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Aparakshanubhoothi
[Non Indirect Experience]
A Philosophic Treatise on Advaitha
By Adhishankara Bhagwat Pada
Transliteration and Translation by P. R. Ramachander

[This is one of the great works of philosophy written by Adhi Shankara This has 144 stanzas or slokas, Shankara emphasizes in this great work the fact, that till we realize the difference between Brahman / Athman / purusha and the things that we see in this world, we cannot attain realization. He logically establishes that the body that we see is an illusion and what is beyond all such bodies is Brahman, the absolute truth. He then examines the reason for this illusion and concludes that ignorance is the cause of such illusion. Then he tells us the 15 step stair case to attain this truth and the eight road blocks that will come in our way. This translation work is based on: 1. The English translation of this great work by Swami Vimukthananda which was published by the Advaitha Ashram, Calcutta. 2. A Tamil and English commentary available in the web site advaitavedanta.org/texts/aparokshanubhoothi.pdf and 3. A Tamil commentary and translation of this great work by Sri Navarathnamala M. K. Venkatraman and published by Giri Traders, Madras. As in my other translations my effort has been trying to understand the meaning of each stanza based on the several translations already available and put the meaning that I have understood, in my own words. Unlike translation of Sthothras, this was extremely difficult, as I am a novice in philosophic thought. ]

Every great work starts with a prayer to God. This book starts with a prayer to Hari.

Sri Harim paramananda mupadeshtameeswaram,
Vyapakam sarva lokaanam karanam tham namamyaham 1

I salute that Sri Hari*,
Who is the pure immortal bliss,
Who is the first teacher,
Who is God himself,
Who pervades everywhere,
And who is the cause of this world.
*Killer of illusion

Shankara then tells us the aim of this book. He could have used Prathyaksha Anubhuthi (Direct experience) but prefers to use Aparoksha Anubhuthi (Non indirect experience). He does this, because most of us prefer indirect experience and he wants us all to try to have the non indirect experience.

Aaparokshanu bhoothirvai prochyathe moksha sidhaye,
Sadbhireva prayathnena veekshaneeya muhur muhu. 2

The method of direct experience*,
Which leads to salvation,
Is expounded here, so that,
The good people with little effort,
Can meditate on this truth
Which is taught here for all times.
*Non indirect personal experience

Shankara indicates here the three paths of attaining this experience viz devotion, practice of our defined duties and renunciation.

Swa varnashrama dharmena, thapasa hari thoshanath,
Sadhanam prabhaveth pumsam vairagyadhi chathushtayam, 3

People practicing the prescribed Dharma of their class,
Can propitiate through meditation,that Lord Hari.
And also attain their desired aim of reaching.
The four aspects of renunciation, wisdom, loss of desires and salvation.

An effort is made to clearly define renunciation as against absence of desire.

Brahmadhi sthavarantheshu vairagyam vishayeshvanu,
Yadhaiva kakavishtayam vairagyam thadhi nirmalam. 4

Not having desire on things.
From to Brahma to immobile things is renunciation,
But Indifference similar to that towards crow shit.
To everything is rightly called the purest renunciation.

The sense of true spiritual discrimination is defined.

Nithyam athma swaroopam hi drusyam thad viparree thagam,
Yevam yo nischaya samyag viveko vasthuna sa vai. 5

Only nature of the soul is perennial,
All others are impermanent,
Arriving at such a conviction,
Is truly the capacity for discrimination.

The difference between two types of abandoning of desires (Sama and Dhama) is brought out

Sadaiva vasana thyaga samoyam ithi sabditha,
Nigraho bahya vrutheenam Dhama ithyabhidheeyathe. 6

Abandoning desires* for ever is called Shama,
Controlling external functions of all organs,
Is indicated by the word Dhama.
*desire to enjoy based on previous experience.

Renunciation of desires and endurance of sorrows is defined.

Vishanyebhya para vruthiparamoparatheerhi sa,
Sahanam sarva dukhanam thithiksha saa shubhaa mathaa. 7

Turning away from sensual needs is called Uparathi,
Endurance of all sorrow is called thithiksha. 

Faith in teachers and mind concentrated search is defined.

Nigamacharya vakyeshu bhakthi sradhethi vishrutha,
Chithai kagryam sa lakshye samadhanamithismrutham. 8

Implicit faith in teachers and Vedas is Sradha,
And concentration only on Brahman is Samadhana

Burning desire to get rid of bonds of the world is the sign of a Mumukshu.

Samsara bandha nirmukthi kadham may syath kadha vidhe,
Ithi ya su druda budhir vakthavya saa mumukshutha. 9

Concentrated wish to know about when and how,
One gets rid of bonds of this world, Is Mumukshutha.

The above qualities (defined from 4 -9 ) are the qualities needed by a seeker of Brahman.

Uktha sadhana yukthena vichara purushena hi,
Karthavyo jnana sidhyardhamathmana shubhamam ichatha. 10

Only a person who has the above mentioned traits,
Should involve himself in such constant reflection,
So that he desires and attains his own good.

Nature of such reflection is further defined.

Nothu padyandhe vina jnanam vicharena anya sadhanai,
Yada padartha bhanam hi prakasena vina kkachid. 11

Knowledge is never attained without reflection,
Like an object is never seen without a bright light.

How to seek the Brahman/Athma?(Stanzas 12-16)

Koham kadhamidham, jatham ko vai katha asya vidhyathe,
Upadhaanm kimastheeha vichara soyameedrusa. 12

The enquiries that needs to be done are,
Who am I? how was the word created?
Who is its creator? and with what has it been made?

Naham bhootha gano deho naham chaksha ganasthadha,
Ethadwi lakshana kaschid vichara soyam eedrusa. 13

The hall mark of enquiries is thoughts like
I am not the body made out of the five elements,
Nor am I a mixture of the different senses.

Ajnana prabhavam sarva jnanena pravileeyathe,
Sankalpo vividha kartha vichara soyam eedrusa. 14

The real thought process within us should be,
I see differences between things because of ignorance,
All these differences would vanish when I get wisdom,
And the various thoughts in me are the reason for what I see.

Yethayor upadhanamekam sookshmam, sad avyayam,
Yadhaiva mudhataadheenam vichara soyam eedrusa. 15

The cause for this ignorance and the thought process,
Is subtle and one without second and unchanging existence,
Similar to the clay being the cause of inanimate things like a mud pot.
The various thoughts in me are the reason for what I see.

Aham yekapi sookshmascha jnatha sakshi sadavyaya,
Thadaham nathra sandeho vichara soyam eedreusa. 16

I am the only one, micro existence beyond all thoughts,
I am the knower, the witness, the truth, the indivisible,
And there is no doubt whatsoever that,
The various thoughts in me are the reason for what I see.

The next five stanzas are powerful arguments that there is a difference between the body and the Athma.

Aathma vinishkalo hyoko deho bahubhir avrutha,
Thayair ikyam prapasyanthi kim ajnana matha param. 17

Athma is one and does not have any parts,
And the body is divisible in to various organs,
What can be the worst act of ignorance,
Than thinking that these two are one.

Aathma niyaamanga schaandardeho bahyo niyamyaka,
Thyair ikyam prapasyanthi kim ajnana matha param. 18

Athma is the ruler and exists within,
The body is the ruled and is outside,
What can be the worst act of ignorance,
Than thinking that these two are one.

Athma jnanamaya punyo deho mamsa mayo asuchi,
Thyair ikyam prapasyanthi kim ajnana matha param. 19

Athma is the holy consciousness 
And the body is made of flesh and impure,
What can be the worst act of ignorance,
Than thinking that these two are one.

Athma prakasaka swacho, dehas thamasa uchyathe,
Thyair ikyam prapasyanthi kim ajnana matha param. 20

Athma is pure and supreme,
Body is base and dark,
What can be the worst act of ignorance,
Than thinking that these two are one.

Athma nithyohi sadrupo, deho anithya hyasanmaya,
Thyair ikyam prapasyanthi kim ajnana matha param. 21

Athma is eternal and ever existent,
Body is transient and non existent,
What can be the worst act of ignorance,
Than thinking that these two are one.

Athma is not fire.

Athma na sthath prakasathvam, padarthaa yathrthavabhasanam,
Nagnayaadhee deepthi va dheepthir bhathayandhyam yatho nisi. 22

The light of Athma makes us see everything,
But light of Athma is not like that of fire,
For without fire in darkness we cannot see,
But Athma makes us see everything at all times.

Like a pot the body is transient.

Deho aham ithyayam moodo dhruthwa thishtathyaho jana,
Mamaya mithyapi jnathwa ghata dhrushtena sarvadha. 23

The foolish think that they are the body,
Though it is something belonging to them,
This sort of illusion is like a man,
Thinking that the pot always belongs to him.

