Mandukya Upanishad (Gaudapa Karika and Shankara Bhashya)

by Swami Nikhilananda | 1949 | 115,582 words | ISBN-13: 9788175050228

This is verse 1.2 of the Mandukya Karika English translation, including commentaries by Gaudapada (Karika), Shankara (Bhashya) and a glossary by Anandagiri (Tika). Alternate transliteration: Māṇḍūkya-upaniṣad 1.2, Gauḍapāda Kārikā, Śaṅkara Bhāṣya, Ānandagiri Ṭīkā.

Mandukya Karika, verse 1.2

Sanskrit text, IAST transliteration and English translation

दक्षिणाक्षिमुखे विश्वो मनस्यन्तस्तु तैजसः ।
आकाशे च ह्य्दि प्राज्ञस्त्रिधा देहे व्यवस्थितः ॥ २ ॥

dakṣiṇākṣimukhe viśvo manasyantastu taijasaḥ |
ākāśe ca hydi prājñastridhā dehe vyavasthitaḥ ||

2. Viśva is he who cognizes in the right eye, Taijasa is he who cognizes in the mind within and Prājña is he who constitutes the Ākāśa in the heart. Thus the one Ātman is (conceived as) threefold in the (one) body.

Shankara Bhashya (commentary)

This verse is intended to show that the threefold experience of Viśva, etc. (Taijasa and Prājña) is realised in the waking1 state alone. Dakṣinākṣi: the means of perception (of gross objects) is the right eye. The presence of Viśva, the cognizer of gross objects, is chiefly felt there. The Śruti also says, “The person that is in the right eye is known as Indha—the Luminou s One” (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad). Indha, which means the effulgent one, who is the Vaiśvānara and also known as the Virāt Ātman (the totality of gross bodies), the perceiver in the sun, is the same2 as the perceiver in the eye.

 (Objection)—The Hiraṇyagarbha is distinct from the knower of the body (Kṣetra) who is the cognizer, the controller of the right eye, who is also the general experiencer and who is the Lord of the body.

(Reply)—No, for, in reality, such a distinction is3 not admitted. The Śrutí says, “One effulgent being alone is hidden in all beings.” The Smṛti also says: “Me do thou also know, O Arjuna, to be the Kṣetrajña (the knower of the body) in all Kṣetras (bodies)” (Gītā, 13. 2). “indivisible, yet it exists as if divided in beings” (Gītā, 13. 16).

Though the presence of Viśva is equally felt in all sense-organs without distinction yet the right eye is particularly singled4 out (as the chief instrument for its perception), because he (Viśva) makes a greater use of the right eye in perceiving objects. (The right eye is made here to represent all the sense-organs). The one, who has his abode in the right eye, having perceived (external) forms, closes the eye; and then recollecting them within the mind sees5 the very same (external objects) as in a dream, as the manifestation of the (subtle) impressions (of memory). As6 is the case here (waking), so also is the case with dream. Therefore, Taijasa, the perceiver in the mind.within, is verily the same as Viśva. With the cessation of the activity known as memory,7 the perceiver (in the waking and dream states) is unified8 with Prājña in the Ākāśa of the heart and becomes9 verily a mass10 of consciousness, because there is, then, a cessation of mental activities. Both perception and memory are forms of thought, in the absence of which the seer remains indistinguiṣably11 in the form of Prāṇa in the heart alone. For, the Śruti12 also says, “Prāṇa alone withdraws all these within.” Taijasa is identical13 with Hiraṇyagarbha on account of its existence being realised in mind. Mind is the characteristic indication14 (of both). This is supported by such scriptural passages as “This Puruṣa (Hiraṇyagarbha) is all mind,” etc.

(Objection)—The Prāṇa (vital breath) of a deep sleeper is manifested.15 The sense-organs (at the time of deep sleep) are merged in it. How, then, can it (Prāṇa) be said to be unmanifested?

(Reply)—This is no mistake, for the unmanifested16 (Avyākritā) is characterised by the absence (of the knowledge) of time and space. Though Prāṇa, in the case of a person who identifies himself with (particular) Prāṇa, appears to be manifested (during the time of waking and dream), yet even in the case of those who (thus) identify themselves with individualized Prāṇa, the Prāṇa, during deep sleep, loses (such) particular identification, which is due to its limitation by the body, and is verily the same as the unmanifested. As in the case of those who identify themselves with individualized Prāṇas, the Prāṇa, at17 the time of death, ceases to be the manifested, so also in the case of those who think of themselves as identified with the individualized Prāṇas, the Prāṇa attains to the condition like the unmanifested, in the state of deep sleep. This Prāṇa (of deep sleep) further contains the seed (cause) of (future) creation18 (as is the case with the Avyākritā). The cognizer of the two states—deep sleep and Avyākritā—is also one19 (viz., the Pure Consciousness). It (one in deep sleep) is identical20 with the (apparently) different cognizers identifying themselves with the conditioned (in the states.of waking and dream), and therefore such attributes as “unified,” “mass of all consciousness,” etc., as described above, are reasonably applicable to it (one in deep sleep). Other21 reason, already stated, supports it. How does, indeed, the word Prāṇa22 apply to the Avyākrita (unmanifested)? It is supported by the Śruti passage, “Oh, good one, the mind is tied to the Prāṇa.

