Once a young boy, seeking to find his Guru, wandered near the Narmada river and met with an enlightened seer Govindapada. The seer asked him a simple question, “Who are you?”
“I am not my mind. I am not my intellect. Not my ego either. I am neither the reflection of my inner self (Citta) nor the sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin). And I am none of the five elements (earth, fire, water, air, and ether) either.” the boy said with a sweet voice.
“I am neither the vital energy nor the five types of breath (Pancha Vāyus => Prāṇa, Vyāna, Apāna, Samāna, Uḍāna).”
“I am not the seven material essences (Saptha Dhātus => Rasa=lymph, Rakta=blood, Mamsa=muscles, Medha=fat, Asthi=bone, Majja=marrow, Shukra=semen) either.” he listed it, counting on his little fingers.
“I am not the five sheaths covering my true self (Panchakoshas => Annamaya=gross body, Prānamaya=vital energy, Manomaya=mind sheath, Vijñānamaya=intellect sheath, Ānandamaya=bliss sheath) nor am I the motor organs (Karmendriyas => Vāk=speech, Pāni=hands, Pāda=legs, Upastha=procreation organs, Pāyu=excretory organs).” he said with a calm and serene heart.
“I have no hatred, no aversion. Neither any type of greed nor any liking. I have no pride or arrogance. Nor any jealousy or any delusion.” he continued, with a hand pointing towards his heart, “I am beyond the four human goals (Puruṣārthas => Dharma=righteousness, Artha=prosperity, Kāma=desire, Mokṣa=liberation).”
“I am beyond any virtue and vice. Beyond any pain and pleasure. And the mantras and sacrifices (yajñas). The various scriptures (vedas) and the pilgrimages too.”
“I am neither the enjoyed nor the enjoyer nor the enjoyment.”
With his closed eyes, he smiled gently and continued humbly, “I have no fear of death. As I do not have death. I have no birth. No uncertainty nor any kind of discrimination. I do not have a mother or a father nor any relatives or any friends. Neither have I, a guru nor any disciple.”
“I am all pervasive. And without any form or attributes, I pervade all senses and all the worlds. I neither have any attachment to the world nor to the liberation. I have no wishes for anything since I am everything, everywhere and in every time, in equilibrium.” he paused and took a deep breath.
“I am Shiva, beyond all these. And am indeed, That eternal knowing bliss, the love and pure consciousness, the auspicious. I am Shiva (SatChitAnanda).” he finished answering the question.
The nectar of the eternal truth squeezed into a short and sweet droplet of compressed knowledge by an eight-year-old boy. He answered the seer with the immortal words which later came to be known as “Nirvāṇa Ṣaṭkam“. After which, Swami Govindapada accepted him as his disciple.
The boy was none other than Ādi Śaṅkara himself and his words will forever be etched into the minds of those walking the path to Self-Realization.
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