Untitled Document

Panchadasi (aka Vedanta Panchadasi)

By Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda
Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai



1. The bliss of Yoga which was described earlier may be said to be the bliss of the Self. (Doubt): How can the bliss of the embodied Self which is in duality be identical with the bliss of Brahman (who is non-dual) ? (Reply): Please listen.

2. As described in the Taittiriya Upanishad, the whole world, from Akasa to the physical body, is not different from bliss. Therefore the bliss of the Self is of the nature of the non-dual Brahman.

3. The world is born of bliss, it abides in bliss and is merged in bliss. How then can it be anything other than this bliss ?

4. The pot made by a potter is different from him, but let this not create any doubt, for like the clay, bliss is the material cause of the universe, not like the potter the efficient cause.

5. The existence and destruction of the pot are never seen to rest in the potter, but its material cause, the clay. Similarly, according to the Shruti passages their (the existence and destruction of the universe) material cause is bliss.

6. The material cause is of three kinds: (1) the Vivarta, which gives rise to a phenomenal appearance, not materially related to the cause; (2) the Parinama which gives rise to an effect which is a modification or change of state of the cause; and (3) the Arambha which consists of effect being different from the causes. The last two (which presuppose parts) have no scope with reference to partless Brahman.

7. The Arambhavadins accept the production of one kind of material from another, as cloth from threads and they consider threads and cloth to be quite different.

8. Parinama is the change of one state of the same substance into another, as milk into curd, clay into a pot and gold into an ear-ring.

9. But Vivarta is mere appearance of change of a thing or its state, not a real change: like a rope appearing as a snake. It is seen even in a partless substance, e.g., the Akasa (which has no shape or colour) appearing as the blue dome.

10. So the illusive appearance of the world in the partless bliss can be explained. Like the power of a magician, the power of Maya may be said to bring the objective world into being.

11. Power does not exist apart from the possessor of power, for it is always seen as inseparable from him. Nor can it be said to be identical with him, for its obstruction is met with. If identical, in the absence of power, of what is the obstruction ?

12. Power is inferred from its effect. When its effects are not seen we conclude that there is some obstruction to it. For instance, if the flames of a fire do not burn, we infer the presence of some obstruction, such as incantation etc.

13. The sages perceived that the power of Brahman called Maya is concealed by its own qualities. Many are the aspects of this divine power, which is manifest as action, knowledge and will.

14. "The supreme Brahman is eternal, perfect, non-dual and omnipotent", so says the Veda and Vasistha supports this.

15. 'With whatever power He means to sport, that power becomes manifest. O Rama, the power of Brahman which manifests itself as consciousness is felt in the bodies of all beings'.

16. 'This power abides as movement in the air, as hardness in stone, as liquidity in water, as the power to burn in fire'.

17. 'Similarly it abides as emptiness in Akasa and as perishability in the objects which are subject to destruction. As a huge serpent is latent in the egg, so the world is latent in the Self'.

18. 'Just as a tree with its fruits, leaves, tendrils, flowers, branches, twigs and roots is latent in the seed, so does this world abide in Brahman'.

19. 'Due to variations in space and time, somewhere, some times, some powers emanate from Brahman, just as varieties of paddy from the earth.'

20. 'O Rama, when the all-pervasive, eternal and infinite Self assumes the power of cognition, we call it the mind'

21. 'O Prince, first arises the mind, then the notion of bondage and release and then the universe consisting of many worlds. Thus all this manifestation has been fixed or settled (in human minds), like the tales told to amuse children'.

22. 'To amuse a child, O mighty one, the nurse relates some beautiful story: Once upon a time there were three handsome princes'.

23. 'Two of them were never born and the third was never even conceived in his mother's womb. They lived righteously in a city which never existed.'

24. 'These holy princes came out of their city of non-existence and while roaming saw trees, laden with fruits, growing in the sky'.

25. 'Then the three princes, my child, went to a city which was yet to be built and lived there happily, passing their time in games and hunting'.

26. 'O Rama, the nurse thus narrated the beautiful children's tale. The child too through want of discrimination believed it to be true.

