This is a small collection of verses written by the 7th century
philosopher/saint Sri Adi Shankaracharya. The book of hymns,
inspired by the vision of the Upanishads is titled Atma Bodha,
'self knowledge'. Shankaracharya devoted his short, powerful
life to one subject alone: knowledge of and identification
with the source of consciousness, the source of all life, known
This work is none of my own. This translation of Atma Bodha is
by the great 20th Century teacher Swami Chinmayananda.
Go to http://www.chinmayauk.org/home.htm to learn more.
Pratah Smarami Hrdi Samsphuradatma Tattvam
Saccit Sukham Parama Hamsa Gatim Turiyam
Yat Svapna Jagara Susuptamavaiti Nityam
Tad Brahma Niskalam aham Na Ca Bhutasanghah
In the early morning hours I meditate upon the Essential Self
clearly experienceable in the cave of the heart.
That which is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss in nature,
that which is the supreme goal, the Paramahamsa state,
that which is the Fourth plane of consciousness.
I am that Brahman, I am not this assemblage of matter.
Sri Shankarachary says:
I am composing the Atma-Bodha, this treatise of the knowledge
of the Self, for those who are pure of heart, peaceful, calm, who
are free from sense cravings, and are desirous of liberation.
Vina Moksho Na Sidhyati
Just as the fire is the direct cause for cooking, so without knowledge
no emancipation can be had. Compared with all the other forms of
discipline, knowledge of the Self is the one direct means of liberation.
Na' Vidyam Vinivartayet
Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with or
opposed to ignorance. Only knowledge destroys ignorance, just
as light destroys deep darkness.
Paricchina Iva Ajnanat
Tannashe Sati Kevalah
Svayam Prakashate Hi Atma
The Soul appears to be finite because of ignorance. When
ignorance is destroyed, the Self which does not admit any
multiplicity truly reveals itself by itself. It is revealed like
the sun when the clouds pass away.
Krtva Jnanam Svayam Nashyet
Constant practice of knowledge purifies the Self (Jivatman),
the knowing of which is inhibited by our ignorance, and
then disappears itself, just as the powder of the kataka
nut settles after it has cleansed the muddy water.
The world, which is experienced through attachments and
aversions, is like a dream. While one is dreaming it appears
to be real, once one awakens (once true wisdom is won) the
unreality of the dream is understood.
Tatvat Satyam Jagat Bhati
Shuktika Rajatm Yatha
Yavanna Jnayate Brahma
The Jagat (the world, or, more accurately, an individual's total
experience) appears to be true (satyam) so long as Brahman,
the substratum, the basis of all this creation, is not realized.
It is like the illusion of silver seen in the mother-of-pearl.
Bud-Budani Iva Varini
Like bubbles in water, the worlds rise, exist, and dissolve in
the supreme Self which is the material cause and the support
Vyaktayo Vividhah Sarvah
All the manifested world of things and beings are projected
by imagination upon the substratum which is the eternal,
all-pervading Vishnu. The Eternal is the source of all this
just as gold is the single source of different gold ornaments.
Yatha Kasho Hrshikesho
Nanopadhi Gato Vibhuh
Tad Bhedat Bhinnavadbhati
Tannasho Kevalo Bhavet
The all-pervading Akasha (space) appears to be diverse on
account of its association with various conditionings, which
are different from one another. Space is realized as one,
non-different, once these limiting adjuncts are realized and
overcome. This is also the process of realizing the Vibhu, the
Jati Varna Ashramadayah
Rasa Varnadi Bhedavat
Because one associates Brahman with different conditionings
(upadhis), ideas such as caste, color, and position are super-
imposed upon it. In the same way, flavor, color, etc. are super-
imposed on water. (Water is the unchanging substratum upon
which our minds cannot help but project different qualities. The
mind cannot operate without these concepts of pluralitiy. Sri
Ramakrishna puts it like this, ' whether you call it aqua, or
panni, or water it's the same, the water doesn't change. You
don't get something different when you ask for aqua- you get
water.' The water is not impacted by our supeimpositions upon
it, just as the basic substratum of existence, the life energy is
the same energy in all.)
