Mandukya Upanishad is the Smallest Among the Ten Principal Upanishads

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  • 8/10/2019 Mandukya Upanishad is the Smallest Among the Ten Principal Upanishads


    Mandukya Upanishad is the smallest among the ten principal Upanishads. Thoughbeing smallest in size it is highest in philosophy and deals with the subject of PureConsciousness directly. Mandukya Karika of Gaudapadacharya is a famouscommentary on this Upanishad. The great Adi Shankaracharya has written hiscommentary (Bhashya) on Mandukya Upanishad and Mandukya Karika. There is further

    explanatory commentary (Tika) by Anandagiri on Shankaracharya's Bhashya.

    We present here the notes taken from the audio talks by Revered RamananadaSaraswati and Revered Ranganathanadnaji Maharaj on Mandukya Upanishad. Thetalks by Revered Ramananda Saraswati also take into consideration the BhashyaofShankaracharya and the Tikaof Anandagiri.

    (The upanishad and its commentary being in sanskrit, many sanskrit terms areinevitable while discussing them. Appropriate english translations are providedwherever possible. The original text for the Upanishad and the Karika can bedownloaded


    Chapter I

    Chapter II

    Chapter IIIChapter IV


    Mandukyopanishad is the essence of Vedanta (vedantartha-sarasamgrahabhutam) as itdoes two important things: analyzing the three states of consciousness with the view of

    making it means to transcend them and it looks deeper into the problem of causality.

    -Vedantartha-sarasamgrahabhutamJiva(Individual soul) andBrahman (Infinite Reality) are identical. This is the essence of Vedanta. This is to be

    firmly established in the intellect (heart) of the spiritual aspirant ( -

    samgraha - samyaka grahana).

    Mangalacharan (Opening verse invoking Auspiciousness):

    (1) In Brahman the waking experiences or waking world (sthan or sphere of

    activity) are imagined and hence the corrosponding entity having waking experiences

    (sthani) is also imagined.

    i.e. for waking state: sthanis Virat and sthaniis Vishwa;dream

    state: sthanis : Hiranyagarbhaand sthaniis :Taijasa;

    deep sleep state: sthanis : Ishwaraand sthaniis :Praajna;
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    This is called Adhyaropa(superimposition) and it begins with TaPadartha (That in the statement That Thou Art). ThusAdhyaropastarts with Tator

    Brahman. This is also referred as Vidhimukha.

    In waking and dream experiences, our relationship with objects of experience is one ofknowledge only and no other relationship can be established. We merely reveal them(or become conscious of them) by the light of Atman. In other words attachment andhatred for objects is merely an imagined idea.(Atman and Brahman are same. Reality behind the world is generally termed asBrahman while the same Reality behind individual soul is termed Atman.)

    Even Ishwara(God or sum total of all beings) is imagined in Brahman.

    This first mangalacharanverse can be considered as salutations to the supreme-transcendent (Para) Brahman.

    (2) In this verse the Apavaad (de-superimposition) is mentioned which beginswith Tvam Padartha(Thou in the statement That Thou Art). ThusApavaadstarts

    with Tvamor individual soul (Jiva). This is also referred as Nishedhmukha.

    In this verse it is established that the individual transmigrating soul is non-different thanthe supreme Reality.

    This second mangalacharan verse can be considered as salutations to the IshwaraorGuru (AparaBrahman).

    Thus in these two invocatory verses, the fact of identity of Jivaand Brahman is firmlyestablished in the intellect of the spiritual aspirant from two different aspects. (In first -starting from Bramhan the process of world and Jivais explained to be imaginations inBrahman. In second starting fromJiva the absolute identity of Jiva and Brahman isexplained.)

    After a single days quota of waking experiences is exhausted, the dream statemanifests in the same Brahman.

    The use of terms Sutratmaand Hiranyagarbhafor cosmic subtle body is

    according to the importance given to either Prana (vital force)or :Buddhi(intellect or heart) respectively.

    When the Atman (Self) is referred as Satchidananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss), our intellect cant grasp it because our concepts aboutourselves and objects are always conditioned and we understand onlyconditioned being, conditioned consciousness, & conditioned bliss but not the

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    substratum which is simple & unconditioned.

    A gap (opening), as it were, is created in the homogeneous-

    undivided Satchidanandaby the stirring up of I and then between I (aham) andThis (idam) there is space for the entire phenomenal universe to manifest!

    When the eyes of the waking state are closed we see the dream world with theeyes of the dream state. Similarly our knowledge eye is closed and hence wesee the waking world. If by the grace of God our knowledge eye is opened andwe realize our true nature, we would then experience everything as our own Self.(i.e. all the things and entities experienced are mySelf.)

    Agama (Vedic scriptures) mention three types of desires: 1.

    Kama Vasana (desire of sexual enjoyment) resulting from the fickleness

    of Buddhi(intellect), 2. Karma Vasana(desire of work) resulting from

    the dullness of intellect, and 3. Aparadha Vasana (lack of faith inscriptures) resulting from the subtleness of intellect thus causing it to

    dominate Shraddha(faith). A person can realize truth if he is devoidof Karma VasanaandAparadh Vasanabut has little of Kama Vasana, as in thecase of King Janaka. But such is not an ideal for a spiritual aspirant.

    Dream experiences are negated in waking but waking experiences are notnegated in dream, they are negated only when Truth is realized. Dream is basedon the ignorance of the waking state and waking state is based on the ignoranceof the Self.

    Chapter I AgamaPrakaran (Chapter on Vedic Texts)

    (1) And (2)

    Abhidhan i.e. Vachak(NameWord)

    Abhidheya i.e. Vachya(FormMeaning of word)

    Some Vaishnavasinterpret the meaning of first two verses of Mandukya asbelow:

    A Aniruddha Vishwarupa

    U Praddyumna Taijasarupa

    M Sankarshan Praajnarupa

    Vasudev TuriyarupaThey consider that, considering the meaning of 'AUM' mentioned above, these
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    verses describe a spiritual technique. But this is not the expected meaning

    of Shruti (Upanishad). Here the chapter is about knowledge (Jnana)and shrutiwants to establish the aspirant in his/her real nature throughknowledge and enquiry. No technique or process, as such, is being describedhere.

    (3) :BahishprajnahThe senses are outer as compared to the mind hencethe term Bahishprajna, though the Prajnaa(consciousness) iswithin. Consciousness of waking state is called Vishwa.

    (4) ::AntahprajnahThe mind is inner as compared to the senses hencethe termAntahprajna, though the Prajnaa(consciousness) iswithin. Consciousness of dream state is called Taijasa.

    (5) :Prajnah :Prakarshena Janati iti Prajnah

    :Praajnah: :Prajnah ava Praajnah (deep sleepconsciousness)


    Sarvakalikatva& Sarvavishayitva (withrespect to waking and dream, all knowledge is unified in deepsleep)

    In deep sleep we are united with the Sat(Pure Being) aspect of theReality but we do not comprehend it due to ignorance.

    :Ekibhutah In deep sleep the mind-made duality of waking and dreamstates is unified (Ekibhutah). The duality is not destroyed but isnot experienced because no instrument of discrimination isavailable in that state. It is just as we cant locate things incomplete darkness, things are as if unified in darkness.

    Prajnaanghana mass of consciousness, similar to aboveexplationation of Ekibhutah, everything is covered with darkness.

    :Aanandamayah The oscillation of mind as subject-object duality inwaking and dream states results in exhaustion of mind. This is notexperienced in deep sleep; and hence we derive bliss from deepsleep. The termAanandamayah(full of bliss) indicates the same.But this is not the bliss of the Atman (Self) neither is it anymodification of the Self.

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    AanandabhukEffortless bliss.

    :ChetomukhahPraajnais the doorway (cause)for Vishwaand Taijasa(effects).

    Hence Chetomukhah. OR

    Vishwaand Taijasaare the doorwaysfor Praajnahence Chetomukhah.

    (6) Na Etasmat Jatyantar Bhutonyesham Eva In Samkhyaand Yogaphilosophy Ishwara is different fromJiva as they believe

    in Purushaand Prakriti. Ishwarais Purusha-Vishesha(special type of

    soul) while Pradhana is the Upadana Karana (material cause). In

    case of Naiyayikasalso Ishwarais Tatastha and only the NimittaKarana(efficient cause) not the Upadana Karana(material cause). But inVedanta Ishwarabeing the Nimitta as well as theUpadana Karana, is non-different from Jiva. Praajnaitself

    is Ishwara. Upadhipradhanta (consciousness under the control of

    limiting adjuncts) is JivawhileChaitanyapradhanta(consciousnessin control of limiting adjuncts) is Ishwara.

    In the context of sadev somya idam agrasita

    (Chhandogya Upanishad), the verse :pranabandhanam

    hi somya manah uses the word:manah to refer to

    the Jivatma while the word :pranah points

    toParmatma orSadbrahma. The aspect of Brahman referred

    bypranah is Sadbrahma or Shabalabrahma andnot theunborn, absolute Brahman. This Sadbrahmaor Shabalbrahmais the seed(cause) for creation of Jivas. To refer the Absolute Brahman,shrutisays

    : :aksharaatparatah parah i.e.:parah(superior)

    than :Aksharah(unchangable), Avyakrit(unmanifested), Sabij (cau

    sal), Shabalabrahma(potential) etc. Similarly in the shrutiverse :sabahyabhyantaro hyajah,the absolute, unborn Brahman is referred as

    the substratum of cause (:abhyantarah) and effect (:bahyah).

    Paravani (source of speech) = Brahman (absolute Truth)

    Pashyanti (causal speech) = Avyakrutatma/Ishwara

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    (undifferentiated self/cosmic causal body)

    Madhyama(subtle speech) = Hiranyagarbha (cosmic subtlebody)

    Vaikhari (gross speech) = Virat (cosmic gross


    In waking state, the oscillation of mind is in the form of perception throughsenses and in dream it is of the form of desire-laden memory. In deep sleeposcillation of mind is absent and mind with senses is absorbed inprana(vital

    forces). The Jivathen resides in the Hridayakasha(space of heart).Perception and memory are forms of thought, in the absence of which, the seerremains indistinguishably in the form of Praajna in the heart alone.

    (7) -Shabda-Pravritti(causes of word):

    Jati (species) e.g. cow, dog etc.

    Guna(quality) e.g. loving, angry, intelligent, artistic etc.

    Kriya(action) e.g. reader, farmer etc.

    Sambandha(relation) e.g. princely-man, father-son etc.

    Rudhi(custom) e.g.pankajfor lotus flower

    Turiya(transcendental consciousness) is characterized as:

    - --shabda-pravritti-nimitta-shunya

    (devoid of any cause for word to arise)

    visheshpratishedhenaiva (negation of all specific attributes)

    :na antahprajnam (negation of Taijasai.e. dream state)

    na bahishprajnam (negation of Vishwai.e. waking state)

    :na ubhayatahprajnam (negation of interval between dream andwaking)

    na prajnanaghanam (negation of Praajnai.e. deep sleep state)

    na prajnam (negation of sakshii.e. witnessconsciousness)

    na aprajnam (negation of inertness)

    adrishtam (ungraspable by senses of perception)

    avyavaharyam (devoid of empirical dealings as it isungraspable)

    agrahyam (ungraspable by senses of action)

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    alakshanam (can not be pointed out by directperception or inference)

    achintyam (unthinkable as it is alakshanam)

    avyapadeshyam (unspeakable, can not be formulated in



    (the self that subsists in waking, dream,and deep sleep is the I-amconsciousnessor the only valid proof for turiyais the unchanging I-am consciousness inevery being)


    (cessation of all phenomenon; after thenegation of sthaniin three states now the sthansare alsonegated)

    shantam (unchanging, tranquil)

    shivam (auspicious as it is devoid of anydifferentiation)

    How to worship or meditate on such a Turiya or transcendental PureConsciousness?The homogeneous supreme Reality should be identified as our own inner Self

    (pratyagatma) and we should always abide in it. To feel

    the turiyaas our own ever-present-Self (- -aparoksha-nitya-drishtitva) is meditation.

    Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi was asked what is turiya? He replied: 'Thereare three states only, the waking, dream, and sleep. Turiya is not a fourthone: it is what underlies these three. But people do not readily understand it.Therefore it is said that this is the fourth state and the only Reality. In fact it isnot apart from anything; for it forms the substratum of all happenings; it is theonly Truth; it is your very Being. The three states appear as fleetingphenomenon on it and then sink into it alone. Therefore they are unreal. Turiya is only another name for the Self. Aware of the waking, dream,and deep sleep states we remain unaware of our own Self. Nevertheless the

    Self is here and now. It is the only Reality. There is nothing else. So long asidentification with body lasts the world seems to lie outside us. Only realizethe Self and they are not.'

    (8) This Upanishad started with the verse all this is verily(Aum). Aum points tothe Parabrahma (transcendental Reality) and the way to reach it is also Aum.Though the Reality is devoid ofAbhidhan(word) andAbhidheya(meaning ofword), it is reached through them.

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    In the beginning of the chapter, first it was pointed that all this is Aum, then all

    this is Brahman, and then this innermost Self of all beings (i.e. Atman) isBrahman. Then the Atman was said to have four quarters in it: Vishwa, Taijasa,Praajna, and Turiya. It was said that the waking, dream, and deep sleep states

    are imagined in Brahman (Adhyarop), then they were negated by statingcharacteristics of Brahman in negative terms like na antahprajna, nabahishprajna (Apavad).Why this process? The world that we experience inwaking and dream is a superimposition on Brahmanand correspondingly ourimagination about ourselves as Vishwa, Taijasa, andPraajna('I am so-and-so, Iam of age x, I think, I feel, I know, I don't know' etc.) is also a superimpositionand not a reality. By the negation of all these we are guided to dissociateourselves from the superimposition and establish ourselves as we truly arei.e. Turiya (Infinite Pure Consciousness).

    Till this verse, the above-mentioned process was explained; now this verse

    gives relation between the above-mentioned four quartersandmaatras(letters) of Aum. Why is it necessary? Some experts say thatthe further process is not required for superior and middle type of spiritual

    aspirants (uttam and madhyam - adhikari) but is meant for

    the lowest type of spiritual aspirants (adham adhikari) as theyhavent yet developed the subtlebuddhito grasp the Truth. Other experts disputethis and say that the Upanishad and the commentary on it, is meant to confer the

    knowledge of Reality on the aspirant and no process (upasana) towardsthe goal is given here. Since the goal here is to establish the absolute identitybetween the individual soul and the supreme Truth, no upasanais beingdescribed. They say that the further verses and commentary is for the

    glorification (stutyartha) of this identity of Jivaand Brahman.

    (9) (A) = Vishwa/ Vaishwanar

    A is the first letter and also pervades all speech; similarlyVirat is the first

    quarter and it pervades all.(Speech-impaired people may not utter any other sound but they can utter


    (10)(U) = Taijasa /


    U is in the middle of A and M; also it is superior to A and thus signifies

    intermediateness and excellence. Taijasa is superior toVishwa; and dreamstate is in the middle of waking and deep sleep states. (We move in the circle: waking-dream-deep sleep-dream-waking)

    (11)(M) = Praajna/ Ishwara(Avyakrutatma)

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    M is the merging point for A and U; and it sort of measures them i.e.

    taking in and throwing out. SimilarlyVishwaand Taijasaare dissolvedin Praajna; and Praajnasort of measures them i.e. absorbing in and issuingout.(Miteethe measuring pot used to measure grains like wheat, barely etc.)

    (All the eleven verses of the Mandukya Upanishad are discussed in this first chapter. It

    also has the Karikas i.e. explanatory verses by Gaudapadacharya based on theUpanishadic verses. Chapter 2, 3, and 4 have no Upanishadic verses but only Karikas.)

    Chapter II VaitathyaPrakaran (Chapter on Unreality)

    Waking state Jivas are more aware of the Being aspect; are conscious of their

    existence. Waking objects are revealed by the light of the Atman (PureConsciousness) and not by sun or other lights.

    Dream stateJivas are more aware of the Consciousness aspect. Though sun, moon,and other lights are absent in dream state; dream objects are revealed by thelight of Atman.

    Deep sleep stateJivas are more aware of the Bliss aspect. There is no object to berevealed.

    In all the three states, the existence, consciousness, and bliss is due to the Atman,though the degree of awareness about them varies.

    To establish the unreality of the dream experiences, karikas 1 and 2 use logic about

    space and time while karika 3 uses basis of shruti (upanishads) passage. If doubt israised that the objects in dream state are real in dream while the waking objects are realin waking state then it is refuted by these 3 karikas.

    Thus the unreality of the drishtant (illustration) i.e. of the dream is proved. Basedon this, now it is inferred in karika4 that the waking experiences are as unreal as that of

    dream experiences. Drishyatvat(being perceived) is the common factor for theexperiences in these two states. The difference between the two states is only of theduration of time and dimension of space.

    An inference has following five parts:


    Pratijna (proposition to be proved) waking state objects are


    2. Hetu (ground)Drishyatvat i.e. being perceived

    3. Drishtant (illustration)dream objects

    4. Hetupanaya (relation between illustration and proposition) 'objects being percieved' is the similarity between dream and waking
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    5. Nigaman (reiteration) hence waking state objects areunreal

    In karika6, another reason is given to establish the unreality of waking objects:

    aadavante-cha-yannasti-vartamanepi-tat-tathai.e. that which does not exist in the beginning and the end is equally soin the present (or middle).

    (11) A doubt is raised that if the waking and dream states are unreal then thephenomenon experienced in these states i.e. experiencer and his experiences,would have no basis. Also the question would arise as to whom does thesedreams appear? This has to be answered as it is observed that there is nodream without the dreamer; also without the answer to this question the wakingup from the dream would be a problem!

    (12) & (13) Answer to the above doubt is given: the self-luminous Atman imaginesItself through Itself by the power of Its own Maya; It then cognizes the objects.

    How is this done? The Prabhu(Lord) i.e. Atman or Self manifests diverselythe things existing in mind: external objects like sun, moon, earth etc. as well asinternal objects like thoughts, emotions, desires etc. The dreamer is the Lordand not the individual Jiva.

    Prabhu (Lord): Prabhavate asmat sarvam iti prabhuh

    Prabhavate swayam nana repun iti prabhuh

    Samartho bhavati iti prabhuh

    Thus the firm conclusion of Vedanta is: knowledge and memory are not without thesupport of Atman. Nihilists (some Buddhists) deny this. Also there is no extra-cosmiccreator in Vedanta.

