35. A SMALL SAMPLE OF SHANKARA BHASHYA
(For Advanced * Readers only)
[ * I apologise for this sectionalisation of readership ]
THE LIGHT OF ALL LIGHTS
The Supreme is the Light of all Lights (jyotisham api jyotih) and luminous beyond all the darkness of our ignorance. As eternal Light in the heart of every being, He is the kshetrajna, the knower of every field. The kshetra, the field, is cognised by Light. Lokyate iti lokaH. Therefore the world/field is called ‘loka’. When there is no light in the outside world we call it darkness. When there is no light inside it is called ignorance. In both cases this universe is not cognised. What enables and assists the cognition is the light of the Sun, or of the moon, or of fire, – when these three are not there we are guided by sound (or odour). In the Brihadaranyakopanishad, Yajnavalkya answers a series of questions in this connection by Janaka, and it is at this stage of the conversation we have the following in the text (4.3.6).
astamita Aditye, yAjnavalkya, candramasi astamite, shAnte agnau, shAntAyAm vAci,
kim jyotireva ayam purushha iti, AtmaivAsya jyotir-bhavati,
palyayate, karma kurute, vipalyeti iti
‘When the sun has set, Yajnavalkya, and the moon has set, and the fire has gone out, and speech has stopped, what light does a person here have?’ ‘The self indeed, is his light’, said he, ‘for with the self, indeed, as light, one sits (Aste), moves about (palyayate = paryayate = pari ayate), does one’s work (karma kurute) and returns (viparyeti)’.
We now take up the thread from here. What follows in the seven pages :
is a summary of Shankaracarya’s bhAshya as expounded by Swami Paramarthananda in the latter’s discourses and
as understood by this writer.