Panchadasi – Verse 1

Panchadasi – Verse 1

~ (Understandings from the Webinar series of Chinmaya International Foundation on Panchadasi)

The main focus of Panchadasi is Tattvajnana (Knowledge of the Supreme Truth) and that its culmination is see in Jeevan Mukti Viveka1.

Every text in the Vedic literature, be it spiritual or material, begins with a Mangalacharana (literal meaning: invocation verse). Usually the Mangalacharana will carry a literal meaning and an inner meaning. First let us discuss the meaning of the word Mangalacharana.

Mangala – auspiciousness

Charana – to walk

Guru walks himself and shows the students how to walk. Meaning: The Guru might be realized and it might not be necessary for him to display external devotion. But for the sake of the students, he himself offers the invocation and sets an example to his students.

Acharana – Aachinoti hi shastrartaan

Aachinoti means one who really dwells into it deeply or one who collects it.

Verse 1:

Namah shrishankarAnanda gurupAdAmbujanmane

SavilAsa mahAmoha grAhagrAsaika karmaNe

Namah – Pujya Gurudev used to say that Namah means Na Mama (I am not anymore mine…I am yours) which refers to total surrender.

Shri – Wealth (in Guru) is the wealth of Knowledge.

Shankarananda – Swami Shankarananda was the Sanyasa Guru of Swami Vidyaranya. Some say it was Shankaranandaji who gave who gave him the name Swami Vidyaranya, and some say it was Veda Vyasa. Since Swami Vidyaranya was a polymath, he had many Gurus. Shrikantha and Sarvajna Vishnu were two other Gurus of Swami Vidyaranya.

GurupAdAmbujanmane – The lotus feet of the Guru. Lotus is a very special flower and that is why we see the mention of lotus in many places in the scriptures. Lotus is a flower that blooms completely. It represents Jnana vikasa (Complete unfoldment of Knowledge). It lives in the mud but is never affected by the mud or water. Hence it represents detachment. The people who are benefitted by the lotus are not the fishes or frogs that live under it, but the bee which senses the nectar in the lotus from far away and comes and relishes it. Usually great people are not acknowledged in their surroundings but the right disciples come to them from far and wide sensing their great knowledge.

SavilAsa – VilAsa represents AbhimAn, Ahamta, sukhabudhi. The prefix of sa means ‘good’.

MahAmoha – Greatest Moha (delusion). Being in a delusion itself is sad. MahAmoha is the greatest of delusions. MahAmoha is that ignorance that destroys life after life.

grAhagrAsaika karmaNe ­– The one who destroys the crocodile (grAha) (of MahAmoha).

Above is the literal translation of the MangalAcharaNa. Before we discuss the inner meaning, let us discuss about Anubandha ChatuShTaya.

Anubandha ­– closely connected

ChatuShTaya – four preliminary or preambulated factors

Anubandha ChatuShTaya is normally given in the first one or two verses of any Vedantic texts. The four factors that clarified in the beginning of any text are:

  1. AdhikAri: is the target audience for the text. In the scriptures, it is always mentioned who will be benefitted from the text. Whether the text is for beginners or for those who have advanced in their studies, and so on.
  2. ViShaya: The subject matter.
  3. Prayojana: result that can be gained from the knowledge shared in the text.
  4. Sambandha: tells what is the connection between the text and the subject matter. It will tell whether the text is complete in itself or not.

With the inner meaning, Swami Vidyaranya makes Anubandha ChatuShTaya clear in the MangalAcharaNa.

Namah – says that the Adhikari of this text is the one who is ready to surrender. Surrendering itself requires a high level maturity. So it is meant for an audience who has maturity in intellect.

ShankarAnanda – Sham (good) karoti (doer) iti (is) shankara – doer of good is called Shankara. Here it refers to the Lord Himself. Ananda is the bliss aspect of the Self. In the text, ShankarAnanda is the viShaya (subject) which indicates Jeevabrahma Aikya (Oneness of Jeeva – the soul; and the Brahman – Supreme Consciousness).

Destruction of MahAmoha is the prayojana of studying this text. And connection between the Jeeva (Soul) and Brahman (Supreme Reality) is the sambandha.

Thus, through the first verse, Swami Vidyaranya does the MangalAcharaNa as well as Anubandha ChatuShTaya.

  1. Jeevan Mukti Viveka is another text written by Swami Vidyaranya. Refer to the earlier post on the life & works of Swami Vidyaranya.

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Panchadasi – 1 | Who was Swami Vidyaranya?

Panchadasi notes – Part 1

~ (Understandings from the Webinar series of Chinmaya International Foundation on Panchadasi)

Swami Vidyaranya is one of the key persons in Indian history who had a big role in shaping the country both politically and spiritually during the Mughal invasion. He was the one who helped establish the Vijayanagara empire in the 14th century when the Mughals were plundering Karnataka.

There was an Islamic ruler Malik Kafur who was so atrocious that the King of Pampa (the place where Hampi stands today in Karnataka), gave up his life by jumping into the fire. His ministers Harihara and Bukka escaped and went into hiding. It is at this time that they met Swami Vidyaranya who promised them to help set up an empire at a place called Kishkinta. This was the birth of Vijayanagar empire.

Swami Vidyaranya served the kingdom by being the beacon light when Harihara became the King, followed by Bukka and then the son of Bukka who became the King. He lived a hundred long good years.

Swami Vidyaranya’s earlier name was Madhava. He is also known by the names Narada Bhakta, Madhavabhatta, Madhavaryam. He was a great scholar in Vedic literature and had written commentaries on the Vedas along with his brother. He was a polymath. After he took up Sanyasa, he was appointed as the 12th pointiff of Sringeri Shankaracharya Ashram. His teachers were Bharati Teertha (11th pointiff) and Vidya Teertha (10th pointiff). He was an utter Vairagi (detached soul) and was given the name Swami Vidyaranya by Veda Vyaasa when the latter saw the commentary on the Vedas written by Madhava. He said, “You are truly Vidya Aaranya (thick forest of knowledge)”. Another important texts that he had written was Jeevan Mukti Viveka and Panchadasi.

It is said that he had performed a Yagna, after which it is believed that Gayatri Devi would appear to the person who does the ritual. But for some reason the Devi didn’t appear. However, at a later point in his life, Gayatri Devi appeared and requested him to ask for a boon. He declined saying that he didn’t have any wish. On persistence by Gayatri Devi he said, ‘In that case, let there be no poverty in this Vijayanagar’. It is recorded that it rained gold coins for a height of 42-43 cms in the entire empire. But still the Devi wasn’t satisfied because he didn’t ask anything for himself. So she blessed him by saying that of all his works, his last work would make him famous. And his last text was Panchadasi.

Panchadasi is a text which is a compilation of 15 prakarana granthas. The first 10 are independent of each other. The last five are interconnected. Panchadasi is considered as a very important Prakarana grantha. In Vedic literature, there are two types of texts – Shastra Grantham and Prakarana Grantham. Shastra Granthams are meant for the scholars because it is vast and covers a lot of topics without going into much explanation on a topic because it is meant for a learned person. Prakarana Granthas are preparatory texts which cover lesser topics but in greater depths so that the beginner level student can progress slowly. Panchadasi is considered the biggest and most important among the Prakarana Granthas.

Actually, Swami Vidyaranya had written only the first 6 chapters. When he went to show the work to his Guru Swami Bharati Teertha, the Guru became so impressed that he completed the work. What is surprising is that from the style of the work, it is very difficult to differentiate between the work of the two. So similar was the teacher and the taught in their thinking. We come to know about all this from the commentaries written later on. One of the commentators Ramakrishna, mentions this in his commentary on Panchadasi.

What makes Swami Vidyaranya special is that he was not just a great saint, but also a great scholar and King-maker. It is indeed very important that we teach our next generation the story of such great people who lived in our country.

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