[Advaita-l] vidyA in the chhaandOgyOpanishhad

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Aug 21 22:22:15 CDT 2007

On Fri, 17 Aug 2007, Guy Werlings wrote:

> sarvebhyo namaH |
> Here is one more question from the confused Frenchie: in the well known 
> passages of the famous chhaandOgyOpanishhad known as sadvidyA (VI.8.1), 
> bhUmavidyA (VII.12.1 - VII.13.1), daharavidyA (VIII.3.2), 
> samprasAdavidyA (VIII.11.1), does the word vidyA has the usual meaning 
> of "knowledge" ( M-W: f. knowledge (cf. %{kAla-jAta-v-}) , science , 
> learning , scholarship , philosophy RV. &c. &c. - any knowledge whether 
> true or false).
> Although I cannot provide more accurate reference, I have read or heard 
> or maybe just "remember" that some translators or commentators would 
> have hinted that in the above context vidyA would as a fact mean 
> meditation "upAsana(?)".

Yes vidya in this sense means upasana.

> Is sadvidyA knowledge of Being or meditation upon Being?

More accurately I would say existence and non-existence.

> Is samprasAdavidyA knowledge or meditation upon the soul during deep 
> sleep ChUp. MBh. &c. (M-W.)?

It describes how the atma during the peace of the deep sleep state issues 
forth from the body and takes up its true form as the highest light 
(paramajyoti)  He who knows the highest light as the true self not the 
body and also not the nothingness of deep sleep acheives all worlds and 
all desires. (Or to link to another current discussion, all artha and all 

> In the Sanskrit-French dictionary of Mr Gérard Huet, mainly based upon 
> M-W as far as I can see, upAsana in addition of the sense of meditation 
> is said to carry the meaning of knowledge. True or not?

An Upasana can be employed in one of three ways.

1. As an accessory to karma for its proper completion.

2. As a symbolic mental version of the rite (but this doesn't make it any
    less a type of karma.)

3. As a meditation on saguna or nirguna Brahman.

In the third form it can be considered as knowledge (jnana.)

> Has SrI BhagavadpAda said something in his bhAshhya-s as to this point?

All of brahmasutra 3.3 is concerned with various aspects of upasana and 
in his Bhashya, Shankaracharya discusses several of the vidyas inter alia.

There is a small book from the Adyar Library by K. Narayanaswami Iyer 
called "The 32 vidyas" which discusses the subject.  It is marred a little 
by Theosophical nonsense but is the only treatment of vidyas that I know 

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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