iishaa vaasyaM ...

Charles Wikner WIKNER at NAC.AC.ZA
Fri Jul 21 02:58:56 CDT 2000

On Wed, 19 Jul 2000, Ravisankar Mayavaram <miinalochanii at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

> --- Charles Wikner <WIKNER at NAC.AC.ZA> wrote:
> > what is given in the first verse of the IshopaniSad:
> >
> >       IshA vAsyam idam sarvam yat-kinca jagatyAm jagat
> >       tena tyaktena bhunjIthA mA gRdhaH kasyasvid dhanam
> >
> > All this -- whatever is changeful in the world [activities of speech,
> > mind and body = guNAH] -- is to be covered by the Lord [continuos
> > memory of Self-knowledge].  Protect [the realisation of that knowledge]
> > through such renunciation [tyAga etc]; do not covet the benefit [such
> > as siddhis] of any [of the guNAH].
> I apologize upfront if there are any errors in my question.  How did
> you come up with "is to be" in the second line of the translation?  By
> that dont you imply it is not already covered already and one has to
> make an attempt to do so?

Oh it's a fair question.  Bear in mind that the scriptures are
for the ignorant, not the realised (see BG 2:46), so reading
the first sentence as an injunction is quite valid.  There are
those who would say "A rose is a rose is a rose", whereas a
rose is in fact an upAdhi of the Lord; and this injunction is
a means to remember that, so that one does not take the upAdhi
to be real, covet it, and forget the Lord.

In fact, that first line (All this -- whatever is changeful in
the world -- is to be covered by the Lord) is the content as it
were of the tyAga mentioned in the second line (tena tyaktena),
or describes the nature of that renunciation.  In this regard,
it would be worth going through Anand's post of yesterday (Re:
Liberation and citta vRtti nirodha), which ends with "... one
should take care to be engaged in upAsana of the Self throgh
recourse to such qualities as dispassion and renunciation."
[ Thanks for that Anand, your time and effort is really appreciated:
  I need to work through it slo-o-owly. ]

Nonetheless, to explain "is to be" more fully: "is" is from the
implied verb (asti) that is very often omitted from Sanskrit
sentences, and "to be" is part of the meaning of vAsyam -- how?
Well, Monier-Williams' Dictionary for example, gives (947b):
   1.vAsya, mfn. to be (or being) covered or enveloped.

There are similarly constructed words which may be interpreted
as either prescriptive or descriptive: mAnya - to be respected,
respectable;  Adya - to be eaten, edible;  vAcya - to be spoken,
spoken; and so on.

Finally, Shankara explains vAsyam in this verse as AcchAdanIya.
Now AcchAdanIya = AcchAda (clothes, garment, cover)
                + nIya (gerundive affix: prescriptive past participle)
                = "[ought] to be covered"

> Also where did you account for "kasyasvid".

"of any" -- kasya is SaSThI of ka (who, which, what), generally
the base from which interrogatives are formed, in which case
"Whose benefit [is it]?" -- implying "not yours", so do not
covet it!  svid is a meaningless particle (Shankara).

> I would like to have a more detailed (basis for this) interpretation.

The above explanation read in the context of the original post,
should do it, but if it is a word-by-word translation that you
are after:

sarvam idam - all this;  yat kim ca - whatsoever;
jagat - changeful;  jagatyAm - in the world;
vAsyam - to be covered;  IshA - by/with the Lord;
tena tyaktena - by that renunciation;
bhunjIthA - protect;  mA gRdhaH - do not covet;
dhanam - benefit;  kasya svit - of any.

> This is a very different translation of this verse and quite nice.

It's not that different from other translations that I have:

      All this -- whatever moves on the earth -- should be covered
      by the Lord.  Protect (your Self) through that detachment.
      Do not covet anybody's wealth.  (Or -- Do not covet, for
      whose is wealth?)   [Gambhirananda]

      Whatever is changeful in this ephemeral world, -- all that
      must be enveloped by the Lord.  By this renunciation (of the
      world), support yourself.  Do not covet the wealth of anyone.

      Whatever lives is full of the Lord.  Claim nothing; enjoy,
      do not covet His property.   [Purohit Swami & W.B.Yeats]

Regards, Charles.

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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