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 4 - Fourth Valli

Mantra 4.1.

1. The Self-existent graciously subdued (and turned inwards the current of) the senses which goes outwards, therefore, the wise sees not the external objects, but is attached to the Inner Self. Some tranquil-minded sage sees the Pratyag-Ātman with eyes turned inwards, desiring liberation.—72.

Note.—The power of seeing the God within is given by the God Himself to main When He wants that the man should see him, he stops the outward flowing current of the senses and makes it turn inward, and thus the sage devoted to the Lord sees the Inner Self—the God Within.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

The word vyatṛṇa comes from the root “√tṛṇu kātkaraṇe” ‘to humiliate’, ‘to lay flat.’

Hence,the word means to subdue and make low. [It does not mean to hurt or injure or destroy: for no such meaning is given to √tṛṇu anywhere].

Note.—The Māyavādins, see in this Adhyāya of the Upaniṣad, authority for their doctrine that the Jīva and the is vara are one: and they rely on the verse “ya idaṃ madhvadaṃ veda ātmānaṃ jivaṃ āntikāt” etc. (IV. 5) where, they say, the Jīva and the Ātmā arc read in the same case, and therefore the Jīva and the Ātman are identical. They also rely upon “yadeveha tadabhu?[?]” etc, (IV. 10.) But their interpretation of these verses is wrong. In the verse “haṃta te kathāyivyāme[?]” (V. 6) a clear difference is laid down between the Jīva and the

Lord: and the explanations of the above verses given by the Mayāvādins must, therefore, be incorrect. To prove this, the Commentator (Madhva) takes up this verse V.6.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

“Now I shall tell thee this secret Brahman,” says the Śruti (V. 6): and then goes on to say: “I shall also tell thee the condition of the Jīva after death." This is said in order to indicate the difference between the Jīva and Īśvara.

[This verse V. 6. containing a promise to teach should be read immediately before the verse “svapnānta [svapnāntaṃ]” etc. IV. 4. and therefore that sentence is explained here first by the commentator. The word “maraṇa [maraṇam]” is explained there as mriyamāna—-the dying and not death: and the whole verse is shown as applying to the Lord. Here another explanation of the same verse is given. These are not contradictory, but complementary. The question of Naciketas did not relate to the nature of Brahman or of Jīva. He did not ask what is Brahman, or what is Jīva. Why should then Yama promise “I shall now tell thee the nature of this mysterious Brahman and of the Jīva that dies?” To this the commentator answers, the Yama says so in order to indicate that the Jīva and Brahman are not identical. The difference between the Jīva and Īśvara cannot be known unless the essential natures (svarūpa) of these two are described.]

The Jīva is that which experiences the fruits of action, and is subject to obscuration of consciousness in deep sleep, pralaya, etc. The Supreme Brahman is the Lord Viṣṇu who remains awake when all the Jivas are asleep in the deep sleep of Pralaya or Suṣupti, etc.

[Thus V. 7. describes the Jīva in these words:—“Some, ready for rebirth, go into the womb in order to obtain a body, others enter into minerals, according to their Karma, and according to their knowledge." While the next verse (V. 8) shows the nature of Brahman thus: “That Person who is awake in those that sleep, and who builds all objects of desires, that indeed is the Pure One, that indeed is Brahman, Immortal He is called. In Him all worlds are contained. This is that. Verily nothing goes beyond Him.” This shows that the Lord is awake in the Great Pralayic sleep of all Jīvas: and He causes the Pralayic Dreams also by creating pleasant dream objects for these sleeping souls. The souls of the highest type only dream in the Pralaya Night—such as Brahmā, &e. Their mind continues active in Pralaya, like the human mind in an ordinary dream. Thus the Jīvas are subject to dream and sleep, nor so the Lord. The Jīvas are subject to re-birth, not so the Lord. The Jīvas experience Karma-phala, fruit of action, but not so the Lord. But why do you say the Lord is not born; for He being the Inmost self of the Jīva, must necessarily enter the womb, when the Jīva does so? To this the Commentator replies:]

The Brahman is not affected by the Jīva’s entering the womb when re-incarnating.

[Though the Brahman is there, along with the Jīva in the womb also, and He enters the womb in order to control and regulate the Jīva: yet He does not get the body to experience any consequences of His action. The jailor enters the prison along with the prisoner, but only to watch and reform the prisoner, and does not himself suffer as the prisoner does. In V. 6. Yama promises to teach two things—the Sanātana Guhya Brahman—the Eternal Hidden God, and the maraṇain—the Jīva subject to death and rebirth; and the subsequent portion of the Upaniṣad is an explanation of these two topics. But why should Yama teach the difference between Jīva and Īśvara, when Naciketas had not put that question? To this the commentator replies:]

The Brahman is known rightly then only when He is known as separate from the Jīva.

