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Panchadasi ( by Sri Vidyaranya Swami ) - Part 1
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I. THE DIFFERENTIATION OF THE REAL PRINCIPLE
1. Salutation to the lotus feet of my Guru Sri Sankarananda whose only work is to destroy the monster of primal nescience together with its effect, the phenomenal universe.
2. This discussion about the discrimination of Truth (Brahman) (from untruth) is being initiated for the easy understanding of those whose hearts have been purified by service to the pair of lotus feet of the Teacher.
3. The objects of knowledge, viz., sound, touch, etc., which are perceived in the waking state, are different from each other because of their peculiarities; but the consciousness of these, which is different from them, does not differ because of its homogeneity.
4. Similar is the case in the dream state. Here the perceived objects are transient and in the waking state they seem permanent. So there is difference between them. But the (perceiving) consciousness in both the states does not differ. It is homogeneous.
5. A person awaking from deep sleep consciously remembers his lack of perception during that state. Remembrance consists of objects experienced earlier. It is therefore clear that even in deep sleep ‘want of knowledge’ is perceived.
6. This consciousness (in the deep sleep state) is indeed distinct from the object (here, ignorance), but not from itself, as is the consciousness in the state of dream. Thus in all the three states the consciousness (being homogeneous) is the same. It is so in other days too.
7. Through the many months, years, ages and world cycles, past and future, consciousness is the same; it neither rises nor sets (unlike the sun); it is self-revealing.
8. This consciousness, which is our Self, is of the nature of supreme bliss, for it is the object of greatest love, and love for the Self is seen in every man, who wishes, ‘May I never cease to be’, ‘May I exist forever’.
9. Others are loved for the sake of the Self, but the Self is loved for none other. Therefore the love for the Self is the highest. Hence the Self is of the nature of the highest bliss.
10. In this way, it is established by reasoning that the individual Self is of the nature of existence, consciousness and bliss. Similar is the supreme Brahman. The identity of the two is taught in the Upanishads.
11. If the supreme bliss of the Self is not known, there cannot be the highest love for it. (But it is there). If it is known, there cannot be attraction for worldly objects. (That too is there). So we say, this blissful nature of the Self, though revealed, is not (strictly speaking) revealed.
12. A father may distinguish the voice of his son chanting (the Vedas) in chorus with a number of pupils but may fail to note its peculiarities, due to an obstruction viz., its having been mingled with other voices. Similar is the case with bliss. Because of observation, it is proper to say that the bliss ‘is known yet unknown’.
13. Our experience of the articles of everyday use is that they ‘exist’, they ‘reveal’. Now an obstruction is that which stultifies this experience of existence and revelation and produces the counter-experience that they are not existing, they are not revealing.
14. In the above illustration the cause of the obstruction to the voice of the son being fully recognised is the chorus of voices of all the boys. Hence the one cause of all contrary experiences is indeed the beginningless Avidya.
15. Prakriti (i.e. primordial substance) is that in which there is the reflection of Brahman, that is pure consciousness and bliss and is composed of sattva, rajas and tamas (in a state of homogeneity). It is of two kinds.
16. When the element of sattva is pure, Prakriti is known as Maya; when impure (being mixed up with rajas and tamas) it is called Avidya. Brahman, reflected in Maya, is known as the omniscient Isvara, who controls Maya.
17. But the other (i.e. the Jiva, which is Brahman reflected in Avidya) is subjected to Avidya (impure sattva). The Jiva is of different grades due to (degrees of) admixture (of rajas and tamas with sattva). The Avidya (nescience) is the causal body. When the Jiva identifies himself with this causal body he is called Prajna.
18. At the command of Isvara (and) for the experience of Prajna the five subtle elements, ether, air, fire, water and earth, arose from the part of Prakriti in which tamas predominates.
19. From the sattva part of the five subtle elements of Prakriti arose in turn the five subtle sensory organs of hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.
20. From a combination of them all (i.e. sattva portions of the five subtle elements) arose the organ of inner conception called antahkarana. Due to difference of function it is divided into two. Manas (mind) is that aspect whose function is doubting and buddhi (intellect) is that whose functions are discrimination and determination.
21. From the rajas portion of the five elements arose in turn the organs of actions known as the organ of speech, the hands, the feet, and the organs of excretion and generation.
22. From a combination of them all (i.e. the rajas portions of the five subtle elements) arose the vital air (Prana). Again, due to difference of function it is divided into five. They are Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana.
23. The five sensory organs, the five organs of action, the five vital airs, mind and intellect, all the seventeen together from the subtle body, which is called the Suksma or linga sarira.
24. By identifying himself with the subtle body (and thinking it to be his own), Prajna becomes known as Taijasa, and Isvara as Hiranyagarbha. Their difference is the one between the individual and the collective (i.e. one is identified with a single subtle body and the other with the totality of subtle bodies).
