Our ancient teachers have left behind a treasury of useful and convenient means of understanding Vedānta, the science of life, contained in the prasthana traya. Mainly in the Bhagavad Gīṭa, the Upaniṣads 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.
THEME OF THE TEXT:
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 (Ātman, Brahman, Purusha).
- 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 Ātman.
- The phenomenal world is an illusion and what is beyond all such phenomena is Brahman, the Absolute Truth.
- Examine the reason for this illusion. Find out for yourself that ignorance or Avidyā or Maya is the cause of such illusion.
- Realize the identity of the individual self, Ātman with the Universal Self, Brahman.
Then he prescribes 15 steps to attain this Truth and cautions against eight impediments that will come in the way of achieving this goal.
– Credit: T.N.Sethumadhavan