[Advaita-l] Questions on Isavasya

Lakshminarayana narayana_kl_71 at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 30 19:16:00 CDT 2006


> -- shaN^kara (in verses 9-12) uses the word avidya
> to mean karma and vidya to mean upAsanas. Isn't this
> a non-standard use of the word vidya? Is there an
>etymological justification (or some other
>justification) for employing the word vidya in this
> sense?

I cannot answer your question directly but there is
enough justification to say that the word "vidya" here
in the ISa upanishad is not brahma-vidya. Because we
know from taittirIya upanishad that - brahmavid Apnoti
param i.e., brahma-vidya leads to the highest state.
So brahma-vidya cannot lead to greater darkness than
avidya. Sankara is therefore justified in not
considering vidya here as brahma-vidya.

Meanwhile, while we are at the subject, I have a
question for your dvaitic friend. I was reading the
material on ISa upanishad at the website -


I was wondering how the word avidya can mean
"incorrect understanding" in verse 9 and "criticism of
incorrect understanding" in verse 10 and 11. It looks
like the meanings are opposite. You may reply to me
personally. Thanks.

>Another question is with regard to the word IshA in
>the first verse (which is in the tR^itIya vibhakti).
>It seems there is a verse in both in the bhAgavata
>purANa and the brahmAnDa purANa (quoted by madhva)
>where the same verse occurs except the beginning is
>AtmavAsyamidam sarvaM", AtmA being used instead of
>IshA. Now AtmA is in the ShaShThI vibhakti, so should
>not IshAvAsyamidam be split as Ishasya AvAsyamidam?

I referred to the "Atman" shabda and found that the
ShaSThi vibhakti is "Atmanah" and not AtmA. Further
AtmA was listed as prathamA. I am not sufficiently
knowledgeable in Sanskrit to solve this. Also, do the
rules of grammar allow a split in the form of Ishasya
AvAsyam? What sandhi/samAsa will it be? Can someone
answer this please.

One possibility is that neither the bhAgavata purANa
nor the brahmANDa purANa were written by the time of
Sankara. Or even if they were written by the time of
Sankara it is possible that they did not achieve the
same status as vishNu purANa - a purANa which AchArya

I referred to the "List of Abbreviations" given in the
translated works of Sankara (except BSB) published by
Ramakrishna Mutt. Apart from vishNu purANa, I also saw
linga purANa, Siva purANa and vAyu purANa, though I
did not verify if they are quoted anywhere in the

> -- In the third verse, shaN^kara interprets all
> worlds like the  dEvalOka to be andham.h tamas.h,
>because people are bound to suffer ultimately in
these >lOkas. But later in the bhAShya (verses 9-12)
> where the word "amR^itamashnutE" is used in the
> upaniShat.h, shaN^kara still interprets it to mean
>the result of upAsanas. How could the two
> contradictory words, namely andham.h tamas.h and
> amR^itam.h, be employed to refer to the same result?

swami gambhIrAnanda's translation of Sankara's
commentary -  "Compared with the non-dual state of the
supreme Self, even the gods are asuras".

The andhaM tasmas in verse 3 means the blinding
ignorance, blinding because there is no ability to see
the Atman.

The amRtam in verse 9 refers to the immortality of the
gods. The gods are supposed to have taken "amRtam" by
which they achieved immortality.

Obviously the two are referring to different things.

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