7 – Panchadasi: CH1, Verse 35-46

Summary of Panchadashi Discourse:

How to use 5 sheaths and 3 bodies to reject false “I” and reveal the true “I” (Brahman). Also significance of ‘Tat Tvam Asi' is discussed and relevance in understanding that all here is One without a second.

Source: Swami Vidyaranya, Pancadasi CH1 – verse 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46

Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 35:
(Mind & Intellect Sheath)

Sātvi kair dhīr indriyaiḥ sākaṁ vimar śātmā mano mayaḥ, taireva sākaṁ vijñāna mayo dhīr niścayā tmikā

The doubting mind, and the 5 sensory organs (jñāna-indriyās) which are the effect of sattva-guṇa, make up the mind sheath (manomaya kośa). The determining/decisive intellect alongside the same 5 sensory organs, make up the intellect sheath (vijñānamaya kośa). (RK)

Translation 2 (JS): The doubting mind and 5 Organs of Knowledge make up the manomaya kośa, the Mind Sheath. The Intellect and the jñāna-indriyās make up the vijñānamaya-kośa, the Intellect Sheath. They evolve from Sattva.

Translation (Chinmaya): The doubting mind alongwith the effects of sattva guṇa viz., jñānendriyaḥ is mano-maya kośa, while the decisive intellect along these sense organs is called vijñāna-maya kośa.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

manomaya kośa:

The is made of the Sattvic portion of the 5 Subtle elements. The mind is the indecisive function of the inner instrument (antaḥkaraṇa).

The mind, in combination with the jñāna-indriyās (organs of perception) are the first Sattvic part of the Subtle body (liṅga/sūkṣma-śarīra) and forms the “Mind Sheath”, sustained by vāsanās. It is desire-oriented.

The jñāna-indriyās are not physical organs, but faculties which operate through the physical organs respectively.

vijñānamaya kośa:

The is made of the Sattvic portion of the 5 Subtle elements.

The intellect (buddhi) is the decisive function of the inner instrument (antaḥkaraṇa).

The intellect in combination with the jñāna-indriyās (organs of perception) are the second Sattvic part of the Subtle body (liṅga/sūkṣma-śarīra) and forms the “Intellect Sheath”, sustained by the power of reason. It is decision-oriented and responsible for making a firm determination.

An example to illustrate the difference between Manas and Buddhi is given: Suppose one sees a rope.

The doubting mind says, “Is it a snake or a rope?” This is saṅkalpa (determining) and this tendency is called vimarśa (consideration/examination).

Upon closer examination, the decisive intellect says, “It is a rope definitely.” This is vikalpa (determined) and this tendency is niścaya (certainity/decision).

We also note that the jñāna-indriyās are required for both the mind and intellect to do their respective functions.

Also note, mental function and the intellectual function are not two totally independent functions, but the SAME function in two different stages. The vascillation of the mind is the 1st stage; this is followed by the determination of the intellect, which is the 2nd stage.

This inter-relationship beween mind and intellect is also expressed in another way. The Manomaya-kośa is said to be instrument (kāraṇarūpa); the Vijñānamaya-kośa is said to be DOER (kartā).

From the fact of the Vijñānamaya-kośa being the “Doer”, we note that the Ego (ahaṅkāra) resides there. This is very significant when, in practice, we try to eliminate the Ego. We know that it hides in the intellect! The intellect lends support and gives shelter to the feeling “I am the doer”. To capture the Ego, we need to storm the citadel of the intellect!

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

The mind that is always doubting, thinking, confused along with the 5 jñāneindryās which are the effect of the sattva guna, of the liṅga śarīra, constitutes the mano-maya kośa.

That intellect which is of the nature of decisiveness, alongwith the same 5 jñāneindryās, is called the vijñāna-maya kośa or intellectual sheath.

In this way, the 17 elements of subtle body are divided to constitute the prāṇa, mano, and vijñāna-maya kośa.

  • Commentary (JS):

Manomaya is a part of the Subtle Body. Mind is called vimarśātma, the doubting function. The mind and Organs of Knowledge are born of Sattva Guna.

The mind creates emotions and desires. It is called icchā-śakti. Desire is a constant itch. The determining function is called vijñānamaya-kośa, the Intellect Sheath. It is also born of Sattva. It is called jñāna śakti, knowledge power. First we think, then desire, then act.

  • WHAT’S NEXT? Ānandamaya-kośa defined…


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 36:
(Bliss Sheath)

Kāraṇe sattvamānanda mayo modādi vṛttibhiḥ, tattat kośaistu tādāt myād ātmā tat tanmayo bhavet

The causal body (impure Sattva) associated with the different degrees of joy such as moda, priya, pramoda (seeing, attaining & enjoying) – is the ānandamaya kośa. When Self (Ātma) indentifies with individual sheaths, it seems to take on attributes of the sheath it is identified with. (EG: annamaya identified = I am old, tall. | prāṇamaya: I am hungry. Etc)

Translation (RK): The impure sattva which is in the causal body, along with joy and other vṛttis (mental modifications), is called the bliss sheath (ānandamaya kośa). Due to identification with the different sheaths, the Self assumes their respective natures.

Translation (Chinmaya HS): The causal body of impure Sattva, is “ānandamaya”, combined with joy-related thoughts. Due to identification with these five sheaths, the Self assumes their respective natures.

  • Commentary (RK): Joys or the mental modifications arising from seeing, attaining and enjoying the wished-for object, are respectively called priya, moda and pramoda. It indicates the separateness of the Self from the sheaths.
  • Commentary (JS):

The Causal Body is the ignorance and bliss “parts” of the self. It is present in the waking state and dream states. It manifests in degrees: priya, moda and pramoda. It is experiential bliss. The self is fullness/bliss but it is not experiential, because it is beyond the kosas.

Jiva mistakenly takes the kosas, not the limitless awareness that illumines them, to be itself. The intimate connection between awareness and the kosas is tricky, but it is not an actual problem, because the self is always free. The kosas cannot be physically separated from awareness, because awareness is everywhere. Where would you put them except in awareness?

Even if you could physically separate them, what use would it be since there would be no world left in which Jiva could transact business? Problems need to be faced, not avoided. The kosas are only a cognitive problem and can only be solved by knowledge derived from correct inquiry.

