Monday, May 13, 2024

Nirvana Shatakam

Verse 1

In the first verse is the negation of the subtle body and the subtle elements which form the subtle body.

mano-buddhyahaṅkāra-cittāni nāhaṁ
na ca śrotra-jihve na ca ghrāṇa-netre,
na ca vyoma-bhūmirna tejo na vāyuḥ
cidānanda-rūpaḥ śivo’haṁ śivo’ham. (1)

I am not the mind, intellect, ego or memory (the four aspects of what is known as antaḥkaraṇa). Nor am I (the five organs of perception) the ear, tongue, nose, eyes, (or skin), nor (the five elements) the space, earth, fire, air and water. 

I am pure Knowledge and Bliss, I am Śiva, auspiciousness itself.


Our inner instrument (antaḥkaraṇa) comprises of four aspects each having its own function. The mind that thinks or imagines, the intellect that discriminates and decides, the ego that calls itself the self, the doer and enjoyer, and the memory that recollects past experiences. 

The five senses are the ability to hear, feel, see, taste and smell. 

The sāttvika aspects of the five elements (space, air, fire, water and earth) in their subtle form are called the tanmātrās. They are the material cause that constitute the subtle body. 

The subtle body (sūkṣma śarīra) along with its constituent elements is here negated as not being the true Self. 

Obviously the true Self (ātmā) being the illuminator, or the enlivener of everything else including the subtle body, cannot be those illumined objects. Then, what is the true Self, the real I? 

The affirmation comes from Bhagavān Śaṅkara, 

‘I am of the nature of pure Consciousness and Bliss Supreme – the one Reality behind everything – I am Śiva, the auspicious.’ 

When we constantly and sincerely start practising meditation, chanting the verses and reflecting on them in this way, the mind slowly acquires a certain calmness, purity and clarity and becomes capable of abiding in the Truth.

Verse 2

Now, just as the subtle body is negated as ‘not-Self’ in the previous verse, the gross physical body is negated in this verse.

na ca prāṇasanjño na vai pañcavāyuḥ
na vā saptadhāturna vā pañcakośāḥ,
na vāk-pāṇi-pādaṁ na copastha-pāyū
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’haṁ śivo’ham. (2).

I am indeed not the prāṇa, (five vital airs), not the seven material components of the body and surely not the five sheaths or the organ of speech, the hand or the leg, and not the genital organ, nor the anus.

I am of the nature of pure Knowledge and Bliss. I am Śiva (the most auspicious), I am Śiva.


The seer is not the seen. One who is aware of a thing is different from that thing. Therefore, I, who am aware of prāṇa, am not that prāṇa.

The five physiological functions are collectively also called prāṇas. It is what keeps the gross body alive and therefore called pañcavāyuḥ or five vital airs. 

They are : 
•. Prāṇa – controls the respiratory system; 
•. Apāna – controls the excretory system; 
•. Vyāna – controls the circulatory system; 
•. Udāna – controls the reactions and final ejection of prāṇa from the physical body; •. Samāna – controls the digestive system. 

The seven material components of the physical body (sapta dhātu) are the skin, flesh, fat, blood, muscle, bone and marrow. 

The three bodies (gross, subtle and causal) are differently categorised as the five sheaths (pañcakośa). Kośa means sheath. Since they veil the Truth within, these five are called pañcakośa. 

They are : 
•. The food sheath (annamaya kośa) or the material physical body. 
•. Vital air sheath (prāṇamaya kośa) or the energy that keeps the five physiological functions going. 
•. Mental sheath (manomaya kośa ). 
•. Intellectual sheath (vijñānamaya kośa). 
•. Bliss sheath (ānandamaya kośa), also known as causal body (kāraṇa śarīra), the abode of all inherent tendencies (vāsanās) that prompt the individual to act.

All the above together help the gross body to function. 

I cannot be the gross body as I am the perceiver of the body. It is inert and gross. I am sentient and subtle. I am of the nature of pure Consciousness.

The affirmation of what the real Self is comes as a refrain at the end of each negation. This helps the meditator to bring his mind back to himself – the subject. 

He sees himself as the seer in the midst of the seen, the illuminator in the midst of the illumined – the very substratum for all these. 

As the seeker in meditation begins appreciating these verses, the grand vision of Truth unfolds before his inner eye. He sees himself as the witness (sākṣī) of everything – the gross body and the subtle body.

