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Shrii Shankara sums up the essence of Vedanta in dasashlokii. He states that Only Atman Is while the world of names, form and various manifestations are just maya . He goes on to say that Atman is same as the supreme Brahman . Shankara also emphasises, as do upanishhads that the man who realizes aatma ALONE transcends worldly sorrow (tarati shokaM aatmavit).
After writing a wonderful commentary on Gaudapada's karika on maaNDukya upanishhad, and upadesahasri in my humble opinion, the best philosophical work of Shankara, many scholars consider dashashlokii to be the last pronouncement of Shankara on the non-dual nature of Atman. In a very simple way using just 10 verses, Shankara expounds on the nature of Atman -- the attributeless Truth, indestructible, and the very basis of supreme bliss and purity.
The words of Swami Gambhirananda sums up the significance of the sloka, `This text deals with the nature of Atman in the clearest and
simplest language. There is not a single word which is superflous, and the teacher [Shankara] is at this best; the arrow of knowledge is aimed at ignorance and it hits the target directly, destroying the enemy.'
The birth of this Dasasloki is an interesting event. Sri Sankara in imminent danger of death in the jaws of a crocodile in the river Purna in his village Kaladi, takes Sannyasa informally by pronouncing the prescrinebd formula. But when the crocodile immediately frees him from its grip, Sri Sankara is faced with the necessity of seeking a competent teacher who can regularise the Sannyasa and initiate him in the Upanishadic passages. He travelled north and ultimately found such a teacher in Sri Govindapadacharya, who was in deep meditation in a cave on the banks of the Narmada. When fervently implored by Sri Sankara, the Saint woke up and asked Sri Sankara who he was. It
was in reponse to this simple question that Sri Sankara burst out in a set of ten pregnant stanzas explaining the real nature of the Self which alone he was. The Saint realising that Sri Sanakara was a realised soul, who had come to him for initiation only to conform to the normal method of entering the Sannyasa Order, immediately accepted him as a disciple.
May Shrii Shankara leads us from ignorance to Truth by helping us realize the aatman.
AUM tat sat.
na bhuumirna toyaM na tejo na vaayuH
na khaM nendriyaM vaa na teshhaaM samuuhaH .
tadeko.avashishhTaH shivaH kevalo.aham.h .. 1..
"I am not the Earth nor Water, neither Fire nor Air, I am not space. Neither am I any of the Faculties nor am I their aggregrate. [I am not any of these] as they are all uncertain. I am proved however in the sole experience of deep sleep. That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Only One, am I."
na varNaa na varNaashramaachaaradharmaa
na me dhaaraNaadhyaanayogaadayopi .
tadeko.avashishhTaH shivaH kevalo.aham.h .. 2..
"The castes are not for me, nor the observances and duties attached to the castes and the stages of life. Even the steadying of the mind, concentration, self-communion and other courses are not for me. For the mistaken senses of I and MINE which rested on the Non-Self have been abondoned. That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
na maataa pitaa vaa na devaa na lokaa
na vedaa na yaGYA na tiirtha bruvanti .
tadeko.avashishhTaH shivaH kevalo.aham.h .. 3..
"There is no mother nor father; no gods nor regions of experience; no scriptures nor sacrifical sites; and no sacred place-so say the Sages. For, in the state of deep sleep, all these are negatived and that state is completely devoid(of any object of perception) That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
na saakhyaM na shaivaM na tatpaaJNcharaatraM
na jainaM na miimaaMsakaadermataM vaa .
tadeko.avashishhTaH shivaH kevalo.aham.h .. 4..
"There is no Sankhya nor Saiva, nor that Pancharatra nor Jaina. The conception of the Mimamsaka and others does not exist. For, through the direct realisation of what is qualified, the Self is known as of the nature of the Absolutely Pure. That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
na chordhva na chaadho na chaantarna baahyaM
na madhyaM na tirya.N na puurvaa.aparaa dik.h .
tadeko.avashishhTaH shivaH kevalo.aham.h .. 5..
"There is neither above nor below, neither inside nor outside, no middle nor crosswise, no direction, east or west. For it is all-pervasive like space. It is partless and homogeneous in its nature. That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
na shuklaM na kR^ishhNaM na raktaM na piitaM
na kubjaM na piinaM na hrasvaM na diirgham.h .
aruupaM tathaa jyotiraakaarakatvaat.h
tadeko.avashishhTaH shivaH kevalo.aham.h .. 6..
"It is neither white nor black, neither red nor yellow, neither dwarfish nor stout, neither short nor long. As it is of the nature of light, it is shapeless also. That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
na shaastaa na shaastraM na shishhyo na shikshaa
na cha tvaM na chaahaM na chaayaM prapaJNchaH .
tadeko.avashishhTaH shivaH kevalo.aham.h .. 7..
"There is no ruler nor rule, no pupil nor training. There is no YOU nor I. This universe is not. For the realistion of the true nature of the Self does not tolerate any distincion. That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
na jaagran.h na me svapnako vaa sushhuptiH
na vishvau na vaa taijasaH praaGYako vaa .
avidyaatmakatvaat.h trayaaNaM turiiyaH
tadeko.avashishhTaH shivaH kevalo.aham.h .. 8..
"There is no waking state for me nor dream or deep sleep. I am not Visva[the Self identified with the experiencer of the waking state], nor Taijasa[identified with dream state], nor Prajna[identified with deep sleep]. I am really the Fourth(Turiya). That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
api vyaapakatvaat.h hitatvaprayogaat.h
svataH siddhabhaavaadananyaashrayatvaat.h .
jagat.h tuchchhametat.h samastaM tadanyat.h
tadeko.avashishhTaH shivaH kevalo.aham.h .. 9..
"All this universe which is other than the Self is worthless(having no existence of its own) for it is well known that the Self is all pervasive, recognised as the reality and that its existence is self-proven and does not depend upon anything else. That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I."
na chaikaM tadanyad.h dvitiiyaM kutaH syaat.h
na kevalatvaM na chaa.akevalatvam.h .
na shunyaM na chaashuunyamadvaitakatvaat.h
kathaM sarvavedaantasiddhaM braviimi .. 10..
"It is not one, for how can there be a second distinct from it? Aloneness cannot be attributed to it nor even not-aloneness. It is neither a void nor a non-void. When it does not admit of a second entity, in what manner can I speak about it though it is established by all the Upanishads.?"
.. iti shriimad.h sha.nkaraachaaryavirachitaM dashashlokii samaaptaM ..
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