Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Atma Sakshatkara

Atma Sakshatkara means “witnessing of the Atman” (i.e. self-realization), and is the name of a chapter within the jnana-pada (knowledge section) of the Sarvajnanottara Agama, an obscure Upagama (subsidiary Agama) text. The name of this text is nowhere found in traditional list of the Siddhanta Agamas, but some believe that Sarvajnanottara is a subsidiary of the Vatula Agama. It is not uncommon for a given Agama or Tantra to have different titles, and so it is speculated that Sarvajnanottara may have previously gone by the name Sarva Agama or Kalajna Agama. Either way, only a fragment of this text has survived to our times.

This text was discovered by the great South Indian mystic saint, Sri Ramana Maharshi, who translated the chapter entitled Atma Sakshatkara into Tamil sometime in the early 20th century, and also composed the introductory benediction verse. Below is an English translation of that chapter done by Dr. H. Ramamurthy. The sublime non-dual teaching of this text is in the form of a dialogue between Siva and Guha (Kartikeya-Murugan), where Lord Siva is the supreme Guru, and Guha is the Disciple.


Atma Sakshatkara
Chapter of the Sarvajnanottara Agama

Benediction Verse
This is the Direct Awareness of the Self,
Graciously expounded to Guha by Ishvara Himself,
The foremost and first Lord, now teaching this in Tamil
Seated as the Self in my Heart.

That Siva further says:

Guha! I shall tell You about a different way to reach that Reality which pervades partless in all, too subtle, though, to be grasped (by the mind). [1]

By which the knowledge of Awareness is well-attained, knowing which is to become Siva Himself, what has not been told to any by me, today, from me, that wisdom, hear! [2]

Handed down by the lineage of gurus, and beyond the ken of logicians, this is for liberation from the bondage of the birth-death cycle. Its supreme vision shines at all places. [3]

He who is the One pervading all things, He who has manifested as All, He who has faces in all directions, who is beyond thought, who remains Himself as all the verities and transcends them too, is the Self. [4]

He transcends all verities, He is beyond the reach of speech, mind and name. “I am That (Siva-Self)”: thus You should meditate with perfectly undifferentiated mind, on Siva. [5]

Firmly established as the eternal entity, imperishable and undifferentiated, the all-pervasive, partless Knowledge that cannot be fathomed by the mind, it shines, with nothing prior to compare. [6]

Without stain, indestructible, the totally serene, the knowledge transcending all objects, beyond the pale of thought, conception and doubt, that (Supreme) I am – no doubt about this. [7]

That Supreme divinity, Siva, indeed am I, of the nature of all the mantras, and transcending all the mantras, devoid of dissolution and creation. [8]

What is visible, what is invisible, the moving and the stationary – all these are pervaded by me. I am the Lord of this universe. All shine because of me. [9]

Filled with a variety of forms, one different from the other, filled with a galaxy of worlds, all this universe, from Siva down to the earth, are all established in me. [10]

Whatever is seen in this world, whatever is heard in this world, whatever shines, conceptualised as inside and outside, all these are pervaded by me, the all-pervading One. Realise this. [11]

Though considering himself the Self, He desires to attain that Siva, the Supreme Self, as one apart. Whoever contemplates on Siva thus in delusion, will not attain Sivahood by such contemplation – know this. [12]

“Siva is other than I; I am other than Siva” – uproot this attitude of differentiation. “I indeed am that Siva” – this conviction that is non-dual, ever practice. [13]

Full of this non-dual conviction, he who, everywhere, abides ever in the Self, shall see, in all things, in all bodies, only that Siva-self -- of this, there is no doubt. [14]

Whoever has this conviction always, of the one Self, shall rid himself of delusion, and dual perception. That yogi will attain to omniscience – so it is said in the Vedas. This You should know. [15]

He who is praised in all scriptures as the unborn, the Ishvara, that formless and attributeless Self, He indeed am I – there is no doubt about this. [16]

Only he who does not know his true nature is the jiva that is subject to the dharmas (characteristic) of birth, death and so on. He who knows his true Self is one who is eternal, he is the pure, He is Siva. Without doubt, know this. [17]

Hence, what men of discrimination should enquire carefully and directly realise is the Self; that itself shines twofold, as the transcendental and the inferior divisions, the gross and the subtle. [18]

The Supreme nirvana is the higher, the inferior is manifest as the creation, mantras are spoken of as its gross form, what abides in changeless awareness is the subtle. [19]

Shanmukha! Without realising It (Atma), what avails explanations thereof in endless ways? Tell me! All these are only a wonderful display of words, the cause for the delusion of the mind. [20]

All the dharmas (qualities) abide in the Self. Whichever of them the jiva imagines, whereby he concentrates his thoughts again and again on it, he will attain that object – there is no doubt of this. [21]

Thus has been told by me as the knowledge of the Self what has been gathered succinctly in a condensed form. All, by any means, is of the nature of the Self. Realising this, may You ever be strengthened in the thoughts of the Self. [22]

The Deities, the Vedas, the fire sacrifices, the various gifts to priests in the course of their performance – none of this exists there (in the nature of the Self). Be tuned to the blemishless, omni-faceted, steadfast knowledge of the Self. [23]

To the jiva drowning in the vast ocean of the birth-death cycle, and seeking a refuge, what affords refuge is only that knowledge of the Self, not anything else -- know this. [24]

He who becomes of the nature of the Supreme and realises it as it really is, shall, though experiencing all changing states, attain liberation without effort – be aware of this. [25]

There is no greater blessing anywhere, apart from the gaining of the Self. Meditate ever on the Self. He, who is the Self, He indeed is the one all-pervasive Supreme Self – be aware of this. [26]

It is not the prana (the vital air that circulates), nor the apana (the air that travels down) even, nor the instruments superior even to these, the senses, mind and such. Reach ever for the thought of the Self.That is the omniscient and the perfect. [27]

It is neither inside nor outside, not afar, nor nearby, nor does it fit in any place. That Supreme is formless, all pervasive and effulgent, direct Your thoughts ever to it. [28]

It is across, above, and below, inside and outside, which are divisions, ever established firmly everywhere – the void, the self-luminous Self. Ever mediate on that more and more. [29]

Not a void, not a non-void, it is also the non-void, and the void, pervasive everywhere, but without predilections – ever think of this Self. [30]

Affliction-less, and without any support for itself, bereft of caste, name, and form – that taintless, attributeless Self should You unceasingly meditate upon. [31]

With no refuge, with nothing to support it, beyond the range of comprehension, without parallel, faultless by nature, the eternal – the Self that is so, meditate upon it joyfully, forever. [32]

Embracing dispassion and thus desisting from all karmic activity, shying away from society, one should, thereafter, ever meditate upon the Self within oneself, in oneself, by oneself – be aware of this. [33]

Country and lineage, the traditional castes and style of life, effacing various thoughts arising in the wake of these, the wise man should meditate daily, upon his (real) nature. [34]

“This is the mantra”, “this is the Deity”, “This is indeed what is called meditation”, “This indeed is tapas” – casting afar all such thoughts, concentrate on the nature of Your own Self. [35]

The Self is without thought. Make it impossible for the thought-oriented (mind) to think at all. Make the mind that thinks, to get settled on the Self. Let not the mind think of anything else. [36]

The Self is not something that can be thought of nor is it something that cannot be thought of. It is not thought itself, it is indeed itself thought – what does not lean towards any of the above, the Supreme that is the Self, ever meditate upon it. [37]

Meditate ever on that which is beyond the reach of the mind, allowing no refuge for the mind. The joy that is attained in abundance in that Self, that is beyond all verities and complete. [38]

Without any differences, and beyond the reach of thinking, without any precedent, without anything similar, that which is the utmost frontier and extolled as the supreme bliss, be immersed in it. [39]

Discarding all desire for objects, destroying the modes of the mind, the non-dual state of being the One, when the mind ceases to be, is the one called supreme bliss. [40]

All directions, all places, all times are conducive for the yoga of the Self, so say the scriptures. Differences of castes and orders of life and such, cannot cause any differences in the least to the nature of knowledge. [41]

The colour of milk is one, the colours of the cows many, so is the nature of knowledge, observe the wise ones. Beings of various marks and attributes, are like the cows, their realisation is the same; this is an example we should know. [42]

Brahman intimately pervades all, it shines with faces in all directions. Established in it without a pause, think not of differences such as regions and directions. [43]

In this world itself, there is no mark, lifestyle, or tradition, for the one who becomes of the nature of the Self. He has nothing to gain by any action of his; no action need he perform, nor any injunctions prescribing actions apply to him – know this. [44]

Moving or standing or sleeping, waking or taking food or water, in the face of the wind, the cold and the sun, unaffected will he be, in any state, at any time. [45]

Fear, indigence, sickness, burning fever, indigestion – even when all these affect, one established in the Self, peaceful and shining full, He is never at his wit’s end on any count; he will savour the satisfaction of the Self. [46]

Whether going forward or returning, I am not the one that moves forward or back. When enquired into there is no going or coming. In the ever changing dharma of Prakrti, the cause of illusive creation, I never was immersed, nor am I now. [47]

All activities prescribed are the work of Prakrti, the illusion. Prakrti, so spoken of, is the source of all action. “I am the immaculate”, “I am the actionless”, thus indeed will reflect the wise man, the knower of truth. [48]

For him there is no bondage of Prakrti, the delusion. He has earned the name of the liberated one. He shall never be touched by the defects spoken of as the action of Prakrti. [49]

The manner in which a lamp shines, destroying darkness with its light – in like manner, by destroying the enveloping darkness, arising from inexplicable ignorance, the Self, of the nature of the pure light of knowledge shines. [50]

Even as the lamp, with the fuel of ghee spent, attains irvana (peace), the yogi, continuously contemplating on the Truth of the Self, will be at peace in the Self. Nothing greater is there to be attained than the Self – this is the truth. [51]

When the pot is carried, the space within the pot, though conceived of as carried: is it not the pot only that is carried? The Self too, like space, remains motionless. [52]

When the pot breaks, the space in the pot merges one with the great Space. When the inert body passes away, the Self, seemingly in the body, becomes immediately one with the Supreme Self. [53]

Thus, the Lord who is omniscient spoke with authority then: “One who is liberated, severed from all bondage, becomes all pervasive, endless, with absolute Awareness”. [54]

Discarding totally all the Agamas, attaining the pure samadhi of Atma yoga, realising, by due enquiry, there is nothing else greater than this, destroy all wrong ideas, in the mind, of differences. [55]

Meditating continuously on the great Knowledge thus, that yogi who attains ever the bodiless nature, that pure jnani whose dharma is the dharma of That (bodiless nature) alone, is the liberated one, shining inside and out, reaching across to every place. [56]

Omniscience and bliss, and mature wisdom, remaining independent, limitless strength – attaining all these, he shines ever, the Self without afflictions. With an immaculate body, he, as the Self, merges in Siva. [57]

Japa of the name, worship, bathing in holy waters, ritual sacrifices, none of these or others are needed. The fruits of dharma and adharma, water oblations to forefathers, none of these are for him. [58]

No injunctions for observance, no fasts, nothing required by way of getting into or out of (any action), no vows of celibacy for him, know this. [59]

Not having any recourse to falling into the fire or water, or falling from the mountain top, enjoy the feast of the Knowledge of Siva, eternal and pure. Rid of the rules applying to all creation, move about as You please. [60]

I tell You this is the Truth, the Truth, the Truth, thrice over. There is nothing greater than this, nothing greater is there to be known, nothing at all, nowhere ever. [61]

Rid of any blemish, rid of ignorance, with pure intellect, being the pure Self, by the pure conviction that all that is seen is pure, meditating on the immaculate nature, he shall attain Awareness. [62]

[Translated by Dr. H. Ramamurthy]

Source: Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi

Aum Namah Shivaya.


ஜீவா (Jeeva Venkataraman) said...

Glad to know about this and thanks a lot for the introduction. I guess the title of the Tamil version is also same - atma sakshatkara. I would love to get a copy of the book, But not sure where it would be available... Probably at Ramana maharishi's publications reseller.

I have across similar translation of of Sri Ramana maharishi - Atma bodha. I am reproducing some of these in Tamil:

Anonymous said...

Thank you amazing blog, do you have twitter, facebook or something similar where i can follow your blog

Sandro Heckler

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