Commentary on the Panchadasi
by Swami Krishnananda

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Discourse 34

Chapter 6: Chitradipa – Light on the Analogy of a Painted Picture
Verses 231-248

Avaśayaṁ prakṛtiḥ saṅgaṁ pure vāpādayet tathā, niyaccha tyeta mīśo’pi ko’sya mokṣas tathā sati (231). The doctrine of the Samkhya is taken up for consideration once again, here especially in regard to its concept of moksha or liberation. The Samkhya doctrine holds that bondage is the union of purusha with prakriti – consciousness and matter; and freedom or moksha, liberation, is the separation of consciousness from matter – the withdrawal of the purusha consciousness from prakriti. Here the Panchadasi takes up this issue as to whether this is a feasible definition of moksha, because freedom is either complete or it is worth nothing. A little freedom is more annoying than having no freedom at all.

Complete freedom is called moksha, liberation. How would we expect the purusha consciousness to be absolutely free and be in a state of liberation when prakriti is there, contending with its own existence? The infinite prakriti will stand opposed to the infinite purusha always. Secondly, omniscience would be impossible unless the purusha consciousness knows prakriti also. If prakriti is something that the consciousness of purusha does not know, there would be no omniscience because there would be something which the purusha does not know. But if purusha knows prakriti, it will come in contact with prakriti once again as it did earlier, so bondage would be there – no freedom.

Thus, the very definition of moksha according to the Samkhya is defective because prakriti will certainly restrain the purusha as it did earlier and cause it to have contact with prakriti in order that it may be an object of its awareness. If prakriti is known, it causes bondage. If it is not known, purusha is not omniscient. So either way, there is a problem.

And Ishvara, who is considered by the Yoga doctrine as something transcendent, extra-cosmic, will also control the purusha as He was controlling it earlier, because unrelated objects are the sources of fear. If there is some relation, we can adjust ourselves harmoniously in terms of that relation. If there is no relation whatsoever, it is difficult to make out what sense is there between one thing and another thing. What kind of moksha is this, then? Ko’sya mokṣas tathā sati.

Aviveka kṛtaḥ saṅgaḥ niyama śceti cettadā, balādā patito māyā vādaḥ sāṅkhyasya durmateḥ (232). The Samkhya doctrine may retort by saying that the contact of purusha with prakriti a second time is not permissible because it has already had an experience of the suffering caused by such a contact; and actually, the contact itself is inexplicable, since two dissimilar entities cannot come in contact with each other. And a contact so-called, between purusha and prakriti, is only a matter of non-discrimination. If this is accepted by the Samkhyas, it is actually landing itself on the maya doctrine of the Vedanta philosophy. Somehow or other, the Universal Brahman cannot be totally avoided from any concept of philosophical doctrine, and Samkhya is refuted here hereby.

Bandha mokṣa vyavasthārthaṁ ātma nānātva miṣyatām, iti cenna yato māyā vayavasthā payituṁ kṣamā (233). For the sake of the freedom that one has to attain in order to reach moksha, the distinction between Atman and anatman has to be entered into, because the multiplicity of the purushas as adumbrated by the Samkhya stands as a great obstacle in knowing the true difference between purusha and prakriti, consciousness and matter.

The distinction between the knower and the known is not very clear when consciousness comes in contact with matter. As the illustration of the Samkhya goes, when a red flower is brought very near in juxtaposition with a clear crystal, the crystal assumes the color of the flower; it becomes red in its nature. The whole crystal becomes red. Now, crystal can never become red, inasmuch as the redness that is perceived is only due to an apparent contact of the color of the flower brought near it – apparent contact. Really the flower has not entered into the crystal.

In a similar manner, it is to be understood how bondage has taken place. Consciousness cannot enter the object because of the dissimilar characters between the two. The object is that which is not consciousness. If the object also is regarded as a face of consciousness, that should not be regarded as an object any more. The definition of consciousness is non-objectivity and, therefore, when we perceive an object and get attached to it, we should not be under the impression that we are beholding consciousness itself. Consciousness differentiates itself from everything that is external to it, and the objects are nothing but the externality of consciousness.

Durghaṭaṁ ghaṭayāmīti viruddhaṁ kim na paśyasi, vāstavau bandha mokṣau tu śrutir na sahate tarām (234). This is again a refutation of the Samkhya doctrine. An impossible thing cannot be made possible. The coming in contact of purusha with prakriti is actually an impossible occurrence – impossible because of the two being totally different in nature, one being pure subjective awareness and the other being pure objective unconsciousness. It is a contradiction. Don't you realise that in your attempt to make feasible what is otherwise impossible, you are bringing about a contradiction? Viruddhaṁ kim na paśyasi.

Vāstavau bandha mokṣau. Actually speaking, even bondage and liberation are not to be regarded as spatio-temporal occurrences. Bondage is not a spatial or a temporal reality. It is something above space and time. That is why the bound soul also becomes conscious of there being such a thing called space and time. Even moksha is not something that is achieved in the future.

moksha is liberation, attainment of eternity – timelessness in eternity. As eternity cannot be a matter of the future as eternity has no past, present and future, the attainment of eternity, which is really moksha or liberation, cannot be a matter of tomorrow. It is an eternity just now at this very moment – here and now. This has been confirmed by certain scriptures like the Karikas or the commentary written by Gaudapada Acharya on the Mandukya Upanishad, where he has quoted a very important verse.

Na nirodho na cotpattir na baddho na ca sādhakaḥ, na mumukṣur na vai muktaḥ ityeṣā paramārthatā (235). The Ultimate Reality being Brahman, all processes, whatever they be, that applicable to this world of experience cannot be applied to Brahman. There is no dissolution of the cosmos ultimately, nor is there a creation of the universe, in the same way as a rope which is indistinctly seen in twilight looks like a snake, but really it has not become a snake. The snake is not created by the rope; there is no creation of the snake at any time, though it appears in the rope. So appearance of something can be possible, even if it is not really there. Also, there is no withdrawal of the snake into the rope. That never took place; therefore, withdrawal also is out of point.

So is the nature of this world. It is not an actual manifestation in concrete substantial form. It is an appearance, as subtle forces which constitute this cosmos in a large continuum of spacelessness and timelessness may look like objects like the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, ether – little atomic particles which are inwardly forces and are continuous in their nature. Therefore, defying even the concept of space and time they become the causes of solid spatio-temporal objects like the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether. Basically, originally, neither is there creation nor withdrawal of the universe.

Therefore, nobody can be considered as ultimately bound and ultimately attempting for freedom from bondage. Nobody aspires for moksha and nobody is attaining moksha if it is understood in a spatio-temporal sense, because moksha is not a movement in space. It is also not an occurrence in time. So when the thing is neither in space nor in time, where is it then? It cannot be regarded as anything comparable to that in the world or conceivable to our mind.

Originally, when we wake up from the state of dream, for instance, we will find the objects that we saw in dream were never created and were never withdrawn. The experiences caused in dream did not actually take place, though they appear to be taking place very, very, solidly. A very solid and real experience may not actually be there at all. This is what is happening in creation, finally. God alone is, and outside Him nothing can be.

Māyākhyāyāḥ kāma dhenor vatsau jiveśvarāvubhau, yathecchaṁ pibatāṁ divaitaṁ tattvaṁ tvadvaita meva hi (236). If maya can be regarded as a cow, Ishvara and jiva are the products, the two babies born to this maya shakti. Because of the fact Ishvara is a reflection of Brahman through the sattva guna of prakriti, and jiva is the very same Brahman reflected through the rajas and tamas qualities of prakriti, prakriti is maya from the Vedantic point of view.

Hence, both the Ishvara concept and the jiva concept are possible only when there is a reflection of Brahman consciousness through the qualities of prakriti. That is why it is said that prakriti, which is maya, is the mother, as it were, of these two babies that were born to it, Ishvara and jiva.

Yathecchaṁ pibatāṁ divaitaṁ tattvaṁ tvadvaita meva: Let these children, these calves born to this cow, drink of the milk of duality as much as they can. Yet non-duality reigns supreme. The very concept of duality implies a precedence of a consciousness that itself is not dual, but non-dual.

