Selections from the Shakta upaniShads -1 (bahvR^icha)

Charles Wikner WIKNER at NACDH4.NAC.AC.ZA
Mon May 4 03:14:46 CDT 1998

In response to Nanda's question:

> My final question would be, "How can the bridge be build between the
> Illusory Vyavaharika Jiva and the Real Paramartika Atman?".

Ramakrishnan, in a useful response, stated:

> Of course, Sh does
> not call avidyA anirvachanIyam explictly, but it's pretty much implied.

Assuming Sh stands for Shankara, the term is used in 109:

      avyaktanaamnii parame"sa"saktiranaadyavidyaa
                             trigu.naatmikaa paraa |
      kaaryaanumeyaa sudhiyaiva maayaa yayaa
                       jagatsarvamida.m prasuuyate || 108 ||

      Avidyaa or Maaya, called also the Undifferentiated, is
      the power of the Lord.  She is without beginning, is made
      up of the three gu.nas and is superior to the effects
      (as their cause).  She is to be inferred by one of clear
      intellect only from the effects She produces.  It is She
      who brings forth this whole universe.

                            [Swami Madhavananda's translation
                                          is given throughout.]

That verse is included here because it has the key word
anumeya (inferred).

      sannaapyasannaapyubhayaatmikaa no
              bhinnaapyabhinnaaupyubhayaatmikaa no |
      saa"ngaapyana"ngaa hyubhayaatmikaa no
                  mahaadbhutaa.anirvacaniiyaruupaa || 109 ||
      She is neither existent nor non-existent nor partaking
      of both characters; neither same nor different nor both;
      neither composed of parts nor an indivisible whole nor
      both.  She is most woderful and cannot be described in

Before him, in GK 4:67, Gaudapaada uses the term"suunya
(devoid of characteristics), which also occurs in the Sarvopani.sad.
I take this to be synonymous with anirvacaniiya (inexplicable).

I can sympathise with Nanda's position though, and agree with the
advice given: study the works of Shankara and his disciples.  It is
necessary to work *through* the confusion and bewilderment, and not
stop short and abandon the search.

I came to a similar point of confusion by examining the mind: manas,
buddhi, citta, and aha.mkaara are clear enough, but these are mere
activities of the mind -- what is the mind *itself* that has these
functions?  For a long time I was stuck, trying to find this mind.
Fortunately Shankara came to the rescue (again!):

      na hyastyavidyaa manaso .atiriktaa mano
                       hyavidyaa bhavabindhahetu.h |
      tasminvina.s.te sakala.m vina.s.ta.m
            vij.rmbhite .asminsakala.m vij.rmbhate || 169 ||

      There is no Avidyaa outside the mind.  The mind alone is
      Avidyaa, the cause of the bondage of transmigration.
      When it is destroyed, all else is destroyed, and when it
      is manifested, everything else is manifested.

And again:

      ata.h praahurmano .avidyaa.m
                      pa.n.ditaastattvadar"sana.h |
      yenaiva bhraamyate vi"sva.m
                         vaayunevaabhrama.n.dalam || 180 ||

      Hence sages who have fathomed its secret have designated
      the mind as Avidyaa or ignorance, by which alone the
      universe is moved to and fro, like masses of clouds by
      the wind.

Do you begin to see that the purpose underlying all saadhanaa is
directed to purifying the mind -- to bring it to rest in sattva?
Cf. Gita 6:15 ff., or as Shankara succinctly puts it in the next

      tanmana.h"sodhana.m kaarya.m prayatnena
      vi"suddhe sati caitasminmukti.h
                                  karaphalaayate || 181 ||

      Therefore the seeker after liberation must carefully
      purify the mind.  When this is purified, liberation is
      as easy of access as a fruit on the palm of one's hand.

Isn't that encouraging?

Regards, Charles.

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