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Commentary on the Panchadasi

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Discourse 21

Chapter 4: Dvaita Viveka Discrimination of Duality
Verses 58-69
Chapter 5: Mahavakya Viveka – Discrimination of the Mahavakyas Verses 1-8

Kāmyādi-doṣa-dṛṣṭayā dhāḥ kāmādi tyāga hetavaḥ, prasiddho mokṣa śāstreṣu tān anviṣya sukhī bhave (58). If we have to be free from desires, we have to first of all investigate into the basic defects of the object of desire. Desires arise in respect of things, on account of not properly recognising the nature of the things themselves. The world is not as it appears to be; things are not what they seem. The mind’s longing for a particular object or a group of objects is based entirely on a misconstruing of the nature of things, like a moth which sees beauty in a flame and runs after this beauty; and we know what happens to that moth.

There are no desirable objects in this world. Objects are neither desirable nor undesirable from their own point of view. They are Ishvara srishti, God’s creation. An impartial God has not created partial objects, where some of them are desirable and some are not desirable. God does not create unnecessary things, useless things, etc., which means there is nothing that we need not desire. Everything has to be desired at one stroke. The whole creation has to be desired, if that is the case. But desire is not generally directed to the whole of creation. It is a partial attitude of the mind in regard to certain chosen things only, which happens on account of a wrong notion the mind has in regard to those chosen things, which present a false picture before the mind on account of a tentative relationship established between the prevailing condition of the object and the prevailing mood of the mind. No object can attract unless the present condition of the object, the structure of the object, fits in properly with the condition of the mind at that particular moment. If the mood of the mind changes tomorrow, that very same object will be an object of disgust.

Today we want it, and tomorrow we want to throw it away. What has happened? The same thing is there, but only our mood has changed; our needs have differed. Not only do our moods determine whether we want a thing or not, the object itself also determines our reaction to it in different conditions.

A presentable form of the object is required in order that the mind may create the idea that it is a desirable thing. Unpresentable, distorted, totally misplaced things will not attract the mind. All this shows that desire is a relative activity of the mind in respect of relative conditions of the world. Therefore, whatever pleasure we hope to have from such a kind of relative contact will be as fleeting as the lightning in the sky.

Desires can be subdued only by detecting the defects of the objects of the senses. Kāmyādi-doṣa-dṛṣṭayā dhāḥ kāmādi tyāga hetavaḥ. This is the moksha shastra. Scriptures on moksha tell us this.

Tyajyatām-eva kāmādiḥ-maronorājye tu kā kṣatiḥ, aśeṣa-doṣa-bījatvāt kṣatir bhagavate ritā (59). I understand that desire, anger, greed must be abandoned because they are active manifestations of the mind which are deliberately harmful. But what about building castles in the air, woolgathering? Is it bad? Woolgathering is a torpid state of the mind, a tamasic condition, which will one day burst into rajasic activity; and the harmful desires will reveal themselves one day.

An unconscious condition of the desires is not an absence of desires. If we are unable to think properly and we are in a stasis, the mind is unable to think and it has withdrawn all its activity and adjourned its processes. When this happens to the mind, it does not follow that the desires also have gone. The potential of the desires to manifest themselves in active operation has been postponed for a future suitable condition. Therefore, manorajya, what is called building castles in the air, is also to be considered as equally harmful. It is potentially harmful.

Bhagavan Sri Krishna mentions this fact in the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. What does he say? That is quoted here in the following verses of the Panchadasi.

Dhyātyato viṣayān-puṁsaḥ saṁgas-teṣūpa-jāyate, saṁgāṭ-saṁjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāṭ-krodho’bhijāyate (60). When we think of some object, there is a desire to go near it. Saṁgāṭ-saṁjāyate kāmaḥ: Nearness creates desire. Kāmāṭ-krodho’bhijāyate: Anger follows every kind of desire.

Śākyaṁ jetuṁ manorājyaṁ nirvaikalpa-samādhitaḥ, susaṁpādaḥ kramāt-so’pi savikalpa samādhinā (61). The potential of the desires in the mind can be totally eradicated only in nirvikalpa samadhi. Nirvikalpa samadhi is the highest state of samadhi that one can reach, where the mind ceases to exist, getting dissolved in Pure Consciousness. But one cannot easily reach that state. Therefore, we have to attain that nirvikalpa state through the penultimate condition, which is known as savikalpa samadhi.