Those who believe that liberation is experiential criticize Vedanta as “merely intellectual.” But the notion that enlightenment is experiential is merely an intellectual notion based on the erroneous intellectual notion that reality is a duality and that the self is actually bound.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

In the kāraṇa śarīra which is impure (malīna) sattva associated with the tamo guna predominantly, alongwith the different types of vṛttis like priya, moda and pramoda (seeing, attaining and enjoying) which cause different degrees of happiness. These degrees of happiness in the form of thoughts constitute the ānanda-maya kośa.

The Ātma then gets identified with each of the 5 kośās and acquires those respective qualities; e.g. identification with the anna-maya kośa results in thoughts of “I am old or young, man, woman, etc”.

Identification with prāṇa-maya-kośa leads to statements like “I am thirsty or I am hungry” and so on.

Thus identification of the Pure Self with the five kośās gives rise to five types of expressions in which one or the other kośa predominates. They are all, however, expressions of the same Ātma.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

ānandamaya kośa:

This is made of just avidyā. Avidyā is the causal body (kāraṇa śarīra); There are no 5 elements there (subtle nor gross). As it is the sheath closest to the Self (Ātman), and is the last sheath to be dissolved for liberation (EG: Some get stuck in “bliss” and calls it liberation).

It is called the “Bliss Sheath”. It is sustained by Ignorance. It is delusion-oriented and is the ROOT CAUSE for the proliferation of the wrong actions which produce seeds of Karma (pāpa & puṇya).

Avidyā by itself has no power to do harm. However, in combination with 3 thought vṛtti (modifications) which are different shades of “joy-thoughts”, it is devastatingly harmful:

      1. Priya (Ishta vastu darshana janyam sukham): “the joy born of seeing the object of one’s desire.” Seeing.
      2. Moda (Ishta vastu praapti janyam sukham): “the joy born of obtaining the object of one’s desire.” Attaining.
      3. Pramoda (Ishta vastu anubhava janyam sukham): “the joy born of experiencing the object of one’s desire.” Enjoying.

It is these 3 vṛtti that motivate the mind to go for more of the same experience. This is the nature of the ānandamaya kośa – to make us addicted to pleasure.

Wrong Identification As It Happens at Each Level

1. Annamaya Kosha: “I am dark, lean, fat”; “I have a back pain”; “I cannot sit down” – in these ways we are identifying with the BODY. We may think and say “I am not the body”, but such statements belie our real situation with regard to the body.

2. Pranamaya Kosha: “My energy levels are not so good today”; “I am hungry and thirsty”; “My B.P. has shot up”; “I feel billious and want to vomit”; “I have constipation” – all these statements indicate an identification with the PRANA. Constipation and vomiting are dysfunctions of the sub-Pranas Apana and Udana respectively.

3. Manomaya Kosha: This is a very complex and tricky sheath to which most of our identification problems are due. It is so tricky that at most times we are not aware that it is a problem of identification. The mind makes fools out of us – we become playthings of the mind! It shows that it is the most serious of all the wrong identifications.

A single thought arises in the mind, and the Ego steps in to identify itself with it. “I am angry or irritated”; similarly, “I feel lustful, greedy, jealous, hateful, envious, etc” – once thoughts of this type arise, we get trapped in the MIND sheath to the exclusion of all reason.

We become total slaves of such thoughts and feel “That is ME!” Once we identify with anger, our whole body reacts to the feeling. Eyes become flushed red, we begin to perspire, our words begin to fall apart, we become ferocious, etc. It is the same with lust and all the other feelings mentioned.

Identification with the mind is so strong that we can say that the root of all misconduct lies in the mind.

4. Vijnanamaya Kosha: This sheath concerns all our analysis and reasoning. All our beliefs to which we stubbornly adhere are due to identification at this level. Acharyaji said, “We have many political parties inside us!” meaning that we have many opinions which we hold on to as though “They are ME!” People say, “I am a Communist”.

Then among them, there are so many factions, and each one claims identity to his faction. Half of America says “I am a Democrat”; the other half say “I am a Republican”. This is false identity to the INTELLECT.

A person says, “I have understood”; “I have come to a conclusion”; “I think he is right, we should support him.” These assertions indicate identification with Vijnanamaya Kosha. “I am confused” or “I have a doubt” indicates identity with Manomaya Kosha.

5. Anandamaya Kosha: There is a common experience of the Anandamaya Kosha among all human beings – “I slept soundly. I had a good sleep.” King or robber, rich or poor, young or old, all have the same experience of the Anandamaya Kosha.

However, there is another side to it in which there are differences. When the three Vrittis of Priya, Moda and Pramoda are experienced in conjunction with the Anandamaya Kosha, then each one’s experience is different.

As explained earlier, the happiness or joy varies in intensity from Priya to Pramoda. Seeing the sun rise may bring great joy to a poet.

He gets into an inspired state and writes beautiful poetry about it. Being in the presence of one’s beloved may bring happiness or joy to another. All these indicate our identity with the Anandamaya Kosha.

Practical Aspect of this Knowledge

Now comes the practical side of this study. If we can strip ourselves of all the above experiences by becoming perfectly aware of them all as they arise, we can have the ultimate reality (Ātman) of being a witness to all of them.

Being a witness means not being part of that experience, but standing apart as an observer of them. We shall discover in the next section that such an experience is very difficult to get, but when we succeed, it is nothing short of the direct “experience” of our true spiritual being or Self.

Unceasing clarity of the Self liberates us from all bondage to the 5 sheaths. The whole purpose of Vedanta is to teach us to do this.

Formula for liberation (moksha) if practiced consistently.

Identification happens at the intellectual level because of ignorance. Therefore the solution lies in knowledge. Liberation is possible through correct knowledge. The wrong notions we hold need to be removed. Knowledge does this. Liberation is clarity at the level of the intellect. It is the perfect understanding of what my real nature is.

Hence we should never underestimate the value of Self-Knowledge. The flaw lies in the intellect, not in the Self. The intellect needs to be treated with correct Knowledge.

