Friday, January 2, 2009

Katha Upanishad: Shankara bhashya; Adhyaya 3 Valli 3: Mantra 3

Aksharam which is known as atma - nirgunam Brahman tat brahmajnAtum shakemahi – meaning the jivAtma can know that Brahman
[note – in saguna Brahman knowledge alone is not enough; hence jnAtum and chetum is used by shankara indicating that in addition one has to do karma; by only using term jnAtum and deliberately omitting the term chetum AS wants to contrast that in second part only knowledge is enough!!]
AS now summarizes this sloka - Karmabrahmavid aashraye- karmakanda followers and brahmakanda followers they have a support to be resorted to – paravare brahmani – saguna Brahma and nirguna Brahma respectively thus we have to understand.

These two type of seekers are indicated here (upanyasa krtaha) in rtam pibantau iti.
There in the 3rd line – chayagnau and in 4th line trinachiketa agni have been mentioned
Now anvaya
Yaha ijaanaanam setuh (bhavati) (tam) nachiketam (jnAtum) shakemahi. Abhayam param titeershatam jananaam yat aksharam brahma param (aalambanam bhavati taccha jnatum) shakemahi.

Tatra upadhikrta samsari vidyavidyayo Mokshagamanaya samsaragamanaaya cha tasya tad sadhano rathokalpyate
From the third mantra onwards we get the famous chariot imagery set of shlokAs. AS gives an introduction

“Tatra…” among those two (the jA and pA) “yaha upadhikrtaha samsari” the jivAtmA(jA) which is associated with upadhi is a samsari. Upadhikrtaha means upadhi pratibimbitaha – upadhi means mind and krtaha means reflected – meaning antahkarana pratibimbitaha – in chidAbhAsya chaitanyam - the RC – which is called ahankAra and this ahankAra jA is a samsari. And this samsari is adhikrtaha - means qualified or eligible for the teaching of or practice of vidyaavidyayoho vidya and avidya. Now question is why practive avidyA? Are we not already experts in avidyA? :-) We have to recall - AvidyA has been defined as karma in the previous section by the same Upanishad. So meaning is he is qualified to follow jnAna or karma – by practicing vidyA he can go to mokshA mokshagamanAya and by practicing karma he can go to samsara samsaragamanyacha Naturally the question will be – why should he go to samsara he is already in samsara – so go to samsara means for the successful continuation of samsara :-)
Yaha upadhikrtaha samsari (saha) mokshagamanaya samsaragamanaya cha vidyaavidyahayoho adhikrtaha bhavati.
Tasya for this pilgrim or eligible traveler sadhanaha ratha kalpyate a vehicle for the travel is visualized by the Upanishad.

Mantra 3
AtmAnam rathinam viddhi shareeram rathameva tu
Buddhim to saarathim viddhi manah pragrahameva cha

Atmanam rathinam viddhi – Rathinam means Master traveler, atma means jA or chidAbhasa, shareeram rathameva – the physical body is the chariot. The intellect is the driver – the one who decides the direction. And the mind is the reins connecting the intellect and the horses. This is the 1st part of the imagery – it will continue in the next mantra also

“Tatra..” – in this context tam atmanam viddhi know that atma (jivAtma) rtabham – bhokta of the rtam or karmaphalam (usage derived from the rtam pibantau of the 1st mantra) may you understand to be rathi swami – the word swami is used to differentiate from the intellect – both the atma and the intellect are seated but one is the Master and the other is the driver.

AS justifying the imaery – jA is called the rathaswami because the jA alone wants to travel. Now the body is compared to the chariot. Why? Chariot is dragged by the horses – similarly the sense organs draw the physical body in various directions. This body is akrshyamaanatvat – being dragged - rathabadhah hayastaniyaih indriyaih – means tied to, indriaih the five sense organs which are hayasthanaih - haya means horses and sthaniya means comparable to.
When figure of speech upama is presented – it should have three components – upamanam is the example, upameyam is the original and saamanya dharmaha – both should have certain common features.
Here for this example also the commentator has to give the saamanya dharma when the Up is making a comparison.
In the above sentence “aakrshyamanatvat” is the saamanya dharma – another term is saadrshyam.

“Buddhim tu…rathah”
Third quarter. Buddhim tu sarathim viddhi - may you know the intellect to be the charioteer or driver. Buddhi is defined as addhyavasayalakshanam - judge (judgement maker) to decide what is the goal, giving it appropriate priority, and deciding what is the safe or most path - adhyavasaya is equal to nischaya – the determining faculty.
What is the saadrshyam? Both are pradhanam preeminent or important in their respective fields Driver is important in a vehicle – determines if the master reaches the destination or hospital – similarly intellect is very important for the human journey. Shareerasya buddhinetr pradhanatvam Body has got intellect as the preeminent director or primary leader – just like saarathinetrpradhana ratha-iv – the driver is the leader of the chariot. So leadership is the saamanya dharma.

“sarvam hi deha..”
Sarvam karyam all the activities dehagatam at the level of the body (sthula-sukshmA shareeram) budhikartavyam eva – are determined and executed by the intellect alone. [Now there are a lot of mechanical actions and reflex actions, involved such as brushing teeth – hence AS adds a term prayena – to say “mostly”]

“Manas sankalpa vikalpa..shwaha”
Manasa pragham eva cha.
Now AS comes to the 4th – manasa pragraham eva cha – mind is the rein which directly operates the sense organs. Intellect is the decider but the decision has to be implemented by the mind alone, because mind alone is behind all the ten sense organs. Therefore intellect is the decider and the mind is the executor or implementer - hence intellect may decide to attend the bhashyam class – the very fact that you are all sitting in the class shows that intellect has decided – but inspite of this decision of the intellect, to get you to the class, the mind alone decides whether to cooperate with the intellect and go along with the ears or not! Hence the mind is compared to the reins.
Mind is - sankalpa vikalapadi lakshanam – characterized by the faculties of sankalpa pros and vikalpa cons. Rashanaviddhi what is rashana? – pragraham – the reins – so may you know the reins to be like the mind.
Manasa praghrahitani shortraadi karanaani just as the driver controls the horses through the medium of the reins, similarly, the intellect holds or controls the sense organs through the medium of the mind. Hence - manasa hi pragrhitaani. It is the holding function that is common to both – pragrahanam is the term used to indicate this. Shrotraadi karanan- sense organs like the ears etc. The sense organs pravartante function in their respective field by the control mind.
When there is a announcement in the railway station that such and such a train is leaving from this station, because there is so much ambient noise, the “total” mind is intensely holding the ears in the field of the announcement – only to know “train is late by 45 min” – and you ask someone to buy you some vada (a snack)! J
Rashanayaha ashwaha iva just as the horses function held by the rashana- the reins.

(Tvam) atmanam rathinam (viddhi); buddhim tu sarathim (viddhi); manaha pragraham eva cha (viddhi)