The Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika and Shankara’s Commentary
Kārikā, verse 1.1
बहिष्प्रज्ञो विभुर्विश्वो ह्यन्तःप्रज्ञस्तु तैजसः ।
घनप्रज्ञस्तथा प्राज्ञ एक एव त्रिधा स्मृतः ॥ १ ॥
bahiṣprajño vibhurviśvo hyantaḥprajñastu taijasaḥ |
ghanaprajñastathā prājña eka eva tridhā smṛtaḥ || 1 ||
1. Viśva (the first quarter) is he who is all-pervading and who experiences the external (gross) objects. Taijasa (the second quarter) is he who cognizes the internal (the subtle) objects. Prājña is he who is a mass of consciousness. It is one alone who is thus known in the three states.
The implication of the passage is this:—That Ātman is (as witness) distinct from the three states (witnessed) and that he is pure1 and unrelated,2 is established by his moving in three states, in3 succession, and also on account of the knowledge, “I am. that,” resulting from the experience which unites4 through memory. The Śruti also corroborates it by the illustration5 of the ‘great fish’, etc.
Ānandagiri’s Ṭīkā (glossary):
1 Pure—The ideas of purity and impurity, weal and woe, pleasure and pain, etc., are the characteristics of the states and do not, in any way, pertain to Ātman who is only the witness of the three states. The Jīva or the reflected consciousness, which is identical with Ātman, falsely identifies himself with the states and considers himself to be impure, miserable, etc. Ātman is ever-pure.
2 Unrelated—No relation of any kind, even that of causality, exists between the three states and Ātman as the latter alone exists. That Ātman is unrelated is further known from the fact that the experiences of the waking state do not, in reality, affect Ātman in the dream state, nor those of the dream state affect Ātman in the state of deep sleep.
3 In succession—Though it appears that Ātman identifies itself with each of the three states for the time being, yet the fact that he moves from one state to another without being, affected shows that he is only the witness of the three states.
4 Unites, etc.—From tfie standpoint of common experience we find a relationship between past, present and future. This is due to the unifying power of memory. Even this relationship between experiences is possible only if an Ātman is posited as the witness of them.
5 Illustration, etc.—This is taken from the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad As a powerful fish swims from one bank to another unimpeded by the currents of the river, so also Ātman moves in the three states totally unaffected by them. As no characteristics of the banks, good or bad, affect the fish, so also no experiences of the three states affect the pure nature of Ātman. Another illustration is that of the bird, which flies unobstructed in the sky and unattached to the surrounding lands.