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The Mandukya-Karika
The Mandukya-Karika
Description
Foreword

According to the Bhagavadgita (2.55), the jivanmukta, or the man of spiritual illumination, is one who has renounced all desires of the heart and who is satisfied with the Atman alone. Leaving aside the world of maya, the spiritual aspirant lives laborious days of sadhana. Like a steady mountain climber, he faces and overcomes all dangers and difficulties and does not stop until he reaches the Everest peak of realization through nirvikalpasamadhi. Such an illumined Soul or jivanmukta is Gaudapada. He is a shining star on the spiritual horizon of India.

The state of Brahma-nirvana or Bliss of Self awareness baffles all description. It is beyond thought and speech. It is turiya, a transcendental plane of conciousness where time stops and the law of causation becomes an image of the dream state. It is a timeless realization where the sparkling radiance of eternity floods the whole being of man.

Gaudapada speaks of it in his Karika as amanibhava, mindlessness. It is not a state of unconsciousness but a state of super consciousness which defies our analytical mind and its logical understanding. It is a revelation which transcends the realm of reason but does not contradict reason. Sri Ramakrishna attained it and his foremost disciple, Swami Vivekananda, reached it through the grace of his divine guns. In his beautiful poem, Samadhi, Swamiji has described this state as avanmanasagocaram—beyond the range of thought and speech. It is an ineffable experience which cannot be described in words nor can it be comprehended by thought. It can be felt by one who has dived deep in his inner consciousness and become one with pure being, the absolute reality or the nirguna Brahman.

Gaudapada’s ajatavada or the Doctrine of Non- causality is a great gift to the treasure-house of the world’s spiritual wisdom. According to him, the ultimate reality, which is the unchanging principle of consciousness, cannot be void or Sunya but is Self- awareness. The knower knows because knowing is the invariable constituent and the very essence of the knower. Knowing and being are one, like the sun and its effulgent light. Atman may be compared to the sun for its light never fades. Likewise the mind may be compared to the moon for it shines by the borrowed light of the Atman. The consciousness of the Atman is basic and fundamental, but the consciousness of the mind is derivative. Intellect delimits the limitless consciousness. As Shelley says,

Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity. (Adonais 52) Unless we rise above the prism of the intellect, we will never be able to penetrate into the heart of reality and become one with the infinite Being—the ocean of perennial bliss, the essence of purity and everlasting life.

The French philosopher Descartes says, ‘I think, therefore I exist.’ Gau4apada says, ‘I exist, therefore I think. ‘ I exist as saksi caitanya, witness consciousness, therefore my mind creates vrtti caitanya, reflected consciousness, through thought-waves of which Jam always a detached spectator. Witness consciousness is undoubtedly nitya caitanya, eternal consciousness. It is the Atman, the undivided consciousness in every man, regardless of creed, colour, nationality or race. Atman is ever awake, never asleep. It knows no birth or death; it is immortal. It is turiya. According to Patanjali, turiya is a state of consciousness. Gat4apãda says that all states belong to the mind and are therefore mutable; he also says that turiya is not a state but is the very essence of being, unchanging and eternal; it is the true nature of man which an enlightened man knows as his Self. It is not to be attained, but it is to be known without a shadow of doubt and to be discovered through the yoga of discrimination. Turiya as the Atman is ever living and is an ever-conscious reality which no death can liquidate. Swami Vivekananda, who went to America to forge a bridge of understanding between the East and the West, and who undoubtedly falls in line with the illumined teachers of India like Gau4apada and Sankara, says in his lecture entitled Practical Vedanta, delivered in London:

‘We are in reality that infinite being, and our personalities represent so many channels through which the infinite reality is manifesting itself and the whole mass of change which we call evolution is brought about by the soul trying to express more and more of its infinite energy. We cannot stop anywhere on this side of the infinite; our power and blessedness and wisdom cannot but grow into the infinite. Infinite power and existence and blessedness are ours and we do not have to acquire them, they are ours and we have only to manifest them.’ (CW. 2.339)

To establish Reality on a firm foundation Gaudapada follows a distinctive method, which is known as the avasthatraya method. The three states are waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep. All of us go through these three states. But the study of the three states will reveal to us that the experience of the waking state will be negated by the experience of the dream state. Again the experiences of the waking slate as well as of the dream state will be negated when we go into the state called dreamless sleep. According to Gaudapada, non-coutradictability, or abadhitatva, is the test of truth. If one state negates another state, it must be changeful and therefore unreal. Reality must be immutable at all times and under all circumstances. Gau4aØda names it as turiya, the fourth, the basic consciousness. The Atman is like the light on the stage which reveals that the actors and spectators are gone. During the period of dreamless sleep we apparently become unconscious.

