10 – Panchadasi: CH1, Verse 56-65

Summary of Panchadashi Discourse:

Nirvikalpa samadhi has 2 definitions (‘state' per Yoga & ‘nature of self' per Vedanta). We're interested in 2nd definition. Samadhi benefits: burns samskaras, sanchita karma, clears mind for paroksha-jnanam. Finally gives way to aparoksha-jnanam (direct knowledge ‘aham brahmasmi'). End of CH1.

Source: Swami Vidyaranya, Pancadasi CH1 – verse 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65

Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 56:
(Nirvikalpa [I am Brahman, without the “I am”] is remembered)

Vṛtta yastu tadānīm ajñātā apyā tmago carāḥ, smaraṇā danu mīyante vyutthi tasya samut thitāt

In samādhi, although the thoughts going to the Self are not known, however, they are remembered by the one who has come out of the samādhi, by his memory. (Chinmaya)

Though in samādhi, there is no subjective cognition of the mental function having the Self as its object, its continued existence in that state is inferred from the recollection after coming out of samādhi. (RK)

  • Commentary (Chinmaya): *

In the samadhi there is no vṛtti jñānam. Vṛtti jñānam is knowledge of something, as an object of knowledge. But when I say “I know myself’, ‘I' is not the object of my knowledge, because I am the knower and I am also the known. This is subjective knowledge. Thus in nirvikalpa samadhi, thoughts are totally absent, because all thoughts are turned towards the Pure Self.

This is inferred when the individual discards the state of samadhi and enters the waking state, he recalls his experience when his thoughts were totally submerged in the Pure Self, that is when the object of knowledge was Paramātma and nothing else.

  • Commentary (RK): With the termination of samadhi the mind resumes its subject-object activity and recollects that it was in samadhi and hence its presence then is inferred in the waking state. So it is wrong to say, as is generally done, that the mind itself is dissolved in samadhi: it is the modifications of the mind that cease in that state.
  • WHAT'S NEXT? Doubt. Now another subtle question is raised: In Nirvikalpa Samadhi, there is no effort, because there is no one to make the effort. This being the case, how are thoughts continuously pointed towards the ātma tattva. How is the state of nirvikalpa samadhi sustained over a length of time? Explained in 57…

Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 57:
(Nirvikalpa sustained by savikalpa momentum & past impressions)

Vṛttī nāma nuvṛttistu prayat nāt pratha mādapi, adṛṣṭā sakṛda bhyāsa saṁskāra sacivād bhavet

The mind continues to be fixed in Paramātman in the state of samādhi as a result of the effort of will made prior to its achievement and helped by the merits of previous births and the strong impression created through constant efforts (at getting into samādhi). (RK)

The constant flow of thoughts, during nirvikalpa samādhi towards Paramātma is possible firstly, due to the earlier efforts put during savikalpa samādhi and secondly due to deep impressions gathered as a result of earlier good deeds (past impressions) and practice put together. (Chinmaya)

  • Commentary (RK): Even though during samadhi there is no continuous exertion of will-power to keep the mind fixed on the Self, the momentum works.
  • Objection (Chinmaya HS): *

We have said that in Samadhi the sense of “I” is not present. If that is the case, then who is it that experiences the Samadhi? Where is that person? How is the Samadhi state continuing without the “I”? Such a thing is not scientifically possible.

An Example to Illustrate the Problem: A visitor walks into a place and sees everything in perfect order. The lawn is trimmed, the plants are growing well, everything around is neat and tidy. When he sees such a state, he can infer that some gardener is looking after or maintaining the premises. It cannot just be happening like that on its own.

AV: Clean garden entails existence of it's caretaker. In same way, sustenance of nirvikalpa entails existence of nivikalpa's sustainer. This logic is what's causing the doubt.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya): *

The constant flow of thought, towards Paramātma, our own essential nature, in the nirvikalpa samadhi is possible because of two reasons:

First: In the earlier stages of sadhana, he/she has been constantly putting forward efforts, rejecting all extraneous thoughts. This is called savikalpa samadhi, where the sākṣī bhāva is awakened and no importance is given to the presence of the thoughts OR to their content or theme. By the strength of this abhyāsa, the seeker develops the skill of tuning the mind in the desired direction effortlessly and maintain it in this state of single pointedness.

AV: Savikalpa = peddling bicycle. Nirvikalpa = bicycle continues by itself for some time because of peddling effort.

Second: Whatever sadhana had been done in the previous life, has a cumulative effect, if not in this embodiment, the journey will continue towards its completion (ref. also to B.Gita, CH6).

