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 29

तस्यैष आदेशो यदेतद्विद्युतो व्यद्युतदा उ इतीन् न्यमीमिषदा उ इत्यधिदैवतम् ॥ २९ ॥

tasyaiṣa ādeśo yadetadvidyuto vyadyutadā u itīn nyamīmiṣadā u ityadhidaivatam || 29 ||

29. Thus is That inculcated by illustration—that it flashed like lightning—that it appeared and vanished as the eye winketh. This is the illustration of the Brahman used in respect to the Devas.


Shankara’s Commentary:

Com.—Of the Brahman the subject discussed, this is the Adesa. Adesa is instruction by means of illustrations. The illustration by which the Brahman, the like of which does not exist, is explained is said to-be its Adesa. What is It? That which is well-known in the world as the flash of lightning. To add ‘kritavat’ is inconsistent. Therefore we understand it to mean ‘the flash of lightning’. The particle ‘A’ means ‘like.’ The meaning is ‘like the flash of lightning.’ We find another Sruti saying ‘As if a lightning flashed.’ It just showed itself to the Devas like lightning and vanished from their view—or the word ‘Tejas’ [bright] should be supplied after ‘Vidyutah’ [of lightning]. The meaning then is that It shone for a moment like a dazzling flash of lightning. The word ‘iti’ shows that it is an illustration. The word ‘ith’ is used in the sense of ‘and’ or ‘else’. This is another illustration of it. What is it? It winked as the eye winks. The nich suffix has no distinct meaning from the meaning of the root. The particle ‘ameans ‘like’. The meaning is that it was like the eye opening and closing to see and to turn from its objects. This illustration of the Brahman is taken from the activity of the deities.

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