Mandukya Upanishad (Gaudapa Karika and Shankara Bhashya)

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

This is verse 4.1 of the Mandukya Karika English translation, including commentaries by Gaudapada (Karika), Shankara (Bhashya) and a glossary by Anandagiri (Tika). Alternate transliteration: Māṇḍūkya-upaniṣad 4.1, Gauḍapāda Kārikā, Śaṅkara Bhāṣya, Ānandagiri Ṭīkā.

Sanskrit text, IAST transliteration and English translation

ज्ञानेनाऽऽकाशकल्पेन धर्मान्यो गगनोपमान् ।
ज्ञेयाभिन्नेन संबुद्धस्तं वन्दे द्विपदां वरम् ॥ १ ॥

jñānenā''kāśakalpena dharmānyo gaganopamān |
jñeyābhinnena saṃbuddhastaṃ vande dvipadāṃ varam || 1 ||

1. I bow to that best among men who by means of knowledge, which is like Ākāśa and non-dijfferent from the object of knowledge (i.e., the Dharma ), realised the nature of the Dharmas (i.e., the Jīvas) which are, again, like the Ākāśa.

Shankara Bhashya (commentary)

The proposition regarding Advaita (as the Supreme Truth) has been based upon scriptural evidence, by1 determining the nature of Aum. That proposition has been established by proving2 the unreality of the distinction implied by the external objects (of experience). Again the third chapter dealing with Advaita has directly established the proposition on the authority of scripture and reason with the concluding statement3 that “This alone is the Ultimate Truth”. At the end of the previous chapter it has been hinted that the opinions of the dualists and the nihilists, who are opposed to the philosophy of Advaita which gives the true import of the scriptures, bear the name of true philosophy. But that is not true because of their mutual contradictions and also because of their being vitiated by attachment to their own opinions and aversion to those of others. The philosophy of Advaita has been extolled as the true philosophy on4 account of its being free from any vitiation (referred to above regarding the theories of the dualists and nihilists). Now is undertaken the chapter styled Alātasānti (i.e., on the quenching of the fire-brand) in order to conclude the final examination for the establishment of the philosophy of Advaita, by following the process known as the method5 of disagreement, which is done by showing here in detail that other systems cannot be said to be true philosophy. For there are mutual contradictions implied in them. The first verse has for its purpose the salutation to the promulgator6 of the philosophy of Advaita, conceiving him as identical with the Advaita Truth. The salutation to the teacher is made in commencing a scripture in order to bring the undertaking to a successful end. The word “Ākāśakalpa” in the text means resembling Ākāśa, that is to say, slightly7 different from Ākāśa. What is the purpose of such knowledge which resembles Ākāśa? By such Knowledge is known the nature of the Dharmas 8 (i.e., the attributes of Ātman). The attributes are the same as the substance. What is the nature of these Dharmas? They also can be known by the analogy9 of Ākāśa, that is to say, these Dharmas also resemble Ākāśa. The word “Jñeyābhinna” in the text is another attribute of ‘Jñānam’ or Knowledge and means that this knowledge is not10 separate from the Ātmans (Jīvas) which are the objects of knowledge. This identity of the knowledge and the knowable is like the identity of fire11 and heat and the sun and its light. I bow to the God, known as Nārāyaṇa,12 who by knowledge, non-different from the nature of Ātman (the object of knowledge) and which resembles Ākāśa, knew the Dharmas which, again, may be compared to Ākāśa. The import of the words “Dvipadām Varam” (Supreme among the bipeds), is that Nārāyaṇa is the greatest of all men, characterised by two legs, that, is to say, He is the “Puruṣottama”, the best of all men. By the adoration of the teacher it is implied that the purpose of this chapter is to establish, by the refutation of the opposite views, Advaita which gives the philosophy of the Ultimate Reality, characterised by the identity of the knower, knowledge and the object of knowledge.

Anandagiri Tika (glossary)

1 By the, etc.—This has been done in the first chapter of the book, viz., the Āgama Prakaraṇa which deals with the subject-matter from the scriptural standpoint.

2 Proving, etc.—This has been done in the second chapter.

3 StatementComp, the 48th verse of the Kārikā of the third chapter.

4 On account, etc.—One of the tests of Truth is that it does not contradict anything. The Ultimate Truth is that by knowing which everything else becomes known. The fact of non-duality satisfies this condition and therefore it is called the Ultimate Truth or Reality.

5 Method of, etc.—This is one of the processes of inference; the other is known as the method of agreement. It has been shown in the second chapter that what is caused or what comes into being is unreal. Here it is shown that what is not untruth is not caused also. That is to say, the Kārikā will show in this chapter the absence of causality in Ātman and thus establish the Ultimate Reality of Self.

6 Promulgator, etc.—Nārāyaṇa or the Lord Himself is said to be the promulgator of this philosophy which was handed down to Gauḍapāda. The salutation is made to Nārāyapa at the commencement of the chapter.

7 Slightly, etc. —Ākāśa or ether contains within it elements of inert matter. Therefore it is slightly different from knowledge which is all sentiency. The analogy is made with reference to the all-pervading characteristic of Ākāśa which is similar to Jñānam or knowledge.

8 Dharmas—The word “Dharma” literally means “attribute”. Attribute, according to Vedānta, is non-different from substance. Hence “Dharma” also is non-different from Brahman. The word Dharma is, in the texts, synonymous with knowledge or Jñānam. The word “Dharma” is used by Gauḍapāda to mean “Jīva” or embodied being. “Jīva” is identical with “knowledge”, “Brahman”. The plural number is used on account of the plurality of “Jīvas,” which is admitted from the empirical standpoint.

9 Analogy, etc.—The Jīva is, as Brahman is, in reality, as all-pervading as the Ākāśa (or Jñānam).

10 Not separate, etc.—If knowledge is intrinsically separate from its object, i.e., the Jīva or the Brahman, then one can never know, by such knowledge, the nature of Jīva or Brahman. The knower, knowledge and the object of knowledge are really identical and denote the same Reality.

11 Fire, etc.—That is to say, from the standpoints of the fire and the sun, the heat and the light are identical with the fire and the sun.

12 Nārāyaṇa—The story runs thus:—In ancient times Gauḍa-pāda retired to Badarikāśrama, in the interior of the Himalayas, and there worshipped with great austerity the human figure of the Almighty Lord.

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