3 – Tattva Bodha: Sadhana Chatushtaya & Nitya-Anitya Viveka


Discourse 3 speaks about first two important qualifications (discrimination & dispassion). Both are needed by adhikari (desirious of moksha) to establish absolute clarity of reality. Method of differentiating (actual technique) reality is introduced briefly (tattva viveka prakaram). 3 Types of dispassion (vairagya).

Source: Tattva Bodha (by Adi Shankara)


  • Before Tattva Bodha is expounded, teacher and student make each other a prepared instrument, by invoking Lord.
    • Just like before job interview, one becomes a prepared instrument.
    • How does teacher/student prepare in class? By putting aside past memories, conclusions. Surrendering one’s capacity to it’s cause.
  • Then, jñānam pradam gurum: Then the Lord can function through the expounder (ācārya) or author, to benefit the student.
    • Is there any agenda in the giving? It is without conditions.
      • How come? Because expounder too has benefited from his/her guru’s selfless giving.
      • This makes Vedānta a tradition (paramparā) of selfless giving.
  • What happens AFTER invocation?
    • The expounder/author qualifies the student with: anubandha-catuṣṭaya (4-fold preliminary considerations).
      • What is purpose of this? So student can decide if wish to study text or depart.
  • What are the 4-fold preliminary considerations?
    • Adhikārī:
      • Who is right person for the book? Eligible person. Deserving candidate.
        • ANSWER: Mumukṣu (desirous of liberation. So goal is mokṣa).
    • Viṣaya:
      • Subject matter, which connects the adhikārī to the GOAL.
    • Prayojana:
      • What is the end/result? Mokṣa.
      • So what if it speaks about the ultimate end! Can it GUIDE me to the end? Thus sambandha…
    • Sambandha:
      • Shows relationship between (1) what I want (2) and book’s ability to deliver my sincere desire.
      • In this way, book “Tattva Bodha” is now connected (sambandha) to what matters to me.
    • SUMMARY: Knowing that book “Tattva Bodha” is MEANS to my goal, thus I pursue the book further…
  • What is śāstra? Complete text.
  • What is prakaraṇa-grantha? Topical text. Meaning it covers parts of śāstra.
    • However has identical goal as śāstra. Which is: Self-knowledge. Meaning “Tattva Bodha” matches śāstra’s Both lead to liberation.
    • SUMMARY (of prakaraṇa-grantha):
      • Covers topic of śāstra.
      • Gives same result as śāstra, which is mokṣa.
      • Prepares you for study of: bhagavad gītā, brahma-sūtra, upaniṣads.
  • What is the topic of “Tattva Bodha” text?
    • Defines śāstra terms / terminology.
    • Can’t study related texts, until know terms.
      • EG: mathematics: continued fractions, prime numbers, numerators/denominators, elliptic integrals, hypergeometric series, zeta function, divergent series, quadratic forms, Cauchy’s theorem, positive integers, etc…
    • Also terms are connected into a flow which leads to mokṣa. Not random.
    • Who better to write terms then Ādi Śaṅkara. Because he wrote commentaries on all 3 texts. So he knows śāstra. Better then author who only wrote commentary of Gītā.
  • 2 Important figures in Vedanta Tradition:
    • Vyāsa:
      • śruti-prasthāṇa: Compiled the vedās.
      • smṛti-prasthāna: Gītā. Wrote himself.
      • brahma-sūtra: Wrote to clarify śruti.
      • Vyāsa is called: sūtra-kāra. Writer of sūtras. EG: Brahma Sūtra / Bhagavat Gītā.
    • Adi Shankara:
      • Called: bhāṣya-kāra. Writer of commentaries.


Discourse 3 begins:

  • Tattva Bodha teaching style:
    • FIRST: States a vastu-saṅgraha-vākya.
      • Vākya: statement.
      • Saṅgraha: collects.
      • Vastu: every(thing)/points.
      • Meaning: (Makes) Statement which collects every point (about the subject matter) and puts it in ONE place.
    • SECOND: Asks questions about everything stated. What is A, B, C, etc.

Introduction into 4-fold qualifications:

sādhana-catuṣṭaya-saṁpannādhikāriṇāṁ mokṣa-sādhanabhūtaṁ
tattvaviveka-prakāraṁ vakṣyāmaḥ    [PDF pg14 (book pg11)]

We shall describe the method of discriminative enquiry of truth which is the (direct) means for liberation for the qualified ones who are endowed with the four-fold sādhanas (qualifications).


