Gaudapada was, by tradition, the philosophical grandfather of Shankara. Gaudapada shows clear signs of familiarity with Buddhist philosophy, and both his language and his doctrine are close in many cases to Buddhist originals. This has led many scholars to speculate that Gaudapada himself was originally a Buddhist. The Karika is a verse commentary on the Upanishad.
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Gaudapada was, by tradition, the philosophical grandfather of Shankara. Gaudapada shows clear signs of familiarity with Buddhist philosophy, and both his language and his doctrine are close in many cases to Buddhist originals. This has led many scholars to speculate that Gaudapada himself was originally a Buddhist. The Karika is a verse commentary on the Upanishad. It falls into four sections: 1. Agama Prakarana 3. Advaita 4.
Extinguishing the torch. The first section is a brief systematic exposition of the Upanishadic text, following its distinction of the four states of consciousness. Several of the most important Indian commentators treat the 29 slokas of the Agama Prakarana as part of the scriptural text of Mandukya Upanishad.. The second section moves beyond the text of the Upanishad to establish the unreality of the things experienced in dreams and, by analogy, the things experienced in the waking state.
All these are but MAYA, illusion. Gaudapada emphasised the essential unity of waking and dreaming, arguing the waking world is as unreal as the dream-world.
Shankara will emphasise the distinction between the two, to avoid the collapse into subjective illusionism. The fourth section of the Karika expounds the means of removing the illusion of duality. Visva is all-pervading and experiences the gross. Taijasa experiences the subtle. Prajna is a mass of awareness. It is one who is known in all three states. Visva always enjoys the gross, Taijasa the subtle, Prajna enjoys bliss.
Know enjoyment to be threefold. The gross satisfies Visva, the subtle Taijasa, and bliss Prajna: know satisfaction to be threefold.
He who knows the one experiencer and the one object of experience in all the three states is not affected by enjoyment of objects. All objects come into being.
Prana creates all. Purush creates the separate rays of consciousness. Those who dwell on creation consider it a divine miracle. Others imagine it is like a dream or an illusion. Some are convinced creation is by the mere will of God. Those who are fascinated by time declare time to be the source of all things. But it is the true nature of the Divine One - what desire can He have whose every desire is always fulfilled?
In the matter of the eradication of sorrows, it is the Inexhaustible Non-dual One - the Lord - who rules. Turiya is known as the all-pervading source of all that is. Visva and Taijasa are conditioned by both cause and effect, prajna by cause alone. Neither exists in Turiya. Prajna knows nothing of self or non-self, neither true nor false.
Turiya is forever and the all-seer. Non-cognition of duality is common the Prajna and Turiya. But Prajna is associated with the causal state of sleep, and that does not exist in Turiya.
Those who know see neither sleep nor dream in Turiya. Dream is erroneous cognition, sleep the absence of awareness of reality. When these two errors are removed, Turiya is attained.
When the soul sleeping under the influence of beginningless Maya is awakened, it realises the unoriginated, sleepless, dreamless non-duality. If the phenomenal world were real, it would undoubtedly vanish. All this duality is mere Maya. Non-duality is the supreme reality.
If the multiplicity were imagined, it would vanish. Such talk is merely for instruction. On knowing, duality ceases. Whoever has unshakeable knowledge of the correspondences of the three states is a great sage deserving the worship and veneration of all beings.
In the soundless there is no attainment. The word "AUM" should be known foot by foot. The "feet" are undoubtedly the letters. Grasping "AUM" foot by foot there is nothing else one should think of. The mind should be absorbed in AUM. AUM is Brahman, the fearless. One who is absorbed in AUM is totally devoid of fear. AUM is indeed the Lower Brahman. AUM is also admitted to be the Supreme Brahman. AUM is uncaused, integral, unique, free from effects, changeless. AUM is truly the beginning, the middle and the end of all.
Knowing AUM in this way, one attains immediately. Know AUM as the Lord indwelling the hearts of all. The man of discrimination realised AUM is all-pervading; he does not grieve. He is the true sage who knows AUM - the soundless, yet of infinite sounds - the auspicious reality where all duality ceases, - He, and no other!
Vaitathya Prakarana. The wise declare all objects seen in dreams to be unreal because i of their location within, and ii their confinement. And when he wakes up, the dreamer never finds himself in that place. The wise say that scripture itself reaffirms the unreality reason establishes. Just as dream objects are unreal, so, and for the same reason, objects perceived in the waking state are also unreal.
The only difference is the restriction of dream objects to an interior location. The similarity of their different objects offers a commonplace reason for the wise to identify the waking state and the dreaming state. What does not exist in the beginning and does not exist at the end certainly does not in the middle!
But like illusions, they seem real. Their usefulness is contradicted in the dream. Unfamiliar objects are merely the product of a specific state - it is just the same as in the case of celestial beings!
He experiences them by going there just as a well-instructed person here does. In the dream state too, what is imagined by inner consciousness is unreal, but what is perceived by the outer consciousness is real - but in both cases what is perceived is unreal. In the waking state too, what is imagined by the inner consciousness is unreal and whatever is perceived by outer consciousness is real - but reason dictates that both are unreal.
If all objects in both states are unreal, who is it who is aware of these objects and who devises them? Self-luminous Atman, by the power of its own Maya imagines itself in itself. He alone is aware of the objects. This is the conclusion of the Vedanta. The Lord gives diversity to the mundane things that exist in his mind. Turning His mind outwards the Lord thus imagines well-defined things. Internal things that last only so long as the thought of them lasts and equally things perceived in relation to two points of time are all mere imaginations.
There is nothing else to distinguish them. The objects that exist unmanifested within the mind and those that exist manifested externally are all mere imagination.
The difference between them rises only from differences in the sense organs. First He imagines the individual soul, then the various external and subjective objects.
And memory accords with knowledge. Just as in the dark a rope whose nature has not been fully ascertained is imagined to be various different things such as a snake, a line of water and so forth; in exactly the same way the Self is imagined in various different ways. When the rope is realised to be a rope, all illusions about it cease, and only the rope remains. Realisation of the Self is just the same. Those who know prana identify It with Prana.
Those who know the elements identify It with the elements. Those who know the qualities identify It with the qualities. Those who know the categories identify It with the categories.
Those who know the "feet" identify It with the "feet.
The Muktikopanishad says that the Mandukya Upanishad alone is enough for salvation. Shining Ones! May we hear through our ears what is auspicious; Ye, fit to be worshipped! May we see with our eyes what is auspicious; May we, endowed with body strong with limbs, offering praise, complete the full span of life bestowed upon us by the divine beings; May Indra, of enhanced fame, be auspicious unto us; May Pushan, who is all-knowing, be auspicious unto us; May Tarkshya, who is the destroyer of all evils, be auspicious unto us; May Brihaspati bestow upon us auspiciousness! This Imperishable Word is the whole of this visible universe. All this, verily, is Reality [Brahman].
Mandukya Upanishad (Gaudapa Karika and Shankara Bhashya)
AUM, the word, is all this, the whole universe. A clear explanation of it is as follows: All that is past, present and future is, indeed, AUM. And whatever else there is, beyond the threefold division of time-that also is truly AUM. II All this is, indeed, Brahman.
Mandukya Upanishad Gaudapada Karika
Gaudapada's Karika on the Mandukya Upanishad