[Advaita-l] Who is The 'Uttama Purusha' ?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Jan 29 12:37:50 CST 2015

A correction:

In this article the name Swami Madhavananda is to be replaced by Swami
Gambhirananda (with reference to the Chandogya bhashyam).

Error regretted.

On Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 5:34 PM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>

> The term 'Purushottama' is very familiar for those who are versed in the
> Bhagavadgita.  It occurs in the famous 15th chapter, verily called by that
> name therein.  From the concluding verses and the bhāṣyam of that chapter
> it would be clear that the Purushottama Tattva is not any different from
> the Turiya of the Māṇḍūkya Upanishad.  There, in that upanishad, the Turiya
> or Chaturtham, is described in the seventh mantra, as that which is
> transcending the other three pādas - the two kārya pādas namely the waking
> and the dream worlds along with the bhokta jiva there, and the one kāraṇa
> pāda that is the sleep state.  In their cosmic form the three entities in
> these pādas are termed 'virāṭ, hiraṇyagarbha and Īśwara'.  The Turiya is
> beyond the duality of kārya and kāraṇa, completely unconnected with
> samsāra.  It is by the direct realization, aparokṣa jnāṇam, of this Turiya
> as oneself does one attain liberation.  The seventh mantra there says; sa
> ātmā sa vijneyaḥ' = this is the Self which has to be realized.
> The BG 15th chapter too specifies the Purushottama as transcending the
> kṣara and akṣara states which are the kārya and kāraṇa tattvas.  At the
> penultimate verse, no.19, we have:
> यो मामेवमसंमूढो जानाति पुरुषोत्तमम् ।
> स सर्वविद्भजति मां सर्वभावेन भारत ॥ १९ ॥
> यः माम् ईश्वरं यथोक्तविशेषणम् एवं यथोक्तेन प्रकारेण असंमूढः संमोहवर्जितः
> सन् *जानाति **‘**अयम् अहम् अस्मि**’ **इति पुरुषोत्तमं* सः सर्ववित् सर्वात्मना
> सर्वं वेत्तीति सर्वज्ञः सर्वभूतस्थं भजति मां सर्वभावेन सर्वात्मतया हे
> भारत ॥
> English translation by Swami Gambhirananda
> 15.19 O scion of the Bharata dynasty, he who, being free from delusion,
> knows Me the supreme Person thus, he is all-knowing and adores Me with his
> whole being.
> Commentary, in part, of Shankara:
> 15.19 Bharata, O scion of the Bharata dynasty; yah, he who; asammūḍhaḥ,
> being free from delusion; jānāti, knows; mam, Me, God, having the aforesaid
> qualifications; purusottamam, the supreme Person; evam, thus, in the way
> described, as *'I am this One'; *sah, he; is sarva-vit, all-knowing- he
> knows everything through self-identification with all-, i.e. (he becomes)
> omniscient; and bhajati, adores; mām, Me, existing in all things;
> sarva-bhāvena, with his whole being, i.e. with his mind fixed on Me as the
> Self of all..
> This underlined part is the stamp of Advaita Nirguna Brahman that Shankara
> never fails to impress in his commentary to such verses/statements, whether
> it is the BG or the Upanishads.  The  realization in the form of 'I am this
> (Purushottama/Vāsudeva)' is the liberating knowledge, otherwise popular as
> 'aham brahma asmi'.  This knowledge that one is not the finite samsārin
> with body-mind complex and the attendant miseries of bondage but the
> Infinite upādhi-free Supreme Consciousness that is ever liberated, never
> bound - is the one that Vedanta teaches according to Advaita.
> Shankara confirms the above, by even explicitly referring to his own BG
> Bhāṣya, in the Chandogya Upanishad bhāṣya 8.12.3:
> इत्येवंप्रकारं प्रजापतिनेव मघवान् यथोक्तेन क्रमेण 'नासि त्वं देहेन्द्रियादिधर्मा
> तत्त्वमसीति' प्रतिबोधितः सन् स एष सम्प्रसादो जीवोऽस्माच्छरीरादाकाशादिव
> वाय्वादयः समुत्थाय देहादिविलक्षणमात्मनो रूपमवगम्य देहात्मभावनां
> हित्वेत्येतत्, स्वेन रूपेण सदात्मनैवाभिनिष्पद्यत इति व्याख्यातं पुरस्तात्
> । स येन स्वेन रूपेण सम्प्रसादोऽभिनिष्पद्यते — *प्राक्प्रतिबोधात्
> तद्भ्रान्तिनिमित्तात्सर्पो भवति यथा रज्जुः**, **पश्चात्कृतप्रकाशा
> रज्ज्वात्मना स्वेन रूपेणाभिनिष्पद्यते**, **एवं च स* *उत्तमपुरुषः
> उत्तमश्चासौ पुरुषश्चेत्युत्तमपुरुषः स एव उत्तमपुरुषः ।* अक्षिस्वप्नपुरुषौ
> व्यक्तौ अव्यक्तश्च सुषुप्तः समस्तः सम्प्रसन्नः अशरीरश्च स्वेन रूपेणेति ।
> एषामेव स्वेन रूपेणावस्थितः क्षराक्षरौ व्याकृताव्याकृतावपेक्ष्य
> उत्तमपुरुषः ; *कृतनिर्वचनो हि अयं गीतासु* ।
> In this crucial bhāṣhya passage Shankara never teaches the Uttamapuruṣa
> (Puruṣottama of the BG 15th ch.) as any deity by whatever name but the very
> nature of the j'iva divested of all upādhis:
> (translation of Swami Mādhavānanda p.658 Advaita Āśrama publication):
> //Just as Indra was enlightened by Prajāpati through the process stated
> before, (so) when *eṣaḥ samprasādaḥ*, this tranquil one  is enlightened
> by the instruction., 'Thou art not possessed of the qualities of the body
> and the organs, but thou art That'; then that tranquil one, the individual
> soul,* samutthāya*, after rising up; *asmāt śarīrāt*, from this body,
> like wind from the sky, having understood his true nature as different from
> the body etc., i.e. having given up the idea of the body as the Self;
> *abhiniṣpadyate*, becomes established, *svena rūpeṇa*, in his own true
> nature, as Existence which is his own Self.  This has been explained before
> (Ch.up.7.12.1)
> As before one's enlightenment a rope becomes a snake owing to error, (but)
> after being revealed it becomes established in its true nature as the rope,
> similarly *saḥ*, he - the real nature in which the tranquil one becomes
> established -, is the *uttamaḥ puruṣaḥ*, supreme Person.  He who is
> *uttamaḥ*, the highest and also* puruṣaḥ*, the Puruṣa, is the supreme
> Person, who Himself becomes manifest as the Persons in the eye and in
> dream, (but) in deep-sleep remains unmanifest, and has His organs fully
> withdrawn, and who, again, in His true nature is tranquil and unembodied.
> Of these, this one who is established in His own nature is the highest
> Person as compared with the perishable and the imperishable, the manifest
> and the unmanifest,.  This has indeed been clearly stated in the Bh.Gitā
> 15th ch.16-18 verses.) //
> One can easily see that in the above bhāṣyam Shankara has taught that the
> Chandogya Upanishad teaching of the mahāvākya culminates in the jiva
> realizing his true state as Purushottama.  Shankara nowhere teaches this
> uttama puruṣa to be any deity called by any name. The Purushottama is also
> not any person. He also rightly shows the correspondence of this shruti
> passage with the Bh.Gita 15th chapter verses.  One can also recognize the
> similarity with the Māṇḍūkya teaching too.  What is noteworthy is the
> specification by Shankara in the BGB 15.19 the mode of realization as 'I am
> this one' (I am He) in the manner of 'I am Vāsudevaḥ' which is also the
> same with the Chandogya Upanishad teaching of *tattvamasi* and the above
> cited *uttama puruṣa* as the true nature of the jiva.  It would also be
> pertinent to note two Vishnupurāṇa verses Shankara cites in the Vishnu
> sahasranāma bhāṣya introduction:
> *सकलमिदमहं च* *वासुदेवः*
>      *परमपुमान्*परमेश्वरः स एकः ।
> इति मतिरचला भवत्यनन्ते
>      हृदयगते व्रज तान्विहाय दूरात् ॥ 3.7.32 ||
> ['All this including me is nothing but Vāsudeva, the supreme Person
> (uttama puruṣaḥ), the supreme Ishwara, One alone.'  He who has fixed his
> mind thus in the Infinite Brahman that is established in his heart ('yo
> veda nihitam guhāyām parame vyoman' of the Taittiriya which teaches that
> the Supreme has to be realized in the heart) -  will never be touched by
> death, samsāra).
> Shankara cites another verse from the same Vishnupurāṇa in that
> introduction, a little later:
> *अहं हरिः सर्वमिदं जनार्द्दनो* नान्यत् ततः कारणकार्य्यजातम् ।
> ईदृङूमनो यस्य न तस्य भूयो भवोद्भवा द्वन्द्वगदा भवन्ति ।। 1.22.86 ।।
> ('I am Hari, all this (universe) is Janārdana, there is none other than
> Him as cause-effect combine.  He who has thus realized will never be caught
> in samsāra.)  Here too one can note the Māṇḍūkya scheme of 'cause-effect
> dual’ which consists of the manifest (kṣara) and the unmanifest (akṣara).
> The BG 15th chapter 'Purushottama' is also reflected here in the word
> 'parama pumān' in the first cited verse.
> The above study establishes that the 'Purushottama' of the BG 15th ch.,
> the Turiya of the Mandukya, the uttama purusha of the Chandogya, the
> Vāsudeva, Hari and Janārdana of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa are all none other than
> the true nature of the jiva/jagat which is Nirguna Brahman and never any
> deity or person unlike what is generally assumed by those who have no
> initiation into the Vedānta.  Shankara has left the typical Advaitin's
> mark, 'I am He', in all these above cited references.
> Om Tat Sat

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