Monday, July 03, 2006

Panchadasi-Chapter 1- Summary

Hari Aum

Prostrations to my Guru. Prostrations to All.

Bowing down to the feet of the Guru who is nothing but the Ultimate Reality of Brahman, let us conclude learning of Panchadasi Chapter 1 by summarizing it.

After prostrating to the feet of Guru, Vidyaranya starts with the nature of the Self. Self is of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute. Vidyaranya talks about the nature of the Self by analyzing through the three states (waking, dream and deep-sleep). During the waking state we perceive so many objects through the sense organs. The objects in the world are different, but the Consciousness which is responsible for the cognition of the object is one only. Though there are different objects, there are not many Consciousness, but it is only one Consciousness because of which the world is perceived. The experience that one has during the waking state makes an impression in the mind and comes out in the form of dream during the sleep. It is the same Consciousness which was illuming the objects of the world during the waking state, illumines the dream world also. This can be known when the person wakes up and says “I had a nice dream”. In deep sleep there is no duality. All the sense organs and the mind merge into the cause and the person experiences only Bliss and nothing else. Though there is no existence of any objects, the consciousness still exists during deep sleep. The person who slept nicely wakes up and says “I don’t know what happened after I slept, but I slept happily”. Whatever a person experiences will stay as the memory and this knowledge of “I don’t know” is also illumined by the Consciousness. It is the same person who was slept happily wakes up and says I slept happily. Thus we can say that the consciousness exists on all the three states as a witness and independent. This is the experience of one in one day, in the same way the experience continues to many months, years, centuries, ages etc and thus we can say that Consciousness is eternal, that which exists all the time. Also the Self is the highest object of love because it is the sake of happiness of the Self, we seek everything in the world and there is no one who will hate oneself. Even when one commits suicide, it is for the sake of the happiness of Self, to avoid the sorrowful experience at that moment, one commits it. Everything is loved for the sake of Self, but Self is not loved for the sake of anything else and hence we can say that Self is the Supreme object of love. Thus through logic, it is proved that Self is of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, which is similar to the nature of the Ultimate Reality of Brahman, which is told in Srutti also.

Self is only the witness of world and hence is not affected anything. The Self is not known because of ignorance. If the Self is not known then there cannot be highest bliss as Self alone is the nature of Absolute Bliss. If the Self is known then there will not be desire for any other objects. But we cannot say that we don’t know our Self, it is known but yet not known. In a crowd of students chanting Vedas, the father can recognize his son’s voice, but because of the chorus, he will fail to recognize the peculiarities of the voice. In the similar way, though the Self is known, its real nature as Sat-Chit-Anandam is not known because of the obstacle of ignorance. Vidyaranya then explains about Jiva and Isvara. The Blissful Brahman gets reflected in the prakriti (which is composed of Satva, rajas and tamas) and the prakriti is of two types. Prakriti which is of pure sattva is Maya and the reflection of Brahman on Maya is called Isvara. Prakriti which is the mix up of Sattva with rajas and tamas is called avidya and the reflection of Brahman on Avidya is called Jiva. Both Maya and Avidya are only an illusion in the Reality, they only seem to exist, but what is eternally existent is only Brahman. Avidya forms the causal body of the Jiva and the Jiva who identifies himself with the causal body is called prajna.

From the Tamasic part of prakriti came the five elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth) at the command of Isvara and for the experience of Prajna. From the satva part of the five elements came the five organs of perception and also Mind and Intellect. From the Rajas part of the five elements came the five organs of action and the five vital airs. Thus the five organs of perception, five organs of action, five vital airs, mind and intellect, totally seventeen, form the subtle body of the Jiva. Jiva who identifies himself with the subtle body is called Taijasa (vyashti or individual level) and Isvara who identifies himself with the subtle body is called Hiranyagarbha (samashti or collective level). Isvara has knowledge of his own nature of Self and sees the world as his own Self, but Jiva lacks this knowledge because of ignorance and hence under the control of Maya. Isvara created the world and the objects through the power of Maya for the Jiva to enjoy. The gross body if formed through the process called Panchikarana in which each element is divided into two halves, one half is that element and the other half is again divided among the rest of the elements. This forms the gross body of the Jiva. Jiva who identifies himself with the gross body is called Viswa and the Isvara who identifies himself with the gross body is called Vaisvanara.

Because of the ignorance of ones own Self, the Jiva sees the objects of the world as different from oneself and thus desires for the object. The desires are converted to action. Thus they perform action for the sake of enjoyment and again they enjoy performing action. Like the worm which moves from whirlpool to whirlpool, the Jiva go through birth after birth in enjoying the results of action and in performing the action to enjoy and hence they never attain peace. But due to some good actions performed during a birth, as a fruit of action a compassionate Guru, who has already established in Brahman, will come to help our way out from the vicious circle of birth and death by instructing to differentiate between the different sheaths to realize ones own nature of Bliss. The five sheaths of the Self are food sheath, Vital air sheath, the mind, the intellect and the bliss sheath. The gross body which is the effect of the process called Panchikarana of the five elements form the food sheath. The five vital airs namely prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana along with the five organs of action form the vital air sheath. The doubting mind along with the five organs of perception form the mind sheath and the decisive intellect along with the five organs of perception form the intellect sheath. The causal ignorance where there is no dualities form the Bliss sheath. Due to the identification of Jiva with any of the sheaths, assumes the nature of that Sheath as the Self.

