Panchadashi and Prarabdha

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Another salVo in the ongoing battle over jIvanmukti, j~nAna phalam, pratibhandaka-s and prArabdha – see Knowledge, Action and Liberation and Knowledge, Action and Liberation – AV)

The following is an extract from Chapter 7 of Vidyaranya’s Panchadashi:

indra-jAlam idaM dvaitam achintya-rachanAtvataH
ityavismarato hAniH kA vA prArabdha-bhogataH

[7:174] Never forgetting that the world is unreal and its cause unascertainable, the wise man stands secure from harm in the midst of the enjoyment of his fructifying karma.

nirbandhas tattva-vidyAyA indra-jAlatva-saMsmRRitau
prArabdhasyAgraho bhoge jIvasya sukha-duHkhayoh

[7:175] The function of knowledge of the real is to promote (constant) remembrance of the fact that’ world is unreal; that of the fructifying karma is merely to provide the jIva with experience of pleasure and pain.

vidya-rabdhe viruddhyete na bhinna-viShayatvataH
jAnadbhir apyaindra-jAla-vinodo dRRishyate khalu

[7:176] The knowledge of the spiritual truth and the fructification of prArabdha karma refer to different objects and are not opposed to one another. The sight of a magical performance gives amusement to a spectator in spite of his knowledge of its unreality.

jagat-satyatvam ApAdya prArabdhaM bhojayed yadi
tadA virodhi vidyAyA bhoga-mAtrAn na satyatA

[7:177] The fructification of karma would be considered to be opposed to the knowledge of truth if it gave rise to the idea of the reality of the external world; but mere enjoyment of an experience does not imply the reality of what is experienced.

anUno jAyate bhogah kalpitaiH svapna-vastubhiH
jAgrad-vastubhir apyevam asatyair bhoga iShyatAm

[7:178] The imaginary objects seen in a dream become sources of joy and sorrow to no small extent; we therefore infer that the objects of the waking state can do the same (without being real).

yadi vidyA.apahnuvIta jagat prArabdha-ghAtinI
tadA syAn na tu mAyAtva-bodhena tad-apahnavaH

[7:179] If knowledge of the real destroyed the world it would be incompatible with the continued presence of the fructifying karma. But it does not do so. It “destroys” the world only in the sense of producing the conviction that it is a mere illusory display (a mAyA).

anapahnutya lokAs tad indra-jAlam idaM tviti
jAnanty evAnapahnutya bhogaM mAyAtva-dhIstathA

[7:180] People know a magic show to be unreal, but this knowledge does not involve the destruction of the show or deprive them of their enjoyment of it. It is the same with one who has the conviction that the objects of the world are a mere illusory display (a mAyA).

yatra tvasya jagat svAtmA pashyet kas tatra kena kam
kiM jighret kiM vaded veti shrutau tu bahu ghoShitam

[7:181] But (against all this it will be said that) there are many passages in the shruti which teach such doctrine as “but when he has become the Self of all this (universe), then who will see what and with what organ what will he smell, and what will he say?” Vide, for example, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad II.4.14 and IV.3.19-32 and Chandogya Upanishad VII.24.1.

tena dvaitam apahnutya vidyodeti na chAnyathA
tathA cha viduSho bhogaH kathaM syad iti chechchRRiNu

[7:182] Therefore, (the argument will run,) spiritual vision depends on the destruction of the phenomenal world and occurs in no other way. This being so, how can the illumined man enjoy the objective world?”

suShupti-viShayA mukti-viShayA vA shrutis tviti
uktaM svApyaya-saMpatyor iti sUtre hy ati-sphuTam

[7:183] Our reply is: “The shruti-s upon which this objection is based apply to the states of deep sleep and ultimate enlightenment.” This is clearly stated in Brahma Sutra IV. iv. 16. ‘Ultimate enlightenment’ here means liberation after death (videha mukti). As explained in the Brahma Sutras IV.4.16, the shruti-s in question do not apply to liberation in life (jIvanmukti).

anyathA yAj~navalkyAder AchAryatvaM na saMbhavet
dvaita-dRRiShTAvavidvattA dvaitAdRRiShTau na vAg vadet

[7:184] If this is not accepted, we cannot account for the efforts to teach made by such sages as Yajnavalkya. Without a knowledge of duality they could not teach, and with it their illumination could not be called Complete.

