Summary of Panchadashi Discourse:
3 step process of shravana, manana, nididhyasana explained. Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga 8-step practice interpreted in light of non-dual Advaita practice. Savikalpa to nirvikalpa samadhi progression. And what is nirvikalpa samadhi?
Source: Swami Vidyaranya, Pancadasi CH1 – verse 53, 54, 55
SĀDHANA: MEANS TO PERFECTION
Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 53:
(Śravaṇa & Manana)
Itthaṁ vākyais tadar thānu sandhā naṁ śravaṇaṁ bhaveta, yuktyā sambhā vita tvānu saṅdhānaṁ mana nantu tat
Understanding the meaning of the identity of the individual self (Jīvātma) and the limitless self (Paramātman) by contemplating the great sayings such as “You are That” is known as śravaṇam. Eliminating logical fallacies brought about by the apparently contradictory nature of reality is called mananam. (JS)
In this way the investigation on the meaning of the mahāvākya is called śravaṇam (i.e. listening). The mananam (reflection) is reflection on what is heard by the technique of logic according to scriptures. (Chinmaya HS)
The finding out or discovery of the true significance of the identity of the individual self and the Supreme with the aid of the great sayings (like Tattvamasi) is what is known as śravaṇa. And to arrive at the possibility of its validity through logical reasoning is what is called manana. (RK)
- Commentary (Chinmaya HS):
In a broad definition of this format of Sadhana, we may say that Sravana represents the acceptance or obtaining of the food of Knowledge of the Self; Manana represents the deep reflection or chewing of this spiritual food; and Nididhyasana represents the thorough assimilation or digesting of the food so that every part of our being is fully nourished with the nutrients of spirituality. Samadhi represents the sparkling health we enjoy as a result.
i) The Guru-Disciple Relationship: ‘Sravana’ itself, means “hearing”, and that implies someone from whom it is heard. The Guru-disciple relationship forms the warm cocoon in which Sravana takes place. The choice of using the word cocoon is deliberate as it impresses the personal touch that is so essential in conveying and receiving this precious knowledge from Guru to disciple. The imparting of spiritual knowledge is an extremely delicate process. The ordinary classroom does not do justice in conveying the love, harmony, closeness and devotion that go into the “hearing” of the teaching from the Guru.
ii) Sadhana Chatushtaya: Next comes acquisition of the fourfold spiritual wealth. The wealth consists of Discrimination, Dispassion, Sixfold Virtues, and Yearning for liberation. The Virtues are sub-divided into external and internal control of the senses, conquest of the mind, faith, endurance and complete one-pointedness of mind.
iii) The Preliminary Knowledge: All that has been described in the first three parts of this text forms the third segment of Sravana. The basic concepts of God, the creation of the World, and the situation in which the Jiva finds itself are all considered important in the Sravana process.
iv) The Pancha Kosha Viveka: The student learns more and more about himself when he is taught how to distinguish himself from each of the five sheaths. This knowledge is an extremely important segment of Sravana. However, the Sravana is not complete yet.
v) The Mahavakyas: The final segment of Sravana is entered when the Teacher brings into the discussion the “Tat Twam Asi” Mahavakya. When the Mahavakya, which deals with Jiva-Brahmaikya, the identity of the Jiva with Ishwara, is imparted by the Guru, Sravana comes to its terminal point. Grasping Jiva-Brahma Aikya, the purport of the Mahavakya, is the end point of Sravana. It has done its job.
Mananam is inquiry into the primary teaching of the Upanishads because the Upanishads present duality and non-duality. The primary teaching is non-duality, but it is not clear.
For example, is moksa knowledge (jnanam) or a particular experience (anubhava)? Mananam is also the elimination of logical fallacies, which are attributed to Vedanta owing to the incorrect thinking of people who are not familiar with Vedanta, like the adherents of Yoga, Buddhism, Neo-Advaita, New Agers and others who believe that enlightenment can be brought about as a result of action.
But by far the most common reason for manana are irrational beliefs brought on by “two-tier” reality, i.e. the non-contradiction between duality and non-duality. (Any difference between wood and chair?)
- WHAT'S NEXT? Nididhyasanam is explained..
Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 54:
Tābhyāṁ nirvicikitse’rthe cetasaḥ sthāpi tasya yat, eka tānatva metaddhi nidi dhyāsana mucyate
And, when by śravaṇa and manana the mind develops a firm and undoubted conviction, and dwells constantly on the thus ascertained Self alone, it is called unbroken meditation (nididhyāsana). (RK)
The nididhyasana is the single pointedness of the stabilised mind by the process of Sravanam and mananam. (Chinmaya HS)
- In Yogasutra (3.29) nididhyāsana is called dhyāna and has been described as pratyaya-eka-tānatā dhyānam’, unbroken knowledge of the object of meditation.
- Commentary (Chinmaya):
By these two, Sravanam (listening) and mananam (reflection) when the meaning is grasped without a single doubt and doubtless knowledge is created or gained, thereafter the mind (cetas) is fully established in this meaning of the mahāvakya, namely sat-cit-ānanda (that Brahman I am).
This knowledge is without a breach even for a second (eka tānatva). Such an application of the mind to the thought that “I am that sat-cit-ānanda, this is called nididhyāsanam i.e. contemplation.
When such a one-pointed perception develops through nididhyāsanam, then great vision where Paramātma alone is in and through every expression.
- Commentary (JS): Tips to apply nididhyāsanam
To actualize the knowledge “I am awareness,” associate with jñāni's/swami's, study scripture, engage in satsang, purify your lifestyle and think as liberated puruṣās think. Vedantic meditation is nididhyāsana.
It is not for gaining knowledge but for actualizing self-knowledge by removing mental blocks. It is not looking for a mystic experience to legitimize the knowledge.
It is not a thought-free state or paying attention to the space between the thoughts. It is looking at the implications of the knowledge “I am free”. Continue until the current of contentment (NOT A FEELING) is constant, palpable and completely satisfying.
- WHAT'S NEXT? When nididhyasānam is practiced for some time, it leads to samādhi. What is the meaning of samādhi is indicated in Śloka 55.
Aparokshanubhuti (verses 104 to 144):
Nididhyāsana specific methods
The steps in order are: control of the senses, control of the mind, renunciation, silence, space, time, posture, restraining the root (mulabandha), bodily equipoise, firmness of vision, control of the vital forces, withdrawal of the mind, concentration, self-contemplation and complete absorption in the self.
(1). Restraining the senses with the knowledge “Everything is the self” is properly called yama. It should be practiced continually.
(2). The continuous flow of the self-thought to the exclusion of all other thoughts is called niyama. When regularly practiced it causes great bliss.
(3). Renunciation is abandoning the belief in the reality of the phenomenal universe by seeing that it is the ever-conscious self. It is immediate liberation.
(4). Known only to sages, congenital silence is that from which speech and the mind rebound. Observing silence by restraining speech is recommended for those who do not know who they are.
(5). The true posture is the spontaneous and continuous meditation on the self and not the meditation on objects that destroys one’s happiness.
(6). That perfect merger of the mind into the self, the support of the universe and the origin of all beings is known as “the accomplished posture.”
(7). That limitless awareness in which all existence is rooted should be the basis of a yogin’s restraint of mind.
(8). Absorption of the limbs of the Subtle Body in limitless awareness is true equipoise, not the mere balancing of the physical limbs.
(9). The noblest vision is the conversion of the samsaric way of seeing into non-dual vision, not gazing at the tip of the nose with the physical eyes.
(10). Direct your attention to the place where the seer, sight and the seen are non-different, not to the tip of the nose.
(11). Pranayama is the restraint of modifications of the mind brought about by understanding that the mind is the self alone.
(12). Rechaka, breathing out, is the negation of the phenomenal world, and the thought “I am the self” is puraka, breathing in. The steadiness of mind that comes from this practice is called kumbhaka, restraint of breath. This is the true pranayama, not the yogic torture of the nose.
(13) Seekers of liberation should practice pratyahara, the withdrawal of the mind. It is complete absorption in the self, brought about by the understanding that the self is in all objects.
(14). Dharana, concentration, is a steady mind brought about by the realization of the self in every thought.
(15). Dhyana, meditation, is the independence from objects brought about by complete confidence in the thought, “I am limitless awareness.” It produces supreme bliss.
(16). Samadhi, also known as self-knowledge, is the non-attachment to thought brought about by complete identification with the thought, “I am the self, limitless awareness.”
(17). This samadhi reveals one’s natural bliss, which arises spontaneously as one clings to the thought, “I am limitless awareness.”