27. 'Thus to those who have no discrimination the world appears to be real like the tale repeated to the child'.

28. By such entertaining tales Vasistha described the power of Maya. This power is now being described more fully.

29. This power is different both from its effect and also from its substratum. The blister (which is the effect) and the charcoal (the substratum) are cognised objects; but the power to burn is inferred from the effect (viz., the blister).

30. The pot with its properties of thickness, roundness and so forth, is the product of power acting on the clay with its five properties of sound, touch, form, taste and smell, but the power is different here (from both the pot and the clay).

31. In the power (that creates the pot) there is neither form nor quality; as it is it remains (even when it has produced the effect, it undergoes no change). It is therefore said to be beyond thought and description.

32. Before the creation of the pot, the power (of giving rise to a pot) is implicit in the clay. With the help of the potter and other means the clay is transformed into a pot.

33. People of immature minds confound the properties of the effect with those of the cause, the clay and speak of it as the pot.

34. The clay, before the potter worked on it, cannot be called a pot. But it is proper to call it a pot when it acquires the properties such as thickness, hollowness and so forth.

35. The pot is not different from the clay, as it has no existence apart from the clay; it is neither identical with the clay, as in the unmoulded clay it is not perceived.

36. Therefore the pot (a product of power) can only be called indescribable, like the power which produces it. Hence the product of power when imperceptible is simply called power and when perceptible it is called a pot.

37. A magician's power is not apparent earlier; it is only when he brings it into operation that it appears as an army of Gandharvas and the like.

38. Thus being illusive, in the scriptures, the products of power are called unreal whereas reality is predicated only of the entity in which the power inheres, e.g., of the clay in which the pot inheres.

39. A pot taken as a product of power is only a name composed of words; it is not a real entity. Only the clay that possesses sound, touch, form, taste and smell, is a real entity.

40. Of the three entities, the manifest (i.e., product of power), the unmanifest (i.e., the power itself), and the substratum in which they both inhere, the first two exist by turns (thus cancelling one another); but the third persists in both (and at all times).

41. A product of power though visible has no real substance, as it is subject to creation and destruction. When it appears, it is given a name by men.

42. When the product perishes, its name continues to be used by men. Since it is indicated only by name, it is said to be of nominal existence.

43. This form of the product (of power, like the pot) is not real like clay, because it is unsubstantial, destructible and a mere name based upon words.

44. The substance clay is said to be the real entity because by nature it is unchanged, substantial and indestructible at all times, before the production of the pot, after its destruction and even while it is manifest.

45. (Doubt): If the thing indicated by the three terms i.e., the manifest, the pot and the modified form is unreal, why is it not destroyed when the knowledge of its substratum (clay) dawns ?

46. (Reply): With the knowledge of the substratum the pot is destroyed, for your idea of the reality of the pot is removed. This is what is meant by the destruction of the pot through knowledge; it does not mean that the pot would cease to appear.

47. Though a man appears head downwards when reflected in water, he is not so. No one would ever mistake it for the real person standing on the bank.

48. According to the doctrine of the non-dualists, such knowledge (i.e., the knowledge of the unreality of the superimposed thing, the world), gives liberation, the supreme goal of life. As the substratum clay is not rejected, the appearance of a pot in it is accepted.

49. In an actual modification of the substratum, when milk is turned into curd (for example), the former form, milk, disappears. But in the modification of clay into a pot or gold into an ear-ring, the substratum does not change.

50. (Doubt): When a pot is broken into pieces, they do not resemble the original clay, for broken pieces only are seen. (Reply): It is not so, for when reduced to powder they do. The persistence of gold in the ear-ring is very clear.

51. When milk is turned into curd, actual change of substance takes place. Milk ceases to exist as such and cannot be recovered from the curd. By this, the case of a clay-pot or a gold-ring (as examples of Vivarta) does not suffer.

52. According to the Arambhavadins, clay should have two sets of properties, viz., those of the cause and those of the effect, for they hold, the properties of the effects are different from those of the cause, which is, however, not the case.

53. The sage Aruni mentions the three examples of clay, gold and iron (only to show that all effects are only phenomenal). Therefore one should fix in mind the unreality of all effects.

