Upadesha Sahasri (Verse Section 1)

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Mar 4 07:45:20 CST 2003

On Wed, 26 Feb 2003, ken knight wrote:

> 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.

Hurray!  Welcome back Ken.

> 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.

Incidently I would recommend this approach to all readers who are unable
(yet) to read Sanskrit.  Even the best of translators can misinterpret
things so triangulating between severalcan give you a better idea of the
> 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
> fire.

Why is marriage considered the first sanskara? chronologacally it should
be Garbadhana (conception.)  Or perhaps you could say Upanayana as that is
the beginning of the first ashram Brahmacharya.  But the shastras say
Marriage as it is the married couple who are the foundation of society and
Dharma is practised through society.

> 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
> wheel.
> 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)

Which says "one should practice karma diligently if one wishes to live 100
years"  i.e. a full life.

> 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.

Agnishtoma is a Vedic Somayajna.  There are many preliminary rituals that
have to be performed before it.  Plus you have to learned in the details
of this sacrifice.  The objector is saying knowledge (jnana) also has
preliminaries.  Only be practice of Dharma and avoidence of Adharma can
you get jnana.

> 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
> result).
> 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.

If jnana depended on effort than a hard-work would have more of it than a
lazy person.  Or you could make a jnana machine to do the work for you.
But while common sense will tell you a diligent person will acquire
knowledge faster, once acquired the knowledge is the same whether it took
1 year or 100 years.

>  (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.

As Swami Vidyaranya explains in Jivanmuktiviveka, there are two types of
renouncer.  The "seeker" (vividisha) who thinks these actions are an
unnecessary burden in my quest for knowlege and the "knower" (vidvana) who
doesn't see any point in actions anymore.

> 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
> prevails.

So you cannot say it is a sin to give up the prohibited and enjoined
actions as the concept of sin and merit only exist for the one who thinks
he is a sinner or a saint.

Such a view meets a lot of objections from people who think this is just
an excuse for immorality.  (And it doesn't help that there are people who
do use "I am enlightened" as an excuse for shirking their duty.)

But the true jnani can never do harmful things because he sees everything
as his own self.  It's like noone ever wakes up and says "today I resolve
not to break the bones in my fingers."  Your fingers are a part of you and
unless you are mentally ill it would never occur to you in a million years
to hurt yourself.  The jnani extends this concept of self to encompass

> 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?

Facts are facts.  Either you know them or you don't.  But actions are
"fuzzy." Because every action causes other actions you cannot exactly say
when something is conclusively "done."  So you cannot be 100% sure of the
results except in simple cases.

> 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.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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