Susaṁpādaḥ kramāt-so’pi savikalpa samādhinā. Through the graduated steps of meditational practice as prescribed by Sage Patanjali in his sutras by means of the samadhissavitarka, nirvitarka, savichara, nirvichara, ananda, asmita, savikalpa, nirvikalpa are the stages of samadhi mentioned in Patanjali’s sutras – we have to rise gradually from the lower samadhi to the higher. Thereby, we will be able to overcome the impulsion of desires. The desires will be totally destroyed by attaining a state of samadhi.

Buddha-tattvena dhī-doṣa śūnye naikānta vāsinā, dīrhaṁ praṇava muccārya manorājyaṁ vijīyate (62). If we want to get rid of all these tamasic conditions of the mind into which it gets sunk many a time, what should we do? First of all, we must segregate ourselves a little from conditions, atmospheres which are disturbing in nature. A little bit of ekantavasa is necessary – living in a sequestered place, a place where disturbances are less and the mind does not have occasion to contemplate too much on objects of desire, and there is also a chance for our intellect to operate in a clarified manner. In that condition, where we are alone in an isolated place, we should chant Om several times. Om, Om, Om, with deep inhalation, with deep breath, we take this elongated Pranava as our guide to dispel the darkness which causes the fixity of the mind in a state of tamas and may engender the movement of the very same condition into an active rajasic state. Thus we can overcome this torpid state called manorajya, building castles.

Jite tasmin-vṛtti-śūnyaṁ manastiṣ-ṭhati mūkavat, etat-padaṁ vasiṣṭhena rāmāya bahudhe ritam (63). Like a dumb person, the mind will keep quiet at the time when we chant the mantra Om (Pranava) deeply, with intense feeling from the bottom of our heart, right from the navel itself.

Etat-padaṁ vasiṣṭhena rāmāya bahudhe ritam: Rama, who is the student in the Yoga Vasishtha, has been instructed by a yoga teacher, the yoga master Vasishtha, in the following manner. These are some verses that are quoted from the Yoga Vasishtha.

Dṛśyaṁ nāstīti bodhena manaso dṛśya mārjanam, saṁpannaṁ cet tadut pannā parā nivārṇa nivṛrtiḥ (64). We cannot free ourselves from desire for objects as long as objects do exist – as long as we feel that the objects are there outside us, standing in front of us, to be received by us. There are no objects in this world of God’s creation because the creation of God is a universal vast extension, and it has no externality. As God’s creation is universal, it has no externality; therefore, there cannot be an object in the creation of God. The object is nothing but a concoction of the individual mind, which places the universally placed object in an externalised condition. That which is universal is considered as an external thing by the wrong activity of the individual mind.

The objects that we desire are not outside us; they are connected with us. They are internally connected to everything in the world. The whole universe is an organic oneness. That is how God would look at the universe. And inasmuch as the universe is an organic completeness, there cannot be externality anywhere. No part of the body can be regarded as an object of some other part of the body. The leg is not an object of the hand. The hand is not an object of some other part. Notwithstanding the fact that we see an object, it need not attract us. Do we feel attracted to our feet, to our hands or fingers, to our nose? We do not feel attracted to them because they are identical with our organic centre, which is the body. The universe is one single organism. Therefore, where comes the necessity for an object? Who told us that there are objects in the world? They do not exist! Then the desire ceases immediately.

This is the instruction of Vasishtha to Rama. Dṛśyaṁ nāstīti: The objects do not exist. Bodhena: Thus having the knowledge, manaso dṛśya mārjanam: the objectivity consciousness of the mind is totally obliterated. Very great instruction from Vasishtha to Rama. Wonderful is the Yoga Vasishtha! Everybody should read it.

If this state can be attained by us, we have attained moksha at that moment. The moment we feel that the objects of the world are not there, the externality of space-time also vanishes. Bondage ceases; in one instant we are in a state of liberation. The bliss of moksha is attained then and there, with no distance of time between now and afterwards.

Vicāritam alaṁ śāstraṁ ciram udgrā hitaṁ mithaḥ, saṁtyakta vāsanān maunād ṛte nāstyu ttamaṁ padam (65). Whatever I have to study, I have studied. Whatever I have to consider deeply after the studies, I have considered deeply and withdrawn myself into an inward consideration of all the studies that I have made. The mind has been settled. My education is now complete. The mind is calm and quiet. It does not want to know anything further. Therefore, it is fixed with a satisfaction of having known whatever is to be known. Then there is no further desire. Whatever is to be known, is known; whatever is to be obtained, is obtained; whatever is to be done, has been done. All the vasanas vanish. Then the mind becomes calm and quiet. Beyond that, there is no higher state. The highest state is the cessation of the activities of the mind. It acts because of the objects outside. Really, objects do not exist. We are unnecessarily worried over things which are not there.