    • Now how does the seeker separate the Ātma from the clutches of five kośās?
    • How to remove the sheaths?
    • Removal of non-essential variables (JS language).
      • QUICK PREVIEW: The method of inquiry employed in the following verses is called the elimination of non-essential variables (anvaya vyatireka). Anvaya is the presence of one variable in the absence of another. Vyatireka is the absence of one variable in the presence of the other. This analysis shows that the kosas are incidental and that in their absence I continue to exist. If I think I am some part of myself but discover that I exist without that part, I cannot be what I thought I was. Awareness, the “I,” is anvaya, essential. The 5 koshas are vyatireka, incidental. If I have a pearl necklace and remove the pearls, I still have a necklace.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 37:
(anvaya-vyatireka: Technique of pañca-kośa-viveka)

Anvaya vyatirekā bhyāṁ pañcakośa vivekatah, svāt mānaṁ tata uddhṛtya paraṁ brahma prapa dyate

By differentiating the Self from the five sheaths through the method of distinguishing between the variable and the invariable, one can draw out one’s own Self from the 5 sheaths and attain the supreme Brahman. (RK)

Translation 2 (JS): By differentiating the unchanging self from the ever-changing Five Sheaths one can realize the nature of the self with and without the Sheaths.

Translation (Chinmaya): By the process of discrimination of five sheaths through the technique of anvaya-vyatireka, thus having transcended oneself above them, one attains the status of Supreme Brahman.

  • Commentary (RK): The Self realizes its disidentification from the sheaths and its identity with the transcendental Brahman by the method given in verses 38-42. This intellectual method has been adopted from the dialectics of Ācārya Sureśvara.
  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

By the technique of anvaya (presence) and vyatireka (absence) applied in conducting the pañcakośa-viveka (discrimination), after having separated the Pure Self from the covering of the five sheaths, one attains the Brahmātva bhāva (Brahmanhood / identification with Brahma).

When, one discovers by pañcakośa viveka, that “I” is someone other than the ‘pañcakośa', the next step is to discover that this “I” is of the nature of Brahman. Spiritual unfoldment is thus a process of unlearning, or emptying. Once we get out of the clutches of the pañcakośās in this way, then one realizes one’s true identification with the Para Brahman.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

Terminology Concerning the Method


Meaning of “Anvaya-Vyatireka”

This is the intellectual method that was first proposed by Sureshwaracharya, one of the four disciples of Sri Shankaracharyaji. In the present context it means, “Differentiation of the Self from the five sheaths by examining the presence or absence of a principle.”

If the principle being thus examined varies between presence (bhāne) and absence (abhāne), then it cannot be Real, it cannot be the Self, for we know the Self to be Real, unchanging and always present.

Objective of Applying the Method

Identification (Taadaatmya of the previous verse) of the Self with the sheaths binds us down to the level of the respective sheath.

The purpose of this whole exercise is to break that bond with the sheaths and “draw out” (Uddhritya) the truth (intellectually, at least) that the true Self, the real “I”, is beyond all the five sheaths, and in fact underlies them all. The truth that the sheaths are a superimposition on the Self is brought out in a convincing manner.

Illustration of Jaggery and Stones: (proof of concept of 5 sheaths discrimination)

Jaggery and stones are mixed together so that one cannot tell them apart. One could carefully separate them one by one, perhaps by tasting each piece! Alternatively, one could put all the pieces together through a common process such as heating. Then the jaggery would melt away and the stones can be easily identified. This is much quicker.

The method of “Anvaya-Vyatireka” is like heating the jaggery and stone mixture to separate the stones. This is the power of the technique.

Application of the Method – Example of King & Chief Ministers:

In a country there were four states. A person wanted to know who the King of the country was.

He came to know that the King was touring all four states in the company of the Chief Minister of each State.

He followed their movements. In each State, there were at least two people together always on the tour, sometimes even three of four.

By observing carefully, he noticed that one of them was present in all the States, while the accompanying person or persons differed in each State.

He concluded that the common person in the group had to be the King, and the others were the Chief Minister and his aides.

In the present case, the four states are the waking, dream, deep sleep, and the Fourth “state” of Turiya or realisation. Each of these four states is ‘scanned’ or examined to see which of six principles are present and which are absent.

The principle which is present in all the four states has to be the Self, the ‘King’ among the six principles.

The results may be presented in the form of a table showing the six principles downwards and the four states across, as follows:


The basic logic of such a method is: If I can be without something, that something cannot be me. If I am without my shirt, then I cannot be the shirt. Thus, I am not that which I can be without. In dream I am without the gross body, so I cannot be the body.

    • What is the meaning of anvaya-vyatireka ? How does it help in separating the Ātmā from the pañca-kośās?
    • Scanning the dream state…


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 38:
(Gross body = vyatireka in reference to Dream state)

Abhāne sthūla dehasya svapne yadbhāna mātmanaḥ, so’nvayo vyatirekas tad bhāne’nyā nava bhāsanam

The physical body present in one’s consciousness is absent in the dreaming state, but the witnessing element, pure consciousness, persists (in both the waking and dreaming states). This is the invariable presence (anvaya) of the Self. Though the Self is perceived, the physical body is not; so the latter is a variable factor. (RK)

Translation 2 (JS): The physical body, present in the waking state and absent in the dream state, is an inconstant factor but the witnessing element, pure awareness, is present in both and is therefore the invariable factor.

Translation 3 (Chinmaya): In the dream state there is no identification with gross body, but there is illumination of dream, by the Ātma. This presence of the Ātma is anvaya. Although, the Ātma is present, but does not identify with gross body, it is called vyatireka (absence) of gross body in Ātma.

  • Commentary (JS): The first pair to separate is the self and the Gross Body. It shows that they are not a single entity and that the body is incidental.
  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

In dream, the gross body is totally absent (abhāne), but the subtle body (ātmanaḥ), that is witnessing the dream is naturally present (bhāne).

From this simple observation we can draw an important conclusion: The subtle body continues, it is Anvaya as far as the waking and dream states are concerned; but the gross body is eliminated from further consideration as it already proven to be Vyatireka, i.e. variable.

It has to be dropped or separated owing to its absence in dream. By this fact alone the gross body is shown to be unreal.

