6 different means of knowledge explained in Vedanta

6 different means of knowledge explained in Vedanta

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

Vedanta gives 6 different means by which knowledge is gained.

  1. Pratyaksha – Direct perception. Things that we directly perceive come under pratyaksha. E.g. Things we see, hear, taste, touch, feel or even the thoughts because we directly perceive them in our mind.
  2. Anumaana – Inference. Even though we might not see fire, from smoke we infer that there is fire. This type of gaining knowledge through inference is called Anumaana.
  3. Upamaana – Knowledge gained through similarity. E.g. A person is going to a forest. His friend warns him that there are bisons in the forest. If you see one, immediately run away. But this person has not seen a bison. So his friend explains to him that it is huge and looks like a cow. Now when the person goes to the forest and he see a similar creature, he understands that it’s a bison. Even though he has not seen a bison before (pratyaksha) nor has he inferred this knowledge (through anumaana), he has gained the knowledge through similarity, and this process is called Upamaana.
  4. Arthaapatti – Postulation. E.g. Devadatta is a fat healthy person. But no one has seen Devadatta eating during day time. So one can infer that he would be eating at night definitely otherwise he cannot stay so healthy without eating at all. Here, one postulates to explain what one has cognised. This method of knowledge is called Arthaapatti.
  5. Anupalabdhi – Non-comprehension. E.g. Someone asks a person to checck if Devadatta is there in the hall. He goes, checks and finds outs that Devadatta is not there. He comes back to say that Devadatta is not there. In this case, he has not seen Devadatta, but he has gained the knowledge that Devadatta is not there because of the absence. This process is called Anupalabdhi.
  6. Shabda – a trustworthy word/source. We know that the Alps and Andes exist even though all of us have not gone to there. That is because we have learnt about it through our geography textbooks. Such type of gaining knowledge through a trustworthy source is called Shabda.

There is nothing in this world that cannot be cognised by any of the above six. Any type of knowledge gained will come under one or more of the above categories.

How to argue and win?

An interesting profound discussion between a Vedantin and a Naiyyayika (follower of Nyaya philosophy).

Caution: Read only if you are willing to rattle your brains on logic.

In the 50th verse of Panchadasi, a Naiyyayika (follower of Nyaya philosophy) asks the propounder of the text who is a Vedantin (follower of Vedanta philosophy), that how can words (Mahavakyas like ‘Tat Tvam Asi’) indicate the Supreme Reality (as the Vedantin is claiming), because words have properties (JAti, GuNa, desha, KAla) and properties cannot indicate the Supreme Reality (as claimed by the Naiyyayika) for two reasons:

1. The Vedantin is saying that Supreme Reality is beyond name, forms and any other property. How can words (which always have properties) indicate something which does not have a property?
2. Because of point #1 one would be forced to conclude that the wordings of the Mahavakyas can only indicate something which does have a property. This means that the Supreme Reality is something which does have a property. This is again contradictory to what the Vedantin had earlier proposed (that the Supreme Reality is beyond name, form and other property).
Hence the Naiyyayika tries to establish that the words of the Mahavakyas cannot indicate the Supreme Reality.

This question is countered by the Vedantin. Since the question comes under the Vitanda way of argument (refer to my earlier post on three types of arguments), the Vedantin chooses to apply the ‘UShTra laguda nyAya’ which is to beat the opponent using the points from his own argument.

The Vedantin says, “Oh opponent, you say about properties and since you are a specialist in properties, before we discuss whether Mahavakyas can indicate the Supreme Reality or not, let us discuss what is the substratum of these ‘properties’…on what do they stand?” He continues, “There are two possibilities. Either the properties can come from something which has does not have a property or from something which has a property. Let us discuss on that case by case.”

