The Great Karika on the Manduka Upanishad.

Gaudapada was, by tradition, the philosophical grandfather of Shankara. His Karika on the Mandukya Upanishad is the oldest known systematic exposition of Advaita Vedanta. 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

2. Illusion

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 (verses) 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 Advaita section of the Karika presents a clear, positive statement of the Non-Dualist position: Atman/Brahman alone is real, all else is illusion. Gaudapada teaches the AJATA doctrine: the doctrine of NO-BECOMING.

The fourth section of the Karika expounds the means of removing the illusion of duality. Essentially this is the ASPARSHA YOGA mentioned in section three.


The Karika.

Book I: Agama Prakarana.

1. 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.

2. Visva's "mouth" is in the right eye. Taijasa's is within the mind-organ, Prajna is the space within the heart. - Present three ways in the body.

3. Visva always enjoys the gross, Taijasa the subtle, Prajna enjoys bliss. Know enjoyment to be threefold.

4. The gross satisfies Visva, the subtle Taijasa, and bliss Prajna: know satisfaction to be threefold.

5. He who knows the one experiencer and the one object of experience in all the three states is not affected by enjoyment of objects.

6. All objects come into being. Prana creates all. Purush creates the separate rays of consciousness.

7. Those who dwell on creation consider it a divine miracle. Others imagine it is like a dream or an illusion.

8. 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.

9. Others say creation is for God's delight, others that it is for mere sport. But it is the true nature of the Divine One - what desire can He have whose every desire is always fulfilled?

10. 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.

11. Visva and Taijasa are conditioned by both cause and effect, prajna by cause alone. Neither exists in Turiya.

12. Prajna knows nothing of self or non-self, neither true nor false. Turiya is forever and the all-seer.

13. Non-cognition of duality is common in the Prajna and Turiya states. But Prajna is associated with the causal state of sleep, and that does not exist in Turiya.

14. Both the first two {Visva and Taijasa} are both associated with dream and sleep, Prajna is the state of dreamless sleep. Those who know see neither sleep nor dream in Turiya.

15. Dream is erroneous cognition, sleep the absence of the awareness of reality. When these two errors are removed, Turiya is attained.

16. When the soul sleeping under the influence of beginningless Maya is awakened, it realises the unoriginated, sleepless, dreamless non-duality.

17. If the phenomenal world were real, it would undoubtedly vanish. All this duality is mere Maya. Non-duality is the supreme reality.

18. If the multiplicity were imagined, it would vanish. Such talk is merely for instruction. On knowing, duality ceases.

19. When Visva's identity with "A" is intended, correspondence in terms of being the first [adi] as well as correspondence in terms of being all-pervading [apti-samanyam] becomes apparent.

20. When Taijasa's identity with "U" is understood, its correspondence in terms of superiority [utkarsa] is clearly seen as also in terms of intermediacy [ubhayatvam].

21. When Prajna's identity with "M" is understood the obvious point of correspondence is dimension and being in which all things Merge.

22. Whoever has unshakeable knowledge of the correspondences of the three states is a great sage deserving the worship and veneration of all beings.

23. By the sound "A" one attains Visva, by the sound "U" one attains Taijasa, the sound "M" one attains Prajna. In the soundless there is no attainment.

24. The word "AUM" (om) 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.

25. The mind should be absorbed in AUM. AUM is Brahman, the fearless. One who is absorbed in AUM is totally devoid of fear.

26. AUM is indeed the Lower Brahman. AUM is also admitted to be the Supreme Brahman. AUM is uncaused, integral, unique, free from effects, changeless.

27. AUM is truly the beginning, the middle and the end of all. Knowing AUM in this way, one attains immediately.

28. Know AUM as the Lord indwelling the hearts of all. The man of discrimination realising AUM is all-pervading, does not grieve.

29. 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!

Book II: Illusion. (Vaitathya Prakarana.)

1. The wise declare all objects seen in dreams to be unreal because (i) of their location within, and (ii) their confinement.

