[Advaita-l] The prAj~naH of the Mandukya Upanishad - Part 1

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Apr 7 07:00:03 CDT 2010

श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः
 The prAj~naH of the Mandukya Upanishad

A close look at Mandukya Karika 1.11

In the Agama prakaraNa of the MAndukya Upanishad / kArikA, Acharya Gaudapada
says in verse 11:

कार्यकारणबद्धौ ताविष्येते विश्वतैजसौ ।

प्राज्ञः कारणबद्धस्तु द्वौ तौ तुर्ये न सिध्यतः ॥

[Those two, viz Vishva (V) and Taijasa (T), are held to be conditioned by
cause and effect.  PrAjna (P) is conditioned by cause.  But both these do
not exist in Turiya.]

Acharya Shankara Bhagavatpada introduces this verse by saying:

विश्वादीनां सामान्यविशेषभावो निरूप्यते, तुर्ययाथात्म्यावधारणार्थम् ।

// For determining the true nature of Turiya, the generic and specific
characteristics of Vishva and the rest are being ascertained.//

The Bhashyam for this verse is:

कार्यं – क्रियते इति – फलभावः ।  कारणं – करोतीति – बीजभावः ।
तत्त्वाग्रहण-अन्यथाग्रहणाभ्यां बीज-फलभावाभ्यां तौ यथोक्तौ विश्वतैजसौ बद्धौ
संगृहीताविष्येते । प्राज्ञस्तु बीजभावेनैव बद्धः । तत्त्वाप्रतिबोधमात्रमेव हि
बीजं प्राज्ञत्वे निमित्तम् । ततो द्वौ तौ बीजफलभावौ तत्त्वाग्रहण-अन्यथाग्रहणे
तुर्ये न सिध्यतः, न विद्येते न संभवत इत्यर्थ: ।

[’kArya’, derived in the sense of anything produced, means the state of
being the effect. ’KAraNa’, derived in the sense of anything that acts,
means the causal state.  Those two, viz Vishva and Taijasa, as described
earlier, are held to be bound by, conditioned by, the states of seed and
fruit, consisting in the non-apprehension and misapprehension of Reality.  But
PrAjna is bound by the causal state alone.  The non-apprehension of Reality
alone is the cause of bringing about the state of Praajna.  Therefore, both
these two, the causal and the resultant conditions, the  non-apprehension
and misapprehension of Reality, respectively, do not exist, that is to say,
are not possible, in Turiya.//

Shankaracharya provides some more information on the PrAjna in the bhashyam
to the subsequent verses – 1.12:  Since unlike Vishva and Taijasa, Praajna
does not apprehend anything, any external duality that is different from the
Self and is born of the seed of ignorance, therefore he is conditioned by
the *darkness of non-perception of Reality, which is the seed of false
perception.* 1.13: ‘The non-perception of duality being similar, why should
Praajna alone be conditioned by causality and not Turiya?’ – this doubt that
may arise is being refuted: The reason is that PrAjna is बीजनिद्रायुतः –
sleep, consists in the non-perception of Reality, and that itself is the
bIja, seed of the birth of the cognition of varieties and PrAjna is endued
by this bIjanidrA, sleep that is the causal state. That sleep, consisting in
the non-perception of Reality does not exist in Tiriya.

From the above, we can say that PrAjna is the cause and Vishva and Taijasa
are the effects.  What is the nature and role of the PrAjna? His nature is
that of ignorance, non-apprehension of the Truth.  From the fact that P has
been shown as the cause of V and T (the states where explicit duality,
variety of objects is experienced), we can determine that P has the
‘potential’ to bring forth variety.  That means, the ‘beeja’ has the
potential sprout/plant/tree contained in it.  In other words, ‘material’ for
the variety, duality, is contained, embedded, in the P.  Thus, the
cause-effect relationship between P and T/V is of the nature of upAdaana –