The gross-body (physical body) is the tent of experience, the
medium through which pleasure and pain are experienced. This
body is composed of both gross physical elements, and the
accumulated result of past actions (karmasancitam).
Pancaprana Mano Budhih
Daso Indriya Samanvitam
The five pranas (prana, apana, vyana, udana, samana), the ten
organs (of sense & action), and the manas (mind) and buddhi
(intellect) all form independently and in combination with one
another. This is the subtle body, the instruments of experience.
Karano Padhi Ruchyate
Avidya, indescribable and beginningless is the Causal body
(that is our intellectual life, mental superimpositions, desires).
Know for certain that the Atman is other than these conditioned
gross and subtle bodies.
Tat Tanmaya Eva Sthitah
Yogena Sphatiko Yatha
Just as a colorless crystal appears blue when it is placed near a
blue garment, appears red next to a red garment and so on, the
Atman appears to borrow the qualities of the the five sheaths
because it expresses itself in and through them. (The personality
in man is conveniently analyzed into five layers called pancha-
kosas, 5 sheaths. they are: Annamaya Kosa, the food sheath, the
body, Pranamaya Kosha, the vital energy sheath, Manomaya Kosha,
the sheath of the mind, Vijnanamaya Kosha, the intellectual sheath
and Anandamaya Kosha, the sheath of bliss or joy-within-this-life).
Vapus Tusadibhih Kosaih
Yuktam Yuktya Avaghatatah
Vivicyat Tandulam Yatha
Through discriminative self-analysis and logical thinking one
should separate the pure Self within from the sheaths as one
separates the rice from the husk, bran, etc. that cover it.
Na Sarvatra Avabhasate
The Atman does not shine through everything, even though it
is all pervading. Only in the inner equipment, the intellect (Buddhi)
acts as a mirror to reflect the Atman.
Tadvrtti Sakshinam Vidyad
Atmanam Rajavat Sada
One should understand that the Atman is detatched from the body,
above the drama of life, like a king ruling from a far-away land. The
senses, mind, and intellect are the constitutes of prakrti, the Atman,
beyond the limits of prakrti, is the witness to their functions.
VyaprteShu Indriyeshu Atma
Drshyate Abhreshu Dhavatsu
Dhavanniva Yatha Sashi
The moon appears to be running as the clouds move in the sky. Likewise,
to the non-discriminating person, the Atman appears to be active when it
is observed through the functions of the sense organs.
Dehe Indriya Mano Dhiyah
Sva Kriyartheshu Vartante
Suryalokam Yatha Lokam
Depending upon the energy of the vitality of consciousness the body,
senses, mind, and intellect engage themselves in their respective
activities. They depend on this energy just as men work depending
on the light of the sun.
Dehendriya Gunan Karmani
Fools, lacking in discrimination, superimpose on the Atman all
the varied functions of the body and the senses just as they attribute
the sky with blue color. The Atman, like the clear sky, is free of all
qualities, it is Absolute-Existence-Knowledge alone.
Ajnanat Manso Upadheh
Kalpyante Ambugate Candre
Calandi Yatha Ambhasah
The ignorant see the moon reflected on turbulent water and attribute
the turbulence to the moon which dances on the waves. Likewise,
agency of action, enjoyment, and other limitations (which really belong
to the mind) are misunderstood as the nature of the Self (Atman).
Rage ccha Sukha Duhkhadi
Buddhau Satyam Pravartate
Sushuptau Nasti Tannase
Tamat Buddhe-Stu Na Atmanah
Attachment, desire, pleasure, pain, etc. are perceived to exist so long
as Buddhi or mind functions. They are not perceived in deep sleep when
the mind ceases to exist. Therefore, they belong to the mind alone and
not to the the Atman.
Prakashah Arkasya Toyasya
Shaitya Magneh Yatho Shnata
Nitya Nirmalata Atmanah
Just as luminosity is the nature of the sun, coolness of water, and heat of
fire, so too the nature of the Atman is Eternity, Purity, Reality, Consciousness,
Atmanah Sat-Cid-Amashash Ca
Budheh Vrtti Riti Dvayam
Samyojya Ca Avivekena
By the indiscriminate blending of the existence-knowledge aspect of the Self
and the thought wave of the intellect there arises the notion of "I know."
