Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Tattvabodha - Part 1

Notes on Tattvabodha
Dr. Vishnu Bapat

Dr. Bapat (72) was the co-founder of an Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Industry and served as its Managing Director for 26 years until retirement. He is associated with several professional and spiritual bodies. He is now fully engaged in the study and practice of Vedanta.




Not available in printed form.


----- Unpublished -----

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After my retirement from pharmaceutical industry, I took to study of Vedanta by signing up as a member of Chinmaya study Circle in Bangalore. We have taken up for study many texts like Gita, Upanishads, and prakarana granthas.  A number of good text books and translations are available on all these subjects. But there is an unmet need for some sort of on line guide for reference by a novice. I started collecting information from different sources and put it down on my system. Gradually by the grace of Gurudev Chinmayanada I was inspired to prepare these formal “notes” so that it can be shared with others. 

Original Shlokas are written in Sanskrit. Word by word meaning has been given and a purport of the shlolka is also given. The Commentary on the relevant parts of the shlolka is also written so that the student gets a through idea of individual Shlokas.

The users of this online note need to be able to read Sanskrit Shlokas to get its profound benefit.

This is not an original piece of work but a collation of information gathered from different sources mentioned at the end of the book.

There is no copyright for this work and it therefore can be freely shared with seekers.

Hari Om

Vishnu Rao Bapat


The Scheme of Discussion

Tattvabodha text can be broadly classified into five portions. These are:

1). अधिकारी – Eligibility for self-enquiry – Four-fold qualification
2). आत्म विचार – Analysis of the individual or microcosm
3). जीव जगत्-ईश्वर विचार – Analysis of the totality of creation or macrocosm
4). जीवेश्वरयोः ऐक्यम् – Essential oneness of the individual and total creation
5). ऐक्य ज्ञान फलम् - Benefit of the knowledge of essential identity



 तत्त्वबोध (Tattvabodha) means knowledge or understanding of truth or knowledge of the self. Vedanta begins with the question what is the goal of life? The basic human goals are survival, food, shelter and security. Thereafter each of us has different goals in life; economic, social, religious, health, education, marriage, progeny etc. The purpose of all these goals is acquisition of wealth, health, prosperity, power and happiness. Happiness is the ultimate goal of all men and women. So it is the purpose of life.


Animals also have a goal in life. Their goal is survival, food, sleep, sex and progeny. These are also human goals. Then how men differ from the animals? The difference is our intelligence, or buddhi. Intelligence is defined as the faculty of thought and reason and the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge. A man without capacity to reason, acquire and apply knowledge is as good as an animal.


आहार निद्रा भय मैथुनं च । सामन्यमेतद् पशुभिर्नराणाम्  ।
बुद्धिर्हि तेषामधिको विशेशतः । बुद्ध्या हीनाः पशुभिः समानाः ॥
āhāra nidrā bhaya maithunaṁ ca | sāmanyamētad paśubhirnarāṇām  ।
buddhirhi tēṣāmadhikō viśēśataḥ | buddhyā hīnāḥ paśubhiḥ samānāḥ ||


Men and women have been working from beginning-less time in pursuit of the ultimate goal of happiness. All of us have tried to achieve one or more of the intermediary goals such as wealth, health, prosperity, and power and surely obtained and enjoyed happiness. We have observed that happiness has two features. One, it is dependent on some ‘tangibles’ like time, place, objects, circumstances, and people. Two, it is not available for ever and so it is fleeting in nature.


Our scriptures have defined happiness or Ananda as our inherent nature, and so should not be sought from tangibles like outside objects and emotions. Four goals of man are mentioned; and these are Dharma (धर्म), Artha (अर्थ), Kama (काम), and Moksha (मोक्ष). The common goal of all of us is Dharma or righteous living. As we go to other three goals we cannot dispense with Dharma. This is the basic goal and should stay with us forever. Then man has to work for Artha or wealth (अर्थ), accomplishment of desires or Kama (काम), and finally the ultimate goal of Moksha (मोक्ष) or liberation. Buddha called this as Nirvana. Vedanta calls this as Brahmananda (ब्रह्मानन्द) or Brahman bliss. It is obtained by self realization.


As one progresses in his spiritual pursuits, one realizes that the object-derived happiness is unfortunately evanescent and cannot be depended upon. Brahmananda stays with us forever.  It does not require any external tangibles for its accomplishment.  It is already built-in with us. We have only to unpack our head and heart to perceive it. It is like a man who had kept a 100 dollar bill in a magazine as a book-mark and later he totally forgot about it. He searched for it everywhere in vain. One day as he opened his magazine and found the 100 dollar bill. He  exclaimed excitedly, “Hey! I got it”. It is the case with all of us. We have permanent happiness and peace built-in with us. Due to our ignorance we are not aware of it. Tatvabodha reveals it to us how to go to the mode of “Hey! I got it”. This is called prāptasya prāpti (प्राप्तस्य प्राप्ति), which means rediscovering what we already possess.
Tattvabodha is said to be authored by Shankaracharya. This is a basic book of Vedanta (प्रकरण ग्रन्थ, prakaraṇa grantha) and helps to understand the higher texts namely Upanishads, Brahma-sutras and Bhagavad-Gita. These three texts are together called “Prasthana Trayi” (प्रस्थान त्रयी’ prasthāna trayī). Tattvabodha is written in prose form. It has 58 paragraphs.





वासुदेवेन्द्रयोगीन्द्रम् नत्वा ज्ञानप्रदं गुरुम् ।

मुमूक्शूणाम् हितार्थाय तत्वबोधॊऽभिधीयते ॥


वासुदेवेन्द्र  योगीन्द्रम् Vasudevendra, the king amongst  the yogis – नत्वा – having saluted ज्ञानप्रदम् -  the bestower of knowledge गुरुम् – the Guru मुमूक्शूणाम् – for the seekers हितार्थाय – for the benefit  तत्वबोधः – Tattvabodha अभिधीयते – is expounded


Having saluted Vasudevendra, the Guru and the king of the yogis, who is the bestower of knowledge, Tattvabodha is expounded for the benefit of the seekers.


वासुदेवेन्द्र  – Vāsudēva refers to Lord Krishna who preached Gita to the world. He is the son of Vasudēva (वसुदेव). He is described here as the king Vāsudēva.

योगीन्द्रम् – the king of yogis, the perfect master who has attained yoga or union with self.

नत्वा – having saluted. The author first salutes the Guru and proceeds with further discussion.

ज्ञानप्रदम् गुरुम् – the Guru who bestows knowledge. Here knowledge means spiritual knowledge. Guru is the master or teacher who removes darkness of ignorance and leads us to reality. गु=darkness रु=remover. Krishna is the universal Guru who expounded the knowledge of Gita. He removes darkness of ignorance.

मुमूक्शूणाम् हितार्थाय – for the benefit of the seekers of truth.

In the spiritual tradition of India, it is customary to make an object-statement of a book. In this shlolka four points are mentioned. These are called अनुबन्ध चतुष्टय.These points are अधिकरी, विषय, प्रयोजन, and सम्बन्ध.

अधिकरी For whom the text is meant. In this case the text is written for the benefit of मुमूक्शूणाम्, the seekers.

विषय the subject matter. The subject discussed in Tatvabodha is the essence of Reality or Tattva.  तत् - that त्व –ness. That refers to the spirit, or the essence of spirit and is the subject matter.
प्रयोजन – the utility or purpose of the book. The purpose of Tattvabodha is God realization. मुमूक्शूणाम् हितार्थाय for the benefit of the seekers of truth.

सम्बन्ध – the relation of the text to the purpose. By the study of Tatvabodha and realization of truth, the seeker gets liberation from birth and death. He gets complete freedom.

Contact Dr. Bapat at if you have any comments or questions.

Go to Part 2


Page last updated: 23-Apr-2015