Atma Bodha Verse 04

Hari AUM!

paricchinna ivAjnAnAt tannASe sati kevala: |
svayam prakASate hiAtmA meghApAyEamSumAniva ||

Translation :
This Self appears to be finite due to ignorance(ajnAna); when ignorance is destroyed, the Self which is self-luminous is known, just as the radiance of the Sun is known after the clouds pass away.

Explanation :
    This verse is in continuation of the theme of the prior verses; namely, the explanation of Atman, jnAna, avidya etc. To sum, bhagavatpAda has so far taught us that mOksha is the prime goal of life, mokshA can be attained by jnAna alone and that jnAna leads to removal of avidya. But, what is avidya?

    Avidya is the primal ignorance of the jIva which thinks of itself as finite, mortal etc. not realizing its true Self (Atman) which is infinite, immortal etc. How should this avidya be removed? Not by any external agent. In verse 03, ShrI Shankara mentioned that "karma" cannot remove avidya. Here, he says that the Atman is self-luminous, meaning, the Atman is already aware of its true Self. This is a key concept.

    No external agent can reveal the Self because the Self is self-conscious and self-luminous. So, what prevents it from knowing itself? Avidya. The ontological status of avidya and its locus will be dealt with in other works of greater philosophical depth. For now, it suffices to think of avidya as that which prevents the jIva from realizing its true Self(Atman).

    Continuing with the earlier simile, in which avidya is likened to darkness, here ShrI Shankara offers another simile where avidya is likened to the darkness cast by the clouds that obstruct sun light. What are these clouds? We shall see later that these clouds are nothing but mAyA. Once these clouds(mAya) go away, the darkness cast by them (avidya) also vanishes and lets us bask in the radiant sun light(brahman).

PS : I have added a couple of extra verses today because they are on a related theme and naturally go together.