Nirvana Shatkam- A Translation and Commentary
This is a beautiful poem written by Adi Shankaracharya, in which the state of Jnana, the Paramartika Satya is beautifully explained. Adi Shankaracharya explains how one should investigate into the true nature of Atman/Brahman by rejecting the Anatma’s (Non-Self) that are mere superimposition on Atman.
मनो बुद्ध्यहंकारचित्तानि नाहम् न च श्रोत्र जिह्वे न च घ्राण नेत्रे
न च व्योम भूमिर् न तेजॊ न वायु: चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवॊऽहम् ॥1॥
Meaning- I am not the Mind, Intellect, Ego and faculty of recollections (i.e. the 4 types of Antah-Karana); nor am I the faculty of hearing, faculty of taste, faculty of smell and faculty of sight (i.e. the Jnanendriyas- the faculties of perception). Nor am I the space, the earth, nor the fire/light nor the air (i.e. the Mahabhutas-the great elements). I am Shiva (Auspiciousness) of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.
न च प्राण संज्ञो न वै पञ्चवायु: न वा सप्तधातुर् न वा पञ्चकोश:
न वाक्पाणिपादौ न चोपस्थपायू चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवॊऽहम् ॥2॥
Meaning- Neither am I (that which is called as) Prana (i.e. Mula-Prakriti), nor am I the five vital airs (i.e. Pancha Prana/Pancha Vayu), nor am I the seven-fold material (that make up gross body), nor am I the five sheaths. Neither am I the faculty of speech, nor the faculty of grasping (i.e. hands) nor the faculty of moving (i.e. legs), nor the faculty of procreation, nor that of excretion. ). I am Shiva (Auspiciousness) of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.
Analysis of Verse 1 & 2- In the very first and second verses, Adi Shankaracharya proclaims that Atman is different from the gross/Stula, subtle/Sukshma and the casual body/Karana sharira of a Jiva.
न वा सप्तधातुर्- I am not even the Seven-fold material. सप्तधातु:- represents the seven type of materials that make up the gross body/Stula Sharira. They are Rasa/lymph or plasma, Rakta/blood, Mamsa/flesh, Meda/fat, Asthi/Bone, Majja/Marrow and Sukra/Semen. These seven Dhatus make up the Gross body/Stula Sharira of a Jiva. Here, Adi Shankaracharya is saying that, Atman is different than the Gross Body.
मनो बुद्ध्यहंकारचित्तानि नाहम्- I am not the mind, intellect, ego and the faculty of recollection.
अहम्-here represents the Atman, the one True Self. मनः-manas/mind, बुद्धि-buddhi/intellect, अहंकार- ahamkara/Ego and चित्त-chitta/faculty of recollection are the four-fold aspects of Antah-Karana (Totality of Mind). Manas is the lower mind that thinks about/discriminates between pros and cons of a thing and is always in indecision. Buddhi- is the higher mind that determines the true nature of an object and takes decision. Ahamakara is that which identifies itself with body as its own self. Chitta- is that which contemplates/indulges in things of interest/attraction or the faculty of memorizing and recollecting things. So, the verse is saying that, Atman is not the Antahkarana. Atman is neither the mind nor the intellect, ego and the chitta. Atman is different from all these.
न च श्रोत्र जिह्वे न च घ्राण नेत्रे- Neither am I the faculty of hearing, nor of taste, nor smell nor sight.
श्रोत्र-Faculty of hearing, जिह्वे-faculty of taste, घ्राण नेत्रे-faculty of smell and sight. These four faculties along with the faculty of touch form the Pancha Jnanendriyas/the five faculties of perception. त्वक्-faculty of touch/feeling though not mentioned in the verse explicitly, it is implicitly included as the other four Jnanendriyas are mentioned. So, the verse is saying that Atman is different from the Pancha-Jnanendriyas.
न वाक्पाणिपादौ न चोपस्थपायू- Neither am I the faculty of speech, nor of grasping nor movement nor procreation nor excretion. वाक्पाणिपादौ- Faculties of speech, of grasping (hands), of movement (feet). उपस्थ- faculty of procreation (genitals), पायू- faculty of excretion (anus). These five together form the Pancha Karmendriyas- the faculties of action. The verse is saying that Atman is different from these faculties of action.
न वै पञ्चवायु:- I am not even the five vital airs. पञ्चवायु-Five vital airs are Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana. Prana causes respiration, Apana is the force that causes excretion, Vyana causes circulation, Udana is the force that, at death carries Subtle body out of Physical body, Samana causes digestion and assimilation. The verse is saying that Atman is different from these Pancha-Vayus.
In short, Adi Shankaracharya is saying that Atman is different than the Subtle body/Sukshma Sharira that consists of the Antahkarana, Jnanendriya, Karmendriyas and the Pancha-Vayus.
न च व्योम भूमिर् न तेजॊ न वायु:- I am not the space, nor the earth, nor light/fire nor the air. व्योम-Space, भूमिर्-Earth, तेजॊ-Light/Fire and वायु-Air. These four along with अपः-water constitutes the Pancha Mahabhutas-the Five great elements. The water element is implicit in the verse. From the Sattvic and Rajasic portions of these elements are formed the Sukshma Sharira/ Subtle body of a Jiva. From the Tamasic portions of these elements, after they undergo a process of Panchikarana/ Quantuplication (1) the Stula Sharira/Gross body of a Jiva is formed. So, the verse is saying that Atman is different from these great elements, the Pancha MahaBhutas from which the Gross and the Subtle bodies are formed.
न च प्राण संज्ञो- I am not that which is called as Prana (i.e. Mula Prakriti). संज्ञो-is a noun, it is a designation. Hence, प्राण संज्ञो means “that which is called as Prana”. What is it that is referred as “Prana”? It is the Mula-Prakriti or Maya. (2). Hence, by saying that Atman is different from Mula-Prakriti, it is saying that Atman is distinct from the Karana Sharira/Casual body. Mula Prakriti which is the cause of this entire universe is called as Maha-Karana- the great cause. In context of a Jiva, it means that Atman is devoid of even the Casual body/Karana Sharira.
न वा पञ्चकोश:- I am not even the five sheaths. पञ्चकोश:- The five sheaths are the five layers of bondage and Ignorance that bounds a Jiva. The five sheaths are- Annamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vigyanamaya Kosha and Anandamaya Kosha.
Annamaya Kosha is the limitation placed on an individual in the form of gross existence/gross body. Anna denotes gross matter in general and food in particular. Hence, a Jiva in a gross body/Stula Sharira is ever dependent on gross external food for survival and is limited by the gross Universe. He is always subjected to birth, death, ill health, disabilities etc.
Pranamaya Kosha is made up of Pancha Vayus and the Karmendriyas. The Manomaya Kosha is made up of Manas and the Jnanendriyas. The Vigyanamaya Kosha is made up of Buddhi and the Jnanendriyas. There together represent the Subtle body/Sukshma Sharira. And a Jiva in the Pranamaya or Manomaya Kosha is subjected to limitations placed by subtle existence like fear, sorrow, illness, limited powers etc. But, a Jiva in Vigyanamaya Kosha though free from limitations of gross and subtle existence like hot and cold, sorrow and fear etc he is still limited by his attachment to his subtle existence in the sense that he cannot transcend it.
Anandamaya Kosha represents Mula-Prakriti or the Karana Sharira, the store house of all Karmas. Even, here an Individual is limited by his Karana Sharira/casual body. Hence, the verse is saying that Atman is different from and is devoid of these five sheaths that cause bondage.
If, Atman is neither the 3 bodies nor the 5 sheaths, then what is Atman? Adi Shankaracharya answers this thus.
चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवॊऽहम्- I am the Auspiciousness (Shiva), which is the very nature of Consiousness and Bliss. शिवोऽहम्- Atman is being defined as शिव- Auspiciousness. Why the Atman is called Auspiciousness? What does it mean? It means that Atman is Pure-Shuddham, devoid of any impurity. The worldly objects are called as “Ashuddham”-impure. Here, impurity or “Ashuddhi” refers to the property of an object to cause a feeling of good, bad or disgust towards it. The objects of the Universe, as they are able to cause feeling of happiness when attained, of sorrow when unable to attain and of disgust when one has no liking for it are called as “Ashuddha”. On the other hand, “Atman” is “Shuddha/pure”, that is free from impurities, free from any dualities. it causes neither a sense of pleasure nor a sense of pain or disgust. Instead, everyone feels drawn towards. Atman is “Ananda Svaroopa”- the very nature of supreme bliss. Further, it is” Chit-Svaroopa”, the very nature of Knowledge. Hence, Atman is called as “Shiva”- pure and auspicious which is of the nature of Knowledge and Bliss.