Vikṣipyate kadācid-dhīḥ karmaṇā bhoga-dāyinā, punaḥ samāhitā sā syāt tadaivā-bhyāsa-pāṭavāt (66). Sometimes, in spite of all this practice, the mind gets disturbed because we cannot be in a state of meditation throughout the day. There are twenty-four hours in the day. Can we be meditating all the twenty-four hours? So when we are not in the state of meditation, suddenly the impulses from inside which were there earlier, which insist on the enjoyment of objects, will again crop up. What do we do?

Again close your eyes and sit for meditation at that time. If the mind is disturbed by certain thoughts which were there earlier but should not be there now, sit quiet. Wash your face with cold water, deeply chant Pranava Omkara, and sit for meditation once again until the mind comes down to its normal condition. And until that state is reached, until you are satisfied that the mind has come down and the vikshepa or the distraction has ceased, do not cease from meditation; continue the meditation.

Ābhyāsa-pāṭavāt: By continuous practice in this manner, you will find that the mind can be restrained; and by daily meditation, by gradually prolonging the time of meditation, you will find that the impact of such a meditation upon the mind will be such that there will be very little occasion for the impulses to rise once again. They will get burnt up automatically.

Vikṣepo yasya nasty-asya brahma-vittvaṁ na manyate, brahmai vāyam iti prāhuḥ munayaḥ pāra darśianaḥ (67). Such a person who has no desires has not simply known Brahman; he is Brahman Itself. The Godman is not simply seeing God as some object outside, he is established in God. Total absence of desires of every kind is virtually identity of oneself with Ishvara Himself.

Darśanā darśane hitvā svayaṁ kelvala rūpataḥ, yas tiṣṭhati sa tu brahman brahma na brahma vit svayaṁ (68). When a person sees not anything in this world in front of him as an object, or even space and time, when neither does he want to see anything nor does he have any desire not to see anything, the question of seeing does not arise. Objects are not there. Then, what will he see? And then what happens? He remains alone, himself. When objects do not exist, we alone remain in a Universal state. We do not remain as a Mr., Mrs.; we are not an individual existing at that time. The body-consciousness also vanishes together with the object-consciousness. Then kevala, the aloneness of Universality, alone remains in our consciousness, having brushed aside all object-consciousness. Such a person is not merely a knower of Brahman, he is verily Brahman Himself.

Jīvan-mukteḥ parā kāṣṭhā jīva-dvaita-vivarjanāt, labhyate-sāvato’tre dam īśadvaitād vivecitam (69). For the sake of helping students, the author says that to enable us to become a jivanmukta as early as possible, by the elimination of jiva srishti, differentiating jiva srishti from Ishvara srishti – that is, distinguishing between God’s creation from our own mental creation – we will immediately become established in a state of awareness which is more than personality consciousness. The consciousness of personality is connected with the consciousness of objects. And if the objects are not there, by the deep consideration of the nature of God’s creation, Ishvara srishti, as a universally spread-out something, and having come to a conclusion that our body also is one of the objects as any other object is, therefore neither the body can be considered as ours, nor the object should be considered as ours. Nothing belongs to anybody here. In this total setup of God’s creation, nobody owns anything. Neither is there an owner, nor is there an object that is owned. In this state of Universal stability of consciousness, we have attained jivanmukti. Here we conclude the fourth chapter.

The fifth chapter is very short. It describes the four maha-vakyas: prajnanam brahma, aham brahmasmi, tat tvam asi, ayamatma brahma. Prajnanam brahma: “Consciousness is Brahman.” This is a statement that occurs in the Aitareya Upanishad of the Rig Veda. Aham brahmasmi is the mantra “I am Brahman, identical with Brahman”. It is a mantra, a statement that occurs in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of the Yajur Veda. Tat tvam asi, “thou art That” is a statement that occurs in the Chhandogya Upanishad of the Sama Veda. Ayamatma brahma: “this Self is Brahman”, is a statement that occurs in the Mandukya Upanishad of the Atharva Veda. These four mahavakyas are culled from the Upanishads belonging to the four great Vedas.

