Sunday, December 28, 2008

Katha Upanishad : Shankara Bhashya. Adhyaya 1. Valli 3. Mantra 1

(based on notes from lecture series by Pujya Guruji Swami Paramarthananda)

KUp has got two chapters adhyaya – each consists of three sections – valli
We are now in Ch 1 – and we will begin 3rd valli – the famous ratha kalpana occurs.

AS introduces valli 3
Adhyaya vallyaha sambandha
For the 3rd valli beginning with “rtam pibantau” , the connection (with prior two vallis is being said now) is as follows – with the 2nd valli vidya and avidya were introduced as shreya and preya marga (or jnana marga and karma marga). AS uses these two words because 1st the Up introduced these two terms shreyas and preyas in valli 2 and then called jnAna marga was called vidya and the karma marga was called avidyA (our entire life, its activities, rituals, etc are all termed avidyA by the Up itself). Here AS reminds us about that. They were also presented as having two distinct / different results – more importantly not just different but diagonally opposite results (– one leading to samsara and the other leading to moksha) – this has been taught. But these 2 margas have not been comprehensively taught – they have only been briefly mentioned. They have not been treated elaborately along with their distinct results/ fruits. Therefore there is a necessity for a 3rd valli – thus AS justifies the need for valli 3. For establishing these two distinct margas (paths) along with their distinct destinations, a beautiful imagery/ metaphor in the form of chariot imagery is presented to help in easy understanding. One can discern between the two - one is karmi or karma marga traveler and he will have finite goals or destinations; second is jnAna marga traveler or jijnasu and his destination which is Brahman or Moksha. We can then decide using our viveka which group we want to join!
Two atmas are being introduced – jivAtma and paramAtma in the form of ChidabhAsa and Chit respectively. Traveller is the jivAtma – he can travel outwards towards anAtma or can travel “inwards” towards paramAtma (by bhyagaa-tyaga-lakshana).

Rtam pibantau Sukrtasya loke Guhaam pravishtau parame paraardhe
Chayatapau brahma vidovadanti panchAgnayo ye cha trinAchiketah

We will 1st give the gist. Within the body there is a heart (physical heart) – within this physical heart there is a subtle mind which belongs to sookshma shareeram; in that mind there are two consciousness’ – chit the OC and the chidabahasa the RC the mind being the reflecting medium. Chit is paramatma or saakshi and is nontravelling and chidabhasa is jivAtma or ahanakara and travelling – and these two diagonally opposite entities – like light and shadow – are co-located in the mind. This pair is talked about in the karmakanda by karmis and in jnanakanda by the wise as well – the only difference is in the former the destination is outside and the latter has its destination inside. This is the essence but the Up uses abstract / abstruse words – without AS commentary this mantra will be obscure.

“Rtam pibantau..” – The pair of OC and RC – are drinking (consuming or in this context experiencing) rtam (means satyam – in this context means karmaphalam in the form of sukham and dukham) why should Up use the word rtam to convey karmaphalam – just as satyam is something definite, karmaphalam is also definite – abhaadyam or unavoidable. Truth is that which cannot be negated and similarly karmaphalam can also be not negated. The perceptive student may note immediatyely a contradiction here to the Mundaka Up (where it is said that of the two birds on the tree only the jivAtmA enjoys the fruits and here the use of the verb pibantau clearly seems to indicate they BOTH enjoy) – AS explains this by pointing out one is actual and the other is figurative.
Really speaking based on Mundaka mantra only one – i.e. jivAtmA or RC in the purushashareeram experiences the karmaphala. Even so, the Up figuratively says that paramAtma says It experiences – one reason is because of physical proximity the attribute is transferred (like a husband saying every Sunday “we” feed people even though he himself does nothing) Unlike adhyasa or superimposition which is in ignorance here the transference is deliberate AND the second reason is jivAtma is able to do all this because of the blessing of paramAtma (Kena ishitam patati preshitam mana…from Kena Up.) and thus paramAtma is indirectly contributing. (same example of husband by him contributing money or “non-interference” J) Shankara gives a example - when a King says I have won the war - actually the King has not done anything and the war was actually done by the army. This deliberate transference of attribute in Sanskrit is based on a proverb - the umbrella proverb “chatra nyaya”.
Chatram is umbrella – that which protects a person by insulating him – on the road during rainy season many people are going with a umbrella and there a few who don’t carry one. In a crowd there is a mix of both – those with and those without umbrellas. Even so, a person makes a remark – the umbrella-holders are walking – the status of umbrella-holding is figuratively transferred to those without umbrella as well due to physical proximity. Here the bhoktrtvam attribute is figuratively transferred to the ParamAtma. There is another nyAya which has the same connotation – saptaparani nyaya – saptaparani is the name of a tree – it has so called because it consists of bunches of seven leaves – however we will find there are some branches with less than seven leaves

Sukrtasya loke..”

Sukrtasya karma is karma that is performed by the jIva himself – here AS is very perceptive. Normal meaning of the meaning sukrtasya is well-done, properly done. (Any wrong action is called dukrtam) Here AS does not take this primary meaning. If we take sukrtasya then it means the jivAtma is not experiencing the result of papa-karma. So AS says don’t take it only as good deeds, but “su” refers to swayam krtasya – i.e. those karmas done by the jivAtma done with the notion “I” /ahankAra. This is then related to rtam in the prior sentence – because they are in proximity we may connect sukrtasya and loke – instead connect sukrtasya and rtam – sukrtasya rtam pibantau – experiencing the fruits of their own good AND bad actions – this is how these terms are to be connected – this is the correct of the prose order or anvaya - in the original scripture.

Lokesmin shareera..”
In this context loka refers to asmin shareere – this body. The body is the locus in which the body remains and experiences sukha-dukha. Locus for the jiva – hence loka. GuhAm = GuhayAm – equals to buddhau. Pravishtau – they have entered – jivAtmA and paramAtma have entered the body and inside the body they have entered or are situated in the hradayakAsha – the cave of the intellect.

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