[But does not IV. 5 say Ātmanam, Jīvam antikāt the Supreme Self is the Jīva? No. That verse should be construed as Jīvam antikāt = Jīvasya antike “near to the Jīva.” For if Jīva and Brahman were the same, we could not say “Brahman who is so near to the Jīva—for then it would be “the Jīva who is so near to the Jīva.” A thing cannot be near or distant to itself. It is only in relation to another object that a thing is said to be near or distant.]

Mantra 4.2.

2. Men of small understanding go after external desires, and they thus fall into the wide-extended noose of Yama, therefore, the controlled in mind, having known liberation, do not here seek for the' permanent in the unstable.—73.

Mantra 4.3.

3. By Whom (one perceives) form, taste, and smell, sound, touch and love, even by that he knows (everything else.) Does that Lord remain here in mokṣa controlling the Jiva? Yes: This verily is so. This verily is That.—74.

Mantra 4.4.

4. The wise does not grieve when he understands the Supreme Self who is Great and Almighty, and by whose command he sees both these, viz., the objects of dream and the objects of waking consciousness.—75.

Mantra 4.5.

5. He who knows this Supreme Self, the Ruler of the Past and Future, the Experiencer of all Sweetness, always standing near the Jīva

Mantra 4.6.

6. He who first produced the Unborn one (Brahmā) before the Lord of tapas (Śiva) and the Lords of elements (Waters) who entering the cavity abides therein, and perceives all things along with the elements; This is verily that.—77.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

“That Viṣṇu verily dwells in the heart. He is the Great Warrior, who constantly sees Himself, seated in the cavity, surrounded by all the Lords of elements. He created the Four-faced the Unborn of yore, before the Elements called Waters and the lords thereof; yea, before even Śiva the Lord of Tapas.” (Ibid).

Brahmā is called purvam [pūrvam?] ajātam—the unborn from before—because he is not like Indra and Agni and others, who once being born from the mouth of Brahman, are born again from Kāśyapa. Not so the Lord Brahma. But never being born before, he is produced prior to Śiva and Waters.

(This verse does not relate to Mumukṣu but to Viṣṇu. Naciketas did not ask the nature of Mumukṣu, but of the Lord. The phrase ‘entering the cavity’ is the specific attribute of the Lord and not of the Jīva. Waters or apas is taken here as illustrative of all the Elements: and denotes also the presiding deities of elements. One pūrva [pūrvam] qualifies ajāta [ajātam]: the other is an adverb qualifying ajāyata. The word ajāyata generally means “born” or “self-born” but here it has a causative meaning “was caused to be born or was produced or produced.” Therefore the commentator says:—)

The word ajāyata is to be taken in a causative sense, as in jajñe bahujñam.

Mantra 4.7.

7. She who enters the cavity with the Spirit, She the Consumer, the best of all devatas, who is concealed in the cavity of the heart and abiding therein, manifests herself also through the elements (as various incarnations), This is that.—78.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

[The word Aditi in this verse would prima facie lead one to the view that the well-known Goddess Aditi, the Mother of all the Devas, is described here. But that is not the case: because Naciketas asked no question about Aditi, therefore a description of Aditi would be irrelevant. Consequently, the verse is to be explained as applying to Viṣṇu. Hence the commentator says:—]

“Viṣṇu is called Aditi because Heis the Eater (ad=to eat). He dwells in the cavity along with the Chief Praṇa. He is the best of all devatas: and transforms Himself into various avataras such as the Fish, the Tortoise, etc., from his seat in the cavity. This Supreme Self, the Great Viṣṇu, in every age manifests Himself as Avataras surrounded by the lords of elements.” (Ibid). The word Devatā-mayī means the best of Devatas. The pharse prāṇena sam viśati means prāṇena sahito bhavati=along with the Prāṇa enters or dwells. The Lord, entering the cavity and staying there, manifests Himself in various ways through the elements, as Incarnations.

Note.—The words of this verse are in the Feminine gender and would prima facie more appropriately apply to the Great Mother, Bhagavatī: but the context requires that the Mantra be interpreted as applying to the Lord. Dwelling in the cavity, along with the Great Prāṇa and the lords of Elements, He materialises, from time to time, into the outer world as Great Incarnations. As a spiritual medium, placed in the cabinet, projects or materialises from outside in a seance room, such is the case of the Lord in the cavity.

Mantra 4.8.

8. The All-knower is concealed between the Guru and Śiṣya: like as the child in the womb is well-guarded by the mother; daily is this Agni adored by men who are awake and who offer Him sacrifices. This verily is That.—79.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

“The Omniscient Lord, Viṣṇu, well-guarded between the Master and the Disciple, is always praised by those who know Him as the Highest Person.” Ibid.

That through the help of which two is perceived (aryate=jñāyate) the Joy (ṇ=ānanda) is called araṇī.

Mantra 4.9.

9. In that Brahman, from whom the Sun arises in the beginning of the creation and in whom it merges in the dissolution thereof, all the gods are contained. No one verily can go beyond Him. This is indeed That.—80.

Mantra 4.10.