The Self can be discriminated from the five sheaths through the logic called Anvaya and Vyathireka. The gross body which was present during the waking state is not present during the dream state. But the consciousness still exists both during the waking state and the dream state. When the gross body is not present, the Consciousness is present, this is anvaya. The Consciousness is present even when there is no gross body, this is vyathireka and thus the Self is different from the gross body. The dream world which is experienced during sleep is not present in the deep sleep, but the Consciousness is there present in both the states. The mind which is experienced during the dream state is not present in the deep-sleep state but the Consciousness is present in both the state, this is anvaya. The Consciousness is present even when there is no experience of the subtle body, this is vyathireka, and thus the Self is different from the subtle body. The ignorance that is present in deep-sleep is not present in the state of Samadhi but the Consciousness is present in both the states, this is anvaya. The Consciousness is present even when there is no ignorance, this is vyathireka and thus the Self is different from the causal body as well. Thus through this logic, one can distinguish the Self from the different sheaths.

Once the seeker distinguishes the Self from the different sheaths, his mind will be purified, and will be able to apprehend the teaching of the Reality from the Guru. The Guru thus instructs the seeker by the Mahavakya “Tat Tvam Asi”. The word “Tat” denotes the Brahman who through the power of illusory Maya creates the world and objects for the Jivas to enjoy. The word “Tvam” denotes the Jiva who because of illusory avidya thinks the objects of the world as different from oneself and thus desires to do the action. The word “Asi’ shows that the real identity between the Jiva and the Isvara. The ignorance which seems to exist for the Jiva is only an illusion and it will vanish once the Jiva realizes ones own nature of the Self. Isvara has the upadhi of Maya and Jiva has the Upadhi of Avidya. When the Upadhis are removed from both Jiva and Isvara, it is only the Ultimate Reality of Brahman shining in both of them. That indivisible Supreme Brahman of the nature Sat-Chit-Anandam is the Ultimate goal of every seeker

An objection is raised by the opponent whether the Brahman which is the Ultimate Goal is with attributes or without attributes? If it is with attributes then it is illusory and if it is without attributes then it cannot be found anywhere nor it is possible to find it. To this Vidyaranya asks the counter question as to whether the objection raised is related to entities with attributes or without attributes. If the entity that is without attributes, then it is a absurd as it will mean attribute or attributeless. If the entity is with attributes then it will involve four logical faults like anavastha or infinite regression, chakraka or circular reasoning, Atmasraya or Self dependence and Anyonyasraya or Mutual dependence. This is extended to other objects of the world having substance, species, quality, action or relationship. Therefore it can be answered as the attributes that is seen as the very nature of the object. But the Self which is the substratum of every object is untouched by these attributes and hence these attributes can only be an illusion in the Reality.

Vidyaranya then tells about the Vedantic Sadhana for the seeker. The seeker has to learn about the Reality from the competent Guru for a length of time, Sravanam. After listening from the Guru, the seeker has to validate the teaching of the Guru in the mind through logics, Mananam. When the Sravanam and Mananam are done, all doubts on the Reality will be gone and thus the seeker will be in a position to contemplate on the Reality, Nidhidhyasana. When the seeker meditates on the Self, single-pointedly, he merges into the Self, and enjoys the bliss of the Self Consciously. This is called Nirvikalpa Samadhi. In the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, there is no duality like the deep-sleep, but in deep sleep there is ignorance whereas in Samadhi the seeker is aware of the bliss. When the seeker comes out of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the seeker recollects the bliss during the state and contemplates on the Self. The seeker then has to put effort towards contemplating on the Self so that the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi is maintained in other times also. When the seeker constantly contemplates, the results of karmas get reduced and thus the obstacles also reduce and will help one to move closer to the Reality. Vidyaranaya also shows the reference from Bhagavat Gita where Krishna tells the same thing to Arjuna, when a seeker constantly contemplates on the Self he will be firmly established in the Self like the flame in a breezeless spot. This constant contemplation on the Self is the Ultimate Duty of every seeker and when a seeker constantly contemplate, his ignorance vanishes and he gets firmly established in the Self. When the ignorance vanishes, then all the desires vanishes and there will no desire for any object as there will be nothing other than one own Self to desire for and also the merits and demerits of ones action done before also gets burnt away. Such a person will revel only the Bliss of the Self.

The knowledge that one get from the Guru is only an indirect knowledge. The seeker having attained the knowledge from the Guru, should constantly contemplate on the import. When he continues doing it all papas and punyams burnt away. The obstacles will be removed, the more the seeker contemplates. On constant contemplation, the ignorance vanishes and the indirect knowledge becomes his own direct experience. Like the sun dispelling the darkness, this knowledge dispels the darkness of ignorance. To such a seeker there is no sorrow, no desires, no action and hence crosses over the bondage of birth and death cycle. Such a person always rejoices in the bliss of the non-dual Self.

Let us contemplate constantly on the Self and realize the blissful nature of the Self. Let us continue our learning through “Bhaja Govidam”, a work of Shankara, very soon.

Prostrations to the feet of Guru.

Prostrations to all

Hari Aum



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