Untitled Document

Panchadasi (aka Vedanta Panchadasi)

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



1. Just as a wall illumined by the rays of the sun is more illumined when the light of the sun reflected in a mirror falls on it, so the body illumined by Kutastha is more illumined by the light of Kutastha reflected in the intellect (Chidabhasa).

2. When many mirrors reflect the light of the sun on to a wall which is already illumined by the sun, spaces between the various reflections are illumined by the light of the sun alone; and even if the reflections are not there, the wall still remains illumined.

3. Similarly, both in the intervals between the modifications of the intellect (Vrittis), in which Chidabhasa is reflected and during their absence (in deep sleep) Kutastha abides self-illumined; and Kutastha is therefore to be known as different from Chidabhasa.

4. An external object, such as a pot, is cognised through the Vrittis (modifications of the intellect) assuming its form, but the knowledge 'I know the pot' comes (directly) through pure consciousness, Brahman.

5. Before the rise of the Vritti (i.e., before the intellectual operation) my experience was 'I do not know that there is a pot over there'; after the rise, the experience is 'I know that there is a pot over there'. This is the difference the intellectual operation or Vritti brings about. But both the above experiences of knowledge or non-knowledge of the pot are due to Brahman.

6. Cognition or knowledge (of external thing) is the action (thereon) of the intellectual modification tipped with Chidabhasa like the steel-head of a spear. And non-cognition is the (beginningless but not endless) dullness (of an external thing) covering its revelation. Thus an external thing is spoken of in two ways, as a thing (pot) known or unknown as the intellectual modification spear-headed by Chidabhasa pierces its cover of dullness or not.

7. If the cognition of an unknown pot can be had through Brahman why not that of a known pot ? It does produce the cognition, for the Chidabhasa ceases functioning, as soon as the pot is made known.

8. If the intellect is without Chidabhasa, the cognition of an object cannot take place. For how does intellect in such a case differ from a lump of clay which is unconscious and insentient ?

9. Nowhere is a pot said to be known when it is besmeared with clay. Similarly when a pot is besmeared or covered by a Vritti only (not along with Chidabhasa) it cannot be said to be known (for both the clay and the Vritti are themselves unconscious and insentient).

10. Hence cognition (of a pot) is that reflection of consciousness (on the pot) which is produced as a result of the enveloping operation of the Vritti-cum-Chidabhasa. Brahman or pure consciousness cannot be this resultant reflection of consciousness inasmuch as it (being the eternal and immutable existence) exists prior to cognition.

11. (But will it not go against Sureshvaracharya's opinion expressed in the following Vartika ?) 'According to the authoritative books on Vedanta an object of cognition, in matters of external objects, is that Samvit or consciousness which is the result of the act of cognition.'

12. Here by 'Samvit' or consciousness what Sureshvaracharya means is the resultant reflected consciousness, for the great Sankaracharya himself (Sureshvara's guru) in his Upadeshasahasri has made the distinction between Brahman-Chaitanya and the 'resultant'-Chaitanya amply clear.

13. Therefore the reflection of consciousness produced on the pot is the cause of its cognition; and the knownness or knowledge of this cognition, exactly as its ignorance, is the work of the Brahman-Chaitanya.

14. The Vritti of intellect, the reflection of Chit on the pot and the (object) pot - all three are made known by Brahman-Chaitanya; whereas the (object) pot's existence (at a particular place) is known by the reflection of Chit on the pot, inasmuch as it is the 'resultant' consciousness.

15. So the knowledge of a pot involves a double consciousness, viz., Brahman-consciousness and Vritti-cum-Chidabhasa-consciousness (covering the pot). Brahman-consciousness corresponds to the consciousness which accompanies what the Naiyayikas call 'knowledge of knowledge' (Anuvyavasaya), the knowledge which follows the cognition of objects (that I know my knowledge or existence of objects).

16. The cognition 'This is a pot' is due to Chidabhasa, but the knowledge 'I know the pot' is derived from Brahman-consciousness.

17. Just as in objects outside the body, Chidabhasa has thus been differentiated from Brahman, so within the body too Chidabhasa is to be differentiated from the immutable Kutastha.

18. As fire pervades a red-hot piece of iron, so Chidabhasa pervades I-consciousness as well as lust, anger and other emotions.

19. Even as a red-hot piece of iron manifests itself only and not other objects, similarly the modifications of the intellect (Vrittis), aided by Chidabhasa, manifest themselves only, i.e., the things which they cover and not others.

20. All modifications are produced one after another (i.e., with gaps in between); and they all become latent during deep sleep and in the states of swoon and Samadhi.

21. That consciousness which witnesses the interval between the disappearance and the rise of successive Vrittis and the period when they do not exist and which is itself unmodifiable and immutable, is called Kutastha.

