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 5 - Fifth Valli

Mantra 5.1.

1. He who has this firm faith that this town with eleven gates is under the control of the Unborn, the Righteous Lord, never grieves, and realising freedom in this life, becomes liberated after death. This is verily That.—87.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

Let one have this firm faith that this town is under the control of the Lord: he should have this conviction that this town belongs to the Unborn. “The person who has got intuitive vision (aparokṣa) becomes vimukta or free through humility and absence of egoism, even while still in the body. He next becomes Mukta in the highest sense of that word, when all sorts of sorrows and their reflections in consciousness are destroyed.” (Ibid.)

[The difference between vimukta and vimucyate is this, the first, is aparokṣa realisation and humbleness of spirit and freedom from egoism: the other is freedom from all sorrow, which follows the first stage].

Mantra 5.2.

2. He is Haṃsa (free from all faults and essence of all,) residing in. the Pure Vāyu, He is Vasu (the best and the blessed) dwelling in the Firmament, He is Hotṛ (the Lord of the senses) dwelling in honored places, He is atithi (the rich in food) dwelling in the Soma-jar. He dwells in men, in Devas, in Scriptures, in Space, in the creatures of water and earth. He dwells among the Liberated, and the Mountain-born. He is the Truth (established by the Vedas) and the Great One (full of all qualities).—88.

Note.—That dwells as Haṃsa in the pure heaven, as Vasu it dwells in the Antariksha, as the sacrificer it dwells near the altar, as a guest it dwells in the houses: (or vessels of food.) It moves in men, it dwells in the Gods, it lives in Truth, existing in space; it is (as the fish) in the waters, (as the trees) that grow on earth, it is the knowledge that the Vedas reveal, and like the rivers that come from the mountain. It is the Great Truth.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

As Hari is eternally free (hīna) from all faults and is the essence (sāra) of all, therefore He is called Haṃsa (ha = hīna, free, = eternally, sa = Sāra, essence). The Vāyu (or Christ) is called Śuci or Pure. He dwells in Vāyu and hence is called the Dweller in the Pure. As He is the personification of highest (vara) happiness (sukha [sukham]) He is called Vasu. He as Vasu dwells in the Firmament. He is called Hotṛ as He regulates all senses. He is called Vedisat because He is honoured (vedya) of all. He alone who possesses great (ati) riches (tha) is called atithi. As Atithi or Master of vast riches He resides in Soma called here the Jar. He dwells among men and among the Best, i.e., the Devas also is He indeed. He is in the Vedas called Rita or Truth. [He is in?????]called Vyoma, Śrī is called Vyoma because this universeis supported (vyota [vyotam]) in Her. And since He is in the creatures of water and the plants of Earth, and in the mountain-born rivers, therefore He is called abjā, etc. The Muktas are called Ṛtās, literally meaning “gone,” from ^ to go. They who have gone into Viṣṇu are called Ṛtās. The Lord is called Ṛtaja because He dwells among the Liberated as their controller. He is Ṛtam [ṛtam]. The Veda is called Ṛta. As all the Vedas declare principally Viṣṇu and Viṣṇu alone; so Ṛta comes to mean Viṣṇu also. He is called Bṛhat because He is full of all qualities. He is indeed the Highest Person.

Mantra 5.3.

3. He leads the Prāṇa upwards, He throws the Apāna down, in the midst of the body sits this Adorable One, whom all the Gods surround and adore—89.

Note.—The Prāṇa or the wisdom is above, the Apāna or strength is below in the middle is Beauty or Vāmana. The Good, the Wise, the Beautiful.

Mantra 5.4.

4. What, remains when this soul, the dweller in the body, goes out from the dense body at death and is freed also from the subtle body (in Mukti)? This is verily That—90.

[Note.—It appears that Yama after having recited some attributes had stopped with the last mantra, Naciketas, therefore, asks him again, to further expand the answer tn the third question. It is the same question “[???]” etc. [...]

Mantra 5.5.

5. Not by Prāṇa, not by Apāna does any mortal exist, but, by Another do they live, on Whom both these depend. -91.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

The Chief Prāṇa alone is not the Supporter of all sentient beings: but refuged in Viṣṇu, Prāṇa supports all these Jīvas. Thus the highest and principal support of all sentient Beings is Viṣṇu—He is Absolutely Independent.

Mantra 5.6.

6(a) And now I shall tell thee this Mysterious Ancient Brahman, and how, working through the mortals, this Ātman becomes their Ruler and Saviour, O Gautama!—92.

6(b) I shall tell thee this Hidden Ancient Brahman, and also what is the condition of the soul when death overtakes it, O Gautama.

