Sadhana 39 - Witness


Intellect Level: Witness

Remain a witness to the activities of the BMI and the world.  "I am a sakshi, an uninvolved & undisturbed witness"



Sit back and watch the stupid procession of things and beings outside and the thoughts and emotions within.

  • Swami Chinmayananda



Once when Poojya Gurudev was ill in Sidhbari and was in the hospital, two nurses came into his room to give him a sponge bath. He remarked, “I an immaculate!”


The nurses thought Poojya Gurudev had not understood and repeated that they needed to wash him. Poojya Gurudev said, “I am pure, I am immaculate!”


Again the nurses thought he had not understood and once again they asked his permission to give him a bath. Finally Poojya Gurudev relented and said, “Never mind. You can wash this body now.”


What is it to be a Witness?

That which feels “I am,” this “I” is neither mind nor matter.

The external things exist because of the imaginations of this “I.

  • Swami Chinmayananada


To “witness” means to be an uninvolved and unaffected observer.  one is not a part of it but merely present at that moment. One is not connected in any way to all that is going on but is aware and observant of it.  Sakshi means to see well or to illumine. 


When an eyewitness is called in the court of law it is to get a correct, unbiased account of what had occurred because the eyewitness was not a part of the event but an observer from a distance so the narrative of the incident would be accurate as the eyewitness was not involved.


We are actually a soul (pure consciousness) with a body and not a body with a soul. Once our identity is clearly understood we realise that the body, mind and intellect are all tools that we have, mere equipments, through which we can experience the world around us. When anything occurs around us like an eyewitness we should be a “sakshi” to it – an observer who is not affected or involved. For example if my phone falls and gets a crack I am not hurt. It is the phone which is separate from me. Similarly we are the sentient life force in the body. But forgetting our true nature we identify with the BMI and function as the doer – the perceiver, feeler and thinker. So we act and react to all activities around us which cause us joy or sorrow depending upon the outcome.


Being a witness does not mean that we will not feel any emotions at the mind level, or will not feel anything at the body level by change of weather, diseases, or will not have any thoughts.  It only means that we will be aware of what is happening to the BMI and the individuality, but we will not get affected by them because we see these as other than us, as if viewing these from a distance.


Kaivalya Upanishad verse 18 says - In the three worlds(BMI), whatever is the experienced, experiencer and experience, I (Consciousness) am different from these. Im its witness - Pure Auspiciousness. 


Vedanta says that the illuminator is always different and unaffected from the illumined.  Body, Mind, Intellect(Equipment of Experience), Perceiver, Feeler, Thinker(Experiencer), Objects, Emotions & Thoughts(World of Experience), along with past tendencies and ignorance are all illumined.   Om is the witness in each of us.  It is Pure Consciousness which remains uninvolved and unaffected. Like the movie screen is the witness of all the scenes and remains unaffected. 




Swami Chinmayanandaji used to love the expression of the Geeta - They are in me, I am not in them.  Watch a video of it here -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuNW37r5YPA


How to?


  1. Introspect daily. Introspection is the process of going through the activities of the day mentally without passing any judgment, as an observer. Automatically the intellect will identify the areas where the mind acted positively and it congratulates the mind.  It also identifies areas where the mind could have acted in a better way and the lesson get embedded in our subconscious.
  2. Thereon during the day one is able to perform better as one has developed a certain awareness of ones actions and reactions. For example if anger surfaces we are able to monitor it due to our awareness that it is a reaction to the particular trigger, an attachment. This awareness itself acts like a de-fuser and the initial bout of anger subsides. As one watches with full awareness, the anger goes away. This is because of the principle of being the observer who does not get involved or fuel the anger.
  3. Initially it may be difficult but slowly being the witness will become easier.
  4. Apply this principle while doing all activities.
  5. With constant practice, the sakshi bhava can be invoked at will to remain constantly with us through the day and night. 



To remember the ever-present Divine at all times even, while acting in the world is the most positive practice for a seeker who is striving to evolve. He will thereby transform his inner personality from its present condition to a state of harmony and efficiency.

  • Swami Chinmayananda


  1. Reduces emotional upheavals

By being a sakshi, witnessing  all thoughts, words and deeds without interfering with them or being affected by them enables us to disassociate from them hence does not impact us.

  1. Increases potential & productivity

Since the activities are being done without any attachment the focus is in the present thereby increasing concentration which will increase productivity and unleash the hidden potential.

  1. Help connect with ones True nature

Fulfilment and happiness is our nature which is not apparent to us due to our identification with our body, mind and intellect. By observing sakshi bhaav we identify with the Self. 


Beginners and Advanced:



Do are advised above.



Advanced seeker:

  1. In the seat of Meditation, having made the mind single pointed with a support (name of the lord, form, breath, chakra etc.), take up the attitude of a Witness. 
  2. Don’t identify with any thought if it comes.  Just observe. 
  3. Don’t Resist, Indulge, Verbalise, Analyse or Judge.  Let the thought be. 
  4. They are in me, I am not in them.  This should be the attitude. 




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