Some scholars describe Gaudapada as ‘a hidden Buddhist.’ I do not agree with their statement because he refuted the doctrine of anatmavada of Nagarjuna. Gau4apada says, ‘One can deny everything else, but one can never deny the existence of the denier’. The consciousness ‘I am’ always remains, and the apparent self connected with the mind is changeful. But the real Self, which is dissociated from the mind, is ever permanent, ever blissful, and is always unchanging. Again, the real Self is partless, one simple unit which cannot be divided into parts, and which is undecaying and immortal. The philosophy of Gaudapada is based on the doctrine of perfection or transcendence (purnata) of the real Self of man.

In the modern age, science has developed tremendous energy by splitting the atom and thus creating the hydrogen bomb for the destruction of mankind. The power of nuclear force is fundamentally a material force, acicchakti. Gau4apada, by splitting maya and relegating the categories of time, space, and causation to the world of phenomenal existence, has released acicchakti—the infinite energy of the Atman—for the good of all and for the happiness of all. That acicchakti was awakened in our present age by Sri Ramakrishna for creating universal harmony. Swami Vivekananda, the chief apostle of the Master, says most eloquently in his lecture on My Master delivered in New York: ‘This is the message 0f Sri Ramakrishna to the modern world: “Do not care for doctrines, do not care for dogmas, Or sects, or churches or temples; they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man, which is spirituality, and the more this is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good. Earn that first, acquire that, and criticise no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them. Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, or names, or sects, but that it means spiritual realization. Only those call understand who have felt. Only those who have attained to spirituality can communicate it to others, can be great teachers of mankind. They alone are the Powers of light.”’ (CW. 4.187)

To attain jivanmukti or deathless immortality while we are living on earth and to radiate universal love to all mankind is the goal of Gaudapada’s philosophy; it gives prestige, dignity, and divinity to man no matter whether he is born in the East or in the West.

Keats says, ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever’ To me, Swami Gabhirananda’s present translation of the Mandukya-karika is a source of joy. He has combined in his excellent translation scholarship with simplicity. All great things in life are very simple. The air we breathe, the sunshine we enjoy, the Mother’s love that we cherish through the length of our days, are all very simple. Likewise, when the style of a book is simple and clear, it captures the imagination of ardent souls who seek knowledge from a clear fountain from which a perennial flow of wisdom springs unceasingly.

May Swami Gabhirananda’s dedicated work of love be like an altar-flower, fit to be laid at the feet of the Divine to awaken the spiritual consciousness of souls in India as well as in the West. I commend this book for the perusal of scholars as well as of the enthusiastic public who are interested in Advaita Vedanta, for their understanding, appreciation, and spiritual benefit.

Preface

All truth is eternal. Truth is nobody’s property; no race, no individual can lay any exclusive claim to it. Truth is the nature of all souls. Who can lay any exclusive claim to it? But it has to be made practical, to be made simple, so that it may penetrate every pore of human society, and become the property of the highest intellects and the commonest minds, of the man, woman, and child at the same time. All these ratiocinations of logic, all these bundles of metaphysics, all these theologies and ceremonies, may have been good in their own time, but let us try to make things simpler and bring about the golden days when every man will be a worshipper, and the Reality in every man will be the object of worship.

The Mandukya Upanisad, enshrining the mahavakya ‘ayam atma brahma—the individual Self is the supreme Self’, is the shortest of the Upanisads. It has only twelve mantras. The Karika (explanatory verses) on it by Gauapadacarya forms the simplest and most lucid text of Vedanta. Sri Sankaracarya, the commentator, says that the four chapters of the Karika are ‘vedantartha-sara-sangrahabhutam—the very essence and epitome of all Vedantic knowledge’. Equalled only by the Bhagavad-Gita in sweetness of language, this lovely lyric in Sanskrit contains two hundred and fifteen rhyming stanzas of superb beauty. The Karl/ca is a classic of Vedanta, and it takes us to the highest pinnacle of religious and spiritual thought.

Brahman or the supreme Truth is intuited by the sages of realization as the unknowable but knowing Atman. It is the Knower or Experiencer of the three states experienced by man—waking, dream, and sleep. By establishing the identity of this Knower, visva-taijasaprajna, with the .Atman-Brahman reality in man, which is called turiya or the Fourth, and by pointing out the oneness of the Witness of the three states with the corresponding cosmic phenomenon of Virat-Hiranyagarbha-Isvara, the rsi of the Mandukya Upan4ad and its expounder Gaudapadacarya strike a masterly note in the Indian philosophical symphony. By doing so they reveal a unique path of Self-realization acceptable to all minds in all parts of the world.

Harmonizing the various paths to spiritual perfection, Sri Gau4apada advocates a direct means to Self-realization unaided by ritualistic or religious or philosophic gyrations, for which he has little regard. He denies all dualistic concepts, such as birth or death, bondage or freedom, sadhana or sadhaka, mukti or band/ca, considering them all as mere conjectures of the mind, and hence insubstantial. He commands the aspirant to be, to know that he is, the atman or Brahman, the advaya, the only One without a second, devoid of all dualistic apprehensions. To use the Mandukya phraseology, ‘The state of realization called turiya is beatific and peaceful. It is (experienced by the advanced spiritual aspirant as) the unceasing and essential awareness or consciousness of all beings on the cessation of all worldliness.’ This discipline contradicts no religion; on the other hand, it fulfils all modes of sadhana for the realization 0f the Self. It alone gives meaning to life.

