Commentary on the Panchadasi
by Swami Krishnananda

Discourse 37 (Continued)

Chapter 7: Triptidipa Prakaranam – Light on Supreme Satisfaction Verses 1-15

Now comes the seventh chapter, which is called Triptidipa, Light on Satisfaction. The sixth chapter was called Light on the Analogy of a Painted Picture, Citradipa. Now it is called Triptidipa - Light on Satisfaction. What actually is satisfaction? In the beginning, a verse is quoted from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

Ātmānaṁ cet vijānīyāt ayam asmīti pūrusaḥ, kimicchan kasya kāmāya śarīram anu sanjvaret (1). This is from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. If one has realised one's own Self and has convinced oneself as to the certainty of the Self being everything, then for what purpose, desiring what, with what intention will a person run after things in the world and why should one take a birth into this body? This is the meaning of this verse.

Brahmaivedam amṛtam purastād brahma paścad brahma, dakṣinataś cottareṇa, adhaścordhvaṁ ca prasṛtam brahmaivedaṁ viśvam idaṁ variṣṭham (Mundaka 2.2.12) is a mantra from the Mundakopanishad. From above, from below, from the right, left, top and bottom, Brahman is flooding us from all sides. What is it that we want in this world? In the middle of the ocean, we are asking for water. So is the case with a person desiring objects in the world. While he is flooded with that original source of all things which is the granter of all boons and blessings, when he is inundated with that from all sides and directions, like a fish inside the ocean asking for drinking water, will a person run after things in the world? Will that have any meaning whatsoever? Such a predicament will not arise in the case of one who has attained the Self.

Asyāḥ śrute rabhi prāyaḥ samya gatra vicāryate, jīvan muktasya yā tṛpiḥ sā tena viśadāyate (2). Now, the purpose of this seventh chapter is to investigate into the meaning of this great sentence of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. What does this mantra mean, actually? If this purusha knows the Self as identical with one's own self, for what purpose, and desiring which item, will one enter into this body? This is a literal translation of this great mantra of the Upanishad. It has tremendous implications. These implications and profundities are now being discussed throughout the seventh chapter.

Māya bhāsena jīveśau karotīti śrutatvataḥ, kalpitā veva jīveśau tābhyāṁ sarvaṁ prakalpitam (3). A verse meaning almost the same as one that we studied in the sixth chapter is now once again told to us. By the reflection in twofold ways in the properties of maya that is sattva or rajas, there is the manifestation of Ishvara and jiva. The creative principle and the individual sufferer are projections of the same Brahman consciousness, the jiva being the reflection of Brahman consciousness through the rajasic and tamasic qualities of prakriti, and Ishvara being the reflection of the same Brahman consciousness through the pure sattva of prakriti. And the whole world is flooded with only these two things: the creative operative force of Ishvara working everywhere and the desires and the sufferings of jivas which they undergo everywhere. The entire world is nothing but a scenery of the operation of Ishvara on the one hand and the indulgences of the jiva on the other hand. This is the world, briefly put.

Īkṣaṇādi prave śantā sṛṣṭir īśena kalpitā, jāgradādi vimokṣantah saṁsāro jīva kalpitaḥ (4). We have also read this verse in the previous chapter. Right from the will of Brahman to concentrate on the future possibility of creation becoming Ishvara thereby – hence starting with will, then becoming Hiranyagarbha, then becoming Ishvara, then manifesting itself as space and time, then sabda tanmatra, etc., and the five elements, until the Brahman consciousness manifests itself through all these degrees of evolution, and also until it enters into each one of them by way of immanence – God's creation is complete. This is called Ishvara-srishti.

But when the individual, which is also pervaded by the same Brahman consciousness, begins to assert its independence somehow or other for reasons unknown, it gets severed from its relationship with the Universal consciousness. It falls. There is a fall, as they call it. And the fall is the headlong descent of a topsy-turvy awareness of jiva consciousness which mistakes the external for the internal and the internal for the external, the right for the left and the left for the right, and becomes artificially conscious of a world apparently outside it. This is called the waking state. Up to the conclusion of Ishvara-srishti, there is no such thing as waking consciousness. It is eternal consciousness. The waking consciousness is characterised by externality of perception, whereas in Ishvara tattva there is no externality. Here is the difference.

So the jiva falls headlong, down into samsara. There is waking consciousness of an external world, and it is again seen in the dream world, and due to fatigue it becomes exhausted and falls into sleep and wakes up from sleep and again becomes entangled in the waking consciousness. This cycle of samsara continues in the jiva. These are the two kinds of creation, Ishvara-srishti and jiva-srishti – God's creation and individual's creation.