25. Isvara (as Hiranyagarbha) is called totality because of his sense of identification with all the subtle bodies (of the universe). The other (the Taijasa) is called ‘individual” because it lacks this knowledge (and is conscious only of his self, being identified with his own subtle body).
26. To provide the Jivas with objects of enjoyment and make the bodies fit for such enjoyment, the all-powerful Isvara has made each of the (subtle) elements partake of the nature of all others.
27. Dividing each element into two equal halves and one half of each again into four (equal parts) the Lord mixed the subtle elements so that each gross element thus formed should contain one half of its own peculiar nature and one eighth of that of each of the other four.
28. From these composite elements the cosmic egg arose, and from it evolved all the worlds as well as all the objects of experience and the bodies in which the experience take place. When Hiranyagarbha identifies himself with the totality of gross bodies he is known as Vaisvanara; when Taijasas do so with individual gross bodies (e.g.) of the devas, men or lower animals, they are known as Visvas.
29. They see only external things and are devoid of the knowledge of their true inner nature. They perform actions for enjoyment, and again they enjoy for performing action.
30. They go from birth to birth, as worms that have slipped into a river are swept from one whirlpool to another and never attain peace.
31. When the good deeds performed by them in past births bear fruit, the worms enjoy rest being lifted from the river by a compassionate person and placed under the shade of a tree on the bank.
32. Similarly, the Jivas (finding themselves in the whirlpool of samsara), receive the appropriate initiation from a teacher who himself has realised Brahman, and differentiating the Self from its five sheaths attain the supreme bliss of release.
33. The five sheaths of the Self are those of the food, the vital air, the mind, the intellect and bliss. Enveloped in them, it forgets its real nature and becomes subject to transmigration.
34. The gross body which is the product of the quintuplicated elements is known as the food sheath. That portion of the subtle body which is composed of the five vital airs and the five organs of action, and which is the effect of the rajas aspect of Prakriti is called the vital sheath.
35. The doubting mind and the five sensory organs, which are the effect of Sattva, make up the mind sheath. The determining intellect and the sensory organs make up the intellect sheath.
36. The impure Sattva which is in the causal body, along with joy and other Vrittis (mental modifications), is called the bliss sheath. Due to identification with the different sheaths, the Self assumes their respective natures.
37. By differentiating the Self from the five sheaths through the method of distinguishing between the variable and the invariable, one can draw out one’s own Self from the five sheaths and attain the supreme Brahman.
38. The physical body present in one’s consciousness is absent in the dreaming state, but the witnessing element, pure consciousness, persists (in both the waking and dreaming states). This is the invariable presence (anvaya) of the Self. Though the self is perceived, the physical body is not; so the latter is a variable factor.
39. Similarly, in the state of deep sleep, the subtle body is not perceived, but the Self invariably witnesses that state. While the self persists in all states the subtle body is not perceived in deep sleep and so it is called a variable factor.
40. By discrimination of the subtle body (and recognition of its variable, transient character), the sheaths of the mind, intellect, and vital airs are understood to be different from the Self, for the sheaths are conditions of the three gunas, and differ from each other (qualitatively and quantitatively).
41. Avidya (manifested as the causal body of bliss sheath) is negated in the state of deep meditation (in which neither subject nor object is experienced), but the Self persists in that state; so it is the invariable factor. But the causal body is a variable factor, for though the Self persists, it does not.
42. As the slender, internal pith of munja grass can be detached from its coarse external covering, so the Self can be distinguished through reasoning from the three bodies (or the five sheaths). Then the Self is recognised as the supreme consciousness.
43. In this way the identity of Brahman and Jiva is demonstrated through reasoning. This identity is taught in the sacred texts in sentences such as ‘That thou art’. Their method of explaining the truth is through the elimination of incongruous attributes.
44. Brahman becomes the material and efficient cause of the world when associated with those aspects of Maya in which there is a predominance of tamas and sattva respectively. This Brahman is referred to as ‘That ‘ in the text ‘That thou art’.
45. When the supreme Brahman superimposes on Itself Avidya, that is, sattva mixed with rajas and tamas, creating desires and activities in It, then it is referred to as ‘thou’.
46. When the three mutually contradictory aspects of Maya are rejected, there remains the one individual Brahman whose nature is existence, consciousness and bliss. This is pointed out by the great saying 'That thou art’.
47. In the sentence ‘This is that Devadatta’, ‘this’ and ‘that’ refer to different time, place and circumstances. When the particular connotations of ‘this’ and ‘that’ are rejected, Devadatta remains as their common basis.
48. Similarly, when the adjuncts, Maya and Avidya (the conflicting connotations in the proposition 'That thou art') of Brahman, and Jiva, are negated, there remains the indivisible supreme Brahman, whose nature is existence, consciousness and bliss.
49. (Objection): If the denoted object (of 'That thou art' i.e., Brahman) is with attributes, then it becomes unreal. Secondly, an object without attributes is neither seen nor is possible to conceive.
