On Shiva Sutra: Atman is the mother of mind; Awareness is the mother of consciousness || Acharya Prashant (2016)


ज्ञानाधिष्ठानं मातृका

Translation: The basis, the foundation, the substratum of consciousness, which is knowledge,
is the mother, the origin.

~ Shiva Sutra: (1.4)

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Acharya Prashant (AP): Atman is the mother of mind. 

Awareness is the mother of consciousness. 

The Source is the Atman.

The manifestation is Prakriti.

Prakriti — this existence, the manifestation, the expression. So, do not swell up with knowledge because the mother of knowledge, the one who is at the basis of knowledge, the one superior to knowledge is somebody else, something else. And knowledge cannot take you to something superior to itself, something beyond itself.

Remember the Adhishthaan. Adhishthaan — meaning the foundation. The foundation of knowledge is not more knowledge. Knowledge implies consciousness, knowledge implies mind, the world; they do not arise from themselves. If you look at anything in the world and keep going backwards, will you finally reach a thing? No, you will have to keep going backwards and you will reach nowhere.

The first cause of this universe is not something in the universe.

The cause of the mind does not lie in the mind itself.

The cause of all this is something that has not been caused. Whatever you look in the universe is a caused thing. You can go back in time and figure out the reason why it exists. Why do you exist? Your parents were there. Why were they there? Somebody else was there. And why? And why? And why? And ultimately, you will have to answer the unanswerable.

The unanswerable is the mother, the source. That is why the translation says the un-understood. That is what I am calling as the unreasonable, the unanswerable, the unapproachable. It is strange that your own mother is unapproachable. That is the paradox of spirituality — you come from there but you cannot reach there. We cannot reach where we came from. We can only understand what this coming is all about. This coming is all about me.

I reach there when I am not.

I reach there when the effort to reach is dropped.

Listener 1 (L1): Can we say, ‘I cannot reach where I am’?

AP: Yes, I cannot reach where I am. So, I can only reach to some other place. And wonder and keep wondering why I am lost.

ज्ञानाधिष्ठानं मातृका

Knowledge comes from there but knowledge will not take you there.

The Kena Upanishad says, ‘That is the ear of the ear, the eye of the eye, the mind of the mind, the tongue of the tongue’.

Ears will not hear Him though He makes the ear hear. Mind cannot think of Him though all thoughts proceed from His energy. You can either relish His energy by keeping yourself in thought — which is all very good. And when you feel tired, you can just relax in the mother’s arms.

Krishna puts it very beautifully in the Gita. He says, ‘मम् माया’ -‘My Maya’.

“You can either come to Me directly. Or you can keep yourself mired in Maya which is just another way coming to Me. But a very very long way and infinitely long way. ‘मम्’ means mine. He says, ‘Even Maya is mine’. You can either come to Me directly. Or you can keep wandering here and there and getting hurt and cycles and cycles and repetitions. And even that will lead you to Me. Because all this is anyway mine. Even your illusions are mine.”

L2: It is so relaxing.

AP: It is so relaxing. So, do not think that by going to Maya you are going away from Me. You are only going away from Me temporarily by creating time. Maya is time. You are only postponing the inevitable. Maya means it will happen tomorrow; Maya means it will happen somewhere else; Maya means it will happen through a method.

You have the Source as your mother.

And who is the mother? Who is her own mother.


You have the Source as your mother. And who is the mother? Who has no mother; who is her own mother.

That’s my stupid definition of God: The one who is His own daddy.

The uncaused one.

The unborn one.

Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant on Shiva Sutra: Atman is the mother of mind; Awareness is the mother of consciousness The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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  1. Shiv Sutra !.4 actually builds on S S 1.2 and S S 1.3, which are three impurities (malas) created by Divine to run the play of world. Mother goddess (matrika) controls these malas. She remains hidden and unrealized so that the play of the world must go on.
    But what happens when she is realized? This is explained in Shiv Sutra Ch 1, Sutra 5:
    “Uddamo Bhairav”.


    1. Dear Virendra Qazi,

      Greetings from PrashantAdvait Foundation! This reply comes to you from the volunteers of PrashantAdvait Foundation who maintain this blog.

      To understand more on the topic of Realization, read the articles:

      1) What is Moksha?

      2)The Liberated one is free from maintaining liberation.(https://prashantadvait.com/2015/12/29/the-liberated-one-is-liberated-from-maintaining-liberation/)
      3)The image of so-called enlightened one makes one scared of enlightenment.(https://prashantadvait.com/2016/08/29/the-image-of-the-so-called-enlightened-one-makes-one-scared-of-enlightenment/)

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