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PANCADASI (Panchadasi) of Sri Vidyaranya Swami

PANCADASI (Panchadasi) of Sri Vidyaranya Swami
(Rated 5.0)
Item Code: IDF631
Author: Swami Swahananda
Publisher: Sri Ramakrishna Math
Language: with English Translation and Notes
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 8171205070
Pages: 616
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 7.1" X 4.9"
weight of the book: 486 gms

The Pancadasi of Sri Vidyaranya is a comprehensive manual of Advaita Vedanta, enjoying great popularity with those who want to have a clear presentation of the truths of Advaita. There are two types of Advaita-works: (1) those that are intended to serve as books of instruction for the follower, and (2) those that seek to show through dialectics that the philosophical positions that oppose Advaita are not tenable. The Pancadsl belongs to the first type. As S'ri Vidyaranya says even at the outset, the aim of his work is to teach the supreme truth in an easily understandable manner to those whose hearts have been purified through the worship of the lotus-like feet of the Guru (I, 2). It is not that argumentation and dialectics are not employed in the Pancadasi ; but they are sub¬ordinated to the principal aim of conveying the light of truth to the disciple. The reasoning based on the principle of co-presence and co-absence (anvaya-vvatireka), for instance, is had recourse to for showing that the self which is of the nature of consciousness is constant and therefore real, while the phenomena constituting the world are inconstant and therefore non-real (11, 60 ff). The method of dialectical refutation of systems such as the Madhyamika is resorted to (see, e.g., II, 30 ff). The central objective of the Pancadasi, however, is to provide guidance to the seeker through instruction. While sound logical reasoning helpful to an understanding of scriptural teaching is to be welcomed, quibbling should be avoided. Hence, Sri Vidyaranya declares: "The meaning of scripture I explain; I do not employ mere logic" (tirutyartham viiadlkurmo na tarkad-vacmi kincana. VIII, 67.) "Therefore, he who longs for release should give up faulty logic and resort to scripture" (tasmat kutarkam santyajya mumuksuh Srutim asrayet. VIII, 68). "Let logic be employed that follows one's experience, but not bad logic " (tarkyatam ma kutarkyatam. II, 30).

When it is said that scripture is the basic authority for Vedanta, it does not mean that the Vedantin is a ' literalist' or fundamentalist’. His attitude is not to be confused with that of blind acceptance of or unthinking belief in, the words of the Veda. The words are not mere sounds; they convey meaning; and the meaning should be understood. If a text is accepted without proper inquiry, and if its meaning is only superficially grasped, then it would not lead to any good. Reasoning is helpful in understanding the teaching of scripture. Although it is true that the ultimate Reality taught there is not graspable either through thoughts or through words, nevertheless logic is useful in a negative way in so far as it can assure us as to what is not real, and language is of service in indicating the nature of the Real. The final court of appeal is experience,—the plenary experience, which is the fruit of inquiry. In fact, the texts of scripture are but indicators of that experience. Thus, in Vedanta, the nature of the Truth is sought to be expounded on the triple basis of scripture, reasoning, and experience (Srutyukty-anubhutibhyah, V, 56, & XI, 89).

The Pancadasi is so named because it consists of fifteen chapters (pancadasa-prakarand). The fifteen chapters are grouped into three quintads : viveka-pancaka (dealing with the discrimination of the real from the non-real), dlpa-pancaka (expounding the nature of the Self as pure consciousness), and ananda-pancaka (dwelling on the bliss-nature of Brahman). It is, for the sake of convenience, stated that the three quintads have for their theme the three aspects of Brahman, sat (existence), cit (consciousness), and ananda (bliss), respectively. But it should be borne in mind that such a statement could only be roughly true. The essential doctrines of Vedana occur in almost every chapter. There are, naturally, repetitions; but repetitions are necessary for enabling the reader to understand firmly the truths of Vedanta. Sri Vidyaranya has succeeded in an eminent way in setting forth the essentials of Advaita in this great work of his—the Pancadasi.

The basic skill that the disciple should develop in himself is the ability to discriminate the real from the non-real. The Pancadasi. Indicates the various methods by means of which the discrimination could be gained. One of the most useful methods is the analysis of the three states of experience, viz., waking, dream, and deep sleep. As a result of such analysis one realizes that the Self persists in all the states while the objects 'ary and are inconstant. The "Self which is consciousness is of one essence and does not undergo any change (samvid-ekarupa na bhidyate, 1, 4). Time makes no difference to it, nor space; the plurality of objects does not introduce any split in the Self. The same -conclusion may be reached by an investigation into the five sheaths {koias) that cover the Self, as it were. 1 he five sheaths are: the physical (anna), the vital (prana), the mental (manas) the intellectual (vijnana), and the blissful (nnandamaya). The principle which is applied in this investigation is: what is grosser and more external and less pervasive is less real than what is subtler and more internal and more pervasive. Applying this principle one arrives at the truth that the Self is supremely real because it is the subtlest and the immost being which is non-dual (see ch. III). Illustrating the technique of analysis, Sri Vidyaranya says: " As the internal pith of the munja grass can be separated from the outer covering, so the Self can be distinguished from the three bodies (i.e., the five sheaths) through reasoning by one who is wise. Then, the Self alone emerges a> the supreme Brahman " (I, 42). Just as the individual soul and its states could be analysed with a view to discovering the Self, the external objective world could also be analysed with the same end in view. Beginning with the grossest element, earth, we have progressively subtler elements; water, fire, air, and ether. But the Self is subtler than ether. One may think of the Self without ether, but not of ether without the Self. One may deny anything, but not the Self. To doubt the existence of the Self is as ridiculous as the doubt expressed by a man " Have I a tongue or not?" (III.20).

