The Pancadasi of Sri Vidyaranya is a classic of great celebrity. It occupies a popuar and prominent place in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta, due ot it’s clear concepts, dialectical method, lucid and humorous style.
The authorship of Pancadasi; the concept of Creation; Isvara and Jiva; Brahman as existence; Consciousness and Infinity; Individual Self; Maya and Avidya; Knowledge; Liberation; Vidyaranya and Pancadasi; various commentators and commentaries of Pancadasi and the contribution of Vidyaranya to Advaita Vedanta form the body of the present work. Vidyaranya’s deep philosophical insight leaves the mark on the reader through the description of Maya and Avidya, witness Consciousness, Abhasa-Vada. The topics like Samvadi Brahman, threefold Prarabdha, twofold duality created by Isvara and Jiva, three types of Bliss, the seven stages in the way of knowledge are certain stamps of originality of Vidyaranya.
In the traditional history of Advaita Vedanta, it is a known
fact that Mandana Misra was the original name of Suresvaracarya before his entering into the order of Sannyasa. Let us
recall that Mandana Misra was the disciple of Kumarila Bhatt,
the Mimansaka. Accordingly the, traditional scholars opined
that all the writings of Mandana Misra were the writings of
Suresvara. Among the modern indologists, it was J. A. Jacob
who, first of all, declared the identity between Mandana Misra
and SureSvaracarya in his introduction to the Naiskarmya siddhi of SureSvara. Jacob’s opinion was based on the legendary
evidence given by Vidyadranya in the Sankara-digvijaya. The
recent researches, however, do not support this theory of
identity. Mahamahopadhyaya Prof. Kuppu Swami Shastri
was the first scholar who challenged the identity between
Mandana Misra and SureSvara, in his learned introduction to
- the Brahma Siddhi of Mandana Misra, an editor of great merit
with commentary of Sankhapani, Madras, 1937. As a matter of
fact the ideas, arguments and doctrines of Mandana Misra, as
available in the Brahma-Siddhi are not in accordance with
those available in the works of Suresvaracarya. It is true
that both these authors are the followers of Advaitavada, but
there is lot of difference in the concept of Advaita in the works
of these. Mandana Misra propounded Bhavadvaitavada in
the Siddhi-khanda of Brahma-siddhi while Suresvaracarya
refuted Bhavadvaita-vada ‘in the Brhadéranyaka-Bhasya-
Vartika ‘nabhavarhstho’ ‘nyatrapi nisedhah kimutdasraye’
Not only that much contrary views have been expressed by both
of them on ‘prapancdbhava’ and ‘avidyadhvarhsa’, Madhu-
sudana Saraswati has clearly pointed out in the Advaita-siddh
and the Veddnta-kalpa-latika, the difference of opinion of
Mandana Miéra and Suresvara on the above mentioned concepts. There are several other arguments and textual internal
evidences which prove that Mandana Misra and Suresvara
were two different persons.
We all know that Suresvaracarya was a very devoted
disciple-follower of Sahkaracarya and he strongly supported the
doctrines of SankarAcarya in all his writings. On the other
hand Mandana Misra has frequently expressed difference
of opinion against the views of SankarAcarya. In the history
of Advaita Vedanta, we find two main streams arising from
the interpretation of Sankaracdrya’s writings. Vacaspati
Misra, the author of the famous Bhamati-commentary was
greatly influenced by the distinctive teachings of Mandana
Misra and frequently supported Mandana Misra’s point of
views on a number of important Vedantic issues in the
Bhamati. As a result, a new school of thought developed in the
history of Advaita-Vedanta. This school followed the interpretation of Bhamati and is known as ‘Bhamati-Prasthana’. The
second school of thought is known as’ ‘Vivarana-Prasthana’.
It was Prakdsatma-yati, the author of the Paficapadika-viva-
rana, a commentery on ‘Pancapddika’ of Padmapadacarya,
who was greatly influenced by the works of Padmapadacarya
and Suresvaradcarya and who gave rise to the second stream of
thought, known as ‘Vivarana-Prasthana’. The name Padmapadika was given to the commentary probably because this
commentary of the Saririka-Bhasya was divided into five
chapters, namely (1) Padaccheda (2) Padarthokti.(3) Vigraha
(4) Vakya-yojana. (5) Aksepa-samadhana. By and by the
Pancapadika-vivarana became the basic text of Vivarna-
prasthana and the following five valuable commentaries were
written in the Pancapadika-vivarana.
(1) The Rju-vivarana of Visnu-Bhattopadhyaya.
(2) The Vivarana-tatparya-dipikad of Citsukhacarya.
(3) The Vivarana-bhava-prakasika of Nrsimhasramacarya.
(4) The Tattva-dipana of Akhanddnanda.
(5) The Vivarana-prameya-Sangraha of Vidyaranya.
Vidyaranya, the author of the Pancadasi, obviously belonged
to the Vivarana-Prasthana stream of Advaita Vedanta. This
is evident from his well known work—‘The Vivarana-Prameya-
Samgraha’ which is the most valuable work for understanding
the Prameya-paksa of the Vivarana-Prasthadna. Vidyaranya
was a prolific writer. He has several valuable works to his
credit. Although scholars have questioned the authorship of
Vidyaranya regarding some of his works, but there is unanimity
of opinion on Vidyaranya’s authorship of the Pancadasi and
the Vivarana-Prameya-Samgraha. Vidyaranya was the name
assigned to Madhavacarya after he had entered into the order
of Sannyasa. He was the disciple of Sankarananda. In the
medieval Sanskrit literature of Advaita-Vedanta Vidyaranya
occupied a very significant place. He was the pontiff of
Srngeri Matha and was the founder of the Vijayanagara
kingdom. He remained as a minister and councillor of the
three distinguished kings of Vijayanagaram. That is why he
was known as ‘Karnataka-Sithhasana: sthapanacarya’. Vidyarahya attached utmost importance to the Verbal Testimony
and based his interpretation of the basic concepts of Advaita
Vedanta on the support of the evidence of Sruti and Smrti.
