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An independent (i.e., non-commentary) work by the great Advaita Vedanta philosopher, SANKARA, in the form of a dialogue between a spiritual teacher (guru) and his pupil. A translation of the title would be something like “Crest Jewel of Discrimination” where viveka is “discrimination,” cuda is a topknot of hair or crest (like that of a peacock), and mani (here stated as a feminine noun) is a jewel or precious gem. A cudamani was a jewel worn by men and women on the top of the head. Since the top of the head is the location of the crown chakra (cakra), the connotation of the title is that of precious spiritual insight attained by means of discrimination between the real and the unreal, etc. The importance of this work to theosophists is that it identifies four qualities the aspirant for Self-realization needs to acquire: discrimination (viveka), desirelessness (vairaya), six acquisitions (satsampatti), and a profound desire for liberation (mumuksatva). The six acquisitions are: equanimity (sama), charity (dama), moral conduct (sila), patient endurance (titiksa), one-pointedness (samadhana), and faith (sraddha). These four (or nine, if the six acquisitions are listed separately), are often found in theosophical literature (e.g., At the Feet of The Master by J. Krishnamurti, The Way of the Disciple by Clara M. Codd), variously translated, as qualities necessary for anyone of whatever religion who is treading the spiritual path. In addition to a discussion of these qualities, of the need for the aspirant to have a qualified teacher, and of the necessity for daily meditation, the Vivekacudamani outlines the basic metaphysical doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.

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