[Advaita-l] Re: Questions on Isavasya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sat Aug 5 11:30:24 CDT 2006

Dear Sri Reddy,

Final post on the ISAvAsya questions:

"-- shaN^kara interprets the word jagatyAM to be pR^ithivyAM. By this, does 
he mean only the earth, or should it be taken to mean the entire jaDa 

It can be taken in an extended sense. The bhAshya itself refers to an 
upalakshaNa (jagatyAm ity upalakshNArthatvAt sarvam eva nAma-rUpa-karma ...) 
in this context. In any case, the word pRthivI does not mean only the planet 
earth. It can, in general, mean all that is apparently solid. e.g. when the 
order of birth of the universe is listed, we see AkASa -> vAyu -> agni -> 
ApaH -> pRthivI. In these cases, pRthivI is clearly not limited to earth.

"-- The word "tEna" in the second line of the first verse could be taken to 
be in the masculine or the neuter gender. shaN^kara takes it to be in neuter 
gender to mean "by that (understanding)".  "That" refers to the first line 
in the verse. But if it's so close, the usual
word employed is "EtEna". So, does this not suggest that the word "tEna" 
should be interpreted to be in masculine gender?"

A strawman argument. What is the actual issue here: one of grammatical 
gender or of syntactic proximity?

Let us say that "tena" should be taken as masculine. Now, who is the person 
being referred to in the masculine gender? Would it not be ISa again? Now 
according to the same rules of grammar, given that ISa is close enough in 
the same verse, the word used should have again be "etena." After all, just 
like the word tena, the word etena can also be either masculine or neuter in 
gender. Given that the upanishat does not use "etena" but only "tena," why 
should nearness or otherwise in the sentence construction impact the gender 
that should be applied to the word by the interpreter?

[As an aside, if "tena" refers to ISa, then should not the term ISAvAsya 
also be understood in the instrumental (tritIyA) case (ISena) and not the 
possessive (shashThI) case (ISasya)?]

For that matter, what does your dvaitin friend say about the case where 
forms of "tat" and "etat" are both used in the same sentence, to refer to 
the same thing?

e.g. tasmAd vA etasmAd Atmana AkASas sambhUtaH ... tasmAd vA etasmAd 
annarasamayAt ... tasmAd vA etasmAt prANamayAt ... - taittirIya brahmAnanda 

If one has to be stringent with syntax and grammar rules of classical 
Sanskrit even in the language of the veda, then it would follow that "tat" 
refers to a remote entity and "etat" to a close one. In this case, would it 
not mean that in the above quoted taittirIya line, "tasmAt" refers to 
brahman and "etasmAt" refers to the Atman who is a brahmavit? Would it also 
not mean that this Atman = brahmavit = brahman? In other words, rigorous 
application of grammar rules would lead to advaita. Even if the dvaitin 
thinks otherwise, he will have to accept that "tasmAt" and "etasmAt" refer 
to the same thing here. After all, in this particular reference, no matter 
which way you look at it, AkASa could have come only from one source.

I can only conclude that in the ISAvAsya case, this question about "tena" 
vs. the non-existent "etena" is mere quibbling?

"-- bhuJNjithA usually means enjoy. Does it also mean protect (as given in 
the translation by svAmi gaMbhIrAnandaji)? Can someone give the root word 
and the derivation?"

The root is the verbal root bhuj, from which one gets such words as bhojana, 
bhukti etc. bhunjIthAH is the second person, imperative mood form of the 
verb. By the way, translating bhuj merely as "to eat or to enjoy," misses 
some of the range of the meaning of the root verb. It can better be 
understood as "to experience the results of." For example, when referring to 
the fruits of karma, good or bad, the verb used would be a form of bhuj. In 
this sense, one "enjoys" the results of sinful or prohibited acts as much as 
one "enjoys" the fruits of meritorious deeds.

Swami Gambhirananda is following Sankara in his translation. The bhAshya 
says, "bhunjIthAH pAlayethAH."

Going back to the dictionary, bhuj also carries the meanings of "to govern, 
rule, take possession of". It is in this sense that Sankara explains it with 
reference to the verb root pAl. The idea is - ISAvAsya asks one to regulate, 
govern one's life according to the understanding that leads to tyAga.

I hope this answers all the basic questions about this bhAshya.

Best regards,

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