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Untitled Document

Panchadasi (aka Vedanta Panchadasi)

By Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda
Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai



1. We now describe the bliss of Brahman, knowing which one becomes free from present and future ills and obtains happiness.

2. 'A knower of Brahman achieves the Supreme'; 'A knower of the Self goes beyond sorrow'; 'Brahman is bliss'; 'One becomes blissful through the attainment of the blissful Brahman' and in no other way.

3. He who establishes himself in his own Self becomes fearless, but he who perceives any difference from the Self is subject to fear.

4. Even Wind, Sun, Fire, Indra and Death, having performed the religious practices in earlier lives, but failing to realise their identity with Him, carry out their tasks in fear of Him.

5. One who has attained the bliss of Brahman experiences fear from nothing. Anxiety regarding his good and bad actions which consumes others like fire, no longer scorches him.

6. Such a knower through his knowledge takes himself beyond good and evil and is ever engaged in meditation on the Self. He looks upon good and bad actions done as the manifestations of his Self.

7. 'When a man has seen the Highest the knots of his heart are sundered; all his doubts are dispelled and all his actions perish'.

8. 'Knowing Him, one crosses death; there is no other path than this'. 'When a man has known the effulgent Self, all his bonds are cut asunder, his afflictions cease; there is no further birth for him.'

9. 'The man of steady wisdom, having known the effulgent Self, leaves behind, even in this life, all joys and sorrows'. 'He is not scorched by thoughts of the good or bad deeds which he may have done or omitted to do'.

10. Thus many texts in the Shruti, Smritis and Puranas declare that the knowledge of Brahman destroys all sorrows and leads to bliss.

11. Bliss is of three kinds: The bliss of Brahman, the bliss which is born of knowledge and the bliss which is produced by contact with outer objects. First the bliss of Brahman is being described.

12. Bhrigu learnt the definition of Brahman from his father Varuna and negating the food-sheath, the vital-sheath, the mind-sheath and the intellect-sheath as not being Brahman, he realised Brahman reflected in the bliss-sheath.

13. All beings are born of bliss and live by It, pass on to It and are finally reabsorbed in it; there is therefore no doubt that Brahman is bliss.

14. Before the creation of beings there was only the infinite and no triad of knower, known and knowing; therefore in dissolution the triad again ceases to exist.

15. When created, the intellect-sheath is the knower; the mind-sheath is the field of knowledge; sound etc., are the objects known. Before creation they did not exist.

16. In the absence of this triad, the secondless, indivisible Self alone exists. The Self alone existed before the projection of the world. Similarly It exists in the states of Samadhi, deep sleep and swoon.

17. The infinite Self alone is bliss; there is no bliss in the finite realm of the triad. This Sanatkumara told the grieving Narada.

18. Even though Narada was versed in the Vedas, the Puranas and the various studies, he was full of grief because of not knowing the Self.

19. Before he began the study of the Vedas he was subject to the three usual kinds of misery, but afterwards he was more grieved because of the added afflictions of the practices of the study, the fear of forgetting and slips or defeat and conceit.

20. 'O Sage', said Narada to Sanatkumara, 'learned as I am in the studies, I am subject to grief. Please take me beyond this ocean of misery'. The Rishi told Narada in reply that the farther shore of the ocean of misery is the bliss of Brahman.

21. As the happiness derived from sense-objects is covered by thousands of afflictions, it is misery only. There is therefore no happiness in the limited.

22. (Objection): Granting there is no happiness in duality, there is no happiness in non-duality either. If you maintain that there is, then it must be experienced and then there will be the triad.

23. (Reply): 'Let there be no experience of happiness in the state of non-duality. But non-duality itself is bliss.' 'What is the proof ?' 'The self-revealing requires no other proof'.

24. Your objection itself is evidence of the self-revealing nature of the existence of self-conscious non-duality; for you admit the existence of the secondless and merely contend that it is not bliss.

25. (Objection): I do not admit non-duality but only accept it as a hypothesis to be refuted. (Reply): Then tell us what existed before duality emerged.

26. Was it non-duality or duality or something different from both ? It cannot have been the last because it is impossible to conceive so. It cannot have been duality because it had not yet emerged. Hence non-duality alone remains.

27. (Objection): The truth of non-duality is established by argument only and not by experience, it cannot be experienced. (Reply): Then tell whether your argument can or cannot be supported by illustration; it must be the one or the other.

28. You deny (the possibility of) the non-dual experience. (At the same time if you say) there is no illustration (in support of the argument that establishes non-duality) it would be a wonderful logic ! (You cannot say there is no illustration in its favour, for an argument must be supported by an illustration). In case there are examples please give us an acceptable one.

29. (Objection): (Here is the argument with illustration). In dissolution there is non-duality, since duality is not experienced there, as in deep sleep. (Reply): Please give an illustration to support your affirmation of the absence of duality in deep sleep.

30. (Objection): The sleeping state of some other person may be an illustration. (Reply): You are indeed a clever man; you have no knowledge of your own experience in deep sleep, which you are going to prove by giving the illustration of another's deep sleep and yet you profess to know that of another.

31. (Objection): The other person is in deep sleep since he is inactive as in my case. (Reply): Then from the force of your illustration you admit the self-revealing nature of the non-dual truth in your own sleep.

32. (How ?) There are no sense-organs (for you say you are inactive); there is no illustration (for the illustration adduced by you is inadmissible) and yet there is the non-dual (which you admit); this is what is known as the self-revealing nature of the non-dual. So you are forced to admit it.

33. (Objection)): Admitted that there is the non-dual in deep sleep and that it is self-revealing, what about the bliss you spoke of ? (Reply): When all misery is absent, that which remains is bliss.

34. In deep sleep the blind are not blind, the wounded not wounded and the ill no longer ill, say the scriptures. All people too know this.

35. (Objection): The absence of misery does not necessarily imply bliss, since objects like stone or clay are not seen to experience either misery or happiness. (Reply): This is a false analogy.

36. One infers another's grief or joy from his face, melancholy or smiling, but in clay this inference of grief etc., from such indications is impossible.

37. Our happiness and misery, however, are not to be known by inference; both their presence and absence are directly experienced.

38. In the same way the absence of all miseries is directly experienced in deep sleep and since they are the opposites to bliss their total absence is unhindered bliss which has to be accepted as our experience.

39. If sleep does not produce an experience of bliss why do people make so much efforts to procure soft beds etc., ?

40. (Objection): It is only to remove pain. (Reply): That is true for the sick alone. But since healthy people do so too, it must be to obtain happiness.

41. (Objection): Then the happiness in sleep is born of objects due to the bed etc. (Reply): It is true that the happiness before going to sleep is due to these accessories.

42. But the happiness experienced in deep sleep is not obtained from any object. A man may go to sleep expecting to be happy, but before long he experiences a happiness of a higher order.

43. A man fatigued in the pursuit of worldly affairs lies down and removes the obstacles to happiness. His mind being calm, he enjoys the pleasure of resting in bed.

44. Directing his thoughts towards the Self, he experiences the bliss of the Self reflected in the intellect. But experiencing this, even here he becomes tired of the pleasures derived of the triad (of experiencer, experience and experienced).

45. To remove that weariness the Jiva rushes towards his real Self and becoming united with it experiences the bliss of Brahman in sleep.

46. The scriptures give the following examples to illustrate the bliss enjoyed in sleep: the falcon, the eagle, the infant, the great king and the knower of Brahman.

47. Tied to a string, the falcon, flying hither and thither but failing to find a resting place, returns to rest on the wrist of its master or on the post to which it is tied.

48. Similarly the mind, which is the instrument of the Jiva, moves on in the dreaming and waking states in order to obtain the fruits of righteous and unrighteous deeds. When the experiencing of these fruits ceases, the mind is absorbed in its cause, undifferentiated ignorance.

49. The eagle rushes only to its nest hoping to find rest there. Similarly the Jiva eager only to experience the bliss of Brahman rushes to sleep.

50. A tiny tot having fed at the breast of its mother, lies smiling in a soft bed. Free from desire and aversion it enjoys the bliss of its nature.

51. A mighty king, sovereign of the world, having obtained all the enjoyments which mark the limits of human happiness to his full contentment, becomes the very personification of bliss.

52. A great Brahmana, a knower of Brahman, has extended the bliss of knowledge to its extreme limit; he has achieved all that was to be achieved and sits established in that state.

53. These examples of the ignorant, infant, the discriminative king and the wise Brahmana are of people considered to be happy. Others are subject to misery and are not very happy.

54. Like the infant and the other two, man passes into deep sleep and enjoys only the bliss of Brahman. In that state he, like a man embraced by his loving wife, is not conscious of anything either internal or external.

55. Just as what happens outside in the street may be called external and what is done inside the house internal, so the experiences of the waking state may be called external and the dreams produced inside the mind and the nervous system may be called internal.

56. The Shruti says: 'In sleep even a father is no father'. Then in the absence of all worldly ideas the Jivahood is lost and a state of pure consciousness prevails.

57. One having such notions as 'I am a father' experiences joy and grief. When such attachment perishes, he rises beyond all sorrow.

58. A text of the Atharva Veda says: 'In the state of deep sleep, when all the objects of experience have been absorbed and only darkness (Tamas) prevails, the Jiva enjoys bliss'.

59. A man from deep sleep remembers his happiness and ignorance and says: 'I was sleeping happily; I knew nothing then'.

60. Recollection presupposes experience. So in sleep there was experience. The bliss experienced in dreamless sleep is revealed by consciousness itself which also reveals the undifferentiated ignorance (Ajnana) covering bliss in that state.

61. The Vajasaneyins say: 'Brahman is of the nature of consciousness and bliss'. Therefore the self-luminous bliss is Brahman itself and nothing else.

62. The mind and the intellect sheaths are latent in the state called ignorance. Deep sleep is the condition in which these sheaths are latent and it is therefore a state of ignorance.

63. Just as melted butter again becomes solid, the two sheaths in the states following deep sleep again become manifest. The state in which the mind and intellect are latent is called the bliss-sheath.

64. The modifications (Vritti) of the intellect in which, just before sleep, bliss is reflected becomes latent in the state of deep sleep along with the reflected bliss and is known as the bliss-sheath.

65. This Vritti thus turned within, which is termed the bliss-sheath, enjoys the bliss reflected on it in association with the modifications of ignorance, catching the reflection of consciousness.

66. The adepts in Vedanta say that the modifications of ignorance are subtle, whereas those of the intellect are gross.

67. This is fully explained in the Mandukya and Tapaniya Upanishads. It is the sheath of bliss which is the enjoyer and it is the bliss of Brahman which is enjoyed.

68. This profusion of bliss (Anandamayah), having become concentrated into one mass of consciousness in the deep sleep, enjoys the (reflected) bliss of Brahman with the help of modifications (Vrittis) reflecting a superabundance of consciousness.

69. The self (Chidabhasa) in the waking and dream states, is connected or associated with various sheaths such as Vijnanamaya and appears as many (i.e., plays various roles). In the deep sleep state, however, they get merged and become latent like a dough of many (powdered) wheat-grains.

70. The modifications of the intellect, which are instruments of cognition, unite and become one in the state of sleep, just as drops of cold water in the Himalayan regions solidify into a mass of ice.

71. This witness state of compact consciousness, ordinary people and the logicians say, is characterised by the absence of suffering, because in that state the mental modifications of pain and misery subside.

72. In the enjoyment of the bliss of Brahman in deep sleep, the consciousness reflected in ignorance is the means. Prompted by its Karma, good or bad, the Jiva gives up the enjoyment of bliss and goes out to the waking state.

73. The Kaivalya Upanishad says that a Jiva passes from the sleeping to the waking state owing to the effects of the actions of former births. Reawakening thus is a result of actions.

74. For a short time after the waking up the impression of the bliss of Brahman enjoyed during sleep continues. For he remains for some time calm and happy, without taking any interest in the enjoyment of external objects.

75. Then, impelled by his past actions ready to bear fruits, he begins to think of duties and their implementation entailing sufferings of many kinds and gradually forgets the bliss of Brahman experienced (a few minutes before).

76. Experiencing the bliss of Brahman before and after sleep day after day man develops a predilection for it. How can a man, therefore, doubt it (i.e., the existence of the bliss of Brahman) ?

77. (Objection): Well, if a mere state of quietude were enjoyment of the bliss of Brahman then the lazy and the worldly would achieve the end of their life. What then is the use of the teacher and the scriptures ?

78. (Reply): Your contention would be correct, if he realised that the bliss that he experienced was the bliss of Brahman. But who can know Brahman that is so immensely profound without the help of the teacher and the scripture ?

79. (Objection): I know what Brahman is from what you yourself have said. Why then am I without the bliss of realisation ? (Reply): Listen to the story of a man who like yourself imagined that he was wise.

80. This man, hearing that a large reward was offered to anyone who knew the four Vedas, said, 'I know from you that there are four Vedas. So give me the reward'.

81. (Objection): He knew the number, not the text, of the Vedas fully. (Reply): You too have not known Brahman fully.

82. (Objection): Brahman is by nature indivisible and is bliss absolute, untouched by Maya and its effects. How can you speak of the knowledge of Brahman as complete or incomplete ?

83. (Reply): Do you simply say the word 'Brahman' or do you see its meaning ? If you know only the word, it remains for you to acquire knowledge of its meaning.

84. Even if with the help of grammar and so forth you learn its meaning, still realisation remains. Serve your teacher until you have realised Brahman and known that there is nothing further to be known.

85. Leave the vain argument alone and know that whenever happiness is felt in the absence of objects, that happiness is an impression of the bliss of Brahman.

86. Even when on the acquisition of the desired external objects the desire becomes quiescent and the Vritti is directed inward, it reflects the bliss of Brahman. (This is what is known as 'reflected' bliss or Vishayananda or bliss derived from the enjoyment of external things.)

87. There are thus only three kinds of bliss experienced in the world: (1) Brahmananda, the bliss of Brahman; (2) Vasanananda, the bliss arising in the quiescent mind out of the impressions of Brahmananda and (3) Vishayananda, the bliss resulting from the fulfilment of the desire to be in contact with external objects.

88. Of these, the self-revealing bliss of Brahman gives rise to the other two kinds of bliss, the Vasanananda and the Vishayananda.

89. The fact that the bliss of Brahman is self-revealing in deep sleep is established by the authority of the scriptures, by reasoning and by one's experience. Now hear about its experience at other times.

90. The Jiva which is called Anandamaya, enjoying bliss of Brahman during sleep gets identified with the intellect-sheath during the dreaming and waking states, as he changes his seat from one state to another.

91. The Shruti says that in the waking state the Jiva abides in the eye i.e., the gross body; in the dreaming state in the throat and in deep sleep in the lotus of the heart. In the waking state the Jiva pervades the whole gross body from head to foot.

92. In the waking state the Jiva gets identified with the body, as fire with a red-hot ball of iron. As a result of this he comes to feel with certainty: 'I am a man'.

93. The Jiva experiences the three states of detachment, joy and suffering. Joy and suffering are the results of actions; detachment comes naturally.

94. Pain and pleasure are of two sorts as the experience is limited within the mind or is external to it also. The state of detachment appears in the intervals between pain and pleasure.

95. 'Now I have no worries, I am happy', thus do people describe the natural bliss of the Self in the state of detachment.

96. But in this state the natural bliss of the Self is not primary for it is obscured by the idea of egoity and the bliss so experienced is not the bliss of Brahman but only an impression of it.

97. The outside of a pot full of water feels cold. Actually there is no water outside but coldness only. It is from this property of water that the presence of water inside is inferred.

98. Similarly, as one forgets one's egoity by continued practice, one can comprehend through intuitive perception one's natural state of bliss.

99. By continued practice of all kinds the ego becomes exceedingly refined. This state is not sleep because the ego is not completely absorbed; moreover the body does not, as in sleep, fall to the ground.

100. The bliss in which there is no experience of duality and which is not sleep either, is the bliss of Brahman. So said Lord Krishna to Arjuna.

101. 'By the steady application of reason and discrimination an aspirant should gradually control his mind. He should keep the mind fixed on the Self and restrain it from thinking of anything else'.

102. 'Whenever the mind which is restless and fickle, wanders away, the aspirant should restrain it and concentrate it on the Self'.

103. 'The Yogi whose mind is perfectly tranquil, whose passions are subdued, who is sinless and has become Brahman, attains the supreme bliss'.

104. 'When by practice of Yoga, his mind is withdrawn and concentrated, the Yogi sees the Self by the Self and finds supreme satisfaction in the Self'.

105. 'When he obtains that supreme bliss which is beyond the senses, but which can be grasped by the intellect, he becomes firmly rooted in it and is never moved from it'.

106. 'Attaining it he considers no other gain as superior. Once established in it he is not disturbed even by great sorrow'.

107. 'This science of separation from the painful association is called Yoga. This Yoga must be practised with faith and a steady and undespairing mind'.

108. 'A Yogi who is free from imperfections and is ever united with his Self, experiences easily the supreme bliss of identity with Brahman'.

109. 'The control of the mind can be achieved by untiring practice over a long period, even as the ocean can be dried up by baling its waters out drop by drop with a blade of grass.'

110. In the Maitrayani Upanishad of the Yajur Veda, sage Sakayanya spoke of the great bliss experienced in Samadhi to the royal sage Brihadratha while discoursing on Samadhi.

111. 'As fire without fuel dies down and becomes latent in its cause, so the mind, when its modifications have been silenced, merges in its cause'.

112. 'To the mind fixed on Reality, merged in its cause and impervious to the sensations arising from the sense-objects, the joys and sorrows (together with their occasions and materials) experienced as a result of the fructifying Karma seem unreal'.

113. 'The mind is indeed the world. It should be purified with great effort. It is an ancient truth that the mind assumes the forms of the objects to which it is applied.'

114. 'Through the purification of his mind a man destroys the impressions of his good and evil Karma and the purified mind abiding in Atman enjoys undiminishing bliss'.

115. 'If a man were to focus his mind on Brahman, as he commonly does on the objects of senses, what bondage would he not be free from ?'

116. 'Mind has been described as of two types, pure and impure. The impure is that which is tainted by desires, the pure is that which is free from desires'.

117. 'The mind alone is the cause of bondage and release. Attachment to objects leads to bondage and freedom from attachment to them leads to release'.

118. 'The bliss arising from absorption in the contemplation of the Self, when all sins and taints are washed off through the practice of Samadhi, cannot be described in words. One must feel it in one's own heart'.

119. Though it is rare for men to keep their minds long in the state of absorption, still even a glimpse of it confers conviction about the bliss of Brahman.

120. A man who has full faith in the truth of this bliss and is ceaselessly industrious about getting it, is sure to have it even for a short while; but this is enough to convince him of its reality at other times also.

121. Such a man ignores the bliss experienced in the state of mental quiescence and is ever devoted to the supreme bliss and meditates on it.

122. A woman devoted to a paramour, though engaged in household duties, with all the time be dwelling in mind on the pleasures with him.

123. Similarly the wise one who has found peace in the supreme Reality will be ever enjoying within the bliss of Brahman even when engaged in worldly matters.

124. Wisdom consists in subjugating the desires for sense-pleasure, even when the passions are strong and in engaging the mind in meditation on Brahman with the desire to enjoy the bliss.

125. A man carrying a burden on his head feels relief when he removes the load; similarly a man freed from worldly entanglements feels he is in rest.

126. Thus relieved of burden and enjoying rest, he fixes his mind on the contemplation of the bliss of Brahman, whether in the state of detachment or experiencing pain or pleasure according to fructifying Karma.

127. As a Sati about to enter the fire considers the delay in putting on clothes and ornaments to be irritating, so also one devoted to the achievement of the bliss of Brahman, feels about worldly objects that obstruct the practice of meditation on bliss.

128. The sage, looking now at the bliss of Brahman and now at such worldly objects as are not opposed to it, is like a crow that turns its eye from one side to another.

129. The crow has only a single vision which alternates between the right and left eye. Similarly the vision of the knower of Truth alternates between the two types of bliss (of Brahman and the world).

130. Enjoying both the bliss of Brahman taught in the scriptures and the worldly bliss unopposed to it, the knower of truth knows them both in the same way as one who knows two languages.

131. When the knower experiences sufferings, he is not disturbed by them as he would have been before. Just as a man half-immersed in the cool water of the Ganges feels both the heat of the sun and the coolness of the water, so he feels the misery of the world and the bliss of Brahman at the same time.

132. The knower of truth, experiencing the bliss of Brahman in the waking state experiences it also in the dreaming state, because it is the impressions received in the waking state that give rise to dreams.

133. The impressions of ignorance still continue in the dreaming state. So in a dream a wise man will experience sometimes joy and sometimes suffering, without being affected by either.

134. In this Chapter, the first of the five dealing with the bliss of Brahman, is described direct realisation of the Yogi revealing the bliss of Brahman.