The individual’s identification with the body, the persisting attachment to sensual pleasures, attributing wrong values to things, in one word, adhyasa or superim-position, is the sole cause of human bondage. This adhyasa can be avoided or circumvented only by Self realization. Freedom of the soul consists in identifying oneself with the impersonal Brahman which is connoted by such Upanisadic terms as asparsa (transcendent), asanga (unattached), aja (unborn or impersonal), or advaya (non-dual). Asparsa-yoga, to use the phrase of Sri Gaudapada, is the individual’s union with or absorption in the Impersonal or unborn Supreme. This blessed state is achieved when one is completely rid of desire, fear, and anger, and when one constantly tunes the mind to the Atman. The apparent differences and distinctions entailed by name and form should be forgotten and eschewed, and one should learn to see all as one’s own self. As Sri Krsna, the Master of yoga says, the greatest yogin is he who feels his identity and oneness with all, knowing all as his own Self. One should follow this simple form of religion and attain the summum bonum of life. ‘And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’ (John 8.32)—this, in brief, is the argument of Sri Gaudapada.

The present work is a simple English rendering of Sri Gaudapada’s Karika on the Mandukya Upanisad and an expository English version of the twelve mantras of the basic text. It is a fresh attempt to present in English the simplest religion ever known. It is written in clear language, avoiding technicalities. There is pressing necessity for such an approach nowadays when almost everyone seems to be misguided or confused by the multitudinous religious masters, each one contradicting the other. In real religion there is no room for philosophical discussions or hair-splitting arguments, for real religion is atmanubhuti or Self- realization. It has nothing to do with all the arguments and discussions about atmanubhuti for these are mainly invented by scholars. Learn to live with Truth and you will soon be one with it. As the Mundaka Upanisad (3.1.5) tells us in unambiguous language, ‘awareness of the indwelling self-effulgent Atman comes to the aspirant after truth by the constant practice of truthfulness (satya), austerity (tapas), purity (brahmacarya) and right knowledge (samyag jnana). The last-mentioned discipline, namely, right knowledge, forms the subject matter of the Mandukya Upanisad and of Sri Gaudapada’s Karika on it. Right knowledge consists in knowing one’s identity with the impersonal Bushman and hence feeling one’s identity or oneness with all beings.

The five slokas composed by Sri Sankaracarya as adoration to Sri Gaudapada, which appear as invocation, will put the reader in the proper frame of mind to grasp the intended meaning of the book.

The Mãç4ukya.kdrikd is divided into four chapters, technically called prakaranas. The first chapter, on Upanisadic Wisdom (agama), is a commentary in verse on the twelve mantras of the Mandukya Upanisad; it shows the importance and uniqueness of Om, the most universal symbol of the supreme Truth or Brahman.

The second chapter, on Misapprehension (vaitathya), describes the illusory nature of samsara using the analogy of dream. The third chapter, on the Non-dual Truth (advaita), describes the nature of the Simon (Self) in clear language using the very terms and arguments of the Upanisads. The second and third chapters both graphically reveal the confusion and suffering of man imposed by his foolish consideration of himself as the body-mind-complex and superimposing the qualities of the body mind-complex on the Self. The well-known analogies of the snake-on-the-rope, space-in-the-jar, and objects-seen-in-dream are ably employed by Sri Gauda- path to prove the unreality or insubstantiality of the world of relative experiences (samsara). A single-minded aspirant will be convinced beyond all doubt that the Atman is one, pure, and non-dual, and that the sense of difference, impurity, and duality are only attributed to the Self by the undiscerning mind. The fourth chapter, on Disillusionment (atatasanti)’. is a vindication of advaita; it expounds the glory of the philosophy of advaita and its superiority to the partial views of Truth championed by the different materialistic and dualistic philosophers.

Appendix I contains twenty-one verses by Sri Sankaracarya, divided into two sections The first section entitled Tattvamasi, or You are Brahman, is an extract from his Vivekacudamani (slokas 254-64) ; the second is his Dasasloki, or Ten Verses on the Atman.

‘Alatasanti: lit, quenching of the fire-brand, an expression used by Buddhist philosophers to signify nirvana (moksa), where all qualities and mentations are extinguished or pacified.

These verses combine to form the final word on the nature of the Self, and on the awareness and bliss of the Self experienced by a man of Self-realization. Appendix II, Is Vedanta the Future Religion? by Swami Vivekananda, is an impassioned appeal by him to all spiritual aspirants to follow the essential path of Self-knowledge, abandoning all dualistic considerations and superstitions. These two presentations, one by Sri Sankaracarya and the other by Swami Vivekananda, who are the two great teachers of advaita, representing the classical and modern periods, form a resume of the Mandukya Upanisad and of the Gaudapada-karika.

The Notes explain certain difficult words and the Concordance lists a few parallel passages from the major Upani1ads, the I3hagavata, the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and the Works of Swami Vivekananda. These may be helpful in understanding the text.

The aspirant who reads and understands this little text-book on Vedanta, the religion of humankind, will learn about Truth without any confusion. The following lines by C. R. Haines point to the magnificence of this precious text.

If thou wouldst master care and pain,
Unfold this book and read and read again
Its blessed leaves, whereby thou soon shalt see
The past, the present, and the days to be
With opened eyes.

May all who go through this rendering be blessed with right knowledge. May they realize the Atman and find everlasting peace.

Contents

The Figures in bracket in bracket indicate the number of verses of the respective chapter of the Karika; numbers preceded by U refer to the passages in the Mandukya Upanisad.
Foreword vii
Preface xiii
Acknowledgements, Abbreviations xix
Note on Transliteration xx
Invocation xxi
Chapter 1: On Upanisadic Wisdom (Agama-prakarna) 2-21
1. Om is the source of all (U.1)
2. The Atman is Brahman (U.2)
3. Nature of vaisvanara, the consciousness in waking state (U.3)
4. Nature of taijasa, the consciousness in dream state (U.4)
5. Nature of prajna, the consciousness in sleep state (U.5)
6. Prajna metaphorically referred to as Isvara (U.6)
7. Characteristics of visva, taijasa and prajna (U.5)
8. Various theories about the origin of beings; the purpose of creation (6-9)
9. Nature of turiya (U.7)
10. Experiences of jiva in the three states (10-12)
11. Experience of jiva in turiya (13-16)
12. Duality is only apparent and is perceived in ignorance (17-18)
13. A, u and m: the three components of Om; their correspondence to visva, taijasa, and prajna (U. 8-11)
14. Visva, taijasa, and prajna are comparable to a, u, and m of Om (19-21)
15. Turiya is the final realization transcending the three states (U.12)
16. Glory of the knower of Om that is Brahman (22-29)
Chapter 2: On Misapprehension (Vaitathya-prakarana) 22-23
1. Unreality of dream (1-3)
2. Similarity of waking and dream states (4-15)
3. Avidya or ignorance is the basis of all experiences in waking, dream and sleep state (16-18)
4. The same Atman (Self) is connoted by various words by different adherents from different standpoints (19-28)
5. Self-realization transcends all other experiences (29)
6. Atman is the same though perceived differently by the undiscerning (30-31)
7. Final truth according to Vedanta; the state of realization (32-38)
Chapter 3: On the Non-dual Truth (Advaita-prakarana) 34-47
1. Superiority of the Impersonal approach (1-2)
2. Embodiment does not affect the jiva or individual soul; comparisons with the space enclosed in a jar (3-12)
3. Identity of jiva and Brahman; the purport of the srutis; place of worship (13-16)
4. Dualists and non-dualists and their approaches; Non-dualists’ position is incontrovertible (17-28)
5. Differences of Samadhi and sleep. State of realization is beyond ignorance; it is incomparable (29-38)
6. Asparsa-yoga explained. (39)
7. Pre-requisites of Realization; cessation or sublimation of all mentations results in Samadhi (40-45)
8. Final achievement of a yogin (46-48)
Chapter 4: On Disillusionment (Alatasanti-prakarana) 48-77
1. Adoration to the guru (1)
2. Absorption in the Transcendental (asparsa-yoga) extremely beneficial to all (2)
3. Different and opposing stands of philosophers (3-8)
4. Nature (prakrti) defined (9)
5. All beings are inherently free; bondage is apparent, unreal and illogical – arguments (10-23)
6. Experience or knowledge of objects is dependent on the mind which is in no way connected with the objects (24-29)
7. Samsara or relative existence has no origin; analogy of dream (30-41)
8. Ordinary man feels averse to non-dualism (42-43)
9. Apparent objects fulfil apparent needs; they are non-existent (44-45)
10. The Impersonal or Brahman is the basis of mind and being; analogy of burning torch (46-50)
11. Objects of knowledge, cause and effect relation Consciousness is eternal and changeless (51-54)
12. Attachment to sense world and ignorance are the causes of samsara (55-57)
13. Experience of Jivahood is apparent; Atman alone is real; analogy of magic (58-60)
14. Dream is a creation of the mind (61-70)
15. The highest Truth (71-76)
16. Falsity of dualistic experiences (77-79)
17. Withdrawal of the mind from sense objects ends in realization (810-82)
18. Various concepts about the Atman (83-84)
19. State of Brahmandood and the knower of Brahman; the State of supreme knowledge (85-89)
20. Points to ponder in spiritual life (90-98)
21. The knower of Brahman (99)
22. Adoration to the Knowledge of the Supreme (100)
Appendix I – Tattvamasi, Dasasloka 78
II. Is Vedanta the Future Religion? 89
Concordance 115
Notes139

The Mandukya-Karika

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Foreword

According to the Bhagavadgita (2.55), the jivanmukta, or the man of spiritual illumination, is one who has renounced all desires of the heart and who is satisfied with the Atman alone. Leaving aside the world of maya, the spiritual aspirant lives laborious days of sadhana. Like a steady mountain climber, he faces and overcomes all dangers and difficulties and does not stop until he reaches the Everest peak of realization through nirvikalpasamadhi. Such an illumined Soul or jivanmukta is Gaudapada. He is a shining star on the spiritual horizon of India.

