Bhagavatpadabhyudaya by Lakshmana Suri (study)

by Lathika M. P. | 2018 | 67,386 words

This page relates ‘Subtle Body’ of the study on the Bhagavatpadabhyudaya by Lakshmana Suri: a renowned Sanskrit Scholar from the 19th century. The Bhagavatpada-abhyudaya is a Mahakavya (epic poem) narrating the life of Shankara-Acharya, a prominent teacher of Advaita Vedanta philosophy. This essay investigates the socio-spiritual conditions of 8th century AD in ancient India as reflected in Lakshmanasuri’s work.

The subtle body is a Vedantic concept which is called sūkṣma-śarīra or liṅga-śarīra[1]. This is composed of the essence of the five cognitive senses, the five vayus or bio-motor activities, buddhi (intellect) and manas (mind), together with five subtle elements. The five cognitive senses, the auditory, Tactile, visual, gustatory, and olfactory senses are derived from the sattva parts of the elements ether air, fire, water and earth respectively[2]. Buddhi or intellect means the mental state of determination or affirmation (niscayatmika antakaraṇa vṛtti). The function of mind and egoism are all produced from the sattva parts of five elements and therefore elemental. Buddhi, with the cognitive senses is called the sheath of knowledge (vijñāmāya kośa). Manas with the cognitive sense is called the sheath of manas (manomāyakośa). It is the self as associated with the vinjnamaya kosa that feels itself as the agent, enjoyer, happy or unhappy, the individual self (Jīva) that posses through worldly experience and re-birth. The cognitive senses are produced from the rajas parts of the elements. The vāyus are called prāṇa, apāna, vyāna, udāna, samāna. The three sheaths are named as the viṃjñānamāya, Manomāya and praṇāmāya. The viṃjñānamaya sheath plays the part of the active agent (kartṛ-rūpa), the manomaya is the source of all desires and volition, and is therefore regarded as having an instrumental function, the prānamaya sheath represents the motor functions. These three sheaths make-up together two subtle body or the sūkṣma śarīra. Hiranyagarbha (also called Sutrātma or prāna) is the God who presides over the combined subtle bodies of all living beings. These three sheaths, involving all the sub-conscious impressions from which our conscious experience is derived, are therefore called a dream (Jāgrad-vāsana-māyāvat svapna).

During the time of transmigration, the soul accompanied by the subtle body abandones the dead body and accepts a new body. According to the legend, Śaṅkara entered the dead body of King Amaruka to learn about Kāmaśāstra taking the subtle body of his own. After a couple of months in search of their master, the disciples of Śrī Śaṅkara including Padmapāda reached the kingdom of Amaruka. He heard about the king who had lived after death again. They realized that he was in interested in music and they reached there in the role of singers. They wanted to remind Śaṅkara who lives in the body of Amaruka the facts about himself.

Their song contains the essence of Vedantic principles.

na tvaṃ deho na ca proṇo na dhīrnākṣāṇi no tamaḥ |
sarvādhiṣṭhānabhūtaṃ yadrājaṃstattvamasi smara || 41 ||
na tvaṃ jāgranna te jāgranna svapno na suṣuptakam |
nirvikāraṃ turīyaṃ yadrajaṃstattvamasi smara || 42 ||
na tvaṃ rājā na te rāṣṭraṃ na te kāntā na te dhanam |
sarvopādhivimuktaṃ yadrājaṃstattvamasi smara || 43 ||
na te sthūlaṃ na te sūkṣmaṃ na ca te kāraṇaṃ vapuḥ |
aśarīramasaṅgaṃ yadrājaṃstattvamasi smara || 44 ||
rājaputro mātṛvākyādveda svaṃ saṅgavismṛtam |
āptavākyāttathā''tmānaṃ rājaṃ stattvamasi smara || 45 ||
svato'nyato vā viśliṣṭaḥ punareyātsvakaṃ padam |
gāndhāravattaddhi dākṣyaṃ rājastattvamasi smara || 46 ||
tvaṃ haṃsaḥ paramaḥ padmapādanyāsavihārabhṛt |
kathaṃ gṛdhreṣu ramase rājaṃstattvamasi smara || 47 ||
pramādahetuḥ pramadā sugrīvo yatsudhīrapi |
visasmāra svasamayaṃ rājaṃstattavamasi smara || 48 ||
rājaveṣe na rājā syānna bhṛtyo bhṛtyaveṣabhṛt |
pratyapattirhi kāryānte rajaṃstattavamasi smara || 49 ||
guhāhitaṃ suduṣprāpaṃ padaṃ sarvajñatāpadam |
śīghramabhyupapattavyaṃ rājaṃstattavamasi smara || 50 ||

41. You are not the body, not the soul, not the intellect, not the star, not the darkness. But you are the source of all, and so you must remember the meaning of ‘Tat Vam Asi’. Please remember what is the source of everything and realize ‘You are’ or ‘Tat Vam Asi’.

42. You are not awake, you are not alert, dream and sleep please remember that you are in a tiny uncertainity.

43. You are not the king, this is not your country, not your wife, not your wealth. You are free from everything.

44. You are not the gross body or subtle body because you are ‘Aśarīra’.

45. O Rajan, please remember what you separated from your friends. To know the soul, you please remember the meaning of ‘Tat Vam Asi’.

46. You are separate from ‘you’ and from others. Therefore you please return to your place. To go back to your body for that please remember the meaning of ‘Tat Vam Asi’.

47. You please remember the feet of Guru. So You please remember the meaning of ‘Tat Vam Asi’.

48. You are the Ātma and Paramātma. But your former state has been forgotten, and so you please remember the meaning of ‘Tat Vam Asi’.

49. Wearing royal clothes one will not became king. Wearing bad clothes one will not become servant, please remember the meaning of ‘Tat Vam Asi’.

50. Your body is kept in the cave. You should go back. To do this, please remember the meaning of ‘Tat Vam Asi’.

When Śaṅkara heard the song he at once left the body of Amaruka, took to his Liṅgaśarīra and re-entered his own body.

Footnotes and references:


svapnasthano'ntaprajñaḥ saptāṅgaṃ ekonnaviṃśatimukhaḥ praviviktabhuktaijaso dvitīyapādaḥ |
  Vide Śaṅkarācārya, Īśādi Daśopaniṣad (Vol.I), Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas, 2015, Māndukyopaniṣad, 4


sūkṣmaśarīrāṇi saptadaśāvayavāni liṅgaśarīrāṇi | avayavāstu jñānendriyapañcakam buddhi, manasī, karmedriyapañcakam ceti |
  Sadānanda, Vedantasara, Ed., Gajanana Sastri, 17


Lakṣmaṇa Sūrin, Bhagavatpādābhyudaya, VIII. 41-49.

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