Mandukya Upanishad (Gaudapa Karika and Shankara Bhashya)

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

This is verse 3.14 of the Mandukya Karika English translation, including commentaries by Gaudapada (Karika), Shankara (Bhashya) and a glossary by Anandagiri (Tika). Alternate transliteration: Māṇḍūkya-upaniṣad 3.14, Gauḍapāda Kārikā, Śaṅkara Bhāṣya, Ānandagiri Ṭīkā.

Sanskrit text, IAST transliteration and English translation

जीवात्मनोः पृथक्त्वं यत् प्रागुत्पत्तेः प्रकीर्तितम् ।
भविष्यद्वृत्या गौणं तन्मुख्यत्वं हि न युज्यते ॥ १४ ॥

jīvātmanoḥ pṛthaktvaṃ yat prāgutpatteḥ prakīrtitam |
bhaviṣyadvṛtyā gauṇaṃ tanmukhyatvaṃ hi na yujyate || 14 ||

14. The separateness of Jīva and Ātman which has been declared in (the ritual portion of the) Upaniṣad, dealing with the origin (of the universe), is only figurative, because this portion (of the Vedas) describes only what is to be. This statement regarding separateness can never have any meaning as truth.

Shankara Bhashya (commentary)

(Objection)—Even the Śruti has already declared the separateness of the Jīva and the Supreme Self in that part of the Upaniṣad which describes the creation (of the universe), i.e., in the ritual portion (Karmakāṇḍa) of the Vedas. The texts of the Karma - kāṇḍa, referred to here, describe the Supreme Puruṣa who had multiple desire, in such words as, “desirous of this,” “desirous of that,” “He,1 the Highest, supported the heaven and the earth,” etc. This being the case, how is it possible, when there is a conflict between the knowledge portion and the ritual portion of the Vedas, to conclude that the unity underlying the meaning of the knowledge portion (of the Vedas) is alone reasonable and accurate?

(Reply)—Our reply is as follows:—The seperateness (of Jīva and Paramātman) described in the Karma - kāṇḍa (ritual portion of the Vedas)—anterior to such Upaniṣadic statements dealing with the creation of the universe as “That from which all these beings emanate,” “As small sparks (come out) from fire,” “The Ākāśa has evolved from that which is this Ātman,” “It created heat”—is not real from the absolute.standpoint.

(Objection)—What is it then?

(Reply)—It has only a secondary meaning. The separateness (between Jīva and Paramātman implied in these passages) is like that between the undifferentiated3 ether (Mahākāśa) and the ether enclosed in the jar (Ghaṭākāśa). This statement is made with reference to a future3 happening as in the case of another statement we often make, “He is cooking rice.” For, the words describing separateness (of Jīva and Paramātman) can never reasonably uphold such separateness as absolutely real, as the statements regarding the separateness of Ātman only reiterate the multiple experiences of those beings who are still under the spell of their inborn4 Avidyā or ignorance. Here5 in the Upaniṣads, the texts regarding the creation, destruction, etc., of the universe are meant only to establish the identity of Jīva and the Supreme Self, as is known from the texts, “That thou art,” “He does not know who knows I am another and he is another”. In other words, in the Upaniṣads the purpose of the Śruti is to establish the identity (of Jīva and Brahman). Keeping in view this identity which is going to be established later on, the (dualistic) texts only reiterate the common6 experience of multiplicity (due to ignorance). Therefore these (dualistic) texts are only metaphorical. Or, the Kārikā may be explained thus:—The scriptural text, “He is one and without a second,” declares the (complete) identity of Jīva and Brahman even before creation, denoted by such passages as, “He saw,” “He created fire,” etc. The culmination is, again, that identity as is known from such Śruti passages as, “That is the Reality; He is the Ātman. That thou art”. Now, if keeping in view this future identity, the separateness of Jīva and Ātman has been declared in some texts, it must have been used in a metaphorical way as is the case with the statement “He is cooking rice”.

Anandagiri Tika (glossary)

1 Hei.e., Hiraṇyagarbha or the cosmic soul.

2 Undifferentiated, etc.—The difference between the Ghaṭākāśa and the Mahākāśa is only due to the upādhi or the limiting adjunct of the ghaṭa or the jar. In reality it is the identical Ākāśa that is perceived in the great expanse of the ether, as well as in the jar. Similarly, the Jīva is thought of as different from the Ātman when the former is limited by the upādhis of Antaḥkaraṇa and body.

3 Future, etc.—The Vedas make the statement regarding the separateness of Jīva and Brahman keeping in view the experience of multiplicity by. the ignorant people. The idea of past, present and future is formed only in the realm of ignorance. When the grain (i.e., the uncooked rice) is boiled, people say that the rice (cooked rice) is boiled. This sort of statement is common parlance. Here the present tense is used keeping in view a future happening. Similarly the scriptures speak of duality before creation with a view to indicating the future state of Knowledge when multiplicity is known to be unreal.

4 Inborn—It is because no cause can be traced of Avidyā.

5 Here, etc.—The aim of the dualistic statements of the Śruti is to establish ultimately the identity of Jīva and Brahman. The Upaniṣads accept the empirical view of the world as it appears and explain it by saying that Brahman who is both the material and efficient cause of the universe, created the world with all its beings and then entered into all as the living Self. This explanation establishes the unity of Brahman and Jīva, the apparent difference being ascribed to ignorance. The import of the Śruti is this: The non-dual Brahman alone exists. He is birthless, causeless and changeless. If one sees multiplicity that is also Brahman. The experience of multiplicity in the non-dual Brahman is due to Avidyā.

6 Common, etc.—This is due to ignorance.

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