GEMS FROM THE
Beach 2: First steps in the Ascent to the Divine
Wave 6: An Overnight Capsule of Dharma
Drop 1: Four Gems from Sanatsujata
CchandAmsi nAma dvipadAM varishhTa svacchanda-yogena bhavanti tatra /
Cchando-vidas-tena ca tAn-adhItya gatA hi vedasya na vedyam-AryAH // (II-41)
dvipadAM varishhTa: Oh best of men,
cchandAmsi nAma: The Vedas, indeed,
svacchanda-yogena : by their very nature of independence
tatra (pramANaM) bhavanti : constitute the authority (testimony) for That (Supreme).
tena : By that very reason
adhItya : by studying
tAn : them
cchandovidaH AryAH: vedic scholars
gatAH : attain
vedasya (svarUpaM) : the real Truth of the Ultimate
na vedyaM : and not the known (universe).
[Note by VK: In my usual style, I sequence the words of the verse in the English prose order, so that by reading the English alone, you may get the translation of the whole verse]
Shankara in commenting on this writes: The Vedas are the testimony for the Ultimate, for *sarve vedA yat-padam-Amananti* says the Kathopanishad (I-2-15). *vedaishca sarvair-aham-eva vedyaH* (B.G. ). The Vedas aim to take us to the four goals of man. But of the four, since those that do not lead to the Supreme abound in impermanence, impurity and misery are not desirable the Vedas point to the svarUpa (Nature) of that Supreme, give us the knowledge of It and tell us the means to reach It and thus bear the supreme testimony. The wise men therefore study the Vedas and listen to their teachings and realise the Truth.
And then he (Shankara) raises the doubt: Then why do the Vedas declare “It is different from the known as well as the unknown” (*anyad-eva tad-viditiAt atho aviditAd-adhi*) (Kathopanishad) and “Unable to reach it, speech and mind retreat from it” (*yato vAco nivartante* - Taittiriyopanishad)? And for this we go to the next verse in the text:
Na vedAnAM veditA kashcid-asti vedena vedaM na vidur-na vedyaM /
Yo veda vedaM sa ca veda vedyaM yo veda vedyaM na sa veda satyaM // (II – 42)
vedAnAM : Among the vedas
veditA : the Knower.
vedena : By (study of) the Veda (which is inert)
na viduH : they don’t know
vedaM : the Ultimate, that is Consciousness
na vedyaM : nor the perceptible world (because it is included in that Consciousness).
yaH : (But) one
veda : (who) knows
vedaM : the Ultimate Reality of Consciousness
sa ca : he, for sure,
veda : knows
vedyaM : all this universe.
yaH : Whoever
veda : knows
vedyaM : (only) the perceptible universe
na sa veda : he knows not
satyaM : the Truth (which is the Supreme).
By saying, as is said above, that the study of the Vedas does not cause the knowledge of either the Ultimate or the Universe, does it not imply that for a non-knower of the Self, there is no universe? In respect of this the text goes on to the next verse:
Yo veda vedAn sa ca veda vedyaM na taM vidur-vedavido na vedAH /
tathA’pi vedena vidanti vedaM ye brAhmaNA vedavido bhavanti // II - 43
yaH : Whoever
veda : knows
vedAn : the Vedas such as Rigveda
sa ca veda : he also (a non-knower of the Self) knows
vedyaM : the perceptible universe (because of his knowledge of multiplicity thus acquired ).
[Then does this mean that he can also acquire the knowledge of Brahman, as a knowledge? No, for]
vedavidaH : Knowers of the vedas
na viduH : do not know
taM : the Supreme Ultimate, (which is beyond all words)
na vedAH : Nor do the Vedas (know it as an object of knowledge).
[If this is so, then how is Brahman said to be known by a study of the Upanishads? *kathaM aupanishhadaM brahma syAt*. Listen:]
tathA api : However, (even though Brahman transcends all wordy description)
vedena : by the help of the vedas
vidanti : they know
vedaM : what is to be known as the Supreme Ultimate Consciousness.
[Who are they?]
Ye brAhmaNAH : They (are) the brahmins
Vedavido bhavanti : who know brahman as indicated by the vedas.
“Whoever knows the Vedas knows the perceptible universe” mentioned above, is further explained by an analogy:
yAmA-msha-bhAgasya tathA hi vedA yathA hi shAkhA ca mahI-ruhasya /
samvedane’py-evam-athA-mananti tasmin hi nitye paramAtmano’rthe // II - 44
yathA hi shAkhA ca mahI-ruhasya : just as the branches of the tree
yAmA-msha-bhAgasya : in locating the digit of the moon (on the third day of the bright fortnight)
tathA hi : in the same manner, indeed
tasmin nitye arthe: in that eternal matter of
paramAtmanaH samvedane api: the perception of the Absolute Supreme also
vedAH : the Vedas
evam atha Amananti : thus only indicate, (they do not describe in words what cannot be so described)
Mar.12, 2007 Copyright Ó V. Krishnamurthy