50. (Reply with a counter question): Does the objection you have raise relate to Brahman without attributes or with attributes ? If the first, you are caught in your own trap; if the second, it involves logical fallacies of infinite regress, resting on oneself, etc.
51. The same logical fallacies may be shown in any object having substance, species, quality, action, or relationship. So accept all these attributes as existing (superimposed on) by the very nature of things.
52. The Self is untouched by doubts about the presence or absence of associates, connotations and other adventitious relationships, because they are superimposed on it phenomenally.
53. The finding out or discovery of the true significance of the identity of the individual self and the Supreme with the aid of the great sayings (like Tattvamasi) is what is known as sravana. And to arrive at the possibility of its validity through logical reasoning is what is called manana.
54. And, when by sravana and manana the mind develops a firm and undoubted conviction, and dwells constantly on the thus ascertained Self alone, it is called unbroken meditation (nididhyasana).
55. When the mind gradually leaves off the ideas of the meditator and the act of meditation and is merged in the sole object of meditation. (viz., the Self), and is steady like the flame of a lamp in a breezeless spot, it is called the super-conscious state (samadhi).
56. Though in samadhi there is no subjective cognition of the mental function having the Self as its object, its continued existence in that state is inferred from the recollection after coming out of samadhi.
57. The mind continues to be fixed in Paramatman in the state of samadhi as a result of the effort of will made prior to its achievement and helped by the merits of previous births and the strong impression created through constant efforts (at getting into samadhi).
58. The same idea Sri Krishna pointed out to Arjuna in various ways e.g., when he compares the steady mind to the flame of a lamp in a breezeless spot.
59. As a result of this (nirvikalpa) samadhi millions of results of actions, accumulated in this beginningless world over past and present births, are destroyed, and pure dharma (helpful to the realisation of Truth) grows.
60. The experts in Yoga call this samadhi ‘a rain cloud of dharma’ because it pours forth countless showers of the bliss of dharma.
61. The entire network of desires is fully destroyed and the accumulated actions known as merits and demerits are fully rooted out by this samadhi.
62. Then the great dictum, freed from the obstacles (of doubt and ambiguity), gives rise to a direct realisation of the Truth, as a fruit in one’s palm – Truth which was earlier comprehended indirectly.
63. The knowledge of Brahman obtained indirectly from the Guru, teaching the meaning of the great dictum, burns up like fire all sins, committed upto that attainment of knowledge.
64. The direct realisation of the knowledge of the Self obtained from the Guru’s teaching of the great dictum, is like the scorching sun, that dispels the very darkness of Avidya, the root of all transmigratory existence.
65. Thus a man distinguishes the Self from the five sheaths, concentrates the mind on It according to the scriptural injunctions, becomes free from the bonds of repeated births and deaths and immediately attains the supreme bliss.
II. THE DIFFERENTIATION OF THE FIVE ELEMENTS
1. Brahman, who is, according to Shruti, the non-dual reality, can be known by the process of differentiation from the five elements. So this process is now being discusses in detail.
2. The properties of the five elements are sound, touch, colour, taste and smell. In Akasa (ether), air, fire, water and earth, the number of properties successively are one, two, three, four and five.
3. Echoes arise in the Akasa (ether), and hence we infer that the property of Akasa is sound. Air makes a rustling sound when it moves, and it feels neither hot nor cold to the touch. A fire in flame makes a characteristic crackling sound.
4. A fire feels hot, and its colour is red. Water makes a characteristic rippling sound; it is cold to the touch; its colour is white, and it is sweet in taste.
5. The earth makes a characteristic rattling sound; it is hard to the touch; its variegated colours are blue, red and so forth; it is sweet, sour and so forth in taste.
6. The earth emits smells, both pleasant and unpleasant. Thus the characteristic properties of the five elements are well classified. The five senses (which perceive them) are hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.
7. The five senses successively function through the external apparatus, the gross organs, the ears, the skin, the eyes, the tongue and the nose. The senses are subtle; their presence is to be inferred from their functions. They often move outwards.
8. But sometimes we hear the sounds made by our in-going and out-going breaths, and we hear buzzing sound when our ears are stopped. We feel an internal sensation of hot and cold when food and water are swallowed.
9. When our eyes are closed, we see inside the absence of light, and in belching we experience taste and odour. Thus the sense organs give rise to experience of things within the physical body.
10. The various actions of man can be classified into five groups; speech, grasping, movement, excretion and enjoyment of sexual intercourse. Action performed in agriculture, commerce, service and so forth may be included into one or other of the groups.
11. The five groups of actions are performed through the five organs of action – the mouth, the hands, the feet, the anus and the genitals.
12. The mind, the ruler of the ten organs of sense and action, is situated within the lotus of the heart. As it depends on the organs of sense and action for its functions in relation to external objects, it is called an internal organ (antahkarana).
13. The mind enquires into the merits and defects of the objects which are perceived by the senses. Sattva, rajas and tamas are its three constituents, for through them the mind undergoes various modifications.
