नित्यं ब्रह्म निरन्तरं विमृशता निर्व्याज शान्तात्मना,
भूतं भावि च दुष्कृतं प्रदहता संविन्मये पावके
प्रारब्धाय समर्पितं स्ववपुरित्येषा मनीषा मम ॥3॥
nityaṁ brahma nirantaraṁ vimṛśatā nirvyāja śāntātmanā,
bhūtaṁ bhāvi ca duṣkṛtaṁ pradahatā saṁvinmaye pāvake
prārabdhāya samarpitaṁ svavapurityeṣā manīṣā mama ||3||
The entire universe, although appear to be continuing, is perishing and forever changing. The Brahmam, indeed, is permanent, everlasting and is undifferentiated and peerless. With clear intellect and serenely focused mind, whoever engages in the steadfast contemplation of this truth (that Brahmam is Permanent, everything else is not), attains the infinite-knowledge in the flame of which all his burdens due from past, present and future actions are completely burnt, completely accepts the prevailing bodily existence as only due to his past actions, and merely be the witness to its consequences, such a person is the preceptor. This is my determinate knowledge or conclusive wisdom.
saswan yayeva = (although) appears to continue; naswaram = perishing and impermanent; eva viswam akhilam = all such worlds; nischitya = clearly understand and affirm; vaachaa guroh = based on the teaching of the Guru
nityam = everlasting; brahma = Brahmam; nirantaram = changeless; vimrisataa = by contemplating (on this knowledge); nirwyaaja = clear mind or blemishless intellect; saantatman = focused and peaceful mind;
bhootam = past; bhaavi cha = present and the forthcoming; dushkritam =( results due to the knowingly and unknowingly) performed actions; pradahataa = completely burnt; sam vinmayae = in the knowledge absolute; paavakae = that burns;
praarabdhaaya = The root cause of this present life form; samarpitam = completely accepted; swavapur = gross bodies; ityaeshaa = (beholder of ) such wisdom (is the real preceptor); maneesha mama = my determinate knowledge or conclusive wisdom.
Jagadguru Adi Sankara, after explaining the identification and the unification of Jeevaatman and Ishvara in the first two verses, gives the instruction to the aspirants on the method by which such superior wisdom can be obtained and upon achieving, the need for unwavering commitment to that wisdom and to realize the ultimate benefit in this third verse.
Knowing the Self as the Atman and its oneness with the Universal-Self is the highest order of human endeavor. The first lesson in this verse is to identify the chief qualifications to acquire such wisdom in this birth itself.
The foremost quality is the blemish-less intellect or untainted mind. It is very difficult to achieve and maintain a clear intellect, free of blame, for it requires complete annihilation of desires. Yet, there is another way to progress towards this goal. That is to change the character of the mind itself. Since desires color the mind, if One’s desires are pure and only towards things that can offer goodness to One’s heart, then the mind will become taintless and the intellect clear. This requires, therefore, firstly to know what brings goodness in our hearts and secondly to faithfully seek only those, so our desires are forever pure. This is what is said in the word ‘nir vyaja’ in the second line of the verse.
With such clear intellect and untarnished heart, ‘saantatman’ or the serenely focused mind will be attained. A calm or serene mind is the result of avoiding passionate desires and tendency towards only good and virtuous. A calm mind is the perfect instrument for focus, so with the practice of ‘yoga’, the calm mind becomes a supremely focused mind towards the objective. Qualifications such as ‘yamam’, ‘niyamam’ prescribed as the eight-fold practices in the science of Yoga are the fundamental requirements for the aspirants.
To learn is to study directly under a teacher and also indirectly through reading and listening to the words of the truly learned. However only through the Guru self-realization can be achieved. When our search is sincere and the personal qualifications appropriate, it will be indeed easier and certain to identify an able Guru.
So clear intellect, serenely focused mind and guidance of the Guru are the most fundamental requirements for Self-Realization as declared in the first two verses.
The word ‘nishchitya’ in the first line of this verse indicates the next important quality required for the student of Self-inquiry. This means, having a very clear understanding and holding a unwavering devotion or adherence to that understanding. The identification and unification of the Jeevaatman and Ishvara is the supreme knowledge and once it is acquired, a steadfast commitment to that wisdom is necessary.
The main impediments to endure commitment are recurrence of undue doubts.
In the process of learning, doubting is healthy, as long as the doubts are geared towards further pursuit of knowledge. When the knowledge free of doubts is achieved, it must be endured in our contemplation with absolute faith. By subsequently inflicting with doubts only means the lack of faith in the knowledge and the erosion of knowledge itself. This may be due to the volitions of the mind from the intervention of other worldly acts and external desires. That is why ‘nishta’ or unwavering adherence to the principles is a very difficult and tedious task, demanding care and precise tending to our way of life. Only with such nishta, One can achieve the true equanimity and progress towards Self-realization.
Such a Seeker raises above others in the world; in the glowing light of his wisdom, the burden of outcome due to him from all his actions in the past, present and the future are completely burnt. With no expectations, he is able to dwell in the Self, with the realization ‘all worlds are but unreal; I alone as the Atman persist forever, as the ultimate-noumenal, infinite-knowledge and absolute-bliss’. With such determination, he disowns even his own body and completely submits his bodily existence to the discretions of the ‘prararbdha karma’.
The prararbdha karma refers to the burdens of One’s actions that have already started to fruition. It starts from determining the type of embodiment for the Jeevaatman in the current birth and persists until the embodiment is destroyed. Therefore, everyone ought to submit to this ‘prararbdha’ while living in this world. Knowing thus, the Seeker completely surrenders his body to the course of actions as dictated by his prararbdha karma. To him, the body is a detached laden weight and disowned. Therefore, there is no ‘I’ consciousness attached to the body, thus none of his actions are subjected to the Laws of karma. He is eternally free. Such a Seer is known as ‘Jivanmuktha’ or a realized soul.
It is said that the Laws of Karma are instrumental in apportioning the consequences of all our actions during the current and the future lives of the Jeevaatman. The deep desires and the attachments to our actions and their consequences, both good and bad, are permanently stored in our mind. As long as these stacks of entries remain in the buffer of mind, they are to be expended through appropriately embodied life in this world. When these are not completely exhausted in the current life, then a new birth is required in order to carry-out these burdens of karma; The choice of embodiment and the course of that life at every birth are governed by these deeply buffered imprints of the mind, known as ‘vaasana’. The prararbdha karma operates on this basis.
For the Jeevanmuktha such fears no more. He has no burden of accumulated karmas as these are already burnt in the fire of wisdom. He is free of consequences of any actions due to his complete disengagement with the current embodiment. He is no more bound by the Laws of karma and free. As his mind is on the Atman only, his ‘vaasana’ can only elevate towards the Atman, to the absolute oneness with the Brahmam. Therefore when he leaves his mortal body in this world, he is born no more. He is said to have attained the immortal unification with Brahmam. This is known as ‘videha mukthi’.