Untitled Document

Panchadasi (aka Vedanta Panchadasi)

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



1. As there are four stages in the painting of a picture, so there are four stages in the modification of the supreme Self.

2. In a picture we have the clean canvas, stiffening with starch, drawing of the outlines and the application of colour. In the case of the Self there are correspondingly the pure consciousness, the in-dwelling consciousness, the one identified with the totality of all the subtle bodies and that with the totality of all the physical bodies.

3. The naturally white canvas is the basis of the picture; by the application of starch it is stiffened; the outlines are drawn with a black pencil; and when the appropriate colours are applied to it, the picture is complete.

4. Brahman by nature is pure consciousness; with Maya He is called the in-dwelling spirit; in relation to the subtle bodies He is the totality of souls identifying Himself with them, and in relation to the gross bodies He is again the one identifying Himself with their totality.

5. As in a picture on a canvas there are superior and inferior objects, so in the supreme Lord there are grades of beings from Brahma down to the animate and inanimate objects.

6. The men in a picture are painted wearing clothes of different kinds and the clothes are so painted that they appear as real as the canvas of the picture.

7. On consciousness are superimposed various forms. In each of them there is a reflection, i.e., a special function of consciousness. They are known as the Jivas and are subject to the process of birth and death.

8. Ignorant people imagine that the colours representing the clothes of the figures are real clothes, as real as the canvas on which the picture is superimposed. Similarly the ignorant imagine that the transmigrations of the Jivas are undergone by the supreme Spirit, the substratum, on which the Jivas are superimposed.

9. Just as the hills etc., in a picture are not painted as dressed in clothes, so the inert objects like earth, are not endowed with the reflection of consciousness.

10. The confusion of considering this transmigration (with the attendant pain and pleasure) as real and affecting the supreme Self is called nescience. It is removed by the knowledge of Reality.

11. It is the Jiva, a 'reflection' of the Self, which is affected by the pain and pleasure of this transmigratory life, but not the real Self. This understanding is called knowledge. It is achieved through discrimination.

12. Therefore one should always enquire into the nature of the world, the individual Self and the supreme Self. When the ideas of Jiva and Jagat (world) are negated, the pure Atman alone remains.

13. By negation it does not mean that the world and Jiva cease to be perceptible to the senses, it means the conviction of their illusory character. Otherwise people would be automatically liberated in deep sleep or in a faint.

14. 'The supreme Self alone remains' also means a conviction about Its reality and not non-perceiving of the world. Otherwise there would be no such thing as liberation in life.

15. The knowledge arising from discrimination is of two kinds, indirect and direct. This process of discrimination ends in the achievement of the direct knowledge.

16. The knowledge that 'Brahman is' is indirect, the knowledge that 'I am Brahman' is direct.

17. We now consider the nature of the Self with a view to having its direct experience, through which the Jiva is immediately liberated from all worldly fetters.

18. The Self as consciousness absolute is spoken of as Kutastha, Brahman, Jiva and Ishvara, just as, for instance, Akasa (ether) is called 'pot-Akasa', 'all embracing Akasa, Akasa conditioned by water' and 'Akasa conditioned by a cloud'.

19. The sky with clouds and stars reflected in water contained in a pot which encloses space, is known as 'Akasa in water'.

20. The sky reflected in water particles forming a cloud suspended in space is known as 'Akasa in a cloud'.

21. As a cloud is composed of a water in a particular state, it is therefore reasonable to assume the existence of the reflection of Akasa in a cloud.

22. The consciousness which is conditioned by the gross and subtle bodies, on which they are superimposed and which knows no change, is known as Kutastha.

23. On the Kutastha is superimposed by imagination in the intellect (buddhi). The reflection of Kutastha in the intellect is animated by vitality and is called the Jiva. It is subject to transmigration.

24. As the Akasa in a pot is concealed by the Akasa reflected in the water with which the pot is filled, so Kutastha is obscured by Jiva. This principle is called mutual obscuring or superimposition.

25. Under the delusion of mutual superimposition the Jiva cannot discriminate and realise that he is not Jiva but Kutastha. This non-discrimination is beginningless and is known as the primal nescience.

26. Nescience or Avidya has two functions: Avarana or the power to conceal and Viksepa or the power to project. The power of Avarana creates such ideas as 'Kutastha shines not nor exists'

27. If a wise man asks an ignorant man about Kutastha, he replies: 'There is no such thing as Kutastha. It does not manifest nor exist'. Thus he feels and says.

28. The opponent may raise such questions as: 'How did the self-luminous Kutastha come to have ignorance; and without it how could there be obscuring ?' Such arguments are falsified by one's (direct) experience.

29. If one disbelieves one's own experience and since logic is not final, how can one know the truth about anything by mere reasoning ?

30. The chief function of reasoning is to explain things clearly. One should employ logic following one's own experience and not misuse it.

31. That we do have experience of ignorance and its obscuring power has already been shown. So rather argue that Kutastha and nescience are not contradictory.

32. If Kutastha were contradictory to ignorance and its obscuring power then who is the experiencer of this obscuring ? It is the discriminating knowledge which is contradictory to ignorance, as is seen in a knower of truth.

33. On Kutastha, covered over by (the concealing power of) ignorance, are projected or superimposed the subtle and gross bodies, thus producing the Chidabhasas or Jivas. It is like the superimposition of silver on a mother of pearl. This is called projection or Viksepa.

34. In the illusion 'This is silver', the pearl oyster shell is the thing perceived and is real, but by an error these notions, viz., 'this-ness' and its 'reality', are transferred to the imaginary silver. In the same way the ideas of 'Self' and 'existence' which belong to Kutastha are transferred to the Jiva through the error caused by nescience.

35. As the blue exterior and triangular form of the mother of pearl are lost to the vision, so the non-tactility and blissness of Kutastha are obscured by superimposition.

36. In the illustration that which is superimposed is called silver; so with the power of illusory projection that which is superimposed on Kutastha is called 'I', ego, or the sense of individuality.

37. As people think of 'this' (something seen) as silver though they really see the mother of pearl, so in self-cognition the Self is mistaken for the ego.

