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Twenty Four Gurus
From the Srimad Bhagavatam

Once King Yadu saw Lord Dattatreya (Avadhoot) in a forest and addressed him "Sir, you are indeed quite capable, energetic and wise. Such as you are, why do you live in the forest, free from all desires? Even though you have neither kith and kin nor even a family, how could you be so blissful and self-contented?"

The Avadhoot (one who has shaken off all worldly desires) replied, "My bliss and contentment are the fruits of self-realization. I have gained the necessary wisdom from the whole creation, through 24 Gurus. I shall elaborate the same for you".

Shri Dattatreya had twenty-four teachers from nature "many are my preceptors," he told King Yadu, "selected by my keen sense, from whom acquiring wisdom freely, I wander in the world…. The earth, air/breeze, sky, fire, the sun, pigeon, python, sea, moth, elephant, ant, fish, Pingala the courtesan, arrow-maker, infant/playful boy, the moon, honeybee, deer, bird of prey, maiden, serpent, spider, caterpillar and water are my twenty four preceptors.

1. Earth: All creatures, in accordance with their previous store of karma (action) assume different physical forms and live on earth. People plough, dig and tread the earth. They light fires on it. Still, the earth does not swerve from its course even by a hair’s breadth. On the other hand, it feeds and houses all creatures. Seeing this, I learned that the wise one should never swerve from his vow of patience, love and righteousness under any circumstances and one should dedicate his life for the welfare of living beings. The earth along with its mountains and rivers is my first guru.

2. Air: I observed that air is pure and odorless in itself. And it blows on both sweet and foul-smelling things without any discrimination or preference. Though it momentarily seems to take on the smell of its surroundings, in a short while, it reveals its pristine quality. From this I learned that a spiritual aspirant should live in the world, unaffected by the dualities of life like joy and sorrow and by the objects of the senses. He should keep his heart’s feeling and his speech unpolluted by vain objects. As I have learned all this by observing it, air is my second guru.

3. Sky: The soul is also like the sky, which is omnipresent. I have noticed that sometimes the sky (or space) gets thickly overcast, or filled with dust or smoke. At sunrise and during night, it apparently takes on different colors. But in fact, it ever retains its colorless self, and it is never touched or stained by any thing. From this I learned that a true sage should remain ever pure like the sky or space, untouched or unaffected by anything in the phenomenal universe in time, including his own physical processes. His inner being is totally free from emotional reaction to things and events even like the space. Thus I accepted the sky or space as my third guru.

4. Fire: My fourth teacher is the element of fire. Sometimes, it manifests itself as blazing flames; sometimes as smoldering embers, covered by ash. But it is always present in all objects as latent heat. The god of fire accepts the offering of everyone, irrespective of his moral worth and burns down his sins; and it still remains the ever-pure divinity as the fire-god; he is untainted by the sins of such devotees. So too, a sage of perfect realization should accept food of everyone, burn down his sins and bless the giver. Though fire has no specific form of its own, when it is associated with fuel that burns, it assumes such apparent forms. So too, the true Self, though formless in itself, appears in the forms of deities, human beings, animals and trees when it is associated with the respective physical structures. The source of all forms in the universe, as also their end, remains ever mysterious. All the things are manifest only in between their origin and their end. Their source and end is the true Self, which is eternal, unchanging, unmanifest and omnipresent. The nature of the element of fire is such. The manifest fire transforms the various things it consumes into the same ash. So too, the wisdom of self-realization rejects the manifest forms and properties of things as illusion and realizes their one original essence as itself. Thus the element of fire is my fourth guru.

5. Sun: My fifth guru is sun. Though the sun we see in our daily life is one, it appears as many when reflected by water in different vessels. Similarly, the one real Self manifests itself as many selves of living creatures when reflected by their physical structures. As Sun illuminates the many forms in nature to our visions, the sage too illuminates the true nature of all things to his devotees.

6. Pigeon: I have gained wisdom from a pigeon too. Once a pair of pigeons lived together on a tree. They bred their young and were bringing them up with deep affection and love. One day, a hunter caught the young fledglings in a snare. The ladybird, which returned from the forest with food for its young ones, saw their plight and, unable to leave them, she leapt in the snare to share their fate. Shortly after, the male pigeon turned up and, unable to bear the separation from its sweetheart, it too jumped in the snare and met its end. Reflecting on this, I realized how, even after being born as an intelligent human being, man is caught in the coils of possessiveness and brings about his own spiritual destruction. The self, which is originally free, when associated with the body sense, gets identified with it, and thus gets caught in the endless cycle of birth, death and misery. Thus the pigeon was my sixth guru.

7. Python: The python is a sluggard, unwilling to move out briskly for its prey. It lies in its lurch and devours whatever creature it comes across, be it sufficient to appease its hunger. From this I learnt that the man in search of wisdom should refrain from running after pleasures, and accept whatever he gets spontaneously with contentment. Like the python, he should shake off sleep and wakefulness and abide in a state of incessant meditation on the Self. Thus the python was my seventh teacher of wisdom.