The subtle body qualifies for the next stage of the “scanning”process.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

In the dream state (svapna avasthā) the gross body is not identified with it, therefore is not available. This is vyatireka (absence) of gross body.

But there is a presence which is illuminating the dream experience. That presence, the Truth or the Ātma which is illuminating the dream state is called Anvaya.

The other aspect (i.e. the absence of the gross body in the dream state) is called vyatireka of the gross body in the Ātma.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? Subtle body is also discovered to be vyatireka in reference to deep sleep. Thus subtle body to is unreal.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 39:
(Subtle body = vyatireka in reference to Deep sleep state)

Liṅga bhāne suṣuptau syād ātmano bhāna manvayaḥ, vyati rekastu tadbhāne liṅgasyā bhāna mucyate

In deep sleep, while the Subtle Body is absent, the “I”-sense is present (anvaya), making it continuous. The former (subtle body) drops off (vyatireka), for though present (in dream), there is no sign of it (in deep sleep). (Chinmaya HS)

Translation 2 (JS): Similarly, in the state of deep sleep the Subtle Body does not exist but awareness witnesses that state, so the Subtle Body is inconstant and the self the constant factor.

Translation (RK): Similarly, in the state of deep sleep, the subtle body is not perceived, but the Self invariably witnesses that state. While the Self persists in all states the subtle body is not perceived in deep sleep and so it is called a variable factor.

Translation (Chinmaya): In the seep sleep state, although there is no identification with the subtle body, the presence of Ātma is called Anvayaḥ. However, although Ātman is present in the deep sleep, but the subtle body is not included in its cognition, it is called as vyatireka of subtle body.

  • Commentary (RK): The subtle body consists of the sheaths of prāṇa, manas and vijñāna.
  • Commentary (JS):

The second pair to separate is the self and the Subtle Body to show that they are not one entity and that the Subtle Body is incidental. Now we have removed both the Subtle and the Gross Body from the “I.”

Just as we do not include our clothing in the meaning of the word “I,” the three bodies should not be included in the meaning of the word “I.”

What comes and goes is incidental. What is always present and never changes is my essential self, my nature. It is reality.

Neither the Gross Body nor the Subtle Body is real.

Sleep is not the non-existence of the “I” awareness.

If sleep is the non-existence of the self, nobody will sleep. Because you only do things to enjoy, if you non-existed in sleep it would do you no good, so you wouldn’t sleep.

(AV: Last paragraph proves everyone knows sleep is not harmful. Since we all avoid harmful experiences. But nobody avoids sleep. Also we can't say “we infer sleep is non-harmful based on waking up”, because you'd be making that claim from non-sleep state. And noone reassures themselves that sleep is non-harmful before sleep. We all go to bed GLADLY, whether we analyze “deep sleep” state or not).

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

In the suṣupti avasthā (deep sleep state), the subtle body or liṅga śarīra is discarded from identification. It is not available. This is called vyatireka or absence of the subtle body in the deep sleep state.

But this absence which is the content of the deep sleep state, is illuminated by the presence of the Ātma. This presence is called anvaya.

The absence of the liṅga śarīra although suṣupti (deep sleep) is illumined, is called vyatireka of the subtle body in the deep sleep state, in Ātma.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

Unlike the dream state where the subtle body is present due to the mental activity of dreaming, in deep sleep it is totally absent (Abhaane). There is no trace of it. However, the “I”-sense or causal body (Aatmanah) is still present (Bhaanam) even in deep sleep. One does not die in deep sleep. Upon awakening, the same person still exists.

Thus, the “I”-sense or the Ego is seen to be continuous (Anvaya) in all the three states considered so far. It continues into the next stage of the “scanning” process.

In contrast, the subtle body is eliminated in this scan. It drops off or separates (Vyatireka), for although it is present in the waking and dream states, it is found to be totally absent in the deep sleep state which we are currently examining. Hence, as it is Vyatireka, for this reason alone the subtle body is shown to be unreal.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? Why has the concept of liṅga śarīra been brought in, while dealing with the pañca kośa viveka, is now explained.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 40:
(Subtle body's prana, mind, intellect are negatable.)

Tad vivekād viviktā syuḥ kośāḥ prāṇa mano dhiyah, te hi tatra guṇā vasthā bheda mātrāt pṛthak kṛtāḥ

By further discrimination, the “I” is seen to be distinct from all the Prana-Mind-Intellect sheaths. Indeed, being in the realm of 3 Gunas and 3 States, they differ from the One (Ātma) and from each other. (Chinmaya HS)

Translation 2 (JS): Using the Subtle Body, one discriminates the Sheaths (which are the result of the Three Gunas) from the self (ātman/anvaya).

Translation 3 (RK): By discrimination of the subtle body (and recognition of its variable, transient character), the sheaths of the mind, intellect, and vital airs are understood to be different from the Self, for the sheaths are conditions of the three guṇa proportions, and differ from each other (qualitatively and quantitatively).

  • Commentary (JS): Discrimination is the recognition of the transient nature of the Sheaths brought about by the endless disequilibrium of the 3 Gunas and the recognition of the unchanging nature of awareness. The connection of each Sheath to its Guna has been explained. Tamas is the source of the substance of the Gross Body, Sattva is the source of the Subtle Body and the perceptive senses and Rajas is the source of the physiological systems (pranas) and the active organs.
  • Commentary (RK): Prāṇamaya kośa is the condition of the rajas, manomaya of sattva and rajas, and vijñānamaya of sattva. Because of these 3 guṇās, the 3 sheaths of the subtle body have been spoken of. The witnessing Self is different from the guṇās and hence from the sheaths.
  • Commentary (Chinmaya): Because of the association of the three guṇās – satva, rajas, tamas, the liṅga śarīra is divided into the three kośās: prāṇa, mano and vijñānamaya. Therefore, the anvaya-vyatireka with reference to the liṅga śarīra, includes the anvaya-vyatireka of the three kośās.
  • Chinmaya (HS):

How 3 sheaths are vyatireka (anātma):

Pranamaya Kosha: Since this is the life-sheath, one may argue that it has to be continuous as its discontinuity would mean death. True, the Pranas are working in all the three states, but the point in question is, “Are we aware of their presence in dream and deep sleep as we are in the waking state?” The answer is No, we are not aware of the Prana in deep sleep, and in dream we are only partially aware of it due to a little mental activity.