If there were no recognition of duality teaching would be impossible.

 From: Panchadashi: Treatise on Advaita Metaphysics, Vidyaranya (Tr. H. P. Shastri), Shanti Sadan, 1982. ISBN 978-0-85424-018-0.

10 thoughts on “Panchadashi and Prarabdha

  1. Dennis
    After all thes quotes, Vidyaranya does say in PD 7-192:
    “kasya kamayati vacho bhoktabhava vivakshaya”. Once you recognize Atma as asanga then in reality there DOES NOT REMAIN ANY BHOKTA.

    I personally think that thru various mantras (7-175 …) quoted above Vidyaranya is making a point that removal of advaita alone should not be considered as Jnana. But after Jnana there is no bhokta is clearly stated in 7-192.

    • Correction
      “Vidyaranya is making a point that removal of advaita alone ”

      I meant removal of dvaita and not advaita!!!

  2. Dear Dennis

    I’m afraid your stated passages do not highlight a difference between jnana-phalam and jivanmukta.

    The quoted passages in Pancadasi merely point out that a liberated person’s vision does not entail the destruction of the phenomenal world. This only occurs on death. Hence the distinction drawn between videha mukti and jivanmulti (NOT jnana phalam). It basically says a jnani / jivanmukti will continue to experience his prarabdha, but will see that it is illusory and so be untouched by it.

    Note Sankara’s commentary on Brahma Sutra 4.1.16 (from Sw Vireswarananda’s translation):
    “Only the Samcita works are destroyed by Knowledge, but not the prarabdha, which are destroyed only by being worked out. So long as the momentum of these works lasts, the knower of Brahman has to be in the body. When they are exhausted, THE BODY FALLS OFF AND HE ATTAINS PERFECTION”.

    Also note Sankara’s commentary on BS 3.4.52 goes to the heart of the unsupported jnani vs jivanmukta distinction:
    “A doubt may arise that there may be some such rule with respect to Liberation also, which is the fruit of Knowledge. In other words, the question is WHETHER LIBERATION CAN BE DELAYED AFTER KNOWLEDGE, AND WHETHER THERE ARE DEGREES OF KNOWLEDGE ACCORDING TO THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE ASPIRANT. The sutra says that no such rule exists with respect to Liberation. . . The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman and there can be no variety in it as Brahman is without qualities . . .NEITHER CAN THERE BE ANY DELAY in the attainment of Liberation after Knowledge has dawned, for Knowledge of Brahman itself is Liberation”.

    It seems that you are relying on some Alternative Vedantic interpretative acrobatics of sruti and Sankara, rather than a simple, direct, traditional interpretation! ;-))


  3. Another salVo !?
    Thanks to the correct Azimuths by Venkat and Vijay.
    All clear; it’s case of reVerse firing! 🙂

    Re: Dennis’s links (to our!) prArabdha:

    AparokshAnubhUti is a time-honoured text well accepted by Sringeri math as a valued prakaraNa grantha.
    But its teaching becomes doubtful because Shankara may not have himself authored it.
    How then can one accept the words of another source who does not even belong in the lineage of any of the Amnaya maTha-s established by Shankara to carry forward his teaching ?


    I bow to the intelligence of Radhe.
    What is one to make out of the interminable squirts of word soup to her simple questions. For example:
    Q: with the dågdåsyaviveka [seer-seen discrimination], the recognition of the stability of your being, even the recognition of your being the ätmä [Self] as Brahman, can be there so that the silence, the ongoing presence of yourself in reference to your mind, etcetera, can be very well-known but that’s different from recognizing, “I am the whole.”

    A: “I am the whole.” Another problem.
    See, I am the whole; also I am Éçvara [the Lord].
    See, Éçvarajïänam [knowledge of Éçvara] is always a problem.

    Éçvarajïänam is a problem, because Éçvara is sarvajïä [omniscient].
    To understand sarvajïä is very very difficult.

    How we are going to assimilate sarvajïatvam [omniscience] of Éçvara?
    Sarvakäraëatvam [the cause of all]. Sarvajïatvam is sarvakäraëatvam. Sarvakäraëatvam is sarvajïatvam.