2. Besides, one does not actually go to places to have a look - there's no time for that! And when he wakes up, the dreamer never finds himself in that place.

3. Moreover, the non-existence of the chariot seen in the dream, is asserted in Scripture on logical grounds. The wise say that scripture itself reaffirms the unreality reason establishes.

4. 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.

5. The similarity of their different objects offers a commonplace reason for the wise to identify the waking state and the dreaming state.

6. 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. (Even as an object appears it is decaying in time, such that it is not what it appears it is receding into the past, while that which is conscious of it is never bound in Time.)

7. Their usefulness is contradicted in the dream. {i.e. in a dream the things of waking life are useless.} So, since they have a beginning and an end, they are rightly held to be unreal.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. If all objects in both states are unreal, who is it who is aware of these objects and who devises them?

12. 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.

13. The Lord gives diversity to the mundane things that exist in his mind. Turning His mind outwards the Lord thus imagines well-defined things.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. First He imagines the individual soul, then the various external and subjective objects. And memory accords with knowledge.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. It is imagined to be (identical with) Prana {the life force} or other eternal realities. This is the Maya of the Divine One, by which He Himself is deluded.

20. 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.

21. Those who know the "feet" identify It with the "feet." those who know the sense-objects identify It with the sense-objects. Those who know the worlds identify It with the worlds. those who know the gods identify It with the gods.

22. Those who know the Vedas identify It with the Vedas. Those who know the sacrifices identify It with the sacrifices. Those who know the enjoyer identify It with the enjoyer. Those who know the object of enjoyment identify It with the object of enjoyment.

23. Knowers of the subtle identify It with the subtle. Those who know the gross identify It with the gross. those who know the god with forms identify It with a form, those who know the formless identify It with the Void.

24. Students of time identify It with time. Those who know space call It space. Disputers identify It with disputation. Cosmologists identify It with the fourteen worlds.

25. Knowers of the mind-organ identify It with the mind-organ. Knowers of intelligence identify It with intelligence. Knowers of consciousness identify It with consciousness. Knowers of righteousness or unrighteousness identify It with one or the other.

26. Some say reality is constituted of twenty-five principles, some of twenty-six. Some say It consists of thirty-one categories, there are even some who believe they are infinite!

27. Those who know human pleasures identify It with such pleasures. Those who know the stages of life identify It with them. Grammarians identify It with the male, the female or the neuter! - others identify It with the transcendent or the non-transcendent.

28. Knowers of creation identify It with creation. Knowers of dissolution identify It with dissolution. Knowers of subsistence identify It with subsistence. But all these notions are merely imagined in the Self!

29. Whatever may be displayed, that is the thing one sees. One becomes identified with it and satisfied by it. Engrossed in it he becomes absorbed in it.

30. Though this One is non-different from these, yet It is identified as separate. Whoever knows this can interpret unhesitatingly. {interpret the Veda}

31. The one knowledgeable in Vedanta sees the entire universe as just like a dream or a conjuring trick or a city in the sky.

32. There is no cessation, no coming-to-be, none in bondage, no seeker after liberation and no-one liberated. This is the absolute truth. [paramartha.]

33. It is conceived of both as the Non-dual and as unreal things, and the things are conceived as in the Non-dual! Non-duality, therefore, is the auspicious. {the word in the text is "shiva" - auspicious, pleasant, blissful ...}

34. From the standpoint of the Self the world does not exist; nor does it exist as independent - neither differentiated nor non-differentiated. This is what the wise know.

35. Contemplatives well-versed in the Vedas and free from desire fear and anger see this Self as free from all distinctions, utterly free from all phenomenal reality and Non-dual.

36. Knowing It in this way, fix your memory on Non-duality. Having attained to the Non-dual, behave in the world like a mindless thing.

37. Let him eschew flattery and greetings and avoid rites. With the body and soul as his support, let him depend on chance.