8. Sea: Contemplating the marvelous nature of the ocean, I have gained much wisdom. Any number of overflowing rivers may join it, yet the sea maintains its level. Nor does its level fall even by a hair’s breadth in summer, when all the rivers dry up. So too, the joys of life do not elate the sage of wisdom, nor do its sorrows depress him. Just as the sea never crosses its threshold on the beach, the wise one never transgresses the highest standards of morality under the pull of passions. Like the sea, he is unconquerable and cannot be troubled by anything. Like the unfathomable ocean, his true nature and the depths of his wisdom cannot be easily comprehended by anyone. The ocean, which has taught me thus, is my eighth guru.

9. Moth: I often observed that the moth (or, more precisely, a grasshopper) is tempted by fire to jump in it and get burnt down. So too, the unthinking man is enticed by the illusory pleasures of the senses and thus gets caught in the ceaseless cycles of birth and death. On the other hand, the wise one, when he catches even a glimpse of the fire of wisdom, leaves everything aside, leaps in it and burns down the illusion of being a limited self. Thus the moth was my ninth guru.

10. Elephant: The elephant was my tenth guru. The human beings raise a stuffed cow-elephant in the forest. The wild tusker mistakes it for a mate, approaches it and then skillfully bound in fetters by the cunning human beings. So too, the unregenerate man is tempted by the opposite sex and gets bound by the fetters of infatuation. The seekers after liberation should learn to be free from lust. The elephant was thus one of my teachers.

11. Ant: The ant stores up lots of food materials which it neither eats nor gives away in charity to any other creature. In consequence, other more powerful creatures are tempted to plunder the ants. So too, the man who lays by treasures of merely material things becomes a victim of robbery and murder. But the ant has something positive to teach us, too. It is a tireless worker and is never discouraged by any number of obstacles and setbacks in its efforts to gather its treasure. So too, a seeker after wisdom should be tireless in his efforts for Self-Realization. This noble truth has the little ant taught me and became my eleventh guru.

12. Fish: The fish greedily swallows bait and is at once caught by the angle-hook. From this, I realized how man meets his destruction by his craving for delicious food. When the palate is conquered, all else is conquered. Besides, there is a positive feature in the fish. It never leaves its home, i.e. water. So too, man should never loose sight of his true Self, but should ever have his being in it. Thus the fish became my twelfth guru.

13. Pingala: The thirteenth guru that has awakened my spirit is a prostitute named Pingala. One day, she eagerly awaited a particular client in the hope that he would pay her amply. She waited and waited till late in the night. When he did not turn up, she was at last disillusioned and reflected thus: "Alas! How stupid I am! Neglecting the divine spirit within, who is of the nature of bliss eternal, I foolishly awaited a debauchee (sensualist) who inspires my lust and greed. Henceforth, I shall expend myself on the Self, unite with Him and win eternal joy. Through such repentance, she attained blessedness. Besides, reflecting on its obvious purport, I also realized that a spiritual aspirant should likewise reject the lure of lesser spiritual powers, which are mere by-products of sadhana (spiritual practice). I learned that the temptation to secure things from other’s hands are the seeds of misery; that renunciation of these is the sole means of realizing infinite joy.

14. Arrow-maker: Once I observed an arrow-maker who was totally absorbed in molding a sharp arrow. He grew so oblivious of all else that he did not even notice a royal pageant that passed by. This sight awakened me to the truth that such single-minded, all-absorbing contemplation of the Self spontaneously eliminates all temptation for the trivial interests of the world. It is the sole secret of success in spiritual discipline. Thus the arrow-maker is my fourteenth guru.

15. Playful Boy: Little boys and girls know neither honor nor dishonor. They do not nurse a grudge or a prejudice against anyone. They do not know what is their own, or what belongs to others. Their happiness springs from their own selves, their innate creativity and they do not need any external objects or conditions to be happy. I realized that the sage of perfect enlightenment is also such. A playful boy thus happened to be my fifteenth guru.

16. Moon: Of all things in nature, the moon is unique. It appears to wax and wane during the bright and dark fortnights. In fact, the lunar globe ever remains the same. In this, it is like the self of the man. While a man appears to pass through the stages of infancy, boyhood, youth, maturity and old age, his real self remains unchanged. All changes pertain only to body and not to the self. Again, the moon only reflects the light of the sun, but has no such of its own. So too, the soul or mind of man is only a reflection of the light of awareness of the real Self. Having taught this truth, the moon became my sixteenth guru.

17. Honeybee: Honeybee wanders from flower to flower and, without hurting them in the least, draws honey. So too, a spiritual seeker should study all the Holy Scriptures but retain in his heart, only that which is essential for his spiritual practice. Such is the teaching I imbibed from my seventeenth guru, the honeybee.

18. Deer: It is said that deers are very fond of music and that poachers employ it to lure them before hunting them. From this, I learned that passions and sensual desires will soon bog down a spiritual aspirant who has a weakness for merely secular music, till he ultimately loses whatever spiritual progress he has achieved earlier. The deer that taught me this truth is my eighteenth guru.

19. Bird of prey: A bird of prey is my nineteenth guru. One day, I saw one such carrying away a dead rat. Many other birds like crows and eagles attacked it, now kicking on its head and again pecking on its sides in their endeavor to knock off the prey. The poor bird was thus very much pestered. At last, it wisely let its prey fall and all the other birds rushed after it. Thus freeing itself from so much botheration, it sighed in relief. From this, I learned that a man who runs after worldly pleasures will soon come into clash with his fellow-beings who too run for the same, and has to face much strife and antagonism. If he learns to conquer his craving for worldly things, he can spare himself much unhappiness. I realized that this is the only way to the peace in the world.

20. Maiden: Once, I observed a family visit a maiden’s house, seeking her hand in marriage for their son. At that time, her mother was away from home. So the maiden herself had to entertain the guests with refreshments. She at once started pounding food-grains with a pestle. The bangles on her hand started knocking against each other, pounding sound. She was afraid that the guests might hear the sound and be unhappy for having caused her so much of trouble. As a Hindu maiden, she is not expected to remove all the bangles on her hand at any time. So she kept two on each hand and removed all the rest. Even then, they were knocking against each other and were making noise. So she kept only one bangle on each hand this time and she could finish her task in quiet. Reflecting on this, I realized that when a number of spiritual seekers live together, a lot of unwanted gossip ensues and no spiritual practice can be pursued with a single-minded effort. Only in solitude, a spiritual aspirant can carry his task. Knowing this truth, I henceforth resorted to solitude. Thus, a maiden happened to be my twentieth guru.

21. Serpent: I observed that a serpent never builds a dwelling for itself. When white ants have raised an anthill for themselves, the serpent eventually come to inhabit it. Similarly, worldly people have to endure many hardships in raising houses for themselves, while a recluse monk does no such thing. Worldly men raise the monasteries and the monk lives in them; or, he leaves in old dilapidated temples, or underneath shady trees. The serpent moults, leaving off its old skin. So too at the end of his life Yogi leaves his body deliberately and in full awareness of his own true self and is not frightened by the phenomenon of death. On the other hand, he casts off his old body as happily as he does his worn out clothes and dons new ones. Thus has my twenty first guru taught me.

22. Spider: The spider is my twenty second guru. It weaves its web from the thread in the form of a fluid. After sometime, it gathers up the web into itself. The supreme projects the whole creation out of itself and after sometime, withdraws it into itself at the time of dissolution. The individual soul too, bears the senses and the mind within itself and, at its birth as a human being or any other living creature, it projects them out as the sense organs, organs of action and the whole body. In accordance with its latent tendencies, the creature thus born, gathers up all the means and objects needed for its living. At the end of its life’s duration, the soul again withdraws the senses, mind and acquired tendencies at the hour of death. Thus have I learned from the spider.

23. Caterpillar: The caterpillar is also one of my teachers of wisdom. The wasp carries its caterpillar to a safe corner and closes it up in its nest and goes on buzzing about it. The young caterpillar is so frightened by the incessant buzzing, that it cannot think of anything else than the buzzing wasp. Through such unintermittent contemplation of its mother, the caterpillar too, soon grows up into a wasp! In a like fashion, a true disciple is so charmed and over-awed by the spiritual eminence of his own guru that he cannot think of any one other than him. Through such contemplation, he soon blossoms into a great spiritual master himself. The caterpillar is thus my twenty third Guru.

24. Water: Water is my twenty fourth Guru. It quenches the thirst of every creature, sustains innumerable trees and all creatures. While it thus serves all living beings, it is never proud of itself. On the other hand, it humbly seeks the lowliest of places. The sage too should likewise bestow health, peace and joy to every creature that resorts to him. Yet he should ever live as the humblest of God’s creation.

With such humility and devotion, I looked upon the whole of God’s creation as my teacher, gathered up wisdom and, through patient effort I realized my goal of spiritual enlightenment.

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Chapter 7

15. There are three kinds of wine, produced from syrup, grain and honey. But there is a fourth, the darkest of all, the wine of sex, which has intoxicated the whole world.

16. When the mind is uncontrolled, then the body, which is the object of affection to the ignorant, also suffers, and when the mind is controlled, then the body also remains in good estate.

17. So, all you lovers of wisdom, protect your minds from feelings of pleasure, and engage them in spiritual wisdom.

18. This is the song of the great Dattatreya Avadhut. Those who read it and hear it with respectful attention, they are not reborn here on earth.

Blessed am I; in freedom am I.
I am the Infinite in my Soul;
I can find no beginning, no end.
All is my Self.

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7. The knowers of Reality will know the meaning of the word AVADHUT by the four letters which form it, A, V, Dh, T.

8. 'A' stands for freedom from the snares of hopes and expectations, pure in the beginning, in the middle and the end, merged in Self-bliss.

9. 'V' stands for the rooting out of all desires after pleasure, subtle or material, and for life in the present as all-sufficient, the present being eternity.