  • Vakṣyāmaḥ: We shall explain.
    • Explain what? Tattva viveka prakāram: Method to determine the reality.
  • Why listen to this method? Mokṣa-sādhana bhūtaṁ: because it is means of liberation.
    • Meaning, text clarifies (1) WHAT liberation is, and (2) HOW to liberate myself here and now.
  • To whom is this text given?
    • For an adhikārī, the method is given, to determine the reality.
    • Who is adhikārī? Seeker of liberation / a qualified person.
    • And how one becomes an adhikārī? Endowed with sādhana-catuṣṭaya (4-fold sādhana qualifications).
  • TRANSLATION: For adhikārī, who is endowed with sādhana-catuṣṭaya, we shall expound the method (being Tattva Viveka) for determining the reality – which leads to mokṣa.
  • 3 Questions come from translation, which covers entire book:
    • SECTION 1: What is sādhana-catuṣṭaya (4-fold qualifications)? Pg 13-31.
    • SECTION 2: What is tattva-viveka (How to discriminate real-unreal)? Pg 32-108.
    • SECTION 3: What is mokṣa (freedom/end of future rebirth/absolute clarity of reality)? Pg 109-132.


SECTION 1: The Four-Fold Qualifications:

sādhana-catuṣṭayaṁ kim? (1) nitya anitya vastu vivekaḥ,
(2) iha amutra artha phala bhoga virāgaḥ (3) śamādi ṣaṭka saṁpattiḥ,
(4) mumukṣutvaṁ ca iti.   [PDF pg16 (book pg13)]

(The four-fold qualifications are) (1) Discriminative understanding of the difference between the timeless and time-bound, (2) dispassion for the results of experience here (in this world) and in the hereafter, (3) the sixfold accomplishments (wealth) beginning with śama, (inner composure) etc., and a (4) desire for freedom from becoming.


  • sādhana-catuṣṭayam kim? What qualities should I have, to be right person for this knowledge (leading to clarity of reality)?
    • Insufficient qualities: Parokṣa-jñānam: Intellectual knowledge (through another’s eyes).
    • Sufficient qualities: Aparokṣa-jñānam: Direct knowledge. (Not through another’s eyes)


Adhikārī Qualification 1: Discrimination

(1) nitya anitya vastu vivekaḥ kaḥ?
(a) nitya vastu ekaṁ brahma, (b) tad vyatiriktaṁ sarvam anityam,
ayam eva nitya anitya vastu vivekaḥ.

What is the discriminative understanding between the (nitya) and the time-bound (anitya)? (a) The timeless (infinite) is one, Brahman (limitless). (b) All else other than that is timebound (finite). This alone is the discriminative understanding between the timeless and the time-bound.


  • First, what is viveka?
    • Ability of intellect to differentiate. Identify differences. Compare. EG:
      • Gross:
        • Blue/red. Tree/pole. Up/down. Hungry/not. Cold/warm.
        • Dangerous dog/friendly. Cheerful/gloomy.
      • Subtle:
        • Safe to overtake or not.
        • Counting pebbles.
        • Sensing another’s pain.
        • Appropriate to speak or not.
        • “This” is morally right/wrong.
      • In Tattva Bodha, this capacity is taken to highest level.
        • What is highest ability to exercise viveka? Answered next…
  • What is nitya anitya vastu-vivekaḥ?
    • Differentiation between vastu (everything / reality) which is:

Nitya Anitya
• Eternal
• Permanent
• Changeless
• Timeless
• Infinite
• Limitless
• Complete
• Imperishable
• Ephemeral
• Impermeant
• Changing
• Time-bound
• Finite
• Limited
• Partial
• Perishable

    • What is this distinction?
      • (a) nitya vastu ekam brahma: The ONE Brahman alone is nitya (permanent).
      • (b) tad vyatiriktam sarvam anityam: Everything else (other then that) is anitya (impermanent).
    • Metaphor:
      • Gold is permanent, ornaments are impermanent.
        • Meaning the ornament is the gold, but gold is NOT the ornament.
          • Because gold is not limited to a single ornament. And all ornaments depend on the ONE Gold.
        • If ornament breaks, it doesn’t break the gold.
        • So gold is reality of all ornaments. Nitya/anitya are never apart.
      • In same way, world is like gold ornaments with many forms.
        • It is not that world is impermanent. But in all worldly things (effects), there is a permanent truth.
        • Meaning, worldly objects are impermanent, but reality BEHIND the object is permanent.
    • Why would you want to exercise viveka?
      • Protect mind/senses from externalizing to worldly impermanent (anitya) objects.
    • How to exercise viveka?
      • Deliberately establish boundaries in life. “No!”.
    • What about those who are not exposed to nitya anitya vastu vivekaḥ?
      • Everyone at some point, starts to question life. If there is something more then worldly comforts.
      • Eventually start to apply subtle viveka to worldly experiences. Eventually leads to spirituality.
    • SUMMARY:
      • Cause (Brahman) is permanent. Effect (world) is impermanent.
        • EG: Wood from which all wooden-furniture comes is always present.
          • NOTE: We know you can say “wood can be burned”. In this session, we're only showing a relatable nitya/anitya example. Concrete proof that applies to WHOLE reality comes later.
      • After practicing viveka, what is the result? Virāgaḥ…