38. Having seen Reality within and in the world outside, he should become one with Reality, find his delight in Reality and never deviate from Reality.


Book III: Non-duality. (Advaita Prakarana.)

1. The aspirant devotee subsists in the conditioned Brahman. He is to be pitied; he thinks that everything was unborn before creation!

2. I shall therefore describe the infinite, birthless and homogeneous. Listen! Nothing comes into existence, though it may well seem to come into existence.

3. Here is an image of "coming into existence" -

The Self is spoken of as existing in individual souls just as space exists encompassed by a pot. Its existence in composite things is like the space in pots.

4. When the pot is smashed, the pot-space merges totally with Space - in the same way souls merge in the Self.

5. When the bit of space in one pot is polluted by dust, smoke &c., the bits of space encompassed by other pots are not affected. - the same is the case with souls in the matter of happiness, misery &c..

6. Shapes, purposes and names differ from one to another, but Space itself is homogeneous. The same conclusion is to be drawn in the case of souls.

7. The pot-space is neither a product nor a part of Space. The soul is neither a product nor a part of the Self.

8. Children think the sky is polluted by dust. The ignorant think the Self too can be polluted.

9. With regard to Its birth, Its death, Its going and Its coming, the Self is quite like Space.

10. All composites are produced as in a dream by the Maya of the Self. There is no rational ground to establish their reality - or their equality or superiority!

11. The space analogy illustrates well the identity of the Self with the supreme soul of the sheaths - the one based on food &c., as Taittiriya Upanishad explains. {T.U. II, 1-6}

12. Just as it has been shown that the space in the belly and the space in the earth are one and the same, the pairings in the Honey Doctrine show the same is true of the Supreme Brahman. {The Honey Doctrine (Madhu Khanda) is B.U. II.v.1-14}

13. The non-difference of the soul and the Self is asserted and extolled, difference is condemned - from this standpoint alone is understanding possible.

14. Any assertion of a distinction between the soul and the Self before creation is merely figurative, it refers to the future; statements asserting separateness are not meant literally.

15. When creation is expounded by means of examples such as earth, gold, sparks and so forth, this is merely instructive metaphor. There is no real multiplicity.

16. The three states of life corresponding to inferior, intermediate and superior insight, are offered out of compassion so that such people can meditate on them to their improvement.

17. Dualists who cling obstinately to the conclusions arrived at by their own methods are in perpetual conflict with each other. We have no conflict with them.

18. Non-duality is the ultimate reality (paramartha), since duality is acknowledged to be its product - the Dualists see duality in both, so our view is not in conflict with theirs.

19. It is through Maya, and in no other way, that the Birthless is differentiated. If it were really differentiated then the immortal would become mortal.

20. Disputants contend that the Unoriginate undergoes birth - how could an unoriginated and immortal being acquire mortality?

21. The immortal does not become mortal; the mortal does not become immortal. Transmutation of nature simply does not occur.

22. How can anyone who believes that an immortal being can change its nature and and become mortal maintain that the immortal - even after this has happened to it - remains unchanging?

23. Coming to be can be either real or illusory. Both views are presented in scripture. That which scripture lays down and reason corroborates, that alone is established. {i.e. scripture alone is not enough.}

24. From texts such as "There is no diversity here," {Ka.II.i.11} or "Through Maya Indra," {Br.II.v.19} we know that the Unoriginate takes birth only by Maya.

25. From the rejection of the worship of the All-Majestic (Hiranyagarbha) creation is refuted. {see I.U.12} The text "and who should bring him forth?" {B.U.III.ix.27-8} rules out causality.

26. The scriptural statement that It is "not this, not this" {B.U.III.ix.26} negates all those accounts. Since It is utterly incomprehensible the Birthless is thus self-radiant.

27. That the existent should come into being is only possible in an illusory manner. Anyone who claims it really happens is saying that what has already come to be comes to be.

28. The non-existent does not come to exist either in illusion or in reality. The son-of-a-barren-woman is born neither in illusion nor in reality.

