The Supreme Lord is all-pervading and incarnates in many ways and forms to establish His law of dharma and also to educate people into the right path to salvation. While in Rama and Krishna avatars the Lord destroyed specific demons who represented evil, in certain avatars, His jnana shakti is manifest to dispel the darkness of ignorance with the light of knowledge.

It is held that Dakshinamurthy incarnated as Adi Sankara to establish the true import of the sastras which are the basis of our life and can lead us to salvation, said Sri K. Srinivasan in a lecture. This was at the time when there was danger to the sastras from sources that propagated anti-sastra theories with vigour and conviction. People were left in a dilemma about the nature of Truth due to the confusion and doubt that had made deep inroads into the very roots of faith and belief.

Scriptural texts such as the Vedanta sutras are compositions that are brief, well-structured and comprehensive in nature and establish a siddhanta. Not all can decipher the import of Vedanta sutras. In his commentaries on these scriptural texts, Adi Sankara has established the philosophy of Advaita that continues to influence the spiritual thought till date.

In his composition Atma Bhodha, he tries to make clear the identity of the individual Self. To a certain extent we all have can an intuitive knowledge of our inner Self (the Atman or Brahman within the being). We also understand the idea of existence since we all exist.

But the reality of the inner Self is overshadowed by the awareness of our identity that arises from our association with the body and the material world. When the Self’s immortal identity is recognised, the individual tries to dissociate himself from the bondage of sins and karma and seeks higher knowledge.

This knowledge is not attained easily. Bhagavad Gita states that maybe at the end of many births of effort, it is likely a jivatma attains the knowledge of this Self in toto.

This is equal to liberation from the cycle of birth. Viveka (discrimination) and vairagya (dispassion) are necessary in this path.

Keywords: self knowledge

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