38. In the illustration the idea of 'this' and the idea of silver are not identical, similarly, in the human personality the idea of Self and the idea of ego are not identical. In both there is a common element and also a variable element.

39. People use such expression as 'Devadatta himself is going', 'you yourself see this', and 'I myself am unable'.

40. The demonstrative pronoun 'this' is common to such diverse perceptions as 'This is silver', 'This is cloth' and so forth. Similarly, the word 'self' is applied to all three persons, first, second and third 'I', 'you' and 'he'.

41. (Doubt): The concept 'I' (egoity) may be different from the concept of the Self (Atman), but what has this to do with Kutastha ? (Reply): The word 'self' denotes Kutastha and vice versa.

42. (Doubt): 'Self' merely excludes the idea of another and does not say anything about Kutastha. (Reply): This 'exclusion of others' is the 'Self' of Kutastha. So exclusion is in favour of our idea.

43. People ordinarily use Self and Atman as synonymous terms; and so both terms are never used together. In fact each of these terms excludes the idea of 'another'.

44. (Doubt): We often use such expressions as 'The pot itself does not know'. Hence the word 'Self' is applied to an inanimate object. (Reply): Such language is used because Atman is the basis of the inanimate objects also.

45. It is not the immutable Kutastha or Atman which makes the difference between the animate and the inanimate; it is the Jiva, the reflection of Kutastha in the intellect, which makes the difference.

46. Just as the conscious Jiva is created by illusion based on Kutastha, even so, on it the inanimate objects are created by Avidya.

47. (Doubt): Like the word 'Self' the words 'this' and 'that' can be applied to all persons, 'I' and 'he', etc. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the objects denoted by 'this' and 'that' are also the Atman.

48. (Reply): 'This' and 'that' do not refer only to 'I' 'you' and 'he' (as distinct entities), but also to Atman, which is the common element in them all. They are like 'correctness', 'incorrectness', etc., not synonymous with Atman, (because they are of wider denotation.)

49. Besides, the ideas of 'this' and 'that' the 'Self' and 'the other' 'you' and 'I' are opposite pairs it is well known in society. There is no doubt about that.

50. The opposite of 'the other' is the Self, which is the same as the Kutastha. The opposite of 'you', however, is 'I', which is the egoism, the Jiva, which is superimposed on Kutastha.

51. As the distinction between 'silver' and 'this' is clear, so also the difference between 'I' and 'Self'. But the people in the grip of delusion identify 'I' with the immutable Self.

52. That the superimposition causing the identity of 'I' and 'Self' is caused by nescience has already been treated. When this nescience is negated, its effect is also terminated.

53. The veiling of the real nature of the Self and the identity superimposition, are caused by nescience, and they are destroyed when nescience is negated. But so long as the fructifying Karma continues, the mind and body, the effects of illusory projection of nescience, continue.

54. The logicians hold that when the material cause of an object has been destroyed its effect continues to appear for the next moment. Similarly why cannot the body of a knower of truth persist for some time when its cause, the nescience, has been destroyed ?

55. According to the logicians the cloth keeps its form for the next second - the threads (its material cause) that last for a few days are destroyed. On the same reasoning, the body may persist for a proportionately long time when its cause, the ignorance of countless ages, is destroyed.

56. (Doubt): The logicians have assumed the truth of this theory without any proof. (Reply): We assume it on the ground of Shruti, experience and reasoning; why should it be improper ?

57. There is no use entering into a controversy with the unreasonable Logicians. The fact is that the difference between Jiva and Kutastha is caused by illusion.

58. People who consider themselves scholars and the hair-splitting logicians overlook the authority of the Veda and wander due to their imperfect reasoning.

59. Some others accept the authority of the Vedas; but owing to their inability to harmonise the meaning of the texts which have gone before with those that follow, they become confused. They take some isolated passages out of context and quote them in support of their own views.

60. The materialists (Lokayatas) and vulgar persons depending on false perceptual evidence, regard the aggregate beginning with the Kutastha and ending in gross body as the Atman.

61. To support their materialist views, they quote some passages from the Shruti to show that the gross body is the Atman, which is the doctrine of Virochana.

62. There are other thinkers who point out that the body dies and decays when life leaves it. They conclude that the Atman is something other than the gross body.

63. There are others who think that in such expressions as 'I am speaking', the senses together with the intellect are seen to be distinct from the gross body and that therefore they are the Atman.

64. In the Shruti we hear of the senses, such as speech and so forth, quarrelling among themselves, which implies that they have consciousness. Therefore some thinkers have concluded that the senses are the Atman.

65. The followers of the school of Hiranyagarbha hold the vital airs (Pranas) to be the Atman. They point out that when the eye and other senses are inoperative the vital airs still continue to function, keeping the man alive.

66. The vital airs continue functioning even in sleep. In some Shruti passages the vital sheath is given pre-eminence and dealt with in detail.

67. The people devoted to worship call the mind as the Atman. They argue that the vital airs have no faculty of enjoyment, but that the mind has.

68. The Shruti says that the mind is the cause of the bondage and the release of man and it speaks of the mind-sheath; therefore these people conclude that the mind is the Atman.

69. The Buddhists believe that the Atman consists of the momentary states of the intellect, because the intellect, endowed with the faculty of understanding, is the basis of the mind and through it the mind grasps matter.

70. The internal organ (Antahkarana) has two kinds of vrittis, viz., the 'I'-consciousness, and 'this' consciousness. The first constitutes the intellect, the subject-consciousness and the second the mind, the object-consciousness.

71. Since without the sense of egoity, it is not possible to cognise the outer world, it is clear that the idea of egoity is the cause of the mind and without it the cognisance of the external world is impossible.

72. As 'I' - consciousness appears and disappears every moment, the intellect is transitory and it needs no further principle to illumine it.

73. The intellect sheath is the Self. The whole world is cognised by it, and birth and death, pleasure and pain, affect it. So say some Vedic texts.

74. The intellect is momentary like the flashes of lightning in a cloud or the twinkling of an eye, and that because we know of no other Self beyond the intellect, the Self is nothing or void. So say the Madhyamika Buddhists.