29. In a dream, the mind gives the illusion of oscillating between two aspects, in the waking state too, the mind gives the illusion of oscillating between two aspects.

30. There is no doubt that the mind, which is non-dual appears in a dream under two aspects. equally so in the waking state the non-dual appears under two aspects.

31. This duality - everything whether moving or immobile - is a mental percept. When the mind ceases from mental activity no duality is perceived.

32. On realisation that the Self is the Real, thinking ceases: it becomes Non-mind; in the absence of anything to perceive there is no perception.

33. They say that the unoriginate, non-conceptual knowledge is non-different from the Known. Brahma-knowledge is birthless and eternal. The Birthless is known by the Birthless.

34. One should take particular note of the mind's behaviour when it is under control, it is free of all conceptions but endowed with discrimination: the mind's condition in deep sleep is something quite different.

35. In deep sleep the mind loses itself, - not so when under control; in that state it is the fearless Brahman, the light of knowledge shining on all sides.

36. Birthless, unsleeping, dreamless, devoid of name or form, ever radiant and all-knowing - there is no action to be performed.

37. It is totally ineffable and utterly inconceivable, completely peaceful, eternally radiant, ecstatic, {samadhi} immutable, fearless.

38. When mental activity ceases, there is neither grasping nor rejecting; knowledge is established in the Self, it is birthless, it attains equanimity. {samata}

39. This Yoga-without-contact {asparsha yoga} is hard for yogis to understand; they fear it, finding fear where there is nothing to be afraid of. {'yoga' basiclally means 'union' - so the yoga is 'union without contact.}

40. Such yogis depend on mind-control for the attainment of fearlessness, the destruction of suffering {duhkha}, the knowledge of the Self and eternal peace.

41. Controlling the mind without lapsing into depression is like using a single blade of grass to empty the ocean, drop by drop.

42. The proper means are essential to the disciplining of the mind, whether it is scattered in desires and pleasures or in a stupor - stupor is as injurious as desires.

43. Ever mindful that everything is suffering {duhkha}, one should restrain the mind from the enjoyment of pleasure. Remember that the Birthless is all: then there is nothing to perceive.

44. If the mind is in stupor, wake it up! If it is scattered, calm it. Recognise when it is affected by desire. When it is perfectly balanced, leave it alone!

45. Do not indulge in the pleasure, use discrimination and get rid of attachment. If the mind has attained the state of equilibrium and then wants to venture out, then diligently bring it to unity.

46. When the mind is neither torpid nor scattered, when it is still and free from appearances, it truly becomes Brahman.

47. Supreme happiness is within, it is peaceful, it is accompanied by cessation {nirvana}, it is indescribable and birthless. Since it is identical with the Unborn Object of Knowledge, they declare It the Omniscient.

48. No soul whatsoever is born. It has no source. This is Supreme Reality, where nothing whatsoever is born.

Book IV. Quenching The Firebrand. (Alatashanti Prakarana)

1. I bow to that best of men who, by means of his spacelike knowledge which is non-different from its object, realised the nature of the dharmas which are like the sky!

2. I bow to that yoga taught in the scriptures, which is known as free from contact {asparsha}, which promotes the happiness of all beings, is for the good of all, devoid of conflict and contradiction.

3. Some disputants postulate that it is the existent that comes to be, others, proud of their wisdom, say it is from the non-existent that coming-to-be occurs.

4. What exists does not come into being, and the non-existent cannot come to be. While these folk argue amongst themselves they actually help establish the advaita position and reveal there is no coming to be.

5. We approve the birthlessness they declare; we have no quarrel with them. Now, understand from us this which is free from dispute.

6. Disputants contend that the Unoriginate undergoes birth - how could an unoriginated and immortal being acquire mortality?

7. The immortal does not become mortal; the mortal does not become immortal. Transmutation of nature simply does not occur.

