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Thread: Darkness of knowledge?

  1. #1
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    Darkness of knowledge?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté

    the īśāvāsya upaniṣad , 9th śloka informs us of the following:
    andhaṁ tamaḥ praviśanti ye avidyām upāsate |
    tato bhūya iva te tamo ya u vidyāyṁ ratāḥ ||

    The definiton of the words will be helpful for a reasonable discussion...
    • andhaṁ or andha अन्ध- blind, dark, darkness; as a noun it is also a name for people
    • tamaḥ or tama तम- darkness
    • praviśanti प्रविशन्ति - moving forth, through, entering ; we can see this in pra+vi+śanti. Note that 'vi' is rooted in 'bhid' to pass through which also means to transgress , violate.
    • ye or yaka यक- who
    • avidyām or avidyā अविद्या - ignorance; unlearned , unwise
    • upāsate or upāsana उपासन - homage, worship; also serving , waiting upon , service , attendance ; as a noun it is 'being intent on or engaged in' .
    • tato or tata which is tad तद् - meaning that, in that manner, therefore
    • bhūya भूय - becoming, being, yet bhū means 'to be transformed into' ; it also means 'to fall to the share or become the property of'
    • iva इव - in the same manner as, as if
    • te , in my view this is iti इति -which means in this manner , thus ; also used as ' as you know'
    • tamo tamaḥ or tama तम-is darkness
    • ya or yaka यक - who
    • u - or, on the other hand (uta); some say 'but' or 'now'
    • vidyāyṁ or vidyā विद्या - knowledge - this can be true or false, yet we think of learning , scholarship , philosophy. Some
      say there are some there are four vidyā-s or sciences i.e. 1. trayī , the triple veda ; 2. ānvīkṣikī , logic and metaphysics ; 3. daṇḍa-nīti or science of government and 4. vārttā , practical arts , such as agriculture , commerce , medicine .Yet we must add a 5th, ātma-vidyā , knowledge of soul or of spiritual truth. Some say there is 14 divisions of this family of vidyā-s : the four vedas , the six vedāṅgas , the purāṇas , the mīmāṃsā. nyāya , and dharma or law ( 4 + 6 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 =14).
    • ratāḥ or ratā रता- delighted; pleased , amused , gratified ; this also means intent upon , fond or enamored of , devoted or attached
    We now have a base of defined words. I have also added 4 translations¹ below so one could compare and contrast how others see this. IMHO this śloka suggests the following,
    Those who worship (upāsana) ignorance (avidyā) enter/move forth (praviśanti) into blind darkness (andha-tamaḥ);
    yet ( 'u' or on the other hand) those that delight (ratā or are enamored) with knowledge ( vidyā or vidyāyṁ) in the same manner (iva) fall into or are possessed ( r become i.e. bhūya) by darkness (tamas).

    How can this be? How can one that pursues vidyā fall into greater darkness? How does one then rationalize this śloka with the offering Kṛṣṇa gives us in chapter 4, 38th śloka of the Bhāgavad gītā:
    na hi jñānena sadṛṣa pavitram i.e. certainly ~indeed (hi) there is nothing (na) so purifying (pavitram) or suitable (sadṛṣa) then knowledge (jñānena).

    There must be something deeper that is being offered in this īśāvāsya upaniṣad, no? Do you have a POV on this matter and how to make sense of this seemingly apparent contradiction?

    praṇām

    references

    4 translations - Three different views of this śloka + one scholarly for good measure

    • svāmi śivānanda
      They who worship avidyā (ignorance) fall into blind(ing) darkness : and they who worship vidyā alone fall into even greater darkness -
    • svāmī muni nārāyaṇa prāsad
      Into a blinding darkness enter those who adore ignorance (avidyā), and more pitch-black as it were is the darkness entered by those who delight in knoweldge vidyā
    • svāmī prabhupāda
      hose who engage in the culture of nescient activities shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance. Worse still are those engaged in the culture of so-called knowledge
    • Board of Scholars - edited by KL Joshi, O.N. Bimala and Bindia Trivedi
      The persons who are mere devotees to material learning (avidyā) surround in the gross ignorance (darkness); and they also in the same way surround ( trapped) with ignornace who are only devotees to learning ( conscience)
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Darkness of knowledge?

    Dear Yajvan
    This is an interesting post you offer. I would like to offer my point of view.

    I see the knowledge of the scriptures as being progressive. They offer understanding based on the grasp or level of the aspirant. The BG is a good place to begin:

    na hi jñānena sadṛṣaṁ pavitram i.e. certainly ~indeed (hi) there is nothing (na) so purifying (pavitram) or suitable (sadṛṣaṁ) then knowledge (jñānena).


