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तैत्तिरीयोपनिषदि: Taittiriya Upanishad With Sri Shankara''s Commentary

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Item Code: NZG028
Author: Shri Satchidanandendra Saraswati
Publisher: Adhyatma Prakashan Karyalaya, Bangalore
Edition: 2011
Pages: 544
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 840 gm
Book Description


General observations on the scope and tenor of the Taittiriya Upanishad, will be found in the Introduction to the Shiksha Valli. We shall now enter upon the central theme of the Upanishad as taught in the Ananda Valli and the Bhrigu Valli, which together form a composite whole.


The Relation between the Two Parts of the Upanishad

From Shankara's introductory remarks on the Shiksha (pp. 2,3) as well as the Ananda Valli (para 3, p-7), we learn that while Brahmavidya is actually begun in the Shiksha Valli alone, it is still merely Upasana (meditation) of the conditioned Brahman that is attempted there. That teaching necessarily presumes the distinction of Brahman and the devotee, who is to reach Brahman only after shuffling off this mortal coil. Now, all this is within the sphere of Avidya (ignorance) of the pure Brahman, and therefore the Highest Goal is not attained until one realises his absolute identity with Brahman after annihilating this nescience. It is only on this supposition that one can understand why, on exhausting all meditations whether exclusive of or conjoint with Karma, a distinct section like the Ananda Valli devoted solely to the pure knowledge of Brahman, becomes necessary.


Subject-matter of this portion

We may now enter into details of the Upaanishadic teaching as presented here. Brahman, is Reality, Consciousness, Infinity (9) and Bliss (97). Whoever realises it as one's own Self, has no cause of fear at all, since he abides forever in that second less Brahman (67) beyond the pale of fear. And Tapas (contracting of all the organs of knowledge) is the one indispensable means to this knowledge (94).

There are a few Upasanas enjoined in both the Anandavalli and the Bhriguvalli, but they are meant only for mediocre aspirants. The main trend of the teaching, however, is unbroken even while these Upasanas are interposed in as much as they serve a useful purpose in pointing out the media of realization, or else in glorifying the knower of Brahman in order to eulogize the knowledge of Brahman, as explained at some length in the present commentary (93, pp. 3, 9, 336, 340).


Brahman as the Cause

There are three methods of approach adopted here to lead the aspirant to the intuition of Brahman. All of these may be comprehended under one heading - Adhyaropa - Apavada (the method of deliberate imputation and subsequent negation). This method consists in attributing certain characteristics to the featureless Brahman in order to fix the attention of the student on it, and then passing on to a higher point of view from which the assumed characteristic becomes sublated. The attribution itself, is a concession to the empirical intellect, to enable it, to rise to the higher standpoint later on.

The Modus operandi of the method, may be illustrated by applying it to the notion of causality. The time-bound human intellect is inherently used to the notion of causality so much, that it demands a cause for the entire universe, naively forgetting that this relation, if at all, can obtain within the universe, only between phenomena in time or place. The Upanishad, therefore, starts from a definition of Brahman as Reality, Consciousness and Infinity and declares outright, that even Akasha (ether, the primary element concomitant with time), is produced from Brahman. All creation, or rather evolution, is only a manifestation of Brahman, Paramatman, or God as the true Self of all, who wills to become many, to become this manifold world. He himself enters into the aggregate of the body and senses as jiva- the supporter of the senses- and transforms himself into all that we see- gross and subtle, sentient and non-sentient, real and unreal. Now, this is only for the purpose of pointing out that there can be nothing apart from Brahman, the effect being only the cause in another form. We thus arrive at the conclusion that Brahman is the only Reality, the only Consciousness, and is Infinity itself. Hence, there is no second to limit it. For all limitation is due to space, or time, or a second thing beside the one which it limits. But everything including time and space is produced from Brahman, is infact an appearance super-imposed upon it, and nothing which is merely a construction of the mind, can possibly limit or otherwise affect its real substrate. And the individual soul being no other than Brahman itself, is only a seeming distinct on account of the superimposed adjunct, the mind (8-11 ,50-64). According to Shankara, then, the Sruti apparently teaching creation, only purports to convince the inquirer of his identity with the non-dual Brahman which brooks no second.


The Method of Five Sheaths

Again, the Sruti in the course of describing the evolution of Brahman into the universe, states that from the earth came plants, and from plants food, whence this human being. As related above, Brahman has itself entered this human body and manifests itself as jiva with his various specific properties such as seeing, hearing, thinking and understanding. Now man generally looks upon himself as a body, though he is daily aware of the vital force, mind, and understanding also as a part of himself. The Sruti therefore starts from this false Atman (or body) as the most familiar man and takes the enquirer to the real Atman or Brahman, step by step, through the Pranamaya, Manomaya and Vijnanamaya selves, each subtler than the previous one, each pervading all the previous Koshas or sheaths, and hence more entitled to be considered as one's own self. In each case, however, the Sruti also broadens his ordinary outlook. Thus it identifies the Annamaya with the Cosmic Virat, the Pranamaya with the Cosmic Sutratma, and the Manomaya with Hiranyagarbha as Vedatma, while it identifies the Vijnanamaya with Hiranyagarbha, the Cosmic Buddhyatma, till at last even the Anandamaya or enjoying self is transcended and Brahman as the real self of all is realised as such (24, 25-44, 45).

Here too, the Sruti does not mean to aver that there are actually five different Koshas like scabbards covering a sword - each literally enclosed within the next one. All the Koshas are really super-impositions of Avidya, The only Reality being Brahman. Only each successive Kosha being subtler than the preceding one, claims to be more entitled to be regarded as the real Self, as the enquirer looks deeper and deeper.


Proofs for the Existence of Brahman

Brahman described as the tail and support of Anandamaya being divested of, all conditions, and having no characterizing features whatever,is likely to be considered as altogether nonexistent. Man is so habituated to look upon his body, senses or mind as his own real Self, that he might be inclined to think that after all the Brahman which the Sruti postulates as the real Self of all, might be no more than an abstraction, since nothing whatever remains as a residue after the elimination of the physiological, psychical, intellectual and ethical constituents of the human being. The Sruti, therefore, offers some proofs, or rather persuasive suggestions, to lead him to the intuition of the Real Self. The fact that the world demands a cause or reality underlying it, that there is an individual self inclosed within each mind which an introvert person recognizes as his true Self, that the phenomena of real and apparent names and forms as well as of sentient and insentient beings, desiderate some real basis, that virtue is universally believed to be ultimately rewarded, that all beings strive with the fervent hope of attaining worldly pleasure and with a firm belief in a fountainhead of joy and the fact that some highly developed souls are seen to be altogether free from fear while the rest are invariably inspired with fear, one should conclude that there is Brahman or Reality which alone could satisfactorily account for these data of experience (51, 56, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66.)

While these are by no means proofs in the logical sense of the term, they do arrest our attention and direct us towards Brahman which is our true Self. It is clear that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of our own Self, since it is the very basis of thought which we utilize for proving or disproving anything, and nobody can shake off his own Self, try as he may. And the secondless Brahman as our Self, says the Sruti, is inperceptible, formless, undefinable, not requiring another support, and as such, one who abides in It, is surely established in absolute fearlessness (67).


Trail of Brahmananda

Anandavalli is appropriately so named on account of its revealing the unexcelled, featureless, and secondless bliss called Brahmananda. The Sruti describes Ananda (pleasure) as the central part of Anandamaya as body. And Shankara says:

"Ananda or worldly pleasure, is really Brahman, which manifests itself in a particular modification of the mind whenever one's son, friend or other object of desire, is presented by virtue of good Karma. This is known in ordinary life as 'sensual pleasure'. This pleasure is momentary, because the Karma which gives rise to the particular mood of the mind, is unstable. As the mind is more and more freed from sullying impressions by the practice of concentration, meditation, chastity and reverential faith which dispel the darkening Tamas, it becomes more and more clear and transparent, and the pleasure amplified to that extent" (94).

Thus we learn that Brahmananda or Divine Bliss itself, assumes the guise of worldly pleasure owing to concomitant conditions. That is why the Sruti says "Who could be active and who could breathe, if there were not this Bliss in Akasha?" implying thereby that all human activities really aim at the attainment of this bliss (65). And it is for this reason, too, that the highest type of worldly happiness, attained through external and internal practices, is pointed out here, to enable us to trace this Supreme Bliss. Shankara observes.

"As consciousness is more and more screened by ignorance and as ignorance becomes more and more intense, a particle of the Highest Bliss itself becomes the unstable worldly pleasure experienced by Brahma and other beings downward in the measure of their Karma, meditation and the external means available. This same Bliss is experienced in greater and greater degrees by Manushyas, Gandharvas and other beings in the higher planes according as Avidya, desire and Karma decrease, till the highest point is reached in the bliss of Brahman. When, on the other hand, distinction of . subject and object is blotted out by Vidya, it be- comes the Natural Bliss, perfectly uniform and non-dual" (71)

It will be observed that here, as elsewhere, Avidya is radically responsible for the apparent distinction of the Divine and the mundane. The difference between Brahmananda and worldly pleasures, degrees of worldly happiness and its impermanence - are all creations of Avidya. Just as the removal of this veil of ignorance by knowledge, results in the realization of Brahman untainted by the manifold universe, and in the absolute identity of Brahman and Jiva untinged with the Koshas or rather, just as the universe and individual self enveloped by the Koshas lose their self- identity in, and reveal their eternally real nature as Brahman- so also all worldlier happiness with its apparently various degrees, is seen to merge its self-identity in Brahmananda or Pure Bliss without any distinction of subject and object. Shankara here quotes a Sruti Text: 'It is of this Bliss, verily that other beings enjoy a part. ' (Br. 4-3-32). He compares these particles of Bliss-particles only as seen by ignorance to drops of sea-spray implying thereby that worldly pleasures are for ever one with Brahmananda which is intensively Brahman itself (75).


Reward of Knowledge

Whoever succeeds in identifying the five Koshas with the corresponding macro-cosmic Upadhis of Brahman and melting each preceding Kosha-self in the succeeding one by realizing it as a more subtle, more pervasive and as such more entitled to be regarded as the true Self, finally intuits Brahman as his very Self. He has absolutely nothing to be afraid of, for he verily becomes Brahman itself, simultaneously with the dawn of such intuition (98). He need no more fear the consequences of omitting any good deed or committing a bad one. For in his eyes both the good and the bad have been sublimated and are now indistinguishable from his own Self (88). No desires remain for him unfulfilled; for desires too, have now melted into Atman. It is only adopting the common parlance that the Sruti sings his praise when it declares that he can assume all forms and enjoy desired objects in whatever worlds they may happen to exist (110).


Knowledge and Ignorance

Thus, according to Shankara, the process of the one Brahman becoming the manifold universe, Brahman's entering the body as a living soul, the soul's introspection and discrimination of the five Koshas, and its final realization and rest in the Bliss of .Brahman ineffable and incomprehensible, and beyond the pale of fear, these and other details belong to the province of Adhyaropa or deliberate imputation only, merely intended as a device to make the teaching intelligible to the enquiring mind (86, 90); for all duality is a figment of Avidya. One may convince oneself of this truth by turning one's mind to the experience of deep sleep, where, in the absence of Avidya, no trace of duality is to be seen: It cannot be contended that non-experience of duality in that state, may itself be due to ignorance, just like the perception of the dual world in the other two states; for, what we call sleep is the natural state of Atman not contingent on any extraneous factor (81).

In truth, however, neither knowledge nor ignorance is a property of the Self, in as much as they are both objects of intuition, whereas the Self itself can never be objectified. They belong, therefore, to the category of names and forms, superimposed on the Self (83) like day and night that are naively imputed to the Sun.


The Present Commentary

The Bhashya on the Taittiriya Upanishad, though written in a very simple style, contains many such valuable thoughts often tersely put in aphoristic sentences demanding an elucidative commentary. There is available, no doubt, the invaluable Vartika by Sureswaracharya the immediate disciple of Shankara, but it is in itself too brief for a beginner to understand all that is implied in it. Anandagiri's Tika and Sayana's elaborate Bhashya on the Taittiriya Aranyaka, are, as observed in my Introduction to the Sikshavalli, often wide of the mark, and cannot be taken for safe guides on many a knotty point that puzzles the ordinary student of the Bhashya.

Feeling therefore that an explanatory commentary on the Bhashya, is still a desideratum, I have tried, in my humble way, to supply this want. The procedure adopted here, is the same as in my ("Mandukya Rahasya Vivriti") a complete explanation of the Bhashya in all its implications from the beginning to the end in the order in which they occur, together with a critical review of objections to Shankaras interpretation by recent writers belonging to other schools of Vedanta, so as to bring to the forefront the comparative excellence of Shankara's system.

For this purpose, I have relied upon Shankara's other commentaries on the Prasthana Trayi or the Tripod of Vedanta (to wit: the Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita and the Brahmasutras), the Upadesha Sahasri of Shankara, the Vartikas of Sureswaracharya, and Gaudapada's famous Karikas, as my exclusive authorities for determining the traditional method and the cardinal doctrines of Vedanta. I have not hesitated to examine any errors of thought or interpretation in other commentaries, which I deemed to be in clash with Shankara's views on points of importance.

As usual in my edition of the other Bhashyas, the original text has been sub-divided into paragraphs with appropriate headings. The division of the Upanishadic Text itself into Anuvakas, as accepted by Vedic reciters, could not be followed here, and so, in order to exhibit the correspondence between the original and the Bhashya, I have been obliged to divide the Text into several Khandas for convenience' sake, preserving, however, the usual Anuvaka division also with due warning of the beginning and end of each Anuvaka. All the important various readings have been noted, with reasons adduced for the one adopted here. Summaries of both the Anandavalli and the Bhriguvalli, have been added and two Indexes - one for the important words occurring in the Bhashya, and another a fairly exhaustive Subject-Index to the commentary itself - have been incorporated in the Appendix.

I hope that this edition of the Bhashya and the new commentary now presented, will be of some use to the students of Shankara, who wish to appreciate the teachings of that revered teacher, constant memory of whose holy feet, is my one solace in life.



Anand valli

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