Kena Upanishad with Shankara’s Commentary

by S. Sitarama Sastri | 1905 | 13,003 words

The Kena Upanishad is a collection of philosophical poems discussing the attributes of Brahman: the unchanging, infinite universal spirit. Brahman is further proposed as the cause for all the forces of nature, symbolized as Gods. This commentary by Shankara focuses on ‘Advaita Vedanta’, or non-dualism: one of the classical orthodox philosophies o...

Verse 10

नाहं मन्ये सुवेदेति नो न वेदेति वेद च ।
यो नस्तद्वेद तद्वेद नो न वेदेति वेद च ॥ १० ॥

nāhaṃ manye suvedeti no na vedeti veda ca |
yo nastadveda tadveda no na vedeti veda ca || 10 ||

10. I do not think I know well; I know too; not that I do not know. He of us who knows that, knows that as also what is meant by ‘I know too; not that I do not know.’


Shankara’s Commentary:

Com.—On being asked how, the disciple says: “Listen. I do not think I know Brahman well.” “Then is the Brahman not known by thee?” Thus questioned, the disciple says “Not that I do not know, I know too;” the word too in ‘I know too’ means ‘I do not know too.’ Is it not contradictory: ‘I think I know not Brahman well etc.?’ If thou dost not think thou knowest well, how then dost thou think thou knowest also? If again thou thinkest thou certainly knowest, then how dost thou think thou knowest not well? To say that a thing is not known well by the man who knows it is a contradiction, the cases of doubt and false knowledge being left out of consideration. Nor is it possible to lay down a restrictive rule that the knowledge of Brahman should be doubtful or false. It is well known that under any circumstances, doubtful or false knowledge works great evil. Though thus attempted to be shaken in his conviction by the preceptor the disciple was not shaken. From the tradition which his master had explained to him, i.e., that the Self is something other than both the known and the unknown, from the reasonableness of the doctrine and from the strength of his own experience, the disciple loudly exclaimed, showing the firmness of bis knowledge of the Brahman. How lie exclaimed is thus stated. ‘He of us,’ i.e., my co-disciple, who correctly understands what I have said, knows That (Brahman). The words he referred to are ‘not that I do not know. I know too.’ What was defined by the expression ‘that is something other than both the known and the unknown’, the disciple discussed and decided from inference and from experience; and in order to see whether the preceptor’s views agreed with his own and to counteract any false conclusion, which dull persons may have arrived at, he expressed the same in different words: ‘not that I do not know; I know too.’ The confident exclamation of the disciple ‘He of us. etc.,’ is accordingly appropriate.

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