    Because Éçvara’s knowledge alone is adhikärya, nämarüpa [name and form], nämni nämäni [in one name there are many names]. Take a pot; it is a näma. And the pot is reduced to clay—
    another näma, another name. Clay is reduced to atoms—another name.

    Particles—another name. All these are names only. Because one is reduced to another. What is that one? Näma, nämamätra [a name alone]. Therefore, nämni nämäni. In one näma, there are many names. So these nämni nämäni is what the truth is. Therefore the näma means knowledge, word means meaning.

    Therefore, all the words are all knowledge. Therefore, all that is there are words
    and their meanings. That is what sarvajïatvam is. And therefore, to understand
    sarvajïatvam, the structure, etcetera, it is always a problem, because jéveçvara
    [individual and Lord] equation.

    I am the whole. The whole involves spheres.
    Generally, we gloss over many spheres. And there are corners in our buddhi
    [intellect] also where there are some conclusions, reality conclusions. There are
    reality conclusions. And those reality conclusions, they are all opposed ………
    ……………………… ……………. …………………………………………………………. ………………………………………………………………… …………………….”

    I count five therefores. I am lost. 🙂


  4. I confess that I had some reservations about posting the link to the Swami Dayananda discussion. It is an unfortunate fact that his verbatim spoken comments are often difficult to follow; this is why I never listen to his talks. Once edited, however, you would find it hard to match his teaching for clarity and depth of understanding. However, the link is there for anyone who wishes to make the effort.

    Regarding your comment, Vijay, I don’t know which translation you are using but I suggest that it is misleading. Here are three others:

    Jnanananda Bharati: “As the perception of the unattached nature of the Self is seen just like the unreality of the world, there is the phrase ‘for whose desire’ to convey the idea of the absence of a desirer.”

    Swami Swahananda: “Since he is convinced of the associationlessness of the Self like the illusoriness of the world, the knower has no idea of himself as a doer and enjoyer. The verse quoted at the beginning of this chapter, ‘For whom should he desire?’ applies to him.”

    H. P. Shastri: “Since he has convinced himself both of the associationless of the Self and the illusory character of the world, the illumined sage has no such idea as ‘I am the doer and enjoyer’. The verse quoted at the beginning of the chapter, ‘Desiring what and to please whom…?’ applies to him.”

    It is not that ‘there does not remain any bhoktA’ – there never was a doer or enjoyer. The point is that the j~nAnI now knows this – naiva ki~nchit karomIti as the Gita 5.8 says. j~nAnam does not remove dvaita either, because there never was any dvaita.

    Regarding your comments, Venkat, the j~nAna and phalam distinction is effectively made later in this same chapter:

    “In the course of self-immolation a man goes on thinking himself a man until his body is completely consumed. So the idea of chidAbhAsa continues until the fructifying karma (prArabdha) is worked out. (7.243)

    “After a man has realised the nature of the rope, the trembling caused by the erroneous idea of the snake only disappears gradually, and the idea of the snake still sometimes haunts him when he sees a rope in dim light. (7.244)

    “The fructifying karma does not end abruptly but wears off slowly. In the course of the enjoyment of its fruits the yogi is occasionally visited by such thoughts as ‘I am a mortal’. (7.245)

    “Shortcomings like this do not nullify the realisation of truth. jIvanmukti (liberation during life) does not depend on any special rule of life; its main characteristic is the establishment of the soul in the knowledge of Brahman. (7.246)

    “In the example already cited, the tenth man, who may have been crying and beating his head in sorrow, stops lamenting on realising that the tenth is not dead; but the wounds caused by his beating his head will only heal gradually in the space of a month or so. (7.247)

    “On realising that the tenth is alive, he rejoices and forgets the pain of his wounds. In the same way liberation-in-life makes one forget any injury resulting from the fructifying karma. (7.248)

    “Because there is no regular course of discipline prescribed for the one liberated in life, he must repeatedly perform discrimination whenever superimposition arises as a man taking medicine applies to it whenever need arises. (7.249)

    “The tenth man cures his wounds by applying medicaments to them; so the emancipated man patiently awaits the wearing out of his fructifying karma. (7.250)”

    You are missing the point regarding what I have said versus what you say regarding BSB 3.4.52. We are ALWAYS free. Self-knowledge does not liberate us; it removes the mistaken belief that we were ever bound. What happens to the body-mind never affects who-we-really-are. And fructifying karma only affects the body-mind. pratibandhaka-s apply to the body-mind, and the extent to which they are eliminated depends upon how effective our sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti was in disciplining the mind. None of that has anything to do with j~nAnam (except that a mind that is wholly unprepared will never be able to assimilate the teaching).