75. Quoting the Shruti, 'In the beginning all this was non-existent (Asat)', the Buddhists say that perception and the objects of perception are the creations of illusion.

76. The Vedantins refute them by saying that there can be no illusion without a substratum which is not an illusion. The existence of the Atman must be admitted. Even the void has a witness; if not, it would be impossible to say, 'There is a void'.

77. The Vedic view, say the Naiyayikas, in that beyond the intellect sheath there is yet another sheath, the bliss-sheath. It is existing (not something that does not exist).

78. Other philosophers, recognising the authority of the Shruti, still dispute variously as to whether the Atman is atomic in size or all-pervasive, or something between the two.

79. There are philosophers called Antaralas who hold that Atman must be atomic in size because it is said to pervade capillaries as fine as a thousandth part of a hair.

80. In support of their thesis they quote many Vedic texts, which describe Atman as 'smaller than the smallest', 'minuter than an atom' and 'more refined than the most refined'.

81. They produce as an authority the Vedic text which says: Jiva is the hundredth part of the tip of a hair which has already been divided into a hundred parts.

82. The Digambaras hold that Atman is of medium size because it animates the body from head to foot. They too quote the Veda: 'Atman, the conscious principle, pervades the body from the head to the tips of the nails'.

83. They state that Atman become subtle and enters into the finest capillaries, as the arms of a man slip into the sleeves of a coat.

84. They conclude that the Atman is of medium size but that it is capable of adapting itself to any size. It enlarges or diminishes its size to accommodate itself to the parts of the bodies into which it enters.

85. This view is not valid, because if the Atman has parts it must be perishable like a pot. In that case there will arise the two logical fallacies viz., the cause will not produce any effect and an effect will have homogeneous cause.

86. So the Atman is neither atomic nor of medium size, but is infinite, partless and like Akasa all-pervasive. This view accords with the Shruti.

87. Thus about the nature of the Atman there are many differences of opinion, whether it is unconscious, conscious, or a compound of the two.

88. The followers of Prabhakara and the logicians state that Atman is by nature unconscious; it is a substance like Akasa and consciousness is its attribute, as sound is an attribute of Akasa.

89. They state that not only consciousness, but also desire, aversion, effort, virtue, vice, pleasure and pain, and also the impressions are the attributes of the Atman.

90. According to them, Atman and the mind combine together due to the effects of previous actions and this combination produces the different properties. When the past Karma ceases to operate as cause, the Jiva goes into deep sleep and the properties too become latent.

91. The Atman possesses intelligence and is therefore called intelligent; it manifests intelligence in the form of desire, aversion and effort. As a doer it performs good and bad deeds and is, in consequence, the experiencer of pleasure and pain.

92. In this life, subject to action, Atman sometimes experiences happiness; so too, when it takes birth in other bodies, desire, etc., arise due to Karma.

93. They further hold that despite its all-pervasiveness Atman goes from birth to death. The whole ritual part of the Veda (Karma-kanda), they say, supports them.

94. The first of the sheaths, the bliss-sheath which persists in the state of deep sleep and which does not manifest consciousness fully, is taken as Atman by the followers of Prabhakara and some logicians. What they state to be the nature of the Self, is in fact, characteristic of the bliss-sheath.

95. The followers of Bhatta hold that consciousness is hidden in Atman and that its nature is both consciousness and unconsciousness. This is inferred from the fact of the remembrance of sound sleep by the awakened man.

96. 'I became unconscious and slept', such feeling expresses the memory of that inert state which he actually experienced. But this remembrance of unconsciousness in deep sleep would not be possible unless there were at the same time a conscious element.

97. The Bhattas say that the Shruti declares; 'In sleep neither the seer nor seeing is absent'. Therefore the nature of Atman is both luminous and dark, like that of a fire-fly.

98. The Sankhyas, who separate Purusha and Prakriti, reject the possibility of both consciousness and unconsciousness being the nature of Atman. According to them the Atman is without parts and must be of the nature of consciousness only.

99. Unconsciousness is the nature of Prakriti (the primordial substance) which is ever-changing and composed of three modes, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The Prakriti functions for experience and release of the Atman.

100. Though Purusha is non-contactible and pure, he is said to be subject to bondage and release because of a confusion between the natures of Prakriti and Purusha. The Sankhyas, like the earlier Naiyayikas, postulate a plurality of Selves and explain how different individuals have different destinies to fulfil in this life. The release of the individual Purusha is due to his knowledge of his real nature.

101. They quote the Shruti which says that Prakriti, the undifferentiated matter, which is unmanifested, is not the same as Mahat, the differentiated matter and that the Spirit is unattached and pure.

102. The Yogis postulate the existence of Ishvara. Prakriti functions owing to the proximity of consciousness and Ishvara is the controller of Prakriti. He is quite distinct from and superior to the Jivas, says the Shruti.

103. The Shruti declares that Ishvara is the Lord of Jivas and also of Prakriti. He controls the Gunas too. In the Aranyaka part of the Shruti He is respectfully called the Inner Controller.

104. Here too there are many philosophers who by their arguments maintain different views about Ishvara. They quote suitable texts from the Shruti and interpret them according to their light.

105. According to Patanjali, Ishvara is a Special Purusha free from miseries, actions, birth and death, enjoyment and suffering and the latent impressions; Ishvara, like Jiva, is non-attached and conscious.

106. As person with a special nature, Ishvara rules the universe. Without His rulership there would be no one to regulate bondage and release.

107. The Shruti declares that Nature functions in fear of Ishvara. He is the ruler though unattached. The rulership is appropriately vested in Ishvara, who is not affected by sufferings, works and so forth.

108. It is a fact that the Jivas, too, are not affected by sufferings etc., as they too are unattached; but when they fail to comprehend their real nature, they imagine that they are affected by sufferings, works and so forth.

109. The logicians deny the controlling power to Ishvara, because He is detached. They invest Him with the qualities of eternal knowledge, effort and desire.