14. Non-attachment, forgiveness, generosity, etc., are products of sattva. Desire, anger, avarice, effort, etc., are produced by rajas.
15. Lethargy, confusion, drowsiness, etc., are produced by tamas. When sattva functions in the mind, merit is acquired; when rajas functions, demerit is produced.
16. When tamas functions, neither merit nor demerit is produced, but life is wasted for nothing. Of the modifications of the mind that of I-consciousness is the agent. In the practical world also we do the same.
17. It is quite evident that the objects in which sound, touch etc., are clearly discernible are products of the five elements. With the help of scriptural texts and reasoning it can be conceived that even for the senses and the mind the subtle elements are the basis.
18. Whatever of this world is perceived by the senses, the organs of action, the mind, reasoning and the scriptural texts, is referred to as ‘this’ (idam) in the Shruti text that follows.
19. “Before all this was created there was Being alone, one only, without a second; there was neither name nor form”, so said Aruni.
20. Differences are of three kinds: The difference of a tree from its leaves, flowers, fruits etc., is the difference within an object. The difference of one tree from another tree is the difference between objects of the same class. The difference of a tree from a stone is the difference between objects of different classes.
21. Similarly doubt may arise that the one and only reality (Sat or Brahman) may also have differences. So all the three kinds of differences have been negated by the Shruti in three words denoting the oneness of Brahman, Its definiteness and rejection of duality respectively.
22. One cannot doubt that Brahman, the one and only reality, has no parts, for Its parts cannot be conceived of. Names and forms cannot be Its parts, for before creation they did not arise.
23. As creation means the appearances of names and forms, they cannot exist before creation. Therefore like the Akasa, Brahman is partless (and there is no difference with It.)
24. The difference between objects of the same class can have no reference to Sat, for nothing else exists. One object differs from another on account of its name and form, whereas Brahman is absolutely without name and form.
25. And about non-existence: we cannot say that it (is something that) exists. So it cannot serve as a pratiyogin. If so, how can there be vijatiya difference ?
26. So it is established that Sat is one only without a second. But there are still some who get confused by texts and say that Asat (nothing) existed before creation.
27. As a man who ha fallen into the sea is bewildered and loses the power of exercising his senses, so they too become afraid and nervous when they hear of the Reality as one only without parts.
28. The teacher Gaudapada speaks of the great fear of some yogins who are devoted to Brahman with form, regarding the objectless super-conscious state.
29. This identification with the ungrasped and ungraspable Reality is difficult to achieve. They are indeed seeing fear in the fearless.
30. The highly respected Bhagavatpada Sankara also refers to the Madhyamikas, experts in dry ratiocination (contradicting the vedic view), as confused regarding the self-existent Brahman who is beyond thought.
31. These Buddhists, merged in darkness, and seeing through the one eye of inference and neglecting the authority of the Vedas, reached only the ‘nothingness’.
32. (We ask the Buddhists): When you said, ‘nothing existed’ did you mean it (nothing) was connected with existence (Sat) or it (nothing) was of the nature of existence ? In either case its nothingness is contradicted.
33. The sun does not have the attribute of darkness; nor is it itself of the nature of darkness. As existence and non-existence are similarly contradictory, (you cannot predicate something about nothing, so) how do you say ‘nothing existed’ ?
34. (The Buddhists retort): (According to you Vedantins) The names and forms of Akasa and other elements are conjured up by Maya in (or on) Sat, the existence or Reality. Similarly (according to us) they (names and forms) are illusively produced by Maya in (or on) non-existence, Asat. (Reply): Our answer is, ‘May you live long’, i.e. you have fallen into a logical trap.
35. If you affirm that name and form attributed to an existing thing: are both creations of Maya (an illusory principle), then tell us what is the substratum upon which Maya creates names and forms; for illusion without a substratum, is never seen.
36. (The opponent says): In the Vedic text ‘Existence was (sat asit)’ if the two words mean differently then two separate things come in. If the words refer to the same thing, then there is tautology. (The Vedantins replies): Not that, i.e., the two terms certainly refer to the same thing, but identical statements like this are seen in usage.
37. We all use the expressions, ‘What has to be done has been done’, ‘speech is spoken’, and ‘A burden is borne’. The Vedic text ‘Existence was’ is meant for those whose minds are accustomed to such expressions.
38. Such text as ‘Before creation’ spoken in reference to Brahman who is timeless, are meant for beginners who are used to the idea of time. They do not imply the existence of duality.
39. Objections are raised and answered from the point of view of duality. From the stand point of pure non-duality neither questions nor answers are possible.
40. What remains after dissolution is an unmoving and ungraspable, unnamed and unnamable, unmanifest, indefinite something, beyond light and darkness, and all-pervading.
41. (Objection): When the molecules of the four elements earth, water, fire and air are dissolved, we may have an idea of the dissolution of those elements; but how can our intellect grasp the dissolution of ak which is not composed of molecules ? Hence Akasa is eternal.
