The Chatterji translation in the Theosophist would seem to be the most reliable - he was a chela of the Mahatmas at the time.


102 (some refer to it as 100

"Because it (the seventh principle) is free from all union it is unaffected by the action of any updhi. This linga sarira performs all actions as the instrument of Atman just as the chisel and other tools (perform the actions) of the carpenter; for this reason the Atman is free from all union."

the version at is missing important passages eg

102 "This \linga \shariira performs all actions as the instrument of \Atman just as the chisel and other tools (perform the actions) of the carpenter; for this reason the \Atman is free from all union."

This is a very important difference, The subtle body/linga sarira is an upadhi itself.

This mistake is repeated in Johnston:
"Because the subtle body possesses detachment, it is not stained by the acts of its vesture. This form body carries out all activities as the instrument of the higher Self, the spiritual man; it is as the sharp tools in the hand of the carpenter. Therefore the Self is free from attachment."

and the Madhavananda translation is not as clear as Chatterji:
"100. This subtle body is the instrument for all activities of the Atman, who is Knowledge Absolute, like the adze and other tools of a carpenter. Therefore this Atman is perfectly unattached."

Grimes is closer:
"As the tools Of a carpenter are his instruments, so this subtle body is the instrument for all activities of the Self, which is of the nature of consciousness. For this reason only, the Self is perfectly unattached."

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Can you provide the Sanskrit text so we may all compare these with the original wording?


We need a romanized version then, I guess...


Not sure what the source was, but they must've used some kind of code for their romanization. Nexus does handle normal romanized text just fine.

Here's a link to the Vivekachudamani in romanized text:

Here's the verse in question, along with the preceding and suceeding verses:

kartrādibhāvaṃ pratipadya rājate
yatra svayaṃ bhāti hyayaṃ parātmā &
na lipyate tatkṛtakarmaleśaiḥ \
yasmādasaṅgastata eva karmabhiḥ
na lipyate kiṃcid upādhinā kṛtaiḥ // 99 //

sarvavyāpṛtikaraṇaṃ liṅgamidaṃ syāccid ātmanaḥ puṃsaḥ &
vāsyādikam iva takṣṇastenaivātmā bhavatyasaṅgo 'yam // 100 //

sauguṇyavaiguṇyavaśāddhi cakṣuṣaḥ &
śrotrādidharmā na tu vettur ātmanaḥ // 101 //

prasyandanādyutkramaṇādikāḥ kriyāḥ &
prāṇādikarmāṇi vadanti tajñāḥ
prāṇasya dharmāvaśanāpipāse // 102 //


No - in any case this clearly shows that its not enough to be a sanskritist, its more important to know the subject matter and have some talent with the English language . Johnston had the latter but not the Viveka.


The translation at is likely taken from an Adyar publication:

which contains the same ommission at 102 but is more faithfull to the original overall

Keith. Can you clarify exactly what your issue is with this passage? I'm not sure what you're getting at.


Without the missing sentence at the start it is possible to read the rest as implying that the subtle body is unaffected - like the Atman. This is exactly what Johnston does:

"Because the subtle body possesses detachment, it is not stained by the acts of its vesture."

You may think this is nit picking but this kind of (uninentional) error may be the cause of all the divergences in Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianlty 


As an example I recall Daniel Caldwell stating that The American Theosophical 'branch' had published a version of The Voice of Silence which had unwarranted changes to the original and asking that it be 'recalled'. This is why I now take care to investigate any source before studying it.

Thanks Keith. I find myself looking to source material for this very reason as well. This one makes me wonder if this was an early error in the Sanskrit MS used by some of the translators.


Someone at the Singapore lodge has pointed out that the sentence I am referring to as missing from 102  is actually at the end of 101. Still as one tends to read these 'slokas' as 'organic wholes it could lead to misunderstanding. 

