What are the different kinds of Viveka and how can we develop them? Is questioning enough or is ceiling on desires a must?


Viveka (विवेक ) means right understanding "discrimination" or "discrimination knowledge. Viveka is the quality of a person to differentiate between the real and unreal, eternal and temporary, Atma and Anatma ,Good and bad etc.

There are five kinds of Viveka mentioned in the book Panchadasi by Vidyaranya , previously known as Madhavacharya. Panchadashi is a advaita grantha mainly dealing with the topic unity of Atman and Brahman.

These are called as Vivak Panchaka and they are

1) Tatva Viveka
2 ) Pancha Bhuta Viveka
3 ) Pancha Kosha Viveka
4 ) Dvaita Viveka
5 ) Maha vakya Viveka.

There are seprate chapters in the book for each of them.

Pancha Kosha Viveka

There are five Koshas (sheaths ) in human body which are Annamaya Kosha , pranamaya Kosha , Anandamaya kosha , Vigyanmaya kosha , Manomayakosha .The descrimination of these koshas is called as Pancha Kosha Viveka

It is said in Tatva Vivaka chapter of the Panchadashi that a person having accumulated merit of many birth , with the grace of Guru and with the discrimination of five Koshas attain state of Moksha. The Brahman which is residing in the heart can be only known through the discrimination of Pancha kosha, this is one of the essential part.

उपदेशमवाप्यैवमाचार्यात तत्वदर्शिन : |
पञ्चकोशविवेकेन लभन्ते निर्व्रितिं पराम् ||32 ||

Similarely , the jivas (finding themselves in the whirlpool of Samsara) , receive appropriate initiation from a teacher , who himslef has realized Brahman and differentiating the self from its five sheaths attain the supreme bliss of realease.

How to achieve this Pancha Kosha Viveka is mentioned in Verse 38-42.

अन्वयव्यतिरेकाभ्यां पञ्चकोशविवेकत: |
स्वातमानम् तत उध्द्रुत्य परं ब्रह्म प्रपद्यते ||37 ||

By differentiating self from the five sheaths through the method of distinguishing between the variable and the in variable , one can draw out one's own self from the five sheaths and attain supreme Brahman.

We perceive self as physical body , but we are actually not. this physical body which we do not experience in dream state is variable and the self (atma ) present while even in we sleep as a witness is invariable. So identifying that this body with the five koshas is not actual us and we are pure consciousness is the way with which this pancha kosha viveka is achieved.

Dvaita Viveka

In Dvaita Vaiveka Prakarana the point of which Dviata bhavas are created by Ishwara and which are created by humans is discussed. It is said that some Dviatas are created by ishavara . Ishvara has created maya is apower similarely as his power of creation. It is this power which deludes all. Then the jiva thinks himself is powerless and assumes that he is the body.This maya is the duality created by ishvara.

मोहादनीशतां प्राप्य मग्नो वपुषि शोचति |
ईशसृष्टिमिदं द्वैतं सर्वमुक्तं समासत : ||13 ||

The Jiva thus deluded to believe himself to be powerless and identified with a body becomes subject to grief. Thus is described in brief the duality created by Ishvara.

An another example of this duality is given as mentioned in shatapatha Brahmana that. All the food items which are offered in Yajnas are created by ishvara only. But jiva assigns different food items for devas , prities , for lower animals and for self etc thus the duality created by Jiva , but Maya is the power with which jiva gets deluded is dvaita created by ishvara . Also mental objects and perceptions created by jiva is also dvaita created by him.

The remedy of man made dvaita is also mentioned in the shlokas as not to let our mind dwell on whether we know Brahman or not , but being remain identified with pure consciousness and constant practice of meditation on brahman.

Mahavakya Viveka

The fifith Viveka is Mahavakya Viveka i.e. fixing the meanings of the great saying . In this chapter the meaning of various mahavakyas is discussed. i.e Aham Brahmasmi , Tattvamasi ,Prajnanam Brahman ,Ayamatma Brahma. In this chapter identity of Brahman and Ataman is established explained . This Mahavakya vivika is nothing but fully understanding the point of Sarvam khalvidam Brahma ( all is brahman). Keeping focus on these Mahavakyas and understanding their meaning i.e. Brahman and Atman is same is the Viveka called as Mahavakya Viveka . And with this a person can attain bliss or moksha.

Pancha Bhuta Viveka

In this Pancha Bhuta Viveka the process of knowing the Brahman which is non dual reality is explained by differentiation from five elements .

It is said that Brahman is pure consciousness and not to identify him with five elements of nature. Brahman is beyond our understanding. So mentioned that not to limit the brahman to five elements i.e. Brahaman is different form this five elements although everything is created by him only but he is apart form five elemnts. Thus to know Brahman is different from maya he has created i.e. pancha maha bhutas because five elements do not have their separate exsistance other than brahman but only can be felt through his maya , attain supreme bliss. Below is one example.

सद्वस्तुन्येकदेशस्था माया तत्त्रेकदेशगम |
वियत्तत्राप्येकदेशगतो वायु: प्रकल्पित : ||78 ||

The real entity (brahman) is all pervasive ; the range of maya is limited , that of akasha is more limited and that of air yet more so.

So here it is told that all five elements are limited in their sense and cant be called as Brahman itself , Brahman is infinite. And thus this adopting this Pancha Bhuta Viveka and meditating on brahman leads to Moksha.

Tatva Viveka

The Tatva Viveka section discusses the discrimination of truth (sat) (brahman) from untruth (asat). The purpose of this chapter is separate the ultimate reality which is unchangeable i.e. brahman from the outside objects. The objects which are perceived which seems parmanent in waking state but vanishes in deep sleep , but the outline principle (tatva , brahman ) which is perceiving in both state do not differ . And understanding that Brahman (pure consciousness ) is only sat (truth) and all the perceived objects are asat (untruth ) leads to bliss. Brahham is only Sat i.e constant and homogeneous.

तथा स्वप्नेsत्र वेद्यं तु न स्थिरं जागरे स्थिरं | तत्भेदो sतस्तयो: संविदेकरूपा न भिद्यते ||4||

similarly in the casein the dream state. Here the perceived objects are transient and in the waking state they seem permanent. So there is difference between them . But the (perceiving ) consciousnesses in both the state does not differ. It id homogeneous.

In short there are five kinds of Viveka 1) Tatva Viveka 2 ) Pancha Bhuta Viveka 3 ) Pancha Kosha Viveka 4 ) Dvaita Viveka 5 ) Maha vakya Viveka. Supreme Brahman which is our self is the only truth and is all pervading reality is pure consciousness , We can by discriminating or differentiating him from our body , five koshas , five elements etc. and proper understanding the dualities in our mind created by his maya and focusing on Mahavakyas of vedanta attain supreme bliss , with the help of meditation , help of guru , constant practice right knowledge of truth and untruth. This is the essence of Panchakosha Viveka. The verses are quite difficult to grasp but the they are of pure Advaita nature. So reading of these five chapters for proper understanding of message is a must. Here is Panchadashi from Chinmaya International foundation.

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