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Lakshmana Sharma’s Introduction to Verse No.19


Another dual pair that constitutes an extension of the Ego is called Fate and Free Will. When man accomplishes something by the exercise of his intelligence he says it is the success of his will; when the accomplishment is not satisfactory he blames it on fate. He thinks the two are distinct opposites of each other. The truth of this is explained by Bhagavan in this verse.


Verse #19


Vithi mathi mUla vivekam  ilArkkE

vithi mathi vellum vivAtham; vithi-mathikaTku

Or muthal Am thannai uNarnthAr avai thaNandAr.

cArvarO pinnum avai cARRu.


Sanskrit Version


Madhye devadhiyor-jayaM pratibhavet teshhAM vivAde ratiH

dhI-daiva-dvitayasya mUlam-aham-ity-ekaM na jAnanti ye /

anveshhAd-avagatya tatvam-ahamas-tAbhyAM vimukto muniH

samsakto bhavitA tayoH kimu punaH svajnAna-hIno yathA //


Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)


Only those love to dispute which of the two, fate and the will, will prevail, who have no experience of (the truth of) him, named ‘I’, who is the one root of both. Can that Sage that has become free of both, knowing the truth of the Ego by the Quest, ever again be entangled in these, like one that knows not the Self?


Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)


The debate, `Does free will prevail or fate?' is only for those who do not know the root of both. Those who have known the Self, the common source of freewill and of fate, have passed beyond them both and will not return to them.


Translation (Osborne)

Only those who have no knowledge of the Source of destiny and free-will dispute as to which of them prevails. They that know the Self as the one Source of destiny and free-will are free from both. Will they again get entangled in them?

Word-by-word of the Tamil verse

vivAtham  The debate (about)

vithi mathi vellum  whether it is Fate or Freewill (vithi = Fate; mathi = Intelligence or Will)

ilArkkE  is only for those who  do not have

mUla vivekam Discriminatory knowledge of the root of

Vithi mathi  Fate and Freewill.

uNarnthAr  (For) those who have realised

tannai  (their) Ego

Or muthal Am as the common source

vithimathikaTku  of both Fate and Freewill

avai thaNanthAr and have renouced them,

cArvarO  Would they get entangled

pinnum  again

avai cARRu  with them?

Commentary in Tamil by Lakshmana Sharma


It is the ajnAni, who has the I-am-the-body feeling, who thinks there is an apposition between Fate and Freewill.  By that ignorance, he aims at a fruit of the action and does actions on that basis.  Only when the expected result fails him, he thinks that Fate has been the obstacle.  Note that if there were no Ego, one would not conceive of a result or reward for one’s action. And then there would be no distinction between Fate and Freewill. Those who think of this distinction as real are those who are overpowered by Ego. It is only they who enter into the debate of whether it is Fate or Freewill that prevails.

It is the Ego-mind which imagines a difference between Fate and Freewill. If one starts enquiring “For whom is this difference?” one will end up finding that the root of both is the ‘I’. Pursuing the truth of that, one discards the Ego and consequently all such differences. This is one of the main teachings of this work by Bhagavan.

The jnAni has neither any determination (sankalpa) to do something  nor any indetermination (vikalpa) about doing or not doing something and so whatever he does he does not do it in anticipation of any kind of finish to it. Thus there is no place in his thinking for either Fate or Freewill. So this whole debate is meaningless for him.

Lakshmana Sharma’s Introduction to Verse No.20 & 21


Another dual pair which is important is that of JIva and Ishvara. Whereas the chid-AbhAsa that is the JIva is false, to think of him as real, is to give  finiteness to the infinite Atman.  A finite has an opposite in the infinite. So the mind imagines that infinite Atman as the Ishvara who is Complete Knowledge with all superlatives.  This imagination may be considered good, but the reason for such imagination being Ignorance alias Ego, this imagination has to be false. In other words, the finite JIva and the infinite Ishvara are both false. When they are considered real, both have to be real. When they are considered false, both have to be false. The only reality is the Brahman that is (also) the Atman . In it there is neither any triad nor any duality. So seeing the Ishvara is only an imagination of Ignorance. These ideas are explained in the two verses 20 and 21. Since JIva and Ishvara are not two, Jiva-darshanam and Ishvara-darshanaM are both the same.  That is the state of non-duality or non-difference, says Verse #21.


Verses 20 and 21


kANum thanai viTTu thAn kaDavuLaik-kANal,

kANum manomayamAm kAtchi; thanaik-kANumavan

thAn kaDavuL kaNDAnAm, than muthalaith-thAnmuthal pOyt-

thAn kaDavuL inRi ilathAl.


thannaith-thAn kANal thalaivan thanaik-kANal

ennum pala nUl uNmai ennai enin, thannaith-thAn

kANal evan? thAn onRAl kANa oNAdEl,

thalaivan kANal evan? UN Athal kAN.


