Mandukya Upanishad (Gaudapa Karika and Shankara Bhashya)

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

This is verse 4.83 of the Mandukya Karika English translation, including commentaries by Gaudapada (Karika), Shankara (Bhashya) and a glossary by Anandagiri (Tika). Alternate transliteration: Māṇḍūkya-upaniṣad 4.83, Gauḍapāda Kārikā, Śaṅkara Bhāṣya, Ānandagiri Ṭīkā.

Sanskrit text, IAST transliteration and English translation

अस्ति नास्त्यस्ति नास्तीति नास्ति नास्तीति वा पुनः ।
चलस्थिरोभयाभावैरावृणोत्येव बालिशः ॥ ८३ ॥

asti nāstyasti nāstīti nāsti nāstīti vā punaḥ |
calasthirobhayābhāvairāvṛṇotyeva bāliśaḥ || 83 ||

83. Childish persons verily cover It (fail to know It) by predicating of It such attributes as existence, nonexistence, existence and non-existence and absolute nonexistence, derived respectively from their notion of change, immovability, combination of both and absolute negation.

Shankara Bhashya (commentary)

Attachment of the learned to such predicates1 as existence, non-existence, etc., serves verily as a veil between them and the Supreme Reality. What wonder is there that childish persons on account of their undeveloped intellect are unable to grasp Ātman! This Kārikā brings out the aforesaid idea. Some2 disputant asserts that Ātman exists. Another3 disputant, viz., the Buddhist, says that it is non-existent. A third4 disputant, the Jaina, who is a pseudo-nihilist, believing in both the existence and non-existence of Self, proclaims that Ātman both exist and does not exist. The5 absolute nihilist says that nothing exists at all. He6 who predicates existence of Ātman associates it with changeability in order to make it distinct from such impermanent objects as a jar, etc. The7 theory that Ātman is non-existent, i.e., inactive, is held on account of its undifferentiated nature. It 8 is called both existent and non-existent on account of its being subject to both changeability and immutability. Non-existence is predicated of Ātman on account of everything ending in absolute negation or void. All the four classes of disputants, mentioned above, asserting existence, non-existence, existence and non-existence, and total non-existence (about Ātman), derived respectively from their notion of changeability, immutability, combination of both and total negation, reduce themselves to the position of the childish, devoid of all discrimination; and by associating Ātman with all these illusory ideas (Kalpanā) cover Its9 real nature. If these (so-called) learned men act as veritable children on account of their ignorance of Ultimate Reality, what is to be said regarding those who are, by nature, unenlightened!

Anandagiri Tika (glossary)

1 Predicates, etc.—These predicates of Ātman are due to illusory ideas (Kalpanā) regarding its real nature.

2 Some disputant—This refers to the follower of the Vaiśeṣika theory. He asserts that there is an Ātman which is separate from the body, sense-organ, Prāṇa, etc. It is the knower and enjoyer of misery and happiness.

3 Another, etc.—This refers to the followers of Subjective idealism among the Buddhists known as Kṣaṇika Vignānavādins. According to them Ātman, though separate from body, etc., is identical with Buddhi or intellect. It is not permanent. Our consciousness which disappears after only a moment’s existence is the only reality. Any reality, in the sense of a permanent entity, is non-existent.

4 The third, etc.—This refers to the followers of the Jaina school of thought. According to this school, Ātman is both existent and non-existent. Though Ātman is separate from the body, yet It 'has the same size as the body. It exists as long as the body exists and it is destroyed with the destruction of the body.

5 The Absolute, etc.—This refers to the extreme school of Buddhism known as the Nihilistic school. According to the follower of this theory, there is no permanent Reality like Ātman. All things end in destruction. Therefore absolute negation is the Highest Truth. The word “non-existence” has been repeated in the verse in order to show the determined belief of the nihilist in his own opinion.

6 He who, etc.—According to the Vaiśeṣika theory the nature of Ātman is changeable as it, at different times, becomes subject to happiness, misery, desire, knowledge, etc. Ātman is designated as existent in order to distinguish it from all objects of an impermanent nature, such as a pot, etc.

7 The theory, etc.—The Subjective idealist asserts that Ātman has a momentary existence, and as having existed only for a moment, It cannot be subject to any change or modification.

8 It is, etc.—The Jaina school predicates both existence and non-existence of Ātman as It partakes of the nature of both.

9 Its real nature.—The real nature of Ātman is that It is free from all ideas or Kalpanā. People clinging to their pet theories, on account of their false attachment, cannot know the real nature of Ātman.

Let's grow together!

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: