not dependent on the body in its’ pure state.


  5. Cont'd from above...

    na vai bhavāna roditi viśvajanmā śabdo'yamāsādya mahīsasūnum/ vikalpyamānā vividhā guṇāste'guṇāśca bhautāḥ sakalendriyeṣu // MarkP_25.12 //

    Meaning: It is not you who cries, O Lord of the body, mind and senses! Attaining the body (mahīsasūnum), this sound (experience) is produced by one’s own (karmas). In all your bodies (sakalendriyeṣu), the manifold mixtures of the triguṇās of prakrti (guṇāste) and the actions that result from the triguṇās (aguṇāśca) are to be considered as different from the self, as belonging to the elements of prakrti.

    “bhavān” refers to the individual self which is the master of the body, mind and senses it abides in and hence is called so. “śabda” or sound refers in general to the experience of the objects of enjoyment, which is again signified by crying. “mahīsasūnum” means “produced by mahīsa”. The body is the vehicle for experience of sense-objects and is produced by the karmas of the self which is “mahīsa” – the great self that is a doer.

    How can Madalasa say that it is not the self that is crying? Because the self is different from the triguṇās and the actions that are arising from such guṇās; it is not the doer. The cause is the prakrti and not the self.

    “sakalendriyeṣu” refers to the numerous bodies attained by transmigration. “indriya” means “power” and refers to the body which is capable of action.

    This is also the basis of Brahma assuaging Siva when he cried upon being born. But instead of singing him a lullaby, Brahma gave him auspicious names, which by virtue of Brahma's ascetic power, and Siva's punya karmas, enabled the latter to cleanse his karmas and become great among the devas.

    bhūtāni bhūtaiḥ paridurbalāni vṛddhiṃ samāyānti yatheha puṃsaḥ /
    annāmbupānādibhireva kasya na te 'sti vṛddhirna ca te 'sti hāniḥ // MarkP_25.13

    Meaning: The senses (bhūtāni) which are weak (easily swayed towards attachments) attain growth (experience) through sense-objects (bhūtaiḥ). In such a manner here, the embodied self (grows) by food, water, liquors and other sustenances alone. You, who are the pure self distinct from the body, have no growth or decay.

    The idea is that the embodied self cannot sustain itself without food drink etc, since the body, which is an aggregate of weaker elements, requires other elements to grow. But the pure self does not require such aids. It does not grow or perish with or without such substances. In its’ pure state, the self experiences its’ own intrinsic bliss (kaivalya-moksha), or the bliss of Brahman (bhagavad-prāpti).

    tvaṃ kañcuke śīryamāṇe nije 'smiṃs tasmiṃśca dehe mūḍhatāṃ mā vrajethāḥ /
    śubhāśubhaiḥ karmabhirdehametan madādimūḍhaiḥ sañcukaste 'pinaddhaḥ // MarkP_25.14 //

    Meaning: You do not take to bewilderment (dehātma-bhrama) in (being dependent on) that cover (the body), to be regarded as perishable, in this body of yours. By punya and papa karmas, this body is obtained. By pride (ahamkāra and mamakāra) and bewilderment (dehātma-bhrama), your body which is a cover, is fastened.

    The body is called a cover as it envelopes or causes ignorance of one’s true nature).


  6. Cont'd from above...

    tāteti kiñcittanayeti kiñcid ambeti kiñciddayiteti kiñcit /
    mameti kiñcinna mameti kiñcit tvaṃ bhūtasaṅghaṃ bahumānayethāḥ // MarkP_25.15 //

    Meaning: The body which is a collection of elements (bhūtasaṅghaṃ) is sometimes a father, sometimes a son, sometimes a mother, sometimes a wife, sometimes (associated with) mine (objects that are owned), sometimes (associated with) not mine (objects not owned). Have regard for this constantly.

