Kena upanishad (Madhva commentary)

by Srisa Chandra Vasu | 1909 | 11,760 words | ISBN-13: 9789332869165

This is Mantra 2.4 of the Kena-upanishad (Kenopanishad), the English translation and commentary of Madhva (Madhvacharya) called the Bhasya. The Kena Upanishad deals with topics such as Brahman and Atman (soul) and also discusses the symbolic representation of the Gods as forces of nature. It is an important text in the Vedanta schools of Hindu philsophy. This is Mantra 4 of section 2 called ‘Dvitiya-Khanda’.

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of Kena-upaniṣad mantra 2.4:

प्रतिबोध विदितं मतममृतत्वं हि विन्दते ।
आत्मना विन्दते वीर्यं विद्यया विन्दतेऽमृतम् ॥ ३ ॥

pratibodha viditaṃ matamamṛtatvaṃ hi vindate |
ātmanā vindate vīryaṃ vidyayā vindate'mṛtam || 4 ||

prati-bodha-viditam—known as (a witness of or behind) every (act of) cognition (or intellection), known according to one’s intelligence, Understood as an object of intuitive knowledge, realised by direct perception; matam—thought of (according to the extent of one’s intelligence); Is to be understood; (It is to be realised in every act of cognition, and not where cognition ceases, as in deep sleep or trance); By meditation, matam or meditation is means of pratibodham or realisation; amṛtatvam—immortality, Brahman; hi—indeed, because; vindate—he obtains, is made to obtain (causative); ātmanā—by (the knowledge of) self, by performance of sacrifices, by his own effort or by his lower Self, by the grace of the SELF; vindate—he obtains; vīryam—power, strength, (like wealth, etc, but not immortality); or the strength (to destroy ignorance) intense joy; vidyayā—by knowledge; vindate—he obtains; amṛtam—immortality.

4. Understanding (thinking and realising) Him according to one’s intelligence, as a direct object of intuition, verily he obtains immortality. By one’s own (exertion in the performance of duties even after attaining wisdom) he obtains intense joy, through the grace of the Supreme SELF; and by direct knowledge of Brahman, he obtains immortality.—12.


He who has realised Brahman directly in the method mentioned above, attains immortality. The words “pratibodha viditam” mean intuitive and direct perception of an object. When Brahman is thus directly realised, He gives salvation to such a person. But what is the nature of this “aparokṣa” called here “pratibodha” and how is this to be gained? The answer to this is “matam” meditation: meditate, meditate meditate-matam, matam, matam—and you will have pratibodha or aparokṣa—direct beatific vision.

But there are texts—such as “the drinking of ambrosia gives immortality”——showing that salvation may be obtained by things other than meditation, namely, by karma or action. The jñāna is not the only means of getting immortality or salvation.

This objection is raised under a misapprehension. The salvation always depends upon jñāna [jñānam] or knowledge and never on karma or action. The Karma is a contributory cause of mukti. Tho Pravṛtti or self-related karmas never lead to mukti. The Nivṛtti karmas or actions performed unselfishly, purify the soul and are instrumental in producing knowledge. The action performed before Mukti leads to knowledge and not to mukti. The actions performed after attaining mukti have a specific efleet of their own. This is mentioned in the verso “ātmanā vindate vīryam, vidyayā vindate amṛtam”——The actions performed after the attainment of wisdom produce the grace of the Lord, and through such grace of the SELF (ātmanā) there results vīrya [vīryam] or intense felicity or expansion of power—the man attains to the fulness of his vīrya [vīryam] or manhood. But the immortality or amṛtatva [amṛtatvam] depends upon vidyā alone—the mukti is obtained through knowledge alone. Thus, if a person after attaining mukti, performs karmas, they tend towards the increase of his bliss: while the non-performance of any karma then, keeps the bliss stationary: there is no increase in it.

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