Atmasiddhi Shastra

Book cover - Atmasiddhi ShastraAtmasiddhi Shastra (Six Spiritual Truths of the Soul) is the work of Srimad Rajchandra of India. It is a simple question-and answer work that engages a conversation between a doubter and a teacher (a guru) about the nature of the soul. Rajchandra was guru to Mahatma Gandhi. The book has forewords given by the XIV Dalai Lama and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.


Among rare craftsmen who pave the path of spiritual welfare for the glory of all, is the supremely benevolent and divine Shrimad Rajchandra. Rajchandra is highly revered for his lofty spiritual state, extraordinary personality, remarkable exposition of Lord Mahavir’s teachings and literary genius. Born to Smt. Devba and Shri Ravjibhai on the auspicious day of Kartik Purnima in VS 1924 (November 9, 1867) at Vavania (Gujarat, India), He was pure wisdom incarnate. At the tender age of seven, upon witnessing the burning pyre of an acquaintance, He underwent unprecedented mental churning which led to the attainment of jatismaranjnan – a recollection of several past lives. Then, at the age of 19, He displayed the extraordinary feat of shatavdhan – remaining attentive to 100 activities simultaneously.

Despite a powerful intrinsic sentiment of detachment and burning desire for renunciation, at the age of 20, He was compelled to tie the knot of marriage and engage in business. At the age of 23, He attained self-realisation. After turning 28, He began to spend four to six months a year in the seclusion of forests, mountains and remote places, effortlessly leading an austere life.

On Chaitra Vad Pancham VS 1957 (April 9, 1901) in Rajkot, abiding as ever in the blissful self, He left His mortal body in a state of complete awareness. In a short span of just 33 years, He not only soared high in the spiritual skies but also proved instrumental in directing many others towards the path of enlightenment.

Rajchandra and Gandhi

Honoured as the spiritual guide of Mahatma Gandhi, Rajchandra had a tremendous formative influence on the father of the nation. Rajchandra shaped Gandhi’s ideas and guided his beliefs. He played a pivotal role in the making of the Mahatma, on the basis of which Gandhi achieved India’s independence and inspired generations across the world. Acknowledging His impact, Gandhi expresses,

“Such was the man who captivated my heart in religious matters as no other man has till now. I have said elsewhere that besides Kavi (Rajchandra), Ruskin and Tolstoy have contributed in forming my intrinsic character; but Kavi has had a more profound effect because I had come in personal and intimate contact with Him.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~ Modern Review, June 1930

Rajchandra and Gandhi first met in Mumbai in 1891, when Gandhi returned from England as a young barrister. Their relationship blossomed over profound interactions for two years in Mumbai. After moving to South Africa, Gandhi corresponded with Rajchandra through letters. Once, when Gandhi was faced with a troubling crisis over identity and religion, he resorted to Rajchandra for guidance by penning 27 questions. Rajchandra’s answers resolved his doubts.

Even after Rajchandra left His mortal body, Gandhi contemplated upon His letters and compositions, time and time again. Gandhi would write about Rajchandra, speak about Him in speeches, discuss Him with close associates, and pay heartfelt tributes to Him.

Composition
Rajchandra writingIn the monsoon months of the year 1896, Rajchandra had gone for a retreat to Gujarat. Moving through the jungles of Gujarat, immersed in the self, He reached the town of Nadiad in the Charotar district in October. Shri Ambalalbhai was in His service at that time. On the evening of October 22, after returning from a walk, Rajchandra asked Shri Ambalalbhai for a lantern and began to Write. Full of devout humility and modesty, he stood steadfast like a lamp post, holding the lantern and facilitating Rajchandra to write. Thus, with an effortless ?ow of words, Rajchandra in a single sitting of an hour and a half to two hours, wrote the Atmasiddhi Shastra.

All 142 verses were written in one go – no editing, no retakes. Encompassing the nectar obtained from churning the ocean of spiritual scriptures, this unprecedented text could only have been composed in such a short time by one as divine as Rajchandra. Even merely copying these verses requires a longer duration! This event is a testament to His spiritual Wealth and poetic prowess. Thus, on the auspicious day of Aso Vad Ekam, VS 1952, Thursday, October 22, 1896, in a room within the Nana Kumbhnath temple in Nadiad, Rajchandra composed this magnum opus. This Atmasiddhi Shastra is adequate enough to immortalise Rajchandra’s legacy.

