bahir antas ca bhutanam
acaram caram eva ca
suksmatvat tad avijneyam
dura-stham cantike ca tat

"The Supreme Truth exists outside and inside of all living beings, the moving and the nonmoving. Because He is subtle, He is beyond the power of the material senses to see or to know. Although far, far away, He is also near to all."

Tat = that atman, bhutanam = Five great elements [pancha bhuta - space, air, fire, water and earth], bahi = outside, antas ca = and inside. Atman is outside the Five elements and inside them also. That is in the liberated state, Mukta atman is beyond Prakruti, consisting of the Five elements, and crosses over Viraja river; and so, atman is outside the Five elements. But in the bonded state of Bhaddha, atman is inside a body made up of the Five elements. So atman is inside the Five elements. Thus Bhaddha atman is inside the Five elements and same atman in Mukta state is outside the Five elements. Acaram = still or stationary, caram eva ca = also moving. When residing in a body, atman moves about. In the Mukta state, if without a body, then atman is still or statioanary. Mukta atman can also reside in a body, if desired. Then Mukta atman will move as the body moves. If same Mukta atman prefers not to have a body, atman will remain still. But in Bhaddha state, atman can only move; because in Prakruti, atman has to necessarily have a body. Sukshmatvat = [atman is] very minute. In some philosophies, size of the atman is equal to the body it is residing. This suffers from the defect of change of size of atman, which is contrary to the definition that atman is 'nirvikara' or changeless. If atman size varies, does it mean that atman has growth or decaying nature? The Gyana of atman varies, but atman never differs in size. Vedas say that the size of atman is one hundredth of one hundredth fraction of the tip of paddy [நெல்]. Tad avijneyam = and so not understood. Atman is inside our body, yet we do not know about it, because it is so minute. Bramham or the Lord is understood to some extent and we worship in temples; but atman has no image nor are there any temples! Durastham = [atman is] very farther away. It was mentioned earlier [slokas 7 to 11] about 20 qualities one should possess to understand atman. Without these, atman appears to be very far off. But if these qualities are acquired then one would find atman very close to one. Antike ca = and very nearby. Alwar says that he is not able to understand himself; meaning that atman is so minute that we can not know about it. Thus atman is:

  • inside and outside pancha bhuta,
  • moving and still,
  • minute,
  • unable to be understood, and
  • far away and closeby.
Thus the atman with such superior qualities is being bonded in this cheap and filthy body and so we have to strive to free the atman to attain its natural state in Vaikuntam.