Devoted, even when intoxicated! Sri Appaya Dikshitar's Unmatta Panchasati shows us how his consciousness is steeped in supreme surrender

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That which is vaguely referred to as the “mind” is better understood through the framework of “antahkarana-chatushtaya” as explained in the Shrutis. Antah means “inner” and karana means “instrument”. Manas, chittha, buddhi and ahankara form the four-fold inner instruments. And antahkarana-shuddhi is of utmost significance in the path of a sadhaka. Shriman Adinarayanan, guides us by saying “Content of the mind is the consciousness. Hence it is important that we look at the content we hold”. It is through the antahkarana we experience the states or avasthas of jagrat (waking state), swapna (dreaming state) and sushupti (deep sleep state). It is in this kshetra or field of antahkarana lies the sadhaka’s work.

Various sages, siddhas and masters have laid phenomenal emphasis on creating inner conditionings of the sattva guna. The importance of the content that determines the consciousness can be learnt from Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s words in the Bhagavad Gita (Verse 5, Chapter 8 – Akshara Brahma Yogah).

anta-kāle ca mām eva smaran muktvā kalevaram |

yah prayāti sa mad-bhāvam yāti nāsty atra samśayah ||

Bhagavan says that “whoever, at the time of death leaves one’s body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.”

Without working on the dominant content of the mind, how could one achieve this? In the last moments, when life will be ebbing away, one is likely to possess no control over one’s body and the tendencies of the mind. Even after phenomenal sadhana, one’s sthira is tested. The story of Jadabharata in the Bhagavata Purana shows how king Bharata, a realised soul, slipped into the trap of attachment towards a fawn of a dying mother deer. He took care of the young deer and died thinking of the deer. Then he was born a deer in his next birth. But his past samskara helped him to realise God in due course when he was born as Jadabharata. As Jadabharatha, he was resolute to be unwavering in his consciousness so much so that all his actions seemed to be that of an jada(idiot).

Therefore, it takes immense tapas and guru kripa to train oneself to be amidst everything yet with the content of the mind steeped in the Supreme Brahman. It is important we realize this, in order to understand the greatness of Sri Appaya Dikshitar.

Sri Appaya Dikshitar was a revered proponent of Advaita in the 16th century. Born in Adayapalam, he lived in Thiruvannamalai, Kancheepuram and Vellore. He was an erudite scholar, expert in the performance of yajnas, a yogi and a great Sanskrit poet. He was well-respected and highly-recognised by various kings and scholars of his time.

Swami Sivananda Saraswati hails Sri Appaya Dikshitar saying “After Sri Sankara, the world has not seen a genius—a yogi, bhakta and scholar—like Sri Appayya.”

He was a great Shiva devotee. His greatness also stoked the negative tendencies in a jealous few. In one such occasion, some had convinced the king that Sri Appaya Dikshitar’s true nature must be tested by making him consume an intoxicant. The king too was convinced that under intoxication, one is likely to speak their true mind and reveal all that is concealed within. Swami Appaya Dikshitar was unperturbed and was ready to self-examine himself under the influence of intoxicants.

Sri Appaya Dikshitar consumed the juice of the datura fruit to induce an inebriated state and instructed his disciples to write down whatever he says. His utterances took the form of a devotional outpouring and became a stuti! Hailed as the Atmarpanastuti, Dikshitar describes his “woes as one subject to the ills of mundane life and praying for the final release from the bonds of Samsara.” This literary work is also referred to as Unmatta Panchasati as all the fifty verses in this work, were composed at a stage when Sri Appayya Dikshita had no control over his mental faculties. Unmatta उन्मत्त in Sanskrit means mad, frantic or intoxicated.

Through this incident, Sri Appaya Dikshitar show us how resolute a tapaswi can be! His consciousness is filled with Atma-arpanam to Lord Shiva showing us how to live amidst everything in the state of Sharanaagati. Swami Sivananda Saraswati hails Sri Appaya Dikshitar saying “After Sri Sankara, the world has not seen a genius—a Yogi, Bhakta and scholar—like Sri Appayya.”

Aum Shri Gurubhyo Namah!