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Adi Shankaracharya Quotes - 108 Quotes of Jagadguru Adi Shankara Quotes and Sayings

Adi Shankaracharya Quotes are collected mainly from books, newspapers and talks. This 108 quotes have been collected over a period of 10 years. Jagadguru Adi Shankara quotes kindles thoughts and and provides new insights to a student of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism).

Forgive me
Oh, Shiva
my three great sins!

I came on a pilgrimage to Kashi forgetting
that you are omnipresent.

In thinking about you
I forgot that You are beyond thought.

In praying to You
I forgot that You are beyond words.

108 Quotes of Jagadguru Adi Shankara Quotes and Sayings

Realizing everything to be Brahman itself, the wise man should then dwell in eternal bliss with his mind full of the essence of pure consciousness.

Just as it is water alone that appears as waves and tides, so does the self alone appear as many universes.

The self always shines as unconditioned for the wise and always as conditioned for the ignorant.

The distinction between the self and the not-self (body) is unnecessary for the wise.

Samadhi, whose other name is knowledge, is the forgetfulness of all mental activity by first making thought changeless and then identifying the consciousness with Brahman.

The sun shines on the earthen pot but as the sun is not destroyed when the earthen pot is destroyed; in the same way the soul gives light to body and the soul is also not destroyed when the body is dead.

Our own sense organs are our enemies but if won over, they turn to be friends.

He is truly rich who is fully contented.

He has won the world who has won his mind.

Youth, wealth and age are unstable like the drops of water on lotus leaves.

The annihilation of ignorance is salvation.
The charity at right time is precious.
Truth is that which helps the living beings.
One’s own pure mind is the greatest pilgrimage.
That is knowledge that helps in getting united to the Brahman

Oh Lord, even after realising that the Truth that
There is no real difference between Jiva and Brahman,
I beg to state that I am Yours and not that You are mine.
The wave belongs to the ocean, not the ocean to the waves.
When the same God resides in you, in me and in others, how can you become intolerant and get angry with someone.
He is the knower of the self to whom the ideas of “me” and “mine” have become quite meaningless.

External attachment is attachment to sense objects. Internal attachment is self-identification with the ego and the modifications of the mind. The dispassionate man, absorbingly devoted to Brahman, is alone able to renounce both...He who has known the reality of Brahman cannot continue to feel attachment to this world.

He who feels attachment has not known Brahman. He remains deluded and sense bound.

Like an image in a dream the world is troubled by love, hatred and other poisons. So long as the dream lasts, the image appears to be real; but on awaking it vanishes.

In consequence of possessing diverse attributes, the Supreme Existence appears manifold, but when the attributes are annihilated, unity is restored.

In consequence of those diverse attributes, a variety of names and conditions are supposed proper to the spirit, just as a variety of tastes and colors are attributed to water.

When a great soul has found perfect tranquillity by freeing his mind from all distracting thoughts and completely realizing Brahman, then he no longer needs sacred places, moral disciplines, set hours, postures, directions, or objects for his meditation. His knowledge of the Atman depends upon no special circumstances or conditions.

There is a self-existent Reality. That Reality is the Witness of the three states of consciousness. That Reality is the knower in all states of consciousness – waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep. It is the Self.

The nature of one Reality must be known by one’s own clear spiritual perception; it cannot be know through a priest or saint. Similarly the form of the moon can only be known through one’s own eyes. How can it be known through others?

It is ignorance that causes us to identify ourselves with the body, the ego, the sense, or anything that is not the Atman. He is wise who overcomes this ignorance by devotion to the Atman.

Treasure hidden beneath the ground does not come out by merely calling out its name. Treasure is found through competent instruction, excavation, the removal of stones and such other things lying above it. Similarly, the transparent truth of the Self, which is hidden by Maya and its effects, is to be attained through the instructions of a knower of Brahman, followed by reflection, meditation and so forth. Truth of the self cannot be attained through perverted arguments. (Vivekachudamani 65)

The first step in liberation is the extreme aversion to all perishable things, then follow calmness, self-control and forbearance. ( Vivekachudamani 69)

Those fools who are tied to the sense objects by the stout chord of attachment, which is every difficult to snap, undergo numerous births and death and countless miseries. (Vivekachudamani 75)

He who has conquered the sense objects alone is fit for liberation. ( Vivekachudamani 78)

Sense objects in the form of shark drown devotees who attempt to cross the ocean of Samsara. This shark can only be killed with the sword of dispassion. (Vivekachudamani 79 – 80)

Perception of an object is but oblation to the fire of knowledge.