Summary of Verse 1 & 2- The whole Sristi/Jagat/Cosmos can divided into two categories- The Karana Brahman/Unmanifested source also called as Mula-Prakriti and the Karya Brahman/the Manifested Cosmos. Now, this Karya Brahman or Manifested Cosmos consists of subtle universes and the gross Universes. Hence, we have three state of existence-the Gross Existence, Subtle Existence and the Unmanifested state. A Jiva exists and experiences the Gross Universe through his Gross Body-Stula Sharira. Similarly, he experiences the Subtle Universe through his subtle body-Sukshma Sharira. In the Mula Prakriti, he exists in an Unmanifested state. This is called as Karana Sharira/Casual Body which is the store house of his Karmas and which causes the manifestation of subtle and gross bodies.
The Gross Body is made up of the blood, flesh, bone, marrow, plasma, semen and fat called as Sapta-Dhatu. A Jiva experiences the Gross Universe, in the Waking state/Jagrata avasta. The Subtle body is made up of Antahkarana, faculties of action and perception and the five vital-airs. In a Svapna avasta/Dreaming state, a Jiva will experience the subtle worlds through his Mind and subtle body. In a Deep Sleep/Sushupti avasta, in which a Jiva does not remember anything on waking except that he had a nice sleep, in such a state, a Jiva is experiencing his Casual body, the unmanifested state. The gross, subtle and the casual existences together form the Jagat. The five sheaths are nothing but five layers of limitations that are superimposed on Atman, because of Atman’s Self-Identification with the three bodies.
Hence, in the very first two verses, Atman is shown as being distinct from the gross, subtle and the casual body of a Jiva. Due to Avidya/Ignorance, a Jiva Self-Identifies himself with gross, subtle and casual body and thinks that (i.e. the bodies) to be True Self/Atman. Hence, he becomes engulfed by the five sheaths that limit his existence. But, in reality, Atman is devoid of all three bodies and hence devoid of all limitations. Atman, by his own power of Maya, manifests this Universe by covering itself with five sheaths of limitations and Self-Identifying with the three bodies-casual, subtle and gross. Hence, a Jiva who wishes to attain Moksha, must investigate into the nature of Atman/his own True Self and understand that Atman is different from and is devoid of all limitations, all bodies and sheaths. Atman is devoid of any Movement. It is of the very nature of Knowledge and Bliss and it manifests this entire universe not through Real creation or transformation but only as an appearance or imagination through its power of Maya.
न मे द्वेष रागौ न मे लोभ मोहौ मदो नैव मे नैव मात्सर्यभाव:
न धर्मो न चार्थो न कामो ना मोक्ष: चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवॊऽहम् ॥3॥
Meaning: Neither have I hatred nor desire (for anything), neither have I greed nor delusion, nor pride and nor even the feelings of jealousy. Neither have I (a need for or obligation towards) Dharma (i.e. practicing duties and righteousness), nor (towards) Artha ( i.e. procuring material wellness), nor towards Kama (i.e. fulfilling desires), nor towards Moksha (i.e. attaining Liberation-freedom from birth and death). I am Shiva (Auspiciousness) of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.
Analysis of Verse 3: After explaining that Atman is devoid of any bodies or any sheaths, now Adi Shankaracharya explains about the state of Jnani who has realized Atman.
न मे द्वेष रागौ न मे लोभ मोहौ मदो नैव मे नैव मात्सर्यभाव:- Neither have I hatred nor desire (for anything), neither have I greed nor delusion, nor pride and nor even the feelings of jealousy. Lust, hatred, delusion, pride, jealousy, and greed these six are called as Arishadvargas- the six passions of mind because, all these feelings have their source in mind and also affect one’s mind. They are also called as Shad Ripus- the six internal enemies because, they are the impurities present in an Individual which makes an Individual act in a wrong and adharmic way. A person under the influence of these internal enemies commits Papam-Sins and hence would suffer as a result sorrow and pains (Dukka) thereby increasing the bondage to Samsara/World. But, Atman being devoid of any limitations or any bodies is also devoid of these six passions. Hence, a Jivanmukta, who has achieved Atma Jnana-Realized the Self, would be free from these internal passions of mind. A Jnani neither acts out of lust, nor out of hatred, or pride or jealousy. A Jnani having realized that the whole world is in his Atman and his Atman is in whole world (3), he always maintains Sama-drishti i.e.same-sightedness towards everyone.