The Self is of the nature of pure consciousness; it is unfailing light; ever-present awareness. It neither rises nor sets; it is non-dual, self-luminous intelligence (no' deti na 'stam ety eka samvid-esd svayamprabha, I, 7). In chapter VIII, ‘ Kutasthadlpa ' there is an exposition of the nature of the immutable Self which is the witness-consciousness, unchanging, flawless, and eternal. Like the anvil in the smith's shop which serves as the basis for beating the metal into various shapes, without itself changing, the Self remains as the immutable witness of changes in the physical and the psychical orders ; hence it is called the kutastha. In Chapter X, 'Nataka-dlpa' the analogy of the dramatic stage is employed. Just as the lamp set on the dramatic stage sheds light on all concerned during the performance, and shines also after everyone has left the theatre, even so the witness-consciousness manifests all things, viz., the egoity, the intellect, and the objects, and continues to shine even when they are nonexistent. Just as the lamp on the stage illumines without moving and without being affected by the movements of the actors and the audience, even so the witness which is eternal and immutable manifests all things both within and without, and their absence too. In chapter VI, Citra-dipa’, the kutastha is compared to the canvas on which the world-picture is painted. Just as the canvas is that whereon the various painted figures appear, both of inanimate things like mountains and animate beings like men and animals, so also on the consciousness which i; the immutable Self, the variegated world appears Consciousness cannot be negated, even as the basic canvas cannot be dispensed with. Consciousness can never experience its own non-existence: it is eternal (VI, 254).

The bliss-nature of the Self (Brahman) is explained in great detail in the last five chapters. The Self is not only existence and consciousness, it is also bliss, the supreme value. The teaching of Yajnavalkya to Maiireyi in the Brhadaranyaka-upanisad constitutes the basis for understanding the bliss-nature of the Self. The core of the teaching is that the Self is the seat of supreme love. Anything becomes dear, not for its own sake, but for the sake of the Self. There are, it is true, different notions of Self-hood, three of which may be distinguished; the secondary self, the illusory self, and the principal Self. When a parent identifies himself with his son, for instance, the self-hood of the son in relation to the parent is secondary. The identification of the self with the body, etc., is illusory. The principal Self is the unconditioned non-dual reality. It is the Self in the principal sense that is of the very essence of bliss or love. But even when the self in the other two senses is loved, it is because of the mistaken or wrong identification with. The true Self. Thus it is easy to see that the Self, whatever be the conception thereof, is the centre and seat of love. If there be love for any other object, it is for the sake of the Self to which that is subsidiary. It is a reflection of the bliss that is the Self that is experienced as happiness or pleasure in the objects. A right understanding of the happiness that is derived from the contact of the mind with the objects may serve as the door to the bliss that is Brahman. When an object is being enjoyed, the mind turns inward and becomes calm. In that state of mind the bliss that is the Self is reflected. It is this which is experienced as happiness or pleasure. The Brahman-bliss or a reflection of it is experienced in other states also. In deep sleep one experiences unqualified bliss; only that experience lies under the cover of nescience. Just before falling into deep sleep, and immediately for a few moments after getting up from sleep, one has a taste of happiness, prospectively or retrospectively. In the interval between two modes of the mind also, one experiences the reflection of bliss. The yogi enjoys bliss in samadhi. The jnani realises directly the bliss that is the Self.

The bliss that is the Self (Brahman) is unexcellable and unconditioned. A calculus of bliss is given in the Upani§ads, Starting with the unit-measure of human bliss, the higher levels are reached by multiplying each lower level of bliss by a hundred. One may thus go up to the bliss of the Creator Brahma. But Brahman-bliss is beyond all calculation. And, the wise one's experience of the plenary bliss admits of no degrees. He has no wants, nothing to gain. His satisfaction is supreme. He has done all that was to be done, he has attained all that was to be attained. Having achieved all that was to be achieved, and having done all that was to be done, the illumined one rests in perfect contentment and peace. (XIV, 58).