22. As in the (cognition of an) external pot, there is the play of double consciousness, so also in that of all internal Vrittis. This is evident from the fact that there is more consciousness in the Vrittis than in their intervals.

23. Unlike a pot, the intellect is neither an object of cognition nor of non-cognition. For it cannot grasp itself - no object can do so - so it cannot be cognised; since, again, it removes ignorance settled on objects it cannot be said to be non-cognised (for if you know what is produced you know what produced it as well).

24. Since Chidabhasa is a double consciousness we see it manifested and unmanifested, therefore, it cannot be called immutable, Kutastha; whereas the other is Kutastha, for it undergoes no such change.

25. The earlier teachers have made it clear that Kutastha is the witness in passages like '(It is) the witness of the intellect (Antahkarana) and its operations (Vrittis)'.

26. They have also declared that Kutastha, Chidabhasa and the mind are related in the same way as the face, its reflection and the mirror. This relationship is proved through scriptures and reasoning. Thus Chidabhasa also has been described.

27. (Objection): Kutastha conditioned by the intellect can pass to and return from the other worlds, like the Akasa enclosed in a pot. Then what is the necessity of postulating Chidabhasa ?

28. (Reply): Being merely conditioned by an object (such as the intellect), Kutastha does not become a Jiva. Otherwise, even a wall or a pot which is also pervaded by Kutastha would become a Jiva.

29. (Objection): The intellect is different from the wall, for it is transparent. (Reply): It may be so, but why do you bother about the opaqueness or transparency of the conditioner ? (For your concern is with the condition, not with the conditioner).

30. In measuring out rice and other grains, it makes no difference to their quantity whether the measure be made of wood or metal.

31. If you say, though it makes no difference in measuring, the metallic measure does give reflection, we reply that such is the property of the inner organ (Antahkarana), in that it can reflect consciousness as Chidabhasa.

32. 'Abhasa' means slight or partial manifestation, 'Pratibimba' is also like that i.e., partial manifestation. It does not have the properties of the real entity but resembles it in having some of them.

33. As the Chidabhasa is associated and variable, it is devoid of the characteristics of Kutastha. But as it renders objects capable of being cognised, it resembles Kutastha. Such is the opinion of the wise.

34. (Objection): Chidabhasa is not different from the intellect because its existence depends on the existence of the intellect. (Reply): You say little, for the intellect itself might also be similarly regarded as not different from the body.

35. (Objection): The scriptures declare the survival of the intellect after the body falls (and therefore the intellect is the same as Chidabhasa). (Reply): According to the Shruti passages which declare the entry of the Atman or the Self into the body, Chidabhasa is distinct from the intellect.

36. (Objection): Chidabhasa and the intellect enter the body together. (Reply): This is not so, for in the Aitareya Upanishad it is said that the Self enters the body by its own will apart from the intellect.

37. The Upanishad says that the Self (Atman) thought: 'This body with the organs cannot live without me', and so cleaving the centre of the skull it entered into the body and started experiencing the changeable states (e.g., wakeful, dreaming etc.,).

38. (Objection): How can the associationless Kutastha be said to animate the body by entering it ? (Reply): Then how did It create the universe ? (Objection): Both the acts of creation and entering the body are caused by Maya. (Reply): Then they vanish too when Maya is destroyed.

39. The Self becomes the ego identifying itself with the body composed of the five elements and when the body perishes (once for all) the ego too perishes with it. Thus said Yajnavalkya to Maitreyi.

40. 'This Self is not perishable' - thus the Shruti differentiates the Kutastha from everything else. 'The Self is associationless' - such statements sing the ever-detached state of Kutastha.

41. The passage which says that the body only dies and not the Jiva does not mean that he is released but only that he transmigrates.

42. (Objection): How can the changeable Jiva say 'I am Brahman' since Brahman is immutable ? (Reply): He can, because, in spite of apparent discrepancy between Jiva and Brahman, the identity is established by giving up the false notion about the Jiva. (What appeared, under the influence of Maya, as Jiva is really none other than Brahman).

43. A man may be mistaken for the stump of a tree; but the notion of the stump is destroyed when the man is known to be a man. Similarly, when the Jiva knows 'I am Brahman', his notion 'I am Buddhi (the ego-consciousness in the mind)' is destroyed.

44. Acharya Sureshvara in his Naishkarmya Siddhi describes clearly how Jiva and Brahman are found to be identical when the false notion about the Jiva (viz., its identity with the Buddhi) is destroyed. Therefore, the text 'I am Brahman' is to be understood in this sense.

45. In another Shruti text: 'Everything is Brahman', Brahman and the universe are shown to be identical; it also is to be interpreted in the above sense, viz., what appears to be 'all this', i.e., the universe, is really Brahman. Similarly, in the text 'I am Brahman' the same identity of Jiva and Brahman is indicated.

