Guru Smarana Samithi
"Chaithanya",Chandrathil Road
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Lamp of Non-duality (Advaitha Deepika) Class IV

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Translation & explanation of Verse-6

The real and the unreal – each appears in turn as though existing and not existing;
Both are phenomenal appearances that are but the beginingless darkness manifesting itself;
Closely looked at, both appearances have no being and thus are unreal;
There is no snake in a piece of rope; what exists is rope alone.

(“Untillayennu mura maariya sathu sathu
Randum prateetham ithanaadi-tamas svabhaavam
Randum thiranjitukil illayasthu rajju-
khandathil illuragam ullathu rajju maathram”):

We live in this world, where we perceive and experience everything around us. That we do exist, that everything we encounter exists as such, which is the idea we usually have, is experienced by consciousness. The being of all experiences is in consciousness alone, as functional modes of consciousness alone.

Going deeper to the level of subtleties, we see that what is directly perceived with our senses is not the real, but what underlies it is the real. It was in that sense it was stated in the last verse, “Closely examined, the world is found to be non-existent.” That too is a knowledge. In other words, that the world exists is an experience and that the world does not exist also is an experience, and as experiences both have their being in consciousness. This consciousness, underlying both, in essence is the ultimate Reality and is begininglessly and endlessly functional. As a result emerges the experiences, “This world exists.” Moreover, Consciousness unfolds itself as the world it experiences as well. As the other side of this comes the experience, “This world is unreal.” The all-underlying consciousness has in it the inherent potential to unfold as ourselves and create in us the impressions “The world is real,” and “The world is not real.”

At these impressions alternate, we get confused as to what is real and what is unreal. In order to avoid this, the Guru warns us, “Both are phenomenal appearances.” The original word for “phenomenal appearance” is pratheethi. It means “that which has no existence of its own, but makes the impression of existing.” “The world is real” and “The world is unreal,” in other words, are both phenomenal appearances. Then ultimately what is real? The one Consciousness in which the two phenomena appear together alone is Real.

How do such appearances, that are opposite in nature, emerge in the one Reality? Although Consciousness is Effulgence in essence, there is inherent in it an element of darkness that conceals from itself its own true nature and content. What happens when darkness prevails was seen in the last verse: Ultimately what is real will not be perceived; non-existent ghosts will be seen, and we get scared. Likewise the one beginingless and endless Reality – Consciousness – is not perceived and instead what is perceived are the alternating phenomenal appearances. The darkness that causes this concealment is called avidya. The all-underlying Reality is beginning-less and endless. The avidya inherent in It is also beginning-less, but it is not endless, for it ends with knowing its nature and how it functions, with intuitively perceiving the one Consciousness that alone exists, oneself becoming merged in It.

All appearances are the darkness of avidya manifesting itself. The original word for “manifesting itself” is svabhaava. Bhava means “manifest form,” and svabhaava, self-manifestation. The word also means “charectistic of” which implies, manifesting itself as the world of dualities is characteristic of avidya (darkness). All appearances in this sense are just darkness manifesting itself. Nothing, we know, is visible when light radiates in pure space. Whatever is distinctly seen is some form that obstructs the free radiation of light rays. Such forms, in principle at least, are the opposite of light (darkness) in essence. All visible forms are thus darkness materialized. In the place of ordinary light, what is Real is Consciousness. The darkness inherent in It, materialized, assumes the form of the appearance of the real-unreal opposites.

Surprisingly enough, nothing is said in this verse about the one Reality, for all that is to be said was stated as early as at the end of verse 3. It needs no further clarification. Therefore, instead of repeating it, an analogy is given here that helps one intuitively perceive the Reality: the well-known rope-snake analogy. No matter how many times, how many people, mistake a piece of rope for a snake and become frightened, it never really becomes a snake. It continues to be the rope. Likewise, whatever the various theories and hypotheses scientists and philosophers formulate concerning what is Real, these ideas never affect what really exists. Such theories are nothing but ideas that took shape in the ever-existing Consciousness. The very same Consciousness appears as the world theorized about as well as the theorizing mind. This certainty attained, one feels, one merges back gently into the Reality, also represented by the syllable AUM, wherein no preference for the ideas of the real and the unreal has any role to play.