Case #1: Assuming that properties come from something that does not have a property – This is would be self contradictory because something cannot come from nothing.
Case #2: Assuming that properties come from something that does have a property. Here we come across four different contradictions (doShAs)

Case #2.1: Contradiction of Self-dependence: – If the substratum of property A is dependent on property B, then there are two possibilities. Either A and B are same or A and B are different.
Case #2.1.1: If A and B are same, then it means B is the substratum of A and A is the substratum of B. How can B be the locus of A if A is the locus of B? How can A stand on something (B) where that (B) itself is standing on A? E.g. If we say, what is the substratum of an apple (A). The substratum would be some base (B). How can the base (B) be the substratum (on which it stands) be the same as the apple (A)? So this is contradictory. Hence there is a contradiction of Self-Dependence. Hence we are forced to assume that A and B should be different which leads to Case #2.2.
Case #2.2: Contradiction of Mutual-dependence: – If A and B are different, and if the substratum of property A is dependent on property B, and the substratum of property of B is dependent on property C, then there are two possibilities. Either C and A are same or C and A are different.
Case #2.2.1: If C and A are same, then it means that the substratum of B is A because in #2.2 we have assumed that the substratum of B is C and here we are considering C=A. In this case, it would mean that A is the substratum of B and B is the substratum of A which is contradictory by mutual-dependence because we cannot say that the substratum of the Apple is the Base and the substratum of the Base is the apple. Hence we are forced to believe that C and A are different which leads to Case #2.2.2
Case #2.2.2: Contradiction by Cyclic-dependence: – If we assume that C and A are different, and that the substratum of A is B and substratum of B is C, then the substratum of C should be something like D. Here again we have two possibilities. Either D and A are same or D and A are different.
Case # If D and A are same, then it means that C=A because in Case #2.2.2 we considered B as the substratum of A, C as the substratum of B, and D as the substratum of C which is contradictory because the dependence of A, B & C will be cyclic. How can the substratum of an Apple be a Base whose substratum is (let us say) a Chair whose substratum is again the Apple? This we are forced to believe that the D and A are different which would lead to Case #
Case # If D and A are different and the substratum of A is B, substratum of B is C, substratum of C is D, then the substratum of D should be some property E. Again there can be two possibilities. Either E and A are same or E and A are different. If E and A would be same, then it would mean that D=A (by the logic of cyclic-dependence). Else, E and A would be different. If they are different, then the substratum of E should be property F. This will go on infinitely. Hence we have a case of the fourth contradiction – Contradiction by Infinite Regression.

The Vedantin now asks, “Oh opponent Naiyyayika, please tell me, what is the substratum of a property? We have proved that the substratum cannot be something which does not have a property nor can it be something that does have a property. So before you argue that Mahavakyas cannot indicate the Supreme Reality because It is property-less, first tell me where does your ‘property’ come from? What is its substratum?”

Thus, using UShTra laguda nyAya, the Vedantin has muted the opponent.

This depth of this entire argument is covered in just one verse. One can only be left with awe on how deep and subtle the philosophical arguments explained in our scriptures like Panchadasi are!


Three types of arguments

There are three types of arguments explained in Hindu philosophy – Vaada, Jalpa, Vitanda

1. Vaada – When two or more people are arguing about a topic and the objective of the argument is to get clarity over the topic and arrive at a proper conclusion, it is called Vaada. A person engaged in Vaada doesn’t have a pre-conceived notion. For the same reason, the argument is not to prove his point right, but to arrive at the Truth.

2. Jalpa – When two or more people are arguing to prove their point is right and that the other person(s) is/are wrong, it is called Jalpa. Here, the person is already convinced that he is correct and the other person is wrong. So the whole argument is an attempt to win by proving the other person(s) wrong. Needless to say, there is a pre-conceived notion in the mind.

3. Vitanda – When the purpose of argument is only to prove that the other person is wrong and the opponent who places the argument doesn’t have any specific stand of his own, it is called Vitanda. If we ask a person whose argument is like Vitanda on his opinion is about the right thing, he would say that he doesn’t have an opinion (or rather, he is not bothered about it) but he knows that the other person is wrong.

These are some understanding from our weekly Webinar sessions on Panchadasi conducted by Chinmaya International Foundation.

During any argument if we are not in the state of Vaada, it is better not to argue.


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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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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