35.1  THE LIGHT OF ALL LIGHTS - 1

       (Summary of Br. U. (4.3.6. 4.3.7. etc.) Bhashya by Adi Shankara)

In the waking state, the deha-vyavahAras (bodily actions) – like sitting, moving about, doing work, and returning from work --  are all assisted by either sUrya jyoti, or candra-jyoti, or agni-jyoti, or vAk-jyoti (here vAk  stands  for shabda – sound -,  and includes gandha -   smell - also). Each of these lights is extraneous to the body and belongs to the outside world. So when all external lights are blotted out, as, for example in the case of a dream, a light extraneous to the body, but inside the body, serves the purpose.  This light is the light of the self. It is a light which is different from the body and its organs and illumines them like such external lights as the sun, but is itself not illumined by anything else. The external lights that we talked about were all perceptible to sense organs so they are material (bhautika) in nature. But the internal light which takes their place in the case of a dream  cannot be material since the sense organs are not there. So this light is not matter but ‘consciousness’.  It is the witness consciousness that lights the dream. There is an ‘eva’ (= only) in the text  (AtmanA jyotishA eva) to indicate that there is no other light which does the job.  It is in the dream state that the role of this internal light of the Self is clearly known.  Of course in the waking state also the internal light of the Self does illuminate, but because of the presence of one or  more of the external lights also as illuminators, the relative roles in the mixing up of the illuminators are not explicitly known.


Why could not  this light  be the body itself? In other words, why not consciousness be an integral part of the body? This cannot be so, because, if body is the only conscious principle, dream and memory cannot take place. Because in dream and memory we experience things without using the medium of the body. In memory also one relives one’s past. Even a person who is blind has been known to perceive forms in his dreams.  If body has innate consciousness such things cannot happen.Therefore there exists another light principle which is different from the body.


In  that case, why not take the sense organs themselves as the conscious principle? This also is not possible. For, what the eyes see the ears do not know. There is no common factor among the sense organs which can connect all the perceptions.  For instance, when I hear a lecture, I keep writing notes.  I write what I hear. This means there exists something behind both hearing and writing, other than each.


Maybe so. But should not that something have to be material, i.e., in  the same class as the Sun, Fire,  etc.  which help the material sense organs?  Even lights such as the eye are not perceived and are internal, but they are material only. In other words since the sun and the like are of the same class as the things (organs) they help, this extra light must also be of the same class. What is wrong with this argument?  It is wrong because there is no hard and fast rule about this help. We see that fire is kindled with the help of straw, grass and other fuel, which are all modifications of earth. But from this we must not conclude that everywhere it is the modifications of earth that help to light a fire, for we notice that water, which belongs to a different class, helps to kindle the fire of lightning and the fire in the stomach. Therefore, when something is helped by another there is no restriction about their being of the same class or of different classes.

                                                    CONTINUED IN 35.2

  • Facebook Clean Grey

© 2017 by V. Krishnamurthy