Vivek Chudamani by Adi Shankaracharya
The Viveka Chudamani is one of the most famous work of
Adi Shankara. Literal meaning of Viveka Chudamani is “The Crest-Jewel of
Wisdom” and it expounds advaita vedanta philosophy.
Viveka Chudamani consists of 580 verses in Sanskrit, It
has the form of dialogue between the master and the disciple on the
nature of the Atman and the ways to realize the self. It begins with Adi
Shankara's prayer to his guru Sri Govinda Bhagavatpada and concludes
with the description of state of Self Realisation.
1. I prostrate myself before Govinda, the true Guru
and ultimate Bliss, who is the unattainable resort of all scriptures and
2. Human nature is the hardest of creaturely states to obtain, even
more so that of manhood. Brahminhood is rarer still, and beyond that
dedication to the path of Vedic religion. Beyond even that there is
discrimination between self and non-self, but liberation by persistence
in the state of the unity of God and self is not to be achieved except
by the meritorious deeds of hundreds of thousands of lives.
3. These three things are hard to achieve, and are attained only by
the grace of God - human nature, the desire for liberation, and finding
refuge with a great sage.
4. He is a suicide who has somehow achieved human birth and even
manhood and full knowledge of the scriptures but does not strive for
self-liberation, for he destroys himself by clinging to the unreal.
5. Who could be more foolish than the man who has achieved the
difficult attainment of a human body and even manhood but still neglects
his true good?
6. People may quote the scriptures, make sacrifices to the gods,
perform actions and pay homage to the deities, but there is no
liberation without recognising the oneness of one's own true being - not
even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahmas (countless millions of years).
7. Scripture declares that there is no hope of immortality by means
of wealth, so it is evident that liberation cannot be brought about by
8. So let the man of understanding strive for liberation, abandoning
desire for the enjoyment of external aims and pleasures, and after
becoming the pupil of a good and great teacher, let him fix his mind on
the goal he indicates.
9. Sunk in the sea of samsara, one should oneself rouse oneself by
holding onto right understanding until one reaches the state of the
attainment of union.
10. Abandoning all actions and breaking free from the bonds of
achievements, the wise and intelligent should apply themselves to
11. 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.
12. Proper analysis leads to the realisation of the reality of the
rope, and this is the end of the pain of the fear of the great snake
caused by delusion.
13. The realisation 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.
14. Achievement of the goal depends primarily on a fit seeker. Things
like locality and time are merely secondary in this matter.
15. So he who would know his own nature should practise meditation on
the subject after taking refuge with a guru who is a true knower of God
and an ocean of compassion.
The Four Perfections
16. It is the wise and learned man, skilled in
sorting out the pros and cons of an argument who is really endowed with
the qualities necessary for self-realisation.
17. Discriminating and dispassionate, endowed with peace and similar
qualities, and longing for liberation - such is the man who is
considered fit to practise seeking for God.
18. The wise talk here of four qualities, possessed of which one will
succeed, but without which one will fail.
19. First is listed discrimination between unchanging and changing
realities, and after that dispassion for the enjoyment of the fruits of
action both here and hereafter, and then the group of six qualities
including peace and of course the desire for liberation.
20. "God is the Truth and the world is unreal." It is this
realisation that is considered discrimination between the permanent and
21. Dispassion is the turning away from what can be seen and heard
and so on in everything which is impermanent, from the body up to the
highest heavenly states.
22. The settling of the mind in its goal, by turning away from the
mass of objects through observing their defects again and again, is
known as peace.
23. The establishment of the senses each in its own source by means
of turning away from their objects is known as control. The supreme
restraint is in the mind function not being involved in anything
24. Bearing all afflictions without retaliation and without mental
disturbance is what is known as patience.
25. The holding on to the knowledge of the truth of the Scriptures
and the guru's teaching is called faith. It is by means of this that
reality is grasped.
26. The continual holding onto the awareness of God alone -
continually, is known as concentration - not just mental self-
27. The wish to be freed by the knowledge of one's true nature from
such bonds as seeing oneself as the agent, which are contingent on the
body and created by ignorance - this is desire for liberation.
28. This desire for liberation can bear fruit through dispassion,
peacefulness etc. by the grace of the guru, even when only weak or
29. It is in a man who has strong dispassion and desire for
liberation though that peacefulness and so on are really fruitful.
30. But where there is a weakness in these qualities of renunciation
and desire for liberation, apparent peacefulness and such like have as
much substance as water in the desert.
31. Among the contributory factors of liberation, devotion stands
supreme, and it is the search for one's own true nature that is meant by
32. Others say that devotion is inquiry into the reality of one's own
nature. He who possesses the above qualities and would know the truth
about his own nature should take refuge with a wise guru who can free
him from his bonds.
33. The guru should be one who knows the scriptures, is blameless and
a supreme knower of God. He should be at peace in God, tranquil as a
fire that has run out of fuel. He should be a boundless ocean of
compassion and the friend of those who seek his protection.
34. After prostrating oneself with devotion before the guru and
satisfying him with prostrations, humble devotion and service, one
should ask him what one needs to know.
The Appeal to the Higher Self
35. Hail, lord, friend of those who bow before you,
and ocean of compassion. I have fallen into this sea of samsara. Save me
with a direct glance from your eye which bestows grace like nectar.
36. I am stricken by the unquenchable forest fire of samsara and
blown about by unforseeable winds of circumstances. Save me from death,
for I am afraid and take refuge in you, for I know of no one else to
37. Good and peaceful, great men living for the good of all, and
having themselves crossed the fearful torrent of becoming, with no
ulterior motive help others to cross too.
38. It is the nature of great souls to act spontaneously for the
relief of the distress of others, just as the moon here of itself
protects the earth parched by the heat of the fierce rays of the sun.
39. Pour upon me your sweet words, imbued with the taste of God's
bliss. They spring from your lips as if poured out of a jug, and are
pleasing to the ear. For I am tormented by samsara's afflictions, like
the flames of a forest fire, Lord. Blessed are those who receive even a
passing glance from your eyes.
40. How can I cross this sea of changing circumstances? What should I
do, what means employ? In your mercy, Lord, show me how to end the pain
of samsara, for I understand nothing.