Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 7, Verse 04


Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V

Index, Verse Index, Verse 1, Verse 2, Verse 3, Verse 4, Verse 5

Verse 04

naathmaa bhaaveshu no bhaavasthatraananthe nirananjane
ithyasaktho.asprihah shaantha etadevaahamaasthithah


Neither I am in the objects nor the objects are in me, who is by nature infinite and blemishless. Hence, disinterested (detached), desireless and peaceful, I abide in myself alone.


The blemishless subjective Self

The previous verse ends with the assertion that the Self abides in itself. It means that the Self is independent, self-existing, completely detached and has no relationship whatsoever with another entity or reality. The worlds and beings may arise in it, but it does not exist in them. They represent a completely different reality with no connection whatsoever with the subjective reality of the Self. It is as if there are two compartments in existence, and they never meet. The Self may participate in creation and produce it out of his own materiality, but none of that touches the Self or involves it.

The nondualistic view of the world is clear. There is only one reality, and it exists in itself. Whatever that appears other than that reality is not the same as the former. The cause does not transform into effect. Rather, it produces the effect without modifying itself through magic or maya, or the power of illusion. Just as the sun radiates its light into the world and illuminates it but is never present in it, the Self illuminates the worlds but is not present in them.

You may not understand it because you are accustomed to viewing the world with the duality of subject and object. You cannot push the world or its memory or things out of your mind. Our words are inadequate to explain the true nature of the Self. But this is the truth. The world is not in God, and God is not in the world. The Self is not in the body, and the body is not in the world. This is the summary of the first line in the verse. With this it becomes very clear that the Self and the world are separate realities.

When you think about it, you may recall the other assertion which is found in the Vedas which states that the Self exists in all and all exist in the Self. Seemingly, it contradicts this statement. Then, you may wonder which of the two is correct. Both statements are correct. It is true that the Self exists in the all as their very Self. It is also true that all the beings and worlds exist in the Self, since the Self is the only support for everything. The Self is the infinite, independent and absolute reality, and the worlds and beings are limited, destructible and dependent realities, which exist in it.

However, to exist in something is not the same as to be something. For example, you live in a house. It does not mean in any way that you are in the house in the sense that the essence of you is present in the structure of the house. You are not in the house, although you live in it. You and the house are separate entities. In other words, you have a relationship with the house, and you may exist in the space within the house, but you are not in the framework or the materiality of the house as such. You and the house are two distinct realities, although you may share the same space. The Self is the subjective reality and the world is the objective reality. They belong to different realms. The former may exist in the latter, but does not share with it its essential nature such as its infinity, indestructibility, immortality, holiness or blissful nature.

The opposite is also true. You will not find any of the qualities, aspects, movements or divisions of the world in the Self. The world is impermanent, mutable, destructible, etc. None of them exists in the Self. Both may coexist together as in case of the body and the Self. The body may depend upon the Self, but that does not mean any exchange of information, quality, matter or energy happens between them.

By nature, the Self is blemishless and infinite. By blemishless we mean it is free from the impurities such as egoism, ignorance, delusion, desires and attachments. They exist in the world, because it is made up of the tattvas and gunas of Nature. Because they are not present in the Self and the Self is not present in them, the impurities do not affect it even if it exists amidst them. This idea is well reflected in the metaphorical representation of the Self as a lotus flower which floats in muddy waters.

The sins and the suffering of the mind and body do not touch the Self. The Self is always blissful even when the being is caught in the cycle of Samsara. However, since the mind and body have nothing in common with the Self, they never experience it. The Self abides in itself. Even though it is immersed in the waters of life, it is not touched by it. It is said that our minds partake the nature of anything upon which we contemplate. If you engage your mind in the contemplation of the Self, you may likely develop some of its qualities in your mind and body. Purity is one of them.

In your wakeful state or within the field of objective reality, you cannot be the Self or attain the Self. You will not find God in the objects of the world, because he does not exist in the things of the world. If you want to find him, you have to leave the world and find him by abiding in the Self alone. However, notionally you can be like the Self rather than be the Self, in your wakeful consciousness by cultivating detachment, disinterest and equanimity. You can reflect the divine qualities of the Self by constantly fixing your mind upon it. This is affirmed several times in the Bhagavadgita.

On the path of liberation, a yogi is expected to grow in the light of the Self. Making the Self as the goal and the ideal, engaging one’s mind in the thoughts of it, cultivating detachment, dispassion, egolessness, etc., he has to approximate the stainless nature of the Self. By cultivating purity and overcoming desires, he has to dissolve gradually his identity and objectivity in the Self. Only the purest of the pure can ever hope to enter the realm of Brahman. Even a little impurity may become an obstacle to attain liberation. Hence, spiritual transformation is essentially self-purification.

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