42. (Reply): If your mind can conceive of the existence of Akasa in the total absence of the (atomic) world (of names, forms and motions) why could we not conceive of Sat without Akasa ?
43. If the opponent holds that Akasa can be perceived in the absence of the rest of the world, we may ask: Where can it be seen except as light and darkness ? (i.e. what you seem to perceive is not Akasa but light and darkness). Besides, according to the opponent’s view Akasa cannot be perceived by the senses.
44. Brahman the pure existence (without any reference to the world) can be experienced without an iota of doubt, when all mentations cease. And what we experience is not nothing, for we are not conscious of the perception of nothing.
45. (Objection): The idea of existence is also absent in the state of quiescence. (reply): It does not matter. Brahman is self-revealing and the witness of the tranquil mind. It can be easily perceived by men inasmuch as it is the witness of the cessation of all mentations.
46. When the mind is void of all mentations we experience the witness or obscuring consciousness (in its purity) as calm and unagitated. Similarly prior to the functioning of Maya the existence, Sat, remained (in its purity) as quiescence, calm and unruffled.
47. As the power to burn exists in fire, so the power Maya, which has no existence independent of Brahman and which is inferred by its effect, exists in Brahman. Before the effect appears, the power behind the effect is not directly experienced by anyone anywhere.
48. The power of a substance is not the substance itself, as for instance, the power to burn is not the fire itself. (Similarly, Maya, which is the power of Brahman, is not Brahman). If Power is something other than Brahman, then define its nature.
49. (If you say the nature of) Maya is ‘nothingness’ (then you contradict yourself inasmuch as in verse 34) you said that ‘nothing’ is an effect of Maya (and an effect of a thing cannot be its nature, an effect being poterior to the thing). (So you will have to admit that) Maya is neither sunyam, non-existence nor Sat, existence, but it is as it is (i.e. something undefinable by the two terms).
50. This peculiar nature of Maya is corroborated by the Vedic text which purports, there was neither non-existence nor existence then (i.e., before creation) but there was darkness (by which is meant Maya). This attribution of existence to darkness (or Maya) is due to its association with existence, not by virtue of itself, in as much as it (existence) is denied to it (in the just mentioned Vedic passage).
51. Hence like nothingness, Maya also cannot be a distinct entity in its own right. In the world too, an able man and his ability are not considered two but one.
52. If it is argued that increase in one’s power leads to the prolongation of his life (we counter it by saying that) the prolongation is not the result of power but the effects thereof, such as war, agriculture, etc.
53. Power is now here considered to be independent of its substratum. Before creation no effects of power existed. What grounds are there for assuming a duality ?
54. Power does not operate in the whole of Brahman but only in a part of it. Earth’s power of producing pots is not seen in all earth but in a portion or mode of earth only, viz., in clay, i.e., earth mixed with water.
55. The Shruti says: ‘Creation is only a quarter of Brahman, the other three quarters are self-revealing’ (i.e., not dependent on Maya’s effects for its revelation). Thus does the Shruti say Maya covers but a part of Brahman.
56. In the Gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna: ‘The world is sustained by a part of Mine’, indicating that the world is sustained by a part of the Lord.
57. The Shruti supports the same view: ‘The supreme spirit, pervading the world on every side, yet extends ten fingers beyond it’. In the Sutras, too, Brahman is declared to transcend the world of differences.
58. Shruti, the well-wisher of the questioner, being asked whether Maya pervades the whole or part of Brahman, speaks of the partless as having parts in order to explain the non-dual nature of Brahman, by giving illustrations.
59. With Brahman as its basis, Maya creates the various objects of the world, just as a variety of pictures are drawn on a wall by the use of different colours.
60. The first modification of Maya is Akasa. Its nature is space i.e., it gives room to things to exist and expand. Akasa derives its existence from Brahman, its substratum.
61. The nature of Brahman is existence only. Brahman is spaceless but Akasa has both space and existence as its nature.
62. Akasa also has the property of (conveying or communicating) sound, which Brahman does not have. Thus Akasa has two properties, sound and existence, whereas Brahman has only one existence.
63. The same Sakti (power) i.e. Maya which has conjured up Akasa in the real entity, Sat or Existence has also produced the difference between them, after having shown their identity.
64. It is Sat which appears as Akasa, but ordinary people, and the logicians say that existence is a property of Akasa. This is only to be expected, for Maya is the conjurer.
65. It is common knowledge that correct understanding makes a thing appear as it is in itself and illusion makes it appear differently.
66. A thing appears to be quite different after a thorough discussion of the Vedic passage (concerned) from what it appeared before such a discussion. So let us now discuss the nature of Akasa.
67. Brahman and Akasa are different entities. Their names are different, and the ideas conveyed by their names too are different. Brahman pervades air and other objects. Such is not the case with Akasa. This is what we know to be the difference.
68. The entity, Sat, being more pervading, is the locus or substance; and Akasa (being less pervading) a content or an attribute. When, by the exercise of reason or intellect, Sat is separated from Akasa, tell me what the nature of Akasa is (i.e., it is reduced to nothing).
