[Advaita-l] Sankara commentary for Chandogya Upanishad

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Apr 4 23:14:44 CDT 2011

On Tue, 29 Mar 2011, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

> Namaste
> What is Adi Sankara's opinion on Chandogya Upanishad 8:12 3 ? Dvaitis
> say this Upanishad Mantra gives how the Jeeva enjoys Moksha. In Moksha
> sometimes he has sex with women. Sometimes he dances. Sometimes he
> drives chariots and horses. Etc.
> What is this? Is this Moksha or heavenly enjoyment ?

It is freedom from saMsAra.  For many darshanas, that is the highest goal. 
For instance, the saMkhyas believe that by samadhi the purusha becomes 
free of trigunatmaka prakrti.  The Purva Mimamsakas also believed that by 
diligent performance of ones svadharma, eternal life in heaven away from 
th cycle of births and deaths could be achieved and this is the highest 
goal (paramArtha.)

This whole adhyaya of the Chandogyopanishad tells of the teaching 
concerning the Self Prajapati imparted to Indra king of the Devas, and 
Virochana king of the Daityas.  Virochana thinks that by self is meant his 
ego and therefore "I can do whatever I want."  Indra is smarter.  He 
realizes that there is more than that yet he too misses the mark as he 
thinks that the paramatma continues to have the same desires, appetites 
etc. as in earthly life.  So Prajapati explains that all those things that 
are felt as ananda are truly the ananda of Brahman.  In fact all the 
sensory perceptions are due to Brahman being the ground of chitta 
(consciousness.)  Thus earlier he described Brahman as "the purusha 
that dwells in the eye" etc.  When one grasps this, he is content in 
all his desires.  This is vividly described in 8.2.

But rather than proclaiming the reward of an eternal life of enjoyment in 
heaven, Prajapatis words actually undermine it.  Why?  A cow is Brahman 
just as surely as Indra is.  And the cows joy at e.g. being in a field of 
fresh grass is just as much brahmananda as Indras reign in swarga with 
apsaras, gandharvas etc.  Indra is called Shatakratu because he has 
reached that position by performing 100 ashwamedha yajnas.  Yet with all 
that effort he has achieved no more than a cow eating grass.  Instead of 
thirsting after the objects of ananda, a wise person should seek the 
source of that ananda itself namely Brahman.  Hence in 8.5 brahmacharya is 

On Fri, 1 Apr 2011, sriram wrote:

> Souls are neutral-that is there is neither a  male soul nor a female soul.How
> then these explanations for the Upanishad vakyam will fit in?  I think 
> there should be some deep subtle meaning which is beyond our grasp.

There is no mystery.  The words are being addressed to Indra who is male. 
And a king hence chariots etc.  One who is not a male king would have 
different desires but the principle would be the same.

On Sat, 2 Apr 2011, Shrinivas Gadkari wrote:

> The disturbing thing here is - why is it that the text here talks of the
> fourth state in a language that is normally used to describe the dream
> state?

Because the jivas of this sort have freed themselves from karma but still 
identify with nAma-rUpa.  Even if they have the power to make their own 
bodies, this is still ignorance and despite what the darshanas I mentioned 
at the beginning of this post believe, not the paramArtha.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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