    Krishna addresses Arjuna at his level of understanding. I believe Arjuna is new to the path and so Arjuna is told to focus on knowledge as the way to purifying his mind. Knowledge will remove ignorance. The removal of ignorance results in knowing Brahman. Some Guru say a clear purified mind is required to reflect the brilliance of Brahman. This I feel is the same point being made; purificaiton comes through knowledge.

    The next point is that knowledge must eventually be seen as a tool for purifying the mind, and not the goal itself. The goal is to know Brahman.

    Knowledge is picked up and eventually after serving its purpose must be dropped and left behind in light of something new or more valuable. That which is most valuable is Brahman.

    Once the knowledge has shown us the Truth, we risk lingering on the scriptures and feeling that knowledge is the saviour and that it should be maintained and loved. This is not necessary and the following paragraph goes on to make that point clear:

    In the following:
    yet ( 'u' or on the other hand) those that delight (ratā or are enamored) with knowledge ( vidyā or vidyāyṁ) in the same manner (iva) fall into or are possessed ( r become i.e. bhūya) by darkness (tamas).


    Brahman is sat-chit-ananda and not limited to books or scriptural knowledge. The scriptures are like a boat, they take us to a wonderful new place, but once we have reached the place of sat-chit-ananda we must leave the boat (knowledge/scriptures) and dwell on land (remain in Brahman).

    Clinging on to the boat (scriptures or knowledge) risks us being washed back in to the dark waters of ignorance (due to our mind's habit of conceptualisation and being enamoured of scriptures/knowledge).

    I hope that adds some use. I would welcome feedback as always.

    I would like to add that I find your translations and terms you explain very useful for my study of Sanskrit. Thank you!
    Last edited by Onkara; 19 October 2009 at 08:18 AM.

  3. #3

    Re: Darkness of knowledge?

    Yajvan, that is pretty deep, and I do not really know but Snip makes sense. Even excessively left hand path 'esoterists' can be cunning, but that does not mean their knowledge is illuminating--quite the opposite. If one focuses on esoterism (intellectualism) without mysticism (ahimsa and the way to intellectual virtue) then one may not be virtuous and one may not attain enlightenment. Average goodwill and practical smartness can be euphemized enlightenment, but without spiritual practice they lead nowhere and that smartness untempered has historically led to problems and incivility.

    Another thing is, as Mahayana Buddhist sutras say 'all dharma is empty.' I guess it says the same about virtue, but virtue is relative to culture and it means one should not be attached to intellectual dogmas about anything: iInspiration is key and involves the Logos (reason; Shabdha; Om; Brahm; causality) more than intellect does. One cannot restrict oneself to the senses--not even the manasic senses.

    Shabdha -- word
    Om -- creative word
    Brahm -- creative Divinity
    manas -- mind.

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    Re: Darkness of knowledge?

    Namaste Yajvan ji,

    The quoted verse has troubled me like none else.

    However, imho, to understand what this Upanishad wants to convey we must have in front of us the complete reference. So, I quote the other related verses too here :

    IX
    They enter into blind darkness who worship Avidya (ignorance and delusion); they fall, as it were, into greater darkness who worship Vidya (knowledge).
    X
    By Vidya one end is attained; by Avidya, another. Thus we have heard from the wise men who taught this.
    XI
    He who knows at the same time both Vidya and Avidya, crosses over death by Avidya and attains immortality through Vidya.

    XII
    They fall into blind darkness who worship the Unmanifested and they fall into greater darkness who worship the manifested.
    XIII
    By the worship of the Unmanifested one end is attained; by the worship of the manifested, another. Thus we have heard from the wise men who taught us this.
    XIV
    He who knows at the same time both the Unmanifested (the cause of manifestation) and the destructible or manifested, he crosses over death through knowledge of the destructible and attains immortality through knowledge of the First Cause (Unmanifested).
    This Upanishad uses two terms Vidya & Avidya. It cannot be that by attaining knowledge/jnana one can enter blinding darkness. Moreover, the jnana (enlightenment) is self-illuminated which doesn't a sun or moon to shine that realm. Keeping that in mind, it is apparent that the definition of Vidya & Avidya must be understood carefully in the context of this Upanishad.

