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

na kashcid asti : there is none (who is)

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)



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Mar.12, 2007  Copyright Ó V. Krishnamurthy