Bhramā dhiṣṭhāna bhūtātmā kūṭasthā saṅga cidvapuḥ, anyonyā dhyāsato’saṅga dhīstha jīvo’tra pūruṣaḥ (5). In the mantra quoted from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the word purusha is used – where this purusha is to know the Atman as identical with one's own Self. Now, who is this purusha? The purusha is nothing but the jiva. It is the jiva that is aspiring for the knowledge of the Self. That consciousness which is rooted in a substratum called Kutastha-chaitanya, really unattached as the Kutastha Himself is, consciousness which is detached from everything else – though this is the essential nature of the jiva consciousness in terms of the Kutastha which is its substratum, yet what happens is that there is anyo'nyadhyasa, mutual superimposition of characters. We need not go into the details of all this because we have studied it already in the earlier chapter – how one thing is superimposed on the other.

The Universality of consciousness, which is the Kutastha nature, is superimposed on the jiva so that the jiva wrongly begins to feel that it is not going to die. It will always be there, perpetually living this world; and conversely, the limitations, the finitude which is of the jiva is transferred to the Kutastha-chaitanya and one beings to feel "I am small, I am short, I am high, I am low," and so on are the descriptions of oneself.

This dual, mutual superimposition is called anyo'nyadhyasa, subject to which one becomes the individual jiva. This jiva it is that is referred to by the word purusha in this quoted verse from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

Sādhiṣṭhāno vimokṣādau jīvo’dhikriyate na tu, kevalo niradhiṣṭhāna vibhrānteḥ kvāpya siddhitaḥ (6). It is not the Kutastha-chaitanya that is asking for moksha, because Kutastha chaitanya is Universal consciousness appearing to be limited within this pot-like limitation of our body. And what is it then that actually aspires for moksha? It is not the ether that is in the pot; it is the ether that is reflected in the water that is poured into the pot that aspires for moksha. It is a reflected consciousness that goes by the name of jiva which aspires for freedom and liberation. The Pure Consciousness that is the Kutastha itself need not aspire, because it is unconnected with things. The sorrows of life are also experienced by the jiva, and the aspiration for liberation also is an exercise of the jiva consciousness only.

Adhiṣṭhānāṁśa saṁyuktaṁ bhramāṁśam avalambate, yadā tadā’haṁ saṁsārīti evaṁ jīvo’bhimanyate (7). When this jiva which is superimposed on the Kutastha begins to identify itself with that limited personality, it begins to cry: "I am involved. I am in samsara. I am in the ocean of suffering." And then it wants freedom from suffering.

Bhramāṁ śasya tiraskārāt adhiṣṭhāna pradhānatā, yadā tadā cidāmtmāham asaṅgo’smiti buddhyate (8). When by deep meditation one is enabled to detach the consciousness from this finitude of experience and convince oneself that we are basically the Kutastha chaitanya, then one feels happy inside. If we are day in and day out concerned only with this identity of ours, with this jiva consciousness, then sorrow is the only thing that we can reap in this world. There cannot be a moment's rest and peace or respite here. But there are occasions when, due to spiritual education, we are reminded of the fact of our not being so very identical with the body as it is made to appear – that our essence is something else.

So even if we die, actually nothing is lost. This consciousness, this conviction, keeps us alive and gives us a little peace of mind for some time. Otherwise, if the jiva consciousness is a hundred percent our heritage, we will not enjoy peace here, even for three minutes.

Nāsaṅge’hankṛtir yuktā kathām asmīti cet śrṇu, edo mukhyo dvāva mukhāv ityartha strividho’hamaḥ (9). How is it possible for the unattached Kutastha chaitanya to get identified with ahamkara, or egoism? How does the infinite become the finite? How does ahamkara enter into this Universal Kutastha-chaitanya? For this we must understand what this ahamkara is.

What is egoism? The egoism is of three kinds. According to Yoga Vasishtha, the three kinds of ahamkara are as follows. "I am this body." This is one kind of ahamkara. "I am nothing." This is another kind of ahamkara. "I am everything." This is a third kind of ahamkara. The teacher of the Yoga Vasishtha tells us there is no harm if we feel that we are nothing. There is also no harm if we feel that we are everything. But if we feel that we are only something, then we are caught.

Sankaracharya was inside, and his disciple came and knocked at the door. Sankaracharya said, "Who is that?"

"I," replied the disciple.

"Let it either expand to infinity or let it annihilate itself." This is what the Guru spoke from inside. "I – Let it either expand itself to infinity, or let it annihilate itself. But let it not identify itself only with something. Either you are nothing or everything, but not something." These are the three kinds of ahamkara according to the Yoga Vasishtha.