10. 'Dh' is the physical body, covered with dirt and dust, but with the mind ever pure, and the heart ever still, above contemplation and meditation.

11. 'T' is the unceasing contemplation of the Eternal Truth, and indifference to the activities of the mind and senses. It also bespeaks freedom from egoism and pride.

12. Woe to them that give up this knowledge of the wisdom of the Self, which in itself constitutes Eternal freedom and joy throughout all worlds, and turn to the realms of limited pleasure and of ignorance.

13. Those who desire to acquire this Eternal bliss and of communicating it to others through their teaching, must give up all sensuous pleasures, more especially those which arise from sex union.

14. The body is made up of impure elements, of blood, flesh, bones and the like. Woe to those who are attached to it, and indifferent to the ever blissful Self.

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1. When as a pilgrim, I began to journey towards You, then my little notions of all-pervasiveness of the Self died.

2. When my mind began to meditate on You, it lost all interest in objects. When my tongue began to praise You it lost the power of praising others. I forgot my three great sins.

3. He whose intellect is no longer attracted towards desires and pleasures, whose nature has become joyful and compassionate, he who, even in his heart, has no idea of possessions, who is ever peaceful and most temperate in all things and is not moved by any happenings and events – that great sage takes refuge in the Self. Ever watchful, solemn as the ocean and full of patience.

4. He who has conquered the feelings of pleasure, wrath, avarice, attachment, vanity and aversion, this one is peace itself, and free from all pride.

5. Efficient in his undertakings, full of compassion is the sage who gives pity to many, not all, has enmity towards no one.

6. He bears patiently heat and cold, seeing the one Self enlightening all bodies. He walks solitary as a rhinoceros; detached, solemn and peaceful. He has become an ocean of Truth and is ever engaged in the work of mercy. Such is the Avadhut, free from birth and death.

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30. Self, with which the Avadhut has found natural unity, is limitless and inconceivable. It is unknowable by the mind. It is neither a part nor is It divided. It cannot be said, "So far is its province and no farther." Verily, it is hard to describe and hard to obtain.

31. The Avadhut is not concerned with the things of the world, because the natural state of Self-realisation renders all else insignificant. Death and birth have no meaning; he meditates not, neither does he worship.

32. All this world is a magic show, like a mirage in the desert. Concentrated bliss, alone and secondless, is Reality and that is the Avadhut.

33. The wise man does not strive for anything, not even for good conduct, righteousness or liberation. He is free from all actions and movements, and also from desire and renunciation.

34. What do they, the experts, know of Him? Even the ancient scriptures cannot speak of Him perfectly. That bliss Absolute, ever indestructible, but a source of bliss to all, is the Avadhut.

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23. The Avadhut who has realised this mystery of all mysteries, and has risen to the state of unceasing and perfect bliss, moves about in the crowds unconcerned, radiating bliss and higher knowledge.

24. He is clothed in a habit of old and worn. He walks in a path that is free from religious merit or sin. He lives in the temple of Absolute emptiness. His Soul is naked and free from all taints and modifications of the illusory world.

25. The Avadhut has no ideal, neither strives after the attainment of an ideal. Having lost his identity in the Self, free from the limitations of the illusory world, free also from the perfections of yoga, thus walks the Avadhut. He argues with no one, he is not concerned with any object or person.

26. Free from the snares of expectations and hopes, he has cast off the worn-out garments of purity, righteousness, and all ideals. His path is free from any such consideration. It can only be said about him that he is purity Absolute, and is far, far above the clouds of maya and ignorance.

27. He has no such thoughts as "I am not in the body," or "I am not the body." He has no aversion, attachment or infatuation towards any object or person. Pure as space he walks, immersed in the immaculate bliss of his natural state.

28. The Avadhut may be compared to immeasurable space. He is eternity. In him is neither purity nor impurity. There is no variety nor unity in him; no bondage nor absence of bondage.

29. Free from separation and union, free from enjoyment or absence of enjoyment, he moves calm and unhurried through the world. Having given up all activity of the mind, he is in his normal state of indescribable bliss.

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16. There is no pleasure in It, and no faculty of enjoying pleasure, since It is free from such defects as attachment. Equally free from doubts and suffering, One and Eternal is the Self; thus the conception of 'I' and 'mine' do not apply to It.

17. Neither is there Reality in It, nor the absence of Reality. Since It alone exists and is eternity, it must follow that It is free from pain, and also from freedom from pain.

18. There is no gain and there is no loss. Infatuation and worldly wisdom have no place therein. When the Eternal consciousness alone exists, how can discrimination or wisdom, or any such thing be contained in It?

19. In It there is no 'you' and no 'I', therefore family and caste exist not therein. It is neither true nor untrue. Neither is It of this world nor of the next. How then can one pray to It?

20. Illusory is the connection of the learner and the teacher. Teaching and contemplation, when thus beheld, are not admissible. "Verily, I am Shiva." This alone is the whole Truth. How then can I pray to It, or worship It?

