(aka Vedanta Panchadasi)
By Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda
Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai
X. THE LAMP OF THE THEATRE
1. Before the
projection of the world the Supreme Self, the secondless, all-bliss and ever
complete, alone existed. Through His Maya He became the world and entered into
it as the Jiva, the individual Self.
2. Entering the superior bodies like that of Vishnu, He became the deities; and remaining in the inferior bodies like that of men He worships the deities.
3. Due to the practice of devotions in many lives the Jiva desires to reflect upon his nature. When by enquiry and reflection Maya is negated, the Self alone remains.
4. The duality and misery of the secondless Self, whose nature is bliss, is called bondage. Abiding in Its own nature is said to be liberation.
5. Bondage is caused by want of discrimination and is negated by discrimination. Hence one should discriminate about the individual and supreme Self.
6. He who thinks 'I am' is the agent. Mind is his instrument of action and the actions of the mind are two types of modifications in succession, internal and external.
7. The internal modification of the mind takes the form of 'I'. It makes him an agent. The external modification assumes the form of 'this'. It reveals to him the external things.
8. The external things (that are cognised by the mind in a general way, their special qualities having been jumbled up) are cognised by the five sense-organs quite distinctly as sound, touch, colour, taste and smell.
9. That consciousness which reveals at one and the same time the agent, the action and the external objects is called 'witness' in the Vedanta.
10. The witness, like the lamp in a dancing hall, reveals all these as 'I see', 'I hear', 'I smell', 'I taste', 'I touch' as pieces of knowledge.
11. The light in the dancing hall uniformly reveals the patron, the audience and the dancer. Even when they are absent, the light continues to shine.
12. The witness-consciousness lights up the ego, the intellect and the sense-objects. Even when ego etc., are absent, it remains self-luminous as ever.
13. The unchangeable witness is ever present as self-luminous consciousness; the intellect functions under its light and dances in a variety of ways.
14. In this illustration the patron is the ego, the various sense-objects are the audience, the intellect is the dancer, the musicians playing on their instruments are the sense-organs and the light illumining them all is the witness-consciousness.
15. As the light reveals all the objects remaining in its own place, so the witness-consciousness, itself ever motionless, illumines the objects within and without (including the operations of the mind).
16. The distinction between external and internal objects refers to the body and not to the witness-consciousness. Sense-objects are outside the body whereas the ego is within the body.
17. The mind seated within goes out again with the sense organs. In vain, people seek to impose the fickleness of the mind illumined by the witness-consciousness on the latter.
18. The streak of sunlight coming into the room through an opening is motionless; but, if one dances one's hand in the rays, the light appears to be dancing.
19. Similarly, the witness-consciousness, though really fixed in its own place and neither going out nor returning within, yet appears to move owing to the restless nature of the mind.
20. The witness-consciousness can neither be called external nor internal. Both these terms have reference to the mind. When the mind becomes fully tranquil, the witness exists where it shines.
21. If it be said that (when all mental operations cease) there is no space at all, we reply: let it have no space. It is called all-pervasive, because of the mind's creation of space.
22. Whatever space, internal or external, the intellect imagines, is pervaded by the witness-consciousness. Similarly will the witness-consciousness be related to all other objects.
23. Whatever form the intellect imagines, the supreme Self illumines it as its witness, remaining Itself beyond the grasp of speech and mind.
24. If you object 'How such a Self could be grasped by me ?', our answer is: Let it not be grasped. When the duality of the knower and the known comes to an end, what remains is the Self.
25. Since Atman is self-luminous in its nature, its existence needs no proof. If you need to be convinced that the existence of Atman needs no proof, hear the instruction of the Shruti from a spiritual teacher.
26. If you find the renunciation of all perceptible duality impossible, reflect on the intellect and realise the witness-consciousness as the one witness of all internal and external creations of the intellect.