Manomaya Kosha: The mind’s availability or activity is also variable in the three states. It is not available at all in deep sleep, though it is active in dream.

Vijnanamaya Kosha: The intellect is not available at all in both the dream as well as the deep sleep states. We cannot analyse our dream while dreaming. In dream the intellect has no role to play in controlling the dream content. We thus find that all three subtle body sheaths, even when taken individually, are seen to be Vyatireka. They are all absent at some stage. Hence they can be considered to be unreal even individually.

The Gunas & Composition of the Sheaths

Swami Vidyaranya now draws on our earlier study of the evolution of the subtle body components and finds a way to differentiate the Pranamaya, Manomaya and Vijnanamaya sheaths and show how they vary from each other.

The findings made earlier show how each of the three subtle body sheaths are composed from different Guna combinations of the subtle elements, and also how they have different Avasthaas or functional characteristics. We examine each of these in turn:

i) Guna Bheda Maatraat: The Pranas are composed of the total Rajasic portion of all the subtle elements. Each of the five Karmendriyas are composed of the individual Rajasic portion of each of the five subtle elements respectively.

In the same way the mind and intellect are composed of the total Sattwic portion of all the subtle elements. Each of the five Jnanendriyas are composed of the individual Sattwic portion of each of the five subtle elements respectively. Thus the Guna Bheda separates the Rajasic Pranamaya Kosha from the other two Sattwic Koshas. What separates the other two Koshas?

ii) Avasthaa Bheda Maatraat: Since both mind and intellect are created from Sattwic portions of the elements, the question is what differentiates these two? The answer lies in their Avasthaa. The Avasthaa of the mind is to be indecisive, while the Avasthaa of the Buddhi is to be decisive. Thus the Manomaya sheath is differentiated from the Vijnanamaya sheath by applying Avasthaa Bheda.

In this way, we can now conclude that all three sheaths differ with each other in Gunas as well as functional characteristics.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? Having separated the Ātma from the gross body and the subtle body; now the causal body (kāraṇa-śarīra) is taken up for discrimination. The next verse negates the Causal Body.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 41:
(Causal Body is also negatable in nirvikalpa samādhi)

Suṣuptya bhāne bhānantu samādhā vātmāno’nvayaḥ, vyatirekas tvātma bhāne suṣuptya nava bhāsanam

In the state of nirvikalpa samadhi the microcosmic Causal Body does not exist, so it is an inconstant factor. In nirvikalpa samadhi the self exists as the witnessing awareness and therefore it is invariable. (JS)

Translation 2 (RK):  Avidyā (manifested as the causal body or bliss sheath) is negated in the state of deep meditation (in which neither subject nor object is experienced), but the Self persists in that state ; so it is the invariable factor. But the causal body is a variable factor, for though the Self persists, it does not.

Translation 3 (Chinmaya): In samādhi the deep sleep state is absent, however, the Ātman is present to illumine the samādhi. This is called anvaya of Ātma in samādhi. However, the deep sleep state is not included in the Ātma. This is called vyatireka of deep sleep state.

Translation 4 (Chinmaya HS): Avidyā, too, is both absent as well as present. In samādhi the Self is still continuously present; while Avidyā, though present in deep sleep, becomes absent in the state of Realisation (nirvikalpa samādhi).

  • Commentary (RK): Though the flowers in a garland are different, the thread passing through them is one and unchanging. Cf. Kaṭha Up. 6. 17 and Śvetāśvatara Up. 3. 13.
  • Commentary (JS)

Nirvikalpa samadhi is called jñāna-avasthā, a state of pure objectless experience/knowledge. It is difficult to understand. It is a state in which the Causal Body, the anandamaya kosa, is absent. It is not a waking state, because there are no thoughts (gross vikalpas) to produce experiences and there is no external world to experience. It is not a sleep state, because in sleep there is self-ignorance. Therefore we are forced to conclude that the self, limitless awareness, is not a state but the invariable awareness of the presence and absence of any and all states. Nirvikalpa samadhi, which will be discussed later, is a state of total absorption in the self.

Nirvikalpa samadhi is a state that is free of the seeds (vāsanās) that produce karma, action. It is actually the self experiencing itself without the aid of any one of its three bodies. The self is not a state, but it is nirvikalpa, meaning “free of division,” i.e. thoughts. To say that in nirvikalpa samadhi the self exists as “the witnessing awareness” is paradoxical because the idea of a witness implies the existence of a witnessed object. If the three bodies are not present, what is the self to witness? It can only witness itself because there is nothing else. This is why scripture says that the self is self-revealing, that it is a “non-experiencing” witness.

Negation of nirvikalpa samadhi shows that liberation is not experiential. It is self-knowledge. If nirvikalpa samadhi was invariable (real) it would be always present, but it comes and goes.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya): In the fourth state or samādhi avasthā, the suṣupti avasthā (deep sleep) is absent. But the Ātma tatva is present. This presence of the Ātma in the samādhi state is called anvaya. Although the Ātma is present, the suṣupti avasthā is absent in the samādhi. This is called vyatireka of suṣupti in Ātma. In this way, by the anvaya-vyatireka method, one is able to separate the Ātma from the four states of jāgrat, svapna, suṣupti and samādhi.
  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

We finally come to the most crucial “scan” of the whole method.

We finally come to the most crucial “scan” of the whole method. The only two principles left to consider are Avidya and the Self. In which of these two does the true “I” sense dwell? Up to now we were in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals. Now we are in the Finals, with only two options competing, and only one of them can be the winner!

The scanning process moves into a “Fourth” state. Now, this is not a state into which the ordinary person can get into. This is the state of enlightenment or illumination. We are thus compelled to take into account the reports of the saints who have reached it, and place our trust on their findings.

The “Fourth” State is a Revelation

The causal body is the stronghold of Avidya. Avidya comes under the spotlight of our scanner, “Anvaya-Vyatireka”. The verse is constructed in such a way that the result of the scan is given in the first two Padas, and the explanation follows in the next two Padas.