    (14) & (15) One might wonder that thoughts, emotions etc. being internal can be

    imaginations but what about the external world objects and events whichappear concrete and seem to last longer? The answer given in thesetwo karikas is that the difference between internal and external is only relatedto the duration of time and organs of perception. Hence internal as well asexternal things are imagined as in dream. In case of waking state the externalobjects are perceptions of sense organs while the internal objects are of mindsimilar to the dream experiences.

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    (16) The Lord (Prabhu) first imagines the individual soul (Jiva) and internal &external objects of experience. The individual soul gets his memory accordingto the thought impressions he has.

    (17) & (18) Ignorance about the real nature of the Self is the cause of Jivaand

    removal of ignorance is Self-knowledge.

    (19) The Lord through his maya projects infinite objects like vital forces etc. and isdeluded by them!

    (26) Samkhyaphilosophy has 25 principles:

    1. Prakriti (nature)

    2. - Prakriti-Vikriti - a. Mahat (cosmic intelligence)

    (Nature-modification) b. Ahamkaar (ego)

    c. -Panch-Tanmatrai. shabda


    ii. sparsha(touch)

    iii. rupa (form)

    iv. rasa(taste)


    gandha (smell)

    3. -Prakriti-Vikara - a. -Panch-Jnanendriya

    (Nature-evolutes) (five perceptive sense)

    b. -Panch-Karmendriya

    (five organs of action)

    c. -Panch-Vishaya

    (objects related to five sense)

    4. Purusha (Self)

    Yoga philosophy has 26 principles: the 25 mentioned above and Ishwara

    Pashupator Ektrinshak philosophy has 31 principles: the 25

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    of Samkhya philosophy, Maya, and -Panch-

    kanchuk(raga, avidya,niyati, kaal, kalaa).

    Some other philosophies have infinite principles.

    (27) As per Vedic varnaashramatradition:

    For Brahmin the fourashramas

    i.e. brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha, and

    sanyasaare compulsory.

    For Kshatriya the three ashramas i.e. brahmacharya, grihastha, andvanaprasthaare compulsory.

    For Vaishya the twoashramas i.e. brahmacharya and grihasthaarecompulsory.

    For Kshudra only one ashrama i.e. brahmacharya iscompulsory.(But for a man of intense dispassion, embracing sanyasa-ashramais

    allowed from any other ashrama)

    Karikas 20 28 describe philosophies that define the Self in various categories

    like : praanah, guna, : manah, kaal, desha, chitta,

    dharmadharma, paad, loka, bhuvan, bhojya, shuk

    shma, sthula, tatva,ashrama, linga, strishtietc.

    The reason for imagination of world in the Self is these above mentioned (20-28)diverse ideas. According to Vedanta the real principle is the Self, the onlysubstratum having consciousness/light. By Its consciousness everything else isconscious and is illumined. Ignorance about this Self gives rise to variousimaginations. The diversity experienced in the world gives rise to various ideaswhich come forth as varied philosophies.

    Avyakrutatma(Praajna) is the cause and the Praanah is the primary effect; abovementioned principles (20-28) being further effects ofPraanah. Apart from these,the other differences observed in the phenomenal world are the imaginations in

    these principles.

    (29) In whichever way a human being perceives/imagines/worships the Atman (Self),in that very way the Atman protect him/her.

    (30) People devoid of discrimination consider Praanahetc. as different from the Selfwhile the discriminating ones know the non-dual Self (i.e.Praanahetc. beingnon-different than the Self) and hence are free from any doubt.

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    (31) Shruti(scriptures) and Tatvadarshi(seers of Truth) know thephenomenal universe as dreamlike and as unreal as a city in the sky


    (32) This is an often quoted karika and many scholars unable to comprehend it haveaccused Gaudapadacharya of teaching a false philosophy. The karikasays(from the Absolute point of view): In Truth there is no origination, no dissolution,none in bondage, none striving or aspiring for freedom, and none liberated!

    (33) Since all the imaginations are based on the infinite Self, non-duality isauspicious and conducive to well-being of all, even during the transactions ofphenomenal world. Though no imaginations have absolute existence in PureConsciousness, all the imaginations including world and its creatures arederiving their existence from the Self. The idea of separateness is unreal andinauspicious. This is stressed by Swami Vivekananda in his Practical Vedanta.He advocates that Advaita Vedanta (non-dualistic Vedanta) knowledge appliedto all spheres and all walks of life is auspicious. Sri Ramakrishna uses the

    words Nityaand Lila to indicate the absolute and relative aspects ofthe Self respectively and says that God can be realized with eyes closed aswell as with eyes open!

    The life that we lead is transitory but the basis of it is the unchanging and ever-present Pure Consciousness i.e. phenomenal I is unreal but real I is immortal.

    Chapter III

    Advai taPrakaran (Chapter on Non-duality)

    In the first chapter it was proved with the help of scriptures that the experiences of

    dream and waking state are effects of ignorance and are unreal from Turiyai.e.Pure Consciousness point of view. Also the characteristics of Turiya were described innegative terms. In the second chapter, with the help of logic, it was explained theunreality of misapprehension i.e. of dream and waking states. In this third chapter thecausal ignorance i.e. non-comprehension of Truth would be negated and it would beproved that the supreme, transcendental Pure Consciousness is the only reality. The

    description of creation of universe etc. is incidental.

    Question may be raised as to how logic, which is a product of intellect, can prove non-duality of Pure Consciousness which is beyond intellect? The logic which is guided byscriptures and which enquires into the true nature of self is helpful for a spiritualaspirant. Independent logic can not grasp Truth as it will always analyze

    the idam (this) and never aham (I am). Reality is the substratum for evenlogic.
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    (1) Those who believe in causality are :kripanah(narrow-minded people).People with ideas of separateness, fear, and ignorance are small minded. Onemay ask why criticize the aspirant in the beginning of the chapter? Thedistinction of worshipper and worshipped that an aspirant takes for granted is

    contradictory to the conclusion of chapter 2 and the premise of chapter 3. Thusthe criticism of duality is appropriate while establishing non-duality.

    Those who consider themselves as bodies (gross or subtle) and think that theBrahman was unborn in the beginning and now it is born

    are Jatabrahma and not Ajatabrahma. In their delusion theyconsider the eternal Pure Consciousness to be under the domain of Time! It isinteresting to quote here a question that was put to Sri Nisargadatta Mj and hisreply to it

    Q: You said that before I was born I was one with the Pure Being of Reality; who

    decided that I should be born?

    A: In reality you were never born and shall never die. But now you imagine thatyou are, or have a body and you ask what has brought about this state. Withinthe limits of illusion the answer is: desire born from memory attracts you to abody and makes you think as one with it. But this is true only from the relativepoint of view. In fact there is no body, nor world to contain it; there is only amental condition, a dream-like state, easy to dispel by questioning its reality.

    (2) Brahman being always unborn, it alone is limitless.

    (3) Just as space enclosed in a pot is the same outer infinite space, the Jivas aresimilar manifestations of the Brahman.

    The space and Atman are both homogeneous, subtle, and beyond contamination;but space contains dissimilar objects like earth, sun, moon etc. This does not applyto Atman.

    (10) All bodies (gross, subtle, and causal) are dreamlike; they appear and disappearby the Maya of the Lord.

    (15) & (16) In the shrutithere are passages in which origination of world ismentioned, or karma, worship (upasana), differentiation, duality etc. is

    mentioned. Such passages are meant only for the purpose of explaining thenon-dual Reality and never for origination of the world, or duality. The Jivas areexperiencing the world and have many desires in them, so the Vedas try tosolve their problems by mentioning various paths.Shruti narrates the story of origination of the world in such a way to the aspirantunderstands that in fact there is no world! It is of illusory nature and only thenon-dual Brahman exists! Thus the passages explaining world-process aremeant for madhyamand adham adhikari(middle-type and lowest-type of

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    spiritual aspirants).

    (17) The means of experience that we have senses and mind are illusory andhence all our experiences are also illusory. These illusory means can not enterthe Truth hence the experience of Truth is difficult to reach. E.g. eyes can see

    everything but they can not see themselves.The Truth has no conflict with any imaginary object hence Advaita (non-duality)has no conflict with other philosophies. The philosophies likesamkhya,naiyayikaetc. that are busy in the explanation of the imaginary objects,contradict each other.

    (18) The Shrutiview is: power (shakti) of Brahman is inferred from the effectsseen (i.e. creation etc.) and is non-different from the 'wielder of power'

    (shaktimaan). The power is inferred during the experience of effecti.e. when we experience phenomenon we have to admit the shakti; but inabsence of effect (e.g. in super-conscious state of Samadhi) shakti is absentand Absolute Brahman alone exists.

    TheAgamaview is: Independent-power (swatantryashakti) isever-present in Brahman though never separate from it.Ramana Maharshi explains this point as follows:'The Vedantins say that Maya is the shakti of illusion premised in siva. Mayahas no independent existence. Having brought out the illusion of the world asreal, she continues to play upon the ignorance of the victims. When the realityof her not beingis found, she disappears. 'Recognition' (pratyabhijna-anAgama text) says that shakti is coeval with siva. The one does not existwithout other. Siva is unmanifest, whereas shakti is manifested on account of

    Her independent will swatantra. Her manifestation is the display of the cosmoson Pure Consciousness, like images in a mirror. The images can not remain inthe absence of a mirror. So also the world can not have an independentexistence. Swatantrabecomes eventually an attribute of the Supreme. SriShankara says that the Absolute is without attributes and that Maya is whatis notand has no real being. What is the difference between the two? Bothagree that the display is not real. The images of the mirror can not in any waybe real. The world does not exist in reality (vastutah). Both schools mean thesame thing. Their ultimate aim is to realize the Absolute Consciousness. Theunreality of the cosmos is implied in Recognition (pratyabhijna), whereas it isexplicit in Vedanta.'

    (20) Dvaitadvaitawadi also known

    as Bhedabhedawadi or Bhartyaprapancha is an old non-dualistic opinion in which the phenomenon is considered as real and originatingfrom Brahman. They also consider the Jivato be real in the phenomenal world.

    (22) Dvaitadvaitawadiphilosophy holds that the world and soul to be real while non-

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    dualistic Vedanta followers considers them to be illusory. If they are real then aperson will remain a person and an animal will remain an animal. Brahman willhave to be considered then as transforming entity. This contradictsreason. Shrutinarrates the process of creation etc. with the aim of establishingnon-duality in the heart of the spiritual aspirant and it is not meant to be a real

    creation process.

    (23) The shruti passages about creation can be interpreted to mean that they aresecondary to the purpose of non-duality but other passages which describe theabsolute characteristics of Brahman can not be otherwise interpreted. E.g. the

    former category of passages include: yato va iman

    jayantewhich is further added with tat vijijyasasva and later

    with tat brahma. Thus these passages are pointing to non-dualityand unborn nature of Brahman. The latter category of passages include:

    : sabahyabhyantaro hi ajah which is complete in itselfand does not require to be added further with other statements. The conclusionis that shrutipassages about creation of world etc. are actually meant to provethe illusory nature of world.

    (24) There are shrutipassages which negate the creation. If shruti wanted us tobelieve that the creation is real then these creation negating passages should

    not have been there; but there are such passages e.g.

    neha naanaasti kinchana also there are passages suggesting the

    illusory nature of creation such as indro maayaabhi. The purpose

    of creationpassages is to guide the world-experiencing soul towards the onlyReality of non-dual Brahman.

    Doubt: In the / (dictionary) called Nighantu

    by Yaska, there are eleven synonyms for maya; one of which

    is prajnaa. So why not interpret mayato meanprajnaa instead

    of mithya(illusion)?Explanation: By the wordprajnaa, only the consciousness related to the senses is

    meant and not the Pure Consciousness. Our senses are painting an illusoryworld on the Pure Consciousness; in that sense the wordprajnaa is meant tobe maya. Swami Vivekananda says: Upon Him the senses are painting chairs,and tables, and rooms, and houses, and worlds, and moons, and suns, andstars, and everything else.

    (25) - : - (Cosmic subtle mind firstproduct of Ishwara)

    In this karikathe word sambhutiis to be interpreted

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    as upaasana(worship) while asambhutias karma(work).In ultimate knowledge of the Reality there is no place for co-existence

    with karma (work) but karma as a step towards the knowledge i.e. karmaisaccepted.