54. Aruni holds that a knowledge of the cause implies a knowledge of all its effects. But how would a knowledge of the unreal effects arise from a knowledge of their real cause ?

55. According to the common view, an effect, such as a pot, is a modification of its material cause, clay; the clay portion of the pot is the real substance. Therefore when the cause of the pot is known, the real portion of substance of the pot is also known.

56. The unreal portion of the effect need not be known, because its knowledge serves no useful purpose. A knowledge of the real substance is necessary for men, whereas a knowledge of the unreal portion is useless.

57. (Doubt): The statement that through the knowledge of the cause you arrive at a knowledge of the effect amounts to saying that by a knowledge of clay you acquire a knowledge of clay. What is there wonderful about it ?

58. (Reply): The real substance in the effect (pot) is identical with its cause. This may not be surprising to the wise but who can prevent the ignorant being surprised at this ?

59. The followers of Arambhavada and Parinamavada and ordinary men may find it puzzling to hear that a knowledge of the cause should give a knowledge of all its effects.

60. To direct the attention of the pupil to the non-dual truth, the Chandogya Upanishad teaches that by a knowledge of the one cause all its effects are known. It does not speak of the multiplicity of effects.

61. Just by knowing a lump of clay one knows all objects made of clay, so by knowing the one Brahman one knows (the real element of) the whole phenomenal world.

62. The nature of Brahman is existence, consciousness and bliss, whereas the nature of the world is name and form. In the Nrisimha-Uttara-Tapaniya Upanishad existence, consciousness and bliss are said to be the 'indications' of Brahman.

63. Aruni described Brahman as of the nature of existence, the Bahvirchas of the Rig-Veda as consciousness and Sanatkumara as bliss. The same is declared in other Upanishads.

64. After creating names and forms Brahman remains established in His nature, i.e., remains as immutable as ever, says the Purusha Sukta. Another Shruti says that Brahman as the Self reveals names and forms.

65. Another Shruti says that before creation the universe was unmanifest and that afterwards it became manifest as name and form. Here Maya, the inexplicable power of Brahman, is referred to as 'unmanifest'.

66. This Maya, which rests unmanifest in the immutable Brahman, subsequently undergoes numerous modifications. 'Know Maya as Prakriti (the material cause of the universe), and the supreme Lord as the Ruler (substratum) of Maya'.

67. The first modification of Maya is Akasa; it exists, is manifest and is dear to all. The special form of Akasa is space which is unreal, but its other three properties (derived from its cause, Brahman), are not unreal.

68. The spatial property does not exist before manifestation and ceases also to exist after destruction. That which is non-existent before creation and after dissolution is so even in the present (i.e., during creation).

69. Sri Krishna said to Arjuna: 'O descendant of Bharata, beings are unmanifest in the beginning, manifest in the present and unmanifest again at the end'.

70. Just as clay exists (in its modifications such as the pot) in all the three divisions of time, so existence, consciousness and bliss ever pervade the Akasa, when the idea of space is negated from Akasa, what remains is one's own Self-existence, consciousness and bliss (infinity).

71. When the idea of space is negated from Akasa, what remains of it ? If you say, 'Nothing remains', we accept it and say that that which is represented by the word 'nothing' is revealed.

72. Because it is such that we must attribute existence to the remaining entity. Being productive of no misery, it is bliss, for the absence of both the favourable and the unfavourable is the bliss of the Self.

73. One gets pleasure from a favourable object and grief from an unfavourable one; but in the natural state, free from both, there is the natural bliss of the Self. There is never any experience of misery in that state.

74. The natural bliss of the Self is uniform and steady, but the mind due to its fickle nature, passes in a moment from joy to sorrow. So both are to be looked upon as the creations of the mind.

75. Thus in Akasa also we accept bliss, i.e., it is fundamentally existence, consciousness and bliss and similarly we can establish that the fundamental nature of all objects from air to the physical body is essentially the same.

76. The special properties of air have been determined as motion and touch; of fire, heat and light; of water, liquidity; and of earth, solidity.