My sources were:

Theosophist V7 N73 October 1885

Theosophist V7 N76 January 1886

Theosophist V7 N78 March 1886

Theosophist V7 N82 July 1886

Theosophist V7 N83 August 1886

Theosophist V9 N97 October 1887

Theosophist V9 N98 November 1887

Theosophist V9 N99 December 1887



further comparison leads me to revise my assessment of Chatterji's translation (problem highlighted in bold:

Brahman and ātman which are respectively designated by the terms “that” and “thou”, are fully proved to be identical when investigated by the light of Vedic teaching. (243)

The identity of the two thus indicated and predicated, cannot be proved on account of mutually exclusive attributes, (that is, when the ātman is connected with upādhi), any more than that of the fire­fly and the sun, of the king and the slave, of the well and the ocean, of the atom and the mountain (Meru).  (244)

The distinction is created by conditions (upādhis); in reality, there is no conditioning basis for the ātman. Listen, the māyā  of the Logos (Īśvara) is the first cause of mahat (sixth principle) and the five sheaths are the effect of jīva (higher portion of fifth principle). (245)

When these two upādhis—those of the ātman and the jīva—are completely rejected, there is neither ātman nor jīva. The king has his kingdom, the warrior his arms;

This seems to me to accept a erroneous interpretation of Maya as a deliberate policy of Ishwara.

comparing Madhavananda:

241-242. If thus the Shruti, in the dictum “Thou art That” (Tat-Tvam-Asi), repeatedly establishes the absolute identity of Brahman (or Ishwara) and Jiva, denoted by the terms That (Tat) and thou (Tvam) respectively, divesting these terms of their relative associations, then it is the identity of their implied, not literal, meanings which is sought to be inculcated; for they are of contradictory attributes to each other – like the sun and a glow-worm, the king and a servant, the ocean and a well, or Mount Meru and an atom.

243. This contradiction between them is created by superimposition, and is not something real. This superimposition, in the case of Ishwara (the Lord), is Maya or Nescience, which is the cause of Mahat and the rest, and in the case of the Jiva (the individual soul), listen – the five sheaths, which are the effects of Maya, stand for it.

244. These two are the superimpositions of Ishwara and the Jiva respectively,and when these are perfectly eliminated, there is neither Ishwara nor Jiva. A kingdom is the symbol of a king, and a shield of the soldier, and when these are taken away, there is neither king nor soldier

PS this interpretation is confirmed in another translation:


Hello, just thought I'd throw my 2 cents worth into this thread... I'm a little confused on the objective, but perhaps this is relevant;

Sloka 243
तत्त्वंपदाभ्यामभिधीयमानयोः ब्रह्मात्मनो: शोधितयोः यदित्थम् |
श्रुत्या तयोस्तत्त्वमसीति सम्यगेकत्वमेव प्रतिपाद्यते मुहुः ||

"Of Brahman and atman (jiva) thus indicated by the words tat and tvam and whose meanings have been thus examined and determined, the oneness alone is repeatedly well established by the sruti- tattvamasi."

I believe we must see that atman here represents the Jivâtma, and not the typical understanding of atman.  This was discussed in another post.

Here is what I have in sloka 245;

तयोर्विरोधोऽयमुपाधिकल्पितो न वास्तवः कशिचदुपाधिरेषः
ईशस्य माया महदादिकारणं जिवस्य कायं शृणु पञ्च कोशाः ||245||

"The opposition between them is imagined on account of their upadhi (limitations).  Thus upadhi is not real.  Listen! Maya which is the cause of mahat etc., is the upadhi of Isvara; the five sheaths which are the effects of Mâyâ are the upadhi of jiva."

A note from Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati;
"Mâyâ is given as the upâdhi for the tatpadârtha, viz., Î'svara.  It is the cause of the entire world compacted of mahat, ahamkara, the five tanmatras etc.  The five sheaths constitute the upadhi of the tvampadartha, the jiva; vide svet. up.| कार्योपाधिरयं जीवः कारणोपाधिरीश्वरः | "This jiva has the effect for his upadhi; Î'sara has the cause for His upadhi."

I'm very unclear of what this thread is trying to point out, will all do respect to Keith, as the issue is probably with my understanding.  I'm simply not registering any issues.  Can you kindly point out where the problem is?
Both Isvara, Jiva, along Sutratma are effects form the unknowable Causeless Cause- the inseparable union of Spirit and Matter; Purusa and Prakrti- call it Parambrahm, Paramatman, Cidakasam- IT is the One Life, manifest Its owneternal substance three fold.

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Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on May 7, 2015 at 9:17am

Another thought,

I suppose with almost anything, the student must make the decision to; 1) study the translations and develop an intuition to read behind and within the lines, or 2) learn the original text of said scripture, and translate to ones own understandings.  Books can teach us nothing unless we develop the insight to see beyond the words, and not get entangled within them.

