View Full Version : sat & asat - solve the riddle!

27 October 2010, 12:58 PM
Its hard sometimes when translating sat/ asat, even revered translators seem to mix it up (or correct me if Im wrong).

From Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad Kārikā (with words separated)

na asti asat hetukam asat sat asat hetukam tathā |
sat ca sat hetukam na asti sat hetukam asat kutaḥ || MaUK 4.40 ||

It seems to me there are 4 possibilities since there are 2 variables (sat + asat)
asat - asat
asat - sat
sat - sat
sat - asat

One out of three translators I have read have all 4 possibilities, which one?

1. The unreal cannot have another unreality for its cause,
2. nor can the real have the unreal for its cause.
3. The real cannot be the cause of the real.
4. And how utterly impossible it is for the real to be the cause of the unreal!

Vidyavachaspati V. Panoli:
1. There is no non-existent that serves as the cause of the non-existent,
2. in the same way as the existent does not serve as the cause of the non-existent.
3. There is no real entity that serves as the cause of another real entity.
4. How can the unreal be the product of the real?

1. There is no unreal thing that has an unreality as its cause,
2. Similarly there is no unreal thing that has a reality as its cause.
3. Moreover, there is no existing thing that has another existing thing as its cause.
4. How can there be an unreal thing that is produced out of something real?

27 October 2010, 06:33 PM
hariḥ oṁ

namasté Ekanta,

Its hard sometimes when translating sat/ asat, even revered translators seem to mix it up (or correct me if Im wrong).

IMHO , I see variations in approach but no contradictions. My views are the following on this matter ( if there is interest).

Fundamental definition

sat सत् or satī́ is rooted in 'as' - it means to be, to exist, existence, essence.
asat is therefore = a+sat; a= not + sat = existence and we get not existence, not being.Another view
Not different , just extended, of asat is that which appears to be real but is not i.e. a+sat or not truth, unreal is the firm definition of this word that accompanies non-being.
This is the insight , the 'other way of viewing this' approach. It suggests the following:

Sat is Reality, Being , and asat is appearance. The example would be the ocean ( Reality) and the waves ( appearance). One looks to the ocean and sees only the waves
( life, actions, movement, change, the 3 guna) and fails to see it's totally supported by the ocean ( Reality). Like that sat supports asat.

Another view
Where is there another view on this matter that is reasonable to consider? Lets not look any further then the Bhāgavad gītā, chapter 2, 16th śloka - kṛṣṇa says the following:
nāsato vidyate bhāvo
nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ |
ubhayor api dṛṣṭo'ntastv
anayos tattvadarśibhiḥ ||

Here is my view and translation ( I have taken care to present this translation truthfully yet all blemishes in the translation are attributable only to me).

Nor or not (na) the unreal ( asat ) know that , or it should be understood that (vid+yat) being, existence (bhāva)
Never (na) being (bhāva) know that (vid+yat) the Real, Being, Existence(sataḥ or sat) |

Both (ubhayor or of the two) as well, although, never the less (api) perceived, viewed (dṛṣṭi) concluded, end, as far as (anta)
but (tu)¹ by the seers (darśibhiḥ¹) Reality, true or real state (tattva ) ||

Know that the unreal has no being and the Real never ceases to be |
The conclusion or the final truth about them (them =sat and asat or real and unreal) has been perceived or viewed by the seers of Reality. ||


28 October 2010, 03:05 AM
ok jayvan, I see your point and your rendering of BG 2.16 seems fair.

In my first post I just had a feeling that Vidyavachaspati V. Panoli & Gambhirananda repeated themselves in 2 & 4. But perhaps thats also possible?

It will take me a few more days to finish the karika and then I will be back with a some posts I found interesting.