The nature of Brahman that is the Self is, as we have seen, existence (sat), consciousness (cit), and bliss (ananda). Quoting from three different Upanisads, S'ri Vidyaranya says: " Uddalaka Aruni describes Brahman as existence (sat) by nature; in the Aitareya upanisad of the Rgveda, the nature of Brahman is indicated as consciousness (prajn'ana); and Sanatkumara refers to Brahman as of the nature of bliss (Bnanda)" (XIII, 63). Existence, consciousness, and bliss are not parts of Brahman, or its attributes; they constitute its essential nature (svarupa). They are not three separate constituents: existence is consciousness, and conscious¬ness is bliss. It is because the world of plurality is characterised by impermanence, inertness, and disvalue that in order to distinguish the non-dual Brahman from the world that Brahman is said to be existence, conscious¬ness, and bliss. In Brahman's essential nature, however, there is no split, and no distinction. Differences are of three kinds: difference of wone member from another member of the same class (sajatlya), difference frorr another class (vijatlya), and internal differentiation (svagata). Brahman is free from any of these differences. There is no other reality which is similar to it or dissimilar to it, and it has no internal differentiations (II, 20-2.1).

A fundamental question which is the cause of great vexation is: How does it happen that the one Reality appears as the world of plurality? It is with reference to this question that the concept of maya has been formulated. Various theories of creation have been proposed in the systems of philosophy : (1) Arambha-vada, that the world is a new creation not already contained in the cause: (2) Prdkrti-parinama-vada, that the world is a transformation of primal nature; and (3) Brahma-parinama-vada, that the world is a modal manifestation of Brahman. It is the purpose of the concept of maya to show that none of these alternative theories is intelligible. In truth# causation itself is unintelligible. To admit that it works, or is practically useful is not to accept it as true.

There are three standpoints from which maya may be envisaged, says Sri Vidyaranya: (1) the standpoint of revealed experience (Srauta), (2) that of reasoning (yauktika) and (3) that of the ordinary men of the world (lankika). From the standpoint of the ordinary worldly men, maya is real (vastavi); they have no reason to doubt its reality. From the standpoint of those who have realised the teaching of scripture, maya is unreal (tuccha); for them, there is no world to be accounted for; maya is that (ya) which is not (ma). And, for those who seek to understand through reasoning maya is indeterminable (anirvacanlya) (VI, 130). From the standpoint of reason¬ing, maya is uncharacterisable either as real, or as unreal or as both real and unreal. The world of plurality appears in Brahman on account of maya, even as a snake appears in what is a rope. This is known as vivarta, transfigura¬tion. There is no use asking questions about maya. The more we question, the deeper will the mystery become. Maya is that which makes apparently possible what is inherently impossible,!VI, 235). Wonder is mays' garment; inscrutable is its nature (VI, 139). By raising objections to, or asking questions about, maya, we do not solve the mystery. What is necessary is that we should endeavour to transcend maya (VI, 138). And, in this endeavour, the world of plurality in which we as empirical individuals live can be a help instead of serving as an obstacle (IV. 42).

The empirical individual is called the jiva. The-jiva is the don-dual self appearing in a limited or conditioned form on account of nescience. Being endowed with adjuncts such as egoity, etc., it transmigrates from one physical body into another, in accordance with its karma. When through spiritual disciplines, it gains perfec-on, it realises its non-difference from the Self. In what manner is the appearance of the jiva to be understood ? In regard to this question, there is some difference of opinion between the two main post-SS”ankara Advaita schools—the Vivarana and the Bhamati. According to the Vivarana view, the jiva is a reflection of Brahman in nescience, and Brahman as the prototype reflected is livara. This view is known as pratibimba-vQda. The Bhamati view, which is called avaccheda-vada, is that the jiva is Brahman as defined or delimited by nescience. The analogy for the former view is the reflection of the face in the mirror; that for the latter view is the delimitation of ether by pot, etc. Sri Vidyaranya who follows mainly the Vivarapa tradition, teaches a modified form of the reflec¬tion-theory which is referred to as abhasa-vads. While the Vivararia view regards the reflection as real and as identical with the prototype, the theory sponsored in the Pancadaii holds that the reflection (abhaSa) is mere appearance, an illusory manifestation. The opposition between the jtva and Brahman, according to this view, is through sublation (badlia), and not through identification (aikya).

The direct means to release, Advaita holds, is the path of knowledge (jnana). As moksa is the very nature of the Self, it is not an experience which is to be brought about through works (karma). As what stands in the way of the realisation of moksa is nescience, what can remove nescience is knowledge alone. The path of knowledge consists of 'hearing' (i. e. study, sravana), reflection (manana), and meditation (nididhyQsana). The ascertainment of the true significance of the non-difference of the individual soul from the supreme Self with the aid of the mahavakyas like. That thou art (tat-tvam-asi) is Sravana. To understand through reasoning that the meaning ol this teaching has every possibility of validity is manana. And, when by sravana and manana the mind has gained conviction, it dwells constantly on the non-dual Self. This is nididhyasana (I, 52-54). What is the immediate instrument of release? Is it iravana of the mahavakya 'That thou art'? Or, is it continued meditation (also called prasamkhyana) ? On this question, the two post-Sankara Advaita schools, already referred to, are divided. According to the Bhamati view, verbal testimony (tabda) of which'the mahavakyas form part, can yield only mediate knowledge, and not immediate or direct knowledge. If the mediate knowledge gained from verbal testimony is to be transformed into immediate experience, there should be continued medita-


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