[Shankara discusses manifestation through the five elements and the
process leading to the realization of Atman, the Self.]
1) AUM. The VIRAT is said to be the sum
total of all the quintuplicated five elements and their effects. This is
called the gross body of the Atman (soul).
Waking is that state, where the senses
give rise to the knowledge of objects. The Atman, which identifies
Itself with both the waking state and the gross body, is known as the
These three (the gross body, the waking
state and the VISHVA) together are represented by the first letter 'A'
in the syllable 'AUM'.
2) The five unquintuplicated
rudimentary elements and their effect, the subtle body, both together
constitute what is called the HIRANYAGARBHA. The material subtle body
has seventeen parts, viz. the five vital forces, the ten organs of
perception and action, the mind and the intellect. This is said to be
the subtle body of the Atman (soul).
3) When the sense-organs are quiescent
or withdrawn, the knowledge arising out of impressions of the waking
state and the imaginary objects there perceived, are together called the
dream state. The TAIJASA is the Atman which identifies Itself with both
the dream state and the subtle body. These three, i.e. -- the
subtle body, the dream state and the TAIJASA -- are represented by
the second letter 'U' in 'AUM'.
4) Bound up with reflection of
Pure-consciousness, the Nescience, which hides the Atman and is the
cause of both the gross and the subtle bodies, is called the 'AVYAAKRTA'
or undifferentiated. This is the causal body of the Atman. This is
neither existent nor non-existent, nor even both existent and
non-existent; neither different from, nor identical with, nor both
different from and identical with, the Atman. This Nescience is neither
composite, nor non-composite, nor both composite and non- composite, but
removable by the knowledge of the identity of Brahman and the Atman
When all thoughts cease and the
determinative intellect, too, lapses into its causal condition, the
state of deep-sleep appears. The personality appropriating these two,
i.e., the causal-body and the deep- sleep state is described as 'PRAJNA'.
These three (the causal-body Nescience,
the deep-sleep state and the PRAJNA) are symbolised by the last letter
'M' in 'AUM'.
Now, 'A' the waking-personality, should
be resolved into 'U', the dream-personality, and the 'U' into 'M' i.e.,
the deep-sleep personality. Again, the 'M' should be reduced into 'AUM'
and the 'AUM' into 'I'. I am, the Atman, the Witness of all, the
absolute of the nature of Pure Consciousness; I am neither Nescience nor
even its effect but I am Brahman alone, Eternally Pure, Ever
Enlightened, Eternally Free and Existence Absolute. I am the Bliss
Absolute, One without a second and the Innermost Consciousness.
Remaining in this state of absolute
identification is what is called 'SAMADHI' or the Super-conscious state.
'Thou art That', 'I am Brahman',
'Consciousness-Bliss is Brahman', 'This Self is Brahman', etc. --
all these Srutis, i.e., the Upanisadic sayings (known as Mahavakyas or
the great dictum) are direct evidences to the identity of the Atman, the
individual soul, and Brahman. This is what is called 'PANCHKARANAM' or
Here ends the small treatise named 'Panchikaranam'
by Bhagavan Sri Sankaracharya.
[Note: 'Quintuplicated': A particular process by which the five
elementary constituents of the universe are said to be compounded with
one another to form grosser entities that serve as units in the
composition of the physical universe.]