Mandukya Upanishad (Gaudapa Karika and Shankara Bhashya)

by Swami Nikhilananda | 1949 | 115,575 words | ISBN-13: 9788175050228

This is verse 2.8 of the Mandukya Karika English translation, including commentaries by Gaudapada (Karika), Shankara (Bhashya) and a glossary by Anandagiri (Tika). Alternate transliteration: Māṇḍūkya-upaniṣad 2.8, Gauḍapāda Kārikā, Śaṅkara Bhāṣya, Ānandagiri Ṭīkā.

Sanskrit text, IAST transliteration and English translation

अपूर्वं स्थानिधर्मो हि यथा स्वर्गनिवासिनाम् ।
तानयं प्रेक्षते गत्वा यथैवेह सुशिक्षितः ॥ ८ ॥

apūrvaṃ sthānidharmo hi yathā svarganivāsinām |
tānayaṃ prekṣate gatvā yathaiveha suśikṣitaḥ || 8 ||

8. The objects (perceived by the dreamer), not usually met with {in the waking state) undoubtedly, owe their existence to the (peculiar) condition in which the cognizer, that is, his mind, works for the time being, as in the case of those residing in heaven. The dreamer associating himself (with the dream conditions) experiences those (objects), even as the one, well-instructed here (goes from one place to another and sees objects belonging to those places).

Shankara Bhashya (commentary)

(Objection)—The assertion about the illusoriness of objects perceived in the waking state on account of their similarity to those perceived in the dream state is not correct.


(Objection)—The illustration does not agree with the thing to be illustrated.


(Objection)—Those objects that are cognized in the waking state are not seen in dream.

(Reply)—What then are they (dream experiences)?

(Objection)—A man perceives in dream objects which.are never usually seen in the waking state. He finds himself (in dream) to be with eight hands and seated on an elephant with four tusks. Similarly various other unusual (abnormal) objects are seen in the dream. These (dream objects) are not like other illusory objects. They are, without doubt, real (in themselves). Therefore the illustration does not agree. Hence, the statement that the waking experiences are unreal like those of dream is not correct.

(Reply)—No, your conclusion is not correct. You think that the objects perceived in dream are extraordinary (not like those usually seen in the waking state), but these are not absolutely real in themselves. What, then, is their nature? They1 are only peculiar to the circumstances of the perceiver associated with those (dream) conditions, i.e., of the dreamer associated with the dream-conditions. As2 the denizens of heaven, such as Indra, etc., have the characteristics of being endowed with a thousand eyes, etc. (on account of the very condition of their existence in heaven), so also there are the (peculiar) unusual (abnormal) features of the dreamer (on account of the peculiar condition of the dream state). These3 (dream experiences) are not absolutely real like the absolute reality of the perceiver. The dreamer associated with the (dream) conditions, while in the dream state, sees all these abnormal or peculiar objects which are but the imaginations of his own mind. It is like the case of a man, in the waking experience, who is well instructed regarding the route to be taken to reach another country, and who while going to that country sees on the way objects belonging to that locality. Hence as4 perception of snake in the rope and the mirage in the desert which are due to the (mental) conditions of the perceiver are unreal, so also the objects transcending the limits of the waking experience, perceived in dream, are unreal on account of their being due to the (peculiar) condition of the dream state itself. Therefore the illustration of dream is not incorrect.

Anandagiri Tika (glossary)

1 They are, etc.—The dream experiences have no causal relation, with the waking experience. A causal relation between two objects o’f even waking experiences, as will be seen later on, cannot be proved to be true. The objects of our experiences, whether in dream or in waking state, are but the creations of the mind (cittaspandanam) and it is due to ignorance that we relate them causally. In dream, the mind is associated with those experiences which are realised as. creations of dream.

2 As, etc.—It is only some particular forms of thought which create heaven, etc., with their peculiar denizens. They are not absolutely real but are only our imaginations. The moment we imagine heaven, we imagine it also to be peopled with Indra, etc., inasmuch as in our mind Indra, etc., are ever associated with heaven.

3 These, etc.—The experiences of dream are not real because of their changing nature. But the perceiver of dream is real because it is unchangeable and witnessing the changes. Even the so-called sentient beings we perceive in dream are insentient because they are also objects of perception (dṛśya) and they appear and disappear.

4 As, etc.—The illusory perception of mirage, etc., is due to the peculiar mental condition of the cognizer. These illusions last as long as the mental conditions that create them last. The objects, perceived to be real in the waking state, the illusions experienced in that state and the objects perceived in the dream state have the same nature, i.e., they are all seen (dṛśya) and as such they are all forms of thought (manaḥspandanam) Hence they are all illusory. No reality can be attached to any of them.

It has been said before that both of dream and waking experiences are alike in nature. But a line of demarcation is sought to be drawn between them, contending that the dream percepts being most of them queer, fantastic and even unnatural, the like of them, do not find a place in the world of the wakeful man. But such percepts, however grotesque or abnormal, appear perfectly normal to the dreamer. The dreamer evidently has his own notion of space, distance and form. But his standards have no applicability to the wakeful man. And the notions of the latter in regard to space, etc., have no place in the dreamer’s world, though for each, everything is normal and real.

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