Anyonyā dhyāsa rūpeṇa kūṭasthā bhāsa yorvapuḥ, ekī bhūya bhaven mukhyas tatra mūḍhaiḥ prayujyate (10). One kind of ahamkara is the obvious one that we are experiencing every day. That is caused by the mutual superimposition of qualities, anyo'nyadhyasa. That is, the chidabhasa chaitanya is identified with the Kutastha and Kutastha is identified with the chidabhasa chaitanya. This word chidabhasa occurs several times in the Panchadasi. We must know what this word means. Chidabhasa means reflection of consciousness. Chid means consciousness; abhasa is reflection.

The Kutastha Universal Atman getting reflected through the buddhi, or the intellect, is called chidabhasa. The reflected consciousness through the buddhi is called chidabhasa. This chidabhasa is many a time identified with the personality. It assumes an egoism. The moment the consciousness of Kutastha reflects itself through the buddhi, egoism comes in. Chidabhasa and ahamkara are juxtaposed. They cannot be separated. When the one is, the other also is there. We cannot have ahamkara, or ego consciousness, unless there is a reflection which is chidabhasa. The moment chidabhasa takes place, the ego also crops up. This is one kind of ahamkara which has to be known.

Pṛthagā bhāsa kūṭasthau amukhau tatra taṭva vit, paryāyeṇa prayuṅkte’haṁ śabdaṁ loke ca vaidike (11). The other ahamkara is the feeling, consciousness that "I am Kutastha-chaitanya and I am not associated with the reflection." That is also a kind of ahamkara because there is a feeling "I am something". The feeling or the conviction that the reflected consciousness is not in any way connected with the original Kutastha consciousness and the one is different from the other – the awareness of the distinction between these two types of awareness – that is the second variety of ahamkara.

The jivanmukta purushas generally are in this condition where they have a consciousness of their existence; they know that they are living in this body, but they know that they are not identified with the body. As we noted earlier, the karmaja adhyasa is operative even in the case of a jivanmukta, but the bhramaja and the sahaja adhyasas are not operative in the jivanmukta purusha. These terms should be kept in mind always since they occur many a time.

Laukika vayvahāre’haṁ gacchāmī tyādike bhudaḥ, vivicaiva cidā bhāsaṁ kūṭasthāt taṁ vivikṣati (12). "I am coming in a few minutes." When we say this, whom are we referring to? ‘I’. It is a complete mix-up of chidabhasa and ahamkara with this body consciousness. This is the third kind of ahamkara, which is entirely lodged in the body.

Asaṅgo’haṁ cidātmāham iti śāstrīya dṛṣṭitaḥ, ahaṁ śabdaṁ prayuṅktte’yaṁ kūtasthe kevale budhaḥ (13). The knowledgeable person, the enlightened one, knows that he is the totally unattached Pure Consciousness. This Knowledge that has arisen by deep study of scriptures and by learning from the Guru and by sravana, manana, nididhyasana – this ahamkara of the jivanmukta is pure shuddha ahamkara, which is the feeling of "I am Pure Consciousness". The feeling "I am Pure Consciousness" also is a kind of ahamkara. This is another variety altogether.

Jñānitājñānite tvātmā bhāsasyaiva na cāt manaḥ, tathā ca kathamā bhāsaḥ kūṭastho’smīti buḍhyatām (14). Knowing and not knowing the truth as it is, is a character of the reflection of consciousness. Kutastha does not have these qualities. The immortal Atman that we are, Kutastha as it is called, neither has a desire to know, nor is it in a state of ignorance at any time. Who is it that is in ignorance then? It is this chidabhasa – consciousness getting reflected through the intellect and becoming an individual personality. So only in that condition of reflection there is a possibility of not knowing truth and then aspiring for truth. Nāyaṁ doṣaś cidā bhāsaḥ kūṭasthaika svabhāva vān, ābhāsatvā sya mithyā tvāt kūṭasthatvā avaśeṣaṇāt (15). Let the seeker go on, therefore, dwelling upon this great truth that Kutastha is unattached, though without its existence even the chidabhasa cannot exist. Without its existence, without the light of the Kutastha chaitanya on chidabhasa, ahamkara or ego also cannot exist. And the body also cannot move without the light of that Kutastha. Though this is the fact, Kutastha is totally detached, as the sun in the sky is totally detached in spite of the fact that all movements in the world are attributable to his existence.

The abhasa, the reflection, chidabhasa, is an apparent illumination, like a light falling on a mirror. The reflection, the conditioning, the characterisation or the limitation of the reflection is caused by the medium through which the reflection takes place – in a mirror, for instance, or here in the case of the individual intellect. The intellect varies from person to person because the intellect is the residuum of the old prarabdha of jivas – and so as is the difference in the working of the prarabdha karma of jivas, so is also the feeling of ahamkara different from one another for the same reason.