AV: B.Gītā devotee finds memorizing Gītā verses easy in next life. His mouth spontaneously moves. In same way, nirvikalpa is spontaneously sustained by pūrva janma puṇya.

Thus nirvikalpa samadhi is not an instant miracle but the result of continuous efforts over several births, the momentum building up from one janma to another till it reaches its fulfilment.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? Vidyāraṇya now cites the Bhagavad Gītā to support the above statement…


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 58:
(Attainment of nirvikalpa samādhi is like breezeless flame)

Yathā dīpo nivāta stha ityādibhi ranekadhā, bhagavā nima mevā rtham arjunāya nyarū payat

By the example of a flame in a breezeless spot; and by various other ways, Sri Krishna conveys the same idea to Arjuna, by giving many clear examples. (Chinmaya HS)

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

This idea has been told by Bhagavān Śrī (auspiciousness) Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna in several ways, that when the seeker who is in a nirvikalpa samadhi, yogi fixes his mind without any vikalpa on the goal of Brahma tattva, the state of his mind is like a lamp kept in a secluded place where there is no breeze.

AV: dhāraṇā > dhyānam > ripple-less buddhi > ātma (whose nature is ānanda) reflects > Ānanda

After having studied sufficiently in depth (śravaṇam), followed by the reflection (mananam) and then contemplation (nididhyāsanam), when such doubtless knowledge is gained, the seeker starts abhyāsa of nirvikalpa samādhi. (AV: Not necessary in Vedanta, unless nirvikalpa is referring to abyhāsya nididhyāsana, but would be per Yoga; pūrva mīmāṃsā)

(Yoga)  In this samādhi state, the mind is weaned away from unnecessary engagements about worldly affairs. (Vedanta)  He is able to be quiet and serene, effortlessly. To face quietness one requires strength.

When this is practiced for a length of time, the seeker spends most of the time by himself (AV: proof referring to Yoga), only listening to the silence. The knowing-ness is withdrawn into being-ness.

AV: Known-ness refers to last subtle trace of ahaṇkāra (available in savikalpa) right before that too dissolves into what always was, is and continues even after nirvikalpa ends; ātman (awareness).

He tries to maintain this nirvikalpa samādhi avasthā “as long as possible”. This samadhi being also a state of the mind, it supports both the quietness and the concept of time. This nirvikalpa samādhi is a very essential stage in spiritual evolution.

AV: Indicates nirvikalpa is referring to both (1) isolated meditation and (2) nididhyāsane ātmā vićāra. Either way, abhyāsam long as possible.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? When this samādhi abhyāsa is continued for a long time, what are the results and benefits (according to Yoga śāstra)? This is stated in the next śloka…


DHARMA: Laws of Vyāvahārika Existence

So far we've covered (1) Brahman (2) Jagat (3) Jīva (3) Mokṣa (5) Sādhana.

Dharma is 6th and final topic of Vedanta. Dharma places the whole study of Vedanta into its proper practical perspective in our life.

It shows us how are we to live in this world based on the knowledge and understanding we have acquired of our relationship to the world and to Reality.

Knowing that we are essentially the Self, how are we to live in a transactional world that we consider to be the not-Self? What are the principles we need to know to enable us to live harmoniously in the world without getting caught up again in its web of delusion?

Dharma in nutshell:

Dharma is the Applied Spiritual Science by which human life can fully express the glory of the Spirit. When life is lived with full awareness of our spiritual nature, the outcome is a natural obedience to the regulatory laws of Life. Such a life incurs no Karma, no accumulation of ‘Karmic dirt’. This is how the sages live.

Two Dharmic (regulatory) principles govern Karma in the vyāvahārika plane:

i) Accumulation of Karma: Karma can only be accumulated in a human birth. Accumulation of Karma because of forgetfulness of our spiritual nature.

ii) Discharge of Karma: Karma, which takes the form of Punya and Pāpa (merit and demerit), can only be discharged through enjoyment or suffering respectively, through any type of body. There is no other way of nullifying Karma.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 59:
(Saṃskārās burned. Paving way to natural dharma)

Anādā viha saṁsāre sañcitāḥ karma koṭayaḥ, anena vilayaṁ yānti śuddho dharmo vivar dhate

As a result of this (nirvikalpa) samadhi millions of results of actions, accumulated in this beginningless world over past and present births, are destroyed, and pure dharma (helpful to the realization of Truth) grows. (RK) *

