Posted by: adbhutam | July 20, 2009


Shrigurubhyo namaH

The ‘Paramopanishat’  is said to contain a mantra:

जीवेश्वर भिदा चैव जडेश्वर भिदा तथा ।
जीव-भेदो मिथश्चैव जड-जीव-भिदा तथा ।
मिथश्च जड-भेदोऽयं प्रपञ्चो भेद-पञ्चकः ॥

jiiveshvara bhidA chaiva jaDeshvara bhidA tathA    |
        jiiva-bhedo mithashchaiva jaDa-jiiva-bhidA tathA   |
        mithashcha jaDa-bhedo.ayam prapaJNcho bheda-pa.nchakaH    ||
                                            -- paramashruti

“The difference between the jîva (soul) and Îshvara (Creator), and the difference between jaDa (insentient) and Îshvara; and the difference between various jîvas, and the difference between jaDa and jîva; and the difference between various jaDas, these five differences make up the universe.”

From the Paramopanishad a.k.a. Parama-shruti, as quoted by Ananda Tîrtha in his ‘VishNu-tattva-vinirNaya’  (quoted in the site )

A study of the above mantra is taken up with a view to ascertain its status in Vedanta.   (So far the above Upanishat is not available in its full form in the internet.  Hence, it is not possible to find out what else this Upanishat teaches apart from the enumeration of the five differences constituting the universe.)

The Apte Sanskrit-Englis Dictionary lists several meanings for the word ‘prapancha’:

//World or Universe, An appearance, fraud, diversity, etc//

At the outset it is plain that the above mantra/verse is a description of the world.  In other words, it gives us a picture of the vyavaharic state.   It is quite common that such descriptions are found in the scriptural literature.  For instance what comes to mind quickly is the Mundakopanishat mantra: ‘dvaa suparNa…’ wherein the samsaaric state of the jiva is described.  Here, the Ishwara bird and jiva bird are shown as perched on/in the body tree.  While the jiva bird is busy tasting the karmic fruits, the Ishwara bird is a mere witness to this.  Again, in the Bhagavadgita we have the description of the Eight-fold prakriti that makes up the world.  The lower prakriti consisting of the five elements, ahankaara, etc. constitute the world in which the jiva resides in the saamsaaric state.

In the state of bondage, samsara, when the jiva is in the prapancha, it is quite natural that differences are encountered.    All karma, good and evil, is possible only in the face of differences.  A short analysis of the Mundaka mantra is taken up below:

The mantra in the Mundakopanishat III.3.1.

In this mantra the jiva is shown as the karma-phala bhOkta, the experiencer of the fruits of his karma.  When we look at the teaching about the true nature of the jeeva, as taught in the Bhagavadgita, for example, we know that the jiva is not born, does not die, etc.  For an entity that has no birth at all, there cannot be the mind, prana, body apparatus (all evolutes of prakriti, kshetram, from which one has to discriminate oneself and become free).  It is possible to have ignorance, desire, action, karma, fruit of karma, experiencing of the fruit etc., only when this apparatus is available.   But in this mantra we have the jiva portrayed as not someone who is free from birth and death but who is in samsara.  This itself shows that the jiva as a samsari spoken of here is not the true nature of the jiva.  But everyone in ignorance experiences to be a samsari.  This unenquired-into experience of everyone is being alluded to in this mantra and hence it is only a depiction of the vyavaharika state and not the absolutely True nature of the jiva.

No system that promises moksha to the jiva has for its goal the retention of the above samsaric bhokta state of the jiva.  All systems endeavour to portray the jiva as free from samsara.  This is the pAramArthika state. This free-of-samsara state of the jiva is what is taught in the subsequent mantras.  That is one reason why the mantra ‘dvaa suparna’ is not the one teaching the absolutely true nature of the jiva but only the depiction of the vyavaharic state.

When the separation from the kshetram is successfully accomplished, the realization that one is no different from the ‘Other’ bird, Paramaatman, is had.  For, when the  kshetram is separated, there will be nothing to finitize the Atman and consider It to be different from the ParamAtman.

Moreover, the mantra speaks of the ‘body’ tree where the two birds, Paramaatma and jeevaatma, are perched, as it were.  In the state of moksha no body will be there for the mukta for the two birds to be located. There will be no way of specifying two birds or two entities the Parama and jeeva Atmans.  If it is held that there will still be a body, then that will be no moksha at all for the freedom from prakriti would not have been accomplished.  For this reason too, the ‘dvaa suparna’ imagery is not absolute but only a temporary acceptance, abhyupetya, by the Shruti.

