vivekacūḍāmaṇi, vivekachudamani or vivekachoodamani literally "The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom" is a famous work by Adi Shankara that expounds advaita vedanta philosophy. Having written commentaries to the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras. Adi Shankara composed many sub-texts in simple Sanskrit, called Prakarana Granthas, with the objective of reaching the message of the Vedas and Upanishads to laypersons. The vivekachudamani, as the name implies, is the crown jewel of such texts.
Viveka Chudamani consists of 580 verses in Sanskrit, but unlike other scriptures, it is not divided into chapters and sections. It has the form of dialogue between the master and the disciple, where the master explains to the disciple the nature of the Atman and the ways to research and know the Atman. The book takes the disciple on a step by step instructions to reach Brahman.
The text begins with Adi Shankara's prayer to his guru Sri Govinda Bhagavatpada. It then expounds the significance of Self Realisation, ways to reach it, and the characteristics of a Guru. It criticizes attachment to the body and goes to explain the various Sareeras, Kosas, Gunas, Senses and Pranas. It teaches the disciple the ways to attain Self realisation, methods of meditation (dhyana) and introspection of the Atman.
It concludes with the denial of Pluralism and the description of state of Self Realization.
The former Shankaracharya of Sringeri Sri Chandrasekhara Bharathi has written a Bhashya or commentary on this work. There is also a translation of this work by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, Shankara's Crest-jewel of Discrimination, with A Garland of Questions and Answers, Vedanta Press, California. Also there is a good translation by Swami Madhavananda (published by Advaita Ashram, Kolkata) in plain English. Swami Chinmayananda wrote an excellent commentary in English. He also gave exhaustive lectures on the text, which are available on DVD through the Chinmaya Mission.
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