Where memory appears, it forms a show of something seen before – a distant something not now here.

The see-er, seeing and the seen – of these, each is pure consciousness. With that, reality is found. Whatever is not that alone is like a flower in the sky; it is not really there at all.

I am that unmixed absolute, just that one perfect happiness, attained in depth of dreamless sleep.

I am not the jiva. But I am Peace, because my Guru has said so.

Acceptance by firm judgment as true of what the scriptures and the guru instruct, is called by sages shraddha or faith, by means of which the Reality is perceived.

Maya is God’s eternal higher power and consisting of three modes. The entire world is created by it. Sages infer it from its acts. It is neither existence, nor non-existence, nor both. It is neither united nor not-united nor both. It is neither with parts nor without parts nor both. It is highly prodigious and defies description.

It is obviated only by the knowledge of Pure Brahman, one without a second. It has three characteristic modes— sattva, rajas and tamas well distinguished from one another by their acts.

Although Brahman manifest himself in the cosmos, He still transcends it.

Yoga (union) is really viyoga (disunion) for in this state the yogi is disconnected, detached from all troubles.

That which is revealed completely to one established in samadhi, by negation through statements like ‘not this’, ‘not this’, [that which] is beyond the three states [of consciousness], the one non­dual, I am indeed that supreme eternal Brahman.

Adi Shankaracharya’s concept of Advaita or absolute monism:

The Supreme Spirit or the Brahman is alone real and the individual self is only the Supreme Self and no other. Brahman is supreme intelligence, devoid of attributes, form, changes or limitations. It is self-luminous and all pervading and is without a second. The empirical world is unreal, an illusion born of ignorance. The jiva continues in Samsara only as long as it retains attachment due to ignorance or Maya. If it casts off the veil of Maya through knowledge or Jnana it will realize its identity with the Brahman and get merged into it.

Say not that It is one, as there can be no second, nothing other than That. There is neither uniqueness nor commonality, neither entity nor non-entity; this secondless One is neither void nor plenum. How can I convey this Supreme Wisdom?  (Source: Main Currents in Indian Culture - By S. Natarajan)

Silence is the first door to spiritual eminence. (Adi Shankaracharya in Vivekachudamani)

As ritual practices continue it becomes a fad to make the ritual performances glamorous and gradually more advanced and elaborate practices are introduced. At this stage, these ritualistic practices are no longer a means either of channeling devotional feelings or of fueling spiritual unfoldment. They become social events, a form of entertainment. And a way to display social status. These practices become cultural activities. But even before they degenerate into cultural activities, these ritual practices have little or no spiritual value.  (Source: The Tradition of the Himalayan Masters Pandit Rajmani, Ph.D. Tigunait)

Spirituality declines when it falls into the hands of people who are weak and without control over their senses. (Shankaracharya in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (IV.2))

Bhajagovindam Quotes

The company of the good weans one away from false attachments; when attachment is lost, delusion ends; when delusion ends; the mind becomes unwavering and steady. An unwavering and steady mind is merited for Jeevan Mukti (liberation even in this life).

Don’t identify with wealth, relatives, your youth or your physical beauty – all those can be lost in a second. Knowing that all those are maya, may you realize Brahman.

One may have bathed in the holy Ganges or even in the Ganga Sagar; he may have performed many charities and observed many vows; yet unless one has understood the Brahman (Truth), he will not gain Moksha even after a hundred lives.

Who can disturb the peace and happiness of a man, if he has the true spirit of renunciation and has controlled his desires, even if he be the poorest, sleeping only in the temple halls or under trees or on the bare ground and just with a deer skin to cover.

Give up the desire that you should get a lot of money. Fill up your desireless mind with good thoughts. Be satisfied in your mind with the wealth that comes along with your karma.

The water drop playing on a lotus petal has an extremely uncertain existence; so also is life ever unstable. Understand, the very world is consumed by disease and conceit, and is riddle with pangs.

