PANCADASI of Sri Vidyaranya Swami. English Translation and Notes by Swami Swahananda. With an Introduction by Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan. Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, (1967) reprint. Paperbound, xix + 616 pages. ISBN 81-7120-507-0.
Dr. Mahadevan, in his well-written and informative Introduction tells us that the Pancadasi, a post-Shankara Advaita Vedanta classic, "is a comprehensive manual of Advaita Vedanta enjoying great popularity with those who want to have a clear presentation of the truths of Advaita".
He then goes on to briefly and lucidly discuss some of its main topics, e.g., the nature of Brahman or the Self as sat, cit, ananda (existence, consciousness, bliss) and makes the interesting observation that, since "the Self is the seat of supreme love, anything becomes dear, not for its own sake, but for the sake of the Self."
Other topics that are taken up are the three states of experience, viz., waking, dream, and deep sleep; the nature of Maya; nescience; the means of release or liberation, etc.
The text that follows gives, verse by verse, the Sanskrit in Devanagari script, its English translation, and brief explanatory notes where needed. The translation reads very well and the notes can be quite useful. The book ends with the usual Index to Slokas along with a very handy 20-page Sanskrit-English Glossary of terms.
Here is an example (from Chapter VII) of Swami Swahananda's style:
"168. That which is not destined to happen as a result of our past Karma will not happen; that which is to happen must happen. Such knowledge is a sure antidote to the poison of anxiety; it removes the delusion of grief.
169. Both the illumined and the deluded suffer from their fructifying Karma; the deluded are subject to misery, the wise are not. As the deluded are full of desires, of impracticable unreal things, their sorrow is great."
The book is printed in large, clear, easy-to-read fonts; is stitched in the traditional manner so that it opens flat without cracking the spine; and is bound in somewhat flimsy decorative paper wrappers. All in all I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who wishes to broaden, and deepen, their knowledge of Advaita Vedanta by the study of an acknowledged classic.