By the long practice of nirvikalpa samādhi, the accumulated impression from many many lives in this beginning-less saṃsāra, get attenuated and absorbed and the antaḥkaraṇa becomes purified. (Chinmaya)

  • Commentary (RK): This experience promotes righteous conduct automatically, though the sādhaka does not seek them; and leads to a direct cognition of Brahman which really destroys all the actions. (Cf. Muṇḍaka-Up. 2. 2. 8. | Gītā, 4. 3-7)
  • Commentary (JS): The verse says the samadhi produces the dharma that is “helpful” to self-realization. This statement contradicts the popular belief that nirvikalpa samadhi is self-realization, i.e. moksa. *
  • Commentary (HS): *

The Logic of Destruction of All Karma at the Moment of Realisation

We mentioned earlier that one’s total bundle of Karma gets nullified at the moment of attaining Nirvikalpa Samadhi. (AV: Assuming it's referring to puruṣa's antaḥkaraṇa owning up ahaṅkāra to ātmā)

There are two explanations for this given in our scriptures:

i) Karma Operates Only in Phenomenal Reality:

Take the example of a dream. On awakening from a dream, the whole dream is nullified. It has no relevance in the waking state. A person who steals in dream cannot be punished in the waking state for his crime.

In the same way, Karma functions only on the phenomenal plane and not on the Absolute plane. One who awakens to Absolute Reality (nirguṇam), as in Nirvikalpa Samadhi, becomes absolved of all Karma.

AV: Ajñāni = this is happening to me! Jñāni = this is happening to this BMI, which has nothing to do with self (referring to one same Ātman pervading entire universe; this is not intellectual knowledge or belief or faith. But assimilation based on persistent tattva viveka via sharpened sūkṣma buddhi).

Meaning, jñāni’s BMI isn’t magically free of past crimes. EG: If his BMI killed person 10 years ago, and police find – the jñāni’s BMI is still going to jail.

ii) Karma Belongs Only to the Ego:

The body-mind-intellect-speech (known as kārya-karaṇa-saṅghāta) are the Ego’s instruments. Through them the Ego performs actions which accumulate Karma. The instruments cannot be held responsible for the deeds done; it is the Ego that is really responsible.

Upon realisation, the ego-personality is destroyed by Self-knowledge. It is not there to take the enjoyment or punishment of Karma. Hence the entire Sanchita file has to be closed with the remark “Client Deceased” written across it! With the death of the Jiva, the Karma file can be discarded.

When “Aham Brahmasmi” reigns, “Aham Jeevosmi” has to evacuate the place. The two cannot co-exist.

These two explanations help us to understand the truth of the Upanishadic statement, “Jñāna gives Mukti”. We become liberated from our Karma. That is the true meaning of Mukti or liberation.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

In this world from time immemorial, we have been accumulating the result of past actions in the form of likes, dislikes, bad and good thoughts etc. These thoughts constitute the vāsanās of repeated births. They rise like volcanic eruptions to plague the seeker while on the seat of meditation.

When, however, by the abhyāsa of nirvikalpa samādhi, one is able to observe these thoughts as witness, and surrender all the thoughts and the contents of these thoughts at the feet of the Lord, by slow degrees, the pressure of one’s own past, of habitual living, gets attenuated, and one gains the ‘hobby’ of living where every moment is a joyful experience. The vāsanās inherited from the past lives get washed away without having to experience them through the gross body.

Then the mind no longer entertains rāga-dveṣa. As Krishna says in BGita CH4:24, the thoughts in the mind are not the problem but when one is carried away and tossed around by them one gets influenced by Kāma, krodha, etc.

With pure antaḥkaraṇa in a person becomes self-withdrawn, such a mind is fully turned-within, seeking its own source, always listening to the silence.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? What is purification of the heart is indicated in the 60th śloka…


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 60:
(Sancita Karma washed away by: Rain-Cloud of Dharma)

Dharma megha mimaṁ prāhus samādhiṁ yoga vittamāḥ, varṣa tyeṣa yato dharmā mṛta dhārā ssaha sraśaḥ

The experts in Yoga call this samadhi, “dharma megha samadhi” (rain cloud of dharma; puṇyam) because. Because it showers the nectar of the self bliss in a million ways. (CM)

  • Commentary (CM HS): Saints are the living examples of how to live in this world. All the beautiful qualities become manifest and magnified in their personality. The sage becomes a personification of Righteousness. His mind glows with Purity. There is no Ego which lies in wait to usurp these qualities. He becomes a beacon light to light the path of others.
  • Commentary (CM): *

This abhyāsa of sāmadhi helps in two ways:

(i) the purification of the heart wherein and the sancita-karma of millions of earlier lives are washed away; (obstacles for liberation are removed) and

(ii) the presence of Pure Self is much more self evident (AV: and more frequent. Intermittent).

