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Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra – Upanishad of the Self

Pujya Gurudevshri explains how Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra is like an Upanishad both in content and style. He who contemplates on the profound wisdom embedded in it by Param Krupalu Dev is sure to realise his true Self

Spirituality is related to the Self. Knowledge related to the Self is called spiritual knowledge. What is the Self? What is its nature? What is its relationship with matter? What is the reason for misapprehending the nature of the truth? In this way, deliberation on the attributes of the Self, its modifications etc., is the subject matter of spiritual knowledge. Moreover, various instructions, methods of cultivating virtues, remedies to cleanse the impurity of karma and different means to cultivate detachment. Thus, the way by which one attains purity, and abides in the Self is spirituality. By understanding the nature of the Self with the help of spiritual knowledge, realising the pure nature through constant spiritual practice, one comes to enjoy eternal bliss. Without spiritual knowledge, one cannot taste the bliss of the Self. Therefore, the seeker should put forth efforts to attain spiritual knowledge through the study of scriptures.

Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra is a scripture, an incomparable Upanishad of the Self – an Atmopanishad. The highest and deepest philosophy that can be learned sitting near the Lotus Feet of the Sadguru is called Upanishad. Upanishads contains a discussion of the Self. Other than that, whatever is discussed in them is to facilitate the understanding of the Self. Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra reminds of the Upanishads because it reflects the style of the Upanishads and the art of presenting examples. It teaches, through a dialogue between the Guru and the disciple, the six fundamentals of the Self – The soul exists, the soul is eternal, the soul is the doer, the soul is the receiver, liberation exists and there are means to attain liberation. Its primary subject is the Self and the depiction in it is also centred around the Self. Just like the Upanishads’ status is in Vedic literature, so is the prestigious and glorious status of Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra in Jain literature due to its unparalleled richness and depth. Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra is a philosophical treatise on the technique of attaining Self-realisation.

Nature of the Self

The infallible sign of the Self is knowingness, consciousness! To understand the Self, you should rely on this sign that exists at all times. The body undergoes various modifications, but the knowledge about them remains even after they have passed. So, it is certain that the knower is other than the body. The Self is merely the witness. Therefore, to know the Self, do not identify with the body, sense organs, their modifications or even the modifications of the soul.

One who is in a metaphysical slumber is instructed to get awakened but when he awakens, he is told to not identify with even this modification. Just as metaphysical sleep is not your inherent nature, waking up is not your inherent nature either. Sleeping and awakening are both modifications whilst the Self prevails in the past, present and future as knowingness. It is distinct from both the states, only a knower of them.

Awaken even from waking up. One abiding in the Self does not identify with any state – pure or impure. He does not consider himself as awakened or asleep. He remains separate from every state. Just as medicine is administered only when one is sick and discontinued once one becomes healthy, so it is about the efforts to get awakened. Stay awakened to them too.

I am One

You are crowded with many notions about your self. Modern psychology also accepts this and calls it the multi-psychic nature of man. Each individual has many minds. One in the morning, another in the evening. Today one, tomorrow another. What is liked in the morning is disliked in the evening. What feels good today, seems useless tomorrow. A friend of one time seems a foe at another time. The mind carries many impressions from the past. And they also keep undergoing modifications. Identifying with them, you too become many.

Then why do Enlightened Ones say ‘I am one’? It is because in all of them exists one eternal knowing consciousness. It is separate from all the states and remains consciousness alone. It is steady and ever lasting. Identifying with it will make you realise that you are one.

At present, you are in a metaphysical slumber, so lust, anger, conceit, deceit, greed, guilt, etc. take turns to boss over you. When it is anger’s turn, it alone reigns; forgiveness and compassion cannot intervene. But anger cannot last forever. When its tenure is over, guilt takes over, and you cry, become sad, seek forgiveness.

The Enlightened Ones say that such a state of having many bosses is not your nature. You are consciousness. Knowing alone is your nature. Stay as a witness to the changes. Param Krupalu Dev in Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra says that the nature of the Self is to know, and it is distinct from all changing states.

Abide in the Self

Abiding in this one, pure Self, which is complete with consciousness, annihilates the impurities. But you do the opposite. You want to remove these impurities and thereby become steady in the Self. This is impossible; impurities will keep arising and the Self will remain distant! Annihilation of the impurities is the fruit of abidance in the Self. Instead, if you pursue to remove the impurities, they will keep undergoing modifications, and you will not abide in the Self. So keep identifying with the pure Self, stay connected to the real nature. That is the right direction of the spiritual pursuit.

The impure modifications are many. Identifying with them is ignorance. If you search, you will find one knower prevailing in all of them. As the understanding of the knower matures, and when you identify with it, the Self can be recognised.

Identify with the eternal, not with the transient. If you take a water bubble in your hand, it will burst. If you try to catch the rainbow, it will vanish. Nothing will remain as it is and you too will stay empty. But if you hold on to the eternal, the knower then you will get filled with your Self, by your Self! You are that whose nature cannot be obstructed, it is continuous unbroken presence. That is the Self, it is your nature. Subtracting all, that which cannot be negated but remains forever, that is the nature of your Self.

This is what is shown in Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra. Its uniqueness is that every time you delve into it, it brings out something fresh to nurture the soul. Therefore, don’t just read or recite this scripture, delve deep in it. Again and again, every word of it must be contemplated upon, and woven in daily life. Without this, the profundity of this scripture cannot be gauged. May sincere and deep study of this Atmopanishad elevate all to the next level in their spiritual journey.

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