Thursday, January 1, 2009

Katha Upanishad: Shankara Bhashya; Adhyaya 1 Valli 3 Mantra 2

Lecture 2

(Notes taken from lecture series by Pujya Guruji Swami Paramarthananda)

“Loke” means shareere – because it is the locus remaining where jivAtma experiences karmaphalam – if a physical body is not available jivAtma cant experience sukha-dukha – in the intermediary state between janmas before a new body is taken, even though sookshmashareera is there it cannot experience sukha dukha because a sthoola shareera is absent. Even in svapna to experience dream pleasure and dream pain within the dreamworld we need a dream physical body! [ref: tattva bodha – definition of physical body bhoga-aayatanam] And specific location of the jivAtma/paramAtma in the shareera, (like which room inside the house?) Up wants to point out is mind. Mind is located in the hradayam in the antahkaranam. Hence “Guhaam pravishte. Now the term” parame paraardhe” Para means Brahman, and ardham means sthAnam or residence – so parame paraardhe means “residence of Brahman”(!) So hrdaya Akasha is brahma sthAnam – hence it is called a sacred space – hence the term paramam which means divine or sacred. From the standpoint of/ compared to both the external space and the internal space, the small “daharaakaasham”[Ch.Up] or hrdaya akAsha is sacred. Here AS adds a note – if we say hradaya akasha is the location of param Brahman it may convey the idea that parabrahman is limited or confined in the hradaya akasha and hence points out that parabrahman is recognizable there – sthAnam means availability or recognizability (upalabhyate) – it does not mean location – in the form of saakshi rupEna chaitanya rupEna – witnessing consciousness. Parabrahman can be recognized everywhere as the existence principle but consciousness principle cannot be recognized elsewhere but is available only in my antahkaranam as chit – hence upalabhdi sthAnam.
Therefore in that most sacred BrahmasthAnam (both jivAtma and paramAtma) have entered (as it were).

Now “Chayatapau…”
Those two i.e. jivAtmA and paramAtmA are - chayatapau iva – are like light and shadow
Several ideas are conveyed – one is Satyam – other is mithya – does not have independent existence. Another meaning that AS takes is they are diagonally opposite – light and dark AND free and bound. Hence he uses the term vilakshanau – they are opposed to each other – one is samsari and One is asamsari. Evam brahma vidaha vadanti – Thus is declared by all the wise people.

Now “Na kevalam akarminaha..”
The jivA and parmatmA are talked about by the wise people in the context of the jnAnakAndam and the same jivA and paramatmA are taked about by the ignorant people in the context of karmAkAndam. Thus jivA and paramatA is wellknown in both contexts. Akarmaniha means sannyAsis or jnAnis – those who are committed to jnAnakAnda – the word akarmi it has to be sannyAsi only. So not only the akarmaniha say but those who are panchAgnau – i.e. those who are grhasthaha – Agni refers to karma.
[AS doesn’t comment further on panchagni but some sub-commentators give further explanation
– there are five kinds of fires used in ritual – classified based on type of kunda and method of kindling and what type of mantras, etc. The five types/names of agni are 1. Garhamadhyaha 2. Aahavaniyaha 3. Dakshinaha 4. Sabhyaha and 5. aavasathyaha
- the Chand Up and Br Up mentions the panchagni vidyA where there is Upasana of five factors as five types of fires – svarga agni, heaven, megha agni, cloud, prthvi agni, earth, purusha agni, the male, and naari agni, the female]
These grhasthas not only perform the agni rituals of five types but they also perform the Nachiketas ritual 3 times to appease the student Nachiketas.
Commentary is over; now anvaya
Loke sukrtasya rtam pibantau parame parardhe guham pravishtau (jivAtma paramAtmanau) chAyatapau (iva vilakshanau bhavataha). (Evam) brahmavidaha vadanti. Ye trnAchiketaha panchAgnayaha (te) cha (vadanti)

Mantra 2
Yah Setur ijaanaanaam aksharam brahama yatparam
Abhayam titeershatam paaram naachiketam shakemahi

Gist of the mantra
The jivatmA has two options. One option is it can the help of sagunam Brahma by following the nachiketa agni and it can attain kramamukti and reach the other shore of samsara. As part of nach agni, virAt upAsanA is talked about which comes under sagUna brahma which helps jivatmaA go to Brahmaloka and there through jnAna it can cross samsara.
The second option- jivatmA can take help of nirguna brahma by taking the course of jnAna kanda, and get sadyomukti
Saguna brahmA bridge of karmakanda à kramamukti
Nirguna brahma bridge of jnAnakanda à sadyomukti

Both of these we can follow according to our choice – hence the term shakemahi - we can know and use any one of these two bridges - hence use of the word setu by the Up.

Now we will see the bhashyam
“Yah setu.iva..”
Yaha refers to the Nachiketaha agni setuh iva setuh is comparable or similar to a bridge eejananam means yajanamaanam i.e those who are karminAm ritualists or grhasthas.
Dukhasantaranardhatvat – this expression is the explanation of the word setuh
What is te common property between nachiketa agni and bridge
Bridge helps in crossing the waters - similarly the nachiketas agni is a bridge that helps in crossing the water of samsara.

Tam vayam jnatum cha shakemahi To know the nAchiketa ritual and to perform it – this portion is supplied by AS to complete the sentence.
So what is being said:
We the jivatmas can know and perform the nachiketa agni ritual and with the help of virat upasana we can derive kramamukti – this is one option available to us
One lesser option is also available - it can also perform nachiketa ritual without doing upasana kramamukti is not possible but jivA can go to swarga loka through Krishnagati and in swarga loga there is temporary moksha – a time bound cessation of sorrow.

“Kincha yacchabhayama..”

Morover yat abhayam bhaya shunyam samsaraparam titeershatam - Literally param means the other shore. Samsaraparam – other shore of samsara. What is the nature of the other shore of samsara – abhayam – fearless ness = bhayashunyam – an absolutely secure place! abhayamparam – secure shore of samsara. Titeershatam – tartum icchatAm – those who are desirous of reaching or crossing over to (such a shore). Who are they? - brahmavidAn – the jnAna yogis – the second group of jivAs. Yat param aashrayam – that which is a great support. Aashrayam is a term added by AS.

[More in the next lecture]