Introduction by Sri Bhagavan
When Shankaracharya was going about the country debating with the exponents of the various schools of thought and overcoming them, he once came to the town of Mahishmati in the north, where Mandana Mishra, the exponent of Vedic rituals lived. He overcame him in debate but his wife refused to concede victory until she was also defeated. So, Shankaracharya argued with her and defeated her in all subjects except erotica. He then asked for a respite of one month and after shedding his body in a cave under the custody of his disciples, entered into the dead body of king Amaruka and sported among the hundred queens in the guise of their husband. When the disciples found that the period specified by their Guru had already expired they grew anxious. So some of them went to him in the disguise of minstrels and sang the following hymn (to remind him).
1. That is the Truth which the wise realize as the Self, the residuum left over on withdrawing from external objects, with or without form (ether, air, fire, water and earth), by a careful application of the scriptural text ‘Not this, not this’. That thou art!
2. That is the Truth which, after generating the fundamentals (ether, air, fire, water and earth), and entering the world, lies hidden beneath the five sheaths, and which has been threshed out by the wise with the pestle of discernment, just as the grain is recovered by threshing and winnowing the chaff. That thou art!
3. Just as wild horses are broken-in by whipping and stabling them, so also the unruly senses, straying among objects, are lashed by the whip of discrimination, showing that objects are unreal, and are tethered by the rope of pure intellect to the Self by the wise. Such is the Truth. That thou art!
4. The Truth has been ascertained by the wise to be the substratum which is different from the waking, dream, and deep sleep states, its own expanded modes, which indeed are held together by it like the flowers strung together on a garland. That thou art!
5. That is the Truth which the scriptures show to be the primal cause of all, elucidating the point clearly by such texts as ‘Purusha is all this’, ‘like gold in ornaments of gold’, etc. That thou art!
6. The Truth has been forcefully proclaimed by the scriptures in such texts as ‘He who is in the sun, is in man.’ ‘He who shines in the sun, shines in the right eye,’ etc., That thou art!
7. What pure brahmins seek so eagerly by repetition of the Vedas, by religious gifts, by earnest application of their hard-earned knowledge and by renunciation, is the Truth. That thou art!
8. That is the Truth which the valiant have got by seeking, with controlled mind, with abstinence, penance, etc., and by diving into the Self by the self. Realizing it, they are considered to be heroes with their highest purpose accomplished. That is the transcendental Satchidananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss) after gaining which there is nothing more to worry about since perfect peace reigns. That thou art!
On hearing these (verses) the Acharya bade them (his disciples) go away and promptly came out of the body of the King and re-entered his own. He then went to the lady (wife of Mandana Misra) and, after defeating her, made the two of them (she and her husband) his followers. Thereafter he went on his way enlightening the whole world.