Vitarka ātmajñānam वितर्क आत्मज्ञानम् (sūtra 17)
Vitarka means unfaltering consciousness (vitarka literally means reasoning, deliberation, consideration). Unfaltering consciousness is to be properly understood. The pure awareness also known as unfaltering or pure consciousness or the highest level of consciousness is sat-cit- ānanda(existence, consciousness and bliss) or the eternal Self and in the present context this refers to Śiva. This awareness is inherent quality of mankind. Destroying egoistic self and realising Supreme Self within, is the result of purifying one’s consciousness. Typically speaking, spirituality is nothing but destroying egoistic self and spiritual progression purely depends upon the extent of destroying his egoistic self. Beyond this, there are no dos and don’ts in spirituality. When the level of egoistic self decreases, vitarka increases which in turn leads to ātmajñānam. Vitarka is said to mean un-afflicted affirmation. When one says that he is Śiva without any conviction, he can never reach the state of Śiva. Conviction and belief go together. Unless one is convinced about something, he cannot have belief in that. If he is convinced, he begins to believe in that and when he has developed total belief, he himself over a period of time transforms into what he has believed in.
What is ātmajñānam? Knowledge of Self is ātma jñānam. Self is sat-cit- ānanda, also known as Śiva.Vitarka leads to ātma jñānam. Śiva is eternal. Worshipping Śiva is not to please Him. No one can please Him as by nature He always remains pleased. Worshipping is to be done with sole idea of becoming Śiva Himself. For transforming into Śiva, only inward adjustments are needed in the arena of mind. This sūtra says that ātma jñānam or Self realization is possible only in the purest form of consciousness. When Self is realised, he understands that he and Śiva are not different. He continues to enjoy ānanda within as he now knows that Śiva is within.