The Vivekachudamani is a collection of poetical couplets authored by Shankara around the eighth century. The philosophical school this compilation attempts to expose is called ‘Advaita Vedanta’, or non-dualism, one of the classical orthodox philosophies of Hinduism. The book teaches Viveka: discrimination between the real and the unreal. Shankara draws inspiration from various Shrutis (eg. the Upanishads).
सर्ववेदान्तसिद्धान्तगोचरं तमगोचरम् ।
गोविन्दं परमानन्दं सद्गुरुं प्रणतोऽस्म्यहम् ॥ १ ॥
sarvavedāntasiddhāntagocaraṃ tamagocaram |
govindaṃ paramānandaṃ sadguruṃ praṇato'smyaham || 1 ||
1. I bow to Govinda, whose nature is Bliss Supreme, who is the Satguru, who can be known only from the import of all Vedanta, and who is beyond the reach of speech and mind.
जन्तूनां नरजन्म दुर्लभमतः पुंस्त्वं ततो विप्रता
तस्माद्वैदिकधर्ममार्गपरता विद्वत्त्वमस्मात्परम् ।
आत्मानात्मविवेचनं स्वनुभवो ब्रह्मात्मना संस्थितिः
मुक्तिर्नो शतजन्मकोटिसुकृतैः पुण्यैर्विना लभ्यते ॥ २ ॥
jantūnāṃ narajanma durlabhamataḥ puṃstvaṃ tato vipratā
tasmādvaidikadharmamārgaparatā vidvattvamasmātparam |
ātmānātmavivecanaṃ svanubhavo brahmātmanā saṃsthitiḥ
muktirno śatajanmakoṭisukṛtaiḥ puṇyairvinā labhyate || 2 ||
2. For all beings a human birth is difficult to obtain, more so is a male body; rarer than that is Brahmin-hood; rarer still is the attachment to the path of Vedic religion; higher than this is erudition in the scriptures; discrimination between the Self and not-Self, Realisation, and continuing in a state of identity with Brahman – these come next in order. (This kind of) Mukti (Liberation) is not to be attained except through the well-earned merits of a hundred crore of births.
दुर्लभं त्रयमेवैतद्देवानुग्रहहेतुकम् ।
मनुष्यत्वं मुमुक्षुत्वं महापुरुषसंश्रयः ॥ ३ ॥
durlabhaṃ trayamevaitaddevānugrahahetukam |
manuṣyatvaṃ mumukṣutvaṃ mahāpuruṣasaṃśrayaḥ || 3 ||
3. There are three things which are rare indeed and are due to the grace of God –namely, a human birth, the longing for Liberation, and the protecting care of a perfected sage.
लब्ध्वा कथंचिन्नरजन्म दुर्लभं
तत्रापि पुंस्त्वं श्रुतिपारदर्शनम् ।
यस्त्वात्ममुक्तौ न यतेत मूढधीः
स ह्यात्महा स्वं विनिहन्त्यसद्ग्रहात् ॥ ४ ॥
labdhvā kathaṃcinnarajanma durlabhaṃ
tatrāpi puṃstvaṃ śrutipāradarśanam |
yastvātmamuktau na yateta mūḍhadhīḥ
sa hyātmahā svaṃ vinihantyasadgrahāt || 4 ||
4. The man who, having by some means obtained a human birth, with a male body and mastery of the Vedas to boot, is foolish enough not to exert himself for self-liberation, verily commits suicide, for he kills himself by clinging to things unreal.
इतः को न्वस्ति मूढात्मा यस्तु स्वार्थे प्रमाद्यति ।
दुर्लभं मानुषं देहं प्राप्य तत्रापि पौरुषम् ॥ ५ ॥
itaḥ ko nvasti mūḍhātmā yastu svārthe pramādyati |
durlabhaṃ mānuṣaṃ dehaṃ prāpya tatrāpi pauruṣam || 5 ||
5. What greater fool is there than the man who having obtained a rare human body, and a masculine body too, neglects to achieve the real end of this life?