Ishopanishad and Gaudiyas

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sat Jun 1 08:19:42 CDT 2002

Srikrishna Ghadiyaram wrote (in the thread "Why svarga and naraka exist"):

> I understand, In the IsaVasya upanishad bhashya,
> Bhagavan Sankara comments: "Asushu Ramate iti - Asura"
> (forgive incomplete explanation). Those who revel in
> the ephemeral pleasures of this world, thinking these
> are ultimate reality, though they are Sorrows/Tears is
> ASURA).. So, we are all demons to different degrees.

In the bhashya to mantra 3, Shankaracharya explains asurya
as not shining.  we and even the Devas are not shining in that we only
reflect the light of Brahman.  Therefore without Brahman the worlds that
can be won by karma are plunged in deep darkness.  The mantra goes on to
say those who go there are "killers of the self." (Because they take the
non-self to be true.

K. Venkataramani wrote (in the thread "Concept of personal God and
Advaita") quoting Prabhupada:

Mantra Fifteen:

> hiraNmayena pAtreNa
> satyasyApihitaM mukham
> tat tvaM pUSann apAvRNu
> satya dharmAya dRStaye
> Synonyms:

> hiraNmayena = by a golden effulgence; pAtreNa = by a dazzling covering;
> satyasya = of the Supreme Truth; apihitam = covered; mukham = the face;
> tat
> that covering; tvaM = Yourself; pUSann = O sustainer; apAvRNu = kindly
> remove; satya = pure; dharmAya = unto the devotee; dRStaye = for
> exhibiting.

> Translation:
>  my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your
> dazzling effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to
> Your pure devotee.

My translation would be:

The face of truth is hidden in a golden vessel
Remove that Pushan so I whose Dharma is truth may see.

patra means a cup or dish or other vessel in Sanskrit. Pushan (literally
nourisher) is a Vedic God one of the 12 Adityas.  He could be equated with
Vishnu as He is also counted amongst the Adityas but not necessarily.
Pushan as a name of the Sun makes more sense.  Satyadharma could mean true
dharma or the practice (dharma) of truth.  Shankaracharya suggests both

The meaning is that the Sun is only the outward form of Pushan which
covers up the real form which is known by those who practice truth (or
true practice.)

> Mantra Sixteen:
> pUSann ekarSe yama sUrya prAjApatya
> vyUha raSmIn samUha
> tejo yat te rUpam kalyANa tamaM
> tat te paSyAmi yo sAv asau puruSaH sOham asmi

> Synonyms:
> pUSann = O maintainer; ekarSe = the primeval philosopher; yama = the
> regulating principle; sUrya = the destination of the sUris (great
> devotees); prAjApatya = the well-wisher of the prajApatis (progenitors of
> mankind); vyUha = kindly remove; raSmIn = the rays; samUha = kindly
> withdraw; tejo = effulgence; yat = so that; te = Your; rUpam = form;
> kalyANa tamam = most auspicious; tat = that; te = Your; paSyAmi = I may
> see; yo = one who is; asau = like the sun; asau = that; puruSaH =
> Personality of Godhead; so = myself; aham = I; asmi = am.

> Translation:
> O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O
> regulating
> principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the
> progenitors
> of mankind, please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental rays so
> that I can see Your form of bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Personality
> of Godhead, like unto the sun, as am I.

My translation would be:

Pushan, Ekarshi, Yama, Surya, Prajapatya, remove your rays and gather up
your heat.  I will see your most auspicous form.  The person who is there,
that person am I.

Ekarshi etc. are also names of the Sun.  Prabhupada errouneously
derives Ekarshi from eka + rshi when it should be from rsh -- to
move, glide or flow.  Thus the Sun is the one who travels alone not the
solitary Rshi (which is even more mistranslated as philosopher.)  Yama is
the son of Vivasvan but is being equated with His father here. Prajapatya
is the son of Prajapati.  The twelve Adityas are the sons of Kashyapa
Prajapati.  teja is heat or power and energy.  This terrible burning form
of the Sun is contrasted with its most auspicious form, the Purusha who
dwells in the Sun.  Finally the Rshi says that Purusha is none other than
my own self.

So what we have here is an upasana by which the sadhaka who meditates on
the form of the Sun realizes that beyond the outer apperance is His true
nature and that nature is only his own self.  So rather than recommending a
personal god, this mantra is actually showing the opposite, that the
personal form is not the ultimate reality.

The translations also show Prabhupadas typical tactic of using the
ambiguities of translation to twist what is perfectly clear in Sanskrit to
something else altogether.  This maks his books totally useless in my

> That is right. Also, I have heard that Sri Chaitanya, whom ISKCON follows,
> also considered Sridhara Swamy's comentary as the only bonafide one. I
> have a question: Was Sridhara Swamy the Sankaracharya of Puri at that
> time? ISKCON rejects such a claim. Any information is most welcome.

Shridhara Swami was definitely an Advaitin.  Chaitanya himself originally
took a Dashanami form of sannyasa and many of his spiritual ancestors have
Dashanami names such as Puri, Saraswati etc.  According to texts such as
Garga Samhita, there are four Vaishnava sampradayas: Shri (Ramanuja),
Brahma (Madhva), Sanatakumara (Nimbarka) and Agni (Vallabha.)  The
Gaudiyas don't figure on that list but nowadays they count themselves
amongst Brahma sampradaya.  This could give a clue as to what happened.
In medieval times Advaita Vedanta came under severe attack by the Dvaita
philosopher Vyas Tirth and his successors.  Perhaps at that time under his
influence a section of the Dashanamis went renagade and started a new
sect.  The hostility of the Gaudiyas towards Advaita Vedanta may be due to
lingering embarrasment over their true origins.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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