Note.—That Brahman is different from all Jīvas was already declared in verse V. 5: the promise in the present verse is to declare the same distinction between the Jīva and Īśvara: and therefore, a description of both. In that view the verse should be translated thus:—I shall tell thee this Hidden Ancient Brahman: and also what is the state of the ātmā (here ātmā should be taken as meaning the Jīvātma) when death overtakes him. This clearly shows the difference between Jīva and Brahman.

Mantra 5.7.

7. Some Jīvas, ready for re-birth, go into the womb to obtain a body: others enter minerals, according to their karma and according to their knowledge.—93.

Note.—This verse further shows the difference between the Jīva and Brahman. The experiencer of fruit of action is Jīva, as shown in this verse: while Brahman who also enters the womb or the mineral along with the Jīva, experiences no such fruit, but on the contrary awards the Jīva such fruit.

Mantra 5.8.

8. That Almighty Person who keeps awake, when these Jīvas are plunged in sleep, who makes according to His will (various objects for them to dream of) He alone is free from sorrow, He alone is Full and Absolute. He alone is said to be the Eternally Free. In Him are all worlds refuged. Beyond Him verily no one can go. This is verily That.—94.

Note—This Puruṣa who is awake in those that sleep, and who builds (all objects) as a desire, that indeed is the pure one, that indeed is Brahman immortal he is called.

In him all worlds are contained. This is That, Him verily nothing goes beyond. “He, the person who is awake in those who sleep, shaping one desired thing after the other” “That is the bright, that is Brahman, that alone is called the Immortal.”

Note.—This verse again indicates the difference between the Jīva and Brahman. That which sleeps is Jīva. He who is always awake, while the Jīvas are asleep, whether in ordinary or Pralayic sleep, is Brahman. Brahman is Śukra [śukram] or free from sorrow, Jīva is full of misery. Brahman is full and absolute nob so the Jīva. He is Eternally Free, the Jīva is not so. He is the refuge of all worlds, not so the Jīva who dwells in some world or other. No one can transcend Him; while Brahman transcends all Jīvas. Thus all these epithets establish that the Jīva and Brahman are distinct and not identical. The next two mantras also further describe the same difference between the Jīva and Brahman; by means of two illustrations.

Mantra 5.9.

9. Though Agni (as a Devatā) is one only, who having entered the worlds, becomes many, yet for every one of his deva-forms there is a reflected (insentient) form; so the Inner Self (Ruler) of all creatures is One only, yet for every one of His forms, the reflected Jīva is indeed different (because outside of Him, and not independent).—95.

Mantra 5.10.

[The words are the same as in the last verse.]

10. Though Vāyu as a Devatā is one only, who having entered the worlds, becomes many, yet for every one of his deva-forms there is a reflected insentient form, so the Inner Ruler of all creatures is One only yet for every one of His forms, the reflected Jīva is different because outside of Him.—96

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

As says the Kūrma Purāṇa:—

“The Fire (Agni-devatā) is one only and not many, who however entering into the worlds becomes mainfold as agents of cooking, etc., yet for every one of the forms that this Deva assumes in the worlds there is a counter-form or reflection in the shape of insentient material fires. Similarly the Deva Vāyu is alone the upholder and no one else, yet when he enters the worlds he becomes manifold, and for every one of his devaforms there is a reflected insentient form, such as we feel by touch when the air blows, thus is the Lord Janārdana, the Sifter of men. He alone is Independent and one: staying within every Jīva. Every conscious Jīva is a reflection of a particular form of the Lord when He enters the world. But these Jīvas are. all outside of Him, therefore, they can never be identical with Him. These Jīvas, though reflections, are however beginningless and endless.

Note.—The Lord is one and homogeneous yet these reflections are of infinite variety; in the sense that their experiences are of infinitely diverse kind. If Lord is the Inner Self of all, He must suffer the pains of the Jīvas, because He is inside them. To this doubt, the next verse gives the reply.

Mantra 5.11.

11. As the one Sūrya, the eye of all the Jivas, is not affected by the external defects in the organ of sight, so the one Inner-Self of all is not affected by the sorrows of the Jīvas being outside of them.—97.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

(The Kūrma-purāṇacontinued.)