110. They say that owing to His possessing these three qualities Ishvara is the Lord of the universe. In support they quote the Shruti verse: 'He has true desires and resolves'.

111. Ishvara being endowed with eternal knowledge and other cognate attributes must be ever engaged in the creation of the world. He must therefore be Hiranyagarbha who is endowed with a subtle body.

112. The glory of Hiranyagarbha has been given in detail in the Udgitha Brahmana. He, the totality of all subtle bodies, is not to be considered a Jiva because He is free from desires and Karma.

113. The worshippers of Virat hold that no subtle body is seen without a physical body. So Virat, who has a physical body with head and other organs, is the real Ishvara.

114. The Shruti says that the form of Virat is the form of the universe, extending in all directions with an infinite number of heads and eyes. So they meditate on Virat.

115. Then there are worshippers who object to the worship of Virat on the ground that according to this conception of Virat even insects and worms will have to be regarded as Ishvara. So the four-faced Brahma, the creator, is Ishvara and nobody else.

116. So say people who worship the creator Brahma for obtaining children and quote passages which say, 'Brahma created the people'.

117. The Bhagavatas call Vishnu the only Ishvara because the lotus-born Brahma issued from the navel of Vishnu.

118. The Saivas on the authority of their Agamas declare Shiva alone to be Ishvara, as according to a tradition in the Puranas, Vishnu in spite of all his efforts could not discover the feet of Shiva.

119. The followers of the creed of Ganesha say that the elephant-faced Lord is the only Ishvara for Shiva in order to conquer the demons of the three cities worshipped Ganesha.

120. There are many other sects which try to declare their own favourite deity to be the supreme. They quote hymns from Shruti and alleged traditions in support of their views.

121. So every entity from the Inner Ruler to inert objects is considered as Ishvara by someone or other, for we find that even the sacred fig tree, the sun-plant and the bomboo etc., are worshipped by the people as family deities.

122. Those who are desirous of ascertaining the real truth study the Shruti and logic. Their conclusion is the same, that Ishvara is one only and this fact we have set forth in this chapter.

123. The Shruti says that Maya is Prakriti, the material cause of the universe, and the Lord of Maya is the great Ishvara who pervades the whole universe, consisting of sentient and insentient objects which are like parts of that Ishvara.

124. The correct definition of Ishvara is available from the Shruti text. Then there will be no clash with even the worshippers of trees and so forth as Ishvara.

125. The [Nrisimha-Uttara-]Tapaniya Upanishad declares Maya to be Tamas or darkness. The empirical experience of all is evidence for the existence of Maya, says the Shruti.

126. The Shruti points to the universal experience of the insentient and illusory nature of Maya, as displayed by persons of undeveloped intellect, such as children and dullards.

127. The nature of the poet and other inert objects exhibits insentiency (which is a characteristic of Maya). People say that the intellect feels shy to fathom the depths of Maya.

128. All people admit in their experience existence of Maya. From the logical point of view Maya is inexplicable. Shruti too declares it to be neither existence nor non-existence.

129. Since the effects of Maya are undeniably manifest, its existence cannot be denied. Being stultified by knowledge, it cannot really be said to exist. From the point of view of (absolute) knowledge (of the Atman) it is always inoperative and hence negligible.

130. Maya is looked upon in three ways. From the point of view of knowledge and Shruti it is negligible; for empirical reason it is indefinable and for the ordinary people it is real.

131. Maya exhibits the appearance and disappearance (in waking or sleeping state) of the world, just as by rolling and unrolling a picture on a canvas it is exhibited or withdrawn.

132. Maya is dependent, for in the absence of the cognising faculty the effects of Maya cannot be experienced. Again in one sense it is independent too, for it can make the non-attached Atman appear to be attached.

133. Maya transforms the immutable Kutastha, the ever association-less Atman, phenomenally into the form of the universe. Casting the reflection of Atman on itself, Maya Creates Jiva and Ishvara.

134. Without in any way affecting the real nature of Atman, Maya creates the world. It makes the impossible look possible. How astonishingly powerful Maya is !

135. As fluidity is the nature of water, heat of fire and hardness of stone, so the making of the impossible possible is the nature of Maya. It is unique in this respect.

136. The magic show looks wonderful and inexplicable as long as the magician is not directly known, but when the magician is so known, the magic show is known as such and is no longer wonderful.

137. Those who believe in the reality of the world regard the effects of Maya as wonderful. But since the nature of Maya itself is astonishing, one need not wonder at its power.

138. By raising objections to the wonderfulness of Maya we do not solve the mystery. Besides, we also can raise serious counter objections. What is essential is that we should eradicate Maya by systematic enquiry. Further arguments are useless, so do not indulge in them.

139. Maya is an embodiment of marvellousness and doubt; the wise must carefully find out means and make effort to remove it.

140. (Doubt): But the nature of Maya must be determined before trying to eradicate it. (Reply): All right, do so ! Apply the popular definition of magic on Maya.

141. People understand that to be Maya which though clearly seen is at the same time beyond all determination, as in the case of magic.

142. The world is clearly seen, but its nature defies definition. Be impartial, and regard the world as nothing but a delusion, the product of Maya.

143. Even if all the learned people of the world try to determine the nature of this world, they will find themselves confronted at some stage or other by ignorance.

144. Tell us, if you can, how the body and senses came out of the seed, or how consciousness was born in the foetus. What answers will you give to these questions ?

145. (The naturalist says): It is the nature of the seed to evolve into the body with the sense-organs and so forth. (Reply): What is the basis of your belief ? You will perhaps say, application of the double method of agreement and difference. But it is not confirmed because in a barren woman seed produces nothing.

146. In the end you will have to say, 'I do not know'. Therefore the wise declare this world to be like a magic show.

147. What can be more magical than the fact that the seed in the uterus becomes a conscious individual, that it develops head, hands, feet and other organs, that it passes through the states of childhood, youth and old age and that it perceives, eats, smells, hears, comes and goes ?

148. Like the human body carefully consider also a tiny fig seed. How different the tree is from the seed from which it grows ! Therefore know all this to be Maya.