Verse 3

Since the gross and subtle are not me, their characteristics and the qualities like colour, form, likes, dislikes, desire, anger, greed, jealousy and so on also do not belong to me. This is stated in this verse.

na me dveṣa-rāgau na me lobha-mohau
mado naiva me naiva mātsaryabhāvaḥ,
na dharmo na cārtho na kāmo na mokṣaḥ
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’haṁ śivo’ham. (3)

3. I have neither dislikes nor likes, neither greed nor delusion, neither pride nor jealousy. I have no duty to perform, nor any wealth to acquire, I have no craving for pleasures and the Self is never bound, so I have no desire for Liberation. I am of the nature of pure Consciousness and Bliss, I am all auspiciousness, I am Śiva.


As long as man imagines that he is the body or mind, he interacts and reacts with the objects, persons and situations around him with likes and dislikes and reaps joys and sorrows. His likes and dislikes are according to his inherent tendencies (vasanäs), which give rise to desires, which is nursed by his ego, and he falls prey to greed, delusion, pride, jealousy and so on. 

These constitute the impurities: (mala) which cause mental agitations (viksepa) and which veil (avarana) the vision of his true identity.

When we have negated and transcended the physical and subtle bodies (upädhis), none of the above can touch us or us.

The four goals of man (purusarthas) are :

1. Acquisition of merits (dharma)
2. Acquiring wealth (artha)
3. Enjoying pleasures (kama) and
4. Seeking Liberation (moksa).

These four goals are only for those who have the sense of doership born out of identification with their body-mind-intellect, due to the ignorance of their true nature. The Self has no ignorance and therefore is free from the four puruṣārthas.

All bondages (bandhana) of worldly life and its problems belong to the body-mind-intellect equipment (upādhis) only and not to the pure Consciousness (Ᾱtmā). 

I, the pure Existence-Consciousness-Bliss (sat-cit-ānanda) Self (Ᾱtmā), has no bondage at all. Then where is the question of Liberation (mokṣa) for me? 

I am already Liberated (nitya mukta). I am full and complete. I am one with the infinite, pure Consciousness.

Verse 4

na puṇyaṁ na pāpaṁ na saukhyaṁ na duḥkham
na mantro na tīrthaṁ na vedā na yajñāḥ,
ahaṁ bhojanaṁ naiva bhojyaṁ na bhoktā
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’haṁ śivo’ham. (4).

(I have) neither virtue nor vice, pleasure nor pain, the sacred chants, nor the pilgrimage; the scriptures nor the sacrificial rituals. I am neither the act of enjoying, nor the enjoyable object, nor the enjoyer. 

I am pure Knowledge and Bliss, I am Siva, auspiciousness


But for a Man of Realisation who has already undergone the complete process of inner purification by appropriate practices (sadhanã) and come to experience and abide in the supreme Self (atmanubhava), mantras, tirtha, Vedas, yajnas have served their purpose and are now irrelevant. 

He is no longer in the realm of the triputi (triple factors) of bhojanam (ex) objects), bhojyam (experience) and bhoktã (experiencer). All these triads vanish in the Realisation of that one Truth - the Consciousness.

Verse 5

Once the vision of the One, non-dual Brahman as one’s own real Self dawns, all dualities end and one revels in that one Supreme.

na me mṛtyuśaṅkā na me jātibhedaḥ
pitā naiva me naiva mātā na janma,
na bandhurna mitraṁ gurur-naiva śiṣyaḥ
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’haṁ śivo’ham. (5)

I have no fear of death, nor (have I) any distinction of caste. I have neither father, nor mother nor (even) birth, no relation, nor friend. For me there is no Guru and no disciple. I am pure Knowledge and Bliss, I am all auspiciousness, I am Śiva.

Verse 6

ahaṁ nirvikalpo nirākārarūpaḥ
vibhurvyāpya sarvatra sarvendriyāṇām,
sadā me samatvaṁ na muktirna bandhaḥ
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’haṁ śivo’ham. (6).

I am devoid of dualities and am formless. I exist everywhere, pervading all the senses. I am always the same and (I have) neither freedom nor bondage. I am pure Knowledge and Bliss. I am auspiciousness, I am Śiva. 


I am free from all dualities, as I have no form. Everything including the sense organs, is pervaded by me, yet I am beyond them also. Therefore to me there is oneness, equality (samatvam) alone. 

As I have no bondage, I have no Liberation either. We thought we were bound, but we understand thereafter that we are ever liberated. Even when we thought we were bound, we were really free. 

Nirvāṇa Ṣaṭkam is the direct experience of a Man of Realisation. 

He declares – “I am pure Consciousness, eternal Bliss – the ever auspicious One. "

There is no superimposition at all. It is a state of complete and absolute freedom. 

The world, as is known to us in the waking, dream and deep sleep states has no reality for such a person. Therefore he has no duties, responsibilities or goals.

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