PANCHADASI---8

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109. Therefore the knowledge of the non-dual Reality (thus) established by the Vedanta is not falsified even at the last moment (whatever interpretation be taken). So the discrimination of the elements (from the non-dual Reality) surely ensures peace abiding or bliss ineffable.

III. THE DIFFERENTIATION OF THE FIVE SHEATHS
1. It is possible to know Brahman which is “hidden in the cave” (i.e., the five sheaths), by differentiating It from them. Hence the five sheaths are now being considered.
2. Within the ‘physical sheath’ is the ‘vital sheath’; within the ‘vital sheath’ is the ‘mental sheath’; still, within is the ‘intellectual sheath’ or the ‘agent sheath’ and still within is the ‘blissful sheath’ or the ‘enjoyer sheath’. This succession (of one within another) is the ‘cave’ (that covers the Atman).
3. The body which is produced from the seed and blood of the parents, which are in turn formed out of the food eaten by them, grows by food only. It is not the Self, for it does not exist either before birth or after death.
4. This body did not exist in the previous birth; then how could it have produced this birth ? (For that would be an effect without a cause). Without existing in the future birth it cannot enjoy the results of action accumulated here (in this birth). (And hence it would be a case of ‘one does and another enjoys the fruits thereof’ – which is unreasonable).
5. The vital airs which pervade the body and give power and motion to the eyes and other senses constitute the vital sheath. It is not the Self because it is devoid of consciousness.
6. That which gives rise to the ideas of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ with regard to one’s body, house and so forth, is the mind sheath. It is not the Self because it has desires and is moved by pleasure and pain, is subject to delusion and is fickle.
7. The intellect which has the reflection of pure consciousness, and which pervades the whole body up to the tips of the fingers in the waking state but disappears in deep sleep, is known as the intellect sheath. It also is not the Self because it too is changeable.
8. The inner organ functions as the agent and also the instrument. Hence though one, it is treated as two, viz., the intellect sheath and the mind sheath. Their fields of operation are the inner world and the outer world respectively.
9. There is a position or function (of the intellect) which, at the time of enjoying the fruits of good actions, goes a little farther inward and catches the reflection of the bliss and at the end of this enjoyment, merges in deep sleep. (This is what is known as the sheath of bliss).
10. This bliss sheath also cannot be the Self because it is temporal and impermanent. That bliss which is the source of this reflection is the Self; for it is eternal and immutable.
11. (Objection): By granting that the sheaths beginning with that of food (body) and ending in that of bliss (joy or sleep) are not the Self, yet (when they are negated), no further object remains to be experienced.
12. (Reply): True, bliss sheath etc., are experienced and not anything else. Yet who can deny that by which these are experienced ?
13. As the Self is Itself of the nature of experience only. It cannot be an object of experience. Since there is no experiencer nor any experience other than It, the Self is unknowable – not because It does not exist but because It cannot be an object of experience.
14. Objects of taste like sweet and bitter, impart their tastes to others, that is their nature, they do not stand in need of their being imparted to themselves. Nor are there other things to impart those tastes to themselves.
15. Just as there is nothing to hinder a thing from possessing its natural flavour even without being flavoured by another thing, even so the Self there stands four-square as the experience (viz., the awareness) even when It is not experienced (as an object of experience).
16. The Shruti declares: ‘This Atman is self-revealing’; ‘Before the evolution of the universe, the Self alone was shining’. ‘It shining, all follow (i.e., shine); by Its shine the universe shines (i.e., is revealed).’
17. How can that, by which the whole universe is known, by known by anything else ? By what can the knower be known ? The mind etc., the instruments of knowledge, can know their own percepts only.
18. The Self knows all that is knowable. There is no one to know It. It is consciousness or knowledge itself and is different from both the known and the unknown (as also of the knowable and the unknowable).
19. How can a man teach scriptures to one who is a man only in form but who is so dull as not to experience what consciousness is in every act of knowing a thing ?
20. As it is shameful for a man to express doubt if he has a tongue or not, so also it is shameful to say, ‘I do not know what consciousness is. I must know it now’.
21. From whatever objects are perceived, dismiss the objects and what remains, viz., the pure consciousness, the awareness only, is Brahman. Such an understanding is called the determination of the nature of Brahman.
22. By dismissing the objective element, i.e., the five sheaths. That is the real nature of the Self (viz., pure consciousness). Non-existence cannot be attributed to it.
23. One’s self is surely existing; there cannot be any opposition to that. Were it not so, who could be the opponent ?
24. Nobody, except through delusion, can entertain the idea that he does not exist. So the Shruti thus exposes the falsity of the position of one who denies the existence of the Self.
25. ‘He who believes Brahman to be non-existent, becomes non-existent himself’. It is true the Self can never be an object of knowledge. But you must accept the existence of the Self (identified with one’s own existence) as a fact.