149. The logicians and others, proud of their dialectical ability, may feel satisfied with their logical explanations; but the philosopher Sri Harsha Mishra has exposed the error of their positions in his classic 'Khandana' [Khandana-Khandakhadya].

150. Things that are inconceivable should not be subjected to canons of logic; and this world is one such, for the mind cannot conceive of the very mode of its creation.

151. Be convinced that Maya is the cause of this world, whose comprehension surpasses the imagination. In the state of deep sleep we are partly aware of this Maya, the seed of this world.

152. As the tree is latent in the seed, so the waking and dreaming worlds are implicit in deep sleep. Similarly, the impressions of the entire universe are latent in Maya.

153. On the impressions of the whole world, thus latent in the intellect (during sleep) is reflected the immutable consciousness. Though it is not experienced owing to vagueness it can be inferred to exist, in the same way as the reflection of the sky is inferred to exist in the water-particles of a cloud.

154. This seed, the Maya, in association with the reflection of consciousness, which is not fully grasped, develops into the intellect; and in this intellect, the reflection of consciousness becomes plainly visible as the ego.

155. It is said by the Shruti that Jiva and Ishvara are creations of Maya, being reflections of Atman in it. Ishvara is like the reflection of the sky in the cloud; Jiva is like the reflection of the sky in water.

156. Maya is comparable to a cloud and the mental impressions in the Buddhi are like the water-particles which make up the cloud. The reflected consciousness in Maya is like the sky reflected in the water-particles of the cloud.

157. Shruti says that this (pure universal) consciousness reflected in Maya is Ishvara which controls Maya as well. The great Ishvara is the inner ruler, omniscient and cause of the universe.

158. The Shruti, in the passage beginning with 'the consciousness in the deep sleep' and ending in 'He is the Lord of all' describes this 'sheath of bliss' as the Ishvara. [Mandukya Upanishad: 5-6; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: IV-iv-22]

159. The omniscience and other properties of the bliss sheath are not to be questioned, because the assertions of the Shruti are beyond dispute and because everything is possible in Maya.

160. Since nobody has the power to alter the world of waking and dream states which are projected from the bliss-sheath, it is proper to call it the Lord of all.

161. In the bliss-sheath inhere all the desires and mental impressions of all living beings. In as much as it knows them (impressions) all, it is called omniscient.

162. (Doubt): The omniscience, alleged to be the nature of the bliss-sheath, is not evident because the impressions are not known directly. (Reply): Its knowledge of the impressions (though not directly felt) is inferred from observation of its presence in all mentations.

163. Since Ishvara (the consciousness in the bliss-sheath) abides in and activates and controls all the functions of all other sheaths beginning with that of the intellect and elsewhere also in creation, it is called the inner controller.

164. The Shruti says that the Lord abides in the intellect and has the intellect as His body (instrument); but the intellect does not know Him; it is itself controlled by Him.

165. As threads pervade a piece of cloth and constitute its material cause, so the Inner Ruler, pervading the whole universe, is the material cause of the universe.

166. Just as the threads are subtler than the cloth and the fibres of the threads subtler than the threads themselves, even so, where this progress from the subtle to the subtler stops, there do we confront the Inner Ruler.

167. Being minuter than the minute of the second and third degree, the inmost Being is not subject to perception; but by reasoning and by Shruti His existence is ascertained.

168. As a piece of cloth is said to be the body of the threads which become the cloth, so when He has become the universe it is described as His body.

169. When threads are contracted or expanded, or any motion is imparted to them, the cloth similarly behaves - it has no independence at all.

170. Similarly the worldly objects assume the forms in the manner He transforms them according to their past desires and impressions. There is no doubt about it.

171. In the Gita Sri Krishna says: 'O Arjuna, the Lord abides in the hearts of all beings and makes them revolve by His Maya as if mounted on a wheel'. [Gita: XVIII-61]

172. 'All beings' in the above passage means the Jivas or the sheaths of intellect which abide in the hearts of all beings. Being their material cause, the Lord appears to undergo changes with them.

173. By the word 'wheel' is meant the cage of the body with sheaths etc. By saying that all beings are 'mounted on the wheel' is meant that they have come to consider the body as the ego. By the word 'revolve' is meant the performance of good and bad deeds.

174. The meaning of the expression 'The Lord makes them revolve by His Maya', is that the Lord by his power of Maya becomes involved in the intellect-sheath and seems to change with the operations of the intellect.

175. The same meaning is expressed by the Shruti saying that the Lord is called the inner controller. By applying this reason one can come to the same conclusion with regard to the physical elements and all other objects.

176. 'I know what is virtue, but my inclination is not mine to practise it; I know what is vice, but my desisting from it is not mine but His. I do as I am prompted by some god seated in my heart.'

177. From the above verse do not think that individual efforts are not necessary, for the Lord transforms Himself as those efforts.

178. This theory does not contradict the idea of the Lord prompting every thing, for one who has known Ishvara to be the controller of things knows his Self as non-attached.

179. Both the Shruti and the tradition declare this knowledge of the non-attachment of the Self to be the cause of release. It is also stated in Varaha-Purana that both the scriptural and the traditional truths are from the Lord.

180. The Shruti declares that in fear of Him the forces of nature operate, showing that His commandments engender fear. So His lordship over all beings is different from His inner Rulership of them.

181. One Shruti passage says that the suns and planets move at the command of the Lord. Another Shruti passage says that the Lord entering the human body controls it from within.

182. The Lord is said to be the source of the universe, for He causes the creation and dissolution of the world. By creation and dissolution are meant the manifestation and demanifestation of the world.

183. The world remains potential as impressions in the Lord and He causes its manifestation in accordance with the past deeds of beings. Creation is like the unrolling of a painted canvas.

184. If the painted canvas is rolled up, the picture is no longer visible. In the same way, when the Karma of beings is exhausted, the Lord withdraws into Himself the universe with all that it contains (i.e., all remain in a latent form).

185. The creation and destruction of the world are comparable to day and night, to the waking and sleeping states, to the opening and closing of the eyes and the activity and quiescense of the mind.

