Kathopanishad (Madhva commentary)

by Srisa Chandra Vasu | 1909 | 21,449 words | ISBN-13: 9789332869165

The English translation of the Kathopanishad (Katha-upanishad) including the commentary of Madhva called the Bhasya. It is an important text associated with the Krishna Yajurveda and discusses topics such as the nature of Atman, karma, rebirth and the soul The Kathopanishad is also known as: Kaṭhopaniṣad (कठोपनिषद्, kathopanisad), Kaṭha-paniṣad (क...

Chapter 3 - Third Valli

Mantra 3.1.

1. There are the two (aspects of the Lord) the Drinkers of truth, existing in the body obtained by good works, both dwelling in the cavity of the heart, in the most highly splendid Param (i.e., Vāyu). The knowers of Brahman and those who perform the five great Sacrifices and observe the triple Nāciketa Fire describe these as shade and the sun.—55.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

The Lord, though one, has two aspects—one as Ātmā and the other as Antar-ātmā (the Inner Self). That Viṣṇu takes up His abode in the Param or Highest, namely Vāyu who is more excellent than all High Beings (like Rudra, etc.,) and whose form is All-Full. (he Lord drinks, i.e., experiences all the good fruits of karmas: (and not the evil). He is like the cool shade (chāyā of a tree to the tired soul of the weary but holy pilgrim who is attained mukti), and He is the cause of his joy; while He is like a burning sun, hot and scorching (ātapa), to the sinner.

Note.—The meditation on the Lord has been taught in the verse adhyātma-yogādhigamena, etc., where is the Lord to be meditated upon will now be taught. But before doing so, He is again glorified in this verse. Some think that the two drinkers, referred to in this mantra, are the Jīva and Buddhi: because “pibantau” is in dual number. But Buddhi being insentient cannot be the enjoyer of the fruit of action. Moreover the Jīva is sentient, and Buddhi is insentient, and so the reference in “pībantau” cannot be to two such entities belonging to two different classes—one sentient and the other insentient. If the Jīva be taken as the “drinker” then Buddhi must be also taken to be a sentient entity, which doctrine no one holds. Nor can it be said that the reference is to two Jivas dwelling in the same body. For it is impossible for two personalities (Jīvas) to dwell in the same body and to be enjoyers of both.

Then it is said that the two “drinkers” arc the Jīva and the Lord. The Lord also drinks or experiences the fruit of karma metaphorically. For being always associated with the Jīva, He is said figuratively to drink, while the Jīva really drinks. But this view is incorrect. For here also recourse is had to a figure of speech in order to make Lord experience the fruit of action. The result therefore is that this verse has no reference to the Jīva at all. but to Īśvara alone. The two that drink are the two aspects of the one and the same Īśvara—one as Ātmā dwelling in the heart of the Cosmos; and the other as Antar-ātma dwelling in the heart of every Jīva. This explains the phrase “guhām praviṣṭau” also: for both these aspects of the Lord are in the guhā or heart.

The phrase “Parame Parārdhe” is taken by some to mean the ether (ākāśa) of the heart, which is superior to the external ether of space: because Brahman becomes manifest in the heart. This explanation is not accurate: for there is no authority for holding that the ākāśa of the heart is higher than the ākāśa of space, nor is there any law restricting the manifestation of Brahman in the heart and not in the external nature. For to the deserving He appears outside the heart also. The word “Parame” therefore means here Vāyu, the best of all Jīvas, the abode of Brahman (the Christ of the Gnostics). This Vāyu is a higher principle than the High Ones like Rudra, &c.

Therefore He is called Parārdha (=parebhyo’ pi ṛddha rūpake). Higher than the Highest Ones. The Lord Viṣṇu is one, but in the heart He dwells in two forms, Ātmā and Antar-ātmā. In the heart, also He dwells in the Vāyu who is higher than all the High Ones.