Pancadasi is a great manual of Advaita-Vedanta. It holds
a unique place among the post-Sankara-Vedantic-works. It
is an expository treatise—an Upadesa-Sastra solely intended to
Instruct the pilgrim of the spiritual path. Vidyaranya, the
author of the work himself declares at the very outset—
He has also employed argumentation and dialectics for the
understanding of the student.
Pancadasi—the book of fifteen chapters known as
‘Prakaranas’ are divided into three quintads—-Viveka-Pancaka;
Dipa-Pancaka and Ananda-Pancaka. It is believed that these
quintads signify the three aspects of Reality namely Sat, Cit
and Ananda respectively. The subject matter indicates that
this scheme is not strictly followed. The essential doctrines
of Vedanta are described in every chapter of the Pancadasi.
Every Pancaka appears to be an independent work.
The Pancadasi is an authoritative work of Advaita-Vedanta
as is evident from the large number of commentaries and translations available on it. The most significant among the
Sanskrit-commentaries is Padadipika by Pandita Ramakrsna
and the most elaborate one is kavyikhya by Pandita Achyutaraya. Among the Hindi commentaries Pitambara-Bhasya
by Pandita Pitambara is the easiest. The earliest English translation of the Pancadasi is by U.N. Roy in 1911 A.D. The
scholastic interpretations are by T. M. P. Mahadevan and by
Swami Krsnananda. The writer could find Krsnananda Swami’s
exposition namely ‘The Philosophy of the Panchadashi’ in the
series of Divine Life Magazine up to the seventh chapter only.
The enquiries from the Sivananda Aégrama borne no fruits.
She is happy that the complete work is now published by the
‘Divine Life Society’. The writer has consulted all the sixteen
available commentaries, translations and expositions. She found
all these very inspiring and helpful. It is very heartening that
even to this day the new publications of the Pancadasi are
being introduced. One such gem added is ‘Panchadashi’ with
the commentary of Ramakrsna published by Shri Krishnananda
Sagar with his own Hindi-Commentary Tattvarajan?’ which
is really a great help to the Hindi readers. The writer must
not hesitate to admit that the English translation by Swihananda was of immense help to her.
It is true that many commentators, translations and exposit-
ion on the Pancadasi are available; the author of the present
work, after going through all these has made an humble attempt
to delineate the subject matter properly and analysing it critically. She has discussed the authorship of the Pancadasi in
detail after examining the historical evidences. Moreover, she
has devoted a complete chapter to the appropriateness of the
title ‘Pancadasi!’ and its subtitles, philosophy of Vidyaranya,
his indebtedness to Sruti, Smrti and other works, the personality
of Vidyaranya as reflected through his works, the commentaries
and commentators of the Pancadasi, the style and the language
of the Pancadasi and contribution of Vidyaranya to Advaita-
Vedanta. In the Appendix a full detail of the references from
these works is also given.
The authorship of the Pancadasi is a disputed subject.
Hence the very first chapter is entitled ‘Authorship of the
Pancadasi’. All the evidences from the internal and external
sources are collected and analysed. Three main views regarding the authorship of the Pancadasi are as follow—
(i) Vidyadranya, the author of the Pancadasi was known as
Madhavacarya in his Parvasrama in the fourteenth century
A. D. (ii) The Pancadasi is a joint production of both Vidyaranya and Bharatitirtha (iii) Pancadasi is written by Bharatitirtha alone. Out of these three the second view is the most
A short summary of all the works by Vidyaranya is also
given. Thorough survey of these works reveal that in the
absence of evidences many works are fathered upon him.
True it is that he is a great scholar and philosopher of his
time yet he does not seem to be the genuine author of all these
The second chapter deals with the ‘Creation’ as the enquiry
must begin from the gross gradually leading to subtle. The
fact is that there is nothing like creation for an Advaitin. The
universe with all its mysteries is merely an appearance. But
a philosopher cannot stop at this juncture and this ‘appearance’
is to be explained in its logical sequence. The identity between
the macrocosm and microcosm is well established by Vidyaranya. The writer has compared Vidy4ranya’s traditional
stand on cosmology with those of other schools of philosophy.
It is clear through the whole account that the whole cosmos
is an expression of Divine.
The phenomena of causation is described by the different
theories by the different schools. Vidyaranya has discussed
Vivartavada, Parindmavada and Arambhavada.
The title of the third chapter is ‘Isvara and Jiva’. The
entire creation is a joint action of Isvara and Jiva. Isvara
provides the material and the ‘Jiva’ creates the means of experience. Both Isvara and Jiva are the creations of Maya.
‘Creation’ does not mean to bring into something new, meta-
physically it means ‘manifestation’ and de-manifestation. Isvara
is Sarvajia, Jiva is Prajiia. The Advaitic view-point is that
Isvara and Jiva though differ from each other yet they are one
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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