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Nirvana Shatakam: Shankaracharya’s pearl of wisdom for the professionals

Nirvana Shatakam: Shankaracharya’s pearl of wisdom for the professionals

What does a person engaged in the stage of artha (dharma, artha, Kama, moksha) get to learn from an ascetic, who renounces worldly pursuits at the young age of eight years? What does a spiritual seeker who endorses the philosophical thought of "Brahma Satya Jagat mithya, jivo Brahmaiva naparah (ब्रह्म सत्यं जगन्मिथ्या जीवो ब्रह्मैव नापर: - Brahman is the only truth, the world is illusory and ultimately there is no difference between Brahman and individual self) has to offer to the professionals of the current time?

Among the various enlightening and engaging stories from the short span of 32 years of Adi Shankaracharya's life, there are many insights on balancing the four purusarth of Dharma, Artha, Kama, moksha.

One famous anecdote from his life offers insight both for a spiritual seeker and a person engaged in the material pursuits of this world. It so happened that Shankaracharya was in search of a learned person or Guru to further guide him deep in the truth of the universe. One day he chanced to find the famous seer, Govindacharya (Govinda Bhagavatpada), near the banks of river Narmada.

Govindacharya, seeing the young Sankaracharya, asked, "who are you?" Shankaracharya, in response, recites nirvana Shatakam (निर्वाण षट्कम) or Atma shatakam (आत्म षटकम). Nirvana shatakam speaks about the philosophy of non dualism in the simplest way. The six verses of the nirvana shatakam beautifully infuse the Advaitic concept of self. Govindacharya witnessing the brilliance of the young seeker, immediately realised that he was not an ordinary boy and took him under his guidance.

Sankaracharya was looking for a spiritual guru, and his introduction left Govindacharya spellbound. Govindacharya knew that the young disciple had clarity of thought. He was aware of what he was searching or aiming for. He seemed familiar with his desired domain very well, and his competence was crystal clear from his introduction. The young seeker knew of his distinguishing value, which would set him apart from other spiritual seekers. Sankaracharya gave an intelligent summary of his attitude and knowledge. He spoke what mattered. He did what we are expected to do while introducing ourselves to our recruiters, selectors, investors for our dream job/dream projects.

Young professionals out in this world need to take a strong cue from Shankaracharya's life to make a mark for themselves. The young seeker was straightforward and focused on his aim. He knew that search or wait could be extended, but perseverance is the key. In the process of reaching your aim, keep accumulating more knowledge about your area of work. Introspection and self-awareness is the key. The employer, trainer, mentor, or Guru appreciate the employee, trainee or disciple who is self-aware and clear of what they seek. The objective of your meeting should be part of your introductory talk.

Sankaracharya was a spiritual seeker, desirous for a Guru. When he got the golden opportunity to introduce himself to his Guru, he spoke what brought the desired impact.

For example, if you want to make a dream career in technology, sports, cinema, law, journalism etc., and if you get a prestigious opportunity to present yourself to the decision-making legends of that field, then prepare to speak to make an impact. Communicate your emotion, enthusiasm and skill. Introduce skillfully to showcase your attitude and aptitude. Remember, "well begun is half done."

Nirvana Shatakam or Atma Shatakam explains the process of self-exploration. The verses progressively expose the true nature of Atman/Brahman by rejecting the Anatma's (non-Self) that are mere superimpositions on Atman (आत्मा)
There are a total of six verses in this hymn, so it's called Shatakam, meaning six in English.

मनोबुद्ध्यहङ्कार चित्तानि नाहं
न च श्रोत्रजिह्वे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।
न च व्योम भूमिर्न तेजो न वायुः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥१॥

(Neither I am the Mind, the Intellect, the Ego, Nor am I the organs: ears, tongue, skin, nose or eyes. I am not the Sky, not Earth, Not the Fire, water or Air. I am the Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva

न च प्राणसंज्ञो न वै पञ्चवायुः
न वा सप्तधातुः न वा पञ्चकोशः ।
न वाक्पाणिपादं न चोपस्थपायु
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥२॥

(I am not the Vital Breath, nor the five elements. I am not the matter or the Five Sheaths of consciousness. I am not the organs of the body. I am the Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva)

न मे द्वेषरागौ न मे लोभमोहौ
मदो नैव मे नैव मात्सर्यभावः ।
न धर्मो न चार्थो न कामो न मोक्षः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥३॥

(I am not the feeling of hatred, attachment, greed or delusion. Neither do I am the feeling of Pride, Envy or Jealousy,
I am Not bound by Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. I am the Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva)

न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दुःखं
न मन्त्रो न तीर्थं न वेदा न यज्ञाः ।
अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥४॥

(I am not bound by Merits, Sins, Worldly Joys or by Sorrows. Sacred Hymns, Sacred Places, Sacred Scriptures, Sacrifices do not bind me. I am neither experienced nor experience. I am the eternal Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva.)

न मृत्युर्न शङ्का न मे जातिभेदः
पिता नैव मे नैव माता न जन्मः ।
न बन्धुर्न मित्रं गुरुर्नैव शिष्यं
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥५॥

(I am not bound by Death and its Fear, not by the rules of Caste and its Distinctions. I have no Father, no Mother and no birth. I am not a Relative, Friend, Spiritual Teacher or Disciple. I am the Eternal Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva.)

अहं निर्विकल्पो निराकाररूपो
विभुत्वाच्च सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम् ।
न चासङ्गतं नैव मुक्तिर्न मेयः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥६॥

(I have no Variation and Without any Form. I am Present Everywhere, pervading all senses. Neither I am Attached to anything, nor get Freed from anything nor captive. I am the Eternal Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva.)