21. The body itself is imagined in the Self, as is the whole universe. Self is free from all differentiations. Then since I am Reality, there can be no idea of prayer or worship.

22. Consciousness Absolute has no body. It cannot be said that It is without a body or attributes. All that can be said is that It is bliss Absolute, and that bliss am I. This is the height of worship, and this is the culmination of all prayer.

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8. Space, time, water, fire, earth, constituting the world, are a mere mirage. In truth the One, imperishable, ever blissful, alone exists. There is neither cloud nor water in It.

9. As there is no possibility of birth and death in It, so no conception of duty nor dereliction of duty can be applied to It. That undifferentiated, Eternal, all-pervasive Self alone is.

10. The modifications of primordial matter and of individualised consciousness are in the realm of cause and effect. When there is Eternal all-pervasive Self alone, how can there be matter or spirit therein?

11. There is in It no suffering, and no possibility of suffering, because It is free from all attributes.

12. There is no duality in It. How can there be age, or youth, or childhood in that One Eternal principle?

13. Self is dependent on nothing and is unlimited. The law of cause and effect touches It not. How can the intellect, which operates only in duality, and which is perishable, discern It?

14. It grasps not, nor is It grasped. It is not born nor does It bring forth. We can only say that in It there is no destruction.

15. In the Self there is neither manhood nor womanhood, because such conceptions cannot exist in eternity.

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1. The whole universe is a projection of the mind; therefore it is a mode of the mind. The true nature of the mind is bliss, and when the mind is stilled, bliss Absolute is revealed.

2. Reality Absolute, being unknowable to the mind, how can speech explain it?

3. The Self is free from day and night, and therefore the conception of its pilgrimage in time and space is no true one.

4. No sun illumines the Self; the fire and the moon cannot shine therein. It is not equanimity or even desirelessness; how then can action exist in It?

5. Neither can it be said that It is to be known by the absence of action. It is neither within nor without. It is nothing but bliss Absolute.

6. How can it be said that It is the first or that It is the last, since It is neither element or compound, nor emptiness nor fullness? Eternal, ever the same, the essence of All is Reality.

7. The statement that the Self is describable or indescribable cannot stand. Neither is It the knower nor the known. It cannot be imagined or defined. How can we say that It has a mind or any of the senses?

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1. The syllable OM spoken is the essence of the lower and the higher knowledge. It is Reality, space-like. There is neither existence nor non-existence in this world. Reality is ever free from duality.

2. You are that Self of which the scriptures say, "You Are That!" [Tat Tvam Asi]. Know that you are free from the illusory world. Do not cry, mind, verily you are All.

3. There is neither higher nor lower in you. You pervade all equally, and there is neither inner nor outer. Then why do you mourn, mind? All is Reality.

4. Neither that which is imagined, nor the imagination exist in you; know that cause and effect touch you not. Free from words and all expressions are you, eternally the same. Mind, do not cry.

5. To know that there is neither higher nor lower in Self is Self-absorption, to know that Self is ever free from time and space is Self-absorption. Do not cry, mind, all is Reality.

6. As there is no jar, there is no jar space. As there is no ego body, no conditioning medium, there is no individual ego. The cause and effect that produce conditions do not exist in Self. Why then do you cry, my mind?

7. It is all one whether we live in a hut in retirement, or in a house with many kinfolk, for Self is free from the multitude as from solitude. Free also is It from knowledge, theoretical and practical, Self being all, my mind, do not cry.

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15. Why are you troubled, friend, since avarice, lust, attachment, are not you? A realisation of space-like, Immortality-giving Absolute knowledge I am.

16. Why this craving for power, companion, when in Truth wealth is not yours. 'Mine' and 'yours' are not in you.

17. In your Heart there is no meditator, there is no state of Self-absorption, nor is there any possibility of meditation on the Self. Time and causation never existed in you.

18. I have told the disciple the essence of Truth. There is no 'you' nor 'I', no world, no Guru nor disciple. Know that by nature I am freedom Absolute. I am transcendental Truth.

19. When Self, the Absolute existence, alone is, and It is I, then where is transcendental Truth, where is bliss, where is knowledge, secular or spiritual?

20. Unknown to fire, water and earth, motionless, all-pervasive as space, knowledge Absolute know your Self to be.

21. Renounce, renounce the world, and also renounce renunciation, and even give up the absence of renunciation. By nature all-pervasive as space, knowledge Absolute are you.

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8. In me exist not birth, death, purity, impurity, poison or the water of Immortality. Verily I am free even from the taint of Nirvana. I cannot speak of the third or fourth states.

9. Neither a fool nor an expert am I, neither silent nor of many words; how can I speak of reasoning or argument since I am free even from the taint of Nirvana?

10. Giving up all meditations, all good and evil actions, drinking the water of Immortality, the heroes know that I from the taint of Nirvana am free.

11. No ritualist injunction is binding on me; mind, the seat of anxieties does not exist in me. Far, far from me also is egotism. Space-like, Immortality-giving knowledge Absolute am I.

