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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-6

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Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)

Translation & explanation of Verse-6

One has to wake, then go to sleep, of food partake, or mate
Thus do promptings dissipating keep coming round;
Whoever could there be, therefore, to wake
Unto that reality’s one and changeless form?

(“Unaranaminniyuranganam bhujicheedanam
Ashanam punarenamennivannam
Anayumaneka vikalpamaakayaal
Aarunuruvathulloru nirvikaararoopam”):

Key message-
This verse ends with a rhetorical question: “Who is there to realize the one changeless form?” Both the problem and the solution that are going to be elaborated in the rest of the work are here set forth. In the world of spirituality, there are many conflict of authorities such as God and Saathaan, good and evil, the Absolute and the relative and so on. The conflict of authorities presented in this verse is the changing life urges and the unchanging form of the Absolute.
One has to wake, then go to sleep, of food partake, or mate
(Unaranaminniyuranganam bhujicheedanam Ashanam punarenamennivannam)

The biological cycle of necessary activities considered neither physiologically nor psychologically, but from a common sense standpoint are referred in this verse. These follow one another as dictated by the vital urges within man. One satisfaction of instinctive desire follows another in a certain order of circulation. Instead of referring to these aspects of necessary life as belonging to sin, concupiscence or desire, as in the stricter theologies of codified religions, the Guru here reviews them more simply as necessary factors in common human life.

Waking and sleeping is only one of the major binary functions of the complex mechanism of our nature. When we wake, the demands for nourishing the body and amusing the mind are keenly felt. For many, the main pursuit in life is in finding bread and butter and distractions that can save from the boredom. There are many words in Malayalam for eating but in this verse, the Guru has carefully chosen the word bhujicheedanam to reflect this idea. Bhu means that which manifests. Bhuj is that which causes becoming. It is also related to bhoga, enjoyment. One who enjoys is called a bhokta. We experience a sense of agency in three ways, as the knower, the doer and the enjoyer. From verses on to four, our attention was focused on the knower. In verse five, it was turned on the doer, and now in the present verse, the focus is on the enjoyer.

Thus do promptings dissipating keep coming round (Anayumaneka vikalpamaakayaal)
The expression in the original is vikalpa, which has its antonym in samkalpa. These refer to two sets of mental activities, the former connoting evil and the latter good. The mind is the meeting point of both these types of activities. They originate in the common locus of the mind. Samkalpa refers to vertical tendencies and vikalpa to horizontal ones, which refer to lower values in life. The vicious circle of horizontal values keep recurring and repeating, while vertical tendencies lead to wisdom and freedom.

To wake unto that reality’s one and changeless form (Aarunuruvathulloru nirvikaararoopam)

Whether we are wakeful or sleeping, there is in us an essence that does not change. The Upanishads call it Brahmam, the all-embracing unitive principle. All the major functions of the body and mind are supervised and kept operating, even when we are asleep, by a governing intelligence that is constantly adjusting and tuning the individuated system to its maximum harmony. This harmony is experienced as peace, happiness and unity. Our basic nature is this changeless essence, referred to in the previous verse as the witnessing light of the unlit lamp.

Dharma is our second nature. It has the paradoxical characteristic of coupling the changeless with an ever-changing course of becoming. As individuated beings, we are modulations of Dharma.

The reference here must be to the Absolute conceived as the master-interest in life. The Absolute need not necessarily be conceived as a thing. It can be merely a dimension such as depth, or a direction such as the superior attitudes that the mind is capable of having when thinking creatively of the Absolute. The one-one relation as between the Absolute and the Self is implied here.
The word “changeless form” employed here draws attention to the nitya-anitya-viveka (the discrimination between lasting and transient values), which according to Vivekachoodamani of Sree Sankara, is the preliminary qualification required before one enters contemplative life.

Although the nature of consciousness is to seek liberation, the instrument at its disposal defeats that purpose. The serial order in which experience comes is: awareness, then activity, followed by a consolidation of the total effect as a conditioning. Such conditioning inevitably leads to a future recurrence of the same experience, which will be dominated by a reaction of flight or combat if the accompanying emotion is painful or attraction if the accompanying emotion is pleasure giving. Identification of consciousness with the modalities causes forgetfulness of one’s true nature.

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