186. Ishvara is endowed with the power of Maya which is the power of manifesting and demanifesting, so the objections to the theory that creation has a beginning or that it is evolutionary or that things are naturally endowed with certain special qualities do not apply to it.

187. Ishvara through the Tamas of Maya is the cause of the inanimate objects and through the reflection of the supreme intelligence Ishvara is the cause of the Jivas.

188. It is objected that the cause of the bodies is that aspect of Paramatman in which Tamas predominates and that of the Jivas is that aspect where intelligence predominates. So Paramatman alone is their cause in accordance with their inner impressions, moral and spiritual actions.

189. Thus Sureshvaracharya, the author of Vartika, has attributed the cause of the animate and inanimate creation to Paramatman and not to Ishvara.

190. Our reply is that Acharya Sureshvara holds Brahman to be the cause of the world, but he has taken for granted the mutual superimposition of Ishvara and Brahman even as that of Jiva and Kutastha.

191. The Shruti explains clearly that from Brahman, who is truth, knowledge and infinity, arose Akasa, air, fire, water, earth, herbs, food, bodies and so forth.

192. Superficially it looks as if Brahman were the cause of the world and that Ishvara were a real entity. This cannot be explained except by the mutual superimposition of the true nature of Brahman on Ishvara and the creativity of Ishvara on Brahman.

193. In a piece of cloth stiffened with starch, the starch becomes one with the cloth; so by the process of mutual superimposition the ignorant conceive Ishvara to be one with Paramatman.

194. As the dull-witted imagine that the Akasa reflected in a cloud is the Akasa absolute, so the undiscriminating do not see the distinction between Brahman and Ishvara.

195. By deep enquiry and by the application of the rules of interpretation to the Vedic text we come to know that Brahman is associationless and unconditioned by Maya, whereas Ishvara is the creator conditioned by Maya.

196. The Vedas declare Brahman to be truth, knowledge and infinity and also that speech and the other organs cannot grasp it. Thus it is determined that Brahman is associationless.

197. Another Shruti says that Ishvara, the Lord of Maya, creates the universe, whereas the Jiva is controlled by Maya. So Ishvara, associated with Maya, is the creator.

198. As the deep sleep state passes into dream state, so Ishvara who is known as the sheath of bliss, transforms Himself into Hiranyagarbha, when He, the one, wills to be many.

199. There are two types of Shruti text describing the creation of the world either as a gradual evolution or as instantaneous. There is no contradiction, for the dream world sometimes arises gradually out of deep sleep, but at other times it arises instantaneously.

200. Hiranyagarbha or Sutratman, otherwise called the subtle-body, is the totality of the subtle bodies of all Jivas. He conceives Himself as the totality of all egos or 'I' - consciousnesses, like the threads of a piece of cloth; and He is said to be endowed with the powers of volition, conation and cognition.

201. The world in its course of evolution comes to rest in Hiranyagarbha, but at this stage it is indistinct, just as an object seen in partial darkness, at dawn or dusk.

202. As the outlines of a picture are drawn in black pencil on a stiffened piece of canvas, so also the subtle bodies indistinctly appear in Hiranyagarbha.

203. Like a tender offshoot of a germinated corn or like a tender plant sprouting, Hiranyagarbha is the tender bud of the world which is still indistinct.

204. In Virat the world appears distinct and shining, like objects in broad day-light or like the figures of a fully painted picture or the fruit of a fully matured tree. In Virat all the gross bodies are plainly seen.

205. In the Vishvarupa chapter and in the Purusha Sukta there is a description of Virat. From the creator Brahma to a blade of grass, all objects in the world form part of Virat.

206. The forms of Virat, such as Ishvara, Hiranyagarbha, Virat, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Agni, Ganesha, Bhairava, Mairala, Marika, Yakshas, demons.

207. Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Sudras, cows, horses and other beasts, birds, fig, banyan and mango trees, wheat, rice and other cereals and grasses;

208. Water, stone, earth, chisels, axes and other implements are manifestations of Ishvara. Worshipped as Ishvara they grant fulfilment of desires.

209. In whatever form Ishvara is worshipped, the worshipper obtains the appropriate reward through that form. If the method of worship and the conception of the attributes of the deity worshipped are of a high order, the reward also is of a high order; but if otherwise, it is not.

210. The Liberation, however, can be obtained through the knowledge of reality and not otherwise. The dreaming does not end until the dreamer awakes.

211. In the secondless principle, Brahman, the whole universe, in the form of Ishvara and Jiva and all animate and inanimate objects, appears like a dream.

212. Maya has created Ishvara and Jiva, represented by the sheath of bliss and the sheath of intellect respectively. The whole perceptible world is a creation of Ishvara and Jiva.

213. From the determination of Ishvara to create, down to His entrance into the created objects, is the creation of Ishvara. From the waking state to ultimate release, the cause of all pleasures and pains, is the creation of Jiva.

214. Those who do not know the nature of Brahman, who is secondless and associationless, fruitlessly quarrel over Jiva and Ishvara, which are creations of Maya.

215. We always approve those who appear to us to be devoted to truth and pity others but do not quarrel with those who are deluded.

216. From the worshippers of objects like grass to the followers of Yoga, all have wrong ideas about Ishvara. From the materialist Charvakas to the followers of Sankhya, all have confused ideas about Jiva.

217. As they do not know the truth of the secondless Brahman, they all are wrong. Where is their liberation or where is their joy in this world ?

218. Some may say that these people represent grades of enjoyment from the lowest to the highest. But of what use is it ? A man when awake derives no good from the dreams in which he may have played the part of a king or a beggar.

219. Therefore the aspirants to liberation should never engage themselves in disputations about the nature of Jiva and Ishvara. They ought to practise discrimination and realise the reality of Brahman.

220. (Doubt): Such disputation is a means to the understanding of Brahman. (Reply): It may be so, but be careful to avoid being drowned helplessly in the sea of confusion.

221. (Doubt): All right, but the Vedantins must accept the Sankhya doctrine that Jiva and Ishvara are associationless, pure consciousness and eternal and the Yoga doctrine that Jiva and Ishvara, referred to as 'thou' and 'that' respectively in the dictum 'That thou art', are of a pure nature.