The Result: Avidya is found to be both absent and present. This is one result. The second result is that the Self is found to be present continuously. What is the explanation for this? The answer lies in examining the state of enlightenment of the sage. In this state it is found that there is “No Entry” for Avidya.

From the standpoint of the realised sage, the experience of the “Fourth” state is called Samadhi, which is very unlike deep sleep. In Samadhi, it is found that there is no Avidya – it is absent, due to Self-knowledge which banishes Avidya. The two cannot co-exist.

In Samadhi, the Self continues to be present. The presence of the Self cannot be more vivid than as experienced in Samadhi. Here we have to take the words of the realised sages for granted, for the ignorant Jiva is not able to have this experience himself.

The conclusion is thus as follows: Avidya, being present and absent, is Vyatireka. It drops out or separates; whereas the Self, whose presence is continuous in all four states, is proved to be Anvaya or ‘continuous’. It is thus shown that our true “I” is the Self.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? Now the teacher cites Kaṭha Upaniṣad to support this technique.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 42:
(Discrimination needs a delicate & precise intellect.)

Yathā muñjā diṣī kaivam ātmā yuktyā samud dhṛtaḥ, śarīra tritayād dhīraiḥ paraṁ brahmaiva jāyate

As the pith of the muñja grass can be drawn out (detached) from its gross external covering, the self can be distinguished through reasoning from the three bodies or the Five Sheaths. It is then recognized as unconditioned awareness (“I am essentially of the nature of Brahman”). (JS)

  • Commentary (JS)

Munja grass has a soft core that exudes a sweet liquid that is encased by layers of leaves. In order to get to the core, one has to skillfully remove the leaves. It is a delicate task that needs patience and full attention. Because discrimination is a cognitive, not a physical, separation, a subtle intellect is required.

To say I am ever-free awareness but my wife is not free is undiscriminating, because consciousness does not have a wife. Only jīva has a wife. You cannot say that you are enlightened and your wife is not enlightened, because enlightenment means you are awareness and since there is only awareness your wife is also awareness. Therefore your wife is enlightened. The only way to make your wife unenlightened is to define enlightenment as some kind of unique experience or special knowledge.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

By comparing the pañcakośa viveka to the preparation of munja grass for karma kāṇḍa, two points are made:

a) the importance of a systematic approach and;
b) that discrimination should be based on knowledge.

The deeper the study of scriptures and reflection on the Truth, the weaker the attachment to the five kośās. The priorities are clearer in one’s life, and one is more confident to tread the spiritual path. (AV: Otherwise genuinely feels getting somewhere, but unknowingly deluded by subtlest mithyā).

This clarity of thought, determination of priorities, strength of action and an unwavering focus on the true goal of one’s life mark the man of wisdom (dhīra puruṣa). It is he/she who is able to transcend the four avasthās and attain Para-brahmatva.

  • WHAT HAVE WE COVERED SO FAR? What has just been described through the logic of “Anvaya-Vyatireka” is that by stripping the Jiva of its 5 encasing sheaths or Upadhis, the Self (“Thou”) which is nondifferent from Brahman Himself is left. The text moves on and shows that this entire universe has a Self (“That”) associated with a vast Upadhi, and the same stripping process results in the identity of the Universal Self as Brahman. Hence That equals Thou.
  • WHAT'S NEXT? In śloka 32 reference was made to the upadeśa (clarification) which the seeker receives from the ācārya. This upadeśa is of the mahāvākya “tat tvam asi”. This upadeśa begins from śloka 43.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 43:
(Tat Tvam Asi intro)

Parā parāt mano revaṁ yuktyā saṁbhā vitai katā, tattva masyā divākyais sā bhāga tyāgena lakṣyate

In this way the identity of Brahman and Jīva is demonstrated through reasoning. This identity is taught in the sacred texts in sentences such as “Thou Art That”. Their method of explaining the truth (leading to liberation) is through the elimination of incongruous attributes (elimination of variable attributes). (RK/JS)

Translation (Chinmaya): In this way the oneness of the jīvātma and Paramātmā is logically extablished by the ‘Tat Tvam Asi' mahāvākya, by the technique of bhāga-tyāga (rejecting irrelevant part and retaining appropriate part), is being indicated.

  • Commentary (JS): “That” means limitless awareness. Eliminate the Five Sheaths and you are left with only awareness. The Sheaths, which make it seem as if awareness is limited, are non-essential because they can be negated. Identification with a Sheath is bondage.
  • The method adopted to show this identity between the microcosm and the macrocosm is called “bhāga-tyāgena lakṣaṇā”.
  • WHAT'S NEXT? The meaning of each word in the “Tat Tvam Asi” mahāvākya is now explained from 44-52.



Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 44:
(Tat = Brahman conditioned by material cause (tamas) & efficient cause (sattva))

Jagato yadu pādānaṁ māyā mādāya tāmasīm, nimittaṁ śuddha sasattvāṁ tāmucyate brahma tadgirā

Brahman in association with the tama-guṇa māya, is the material cause of the world, and is the efficient cause in association with sattva-guṇa māyā, is what is meant by the word ‘tat' in ‘Tat tvam asi' mahāvākya. (Chinmaya)

Translation (JS): The self, awareness, becomes the material and efficient cause of the world when it is associated with those aspects of Māyā in which there is a predominance of Tamas and Sattva respectively.

Translation (Chinmaya HS): In the Macrocosm, the material cause (upādāna-kāraṇam) associated with Tamas-predominant (Avidyā), and the efficient cause (nimitta-kāraṇam) (associated with) Pure Sattva (Māyā) – both these are the direct meaning of Brahman (as Īśvara), and are referred to as “That” (in “Tat Twam Asi”).

  • Commentary (JS):

Tamas is the material for the creation, and Brahman (becomes Īśvara when Brahman is conditioned by Māyā) as Sattva is the “intelligent cause” (it provides the design of the creation). The creation is Awareness (Brahman) in the form of knowledge. We know this because when you reduce any object into its constituents all objects resolve in their cause, awareness. Reality is awareness/consciousness. It is “flat.” There is nothing “out there.” That objects appear to be away from you is due to Māyā, beautiful, intelligent Ignorance, which causes awareness to identify with the body-thought, thereby creating the appearance of dimensionality.

