Mandukya Upanishad, Class 34


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.

Greetings All,

Recapping his teaching of Karika # 4, Swami Paramarthananda said, Gaudapada wants to explain the word Advaitam as described for Turiyam in mantra # 7. Turiyam is Karya Karana Vilakshanam. Here Karyam means effect while Karanam is cause. Karyam is Dvaitam; Karanam is potential dvaitam; hence Advaitam must be karya karana Vilakshanam. Gaudapada wants to establish that Turiyam Brahma is not karanam at all. He wants to show that no creation has come out of Turiyam.

Here Turiyam means Jiva and Jagat. So, he wants to show each, Jiva and Jagat, both are not created from Brahman.

The idea that:

Jiva is born from Pramatma; and Jagat is born out of Paramatma is negated.

Karikas # 3-#9: Shows Jivatma is not born.

Karika # 10: Shows Jagat is not born.

Later scriptural texts also establish the same.

Of the four steps we are in step # 1.

To convey the idea that jivatma is not born, idea of pot space is used. Pot space birth is only a seeming birth. Similarly, Atma is one and same; when it is all pervading it is called Paramatma; and same Paramatma enclosed in body is re-named Jivatma. So, Jivatma is seemingly born and when body is gone, Jivatma is seemingly gone. In this regard five misconceptions were discussed.

  1. Origination of Jivatma
  2.  Disappearance of jivatma.
  3. Various Doshahas.
  4. Visheshaha: individuality of Jivatma indicated through; I am Brahmana, I am Sanyasi etc; all indicating individuality.
  5. Relationship between Jivatma and paramatma: Reality is that they are not different. Jivatma is Paramatma and Paramatma is Jivatma.

All above five misconceptions can be understood through pot space analogy. Creation, destruction, pollution, individuality (I am big pot space) and relationship of pot space to total space, are all, misconceptions.

Karika # 3 was about misconception of origination of Pot space.

Karika # 4 was about misconception about destruction of pot space. Space can’t be destroyed, cut, wet etc. Even merger of pot space into total space, no such event ever occurs. We wrongly call it pot space merger. Reality is that when pot space was destroyed, I withdrew the word pot. Thus, change is not in space, it is only in my mouth. Similarly for a Gyani, when we withdraw the word Jivatma, it is not a merger, another misconception. Sunrise and sun set are all words that are common misconceptions and yet no one questions them.

Karika # 5:

yathaikasmiṅghāṭākāśe rajodhūmādibhiryute | 
na sarve saṃprayujyante tadvajjīvāḥ sukhādibhiḥ || 5 ||

5. As any portion of Ākāśa enclosed in a pot being soiled by dustsmoke, etc., all such other portions of Ākāśa enclosed in other pots are not soiled, so is the happiness, etc., of the Jīvas, i.e., the happiness, misery, etc., of one Jīva do not affect other Jīvas.

Pollution is misconception # 3. Gaudapada talks of misconception # 3, that leads to other misconceptions.

When a pot is dirty, people think pot space is polluted; foul smell of pot belongs to air, space does not have impurity or foul smell; we transfer the impurity from pot to space and thus commit a mistake.

Another pot has fragrance. Here people say fragrance belongs to pot space, while I say it belongs to the pot. Thus I conclude one pot has foul smell while another has fragrance.  So, I think pot space has attributes; thus pot space # 1 has bad attribute and so I think it is bad; while Pot space # 2 has good attribute; so I think it is good. This analogy extends to Jivatma; thus some jivatmas are considered good with good attributes; some are Duratmas with bad attributes; then there are also mahatmas. So, we think there are different types of atmas.

Sankhya philosophers say that in Advaita all jivatmas are one and same; hence when one jivatma has sorrow, all jivatmas also experience sorrow. But in reality when we see one jivatma in sorrow, others may not be sorrowful. Gaudapada says, the fact that one jivatma is sorrowful itself is a wrong conception; sorrow is an attribute of anatma (mind) and not atma. Minds pollution is sorrow. This is a misconception.

In example of pot space, when one pot space is polluted it does not mean all pot spaces are polluted.  Pollution belongs to pot and air but not of space. So, there is only one all pervading space.

Karika # 5 description: When pot space is polluted with dust, smoke all other pot spaces are not contaminated, why? Not because spaces are many and are different, but because the one pot space is not really contaminated. In same way even when one jivatma is polluted with papa, other jivatmas are not polluted. Reality is that the one and only atma, present in all bodies, is not polluted. Gaudapada says Jivatma’s is not polluted by happiness as well. Happiness, a temporary experience happening in our mind, is seen as pollution by Vedanta; as such it is considered potential sorrow. Gita chapter # 18 says happiness and pleasure will lead to sorrow, as everything is cyclic. Vedanta sees worldly pleasures as pollution.

Until we see atmananda, we are allowed to enjoy dharmic pleasures, although, even there, it is still a pollution. Sukha, Dukha and Moha are all pollutions of mind, not of atma, while Atmananda is nirguna chaitanyam. With this the third misconception that jivatma is associated with impurity is over.