222. (Reply): These two meanings do not accord with the Advaita view. They postulate a difference between Jiva and Ishvara, but in the Advaita doctrine there is no distinction between 'That' and 'Thou'. Statements appearing to make such a distinction are only steps towards understanding of non-duality.

223. Influenced by the beginningless Maya, people think that Jiva and Ishvara are totally different from each other. In order to eliminate this erroneous belief the Vedantin enquires into the meaning of 'That' and 'Thou'.

224. In order to demonstrate the truth of Advaita we have cited the illustration of the Akasa conditioned by a pot, the unlimited Akasa, the Akasa reflected in water and the Akasa reflected in a cloud.

225. In the last two aspects of Akasa the conditioning adjuncts are the water and the cloud, but their basis, the Akasa of the pot and the unlimited Akasa, is pure and unaffected.

226. The sheath of bliss and the sheath of intellect have as their conditioning adjuncts Maya and the modification of Maya called Buddhi respectively, but the basis of both is the one pure Atman, which is immutable.

227. As steps to our doctrine we use as illustrations the doctrines of Sankhya and Yoga. Similarly we accept and make use of the doctrine of the sheath of food, though we do not mean that the food-sheath is really to be identified with the Atman.

228. The Vedantins will accept the doctrines of the followers of Sankhya and Yoga provided they give up the doctrine of the existence of distinction in Atman, the doctrine of the reality of the world and the doctrine of Ishvara being a separate and special Purusha.

229. The Sankhyas hold that, for the Jiva to achieve his object and be liberated, a knowledge of the eternal associationlessness of Atman is enough. We reply that in their view he might just as well think that the pleasures which he obtains from flowers, sandalwood and so forth are also eternal.

230. Just as it is impossible to establish the eternal existence of pleasure derived from flowers and sandalwood, so it is impossible to establish the associationlessness of Atman as long as the world and Ishvara are believed to be realities and ever-existing.

231. If Prakriti is imperishable as the Sankhyas say, she will continue to produce attachment in the Purusha even after the dawn of the knowledge of his complete isolation. If Ishvara is eternal, He will continue to exercise control over the Purusha. In that case the poor Purusha will never have emancipation; his bondage will be real.

232. (Doubt): The idea of attachment to the body and of control is due to ignorance. (Reply): Then you accept the conception of Maya, which is a violation of the shortsighted Sankhya doctrine.

233. (Doubt): To account for the idea of individual bondage and release, the plurality of Selves must be accepted. (Reply): This is unnecessary because Maya is responsible for bondage and release.

234. Don't you see that Maya can make the impossible appear possible ? In fact, the Shruti can tolerate neither bondage nor release as real.

235. The Shruti declares that in fact there is no destruction and no origination; none in bondage and none engaged in practice for liberation; no aspirant for liberation and none liberated. This is the transcendental truth.

236. Maya is said to be the desire-fulfilling cow. Jiva and Ishvara are its two calves. Drink of its milk of duality as much as you like, but the truth is non-duality.

237. The difference between Kutastha and Brahman is only in name; in reality there is no difference. The Akasa in the pot and the unlimited Akasa are not distinct from one another.

238. The non-dual reality, as declared in the Shruti, existed before creation, exists now and will continue to exist in dissolution; and after liberation Maya deludes the people in vain.

239. (Doubt): Even the knowers, who attribute the world to Maya, are seen to be engaged in worldly pursuits. So what is the use of realisation ? (Reply): No, he is not deluded as before.

240. The ignorant are convinced that the happiness and grief which the world and heaven offer are real; so they do not perceive non-duality, nor think it exists.

241. It is clearly seen that the conviction of the knowers is opposed to the conviction of the ignorant. They are free or fettered according to their conviction.

242. (Doubt): The non-dual reality is not directly perceptible. (Reply): This is not so, for reality is self-evident in the form of consciousness. (Doubt): It is not fully known. (Reply): Is the world fully known to you ?

243. Both duality and non-duality are partially known. If from this partial experience you infer the truth of duality, why should you not from same premises infer the truth of non-duality?

244. (Doubt): Duality contradicts non-duality. So when duality is seen manifest everywhere, how can you infer its opposite principle, non-duality ? Our consciousness does not contradict duality; so our position is stronger than yours.

245. (Reply): Then listen. Duality is unreal and has no independent existence, for it is a product of Maya. So when duality is negated what remains as reality is non-duality.

246. The whole world is a product of the inscrutable Maya; be convinced of this and know that the fundamental real principle is non-duality.

247. (Doubt): If the idea that duality is real occurs again and again in daily life ? (Reply): Repeatedly practise negating this erroneous idea of duality. What is the difficulty in doing so ?

248. (Doubt): How long should one continue this practice ? (Reply): It is a trouble to continue the pursuit of unreal duality, not so is that of non-duality. For by the practice of non-duality all miseries are destroyed.

249. (Doubt): But even after realisation I suffer from hunger and thirst. (Reply): Who denies it? This suffering is in your egoity (a product of duality) expressed in your use of 'I'.

250. (Doubt): The sufferings may come to the immutable Self, because of identification with the body. (Reply): Do not subject yourself to this identification which is due to mutual superimposition, but practise discrimination for its removal.

251. (Doubt): The superimposition, which is due to the first impressions, suddenly may occur, because of the beginningless association of Jiva and Avidya. (Reply): Then begin new impressions of non-duality by means of repeated discrimination of the truth.

252. Do not say it is reasoning alone which demonstrates the unreality of duality and not our experience, for we daily experience that mysterious is the nature of the world.

253. (Doubt): Consciousness too is mysterious. (Reply): Let it be. We do not say that consciousness is not mysterious, for it is eternal.

254. Consciousness is eternal, for its non-existence can never be experienced. But the non-existence of duality is experienced by consciousness before the duality assumes manifestation.

255. That duality of the phenomenal world is like the pot which is non-existent before it comes into being. Still, its creation is inexplicable. So it is unreal like a product of magic.