The real knowledge and the real wisdom are defined in the next five stanzas.

Brahmaivaham sama santhi sachidananda lakshanam,
Naham deho hyasadroopo jnana mithyuchyuthe budhai. 24

The wise say that the true knowledge is that,
I am definitely not the body which is an illusion
But I am Brahman, I am peace, I am equanimity,
I am the existence, bliss and knowledge,

Nirvikaro nirakaro niravadhyo aham avyaya
Naham deho hyasadroopo jnana mithyuchyuthe budhai. 25

The wise say that the true knowledge is that,
I am definitely not the body which is an illusion
But I am without change, without any form,
Without any blemish and without any decay.

Niramayo nirabhaso nirvikalpo ahamathatha,
Naham deho hyasadroopo jnana mithyuchyuthe budhai. 26

The wise say that the true knowledge is that,
I am definitely not the body which is an illusion
But I am without disease, beyond all comprehension,
Beyond any change and I am all pervading.

Nirguno nishkriyo nithyo nithya muktho aham achyutha,
Naham deho hyasadroopo jnana mithyuchyuthe budhai. 27

The wise say that the true knowledge is that,
I am definitely not the body which is an illusion
But I am without properties and without any activity,
I am permanent, for ever free and imperishable.

Nirmalo nischalo anantha sudhohamajaro amara,
Naham deho hyasadroopo jnana mithyuchyuthe budhai. 28

The wise say that the true knowledge is that,
I am definitely not the body which is an illusion,
But I am without stains, without movement and limits,
I am pure, I never age and I never die.

The above argument does not mean that Brahman/Athma does not exist.

Swadehe shobhanam santham purushakhyam cha sam matham,
Kim moorkhe soonyamathmanam dehatheetham karoshi bho. 29

Oh ignorant one, do not conclude because of these that,
Athma does not exist, for it exists in your body,
As something different, blissful and perennial.,
And is agreed to be same as the Purusha by the wise.

Requests the novice seeker to reason and understand this Purusha, (Used alternatively for Athman/Brahman.)

Swathmanam srunu moorkha thwam sruthwa yukthya cha purusham,
Dehath atheetham sadakaram sudurdarsa bhava drusai. 30

Oh ignorant one, using the sruthis and your own reasoning,
Try to understand this Purusha, which is beyond the body,
And which is the very form of existence,
Though you would find it difficult to understand.

Again brings out the difference between the body and Purusha (Brahman/Athma)

Aham sabdhena vikhyata yeka yeva sthitha para,
Sthoola sthava anekatham prapth kadham syaddehaka puman. 31

This supreme Purusha, which is beyond the body,
Is well known as I, but it is only one,
But the body is in many forms,
And so how can I be the body.

Different reasoning to say Brahman (I) and Body are different.(Next nine Stanzas)

Aham drusthru thaya sidho deho drusyathaya sthitha,
Mamaya mithi nirdhesath kadham syadhesaka puman. 32

I is well known as, he who perceives,
And the body is something that is perceived,
And so how can both these be same,
Also the body is claimed as mine by the I,
And so how can it be the same as I.

Aham vikara heenasthu deho nithyam vikaravan,
Ithi prathiyathe sakshath kadha syadhesaka puman. 33

I am never subject to any change by any cause,
But the body is subject to change by age or sickness,
And when this is experienced by every one,
How can both these be same?

Yasmath param ithi sruthwa thaya purusha lakshanam,
Vineernitham vimoodena kadam syadheshaka puman. 34

Having learned about the real properties of Purusha,
From the very holy books of Vedas,
And having understood that there is nothing greater than it,
How can we conclude that both these are same.

Sarva purusha yevethi sookthe purusha samgnithe,
Apyuchyathe yatha sruthwa kadam syadheshaka puman. 35

In Purusha Sooktha it has been clearly told,
That everything that we see is Purusha,
And having read and understood it,
How can we conclude that both these are same?

Asanga purusha proktho brahadharanykepi cha,
Anantha mala samslishta, kadam syadheshaka puman. 36

It is also been told in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad,
That the Purusha is completely unattached,
And knowing that body is having innumerable impurities,
How can we conclude that both these are same?

Tharaiva cha samakhyatha swayam jyothirhi Purusha,
Jada para prakasyoyam kadam syadheshaka puman. 37

It is also told in the same place that,
Purusha is shining and self luminescent,
And knowing the body as inert and
Can be illuminated only from outside,
How can we conclude that both these are same?

