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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-5

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Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)

Translation & explanation of Verse-5

People here on earth, they sleep, wake and think
Various thoughts; watching over all of these with intent eye
There dawns a priceless light, which never shall dim again;
Led onward by this, one should forward wend.

(“Ulakarurangiyunarnnu chintha cheyyum
Palathumithokkeyumuttu paarthunilkkum
Vilamathiyaatha vilakkudikkayum pin -
Polikayumillithu kandu poyidenam”):


Key message-
In this verse, Guru introduces the eye above which is watching the watcher from here below, who is
caught in everyday necessities of personal life, such as waking, sleeping and thinking of various interests
arising during the workaday life of the common man. We do not know who puts us to sleep and who
wakes us up. Where does our motivation come from, and who supplies us with energy to carry out the
intentions of the mind? The Guru speaks of a light that intensely looks on whatever we do. What could
that light be? He instructs us to turn to that which witnesses all our thoughts and deeds, which he
compares to an unlit lamp that is nonetheless mysteriously shining.

Necessary aspects of life touching the common generality of mankind are not bypassed by the Guru,
but, more like a modern pragmatic philosopher, the contingent and the necessary aspects are brought
together, as if with equal importance, in the treatment of the highest contemplative text.

Think various thoughts (unarnnu chintha cheyyum) -
Contemplation becomes strictly established only when the multiplicity of interests which regulate
human activities are absorbed and united into a single bundle of one master-interest proper to the
absolutist way. If we were to distinguish this master-tendency at the core of life as the vertical, then the
plurality of interests that keep succeeding one another in our life ordinarily, clashing and displacing one
another for occupation of the center of the stream of consciousness, might be called the horizontal

There dawns a priceless light (Vilamathiyaatha vilakku) –
The light is what helps the eye see other objects. The organ of sight is dialectically equated to the light
which is both an end and a means in the central awareness of reality, which is the common result of
presence of all these factors working in unison or operating in one vertical line. This idea is similar to
that of Plato’s Republic as well as in Plotinus “Never did the eye see the sun unless it had first become
sun like”.

Which never shall dim again (udikkayum pin polikayumilla) -
The idea suggested here is of an everlasting value in life. The natural state of the Absolute is its self-
founded brightness. The Guru equates this with the lamp which is neither lit nor ever dies. Activity
(pravrithi) and delusion (moham), which are also attributed to the manifesting Self, Bhuthatmaan
constitute the changing world in which the common man is caught as if in a trap. The remedy for this
tragedy, which the Guru suggests here, is to see the light within that witnesses everything.

Led onward by this, one should forward wend (ithu kandu poyidenam) –
As the individual self is totally immersed in samsara, the world of delusion, it repeatedly becomes
disappointed. It is believed that such a soul, degraded by its own false identification, is born again and
again in inferior wombs. Conceivably with the compassionate guidance of a blessed one, the individual
may someday, by purification, discipline and meritorious life, achieve the sameness of vision to see the
true light that shines within recognizing: “I am this Bright Person who is the Self of all and is the same in
every being”. Then he or she would shake off all notions of duality, such as merit and demerit and the
two kinds of action that constitute bondage. Having become freed of all blemishers, the self will attain
the absolute equality that transcends all duality.

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