8. How can anyone who believes that an immortal being can change its nature and become mortal maintain that the immortal - even after this has happened to it - remains unchanging?

9. By the term "nature" is to be understood that which is acquired totally and becomes intrinsic to the thing, or which is innate, not acquired from any external source, and remains immutable.

10. All dharmas are by their very nature free from old age and death, but they imagine they are subject to old age and death and because of that very thought they are perverted from their nature.

11. The disputant who hold that cause and effect are identical must admit that the cause comes into being. How can the unoriginate come into being, and how can it be eternal if it is liable to modification?

12. If, as you say, the effect is non-different from the cause, then for that reason the effect too will be birthless. Besides, how can an unoriginate cause be identical with an effect that comes into being?

13. There is no example to support the claim that the effect comes to be from an unoriginate cause. And if it is held that the effect comes to be from something else that also comes to be, then we face an infinite regress.

14. How can those who assert that the effect is the cause of the cause and the cause is the cause of the effect assert they are unoriginate?

15. To assert that the effect is the cause of the cause and the cause the cause of the effect is like claiming the father gives birth to the son!

16. If there is causality, then the sequence of cause and effect must be determined; if both occur at once, there can be no causal relation between them, any more than there is between the two horns of an ox.

17. If the cause is produced from the effect, it can never be established. How can a cause, itself not established, give birth to an effect?

18. If the cause is dependent on the effect and the effect is dependent on the cause, then which comes first for the other to come from it?

19. Your inability to answer, the impossibility of establishing the causal sequence persuade the wise to stick to No-birth.

20. The classic case of the seed and the sprout remains unproved - the unproven cannot be used as the means to prove something.

21. Ignorance of the sequential ordering of cause and effect itself points to the absence of coming to be. If something really does come to be, why can the pre-existent cause not be pointed out?

22. Nothing comes to be whether from itself or from another. Nothing that exists ever comes to be, nothing that does not exist, nothing that both exists and does not exist.

23. The cause cannot come to be from an unoriginate effect, nor does an effect simply happen of itself. The uncaused certainly does not come into existence.

24. Knowledge must have an object, otherwise both will be non-existent. For this reason, as also from the experience of pain, our opponent's assertion of the existence of the object should be admitted.

25. Logic demands an object as the cause of knowledge. But from the standpoint of reality, it is evident the cause is no cause at all. (because nothing comes to be or is caused, knowledge has no object and therefore does not exist!)

26. Consciousness has no contact with objects, and no contact with appearances of objects. Objects are non-existent and appearances of objects non-different from consciousness.

27. At none of the three times (past, present, future) does consciousness make contact with objects. Since there are no objects, how can there be deluded perception of such?

28. Neither consciousness nor its objects ever come into existence. Those who perceive such a coming-to-be are like those who can see footprints in the sky!

29. It is the unoriginate [they say] which comes to be - but it is essentially birthless and the transformation of that nature will not happen in any way whatsoever.

30. If the world has no beginning it will have no end either. Moksa cannot both have a beginning and be eternal.

31. What does not exist in the beginning and does not exist at the end certainly does not exist in the middle! But like illusions, they seem real.

32. Their usefulness is contradicted in the dream. {i.e. in a dream the things of waking life are useless, just as dream objects are useless here} So, since they have a beginning and an end, they are rightly held to be unreal.

33. All things we are aware of in a dream are unreal, since they are perceived within the body - how could real things be seen in this confined space.

34. It is preposterous to claim that things in a dream are known by going to them; there is no time for the journey to take place, and nobody wakes up to find himself in the place he was dreaming.

35. If you talk to your friend in a dream, they offer no confirmation of the fact in the waking state, and if you gain something in a dream, when you wake it is gone.

36. The dream body is unreal - there is another separate one visible! Just like the body, everything else is a mental percept and unreal.

37. Since dream experience resembles waking experience, it is believed to be the result of it. But that is ground only for this waking state being real to this particular dreamer!

38. Coming to be is not proven to occur: accordingly it is said that everything is unoriginate. There is absolutely no case of the unreal coming into existence from the real.

39. Having seen an unreal something in the waking state and having been emotionally affected by it, one sees it in a dream as well. But the unreal somethings seen in a dream are not seen again in the waking state.

40. The unreal cannot have the unreal as its cause, nor can the real come to be from the unreal. The real cannot be cause of the real; how then could the real be cause of the unreal?

41. Just as, in the waking state, one may handle objects one cannot conceptualise for lack of the capacity to discriminate them, and imagine them to be real, just so in a dream, because of lack of the capacity to discriminate, one sees objects peculiar to that dream.

42. The wise teach coming-to-be for the sake of those who are afraid of absolute birthlessness, people who cling to the reality of objects and have faith in observances.

43. For those who are afraid and deviate from the true path, relying on experience, the fault of accepting coming-to-be will not have bear fruit, even the fault itself will only be slight.

44. Just as the elephant in a conjuring trick is called an elephant on the basis of perception and appropriate behaviour, so too objects are said to exist on the basis of perception and appropriate behaviour.

45. It is the birthless, unmoving, immaterial, peaceful non-dual consciousness that appears to come into existence, to move and to take substantial form.

46. Consciousness does not undergo birth, thus dharmas are considered birthless. Those who know this never fall into calamity.

47. As a moving firebrand appears as a curve, consciousness when set in motion appears as the knower and the known.

48. As the firebrand when not in motion is free from appearances and from becoming, so too consciousness when not in motion is free of appearances and becoming.

49. When the firebrand is in motion, the appearances do not come from somewhere else; when it is motionless, the appearances do not go somewhere else, nor do they go into it.

50. They do not emerge from the firebrand since they are insubstantial. The same applies to consciousness, since in both cases the appearances are of the same kind.

51. When consciousness is oscillating, the appearances do not come to it from somewhere else, nor do they go somewhere else when it is at rest, nor do they enter into it.

52. They do not emerge from consciousness since they are insubstantial. They cannot be conceptualised since they are not subject to the relation of cause and effect.

53. A substance could be the cause of another substance, and something could be cause of another thing different from itself. But dharmas cannot be considered substances or as things distinct from other things.

54. External things, then, are not the product of consciousness, nor do external things produce consciousness. Men of discrimination affirm the birthlessness of cause-and-effect.

55. So long as we think cause-and-effect, there is cause-and-effect. When the fascination with cause-and -effect fades, no cause-and-effect comes into existence.

56. For so long as there is attachment to cause-and-effect there is samsara; once the attachment ends, there is no attainment of samsara.

57. It is because of experience that eveything seems to come into existence -"surely nothing is eternal!" From the standpoint of reality, the birthless Self is all, there is certainly no such thing as annihilation.

58. The dharmas that are born are not really born. Their birth is through Maya - and Maya itself is unreal.

59. As the illusory seed sends forth an illusory shoot - it is neither eternal nor destructible - the same applies to dharmas.

60. The terms "eternal" and "non-eternal" have no applicability to birthless dharmas. And one cannot make categorical statements about the ineffable.

61. In a dream, the mind gives the illusion of oscillating between two aspects, in the waking state too, the mind gives the illusion of oscillating between two aspects.

62. There is no doubt that the mind, which is non-dual appears in a dream under two aspects. equally so in the waking state the non-dual appears under two aspects.

63. The creatures (egg-born, moisture-born &c.) that the dreamer always sees as he moves about in the ten directions

64. are the dreamer's mental objects, having no existence apart from his consciousness. Similarly, the dreamer's consciousness is merely something he perceives.

65. The creatures (egg-born, moisture-born &c.) that the waking person always sees as he moves about in the ten directions

66. are the waking person's mental objects, having no existence apart from his consciousness. Similarly, the waking person's consciousness is simply something he perceives in his waking state.