What is the meaning of these four statements – prajnanam brahma; aham brahmasmi; tat tvam asi; ayamatma brahma? The meaning of these mahavakyas is elucidated briefly in the fifth chapter.

Yenekṣate śṛṇo-tīdaṁ jighrati vyākaroti ca, svādva svādū vijānāti tat prajñānam udīritam (1). Consciousness is Brahman. That is what the Upanishad says. What does it mean? Consciousness is that through which we see things, hear things, smell things, understand the variety of things, taste things, and understand the very existence of things. That which enables us to know that something is, is consciousness.

We have, first of all, a consciousness that we are existing. After that, we have a consciousness that the world is existing outside, and that people are existing outside. And we have a consciousness that we see, we hear, we touch, smell and taste. We have a consciousness that we perceive the world. This consciousness is what is meant by prajnana in this great statement of the Upanishad when it says prajnanam brahma: Consciousness is Brahman. Inasmuch as consciousness is universal, it cannot be located in one particular place; it has naturally to be identical with the Universal Absolute. So it is simple enough to understand that consciousness is the same as Absolute Brahman, which is of the nature of consciousness.

Catur-mukhendra-deveṣu manuṣyā-śva-gavādiṣu, caitanya mekaṁ brahmātaḥ prajñānaṁ brahma mayyapi (2). This Brahman is consciousness and the consciousness is also in me, through which it is that I become aware of all things outside. Right from the creative principle of Brahma with four heads, right from the gods in heaven such as Indra, including all people, humans, animals, etc., among all these there is one consciousness pervading. There is instinct, there is impulsion, there is desire, there is understanding, there is thinking, there is volition, there is ratiocination – all these are various degrees of the manifestation of awareness in a larger degree or lesser degree, a more intense degree or a mild degree. That is, right from the creative Brahma onwards to the lowest category of living beings, even to the ants, we will see the Universal consciousness pervading in different degrees of manifestation. One consciousness is there everywhere. Caitanya mekaṁ: Because of the universality of its being, it is Brahman the Absolute. Therefore, prajñānaṁ brahma: consciousness is Brahman. It is everywhere, and it is also in me. That is the meaning of this great statement prajñānaṁ brahma: consciousness is Brahman. This consciousness which is within me is also the consciousness that is everywhere.

Paripūrṇaḥ parātmā-smin-dehe vidyā-dhikāriṇi, buddheḥ sākṣi-tayā sthitvā sphuran-naha mitīr yate (3). Aham brahmasmi. Who is this aham? The deepest consciousness in us, which is more internal than any of the sheaths that we have – consciousness which is aware of the five sheaths, the nature of which we have studied in the first chapter of the Panchadasi – verily is aham, ‘I’. “I am there.” “I am coming.” “I am here.” “It is I.” When we make statements like this, to what ‘I’ do we actually refer? Not this body; the first chapter and the third chapter have clarified this subject very well.

The physical body, the vital body, the mental body, the intellectual and the causal body cannot be consciousness; therefore, they cannot be ‘I’. The body is not the ‘I’; the breath, the mind, the sense organs, the intellect, and the causal sheath are also not the ‘I’. The ‘I’ is that which is aware of an absence of all things in the state of deep sleep. That awareness which knows nothing external to itself in the state of deep sleep, is our real nature.

Our real nature is not to be seen in the waking state, in which we identify with the five sheaths. Our real nature is seen only in deep sleep, in which we are dissociated from all objects. That real consciousness which is uncontaminated by association with the bodies, and therefore incapable of division into parts, and therefore everywhere – that is aham. “I am coming.” This ‘I’ is actually the Universal Being asserting itself, not the Mr. Body.

Svataḥ pūrṇaḥ parātmā’tra brahma-śabdena varṇitaḥ, asmī tyaikya parāmarśas tena brahma bhavā myaham (4). Aham brahmasmi – the meaning of ‘I’, or Brahman, in the individual has been explained. What is this ‘I’? What is aham? What is Brahman – aham brahmasmi: I am Brahman? How can we be Brahman unless Brahman itself is in us? Here is a great danger in immature students chanting this mantra aham brahmasmi. It should not be like an ant saying, “I am an elephant.” Even if an ant always says “I am an elephant”, it cannot become an elephant merely because it chants that.

“I am Rockefeller.” If we go on saying that, we do not become rich. What is the good of chanting mantras? We must be able to understand their meaning. This verse in the Panchadasi takes pains to explain that this aham ‘I’ is not Mr. So-and-so. It is not ‘I’ which is visible here. So do not say “I am Brahman” means “I, this person sitting here, is Brahman”. This is not the meaning of the mantra.

We are not to be identified with the Universal Being as an individual. The Universal alone can be identified with the Universal. The Universal in us is identical with the Universal that is everywhere. That is the meaning of aham brahmasmi. It does not mean that one person is equal to Brahman. Such mistakes should not be committed; it is an immaturity and enthusiasm of thought. Otherwise, we will have suffering afterwards.

That which is self-sufficient, svatah-purnah, the Supreme Self, all-pervading in nature, which is called Brahman, is identified with this Universal present in the individuals also the very same Universal present in the individual also. The identity-consciousness of these two is called asmi, “I am.” This verb, this copula as we call it, I-am-ness, is only a conjunction, a link that is there between the Universality appearing to be in us and the Universality that is everywhere. The space in the pot is identical with the space that is everywhere. Inasmuch as there is no such thing as space inside the pot, there is also no personality of the individual. So we should not say that “I am Brahman” means this person is Brahman. It is Universal that is identified with Universal – God being conscious of God. That is aham brahmasmi. Be careful in knowing its true meaning. Otherwise, you will run into trouble.

Ekemeva advitīyaṁ san nāma rūpa vivarjitam, sṛṣṭeḥ purā-dhunā’py asya tādṛk tvaṁ tad itīryate (5). Tat tvam asi. Tat: That – That which was there even prior to creation, One alone without a second, as described in the Chhandogya Upanishad as without name and form differentiation because prior to creation, there were no names, no forms, no diversity, no space, no time. In that precondition of creation, that which was there as One alone without a second, and exists even now through and in the midst of all things in the world as immanency – that is called tat.

“That thou art.” What is ‘That’? That which is now as an immanent principle, and which was also there before creation as One alone without a second, That is not different from us.

Śrotur-dehe indriyā-tītaṁ vastv atra tvaṁ pade ritam, ekatā grāhyate’sīti tad aikya manu bhūyatām (6). Tvam: ‘thou’, ‘yourself’ – this word implies that consciousness, which is the very thing that is behind the sense of ‘I’, that which is internal to the organs such as hearing and the sheaths such as body, etc., that which is the deepest ‘I’ consciousness as explained earlier, is the tvam. Aham brahmasmi and tat tvam asi mean the same thing. They are only two ways of expressing the same truth. That Universal in us is identical with that Universal which is everywhere. So both these, aham brahmasmi and tat tvam asi, mean one and the same thing, and are only two different words.

Tat tvam asi: Thou art – this ‘art’ is the verb which links the consciousness immanent in us with the consciousness that is everywhere. Tad aikya manu bhūyatām: Please experience this identity in yourself.

Svaprakāśā parokṣa tvam ayami tyukti to matam, ahaṁ kārā’di dehāntāt pratyag ātmeti gīyate (7). Ayamatma brahma: I am This, the Self is that Brahman. What is ‘This’? This is again the same question. This aham, this ‘I,’ this tvam, or ‘you’, is also the same as ‘This’. Svaprakāśā parokṣa tvam: The self-identical immediacy of consciousness which is self-luminous in us is the established Consciousness, which is referred to as ‘This’. This consciousness in us here, which is universally pervading everywhere, also appears to be within us, free from egoism, free from the consciousness of the body, internal to the five sheaths, internal to the body, internal to consciousness of even personality like egoism – that consciousness is Atman, ayamatma.

Dṛśya mānasya sarvasya jagatas tattva mīryate, brahma śabdena tadbrahma svaprakāśā-tma-rūpakam (8). This Atman is that Brahman. It is another way of saying this consciousness which is ‘I’ is the same as that consciousness which is Universal Brahman. Of all the visible universe, there is an essence which is immanent. The pervading reality behind all this visible world is called Brahman, as we already know. Self-consciousness is its nature. Self-luminous is it. That Brahman is identical with this Atman that we ourselves are. Now we know the meaning of these four sentences. Prajnanam brahma: Consciousness is Brahman. Aham brahmasmi: I am Brahman (a very dangerous mantra – we should not utter it too much). Tat tvam asi: Thou art That. Ayamatma brahma: This Atman within us is the same as that Universal Brahman. With this we conclude the fifth chapter.