Mandukya Upanishad, Class 70


Beginning from 57th verse to 74th verse, essence of vedanta is given.  Chaithanyam alone is sathyam and everything else obtained in the form of matter is mithya.  That chaithanyam is myself and therefore I am sathyam everything else is mithya.    This has been conveyed by different methods.  From verse 63 up to 67, Gowdapadha uses a particular type of argument.  The summary of method of discussion.

Gowdapadha divides the whole universe into three portions:

  1. Consciousness
  2. Mind
  3. Universe or the world.

In this group, we find that consciousness happens to be the absolute subject, illuminator and never an object; The external world is always an object and never the subject.  In between the ever-subject consciousness and ever object world, we have the intermediary mind which functions both as an object and a subject.  Mind serves as an object sometimes and other times it serves as a subject.  Mind is not absolute subject or absolute object; it is subject object.  With regard to the consciousness principle, mind is an object.  This is because mind is illuminated by consciousness only.  In this – consciousnesses- mind pair, consciousness happens to be subject and mind happens to be an object.  Illumined by the consciousness, mind the object becomes alive and becomes capable of experiencing the world.  So, when take the mind-world pair, mind becomes the subject and world becomes object.  With regard to consciousness, the mind is the object and with regard to world it is the subject.  It is similar to the father being father from the standpoint of son and son from the standpoint of grandfather.

This is the first point: to remember is that consciousness is always subject, mind is object and subject and world is always object.

Any object can’t have an existence independent of a subject.   Object depends up on the subject for its existence; whereas the subject does not depend up on the object for existence.  The second point is object has a dependent existence and therefore it is mithya; Subject has an independent existence so it is sathyam.

The following discussions is based on these two points.

First taking the mind-world pair, where the subject is mind and the world is object.  Gowdapadha argues, subject mind is sathyam and the object world is mithya because world can’t be proved independent of the subject, mind.  If a good news or event happens somewhere, until you come to know about it, it is as good as nonexistent.  It does not give you pleasure or sorrow until you hear about.  Therefore, mind is sathyam, world is mithya.  World does not exist independent of mind.  Here Gowdapadha says that there is no world different than mind.

Taking the second pair, consciousness-mind, the mind, which was subject previously, now is an object.  Consciousness is the subject.  Gowdapadha argues, since subject alone sathyam and object is mithya, mind the object does not exist separate from consciousness the subject.  Therefore, consciousness is sathyam and mind is mithya.  In the first stage world is mithya and mind is sathyam.  In the second stage mind is mithya and consciousness is sathyam.  Consciousness is never object and therefore it is the absolute reality.

  1. Introduce consciousness, mind, world and establish three pairs.
  2. Subject is sathyam, object is mithya
  3. Come to pair of mind and world and establish world is mthya
  4. In the final stage, you say mind is also mithya because it depends on consciousness.

Apply this to dream world.  In dream world, dream mind and dream world is mithya.  Similarly, in waker’s world, mind and world is mithya as much as the world and mithya of dream.  Consciousness which blesses both, that alone is sathyam.

In the dream contest, Gowdapatha consciousness is called swapana dhriku (SD); the mind is called swapana dhrik chitham (SDC).  The world is called swapna dhrik chitha dhrishyam (SDCD).  Of these mind and world are mithya consciousness alone is sathyam.

Dream observer, consciousness principle obtained in dream, moving about in the dream world, experiences of varieties of living being or world of objects.

All the living beings are categorized into four varieties:

  1. Andajaha jiva:  All living being born out of andam or egg.  example birds’
  2. Swethaja:  All  being born out of moisture;  example insects, minute organisms;
  3. Jarayujaha:  All being born out of womb;  example mammals;
  4. Udbhijjaha:  All being born out of ground; example:  plants.

Verse 64

Here Gowdapadha takes the second pair – mind and world.  That swapna world (consisting of all four categories of life) is object and the subject is mind.  All the objects in swapna, are objects of mind.  Mind is the subject with regard to those objects.  Therefore object is mithya subject is sathyam; All objects of dream world do not exist separate from the mind which is the subject.  Dream world is mithya and dream mind is sathyam, for now.

Extending the same principle, when you take the consciousness, mind pair:  The mind is an object with regard to the consciousness or swapna dhriku.  Therefore mind is also mithya it does not have an existence separate from consciousness; both mind and world are mithya with regard to swapna.

Verse 65

Things are not different in jagradh avastha.  This is similar to verse 63.  Instead of swapna, use jagradh

In the waking contest, Gowdapatha consciousness is called jagradh dhriku ; the mind is called jagrath dhrik chitham.  The world is called jagrath dhrik chitha dhrishyam.  Of these mind and world are mithya consciousness alone is sathyam.

Verse 66

This is similar to verse 64.  Take the mind and object and point out mind is the subject world is object; mind is sathyam and world is mithya.  The wakers world does not exist separate from the waker’s mind which is sathyam for now.  But when you come to consciousness and mind, the very same mind becomes an object of consciousness and therefore it doesn’t exist separate from the subject, consciousness so it is mithya.

At any state of experience mind is mithya; objects are also mithya.  Sathyam is neither the mind nor matter; consciousness alone sathyam; it doesn’t come under mind or matter; it is beyond both mind and matter.  It useful for vyavahara but don’t rely on it.  Both of them are made up of three gunas.

Verse 67

Gowdapadha concludes this discussion by observing that mind is also mithya and the world is also mithya; since both of them are unreal, both of them can’t exist independently.  Mind is proved because of world and world is proved because of mind and they have mutual dependence.  You cannot prove the world without the operation of mind.  Moment mind goes to sleep, the world disappears.  The world depends on mind; mind being mithya, you can’t have mind without world.  In meditation, when you remove all the objects and when you remove all the thoughts related to objects, the mind cannot have an existence independent of the world.  Mutual dependence proves that they are mithya.  In sleep both mind and world resolve; in waking when the mind rises, the world also rises.  The mind and the world are both recognized because of each other.  In mind world pair, mind is proved because of world and world is proved because of mind.  Mind depends on world; world depends on mind.  Appreciation of pot depends on pot cognition.  Appreciation of pot cognition depends on pot.  You can’t appreciate pot cognition without pot.  You can’t appreciate pot without pot cognition (thought).

Do I see a tree because the tree exists, or does a tree exists because I see it?  This proves both of them mithya.

Mind does not exist without world; world does not exist without mind; both of them do not have independent proof for their existence.  The proof of mind depends on the world and proof of world depends on mind.  This can be extended to sense organs.

Imagine a world free from all colors and form.  We don’t experience colors and forms so they are negated.  Can you prove the existence of a sense organ called eye if the world is free from colors and form?  The proof of eye depends on forms and colors;  If colors and forms negated, then you can’t talk about the existence of eye.  The existence of eye and colors and form depends on each other.  Each one is recognized because of the other.  Knowledge of one is responsible for the appreciation of the other.  Appreciation of mind is responsible for the appreciation of world; appreciation of world is responsible for the appreciation of mind.  You can’t appreciate any one of them independent of the other.  Mutual dependence for recognition.

The conclusion is mind and world are both mithya.