The state of Brahma-nirvana or Bliss of Self awareness baffles all description. It is beyond thought and speech. It is turiya, a transcendental plane of conciousness where time stops and the law of causation becomes an image of the dream state. It is a timeless realization where the sparkling radiance of eternity floods the whole being of man.

Gaudapada speaks of it in his Karika as amanibhava, mindlessness. It is not a state of unconsciousness but a state of super consciousness which defies our analytical mind and its logical understanding. It is a revelation which transcends the realm of reason but does not contradict reason. Sri Ramakrishna attained it and his foremost disciple, Swami Vivekananda, reached it through the grace of his divine guns. In his beautiful poem, Samadhi, Swamiji has described this state as avanmanasagocaram—beyond the range of thought and speech. It is an ineffable experience which cannot be described in words nor can it be comprehended by thought. It can be felt by one who has dived deep in his inner consciousness and become one with pure being, the absolute reality or the nirguna Brahman.

Gaudapada’s ajatavada or the Doctrine of Non- causality is a great gift to the treasure-house of the world’s spiritual wisdom. According to him, the ultimate reality, which is the unchanging principle of consciousness, cannot be void or Sunya but is Self- awareness. The knower knows because knowing is the invariable constituent and the very essence of the knower. Knowing and being are one, like the sun and its effulgent light. Atman may be compared to the sun for its light never fades. Likewise the mind may be compared to the moon for it shines by the borrowed light of the Atman. The consciousness of the Atman is basic and fundamental, but the consciousness of the mind is derivative. Intellect delimits the limitless consciousness. As Shelley says,

Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity. (Adonais 52) Unless we rise above the prism of the intellect, we will never be able to penetrate into the heart of reality and become one with the infinite Being—the ocean of perennial bliss, the essence of purity and everlasting life.

The French philosopher Descartes says, ‘I think, therefore I exist.’ Gau4apada says, ‘I exist, therefore I think. ‘ I exist as saksi caitanya, witness consciousness, therefore my mind creates vrtti caitanya, reflected consciousness, through thought-waves of which Jam always a detached spectator. Witness consciousness is undoubtedly nitya caitanya, eternal consciousness. It is the Atman, the undivided consciousness in every man, regardless of creed, colour, nationality or race. Atman is ever awake, never asleep. It knows no birth or death; it is immortal. It is turiya. According to Patanjali, turiya is a state of consciousness. Gat4apãda says that all states belong to the mind and are therefore mutable; he also says that turiya is not a state but is the very essence of being, unchanging and eternal; it is the true nature of man which an enlightened man knows as his Self. It is not to be attained, but it is to be known without a shadow of doubt and to be discovered through the yoga of discrimination. Turiya as the Atman is ever living and is an ever-conscious reality which no death can liquidate. Swami Vivekananda, who went to America to forge a bridge of understanding between the East and the West, and who undoubtedly falls in line with the illumined teachers of India like Gau4apada and Sankara, says in his lecture entitled Practical Vedanta, delivered in London:

‘We are in reality that infinite being, and our personalities represent so many channels through which the infinite reality is manifesting itself and the whole mass of change which we call evolution is brought about by the soul trying to express more and more of its infinite energy. We cannot stop anywhere on this side of the infinite; our power and blessedness and wisdom cannot but grow into the infinite. Infinite power and existence and blessedness are ours and we do not have to acquire them, they are ours and we have only to manifest them.’ (CW. 2.339)

To establish Reality on a firm foundation Gaudapada follows a distinctive method, which is known as the avasthatraya method. The three states are waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep. All of us go through these three states. But the study of the three states will reveal to us that the experience of the waking state will be negated by the experience of the dream state. Again the experiences of the waking slate as well as of the dream state will be negated when we go into the state called dreamless sleep. According to Gaudapada, non-coutradictability, or abadhitatva, is the test of truth. If one state negates another state, it must be changeful and therefore unreal. Reality must be immutable at all times and under all circumstances. Gau4aØda names it as turiya, the fourth, the basic consciousness. The Atman is like the light on the stage which reveals that the actors and spectators are gone. During the period of dreamless sleep we apparently become unconscious.