69. If you hold that (when existence is abstracted from it) Akasa still remains as space, we reply, it should be ragarded as ‘nothing’. If you say: ‘It is different from Asat as well as from Sat’ you shift your position (for you do not admit anything which is different from both, which we, of course, hold.
70. If you argue that Akasa is evident, then we reply: let it be; it is to the credit of the products of Maya. The appearance of an object which is in fact non-existent is an illusion (mithya) just as that of the elephant seen in a dream.
71. As there is a distinction between a class, and a member of a class, a living man and his body, and the possessor of an attribute and the attribute, so there is a distinction between existence (Brahman) and Akasa. What is there to wonder at ?
72. If you say that granting intellectually that there is a distinction between Akasa and Brahman, yet in practice one does not feel convinced of it, we ask, is such an absurd conclusion due to lack of concentration or tenacious doubt ?
73. If the first, be attentive by fixing the mind through meditation. If the other, then study the matter carefully with the help of reasoning and evidence. Then the conviction of the truth of the distinction between Brahman and Akasa will be firm.
74. By means of profound meditation, evidence and logical reasoning, Brahman and Akasa can be known to be different from one another. The Akasa will not appear as real nor Brahman as having the property of space-giving.
75. To a knower Akasa shows its illusoriness and Brahman also always shines unassociated with its properties.
76. When one’s impressions (about the true natures of Sat and Akasa) are thus quite deepened (by constant reasoning and meditation) one is amazed to see a person attributing reality to Akasa and suffering from ignorance about reality being pure existence (void of all attributes).
77. Thus when the unreality of Akasa and the reality of Brahman are firmly established in the mind, one should follow the same method and differentiate Brahman, whose nature is pure existence, from air and other elements.
78. The real entity (Brahman) is all-pervasive; the range of Maya is limited, that of Akasa is more limited and that of the air yet more so.
79. The following are the properties air is known to possess: ability to absorb moisture, perceptibility to the same of touch, speed and motion. Existence and the properties of Maya and Akasa are also found in air.
80. When we say, air exists, we mean that it does so by virtue of the universal principle, existence. If the idea of existence is abstracted from air what is left is of the nature of Maya i.e. a non-entity. The property of sound that is found in air is of Akasa.
81. (Objection): It was stated before (in 67) that existence was a natural concomitant of every thing and that Akasa was not. Now you say that Akasa is concomitant of air. Do they not contradict ?
82. (Reply): We implied before that space as an attribute of Akasa was not found in air; we now say that the ability to produce sound, which is also the attribute of Akasa is found in air. Where is the contradiction ?
83. (Objection): If you argue that because air is different from the real entity it is unreal, why do you not infer that air, perceived by the senses being different from Maya, is not unreal like Maya ?
84. (Reply): Air is unreal because its nature partakes of the nature of Maya. Unreality is common to Maya, and its effects, because both differ from reality (existence), although Maya, being power, is not subject to perception whereas its effects are.
85. There may be sub-divisions within non-existence. But what is the use of considering them here ?
86. What is real in air is Brahman, Sat; other portions are unreal as in Akasa. Having made a deep impression (in your mind) about the unreality of air (by reason and meditation) give up (the false notion about the reality of) air.
87. In the same way we can think of fire which has a more limited range than air. A similar consideration will point to the relative extension of the other elements which envelop the universe (e.g. water and earth).
88. Fire is formed from a tenth part of air, and in this way each element is one tenth as extensive as the preceding one. This is the traditional theory described in the Puranas.
89. Heat and light are the specific properties of fire in addition to the properties of the entities from which it is derived, namely existence, a pseudo-reality apart from existence and perceptibility to the senses of sound and touch.
90. Endowed with these properties of Brahman, Maya, Akasa and air, respectively, fire has colour as its specific property; apart from existence, all the other properties of fire are unreal. Understand this by discrimination.
91. Since the reality of fire as Brahman and its unreality apart from Brahman has been established, it is easy to understand the unreality of water apart from Brahman since it consists of only one-tenth part of fire.
92. Its existence, its pseudo-reality apart from existence, its perceptibility to the senses of sound, touch and sight are taken from the entities from which it is derived (namely, Brahman, Maya, Akasa, air and fire respectively). Its specific property is perceptibility to the sense of taste.
93. Since the illusory character of water considered apart from existence has thus been established, let us now take the case of earth, which arises from one-tenth part of water.
94. The earth has for its properties existence, a pseudo-reality apart from existence and perceptibility to the senses of sound, touch, sight and taste. Its specific property is perceptibility to the senses of smell. Their difference from Brahman should be understood.
95. The illusory character of earth is realised when it is considered apart from existence. One-tenth part of it forms the cosmos.
96. The cosmos contains the fourteen worlds and all the living beings suited to each world.
97. If we abstract from the cosmos the existence which underlies it, all the worlds and all objects are reduced to a mere illusory appearance. What does it matter even if they still continue to appear ?