12. I cannot say whether the world is nothingness or if it is partly real and partly unreal, or, if like a flowing river though ever changing, it is in fact real as a whole. Space-like Immortality-giving knowledge Absolute am I.

13. There is not the least shadow of name or form in the Infinite, nor is there unity or diversity in me. My shameless mind, why do you create a confusion? Space-like Immortality-giving knowledge Absolute am I.

14. My friend, there is no cause for disquietude since you are not the body. You are imperishable and eternal, then why do you cry? Rest in peace. Space-like, Immortality-giving knowledge Absolute am I.

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1. Nothing can be added or taken away from the universal Reality. It cannot be invoked or worshipped with flowers and leaves. Meditations and mantras cannot reach It. How could It be worshipped as Shiva? – for in It there are neither distinctions nor unity.

2. In the One there is neither bondage nor salvation, neither purity nor impurity. From union and separation the One is free. That space-like Truth am I.

3. As in truth I am Nirvana, thoughts as to the reality and unreality of the world trouble me not at all.

4. Eternally free from the taint of ignorance as I am, knowledge or illusion never had birth in me. How can I say whether I am bound or free?

5. Neither sin nor virtue ever existed in me; by nature I am Nirvana. Neither the worshiper nor the worshipped am I. No instructions and no rituals are there for me. Knowledge also am I not. By nature I am Nirvanic.

6. Taintless Nirvana am I; I am neither the comprehender nor the comprehended. Neither the cause nor the effect exists in me.

7. Neither am I a body, nor am I bodiless. The intellect, the mind and the senses are not mine. How can I talk of attachment and detachment, since I am taintless Nirvana?

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13. I am the Eternal principle. Free from attachment and aversion, free from imperfections am I, fate and providence exist not in me. Eternally free from the sufferings of the world, verily, space-like Immortality-giving knowledge am I.

14. As the three states of consciousness exist not in the Self, how can It be the fourth [Turiya]? Free from past, present and future how can the cardinal points exist in It? Eternal peace, space-like Transcendental Truth am I.

15. Neither father nor mother have I, neither wife nor child. Birth and death I do not know. The mind is not my own. Eternal peace, space-like transcendental peace am I.

16. Deities and Gods, like Indra and Brahma, have no place in Self. Neither paradise nor heaven exist in the Self. The one taintless transcendental Truth am I.

17. The saying from the scriptures "neither this, nor that" does not apply to the Self. How can it be said "When all is subtracted Self alone remains"? It is symbolical but not a symbol; yet even this cannot be said of the Self. Space-like, the water of Immortality am I.

18. The illusory world is not my modification. Nor is its glamour mine. Deceit and hypocrisy, truth and untruth have no place in me. Space-like, Immortality-giving knowledge am I.

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Chapter 3

7. Know well that all the senses are as space, and so also their objects. Know that the One is taintless, the One is neither bound nor free. That all-pervasive ever-blissful Reality, Immortality-giving knowledge am I.

8. The knowledge of the Self, hard to obtain, which is experienced, is not Self; the object of meditation, hard to concentrate upon, is not Self; that which is near, and that which is far, far away, is not Self. Space-like, all-bliss Reality am I, Reality am I.

9. Without action am I, I burn up karmas; without pain am I, I burn up sufferings; bodiless, homeless am I, and yet I burn up these: all equanimity, space-like am I.

10. The seed of the plant of the world exists not in me, contentment and pleasures exist not in me; bondage and ignorance are not in me; space-like, absolute Reality am I.

11. Self is not the knower nor the known. It is not accessible to inference. Words cannot describe this consciousness Absolute. The mind is lost in Its majesty. How can It be explained to you? As space-like I AM-realisation giving Immortality.

12. There is no separation and no unity in It. Neither is It inner nor outer. It is Truth transcendental. It cannot be said "It was all before." Verily nothing exists except the Self. And that space-like Immortality-giving knowledge am I.

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Chapter 3

1. How shall I worship that great Self which is neither personal nor impersonal. Taintless, above love and aversion, uncreated, all-pervasive, of the form of the universe, having no attributes, yet not attribute less, That all-bliss Reality, my Self.

2. How shall I bow down to my own Self in my own Self and by my Self? I have no colours, white or yellow; Eternal Reality am I.

3. I am rootless, and without root, free from smoke, and smokeless am I, without a lamp, and lightless am I, equanimity am I, like a sun ever risen.

4. How can I name the passionless, desireless One as having desires? The Absolute cannot be described in terms of conditions; how can I speak of my Self? I am neither with an essence, nor am I without an essence. Space-like all equanimity am I.

5. How shall I say that non-duality is all this creation, or that, or that? Even if it be duality, then too I cannot attribute creation or dissolution to It. How can the Eternal, the All be expressed in any way? Space-like, all-bliss am I.

6. Neither gross nor subtle is my Self; It comes not, and It goes not; without a beginning and without an end; neither higher nor lower is It; that Truth absolute, space-like, Immortality-giving knowledge am I.

