Author Topic: Sri Shankaracharya says Self cannot be both the experiencer and the witness  (Read 1018 times)


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D.: If the Self be the witness of deep sleep and of its experiencer, can It not be the experiencer of the waking and dream states?

M.: No, he who sleeps must wake up or dream dreams.

Never sleeping, ever aware as the witness of the three states and of their experiencer who thinks “I slept — I dreamt — I woke up”, the Self cannot have the three states nor be their experiencer. This cannot admit of any doubts.

D.: Why should not the Self be both witness and experiencer of the three states?

M.: Just as the witness watching two men fighting with each other does not fight himself, so also the witness cannot be the experiencer. Again as the fighter does not simply watch the fight but himself fights, so also the experiencer cannot be the witness. Therefore the same Self cannot be both the experiencer and the witness.

D.: Now what is the conclusion?

M.: The ‘false-I’ is the experiencer and the other one who is unconcernedly watching the states and their experiencer is the witness.

D.: In that case, for the three states are there three different witnesses or is there only one?

M.: The witness is only one whereas the states alternate one with another; the witness does not change. The same continuous awareness runs through the appearance, staying and disappearance of the three states. Thus the witness of the three states is the Self. The witness-hood of the Self has thus been described.


Originally Sri Shankaracharya and other great Sages had written several works like the commentary on the Vedanta Sutras and thus furnished the methods for those engaged in Self enquiry to accomplish their purpose.

From those, Sri Karapatra Swami later condensed the salient points into Sanskrit verse in a work of twelve chapters,called Sri Advaita Bodha Deepika.

Still later, some great man seems to have translated this into Tamil prose.


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The Self is the Witness for the seeker who has not matured.
For the matured seeker who has attained the Self, the Self or
he - is the experiencer.

Arunchala Siva.