Some scholars describe Gaudapada as ‘a hidden Buddhist.’ I do not agree with their statement because he refuted the doctrine of anatmavada of Nagarjuna. Gau4apada says, ‘One can deny everything else, but one can never deny the existence of the denier’. The consciousness ‘I am’ always remains, and the apparent self connected with the mind is changeful. But the real Self, which is dissociated from the mind, is ever permanent, ever blissful, and is always unchanging. Again, the real Self is partless, one simple unit which cannot be divided into parts, and which is undecaying and immortal. The philosophy of Gaudapada is based on the doctrine of perfection or transcendence (purnata) of the real Self of man.

In the modern age, science has developed tremendous energy by splitting the atom and thus creating the hydrogen bomb for the destruction of mankind. The power of nuclear force is fundamentally a material force, acicchakti. Gau4apada, by splitting maya and relegating the categories of time, space, and causation to the world of phenomenal existence, has released acicchakti—the infinite energy of the Atman—for the good of all and for the happiness of all. That acicchakti was awakened in our present age by Sri Ramakrishna for creating universal harmony. Swami Vivekananda, the chief apostle of the Master, says most eloquently in his lecture on My Master delivered in New York: ‘This is the message 0f Sri Ramakrishna to the modern world: “Do not care for doctrines, do not care for dogmas, Or sects, or churches or temples; they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man, which is spirituality, and the more this is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good. Earn that first, acquire that, and criticise no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them. Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, or names, or sects, but that it means spiritual realization. Only those call understand who have felt. Only those who have attained to spirituality can communicate it to others, can be great teachers of mankind. They alone are the Powers of light.”’ (CW. 4.187)

To attain jivanmukti or deathless immortality while we are living on earth and to radiate universal love to all mankind is the goal of Gaudapada’s philosophy; it gives prestige, dignity, and divinity to man no matter whether he is born in the East or in the West.

Keats says, ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever’ To me, Swami Gabhirananda’s present translation of the Mandukya-karika is a source of joy. He has combined in his excellent translation scholarship with simplicity. All great things in life are very simple. The air we breathe, the sunshine we enjoy, the Mother’s love that we cherish through the length of our days, are all very simple. Likewise, when the style of a book is simple and clear, it captures the imagination of ardent souls who seek knowledge from a clear fountain from which a perennial flow of wisdom springs unceasingly.

May Swami Gabhirananda’s dedicated work of love be like an altar-flower, fit to be laid at the feet of the Divine to awaken the spiritual consciousness of souls in India as well as in the West. I commend this book for the perusal of scholars as well as of the enthusiastic public who are interested in Advaita Vedanta, for their understanding, appreciation, and spiritual benefit.

Preface

All truth is eternal. Truth is nobody’s property; no race, no individual can lay any exclusive claim to it. Truth is the nature of all souls. Who can lay any exclusive claim to it? But it has to be made practical, to be made simple, so that it may penetrate every pore of human society, and become the property of the highest intellects and the commonest minds, of the man, woman, and child at the same time. All these ratiocinations of logic, all these bundles of metaphysics, all these theologies and ceremonies, may have been good in their own time, but let us try to make things simpler and bring about the golden days when every man will be a worshipper, and the Reality in every man will be the object of worship.

The Mandukya Upanisad, enshrining the mahavakya ‘ayam atma brahma—the individual Self is the supreme Self’, is the shortest of the Upanisads. It has only twelve mantras. The Karika (explanatory verses) on it by Gauapadacarya forms the simplest and most lucid text of Vedanta. Sri Sankaracarya, the commentator, says that the four chapters of the Karika are ‘vedantartha-sara-sangrahabhutam—the very essence and epitome of all Vedantic knowledge’. Equalled only by the Bhagavad-Gita in sweetness of language, this lovely lyric in Sanskrit contains two hundred and fifteen rhyming stanzas of superb beauty. The Karl/ca is a classic of Vedanta, and it takes us to the highest pinnacle of religious and spiritual thought.

Brahman or the supreme Truth is intuited by the sages of realization as the unknowable but knowing Atman. It is the Knower or Experiencer of the three states experienced by man—waking, dream, and sleep. By establishing the identity of this Knower, visva-taijasaprajna, with the .Atman-Brahman reality in man, which is called turiya or the Fourth, and by pointing out the oneness of the Witness of the three states with the corresponding cosmic phenomenon of Virat-Hiranyagarbha-Isvara, the rsi of the Mandukya Upan4ad and its expounder Gaudapadacarya strike a masterly note in the Indian philosophical symphony. By doing so they reveal a unique path of Self-realization acceptable to all minds in all parts of the world.

Harmonizing the various paths to spiritual perfection, Sri Gau4apada advocates a direct means to Self-realization unaided by ritualistic or religious or philosophic gyrations, for which he has little regard. He denies all dualistic concepts, such as birth or death, bondage or freedom, sadhana or sadhaka, mukti or band/ca, considering them all as mere conjectures of the mind, and hence insubstantial. He commands the aspirant to be, to know that he is, the atman or Brahman, the advaya, the only One without a second, devoid of all dualistic apprehensions. To use the Mandukya phraseology, ‘The state of realization called turiya is beatific and peaceful. It is (experienced by the advanced spiritual aspirant as) the unceasing and essential awareness or consciousness of all beings on the cessation of all worldliness.’ This discipline contradicts no religion; on the other hand, it fulfils all modes of sadhana for the realization 0f the Self. It alone gives meaning to life.