Yet another reason as to why this can be only an imagery and not the paramaartha tattva:  The mantra says the jeeva bird is busy experiencing karma phala.  This can happen only in the realm of artha, kaama and dharma purusharthas.  But in Moksha purushartha, the very purpose of which is to free the jeeva from the earlier cycle of samsara of the three other lower purusharthas, there will be no bhoga-bhogya-bhokta triputee (triad).  So the jeeva is just one Pure Consciousness freed from all bhoga instruments and bhoga objects.  This is taught by the subsequent two mantras culminating in the ‘paramam sAmyam’.


Now, coming to the Paramopanishat mantra, we will have to find out whether the five bheda-s continue in the moksha state, which is the pAramArthika state for the jiva.  It is called the ‘pAramArthika’ because, the entire Vedic/Upanishadic teaching is ultimately meant to take the jiva to his true state.  The Mandukya Upanishat teaches that the Turiya, the Brahman/Atman, is ‘avyavahArya’.  This means: The Turiya cannot be subjected to any transaction.  Every transaction involves differences; the Turiya transcends all differences.  Dharma, artha and kaama purushaartha-s require for their sadhana the differences to be kept in tact.  It is only the Moksha purushartha that is free from differences as there is no kartaa-karaNa-karma triad there.  All the instruments that the jiva possessed, out of ignorance, stand transcended and thus no vyavahara is possible then. Says the site (under the question: Why does Tattvavada deny Jivanmukti?)

/// Because a mukta, or liberated person, should not even be physically present in the material universe, unlike the un-liberated. A person who is living in the world cannot be said to be free of sorrow born of material contact, and also cannot be said to experience the joy of his own nature at all times. The very act of living in a gross material body entails things such as eating, sleeping, pleasure and pain, etc., which cannot be accepted in a mukta. ///

The above statement about the mukta makes it clear that he is no longer in ‘prapancha’ where alone the five bheda-s persist.  All the worlds, ‘above and below’ the human world attainable owing to one’s karma, too, come under the class of ‘prapancha’.  For, it is only in the wake of the five differences any samsaric experience possible.

What about the difference between jiva and Ishwara subsisting in the state of Moksha?

We find in the above mantra that this difference too is a part of ‘prapancha’.  It is pertinent to question: Is ‘moksha’ a part of ‘prapancha’?  If yes, then we cannot avoid the ‘instability’ of moksha  as since prapancha is subject to srishti and laya, moksha too will be subject to this.  If the answer to the above question is ‘no’, then it would be patent that the mukta will no longer be in the realm of jiva-Ishwara bheda.  Either of these answers will be undesirable for those who hold the ‘five differences’ to be eternal.  This is because the definition of the ‘prapancha’ given in the mantra is tight.

What does ‘eternal’ mean?  In one sense it can be said that the prapancha is eternal for the unliberated jiva-s to experience samsara.  But is it eternal to the mukta? No, for he never experiences samsara/prapancha.  So, the prapancha is eternal only from the view point of the ajnaani jiva.  It cannot be held that the ajnaani’s view is the correct/absolute view for the simple reason that it is founded on ignorance.  In the view of the jnaani, there is no samsara/prapancha at all.  It would be correct and sensible to take the Jnani’s view as the absolute.

In case one is able to see this mantra as describing the vyavaharic state, then there is no difficulty in having it and appreciating it.  It would be illogical to hold that some differences are in the realm of samsaara and some are in the realm of moksha.

It is the invariable pattern in the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita that the description of the vyavaharic state and the paramarthic state co-exist.  Thus we can see:

1        In the Mandukya Upanishad we have the delineation of the first three pAda-s, the waking, dream and sleep, both in the individual and cosmic levels.  This is the vyavahara state, of bondage.  The seventh mantra (nAntaH prajnam, na bahiH prajnam…) teaches the Paramartha state, the Turiya, where the first three pAda-s are negated and the Turiya is held out to be free from them.

A sample of the Vyavaharika-Paramarthika divide in the Upanishads:

In the Taittiriya Upanishad the five koshas, the five sheaths, of the body, the prana, the mind, etc. are enumerated.  This is the Vyavaharika.  One has to transcend these five sheaths in order to gain the vision of the Self that is ‘located’ beyond the five sheaths, in the innermost recess of one’s heart. This is the Paramarthika.

