The Sūtasamhitā – Part 10
The Sūtasamhitā – Chāndogya Upaniṣat
Thus, for the reason that – the body, organs, mind etc. are products of the elements and therefore insentient and that they are the not-self and subject to misery, etc. and perish, it is incumbent upon an aspirant of immortality, liberation, to consciously cease to identify with them and fix his attention on his true self that is the witness of all that is not-self and is verily pure consciousness and bliss and eternal. It is only by this exercise that leads to a firm conviction of one’s true nature that anyone can attain to his native state of liberation and not by any other means. This is the method of the Veda.
यदिदं साक्षिणा वेद्यं तत्सर्वं ब्रह्म केवलम् ।
तत्सत्यं पूर्णचैतन्यं तत्त्वमर्थो न संशयः ॥ ७५॥
यत् that इदं this साक्षिणा by the witness वेद्यं known तत् that सर्वं all ब्रह्म Brahman केवलम् alone तत् that सत्यं Real पूर्णचैतन्यं impartite consciousness तत् that त्वमर्थः is the meaning of ‘tvam, you’ न no संशयः doubt
Thus far in this text the purport of the first part of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad (6th chapter) has been condensed. Here is a gist: The Upaniṣad started with the claim that ‘Brahman, the Sat, Existence, is the only secondless entity’. To prove this, the analogies of clay-clay products, gold-gold products and iron-iron products were presented. The purpose of the analogies is to establish that the material cause alone is real and the effect, that is the products, being mere names and forms, is unreal. Similarly, the effects of Sat, Existence, in the form of the three (five) elements and all that is formed from the elements, are also non-different from the Supreme Cause, the Sat. Thus, all that is seen in the world and also the body-mind complex of the seer, is non-different from Sat, being products formed of the elements, which are also non-different from Sat, being the product thereof. This seminal teaching of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.8.7 is given out nine times to Śvetaketu: स य एषोऽणिमैतदात्म्यमिदं सर्वं तत्सत्यं स आत्मा तत्त्वमसि श्वेतकेतो [‘This is the subtle Ātman that is what the experienced world is, That is the Truth, all this is the Ātman, you, Śvetaketu, are That’].
Brahman is the extremely subtle substratum, adhiṣṭhānam, on which the world is superimposed. In other words, just as a piece of shell is mistaken for a piece of silver, so too, Brahman is mistaken for the world. Thus, the substratum, the locus in which the superimposition is made, is the real and that which is superimposed is the false. Brahman is Satyam, Real, and the world is false, mithyā. The mithyā derives its sattā, existence, and sphUraṇa , shine, from the Real. This Satyam are you, O, Śvetaketu, and not the body-mind complex that appears on the Consciousness, Brahman. The body-mind complex is also fundamentally a product of Sat and hence alone non-different from Brahman. This truth is articulated as ‘that which was wrongly known or seen as the snake is actually the rope.’
Hence alone the equation: the silver is the shell. That (shell) which was wrongly cognized as silver is none other the shell. This is called ‘bādhāyām sāmānādhikaraṇyam’ which means: the sameness, identity, between the substratum and the superimposed, is struck upon negating, sublating, the superimposed. That which is superimposed has no existence separate from the substratum. The imagined snake has no existence, during the period of the error persisting, as different from the rope. The rope itself is seen wrongly as a snake. The jīva who is meant by the word ‘tvam’ (‘you’) is to be understood as non-different from the Absolute Truth, the pāramārthika Satyam that is the all-pervading Chaitanyam, and not something imagined like the seen, dṛśya. One has to be very clear about the status of the jīva as related to the world.
Objection: The above equation does not hold good. The word ‘you’ signifies an external entity and the word ‘I’ denotes the sense of self. Thus being mutually opposed, the two words have quite opposite senses like the words ‘short’ and ‘long’. The other Vedic passage ‘aham brahma asmi’ (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.4.10) [‘I am Brahman’] asserts the Brahmanhood of the self. Such being the case, how does this Vedic passage proclaim ‘Tat tvam asi’ (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.8.7 [‘You are That’] by identifying the external entity ‘you’, verily the not-self, with Brahman?
The reply follows:
त्वंशब्दार्थो य आभाति सोऽहंशब्दार्थ एव हि ।
योऽहंशब्दार्थ आभाति स त्वंशब्दार्थ एव हि ॥ ७६॥
त्वंशब्दार्थः the you-sense यः that आभाति is cognized सः that अहंशब्दार्थः I-sense एव alone हि indeed यः that अहंशब्दार्थः I-sense आभाति that is cognized सः that त्वंशब्दार्थः you-sense एव alone हि indeed
That which is signified by the word ‘you’ is actually non-different from what is meant by the word ‘I’. And the ‘I’ word denotes not anything other than what is meant by the word ‘you.’ An illustration would make the case intelligible. A person named ‘Devadatta’ is a father to his son and at the same time a son to his own father. Thus Devadatta can be both a father and a son simultaneously from two different reference points. The core entity ‘Devadatta’ does not undergo any change just because of such varied references. What dictates the responses as a father and a son is the way Devadatta is addressed and not anything that is to do with his core identity. Similarly the individual’s experience of his own identity with Brahman finds expression in the sentence ‘aham brahma asmi’ and the same identity (aikyam) of the individual (jīva) and Brahman (param) when instructed to another (by the preceptor or the Śruti), takes the form of ‘tat tvam asi.’ Thus there is no contradiction involved here since the two Vedic passages have the same meaning for their content. The latter passage is called ‘upadeśa vākyam’ while the former, the ‘anubhava vākyam’.
Objection: Be that as it may that the two passages are not contradicting mutually. However, the words ‘you’ and ‘I’ in the two sentences signify the ignorant, bound jīva while the words ‘That’ and ‘Brahman’ in those two sentences denote the never-bound, Omniscient Lord. How indeed can there be an identity between the two entities? The next verse is in reply to this question.
त्वमहंशब्दलक्ष्यार्थः साक्षात्प्रत्यक्चितिः परा ।
तच्छब्दस्य च लक्ष्यार्थः सैव नात्र विचारणा ॥ ७७॥
त्वमहंशब्दलक्ष्यार्थः the indirect/indicated meaning of the words ‘you’ and ‘I’ साक्षात्प्रत्यक्चितिः is the essential innermost Consciousness परा Supreme तच्छब्दस्य of the word ‘Tat’ च on the other hand लक्ष्यार्थः indicated meaning सा that एव alone न no अत्र here विचारणा question
The Supreme Reality has been established in the Upaniṣads as Satyam (Unchanging Eternal), Jñānam (Pure objectless Consciousness), Anantam (Infinite), Ānandam (unalloyed Bliss). It is homogenous, without a second of any kind whatsoever. Contrary to this, the Prakṛti, the inert principle composed of the three guṇas – sattva, rajas and tamas – without a beginning but endowed with destruction upon the arising of the enlightening knowledge of none other than Brahman, is imagined and therefore unreal. This prakṛti is of two types: 1.That which subdues rajas and tamas and emerges as pure sattva is called ‘māyā.’ 2. Having been subdued by rajas and tamas, the impure sattva is called ‘avidyā.’ That Supreme Ātmā (Paramātmā), reflected in the māyā-sattva aspect, keeping māyā in its control, is called ‘Parameśvara’ (Supreme Lord), Sarvajña (omniscient). The very same Supreme Ātmā reflected in the avidyā-sattva aspect, being subjected to it, is bound, imagines itself to be a kartā (doer), bhoktā (experiencer), samsārī (transmigrating) jīva. Again, that very Supreme Ātmā assuming the upādhi of tamas-dominant prakṛti, transfigures (vivarta) as the world of experiences produced by the five elements and the elementals (bhūta-bhautika bhogya prapañcha). One Paramātmā alone is the material cause of the world through the upādhi of tamas-dominant prakṛti. With the pure-sattva-predominant aspect of prakṛti as its upādhi this very Paramātman is the efficient cause of the world.
Thus it is one Paramātman that is the non-different material as well as the efficient cause (abhinna-nimittopādāna kāraṇam) and is denoted by the word ‘Sat’ (‘Existence’) by the Chāndogya Upaniṣadic 6.2.1 passage ‘सदेव सोम्येदम्’ [‘O loving one, all this (was) Sat alone’] In that Upaniṣad, by the expression ‘तदैक्षत’ (‘It deliberated’) the efficient cause has been taught of that Sat, by emphasizing Its sentient nature. By the word ‘बहु स्याम्’ [‘I shall become many’] the Upaniṣad teaches that this very Brahman, Sat, the Cause, has transfigured as the entire effect, the world of experience. In this manner the Upaniṣad has itself taught Brahman, Sat, as the ‘abhinna-nimittopādāna kāraṇam’ of creation.
It is this Sat that is relevant to the teaching of ‘tat tvam asi’ wherein it (Sat) is the referent to the pronoun ‘tat’. The entire class of jīva (s), represented by Śvetaketu who is that, is verily the Paramātman with avidyā as upādhi, available as the disciple, is addressed by the father-teacher Uddālaka as ‘you’.
The words ‘tat’ (‘That’) and ‘tvam’ (‘you’) directly denote respectively the māyā and avidyā upādhi-endowed Consciousness. Since an apposition, identity, of these two entities along with the upādhis, is impossible, owing to their completely contradictory characteristics, the partial rejecting of the aspects of māyā and avidyā is resorted to and the sole underlying entity that is the Pure, objectless, Consciousness in both the ‘tvam’ and ‘tat’ alone is indicated and retained. The same mechanism applies in the case of understanding the other vedic passage, ‘aham brahma asmi.’
(Coming soon…Part 11)