The Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika and Shankara’s Commentary
Kārikā, verse 1.18
विकल्पो विनिवर्तेत कल्पितो यदि केनचित् ।
उपदेशादयं वादो ज्ञाते द्वैतं न विद्यते ॥ १८ ॥
vikalpo vinivarteta kalpito yadi kenacit |
upadeśādayaṃ vādo jñāte dvaitaṃ na vidyate || 18 ||
18. If anyone has ever imagined the manifold ideas (such for instance as the teacher, the taught, and the scripture), they might disappear. This explanation is for the purpose of teaching. Duality (implied in explanation) ceases to exist when the Highest Truth is known.
(Objection)—How1 could (duality implied in) ideas such as the teacher, the taught and the scripture disappear?
(Reply)—This is thus explained. If2 such ideas had ever been imagined by someone then they might be supposed to disappear. As the manifold is like the illusion (conjured up by the magician or) of the snake in the rope, so3 also are the ideas of the teacher, etc. These ideas, namely, the ideas of teacher, taught, and scripture are for4 the purpose of teaching which are (therefore appear) true till one realises the Highest Truth. But duality does not exist when one, as a result of the teaching, attains knowledge, i.e., realises the Highest Reality.
Ānandagiri’s Ṭīkā (glossary):
1 How could, etc.—If even the idea of teacher, etc., existed, non-duality could not be established. If such ideas be meant for the purpose of inferring Turīya, as the smoke is thought of for inferring fire, then duality cannot be refuted. For, the experience of smoke and fire, as existing together, does not demonstrate nonduality.
2 If, etc.—Such ideas as teacher, student and scripture have their applicability till one realises the Highest Truth of non-duality (Turīya). Such ideas, possible only from the standpoint of ignorance, cannot contradict Turīya because they are unreal and negatable by knowledge. The analogy of the smoke and fire is not appropriate. Brahman cannot be logically inferred from the world like the fire from the smoke. For, fire and smoke are objective realities of the same order and seen to exist together by a perceiver. That is not so with Brahman and the world. But the seeing of an object implies the seer. So Brahman may only be indicated.
3 So also, etc.—The entire manifold is an illusion, it is not reality. It appears as real till one attains to the Highest Knowledge. The idea of the teacher, etc., is a part of this manifold. Hence such ideas have no absolute reality. The appearance is also due to the non-apprehension of Reality.
4 For the purpose of— If one sees duality and seeks an explanation, one of the explanations, offered is that ideas are imagined for the purpose of attaining the Truth.
It has been seen in the previous Kārikā that the manifold is Brahman. As the wave is non-different from water, so also the world is non-different from Brahman. The idea that what we see is not Brahman and has got such attributes as birth, changeability, destruction, etc., is illusion which being negated enables one to realise the Highest Truth. Similarly the various ideas one has with regard to the manifold, are non-different from Brahman. Even the so-called illusion of the manifold universe has no existence other than that of Brahman. As the wind that arises from the air, disappears in the air and is identical with the air, so also the manifold is non-different from Brahman. As in dream, the objects that are experienced as the elephant, etc., with their names and forms are nothing but the mindstuff, so also in the state of ignorance what are experienced as the objects with their distinctive names and forms are nothing but Brahman. As in the same dream the idea that I have seen an elephant is non-different from the mindstuff which creates the elephant, so also the idea that there is a distinction between the teacher, etc., is not separate from Brahman. The cognition of ideas as teacher, etc., as separate from Brahman is due to one’s still persisting in the relative plane, and this is explained as being useful for the realisation of Truth. But after enlightenment these ideas are realised as non-different from Brahman. The Highest Truth is that the manifold as well as various thoughts associated with it are identical with Brahman. The non-duality (Turīya) alone is.