Atmano Vikriya Na-Asti
Buddhe Bodho Na Jatviti
Jivah Sarvam Alam Jnatva
Jnata Drashteti Muhyati
The Atman never does anything. The intellect of its own accord has no
capacity to experience "I know." But the individuality in us delusorily thinks
he is himself the seer and the knower.
Rajju Sarpavad Atmanam
Jivam Jnatva Bhayam Vahet
Naham Jivah Paratmeti
Jnatas Cet Nirbhayo Bhavet
Just as a person mistaking a rope to be a snake is overcome by fear, so also
one considering oneself as the ego is overcome by fear. The ego-centric
individuality in us regains fearlessness by realising that the Self is not
the limited, ego-centered small self.
Dipo Ghat-adi-vat Sva Atma
Jadai Stair Na Avabhasyate
Just as a flame illumines a lamp, so also the Atman illumines the mind
and the sense organs, etc. These material objects by themselves cannot
illumine themselves because they are inert.
Sva Bodhe Na Annya Bodhe Iccha
Bodha Rupataya Atmanah
Na Dipasya Annya Dipe Iccha
Yatha Sva Atma Parkashane
A lighted lamp doesn't need another lamp to illumine its light. So too,
the Atman, which is knowledge itself, needs no other knowledge to know it.
Vidyat Aikyam Maha Vakyaih
By a process of negations of the conditionings through the help of the Upanishadic
statement 'Neti-Neti' (It is not this, It is not this), the oneness of the individual soul
and the supreme soul is realized.
Avidyakam Shariradi Drshyam
Bud-Bud Avat Ksharam
Etat Vilakshanam Vidyat
Aham Brahmeti Nirmalam
Realize through discrimination that 'I am the pure Brahman,' completely separate
from the body and other perceived objects.
Deha Anyatvat Na Me Janma
Jara Karshya Layadayah
Shabdadi Vishayaih Sango
Nirindriyatya Na Ca
(The next several verses beginning with 'I am...' are mantras that can be used
to focus the mind and align it with the eternal principles of Vedanta that Shankara
is illuminating for us).
I am other than the body and so I am free from changes such as birth, wrinkling,
senility, death, etc. I have nothing to do with the sense objects of sound and taste,
for I am without the sense organs.
Amanastvad Na Me
Ityadi Sruti Shashanat
I am other than the mind and hence I am free from sorrow, attachment, malice, and fear.
In the words of the immortal Upanishads, 'Atman is without breath, without mind, pure.'
Nirguno Nishkriyo Nityo
Nitya Mukto-asmi Nirmalah
I am without attributes and actions; eternal (nityah), without any desire or thought
(nirvikalpah), without stain (niranjanah), without change (nirvikarah), without form
(nirakarah), ever liberated (nitya muktah), pure (nirmalah).
Bahir Antar Gato Acyutah
Sada Sarva Sama Shuddho
Nissango Nirmalo Acalah
Like space I fill all things within and without. Changeless and the same in all, at all times
I am pure, unattached, stainless, and motionless.
Nitya Shudha Vimukt Aikam
Akhanda Anandam Advayam
Satyam Jnanam Anantam
Yat-Param Brahmaham Eva Tat
I am the supreme Brahman; eternal, pure, free, one, indivisible and non-dual, changeless,
infinite, supreme knowledge is my very nature.
Evam Nirantara Abhyasta
Brahmaiva Asmi Iti Vasana
Haratya Avidya Vikshepan
The mantra 'brahmaiva asmi,' 'I am brahman' practiced constantly destroys ignorance and
the agitation caused by it. The mantra is the best medicine against this ignorance.
Vivikta Desa Asino
Virago Vijit endriyah
Bhavayed Ekam Atmanam
Tam Anantam Ananya Dhih
Sitting in a solitary place, freeing the mind from desires and controlling the senses, meditate
with unswerving attention on the Atman.
Atmanyeva Akhilam drshyam
Pravilapya Dhiya sudhih
Bhavayed Ekam Atmanam
Nirmala Akashavat Sada
The wise should meditate on the entire world of objects and separate phenomena merging in
the Atman, until the Atman alone remains. Know this Atman as stainless like the pure sky.
Rupa Varna Adikam Sarvam
Vihaya Paramartha Vit
Paripurna Cid Ananda
One who has realized the supreme discards all his identifications with the objects of names
and forms and lives as an embodiment of the blissful, infinite Self. Indeed, that one becomes
Pare Na Atmani Vidyate
Cidananda Eka Rupatvat
Dipyate Svayameva Hi
There are no distinctions such as 'knower,' 'the knowledge,' or 'the subject of knowledge' in
the Supreme. The Supreme does not have such distinctions within itself. It shines alone by
itself, free from limiting qualities. This is what is meant by saying, 'It is bliss, eternal, pure.'
Evam Atma Aranau Dhyana
Mathane Satatam Krte
Sarva Ajnana Indhanam Dahet
When the lower and higher aspects of the Self are churned together in meditation, the fire
of knowledge is born from it. This fire of knowledge is tremendously strong and can burn
up all the spiritual ignorance within us.
Purva Santamase Hrte
Tata Avibhavet Atma
Svayameva Amshuman Iva
The Lord of the early dawn (Aruna) has already dispersed the thick darkness when soon the
sun rises. The divine consciousness of the Self rises when the right knowledge disperses the
darkness in the heart.
Atma Tu Satatam Prapto
Api Apraptavat Avidyaya
Tan-nase Praptavat Bhati
Sva Kantha Abharanam Yatha
The Atman is an ever-present reality. Only because of ignorance it is not realized. When
ignorance is eradicated from the person, then Atman is realized. It is like looking for a 'lost'
ornament which was all along hanging from the necklace around your neck.
Sthanau Purushavad Bhrantya
Krta Brahmani Jivata
Jivasya Tattvike Rupe
Tasmin Drshte Nivartate
Just as you might mistake a post for a ghost in the dark of night, Brahman will be mistaken
for the individual (jiva) existence in the dark of ignorance. The, small, egocentric individuality
is destroyed when the real nature of the jiva is realized as the Self.
Tattva Svarup Anubhavat
Utpannam Jnanam Anjasa
Aham Mameti Ca Ajnanam
Badhate Dig Brahmadi-vat.
The ignorance characterized by the notions 'I' and 'mine' is destroyed by the knowledge
produced by the realization of the true nature of the Self, just as the rising sun removes
confusion about the location of east and west.
Samyak Vijnanavan Yogi
Svatmanye Vakilam Jagat
Ekam Ca Sarvam Atmanam
Ikshate Jnana Cakshusha
The yogi of perfect realization and enlightenment sees through his 'eye of wisdom' (jnana
cakshush) that the entire universe is nothing but his own Self. In his wisdom he regards
everything in the universe as nothing but his own Self.
Atma Eva Edam Jagat Sarvam
Atmano Annyat Na Vidyate
Mrdo Yad Vad Ghatadini
Svatmanam Sarva Mikshate
Nothing whatever exists other than the Atman; the tangible universe is only Atman. As
pots and jars are made of clay and cannot be said to consist of anything but clay, so too,
the enlightened soul understands that all it perceives is the Self.
Jivan Mukta-stu Tad Vidvan
Purvo-Padhi Gunan Tyajet
Like a larva that changes its shape entirely to become a wasp, the enlightened, liberated
one gives up his previous traits once Self knowledge dawns and his own original nature is
Tirtva Moharnavam Hatva
After crossing the ocean of delusion and killing the monsters of likes (raga) and dislikes
(dvesha), the yogi who, through austerities and meditation, is united with peace and
dwells in the glory of his own Self. He becomes an Atmaramah, an enjoyer of the identity
with the Atman.
Bahya Anitya Sukh Asaktim
Hitva Atma Sukh Nirvatah
Ghatastha Dipavat Svasthah
The bliss emanating from within, like a lamp placed inside a pot, illuminates the jiva
and he happily relinquishes his attachments to illusory, external happiness.
Upadisthopi Tad Dharmaih
Alipto Vyomavan Munih
Sarvavit Mudhavat Tishthet
Asakto Vayuvac Caret
Though he moves about like the wind amidst the world of sense objects, the
contemplative one remains unconcerned and free from attachment to them.
Upadhi Vilayat Vishnau
Nirvishesham Vishen Munih
Jale Jalam Viyat Vyomni
Tejas Tejasi Va Yatha
Upon the destruction of the conditioned attachment, the contemplative one
is completely absorbed in 'Vishnu,' the all-pervading, like water into water,
space into space, light into light.
Yallabhan Na Aparo Labho
Yat Sukhan Na Aparam Sukham
Yaj Jnanan Na Aparam Jnanam
Tad Brahmety Avadharayet
Realize the goal of life to be Brahman, the attainment of which leaves nothing
more to be attained, the blessedness of which leaves no other blessing to be
desired, and the knowledge of which leaves nothing more to be known.
Yad Drshtva Na Aparam Drshyam
Yad Bhutva Na Punar Bhavah
Yaj Jnatva Na Aparam Jneyam
Tad Brahmety Avadharayet
Realize that to be Brahman which when seen leaves nothing more to be seen,
which having become, one is not born again in this world, and which when
known leaves nothing else to be known.
Tiryak urdhva Madhah Purnam
Anantam Nityam Ekam Yat
Tad Brahmety avadharayet
Realize that to be Brahman which is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, which is Non-dual,
infinite, eternal, and One. Realize Brahman as that which fills all the quarters- above
and below and all that exists in-between.
Atat Vyavrtti Rupena
Vedantair Lakshyate Advayam
Akhanda Anandam Ekam Yat
Realize that to be Brahman which is Non-dual, indivisible, One, and blissful. Realize
Brahman as that which is indicated in the Vedanta. Meditate on the mantra and realize
Brahman as the solitary and immutable substratum of the universe.
Akhandananda Rupasya Tasya
Ananda Lava Ashritah
Deities like Brahma and the rest taste only a particle of the unlimited bliss of Brahman
and enjoy in proportion their share of that particle.
Tad Yuktam Akhilam Vastu
Tasmat Sarvagatam Brahma
All the objects are pervaded by Brahman. All actions are possible because of Brahman:
therefore Brahman, unseen, permeates everything as butter permeates milk.
Adirgham Ajam Avyayam
Arupa Guna Varna Akhyam
Realize that to be Brahman which is neither subtle nor gross, neither short nor long,
without birth or change, without form, qualities, color or name.
Yad Bhasya Bhasyate-Arkadi
Bhasyair Yattu Na Bhasyate
Yena Sarvam Idam Bhati
That by the light of which the luminous orbs like the sun and moon are illuminated,
but which is not illuminated by their light, realize that to be Brahman.
Svayam Antar Bahir Vyapya
Bhasayann Akhilam Jagat
Brahma Prakashate Vahni
Pervading the entire universe outwradly and inwardly, the supreme Brahman shines of
itself like the fire that permeates a red hot iron ball and glows by itself.
Jagat Vilakshanam Brahman
Brahma-Anyat Bhati Cen Mithya
Yatha Maru Maricika
Brahman is other than this, the universe. There exists nothing that is not Brahman. If any
object other than Brahman appears to exist it is unreal like a mirage.
Drshyate Shruyate Yad Yat
All that is perceived or heard is Brahman and nothing else. Attaining the knowledge of
reality one sees the universe as the Non-dual Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss.
Bhasvantam Bhanum Andhavat
Though Atman is pure consciousness and ever present everywhere, it is perceived
by the eye of wisdom alone. Just as one who is blind cannot see even the powerful
rays of the sun, one whose vision is obscured by attachment to sense obects,
attachment to the body, will not see the Atman.
Svarna-vat Dyotate Svayam
The Jiva becomes purified in the fire of knowledge, kindled by hearing the cosmic
'OM,' and shines of itself like gold.
The Atman, the sun of knowledge that rises in the sky of the heart, destroys the
darkness of ignorance, pervades and sustains all, shines and makes everything to
Yas-Svatma-Tirtam Bhajate Vinishkriyah
He who meditates on his own Atman, the destroyer of duality, ever-present everywhere,
free from all the limitations of time, space, and direction, such a one becomes all-knowing
and all-pervading and attains, thereafter, immortality.