(Objection)—In that Śruti passage, the word Prāṇa indicates Sat (Existence,) i.e., the Brahman, (not the Avyākrita) which is the subject-matter under discussion, as the text commences with the passage, “All this was Sat in the beginning.”

(Reply)—This is no mistake, for (in that passage) the Sat is admitted to be that which contains within it the seed23 or cause (of creation). Though Sat, i.e., Brahman, is indicated in that passage by the word ‘Prāṇa’, yet the Brahman that is indicated by the words Sat and Prāṇa (in that connection) is not the one who is free from its attribute of being the seed or cause that creates all24 beings. For if in that Śruti passage, Brahman, devoid of the causal relation (i.e., the Absolute) were sought to be described, then the Śruti would have used such expressions as “Not this, Not this,” “Wherefrom speech turns back”, “That is something other than both the known and the unknown”, etc. The Smṛti also declares, “It is neither Sat (existence) nor Asat (non-existence)” (Gītā). If by the text were meant the (Absolute) devoid of causal relation then the coming back, to the relative plane of consciousness, of those who were in deep sleep and unified with Sat at the time of Praḷaya (cosmic dissolution), could25 not happen. Further, (in that case) the liberated souls would again come back to the relative plane of consciousness; for the absence of seed or cause (capable of giving birth to the world of names and forms) would be the common26 feature of both.

Further, in the absence of the seed27 (cause, i.e., at the time of Suṣupti and Praḷaya) which can be destroyed by Knowledge (alone), Knowledge itself becomes futile. Therefore the word Sat (the text of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, the passage under discussion) in that aspect in which causality is attributed to it, is indicated by Prāṇa, and accordingly has been described in all the Śrutis as the cause.28 It is for this reason also that the Absolute Brahman, dissociated from its causal attribute, has been indicated in such Śruti passages as “It is beyond the unmanifested which is higher than the manifested”, “He is causeless and is the substratum of the external (effect) and the internal (cause),” “Wherefrom words come back....”, “Not this, not this”, etc. That which is designated as Prājña (when it is viewed as the cause of the phenomenal world) will be described as Turīya separately when it is not viewed as the cause, and when it is free from all phenomenal relationship (such as that of the body, etc.), i.e., in its absolutely Real aspect. The causal condition is also verily experienced in this body from such29 cognition of the man who is awakened from the deep sleep, as “I did not know anything (at the time of deep sleep).” Therefore it is said that (one) Ātman is perceived as threefold30 in the (one) body.

Anandagiri Tika (glossary)

1 Waking state alone—From the ordinary empirical standpoint, Viśva, Taijasa and Prājña are generally related to three states, viz., waking, dream and deep sleep. But the three states are comprehended from the standpoint of the waking state alone. That dream and deep sleep are two states, having different characteristics, is known in the waking state alone. Therefore these two become known to the waking consciousness. Besides jāgrat (waking), in so far as it denotes the absence of the knowledge of Reality, covers the dream and sleep states as well. The three apparent cognisers known as Viśva, Taijasa and Prājña are really one, because a plurality of perceivers in the same state, namely, the waking, and in the same body is an absurdity, as that would preclude the possibility of the continuity of perception as revealed through memory. Therefore the apparently three different perceivers are identical and their apparent distinction is due to their identification with the three states.

2 Same—It is because, as already shown, the Adhidaiva is identical with Adhyātma.

3 Is not admitted—The difference is only imaginary and empirical and due to the identification with different bodies. Really speaking, one Ātman alone manifests itself in different forms, microcosmic or macrocosmic.

4 Singled out— This assertion is based upon scriptural authority. Tn actual experience also one finds that the right eye is more efficient in the perception of objects than the left one.

5 Sees, etc.—Viśva, the perceiver of gross objects, becomes Taijasa when he closes the eyes and thinks within his mind about the gross objects. Cognisers of dream and ideas (in the waking state) are identical. Both, viz., ideas and dream objects, possess, for the time being, the same characteristics.

6 As, etc.—There is no difference whatever between the dream state and the state of imagination in the waking. In both the states, the perceiver cognizes the impressions of gross physical objects experienced in the preceding states. The only difference? between the states of dream and imagination (in the waking state) is that dream represents a whole state whereas the reflection represents the part of a state.

7 Memory—Memory is also a form of mental activity implying subject-object relationship. The impressions of gross external objects perceived in the waking state manifest themselves in the forms of memory and dream.

