Panchadasi – Verse 3-4

Panchadasi – Verse 3-4

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

…Continuing from verse 3

Knower does not have the properties of the Known (i.e., properties of shabda, sparsha, etc). Hence we can conclude that Knower is not made up of five elements or five senses. We know a particular thing through the senses. But Consciousness (Knower) doesn’t require any thing to know. Thus, knowledge of the Consciousness is non-mediate knowledge or a Direct Knowledge (aparokSha jnana).

One might question, can the knower of each sense be different or can there be different knowers in a personality? To analyse this, below three points will help.

  1. Objects are different. They are made up of five elements.
  2. Subject is different from the object. Hence subject is not made up of the five elements.
  3. Subject (Knower) is one and is of the same nature (there cannot be two or more subjects). Because subject is not made up of five elements, and there is nothing in this world which is not made up of the five elements except for the Knower. Hence, the only thing left when the objects are not considered is the subject and thus subject is only one.

From the above three points it becomes clear that there cannot be different knowers for different senses.

All the above points are discussed when a person is in jAgrat avastha (Waking state).

Verse 4:

tathA swapne atra vedyum tu na sthiram jAgare sthiram

tad bhedo atastayoh samvit ekarUpa na bhidyate || 4 ||

tathA: thus (all the points mentioned in the earlier verse for jAgrat applies for swapnAvastha also)

swapne: in swapna (dream state)

atra: here (in the dream state)

vedyam na sthiram: objects are not permanent (as it is in the case of waking state)

jAgare sthiram: objects do not change in the waking state

tad bhedo: that difference

atah + tayoh = atastayoh: Therefore, that alone

na bhidyate: does not differ

samvit: the Knower

ekarUpa: the only thing (the Knower)

Meaning: Thus, all the three points mentioned in the waking state applies to the dream state as well except that the objects in the dream state keep changing as the dream goes but the Knower does not change.

Because the Knower does not change, he is able to realise that he had a dream when he comes out of the dream state to the waking state. This means that the Knower in the waking state and the dream state is one and the same. That cognition where there is both That-ness and This-ness is called pratyabhijnA. E.g. When we see a school friend after many years with lot of changes in his looks and realise that it is That friend from school who looks like This now, is pratyabhijnA. 

A definition of pratyabhijnA is tad-ta idan-ta avagAhinI vrutti – Comprehension (avagAhinI) of the amalgamation (vrutti) of That-ness (tad-ta) and This-ness (idan-ta) is pratyabhijnA. 

The step my step process in which Swami Vidyaranya explains the subject is very beautiful. It helps the student develop a logical thinking and rational approach to understand what’s been discussed in the text.

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Panchadasi – Verse 2-3

Panchadasi – Verse 2-3

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

Continuing from verse 2…

Tad means That

Tatva means That-ness

Tatva also means the nature of Brahman. Guru’s teaching is Tatvamasi (Thou art That) and not just Tatva. When Tatvamasi is being taught, the distinction is broken. That’s the reason why ‘Asi’ is used…it breaks the distinction. That shows the identity and appreciation of oneness. With the breaking of all distinction, ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am the Supreme Self) gets revealed.

This entire process happens sukhabodhAya (that is the job of the Guru).

To reiterate, vishaya is tatva and prayojana is sukhabodhAya. In Vedanta, prayojana is Atyantinka dukhanivritti paramAnanda prApti  (Complete cessation of sorrow and attainment of permanent happiness. Then why is sukhabodhAya the prayojana over here? Because, bodha is the nivritti as well as prApti. Attainment in the case of Realisation of the Self is not attaining something which is outside us but realizing something that we have forgotten. It exists within us and we just need to be reminded of that. It is just like the person who has forgotten that he has kept his glasses on his face but keeps looking for it. The moment someone tells him and he realizes that its there on his face, he immediately remembers it. For him, he doesn’t have to verify whether the glasses are really there because it is there in his memory. It’s just that he had forgotten it. And this entire process of realization about the glasses is sukhabodhAya. The person does not have to take much effort to realize it.

In the same way, when it is said that the prayojana is sukhabodyAya, when bodhacomes to realize what it is, then the purpose is fulfilled.

Sambandha here is bodhya bodhaka bhAva. Contextualisation of the text in the context of knowledge is called sambandha. Bringing the importance of the book into the context is the sambandha. Just like when a topic of pure mathematics is taught in school, when the teacher explains where and how this knowledge can be applied, it is then sambandha happens.

Verse 3:

shabdasparshAdayo vedyA vaichitryAt pruthak

tato vibhaktAstat samvit ekrUpyAnna bhidyate || 3 ||

shabda: speech

sparsha: touch

aadi: means ‘etc’ and also ‘starting with’. Meaning, it is referring to all the five senses speech, touch, sight, smell and taste. Along with these five, it also refers to the five sense organs through which they function. In addition to that, it also refers to the five basic elements of nature – earth, fire, wind, water and ether (space); because the five senses are made up of five elements of nature. The correspondence of five elements to the five senses is like this:

Ether – Sound

Earth – Smell

Fire – Form

Water – Taste

Wind – Touch

vedya: in the waking state

pruthak: separately

vaichitrya: manifoldness

tatah: (from these) viShayah (subject)

vibhaktA: different (that which is not viShayah)

samvit: Knower (Literal meaning: That which burns all well)

ekarUpa: same form

bhidyate: different

Meaning: The five sense organs, five senses, five basic elements, even though they function separately in various manifolds, in the waking state I grasp the idea by putting them together but not getting mixed up with it; and that what I see is different from the subject. In short, the Knower and the known are different.