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22. The knower of Reality may leave his body in a holy place, or in the house of an untouchable, he is absorbed into Reality.

23. When a yogi has realised his true Self, birthless and beyond the range of the mind and emotions, then the actions and their retributions no longer touch him. He may perform the rituals or leave them. To him it is all One.

24. Self realised is the Master of creation, Eternal, Indestructible, formless, without dimensions, absolutely independent, without pleasure or pain, full of all powers.

25. The wise discover that Self is not seen either by the study of the ancient scriptures, by initiations, by shaving the head, or by being a Guru or an intimate follower or disciple. Nor is it seen through postures.

26. That Reality, Self, by whose power the whole universe is born, in which it abides and to which it finally returns like bubbles and waves in the sea, is realised by the wise.

27. Self, which the wise realise, is not the aim of control of breath or of physical postures and the like. In It there is neither knowledge nor ignorance.

28. There is neither unity nor duality in the Self, nor unity-duality, neither smallness nor greatness, neither emptiness nor fullness. All these exist in the mind, and the mind is not the Self.

29. The teacher cannot teach the Self; the disciple cannot learn It.

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15. Hidden in the realm of Eternal consciousness lies the world's cause. Within this cause is Reality. The husk of a coconut is the world, the pulp is the cause, and the sweet cool water encased in the pulp is Reality.

16. Like the full moon is the Self. See It in all. Duality is the product of defective vision. As there is only one moon so there is only one Self in all.

17. No duality can touch the conception of Reality, because It is all-pervasive. The wise who teach this acquire boundless patience, and their disciples can never be too thankful to them.

18. The talented as well as the witless attain the state of desirelessness by knowing the mystery of the Self, through the grace of their spiritual teacher.

19. This transcendent state of Reality is reached by those who are free from attachment and aversion, ever engaged in doing good to all living beings, whose knowledge is firmly rooted, and who are patient.

20. The yogi is merged in Reality after leaving the body, as the jar-space is merged in cosmic space on the destruction of the jar.

21. The statement that the future condition is determined by the state of the thoughts at death is made of the uninitiated, not the initiated.

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Chapter 2

8. How can 'I' or 'you' be said of Reality which is more subtle than the primordial form of matter, free from all attributes, greater than all, above the range of mind and emotion, without medium or limitation, lord of the universe? It can neither be called static or dynamic.

9. As space cannot be compared with another space, so Reality being above duality, cannot be compared with any object. Reality alone is perfection, taintless, all knowledge.

10. It walks not on the earth, the wind cannot move It, the water cannot cover It, It stands in the middle of inner, subtle light.

11. It pervades space-time. Nothing pervades It. From limitations ever-free, eternally the same, with nothing outside It and nothing within, It abides.

12. Self, of which the high yogis speak, most subtle, beyond perception, without attributes, must be realised step by step, and not by sudden violence.

13. Ever practicing yoga, not depending on any object, the yogi merges his consciousness in Reality, and becomes Reality.

14. There is but one antidote to the poison of highly dangerous passions, which beget infatuation, and that is to return to the Self. Self is unapproachable by the emotions, is ever formless and independent.

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Chapter 2

1. Do not hold the immature, the credulous, the foolish, the slow, the layman and the fallen to have nothing good in them. They all teach something. Learn from them. Surely we do not give up a game although we have mastered it?

2. Think not lightly of your Guru should he lack letters and learning. Take the Truth he teaches and ignore the rest. Know well that a boat, painted and adorned, will carry you across the river; so also will one that is plain and simple.

3. The higher intelligence which without effort pervades the movable and the immovable, and which by nature is all peace and consciousness, That I am.

4. How can the one Supreme consciousness which without effort rules the living and the inert and is all-pervasive, be other than I?

5. I am subtler than primordial substance, beyond elements and compounds, free from birth and death, above duality and unity.

6. The modifications of the inner conscience [intellect, mind, instinct and ego] have no part in me. Like bubbles rising and falling in a river, thoughts and volitions rise and disappear in the inner conscience.

7. As softness is not perceived apart from soft objects, as sweetness is not known apart from honey, as bitterness is not known apart from the very bitter-tasting Neem tree leaves, as fluidity and coolness are the nature of water, so the primordial form of matter is no other than the Self. As the rays of the sun differ not from the sun, so matter does not differ from Reality.

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51. There is no father, no mother, no kinsman, no son, no wife, no friend, no prejudice, no doctrine. Why are you disquiet, my mind?

52. Why do the wise imagine the bodiless Reality to be a body? In It there is neither day nor night, neither rising nor setting.

53. Since the imperfections of attachment and the like are not in me, I am above the suffering of the body. Know me to be Infinite, like unto space, one Self.

54. My mind, my friend, many words are not needed, and the world hardly comprehends reason. In a word, I have told you the essence of truth: "You are Truth, you are as space."

55. In whatever place and in whatever state the yogi dies, his spirit is absorbed into That, as, on the destruction of the jar, the space in the jar is united with Absolute space.