    Relations like father, etc are by virtue of the body. Similarly, the idea that “this is mine” and “this is not mine” also occur due to the body. “This is mine” is mamakārā. As for “this is not mine” - A jnāni considers the similarity of all selves and thus sees himself in others, thus he considers even the pain and pleasures (and hence possessions) of others as his. Thus, a contrary feeling of “this is not mine” also pertains to the body.

    duḥ khāni duḥ khopagamāya bhogān sukhāya jānāti vimūḍhacetāḥ /
    tānyeva duḥ khāni punaḥ sukhāni jānātyavidvāna suvimūḍhayetāḥ // MarkP_25.16 //

    Meaning: Those of bewildered mind, recognizes sorrow and the alleviation of sorrow by pleasures, as bliss. The wise man, whose mind is not deluded by identification with the body, understands that these sorrows are but the pleasures.

    The gist of this is that the wise man does not think that the alleviation of sorrow by pleasure is bliss. He considers the very pleasures to be a form of sorrow, as they bind one to samsārā. The sorrows in contrast, are welcomed, for they would exhaust his karmas. Thus, Kunti prayed to Krishna to always give her sorrow so that she would remember the Lord.

    hāso 'sthisandarśanamakṣiyugmam atyujjvalaṃ tarjanamaṅganāyāḥ /
    kucādipīnaṃ piśitaṃ ghanaṃ tat sthānaṃ rateḥ kiṃ narakaṃ na yoṣit // MarkP_25.17 //

    Meaning: The smile of a woman shows her bones (teeth), the pair of eyes, shining brightly, are impure fat. The breasts that are full, is plump flesh. Is this (woman) an abode of joy? Is that (woman) not Naraka?

    yānaṃ kṣitau yānagatañca dehaṃ dehe 'pi cānyaḥ puruṣo niviṣṭaḥ /
    mamatvabuddhirna tathā yathā sve dehe 'timātraṃ bata mūḍhataiṣā // MarkP_25.18 //

    Meaning: The mover that is the mind (yānaṃ) is in Earth signifying the sense objects that it experiences (kṣitau) and the body is in the mind, ie, subservient to it. The self (puruṣa), distinct from the body (anyaḥ) is situated within the body too. The feeling of possessiveness therefore, is not (to the self), as it is to one’s own body. Alas! This is extreme delusion.

    The idea is this –The mind is thus immersed in sense-objects. The body is subservient to the mind as it is the vehicle for experiencing sense-objects. The self is situated in such a body, not just in the literal sense, but in the sense of being dependent on the body for sense-gratification. To such a person, the feeling of “this is mine”, extends to the body and the objects of experience, but he does not look at the intrinsic bliss of the self and feel “this is mine”. That is the great delusion, that he forgoes ownership of true bliss while seeking the temporary bliss of material pleasures.

    The "mamatva" should be interpreted as pertaining to the bliss of the self, and not the self. For it is not possible to say "I own the self" when one is the self. Rather, one possesses the bliss which is intrinsic to himself.


  7. Cont'd from above...

    That concludes this section. Shortly after, the King asks Madalasa as to why she named his fourth son “Alarka”, which basically means “mad dog! To that, Madalasa replies.

    bhavatyā yadidaṃ nāma matputrasya kṛtaṃ śubhe /
    kimīdṛśamasambaddhamarthaḥ ko 'sya madālase // MarkP_26.15 //

    Meaning: O Auspicious woman! The name (of Alarka) that you have given my (fourth) son is meaningless. Why is this so, Madalasa?

    kalpaneyaṃ mahārāja ! kṛtā sā vyāvahāriko /
    tvatkṛtānāṃ tathā nāmnāṃ śṛṇu bhūpa ! nirarthatām // MarkP_26.16 //

    Meaning: (The names) are my inventions, created for the sake of worldly activities. Therefore, O King! Listen to the meaninglessness of the names given by you (to your other three sons).

    vadanti puruṣāḥ prājñā vyāpinaṃ puruṣaṃ yataḥ /
    krāntiśca gatiruddiṣṭā deśāddeśāntarantu yā // sarvago na prayātīti vyāpī deheśvaro yataḥ / tato vikrāntasaṃjñeyaṃ matā mama nirarthikā // MarkP_26.17-18 //

    Meaning: The Acharya-Purushas conversant with the knowledge of the self, say that the individual self dwelling in the body, pervades (by its’ knowledge). “Krānti” means going from one place to another. The Jivātma which is the Ruler of the Body (deheśvara), that is all-pervading (in the pure state), does not go from one place to another (as it has already entered everywhere). Therefore, the name of “Vikrānta” in my opinion is meaningless.