The individual’s identification with the body, the persisting attachment to sensual pleasures, attributing wrong values to things, in one word, adhyasa or superim-position, is the sole cause of human bondage. This adhyasa can be avoided or circumvented only by Self realization. Freedom of the soul consists in identifying oneself with the impersonal Brahman which is connoted by such Upanisadic terms as asparsa (transcendent), asanga (unattached), aja (unborn or impersonal), or advaya (non-dual). Asparsa-yoga, to use the phrase of Sri Gaudapada, is the individual’s union with or absorption in the Impersonal or unborn Supreme. This blessed state is achieved when one is completely rid of desire, fear, and anger, and when one constantly tunes the mind to the Atman. The apparent differences and distinctions entailed by name and form should be forgotten and eschewed, and one should learn to see all as one’s own self. As Sri Krsna, the Master of yoga says, the greatest yogin is he who feels his identity and oneness with all, knowing all as his own Self. One should follow this simple form of religion and attain the summum bonum of life. ‘And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’ (John 8.32)—this, in brief, is the argument of Sri Gaudapada.

The present work is a simple English rendering of Sri Gaudapada’s Karika on the Mandukya Upanisad and an expository English version of the twelve mantras of the basic text. It is a fresh attempt to present in English the simplest religion ever known. It is written in clear language, avoiding technicalities. There is pressing necessity for such an approach nowadays when almost everyone seems to be misguided or confused by the multitudinous religious masters, each one contradicting the other. In real religion there is no room for philosophical discussions or hair-splitting arguments, for real religion is atmanubhuti or Self- realization. It has nothing to do with all the arguments and discussions about atmanubhuti for these are mainly invented by scholars. Learn to live with Truth and you will soon be one with it. As the Mundaka Upanisad (3.1.5) tells us in unambiguous language, ‘awareness of the indwelling self-effulgent Atman comes to the aspirant after truth by the constant practice of truthfulness (satya), austerity (tapas), purity (brahmacarya) and right knowledge (samyag jnana). The last-mentioned discipline, namely, right knowledge, forms the subject matter of the Mandukya Upanisad and of Sri Gaudapada’s Karika on it. Right knowledge consists in knowing one’s identity with the impersonal Bushman and hence feeling one’s identity or oneness with all beings.

The five slokas composed by Sri Sankaracarya as adoration to Sri Gaudapada, which appear as invocation, will put the reader in the proper frame of mind to grasp the intended meaning of the book.

The Mãç4ukya.kdrikd is divided into four chapters, technically called prakaranas. The first chapter, on Upanisadic Wisdom (agama), is a commentary in verse on the twelve mantras of the Mandukya Upanisad; it shows the importance and uniqueness of Om, the most universal symbol of the supreme Truth or Brahman.

The second chapter, on Misapprehension (vaitathya), describes the illusory nature of samsara using the analogy of dream. The third chapter, on the Non-dual Truth (advaita), describes the nature of the Simon (Self) in clear language using the very terms and arguments of the Upanisads. The second and third chapters both graphically reveal the confusion and suffering of man imposed by his foolish consideration of himself as the body-mind-complex and superimposing the qualities of the body mind-complex on the Self. The well-known analogies of the snake-on-the-rope, space-in-the-jar, and objects-seen-in-dream are ably employed by Sri Gauda- path to prove the unreality or insubstantiality of the world of relative experiences (samsara). A single-minded aspirant will be convinced beyond all doubt that the Atman is one, pure, and non-dual, and that the sense of difference, impurity, and duality are only attributed to the Self by the undiscerning mind. The fourth chapter, on Disillusionment (atatasanti)’. is a vindication of advaita; it expounds the glory of the philosophy of advaita and its superiority to the partial views of Truth championed by the different materialistic and dualistic philosophers.

Appendix I contains twenty-one verses by Sri Sankaracarya, divided into two sections The first section entitled Tattvamasi, or You are Brahman, is an extract from his Vivekacudamani (slokas 254-64) ; the second is his Dasasloki, or Ten Verses on the Atman.

‘Alatasanti: lit, quenching of the fire-brand, an expression used by Buddhist philosophers to signify nirvana (moksa), where all qualities and mentations are extinguished or pacified.

These verses combine to form the final word on the nature of the Self, and on the awareness and bliss of the Self experienced by a man of Self-realization. Appendix II, Is Vedanta the Future Religion? by Swami Vivekananda, is an impassioned appeal by him to all spiritual aspirants to follow the essential path of Self-knowledge, abandoning all dualistic considerations and superstitions. These two presentations, one by Sri Sankaracarya and the other by Swami Vivekananda, who are the two great teachers of advaita, representing the classical and modern periods, form a resume of the Mandukya Upanisad and of the Gaudapada-karika.