Kūṭastha brahmaṇor bhedaḥ nāma mātrāt ṛte na hi, ghaṭākāśa mahākāśau viyujyete nahi kvacit (237). We have already mentioned earlier that the Kutastha consciousness, or the deepest Atman in us, and the supreme Brahman are not separable in any way whatsoever, as the pot ether cannot be separated from the large ether.

moksha will be the merging of the pot ether in the Universal ether. But the pot ether never exists and, therefore, neither can its creation be regarded as real, nor can its merger be regarded as an event that is taking place. In the same way as the creation of a pot ether or the merger of it in the Universal ether cannot be regarded as events taking place, so is the nature of this world coming from Brahman or the return of this world to Brahman. They appear to be going on as events in space and time, but really no such event takes place – because if events take place, God's unitary existence would be foiled.

Yada dvaitaṁ śrutaṁ sṛṣṭeḥ prāk tadevādya copari, muktā vapi vṛthā māyā bhrāmayatya khilān janān (238). That unitary Being – Absolute Brahman, which was there prior to the apparent creation – is even now in the same condition. After the creation, Brahman has not become something else. It is existing in the same eternal state even after the apparent creation of the world as it was prior to the act of creation. Even in the state of moksha it will remain the same eternity that it was.

Delusion, maya, somehow or other confuses people and makes them run about hither and thither in search of things, as if they are the causes of bondage or they are the sources of their liberation. Nothing of the kind is finally true, because we have emphasised again and again that the existence of Brahman does not permit the existence of any event taking place outside it. Nor can any event take place within it. Therefore, no event takes place anywhere.

This is something like the modern theory of relativity coming to the staggering conclusion that events do not take place in space or time. If they do not take place in space or time, where on earth are they taking place? They do not take place – a very great consoling truth for us.

Ye vadantīt thamete’pi bhrāmyante vidyayātra kim, na yathā pūrva meteṣām atra bhrāntera darśanāt (239). Even after we hear all these discourses on the great truth of Brahman, we will find that we are still in the same bondage of suffering. But, the author says there is a difference. There is a difference between us – people who have listened to this for a long time and people who have never heard of it at all, even once. Though we also have hunger, thirst, suffering, sorrow, anxiety and many other difficulties as other people have, there is some strength in us which will stand us in good stead on account of the knowledge that has been impregnated into our mind and the deep contemplation that we have practiced on this truth for a long time, which will be of great utility to us even in the worst of suffering.

Thus, it does not mean that merely because there is an apparent suffering caused by body consciousness, the knowledge that we have acquired is useless. It will stand us in good stead one day or the other because knowledge is different from ignorance, and one who knows nothing about things is certainly not the same as one who knows these things – notwithstanding the fact that, physically speaking, they look alike.

Aihikā muṣmikaḥ sarvaḥ saṁsāro vāstavas tataḥ, na bhāti nāsti cādvaitam itya jñāni viniścayaḥ (240). Ignorant people do not even know that there is a world other than this world. And even if they are told there is something like that, they believe in the reality of an earthly existence and the solid reality of a heavenly world. The samsara, this bondage, this suffering of life, is considered as permanently valid by ignorant people. Neither do they know what is above the world, nor do they have any idea of the non-dual character of the Ultimate Reality. This is the essence of ignorance, ajnana.

But the jnanin, or the knower, is of a different character. He knows that this world and also the other realms such as heaven, etc., are degrees of reality – apparently there but really not there, for reasons already mentioned in earlier verses.

Jñānino viparīto’smāt niśayaḥ samyagī kṣyate, svasva niścayato baddho mukto’haṁ ceti manyate (241). Ultimately, nothing affects the jnanin. If he gains something, it is all right for him. If he loses something, that is also all right for him because he feels that any material gain is not going to make a person really happy. And inasmuch as nothing that comes can make him happy, nothing that goes can make him unhappy. This is what the jnanin really feels.