In the Mundakopanishat the method of gaining dispassion is stated.  The aspirant critically examines the world, here and hereafter, and concludes that all the Uncreated, the Natural, is not attainable by unnatural, artificial means.  Here, in just one passage, ‘pareekshya lOkAn karma chitaan…’ by using the words ‘AkRta’ and ‘kRta’ the Upanishad teaches the Paramarthika and the Vyavaharika.

In the Kathopanishad passage ‘anyatra dharmAt…’ in just one go the Upanishad teaches the Paramarthika by the word ‘anyatra’ and the vyavaharika through the words ‘dharma, adharma, kRta, akRta and bhUta, Bhavya’.

In the Chandogya Upanishad ‘BhUma vidya’ section  the use of the word ‘alpam’ is the Vyavaharika and the word ‘BhUma’ is the Paramarthika.

In the Mundakopanishad again, in the passage depicting the two bird imagery (dvaa suparna) the vyavaharika is taught and the next passages teach the Paramarthika.

One can go on with such instances that are abundant in the Upanishads.

2        In the Gita, a sample is: In the 9th Chapter, the vyavahara state is spoken of as: ‘mat-sthAni sarva bhUtAni’:  ‘All these beings are inhering in Me.’ The Paramartha state is that where no beings inhere in the Lord: na cha mat-sthAni bhUtAni.”These beings do not inhere in Me’.  Another sample from the Gita: The verse no. 16 of Chapter Two:// na asato vidyate bhaavao, na abhaavo vidyate sataH//  The first portion of the quoted verse says that the vyavaharic reality, asat, that is experienced, does not have a true existence.  The paramarthic reality, sat, alone really exists; it can never go out of existence.  How do we know that the Lord is talking about these two levels of reality here?  The context of this verse is: The Lord is instructing Arjuna on the nature of the Self, human life, death, destruction, misery, etc.  All these questions were raised, in his lamentation, by Arjuna.  The Lord takes up these questions and shows Arjuna that since all these experiences are in the realm of ignorance, they do not have any absolute reality.  Knowing thus, Arjuna has to go ahead with his duty in the dharma yuddha (righteous war).  Studying the context of the verse will confirm that the Lord does not mean anything else than these two levels of reality, vyavahara and paramartha, while giving out this teaching of asat and Sat.

Just as the vyavaharic state is contradicted/negated by the Upanishads/Gita by stating also the paramarthic state, we can see that the Paramopanishat mantra stating the vyavaharic/samsaric  state of pancha-bheda-s is contradicted in the Shruti/Gita.  For example, the Mandukya Upanishad seventh mantra: nAntaH parajnam…..has a word ‘prapanchopashamam’.  This means that the Turiya, the state of moksha/mukta is free of the prapancha.  In the Gita we find the contradiction/negation of the pancha-bhedaatmaka prapancha in a graphic manner in the following verse of the Fourth Chapter:

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविः ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् ।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ॥ 24 ||

[Brahman is the offering, Brahman the oblation, the one offering the oblation is Brahman, the fire in which the oblation is made is Brahman, the act of offering is Brahman and the result, the goal to be reached by such an offering is Brahman.]

To the one who has realized his pAramArthic/ asAmsAric/true nature of Brahmanhood, every act, mental, verbal and bodily, is saturated with/in Brahman.  He sees nothing other than Brahman.  The pancha-bhedAtmaka prapancha is now for him one Brahma-prajnAna-ghana, Impartite Brahman.  All the bheda-s stand negated in this state thus:

The Offeror (yajamaana-jiva)-offering (dravya-jaDa) difference is gone.

The jaDa-jaDa difference is gone when the offering and the agni into which it is offered are both realized as Brahman.

The offeror-jiva and goal-Ishwara difference is gone when the offering jiva realizes himself to be no different from Ishwara, the Sarva-yajna-bhokta.

The jaDa-dravya/agni and Ishwara difference is also gone for the reason stated above.

The jiva-jiva bheda too is not there as the offeror and the other members in the sacrifice namely the yajna-patni and other Rtviks are all realized to be Brahman alone. (The ‘other jiva-s’ are not explicitly mentioned in the above Gita verse; they are implicit.)

Thus the ‘prapancha’ consisting of  the five bheda-s is now transformed into Brahman for the Jnani/mukta.  There are several Gita verses where the Lord teaches this Sarvatra Brahma darshanam for the Jnani.

The avowed purpose of the Upanishads/Gita is to enable this transformation.  It is with this in view that the prapancha is first described (adhyAropa) and the Brahma driShTi is later described (apavAda).  Another way of looking at this is: prapancha is the field of aparA vidyaa and Brahman is the transcendental realm of parA vidyaa.


ओं तत् सत्

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: