Brih. Up. 2.4.7

Sankaran Panchapagesan panchap at ICSL.UCLA.EDU
Fri Jul 30 13:41:13 CDT 1999


  I am trying to understand a passage in the Yajnavalkya-Maitreyi dailogue
in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.4.7, but am not able to understand it or
Sankara's commentary on it, probably because of my meagre philosophical
knowledge. Hope somebody can help me out.

First I give the translation of Br.Up.2.4.7 and Sankara's commentary from
"Upanishads in Sankara's own words" by V.Panoli.

---------------------------Begin translation: ----------------------------

Br.Up 2.4.7:
        "That (illustration is this): When a drum is beaten, one is not
able to distinguish the external notes (i.e. particular notes arising from
the general note of the drum). But on knowing the drum or its beating, the
particular note is known."

Sankara's commentary:
                "When a drum or the like is beaten with a stick, one is
not able to distinguish the external notes of the drum. But on knowing the
drum, by drawing distinction between the general and the particular notes
of the drum in such a way as 'These are the (various) notes of the drum',
the particular notes become known since they have no existence apart from
the general note."
                "Or on knowing the general sound coming out from the drum
while beating, the particular notes which they contain become known. But
they cannot be perceived as distinct notes for they have no independent
existence. Similarly nothing particular is grasped in the waking and dream
states apart from pure intelligence. Therefore, their non-existence apart
from pure intelligence is logical."
---------------------------End translation: ----------------------------

Similarly, B.U.2.4.8 and 2.4.9 say the same thing about a conch being
blown and a lute (vINA) being played.

I am not able to understand what is meant by general and particular notes
of a drum, and also what the purport of the above passage is. Can somebody
please explain?


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