98. When a deep impression has been created in the mind about the elements and their derivatives and Maya being of the same category (viz., of non-existence), the understanding of the real entity as non-dual will never be subverted.
99. When the Reality has been comprehended as non-dual and the world of duality has been differentiated, their pragmatic action (however) will continue as before.
100. The followers of Sankhya, Vaisesika, the Buddhist and other schools have established with quite an array of arguments (the real nature of) the multiplicity in the universe. Let them have these. We have no quarrel with them. (In the pragmatic world we too accept them all.)
101. There are philosophers who, holding an opposite view, disregard the real non-dual entity. That does not harm us, who (following the Veda, reason and experience, are convinced of our own unshakable position and therefore) have no regard for their conclusion.
102. When the intellect disregards the notions of duality, it becomes firmly established in the conception of non-duality. The man who is firmly rooted in the conviction of non-duality is called a Jivanmukta (liberated in life).
103. Sri Krishna says in the Gita: ‘This is called having one’s being in Brahman, O Partha. None, attaining to this, becomes deluded. Being established therein, even at the last moment, a man attains to oneness with Brahman’.
104. ‘At the last moment’ means the moment at which the mutual identification of the illusory duality and the one secondless reality is annihilated by differentiating them from each other; nothing else.
105. In common parlance the expression ‘at the last moment’ may mean ‘at the last moment of life’. Even at that time, the illusion that is gone does not return.
106. A realised soul is not affected by delusion and it is the same whether he dies healthy or in illness, sitting in meditation or rolling on the ground, conscious or unconscious.
107. The knowledge of the Veda acquired (during the waking condition) is daily forgotten during dream and deep sleep states, but it returns on the morrow. Similar is the case with the knowledge (of Brahman) – it is never lost.
108. The knowledge of Brahman, based on the evidence of the Vedas, is not destroyed unless proved invalid by some stronger evidence; but in fact there is no stronger evidence than the Vedas.
109. Therefore the knowledge of the non-dual Reality (thus) established by the Vedanta is not falsified even at the last moment (whatever interpretation be taken). So the discrimination of the elements (from the non-dual Reality) surely ensures peace abiding or bliss ineffable.
III. THE DIFFERENTIATION OF THE FIVE SHEATHS
1. It is possible to know Brahman which is “hidden in the cave” (i.e., the five sheaths), by differentiating It from them. Hence the five sheaths are now being considered.
2. Within the ‘physical sheath’ is the ‘vital sheath’; within the ‘vital sheath’ is the ‘mental sheath’; still, within is the ‘intellectual sheath’ or the ‘agent sheath’ and still within is the ‘blissful sheath’ or the ‘enjoyer sheath’. This succession (of one within another) is the ‘cave’ (that covers the Atman).
3. The body which is produced from the seed and blood of the parents, which are in turn formed out of the food eaten by them, grows by food only. It is not the Self, for it does not exist either before birth or after death.
4. This body did not exist in the previous birth; then how could it have produced this birth ? (For that would be an effect without a cause). Without existing in the future birth it cannot enjoy the results of action accumulated here (in this birth). (And hence it would be a case of ‘one does and another enjoys the fruits thereof’ – which is unreasonable).
5. The vital airs which pervade the body and give power and motion to the eyes and other senses constitute the vital sheath. It is not the Self because it is devoid of consciousness.
6. That which gives rise to the ideas of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ with regard to one’s body, house and so forth, is the mind sheath. It is not the Self because it has desires and is moved by pleasure and pain, is subject to delusion and is fickle.
7. The intellect which has the reflection of pure consciousness, and which pervades the whole body up to the tips of the fingers in the waking state but disappears in deep sleep, is known as the intellect sheath. It also is not the Self because it too is changeable.
8. The inner organ functions as the agent and also the instrument. Hence though one, it is treated as two, viz., the intellect sheath and the mind sheath. Their fields of operation are the inner world and the outer world respectively.
9. There is a position or function (of the intellect) which, at the time of enjoying the fruits of good actions, goes a little farther inward and catches the reflection of the bliss and at the end of this enjoyment, merges in deep sleep. (This is what is known as the sheath of bliss).
10. This bliss sheath also cannot be the Self because it is temporal and impermanent. That bliss which is the source of this reflection is the Self; for it is eternal and immutable.
11. (Objection): By granting that the sheaths beginning with that of food (body) and ending in that of bliss (joy or sleep) are not the Self, yet (when they are negated), no further object remains to be experienced.
12. (Reply): True, bliss sheath etc., are experienced and not anything else. Yet who can deny that by which these are experienced ?
13. As the Self is Itself of the nature of experience only. It cannot be an object of experience. Since there is no experiencer nor any experience other than It, the Self is unknowable – not because It does not exist but because It cannot be an object of experience.
14. Objects of taste like sweet and bitter, impart their tastes to others, that is their nature, they do not stand in need of their being imparted to themselves. Nor are there other things to impart those tastes to themselves.
