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Vivekachudamani Quotes and Teachings - A Collection of Quotes From Adi Shankaracharya's Vivekachudamani

Quotes and teachings from the famous Vivekachudamani text of Adi Shankaracharya.  Vivekachudamani is an important literary work that delves into the Advaita philosophy.
  • The resting of the mind steadfastly on its Goal (viz. Brahman) after having detached itself from manifold sense-objects by continually observing their defects, is called Shama or calmness. (Verse 22)
  • Clouds are brought in by the wind and again driven away by the same agency. Similarly, man’s bondage is caused by the mind, and Liberation too is caused by that alone. (Verse 172)
  • The dull-witted man thinks he is only the body; the book-learned man identifies himself with the mixture of body and soul. But the sage, possessed of realization through discrimination, looks upon the eternal Atman as his Self and thinks, “I am Brahman (the Self of all)”. (Verse 160)
  • The pain of something like a weight on the head can be removed by others, but the pain of things like hunger can be put an end to by no-one but oneself. A sick man is seen to get better by taking the appropriate medicine - not through treatment undertaken by others. Reality can be experienced only with the eye of understanding, not just by a scholar. What the moon is like must be seen with one's own eyes. How can others do it for you?
  • Action is for the purification of the mind, not for the understanding of reality. The recognition of reality is through discrimination, and not by even tens of millions of actions.
  • Proper analysis leads to the realization of the reality of the rope, and this is the end of the pain of the fear of the great snake caused by delusion.
  • The realization of the truth is seen to depend on meditation on statements about what is good, not on bathing or donations or by hundreds of yogic breathing exercises.
  • Achievement of the goal depends primarily on a fit seeker. Things like locality and time are merely secondary in this matter.
  • Who but yourself can free you from the bonds of the fetters of things like ignorance, lust and the consequences of your actions - even in hundreds of thousands of years?
  • Liberation is achieved not by observances or by analysis, nor by deeds or learning, but only by the realization of one's oneness with God, and by no other means.
  • People may quote the scriptures, make sacrifices to the gods, perform actions and pay homage to the deities, but there is no liberation without recognizing the oneness of one's own true being.
  • ‘Brahman is the Truth and the world is unreal.’ It is this realization that is considered discrimination between the permanent and the impermanent.
  • A buried treasure will not come out just by calling it, but needs a good map, digging, removal of obstructing stones and so on to get at it. In the same way the pure reality, hidden by the effects of Maya, cannot be achieved by just abusing it or through mental trick, - you can reach it only by instruction from a knower of God, reflection, meditation and so on.
  • He alone is considered qualified to inquire into the supreme reality who has discrimination, detachment, the six mental qualities, and a burning desire for liberation. (Verse 17)
  • The peaceful state of the mind when it rests constantly upon the contemplation of the goal, after having again and again detached itself from the chaos and sense objects, through a process of continuous observation of their defects, is called ‘Sama’ (Verse 18)
  • That by which one understands the exact import of the scriptures as well as the pregnant words of advice of the preceptor is called ‘Shraddha’ by the wise; by this alone does Reality become manifestly clear. (Verse 25)

  • Let people quote the Scriptures and sacrifice to the gods, let them perform rituals and worship the deities, but there is no Liberation without the realization of one’s identity with the Atman, no, not even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahmas put together. (Verse 6)
  • Work leads to purification of the mind, not to perception of the Reality. The realization of Truth is brought about by discrimination and not in the least by ten million of acts. (Verse 11)
  • Success depends essentially on a qualified aspirant; time, place and other such means are but supplementary in this regard. (Verse 14)
  • Faith (Shraddha), devotion and the Yoga of meditation – these are mentioned by the Shruti as the immediate factors of Liberation in the case of a seeker; whoever abides in these gets Liberation from the bondage of the body.
  • It is verily through the touch of Ignorance that thou who art the Supreme Self findest thyself under the bondage of the non-Self, whence alone proceeds the round of births and deaths. The fire of knowledge, kindled by the discrimination between these two, burns up the effects of Ignorance together with their root.
  • The true nature of things is to be known personally, through the eye of clear illumination, and not through a sage: what the moon exactly is, is to be known with one’s own eyes; can others make him know it?
  • A disease does not leave off if one simply utter the name of the medicine, without taking it; (similarly) without direct realization one cannot be liberated by the mere utterance of the word Brahman.
  • The Scriptures consisting of many words are a dense forest which merely causes the mind to ramble. Hence men of wisdom should earnestly set about knowing the true nature of the Self.
  • As a treasure hidden underground requires (for its extraction) competent instruction, excavation, the removal of stones and other such things lying above it and (finally) grasping, but never comes out by being (merely) called out by name, so 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, but not through perverted arguments.
  • Faith, devotion, and the yoga of meditation. These are mentioned by the Vedas as the immediate factors of liberation in the case of a seeker; Whoever abides by these, gets liberation from the bondage of the body, which is the conjuring of ignorance.
  • Lust at the sight of a young woman springs from ignorance and delusion. Reason points out inwardly time and again, that bodies are only the combination of flesh, blood and fat.
  • Never boast of your wealth, friends, and youth. Time may steal away all these in the twinkling of an eye. Giving up attachment to this world which is full of illusion, try to realize Brahman soon and merge in it.
  • The man who discriminates between the Real and the unreal, whose mind is turned away from the unreal, who possesses calmness and the allied virtues, and who is longing for Liberation, is alone considered qualified to enquire after Brahman.
  • A firm conviction of the mind to the effect that Brahman is real and the universe unreal, is designated as discrimination (Viveka) between the Real and the unreal.
  • Vairagya or renunciation is the desire to give up all transitory enjoyments (ranging) from those of an (animate) body having already known their defects from observation, instruction and so forth.
  • The resting of the mind steadfastly on its Goal (viz. Brahman) after having detached itself from manifold sense-objects by continually observing their defects, is called Shama or calmness.

