Commentary on the Panchadasi
by Swami Krishnananda

Discourse 33

Chapter 6: Chitradipa – Light on the Analogy of a Painted Picture
Verses 209-230

Yathā yatho pāsate taṁ phala mīyu stathā tathā, phalot karṣāpa karṣau tu pūjya pūjānu sārataḥ (209). As is our attitude towards Ishvara, so is the way in which we will have a response from Him. The quickness or the slowness of the response from God depends upon the intensity of the feeling of devotion to God. If it is a very intense feeling, the response is very quick. If the feeling is comparatively mild, the response will also be mild and it will take a longer period of time to act.

But muktistu brahma tattvasya jñānādeva na cānyathā, svapnabodhaṁ vinā naiva svasvapno hīyate yathā (210). We may worship any god and we may receive the fruits of our devotion in some way, but liberation is a different matter altogether. It is not a worship; it is not an attainment of any particular thing. It is not the fruit of our action. It is Being as such. To enter into Pure Being is moksha, or liberation. But this is not easy, because the nature of Pure Being excludes all that is outside, or external. Neither myself, nor yourself, nor the worldnothing of this kind will be there because the perception of duality, multiplicity and externality contravene the nature of Pure Being.

All perception that is natural to us, what we consider as normal, is unnatural to the state of Pure Being. The best of our actions cannot touch it. All our deeds pale into insignificance in its abundance, in its radiance, in its purity. Our very existence is an obstacle to the realisation of that Pure Being. Let alone our desire for objects, our desire even to exist as this personto continue in this personality, this love for our own selfis also an obstacle. Perhaps it is the greatest obstacle.

We may be free, to some extent, from desire for the world of objects outside, but our desire to live as a person does not go with the other desires. As long as this personal desire to maintain itself continues, it will act as a great hindrance in the entry of consciousness into Pure Being. Until this state is achieved, moksha is impossible.

Unless we wake up into the consciousness of our own person, we will have no freedom from the turmoil of dream perception. To rise from the difficulties we face in the dream world, we do not have to perform any action there. Many sorrows may be confronting us in the dream world, so how will we get out of them? Any effort will not help us. Any work, any effort, any deed, anything in any direction done in the dream world would be a part of the dream world itself. It cannot contradict the dream world. Similarly, anything that we do in this world with the means available in this world would be a worldly action only, and it cannot help us in rising above the world. A modus operandi which is non-earthly, non-externalised, non-personal and non-individual has to be employed. Here is the difficulty in realising the Absolute. Ordinarily it is not possible because there are no means of approach to it and all our means are worldly, including this body.

Advitīya brahma tattve svapno’yam akhilaṁ jagat, īśa jīvādi rūpeṇa cetanā cetanāt makam (211). This whole world is something like a dream in the light of the Absolute, and to rise from this world-consciousness to the Absolute-consciousness or Brahman-consciousness would be something like waking from dream. Nothing that we do in the dream world will be a help to us in the act of waking. An internal modification of consciousness itself, and not any external object, is the means. Any amount of worship in the dream world will be, after all, a dream worship. It will not be real. Therefore, this world is not a help to us in the realisation of the Supreme Brahman because to that Brahman, this world is like a dream and all that we do in this world is a dream activity. It cannot cut ice with that eternal state.

The distinction that we draw between Ishvara and jiva, the distinction between animate and inanimate beings, gets wiped out in one moment in the act of waking from dream. All the good things and bad things, all the delectable things, all the painful things, even birth and death in the dream experience are washed out in one minute because of our having woken up from dream. All other things come afterwards; they are secondary. The act of awakening from world-consciousness to God-consciousness is the principle spiritual practice. It does not consist in employing any means of the world. The world cannot help us in getting out of the world. How would we expect the world to be of any assistance to us in rising above the worldbecause the means would be part of that which we want to overcome. Hence, this world, including this very body itself, is no more a help; it is an obstacle.

Ānandamaya vijñāna mayā vīśvara jīvakau, māyayā kalpitā vetau tābhyāṁ sarvaṁ prakalpitam (212). The causal and the intellectual sheaths, cosmically as well as individually, are the causes of the appearance of such principles and beings as Ishvara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat, or internally as jiva, consisting of the consciousness of prajna, taijasa and visva. They are created by maya only. Distinctions do not obtain finally, as they do not obtain in the dream world in comparison with the waking one.