If it be said, how can this verse apply to the Lord who does not enjoy the fruits of action, we reply, it is not so. The Lord does enjoy the fruit of action, as says the text rasam pibati karmajam. If so, then the Lord would suffer pain and sorrow also. That is however not so, for He enjoys the auspicious (śubhān) fruits only. Moreover the word ṛta [ṛtam] means true and the Lord enjoys the true works and not evil works. So when it is said “He drinks ṛtam,” it means “He enjoys the fruits of the good deeds.” This also is a reason to hold that the verse applies to the Lord and not to the Jīva: for the Jīva drinks both ṛta [ṛtam] and anṛta [anṛtam]—good and evil.

The words, chāyā and ātapa in the verse, do not mean “shade” and “light” but that the Lord is like a cool shade to the virtuous, and a hot sun to the sinner.

But what is your authority for saying that the verse applies to Viṣṇu alone and not to the Jīva and Viṣṇu. Our authority is the phrase guhām praviṣṭau “entered the cave” of this verse itself.

For the phrase entered the guha “or cavity” is specifically applied to the Lord alone in the Upaniṣads. Nowhere the Jīva is said to have entered the guhā or cavity.

Moreover, though in the verse the word “pibantau” is in a dual case, yet the real drinker is one and not two; and there are not two Lords but one. The singular number yaḥ setuḥ“”: “He who is the limit” of the next verse clears up the ambiguity, if any, of the verse under discussion.

Mantra 3.2.

2. I know the Lord Viṣṇu both as the Spirit in the Nāciketa Fire, and as the refuge of all His worshippers, the Imperishable Supreme Brahman, the Giver of security to the frightened voyagers on the ocean of Saṃsāra,—the Lord dwelling in the shore opposite to Saṃsāra (as the World-Spirit directing the Muktas).—56.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

By Setu is not meant bridge but limit or refuge. By ījānānām is meant “of worshippers of Viṣṇu. The Lord is the refuge to His worshippers. (Pāram literally means shore. It is the opposite shore of Saṃsāra, therefore, it is mukti. The Lord dwells in muktas). That Lord Viṣṇu dwelling on the shore opposite to Saṃsāra has two aspects.

Mantra 3.3.

3. Know thou the Jīva Ātmā as seated in the chariot, the body even as the car; the Buddhi, as the driver and Manas as the reins.—57.

Mantra 3.4.

4. The wise say that the senses are the horses and. the objects their roads; they also say that the Ātmā, joined with the senses and the mind (only, but devoid of Buddhi) is the sufferer.—58.

Mantra 3.5.

5. But he who is without discrimination, and with Manas out of harmony, his senses are always uncontrolled like the unbroken horses of a driver.—59.

Mantra 3.6.

6. But he who discriminates, and has Manas always harmonised, his senses are controlled, like the good horses of the driver.—60.

Note.—These last two verses show that through the control of senses the mind can be controlled. But what is the good of thought-control? It is an indirect means of acquiring Mokṣa.

Mantra 3.7.

7. He who is without discrimination, and Manas uncontrolled, being always impure, never reaches that place, but returns again to the world.—61.

Mantra 3.8.

8. But he who discriminates, with Manas always harmonised and (senses) pure, verily he (reaches) that place from which he is not born again.—62.

Mantra 3.9.

9. But the man who has Reason for his charioteer, and holds the reins of Manas, he reaches the end of the road, that highest place of Viṣṇu.—63.

Note.—There is a gradation by which the knowledge of the Lord is acquired. There are stages, and degrees of initiation, by which the conciousness expands and more and more of the divine knowledge flows in. These stages are represented here by the names of the devatās presiding over them. The next verse describes this hierarchy.

Mantra 3.10.

Note.—Indrīyebhyaḥ—“than the senses”. The present verse refers to the various divinities presiding over the karmendriyas and jñānendriyas, as shown below

Indriyas.. Presiding divinities. Arthas or objects. Presiding divinities.
Śrotra (the ear)
Tvac (the sense of touch)
Cakṣuḥ (the eye)
Rasanā (the sense of taste)
Ghrāṇa (the sense of smell)
Vāc (speech)
Pāṇi (hand)
Pāda (feet)
Pāyu (rectum)
Upastha (organ)
Śabda (sound)
Sparśa (touch)
Rūpa (sight)
Rasa (taste)
Gandha (smell)
Pārvatī or Umā

The three Devīs—Suparṇī, Vāruṇī and Pārvatī—preside over arthas; Suparṇī on śabda and sparśa; Vāruṇī on Rūpa and Rasa, and Pārvatī on Gandha only.