There will always be difference of opinion in any published translations, be it sanskrit, latin, ancient greek, etc.  Translations are made from the individuals understanding on the philosophical subject matter.  Literal translations are not quite accurate, philosophical translations, though closer to the deeper meanings, might have some conveyed misconceptions due to the translators own intellectual/intuitive capabilities and opinions.  

In my opinion, the student must use their own judgement and not fall pray to the "Eye Doctrine" of endless word play and narrow minded scrutiny. 

Permalink Reply by KEITH JACKSON on May 8, 2015 at 4:02am


I certainly don't see any problem with your understanding/interpretation. Your quote from Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati helps to clarify a question I had regarding the nature of Isvaras upadhi and confirms my growing apprehension of the true meaning of Maya: Prakriti and tattwas pre gross manifestation. (Listen! Maya which is the cause of mahat etc it is well known that Prakriti is the cause of Mahat)

Re the issues I raised:

Fiirst was the Johnston translation inferring that the upadhi of the subtle body possesses detachment - the whole gist of the Viveka is the viveka that this is not true!

Second is the question of Maya - again its well known that the prevalent interpretation of Maya is the Achilles heel of the 'Sankara' school of philosophy - a philosophical sleight of hand (hence their denigration as Mayavadins) cf Johnston again:

The seeming difference between the two is caused by the vestures which contain them, but these vestures are themselves unreal. Hear the truth: cosmic differences, beginning with the world of abstract forms, come into being through the Lord’s power of Glamour, Maya; the five vestures come into being through the separate self;

This interpretation implies a 'Lord' reminiscent of Christian Paulician and Manichean views.

My own researches into the writings of the original Shankara confirm a growing intuition that his teaching is not essentially different from Kapilas in many respects.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on May 8, 2015 at 1:54pm


Question;  What does "world of abstract forms" mean to you?  I think, in my humble opinion and understanding, this "world of abstract from" is the key you might be looking for to resolve your issues.  Beyond this, I really have little to contribute;  

If this "wold of abstract forms" is regarding the suksmopadhi (hiranyagarbha brahmâ) then this translation; 

"(Hear the truth:) *cosmic differences*, [beginning with] **the world of abstract forms**, ***come into being*** [through the Lord’s]power of (Glamour,) Maya..."

is correct as far as I can see.  Consider Maya to indicate mayasakti of the Lord, Isvara (also called the Great Mayavin; the wielder of Maya). If we considering this as the causal principle, or the Cause of the Subtlebody (body meaning any body/form/universe etc.), I cannot find much fault.  Abstract form, to me, indicates the archetypal world- the world existing in the mind of the Deity- Assuming you were to call Iswara the Deity, the mind would be another aspect, of the same Principle.  Further Iswara is the homogenous mass of manifestation to be, in its undifferentiated seed form.  His mind then, would be the region where subtle (un)manifestation undifferentiation would take place.  The last, cosmic differences; the phenomenal universe.  However, this is only one position to understand this from...

Quoting from B.P. Wadia’s article, "The World of Archetypes;"

"The archetypal world is an expression of Platonic philosophy—the world as it exists in the mind of the Deity. The world, the mind and the Deityare different aspects of one and the same Principle-Substance. The Deity conceives in Its mind a world by reflecting Itself therein. Deity is the creator, Its mind is the retainer, sustainer, preserver, of ideas or archetypes which are objective (or a world) to their creator. This mind of Deity which holds in its embrace the ideas is the first Mother—the primal womb, in which the Father begets the Son—the world. The son has in him embedded father-mother; the mother has in her womb father-son; the father has in his ideation mother-son. The world has in it embedded the Deity and Its mind; the mind has in its womb the Deity and the world; the Deity has in Its ideation Its mind and world. The archetypal world is the world in which the three states or conditions or planes manifest and are still one...
*This world in the mind of the Deity, this cosmic substance which is energized by cosmic ideation, is the world of noumena, in which inheres, in which lives, the world of phenomena, in its abstract and archetypal aspects.... 
*In Shankara’s metaphysical system of thought Ishvara, Shakti and Maya are the Deity-Father, Mind-Mother and World-Son."

Further in the next sloka; 

|एतावुपाधि परजीवयोस्तयोः सम्यङ्निरासे न परो न जीवः |
[etavupadhi parajivayostayoh samyan nirase na paro na jivah]

"When these upadhis of the Isvara and the jiva are effectively removed, there is no Isvara and no jiva. "
"When these vestures, which enwrap the Lord and the separate self are cast aside, there remains neither Lord nor separate self (in conditioned manifestation)...."

I mean no offense, but I believe this is purely semantics. These are just my initial thoughts and basic understanding, I've been told not to post essays.  Aside from this, probing into what we have, regardless of translation, leads to a highly metaphysical line thought, which has been said, is the gateway to the True Heart Doctrine :) .

Permalink Reply by KEITH JACKSON on May 9, 2015 at 3:03am


and you started so well! If Maya is the "mayasakti of the Lord, Isvara" then our discussion is worthless, spiritual quest is worthless, Shankara wasted his time writing the Viveka. Descartes demon is fooling him and us successfully, free will is a joke....

Theosophy accepts no such being and Indian philosophy at its best echoes HPBs logical arguments against the concept. Iswara = The Dhyan Chohans:

"The fact is your western philosophical conceptions are monarchical; ours democratic. You are only able to think of the universe as governed by a king, while we know it to be a republic in which the aggregate indwelling intelligence rules."


that which you will call God, shows over the immutable laws of Nature. Contrary in that to the finite, the “infinite mind,”...exhibits but the functions of its cerebellum... so far as the highest Planetary Spirits have ascertained ... the infinite mind displays to them as to us no more than the regular unconscious throbbings of the eternal and universal pulse of Nature, throughout the myriads of worlds within as without the primitive veil of our solar system.

Mahatma letter No 90

 "This Logos (Ishwara kj) is equivalent to the “Unconscious Universal Mind,” etc., of Western Pantheists.

HPB Secret Doctrine

As I understand it even Patanjalis Yoga Sutras - which whilst subscribing to the 'atheistic' Samkhya admit the existence of Ishwara nevertheless relegate him to a status akin to a special Jiva.

"world of abstract forms" seems to require a creator god in your quotes, which I can't accept. Otherwise, like the 'Auric Egg', it does not mean a great deal to me I'm afraid. It seems to me that these are just part of the 'mechanism' of manifestation with little spiritual value. To 'paraphrase' Buddhas argument about the arrow; its like investigating the nature of the wood and metal, how and by whom they were made; when the important thing is the identity and present whereabouts of the archer and the reasons why he shot you.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on May 9, 2015 at 7:55am


Thank you for the reply, however, I strongly disagree with your statement; "If Maya is the "mayasakti of the Lord, Isvara"then our discussion is worthless, spiritual quest is worthless, Shankara wasted his time writing the Viveka. Descartes demon is fooling him and us successfully, free will is a joke...."

Further, I would like to see anyone exercise Free Will in itstruest sense, and then I will humbly prostrate myself before them as they have become High Souled full blown Mahatmas. 

Look into the depths of matter, the adhering bodies, the residing intelligence behind the corresponding senses and objects, and you'll find that our Will -a colorless force being no different from Universal Will- has been colored by a universe consisting of all grades of intelligences beyond our widest most abstract imagination.  Weaved by natures of various sorts, we've  fooled ourselves to think that there is an "individual I" apart from the Universal Self and its various aspects and manifestation.  We've convinced ourselves we are "free",  while the very fundamental nature of a upadhi is a conditioning due to matter which it belongs- consisting of various natures i.e., gunas in prakriti.  In other words, we are free only as far as the tether reaches.  From the Highest Dhyanas to the elementals, effects of karma and tendencies of past lives are constantly expressed and made manifest.  Nothing, no bound being at least, can be other than what its nature is.

I am sure you've done so already, but I will refer you to the 2nd, 4th, 7th, 11th, 13-15th, and 18th discourses on the Gita in light of questions, which, perhaps I have never really be clear on.  

The "creator god" you have mentioned, please, do not mistakenly view Iswara as the popular concept of a Personal God, for it is the First and Only Ego which all others are reflections of.  This, I am sure you know, is a very valuable key which requires a lot of deep thought.  There is a lot of misery behind this. 

"Metaphysical concepts are not to be sensed- they cannot be seen either by telescope or microscope; the have to be conceived in the womb of the mind and what is conceived must be reflected upon."

As you know, it takes a great deal of thinking and reflecting.  These concepts require a 3 dimensional mind, which most of us, aren't able to rightfully develop due to karmic conditions.  We may try, as we are constantly reminded by Those who have succeeded to do so.

Again, beyond what I have written previously, I have very little additional information to contribute.
Warm Regards. 

Permalink Reply by KEITH JACKSON on May 10, 2015 at 7:30am


Of course there is only limited free will relative to all sorts of constraints: Law(s), the wills of other beings etc. Thats not to accept that some 'first ego' has the total free will to cast some 'spell' over us all, negating Laws and cause and effect. Mayasakti is what exactly? Give me one example where some 'first ego' has overriden the laws of the universe. It seems to me a Vaishnava construct.

I paraphrase Mahatma KH in ML 90:

 to regard Ishwara as a Being, an Ego and endow him with Mayasakti in the face of blind brutal Evil is to make of him a fiend — a most rascally God.

This is the definition I accept:

"Maya is word tell 'not this' [Sanskrit meaning of word 'Maa Ayam'.] This word refers to material objects which are subject to creation and destruction are not lasting so are not true."

Its Prakriti which operates via the gunas and needs no 'first ego'

ML 90 again:

It is the peculiar faculty of the involuntary power of the infinite mind — which no one could ever think of calling God — to be eternally evolving subjective matter into ..cosmic matter to be later on developed into form. And it is likewise that same involuntary mechanical power that we see so intensely active in all the fixed laws of nature — which governs and controls what is called the Universe or the Cosmos.

In the literature of Theosophy are many references to the fact that Adepts are not allowed to interfere with other monads although 'brothers of the shadow' are said to have that amount of free will (with the consequences of Law of karma). Dhyan Chohans  are surely subject to the same laws.

To finish off I suspect the concept of 'first and only ego' is erroneous, a concept of monist 'advaita' (non-duality is not monism) and theism, Samkhya like Leibnitz affirms the eternal existence of limitless 'egos' as do many schools of advaita from Bhedabeda (which claims to predate Shankara) on.

"Whether it be orthodox Adwaita or not, I maintain as an occultist, on the authority of the Secret Doctrine, that though merged entirely into Parabrahm, man’s spirit while not individual per se, yet preserves its distinct individuality in Paranirvana," HPB ISIS

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on May 10, 2015 at 8:51am


With all do respect, judging by your statement; "..Thats not to accept that some 'first ego' has the total free will to cast some 'spell' over us all, negating Laws and cause and effect" , leads me to believe that your understanding of the Three Fundamental Propositions, and the relationship of Iswara/ Ego  aren't quite absorbed.  All of the passages you have quoted fully support my understandings and positions, and further after reviewing the Mahatma letters, looking for the paraphrased quote you've provided, I find nothing of the sort!  Please be accurate and give letter number along with page number.

The correct quote, to be found in LETTER No. XXII, page 148 reads as thus;
" To regard God as an intelligent spirit, and accept at the same time his absolute immateriality is to conceive of a nonentity, a blank void; to regard God as a Being, an Egoand to place his intelligence under a bushel for some mysterious reasons -- is a most consummate nonsense; to endow him with intelligence in the face of blind brutal Evil is to make of him a fiend -- a most rascally God."

For someone who has initiated a post on "Misleading/Erroneous Translations" you, yourself have failed at providing an accurate representation of probably one of the most critical and Fundamental Truths of Esoteric Philosophy.  Nowhere, under any circumstances, are we to view Iswara and "God" as being synonymous in its esoteric and theosophical representation. 

I believe to carry this post on any further is utterly useless and is a foolish public display of a very poor excuse forconstructive philosophical and metaphysical debate and discussion.  Kindly and carefully review this topic from all directions.   There seems to be a miscommunication somewhere... you might not fully understand the subject matter you've been posting, or you might not have a clear objective to your questions.  

With all due respect, please take this as no offense.  I truly appreciate your efforts.

Keith, I do know know what you've been studying prior to this, nor do I know your understanding on these matters, however I respect that you have an interest on this subject and I wish you a open, concentrated, focused, steady mind.  May your Heart be as equally devoted. 

Most respectfully yours. 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on May 10, 2015 at 9:53am
Thanks for the "spirited" debate here guys. But I agree with Kristan that to continue would likely not be beneficial at the moment. There is far too much "I'm right, you're wrong" for this to result in any level of useful dialectic. None of us are teachers; we are all students: let's please try to remember this when exploring Theosophy together. Perhaps a rest and a return to the topic at a later date would be best.