Mandukya Upanishad, Class 33


Karika # 1:

upāsanāśrito dharmo jāte brahmaṇi vartate | 
prāgutpatterajaṃ sarvaṃ tenāsau kṛpaṇaḥ smṛtaḥ || 1

1. The Jīva betaking itself to devotion (upāsanā) thinks itself to be related to the Brahman that is supposed to have manifested Himself He is said to be of narrow intellect because he thinks that before creation all was of the nature of the unborn (Reality).

Continuing his teaching Swami Paramarthananda said, in the first two karikas Gaudapada introduces the subject matter. He says Pada Trayam should be equated to Dvaitam or Duality. In all three Padas duality is there, either in manifest form or as unmanifest. This Pada Trayam exists as Karya (pada’s 1 and 2) Karana (third pada) Rupam.

Thus, five attributes of PadaTrayam are: Pada Trayam=Dvaitam=Karya Karana Rupam = Savikaram=Karpanyam.

Karana modifies to Karya.  Wherever modification is there; time is involved and thus Yama is involved. Therefore mortality is involved and separation is involved, whenever time comes in. This misery experienced through old age, death etc is known as Karpanyam. You can’t stop old age or death; this helplessly being victim of time is Karpanyam or Samsara.

Turiyam also has similar five attributes; only they are opposite ones. Thus:

Turiyam=Advaitam=Karya karana Vilakshanam=Nirivikaram=A-Karpanyam=A-Samsaram.

In karika # 1, the first five attributes related to Pada Trayam are described.

In karika # 2, the second five attributes related to Turiyam are described.

You can choose which way you wish to take; misery or moksha; it is all your choice. Gaudapada says, I assume students of Vedanta are interested in Turiyam and therefore I shall deal with it in this chapter; hence chapter is called Advaita Prakaranam. Chapter can be called by any of the names of the five attributes of Turiyam. The name Advaita Prakaranam is also used as it is mentioned in Mantra # 7 as well.

Karika # 1: Every person in duality is miserable. Even exalted duality won’t free him from misery. God is meditated upon and I am the meditator; even here there is duality. Religion is great only in Advaita Gyanam. If it does not go to advaitam, then you are religiously unfortunate, says Gaudapada.

Karika # 2:

ato vakṣyāmyakārpaṇyamajāti samatāṃ gatam | 
yathā na jāyate kiṃcit jāyamānaṃ samantataḥ || 2 ||

2. Therefore I shall now describe that (Brahmanwhich is free from limitationsunborn and which is the same throughoutand from thisone understands that it is not (in reality) born though it appears to be manifested everywhere.

Therefore, since Pada Trayam falls within Samsara, I shall teach Turiya Padam of Atma based on mantra # 7. Turiyam is without Akarpanyam (where there is no tyranny of time) or Samsara (free Turiyam) or it is misery-less Turiyam.

Ajati means Karya Karana Vilakshanam, where there is no birth or creation. Jati here means birth; hence this teaching of Mandukya Upanishad is called Ajati Vada meaning beyond Karya Karana.

Nirvikaram means ever the same; even while body is ever changing and mind is also changing; Turiyam alone is Saman. I will teach you how nothing is born out of Turiyam; it is not a Karanam; and hence it is Karya Karana Vilakshanam. Even though there is appearance of Creation (things being born continuously and then die); I will show you it is not real, it is all just an appearance; just as in a dream, everything is just an appearance; as on waking, everything disappears. Therefore, Turiyam is not a Karanam.

Karika # 3:

ātmā hyākāśavajjīvairghaṭākāśairivoditaḥ | 
ghaṭādivacca saṃghātairjātāvetannidarśanam || 3 ||

3. Ātman may be said to be similar to Ākāśa (ether) manifested in the forms of the Jīvas (embodied selves) which may be compared to the ether enclosed in potsAgain, as pots, etc., are said to be produced from the Ākāśa (ether), similarly (gross) bodies are said to be evolved from the Ātman. This is the illustration of the manifestation (from Brahman, if any).

Now we enter the main teaching. Gudapada makes a grand beginning. He wants to show Turiyam is Karya Karana Vilakshanam. He will concentrate on “ Karana” Vilakshanam. Karana Vilakshanam means, Turiyam is not cause of anything and no creation is born out of Turiyam. For convenience of analysis Turiyam is divided into two parts:

1) Jiva, as Chetana amsha;

2) Jagat, as Achetana amshsa.

Gaudapada says, Jiva is not born of Turiyam; neither is Jagat. He teaches this in four stages.

Stage # 1: Logical negation of creation of Jiva. He proves Jiva is not born out of Turiyam.

Stage # 2: Logical negation of Jagat Srishti or creation of world.

3. Stage # 3: Scriptural negation of Jiva Srishti. He says Jiva is never created.

4. Stage # 4: Scriptural negation of Creation of world.

Following is also a breakdown of karikas by the above said four stages:

Karika 3-9: First stage

Karika 10: Second stage.

Karika 11-14: Third stage

Karika 15-30: Fourth stage.

Stage # 1: Jivatma and paramatma (Turiyam) do not have Karya Karana sambandha. Jivatma is not born out of Paramatma.

Karya Karana Sambandha is a popular mistake; hence the misconception that I am Jivatma and Paramatma has created me; and I have to go back to Paramatma.

To reveal the fact that they don’t have any sambandha, Gaudapada uses scriptural examples.

Akasha Drishtanta: One space is called both Pot space and Other space. Pot space is enclosed in a pot, while other space is all pervading space, maha akasha or Total space.

Thus in above example:

Pot space is like Jivatma.

Total space is like Paramatma.

Gaudapada wants to study both. If you look superficially at both spaces, you will get certain ideas; but upon enquiry you will find them false.

First misconception: Utpatti (origination): So the first false idea is that pot space is born out of Total space. Reality is pot space is never born; when pot is born, there is already space and the enclosed space is just given a new name called pot space. This name comes only after creation of pot. So the birth of container pot is falsely transferred to birth-less space.  This is called Utpatti or misconception.

Similarly when building a house, is house the name of the space or the name of the walls? Since you live in space, house is name of space you live in, while reality is, that you build a wall and transfer its name to space.

Similarly, what is a well? It is name of space that contains water. Reality is, nobody makes a well. You just remove mud; then you transfer the name and say a well was made.

Similarly, when you travel to Madras and arrive at Basin Bridge Junction, you say, Madras has arrived; reality is that arrival of train is transferred to Madras. Madras never came.  So, also, Akasha (space) is never born.

Second misconception: Nashaha: When pot is broken; you say, pot space is gone; while reality is that, that space is not gone; it is just that the pot broke.

Third misconception: Doshaha: Pollution: Various things in space are polluted, such as air, water, earth etc. Our mistake is that we consider pollution of things as “Space Pollution”. Reality is that Space never gets polluted.

Fourth misconception: Individuality: Viseshaha: Every Jivatma is associated with individuality; thus smaller pot space, bigger pot space etc are based upon attributes of container. Attribute of container is transferred to space and it makes it big or small space etc.

Fifth misconception: Sambandhaha: That pot space and total space are related, is the misconception. Reality is, there is only one individual space. We divide total space and create names like pot space etc. This is the false relationship; the idea that pot space is a product while total space is the producer. We create this Karya Karana Sambandha. Reality is that space was never created; it was always there. So Sambandha is the fifth misconception.

None of the above misconceptions exist. These misconceptions can also be extended to the Jivatama.


  1. Jivatma is never born. Atma is consciousness. I am enclosed consciousness. Birth is of container and not content; therefore, Jivatma appears to have birth.
  2. Jivatma dies, is another misconception. I am never going to die. Enclosed body may die but enclosed consciousness never dies.
  3. I may have several doshas, is another misconception. Gaudapada says, “You have no doshsa”. Doshas belong to container, the body. None of doshas belong to Consciousness.
  4. I have individuality is another misconception. I do not have individuality. Individuality belongs to container. The content is beyond individuality.
  5. I think I am Jivatma born out of Paramatma. Reality is that I am consciousness and I am never born out of Paramtma. We are just two names of the same consciousness. Inside enclosure is Jivatma; outside enclosure is Paramatma. It is like a demarcation line, say between the states of Tamil nadu and Karnataka; it is just a man made line. It is just a name we give to continuous space. In reality there is no demarcation between states.

So relationship between Jivatma and Paramatma is an Aikya Sambandha (meaning no sambandha). I am Turiyam. So Jivatma is not born out of Paramatma.

Karika # 3: Here Atma (turiyam) is compared to Akasha.

Paramatma is seemingly born as Jivatma; like total space is seemingly born as pot space, while reality is that only container is born, not content, the consciousness.

Paramatma is also seemingly born as the container, the body; however, this topic Gaudapada will discuss later on.

How can we say that Total space is born as pot space? Only clay is born as pot. Taittirya Upanishad says: from Akasha, Vayu is born; From Vayu, Agni is born; from Agni, water is born; from Water, Earth is born, from Earth, pot is born. So total space has produced pot. Similarly, Paramatma is born as Jivatma, as well as pot. This space analogy is the seeming creation of Jivatma.

Karika # 4:

ghaṭādiṣu pralīneṣu ghaṭākāśādayo yathā | 
ākāśe saṃpralīyante tadvajjīvā ihātmani || 4 ||

4. As on the destruction of the pot, etc., the ether enclosed in the pot, etc., merges in the Ākāśa (the great expanse of ether), similarly the Jīvas merge in the Ātman.

In previous karikas misconceptions of origination or Utpatti was explained. Now Gaudapada talks of Jivatma Nashaha; when the container resolves; when pot, room, etc perish; the pot space also seemingly merges into total space; and when pot space breaks, it merges into total space. Reality is that pot was destroyed and nothing happened to space. Similarly, we say Gyani merged into Brahman; it is only usage of a verb; nothing really happened.

In the same manner, enclosed consciousness, Jivatma, merges into Paramatma, a seeming merger. Reality is that there is no question of any merger at all. So, Vedanta students wrongly ask, will I merge into God?

With Best Wishes

Ram Ramaswamy