‘I’ – An Introduction “

If man understands his intrinsic nature as ‘I AM THIS’, then for what or for whom is man still getting agitated?”- says the Shruti (Br.U.4.4.12). True knowledge of the Self is the only panacea to relieve us from the travails and all the troubles- this is the purport of the above statement. Sri Shankaracharya, who single mindedly aspired for solace and wellbeing of all mankind, made it possible for one and all to have access to the True Knowledge of the Self by creating several landmark compositions. The Teaching – “first know your true Self” – is not restricted to any caste or religion country, faith or dharma. Every aspirant seeking to uplifting of oneself must listen to His preachings. This is why He is, in true sense, The Jagadguru. Instead of simply resting after merely pointing a finger towards the direction of the goal – “True knowledge of the Self”, He strived with deep love and compassion to show us the path to reach the goal, and thus is well recognized as the guiding light, a leader for the whole world. Man’s aspirations, wishes, desires, predelictions, capacity of intellectual comprehension are all diverse in nature. It is for this reason that the Acharya, the Preceptor brought out several compositions, like commentaries, prakaranas (minorworks), stotras, and therefore enabled men of all classes and levels of intellectual abilities turn inwards towards “The Self” – Aatma. Among many such stellar compositions of Sri Shankaracharya, who is of unconditional love and compassion to all mankind, the two Prakaranas (minor works) – “Dashashloki” and “NirvanaShatka” stand distinguishingly specially high in spirituality.

It is purported to bring to the reader a brief summary of these Prakaranas – “Gurvashtaka, NirvanaShatka, and Dashashloki”, in this booklet – ” ‘I’ – An Introduction”, for the benefit of the seekers. God is not merely a creator of the universe. He also holds the responsibility to take care of it. He has made arrangements for food for the calf in the mother cow’s udder even before it is born. He has provided fertile land, sweet water, fresh air, light and everything for the lives he has created. But what are these human beings doing? Instead of lovingly sharing these things mutually and enjoying the benefits of the good things that He has created for them and living peacefully, they fight among themselves saying “this is mine and not yours” – and make hell of this beautiful universe. As long as “I and you”, “mine and yours” exist, battles and turmoils are unavoidable. Trespassing attempts continue to trouble us as long as there are fences and boundaries. The only avenue to bring down these fences is to properly understand these boundaries. In the ultimate reality these boundaries such as “I and you” do not really exist. It is like a painting in the sky or like the imagination of children, who call the shapes of clouds as elephant, horse and so on. Similarly people build many imaginations regarding the universe. The more one attempts to fathom their true nature, they go farther away and ultimately disappear. At this juncture, having erased the notion of “I and you”, the true self “I” and its meaning remain supreme, in their purest form. We see the concerted efforts of Sri Shankaracharya in this direction in His stellar composition – “Dashashloki”. Here, the Acharya, while negating all that is not Aatman, indicates in his original simple style, the true intrinsic nature of Aatman. It should be our dedication and endeavour to understand the true meaning of Dashashloki. As long as we wrongly identify “I” – oneself as the body it is natural that one develops affection in matters convenient to the body, and hatred towards things that are harmful to the body. These predelictions are those that strengthen one’s attachment to samsara even more. One has to steadily loosen the bonds like “I” and “mine” to the body, sense organs and the mind, if one desires liberation from this worldly bondage. One must reside in the seat of pure “Chidananda-Swaroopa”. Such an evolved noble soul has nothing yet left to attain. There are also no ‘karmas’ to get rid of.

In the “NirvanaShatka”, we will clearly see that one who has attained firm conviction that “I am indeed the very Shiva” and who is of the intrinsic nature of “NityaShuddha-Buddha-Mukta-Swaroopa”, will be liberated from the vicious clutches of the cycle of birth and death, and firmly established in a state of Absolute Bliss – none other than one’s true Self. Man must have a strong desire to live. But this desire should also have its limits. Even the learned find it hard to answer the question – what is the ultimate purpose and goal as to why everyone is expending one’s own precious life caught in the web of fulfilling one’s desire for wealth, land, property, treasure, authority, fame and so on. The enthusiasm that prevails during the process of fulfilling one’s desire cease to persist soon after one is satisfied having achieved his desire. What next? There is a sort of vacuum created. The future would be shrouded in darkness once again. The guidance of a capable, wise and kind Guru is the only thing that can indeed bring some light under such circumstances. Therefore there is no other option left for us but to surrender at the Lotus Feet of Sadguru. “Na Guroradhikam , Na Guroradhikam”. The above statements are with reference to the stotra composed by Sri Sankaracharya. The import of each stotra could be seen further in this booklet in greater detail. It may be noted that these are neither a direct translation, nor the direct summary of the verses in Acharya’s stotras. It is a reflection of the spirit hidden in these stotras. They are intended to aid us – seekers to understand ourselves deeper by reciting these stotras with the backdrop of their meanings. It is quite likely that this could trigger our minds to think independently and moment, at that moment of realization of one’s desire. Then it goes again, and struggles in its chase of yet another new born desire, yet unfulfilled. For a moment let us assume we fulfill all our cherished desires – a husband or a wife, wealth, a grand house, affectionate relatives, and so on. Then what next? We are still not contented. Not s a t isfi e d . Wh e r e d o e s o n e g e t ‘contentment”? Guru’s Lotus Feet are the ultimate last resort. We believe that right education enlightens our lives. Accordingly we have learnt by-heart all the Vedas and the six fold subjects (shadanga) associated with them. We have achieved proficiency in the shastras. We are capable of composing beautiful prose and stunning poetry. In spite of having possessed all the above faculties, will our life be purposeful, fruitful, if one does not seek solace in the Lotus Feet of the Sadguru? Some would have earned recognition from one and all, amassed treasure and wealth. They would have also gained reputation abroad. They are known for their impeccable character and superior conduct, enough to make them feel that there is none equal to them. But just stop for a moment to ponder- would these fame and name provide them that eternal bliss and peace of mind? For that, one must seek solace at the Lotus Feet of Sri Sadguru alone. A few fortunate ones would inherit the property or be the heir to a kingdom handed over from generations of their lineage. Some, by virtue of their bravery, strength and accomplishments, would have conquered a kingdom, and the royal throne. Even be a demigod to several smaller princes. So what? When, at last, in this life, one is confronted and challenged by an even more powerful emperor – the Yama, who else can save them, except the Lotus Feet of the Sadguru? Having generously given away innumerable valuable worldly objects in charity, one may have acquired fame throughout the length and breadth of this land and also in other countries. He might even have, under his command, several invaluable treasures in the world, acquired by his name and fame. How long and enduring are all these worldly treasures, fame and name? How far does name, fame, treasures protect us, if one’s mind does not receive guidance and blessings of kindness from the Lotus Feet of the Sadguru? 

I am not interested in either pleasure or Yoga. I do not need any regal grandeur or accessories like horses and elephants. I am disinterested in women and wealth. I have renounced all of these worldly things. But I dont know what to keep in all of these. The primary question -“What next?”- is looming large and troubling me. The Lotus Feet of the Sadguru alone must guide me along the way forward. I have no mind to stay at home. I have developed a distaste for the life in the wild forests. I have lost all enthusiasm in all worldly activities and engagements. My mind is turned away from the pleasures of the body and all worldly objects associated with my body. The realization of utter futility of worldly life has generated in me, a feeling of disgust. All these worldly things are unwanted. But I am at crossroads – at a loss as to what I would need now. Only the omniscient preceptor – the Sadguru must show me the way forward. I have no other avenue left but to seek the Lotus Feet of the Sadguru.