On account of a lack of clarity in understanding, one feels that he is bound; the other feels he is free. The freedom and the bondage of the soul are actually caused by the variety of thinking processes taking place in the mind. The mind thinking in terms of objects is what is bound. The mind thinking in terms of soul consciousness, independent of the objects, is what is free.

Nādvaitam aparokṣaṁ cet na cidrūpeṇa bhāsanāt, aśeṣeṇa na bhātaṁ cet dvaitaṁ kiṁ bhāsate’khilam (242). It may be held that this unitary consciousness that is non-dual is not visible to the eyes. Why not? The very nature of consciousness is of the character of non-duality. We cannot say that non-duality is not visible. Our consciousness itself is a demonstration of this unreality. Do we feel that we are two persons because we have got two hands or two ears or two legs? Do we feel that we are a multiple complex individual because our body is made up of many, many little parts, fractions, or cells? Do we not feel that we are one indivisible consciousness?

When we go into deep sleep, all the associations of the consciousness with the five sheaths are obliterated completely. Do we not feel at that time that there is one single bliss-like experience? We had a wholeness of feeling in the state of deep sleep. That wholeness is nothing but indivisibility. Indivisibility is nothing but non-duality of consciousness. So the non-duality of consciousness is actually demonstrated before our very eyes every day in our day-to-day experience.

Aśeṣeṇa na bhātaṁ cet dvaitaṁ kiṁ bhāsate’khilam: The only thing is, it is not entirely clear to us. That is the case with the dual world also. Do we see the dual world entirely with our eyes? The astronomical universe is so large that even the most powerful telescope cannot fathom it. But have we seen the entire dual world? If that is the case, why complain that the non-dual consciousness is only partially being felt? It is partially felt because of the encumbrance of the karma potencies that are heaped up in the layer called the causal body, which obscures the consciousness in the state of deep sleep. But for that, we would have seen the entirety of the unitary consciousness. This is the reason why we have the experience only in fraction and not in wholeness.

Diṅmātreṇa vibhānaṁ tu dvayorapi samaṁ khalu, dvaita siddhi vada dvaita siddhiste tāvatā na kim (243). Fraction is the nature of our experience. Neither the dual world nor the non-dual consciousness can be experienced by us completely and, therefore, they stand on an equal footing. There is the dual perception of the world of astronomy or the non-dual perception of consciousness. Therefore, there is no comparison of superior or inferior in respect of our awareness of the dual world or the non-dual consciousness. Both of them are known only in fraction, for reasons already mentioned.

Dvaitena hīna madvaitaṁ dvaita jñāne kathaṁ tvidam, cid bhānaṁ tva virodhyasya dvaita syāto’same ubhe (244). Actually, we in our ignorance may imagine the non-duality is an abstraction, that it is an absence of duality. This is not so. The origin of duality presupposes the existence of a non-dual consciousness. In order that we may know that two people are sitting, our consciousness should rise above the concept of these two people. Otherwise, our consciousness will be also divided into two persons, one on this side and one on the other side. How do we, in a single grasp of our awareness, know that two persons are sitting in front of us? As the one is totally different from the other, it is not possible for anyone to know that both are simultaneously sitting. The simultaneity of the awareness of two people sitting together or many things being there is because of there being consciousness in us which clubs them together; and the multiplicity of the world can also be seen in one stroke. With one stretch we can see the whole thing because our consciousness, which is Kutastha-chetanya, is basically Brahma-chetanya. It pervades the entire cosmos.

Unknowingly, it does the work of providing us with the knowledge of the totality of the world, though they are multifarious in their nature. Very difficult is this notion. We have to go deep into the subject for understanding its true meaning.

Dual consciousness is totally impossible because when things are actually two, it is not possible to know that there are two things. The consciousness of two things is possible only if there is a consciousness which is not two. If there are only dualities or multiplicities, as the dualists contend, there would be nobody to know that these dualities exist at all. So even in our contention that the dual world exists or that many things in the world do exist, we are unwittingly accepting the existence of an awareness of all these dualities. We are falling into non-duality, whether we want it or not.

