Similes are a powerful way to express reality. Sri Adi Sankaracharya, in the Vivekachoodamani, uses a powerful one at that. The fragrant wood of the agaru tree, which begins to stink when it comes in contact with water, regains its fragrance on constantly rubbing the surface against a stone.
Similarly, the Supreme Self is beyond fragrance, but appears as though maligned when it comes in contact with the gross desires of the mind, which is earth-bound. However, when this mind is continuously scaled and polished by the stone called clear knowledge of the Self, all the impurities get washed away and the individual Self shines in all its pleasant fragrance of a beautiful personality.
The experience of the Self is covered by a web of thoughts and feelings about the body, mind and intellect which are not the Self, but which we always identify with as the Self. Whenever the mind turns inward to seek the Self within, it gets freed of all its desires for experiencing joy from the world outside.
When the mind becomes completely free of all its bundles, bunches and bubbles of vasanas, it experiences the true Self free of any obstacles and hindrance. The more the desires for objects to experience joy reduces, the greater clarity and happiness the mind begins to experience.
This task of elimination of vasanas is easier said than done. It is not as easy as cleaning the floor or dusting the shelves. The master points out in 15 verses why we should remove all superimpositions of thoughts, ideas and desires on the mind.When one is established in the Self, the mind ends there. The way for the mind to end is making it free of desires for temporary objects of joy. Towards that goal, remove all superimpositions on the Self.
Adhyasa or superimposition is a technical term used in Vedanta. On a stone slab, cut out of a mountain, you etch something. The letters are superimposed on the slab. It is no longer called a mountain or a stone slab. It is called a rock cut etching.
This is superimposition. In the same way, there is the pure Self, free of name, form and qualities. On that Self, we superimpose the body and say, this body is me. We superimpose the mind and we say, my mind. We superimpose the intellect and say, my thoughts. It is these superimpositions that the Acharya guides us to remove one by one as many of the words end with Swadhyasa apanayam kuru—take away the superimposition on the Self.