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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. (Question): A Yogi can enjoy the natural bliss of the Self which is different from the bliss of mental quiescence and the bliss of deep sleep; but what will happen to the ignorant man ?

2. (Reply): The ignorant are born in innumerable bodies and they die again and again - all owing to their righteous or unrighteous deeds. What is the use of our sympathy for them ?

3. (Doubt): Because of the desire of the teacher to help his ignorant pupils he can do something for them. (Reply): Then you must tell whether they are willing to learn the spiritual truth or are averse to it.

4. If they are still devoted to external objects, some suitable kind of worship or ritual can be prescribed for them. If, on the other hand, they, though spiritually dull, desire to learn the truth, they can be instructed in the knowledge of the bliss of the Self.

5. Yajnavalkya instructed this by pointing out to his beloved wife, Maitreyi, that 'a wife does not love her husband for his sake'.

6. The husband, wife or son, riches or animals, Brahmanahood or Kshatriyahood, the different worlds, the gods, the Vedas, the elements and all other objects are dear to one for the sake of one's own Self.

7. A wife shows affection to her husband when she desires his company; the husband too reciprocates but not when he is engaged in worship or afflicted with illness, hunger and so forth.

8. Her love is not for her husband's sake but for her own. Similarly the husband's love also is for his own satisfaction and not for hers.

9. Thus even in the mutual love between husband and wife the incentive is one's own desire for happiness.

10. A child, when kissed by its father, may cry, being pricked by the latter's bristly beard, still its father goes on kissing the child - it is not for its sake but for his own.

11. Wealth and gems have no likes or dislikes of their own, but their owner looks after them with love and care. It is for his own sake, none doubts it to be for theirs.

12. A merchant forces his bullock, though unwilling, to carry a load. He loves the bullock for his own sake, how can it be for the bullock's ?

13. A Brahmana knowing that he deserves respect, is satisfied when he receives it. This satisfaction is not felt for his caste, an insentient abstraction, but for the man himself.

14. A king feels exalted that he is a Kshatriya and hence is a ruler, but the feeling is not for the caste. The same applies to men of Vaishya and other castes also.

15. The desire, 'May I attain the region of heaven or of Brahma', is not for the well-being of those regions but only for one's own enjoyment.

16. People worship Shiva, Vishnu and other deities to destroy sins. It is not for the sake of the deities who are already free from sins, but for their own sake.

17. The Brahmanas study the Rig and other Vedas to avoid falling from their (respectable) Brahminhood; this applies to men only and not to the Vedas.

18. People want the five elements, viz., earth, water, fire, air and Akasa, because of their usefulness to them in giving shelter, quenching their thirst, cooking, drying and space for movement and not for the sake of the elements themselves.

19. People desire to have servants or masters for their own benefit and not for the benefit of (servants or masters) themselves.

20. There are plenty of such examples to enable one to study and come to the same conclusion on all occasions. By these one should convince one's mind that for every man the Self is the only real object of love.

21-22. (Doubt): What type of love is it that the scriptures say is felt towards the Self ? Is it the passionate attachment which is felt towards wife and other objects, the faith which is experienced in sacrifices and other rituals, the devotion which a man cherishes towards God and his teacher or is it the desire one feels for something one does not possess ? (Reply): The real love of the Self is that which, in the absence of these emotions, manifests itself owing to the preponderance of Sattvika quality in the intellect. This love of the Self is different from desire, for it exists even when desire is present or destroyed.

23. (Doubt): Be it so, but food, drink etc., are liked because of their quality of giving happiness (and not for their own sake).

24. If you say that the Self is also a means to happiness like food and drink, then we ask: who is it that enjoys happiness ? One and the same thing cannot be both the subject and the object of enjoyment.

25. Love for the means to happiness is partial love, but the love for the Self is infinite. The love for the means passes from one object to another, but the love for the Self is steadfast.

26. Love for an object of happiness always passes from one to another; (they are objects that can be accepted or rejected); but the Self cannot be treated like that; so how can love of Self change ?

27. (Doubt): Even though it cannot be accepted or rejected the Self may be regarded as an object of indifference, like a piece of straw. (Reply): No, because it is the very Self of the person who is to regard it with indifference.

28. (Doubt): People begin to hate the Self when they are overpowered by disease or anger and wish to die. (Reply): This is not so.

29. When they desire to do away with the body it is an object for rejection, not their Self. The Self is the subject that desires the end of the body and it feels no hatred for itself. What harm is there if they hate the body, an object ?

30. All objects are desired for the sake of the Self and hence of all the objects that are loved the Self is dearest. A man's son is dearer to him than his son's friends.

31. 'May I never perish, may I ever exist' is the desire seen in all. So love for the Self is quite evident.

32. Though the Self as the object of the highest love is taught by the scriptures and proved both by reasoning and experience, there are some who hold that the Self is merely secondary to son, wife etc., as an object of love.

33. To support this they quote the Shruti: 'The son indeed is the Self', which shows the superiority of the son. This has been clearly spoken of in the Upanishad.

34. 'The (father's) Self, born in the form of the son, becomes his substitute for the performance of meritorious deeds. The Self of the father, having fulfilled its purpose (by begetting a son) and having reached old age, departs'.

35. A verse in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says that in spite of the existence of the Self a man who has no son does not go to heaven. So the thinkers said that a son who is well trained in the Vedas helps his father to attain heaven.

36. The joys of this world can be attained through the son and not by other things. The dying father therefore should instruct his son the Vedic truth, "You are Brahman".

37. These Vedic verses are quoted to prove the importance of son, wife and so forth (and one's own Self as secondary). Ordinary people too admit the greater importance of a son.

38. A father labours hard to acquire wealth for the maintenance of his sons and others after his death. Hence the son is superior to the Self.

39. All right, but these texts do not prove the Self to be less important. It is to be remembered that the word 'Self' is used in three senses, figurative, illusory and fundamental.

40. In the expression 'Devadatta is a lion', the identification is figurative, for the difference between the two is evident. Similar is the case of the son and others as the Self.

41. Difference exists between the five sheaths and the Witness, though it is not evident and so the sheaths are illusory, like the thief seen in the stump of a tree.

42. The witness-consciousness is without a second and therefore in it there neither appears nor is any difference. As it is the innermost essence it is accepted that the word 'Self' in its fundamental sense refers to the Witness itself.

43. As the word 'Self' has these three meanings in daily use the suitable one becomes primary, the other two becoming merely secondary.

44. In the case of a dying man, giving charge of the family property and tradition to his son, the figurative meaning of 'Self' fits in, not the primary or the illusory meaning.

45. In the sentence 'the reciter is the fire' the term 'reciter' cannot actually refer to fire, for the latter is incapable of reciting, but must mean a Brahmachari who is able to do so.

46. In such expressions as 'I am thin and I must get fatter', the body should be taken as the Self. For the sake of one's own growing fat nobody engages his son in eating.

47. In such expressions as 'I shall attain heaven by austerities' the doer (the intellect-sheath) should be regarded as the Self. So ignoring the physical enjoyment people practise severe austerities.

48. When a man says, 'I shall be free', he then acquires knowledge (of the Self) from the teacher and the scripture and desires nothing else. Here the word 'I' should be regarded as the witness Self.

49. Just as Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are entitled to perform the sacrifices called Brihaspati-sava, Rajasuya and Vaishyastoma according to their fitness, so the figurative, illusory and fundamental selves are meant in different contexts.

50. Infinite love is always left for the Self which is primary in any particular context; and for whatever is related to it there is just moderate love and for all other things there is no love whatsoever.

51. Other things are of two kinds, to be ignored or hated. Straws lying on the road are disregarded, whereas tigers and snakes are hated. So things are of four kinds, loved, dearly loved, disregarded or hated.

52. The primary Self, things related to the Self and objects to be disregarded or hated - of these four categories of things there is no sacro-sanctity attached to any one of them that it would always be primary or secondary etc. But it (their being primary or secondary etc.,) depends on the effect they produce under particular circumstances.

53. When a tiger confronts man, it is hated; when it is away, it is disregarded; and when it has been tamed and made friendly, it causes joy; thus it is related to him and is loved.

54. Even though no thing is primary or secondary by itself, there are some characteristics to distinguish them under certain circumstances. These characteristics are: their being favourable, unfavourable, or neither of these.

55. The popular conclusion is that the Self is the dearest, the objects related to it are dear and the rest are either disregarded or hated. This is also the verdict of Yajnavalkya.

56. Elsewhere too the Shruti declares: 'Know this Self as the dearest which is more intrinsic than son, wealth and so forth'.

57. Through the eye of discrimination following the Shruti it becomes clear that the witness-consciousness is the real Self. Discrimination means separating the five sheaths and seeing the inner substance.

58. That is the self-luminous consciousness, the Self, which is the witness of the presence and absence of the states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep.

59. The various objects of enjoyment, from life down to wealth, are objects of varying degrees of love according to their proximity to the Self.

60. A son is dearer than wealth, the body dearer than the son, the sense-organs dearer than the body, life and mind dearer than the sense organs and the Self is supremely dearer than life and mind.

61. In the Shruti there is a dialogue between a wise and a dull-witted man which illustrates the point that the Self is the dearest of all objects.

62. The wise man holds that the witness-consciousness, is dearer than all objects. The dull-witted man maintains that son and other objects are dearer and that the witness-consciousness enjoys the happiness caused by these objects.

63. The ignorant disciple and the confirmed opponent both assert that something other than the Self (Atman) is the object of greatest love. The reply given will prove to be an instruction to the disciple and a curse to the confirmed opponent.

64. The wise man quotes the scripture in his reply: 'Your dearest thing will make you weep'. The pupil analyses this reply and finds out his error in considering something other than the Self as the dearest.

65. When a married couple desire to have a son and do not have one, they are disappointed and miserable. After conception, a miscarriage or the pain of labour causes sorrow.

66. When a son is born he may suffer from diseases or from the position of the planets at his birth, or he may be stupid or obstinate, or after the investiture of sacred thread, he may study nothing or if he is learned, he may remain unmarried.

67. Again he may start pursuing the wives of others, or he may have an unwieldy family and remain in poverty, or he may grow wealthy and yet die in his youth. Infinite are the sorrows of parents.

68. Having considered all this, the disciple must abstain from forming an attachment to other things. He should focus his love on the Self and contemplate It day and night.

69. The confirmed opponent, who does not give up his contention due to obstinacy and hostility to the knower of truth, sinks into the depths of darkness and suffers the pains of innumerable births.

70. The knower of Brahman is of the nature of Brahman and is described as Ishvara, the all-powerful. Whatever he says will come to pass for the pupil and the opponent.

71. He who contemplates the witness Self as the dearest of all objects will find that this dearest Self never suffers destruction.

72. The Supreme Self, being the object of dearest love, is the source of infinite joy. The Shruti has it that from the sovereignty of this world to position of Hiranyagarbha, everywhere, wherever there is greater love there is greater bliss.

73. (Doubt): If the nature of the Self is bliss as well as consciousness, bliss should be found in all the modifications of the mind, as is consciousness.

74. (Reply): Not so. A lamp burning in a room emits both light and heat, but it is only the light that fills the room and not heat; similarly, it is only consciousness which accomplishes the Vrittis (and not bliss).

75. An object may be characterised by odour, colour, taste and touch, yet each of these properties is cognised by one particular sense-organ and not the others. It is the same with the bliss of the Self.

76. (Doubt): Odours, taste and so forth differ from one another, but in the Self consciousness and bliss are identical. (Reply): Tell whether this identity is in the witness Self or elsewhere ?

77. The odour, colour and other properties of a flower are not separate from one another in the flower. If it be said that the separation of these properties is brought about by the sense-organs, we rejoin that the seeming difference between consciousness and bliss is produced by (the predominance of Rajas or Sattva in) the Vrittis.

78. When there is a predominance of Sattva in the Vrittis, we realise, because of their purity, that bliss and consciousness are one and the same, but when Rajas predominates, because of its impurity, the bliss is obscured.

79. As the intensely sour taste of tamarind when mixed with salt is lessened and taste less sour, so with bliss (when it is obscured by Rajas).

80. (Doubt): By discrimination one can feel that the Self is the dearest, but without the practice of Yoga what good is it (for liberation) ?

81. (Reply): The goal which is reached by Yoga can also be reached by discrimination. Yoga is a means to knowledge; doesn't knowledge arise from discrimination ?

82. 'The state achieved by the Sankhyas is also achieved by the Yogis'. Thus it has been said in the Gita about the identity of the fruit of both Yoga and discrimination.

83. Knowing that for some Yoga is difficult and for some others knowledge, the great Lord Sri Krishna speaks of these two paths.

84. What speciality is there in Yoga when knowledge has been declared as common to both ? Both the Yogi and the Viveki (he who practises discrimination) are alike freed from attachment and aversion.

85. One who knows the Self as the dearest has no love for any object of enjoyment. So how can he have attachment ? And how can he who sees no object inimical to himself have any aversion ?

86. Both the Yogi and the Viveki dislike objects unfavourable to the body, mind etc. If it be said that he who has aversion for such objects is not a Yogi, then we rejoin that equally so is he not a Viveki.

87. It may be said that though in the world of relative experience both accept the conception of duality, the Yogi has the advantage that there is no duality for him while in the state of Samadhi. Our reply is that he who practises discrimination about the non-duality does not experience duality at that time.

88. In the next chapter, called the 'Bliss of Non-duality' we will enlarge on the theme of the absence of duality. Therefore things told till now are free from defects.

89. (Doubt): He is a true Yogi who in his contemplation is ever-conscious of the bliss of the Self and is unconscious of the external world. (Reply): May the blessings of contentment ever abide with you. (For the point is gained, this is the position of the Vivekin also).

90. In this second chapter of the section in which the bliss of Brahman is discussed we have dealt with the bliss of the Self (Atmananda) for the good of persons of spiritually dull intellect.