56. Whether he dies conscious or in coma, in a holy temple or in the house of an untouchable, he obtains liberation, becoming the all-pervading Reality.

57. The yogis regard righteousness, prosperity, desire for paradise and liberation, and also the moving and fixed objects, as mere will-o'-the-wisps.

58. The Avadhut [liberated one] in unshakable equanimity, living in the holy temple of nothingness, walks naked, knowing all to be Reality.

59. Where there is no third [deep sleep] nor fourth state [Turiya], where all is known as the Self, where there is neither righteousness nor unrighteousness, how can there be either bondage or liberation?

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43. I am neither bound nor free. I am not separate from Reality.

44. Neither the doer nor the enjoyer of the fruits of action am I. The pervader or the pervaded I am not.

45. As a volume of water poured into water is inseparably united with water, so, I perceive, matter and spirit are one.

46. Why do you call the Self personal and impersonal. Since you are neither bound nor free?

47. Pure, pure you are, without a body, unrelated to the mind, beyond the illusory world; why are you ashamed to acknowledge: "I am Self, the Supreme Reality!"?

48. My beloved mind, why do you cry? Realize your Self, drink the timeless great nectar of non-duality.

49. Knowledge born of the intellect am I not. By nature Truth Eternal am I. I am perpetual immutability.

50. Neither formless nor with form, described in the scriptures as "neither this, nor that", free from separation and unity, the true Self reigns Supreme.

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36. "I eat," "I give," "I act"; such statements do not apply to the Self, which is purity, birthless and imperishable.

37. Where the one Reality alone is, how can it be said that "this world is illusory" or "this world is not illusory", "this is a shadow" or "this is not a shadow"?

38. I am without beginning and without end. Never was I bound. By nature pure, taintless is my Self. This I know for sure.

39. From subtle substance down to formed creation, there is nothing but the one Reality; most clearly do I see this. Where then is the division of caste?

40. The Absolute void and its opposite, all am I everlastingly.

41. Self is not male or female, nor is It neuter; neither is It happiness nor suffering. How dare you pervert It?

42. Self is not purified by the six methods of yoga. Absence of the mind makes It no clearer. The teachings of a Guru reveal It not. It is all purity, in Itself, by Itself.

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29. Free from subject and object am I. How can I be Self-realisable? Endless is my nature, nothing else exists. Absolute Truth is my nature, nothing else exists.

30. Self by nature, the Supreme Reality am I, neither am I slayer nor the slain.

31. On the destruction of a jar, the space in it unites with all space. In my Self and Reality I see no difference when the mind is purified.

32. Absolute Reality alone is, as pure consciousness. In Truth there is no jar, and no jar-space, no embodied Soul, nor its nature.

33. There are no worlds, no scriptures, no deities, no sacrifices, no castes, no family tribes, no nationalities, no smoke-path, no shining-path.

34. Some there are that prize non-dualism, others hold to dualism. They know not the Truth, which is above both.

35. How can the ultimate Reality be described, since It is neither white nor any other colour, has no qualities such as sound, and is beyond voice and mind?

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22. The sages call the Self the 'ever-same'. By giving up attachment the mind sees neither duality nor unity.

23. Concentration is not possible either on perishable objects, on account of their mutability, nor on the Self. "Is" and "is not" do not apply to the Self either. In the Self, freedom Absolute, how is a state of Self-absorption possible?

24. Birthless, pure, bodiless, equable, imperishable Self you know yourself to be. How then can you say, "I know my Self" or "I know not my Self"?

25. Thus have the sacred scriptures spoken of the Self; "That You Are!" Of the illusory world, born of the five physical elements, the scriptures declare: "Neti, neti" ["neither this, nor that" or literally, "not this, not this"].

26. All this is ever pervaded by you as the Self. In you is neither the meditator nor the object of meditation. Why, mind, do you shamelessly meditate?

27. I know not Reality. How can I speak of Him? Who Reality is I do not know. How can I worship Him?

28. I am the only Reality, like Absolute space is my nature. In me is neither unity nor variety. The cause of imagination too is absent in me.

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15. Neither unity nor separation exist in you nor in me. All is Self alone. 'I' and 'you' and the 'world' have no real being.

16. The subtle faculties of touch, taste, smell, form and sound which constitute the world without are not yourself, nor are they within you. You are the great all-transcending Reality.

17. Birth and death exist not in the mind, not in you, as do also bondage and liberation. Good and evil are in the mind, and not in you. Beloved, why do you cry? Name and form are neither in you nor in me.

18. Oh my mind, why do you range in delusion like a ghost? Know the Self to be above duality and be happy.

19. You are the essence of knowledge, indomitable, Eternal, ever-free from modifications. Neither is there in you attachment nor indifference. Let not yourself suffer from desires.

20. All the scriptures describe the Self as without attributes, ever pure, imperishable, without a body, the Eternal Truth. Know That to be who you are.

21. Know all forms, physical and subtle, as illusion. The Reality underlying them is Eternal. By living this Truth one passes beyond birth and death.

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