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Manisha Panchakam Quotes – Questions Asked By Chandala And Answers Of Adi Shankaracharya

Manisha Panchakam is a text in the form of questions written by Sri Adi Shankaracharya and it brings out the essence of Advaita Vedanta. The questions were asked by a Chandala – when he was asked by Adi Shankara to move away from his path. There is a belief that Chandala was Lord Shiva in disguise.

Chandala - What is it that you want to move away? Do you want the body made up of food to move away from another body made up of food? Or do you want consciousness to move away from consciousness?

Chandala - Is there any difference between the reflection of the sun in the waters of the Ganga and its reflection in the water in a ditch in the quarters of the outcastes? Or between the space in a gold pot and in a mud pot? What is this illusion of difference in the form, “This is a Brahmana and this is an outcaste” in the indwelling self which is the ripple-free ocean of bliss and pure consciousness?

Adi Shankaracharya - If a person has attained the firm knowledge that he is not an object of perception, but is that pure consciousness which shines clearly in the states of waking, dream and deep sleep, and which, as the witness of the whole universe, dwells in all bodies from that of the Creator Brahma to that of the ant, then he is my Guru, irrespective of whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmana. This is my conviction.

Adi Shankaracharya - I am Brahman (pure consciousness). It is pure consciousness that appears as this universe. All this is only something conjured up by me because of avidya (nescience) which is composed of the three gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas)”. One who has attained this definite realization about Brahman which is bliss itself, eternal, supreme and pure, is  my Guru, whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmana. 

Adi Shankaracharya - Having come to the definite conclusion, under the instruction of his Guru, that the entire universe is always perishable, he who, with a calm and pure mind constantly meditates on Brahman, and who has burnt his past and future sins in the fire of knowledge, submits his present body to the operation of his prarabdha karma. This is my conviction. 

Adi Shankaracharya - The Self or pure consciousness is experienced clearly within by animals, men, and gods as ‘I’. It is by the reflection of this pure consciousness that the mind, senses and body, which are all insentient, appear to be sentient. External objects are perceived only because of this consciousness. This Self is, however, concealed by the very mind, senses and body which are illumined by it, just as the sun is concealed by clouds. The yogi who, with a calm mind, always meditates on this Self is my Guru. This is my conviction. 

Adi Shankaracharya - The Self, which is Brahman, is the eternal ocean of supreme bliss. A minute fraction of that bliss is enough to satisfy Indra and other gods. By meditating on the Self with a perfectly calm mind the sage experiences fulfillment. The person whose mind has become identified with this Self is not a mere knower of Brahman, but Brahman itself. Such a person, whoever he may be, is one whose feet are fit to be worshipped by Indra himself. This is my definite conviction.