    (1) saadhanaor karmacombined with upaasana(process towards thegoal)

    (2) saadhyaor hiranyagarbhaor sambhuti(goal to be reached)Both 1 and 2 mentioned above are deprecated from highest point of view.

    (26) The shruti passages related to creation of the world are meant as means for

    spiritual practice (saadhanrupa) just as the world-that-is-experienced isalso a means for spiritual practice. This is adhyaropa. Swami Vivekananda says:The world is a grand moral gymnasium wherein we have all to take exercise so

    as to become stronger and stronger spiritually. But by this if an impression isderived that Brahman issaadhya (goal to be reached) and there is causality in

    Brahman, then this is impression is negated by neti neti passages.As explained in the note on verse 7 of first chapter, Turiyais the only

    Substratum/Reality that exists. All the three states (waking, dream, and deepsleep) are superimposed on this substratum. In relation to these 3states Turiyais called the Fourth. Similarly with respect to the saadhanworldwhich is an illusory superimposition on Brahman the Brahman is calledsaadhya. In Itself, the Brahman is ever-present Truth and not the goal of anyprocess. Such a Brahman is pointed by the negating shrutipassages. The neti,netiapproach to describe Brahman is better than describing It in terms of 'world'

    like infinite as sky/sea/space; this is so because our mind is accustomed to thinkin terms of sense-inputs only i.e. in terms of 'world' and when scriptures talkabout Self/God/Brahman as infinite/unborn/all-pervasive etc. our mind is baffledand tries to 'imagine' Brahman as something similar to vast sky/sea etc.; this isessentially not the purport of the shruti and hence negating all that mind canconceive is a better approach.

    (27) Doubt: If the Atman is ever unreachable in experience then it must

    be asat (non-existent)?Explanation: The effect (i.e. world) that is experienced can be taken as the

    indication for - satswarup Paramatma (Reality that is PureBeing). E.g. magician shows magic but he himself is not seen (this is an exampleof illusory efficient cause) or a rope mistaken for snake (this is an example ofillusory material cause). Even after going through innumerable births andexperiences, our real nature remains unchanged, ever-present, PureConsciousness; during these experiences too it remains unaffected. Hence in

    Vedanta it is termed as kutastha literally meaning the anvil which takes

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    the blows from a blacksmiths and remains fixed.

    (28) Naiyaayikaphilosophers are Asat Kaaryavaadi i.e. theybelieve creation out of non-existence. They also consider the existence and non-existence to be two entities opposite to each

    other. (/)Vainaashika (Maadhyamika/Shunyavaadi)are alsoAsat Kaaryavaadibut they believe non-existence to be the absence ofexistence.But it not observed anywhere that something is born out of non-existence. Hence

    their position is not tenable. E.g. vandhyaaputra(son of a barrenwoman) is not seen actually or by assumption.

    (34) & (35) (Chitta) = (Chit) + (t )


    World/mind = Consciousness + Attachment to objects of experience

    sushuptimind merged in ignorance but desires are in causal form

    samaadhimind merged in Pure Consciousness and even desires in theircausal form are burned.

    (36) For a Self-realized person, the phenomenal dealings are illusory. His/her own

    life-show is apparently carried on with liberated-mind ( baadhitaanuvritti).

    (37) abhilaapvaak(speech)You will find that none of you can think without some symbol. SwamiVivekananda

    In Yogasamadhiis by -chittavritti-nirodha- Modificationsof mind are controlled and it merges in Prakriti, thus Purushabecomes separate.

    In Vedanta samadhiis

    by aatmasatyaanubodha (realization of true Self)- Control of mindis natural when Brahman is realized as true Self; becoming one with Reality itselfis samadhii.e. mind dissolves in Infinite Pure Consciousness.

    (38) To remain ignorant is narrow-mindedness ( kripanataa)To realize the true Self is to get rid of narrow-mindedness

    ( akripanataa)In human birth not to strive for self-knowledge and to depart the world

    ignorantly is narrow-mindedness.There is nothing to be gained in Self-knowledge; only to loose all! All false self

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    is to be given up as Sri Nisargadatta Mj put it: The false self must be abandonedbefore the real self can be found.

    (39) asparshayoga(Yoga of no contact). In the ultimate Reality, all typesof subject-object duality is absent. The Truth is never touched by sin or virtue.

    :durdarshah(difficult to grasp). To the conditioned being, the name-less,shape-less Self is difficult to understand and he/she has to repeatedly

    practice shravan(listening about Atman) manna(cogitating about

    It)nididhyasan(continuous abiding in Atman).

    People are afraid (bibhyati) of fearlessness (i.e. Brahman). They areafraid to loose the personality/individuality idea.

    (40) For people who have attained the highest non-dual Self-knowledge the mind isautomatically calmed but for the mediocre and struggling aspirants, practice of

    mind-control is essential. The practice may be

    japa(repetition of sacred

    mantra), tapa(austerity),bhakti(devotion), nishkama

    karma(self-less work), pranayama(breath control) etc.

    (42) The scriptures advice us to control the mind by systematic approach and not bystubborn insistence. We have to be firm in our implementation of sadhanabutobstinacy is to be avoided. Methods mentioned in the above karika for mind-control are the examples of systematic approach while tamasik sadhanas likestanding on one foot, remaining hungry etc. are the examples of obstinacy. Evenin the path of Hatayogathere is a systematic implementation of its techniques.

    In desires and enjoyments, the mind gets exhausted; it gets relief in deep sleepwhich is dissolution of mind to seed form. When we are tired and feel sleepy, themind is unable to move further and wants to get back to seed form

    (laya). Layais as much an obstacle to Self-realization as desires and sense-enjoyments are.

    (43) Mind generally lives in the meshes of the sense-objects because of its desire forenjoyment. Mind can run only to such objects wherein it has at least one of itsmain three false beliefs about them, that:

    1. they are real ( satyatva bhavana)

    2. they are permanent (

    nityatva bhavana)

    3. they have in them potential happiness to give (

    samicchinatva bhavana)These three false values have been super-imposed by the mind upon the

    sense-objects; the objects in themselves have none of these values.