10. That which is even here, the same is there; what is there, that verily is here. From Death to Death he goes who beholds even the slightest difference in these two.—81.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

[The Mayavādins, of course explain this verse as an. authority for holding that the Jīva and Brahman are identical, that the Man here below is the same as God above in Heaven. The Commentator answers the Advaitins thus]

That Lord Viṣṇu who exists in the manifested Form (Avatāra) and in organised bodies on this earth, is verily the Root-Form, and the entire Lord Nārāyaṇa Himself. The Lord as the Root-Form in Heaven is verily also the Lord as existing in the manifested Form (Avatāra.) He who makes the slightest difference between these two (the Lord in Heaven and the Lord on Earth), whether as regards their attributes or essential nature, undoubtedly goes to blinding darkness after death. So also undoubtedly to darkness they go, who are bhedābhedāvādins [bhedābhedavādins?], (who hold that the Avatāra is different from as well as identical with the Lord). (Ibid).

Mantra 4.11.

11. Even through the purified mind this knowledge is to be obtained, that there is no difference whatsoever here. From death to death he goes, who beholds this here with difference.—82

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

[This should be kept in one’s mind; and not indiscriminately told to others. As those who see difference in the Root-form and the Incarnation-form go to blind darkness, so go they too who see difference in the various bodily members, etc. of the Lord.]

“Similarly those who see the slightest difference, among each other, in the various bodily members, attributes and actions of the lord, or who see difference plus identity (bhedābheda) therein, go to blind darkness. There is not the slightest doubt in it.” (Ibid),

[The word iva has three meanings (1) Like, as, a comparison, (2) a little, somewhat (3) like-and-unlike, Difference in identity. All these three meanings of iva have been shown in explaining the phrase “nānā iva”; i.e,, (1) as different, (2) the slightest, difference and non-difference. The commentator now gives his authority for giving this three-fold meaning to iva.]

In the Śabda Nirṇaya the following meanings are given to iva. “The word iva is used when two quite contradictory attributes are collocated together, or when comparison is intended, or when littleness is meant.”

Therefore, in the phrase nanā iva, the iva has the force of denoting ‘little,’ and ‘difference plus non-difference.’ In the verse “ya iha nāneva paśyati” (IV. 10) the force of is to prohibit difference in the Svarupa [Svarūpa?] or essential nature of the lord (as manifested in the highest heaven or one earth). While in the verse under discussion (IV. 11) the force of the word Kiñcana in “neha nānāsti kiṃcana” is to indicate that there is absolutely no difference in the various members, attributes and actions of the Lord; nor is there difference plus identity.

(The word Kiñcana being a Pronoun denotes substance. The substance of the body of the Lord is one and homogenous; not like those of the Jīvas, made up of different substances. Thus His body is such a homogenous one that “He sitting goes to all distant places, etc. Similarly His attributes are all uniform, as “the Almighty, the Lord, the Self, etc.” Similarly His actions are one, as “Who creates Brahmā, the first unborn, before Śiva and lords of elements, etc.

Lest one should mistakenly think that these two verses prohibit only difference-in-identity and not difference, the Mantra IV. 14 clearly shows that “difference” is also to be condemned: for it says “He who sees the attributes as different goes to the downward incline.” Thus there is danger if one sees any difference in the attributes of the Lord, in His bodily members, in His qualities, and in His action.

Mantra 4.12.

12. He who so knows the Puruṣa, of the measure of a thumb, as dwelling in the cavity of one’s body. The Ruler of the past and future, does not thenceforth fear. This is verily That.—83.

Mantra 4.13.

13. The Puruṣa, of the measure of a thumb, like to a smokeless fire is the Lord of the Past and Future; He is verily to-day and He will be so to-morrow.—84.

Mantra 4.14.

14.As water falling on an inaccesible mountain top runs clown, thus, seeing qualities of the Lord as separate, a man runs down to Darkness.—85.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

As the rain water falling on the tops of hills quickly runs down, similarly he who sees the attributes of Viṣṇu as separate from Him rims down quickly to Darkness.

Mantra 4.15.

15. As pure water poured into pure water becomes like that, O Gautama, so the Ātma of the Muni, who knows, becomes like that (with Brahman).—86.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

Even the Ātman or Vāyu of the liberated sage becomes like into Him: but not identically the same: what to say of the non-liberated Jīvas. As says the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa:—“The ātmans of all the Liberated Jīvas, whether men or Devas, attain similarity and specially the atman of the eternally free Vāyu attains similarity only with Viṣṇu, and not identity with Him; what to say of other non-liberated men and devas. All Jīvas are either direct reflections, or reflections of reflections of the god Vāyu.”

Note.—This verse shows that even the Mukta Jīvas—the Perfect Souls, the Liberated—called here Pure Water—do not get identity with the Lord in the state of Mukti, but similarity (tādṛk) only. The reason for this is that even the highest Jīva, the Great Vāyu, the Christ, is similar only to God, and not God. Vāyu or Christ is the Master or Swāmin of the Liberated Ones, he being the Great Saviour. The Vāyu is however different from God, though similar to Him.

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