Sanskrit Version


drashhTAraM svam-upekshhya pashyati naro rUpaM pareshasya cet

sA rUpasya manomayasya hi bhaved-vIkshhA na satyA vibhoH /

tattvaM svaM kimu naM prapashyati paraM tvasyekshhako vA muniH

nashhTAhamkRti-rEshha kimcidapi no bhinnaH yasmAd-vibhoH//


vIkshhA svasya parasya ceti gaditaM grantheshhu vIkshhA-dvayaM

tat-tattvaM kim-iti bravImi ghaTate vIkshhA kathaM nvAtmanaH /

ekatvAn-na sa vIkshhyate yadi paraM vIkshheta ko vA kathaM

Ishasyaudana-bhAvam-eva gaNaya svekshhAM parokshhAm-api//



Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)


When one sees a form of God, neglecting himself the seer, that vision is vision of a mental form, it is not a true vision of God. Does the Sage, that has direct vision of the Self, see that Supreme Being, who is (that) Real Self? Having lost the Ego, he (the Sage) is not at all distinct from Him.


Two visions are mentioned in the sacred lore, namely vision of the Self and vision of God; I shall state what they really mean. How can there be vision of the Self? Since He cannot be seen, for the reason that He is one (with the would-be seer), who is to see God, (who is just the Real Self), and how? Know that the vision of the Self and the vision of God (alike) consist in the soul (that is, the ego) becoming the food of God.


Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)


To see God and not the Self that sees is only to see a projection of the mind. It is said that God is seen by him alone who sees the Self; but one who has lost the ego and seen the Self is none other than God.

When scriptures speak of `seeing the Self' and `seeing God', what is the truth they mean? How to see the Self? As the Self is one without a second, it is impossible to see it. How to see God? To see Him is to be consumed by Him.


Translation (Osborne)


He who sees God without seeing the Self sees only a mental image. They say that he who sees the Self sees God. He who, having completely lost the ego, sees the Self, has found God, because the Self does not exist apart from God.


What is the Truth of the scriptures which declare that if one sees the Self one sees God? How can one see one's Self? If, since one is a single being, one cannot see one's Self, how can one see God? Only by becoming a prey to Him.


Word by Word of the Tamil Verses


kANum thanai viTTu :  Apart from the self who sees

thAn oneself

kaDavuLaik-kANal,  (to have) the vision of God  (kaDavuL : God)

kANum  : is only a vision of

manomayamAm kAtchi  a mental construct.

thanaik-kANum the one who sees his self

avan thAn it is he himself

kaDavuL kaNDAnAm, who is said to have had the vision of God

than muthalai the source of oneself;

thAnmuthal pOy the primal Ego having gone

thAn ilathAl there is no self  

kaDavuL inRi  apart from God.




uNmai ennai enin, If asked what is the truth

pala nUl  (of) many scriptures

ennum  that speak of

thannaith-thAn kANal Vision of oneself

kANal   (and) Vision

thalaivan-thanai of God

thannaith-thAn kANal evan?  Who is it that can see himself?

thAn onRAl  Because one’s self is One (only)

kANa oNAdEl, it is not possible to see  (which requires duality)

thalaivan kANal evan?  (When that is so,) how can one see God?

UN Athal kAN.  To be consumed is to see Him.  (UN : food)


Commentary by Lakshmana Sharma in Tamil.


We have already said that devotees worship their God, which is their own imagination, and obtain their spiritual goal. But ‘bhakti’ has an implication of association or union and so the previous stage has to be non-association or separation – ‘vibhakti’.  If one enquires into the question whether that separation is real, that will lead to the enquiry ‘Who am I?’. And the result of that enquiry will be that the separation is not a permanent one.  The Infinite Complete Atman is itself the Ishvara, so there is no separation from it.  This truth will be explained in the stanza beginning with ‘vinaiyum vipatthi’ in the Appendix.


When the truth is such, the sAtvik person  thinks of separation as real and for the removal of that he resorts to bhakti. He thinks of Ishvara as something distinct (‘parokshham’)  from him and in order to see Him directly (‘aparokshham’) he tries the sAdhanAs of the Bhakti path.  By this his mind gets purified and obtains also the strength of one-pointedness.  And that Form which he worships  shows Itself in reality to him.  He also thinks that his objectives have been met and feels satisfied.  But the scene disappears. Thereafter he yearns for having a repetition of that experience of a direct vision.  There results one good thing out of this. His love of that Ishvara becomes more intensified. By the Grace of God finally his I-ness and Mine-ness (ahamkAra and mamakAra) keep melting, and the final result of all this is that he obtains the Experience of the Knowledge of the Self, the true spiritual goal.  This truth has been dealt with in the stanza beginning with ‘maraNa-bhaya-mikkuLa’.

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