न धर्मो न चार्थो न कामो ना मोक्ष:- Neither have I (a need for or obligation towards) Dharma, nor (towards) Artha, nor towards Kama nor towards Moksha. Dharma, Artha Kama and Moksha form the four-fold Purusharthas, the objectives of Human life. In context of an individual, Dharma refers to living one’s life according to tenets mentioned in the Shastras like Satya/Truthfulness, Asteya/Non-stealing, Ahimsa/Non-violence, Shaucha/cleanliness etc and performing Karmas and duties towards family and society as enjoined in the Shastras to the best of one’s ability and avoiding those actions that are prohibited in the Shastras like homicide, stealing etc. “Artha” refers to the wealth (both material and heavenly) one must attain through proper dharmic means, free from corruption and dishonesty. “Kaama” refers to any desires and dreams an Individual has. Those desires must be fulfilled through Dharmic means and not by resorting to adharmic means. These three refers to the goals pertaining to one’s immediate life. The ultimate goal of life is “Moksha” or liberation from Karmic cycle of birth and death. The practice of Dharma, Artha, Kaama sincerely by performing all Karmas prescribed in the Shastras (Karma Anushtana) and the practice of Bhakti (meditations etc) as advised in the Shastras would eventually lead a person to purification of his mind and then through the practice of Jnana-Sadhana, one would achieve Atma Jnana and Moksha.
Hence, these objectives of life are prescribed for an individual who is living in the Samsara, and bound by it. On the other hand, a Jnani who has attained Atma-Jnana and has realized that Atman is everything and nothing else is left to be attained. Hence, a Jnani is no longer bound by any obligations to perform or attain any of the Purusharthas as he has already attained everything that was there to attain.
न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दु:खम् न मन्त्रो न तीर्थं न वेदा: न यज्ञ
अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवॊऽहम् ॥4॥
Meaning: Neither have I Punyam (Good Karmas), nor have I Papam (Bad Karmas), (hence) neither have I happiness, nor sorrow. Neither have I (a need for or obligation towards) Mantra (i.e. practice of Mantra Sadhana/Vidya Upasana), nor (towards) visiting holy places, nor (towards) studying Vedas, nor (towards) performing Yajnas (i.e. Karma Anushtana). I am neither the food (i.e. the object), nor the act of eating the food (i.e. the interaction between subject and object), nor the enjoyer/consumer of food (i.e. the subject). I am Shiva (Auspiciousness) of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.
Analysis of Verse 4: Now this verse continuous with the explanations about Jivanmukta and state of Jnana.
न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दु:खम् – Neither have I Punyam (Good Karmas), nor have I Papam (Bad Karmas), (hence) neither have I happiness, nor sorrow. As Atman is devoid of any Karmas or Limitations. there is nothing that can be called as Punya/good Karmas or Paapa/bad Karmas for a Jnani. A Jivanmukta having realized Atman, is also devoid of any bondage or ignorance. Hence, he is neither bound by the Karmas nor bound by Karmic fruits. Hence, he neither has Punya nor Paapam and correspondingly, he neither experiences Sukha/happiness nor experiences Dukka/sorrow. A Jnani is ever situated in Ananda/eternal Bliss.
न मन्त्रो न तीर्थं न वेदा: न यज्ञ- Neither have I (a need for or obligation towards) Mantra, nor (towards) visiting holy places, nor (towards) studying Vedas, nor (towards) performing Yajnas. Similarly, a Jnani is neither obliged to nor bound to perform any Mantra sadhana nor visit any holy places as he has become verily the Atman, which is everything that exist and is the nature of supreme bliss. मन्त्रो- refers to Mantra Sadhana or “Devata Upasana”. यज्ञ- refers to performance of fire-rituals (Yajnas) and other rituals enjoined in Shastras called as “Karma Anushtana”. तीर्थं- refers to visiting various holy places that are considered as “Punya Karmas”. वेदा- refers to study of Vedas by those who are competent for it. This is enjoined as a Duty of such a person in the scriptures. A person in the Samsara, who desires spiritual progress and attainment of Moksha, is instructed by the Shastras to perform the Karma Anushtana, Devata Upasana etc. But, a Jnani who having attained Moksha and have realized his own Atman, has already achieved whatever there was to achieve. Hence, he is devoid of all such obligations to performing any Karmas.
अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता- I am neither the food (i.e. the object), nor the act of eating the food (i.e. the interaction between subject and object), nor the enjoyer/consumer of food (i.e. the subject). Here, the verse is again describing what Atman is not. The object that is enjoyed is the subtle and gross Universe. The Subject who is enjoying the Universe refers to the Prajna identifying itself with Mula-Prakriti. The act of enjoyment refers to the act of creation of Universe. The Brahman through his Maya imagines himself to be the cause of the Universe. This Brahman that is endowed with and identified with Maya/Mula Prakriti and is the cause of the Universe is called as Prajna/Ishwara/Karana Brahman/MulaPrakriti. This Prajna is the eater of the food, the subject, the enjoyer of the Universe. The whole Universe, both subtle and gross that manifest out of this Mula-Prakriti is called as food, the object of enjoyment. This Prajna exists as Hiranyagarba and enjoys the subtle Universe and as Virat enjoys the gross Universe. Hence, the verse is saying that the Atman is Turiya-the fourth state (i.e. Paramarthika Satya) beyond the three states of gross, subtle and the unmanifested. Atman is devoid of this duality of Subject and Object i.e. of Karana and Karya. Similarly, a Jivanmukta who is permanently rooted in Turiya or Paramartika is neither bound by subject nor by object. He is beyond all dualities. He perceives Atman alone everywhere.
न मे मृत्युर्शंका न मे जातिभेद: पिता नैव माता नैव न जन्म:
न बन्धुर् न मित्रं गुरुर्नैव शिष्य: चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवॊऽहम् ॥5॥
Meaning: Neither have I fear of death, nor caste distinction. I have neither father, nor mother, nor even birth. Neither have I any acquaintance, nor friends, nor any Guru/teacher, nor any Shishya/disciple.I am Shiva (Auspiciousness) of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.
Analysis of Verse 5: This verse too continues with the description of a state of Jnana.
न मे मृत्युर्शंका न मे जातिभेद:- Neither have I fear of death, nor caste distinction. A Jnani who has gone beyond birth and death and attained Immortality, does not have any fear of death. Having realized his true Self, he is ever free without fear or sorrow. Further, a Jnani just like he was not bound by Purusharthas or the Karmas Anushtana, so also he is not bound by the distinction of caste. He is devoid of any restrictions, obligations and bondages that is present in Samsara.
पिता नैव माता नैव न जन्म: न बन्धुर् न मित्रं गुरुर्नैव शिष्य:- Neither have I father, nor mother, nor birth, nor acquaintance nor friend nor teacher nor disciple. A Jnani has no worldly attachments or relationships. Having realized that everything is his Atman alone, for him everyone is his own. There are no special bonds, special relationships with any. He is free from any Rina-Bandha, the Karmic bond that binds people. He remains as ever free.
Summary of Verse 3, 4 & 5: After explaining that Atman is devoid of the three bodies and the five sheaths and hence devoid of any limitations, Adi Shankara now explains the state of Jnana-the Paramarthika Dasha. He says that, a Jnani having realized his Atman, having realized that Atman alone exist and everything is Atman, he is neither affected by happiness nor sorrow. He neither craves for anything nor avoids anything. A Jnani is free from the mental feelings like Lust, hate, greed, jealousy etc. A Jnani remains Same-Sighted towards everyone. He is neither bound by duties of Varnas (i.e. the duties related to four-Varnas) nor bound by the obligations of Ashramas (i.e. the duties related to four stages of life) not even the Purusharthas or the Vedas bind him. He neither has birth, nor death. Having attained immortality, he is devoid of all fears including the fear of death. He has neither acquaintance nor any special rina/bond with anyone. Having transcended all the bondages, he is ever free. He is devoid of the duality of subject and object as Atman is Homogenous One without a second and without parts.
अहं निर्विकल्पॊ निराकार रूपॊ विभुत्वाच् सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम्
न चासंगत नैव मुक्तिर् न मेय: चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवॊऽहम् ॥6॥
Meaning: I am the Changeless one without a second, without a form, All-powerful, Omnipresent who inhabits all the senses. I am not Un-related (i.e. related to everything as their Atman/Inner Self), neither do I have Liberation, nor do I have Limitation. I am Shiva (Auspiciousness) of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.
Analysis of Verse 6: Now, after explaining what Atman is not, now the last verse explains, what Atman is.
अहं- I. Here it means “Atman”.