256. Now you see that both consciousness and the unreality of the world are immediately experienced, so you cannot still maintain that non-duality is not experienced.

257. (Doubt): Tell me why some who know this truth of Vedanta are still not satisfied with it ? (Reply): First tell me why the materialists, who know logic, still believe the body to be the Self ?

258. (Doubt): The materialists cannot properly discriminate owing to some defect in their intellect. (Reply): Similarly all those who are dissatisfied with Vedanta have an inadequate comprehension of the truth.

259. The Shruti says that he who has banished from his heart all indwelling desires attains immortality. This is not merely a statement; a knower's actual experience proves it.

260. In another passage it is stated that all the knots of the heart are loosened at the rise of true knowledge. The term 'knots of the heart' has been explained in the commentary to mean the desires of the heart.

261. Owing to lack of true discrimination a man identifies egoism with the Self, and then thinks: 'May this object be mine', and so forth. This is called desire.

262. When a man can disidentify the Self from egoism, and realise that the Self is in no way connected with egoism, then though he may have crores of desires they will not bind him, because he has cut the 'knot of the conscious with the unconscious'.

263. By the force of the fructifying Karma, a knower may be subject to desires, as in spite of theoretically knowing the truth you are not satisfied.

264. A man who has overcome egoity and realised identity with the changeless consciousness is not distressed by desires or diseases and other changing conditions of body and fortune, just as the growth and death of trees in a forest do not affect him.

265. (Doubt): But it is well known that the immutable Self is ever unaffected by desires even before illumination. (Reply): Do not forget this truth. The realisation that Kutastha is ever dissociated from desires is called the 'snapping of the knot of ignorance'. It is this knowledge which leads to the attainment of the purpose of life.

266. (Doubt): The dull-witted are ignorant of this truth. (Reply): This is what we mean by the 'knot of ignorance', nothing else. The difference between the ignorant and the wise, is the existence of doubt in the former group and its destruction in the latter.

267. From the point of view of the body, senses, mind and intellect, there is no difference between the ignorant and the illumined when they engage themselves in action or abstain from them.

268. The difference between one who has been initiated into the life of Brahmacharya and one who has not is that the former studies the Veda, whereas the latter does not. But as regards food etc., there is no difference. The same applies to the wise and the ignorant.

269. In the Gita it is said that the wise man who has destroyed his desires does not hate what is present nor does he hanker after what he has not. He sits like one who is disinterested. This is called 'snapping the knot of ignorance'.

270. (Doubt): Does the Gita enjoin want of interest ? (Reply): No, if it were so, the word 'like' (vat) would be meaningless. (Doubt): He may be disinterested because his bodily organs have lost the power of action. (Reply): Then he is a sick man and not a wise one !

271. These highly intellectual men who equate the knowledge of truth with the disease of consumption are indeed remarkable for the clarity of their intellect ! There is, verily, no deed too impossible for such people to perform !

272. (Doubt): Why, the Puranas speak about Jadabharata and others who were completely withdrawn and performed no action. (Reply): But have you not heard also the Vedas speaking of other knowers who ate, played and enjoyed pleasures ?

273. Jadabharata and others never gave up food and sleep nor were like sticks and stones. It was because they were afraid of forming attachments that they behaved as if they were completely disinterested.

274. The man who is attached to objects is troubled by the world; happiness is enjoyed by the unattached. Therefore give up attachment if you desire to be happy.

275. The slow-witted who do not understand the essence of the scriptures, express their opinions in various ways. Let them form any opinion they like. We will express our own, which accord with the Vedantic doctrine.

276. Absence of desires, knowledge of reality and withdrawal from action mutually assist one another. Generally all three of them are found together, but sometimes separately too, without the third.

277. The origin, the nature and the result of these virtues differ. The real distinctions between them will be clear to a keen student of scriptures.

278. The origin of detachment is an understanding that the joys derived from objects are impermanent; its nature is a distaste for the enjoyment of those objects; and its result is the feeling of being independent of them. These three are peculiar to detachment.

279. The origin of the knowledge of reality is hearing, reflecting and meditating on the reality; its nature is discrimination between the real and the unreal; and its result is the restraint of fresh doubts from arising. These three are peculiar to knowledge.

280. The origin of withdrawal from action is the cultivation of inner and outer control and so forth; its nature is the control of the mind; and its result is the cessation of worldly activities. Thus their differences are described.

281. Of all the three virtues the most essential is the knowledge of the Reality as it is the direct cause of liberation. The other two, detachment and withdrawal, are necessary auxiliaries to knowledge.

282. The existence of the three virtues highly developed in a man is the result of vast store of merit acquired in innumerable past lives. The absence of any one of them is the result of some demerit acquired in the past.

283. Without the knowledge of Reality even perfect detachment and complete withdrawal from worldly actions cannot lead to liberation. A man endowed with detachment and withdrawal, but failing to obtain illumination, is reborn in the superior worlds because of great merit.

284. On the other hand by the complete knowledge of the Reality a man is sure to have liberation, even though his detachment and withdrawal are wanting. But then his visible sufferings will not come to an end owing to his fructifying Karma.

285. The height of detachment is such a conviction of the futility of all desires that one considers like straw even the highest pleasures of the world of Brahma; and the height of spiritual knowledge is reached when one feels one's identity with the supreme Self as firmly as an ordinary man instinctively feels his identity with the physical body.

286. The height of withdrawal from action is the complete forgetfulness of all worldly affairs in the waking state as in the state of deep sleep. There are several intermediate grades which can be known by actual observation.

287. Enlightened men may differ in their behaviour because of the nature of their fructifying Karma. This should not make the learned think otherwise about the truth of knowledge resulting in liberation.

288. Let the enlightened people behave in any way according to their fructifying Karma, but their knowledge is the same and their liberation is the same.

289. On the supreme consciousness the world is drawn like a picture on canvas; thus is Maya superimposed on consciousness. When we forget the adventitious distinctions, consciousness alone remains.

290. This chapter called the 'Lamp of the Picture', when regularly studied, gives an intelligent aspirant freedom from the delusion due to illusive appearances, even though he may see them as before.