“As the Sun (Sūrya Devatā), is the Inner Eye, the external organ of sight being its reflection, and as this inner Eye is not contaminated by the defects affecting the external organ of sight—because the Inner Eye is Sūrya Devatā, and the External Eye is his insentient reflection only:—so the Supreme person being separate from all Jīvas, because He is independent, is not contaminated by the sorrows of the dependent Jīva. [But the Jīva and Īśvara are both conscious beings, and not like the conscious Sūrya Devatā and the Unconscious eye; why should not then the sorrows of the conscious Jīvas affect the conscious God? To this, the Purāṇa replies]. The Jīva is merely a reflected consciousness, the supreme Lord Hari is the Highest consciousness: and as He is independent, He is not tainted by the defects of His reflection, for the Highest consciousness can never be tainted, otherwise it would not be highest and independent.” Thus we read in the Kūrma Purāṇa.

[Having explained the above three verses, by quoting the Kūrma Purāṇa and in the very words of that Purāṇa; the commentator now explains them in his own words.]

He the Lord is one only, and the inner self of all beings. The Jīva is called His reflection and for every form of His, there is a reflection, but this reflection is bahi [bahiḥ] or outside the Supreme Self, that is to say, totally separate and different from Him: because it is dependent.

[If the Jīvas as reflections have no beginning and are anādi, why the Śruti uses the word babhūva in the past tense, showing that the Jīvas came into existence at a certain period of time. To this the commentator replies.]

The past tense in babhūva is to be explained in the same way as the past tense in āsīt in the text ātmā eva idam agre āsīt (Aitareya Upaniṣad). “The Supreme Self alone was in the beginning.” It does not mean that the supreme Lord had a beginning. [The āsīt shows that the ātman is above all times and pervades all times. The use of a particular tense should be taken as meaning all the tenses. Just as in the phrase “Viṣṇu saw”—the past tense must be interpreted as meaning all the tenses—i.e., Viṣṇu always sees: because He is eternally conscious.]

[If the Lord as the Inner Self of all is not touched by the sorrows of the Jīvas; why should the Jīvas be touched by sorrow? If there be two tenants in the same house, and the house be on fire, either both must suffer and be burnt, or both must escape. You can not say one tenant remains unburnt while the other is burning. The answer to this is given in the next verse, which shows that the might of the Lord is greater than that of the Jīva, and as a person who knows the secret of controlling fire, is not burnt by fire, so the Lord by His power, prevents the sorrow affecting Him].

Says a text:—“By knowing Hari who is within one’s self, the man becomes liberated undoubtedly. But he who meditates on Him as identical with the jīva, verily falls into blinding darkness.”

Mantra 5.12.

12. He is One, the Ruler, the Inner Self of all creatures, who makes (his) one form manifold; those tranquil-minded ones who see him seated in their ātmā, eternal happiness is for them and not for others.—99.

Note.—This describes the joy of the Free. The Muktas get bliss by seeing the Lord: so the form of the Lord must be the highest joy. This will be mentioned in V. 14.

Mantra 5.13.

13. The Eternal among the eternals, the Consciousness among all consciousnesses, the One who bestows the fruits of Kannas to many Jīvas the tranquil-minded ones who see him seated in their Ātmā, get eternal happiness, but not the others.—100.

Mantra 5.14.

Note—“This is that”—so say the wise: how may I know that supreme bliss, not to be defined; is it manifest or is it not manifest?

14. The wise say: “That is this (namely, the Universal Form is this Single Form in the Jīva)—It is Ineffable Highest Bliss.” (Yama says) “How can I know That Form (without His Grace? I cannot).” (Naciketas asks:) “But even with His grace, can It be known fully?” “No, It cannot be fully known.”—101.

Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:

This Form of the Lord is alone the Highest Joy, the “paramam sukham” of this verse: (and not the bliss of the Liberated—which though Joy is not the highest). The bliss of the Liberated Wise One is but a portion of it (infinitely small when so compared). “The Joy of Brahmā and the rest, or of the Liberated is but a reflection of the bliss of the Lord, a small grain of the bliss of Viṣṇu. The bliss of Viṣṇu alone is the highest bliss. Can this Bliss-Form be fully known by any? No, It cannot be so known. How can I know it without His grace—This Form which is Divine, Ineffable Supreme Joy.” (Mahā Vārāha.)

Note.—The explanation of this verse according to Śaṅkara seems inappropriate. He takes the Joy of this verse as referring to Mukti and the bliss of the Released. But Yama is a Released Jīva. Why should he say “How can I know this Joy of Release Yama knows the Lord, as he asserts in a previous verse. What Yama means to teach here is that the grace of God is the chief cause of bliss and nothing else: and even then no one knows this Bliss-Form in its entirety. Yama here relates his own personal experience.

Mantra 5.15.

15. That Form the sun. does not reveal, nor the moon and stars, nor these lightnings reveal Him, how then this fire? When He shines forth, all is illumined after Him, by His light all this becomes lighted.—103.

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