15. Just as there is nothing to hinder a thing from possessing its natural flavour even without being flavoured by another thing, even so the Self there stands four-square as the experience (viz., the awareness) even when It is not experienced (as an object of experience).
16. The Shruti declares: ‘This Atman is self-revealing’; ‘Before the evolution of the universe, the Self alone was shining’. ‘It shining, all follow (i.e., shine); by Its shine the universe shines (i.e., is revealed).’
17. How can that, by which the whole universe is known, by known by anything else ? By what can the knower be known ? The mind etc., the instruments of knowledge, can know their own percepts only.
18. The Self knows all that is knowable. There is no one to know It. It is consciousness or knowledge itself and is different from both the known and the unknown (as also of the knowable and the unknowable).
19. How can a man teach scriptures to one who is a man only in form but who is so dull as not to experience what consciousness is in every act of knowing a thing ?
20. As it is shameful for a man to express doubt if he has a tongue or not, so also it is shameful to say, ‘I do not know what consciousness is. I must know it now’.
21. From whatever objects are perceived, dismiss the objects and what remains, viz., the pure consciousness, the awareness only, is Brahman. Such an understanding is called the determination of the nature of Brahman.
22. By dismissing the objective element, i.e., the five sheaths. That is the real nature of the Self (viz., pure consciousness). Non-existence cannot be attributed to it.
23. One’s self is surely existing; there cannot be any opposition to that. Were it not so, who could be the opponent ?
24. Nobody, except through delusion, can entertain the idea that he does not exist. So the Shruti thus exposes the falsity of the position of one who denies the existence of the Self.
25. ‘He who believes Brahman to be non-existent, becomes non-existent himself’. It is true the Self can never be an object of knowledge. But you must accept the existence of the Self (identified with one’s own existence) as a fact.
26. If you ask what sort of thing the Self is, then we reply that the Self cannot be described as being ‘this’ or ‘that’. It cannot be conceived as being ‘like this’ or ‘like that’; so take it as your own real nature.
27. An object which the senses can perceive can be said to be ‘like this’; an object which is beyond the range of sense perception is said to be ‘like that’. That which is the subject cannot be an object of the senses. But as it is the very Self of everyone, it cannot be said to be beyond the ken of perception.
28. Though it cannot be made an object of knowledge, the Self is still felt very directly. So it must be self-revealing. Existence, consciousness and infinity, the indications used for Brahman, are all present here also (in the Self).
29. Existence is what cannot be negated. If the Self which is the witness of the perishable world becomes perishable, then who will be the witness to the fact of its perishability ? For destruction without a witness of it cannot be postulated.
30. When all forms are destroyed, the formless space still remains. So, when all the perishable things are destroyed, what remains is that, (i.e. the imperishable Brahman or Self).
31. In the opponent objects ‘nothing remains’ after everything (name and form) has been destroyed, then we reply that what you describe as ‘nothing’ is the Self. Here the language alone differs. But there surely remains something (viz., the witness) after the destruction of all.
32. It is for this that the Shruti in the passage “That Atman is ‘not this, not this’” negates all objects (having names and forms), but keeps the ‘that’ (i.e. Atman) intact.
33. The entire world (severally and collectively) that can be referred to as ‘this’ can be negated, but the thing which is not ‘this’ can never be negated and this indestructible witness is the Self.
34. Thus has been established (here) the eternal existence of the Self which, according to the Shruti, is Brahman; and Its nature of pure consciousness has already been proved by statements like ‘It is awareness itself’.
35. Being all-pervasive, Brahman is not limited by space; being eternal, It is not limited by time; and being of the nature of everything, It is not limited by any object. Thus Brahman is infinite in all three respects.
36. Space, time and the objects in them being illusions causes by Maya, there is no limitation of Brahman by them. Infinity of Brahman is therefore clear.
37. Brahman who is existence, consciousness and infinity is the Reality. Its being Ishvara (the Omniscient Lord of the world) and Jiva (the individual soul) are (mere) superimpositions by the two illusory adjuncts (Maya and Avidya, respectively).
38. There is a power (called Maya) of this Ishvara which controls everything. It informs all objects from the bliss sheath (to the physical body and the external world).
39. If the particular attributes of all objects are not determined by this power, there would be chaos in the world, for there would be nothing to distinguish the properties of one object from those of another.
40. This power appears as ‘conscious’ because it is associated with the reflection of Brahman. And because of Its association with this power, Brahman gets Its omniscience.
41. Brahman is called the individual soul (Jiva) when It is viewed in association with the five sheaths, as a man is called a father and a grandfather in relation to his son or his grandson.
42. As a man is neither a father nor a grandfather when considered apart from his son and his grandson, so Brahman is neither Ishvara nor Jiva when considered apart from Maya or the five sheaths.
43. He who knows Brahman thus becomes himself Brahman. Brahman has no birth. So he also is not born again.