What is Sakshi Bhava?

Friday, 18 April 2014 – Amritapuri
Seashore Meditation and Question & Answer

Question: Amma, what is sakshi bhava [witness attitude]? Is it no emotions? No sadness, no happiness? Or is it constant bliss? Once, some time back, I was depressed, and then I didn’t really feel anything. In a way, it was like being a witness, but I don’t think that is meant by sakshi bhava. So, what is it, Amma? Is it that you don’t feel anything, don’t care about anything but, yet, still, somehow feel happy? Amma, could you please explain?


Amma: When you become sugar, then there is nothing but sweetness. Likewise, in true sakshi bhava, there is bliss alone.

It’s not that emotions don’t come, they will be there, but you see them, as if from a distance, and they don’t affect you. So, when anger begins rising up in you, you are able to see it very clearly. You witness it and this helps you to remain calm and not translate that emotion into action. Reflecting on the truth that we are not the body or the mind but are the atma [the true self], we can use our viveka [discrimination] to reject that emotion as baseless.

Witnessing like this and keeping our distance from our emotions, is for our own safety. Visiting a zoo and seeing the animals in their cages is a blissful experience. But if you open the door the cage and let the animals out their cages it will be disastrous. It is the same with the mind.

When you understand the nature of the world and its objects, you will see things and remain detached, like a witness, and accept them. For example, a crow may evacuate upon us, but we don’t get angry at the crow. You just go wash your dress and move forward.

Children, in deep sleep, we are in a state of bliss. Sakshi bhava is that same state, yet we are fully awake. In deep sleep, there is no “I,” no “mine.” It’s only when we wake up that all these things come: “my bed,” “my sandals,” “my pen,” “my clothes”… It is when we are overpowered by these “I” and “mine” thoughts that is the source of all discord. In sakshi bhava, you are able to see that this “I” and “mine” have no real substance. Thus, you always remain peaceful. When you understand that there is nothing other than you, there is no scope for disturbance. At present we are totally identified with our individual mind. We need to expand: from the individual mind, to the societal mind, to the mind of the entire universe. You may feel as if you are just a seed, but understand that there is a tree dormant in every seed. Realize that and become the tree.

In sakshi bhava, it is not that there are no thoughts or emotions. Just as there are waves in the ocean, there will be thoughts in the mind. But since you know how to swim, you are able to get in the water and blissfully move about them.