Result of Dharma mega samadhi:

(a) realization of Sat where the fear of death is no more present;

(b) realization of Cit where there is no doubt about anything; and

(c) realization of Ānanda where there is no more dependence for the discovery of satisfaction in God/world/BMI.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? This thought continues at different levels.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 61:
(Citta śuddhi via parokṣa-jñānam)

The entire network of desires is fully destroyed and the accumulated actions known as merits and demerits are fully rooted out by this samadhi. (RK)

  • Commentary (CM): (1) She sense of doership, associated with every action is reduced to the lowest level possible. (2) All the impurities are completely uprooted, the merit and sins of accumulated actions are removed and the individuality is no more evident from that point of manifestation.
  • Commentary (JS): *

One interpretation of this verse said the “entire” network of desire is destroyed and the accumulated merits and demerits are “fully” rooted out. (Yoga School)

Yoga says the samadhi destroys the root of punyam and papam. Its root is five impurities (doshas): ignorance (Avidya), ego (asmita), likes and dislikes (raga/dwesha) and particularly clinging to life (abinivesha).

Vedanta does not agree (AV: because avidyā hasn't be removed via self-knowledge; thus remains aham kāra who is always a kartā, thereafter bhoktā of punya/pāpa. EG: “I” am now enjoying absence of 5 impurities), but encourages samadhi practice because it cultivates inquirer’s qualifications. (citta śuddhi)

But it is more accurate to say that some desires are eventually destroyed if one persists in the samadhi. The samadhi does not require sitting but can be practiced in daily life, assuming most of one’s worldly karma is complete and the remaining karma is done with the karma yoga attitude.

It is not necessary to remove all desires, only those that agitate the mind, compel action and create more desires, compromising discrimination.

AV: This is where Chinmaya and Dayananda lineage differ: removing all desires VS. most impeding.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? Continuing further on the outcome of samādhi abhyāsa.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 62:
(parokṣa > aparokṣa jñānam)

The earlier obstacles in understanding the meaning of mahāvākya (tat tvam asi) being overcome, the indirect knowledge being gained, the direct immediate self-knowledge takes place as distinctly as a fruit of Āmalā on one's own palm. (ananta phalam) (CM)

  • Commentary (CM):

Why was paramātma previous unavailable? Although Paramātma tattva is abundantly present, it is not evident to us because of the lack of sharp and subtle intellect to perceive it. It is only samādhi abhyāsa that gives us such an instrument, a sūkṣma and agrayā (single pointed) buddhi (intellect). (K.U. III. 12).

Thereafter, once this doubtless parokṣa jñānam has been gained (chewed upon, processed, digested, thoughts of in many angles), the direct knowledge about one’s own essential nature becomes as evident and self-revealing as the amālakā fruit on the palm of one’s hand.

JS: Paramarthānanda says, “Freedom is not freedom from problems in samsara; it is freedom in spite of samsaric problems.”

  • WHAT'S NEXT? This paroksa and aparoksa jhanam aided by samādhi abhyāsa leads to two results, one is stated in śloka 63 and the other in śkoa 64.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 63:
(Indirect Knowledge Burns the Sins: anādi avidyā)

The indirect knowledge of Brahman gained by the study with the ācārya burns completely the sins and merits committed intentionally (binding vāsanās), like the fire (burns the fuel). (CM)

  • Commentary (CM):

The parokṣa jñānam gained by approaching the Guru and studying the scriptures and contemplating on the “Tat tvam asi” mahāvākya is only word knowledge with no anubhava (direct experience).

AV: Dayananda lineage hardly uses abubhava, and avoids phrase “direct experience”, because it's experiential word propelling mind’s imagination of jñāna-indriya vastu. What Chinmaya school means is “doubtless-permanent clarity; just like no doubt of your body gender”.

However, the student is very clear about his understanding about the subject. And what does this understanding lead to? All past sins/negligence/omissions which are HAUNTING (guilty) him/her, are burnt up as by a fire.

Unless one is able to drop a curtain on the past, it is impossible to go forward and qualify for amṛta-anubhava.

Only when the aparā vidyā is discarded, is there scope for parā vidyā or the supreme knowledge to dawn (M.U. 1.1.5).