    Best wishes,

  5. Dennis

    The point we are debating, i think, is that in a realized state: “jnani sees dvaita but knows it is not real and therefore it does not bother him” OR “there is no bhana atall of dvaita for a jnani”

    What you quoted applies to the Dukha Nivratti Stage (6 th stage) of Chidabhasa (PD 7-251). In trupti stage (7th stage) there is no separate experience (PD 7-266).

    PD 251 & PD 266
    251. In the first verse, the expression ‘Desiring what?’ indicates the release from suffering. This is the sixth state of Chidabhasa. The seventh state, which is now described, is the achievement of perfect satisfaction.
    266. I am the sum of all the experiences in the universe; where is the separate experience for me? I have obtained all that was to be obtained and have done all that was to be done. This is my unshakable conviction.

    I use two sources for PD: Pundit Vishnu Shastry Bapat – marathi Translation (1908); Pundit Ramavatar Vidyapati – hindi translation (1912). The one i used above is from Swami Swahananda.


    • Hi Vijay,

      I thought we were debating (in this thread) whether or not a j~nAnI has prArabdha.

      I freely confess that I do not really know the Panchadashi. Someone else referenced it and I took it up since it was clearly relevant. But all I am doing is quoting from it, not ‘interpreting’ it. I must say that the meaning of ‘stages’ of chidabhAsa escapes me. I think the Panchadashi itself starts of saying that there is Consciousness (kuTastha), the reflection (chidabhAsa) and manas (the mind, which is the mirror). It is all a metaphor anyway, but I would have thought that the original was either reflected in the mirror or not. Perhaps you could write a guest blog to explain all this to us?

      Best wishes,

  6. Sri Ramana’s Ulladu Narpadu, v38 is in concurrence I think with Ramesam’s assertion:
    “If we are the doer of actions, which are like seeds, we shall experience the resulting fruits. But when one knows oneself by enquiring “Who is the doer of actions?”, the sense of doership will disappear, and hence all the three karmas will slip away (since the ego, the doer of the actions and the experiencer of the fruits will no longer exist). This (the resulting state which is devoid of the ego and which is consequently devoid of the bondage of karma) indeed is the state of liberation”

    Further, in Ulladu Narpadu v.33 he writes:
    “Saying that sancta and agamya will not adhere to a jnani, but that prarabdha will remain, is a reply which is told (not to mature aspirants but only) to the questions of others (who are unable to understand that the jnani is not the body and mind). Know that just as no wife will remain unwidowed when the husband dies, all the three karmas will vanish when the doer is destroyed by self-knowledge.”

    In a conversation recorded in Day by Day with Bhagavan, he said:
    “It is sometimes said ‘The body of the jnani will continue till the force of prarabdha works itself out, and after the prarabdha is exhausted it will drop off’. An illustration made use of in this connection is that of an arrow already discharged which will continue to advance and strike its target. But the truth is the jnani has transcended all karmas, including the prarabdha karma and his is not bound by the body or its karmas”.

  7. Hi Venkat,

    As I said before when you quoted at length from Ramana, I acknowledge that he is often very good but I would never refer to him for authority on traditional points.

    But it seems no different from traditional sources, using adhyAropa-apavAda. Sometimes, it is useful to use one explanation, sometimes another. From the standpoint of absolute reality, there is, of course, no karma at all and hence no prArabdha saMskAra. From the empirical standpoint, I still maintain that a j~nAnI continues to see and act in the world until his/her death and may also continue to experience pratibandhaka-s. If those are overcome, the j~nAnI experiences the phalam also. I am happy that the sources from which I have quoted over recent blogs support this contention. No one has provided any scriptural or traditional quotations which would persuade me otherwise.

    Best wishes,

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