It is difficult to get to the Truth even in Wordly matters. Much more difficult is the subtle enquiry into the nature of the Absolute Truth (Tattva Vivekah). In this first chapter of the famous text Pancadast, Svami vidyaranya enables us to conduct this enquiry by anwering questions like, ‘Why do we love ourselves the most?’,’ Who created God?’,’ Do Thoughts exist in meditation?’ Swami Tejomayananda, in this easy-to-follow and lucid commentary makes our journey to the Truth Effortless and enjoyable
Svami Vidyaranya was a great Indian saint of the fourteenth century. He was born in 1295 and lived a long and fulfilled life of ninety two years. Rare and blessed are the seekers of Truth who are born in household of great noble sages.
Such were the noble parent of Svami Vidyaranya. His mother Srimati and father Mayana were indeed blessed with three extraordinary children-Madhava(Svami vidyaranya), sayana (Who wrote the famous commentaries on Vedas called Sayana Bhasya) and Bhoganatha (who later became his eldest brother’s Guru) His sutram was Bhodayana and he belonged to the yajur Veda Branch of the Vedas branch of the Vedas. Born in the Bharadvija lineage he was indeed a man of great knowledge and Wisdom.
Young Madhava was once meditating on Goddess Bhuvanesvari with a desire for gaining wealth. Pleased by his austerity, she appeared before him and blessed him with the words, “You will not have much wealth, but you shall be instrumental in establishing a great and prosperous kingdom.”
During that time, many parts of India were ruled by Mslim invaders. They plundered many temples and subjugated the people by force. Two valorous young brothers, Harihara and Bukka chanced to meet Madhava just after he heard the divine words of Goddess Bhuvaneshwari. The brothers had a strong desire to reestablish a Hindu kingdom and free the people from their tormentors. On meeting and sharing their thoughts they realized that they had met to achieve a higher purpose. There arose a mutual and instant love and respect between them and they embarked on their task with determination.
Young Madhava was once meditating on Goddess Bhuvanesvari with a desire for gaining wealth. Pleased by his austerity, She appeared before him and blessed him with the words, "You will not have much wealth, but you shall be instrumental in establishing a great and prosperous kingdom."
During that time, many parts of India were ruled by Muslim invaders. They plundered many temples and subjugated the people by force. Two valourous young brothers, Harihara and Bukka chanced to meet Madhava just after he heard the divine words of Goddess Bhuvanesvari. The brothers had a strong desire to re-establish a Hindu kingdom and free the people from their tormentors. On meeting and sharing their thoughts, they realised that• they had met to achieve a higher purpose, There arose a mutual and instant love and respect between them and they embarked on their task with determination.
Madhava would give discourses in a temple where hundreds gathered to listen to him. A few youngsters, convinced by Harihara and Bukka would disappear from the audience each day to secretly become part of the movement. In this .. way many youngsters joined them and were trained in warfare unknown to the Muslim rulers in a secret cave. At an appropriate time they launched a surprise attack and defeated the rulers.
Once, Harihara and Bukka saw a strange sight. A fox pursued by a lion suddenly stopped and fearlessly looked back at the lion, which retreated in haste! This incident was related to Madhava who decided to establish the capital of their kingdom in that place. The kingdom was named Vijayanagara and it flourished under the rule of Harihara and Bukka with their Guru - their friend, philosopher and guide, Madhava as their Prime Minister.
Madhava made an in-depth study of the Scriptures and performed many austerities, despite his administrative and household responsibilities. He studied under three great Masters (Vidya Gurus) - Bharati Tirtha (his own youngest brother Bhoganatha), Vidya Trrtha and Srikantha.
He was initiated into the holy order of sanriydsa by Svami Sankararanda at the age of 75 and was named Svami Vidyaranya Sarasvati. Svami Sankararanda, his Sannydsa Guru was the Sankaracarya of the Sringeri Pitba, famous also for his beautiful commentary on the eta called Sankararafldt. Svami Vidyaranya himself adorned the Sringeri Pitba as the Sankaracarya after his Guru.
on Parasara Smrti and Jaimini Sutrds and on subjects as varied as medicine and politics. His last and most famous work was Pancadasi. It is believed that, pleased by his commentary on the Vedas, Sri Veda Vyasa himself appeared before him at Varanasi and blessed him. He was verily a forest of Knowledge and Wisdom - vidya- arartya. No wonder it is said - sarvajfiab sa hi madhavab!' It is said that the very remembrance of great saints is purifying. We pay our respectful homage to this great star of our luminous and illustrious lineage of Gurus.
The fascinating subject of Self-Knowledge - my own essential nature, is the very theme of Vedanta. Who does not want to hear, speak and know about themselves? This subject is revealed in Sastra granthas (Scriptural texts) like the Upanisads which are the valid means of Self-Knowledge. They deal with the subject matter in its totality.
Self-Knowledge is also expounded by Prakarana granthas (preliminary texts) which deal with one or more aspect of the subject. They prove very helpful in understanding Scriptural texts.
Prakarana granthas too are of many kinds. Texts like Tattva Bodha of Adi Sankaracarya are books of definitions which are meant for beginners, to familiarise them with the basic terminology and concepts of Vedanta.
Paficadast is one of the most famous, popular and important prakarana granthas of Vedanta. It deals with various aspects of Self-Knowledge in great detail and is helpful to both the novice and the veteran. This text has fifteen chapters, hence the name. It is divided into three groups of five chapters each namely, Viveka Prakarana, .Dzpa Prakarana and Ananda Prakarana. The Self is Sat-Cit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss).
According to some scholars, each group predominantly discusses one aspect of the Self - Sat-vidyd, Cit-vidyd and Ananda-vidya respectively. However Existence- Consciousness-Bliss are inseparable and so each chapter basically expounds about our True Nature alone.
The beauty of this text is that each chapter is complete by itself. So any chapter can be studied first. Every word used or concept propounded is explained in detail in the text itself, so there remains no scope for wrong interpretation. Also, the entire text is in the form of question and answers. A variety of questions is raised by the author as though there is an opponent view (parva paksa) to Vedanta and is answered from the Vedantic viewpoint (uttara paksa). The questions range from F AQs (frequently-asked-questions), technical or scholarly queries or even offbeat questions which would normally never occur to us. We have to however be careful whilst studying this text, in understanding the sentence formation. If not rightly understood, it could cause some confusion or misinterpretation.
The study of this text also reveals the total devotion of Svami Vidyaranya to Self-Knowledge and his compassion for all seekers of Truth in the efforts essence' or 'Truth'. This is also the main theme of Vedanta. Technically it is referred to as the Knowledge of the identity of the individuality and the Infinite Reality (brahmatmaikya bodha). Even though I think I am a finite individual, I am in essence the Infinite Truth.
What good would this Knowledge do to me? Since there is no joy in finitude, (na alpe sukham asti), as a finite individual, I never experience unalloyed joy. On realizing my Infinite Nature, I attain Eternal Bliss (yo vai bbunu; tat sukham). What a happy ending to my individuality! And who does not like happy endings? A man said that he saw a movie with a happy ending - he was happy when it ended! Will we not be happy to end all finitude and discover our Infinitude?
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