Panchikaranam of Adi Sankara
A small treatise on Vedanta
E-Text Source: Advaita Vedanta Library

1. AUM. The VIRAT is said to be the sum total of all the quintuplicate [1] 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 VISHVA.

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 un-quintuplicate 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 When the sense-organs are quiescent or withdrawn, the knowledge arising out of impressions of the waking state and the imaginary objects there perceived, are together called the dream state.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 alone.

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 quintuplication.

Here ends the small treatise named PANCHIKARANAM by Bhagavan Sri Sankaracharya.

[1] [Note: Quintuplicate: 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.]