67. Both [consciousness and the creatures] are each others' objects of perception. "Does it exist?" The answer is "No!" Both lack the characteristics that would individuate them since they are grasped only through each other.

68. As the dream jiva is born and dies, so do all these jivas appear and disappear.

69. As the illusion jivas are born and die, so do all these jivas appear and disappear.

70. As the sorcerously produced jivas are born and die, so do all these jivas appear and disappear.

71. No soul whatsoever is born. It has no source. This is Supreme Reality, where nothing whatsoever is born.

72. This subject-object duality is really the oscillation of consciousness: but consciousness is objectless, it is devoid of relations.

73. What experience alone indicates to exist does not really exist. Equally, what other schools of thought assert to exist does not really exist.

74. Even from the empirical viewpoint, the Self is called "birthless," but from the absolute {paramartha} standpoint it is not even birthless. From the viewpoint of other schools, it appears to come into existence.

75. Though there is no real duality, a persistent craving for the unreal! Once o0ne realises the non-existence of duality, one is no longer reborn, but freed from the cause.

76. When one no longer perceives the highest, the intermediate and the lowest causes, consciousness undergoes no birth. How can there be an effect without a cause?

77. The birthlessness of consciousness when free from causes is absolute and constant - all this is merely something perceived by the birthless, non-dual consciousness.

78. Having realised the truth of causelessness, and not accepting any individual cause, one attains freedom from fear, suffering and desire.

79. When attached to the unreal, it involves itself with such. When one realises their non-existence, consciousness becomes detached and returns.

80. Free from attachment and disengaged, consciousness becomes unmoving. This is the realisation of the wise {buddhanam} it is undifferentiated, birthless and non-dual.

81. It is birthless, unsleeping, free from dreams and self-luminous. This dharma is naturally self-luminous.

82. Because of grasping after this or that dharma, that Lord is easily concealed: it is always difficult to uncover Him.

83. Persons lacking the capacity for discrimination assert that it exists, or does not exist or both exists and does not exist or is absolutely non-existent, and thus conceal It with their ideas of change, immutability, both changeability and immutabilty and non-existence.

84. Clinging to these four alternative theories keeps the Lord permanently concealed. The one who sees the Lord as untouched by any of these is truly omniscient.

85. What further effort is there to make when one has attained the state of Brahmanhood - total omniscience, non-duality without beginning, middle or end?

86. This is the modesty of the Brahmins, this is their spontaneous tranquillity, their natural self-control. Knowing this, the man of knowledge attains tranquillity.

87. The ordinary state of duality associated with empirical reality and with experience is admitted, so also a subtle state where there are no objects, but plenty of experience of them.

88. There is remembered {smrtam} a transcendent state without things, without experience - knowledge, the known and the Realised, so the wise {buddhair} ever declare.

89. When the threefold knowledge has been attained in order, eternal omniscience exists for the man of great intellect.

90. In the beginning these must be known: that which is to be avoided, that which is to be known, that which is acceptable and that which is to be neutralised. Apart from what is to be known, the other three are remembered to be merely imaginary.

91. All dharmas are by nature spacelike and eternal: there is no multiplicity amongst them, absolutely none.

92. By their very nature, all dharmas are luminous from the beginning {adibuddhah} and are of fixed nature. He who knows this is at peace, needing no further knowledge, he becomes fit for immortality.

93. All dharmas are from the beginning tranquil, unborn, naturally devoid of attachment, equal and non-different: It is therefore birthless, homogeneous and holy.

94. For those who are fascinated by multiplicity, wandering the pathways of duality, ever discoursing about plurality, there is no perfection. They are said to be pitiable.

95. Only those who are firm in their conviction with regard to Its birthlessness and uniformity become Great Knowers in this world. People cannot understand this.

96. It is held that the knowledge inherent in the birthless dharmas is unborn and non-relational, hence it is devoid of the relation of attachment.

97. Accepting the slightest degree of variation bars the non-discriminating from non-attachment; how could one even speak of the veiling being destroyed?