46. It is true that the author of the Vivarana gloss has denied the Badha-Samanadhikaranya interpretation (and has accepted the Mukhya-Samanadhikaranya interpretation) of 'I am Brahman'. It is because he has taken the 'I' in the sense of Kutastha-Chaitanya and not in the sense of Chidabhasa.

47. In the text 'That thou art' the word 'thou', freed from all adjuncts, is Kutastha; and in Vivarana and other (advanced) works attempts are made to establish its identity with Brahman.

48. The consciousness, the substratum on which the illusion of Chidabhasa together with the body and the sense organs is superimposed, is known as Kutastha in Vedanta.

49. The substratum, on which stands the illusion of the whole world, is described in the Vedanta by the word Brahman.

50. When the whole world of Maya is recognised as a superimposition on this one consciousness, Brahman, what to speak of Jiva who is only a part of this world.

51. The difference between the entities indicated by 'that' and 'thou' is due to that of the superposed world and Jiva, which is only a part of it; in reality they are one consciousness.

52. (That it is a genuine case of superposition is proved by the fact that) Chidabhasa, the reflected consciousness, partakes of the characteristics of both, the superposing intellect, such as agentship, enjoyership, etc., and the superposed Atman, which is consciousness. So the whole Chidabhasa is a creation of illusion.

53. 'What is the intellect ?' 'What is the reflected consciousness ?' 'And what is the Self ?' 'How is the world here ?' - Because of indecision about these questions ignorance has arisen. This illusion is also called Samsara.

54. He is the knower of truth, the liberated, who knows the true nature of the intellect, etc., mentioned above. Thus the Vedanta has decided.

55. The piece of sophistry advanced by the logicians and others, viz., 'Whose is the bondage ?' must be met by adopting the method of Khandana-Khanda-Khadya by Sri Harsa Mishra.

56. It is said in the Shiva Purana that pure consciousness (Kutastha) exists as a witness to (the rise and fall of) the mental modifications (Vrittis), their prior (and posterior) non-existence and the state of ignorance prior to inquiry about truth.

57-58. As the support of the unreal world, its nature is existence; as it cognises all insentient objects, its nature is consciousness; and as it is always the object of love, its nature is bliss. It is called Shiva, the infinite, being the means of revelation of all objects and being related to them as their substratum.

59. Thus in the Saiva-Puranas Kutastha has been described as having no particular characteristics of Jiva and Ishvara and as being non-dual, self-luminous and the highest good.

60. The Shruti declares that Jiva and Ishvara are both reflections of Brahman in Maya. They are, however, different from material things in that they are transparent (i.e., revealing) just as a glass jar is different from earthen ones.

61. Though both are products of food, the mind is subtler and purer than the body. Similarly, Jiva and Ishvara are more transparent than the grosser products of Maya.

62. Jiva and Ishvara, because they manifest the power of revealing, must be considered to be endowed with consciousness. For, nothing is difficult for Maya, that is endowed with the power to create all things.

63. When we sleep, our dreams create even Jiva and Ishvara. What wonder is there then that the Great Maya creates them in the waking state ?

64. The Maya creates omniscience and other qualities too in Ishvara. When it can create Ishvara, the receptacle of these qualities, is it difficult to conceive that it can also create these qualities in Him ?

65. If you raise the improper doubt about Kutastha, we say: do not imagine that Kutastha is also a creation of Maya. There is no evidence for that assumption.

66. All the classics of Vedanta proclaim the reality of Kutastha and they do not admit the existence of any entity other than It.

67. These verses show the real meaning of the Shruti and do not consider the matter from a logical point of view. The doubts of the logicians are not considered here.

68. The aspirant for release should give up sophistry and should base his conviction on the Shruti, which says that Jiva and Ishvara are creations of Maya.

69. Ishvara's creation extends from His willing to create the world to His entrance into His creation; Jiva's creation includes everything from the world of the waking state to his release from ignorance.

70. Kutastha is ever associationless, it does not change. Thus one should always meditate and reflect.

71. '(For Kutastha) there is no death and no birth, none in bondage and none engaged in working out release (Sadhaka), no aspirant for release (Mumukshu) and none liberated (Mukta). That is the supreme truth'.

72. The Shruti tries to indicate the reality which is beyond the body and the mind by using the conceptions of Jiva, Ishvara and Jagat.

73. Acharya Sureshvara has said that whatever method helps one to understand clearly the indwelling Atman is approved by the Vedantic classics.

74. The dull-witted, ignorant of the real meaning of the Shruti, wanders here and there, whereas the wise, understanding its purport, ever abides in the ocean of bliss.

75. Like a cloud which pours out streams of rain, Maya creates the world (Jagat). As the ether is not affected by the rain, so pure consciousness (that I am) suffers neither gain nor loss from anything in the phenomenal world. That is the conviction of the wise.

76. He who always reflects on this 'Lamp of Kutastha' ever abides as the self-revealing Kutastha.