[Advaita-l] NOTES ON MANDUKYA UPANISHAT AND KARIKA - INTRODUCTION -1.
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 8 21:54:47 CST 2006
NOTES ON MANDUKYA UPNISHAD AND KARIKA
Introduction: This notes is prepared as a part of my learning process.
I had the benefit of listening to Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandajis
discourses on MAnDUkya UpaniShad during several spiritual camps. I was
also benefited by the discourses by H.H. Swamini Sarada Priyanandaji and
H.H. Swami Shantaanandaji, both from Chinmaya Mission, and H.H. Swami
Paramaarthanandaji, of Chennai. All the teachings are primarily based
on Shankara bhAShya. As usual, I am propelled to put my understanding
in writing in the form of notes as a part of my mananam and
nidhidhyAsanam. This is not a commentary on the upaniShad, but is only
a notes based on my understanding. If this writings help others, it is
a blessing indeed. Since advaita Vedanta speaks for itself, and has
been doing so for many centuries, I have no intention or inclination to
convince anyone else of Advaita. I have no intension of getting into any
debates or extensive discussions on the interpretation of the upaniShad,
neither I have interest in polemical arguments. MAnDUkya analyzes about
the self, I am, which is of the nature of existence and consciousness.
That I am existent and that I am conscious are beyond any pramANa or
means of knowledge, since my existence is prerequisite before any
pramANa can be validated. It only presents the nature of that existence
and consciousness, in relation to waking, dream and deep sleep worlds,
using shRiti pramANa. It also addresses the Omkaara praNava mantra as
symbolic representation of that truth.
I consider the MAnDUkya UpaniShad is one of the most comprehensive
scientific analyses of human experience taking into consideration
complete set of data involving three states of experiences; waking,
dream and deep sleep states. At the same time, it redirects our
attention to the truth underlying all the three states, the truth that
forms a substantive for the experiencer, experienced and experiencing,
in all the three states. In the following, I have provided an extensive
background analyzing some of the issues that are dealt within the
UpaniShad and kArika. Study of this text again and again would help in
assimilating and owning the knowledge in the light of which all wrong
notions about oneself, Iswara, and the world will be unceremoniously
dropped by the understanding of the underlying truth.
With prostrations to my teacher H.H. Swami Chinmayanandaji who
literarily lifted me out of my confused state, to my mother who taught
me how to be human by her own example, and to my father who showed me
the importance of knowledge, I undertake this study. I am following
ITRNS scheme for transliteration.
sadAshiva samArambhAm shankarAchArya madhyamAm
asmdAchArya paryantAm vande guruparamparAm||
Ananda sAndram amalairnidhAnam|
shree chinmayAnanda guropraNItam
sadA bhajeham tava pAda pankajam||
MAnDUkya upaniShad is one of the shortest upanishad involving only 12
mantra-s but is considered as one of the most scientific and profound
upanishad revealing the truth. Vedanta itself glorifies the mAnDUkya
UpaniShad as one of the most important upaniShad. It is said in
muktikOpaniShad that mAnDUkya upaniShad alone is sufficient for a seeker
to reach liberation (mAnDUkyam ekam kevalam mumuxUnAm vimuktayE).
In science, any theory that is based on partial data will not be
accepted as valid theory and will be treated as incomplete at best, if
not speculative. Similarly, any philosophy that is based on one third
of human experience ignoring the other two thirds will not be considered
as a valid philosophy and will be treated as hypothetical at best. Here
in this upaniShad, complete human experience or data consisting of not
only the waking state, but also dream and deep sleep states are
systematically analyzed to arrive at the truth of the total human
experience. Like any scientific theory, upaniShad presents the truth of
the experience in a very cryptic style using Vedic language. Unraveling
the truth expounded in the upaniShad requires an extensive analysis and
deep understanding. GoudapAda, the grand teacher of Adi Shankara,
recognizing the importance of the upaniShad, has written exhaustive
kArikas or gloss on the upaniShadic mantras. Shankara recognizing the
importance of both the upaniShad and the kArikas has written bhAShya or
commentary on both. Post Shankara advaitic masters have also written
notes on Shankara BhAShya. Thus, we have an extensive literature
explaining the upanishadic mantras. Although the upaniShad is very
short, the associated literature is extensive. To appreciate the depth
of the analysis involved, I present below some of the epistemological
issues that are involved in analyzing the truth of our experience.
Understanding of these issues would help in understanding the upaniShad.
I have presented the issues from my own perspective, without getting
into dialectic arguments. Note that all of the issues discussed here
are addressed in the upaniShad and the kArikas in one form or the other.
Many of questions that arise while studying these notes will be slowly
answered as we study together the upaniShad and kArika.
Pramaa means knowledge. It is usually translated as valid knowledge,
even though there is slight redundancy in the term valid knowledge,
since invalid knowledge is not knowledge at all, and knowledge cannot be
invalidated. What is knowledge? Interestingly, the knowledge itself is
indefinable. When someone says I have knowledge, he only means that he
has the knowledge of
of an object, physical or conceptual, rather
than knowledge by itself. Thus, what we are normally familiar in terms
of knowledge is always with reference to an objective knowledge or
knowledge of an object, real or imagined. For an objective knowledge to
take place, we need a means since object of knowledge is different from
the knower, the subject. We need to establish a connection between the
subject and the object, for knowledge to take place. This means is
called pramaaNa. PramaaNa depends on the prameya, the object of
knowledge that is to be known. Specificity of a pramaaNa depends on the
nature of the object. A typical example is eyes are pramaaNa for
seeing forms and colors. Similarly, ears are pramaaNa to know the
sounds. Here, specificity is obvious, since eyes cannot hear and ears
cannot see. Thus in any objective knowledge, we have three components
that are involved pramAta, the subject, prameya, the object of
knowledge, and pramaaNa, the means of knowing. When all the three are
conducive then, pramaa, the knowledge of an object takes place.
Normally, valid knowledge is defined as that which cannot be negated.
That which is taken as knowledge but is negated subsequently is defined
as bhramaa, invalid knowledge, rather than pramaa. Various schools of
thought have provided different definitions for pramaa and bhramaa,
which are compatible with their own theories. The disagreements in the
definitions itself indicate that there is an inherent ambiguity in
defining an object. Defining an object involves knowing the object.
Just as we stated that knowledge could not be defined, we note that
the object also cannot be defined, in an absolute sense independent of a
reference state. Any knowledge relative to a reference is only a
relative knowledge and not an absolute knowledge. The objective
knowledge can only be a relative knowledge, even if one claims that it
is a valid knowledge. Therefore, it is relatively valid knowledge. The
relativity depends on several factors including the utility of the
object defined, and as we shall see later, it depends on the relative
state of experience, waking, dream or deep sleep state. At present, we
emphasize the fact that fundamentally object cannot be known absolutely.
To appreciate this fact, one has to examine carefully the mechanics of
the knowing process.
Briefly, any object is known only through its attributes or qualities.
Therefore, any object is defined only by its attributes. More specific
the attributes are more precise will be the definition of an object.
Hence, any definition of an object involves precise definition of its
attributes. An unambiguous definition of an object should be such that
it should differentiate the object from all other objects in the
universe. The differentiation from all other objects again is based on
the attributes of that object that should differ from those of the other
objects that are being differentiated. Corollary of this is that
attributes themselves are defined as the distinguishing features, which
differ from distinguishing features from other objects in the creation.
These distinguishing features could be incidental qualifications
(taTAsta) or inherent qualifications (swAbhAvika). Incidental
qualification is like indicating Johns house from the rest of the
houses around, which all look alike from a distance, by pointing a crow
sitting on its roof.
We can further differentiate the inherent qualifications as two types:
those that are necessary (swAbhAvika laxaNa) and those that are
necessary and sufficient (swarUpa laxaNa). (In my recent discussions
with Swami ParamArthanandaji, he mentioned that such kind of distinction
has not been done before, but agreed that it should be done. He
suggested to use the term swarUpa for the necessary qualification and
the term swarUpa laxaNa for necessary and sufficient qualification.
Here I am using swAbhAvika and swarUpa terms for each, since both may be
laxaNas). To illustrate the difference, let us take an example of
sugar. The example for necessary qualification is sweetness of sugar.
It is an inherent qualification or necessary qualification, since if it
is sugar it necessarily has to be sweet. If it is not sweet, it may
look like sugar but is not sugar. However, sweetness is not a
sufficient qualification to define sugar. For it to be sufficient
qualification, a converse statement should be valid. That is, if some
thing is sweet, it must be sugar. However, we know that if some thing
is sweet it need not be sugar. It can be, for example, aspartame or
more popularly knows as Equal. Necessary and sufficient qualification
provides a more rigorous definition for an object. For a qualification
to be necessary and sufficient, the converse statement has to be
applicable. The necessary and sufficient qualification becomes its
swaruupa laxaNa. For sugar, the swaruupa lakshaNa is not sweetness but
C6H12O6. If we say, it is C6H12O6 it has to be sugar. Similarly H2O is
for water. Conversely, if it is sugar, it has to be C6H12O6. Thus,
C6H12O6 becomes swarUpa laxaNa for sugar. Similarly, sat chit ananda
are not attributes of the Brahman but they are swaruupa laxaNas. Vedas
define Brahman beautifully in the statement prajnAnam brahma -
consciousness is Brahman. Vedas do not say Brahman is consciousness
then consciousness would only become a necessary but not sufficient
qualification. However, by putting in the converse form consciousness
is Brahman, it categorically mandates that it is not only a necessary
but sufficient qualification to define Brahman. Hence, the statement
consciousness is Brahman implies that consciousness becomes swaruupa
lakshaNa for Brahman. The implication is very profound. It implies
that if there is a conscious entity, then it has to be Brahman, and no
two ways about it. We have preconceived notion that consciousness is
inside us or inside our body without recognizing that consciousness has
to be infinite and therefore the bodies are inside the consciousness. It
is like space. Space is indivisible yet we divide for the purpose of
transactions that this is my house and that is your house, and I do not
have enough space in my house, etc. Yet space cannot be divided and
even the apparent dividers are in space. Consciousness is even subtler
than space and thus it pervades the space too. By defining, that
consciousness is Brahman (infiniteness), Vedas declare that
consciousness alone exists and it is its swaruupa laxaNa. In addition,
Brahman being infiniteness or limitlessness it is also Ananda swarUpa or
full of bliss since any limitation causes sorrow. Since we are
discussing about ever-existent Brahman, sat swarUpa also follows, since
that which is nityam or eternal must be satyam. Hence, sat-chit-ananda
are not attributes of Brahman but they are indicators of the intrinsic
nature or swarUpa lakshaNa of Brahman. Here sat is chit, chit is
Ananda, and all three are swaruupa laxaNa for Brahman. Vedanta provides
the definitions in converse form satyam, jnaanam, anantam brahma or
sat chit Anandam brahma to insure that they are indeed necessary and
sufficient qualifications or swarUpa laxaNas for Brahman. Hence, they
are not attributes of Brahman.
I am forced to limit each posting so that it is easily readable. I will
provide some gap before I post the continuation of this.
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