Seeing the seductive female form do not fall a prey to frenzied delusion. The form is only a modification of flesh and fat. Think well thus in your mind again and again.

As long as you have the ability to earn money, so long will your dependents be attached to you. After that, when you live with an infirm body no one would even speak to you a word.

(Bhajagovindam is a devotional composition in Sanskrit by Adi Shankaracharya.)

Adi Shankaracharya quotes on Advaita Vedanta

Mind, nor intellect, nor ego, feeling;
Sky nor earth nor metals am I.
I am He, I am He, Blessed spirit, I am He!
Who is your wife? Who is your son? Strange is this samsara. Of whom are you? Where have you come from? Brother, ponder over these truths.

Adi Shankaracharya Quotes on Bhagavad Gita

From a clear knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita all the goals of human existence become fulfilled.

Bhagavad Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the teachings of the Vedic scriptures.

There are many who go with matted locks, many who have clean shaven heads, many whose hairs have been plucked out; some are clothed in saffron, yet others in various colors – all just for a livelihood. Seeing truth revealed before them, still the foolish ones see it not.

Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda. Oh fool! Rules of Grammar will not save you at the time of your death.

Adi Shankaracharya Teachings on Guru in Bhajagovindam

Trust yourself wholly to the lotus feet of the Guru,
Freed from the shackles of samsara,
With your senses and mind controlled in this manner,
You will see God residing in your heart

Please note: That which helps in realizing the Brahman in you is the real Guru. Guru can be a human or living or non-living being. It can be even a combination of any of these.

Adi Shankaracharya Quotes on Brahman

Before knowing Brahman, every being – himself being Brahman – is really already identical with the Totality. But ignorance superimposes on every being the idea that he is not Brahman, that he is not the Totality!

We should abandon the idea that we are not Brahman! Not to be the Whole – This is the idea which is due to ignorance! This idea is removed by the Knowledge of Brahman. But the Knowledge of Brahman cannot create nor annihilate a real entity!

We are nothing but Atman – nothing but Brahman, who is always the same, homogeneous, one and without a second, immutable, unborn, free from decay, immortal, inaccessible to fear! Therefore the expression, “He is merged in Brahman”, is only a figurative expression, merely indicating the rupture – which is the result of the Knowledge – of the uninterrupted chain of reincarnations for the man who, until then, had maintained an opposite view.

(Source: The commentary on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad by Adi Shankaracharya)

Four Prerequisites for the Seeker of Moksha – according to Adi Shankaracharya

Adi Shankaracharya talks in Brahma Sutra Bhasya about four requirements that is needed in advance to the seeker of Moksha. They are:
  1. Discrimination between the eternal and the non-eternal.
  2. Dispassion for the enjoyment of the fruits of actions either here or in the other world.
  3. Possession of control of mind and senses, turning away from things of senses, and developing forbearance concentration and faith.
  4. Desire for liberation. (Source: Life and Teachings of Adi Shankaracharya – P. George Victor – Andhra University Philosophical Studies, No.1 Page 128 - 129)

Adi Shankara Quotes – How To Remove Ignorance?

Outward ritual cannot destroy ignorance, because they are mutually contradictory. 

Knowledge attained through self realization alone destroys ignorance. Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than inquiry. ‘Who am I?’ How was the universe born? 

Who is the maker? What is the material cause? This is the kind of inquiry one should do.
When the mind is purified like a mirror, knowledge is revealed in it. Care should therefore be taken to purify the mind.

Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with ignorance. Knowledge alone destroys ignorance, as light destroy darkness.

Just as a jar is all earth, so is also the body, all consciousness. The division, therefore, into Self and non-Self is made by the ignorant to no purpose.

For a peaceful life – Quotes from Sadhana Panchakam of Adi Shankaracharya

Study the scriptures daily. Thereafter, perform the duties enjoined in them. Dedicate your actions to the Lord. Banish all desires from your mind. Cleanse your heart of all sins. Try to see the faults and illusory nature of the worldly pleasures. Pursue the knowledge of the Self sincerely. Get released from the bondage of your home soon – (means to attain bliss while living on earth).

Be firm in your devotion to God. Inculcate and enhance the virtues of mental quietude. Renounce all selfish actions.