Evaṁ tarhi śṛṇu dvaitam asan māyā mayatvataḥ, tena vāstava madvaitaṁ pariśeṣāt vibhāsate (245). Now what is the conclusion, sir? After hearing all this, the non-dual consciousness is the Ultimate Reality. Brahman is the supreme truth, and it is in our own heart scintillating, radiating as Atman. Advaita, the non-dual character of consciousness, is the final reality, and all that is dual hangs on it because the very knowledge of duality would be impossible without a transcendent consciousness which is not dual.

Acintya racanā rūpaṁ māyaiva sakalaṁ jagat, iti niścitya vastutvam advaite pari śeṣyatām (246). Impossible it is for anyone to understand how this world is made. Any amount of intellectual jugglery, argumentation or scientific observation will not lead us anywhere. The mystery of the world remains always a mystery. Having realised that there is a fantastic mystery that is operating behind this so-called apparent world, we should withdraw our consciousness from it and be non-attached to it. May we be established in the consciousness of that unitary existence by disconnecting our consciousness from all that is contrary to it, knowing well that this wonderful world is a magical performance and its variety is no proof of its real existence.

Punar dvaitasya vastutvaṁ bhāti cettvaṁ tathā punaḥ, pariśīlaya ko vātra prayāsa stena te vada (247). Even if we go on meditating on the unitariness of the Absolute, when we open our eyes we will see many things in front of us. The dual consciousness cannot leave us or give us rest. Again and again we will see many things in the world, causing love and hatred, attraction-repulsion, etc. Though we are meditating for one hour, two hours, three hours, we will see the world is too much for us in spite of our meditation. Then what should be done?

Our time for meditation should increase. If we are meditating only for one hour, we should increase it to two hours; if it is two hours, we should make it three hours, four hours or five hours. At least five hours of meditation is necessary. Ordinary people will find it difficult to find time, but the attempt has to be made, at least in bits of process of meditation. Again and again we must habituate ourselves to this contemplation on sarvam kalvidam brahama – the All is the Absolute. And then, gradually, we will find the harassing duality-consciousness will leave us one day or the other.

Kiyantaṁ kāla miti cet khedo’yaṁ dvaita iṣyatām, advaite tu na yukto’yaṁ sarvā nartha nivāraṇāt (248). How long should I meditate? In the Brahma Sutra a question of this kind is raised. We may go on meditating either till Self-realisation or till death, whichever is earlier. Why should we put a question like that, "How long should I meditate," as if it is a job for which we are paid? We have to spend the whole life in meditation. We have no other duty. So don't put a question – kiyantaṁ kāla: How long?

Would we ask a question: How long should we go on looking at the world? We are never tired of seeing the beauties and the distractions of life. Why did we not put a question "How long will I see them?" And now when we are asked to meditate, we say "how long?" as if it is something thrust upon us. Our duty is contemplation. The Atman is made of contemplation in substance, and action is not its essential nature. Action, work, bondage of any kind born of that is the character of the physical sheath, the subtle body, the causal body, etc. The Atman by itself is unattached and, therefore, it works not. Its very existence is its activity.

Therefore, we should go on meditating until we attain Self-realisation. Even if death snatches us up before Self-realisation takes place – because in most cases Self-realisation may not take place in one life, and death may overtake a person – it does not matter. This question was raised by Arjuna in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavadgita when Bhagavan Sri Krishna gave the answer, "There is no loss of any good work." Even if we have meditated sincerely for only three days, it will be a great asset for us which will be carried forward in our positive balance sheet of action in the next birth. Because of the continuous meditation that we have practiced in this life, in the next birth we will find it very easy.

Have we not seen people in this world, even little children, suddenly appearing to be very precocious, quickly understanding things? Many young boys and girls suddenly take to spiritual life without any kind of practice earlier in their lives. What could be the reason? They have been practicing it in previous births. That great yogis suddenly became masters within a few years after their birth can be explained only in terms of the great sadhana that they did in their previous lives.

So is the case with people who may not attain Self-realisation in this life; and therefore, we should not be afraid. There is no need for despondency, melancholy, etc. We should let the meditation go on, and be sure that our primary duty in life is this only. There is nothing else.