If one keeps asking himself like this and analysing it by one’s intellect, one will get to know there is nothing of essence (sAra) in this samsAra. And there will come an urge to know the Atman that is the real essence.
That is when we realise it is only by pursuing the question ‘kiM samsAre sAraM’ relentlessly we have come to this stage of longing for this most noble quest (of the Atman).
It is only this question that opens our eyes from our being a samsAri (involved in samsAra) and thinking that that is all there is to our life. And so if there is anything worthwhile in samsAra, it is this question; a relentless pursuit of the question.
In other words the shloka means that we should be constantly engaged in the thought of the Atman. Note that he does not add the words of qualification like ‘vidvAn’ or ‘sudhIH’. So this is a teaching for all people.
The Acharya thinks that even the common man who was spoken of as ‘dead even when living’ if he leaves off his karma, has always to keep thinking of the release from the samsAra.
Here he has said that the question ‘What is worthwhile in samsAra?’ should be repeatedly asked of oneself.
A little later, he raises another question (Shloka 16) “What is it that should be thought about, day and night?” : *kA ahar-nishaM anuchintyA?*.
The Acharya has blessed us with a work called ‘SopAna-panchakaM’.
When his devotees come to know that he was winding up his mortal journey and was ready to reach Brahma-nirvANaM, they requested of him: “You are leaving us all. You have given volumes of advice and teaching to us in writing. But we may not be abole to read all of that. So before you are done with this incarnation can you please condescend to summarise them all and give us an upadesha?”.
In reply to this he delivers what is called ‘upadesha-panchakaM’ also known as ‘sopAna-panchakaM’.(Continued..)