(18). While practicing samadhi many unavoidable obstacles occur: lack of inquiry, idleness, desire for sense-pleasure, sleep, dullness, distraction, tasting of joy and the sense of blankness. One desiring liberation should patiently remove these obstacles.
(19). As one thinks of an object the mind tends to identify with it. When thinking of the void it becomes void, whereas by the thought of the self it becomes perfect because the self is perfect. Therefore one should always think of the self if one wants freedom.
(20). Those who abandon the purifying thought, “I am the self,” will not succeed.
(21). By continual contemplation of the clay and the pot or the ring and gold or a similar metaphor illustrating the relationship between the self and the world one should understand that when the effect is dismissed only the pure self – which is beyond speech – remains.
(22). As a result of this meditation a state of continual awareness of the self arises in the pure-minded. Eventually, this awareness of the self brings about the hard and fast understanding,“I am the self.”
(23). The inquirer should first look for the self, the cause, by dismissing all objects as “not-self,” and then look for self by seeing it in the objects.
(24). Once the cause is seen in the effect – the self in the objects – the objects should be dismissed. You are what remains.
(25). The mind becomes what it meditates on with diligence and conviction.
(26). A wise person always understands that the visible and the invisible, including himself, is only awareness.
(27). When the objects are reduced to nothing by inquiry the universe appears as awareness. This understanding fills the mind with endless bliss.
(28). This process of inquiry is called Raja Yoga. For those whose worldly desires are only partially attenuated it is to be combined with Hatha Yoga.
(29). Those whose minds are purified by Raja Yoga will gain self-realization. Purity of mind is quickly attained by devotion to the teacher and the self.
Panchadasi, CH1, Verse 55:
(From Savikalpa to Nirvikalpa Samadhi)
Dhyātṛ dhyāne pari tyajya kramād dhyeyaika gocaram, nivāta dīpa vaccittaṁ samādhi rabhi dhīyate
When the mind gradually leaves off the ideas of the meditator and the act of meditation and is merged in the sole object of meditation (viz., the Self), and is steady like the flame of a lamp in a breezeless spot, it is called samādhi. (RK)
Dropping the ‘meditator’ and the act of meditation, one merges gradually in the object of meditation. The mind is steady like a flame in a breezeless place – such a state is what is described as SAMADHI. (Chinmaya HS)
- Commentary (Chinmaya HS):
Savikalpa Samadhi, the end point of Nididhyasana, is characterised by intermittant glimpses of the Self. This stage should not be mistaken to be the ultimate state of perfection. There are yet further obstacles to be overcome. Savikalpa Samadhi still has to be stabilised and perfected into Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
The problems in the meditator are dealt with in the Nidhidhyasana stage. As his Viparaita Bhavana (residual “I am BMI” thoughts) thins out, he is able to go deeper in his concentration. Then there comes a time when he is not even aware of himself as the subject of meditation.
With the dropping of the subject, even the thought of being engaged in meditation also drops off, for there is no one to claim doership of the meditation. That leaves the whole of our attention on the object of meditation. And what is that object? It is the Brahmakara Vritti, “I am Brahman”.
We see this especially in the field of art or sport. The artist or sportsman gets so concentrated on his work, that the ego falls off. He loses himself in the art and only the art thought is uppermost in his mind. It is then that the musical performance, the painting, the game being played stands by itself. That becomes a wonder to the world.
Curiosity may tempt us to imagine what this state is like. Is the transition like coming out of a hot hydroponic tunnel into the cool breeze outside? Is it like walking into an airconditioned office in the hot desertland of Dubai? (Sage will never answer this directly. Because mind turn description into another image. Only way out of question is with negative. EG: It is cessassion of the need to ask such a question. AV).
Vidyaranyaji has, indeed, found a perfect comparison…
Simile of a Flame in a Windless Place
He equates the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi to that of a flame burning in a windless spot. The flame is without any flicker, it is constant and it represents a picture of absolute peace and calm. There is now only pure Sattwic awareness present, not a trace of Rajasic movement or Tamasic sloth or heedlessness.
- Cf. Verses 55-61 with VII. 280. Nivata means breezeless, not airless. As air is necessary for the lamp so also the subtle antahkarana (mind stuff minus the modifications) remains in samadhi, otherwise the body will be disintegrated. (RK)
- WHAT'S NEXT? The question now raised is, “If the mind is totally absorbed in samadhi, then how does one know that it is samadhi and not just deep sleep state?” This doubt is answered in the next śloka –
Recorded 3 Nov, 2019