Translation & explanation of Verse-7

“This exists,” “This exists,” thus what has existence above everything
Alone is Real; everything else is fleeting and thus unreal.
The changeful apparent forms that clay assumes are all unreal;
The clay that underlies these forms alone is found to be real when well thought of.

(“Asthy asthy ennu sakalopari nilpathonne
Sathyam samasthavum anithyam asathyam aakum
Mrithin vikaaraam athasathyam ithinkal okke
Varthippathorkkil oru mrithithu sathyam athre”):

Ultimately what is Real? Answering this one question is the task all philosophers and scientists have before them. An infallible method acceptable to all has to exist in order to discriminate the real from the unreal. The present verse clears the path of this method in a scientific way by delineating the characteristic features of the real and the unreal.

We began the present enquiry admitting the existence of the apparent world and examining its essential components. It is changeful, and this is the reason for distrusting its realness. What then is to be counted as real? That which ultimately exists, that which externally exists, is real. The apparent world does not seem to be real ultimately, for an element of insubstantiality is evident in what appears to be. A piece of cloth, for example, disappears in the being of yarn. Yarn, in turn, disappears in the existence of cotton fibre, and fibre finally in the constituent elements. These elements too ultimately disappear in the being of Consciousness. The being of Consciousness, on the other hand, has nothing causal behind it in which It disappears, for It is conscious of its own beingness. Thus we are provided with an infallible path leading us to what is ultimately real, through which we arrive at the certainty we are in search of. Almost same is what the modern science resorts to in its search for reality, except that scientists do not admit that names, mental images and objects together make up the world. The aggregate of perceptible objects alone, in their perception, constitutes the world. And what ultimately underlies the material appearance – energy – is thought of by them as real.

Modern science too, thus in principle, admits, what really exists is that which we finally come to when advancing our search like, “This is real,” “This is real.” Yet, what essentially that reality – energy – is, remains a conundrum. Vedanta, by defining the unreal as that which is changeful and fleeting, helps us in this matter. How does this criterion help us evaluate the conclusion science has arrived at? Is the reality thus arrived at, particle or wave, changeless or changeful, eternal or fleeting, one or many? Though the scientists wish it to be one, the energy they actually came across is not one, but of many forms, each different in its intensity and nature. The lifespan of some of them is less than even a hundred-thousandth fraction of a second. Such dissimilarities as weak force, strong force and neutral force have also been discovered among them. In short, the ultimate reality scientists know of is not one, not eternal, and not changeless. Provable both as particle and wave, and for that matter, as substance and no-substance, it remains a mystery for them. What does then underlie these mysterious, fleeting, changeful, multiple forms of energy? The conclusion Guru comes to in the present study is that the underlying factor is the Consciousness that knows all these forms of energy.

In order to help us methodically decide what eternal Reality ultimately underlies all the apparent existences, Guru here conveniently makes use of the pot-clay analogy, which is very famous in classical Vedanta. Pot, pan, plate, cup or whatever be the apparent form one clay-substance assumes, they never cease to be clay in substance, and clay never ceases to be clay either. Likewise is the Consciousness-Substance (Chith) that assumes the forms of countless names, countless mental images, and countless perceptible objects. Even when appearing as all these, It never ceases to be Consciousness in essence, nor does Its existence ever cease to be.

The one everlasting Consciousness (Chith), what ultimately exists (Sath), radiantly manifests itself everlastingly. This radiant self-manifestation of Consciousness is known in Vedanta as bhaana. It causes the unfoldment of Its own ananda content as pleasurable, painful or indifferent experiences as well. This is true whether one realizes it being so or remains completely ignorant of it, as is clarified in the next verse.


Do not worship domonous deity. Do not encourage religious superstitions. Never abuse other religions.
From the book "Sree Narayana Guru Vaikhari".
Compiled and Edited by Dr. T. Bhaskaran.

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