Sri Vidyaranya Swami’s पञ्चदशी
Session by Sri Swamini Svatmavidyananda
Here is the video of the recording of the session — http://livestream.com/Swaminiji/events/4829995
ॐ सहना ववतु सह नौ भुनक्तु सहवीर्यं करवावहै । तेजस्वीनावधीतामस्तु माविद्विषावहै ॥ ॐ शांतिः । शांतिः। शांतिः |
Sri Vidyaranya Swami’s magnum opus work is Panchaadasi. He was from the 19th century. He was the Chief minister of Vijayanagar empire in South India, which was the hallmark of Indian Renaissance.
Madhava was his poorvashram name. His Sanskrit work – Maadhaveeya Daatu Vrittiमाधवीयधातुवृत्ति: – lists various declensions and conjugations. King Krishnadevaraya continued to take his advice even after the Swami had resigned from the minister’s post and took Sanyaasa.
Anubhooti Prakaasha is a work by Sri Vidyaaranya. It is the essence of the Upanishads. He wrote the Kaarika – a commentary on the Upanishads in verse form. In verse form, it is called Kaarika. In the prose form, it is called Bhaashya. When the Bhaashya is being commented upon, it is referred to as Vaartika. Teeka are notes on the Vaartika. The footnotes on the Teeka is Tippani. Each of these works has certain rules.
Jeevan Mukti Viveka – to get salvation during life. Right now, I am suffering from a sense of bondage. Right now, I need to be free. So it is to be free right here, right now. We should be able to say “muktoham” मुक्तोऽहम् (m) or “muktaaham” मुक्ताहम्(f). This is Vedanta.
He could see that there is no difference between man and woman – as far as freedom from Samsaara is concerned. It was a time when it was not easy for a woman and Sanyaasa was not ordained or recommended for woman. It was not easy for them to do tapas in the forests as even the physical protection was difficult for them . But Swami Vidyaranya said that women cannot be debarred from taking to Sanyaasaa.
He wrote this 15 chaptered work called पञ्चदशी Panchadashi – She who has fifteen chapters. All pursuits are in feminine gender words – from bhukti to mukti – vidya, aishwarya, shakti, etc. Panchadashi is also a feminine word.
It is widely believed that only the first 5 chapters were written by Swami Vidyaranya. The whole book is ascribed to him. Those were the days that knowledge was not owned by the author. It was a custom that that time. The writers might dedicated their work to their guru or to some great scholar. That is how so many works have gone by the name Adi Shankra. But in Vidyarandaya’s case, Bharathi Teertha was his guru bhai, the disciple of his guru, Swami Shankarananda. First 5 chapters have a certain flair which is different from the rest of the chapters. In terms of the subject matter and in terms of the way in dealing with the subject matter, there is continuity. It folds the truth of Vedanta. It is an ambitiuous undertaking. It analyses all aspects completely like – cosmology of creation, jeevatma, ishwara, jagat, practices to grow further. There are references from other works.
In Panchadasi, the names of first 5 chapters end with the term Viveka or enquiry / discrimination – Tattva Viveka, Mahavakya Viveka. Second set ends with Deepa or light – Chitra deepa, Kutasta Deepa, Naataka Deepa. Last 5 chapter-names end with Ananda or bliss. First there is enquiry into the nature and meaning of Aham. The light is the knowledge of the oneness of the self and Ishwara. This results in Ananda or bliss. This is how the whole work is split into 3 parts of 5 chapters each.
Naataka Deepa नाटक दीप is the name of the tenth chapter. Naataka refers to dance or drama. This metaphor is being taken in this chapter. Drishtaanta दृष्टान्तः is example. There are numerous examples provided in this book. In earlier days, there were no focus lights or spot lights for the prime actor. Before the dancers, musicians and audience arrived, the Naataka deepa gets lit. It continues to glow even after the performance ends. It remains as an unfailing witness to the happenings there. The light does not differentiate between the people. It lights up both the presence and the absence of things. Only the first 5 to 7 verses are related to this metaphor. dhaarshTaanta दार्ष्टान्त – the message that is exemplified is covered in the rest of the verses.
नमः श्रीशङ्करानन्दगुरुपादाम्बुजन्मने । सविलासमहामोहग्राहग्रासैककर्मणे ॥ १॥
namaḥ śrīśaṅkarānandagurupādāmbujanmane savilāsamahāmohagrāhagrāsaikakarmaṇe
namaḥ, salutations; śrī-śaṅkarānanda-guru-pāda-ambu-janmane , unto the lotus feet of the guru Sri Sankarananda; savilāsa-mahā-moha-grāha-grāsaekakarmaṇe, whose only job is to devour the sharks of great delusion along with their offspring. Salutations unto the lotus feet of the guru, Sri Sankarananda, whose only job is to devour the sharks of great delusion along with their offspring.
This is the first verse for the entire work. This prayer is to the guru. नमः श्री–शङ्करानन्द–गुरु–पाद–अम्बुजन्मने । नमः = salutations. श्री–शङ्करानन्द–गुरु–पाद–अम्बुजन्मने = compound word. This Shankarananda guru is the embodiment of the treasure of Brahma Vidya. ब्रह्मविद्यायाः युक्तः श्री शङ्करानन्दगुरवे नमः | The salutation is directed towards the feet – पाद. अम्बुजन्म – means born out of water अम्बु. अम्बुजा and अम्बुजन्मा refers to the lotus.
The lotuses remain beautiful even though it is present in the sludge. Growing in the sludge, it is unaffected. It is a metaphor to the guru who walking in the Samsaara and yet he can remain clean without being affected by the Samsaara.
The lotus blooms when the sun rises. The teaching of Brahma Vidya enables the lotus to bloom. When Vedanta goes in, the heart opens up. Opening up of the heart is a metaphor for compassion. It takes time in order to open up, as there are inhibiting factors which obstruct our thinking. Such a compassionate heart is able to enable other hearts to open.
एकं कर्म यस्य सः एककर्मन् | तस्मै, एककर्मणे | ग्रास – eats | ग्राह – sharks | महामोह – great delusion – I take everything that is unreal to be real | Like the open jaws of the sharks which are ready to consume us, the delusion is after us. The delusion is with respect to the world, about the self and about God. The guru eats these sharks of great delusion. The guru takes the Sharks of fear away. Mahamoha comes with its family सविलास – kaama, karma, punya, paapa, punarjanma.