The Kenopanishat teaches that Brahman has to be discerned through every thought, knowledge, that we get.
प्रतिबोधविदितं मतं अमृतत्वं हि विन्दते ।
अत्मना विन्दते वीर्यं विद्यया विदतेऽमृतम् ॥2.4||
The bhAShyam: प्रतिबोधविदितं बोधं बोधं प्रति विदितम् । बोधशब्देन बौद्धाः प्रत्यया उच्यन्ते । सर्वे प्रत्यया विषयीभवन्ति यस्य स आत्मा सर्वबोधान्प्रति बुध्यते । सर्वप्रत्ययदर्शी चिच्छक्तिस्वरूपमात्रः प्रत्ययैरेव प्रत्ययेषु अविशिष्टतया लक्ष्यते, नान्यद्द्वारमन्तरात्मनो विज्ञानाय । अतः प्रत्ययप्रत्यगात्मतया विदितं ब्रह्म यदा, तदा तन्मतं तत् सम्यग्दर्शनमित्यर्थः ।
//प्रतिबोधविदितं known with reference to each state of intelligence. By the word ‘bodha’ are meant the cognitions acquired through the intellect. The Self, that encompasses all ideas as Its objects, is known in relation to all these ideas. Being the witness of all cognitions, and by nature nothing but the power of Consciousness, the Self is indicated by the cognitions themselves, in the midst of cognitions, as pervading (all of) them. There is no other door to Its awareness. Therefore when Brahman is known as the innermost Self (ie.witness) of cognitions, then is It matam, known, that is to say, then there is Its complete realization.// [The rest of the bhashyam is also extremely interesting and involving.]
This profound concept of the Upanishad is brought out by the srImadbhAgavatam, UddhavagItaa, 8.24:
मनसा वचसा दृष्ट्या गृह्यतेऽन्यैरपीन्द्रीयैः ।
अहमेव न मत्तोऽन्यदिति बुध्यध्वमञ्जसा ॥ (श्रीमद्भागवत ११/१३/२४)
//Understand this rightly, by discrimination, that by mind, speech, sight and the other organs I alone am cognized, and nothing else.//
The Universe is Brahman plus mind. The mind and the senses may misread Brahman, but that does not affect Its nature. This indirectly furnishes the answer ‘I am the All’. Uddhava had asked the Lord a little earlier ‘Who are You?’. The Lord had answered this question in the earlier verses and now provides a very subtle answer that has its roots in the above Upanishadic teaching.
One can see how neatly the Shankara Bhashya fits this verse. One can also appreciate how the bhAgavatam approves Shankara’s commentary of the above mantra. I happened to see a criticism by a dvaitin that Shankara’s commentary of the above Kena-mantra is full of defects and it most tragically obviates the need for a pure mind, etc. to realize the Self since Shankara says ‘through ‘every’ mental input the Supreme is known.’. One can see how the critic has strayed off the mark and missed the whole teaching of the Upanishad and the above Bhagavatam verse.
When one comes to think of the sadhana involved in the above mantra/verse, one will realize how difficult it is to put it in practice. For, the greatest problem of man is being swayed by the names and forms. It is given only to a serious sadhaka to stay clear of this sway and discern for sure the ‘tattva’, Brahman. Yet, this is the ‘only’ way says Shankara. How is He justified in so asserting? In reply we cite the famous ‘neti neti’ teaching of the Br.Upanishad 2.3.6 where It says that this is the best and only way to know the Supreme. By disregarding the superfluous names and forms alone one can catch a glimpse of the Supreme.
Incidentally, this mantra and the bhaagavatam verse echo several other scriptural passages:
- सर्वं खल्विदं ब्रह्म
- पुरुष एवेदं सर्वम्…
- वासुदेवः सर्वम्
- ब्रह्मैवेदं सर्वम्
- आत्मैवेदं सर्वम्
- ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह हविः…
- यो मां पश्यति सर्वत्र सर्वं च मयि पश्यति..
- यस्तु सर्वाणि भूतानि आत्मन्येवानुपश्यति..
- यस्मिन् सर्वाणि भूतानि आत्मैवाभूद्विजानतः..
- यस्मिन् यस्मिन्न् अस्ति लोके बोधस्तत्तदुपेक्षणे । यद् बोधमात्रं तद् ब्रह्मेत्येवं धीर्ब्रह्मनिश्चयः ॥२१॥(पञ्चदशी 3)
The speciality of the Kena mantra and the bhAgavatam verse is that they specify the method of discerning the Truth from the phenomena of names and forms. The word बुध्यध्वमञ्जसा of the bhaagavatam so nicely tallies with the प्रतिबोधविदितं of the Kena mantra. It is the ‘buddhi’ activity that is involved in this exercise.