Meaning of bhāga-tyāga lakṣaṇā:

It is discrimination between primary meaning of a word and the implied meaning. The implied meaning is called lakṣaṇā.

For example…

If you say “I exist,” the “I” includes the three bodies. Although it describes the total meaning of the word “I” it will not bring about liberation, right knowledge, because liberation is separating the “I” from its non-essential attributes, so we need to arrive at the implied meaning. If you want to identify only a part of an object you need a discriminating thought. It is called bhāga-tyāga vṛtti.

When I say, “I see you,” the primary meaning is “I see your whole body.” But when I say, “I see you,” I actually only see the front part of you, I don’t see your back. In this case “I see you” means “I see the part of you that is facing me.”

If you say, “I see an apple,” you see the whole apple.

But when you say, “I ate an apple,” you understand that only the edible part was eaten, not the seeds, for example. In this case the intellect automatically filters the words to get the actual meaning. This discrimination between the primary and the secondary (implied) meaning is unconscious. You do not think about it when you do it, because it is done unconsciously.

If you say, “I am everything that is,” you automatically subtract the three bodies in your understanding because you know that your body and mind are not everything (since they are mithyā; subject to falsification/appearances). You naturally take the implied meaning, which is limitless awareness.

Tyaga means to reject the primary meaning and take the secondary (implied) meaning.

The practice of Vedanta is keeping in mind both the primary and the secondary meaning of the word “I.”

Although we discriminate unconsciously with most objects, we generally do not discriminate when we use the word “I.” We take its primary meaning to be the only meaning.

For example, if you say, “I am fat,” discrimination is not working because the body is fat (not the “I”). The same applies to, “I am hungry, I am sad, I am intelligent,” etc.

So to set the “I” free of its association with the kośās, one needs to always cling to the implied meaning of the word “I.”

Discrimination is difficult because the word “I” is more or less a constant presence in the mind and speech and it is covered by Ignorance; our conditioning assures that we see ourselves as limited entities.

Remove the parts from jīva and you are left with Awareness. Remove the parts from Īśvara and you are left with Awareness.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya):

a) That Brahman which is the material cause of this gross world when associated with the tamoguṇa aspect of maya. (v27); and

b) That same Brahman which is the efficient cause of the world when associated with sattva-guṇa māyā and becomes the creator or Īśvara (v16).

In this way the word ‘tat' means the non-dual, efficient and material cause of the world [abhinna (undivided), nimitta (efficient), upādāna (material) kāraṇam].

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

We refer back to verses 15-18 where the Causal Creation was described. The relationships of Brahman to Prakriti, Ishwara-M to Maya (only Total level), Ishwara-A to Avidya (collective level) and Jiva to Avidya (individual level), were clearly explained there. The direct meaning of Tat or “That” is shown in this verse to be Ishwara (Brahman with Prakriti), i.e. Ishwara-M + Ishwara-A.

Upadana Karana: The Material Cause of the Universe

When speaking of Tat, it is the Macrocosm that is being referred to. In verse 18 we saw that the Upadana Karana is the material cause of a thing. The material for this material Universe comes from the Tanmatras or subtle elements. The Tanmatras are made of the “Tamas-predominant aspect of Prakriti” called Avidya. The entire manifested world, which is the material cause of creation, comes from Brahman in association with Avidya. This is Ishwara-A, the Upadana Karana of the Universe.

As the material cause, Ishwara-A represents an infinite variety of souls. All of them have Avidya in varying degrees. Individualisation is the characteristic of Creation at the very outset. Ishwara-A is the collective causal consciousness associated with all the individual souls or Jivas. He is all of them and is looked upon as the Universal Self.

This macrocosmic material cause of the whole universe is one of the direct meanings of Tat or “That” in the Mahavakya “Tat Twam Asi”. This macrocosmic material cause of the whole universe is one of the direct meanings of Tat or “That” in the Mahavakya “Tat Twam Asi”.

Nimitta Karana: The Efficient Cause of the Universe

Also in verse 18 we saw that the Nimitta Karana is the efficient cause of a thing, i.e. the maker of a thing, not the material of which it is made. The Maker or Planner of the universe is Ishwara-M associated with the totally pure Maya made of Shuddha Sattwa. For this reason He is a Super-intelligent Being, knowing everything about the process of creation. The whole blueprint of creation lies in the Consciousness of Ishwara-M. This Ishwara-M is the Nimitta Karana of the Universe.

As the efficient cause, Ishwara-M is omniscient. He is the Creator of the Universe. Ishwara-M’s Upadhi is the Sattwa-predominant Maya; hence He is all-pure and all-knowing. He is always macrocosmic only, never microcosmic. He sees everything in its Totality. He is the great Being whom we sometimes call God, or Supreme Lord. There is no Avidya in Him.

This efficient cause is the second direct meaning of Tat or “That” in the Mahavakya.

The one Brahman associated with Avidya and Maya, becomes the material and the efficient cause respectively of Creation, named Ishwara-A and Ishwara-M respectively, as shown in verse 24. As Prakriti is Maya and Avidya seen as one, so also Ishwara is Ishwara-M and Ishwara-A seen as one. He is the Creator as Ishwara-M and the Created as Ishwara-A.

In nature there two well-known cases where the Upadana and Nimitta Karana are the same. The first case is the Spider’s Web. The spider designs the web and provides the material also for it. The second case is Dream. In dream the dreamer is responsible for the dream and he also provides all the content of the dream.

AV Simplified above (Chinmaya HS) – taught in class:

Material cause of creation: Consciousness in association with Avidya. This is Upadana Karana of the Universe. In V18, mainly tama guṇa from the 3 guṇa portion is used, to create 5 SUBTLE elements (upadana karanam).

Efficient Cause of creation: Consciousness associated with the totally pure Māyā made of pure-sattva-guṇa. And reflection of Brahman identified with this pure-sattva-guṇa is called Īśvara. Since sattva guṇa is all-pure and all-knowing, then Īśvara is all-pure and all-knowing. He is always macrocosmic only, never microcosmic. He sees everything in its Totality. He is the great Being whom we sometimes call God, or Supreme Lord. There is no Avidya in Him. Therefore the one Brahman associated with Maya and Avidya, becomes the material and the efficient cause respectively of Creation, named Īśvara-1 (efficient) and Īśvara-2 (material) respectively. As prakṛti (power in Brahman) is Maya and Avidya seen as ONE, so also Īśvara is Īśvara-1 and Īśvara-2 seen as one. He is the Creator as Īśvara-1 and the Created as Īśvara-2.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? The meaning of the word ‘tvam'…


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 45:
(Tvam = Desirous jīva result of pure sattva contaminated by raja/tama guṇa)

Yadā malina sattvāṁ tāṁ kāma karmādi dūṣitām, ādatte tatparaṁ brahma tvaṁ padena tadocyate

When the supreme Brahman superimposes on Itself avidyā (sattva mixed with rajas and tamas), creating desires and activities in It (jīva), then it is referred to as ‘thou'. (RK)

Translation (JS): When the self is under the spell of Avidya (Ignorance), it associates with Rajas and Tamas and becomes a Jīva, pursuing its desires by means of various activities. “You” in the statement “You are That” refers to the Jīva.

Translation (Chinmaya): When the Param Brahma associated with the māyā that is contaminated by (the effects of rajo guṇa), desire, action etc; is refered by the word ‘tvam'.

  • Commentary (JS): Īśvara is awareness (Brahman) associated with Sattva. Jīva is awareness associated with Rajas and Tamas. Remove the guṇās from each and pure awareness remains.
  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

The text now proceeds to describe the direct meaning of the word Tvam.

Tvam or “Thou” is the individual ignorant Jiva that is subjected to Avidya. The result of being subjected and not free is that the soul has to endure the ignominy of having numerous desires unfulfilled. The lack of fulfillment through objects is seen by the endless activities we engage in to satisfy our insatiable desires.

A vicious circle is played out by the Jīva in this condition of subjection. Desire leads one into Karmas; Karmas tie one down to the fruits of Karma; the fruits of Karma come in the form of either Pāpa or Puṇya (demerit or merit); and these lead to rebirth. This repeats itself life after life in an endless cycle.

That Brahman upon which in the previous verse we superimposed omniscience, all-purity, wisdom and omnipotence of Macrocosmic proportions (Tat), on that same Brahman is now superimposed subjectivity, limited knowledge, smallness, pettiness, delusion, and impurities of Microcosmic proportions in the form of individual desires and activities (tvam).

Two diametrically opposing sets of attributes are identified with the same Pure Consciousness.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? Now the significance of asi is explained, in a logical manner.


Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 46:
(Asi is one same Brahman light shining on Tat [pure sattva/macro] & Tvam [raja-tama/micro] upādhi)

Tritayī mapi tāṁ muktvā paras paraviro dhinīm, akhaṇḍaṁ saccidā nandaṁ mahā vākyena lakṣyate

With the rejection of the threefold-Prakriti (sattva, rajas, tamas), that produces all the mutual contradictions (world of duality), the Indivisible Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman (alone remains in both “That” and “Thou”). This is the indicated meaning of “Tat Tvam Asi”. (Chinmaya HS)

Translation (JS): When the Three Gunas are rejected as apparent realities, the self alone remains. The self’s nature is existence, awareness and bliss. This is revealed by the statement, “You are That.”

Translation (RK): When the three mutually contradictory aspects (guṇās) of Māyā are rejected, there remains the one indivisible Brahman whose nature is existence, consciousness and bliss. This is pointed out by the great saying ‘That Thou Art'.

Translation (Chinmaya): When the Brahman freed from the limitations of mutally opposing three types of māyā (by Tat tvam asi mahāvākya viveka), the identity between them is of being undivided non-dual satcitānanda is established, by the ‘asi' word.

  • The three aspects of māyā are the predominantly tamas, the pure sattva and the impure sattva.
  • Thus, when the conditioning of tat and tvam is rejected, the one-ness (asi), which is of the nature of satcitānanda, remains.
  • Commentary (JS): 

The Three Gunas can be rejected as the self because they are non-essential objects subject to constant change. The “rejection” of the Gunas boils down to nothing more than knowing that one’s states of mind are unreal objects. If I see, know, experience something, it is me, but I am definitely not it.

Here is an example of the discrimination between awareness and the Gunas…

Avidya causes Jiva to identify with the Guna predominating in the mind at any time. If Tamas is predominant it will say, “I am dull and sleepy.” If Rajas predominates it will say, “I am excited, agitated, frustrated and angry.” If Sattva predominates it will say, “I am peaceful and pure.”

If you identify the self with a Guna you cannot be real, because the Guna is a variable attribute.

You do not actually experience yourself as coming into and going out of existence as your Gunas change. You experience the Gunas appearing and disappearing in you. Māyā makes you ignore your actual experience of your self and take the discrete experiences you have at any moment to be you.

  • Commentary (Chinmaya HS):

With the rejection of the threefold-Prakriti: The literal meaning relates to the Upadhis or conditionings of Ishwara and Jiva. The Upadhis are the medium through which the Light of Brahman is reflected. The Upadhis in both cases are made up of various combinations of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. In Ishwara, the Body is all-Sattwa, it is absolutely pure. Maya is Shuddha Sattwa. In the case of the Jiva, his body (both subtle as well as gross) is a mixture of Rajas and Tamas and very little of Sattwa.

The Indivisible Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman (alone remains in both “That” and “Thou”): When all Guna-related considerations are dropped, the only thing left is Satchidananda Brahman or Pure Consciousness, i.e. the Light of Brahman which the Upadhi is reflecting.

ULTIMATE CONCLUSION: The Light of Brahman falling on both the Upadhis – that of Ishwara as well as Jiva – is the same. Now there is no contradiction. The sentence makes sense. The ‘equal’ sign is fine. So the implied meaning is accepted as the Supreme Brahman.

EXAMPLE TO GRASP: Imagine you are standing in the centre of the ocean with only water visible all around. To represent yourself draw a circle of 1 meter radius from where you are. Then to represent God or Ishwara, imagine the horizon to be the circle. Now where is the equality? When the ocean dries up, there is neither an infinite circle nor a 1-meter circle.

  • WHAT'S NEXT? How does the removal of the conditioning establishes the one-ness?

Recorded 6 Oct, 2019


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