Karika # 6:

rūpakāryasamākhyāśca bhidyante tatra tatra vai | 
ākāśasya na bhedo’sti tadvajjīveṣunirṇayaḥ || 6 ||

6. Though formfunction and name are different here and there yet this does not imply any difference in the Ākāśa (which is one). The same is the conclusion (truth) with regard to the Jīvas.

Fourth misconception is that pot space has individuality; that there is difference between room space, kitchen space and headspace. Individuality has three fold attributes of:

  1. Nama
  2. Rupa and
  3. Karma.

Nama: such as pot space, headspace, stomach space etc are different namas.

Rupam: Shape and volume. Room space is small; I need bigger house space; space is inside room; inside house etc. Vedanta says, there is no “space within room” or “ space outside room”; all these are wrong expressions. “All rooms are within one indivisible space.” Even walls are within space. Adjective small, big etc are misconceptions. Thus, we give individuality through use of adjectives. Thus we say, this Jivatma is a papi, while another is gyani. All attributes belong to either Sthula, sukshma and Karana shariras only. No attribute belongs to Jivatma.

Rupa: Differences in forms are due to function; such as pot space has a function, room space has another function etc. Namas: are also different indicating pot space, small space, large space etc.

All these differences don’t belong to space at all. There is no difference in space. It does not do anything; does not function at all. Similarly, the one paramatma is misconceived as different Jivatmas. How to become paramatma? Someone said one could remove it by scrubbing the atma. Here the only impurity is the misconception that I am impure. Accept you are, you were and will always be the one and only paramatma. The fourth misconception is complete.

Karika # 7:

nā”kāśasya ghaṭākāśo vikārāvayavau yathā | 
naivā”tmanaḥ sadā jīvo vikārāvayavau tathā || 7 ||

7. As the Ghaṭākāśa (i.e., the ether portioned off by the pot) is neither the (evolved) effect nor part of the Ākāśa (ether), so is the Jīva (the embodied being) neither the effect nor part of the Ātman.

The fifth misconception: here Gaudapada talks of relationship between jivatma and paramatma, a very important philosophical relationship. All different philosophies such as Yoga, and Sankhya raise this question but Gaudapada says all philosophies reach the wrong conclusion. Some say Paramatma is creator and Jivatma is created, thus there is a karya karana sambandha. Another concept is jivatma is a part of paramatma, a part and whole relationship, known as Vishishta advaita. Paramatma is big consciousness while jivatma is small consciousness. Gaudapada says this also is wrong just like in pot space and total space relationship. One says pot space is product of total space. Reality is that there is no pot space created; only a pot is created. So, here karya karana sambandha is the misconception.

A second group argues that pot space is a part of total space, or so it seems. What is definition of pot space? Pot space is space inside pot. Vedanta says space is not within pot rather pot is obtaining within space. In total space many pots are born and many die as well.

Another idea is pot space is a part of total space; this true only if space can have parts and it can be assembled and dis-assembled. Thus, pillar is a part of a hall and it can be disassembled. In reality we can’t say this of space, as total space can’t be assembled or disassembled and hence pot space can’t be cut out of total space. Space is part-less (without parts); this is reality.

Karika # 7: Pot space is not a product of total space or a part of total space as well. In the same way, Jivatma is never born; I am never a product or part of Paramatma.

Swamiji reiterated that these are all very important Karikas.

Therefore Jivatma is not born out of pararmatma.

Therefore, paramatma is not karanam of Jivatma.

Therefore, paramatma is Turiyam karya karana Vilakshana Advaitam.

Karika # 8:

yathā bhavati bālānāṃ gaganaṃ malinaṃ malaiḥ | 
tathā bhavatyabuddhānāmātmā’pi malino malaiḥ || 8 ||

8. As the ether appears to the ignorant children to be soiled by dirtsimilarlythe Ātman also is regarded by the ignorant as soiled.

This karika can also be read with the karika # 5 where Gaudapada made a compromising statement. There, he said, even when one space is polluted, all other pot spaces are not polluted. Here, he seems to agree that pot space can be polluted.

 This, now, he wants to change. He says this view is from point of view of an ignorant person, an Agyani. Reality is that pot space is not really polluted. Foul smell belongs to pot, not space. Similarly the jivatma is seen as polluted by an Agyani. Truth is, pollution belongs to container and it is transferred to space wrongly.

Similar example is when train reaches Madras we say Madras has arrived; movement of train has been falsely been transferred to the place, Madras. This is called superimposition while Shankaracharya calls it  Adhyabhasha.

All problems that I claim for myself are the false transfer of problems belonging to object that I am transferring to subject. Thus while watching a movie the sorrow of hero is transferred to me. In the same way, only an Agyani, jivatma appears to be contaminated with kama, krodha, Raga, Dvesha etc. Reality is that all jivatmas are shudha paramatma alone, Tat Tvam Asi.

Take Away:

  1. Reality is that they are not different. Jivatma is Paramatma and Paramatma is Jivatma.
  2. All attributes belong to either Sthula, sukshma and Karana shariras only. No attribute belongs to Jivatma.
  3. Vedanta says space is not within pot rather pot is obtaining within space. In total space many pots are born and many die as well.

With Best Wishes

Ram Ramaswamy