The Pancadasi of Sri Vidyaranya is a comprehensive manual of Advaita Vedanta, enjoying great popularity with those who want to have a clear presentation of the truths of Advaita. There are two types of Advaita-works : (1) those that are intended to serve as books of instruction for the follower, and (2) those that seek to show through dialectics that the philosophical positions that oppose Advaita are not tenable. The Pancadasi belongs to the first type. As Sri Vidyaranya says even at the outset, the aim of his work is to teach the supreme truth in an easily understandable manner to those whose hearts have been purified through the worship of the lotus-like feet of the Guru (I, 2). It is not that argumentation and dialectics are not employed in the Pancadasi; but they are subordinated to the principal aim of conveying the light of truth to the disciple. The reasoning based on the principle of co-presence and co-absence (anvaya-vvatireka), for instance, is had recourse to for showing that the self which is of the nature of consciousness is constant and therefore real, while the phenomena constituting the world are inconstant and therefore non-real (II, 60 ff). The method of dialectical refutation of systems such as the Madhyamika is resorted to (see, e,g., II, 30 ff). The central objective of the Pancadasi, however, is to provide guidance to the seeker through instruction. While sound logical reasoning helpful to an understanding of scriptural teaching is to be welcomed, quibbling should be avoided. Hence, Sri Vidyaranya declares : "The meaning of scripture I explain ; I do not employ mere logic" (srutyartham visadikurmo na tarkad-vacmi kincana. VIII, 67.) "Therefore, he who longs for release should give up faulty logic and resort to scripture" (tasmat kutarkam santyajya mumuksuh srutim asrayet. VIII, 68;. "Let logic be employed that follows one's experience, but not bad logic " (tarkyatam ma kutarkyatam. II, 30).
When it is said that scripture is the basic authority for Vedanta, it does not mean that the Vedanta is a ' literalist' or ' fundamentalist'. His attitude is not to be confused with that of blind acceptance of or unthinking belief in, the words of the Veda. The words are not mere sounds; they convey meaning; and the meaning should be understood. If a text is accepted without proper inquiry, and if its meaning is only superficially grasped, then it would not lead to any good. Reasoning is helpful in understanding the teaching of scripture. Although it i& true that the ultimate Reality taught there is not graspable either through thoughts or through words, nevertheless logic is useful in a negative way in so far as it can assure us as to what is not real, and language is of service in indicating the nature of the Real. The final court of appeal is experience,-the plenary experience, which is the fruit of inquiry. In fact, the texts of scripture are but indicators of that experience. Thus, in Vedanta, the nature of the Truth is sought to be expounded on the triple basis of scripture, reasoning, and experience.