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Item Code: NAP609
Author: Arthur Avalon
Publisher: Ganesh & Company, Chennai
Language: Sanskrit Text with English Transliterations and English Translation
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9788185988283
Pages: 92
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 140 gm
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Book Description

Some few years ago Mr. Jnanendralal Majumdar brought me Sanskrit Ms. Containing an unpublished Commentaary of the Isopanisad. I have here published it for the first time. The author was, I am Informed, a Bengali Tantrika Kaulacharya of the name of Satyananda. I was told at the time that other Commentaries might be available. This one appeared to me to be of peculiar value as having been written with all lucidity and boldness from the standpoint of Advaitavada of the Sakata –Agama.

It explain that Brahman or Chit is Nirgupta and Saguna. In the former which is pure and perfect Consciousness, there is neither Svagata, Svajatiya or Vijatiya Bheda (Mantra 4). But when is associated with Guna, that is from 'its energising aspect it manifest as Mind and Matter. The first is the Kutastha or Svarupa and the second the Tatastha aspect. There is an apparent contradiction between these aspects; the first being changless, formless, and the other with change and form. There is only one Brahman and, therefore, being changeless It cannot in Itself change into what is different. The Brahman, however, is associated with Its own Maya –Sakti of the three Gunas, which Power, Being infinite and have dealt with this subject in my volume "Shakti and Shakta" in which I have explained the meaning of the concept according to the Mayavada of Samkara and the Saktivada of the Agama. To this I refer the interested reader. Satyananda quite shortly and broadly explains Mayaskati to be not some unconsicious non –real non –unreal mystery, sheltering with, but not Brahman; but to be a Sakti, One with the possessor of Sakti, (Saktiman) and therefore Consciousness. He says (Mantra 1) "This Mayasakti is Consciousness because Sakti and processor of Sakti not being different She is not different from Brahman. She again is Mulaprakrti, the material cause of the world composed of the Sattva, Rajas and Tamas Gunas." In the Commentary to Mantra 7 he says, "Maya who is Brahman (Brahmamayi) and is (therefore) Consciousness (Chidrupani) holds in Herself unbeginning Karmik impressions (Samskara) in the form of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas Gunas. Hence She is Gunnamayi despite her being Chinmayi. The Gunas are nothing but Cit-sakti because there is no second principle. Brahman which is perfect Consciousness creates the world as Maya composed of these Gunas and then Itself assumes the character of Jiya therein for the accomplishment of its world-play." All is thus at base Consciousness (Cit). there is no unconscious in this world for Sruti says "All this is Brahma" and Brahman is Consciousness. But how then is there an appearance of Unconsciousness? This he says (ibid.) is due to the fact that order that Jivas may enjor the fruits of their Karma. The effects of such 8th Mantra says, Atma as Nirguna Kutastha is bodiless. But Saguna Atma or Jiva has body. Consciouness has thus a perfect and imperfect aspect. It is perfect as the Kutastha and imperfect as Jiva with mind and body. Yet Maya –sakti is Herself conscious, for the mind and body. Yet Maya –sakti is Herself conscious, for She is one with Saktiman. She appears in the form of the world as apparently unconscious matter through Her unscrutable powers by which She appears to limit Herself as Consciousness (Cidrupini). The One Perfect Consciousness then appears in dual aspect as mind objects of wordly experiences are nothing but Consciousness as Object, just as the mind which perceives them is Consciousness as object. The one blissful Chit without distinction is thus through Its power the subject –object. The stream of wordly experience is nothing but the changeless Consciousness in either of these dual aspects. Creation (Mantra 8,9) springs from desire, that is the Karmik Samskara which in life is the sub –conscious seed of its experience held during dissolution as the potentiality of all future creative imagination (Srsti –kalpana). That power when manifested is the cause of the three bodies Casual, Subtle and Gross. The Bhagavati Sakti "forsakes in part the state of homogenous Consciousnes and becomes heterogeneous as the three Gupta and the bodies of which they are composed". The Gunas do not exist as something seperate from Consciouness because Consiouness (Cit) of which it is one aspect as three Gunas do not bodies of which they are composed". The Gunas do not exist as something separate from Consiousness because Consciousness is all pervading (ibid). Further in Creation do not exist as something seperate from Consciouness because Conscious from out of Brahman and at dissolution merge in It.

In short the objectives world has reality but its reality is that of Consciousness (Cit) of which it is one aspect as the subject which perceives it is another. Through men do not realise it, the Self sees the self in every object. This is realised by Sadhna. In realisation it is not necessary to flee the world being Brahman it should be enjoyed by renunciation, that is, in a manner to bring about abandonent of the false nation that it is differen from Atma. The First step therefore towards Siddhi is to have the Consciousness (Virabhava) in all worldly enjoyment that the Sadhaka is one with Siva (Sivoham) and Siva (Saham). In this way the sense of a limited self is lost and the knowledge that all is conscipousness is gained, And then, as the Commentator (ibid). profoundly says, when objects of desire appear as consciousness their character as objects of desire vanishes. Desire exists only for objects, that is for something seemingly different from the Self there is no object nor desire nor search therefore. In these few words a fundamental principle of the Tantrika Sadhna is enunciated, as in the foregoing summary the cheif doctrines of the Agama are stated. For these reasons, apart from its other merits, this new Commentary on a great Upanisad has value.


