.. dS:Sl::ški ..
Ten Stanzas (on Atman)
by Adi Shankaracharya
Shrii Shankara sums up the essence of Vedanta in dasashlokii . He
states that Only Atman Is while the world of names, form and various
manifestations are just maya . He goes on to say that Atman is same as the
supreme Brahman . Shankara also emphasises, as do upanishhads that the man
who realizes aatma ALONE transcends worldly sorrow (tarati shokaM
After writing a wonderful commentary on Gaudapada's karika on
maaNDukya upanishhad, and upadesahasri in my humble opinion, the best
philosophical work of Shankara, many scholars consider dashashlokii to be
the last pronouncement of Shankara on the non-dual nature of Atman . In a
very simple way using just 10 verses, Shankara expounds on the nature of
Atman -- the attributeless Truth, indestructible, and the very basis of
supreme bliss and purity.
The words of Swami Gambhirananda sums up the significance of the
sloka, `This text deals with the nature of Atman in the clearest and
simplest language . There is not a single word which is superflous, and the
teacher [Shankara] is at this best; the arrow of knowledge is aimed at
ignorance and it hits the target directly, destroying the enemy.'
The birth of this Dasasloki is an interesting event. Sri
Sankara in imminent danger of death in the jaws of a crocodile
in the river Purna in his village Kaladi, takes Sannyasa
informally by pronouncing the prescrinebd formula. But when the
crocodile immediately frees him from its grip, Sri Sankara is
faced with the necessity of seeking a competent teacher who can
regularise the Sannyasa and initiate him in the Upanishadic
passages. He travelled north and ultimately found such a teacher
in Sri Govindapadacharya, who was in deep meditation in a cave
on the banks of the Narmada. When fervently implored by Sri
Sankara, the Saint woke up and asked Sri Sankara who he was. It
was in reponse to this simple question that Sri Sankara burst
out in a set of ten pregnant stanzas explaining the real nature
of the Self which alone he was. The Saint realising that Sri
Sanakara was a realised soul, who had come to him for initiation
only to conform to the normal method of entering the Sannyasa Order,
immediately accepted him as a disciple.
May Shrii Shankara leads us from ignorance to Truth by helping
us realize the aatman.
AUM tat sat.
"I am not the Earth nor Water, neither Fire nor Air, I
am not space. Neither am I any of the Faculties nor am I their
aggregrate. [I am not any of these] as they are all uncertain. I
am proved however in the sole experience of deep sleep. That
One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Only One, am I."
"The castes are not for me, nor the observances and
duties attached to the castes and the stages of life. Even the
steadying of the mind, concentration, self-communion and other
courses are not for me. For the mistaken senses of I and MINE
which rested on the Non-Self have been abondoned. That One, the
Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
"There is no mother nor father; no gods nor regions of
experience; no scriptures nor sacrifical sites; and no sacred
place-so say the Sages. For, in the state of deep sleep, all
these are negatived and that state is completely devoid(of any
object of perception) That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the
Alone, am I."
"There is no Sankhya nor Saiva, nor that Pancharatra
nor Jaina. The conception of the Mimamsaka and others does not
exist. For, through the direct realisation of what is qualified,
the Self is known as of the nature of the Absolutely Pure. That
One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
"There is neither above nor below, neither inside nor
outside, no middle nor crosswise, no direction, east or west.
For it is all-pervasive like space. It is partless and
homogeneous in its nature. That One, the Residue, the
Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
"It is neither white nor black, neither red nor yellow,
neither dwarfish nor stout, neither short nor long. As it is of
the nature of light, it is shapeless also. That One, the
Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
"There is no ruler nor rule, no pupil nor training.
There is no YOU nor I. This universe is not. For the realistion
of the true nature of the Self does not tolerate any distincion.
That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
"There is no waking state for me nor dream or deep
sleep. I am not Visva[the Self identified with the experiencer
of the waking state], nor Taijasa[identified with dream state],
nor Prajna[identified with deep sleep]. I am really the
Fourth(Turiya). That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone,
"All this universe which is other than the Self is
worthless(having no existence of its own) for it is well known
that the Self is all pervasive, recognised as the reality and
that its existence is self-proven and does not depend upon
anything else. That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone,
"It is not one, for how can there be a second distinct
from it? Aloneness cannot be attributed to it nor even
not-aloneness. It is neither a void nor a non-void. When it does
not admit of a second entity, in what manner can I speak about
it though it is established by all the Upanishads.?"
Encoding by M. Giridhar ([email protected])
Translation from "Vaidya N. Sundaram" ([email protected])