The Notes explain certain difficult words and the Concordance lists a few parallel passages from the major Upani1ads, the I3hagavata, the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and the Works of Swami Vivekananda. These may be helpful in understanding the text.

The aspirant who reads and understands this little text-book on Vedanta, the religion of humankind, will learn about Truth without any confusion. The following lines by C. R. Haines point to the magnificence of this precious text.

If thou wouldst master care and pain,
Unfold this book and read and read again
Its blessed leaves, whereby thou soon shalt see
The past, the present, and the days to be
With opened eyes.

May all who go through this rendering be blessed with right knowledge. May they realize the Atman and find everlasting peace.

Contents

The Figures in bracket in bracket indicate the number of verses of the respective chapter of the Karika; numbers preceded by U refer to the passages in the Mandukya Upanisad.
Foreword vii
Preface xiii
Acknowledgements, Abbreviations xix
Note on Transliteration xx
Invocation xxi
Chapter 1: On Upanisadic Wisdom (Agama-prakarna) 2-21
1. Om is the source of all (U.1)
2. The Atman is Brahman (U.2)
3. Nature of vaisvanara, the consciousness in waking state (U.3)
4. Nature of taijasa, the consciousness in dream state (U.4)
5. Nature of prajna, the consciousness in sleep state (U.5)
6. Prajna metaphorically referred to as Isvara (U.6)
7. Characteristics of visva, taijasa and prajna (U.5)
8. Various theories about the origin of beings; the purpose of creation (6-9)
9. Nature of turiya (U.7)
10. Experiences of jiva in the three states (10-12)
11. Experience of jiva in turiya (13-16)
12. Duality is only apparent and is perceived in ignorance (17-18)
13. A, u and m: the three components of Om; their correspondence to visva, taijasa, and prajna (U. 8-11)
14. Visva, taijasa, and prajna are comparable to a, u, and m of Om (19-21)
15. Turiya is the final realization transcending the three states (U.12)
16. Glory of the knower of Om that is Brahman (22-29)
Chapter 2: On Misapprehension (Vaitathya-prakarana) 22-23
1. Unreality of dream (1-3)
2. Similarity of waking and dream states (4-15)
3. Avidya or ignorance is the basis of all experiences in waking, dream and sleep state (16-18)
4. The same Atman (Self) is connoted by various words by different adherents from different standpoints (19-28)
5. Self-realization transcends all other experiences (29)
6. Atman is the same though perceived differently by the undiscerning (30-31)
7. Final truth according to Vedanta; the state of realization (32-38)
Chapter 3: On the Non-dual Truth (Advaita-prakarana) 34-47
1. Superiority of the Impersonal approach (1-2)
2. Embodiment does not affect the jiva or individual soul; comparisons with the space enclosed in a jar (3-12)
3. Identity of jiva and Brahman; the purport of the srutis; place of worship (13-16)
4. Dualists and non-dualists and their approaches; Non-dualists’ position is incontrovertible (17-28)
5. Differences of Samadhi and sleep. State of realization is beyond ignorance; it is incomparable (29-38)
6. Asparsa-yoga explained. (39)
7. Pre-requisites of Realization; cessation or sublimation of all mentations results in Samadhi (40-45)
8. Final achievement of a yogin (46-48)
Chapter 4: On Disillusionment (Alatasanti-prakarana) 48-77
1. Adoration to the guru (1)
2. Absorption in the Transcendental (asparsa-yoga) extremely beneficial to all (2)
3. Different and opposing stands of philosophers (3-8)
4. Nature (prakrti) defined (9)
5. All beings are inherently free; bondage is apparent, unreal and illogical – arguments (10-23)
6. Experience or knowledge of objects is dependent on the mind which is in no way connected with the objects (24-29)
7. Samsara or relative existence has no origin; analogy of dream (30-41)
8. Ordinary man feels averse to non-dualism (42-43)
9. Apparent objects fulfil apparent needs; they are non-existent (44-45)
10. The Impersonal or Brahman is the basis of mind and being; analogy of burning torch (46-50)
11. Objects of knowledge, cause and effect relation Consciousness is eternal and changeless (51-54)
12. Attachment to sense world and ignorance are the causes of samsara (55-57)
13. Experience of Jivahood is apparent; Atman alone is real; analogy of magic (58-60)
14. Dream is a creation of the mind (61-70)
15. The highest Truth (71-76)
16. Falsity of dualistic experiences (77-79)
17. Withdrawal of the mind from sense objects ends in realization (810-82)
18. Various concepts about the Atman (83-84)
19. State of Brahmandood and the knower of Brahman; the State of supreme knowledge (85-89)
20. Points to ponder in spiritual life (90-98)
21. The knower of Brahman (99)
22. Adoration to the Knowledge of the Supreme (100)
Appendix I – Tattvamasi, Dasasloka 78
II. Is Vedanta the Future Religion? 89
Concordance 115
Notes139
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