Prokthopi karma kandena hyathma dehad dwilakshana,
Nithyascha thath phalam deha pathad anatharam. 38

Even that part of Veda emphasizing on rituals,
Tells us that Athma and the body are different,
And says that the results of rituals,
Exist along with the soul, even after the death of the body.

Lingam cha aneka samyuktham chalam drusyam vikari cha,
Avyapakama sadroopam thath kadham syath pumanayam. 39

The body is divided as the subtle and the gross,
And even this subtle body has many properties,
Is unstable, limited and non existent by nature,
And how can this body be that Purusha.

Conclusion based on argument in the last nine stanzas that there is a soul/Athma/Purusha/Brahman which exists separately from the body.

Yevam deha dwayad anya athma purusha easwara,
Sarvathma sarva roopascha sarvatheetha aham avyaya. 40

Thus, different from the type of bodies,
There exists the soul, which is Purusha,
The lord of everything and soul of everything,
And though present in everything,
Is different and transcends all of them.

Logic or Tharka Vada asserts that Prakrithi (prapancha/body ) has different existence from that of Athma/Brahman/Purusha. Since they are different and cannot become one, there is no salvation.

Ithyathma deha bhagena prapanchayaiva sathyatha,
Yadoktha tharka sasthrena Thatha kim purusharthatha. 41

Logic,asserts that the body and Purusha,
Are indeed very different,
And emphasizes in the reality of this world,
And that both of them act separately,
And if this so, how can there be salvation?

Ithyathma deha bhedena deha athmathwam nivaritham,
Idhaneem deha bedhasya hyasathwam sphutamuchyathe. 42

Thus thinking over the difference between body and Purusha,
It is concluded that there are indeed different,
But does the difference between them,
Indicate that the body is in truth without Purusha,

Argument to say that the body does not have a separate existence 

Chaithanya asyaika roopathwad bhadho yuktho na karhichith,
Jeewathwam cha mrusha jneam rajjou sarpa graham yadha. 43

Consciousness being always the same.
Differentiation does not suit it,
And so like seeing a snake in a rope,
It is not proper to identify it as Purusha,

The body/world is only an illusion and is really the Brahman itself.

Rajjwa jnanath kshanenaiva yadwad drajjurhi sarpini,
Bhathi thadwachithi sakshad viswakarena kevala. 44

In some moments the rope appears as a snake,
Due to the ignorance of its real nature,
And without the rope changing its nature,
Similarly pure consciousness also appears,
To be the whole universe at such times.

Brahman/Purusha/athma is the cause for the body/world/Prapancha

Upadhanam prapanchasya brahmano anyathra vidhyathe,
Thasmath sarva prapanchoyam brahmai vasthi na chetharath. 45

There is no cause for this universe except Brahman,
(similar to the clay being the cause of a pot)*
So the entire Universe is Brahman and nothing else.
*interpolation by the author for clear understanding

The cause and effect theory of Brahman and the body is enunciated.

Vyapya vyapakatha mithya sarvamathmethi sasanath,
Ithi jnathe pare thathwe bedhasyavara kutha? 46

The Vedas declare that everything that we see is Athman,
And the difference between Athma which pervades,
And the universe in which it is said to be pervading,
In non existent and the difference is a result of an illusion.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says that there are no qualities/properties to Brahman.

Sruthya nivaritham noonam nanathwam swamukhena hi,
Kadham bhaso bhavedanya sthithe chadwaya karana. 47

The Vedas by itself has denied different forms of Brahman,
And once there is nothing else except the Brahman,
How can there be difference between Brahman and the world.

Brihadaranya Upanishad says that the individual travels from death to death.

Doshopi vihitha shruthya mruthyor mruthyum sa gachathi,
Iha pasyathi nanathwam mayaya vanchitho nara. 48

The Veda has found fault with those,
Who see manifoldness in Brahman,
And has clearly brought out that,
That these differences are seen,
By those men who are cheated by illusion.

Brahmana sarva bhoothani jayanthe paramathmana,
Thasmad yethani brahmaiva bhavathethya avatharayeth. 49

All beings are born from the great soul called Brahman,
And so they all should be considered as Brahman.

Bramaiva sarva namani roopani vividhani cha,
Karmanyapi samagrani vibharthathi sruthir jagai. 50

All those having differing names,
Or different shapes are only Brahman,
And the Vedas tell that it alone is the base,
Of all the actions that we see.



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