Aparokshanubhuti by Adi Sankara- Advaita Vedanta in a Capsule

The truth affirmed by the Advaitins happens to be beyond the comprehension of the ordinary mind, but the mind of  man is not the measure of reality. - Dr.S.Radhakrishnan

Our ancient teachers have left behind  a treasury of useful and convenient means of understanding Vedanta, the science  of life, contained in the prasthana traya viz. the Bhagavad Gita, the  Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras. One such stream of teaching is through their  works called prakiriya granthas. A Prakarana Grantha is a User’s  Manual or a Guide Book which explains in simple terms without much of  discussions and elaborations, the great philosophical truths developed in a Sastra  Grantha which bears the stamp of authority. Some of the famous prakarana  granthas are Viveka Chudamani, Pancha Dasi, Atma Bodha, Tatva Bodha,  Drik-Drisya Viveka, Sadhana Panchakam, Vedanta Sara and so on.

Aparokshanubhuti is the one  of such important prakriya granthas on Advaita Vedanta written by Adi  Sankara. It contains 144 verses or slokas. The central theme of the book  is the identity of the individual self with the Universal Self. This identity  is realized through the removal of the ignorance that hides the truth, by the  light of vichara or enquiry alone.


To those who have neither the  time nor the opportunity to go through the great commentaries on the Upanishads  or the  classical works of Sankara, this  book will be an incomparable assistant in their search for the spiritual truth  and to understand the entire Advaita Philosophy within a short and simple compass.

The meaning of the word ‘Aparokshanubhuti’ is as follows. Aks means eyes. para-aksa means somebody’s eyes.  Hence Paroksa means through the eyes of someone else or a secondhand or  a re-user in the modern terminology. Aparoksa means ‘not secondhand’  i.e. first hand or original or direct. Anubhuti means experience. Thus  the very name of the text indicates the experience of some thing directly by us  and not through something else (indirect). That experience is the knowledge of  the Self, the Atman, the Brahman, Purusha. (All  these italicized words are synonyms and not different.)

Sankara’s thesis:
1.Till we develop the capacity to distinguish  between Brahman and the things that we see around us in this world, we will  continue to remain under the illusion that our body is the Atman.
2.The phenomenal world is an illusion and what is  beyond all such phenomena is Brahman, the Absolute Truth.
3.Examine the reason for this illusion. Find out for  yourself that ignorance or Avidya or Maya is the cause of such illusion.
4.Realize the identity of the individual self,  Atman with the Universal Self, Brahman.

Then he prescribes fifteen steps to  attain this Truth and cautions against eight impediments that will come in the  way of achieving this goal.

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