[Advaita-l] Sankara commentary for Chandogya Upanishad

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Mar 30 06:06:36 CDT 2011

On Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 11:21 AM, Venkatesh Murthy <vmurthy36 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Namaste
> What is Sankara's opinion regarding this Chandogya Upanishad Mantra
> 8:12 3? Kindly explain with analysis.


This is the translation of the mantra 8.12.3:

//"So does this serene Being, arising from this body and reaching  the
Highest Light, appear in His own form. In that state He is  the Highest
Person. *There He moves about, laughing, playing,  rejoicing—be it with
women, chariots, or relatives,* never  thinking of the body into which he
was born.  "As an animal is attached to a cart, so is the prana (i.e. the
conscious self) attached to the body.  //

The purport of the mantra pertaining to the highlighted portion, according
to the Acharya is brought out by Anandagiri in the gloss:
किमिति निर्गुणविद्याप्रकरणे विदुषि सत्यकामसंबन्धवचनम् ?
How is it that in the context of nirguNa jnAnam there is the mention (in the
Shruti) about the connection with 'satyakAma', etc. (which pertains to the
saguNa Brahman)?

तत्राह - For this (hypothetical) question, the BhAShyam replies:

इत्यात्मज्ञानेति । (भष्यवाक्यम् -) इत्यात्मज्ञानस्तुतये निर्दिश्यन्ते अतः
साधु एतद्विशिनष्टि -* य एते ब्रह्मलोक* इति ।
// But those true mental desires covered by falsehood, which are perceived
by those whose faults have been eradicated and whose desires have been
removed, become united with one who had become identified with all, because
of their having been revealed by enlightenment.  *In this way they are
pointed out for the eulogy of the knowledge of the Self*.// Unquote

Thus, according to the Acharya, the mention of enjoyment, etc. in the
shruti  is a 'stuti' of AtmavidyA.  The mantra quoted by the Acharya in the
above bhashyam is taken from 8.12.5: * य एते ब्रह्मलोके.
* // He who is aware of the thought: ‘Let me think this,’ he is the  Self;
the mind is his divine eye. He, the Self sees all these  desires in the
World of Brahman through the divine eye, the  mind and rejoices. //

This mantra is about saguNa Brahman. On the strength of this mantra,
Shankaracharya establishes that the Atma jnAna is eulogised by mantra 8.12.3
by alluding to the enjoyment of the saguNa brahman as being a part of/
connected to the Atma jnAni.

An  interpretation to another related sentence of the BhAShyam is given by
another commentator, अभिनवनारायणानन्देन्द्रसरस्वती thus: यद्वा ब्रह्मैव लोको
ब्रह्मलोकः अतस्सर्वेषां कामानां ब्रह्मण्येव विद्यमानत्वात्
सार्वात्म्यविवक्षया ब्रह्मलोकविशेषणम् वक्ष्यमाणमुपपद्यते इति अर्थान्तरमाह -
यत्रेति ।

The BhaaShya vaakyam related here is: यत्र क्वचन भवन्तोऽपि ब्रह्मण्येव हि ते
लोके भवन्तीति सर्वात्मत्त्वाद्ब्रह्मण उच्यन्ते ।
//Since Brahman is identified with everything, therefore, wherever they
(enjoyments) may be, they are said to be in the world of Brahman. //

The conclusion of the above study is:

   - The alluding to enjoyments in the case of AtmajnAni is only an eulogy,
   stuti  of AtmajnAna.
   - Such enjoyments may or may not be there to an exalted being, owing to
   one's karma.
   - These enjoyments belong to a superior loka, like Brahma loka.
   - An AtmajnAni too can have such enjoyments owing to prArabdha of/by
   acquiring appropriate superior bodies
   - All enjoyments of all beings in the creation are only manifestations of
   the Supreme Joy of/that is Brahman.
   - So the enjoyments mentioned in the above mantra need not be physically
   experienced by the jnani but theoretically appropriated/attributed to him on
   the above logic.
   - The above referred   second gloss gives another useful upapatti in this
   connection:  It is reasonable to attribute all joys such as referred in this
   mantra since joy is verily the svarUpa of Atman.  However, since duHkha is
   maayika and since it is sublated/destroyed owing to Atma jnanam, there is no
   attributing of this to the Jnani.
   - In the SrImadbhAgavatam there is the mention of Chitraketu having
   attained jnanam traversing  with celestial women.  See here for a detailed
   account of the episode:
   - See here for the earlier life of Chitraketu:


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