It is important to note that Shankara uses the word ‘भावः’ four times in the
bhashya on 1.11.  Is the P a passive cause? No. Shankara says:  कारणं –
करोतीति – बीजभावः. That means P ‘does’ something to bring forth the variety.
That means, again, P has the material, upAdaana, for the V / T and also is
the ‘actor’, ‘doer’, nimitta, for the V /T.  Shankara by giving that
derivation for कारणम् of the kArikA teaches us that P is the efficient
cause. By making the further comment on P, प्राज्ञस्तु बीजभावेनैव बद्धः ।
तत्त्वाप्रतिबोधमात्रमेव हि बीजं प्राज्ञत्वे निमित्तम्, Shankara confirms
that P is the material cause as well of V / T.  By merely being ignorant of
the Reality, P is serving as the seed for perceivable duality.  That means,
P has the unperceivable, avyakta, dvaita in it.  This is the material that
manifests as vyakta dvaita in V and T.  Thus, the kArikA and the Bhashya
together establish the Vedanta siddhAnta that P is the
for the world.

Now, what is the basis for the Karika and the Bhashya to do so?  In reply,
we must remember that this Karikaa has come to elucidate the Mandukya
Upanishad 6th mantra on the third paada:

एष सर्वेश्वर एष सर्वज्ञ एषोऽन्तर्याम्येष योनिः सर्वस्य प्रभवाप्ययौ हि
भूतानाम् । ६

[This one is the Lord of all; this one is Omniscient, this one is the inner
Director (of all); this one is the Source of all; this one is verily the
place of origin and dissolution of all beings.]

It would be most beneficial for our study to note the bhashya of
Bhagavatpada for this mantra:

एष हि स्वरूपावस्थः सर्वेश्वरः साधिदैविकस्य भेदजातस्य सर्वस्य ईशिता, न
एतस्मात् जात्यन्तरभूतोऽन्येषामिव ।  ’प्राणबन्धनं हि सोम्य मनः’ इति श्रुतेः ।

//This one (this P who was defined in the previous 5th mantra) when in his
natural state, is surely the Lord of all, of all diversity inclusive of the
heavenly world; and contrary to what others (other schools) believe in, He
(the Lord of all) is not something intrinsically different from this one
(that is the P), as is borne out by the Vedic text: ‘….the mind (jiva) is
tethered to (that is to say, has for its goal) the PrANa (Brahman) Chandogya
Up. 6.8.2).//

In this crucial passage of the Bhashyam Bhagavatpada teaches us that P is
not different from Ishwara, the Jagatkartaa, kaaraNam.  One more crucial
point for our study in the Bhashyam:  अत एव यथोक्तं सभेदं जगत्प्रसूयत इत्येष
योनिः सर्वस्य । यत एवं प्रभवश्च अप्ययश्च ..हि भूतानामेष एव । // For the same
reason (that P is not different from Ishwara, the Jagatkartaa, kaaraNam) he
gives birth to the universe together with its diversities, as described
before; and hence this one is the Source of all. And since this is so,
therefore this very one, is certainly the place of origin and dissolution of
all beings.//

Now, coming back to our kArika and bhashya for 1.11, we can see the tight
connection with mantra 6 –

·         P is actually Ishwara

·         P is the creator of V and T diversity

·         P is the nimitta kAraNa for V and T

·         P is the upAdAna kAraNa for V and T

How is P’s upAdaana kAraNatva established?  He is the Source, yoniH, and
also the place of origin and dissolution, the ‘laya-sthAnam’ and the
‘utpatti sthAnam’.  This establishes the upAdAnakAraNatva of PrAjna for the
world of duality.  The word ‘बीजभावः’ of the Bhashya is the corresponding
word for the mantra word योनिः. In fact Shankara’s beautiful, skillful,
expression:  कारणं – करोतीति – बीजभावः in one go captures the Vedantic
concept of अभिन्न-निमित्त-उपादान-कारणत्वम् for the world. In this
expression, the segment ‘करोतीति’ caters to the nimitta kAraNam, spoken of
by the mantra through the words: सर्वेश्वर एष सर्वज्ञ एषोऽन्तर्याम्येष..The
upAdAna kAraNam is brought out by the kArikAbhAshya expression बीजभावः,
corresponding to the mantra words: योनिः सर्वस्य प्रभवाप्ययौ हि भूतानाम्.

Thus, the kArikA 1.11, along with the BhAshya is a virtual mirror-image of
the Upanishadic mantra 6.  And that is how it has to be. That is the aim of
the kArikA.

(To be continued and concluded in Part 2)

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