Īkṣaṇādi praveśāntā sṛṣṭi rīśena kalpitā, jāgradādi vimokṣāntaḥ saṁsāro jīva kalpitaḥ (213). Ishvara willed to become many. This is said to be the beginning of creation. Then there is the manifestation of this will in the form of Hiranyagarbha, Virat. Then there is space-time consciousness. Then there are the tanmatrassabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa, gandha. Then there are the five elementsearth, water, fire, air, ether. Then the individuals manifest themselves.

From the time Ishvara willed to create down to His entry into the individuals who are off-shoots of this final act of creationfrom the will of Ishvara, down to the entry of Ishvara to the lowest possible limits of individualitywe can say it is God’s creation. None of these are created by the jiva, or the individual. Neither Ishvara is our creation, nor Hiranyagarbha nor Virat, nor space, nor time, nor the tanmatras, nor the physical world of the five elements, nor is our own body, which we cannot manufacture according to our will. Up to this level, it is God’s creation.

From the time of the will until the entry into particulars, God’s creation is complete. But the creation of individuals, jivas, commences afterwards. Suddenly there is an externalised waking consciousness emanating from the created individual. The created individual, as far as it forms part of the Virat consciousness, would not be in bondage. As long as it is part of the universal Existence, there is no bondage consciousness. But when it asserts itself, each one begins to feel “I am this and you are that”. Immediately there is a consciousness different from universal Consciousness, and that is called waking consciousness.

Waking consciousness is caused by the projection of the internal Atman through the intellect of the individual and working through the sense organs of the individual personality. Being exhausted by this activity of the individual personality through the sense organs, the individual falls into the dream and sleeping states, and after the sleep is over, it again wakes up. Through great effort, liberation is attained.

Right from the waking consciousness down to dream and sleep, and then to the final act of liberation, are all the working of the jiva only. There is neither bondage nor liberation for God Himself. The consciousness of having entered into bondage and the necessity to liberate oneselfall these come within the area of individual effort. Thus, in a single verse the distinction between God’s creation and individual creation has been described.

Advitīyaṁ brahma tattvam asaṅgaṁ tanna jānate, jiveśayor māyikayor vṛthaiva kalahaṁ yayuḥ (214). Not knowing that non-dual Existence, which is the truth of Brahman and is unattached and detached from all things in every way, people quarrel over who is God, what kind of God it is, who is Ishvara, what kind of Ishvara it is that created the world, what is jiva. These questions and answers thereon are all unnecessary difficulties, problems created by logistic minds that are not able to probe into the real truth that Brahman is universally unattached. Once the consciousness identifies itself with universal Existence, questions such as who God is, who Ishvara is, who the jiva is will not arise. These questions themselves are part of the ignorance of the true nature of Brahman.

Jñātvā sadā tattva niṣṭhān anumodā mahe vayam, anuśocāma evā nyān na bhrāntair vivadāmahe (215). It is a great joy to come in contact with persons who have this knowledge of Brahman. Others who are apparently not fortunate enough to have attained this state are really objects of mercy and pity. But there is a third category, who do not even deserve pity; they are totally ignorant people who live like animals, and we shall not have any dealings with them.

Tṛṇārcakādi yogāntā īśvare bhrānti māśritāḥ, lokāyatādi sāṅkhyāntā jive vibhrānti māśritāḥ (216). There is confusion in the mind of everyone in regard to the nature of Ishvara when they start worshipping varieties of things as God. Stone is worshipped, grass is worshipped, trees are worshipped, animals are worshipped, human beings are worshipped, celestials are worshipped. Varieties of formations conceptualised by the human mind as being superior to itself are taken as gods. All these varieties of conceptualisations of God arise on account of non-awareness of the true nature of God.

People who are accustomed to deny the other world, such as atheists, materialists, agnostics, etc., up to the Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Mimamsa, etc., may be said to be confused about the nature of the individual. Some are confused about the definition of jiva; some are confused about the definition of Ishvara. The complete concept, free from every defect, is difficult to have as long as concepts arise from the intellect, which is a limited, finite faculty.

Advitīya brahma tattvaṁ na jānanti yadā tadā, bhrāntā evākhilā steṣāṁ kva muktiḥ kveha vā sukham (217). Where is the question of mukti? Where is moksha, as long as we go on quibbling, arguing, and wander about from place to place in search of what we call a god for our freedom? With stability of the mind, a settled state of emotion and feeling, and a conviction that Ishvara can be realised at any spot in this world, there is no desire to move about. When this state of affairs is reached, when the mind is completely controlled in all its anguishes, desires and pursuits, it realises the non-dual Brahman just at the very spot where it is sitting. We need not move one inch from this place. Else, there will be confusion, confoundedness, and mukti, or moksha, will be far, far away.

Uttamā dhama bhāva ścet teṣāṁ syādastu tena kim, svapnastha rājya bhikṣābhyāṁ na buddhaḥ spṛśyate khalu (218). We may say these categories of philosophy are not actually falsehoods. They are degrees of reality. One thought is a lesser reality than the other one, which is higher. But this argument also does not hold much water. That there are degrees of reality is also a kind of confusion of thought. For instance, in dream there is a degree of reality between a beggar and a king; a king is certainly superior to a beggar. Inasmuch as either of them is only mind-stuff, dream-stuff, we will find that there is no distinction between a beggar and a kingthough they may appear as beggar in one case and king in another casebecause both are dream-stuff. There is no difference between them.

Therefore, the degrees of reality are also not a great consolation for us, though it is better to be a king in dream than a beggar in dream. It is a good idea no doubt, but when we wake up the king also goes, along with the beggar. He will not be there for a long time just because he is a king or an emperor. So the idea of degrees of reality goes together with the non-reality of dream world.

Tasmāt mumukṣu bhirnaiva matir-jīveśa vādayoḥ, kāryā kintu brahma tattvaṁ vicāryaṁ budhyatāṁ cat tat (219). Too much wrangling, questioning and running about in trying to know what is this, what is that, is of no utility finally. “I cannot understand what God is. I cannot understand what I am. I cannot understand what spiritual practice. is.” If we go on questioning, and go on receiving umpteen answers, finally we will reach no place. We have to stick to one particular ideal, and that ideal has to become a conviction. Afterwards there should be no doubt as to the veracity of that conviction that has been achieved.

It does not matter what our concept of God is. We should not compare our concept with another’s concept. It has already been mentioned that any concept is equally good. All concepts are equally good or equally bad and, therefore, comparison is not of much utility here. So we should stick to any concept that we have. Whatever notion we have about ourselves, that is the stand which we have to take at the beginning of practice.

We know where we stand, what are our problems, what are our difficulties. That stand is the real stand for us, and we should not compare ourselves with another person or compare our concept of God with another’s concept. Our concept of liberation is good enough for us, and through that we can attain moksha. After all, spiritual progress is an individual affair; each one has to tread one’s own path, and there is no question of comparison. No two persons will go to moksha together. Therefore, we should stick to one reality and utilise our time profitably in meditation on Brahman as such, without too much of arguments.

Pūrva pakṣa tayā tau cet tattva niścaya hetu tām, prāpnuto’stu nimajjasva tayor naitā vatā’vaśaḥ (220). These tentative definitions of God and jiva may look like steps leading to higher concepts; therefore, we may be under the impression that they are of some use. We may consider them as of some utility to us, provided they enable us to rise from the lower concept to the higher concept. But if we get sunk in that lower concept itself, then that concept is not going to liberate us. The degrees of reality are also good enough, provided we consider them as steps in the ladder of higher evolution. If the evolutionary process is not progressing onward or upward, our concept of this deity, or the prima facie utility of the different concepts of God, would not help us much. The test of spiritual progress is the freedom that one feels inside oneself and the betterment that one feels in body and mind.

Asannga cid vibhur jīvaḥ sāṅkhokta stādṛgīśvaraḥ, yogoktas tatvamor arthau śuddhau tāviti cet śṛṇu (221). The Samkhyas say that consciousness is purusha; purusha is consciousness, and it is unattached. Universal is purusha consciousness and it is unattached, says the Samkhya philosophy; and our definition of Ishvara appears to be practically of the same natureuniversal, and consciousness.

Na tattvamo rubhā varthau asmat siddhāntatāṁ gatau, advaita bodhanā yaiva sā kakṣā kācidi syate (222). There is a difference between our definition of Ishvara here and the apparent similarity between the notion of Ishvara and the purusha of the Samkhya philosophy. God is only one; Ishvara cannot be two. But the Samkhya purushas are many in number. This is the difference between the Vedanta concept of God and the Samkhya concept of purusha. Both are universal, both are unattachedperfectly true. But one is absolutely alone; the other is one among the many. Therefore, the Samkhya purusha cannot be identified with the Brahman or the Ishvara of the Vedanta.

Anādi māyayā bhrāntā jiveśau suvilakṣaṇau, manyante tad vyudāsāya kevalaṁ śodhanaṁ tayoḥ (223). All this study is intended to cleanse our mind of erroneous notions regarding the aim of life, the ultimate goal that we have to reachthat is, the relationship between tat and tvam, the relation between us and the universe. That relation obtaining between us and God has to be clarified first. And the clarification should not lead to a further confusion as to the nature of ourselves or Ishvara, as we have the difficulties in Samkhya, Nyaya, Vaishesika, etc. What should be the conclusion? Our study should lead us to the conclusion of the unitariness of Consciousness and the aloneness of it: One alone, without a second.

Ata evātra dṛṣṭāntaḥ yogyaḥ prāk samyagīritaḥ, ghaṭākāśa mahākāśa jalākāśābhra khātmakaḥ (224). Again and again the illustration of the relation between jiva and Ishvara is brought out here by the analogy mentioned for clarification of the concept. We may forget it, so it has to be repeated again and again.

The innermost Atman in us, called Kutastha, is comparable to the space in a pot appearing to be limited to the walls of the pot. That is the Pure Consciousness, the Kutastha in us. The vast space outside, unlimited in any manner, is Brahman. What is the difference between our deepest Consciousness and Brahman? Nothing; the difference is notional. The same space that is inside the pot is also outside. The largeness of space does not in any way get diminished by its apparent location inside a pot. The space is not inside the pot; it is only our imagination. If the pot walls are broken, nothing happens to the space which was apparently inside. It merges with the universal ether.

If this individual consciousness caused by the sheaths is to be transcended by breaking through all the sheaths, the pot of this body will break and the space-consciousness, which is the Kutastha inside us, will merge with universal Consciousness. That is the difference between Kutastha and Brahman, the difference between pot ether and universal ether.

But suppose there is a pot filled with water and space is reflected through that water; that is jiva. It is not pure ether, but reflected ethernot Kutastha Consciousness pure and simple by itself, but the same Consciousness reflected through the intellect which acts as the medium of water, as it were, in this pot of the body. And Ishvara is the universal reflection of the same space through a sheet of clouds. So we have now some understanding as to what difference there is among these principles of Brahman, Kutastha, Ishvara and jiva.

Jalābhro pādhya dhīne te jalākāśābhra khe tayoḥ, ādhārau tu ghaṭākāśa mahākāśau sunirmalau (225). Though there is an apparent reflection of space in the pot filled with water and through the clouds in the sky, really the sky is not capable of reflection like that, nor is the space in the pot reflected through the water. The space remains space; the clouds do not in any way contaminate the universal space. The water in the pot also does not in any way affect the space there. Space cannot be affected by any kind of movement or contamination of things in space. Space is unattached.

That ether in the pot is the source, the origin, of even the reflection thereof through the water. Similarly, the vast ether is the source of even the reflection of the very same thing through the clouds in the sky. There are, therefore, really no permanent reflections. They depend upon the cloud on the one hand and the water on the other hand. If the media are lifted up, Ishvara and jiva merge into the unity of Kutastha and Brahman. The One alone remains at once.

Evamānanda vijñāna mayau māyādhiyor vaśau, tada dhiṣṭhāna kūṭastha brahmaṇī tu sunirmale (226). In the same way, this consciousness in us which is inside the anandamaya kosha, and is reflected through the intellectual sheath, both these aspects of our consciousness are based finally on the ultimate substratum of Kutastha Consciousness and Brahman Consciousness.

Etat kakṣopa yogena sāṅkhaya yogau matau yadi, deho’nna maya kakṣatvāt ātmatvenā bhyu peyatām (227). If you begin to feel that this definition of the distinction between Ishvara and jiva or Brahman and Kutastha is similar to the definition of the same through Samkhya, we say it is not so. There is a great difference because the Samkhya sticks to its original concept of the multiplicity of individuals, and multiplicity can be conceived only in terms of body consciousness, finite consciousness, like this physical body consciousness. Inasmuch as we are likely to enter into greater and greater muddles by accepting the finitude and the divisibility of Consciousness according to Samkhya, we cannot compare this conclusion of ours drawn through these analogies to anything that Samkhya has said. Otherwise, we will enter into body consciousness afterwards.

Ātma bhedo jagat satyam īśo’nya iti cet trayam, tyajyate tasitadā sāṅkhya yoga vedānta sammatiḥ (228). In order for Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta to shake hands and have a single round-table conference, something has to be done. Samkhya should get out of the idea that the purushas are many in number, and it should also get out of the idea that the world is an external reality; and the Yoga of Patanjali should get out of the idea that Ishvara is simply transcendentally sitting somewhere beyond the created world.

If these three notionsthe multiplicity of purushas, the reality of an externalised world, and a transcendent Ishvarawere abandoned by Samkhya and Yoga, Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta would merge into a single doctrine. There would be no difference among them. There would be no Samkhya, no Yoga, no Vedanta. There would be one unitary philosophy, a single religion of the world, provided these finitising notions are got over. The transcendental, extra-cosmic character of Ishvara, the externality of the world of perception, and the multiplicity of individualsthese three are the obstacles before us in realising the Ultimate Being.

Jīvo’saṅgatva mātreṇa kṛtārtha iti cet tadā, srak candanādi nityatva mātreṇāpi kṛtārthatā (229). Yathā sragādi nityatvaṁ duḥ saṁpādyaṁ tathātmanaḥ, asaṅgatvaṁ na saṁbhāvyaṁ jīvator jagadīśayoḥ (230). Some Samkhya doctrine has come forward and said, “What does it matter if the purusha is multiple, provided it is unattached? Unattached is purusha; the detached character of purusha itself is sufficient to bring it liberation. If there are many, what is the harm?” This is like arguing that ordinary material objects in the world, such as sandalwood, a flower garland, etc., are manifold in number, and it does not matter if they are manifold provided the one is different from the other. This argument will not hold good because the unattached character of the purusha is not possible as long as there is a world outside and there is God above. The aboveness of God will control the purusha to such an extent that there would be no detachment of the purusha. It will be completely controlled by the ordinances of Ishvara on the one hand, and on the other hand, the externality of the world will impinge upon it so vehemently that there cannot be detachment.

Therefore, there is no use merely saying detachment is good enough. Universality is important, not merely detachment, because as long as there is finitude, detachment is not possible; and the purusha of the Samkhya is finite. Merely because we say that they are universal, it does not amount to anything because universal beings cannot be multiple in number. Their multiplicity defies their universality. As long as the jiva is there, subject to the externality of the world and the controlling power of God or Ishvara above, there would be no freedom for anyone. So subjection to God and subjection to the world outside follow as a concomitant feature of the acceptance of the Samkhya doctrine of the reality of the world and the Yoga doctrine of the transcendental nature of an Ishvara unconnected with the world.

Even if liberation is attained according to the Samkhya, the purusha will get into bondage again as long as prakriti is there because prakriti is eternal, so what good is this liberation? What is liberation according to the Samkhya? It is the detachment consciousness of purusha from prakriti. What is the use of this detachment consciousness if it cannot be omniscient? It is said that purusha is omniscient because it is universal. How could it be omniscient when prakriti is contending in front of it? If the prakriti exists as an eternal substance, as real as the purusha consciousness itself, there can be no universal consciousness and, therefore, the prakriti which is eternally there, as eternal as the purusha, will contend with the purusha eternally, and the bondage of the purusha will also continue. There will be no salvation for the purusha as long as prakriti exists.

Thus, the doctrine of the eternity of prakriti and the eternity of purusha simultaneously cancel each other, and the doctrine of the Samkhya falls because it cannot take us to the true concept of liberation.