The Atman Is One, Without a Second

The self reveals itself to the pure-minded. It is self-luminous. Though it is one, it is seen as many in different intellects, just like the sun, though only one, is seen reflected in the waters of different pots. I am that Self which is of the nature of eternal knowledge. (Hastamalakiyam 6 of Adi Shankaracharya)

The Atman is one, without a second. It reveals itself to the pure-minded people.

Objects like pot and cloth are inert. Hence, they require another light to illumine them. But the Atman is of the nature of light. Just as the sun is self-luminous and does not require any other light, even so, the self-luminous Atman does not require any other light to reveal its existence.

Sun is one, but it has many reflections in different water pots. Even so, the Atman is one, but is seen as many while reflection in different intellects. I am that Atman, which is of the nature of eternal knowledge.

Nirguna Manasa Puja Quotes – Adi Shankaracharya

Disciple – Where is the invocation (avahana) of the Fullness, and the seat (asana) of the All-supporting, how is there washing of the feet (padya), offering of water (arghya) and sipping (achamana) for the limpid and Pure One?

Disciple doubts how he can perform puja and other rituals to the formless Brahman. Guru clears his doubts by explaining the symbolisms in rituals.

Guru – I worship the symbol of the Self (atmalinga) shining like a jewel and situated in the heart-lotus within the city of illusion, with the ablutions (abhisheka) of the unsullied mind from the river of faith, always, with the flowers of samadhi, for the sake of non-rebirth.

‘I am the One, the Ultimate’. Thus one should invoke (avahayet) Lord Siva. Then one should prepare the seat (asana) that is thinking of the self-established Self.

I have no contact with the dust of virtue and sin. Thus should the wise one offer washing of the feet (padya) that is such knowledge destroying all sins.

One should pour forth that handful of water which is the root – ignorance heldfrom time without beginning. This is verily the water- offering (arghya) of the symbol of the Self.
Indra and other beings drink only the tiny fraction of a drop from the waves of the bliss ocean of Brahman. That meditation is considered as the sipping (achamana).

Quotes from Atma Bodha of Adi Shankaracharya

Just as the fire is the direct cause for cooking, so without Knowledge no emancipation can be had. Compared with all other forms of discipline Knowledge of the Self is the one direct means for liberation.

Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with or opposed to ignorance. Knowledge does verily destroy ignorance as light destroys deep darkness.

The Soul appears to be finite because of ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed the Self which does not admit of any multiplicity truly reveals itself by itself: like the Sun when the clouds pass away.

Constant practice of knowledge purifies the Self (‘Jivatman’), stained by ignorance and then disappears itself – as the powder of the ‘Kataka-nut’ settles down after it has cleansed the muddy water.

Quotes from Dakshinamurti Stotra of Adi Shankaracharya

The world seems to be different from Supreme Self but not so, He gives Moksha for those who realize that what is there in the world is there in the Individual Self.

The knowledge of the Supreme Self pass through every individual and universe like the light-rays of a lamp when covered by a pot with many holes.

People, who consider the body, senses and ego as the self are blind, deluded in Maya; those who come out of this illusion attain Moksha.

Hastamalaka Quotes

All the creatures in this world wish to experience only happiness.

But, worldly happiness born out of the contact between the senses and the objects has two defects:

1) it is always attended with unavoidable misery, and

2) it is not eternal.

Some rare virtuous people comprehend this fact and regard worldly happiness as misery itself.

So they develop dispassion and try to come out of the cycle of repeated birth and death which is caused by the ignorance of the Self.

Quotes from Maneesha Panchakam of Adi Shankara

Maneesha Panchakam is a Sanskrit text in the form of questions written by Adi Shankara and it brings out the essence of Advaita Vedanta. It consists of the questions asked by a Chandala and the answers given by Shankaracharya.

If a person has attained the firm knowledge that he is not an object of perception, but is that pure consciousness which shines clearly in the states of waking, dream and deep sleep, and which, as the witness of the whole universe, dwells in all bodies from that of the Creator Brahma to that of the ant, then he is my Guru, irrespective of whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmana. This is my conviction.

I am Brahman (pure consciousness). It is pure consciousness that appears as this universe. All this universe is only something conjured up by me because of avidya (nescience) which is composed of three gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas). One who has attained this definite realization about Brahman which is bliss itself, eternal, supreme and pure, is my Guru, whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmana.