Gaudapada Karika with Advaita commentary of our understanding


Om. May no harm be done Here, May the vessels of the great Seers continue in Salvation, May these movements be in accord with Divine Will, May this desire be motivated by Love, May what is not beneficent wither to obscurity.
I prostrate.


Gaudapada Karika Chapter 3. with Advaita, Non-Dual, Commentary

THIRD CHAPTER Gaudapada Karika

This chapter further seeks to reveal the reality of Eternal Absolute Existence and Non-Duality by showing any reference to origination or birth to be erroneous.

1. Dharma (Jiva) associated with devotion arises when Brahman is regarded as having been born.  Prior to birth,  all is unborn;  therefore the Dharma,  Jiva,  is traditionally known as pitiable.

The limited consciousness as the jiva, the deluded individual, regards himself as being born. This jiva regards itself as being non-existent prior to its own birth. This jiva seeks favour and recognition of a divine being, its creator to maintain its existence.
The realised one understanding non-duality knows that there can be no birth or death in unity, non-duality. Therefore the deluded soul shrouded in the ignorance of duality is to be pitied, that is, seen as deluded.

2. I shall therefore speak of the non pitiableness which is without birth,  maintaining sameness throughout,  so that anything supposed as being born all around is not really born.

That which is without birth will also be without death, eternal, the non pitiable one. In this non-dual reality One alone Exists which we refer to as the Absolute. This Absolute being eternal, immutable without change is without beginning and without end. The beginningless Absolute is unborn and alone Exists so it follows there is no true birth. The appearance of birth is due to Maya  (Maya is illusion or the veiling power of the Absolute by which it manifests the world).

3. Atman like the Akasa rises up indeed in the form of Jivas (individual souls),   like spaces enclosed by earthen jars,  and in the form of Aggregates,   bodies etc.   like earthen jar etc.  This is the illustration in the matter of birth or,  origination.

The appearance of birth of individual bodies is of name and form only. Within the play of Maya there is the phenomenon of senses, perception and so forth. Through such mechanisms the unborn Self experiences Its-Self. We have heard in the previous chapters how all forms are empty of reality, that is because they exist in name only. In this verse that is illustrated by the example of the clay pots. Each individual clay pot exists in name only because in reality they are all from the same earth, they are all actually clay which could take any form. In this case the clay takes the form of a pot and is a pot in name only. When a new pot is made or born it is just another name for the same reformed earth, not truly the birth of a new entity in its own right. Further, each pot encloses the same space, All the pots are only dividing the One space.
Likewise all bodies seen as individuals are of the same material and are only dividing the One true existence, The Absolute Self.

4. As the earthen jar etc.  being dissolved,  the spaces etc.  are dissolved in the Akasa,  so are dissolved the individual souls here in Atman.

If all the clay pots were to be broken the space they apparently enclosed and the space that is everywhere would be unchanged, the pots can rise up from the earth and dissolve back into the earth but space remains unchanged.
Likewise with the forms of all beings. These forms, these individual names appear to be born, come into being, but in truth are all of the One Absolute Self. There is nothing that has true individuality.

5. As when one jar content is connected with dust and smoke etc.  not all jar contents are associated with them,  so are the individual souls with happiness etc.

The individual pots or persons or souls can for a while contain or have within their forms a different balance of sense perceptions. The various sense illusions reinforce perceptions of individuality.

6. in the various cases indeed,  form,  function and name do differ,  but there is no splitting up of the Akasa;   so the upshot in respect of the individual souls.

Due to name, form, and perception there is the appearance of birth and death and individuality. But the reality of Existence Itself being a One homogeneous singularity means duality and its appearances are illusions. All objects and forms are The Self.

7. As the Ghatakasa (jar content/space) is no transformation or portion of the Akasa,  similarly is the individual soul always no transformation or portion of At man.

As the clay pots do not alter the space they occupy so all apparently individual consciousnesses are really the One Consciousness, the One Eternal immutable Self.

8. As the sky becomes to that is,  in the opinion of the children,  soiled owing to impurities,  similarly Atman also becomes to be,   in the opinion of the non wise,  soiled owing to impurities.

A child might consider the sky dirtied by bad smoke, so the unwise, those seeing duality those that regard others as being separate entities can deny the divinity of others by associating their bad actions with their true being.

9. In death and verily in birth,  in going and coming as well,  in remaining in position,  in alt bodies,   Atman is not dissimilar to the Akasa.

It is stated here that the Atman is not dissimilar to the Akasa, this is for illustration of course. If there is an Akasa it is Atman it is the Absolute Self, if there were not an Akasa there is the Absolute Self, because the Absolute Self is all that Exists. This is why it is said that in going, coming, birth, death or remaining there is no change to the Absolute Consciousness as the Self. All apparent birth, death or change is illusion on the unchanging substratum of consciousness, of the Self.

10. All aggregates are set forth by the Maya of Atman,  like dream.  ln respect of their superiority or equality everywhere,  there does not exist any proper ground which would enable us to prove that the samghatas are real.

The ultimate unreality of all forms and objects has been shown in the previous chapters. It is restated again here, no matter the apparent importance, need or otherwise of the realm of creation it is ultimately unreal, imagined due to Maya only. There is no evidence or logic to support the reality of any object of perception. There is nothing within Creation that exists due to its own reality, its own originality.

11. The sheaths,  essence etc.  that are indeed expounded in the Taittirlyaka Upanishad of them,  the supreme Jiva is clearly shown up as Atman,  like Akasa.

The sheaths expounded in the Taittiriya Upanishad describe the forms of Maya that shroud the jiva or true being or the Self giving the illusion of individuality. The outer sheath being the gross form, made up of food. But as we have been shown here these sheaths are forms only, Like clay pots they are empty of any true existence other than the Absolute Self which in truth is the form itself, the space within the form, the space without the form. The appearance of individuals existing and moving in the space or void or Akasa of creation is the illusion because this existence of space is itself the projection of the Absolute self. Whatever further objects or beings that appear to exist on top of, or in that space are as clay pots or balloons floating in the air only the clay pots or balloon, or the sheath itself, is an illusion or Maya. The air, or the void, or the Akasa is mentioned for description only, to represent the Self. But The Self alone exists all else is an illusion supported by the existence of The Self.

12. In the Madhujnana,  that is,  Madhuvidya chapter in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, in the various or,  in each of the pairs (described as Adhidaiva and Adhyatma) is shown up the Highest Brahman,  as Akasa is shown up in the earth and in the belly itself.

The Madhu-Vidya Br. 2.5.v1-14 also known as the Honey doctrine because it describes mutual benefits within Creation like the honey and the bee, or the flower and the bee. The meaning being that what appears mutual, that is a duality, is really One, Advaita. The honey and the bee are in reality The Self. Creation does not oppose itself, it is of mutual benefit because it is a unity. As the Akasa or Space is in the earth and the belly the Self is the true substance of all Creation.

13. That the identity of Jiva and Atman without any difference,  is praised and variety or multiplicity is censured that is indeed rational only thus,  by assuming that Jiva is the creation of Maya.  The individual, or the deluded jiva consciousness, is in reality The Non-Dual Self. This truth it is said should be praised, meaning that this truth should be taught as a highest truth.
All understanding and action arising from the ignorance of duality should be censured because it is in error. This truth becomes clear and rational only when it is understood that individual consciousnesses cannot exist, individual existence can only be an illusion caused by Maya.

14. What separateness of Jiva and Atman prior to creation,  has been declared,  that is figurative,  referring,  as it does,  to the state to come;   to regard it as having the nature of the primary sense,  indeed does not fit in.

Alluding to scriptural references of jiva and Atman prior to Creation, meaning that such a duality has been talked of as existing before Creation in various scriptures, is here said to be figurative and for the purpose of description only.
To take any such reference as having a primary or literal meaning would be illogical.

15. The creation which has been authoritatively mentioned otherwise by illustrations of earth,  iron,  sparks etc,  that is a device for the grasping of the true position;  no difference whatsoever between Jiva and Atman exists.

Referring again to scriptural descriptions of Creation having proceeded from a duality of The Absolute and a lower Brahman and so forth, this verse is restating that those description were mere devices for setting up the situation where explanations could be grasped, to enable words to convey a meaningful understanding. It is again restated that duality does not exist. All individual souls are in reality the One Absolute Eternal Self.

16. There are three fold stages of life,  having low,  middle and excellent vision;  this mode of worship is prescribed for them,  out of compassion by the sruti.

This verse refers to different levels of intuition, understanding, perception, discrimination or awareness, any or all of which figure at times in Self Realisation. It is being explained how these varying stages or levels are understood by the Sruti so this is why the scriptures include descriptions of rites, rituals and elements of duality in order to relate to all levels of understanding. The meaning here is that these variations of statements should not cause conflict in interpreting the scriptures but that the higher understanding should emerge grasping the higher meaning, the truth of the Sruti. When that truth is Realised the descriptions designed to encompass all aspirants will not cause confusion. But it should be noted that those seekers who try to gain understanding through the machinations of the mind will encounter apparent contradictions in the scriptures.

17. The dualists are firmly fixed in their laying out of their conclusions;  they contradict one another;  this (Ajativada) does not conflict with them.

The meaning here is that duality is the basis for all contradiction. An understanding that rises from duality will have built in error, it will be fatally because it is based on ignorance of the reality of unity, non-duality. Being in error there will always be disparity, conflict.
The understanding and actions that encompass non-duality, that are Self aware have no nature of duality or conflict.

18. Nonduality is indeed the highest reality;  duality is spoken of as its outcome or,  modification.   For them (the dualists),  exists duality in both ways;  therefore or,  with that Dvaita this (Advaita) does not conflict.

The statement "non-duality is indeed the highest reality" is based on the highest truth that The Self Alone Exists. This Self being Absolute is unchanging and complete. Where there is the perception of duality there will always be that that is incomplete. There will always be that to be desired, the present state will always need to lead to a completeness but through duality completeness is unachievable.
From Non-Duality can be imagined duality, that is duality can be superimposed on the Non-Dual substratum. But with the perception of duality Non-Duality cannot be imagined, that is Non-Duality, unity, is not imagined on the substratum of duality, two.
Non-Duality encompasses all and conflicts with none. It should also be remembered that these statements are not to say that there exists a choice between Non-Duality and duality. Non-Duality is the Reality. It is merely being shown how this truth is infinitely more desirable than the unreality of duality, which in itself is further proof of the truth of it, because it is due to living in ignorance of Advaita that all problems arise.

19. This unborn (Advaita) indeed becomes modified or,  different through Maya not otherwise under any circumstances.  If indeed it were to be modified in reality,  the immortal would go the way of mortality!

That the primal Singularity of Existence is Reality, it is the ultimate truth, is being restated here. This primal Singularity has the logic of being unborn, without, origination therefore Eternal. It is accepted that due to Maya there is the appearance of duality.
But it is being said that if the reality were the other way, and duality was the normal state then immortality could not exist because to be immortal, eternal, one has to be unchanging, immutable, because that that changes has to have origination, a beginning. By accepting that eternity exists one has to accept that the primal entity is without origination logic dictates that this will be a singularity. There would not be two "existences". Therefore duality is the delusion or Maya not the other way round, singularity or Advaita as .

20. The disputants (Dvaitins) wish to prove the origination of the entity which is verily unoriginated.  How indeed can an unborn and therefore immortal entity,  pass on to mortality?

It is being said that those who cannot conceive of Unity, those who see and accept duality must accept origination of Existence. This would mean that eternity does not exist and this is illogical.

21. The immortal does not become mortal,  nor likewise the mortal immortal.  There would not be under any circumstance a change otherwise of  (one's)  nature.

The statement in this verse is just the logical assertion that immortal does not become mortal because that would mean it was not immortal in the first place.
Likewise that that is mortal does not have the qualities of the immortal because the immortal does not change so one cannot change to unchanging.

22. He for whom (that is, in whose opinion) an entity immortal in its own nature,  goes to mortality,  how will the immortal of his that is,   admitted by him artificially made (subject to artificial effort),  remain changeless or,  unmoving?

It is being said that if you believe immortality could change to mortality then you would believe immortality could be attained. That being so, the rhetorical question is asked how could you make something that is from then on eternally unchanging and unmoving? Clearly this could not be so.

23. In the matter of being created,  whether from the already existent,  or from the non existent also,  the Sruti is equal,  that is,  supporting both the views.  What is associated or,  fortified with logical reasoning and ascertained,  holds,  not the other.

It has already been noted and explained in verse 16 above how the Sruti out of compassion for all aspirants starts its teaching from different levels of understanding, consequently this teaching may at times appear to contradict itself. As said in verse 16 it is the higher understanding that comes through the more clarified reasoning of the more enlightened that one should come to see as the higher reality and see no need to resolve conflict with earlier understanding.

24. And from the Sruti text "No multiple here", (from the Sruti text) Indra by means of Maya powers as well,   from the Sruti text "He being unborn is however born in various ways through ",

This verse reminds us that the higher truth of Non-Duality is in fact the transcendent teaching of the Sruti. That is Non-Duality, Advaita "No multiple here" And The Absolute Self Alone Exists, the seeing of this Self in multiplicity is due to Maya alone. "He being unborn is however born in various ways through Maya.

25. and from the denial of origination (in the Isavasyopanisad), origination is barred out. By (the Sruti) Who possibly would produce this Atman? the cause of origination is barred out.

Origination or Birth of this Primal Existence or the Absolute Self is denied in the Sruti. Logically speaking, who or what would be before the First to create that first? So again origination is denied.

26. As the explanation viz. "This one,  he is not,  is not" denies or,  conceals,  all by the reason of the incomprehensibility of Atman,  the unborn Atman shines forth.

There have been many previous attempts to describe The Absolute Self. In this verse the opposite approach is taken to reveal the Absolute Self by declaring the Self to be "Not This, Not This" meaning that although the Existence of the Absolute is proved the Absolute is not perceivable. With all of Creation (the perceivable) negated by "Not This, Not This" the Absolute Self (the unperceivable ) Alone remains.

27. The birth of the existent is indeed reasonable through Maya but not in reality.  For whom that is,  in whose opinion,  is born the existent in reality,  for him,  that is, he would have to admit,  indeed the already born is born!

The unity of the Primal existence of the eternal Singularity, the Absolute, means that Existence Alone is Absolute. That Truth means there is no further true birth. There cannot be another new existence.
The perception of entities coming into existence or being born is accepted through the reasoning of Maya.  That is, entities that are perceived coming into being are declared through the process of logic and the understanding of Maya to be ultimately unreal.
Existence being an Absolute Unity, if one were to consider that Absolute to have been born even accepting the illogicality of that the fact would remain that the existent now exists so again there remains no more true birth.

28. The birth of the non existent either through or in reality is assuredly not reasonable;  the son of a barren woman is not born either in reality or through Maya even.

As with the example of the Son of a barren woman, a logical impossibility (or we would have the existence of the non-existent) so with the birth of the existent from the non-existent, again logically impossible. The meaning is clear, Existence is without origination, unborn therefore Eternal.

29. As through Maya the mind in dream vibrates into the appearance of two (grahya and agrahaka),  so through Maya the mind in the waking state vibrates into the appearance of two agrahva and grahaka.

That dreams present the same illusion of duality due as the waking state is known. Mind working and perceiving itself as a separate entity is the cause of the perception of duality.

30. In dream again,  the nondual mind is appearing as dual,  no doubt about it;  and similarly in the waking state, the nondual mind is appearing as dual,  no doubt.

Again although the reality is that all this is the Self Alone, the mind deluded through ignorance due to Maya perceives itself as a separate entity that is born lives and dies.

31. All this duality whatsoever, comprising the movable and the immovable, is perceivable by the mind;  when the mind has indeed become non mind,  duality is assuredly not experienced.

It is being said that all aspects of duality are perceived, erroneously, by the mind. When the mind becomes non-mind by being brought under the control of divine discrimination, the mind then becomes an obedient servant or a tool, then the error of perception of duality is seen by that higher discrimination.

32. When the mind does not imagine owing to the comprehension of the truth about Atman,   it goes to the state of non mind;  it is without cognition in the absence of the cognisable.

The mind of the Realised being is stilled from the workings of discursive thoughts, the thoughts that are centred on itself and that try to assume the responsibility for its own existence by doing the thinking or cognition of reality. The higher purified intellect now guides the understanding and the beings awareness is now of the reality of Non-Duality.

33. They assert the Brahman free from imagination and unborn as being not different from the knowable.  Brahman is the knowable,  unborn and eternal.  Thus is made known the unborn by the unborn.

The meaning here is the Primal Absolute is Knowledge and Consciousness Absolute. It is said by the Sages that to know the One Self is to know all things. This Absolute is attainable by the Realised and the Knowledge that the Absolute in reality is can also be realised through the higher intellect of the Self Realised. The Eternal unborn Self Alone Exists. To attain that One alone is to become that Unborn One Alone to Attain that Unity is to attain all knowledge. To regain unity with the unborn Absolute is to become one with that Absolute Knowledge. To realise your true being as the Unborn Absolute is for the Unborn to reunite with the Unborn.

34. But that procedure of the mind completely controlled and free from imagination,  endowed with discernment or,  of the discerning person,  has to be known properly;   the procedure of the mind in deep sleep is different,  not like that of the Nigrhita mind,  described above.

The mind in deep sleep is as though unconscious because it is ignorant of the perceivable. It is without desire and imagination only due to its ignorance.
The Mind of the Realised one is also free from desire and imagination but this is due to being a controlled mind. This mind is controlled and guided by higher intellect and discrimination. This is opposite to the mind of ignorance covered with sleep.

35. In deep sleep indeed,  it the mind is laid low;  completely controlled it is not laid low.  That itself is the Brahman void of fear,  with the illumination of jfiana all around.

The mind in deep sleep as said is the non-functioning mind. But the Controlled mind has the highest functional qualities.

36. Unborn,  without sleep,  without dream,  without name,  without form,  flashing up once for all,  and omniscient.   There is in this description of Brahman no figurative use in any way whatever.

The description of the Absolute Self as unborn, without sleep or dream, without form and without beginning is said in this verse to be literally the truth, not just figuratively speaking.

37. That is,   the intense concentration, gone beyond all statement in words,  risen above all thought,  completely calm illumination once for all,  unmoving and free from fear.

It is stated in this verse that the Absolute Self is as ultimate concentration, indescribable, all knowing, Self illuminating, free from fear and unmoving.

38. Where there does not exist thought,  there is no taking up that is,  apprehension, no giving up either,  At that time the jnana well set in itself or,  in the Atman, is non originated and remaining the same (lit. going to sameness).

The Absolute without thought is without fear or despondency. The Self Realised Sage becomes One with the Self or attains the true being of his-Self.

39. This is verily,  the "non touch Yoga" by name,  difficult to be realised by all ordinary Yogins;  the Yogins are indeed afraid of it,  seeing fear in something free from fear.

The meaning here is that this Yoga or method of learning that leads to Self Realisation, the realisation of Non-Duality is a path for the dedicated. The reference to ordinary Yogins means aspirants who follow a path with an understanding of duality only.
It is the dual mind that sees fear due it perceiving of an other. Where there is another there is desire competition ambition and fear.

40. For all Yogins,  depending upon the control of the mind,   are absence of fear,  destruction of misery,  and complete awakening and eternal peace itself.

The truth of Non-Duality, Advaita, realised through a Yoga of purification or clarification of the intellect and a controlled mind leads to full understanding.
Through full understanding, through a knowing of reality, no cause for fear is recognised. Misery falls away and peace in the Self is experienced.

41. As there would be the draining out of the sea by one drop of water at a time by means of the point of a blade of Kusa grass,  so would be the control of the mind without all out toiling.

The analogy of the almost impossible task of emptying the sea a tiny drop at a time with the almost impossible task of controlling the mind without effort, practice and a system or Yoga is made here.

42. By the prescribed means,  one should control the mind tossed about in desire and enjoyment and also quite at ease in the lying low state;  as desire,  so the lying low both states are equally undesirable and harmful.

This verse confirms that a prescribed means is needed to bring the mind under control. Here is also said that as desire and pleasure seeking are detrimental to mind control so is sleeping.

43. Having continually remembered all to be misery,  one should turn back the mind from desires and enjoyments;  having continually remembered all to be unborn,  one assuredly does not see the born for the matter of that.

It is said that through the constant remembering of the unreality of all things and recognising the misery caused by the delusion of duality along with right Yoga practice will lead to the Realisation of the Non-Duality of the Unborn Self therefore the fact of all entities being the Self and all entities being unborn, nothing in existence has been born.

44. One should fully awaken the mind when in the lying low state,  should pacify it again when tossed about;  should know it particularly to be with passion,   and should not shake it up when attained to equilibrium.

This verse tells us we should not sleep longer than needed and should waken fully to resume our practice. We should still the mind when distracted and keep it neutral from passions and when in equilibrium and on the right path should not seek distraction.
Or,   when meditating and close to the Self one may have the sense that to surrender to sleep is to surrender to,   or move closer to the Self.   This is an illusion arising from effort of concentration and desire to attain to the Self.   Do not sleep but continue to strive for even higher wakefulness is the exhortation.

45. One should not relish pleasure there in Samadhi;  one should be free from attachment through discernment;  one should unify,  by effort,  the steadied mind if it be moving out towards objects of enjoyment,

Practising meditation one should not relax to the pleasure of stillness but maintain with all effort concentration. One should always discriminate to avoid attachment to the unreal and unnecessary.

46. When the mind does not lie low and is not again tossed about,  then that being without movement,  and not presenting any appearance,  culminates into Brahman.

The mind that does not seek sleep yet rests in equlibrium and is still and not outward seeking will realise the Self is the statement here.

47. Resting in itself,  calm,  with Nirvana,  indescribable,  highest happiness,  unborn and one with the unborn knowable,  omniscient thus of it they say.

The mind that has realised the Absolute Self is omniscient, calm, blissful and rests in itself this verse reports.

48. No creature whatever is born;  no origination of it exists or,  takes place. This is that highest truth where nothing whatever is born.
Here ends the Third Chapter in the Gaudapada karika.

The final statement of this chapter reiterates its main purport that Existence, The Absolute is without origination, birth.
The highest truth it is said is that nothing whatever is born.


Continue to Gaudapada Karika Chapter Four.


Ohm   peace,   peace,   peace.