Katha upanishhad verse I.2.23

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Thu Mar 27 13:31:56 CST 1997

I am presently going through Katha upanishhhad and the verse I.2.23
fascinates me.

The verse says:

naayam aatmaa pravacanena labhyo na medhayaa, na bahunaa shrutena
yamevaishha vR^Nute, tena labhyas tasyiashha aatmaa vivR^Nute tanu svaam

S. Radhakrishnan's translation (The principal upanishhads) is the

This Self cannot be attained by instruction, nor by intellectual power,
nor even through much hearing.  It is to be attained only by the one whom
the Self chooses. To such a person, the Self reveals its own nature.

This verse is fascinating to me because it says (as I understand it):

However much we seek realization, we will not attain it. However much we
read the vedas does not make a difference. It is up to Atman to reveal
itself to the individual it chooses.

So, it is fallacious to hope that our studying scriptures would lead us
to realizing Atman. However, the converse may be the case. Our studying
scriptures and keeping satsangh may be a symptom of Atman choosing to
reveal itself. I read somewhere (cannot quote the source) that it is only
through Atman's (God's) grace that we happen to fall into advaitic

I trust my thinking above is not wrong.

On the other hand,

Radhakrishnan gives Shri Shankara's interpretation also in one sentence:
" 'Him alone whom he chooses by that same self is his own self
obtainable.' The self reveals its true character to one that seeks it

I read it as the following: It means that if someone seeks it exclusively,
the Self reveals its true character. It means, revealing of the Self
depends on the individual's effort and exclusivity of seeking. That is,
the onus is shifted to the seeker.

There seems to be a difference in the two modes.

I would be most obliged for clarification.

Gummuluru Murthy
Sarvaagamaanaa maachaarah prathamam parikalpathe !
                                          Sage Vyasa in Maha Bharatha

For all (incoming) knowledge, discipline is the most fundamental.

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