This Supreme Knowledge which is attained by keeping the goal all the time and fully in our vision, without getting lost in the by-lanes of pseudo-knowledge, it is like a fire which bums up all the past buddhi, kṛta, papām, etc (B.G 4.31). This is the effect of parokṣa jñānam.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? What does aparokṣa jñānam give us?


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 64:
(Direct Knowledge Burns the Sinner; ahaṅkāra)

The direct realization of the knowledge of the Self obtained from the Guru’s teaching of the great mahāvākya, is like the scorching sun, that dispels the very darkness of avidyā, the root of all transmigratory existence. (RK)

  • Commentary (CM):

When the student has thus studied and gained parokṣa jñānam under the guidance of teacher, and thereafter, he is further guided by Brahmaniṣṭhā puruṣa. Then aparokṣa jñānam takes place. He attains direct “experience” (anubhūti). *AV: “Abuhūti” as “experience” is misleading. Closer translation is “Knowledge, other then this”.

* AV: Mind gives up trying to turn Awareness (ātman; what is always true) into an object of experience or future based event. There is firm unchanging relief (CM “direct experience”) or cessation of existential sorrow.

The parokṣa jñānam was able to destroy the puṇya and pāpa, while aparokṣa jñānam destroys (burns up) the root cause of this saṃsāra of repeated births and deaths.

Individuality is born out of tamas or ignorance. Just as the sun of high-noon is so bright that there is no possibility of darkness, the aparokṣ jñānam takes care of the ignorance because of which one constantly considers oneself to be an individual conditioned by the pañca-kośa. In this way tattva-viveka takes place.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? Summary of the Whole Text…


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 65:
(Summary of the Whole Text)

In this way, 1. By distinguishing the Self by the process shown in the scriptures; and, 2. In accord with scriptural injunctions, getting the mind to be absorbed upon It. Then, 3. The bondage of Samsara comes to an end; and, 4. The Supreme Bliss is attained by man without any delay. (CM HS)

  • Commentary (JS):

VERSE 3-10: The essence of Vedanta 

Identity of the individual self (consciousness/awareness) and the self in everything (jīvā paramātma aikyam).

The self (ātman) is existence/consciousness/limitlessness (sat-cit-ānanda), and is revealed in our daily experience (life in general).

Experience is a mixture of consciousness (ātman) and thought (sūkṣma-śarīra). Thoughts vary but consciousness does not. Differences belong to thoughts, not to consciousness. Plurality belongs to thoughts, not to consciousness. This is a fact at all times and places and in every state of mind (including dream).

Consciousness that because of which I know what I (mind) know.

  • Commentary (HS):

1. Distinguishing the Self from the Non-Self: Tattva Viveka

Tattva is the “Satchidananda Brahman”. That is the essential Truth that is being sought. This Truth is distinguished from either the 3 śarīrās; or from 5 kośās. Both refer to the Upadhis through which the Truth is reflected.

Upādhi: that which as though lends its attributes to something else.  (5 kośās, 3 śarīrās)

Upahita: the one which as though takes on the attributes of something else. (Truth; Ātman)

EG: Rose lending it's attribute of “reddness” to crystal (upahita).

How to distinguish? The process of distinguishing the Truth in this particular text is “Anvaya-Vyatireka”, i.e. examining the presence or absence of various factors and seeing which is continuous and which drops off.

The examination is done through scanning waking, dream, deep sleep. And discovering that only way one can objectify all 3 is because there is a 4th principle which is free of the 3 states, yet is present in each of 3 states.

Summary: Remove non-essential variables.

2) Absorption in the Self:

This Pada represents the entire Sadhana by which the Sadhaka gets established in or abides in the Self. It covers spiritual practice from the time of Sravana, through Manana and then Nididhyasana until Samadhi is reached. At each stage, the knowledge gets more and more mature and firm in the mind of the seeker.

Finally, the stage called Paroksha Jnana is obtained. At the intellectual level, knowledge cannot get firmer and more unshakeable than this. It achieves the “removal of all sins” (Verse 63).

3) What is accomplished? Liberation From Samsara

Frees one from binding desires. (Nothing to gain/lose)

4) Mokṣa

From the Absolute standpoint, the achievement is described in a positive way as being the attainment of Supreme Truth. This happens simultaneously, “without any delay”, as sorrow comes to an end.

  • Every Chapter of this Book is regarded as a complete, independent text in itself. Thus concludes the First Chapter of Panchadashee.


Recorded 17 Nov, 2019


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