(to be continued in the following post)

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Panchadasi – Verse 2

Panchadasi – Verse 2

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

Verse 2:

TatpAdAmbaruh dvandva sevAnirmala chetasAm

sukhabodhAya tatvasya viveko-ayam vidhIyate ||2||

In the earlier verse the Guru’s feet was compared to a lotus that eats away the crocodiles that create MahAmoha. This might look not so sensible. But since it is the feet of a Guru it has got the power of doing such things…this is what is said in the verse. Of course, it should not be taken in the actual sense but one needs to look at it from the emotional feeling of the writer. Such ways of adding beauty to the poetry is called viruddha alankAra (viruddha means opposite) or parimANa alankAra.

This verse also forms a part of the mangalAcharaNa. Let us discuss the meaning of this verse in detail.

tat: means ‘That’. ‘That’ refers to the Supreme Reality.

pAdAmbaruh: means Lotus feet. ambaruh means sprung out of the water. Lotus is that which is sprung out of the water.

dvandva: two (referring to both feet of the Guru)

seva: service

nirmala: that which does not have any dirt

chetas: mind

sukhabodhAya tatvasya: making the understanding of identity between the Self and the Supreme Reality simple and easy to comprehend.

viveko-ayam vidhIyate: I am intending to discuss the discrimination (between the Self and the non-Self).

Once again, in this verse too, the author makes it clear as to what is going to be discussed in this text and for whom it is going to be beneficial. What is highlighted here is Guruseva (serving the Guru). Why is serving the Guru so important?

Only an empty vessel can be filled with water. Inorder to receive the highest knowledge (the knowledge of the Self) one’s mind should be pure (nirmala chetas). The easiest way of making the mind pure is surrendering unto the Guru and serving him.

One can serve his Guru in three ways:

  1. At the mental level one has to be humble. Where there is ego and pride in the mind, knowledge cannot be bestowed. An example that Swamiji gave in the webinar was of a typical teenager who thinks that his/her mother doesn’t know anything and only he/she knows what is right/wrong. After many years when he/she grows up and realises that his/her mother knew atleast ‘something’, he/she has someone else in his/her life who feels that the mother knows nothing. One has to develop humility in the heart to serve the Guru.
  2. At the intellectual level, it is the student’s duty to reflect and contemplate upon what the teacher is trying to teach him. He has to do meaningful enquiry and try to understand what the Guru is trying to say.
  3. At the physical level, one has to take care of the Guru by doing chores like cooking food for him, washing his clothes, etc. It might seem for a layman that the Guru is taking advantage of the student by making him work. But it is through such work that the ego gets reduced in the student and he becomes a fit instrument to receive the knowledge. It is also an opportunity for the teacher and taught to get to know each other so that the teacher can adopt the best pedagogy suitable for the student. Unfortunately, in the present times, due to lack of opportunities like Guruseva in the schools, many a times the teacher and student is unable to understand each other well which affects the process of education.

Apart from the above said things, what is utmost important is to follow the Guru’s teachings. This is the best Gurudakshina a student can give to the Guru. Through such Guruseva the mala (dirt) in the mind gets reduced. Rajas Tamas are the dirt that are referred to here. When RajasTamas are reduced, Satva increases thereby enabling the student to learn better. Absence of Ragadvesha (likes & dislikes) is nirmala chetas.

Adhikaritva comes from Sadhana ChatuShtaya which are the four essentials required by a seeker so that he can assimilate the knowledge that is bestowed upon him.

  1. Viveka: Viveka is the ability to discriminate between what is good and bad, right and wrong, dos and donts, etc. Today the word ‘discrimination’ is taken in a wrong sense by many. It doesn’t mean favouring a certain section. It means the ability to differentiate what is real and unreal, permanent and impermanent, self and not-self, and so on.
  2. Vairagya: Vairagya means detachment or non-attachment. Again, this is another word which is misunderstood often. Detachment doesn’t mean not loving. To understand detachment, let us try to analyse what’s the problem with attachment.
    Attachment to an object creates misery when the object is no longer available with us. But we can love an object without getting attached to it. Being detached is to hold but not to possess. The feeling of possession is bound to create misery because nothing in the world is permanent. Having a detached feeling sets one free.
  3. Shat-sampatti: Six qualities
    1. Shama – Cultivating an inner attitude of contentment
    2. Dama – Controlling the senses
    3. Uparati – Self-withdrawal. With shama and dama, uparati happens automatically.
    4. TitikshA – Forbearance
    5. ShraddhA – Faith
    6. SamAdhAna – Focusing the mind on balancing its thoughts and emotions
  4. Mumukshutvam – An intense urge for liberation.

Thus, a student who has got the above said qualities and is willing to serve the Guru will be benefitted from this text where the knowledge of the Self  is explained in a simple way.

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