    The dharma-bhūta-jnāna of the pure self is all-pervading in its’ natural condition. By virtue of its’ jnāna, the self pervades everywhere. So, there is no place left for the self to go, for it has already reached everywhere by its’ knowledge. Hence, the name of the first son is useless as it does not apply to the imperishable self, but only to the perishable body.


  8. Cont'd from above...

    subāhuriti yā saṃjñā kṛtānyasya sutasya te /
    nirarthā sāpyamūrtatvāt puruṣasya mahīpate // MarkP_26.19 //

    Meaning: The name of “Subāhu” (beautiful armed), that you have given your (second) son is meaningless, O King, as the individual self dwelling in the body, is different from its’ body.

    “amūrta” means “not the body” and hence, as the self is distinct from the insentient body which has beautiful arms, this name is also meaningless. The self is partless and has no arms, etc.

    putrasya yad kṛtaṃ nāma tṛtīyasyārimardanaḥ / manye tadapyasambaddhaṃ śṛṇu cāpyatra kāraṇam //
    eka eva śarīreṣu sarveṣu puruṣo yadā / tadāsya rājan ! ka śatruḥ ko vā mitramiheṣyate // MarkP_26.20-21 //

    Meaning: The name (Shatrumardana) which you have given your third son also is regarded by me to have no meaning. Listen to the reason for this. The self dwelling in all the bodies is one only, ie, the same everywhere. On account of that, O King! Who is your enemy and who is your friend?

    “eka eva śarīreṣu sarveṣu puruṣo” does not mean only one self exists. Here, “eka” means it is same or identical in nature everywhere. As all the individual selves are exactly identical to each other, the term “puruṣa” is mentioned in the singular as it refers to the class of individual selves dwelling in bodies. This is similar to how several rice grains which are identical to each other are simply referred to as “rice”. In contrast, the bodies are different as man, deva etc and hence referred to as “śarīreṣu sarveṣu” in plural.

    It is to hammer home the truth of the Jivās being inherently identical in all bodies, with all differences pertaining only to the bodies, that the Jivā is referred to in the singular as a class, while bodies are in plural. As everyone is identical to each other, being knowledge-bliss by nature, there are no distinctions such as friends or enemies.


  9. Cont'd from above...

    The final two shlokas.

    bhūtairbhūtāni mṛdyante amūrto mṛdyate katham /
    krodhādīnāṃ pṛthagbhāvāt kalpaneyaṃ nirarthikā // MarkP_26.22 //

    Meaning: The objects made of matter are destroyed by other objects made of matter. But how can that which is of a nature different from the gross elements (and hence subtle), be destroyed? On account of anger and other qualities that cause enmity being of a separate nature to the self, such invention (of name) is meaningless.

    “amūrti” here means “that which has a different nature”. “mūrti” means nature here, and not form or body. The self is different in nature to the body which is made of gross elements. The self is subtle, whereas the body is a gross form.

    In the Gita, Krishna says that the self cannot be destroyed. Shri Ramanuja avers that the indestructibility of the self is attributed to the fact that it is subtler than the most subtle material object. For example, a hammer can be used to destroy a big object, but it cannot be used to shatter a grain of sand. This is because compared to the size of the hammer, the sand grain is too subtle to be destroyed. Similarly, the self is subtler than and pervades all possible objects which could be used for destruction, and hence cannot be destroyed.

    In this shloka, the reason Madalasa gives for the indestructibility of the self is the same as Shri Ramanuja’s explanation. “amūrta” means that the self is of a nature different from matter, and hence it indicates its’ subtlety as opposed to gross elements. Thus, the subtlety of the self is the reason for its’ indestructibility.

    The Lord can be even subtler than the self. Shri Kurathazhwan says that if the Lord wishes, he alone can destroy the self, but since he never wills so, it is said to be indestructible.

    yadi saṃvyavahārārthamasannāma prakalpyate /
    nāmni kasmādalarkākhye nairarthyaṃ bhavato matam // MarkP_26.23 //

    Meaning: If for the purpose of mundane activities, such names are invented, why does the name of Alarka appear meaningless to you?

    In this manner, Queen Madalasa educated her husband on the nature of the individual self. That concludes this section. There is nothing remotely advaitic about it.



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