98. All dharmas are naturally pure; none has ever been veiled over. they are illuminated {buddhah} and free {muktah} from the beginning; they know {budhyante} and so are masters.

99. The knowledge of the radiant enlightened one does not relate to things {dharmesu} - and all dharmas are like knowledge in this. This was not said by the Buddha.

100. Having realised {buddhva} that aspect which is baffling, unfathomable, birthless, homogeneous, holy and non-dual, we venerate It as best we may.


The above translation of the Karika is based on the translations by Swamis Nikhilananda and Gambhirananda, but on several occasions diverges from both in interpretation of the

original text.



Gaudapada's Karika: some notes.

Book I

12 It is essential for Gaudapada to distinguish Prajna = Wisdom (a term the Mandukya Upanishad uses for the state of deep sleep) from Turiya, since some Upanishadic texts - e.g. Yajnavalkya's dialogue with Maitreyi - seem to identify Prajna as the ultimate state of Atman. Prajna is the state of causal being from which all the world of appearances flow - we wake from deep sleep into the subtle, interior world of the dream or into the waking state world of gross objects. Bur Prajna lacks the luminous awareness that for Gaudapada and Shankara is the essence of Atman.

13 A description of the state of deep sleep can be confusingly similar to a description of pure consciousness: in neither case is there any awareness of duality; it is therefore essential to perceive and understand the difference between them. Prajna does not perceive duality because it does not perceive anything at all. Turiya does not perceive duality because it perceives reality as it is - i.e. without duality.

16 Maya has no beginning. It is not something real - though it not nothing at all. Ignorance (Avidya) or Nescience is the basis of Maya.

Book II

1-12 Gaudapada sees dreaming and waking states as similar: in the dream state our ignorance-infected consciousness is turned inward and generates an unreal world based on bodily data; in the waking state our ignorance-infected consciousness is turned outward to perceive and interact with material things. Both the body and other material things are unreal, they are aspects of deluding Maya. So is the individuated self the phenomenal ego that presents itself as the subject of experience.

Verse 12 points to Self-luminous Atman as the true subject. The whole world is the creation of Atman in the sense that Maya is Atman's creative power, Brahman's beginningless world of illusion, the veil of nescience in which Pure Consciousness mantles Itself. But from the absolute point of view, there is no world, no Maya, no Ignorance, no selves in bondage, no path to enlightenment, no enlightenment to attain. When all is light what meaning is there to a quest for light? One must not infer from verse 12 that Atman can simply be identified with the thinker, the agent, the perceiver in the waking or the dreaming state. The interactive subject as interactive is a conditioned, unreal self infected with Avidya (ignorance) and immersed in the deluding fog of Maya, though as subject it is ultimately identical with Atman. All that is real in the interactive subject is Atman.

Book III

29 There are two opposed Vedantin approaches to the relation between Brahman and the world.

Vivarta philosophy, [Illusionism] such as the tradition of Gaudapada and Shankara, asserts that ultimately Brahman alone is real and anything else that seems to exist is ultimately illusory, unreal, the manifestation of ignorance, error and nescience. For Vivarta philosophers it is possible to say the world is identical with Brahman - but only in the very specific sense that Brahman alone is all that exists and therefore the world is simply a way of miscognising Brahman, but ultimately there is nothing save Brahman to be cognised and none save Brahman to do the cognizing.

Parinama philosophy, [Mutationism] asserts that the world is identical with Brahman in that Brahman becomes the world. Brahman transforms Itself and comes to be the world as well as remaining God. The philosophers Nimbarka and Vallabha are the most famous exponents of parinama Vedanta. Both identify Krsna with the eternal Brahman: for Nimbarka Krsna brings the world into being from His Divine Energy, so that the world both is and is not distinct from God. For Vallabha Krsna brings the world into being from His Essence, and Vallabha claims that he alone teaches True Advaita, in that for him God and the World are truly one. For Parinama philosophers the world is real, not illusory.