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 11

यस्यामतं तस्य मतं मतं यस्य न वेद सः ।
अविज्ञातं विजानतां विज्ञातमविजानताम् ॥ ११ ॥

yasyāmataṃ tasya mataṃ mataṃ yasya na veda saḥ |
avijñātaṃ vijānatāṃ vijñātamavijānatām || 11 ||

11. It is Known to him to whom it is Unknown;. he knows it not to whom it is known. (It is) Unknown to those who know, and Known to those who do not know. (11)


Shankara’s Commentary:

Com.—Turning from the concurring views of the preceptor and the disciple, the Sruti speaking for itself conveys in this text the view about which there is no disagreement. The purport is that to the knower of the Brahman whose firm conviction is that the Brahman is unknowable, the Brahman is well known. But he, whose conviction is that the Brahman is known by him, certainly knows not the Brahman. The latter half of the text only states those two distinct conclusions of the wise and ignorant man more emphatically. To those who know well, the Brahman is certainly (a thing) unknown; but to those w ho do not see well, i.e., who confound the Atman with the sensory organs, the mind and the conditioned intelligence [ Buddhi ], Brahman is certainly not known, but not to those who are extremely ignorant; for, in the case of these, the thought ‘Brahman is known by us’ never arises. In the case of those who find the Atman in the conditioned organs of sense, mind and intelligence, the false notion ‘I know Brahman’ is quite possible, because they cannot discriminate between Brahman and these conditions and because the conditions of intelligence, etc., are known to them. It is to show that such knowledge of the Brahman is fallacious that the latter half of the text is introduced. Or, the latter half ‘Avijnatam, etc..’ may be construed as furnishing a reason for the view propounded in the former.

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