The Mandukya Upanishad (Gaudapa Karika and Shankara Bhashya)
Mandukya Karika, verse 4.98
This is verse 4.98 of the Mandukya Karika English translation, including commentaries by Gaudapada (Karika), Shankara (Bhashya) and a glossary by Anandagiri (Tika). Alternate transliteration: Māṇḍūkya-upaniṣad 4.98, Gauḍapāda Kārikā, Śaṅkara Bhāṣya, Ānandagiri Ṭīkā.
Sanskrit text, IAST transliteration and English translation
अलब्धावरणाः सर्वे धर्माः प्रकृतिनिर्मलाः ।
आदौ बुद्धास्तथा मुक्ता बुध्यन्त इति नायकाः ॥ ९८ ॥
alabdhāvaraṇāḥ sarve dharmāḥ prakṛtinirmalāḥ |
ādau buddhāstathā muktā budhyanta iti nāyakāḥ || 98 ||
98. All Dharmas (i.e., Jīvas) are ever free from bondage and pure by nature. They are ever illumined and liberated from the very beginning. Still the wise speak of the Jīvas as capable of knowing (‘the Ultimate Truth’).
Shankara Bhashya (commentary)
(Objection)—It has been stated in the previous Kārikā that (according to the view of the ignorant) the destruction of the veil covering the real nature of Ātman is not possible. This is a (tacit) admission by the Vedāntist that the (real) nature of the Jīvas is covered by a veil.
(Reply)—It1 is not so. The Jīvas 2 are never subject to any veil or bondage imposed by ignorance. That is to say, they are ever free from any bondage (which does not at all exist). They are pure by nature; illumined and free from the very beginning as it is said that they are of the nature of eternal purity, knowledge and freedom. If so, why are Jīvas described as capable of knowing (the Ultimate Reality) by teachers who are competent to know the Truth, i.e., those who are endowed with the power of discrimination? The reply is that it3 is like speaking about the sun as shining though the very nature of the sun is all-light, or speaking about the hill, which is ever free from any motion, as always standing.
Anandagiri Tika (glossary)
1 It, etc.—People imagine that they can remove the veil of Ātman by knowledge. This is also due to Avidyā or ignorance.
2 The Jīvas, etc.—If a man has got the idea of veil or impurity, -then he is bound. But in the absence of such idea he is free. Ātman has no veil. One speaks of veil, bondage, etc., only from the causal standpoint. This position is the most difficult to be correctly understood inasmuch as for the generality of men, causation is a fact, therefore the veil or bondage of Ātman is also a fact. But from the standpoint of the Ultimate Truth, there is no causality and therefore no veil, bondage or ignorance.
3 It is like, etc.—One speaks, of the rising and the shining of the sun though the sun, inasmuch as it is always of the nature of light, cannot be said to rise or shine at any particular moment. Similarly one describes the hill as standing, which correctly speaking is only a correlative of motion. Nevertheless, though the hill never moves, yet it is described as standing. As the ideas of rising, shining, etc., associated with the sun or the ideas of standing, etc., attributed to the hill do not affect their real nature, so also the idea of “knowability” ascribed to the Jīva, which is all-knowledge by nature, does not affect it in any way.