Atma Bodha Verse 02

Hari AUM!

bOdhO'nya sAdhanebhyOhi sAkshan mOkshaikasAdhanam |
pAkasya vahnivat jnAnam vinA mOkshO na sidhyati   ||

This teaching(bodham), when compared to other means (sAdhana-s), is the single, direct means to liberation(mOksha). Just as fire is the direct cause of cooking(burning), without jnAna, mOksha cannot be attained.

    In Verse 01, ShrI bhagavatpAda had enunciated the qualifications required for studying advaita. Here, he explains the purpose of this text. It is a common practice to explain the purpose(prayojanam) of a venture. In this verse, ShrI shankara states that the purpose of this bodha(teaching) is to explain the One sure means to mOksha.

    He further states one of the cardinal principles of advaita vedanta - jnAna and jnAna alone liberates. There are many schools of vedanta and some of them teach that bhakti can bring about liberation. Other schools of Indian thought maintain that rituals(karma) or other means can bring about liberation. But, ShrI Shankara and his followers, with the firm support of Shruti(revelation i.e. vedas), maintain that only Self-Realization(jnAna) can bring about liberation.

Why is this so?

    Because, the advaitic view states that we are liberated already. In fact, there is no bondage. The only bondage is our ignorance(avidya). When this ignorance is shed, we are our true selves. How should this ignorance be dispelled? By the light of jnAna(Self-Realization).

    ShrI Shankara states this in the latter half of this verse. Just as fire is the direct cause of cooking i.e without fire there won't be any burning(cooking), just an assorted collection of vegetables, grains etc.; similarly, jnAna is the direct cause for liberation. In fact, without jnAna, mOksha is not possible.