Upadesha Sahasri (Verse Section 1)

ken knight hilken_98 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Feb 27 01:27:08 CST 2003

Namaste all,

At long last.....after many hard disk problems and
corrupted files.... I have been able to return to
posting Upadesha Sahasri for the archives.
I have been using translations by Swami Jagadananda,
Sengaku Mayeda and A.J.Alston. Where one translation
leaves me a little bewildered I have included
bracketed notes of the warious interpretations.
In previous postings I completed the 'Prose portion'
in which the tacher and the pupil present us with
whole of advaitin teaching.
Now I commence the 'Verse Portion' which will be more
particular in its themes from chapter to chapter.
The introduction centres upon actions and their origin
and the place of prescribed actions.
May I apologise to people if I have not replied to
them in the past but when my hard disk stopped
spinning, and CD back-ups refused to display their
data, much was lost.

I hope that this is of use

ken Knight

Part 11 (Metrical)


1.      1 bow down to that all-knowing One which is pure
Consciousness (Mayeda says that this is a synonym for
Brahman/Atman), all-pervading, all (Who is the true
nature of everything. Alston), residing in the hearts
of all beings and beyond all objects of knowledge.

2.      Now then the Vedas begin to describe the knowledge
of Brahman after dealing with all actions (rituals)
preceded by marriage and the installation of sacred

3, 4. Actions, (both enjoined and prohibited,), bring
about one’s connection with the body; when the
connection with the body has taken place, pleasure and
pain most surely follow; thence come attraction and
repulsion; from them actions follow again, as the
result of which merit and demerit appertain to an
ignorant man, which again are similarly followed by
the connection with the body. This transmigratory
existence is thus going on continually for ever like a

5.      The cessation of ignorance is desirable as it is
the root of this transmigratory existence.
(When the conviction arises that the cause of this
process is metaphysical ignorance, there is a desire
to end that ignorance. Alston) Hence a delineation of
the knowledge of Brahman through which comes
liberation (from Ignorance) is commenced.

6, 7. Not being incompatible with Ignorance actions do
not destroy it; it is knowledge alone that does it.
Ignorance not being destroyed, the destruction of
desire and aversion is not possible. Actions caused by
impurities are sure to follow in case desire and
aversion are not removed. Knowledge alone, therefore,
is taught here so that liberation (from Ignorance) may
be accomplished.

8.      (Objection) Obligatory duties should be performed.
(along with the practice of knowledge) as long as life
lasts, (Ish.Up.2) because these duties co-operate with
Knowledge in producing liberation.

9.      As they are equally enjoined (Ish.Up. 1) obligatory
duties and knowledge (should be practised together).
They should be undertaken by those who aspire after
liberation because Smritis speak of sins (Manu 11.44)
also arising out of the omission of those actions.

10, 11. (First line). You may say “Knowledge is
followed by a sure result and does not depend on
anything else.”  But it is not so. Just as Agnistoma,
though followed by an unfailing result, depends on
things other than itself, (such as learning and
repeating the Udgitha formula etc. Alston) so
knowledge, though bringing about a sure result, must
depend on obligatory duties.

11.     (Last line). (Reply). Some people hold this view.
(We say:) No. As it is incompatible with actions,
Knowledge does not depend on them (in producing its

12.     Accompanied by egoism actions are incompatible
with Knowledge. For it is well-known here (in the
Vedantas) that knowledge is the consciousness that the
Self is changeless.

13.     Actions have their origin in the consciousness
(notion) that one is a doer and has the desire of
having the results of what one does. Knowledge depends
on a thing, (its own object and also on evidence),
while actions depend entirely on the performer.  (The
Vedic injunctions to act relate to one who supposes
himself capable of action. Alston)

14.     The Knowledge (of one’s own real nature) destroys
the ideas of doership etc. (on the part of oneself
like the right Knowledge of the nature of the desert
which destroys) the conviction of water being there in
it. When this is so how can (a man of Knowledge)
accept them as true and perform actions?

15.     It is, therefore, not possible on the part of a
man of Knowledge to have Knowledge and perform an
action at the same time as they are incompatible with
each other. So, one who aspires after liberation
should renounce actions.

16.     The natural conviction on the part of the people
that the Self is not different from the body etc.
arises through Ignorance. The Vedic injunctions (and
prohibitions) are authoritative as long as it

17.     The Self is left over by negating the body etc. by
the Sruti (Br.Up. 2.3.6) ‘Not this, not this,’ so that
one may have the Knowledge of the Self which is devoid
of all attributes. Ignorance is brought to an end by
this Knowledge.

18.     How can Ignorance, once negated (by vedic
evidence) arise again? For it is neither in the
innermost Self which is only one without a second and
without attributes nor in the non-Self.

19. How can there arise again the idea that one is a
doer of actions and experiencer of their results after
there has grown the Knowledge ‘I am Brahman?’
Knowledge, therefore, is independent of actions (in
producing liberation).

20, 21. (First line). Therefore it is said by the
Sruti that the renunciation of actions including
mental ones, (catalogued in the Naranayopanishad 78)
is superior to their performance. Again immortality is
heard of in the Brihadaranyakopanishad (4.5.15) which
says “This alone.” Hence they should be renounced by
those who aspire after liberation.

21.     (Last line). We give the following reply to the
objector who quoted the example of Agnishtoma.

22.     Knowledge is quite opposite in nature to that of
actions like Agnishtoma etc; for, they are
accomplished with the help of many materials and
differ in the quality (Ch.Up. 1.1.10) of the result of
each individual performance. The example, therefore,
is not parallel.

23.     As it produces a result (variable in quality) the
Agnishtoma sacrifice, like agriculture etc., requires
subsidiary actions other than itself. But what else
will Knowledge depend on?

24.     It is only one having egoism that may incur sin
(by the omission of duties). A man who has got Self
Knowledge has neither egoism nor a desire for the
results of actions.

25.     The Upanishads are, therefore, commenced in order
to teach the Knowledge of Brahman so that Ignorance
might be removed and transmigratory existence might
for ever come to an end.

26.     The word ‘Upanishad’ is derived from the root
‘sad’ (This root has three meanings: to slacken, to
move and to destroy, prefixed by two particles, ‘Upa),
near, and ‘ni’, certainly, and followed by the suffix
‘Kvip.’ So, that which loosens the bondage of birth,
(old age), etc., (and enables a man to approach
Brahman) and that which destroys birth, (death), etc.,
is called Upanishad.

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