77. Similarly the special properties of plants, foods, bodies and other objects can be thought of by the mind.

78. In the manifold objects, different in names and forms, the common element is existence, consciousness and bliss. Nobody can dispute this.

79. Both name and form are without any real existence because they are subject to creation and destruction. So know them as superimposed by the intellect on Brahman, just as waves and foam are on the ocean.

80. With the direct knowledge of Brahman, the eternal existence, consciousness and bliss, names and forms slowly come to be disregarded.

81. The more is duality negated, the clearer does the realisation of Brahman become and as realisation becomes perfect, names and forms come to be disregarded of themselves.

82. When through the continuous practice of meditation a man is established in the knowledge of Brahman, he becomes liberated even while living. Then the fate of his body does not matter.

83. Thinking of Him, speaking of Him and making one another understand Him - this is what the wise call 'practice of Brahman-realisation'.

84. The longstanding impressions of the world on the mind are loosened if this training of knowledge is constantly practised with earnestness for a long time.

85. As the power inherent in the clay brings the pot into existence, so the power of Maya inherent in Brahman creates many unreal things. This is illustrated by sleep and dream conditions of living beings.

86. Just as in the sleeping state a power inherent in the Jiva gives rise to impossible dreams, so the power of Maya inherent in Brahman, projects, maintains and destroys the universe.

87. In dream a man may see himself flying in the sky or being beheaded. In a moment he may live through the experience of many years. Or he may dream of seeing a dead son and so forth.

88. 'This is proper (possible) and this is not' such discrimination is not possible then. Whatever one perceives in dreams seems to be in the right place.

89. When such is the glory of the power of sleep and dream, what is there to wonder at the unimaginable glory of the power of Maya ?

90. In a sleeping man various dreams are created; similarly the power of Maya creates diverse appearances in the immutable Brahman.

91. Akasa, air, fire, water, earth, the universe, the different Lokas (worlds) and animate and inanimate objects are appearances produced by Maya. Pure consciousness appears as a reflection in the intellects of living beings.

92. Brahman characterised as existence, consciousness and bliss is the common basis of both the animate and inanimate objects; they differ only in their names and forms.

93. Just as many objects are seen in a picture, so the various names and forms exist in Brahman. By negating both names and forms, one can understand that what remains is existence, consciousness and bliss.

94. Even though a man standing on the bank of a river sees his body reflected upside down in the water, he nevertheless identifies himself with his own body in the shore; similarly an aspirant after realisation of Brahman should know himself as Brahman.

95. Just as in day-dreaming, people see thousands of mental pictures, but in the practical world they disregard them all, so should names and forms be disregarded.

96. Different mental creations are formed every moment, while those which pass are lost for ever. The objects of the practical world should be looked upon similarly.

97. Childhood is lost in youth and youth is lost in old age. The father once dead does not return. The day which is past never comes back.

98. How do the objects of the practical world, which are destroyed every moment, differ from the forms created by the mind in imagination ? Though they appear, the idea of their reality should be given up.

99. When the objects of the world are disregarded, the mind freed from obstacles rests in the contemplation of Brahman. Then like an actor, a wise man is engaged in worldly concerns with assumed faith (and so is not affected by them).

100. As the big rock lying in the bed of a river remains unmoved, though the water flows over it, so also while names and forms constantly change, the unchanging Brahman does not become otherwise.

101. As the sky with all its contents is reflected in a flawless mirror, so the Akasa with all the universe within it is reflected on the one partless Brahman, who is nothing but absolute consciousness and existence.

102. Without seeing the mirror it is impossible to see the objects reflected in it. Similarly wherefrom can there be any knowledge of names and forms without a knowledge of their substratum, which is existence, consciousness and bliss ?

103. Having learnt of Brahman as existence, consciousness and bliss, one should fix the mind firmly on Him and should restrain it from dwelling on names and forms.

104. Thus Brahman is realised as existence, consciousness and bliss and devoid of the phenomenal universe. May all people find rest in this secondless bliss of Brahman.

105. In this third chapter of the section called 'the Bliss of Brahman', is described the bliss of Non-duality which is to be obtained by meditating on the unreality of the world.