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    By discriminating on the limited, sorrowful, and transitory nature of all duality, themind gradually becomes desire-less. If sense-objects were real, then afterrepeated enjoyments, we should feel fulfillment but it is observed that this doesnot happen and instead we feel more and more emptiness. The sense-objectsare illusory and have no reality by themselves; we should stop running after


    First discipline is to understand that the things experienced are transitory and are

    causes of misery. This is practice of detachment (vairagyaabhyaas).Next is to understand that these things are only appearances and have noexistence by itself; only the unborn, infinite Self exists. This is practice of

    knowledge (jnanabhayas). Thus the out-going mind is restrained and isstabilized in the Self.

    (44) & (45) If mind is controlled from external objects and is also not allowed to gointo sleep, still it does not get established in the Self. Why? It becomes immobileas it were. The reason is - subtle desires which are holding it to the limited

    consciousness (kashaya). These desires are to be unearthed and got ridof. Kashaya is difficult to detect and has to be carefully observed & eliminated. I-am-the-body idea and related desires are to be systematically & resolutelycounteracted.

    Following three are the main obstacles for Self-realization:

    1) /(laya/stabdhata) mind becoming immobile due

    to tamoguna inertia; its causes could be heavy diet, heavywork, lack of sleep etc.

    2) /

    (bahirmukhata/vikshepa) mind attached to external sense-

    objects due to rajoguna

    3) /(rasaaswada/samaadhisukha) mind attached to the bliss ofignorance associated causal consciousness

    (aanadamayakosha)Spiritual aspirant should engage himself/herself only in bare necessary dealingsof the world and should avoid unnecessary engagements.

    (46) Aninganamabsolutely steady mind

    Modes of mind-stuff (

    chitta) according to Yoga philosophy:

    kshipta, vikshipta, mudha,ekagra, andniruddha.

    Difference between Yoga Samadhi and Vedanta Samadhi: former is the result ofseparation betweenpurusha(Self) andprakriti(Phenomenon) and in it themind/nature is neither negated nor is it dissolved in Self; in latter the mind/nature

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    is merged completely in the Self and it is the result of constantly meditating onthe Reality of the Self.In Vedanta, the transmigrating nature of an embodied being is not absolutely realbut in Yoga it is real. Also in Yoga there are many Purusha(Self) while in VedantaBrahman alone is the Self.

    Chapter IV AlaatashaantiPrakaran (Chapter on Quenching the Firebrand)

    In this last chapter it will be proved in detail that, the dualist and Buddhist philosophies,being contradictory to each other, are untenable. The purpose of doing this is to makethe spiritual aspirant firm footed so that he is not deceived by these philosophies.

    The analogy of firebrand refers to the causal chain of transmigration. In the phenomenalworld the association of the Self with non-self entities like mind, body etc. isexperienced but the association can not be real as for any association two distinctentities are required and mind, body etc. do not have any existence apart from the Self.Just as heat is associated with fire but can not be proved apart from it similarly thebody-mind complex is associated with the Self but can not be proved apart from it.

    (1) dvipada(two-legged) Human Being (though birds are also two-leggedhere the term refers to human being).

    dvipadamvaram (greatest amounf two-legged) Self-Realized HumanBeing (In the context of Mandukya Karika the term refers toNarayan-Rishiof Badarikashramai.e. Guru of Gaudapadacharya).

    aakaashakalpenaKnowledge similar to space i.e. subtle, vast, andpart-less but not unconscious like space.

    jneyabhinnena dharmaanTo realize that the world experiencedin waking and dream states as non-different from the Self. Hence the world andits beings are also compared with space.

    (2) asparshayoga Not connected with anything i.e. devoid of subject-object duality. That is the nature of Reality.



    samsiddhiki(achieved through right practice like the powersattained by the yogis)

    swabhaviki(inherent by nature like heat in fire)

    sahajaa(attained by birth like the flying ability of a bird)

    akrutaa(not produced out of anything like the nature of water to
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    flow downwards)The unborn Atman can never change its nature and hence no birth is possible for


    (10) Even when we experience birth, life, and death, we are by our real nature

    birthless, deathless, pure, and immortal. The true nature of ours neverundergoes any change since by nature (/ ) it is changeless! Andhence our experience of birth, life, and death is like a dream. The entire series oftransmigration does not affect our real nature in the least; but due to outignorance and lack of attention we get disturbed even by minor incidents in life.This is the tragedy of human existence!

    (14) hetukaarana(cause)dharmaadharma(good/bad deeds)

    phalakaarya(effect) - deha(body)The above two are inter-dependent (cause-effect). In the world everything is

    causal; hence nothing in it can be said to be existing entirely independent andcauseless. The Atman (Self) alone is free and causelss.

    Karika 3 onwards it was shown that various dualistic philosophies fight with each otherand contradict each other. Any attempt to explain the experience world in terms ofcause and effect is self-contradictory. This is proved with the help of logic and similes.First it was shown that theSamkhyaand Naiyayikaphilosophies contradict each other,later in karika 24-27 the Buddhist philosophical streams were shown to contradict eachother.

    The major Buddhist philosophical streams are:

    vaibhashik- ()bahyarthaaparokshavaadi/pratyakshavaadi(external objects are directly perceived


    sautrantik- bahyartha anumeyavaadi(external objectscan be known only by inference)

    yogaachaar- ()bahyarthashunyavaadi/vijnanvaadi(external objects do not exist; perception and inferenceare not the proofs; there is only a flow of mental-cognitions)

    maadhyamiksarvashunyavaadi(nothing exists)

    (28) vijnanvaadi opinion is refuted with logic that it is absurd to assumebirth of momentary mind. This would be as futile as trying to trace the footprints

    of a flying bird! shunyavaadiopinion is bolder thanvijnanavaaditheysay everything is shunya (non-entity). This is as absurd as to catch space byhand.

    (37) (39) vidyamaanatvam(day after day same phenomenon

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    appearing) and anekasaadhaaranatvam (many observersconfirming same phenomenon) are said to be the characteristics of waking state

    which make it different from dream state. But this logic is waking -self logic andduring dream experiences also similar argument can be put! Hence just asduring dream the dream experiences appear real but in fact they are not real, the

    waking experiences also appear real during waking time but they are ultimatelynot real. The experiencing entity of dream comes to waking and with respect towaking experiences thinks that waking experiences are the cause of dreamexperiences. But in fact the same entity is having the dream and wakingexperiences due to non-discrimination and getting itself mixed with subtle andgross bodies.

