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Author Attributed to Adi Shankara[1]
Translator Madhavananda (1921)
Country India
Language Sanskrit
Subject Hindu philosophy
Genre Advaita Vedanta
Publisher Original: 8th century AD; Reprinted by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai
Published in English
Madhavananda (1921)
Pages 503 pages

The Vivekachudamani (Sanskrit: विवेकचूडामणि) is a famous Sanskrit poem ascribed to Adi Shankara in the eighth century. It expounds the Advaita Vedanta philosophy[2] and is in the form of 580 verses in the Shardula Vikridita metre. The Vivekachudamani describes developing Viveka, the human faculty of discrimination or discernment between real (unchanging, eternal) and unreal (changing, temporal), as the central task in the spiritual life, and calls it the crown jewel among the essentials for Moksha.[3] The title Vivekachudamani translates to Crest Jewel of Discrimination.[4] Through the centuries, the Vivekachudamani has been translated into several languages and has been the topic of many commentaries and expositions.


The authorship and origin of Vivekachudamani has witnessed a discussion.[1] The broad consensus, according to John Grimes, is to credit the text to Adi Sankara.[1]


Vivekachudamani consists of 580 verses in Sanskrit. It has the form of dialogue between the master and the disciple,[5] where the master explains to the disciple the nature of the Atman and the ways to research and know the Atman. The book takes the disciple on a step by step instructions to reach Brahman.

The text begins with salutations to Govinda, which can be interpreted either as referring to God or to his guru Sri Govinda Bhagavatpada.[4] It then expounds the significance of Self Realisation, ways to reach it, and the characteristics of a Guru. It criticizes attachment to the body and goes to explain the various Sareeras, Kosas, Gunas, Senses and Pranas which constitute the Anatman.[6] It teaches the disciple the ways to attain Self-realisation, methods of meditation (dhyana) and introspection of the Atman. The Vivekachudamani describes the characteristics of an enlightened human being (Jivanmukta)[7] and a person of steady wisdom (Sthitaprajna) on the lines of Bhagavad Gita.[8]


There are two Sanskrit commentaries on this work. Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrusimha Bharati, the pontiff of Sringeri, wrote a commentary titled Vivekodaya (Dawn of Discrimination) on the first 7 verses of this work. His disciple, Sri Chandrasekhara Bharathi, has written a Vyakhya or commentary on the first 515 verses of this work.

This work has been repeatedly translated into various languages, often accompanied by a commentary in the same language. English translations and commentaries include those by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, Swami Madhavananda, and Swami Chinmayananda. Tamil translations and commentaries include those by Ramana Maharshi. Swami Jyotihswarupananda has translated the Vivekachudamani into Marathi.[9]

Famous verses[edit]

  • Brahma satya jagat mithya, jivo brahmaiva naparah

Translation: Brahman is the only truth, the world is unreal, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and individual self[10]

  • अर्थस्य निश्चयो दृष्टो विचारेण हितोक्तितः | न स्नानेन न दानेन प्राणायमशतेन वा ||१३|| (Arthasya nishchayo drishto vicharena hitokitthah; Na snanena, na danena pranayamashatena va)

Translation: By reflection, reasoning and instructions of teachers, the truth is known, Not by ablutions, not by making donations, nor by performing hundreds of breath control exercises.[11]


  1. ^ a b c John Grimes(2004), The Vivekacudamani of Sankaracarya Bhagavatpada: An Introduction and Translation, ISBN 978-0754633952, see Introduction
  2. ^ Usha 1990, pp. 71–72
  3. ^ Espín & James B. Nickoloff 2007, p. 1471
  4. ^ a b Madhavananda 1921, p. 1
  5. ^ "Bondage and release". The Hindu. 2008-03-18. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  6. ^ Sri Chandrashe hara Bharati of Sringeri. Sri Samkara’s Vivekacudamani. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. xxi. 
  7. ^ "Man of wisdom". The Hindu. 2005-06-29. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  8. ^ "State of liberation". The Hindu. 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  9. ^ Nagpur, India: Ramakrishna Math; 2009
  10. ^ Rosen, Steven (2007). Krishna's Song. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-313-34553-1. 
  11. ^ See:
    • D. Datta (1888), Moksha, or the Vedántic Release, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, New Series, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Oct., 1888), pp. 513-539;
    • Madhavananda’s translation of Vivekachudamani published in 1921, Himalayan Series 43


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]