The kenopaniShat – Part 10
The Upaniṣat is giving out the fundamental means that are required for embarking upon the effort to gaining the Upaniṣadic knowledge:
तस्यै तपो दमः कर्मेति प्रतिष्ठा वेदाः सर्वाङ्गानि सत्यमायतनम् ॥ ८ ॥
तस्यै (तस्याः) Its तपो austeries दमः self-restraint कर्म scriptural injunctions इति these are प्रतिष्ठाः feet वेदाः the vedas सर्वाङ्गानि are the limbs सत्यम् Truth आयतनम् is its abode.
Austerities, self-restraint and sacrificial rites are Its feet and the Vedas are all Its limbs. Truth is Its abode.
What constitutes the foundation on the basis of which the vidyā stands firm? The upaniṣat lists out a few sādhana-s that are to be sincerely practiced and maintained for the vidyā to generate and stay with the knower. ‘Tapas’ constitutes the concentration/one-pointedness of the body, organs and the mind. ‘Dama’ is the restraint of the organs, both the cognitive and the motor. ‘karma’, actions enjoined by the scripture, is agnihotra, etc. It is seen that only when these sādhana-s are well practiced and the mind of the aspirant made pure thereby, the vidyā, the knowledge of the Truth, arises. How does one say this so firmly? It is because one also sees that the un-prepared aspirant, even if taught the Truth, does not become enlightened as it happened in the Indra-Virocana episode (of the Chāndogya upaniṣat 8th chapter). The practices are the strong foundation on which the vidyā arises and rests firm.
Thus, whether in this or in the past innumerable lives if one purifies the mind by practicing these means, then the liberating knowledge arises as stated by the Śvetāśvataropaniṣat 6.23:
यस्य देवे परा भक्तिः यथा देवे तथा गुरौ । तस्यैते कथिता ह्यर्थाः प्रकाशन्ते महात्मनः ||
The Truth dawns on that purified soul who has supreme devotion to God and the same intensity of devotion to the Guru. Also says the Mahābhārata (śānti parva – 204.8):
ज्ञानमुत्पद्यते पुंसां क्षयात्पापस्य कर्मणः [Knowledge of the Truth arises in those whose sinful actions are eradicated.]
The above and many other disciplines are required for the rise of Knowledge. For example the Bhagavadgītā (13.7 to 11) lists a set of sādhana-s such as ‘freedom from pride’. Just as a man stands firm on his feet, so too these disciplines are the foundation on which the vidyā flourishes. The four Vedas and their limbs such as the ‘śikṣā’ too constitute the ‘legs’ for this vidyā. The Vedas help one gain the knowledge of the actions enjoined therein and all its limbs protect the Vedas as it were.
‘Satyam’, truth, is the dwelling place where this secret teaching, ‘upaniṣat’ resides. ‘Satyam’ constitutes freedom from deceit and crookedness at the level of speech, mind and body. This is because the Knowledge of the Supreme resides only in those who are given to truth, are free from deceit and are pious and not those who are crooked and devilish in their disposition. This has been stressed in the Praśnopaniṣat 1.16 ‘न येषु जिह्ममनृतं न माया च’ (‘In whom there is no fraud, crookedness, falsehood and where there is no pretense’). Therefore does the upaniṣat emphasizes that Satyam is the abode of Knowledge. While austerities, etc. themselves imply the element of Satyam in being the ‘feet’, support, of Knowledge, the mention of Satyam explicitly as the abode is only to stress the exalted status of truth as a means (for Knowledge) as the Viṣṇusmṛti 8.36 says: अश्वमेधसहस्रं च सत्यं च तुलया धृतम् । अश्वमेधसहस्राद्धि सत्यमेकं विशिष्यते ।। ८.३६ ।। [‘A thousand horse-sacrifices and truth are weighed in a balance; and one truth outweighs the thousand horse-sacrifices.’].
यो वा एतामेवं वेदापहत्य पाप्मानमनन्ते स्वर्गे लोके ज्येये प्रतितिष्ठति प्रतितिष्ठति ॥ ९ ॥
यः he वै who एताम् this secret एवं thus वेद know अपहत्य shaking off पाप्मानम् all sins अनन्ते in infinite स्वर्गे heaven लोके world ज्येये highest प्रतितिष्ठति established प्रतितिष्ठति established
He who thus knows this Upanishad shakes off all sins and becomes firmly established in the infinite and the highest Heaven, yea, the highest Heaven.
He who realizes this brahmavidyā, the Knowledge of the Brahman-Ātman, which has been taught by the mantra commencing with ‘केनेषितम्…’ (‘Impelled by whom….’ Kena.up. 1.1) and eulogized by the mantra ‘ब्रह्म ह देवेभ्यः…’ (‘Brahman indeed…’Kena.up.3.1), and which is the basis, foundation, of all knowledge as described by the Muṇḍakopaniṣat 1.1.1 as ‘सर्वविद्याप्रतिष्ठाम्..’ (‘The basis of all knowledge’), attains immortality as taught by this very Upaniṣat: ‘अमृतत्वं हि विन्दते..’ Kena.up.2.4). Even though the fruit of this Knowledge, realization, is already stated, yet the Upaniṣat concludes the discourse with the formal statement of the fruit.
What is that fruit? Having dispelled the sin which is characterized by avidyā, kāma and karma (‘ignorance, desire and action’) and is the seed of transmigratory existence, samsāra, the knower of this Truth taught by the Upaniṣat, gets established in Brahman that is Infinitely blissful and which has no end. The adjective ‘ananta’ (‘boundless’) is sometimes used by courtesy with reference to the heaven (devaloka) where the celestials reside. In order to ward off that sense, the word ‘jyeye’ (‘that which is greater than all’) is used by the Upaniṣat. It is the Self, Ātman, which is the truly boundless. The idea is that the Knower does not return to the world.
That, the cessation of samsāra, is the fruit of realization of the Ātman which is non different from Brahman. The Knower might live on in the world till the body falls off. Yet such a life is not in any way a bondage to him. At the fall of the body, he does not pass over to any other world or return to this world. Brahman, that is what the real ‘he’ is, remains as always as the Non-dual Truth. That is the Supreme Advaitic Truth the Upaniṣads teach.
End of Kena Upaniṣad
The Peace Chant
ॐ आप्यायन्तु ममाङ्गानि वाक्प्राणश्चक्षुःश्रोत्रमथो बलमिन्द्रियाणि च सर्वाणि ।सर्वं ब्रह्मौपनिषदं माऽहं ब्रह्म निराकुर्यां मा मा ब्रह्म निराकरोदनिराकरणमस्त्वनिराकरणं मेऽस्तु । तदात्मनि निरते य उपनिषत्सु धर्मास्ते मयि सन्तु ते मयि सन्तु ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
[Om. May my limbs, speech, vital force, eyes, ears, as also strength and all the organs, become well developed. Everything is the Brahman revealed in the Upaniṣads. May I not deny Brahman; may not Brahman deny me. Let there be no rejection (of Brahman) by me. May all the virtues that are (spoken of) in the Upaniṣads repose in me who am engaged in the pursuit of the Self; may they repose in me. Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!]
Here ends the exposition of the Kenopaniṣat in the light of the commentary of Śrī Śaṅkarabhagavatpāda.