    (42) The explanation of world is discussed by Self-realized people only for aspirantswith dull intellect so that these aspirants may gradually by study of Vedanta realize that there is no such real entity as world!

    (47) (52) Analogy of alaat(firebrand) is introduced in karika 47. Till thiskarika the unborn Self was proved by showing the contradictory nature ofdualistic philosophies and impossibility of birth for the unborn Self. If a firebrand is swirled rapidly, different images/shapes (like circle etc.) are seen,but these images though seen have no actual existence. If the firebrand isstopped, the images are not seen.

    e.g. 1For pots the potter is efficient cause and clay is material cause2For shapes seen in the firebrand example, the 'swirling of firebrand' is

    efficient cause and 'firebrand' is material causeIf we exclude potter from the e.g. 1 above, then the pots remain i.e. clay in theshape of pot remains. But in e.g. 2, if swirling of the firebrand is stopped, theshapes do not remain. Neither do they disappear somewhere nor do they mergein the firebrand. Thus they have no existence at any time even during theywere seen!Similarly the universe, its creatures, the phenomenal dealings etc. appear inBrahman but have no real existence at any time. They appear and disappear likea dream. In firebrand analogy there is swirling of the firebrand, no such thing isrequired in Brahman for the phenomenon to appear. In other words, our birth,life, death, rebirth etc. are all unreal from Absolute point of view as SwamiVivekananda says, Birth, life and death are but old superstitions. None was everborn, none will ever die, one changes ones position thats all. This is first fact ofconsciousness isI am.If we ask why do these phenomenon appear in Brahman? What is the cause?Then ignorance of the Self is the only answer. The quotation by Sri NisargadattaMj. given in karika 1 of chapter 3 above proves same point. Brahman and theworld do not have a cause-effect relationship hence the appearances

    are anirvachaniya(un-describable).

    (54) The external objects are neither the cause nor the effect of mind; mind and

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    (83) a. astiSelf IS (existence) samkhyaand other dualistic philosophies -

    chalabhaav(moving or transmigrating nature)

    b.naasti Self IS NOT (non-existence)

    vainashikor vijnanwaadiBuddhist philosophies -

    sthirabhaav(fixed or

    stationary nature)

    c.astinaasti Self IS and IS NOT ardhavainashik orcharwaak or digambar Jain philosophies -

    ubhayabhaav(both fixed and moving nature)

    d.naastinaasti Self IS NOT and IS NOT

    maadhyamik oratyantik shunyawaadiBuddhist philosophies - abhaav(voidnature)

    All the above philosophers, by putting forth such subtle philosophies, are infact covering the Self as it were and hence are getting deluded. If such is theplight of philosophers, no wonder majority of humanity is ignorant about the


    (86) A Self-realized person has peaceful and blissful mind as a result of Self-discovery. Thats the nature of his mind; he does not need to practise mindcontrol. But a spiritual aspirant has to practice mind control and that which is

    natural to atmajnani(Self-realized person) is a spiritual practice foraspirants.

    (87) In this chapter from karika 3 to karika 86, the birth-less nature of Atman wasproved by showing the contradictory nature of dualistic philosophies. Now fromkarika 87 onwards the same truth is explained by

    Vedantasawasthaatraya(analyzing the three states of consciousness)method.

    jagrat(waking state) laukikam(experienced with external

    objects) swapna(dream state)

    shuddhalaukikam(experienced without external objects)

    (88) sushupti (deep sleep)lokottaram (no objects no experience)

    jnanam(subject)and jneyam(object) is upaaymeans to

    reach vijneyam(transcendental knowledge) i.e turiya.

    (90) heya that which is to be avoided (the contents of three states or allphenomenal knowledge)

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    jneyathat which is to be known (transcendental knowledge)

    aapya that which is to be attained or to be taken help of

    like panditya (hearing),baalya (cogitating),andmauna(continuousmeditation).

    paakya that which is to be rendered ineffective or to be sterilized likeattachments, hatred, desires etc.

    A spiritual aspirant must be aware of all above four categories so that he/shecan move correctly on the path.

    (92) The objects of the phenomenal world including all creatures do not have

    absolute existence. They are sandihyamaanswarup(notpositively ascertainable); they can neither be said to exist nor not to exist. But the

    Self is not rather it

    is nityanishchitaswarup(positively ever present). SwamiVivekananda says, It is through the inscrutable power of Maya, which can not beindicated as either existent or non-existent that the relative consciousness hascome upon the Jiva who is none other than Brahman. This is generally known asthe conscious state. And the state in which this duality of relative existencebecomes one in the pure Brahman is called in the scriptures the super-consciousstate

    (94) In scriptures, often an ignorant person is derided ( :kripanah smallminded etc.). This is done just to encourage the spiritual aspirant towards thegoal.

    (99) All knowledge and knower are essentially infinite Pure Consciousness thistruth is not proclaimed by the Buddhists, though they negate the phenomenalworld and its creatures. Vedanta alone proclaims the real nature of thephenomenon.

    This karika specifically mentions the above point since throughout the treatiseGaudapadhacharya uses terms and verses resembling Buddhist literature. Hemakes use of these terms and verses because they were popular in theintellectual circles of India at his times. But this could give us the wrongimpression that Buddhist and Vedanta philosophies are identical. In order to clearthe confusion and state the difference between the two philosophies, here in

    karika no. 99, the above point is highlighted.

    (100) Our salutations to the infinite Pure Consciousness that is difficult to attain forthose who have not sharpened their minds with discrimination and dispassion.How can salutation be made to the Truth that is devoid of any subject-objectrelationship? The answer is: to get rid of body-consciousness and to establish

    ourselves in Pure Consciousness is in itself namaskaarsalutation!

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    Just as opening of the Karika was by two verses invoking

    auspiciousness (Mangalacharan), in the end of Karika there are three such

    verses dedicated to Brahman, Paramguru(supreme teacher), and Guru.

    : : :

    Peace | Peace || Peace |||

    Sankara says that Ad vaita"Vedanta is the crow ning g lory o f the Vedas ;

    but th e lower Vedas are also necessary, because they teach wo rk and

    worsh ip, and thro ugh these many come to the Lord. Others may comewithout any help but Ad vai ta. Work and worsh ip lead to the same resul t as