निर्विकल्पॊ- Changeless one without a second. It refers to One Truth without an alternative, without a second entity. That is, Atman alone exists and whatever exist, it is Atman alone. Further, निर्विकल्पॊ means “without change or modifications”. The Universe or Jagat/Srishti is subjected to six stages of changes called as “Shad-Vikaras”. They are Potential form, Birth, Growth, Transformation, Decay and Death. But, Atman being Eternal and Birth-less, is without these changes i.e. Atman is not subjected to these modifications. Hence, it implies that Atman is devoid of Srishti. In the Paramartika state, there is neither creation nor dissolution. Hence, no Universe exists in Reality. The whole Jagat manifested by Brahman through his power of Maya in the form of imagination or mirage.
निराकार रूपॊ- Of the nature of formlessness. The Jagat or Srishti/Universe is full of forms. The Manifested Universe has infinite number of names and forms. The Unmanifested Prakriti is in a state of Unmanifestation or Seed i.e. a state of form-fullness where all the infinite forms are in seed state. Hence, by निराकार it is meant that, Atman is devoid of both Karya Brahman (Manifested Universe full of forms) and the Karana Brahman (Unmanifested seed in a state of form-fullness). Hence, in Paramartika dasha, state of Absolute Reality, the Atman is devoid of Jagat i.e. Jagat does not exist. In other words, the existence of Jagat is only through Maya in the form of mirage or imagination.
विभुत्वाच् सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम्- All-powerful, Omnipresent who inhabits all the senses. In the Vyavaharika dasha (the state of Duality or Samsara) i.e. in the Jagat/Srishti, the Brahman/Atman is Omni-present and Omnipotent. It is He, who inhabits everything and everywhere including the senses as their True-Self.
न च असंगत (4) – I am not Un-related. Atman is not Un-related means, Atman is related to everything as their Inner-most Self. In the Jagat, in Vyavaharika dasha it is Atman alone who inhabits everything as their own Self (5). Hence, he is related to everything.
नैव मुक्तिर् न मेय:- Neither do I have Liberation, nor do I have Limitation. In Paramartika Dasha, there is neither creation nor dissolution, neither liberation nor limitation. Atman is eternal and free from all kinds of limitations. मेय:- means measurable or finite. It refers to the Upadhis or Limitations present in the Jagat/Universe like time, space and form by which an object is limited by and also is measured/determined in reference with. Atman is being described as devoid of these defining./measuring parameters i.e. Atman is Infinite beyond any limitations. Similarly Atman is devoid of Liberation. When, there is no Bondage or Limitation on Atman, no question of Liberation or freedom from bondage arises for Atman.
चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवॊऽहम्- I am Shiva (Auspiciousness) of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss. As explained before.
Summary of Verse 6: After explaining what Atman is not and explaining about the state of Jivanmukta, Adi Shankaracharya now explains what Atman is. In the Paramartika Dasha, Atman is one, without a second, without parts. It is without any limitations of time, space or form. It is one Changeless, that is eternal, infinite and Birth-less. It is devoid of the Universe/Jagat and all its limitations. Yet through its power of Maya, it manifests the Universe as a mirage or imagination. And in such a state of manifestation or Vyavaharika Dasha, Atman inhabits every object, everything in the Universe as their own Self. It is omnipresent and omnipotent and both the material and intelligent cause of the Universe. Adi Shankaracharya concludes the Nirvana Shatakam by repeating that, Atman is Shiva-Auspiciousness which is of the nature of Knowledge and Bliss.
1. Panchikarana is the process of Grossification/Quantuplication from which the Physical Universe is created. The five great elements in Subtle form undergo Panchikarana process and create the Gross elements and hence the Physical Universe. The Tamas portion of each of the five subtle elements divides itself into two halves. The one half is reserved for that element and the other half is further divided into four parts to be associated with the other elements. Hence, each gross element is formed by combination wherein its one half is made up of its own element and the other half consist of one-eighth of all the other four elements. Panchadashi Verse no-26-27.
2. Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.2. For detailed discussion on why Prana is Mula-Prakriti, refer Shankara Bhashya on Gaudapada Karika on Mandukya Upanishad, Agama Prakarana, Verse 2.
3. Isha Upanishad Verse 6 & 7.
4. Some interpret it as- न च संगत- Without attachment. In that case, it means that Atman is unaffected, untouched by the limitations and impurities of the Universe. Atman is pure and unattached towards the sensory objects.
5. Isha Upanishad Verse 1.