Kashi Panchakam - by Adi Shankaracharya

Kashi Panchakam - by Adi Shankaracharya

Kashi Panchakam

Written by Adi Shankaracharya

Kashi or Varanasi brings a feeling of spiritual bliss in our minds. This is the case with all the Hindus of India and abroad. Whether one is a Shaiva or Vaishnava etc.. this is a place  which unites everyone in this Universe on the grounds of Spirituality. The word, Kashi, means a city, which is very bright and colorful. It is believed that, even after the Maha Pralayam or the super flood, this will be the only city, which will remain undestroyed. Out Acharyal, who is the pinnacle of wisdom and devotion  has graced us with 5 different verses on this.  Let's enjoy the same.

manonivR^ittiH paramopashaantiH  saa tiirthavaryaa maNikarNikaa cha
GYaanapravaahaa vimalaadigaN^gaa  saa kaashikaaha.n nijabodharuupaa .. 1..

Here Acharyal compares Mani karnika to the silence or complete calmness of the mind (UpShanthi). He further goes another step ahead and compares that Adi Ganga, which flew from heaven to earth, as the flow of enlightenment (Gnana Pravaha). The word Kashi means, very bright and Acharyal here declares that, the Self , which is nothing but true consciousness (Nija Bodha) is what is the holy city of Kashi.

yasyaamida.n kalpitamindrajaalaM charaacharaM bhaati manovilaasam.h
sachchitsukhaikaa paramaatmaruupaa  saa kaashikaaha.n nijabodharuupaa .. 2..

In this verse Acharyal describes the world, which is Maya and Aathma, which is shining and ever existing. It is nothing but Maya(Indra Jaalam), which shines and manifests itself as this world of mobile and immobile things (Characharam). And all this is kind of playfulness of the mind (Mano Vilasam), as mind is called as MaayaPuri, where all these differences (between the Jeeva and Soul) arises and which is the fortress of illusion. While this world is merely illusive Acharyal declares that, the Self, which is envisioned and realized as nothing but pure consciousness is nothing but eternal bliss (Sa Chit Suka), undifferentiated (Eka) and manifestation of that Brahmam (Pramathma Roopa).

kosheshhu paJNchasvadhiraajamaanaa  buddhirbhavaanii pratidehageham.h
saakshii shivaH sarvagato.antaraatmaa   saa kaashikaaha.n nijabodharuupaa .. 3..

The intellect, which is prevailing in everyone beyond the five states of the self (pancha koshas - anna maya,pranamaya,manomaya,vignana maya and anandamaya) is that Maha Maya, who is Bhavani (Consort of the Lord). As per Acharya's Siddantham, the true form of the self is not completely envisioned even in the Ananda Maya, as Nija Bodham is beyond those 5 states (as one attains anandam even in deep sleep or Sushupthi). In the second half of this verse, Acharyal quotes the statement from Mandukya Upanishad, which declares the Brahmam as the witness of the three states of the Self (Jagrad, Swapna and Sushpthi). He this declares that, the Self, which is in the form of true consciousness is that Shivam, which is witness (of the three states) and which is the inner objects of all the states of all the creatures( Sarva Bootha Gatho Antharathma).

kaashyaa.n hi kaashyate kaashii kaashii sarvaprakaashikaa
saa kaashii viditaa yena tena praaptaa hi kaashikaa .. 4..

 In this verse Acharyal uses Kashi as both an eternal city and a shining light. Thus he declares that, for anyone, who realizes and envisions that light by means of Self Realization, attains that light , which is Kashi. Thus that Kashi, which is shining and bright illuminates or brightens every other things (by means of eternal Brahma Chaitanyam).

kaashiikshetra.n shariira.n tribhuvana-jananii vyaapinii GYaanagaNgaa
bhaktiH shraddhaa gayeyan nijaguru charaNadhyaanayogaH prayaagaH
vishvesho.aya.n turiiyaH sakalajana manaHsaakshibhuuto.antaraatmaa
dehe sarvaM madiiye yadi vasati punastiirthamanyatkimasti .. 5..

This last verse is the pinnacle of this entire Panchakam, which decalres that, the body of a Self realized person is itself Kashi and there is no need to go to any other temple or teertha. Thus Acharyal conveys the message that, the presence of Jeevan Mukthas itself is like a punya kshethram, as they are drinking that nectar of Brahmanandam and no other temple is better than the company of realized Souls. Acharyal declares that, the Kashi temple is the body, and the Ganges , who is the mother of three worlds, and who travels in the three worlds is the wisdom, Bhakthy and Sraddha are the Gaya Kshethram, and the meditation of one's (true) Guru's feet is what is Prayaga. Acharya compares Prayaga with Guru;'s feet as they have Maha Vishnu's feet there. Finally Acharyal once again states the quote from Mandukya Upanishad, saying that Vishwesha or Viswanatha is that fourth state (beyond the three states of the Self), which is the witness of the three states and who is the witness and inner object of every human being's mind. Acharyal successfully compared all the aspects of a Kashi Yathra to various aspects of an enlightened person and thus declared that for an enlightened person there's no need for Theertha Yathra.

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