What greater fool is there than the man who having obtained a rare human body neglects to achieve the real end of this life, which is liberation or Moksha.

Let people quote scriptures and perform sacrifice to the gods, let them perform rituals and worship the deities, there is no Liberation for anyone without the realization of one’s identity with the Atman, no, not even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahma’s put together.

Let the wise and erudite man, having commenced the practice of the realization of the Atman, give up all works performed with a view to gaining more sense enjoyment and try to cut loose the bonds of birth and death.

Work is for the purification of the mind, not for the perception of the reality. The realization of Truth is brought about by discrimination and not in the least by ten million of acts.

Work is for the purification of the mind, not for the perception of the Reality. The realization of Truth is brought about by discrimination and not in the least by ten millions of acts.

The man of discrimination between the real and the unreal, whose mind is turned away from the unreal, who possesses calmness and the allied virtues, and is longing for Liberation, is alone considered qualified to inquire after Brahman.

The resting of the mind steadfastly on its Goas (viz., Brahman) after having detached itself from the manifold of sense objects by continually observing their defects is called Sama or Calmness.

Success depends entirely on a qualified aspirant. Time, place and other factors are but secondary help. (Vivekachudamani, 14)

He who discriminates between the Real and the unreal, whose mind is turned away from the unreal, who possesses the six fold virtue like calmness, and who has longing for liberation — such a man alone is considered qualified to inquire after Brahman. (Vivekachudamani, 17)

The central theme of Vedanta is that man is essentially divine but is not conscious of it because of ignorance. The goal of life is to realize this divinity. According to Sri Shankara, a fool who does not strive towards this goal is a suicide since he kills himself by holding on to the unreal. (Vivekachudamani, 2)

Those fools who are tied to these sense objects (like the body) by the stout cord of attachment, so very difficult to snap, come and go (are born and die), up and down (in the various worlds), carried helplessly by the powerful emissary of their karma. (Vivekachudamani, 75)

In the forest of sense objects prowls a large tiger called the mind. Let those good ones with a longing for liberation never visit there.

May the wise and learned man give up all actions which are motivated by desires and start the practice of rediscovering the Self and thereby attain freedom from the bondage of birth and death.

Selfless work and charitable acts help to purify the mind but they do not, by themselves, contribute to the perception of Reality. The discovery of the Self is brought about only by discriminative analysis and never by any number of actions.

The fear and sorrow created by the delusory serpent on the rope can be ended only after fully ascertaining the truth of the rope which is available for recognition only through steady and balanced thinking.

Vivekachudamani on Brahman

Surely, this whole universe is Brahman! – Such is the august verdict of the Atharva Veda. Therefore, all that exists is Brahman and nothing but Brahman.

Under no condition can that which is superimposed upon any substratum, have an existence independent of that substratum. That is why everything that is manifested before our eyes in other words, this whole universe is the supreme Brahman, the one Reality, the One without a second, pure Being, pure Intelligence, the Unconditioned, the silent Peace, the Unlimited without beginning or end, the Witness who remains apart from all activity absolute Bliss.

And Brahman transcends the world of multiplicity produced by maya that other name for ignorance. He is eternal and can never be touched by a shadow of suffering. He is indivisible, incommensurable, without form, undifferentiated, inexpressible and immutable. He shines with his own Light!
Vivekachudamani (231, 237-38)

 Vivekachudamani Teachings on the fall of a Man of Wisdom

No great danger is there for the man of wisdom than carelessness about his own real nature. From this comes delusion, thence egoism. This is followed by bondage and then by misery. (Verse 322)

Finding even a wise man hankering after sense objects, forgetfulness torments him through the evil propensities of the intellect, as a woman torments her doting paramour. (Verse 323)

If the mind ever so slightly strays from the ideal and becomes outgoing, then it goes down and down, just as a ball, inadvertently dropped on a flight of stairs, bounces down from one step to another. (Verse 325)