Title

This profound spiritual poetic composition is known by name ‘Atmasiddhi Shastra’. ‘Atma‘ means soul and ‘Siddhi‘ means establishment or accomplishment. In this composition, Rajchandra has established the truth of the soul by describing the six fundamentals through pure strength of logic and reasoning. Upon contemplating and internalising it, the true seeker is certain to attain self-realisation. Hence the word, ‘Atmasiddhi’. In the past hundreds of years, several texts with the word ‘siddhi’ have been Written, in Jain and non-Jain traditions, to establish their viewpoints and opinions. Sarvarthsiddhi, Anekantsiddhi, Siddhivinishchay, Survajnasiddhi, and so forth, have been Written in the Jain tradition, whereas Brahmasiddhi, Advaitsiddhi, etc., are well-known Vedant texts.

The Soul
Many scriptures in the world’s religions speak of the soul. Teachers, mendicants, recluses, sanyasins, priests – all tell you that there is a soul within your body. What is this soul? What does it do? What is it useful for? Some teach us we have to be pure and return our souls to God on the day of reckoning. Others say the soul is simply a witness. So what is the benefit of this book, Atmasiddhi Shastra?

This book expands and gives evidence to the nature and actions of the soul. The method employed is to present doubt, and dissolving doubt.

Verse 50 addresses a root cause of doubt: identifying the soul with the body. An analogy is offered: the sword in the sheath.

1. When the sword is inside the sheath, they both appear as one object although they are different. Similarly, when the soul is within the body, their separateness is not apparent, although they are completely different.

2. The sheath is visible and the sword, invisible. Similarly, the body is visible and the soul, invisible.

3. The sword takes up the entire space available in the sheath. Similarly, the soul pervades the entire body.

4. What the sword can do, the sheath cannot do. The sheath simply covers the sword. Similarly, the body, being inanimate, is devoid of knowingness and happiness. It is merely an external cover for the soul.

5. Although the sword might remain in the sheath for years before being drawn out, it does not become the sheath. Similarly, though the soul has been associated with one body or another since time immemorial, it has never become the body and never Will. The two remain separate in all three periods of time – past, present and future.

Verse 51 tells that the soul is the seer: That which is the seer of sight and the knower of all forms, that very experience of consciousness, which is continuous and cannot be subtracted, is the soul.

Verse 52 addresses the confusion between the soul and the senses, sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell. Each organ has knowledge of its own subject matter; the soul knows the subject matter of all five sense organs. The soul is the knower of all five senses.

Verse 53 tells that the body, the senses and the breath all function due to soul. Neither does the body know it, nor do the senses or the breath. They all function due the presence of the soul.

Verse 54 tells that consciousness is a sign of the soul. That which is known to be separate between states such as waking, dreaming, sleeping, is an evident consciousness and the ever-present sign of the soul. At birth, a state of infancy exists, followed by childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age. The knower of these states (the memories of these states remain) has been present throughout. The I within – the consciousness – is ever present.

Verse 55 tells that knowledge establishes a knower. You accept the existence of that which you see. However, you do not accept the existence of a knower of those objects. The knower is the soul, which gives sense to the senses.

We can cite much more. However, it is probably best for you the reader, to obtain this rather simple book and use it for your daily reading and reception, absorption, understanding and living. It is a living text, that shall dissolve doubt and enhance comprehension of the soul. Released on October 21, 2021 by Harper Collins. A full glossary, translation and exposition of text is given. Makes for an easy read. Recommended!


Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur Australia
Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur Australia is ACNC-registered non-profit organisation. Started in 2013; Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur Australia is involved in charitable activities including providing food to the homeless in Sydney (Parramatta and Blacktown), Hobart and Perth; providing relief activities to the elderly residents of shelter home; and medical aid, accommodation assistance to overseas residents stranded in Sydney; and screening during India’s repatriation program, Vande Bharat helping more than 10,000 stranded Indians reach home.

SRMD Australia is part of Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur, a global movement to enhance the spiritual growth of seekers. Founded by Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshji, an Enlightened Master and spiritual visionary, the mission is spread across 108 centres and 92 Youth Groups worldwide. The organisation enjoys Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2020 for its benevolent initiatives. The mission is driven by the vision of ‘Realising one’s true self and serving others selflessly.‘ The organisation is named after Shrimad Rajchandra, a self-realised 19th century saint, a remarkable poet-philosopher and also the spiritual mentor of Mahatma Gandhi. Shrimad Rajchandra’s powerful compositions and literary genius have been appreciated, studied, and revered globally. The crown jewel of His philosophical literature is the Magnum Opus Atmasiddhi Shastra – a 142-verse poetic masterpiece and encyclopaedia of spirituality.

Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshji has authored a lucid commentary in English, simplifying the essence embedded within every verse of Atmasiddhi Shastra for seekers around the world. The book is a step-by-step guide to self-realisation written with great compassion and vision.

Released on October 21, 2021 by Harper Collins. Owing to the massive demand from readers worldwide, a dedicated website for the book – www.atmasiddhishastra.com has been launched.

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