Adhikārī Qualification 2: Dispassion

(2) virāgaḥ kaḥ?
iha svarga bhogeṣu icchā rāhityam.   [PDF pg18 (book pg16)]

What is virāga?
(Dispassion is) Absence of desire in the enjoyments here (in this world) and in the enjoyments of heaven.


  • First what is virāga or (more widely known) vairāgya? Dispassion.

    • What is dispassion?
      • iha svarga bhogeṣu icchā rāhityam:
        • Absence of desire for enjoyment in present (world) and future (heaven).
        • Meaning: I won’t continue wasting my life with “this” (worldly or heavenly goals). I want something higher.
          • EG: Teenager eventually develops dispassion for toys, which he fought for in childhood. But passion for girls.
            • But Tattva-Bodha type of dispassion is for sarvam anitya vastu.
        • Therefore vairāgya is mental maturity.
          • Meaning, not getting caught up with objects/experiences, as though they are sole purpose for living.
    • What else is virāga/vairāgya?
      • Absence of rāga / dveṣa (likes / dislikes) for objects. Meaning, one's perspective of world is objective.
        • What is objectivity?
          • Imagine principal calls. Your son was inside the room which caught fire and burned.
            • Parent response: Emotional. Personal.
          • Then principal calls and says, your son lucky was in bathroom at this time. He is unharmed.
            • Parent response: Intelligently. Rationally.
        • What is vairāgya NOT?
          • It is not leaving world, spouse, business, etc. Nor abandoning world duties, then justifying with “world is an illusion, all this shall pass anyway, etc“. If guru thought like this, then guru wouldn't bother teaching you, also justifying with “there is nothing to teach, noone to teach“, etc.
          • Vairāgya is taking responsibility for your life. Giving all areas their rightful attention, while focus on most important never gets compromised.
            • Just how mother develops dispassion for world, because her focus is on her new-born child. In same way, adhikārī enjoys worldly dispassion, because he/she is a mumukṣu.
  • 3 Types of Vairāgyam:
    1. śmaśāna-vairāgya:
      • Burial ground.
      • We think of impermanence when at someone’s funeral. “Life is impermanent. One day, this body will go!”.
      • Meaning: Dispassion arises when sees death. But it’s short-time.
    2. Madhyama-vairāgya:
      • EG:
        • “I’m not interested in the world. I’m only interested in my family!”.
        • “I don’t need anything, but love to be acknowledged/respected!”.
    3. tīvra-vairāgya:
      • Keen/strong.
      • Nothing in world can steal or tempt my mind’s attention.
      • I only want the highest! Willing to sacrifice everything for it.


Keywords: adhikari, anubandha-catustaya, anubandha-chatushtaya, aparoksa-jnanam, aparoksha-jnana, bhashya-kara, bhasya-kara, brahma sutra, brahmasutra, dvesa, dvesha, iha svarga bhogesu iccha rahityam, jnana pradam guru, madhyama-vairagya, moksa, Moksa-sadhana bhutam, moksha, nitya anitya vastu-vivekah, parampara, paroksa-jnanam, paroksha-jnana, prakarana-grantha, raga, sadhana-catustaya, sadhana-chatushtaya, sastra, shastra, shmashana-vairagya, shruti-prasthana, smasana-vairagya, smriti smrti, sruti-prasthana, sutra-kara, sutrakara, Tattva viveka prakara, tivra-vairagya, vairagya, vakshyama, vaksyama, vastu-sangraha-vakya, Viraga, visaya, vishaya, adi shankara, adi sankara, bhagavat gita, bhagavad gita, bhagavadgita


  • Must complete through this test before coming next session.

Credit for help in Tattva Bodha to Chinmaya Mission's – Swami Advayananda & (book by) Swami Tejomayananda. Also using notes from Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya) book “Tattvabodha”.

Recorded 22 March, 2020



  1. Hello Andre. I hope you get back to Tattva Boddha sometime. You have such a clear and complete style of communication. I have been going through it with a study group, but I long to hear your next video. I like the notes too.

  2. andre luv the clarity of communication and the phenomenal notes. will patiently wait… for the rest. thk u

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