Katha Upanishad with Shankara’s Commentary

by S. Sitarama Sastri | 1928 | 24,483 words

The Katha Upanishad is a collection of philosophical poems representing a conversation between the sage Naciketas and Yama (god of death). They discuss the nature of Atman, Brahman and Moksha (liberation). The book is made up of six sections (Valli). This commentary by Shankara focuses on ‘Advaita Vedanta’, or non-dualism: one of the classical ort...

यथादर्शे तथात्मनि यथा स्वप्ने तथा पितृलोके ।
यथाप्सु परीव ददृशे तथा गन्धर्वलोके छायातपयोरिव ब्रह्मलोके ॥ ५ ॥

yathādarśe tathātmani yathā svapne tathā pitṛloke |
yathāpsu parīva dadṛśe tathā gandharvaloke chāyātapayoriva brahmaloke || 5 ||

5. As in a mirror, so within one's self; as in dreams, so in the world of the manes; as indistinctly seen in water, so in the world of the Gandharvâs; as of light and shade, so in the world of Brahma.


Shankara’s Commentary:

Com.—How is explained. As one in the world sees his own image reflected in a mirror very distinctly, so the realisation of the âtman in one's intelligence, when spotless like a mirror, becomes clear. As in dreams, the perception is indistinct and produced, i.e., (obscured) by the reminiscences of the waking state, so indistinct is the realisation of the âtman in the world of the manes, being engrossed in the enjoyment of the fruits of karma. As the image of one's self reflected in water is seen indistinctly, with the various parts not defined, so is the realisation of the âtman in the world of the Gandharvâs certainly indistinct. Thus, it is inferred from the authority of the sâstrâs, even in other worlds, it is only in one, the Brahmalôka, that it is very distinct, as that of light and shadow and that (Brahmalôka) is hard to attain requiring as means, a combination of very special karma and knowledge, i.e., (worship). The drift, therefore, is that one should attempt to realise the âtman even while here (in this world).

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