8 Unified— That is, this state is characterised by the absence of subject-object relationship.

9 Becomes verily, etc.—Whenever in the waking state the mind ceases to be active, i.e., whenever ideas disappear from it, the state is said to be Suṣupti. Even memory does not function then. This state is identical with deep sleep, when subject-object relationship is absent. This state is posited from the actual experience of the change from a state which was without the dual relationship of subject and object. The experience of the three states and the transition from the one to the other proves that there is only one perceiver who is the witness of ths three states and their succession

10 Mass of, etc.—That is, there is no particular cognition in that state.

11 Indistinguiṣablyi.e., in unmanifested form.

12 Śruti—See Bṛhadāraṇyaka Up.

13 Identical—That Viśva and Virāt as well as Prājña (deep sleep) and Īśvara (unmanifested) are identical, has been already shown. Now it is pointed out that Hiraṇyagarbha is identical with Taijasa. Hiraṇyagarbha and Taijasa are only what are termed as the cosmic mind and the individual mind respectively. Really speaking, macrocosm and microcosm, both being mere forms of thought, are identical. Therefore the perceivers, Hiraṇyagarbha and Taijasa, are identical because they are also forms of thought. Their different appellations are due to their identification with different Upādhis (adjuncts) namely, the thoughts of macrocosm and microcosm.

14 Indication—Both are formed of the same stuff or the mind.

15 Manifested—The manifestation of the activities of the Prāṇa of a deep sleeper is witnessed by on-lookers.

16 Unmanifested—The characteristics of manifestedness and unmanifestedness of Prāṇa are predicated of it from the standpoint of waking and sleep stales respectively.

17 At the time of death—This illustration is given on the basis of the scriptural authority. Comp. Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, 4. 4. 2.

18 Creation—Both the states of Avyākrìta and deep sleep (here called Prāṇa) are followed by a state in which names and forms are manifest. On account of the identity of effects, the causes are also said to be identical.

19 One—The identity of deep sleep and Avyākrita is further demonstrated from the identity of their common cogniser, viz., Pure Consciousness.

20 Identical—The meaning is that the perceiver of the three states is one and the same.

21 Other, etc.viz., the identity of Adhyātma and Adhidaiva.

22 Prāṇa—The contention of the objector is that the ordinary meaning of Prāṇa is vital breath having five aspects, viz., Prāṇa, Apāna, Samāna, Vyāna and Udāna.

23 Seed— That is, the Saguṇa Brahman.

24 All, etc.—Both animate and inanimate.

25 Could not, etc.—For, after the realisation of the Absolute Brahman return to the plane of ignorance is not possible. But the person who goes into the Suṣupti or the Avyākrita state without attaining Jñānam again returns to the plane of ignorance. It is the Knowledge of Brahman alone which is the condition of liberation but not mere absence of duality without knowledge, which can be experienced in deep sleep, swoon or trance.

23 Common feature—If Existence free from causal relation, i.e., the Absolute Brahman, be the meaning of Sat in the scriptural passage under discussion, then the reverting of the deep sleeper, who has not yet attained to Jñānam, to the dual plane of consciousness would not be possible. And if a person, after realising the Absolute Brahman, is to come back to the state of duality, then Jñānam or liberation would be impermanent. The meaning is this: At the time of Praḷaya when the created beings become unified with Sat or Existence they do not become really the Absolute Brahman. They remain only in a seed or potential condition and therefore they re-appear at the time of creation. Similarly, an ignorant person who goes into deep sleep retains in a latent form, all his previous impressions of duality and gets them back after coming down from the state of Suṣupti. But a Jñāni, once realising his identity with Absolute Brahman, is never misled by the sense (of the reality) of dual existence.

27 Seed— The causal standpoint comprises false apprehension and non-apprehension as well as their effects. The Naiyāyikas affirm this causal standpoint, popularly known as the cosmic ignorance, to be a Padārtha or independent category which arises in the absence of the contact of the sense-organ with its object. Therefore Ajñānam, according to them, is a negation or Abhāva. But according to Vedānta, Ajñānam is not purely a negation (characterising the Āvaraṇa aspect), but a negation combined with an affirmation or creation (Vikṣepa aspect). It is not an independent category but dependent upon present consciousness and comprehended by it. This ignorance is destroyed by the knowledge of truth.

28 Cause— It is because, a causal explanation is necessary.

29 Such cognition—The experience of the absence of knowledge in Suṣupti is possible only for a man who is awakened from deep sleep. From the perception in the waking state of a change involving names and forms, he thinks of the previous state of deep sleep as devoid of them. Therefore the knowledge of deep sleep is possible only in the waking state. This shows that Suṣupti is iknowable only in Jāgrat consciousness.

30 As threefold— The meaning is this: That the Ātman is the witness of the three states is known from the perception of the change of one state into another. The Ātman is the witness not only of the three states but also of their cognizers, viz., Viśva, Taijasa and Prājña. In this body and in the Jāgrat state alone, the three states as well as their cognizers are perceived.

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