Prabodhasudhākara (प्रबोधसुधाकर) is not a commonly known treatise of Śaṃkarācārya, which deals with the highest level of Advaita philosophy. Prabodha means awakening from the darkness of spiritual ignorance and sudhākara means ocean of nectar. When one gains the right kind of highest non-dualistic knowledge, his consciousness enters into the ocean of nectar of Bliss, which ultimately leads to Brahman. There are opinions that Brahman is ānanda and this is derived from the word Brahmānanda, which means 'joy in Brahman' (it is not joy of Parabrahman, as It is devoid of any attributes), the rapture of absorption into that Self. According to Upaniṣad-s, Brahman is Consciousness and in the purest form of Consciousness, there is no question of any attributes. If we go with this interpretation, obviously, Parabrahman has attribute, which could either be Bliss or Light or even both and therefore cannot be accepted, because we know that even Brahman is devoid of any attributes. Alternative, we have to accept that Parabrahman is both Bliss and Consciousness, from which everything else originates. For the sake of easier understanding, let us say that Shiva is Consciousness and Śakti is Bliss, then Parabrahman or Paramashiva is both Shiva and Śakti. In Parabrahman both Consciousness and Bliss are inherent and when He decides to expand in the form of creation, Shiva is created as Consciousness and Shiva for His own convenience, carved out His Supreme Power and created Śakti. However, in the highest spiritual learning Shiva, Śakti, etc do not have any significance. They are spoken of Saguṇa Brahman, Nirguṇa Brahman and Parabrahman in Advaita Philosophy.

Let us take the mahāvākya. One of the mahāvākya-s is ahaṁ brahmāsmi or I am Brahman. In the purest form of Brahman, even that “I” cannot exist, as “I” refers to inherent ego. In order to avoid this confusion, ego is divided into two; one is essential ego, which is related to the name by which we are called. Without the name, we cannot be identified. Another aspect of ego, which is often destructive in nature, as this is related to one’s inflated and often exaggerated and falsified mental state. Ego is always associated with mind. When the mind is cleansed, non-essential ego is also destroyed. Ego is part of antaḥkaraṇa (mind, intellect and ego). Therefore, in the highest stage of realization, even “ahaṁ brahmāsmi” is not there. When one is Brahman, what is the need to reveal to the world that he is Brahman? Such interesting and important aspects are discussed beautifully in Prabodhasudhākara.

Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.vii) says, “रसो वै रसः raso vai rasaḥ” which means sweetness of everything. After having said this, the Upaniṣad proceeds to say, “ānandī bhavati आनन्दी भवति”. This is to be read with raso vai rasaḥ. Then it means that the one who is aware of the sweetness of Bliss remains in the state of Bliss (perpetual Blissful state). How to reach this state is explained in Prabodhasudhākara, a highly simplified treatise of Śaṃkarācārya.

Prabodhasudhākara consists of 19 chapters comprising of 257 verses. Arrangement of chapters is very interesting. It begins with gross body, moves on to sensory organs, then the mind, dispassion, revelation of the Self, māyā, subtle and causal bodies, experiencing non-dualism, enlightenment, devotion, meditation, becoming one with Saguṇa Brahman and Nirguṇa Brahman and finally the Divine Grace for absorption unto Him.

The text begins by offering salutation to Kṛṣṇa, the chief of Yādava race (descendents of king yadu’s lineage).  This series will deal only with the essence of this immaculate epic. Ultimately, when one learns to work on his prāṇa, mind and consciousness, he realizes the Self within with ease.

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Prabodhasudhākara - Part 1

Prabodhasudhākara - Part 2