10. Higher than the Devas of sensation are the Devas of perceptions, higher than the Devas of perceptions are the Devas of manas, higher than the Devas of manas is Sarasvatī the devatā of Buddhi, higher than the Devatā of Buddhi is the Mahat Ātmā or Brahma called Viriñca.—64.

Mantra 3.11.

11. The Avyakta is higher than Mahat, the Puruṣa is higher than Avyakta. There is nothing higher than Puruṣa. He the end, He the supreme goal.—65.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

Higher than the devas presiding over the sense organs are the devas presiding over the sensations. Soma (the moon), the Lord of Wealth (Kubera), Sūrya (the sun), Appas [Apas?] (water) Aśvinau, Agni, Indra, the son of Indra, Yama and Dakṣa are the ten devas of the sense organs. Suparṇī (or Sauparṇī), Vāruṇī and Umā are the goddesses presiding over arthas or sensations. Suparṇī and Vāruṇī preside over two sensations each, Umā on one alone. The presiding deities of manas are three, Rudra, Vīndra and Śeṣa. They are superior to the Devīs of artha. Higher than the Devas of Manas is Sarasvatī, the presiding deity of Buddhi. Higher than her is Brahmā (and Vāyu) the presiding deities of mahat Tattva. Higher than these is Śrī or Ramā the presiding deity of Avyakta. Higher than her is Viṣṇu called Puruṣa because He is Full (Pūrṇa), and there is no one, anywhere equal to Him. It is out of question that any one should be greater than Him, when no one is equal to Him.

Mantra 3.12.

12. This is concealed in all beings: this Ātmā does not manifest itself, but is seen through the pointed subtle Buddhi, by men of subtle sight.—66.

Mantra 3.13.

13. Let the wise meditate that the Devas of the senses are controlled by the Deities of speech who are governed by the Devas of manas, that the Devas of manas are governed by the Devas of Buddhi, that the Devas of Buddhi are controlled by the Devas of Mahat who are controlled by the Śrī Tattva, who by the Self of Peace.—67.

Note.—The omissions in the verse should be supplied from the context. Thus indriyas are not mentioned at all; and so also the Śrī Tattva.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

Let him meditate that the Devīs, Umā etc., presiding over speech, etc., are controlled by the Devas Śiva and the rest. That Śiva and the rest are controlled by Brahma and Vāyu, the presiding deities of mahat. Let him meditate that these two are controlled by Ramā, the Supreme Bliss; and that She is governed by Viṣṇu, the Supreme Self. The word niyama (niyacchet) means here meditating that the lower is governed by the higher: and not that the man is to control the lower by the higher. For how can any man control the Devas who are rulers set over men.

Mantra 3.14.

14. Awake, arise, having approached the great teachers, learn. The sages say that the road is difficult to travel on, and that the crossing over (of Saṃsāra) is difficult as the sharp edge of a razor.—68.

Mantra 3.15.

15. Having reflected on him, whose nature is not sound, or touch, or form, or taste, or smell, who is changeless, eternal, without beginning and without end, beyond Mahat, eternal in its fixity; he escapes from the mouth of death.—69.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

Beyond Mahat is Śrī Tattva, how is then the Lord said to be beyond Mahat? There is no contradiction in it. Since Śrī, the wife of Viṣṇu is higher than Mahat, He also is higher than that, because He is higher than His spouse Srī.

Mantra 3.16.

16. The wise man, who repeats to the enquirers of truth this ancient Nāciketas story, told by Death, or who hears it (from his teacher), becomes great in the Brahma loka.—70.

Mantra 3.17.

17. He who recites this upaniṣad, the greatest of all mysteries,, at an assembly of seekers for Brahman, or being pure, at the time of a Śrāddha, causes that Śrāddha and recitation lit to produce infinite results, fit to produce infinite results.—71.

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