The final authority on which Tantra as every Sastra rest is Sruti. The world is eternal thought it is sometimes manifest and sometimes unmanifest. In dissolution exists undistingushable from consciousness, as the potentially of the creation yet to be. Veda too is eternal, being the seed of the world as idea existing in Isvara consciousness which emanates in creation as the world-idea or word (sabda), of which the world is the meaning (artha). The first revelation of Veda is thus the cosmic ideation (Sristikalpana) of Isvara for whom there is no difference of sabda and artha such as exists in the divided consciousness of the Jiva. When, however, the Jiva's mind is purified he seers (drasta) who see the truth in the clear mirror of their purified minds and proclaim it in language which as heard by ordinary men is Sruti. The Samhita and Brahmanas are the Vaidik Karmakanda designed to purify the mind and, as Karma, are nexessarily dualistic. The Aranyakas including the Upanisads are the monistic Jnana-kanda as understood by the minds purified. Every system of Hindu spiritual culture must therefore be in consonance with the teaching of the Upanisads. So the exponents of different systems explain them in the form of commentaries. The one here published is a labour of this kind by a Tantrik Acharya. Using Veda in its secondary sense there are other revelations than those contained in the Sastras which are ordinarily called the Vedas. Even these are not a single revelation, for otherwise the Vedas could have had but one Rsi. They are collection of fractional revelations in the minds of many Rsis at different times and occasions and expressed in different styles of language. Their complier was Vyasa. As Veda in its secondary sense is but the appearance of pure truth in a pure mind occasioned by the necessity of the time there can be no ground for supposing that the Sastra called the Vedas are the only revelations. As the ages pass and changes take place in the conditions of the world's races revelations of the various peoples. The world is yet far from a state in which all its inhabitants are at the same stage of civlization. No present success will therfore follow any attempt to bring the whole world within the fold of a single religion. For this reason Hinduism does not seek to proselytise. Comparative Theology has shown that there are some underlying elements common to all religions. But these by themselves cannot form a system of practical religion capable of guiding and sustaining men of differing capacities and temperaments Amongst such other revelations and speaking of the Indian Sastras there are the Dharma Sastras spoken of the Indian Sastras there are the Dharma Shastra spoken by Rsia the Tantra Sastra and Purans. This is not to say that all which is contained in any Sastra so called have the character and authority of revelation. The fundamental truths in all Sastras are and must be the same but the presentment and application of theses truths vary according to the changes in and needs of the Ages. Thus neither the capacity nor the temperament of the people of our time nor its condition permits of the elabo rate ritual prescribed by the Vaidik Karmakanda. The spiritual necessities of men also have to some extent changed. This is explained in many places, amongest others the Maha nirvana Tantra (I, 20-50 edited by Arthur Avalon). What is there said may have a rehtoricla and therefore exaggerated form, a common trait in Indian Literature seeking to enforce truth by emphasis. We may not believe that at one time man was wholly free from wickedness and has gradually degenerated so as to be almost entirely bad at the inherent evils. The Vedas themeselves, the scripture of the Satya age, contain accounts of want and poverty, crime, wickedness, wars, disease and death. Yet it is not to be denied that the age which producesd the ritualism of the Brahmanas and the sublime teaching of the Upanisads was an superior to the present in which so-called civilized man has scarcely time to say his daily prayers and the soul seems to be irretrievably world –bound. This degeneration from the conditions of the glorious Vaidik ages is the fruit of racial Karma. The Brahmavidya of the Upanisads has however, permeated a culture which even in the present day of its degeneration sustains the individually of the race. There has been, not –withstanding all changes, a continuity from the more ancient times until to –day in the basel ideas of the Hindu which are to be found in all Sastras. Changes have occurred more in were realised. Throughout the Jnanakanda has remained the same. The main priciples of it are: (1) Correlation as cause and effect between the Jiva's Karma and his existence as an inbinds the individual is unbeginning but can be brought to an untill his Karma is destroyed, (4) the individual's connection with the world in which he appears as the enjoyer and the world as the object of enjoyment is thus incidental and not essential, (5) the individual's attachment to the world and his habit of identifying himself with his body are bred of his ignorance of his real free nature, (6) Karma and ignorance work in a circle, Karma breeding ignorance and breeding Karma,(7) realisation of his true nation and the consequent destruction of ignorance is the cause of the destruction of the individual's Karma and his liberation from the bondage and suffering of the world and (8) liberation is the realisation of the truth (however interpreted) that all is Brahma.

These essential principles from the basis of all Sastras Dharmasastra, Purana, Tantra or Agama- and form the basis of their Upasanakanda which though differing in many respects from the Vaidik Karmakanda are equally effective to develop spirituality in the differing types to which they are applied. This is not to say that there are no points of difference in these Sastras. Different conceptions are exemplified in the various systems of worship expounded in them. thus there are some Puranas, such as the Vaisnaya Puranas, which are, according to some sects, dualistic and others, such as the Sakta Puranas, which are unquestionably monistic. So in the Tantras or the Agama the Sakta Tantras are pre –eminently Advaita, others are Visistadvaita and so forth. Though the Sakta Agama is a Sadhana Sastra, it and the Sakta Puranas teach that while good Karma enable the aspirant to purify himself, Jnana alone will give liberation which is monistic experience.

Man, however, is naturally a dualist and his Karmayoga presupposes the existence of both Isvara and Jiva. But what is it which makes the lattter different from the former? Pure consciousness or Atma is the same in both. Diversity is then possible only in the unconscious elements which constitute mind and body composed of the gunas of Prakrti. All things exist to serve the purpose of some other; and Prakrti and its Vikrtis exist for the service of the conscious Purusa. Dualistic philosphy holds that Prakrti is a Permanent independent, unconscious Principle, distinct from the conscious Principle, Purusa, of which there are many. This is not the place to enter into the defects of this system which are obvious, it being enough to point out that if Prakrti be a permanent independent Principle then its bondage is real and its influence on Purusa is necessarily permanent and liberation is impossible. Again, that bondage which is real has no beginning but an end and liberation has a beginning but no end. Both these suppositions are, however opposed to the fundamental principle that what truly exists cannot cease to exist and what does not exust cannot come to exist. Something cannot be nothing and out of nothing cannot come something. What is real cannot be unreal nor can what is unreal be real.

Sruti, moreover, says, "All this is Brahma." How then can we deal with Purusa and Peakrti in order to reach this monistic conclusion? This duality can be overcome by one or other of the following two ways, namely, (1) eliminating Prakrti as being nothing or (2) identifying her with Purusa or consciousness.

The first method is that of Shangkaracharya who posists only one reality, Atma or Purusa. He identifies Prakrti with ignorance (anjana), holding that the material world has no other existence save in this ignorance. Potentially the latter is adrista and actually it is the material world of desire , objects of desire and means for their attainment, that is, the senses and mind. The essence of creation is thus nothing but ignorance. The latter may be destroyed by knowledge. But what is a reality cannot be destroyed and made unreal. Conversly, what can be destroyed is not a reality. Hence Prakrti or ignorance is not essentially a reality. Yet it appears to be real. This appearance of unreality is the great world –riddle. So Prakrti is called Maya or that by which the impossible becomes possible (Aghatanaghatnaptiyast). It is from the world –standpoint something inexplicable and undefinable (anirachya), neither unreal. Conversly, what can be destroyed is not a reality. Yet it appears to be real. This appearance of unreality as reality is the great world –riddle. So Prakrti is called Maya or that by which the impossible becomes possible (Aghatanaghatanapatiyast). It is form the world- standpoint something inexplicable and undefinable (anirvachya), neither unreal or real; not unreal because the Jiva feels it to be real and not real because it is trasient and unknown in liberation. Maya is real to the ignorant who do not seek to analyze it : it is inexplicable to those who seek to analyze its phantom being. It is a negligible thing (tuchchhas) to those who feel that, however much it may appear real to the senses, it is in reality unreal. Shangkara thus treats the world both from the transcendental or spiritual ( Paramarthika) and practical (Vyavaharika) points of view. The former point of view does not in fact treat of the world at all, for the world from such standpoint being nothing no question arises of its does not exist. The world is a mere seeming. It is only from the lower or practical standpoint that there is the nesessity of assuming the existence of the world, discussing its nature and origin and so forth.

The practical point of view is that of ignorance. From this standpoint the world is a great reality affording pleasure and pain to multitudinous Jivas or imperfect forms of consiciousness –Chidabhasa as it is called in Mayavada, that is an image of consciousness distorted by its reflection on ignorance of the individual unit creation called Avidya or, collectively, is the sum total of the ignorance of the units when it is called Maya. Chidabhasa, on Avidya is Jiva and on Maya Isvara. Great is the difference between them since in Avidya the gunas have lost their equiliburam whereas in Maya they are in equilibrium. Jiva as the Kularnaya Tantra says, is bound by the bonds (that is, gunas of Avidya), or Mahesvara is free of them. Ignorance is the cause of the world or there would be different worlds for different Jivas. It is, therefore, the collective ignorance which is the material cause of the world. But ignorance, whether individual or collective, must have consciousness to rest upon. This consciousness is in the case of individual ignorance called Jiva and in the case of collective ignorance Isvara. In collective ignorance there can be no inequilibrium of gunas, for in that case it would provide wordly happiness and pain and become individual and cease to be collective, and this larger individual ignorance with the smaller ones would form another collective ignorance and so on indefinitiely. Nor can it be said that the happiness and pain provided by happiness and pain provided by the individual items of ignorance, for the ignorance of different Jivas gives rise to diverse forms of happiness and pain out of the same act so that if they could be totalled at all the total would be zero. The Chidabhasa which constitues Is varatva is almost an exact likeness of true consciousness on account of its being unperturbed by the gunas in action. He is Saguna Brahma whilst true consciousness is Nirguna Brahma.

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