Chandogya Upanishad (Shankara Bhashya)

by Ganganatha Jha | 1942 | 149,749 words | ISBN-10: 8170842840 | ISBN-13: 9788170842842

This is the English translation of the Chandogya Upanishad, an ancient philosophical text originally written in Sanksrit and dating to at least the 8th century BCE. Having eight chapters (adhyayas) and many sub-sections (khandas), this text is counted among the largest of it's kind. The Chandogya Upanishad, being connected to the Samaveda, represen...

Section 6.14 (fourteenth khaṇḍa) (three texts)

Upaniṣad text:

‘Just as, my dear, some one, having brought a man from the Gandhara regions with his eyes bound up, might leave him in a desolate place,—and that man would shout towards the East, or towards the North, or towards the South, or towards the West.’—‘I have been brought here with my eyes bound up and left here with my eyes bound up.’—(1)

Commentary (Śaṅkara Bhāṣya):

‘Just as, in the ordinary world, my dear, having brought a man,—any one—from the Gandhāra Regions, with his eyes bound up,—a robber—might leave him—with his eyes bound up and his hands tied,—in a forest, or in still more desolated place,—that man, having lost all sense of direction, would shout—cry—towards the East—i.e. with his face turned towards the East,—or towards the North, or towards the South, or towards the West,—(saying) ~ With eyes bound up I have been brought by robbers from the Gandhāra regions, and I have been left here with my eyes bound up.’—(1)

Upaniṣad text:

‘And as some one might remove his bandage and tell him—the Gandhāra regions lie towards this direction, go in this direction,—whereupon; asking his way from village to village, and becoming informed and capable of judging by himself, he would reach the Gandhāra regions;—in the same manner, in this world, that person knows who has a teacher; and for him, the delay is only so long as I am not liberated and become merged.’—(2)

Commentary (Śaṅkara Bhāṣya):

While he is thus shouting, some one, with a merciful temperament, might remove his bandage—covering over the eyes,—and tell him that the Gandhāra regions lie towards this—the Northerly—direction, go in this direction,—that man, being freed by the sympathetic person from his bandage,—asking his way from village to village, becoming informed,—by advices offered,—and capable of judging by himself—capable of finding the way to villages as pointed out by others,—would reach the Gandhāra regions; such a man alone would reach the place, and not one who is either foolish or desirous of seeing various countries.—Just as in the illustration as described, the man was brought from his country in the Gandhāra regions, by robbers, with his eyes bound up,—and lacking discriminating and confound in regard to the directions, beset with hunger, thirst, and other privations,—was brought into a forest infested with tigers, robbers and other dangers,—in sore trouble, crying,—remains there, eager to be liberated;—then he is liberated by some sympathetic person, and ultimately somehow reaches his own Gandhāra country, became happy and contented.—In the same manner, the man is carried away from Being, the Self of the Universe,—by robbers in the shape of merit, demerit and other tendencies,—and made to enter the forest of this Body made up of Fire, Water, Food and other ingredients, and containing wind, bile, phlegm, blood, fat, flesh, bone, marrow, semen, worms urine and fæces, and beset with several pains of opposites, like heat and cold,—with his eyes bound up with the bandage of delusion, caught in the noose of longing for wife, son, friends, cattle, relative and such other perceptible and imperceptible things, enmeshed in the meshes of hundreds and thousands of such evils and austerities and crying—as ‘I am the son of such and such a person,’ ‘these are my relatives,’ ‘I am happy,’ ‘I am unhappy,’ ‘I am deluded, ‘I am wise,’ ‘I am righteous,’ ‘I have many relatives,” ‘my son is born, is dead, is sinful’, ‘my property has been lost’, ‘Ah! I am damned’, ‘How shall I live?” ‘What is to be my fate?’ ‘What is to be my refuge?’—Then, by the influence of some good fortune due to the excess of merit, he gets a teacher, who is extremely sympathetic, and knows the Being, the Brahman, the Self,—and who is himself liberated from all bondage and rests firmly upon Brahman,—and this Brahman-knowing teacher, through pity, shows him the way to perceive the defects in worldly objects—whereupon he loses all attachment to these worldly objects,—and on being told that ‘thou art not one who passes through the cycle of births and deaths, thou art not the son, or any relation of such and such a person, etc.,—in fact, thou art pure Being, that which Thou Art,’ —and thus he becomes liberated from the bondage of Ignorance,—like the man from Gandhāra,—reaches his own True Self, Being, and becomes happy and for ever contented.’

It is all this which the Father meant by saying—‘That person knows who has a teacher.’

For him,—for the man who has been liberated from the bondage of Ignorance,—the delay—the postponement—in merging into his real Self, Being—is only so long;—how long is the delay?—so long as I am liberated—i.e. he becomes liberated. The first person in the word ‘Vimokṣye’ is to be taken in the sense of the third person, as such is the force of the sense;—i.e. the delay is only so long as that Kārmic Residue is not exhausted, by experience, by virtue of which his Body has been brought about,—and so long as, as the consequence of this, that Body does not fall off;—and then there do I become merged also—i.e. he becomes merged—here also the first person is to be taken in the sense of the third person; there is no interval of time between the falling off of the body and the merging; hence, the word ‘atha’ cannot be taken as expresssing sequence.

Objection:—“The falling off of the Body and the merging into Being do not, as a matter of fact, follow immediately after the attaining of the knowledge of Being,—on account of there still remaining the remnants of the same Kārmic Residua (which have become operative and as such have to be expiated during the present life):—now in the same way even those Karmic Residua which have not yet become operative towards bringing about their results, coming on as stored through other births previous to the attainment of the said knowledge of Being; and certainly for the experiencing of the results of these also, another body has to be produced for the man,—even after the falling off of the present body;—then again even after the said knowledge has come about, the man continues to perform many acts—some enjoined, some forbidden,—and for the experiencing of the results of these fresh actions also, there has to be another body;—then further fresh acts,—and further consequent bodies;—so that the attaining of knowledge becomes practically futile, inasmuch as actions must produce effects (and these must be experienced in a body).—If it be held that for the man who has attained true knowledge all Kārmic Residua disappear,—then liberation should appear simultaneously with the attainment of knowledge, and knowledge being the direct cause of mergence into Being,—so that the body should fall off immediately. The result of this would be that the man would have had no time to approach a teacher, and this would be incompatible with the declaration that ‘he alone knows who has got a teacher and also (obviously) the possibility of there being no liberation resulting from knowledge;—or there would be an element of uncertainty regarding the result of knowledge; and would come to resemble the means of reaching one place from another (which may or may not lead to the desired result).”

Answer:—Not so; it is possible to make a distinction between,such Kārmic Residua as has already become operative in bringing about its results and such another as has not become so operative. It has been argued that—“Inasmuch as even these Kārmic Residua which have not become operative must bring about their results, when the present body falls, there must be produced another body, for the experiencing of the results of those actions which had not become already operative”—But this is not right; because of the authoritative declaration of the Śruti to the effect that ‘for him the delay is only so long etc., etc.’ (which shows that liberation must follow the falling off of the present body).

Objection:—‘Authority also attaches to such declarations as ‘one becomes pure by pure acts’ (Bṛhadā-Upa. II. iii. 13.) (so that an act must produce a body).”

True, it is so; yet, there is a difference between such Kārmic Residua as have become operative towards bringing about their results and such others as have not become so operative.—“How?”—These Kārmic Residua which have become operative, and to which the present body of the knowing man is due, can be exhausted by experience alone; just as in the case of the arrow that has been shot at a certain target, it comes to rest only when the momentum is exhausted, and not successively on its reaching the target on account of there being no purpose to be served by its going any further;—so in the case in question also,—there are however other Kārmic Residua which have not yet become operative,—as also those acts that have been done and are being done during the present life, prior to the attaining of knowledge and after it,—or those of past lives which have not yet become operative,—all these are consumed by True Knowledge, in the same way as they are by expiatory Rites; as says the Smṛti (Bhagavadgītā).—‘The Fire of knowledge similarly consumes all Kārmic Residua into ashes’; and also in the Atharvaṇa—‘Kārmic Residua become exhausted’.

Thus then, though for the man who knows Brahman, there is no further use for life, yet there surely would be experiencing of the results of those Kārmic Residua that have become operative,—just as in the case of the arrow that has been shot;—and it is only right that for him there is delay only so long etc., etc., and there is no room for the objections that have been urged.—After the appearance of True Knowledge for the knower of Brahman,—there is no further Kārmic Residua, as we have already explained, under the text—‘the man resting in Brahman attains immortality etc.,’ (Cā. Upa. II. xxiii. 2.) you may recall that to your mind.—(2)

Upaniṣad text:

‘That which is this subtlest essence,—in that has all this its Self; That is True; that is Self; That Thou art, O, Śvetaketu’,—‘Please explain this to me again, revered Sir.—‘So be it, my boy’, he said.—(3)

Commentary (Śaṅkara Bhāṣya):

That which etc.—as already explained before.—‘Please explain to me by means of illustrations the order of sequence in which the learned man with a teacher becomes merged into Being.’—‘Be it so, my boy,’—he said.—(3)

End of Section (14) of Discourse VI

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