Atma Bodha (Self Knowledge), Shankaracharya’s Treatise of Knowledge of the Self



Atma Bodha or knowledge of Self (Atma) is an outcome of deep thinking about why we are born and living, influencing or getting influenced by every one around us, developing relations with them both physically and mentally, worrying for them and either losing them or leaving them temporarily due to life cycle and permanently by death.

According to Bhagavatgeeta and Upanishads it is due to this Birth – Death Cycle.

For everyone this Birth Cycle is continuing. This is what worried the thinkers and philosophers. ”How long should we dwell in these cycles? Is there no end.

Birth is the result of formation of organs of the Body and Mind. This is followed by the ”I” feeling i.e., I am doing, I am successfull, I am suffering etc., This ”I” feeling results in either ego and depression. This ego results in Karma which results in competition which results in worry. The worry results in disease. Disease results in Death which is followed by another birth. The cycle continues thus.

The great Jnanis worked hard to find out how to put an end to these cycles of birth and death though the ignorant kept on asking why should we bother when no one guarantees a rebirth or a birth known to us or a birth in which we do not remember any thing about this birth. Such ignorant lived for physical pleasures, suffered or enjoyed as a result of their works and died. This Atma Bodha is not for them. This is for thinkers who are really interested to acquire wisdom and attain liberation for the soul (Atma) from the birth cycle.

Atma Bodha (Knowledge of Self) is one of the works of Adi Sankaracharya. In this work he expounds clearly with the help of homely analogies the nature of the consciousness (Self) and the means of self realisation. The speciality of this Atma Bodha is that though each Sloka has one direct meaning the concept and inner meaning of each Sloka is really more thoughtful and enlightens the reader. An attempt made to explain the inner meaning also.

The below are the best books on Atma Bodha of Shankaracharya…

1. Self knowledge of Sri Sankaracharya by Swami Nikilananda of Sri Ramakrishna Mission.

2. Atma Bodha by Swami Chinmayananda.

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  1. I am an avid follower of acharya sankara literature.