    Let us remember that this Upanishad gives equal importance to living in this world & indulging in right action in this world :

    Verse II. If one should desire to live in this world a hundred years, one should live performing Karma (righteous deeds). Thus thou mayest live; there is no other way. By doing this, Karma (the fruits of thy actions) will not defile thee.
    The path of knowledge i.e. Vidya (say pure meditation or contemplation on Shruti) tends to neglect worldly action or it may lead to unconsciously. IMO, this Upanishad warns us not to neglect the worldly knowledge and action which may be seen as Avidya by the seekers of path of knowledge. Now if one neglects the knowledge of this world & related action , he may not even survive or may not be able to lead a life which is required for pursuing the path of knowledge. We must remember that this body is the vehicle for all dharmas (Sharir mAdhyam khalu dharma sAdhanam) and support of this world is also necessary. So, the required knowledge and action is needed to maintain this harmony. If the knowledge of so called Avidya is neglected, then it would be difficult to cross the death even (i.e. the body will perish & meet death) & that will put an end of the path of Vidya too.

    IMHO, if we see these verses in this context, the doubts are removed.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: Darkness of knowledge?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté Snip
    Quote Originally Posted by Snip View Post
    Dear Yajvan
    The next point is that knowledge must eventually be seen as a tool for purifying the mind, and not the goal itself. The goal is to know Brahman.
    What you offer is of key import - and I think goes to the core of the wisdom of this 9th śloka. It suggests not to confuse the vehicle with the goal. Knowledge is wonderful, yet it is a tool. It is like removing a thorn in the hand with another thorn ( as my teacher would say).

    Also too, svāmī Lakman-jū informs us that ignorance is not so much what you don't know, but what you do know that is just not right.

    Davidc writes,
    that is pretty deep
    Yes, we go deep every now and then . This part of HDF is for subject matter that is more advanced in nature found within sanātana dharma. The file folder we're in is called uttara उत्तर which means upper, higher, chief, excellent, more powerful.

    you mention
    One cannot restrict oneself to the senses
    Yes, I see your point. There are ways to go beyond the senses, as they tend ( on occasion) to mislead us. It comes down to, do they work for us, or do we work for them?



    devotee writes
    it is apparent that the definition of Vidya & Avidya must be understood carefully in the context of this Upanishad.
    Yes, I think more attention on this is due and we can address it a bit deeper, as 'opposites' exist throughout this īśāvāsya upaniṣad.

    you offer the 2nd verse,
    one should desire to live in this world a hundred years, one should live performing karma (righteous deeds).
    With further inspection of this verse, there is a wealth of wisdom within it. You are (IMHO) right with your assessment - allow me to contribute one more view.
    One should desire to live one-hundred years - jijīviṣecchataṁ samāḥ. To the casual reader, we accept the well wishes of the ṛṣi offering this sūkta. Yet just as you offer that we must look to these śloka-s (content) within the context they are being offered ( a most wise POV I may add), we need to look at this śloka in the same manner; let me explain if I may.

    One could say the īśāvāsya upaniṣad, of only 18 śloka-s ( + śānti pāṭha introduction) has 5 groupings ,we can review this in a future post. The 1st three śloka-s are one group. This 1st group gives a vision of how one may wish to live to enjoy the potential of human life leading to liberation - this is all influenced by the invocation (śānti pāṭha) of pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṃ - That is full (whole) this is full (whole). It talks of the fullness of life and the fruition of life that one can enjoy this fullness.

    Now this 2nd śloka is still within this 1st group of one's full potential offer. So, the ṛṣi suggests we should aspire to live 100 years. This has several implications:
    • Good health
    • living with right actions
    • Living harmoniously
    Yet this 100 is key , it is the 'code word' for living in fullness, pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṃ - if 'That' is full and 'This' is full, then you too are this fullness. This is the notion of 100 , having 2 meanings - that of health and longevity but also the fullness of the relative field of life ( denoted by 1) and the Absolute field of life ( denoted by the 0 or zeros).
    Now it says living 100 years one is to be engaged in activities, karma. Action must still occur. Many will say right action and to this I agree. Yet with one living the fullness of '100' ~ moka ~ right actions naturally occur. Why so? Because one is established in yoga and fulfills the instruction of Kṛṣṇa (Chapt 2.48) in the Bhāgavad gītā: yogastha kuru karmānī- established (or steadfast) in yoga ( union) perform actions (karma).

    Then actions do not bind us - they are right actions. Why so? they are performed in every case by the 3 guna-s (traiguṇya). We then are established in the SELF, untouched by actions, actions continue under the authorship of prakṛti ¹ .

    The above is one view we can consider. I am sure there are other views, as one can still beg the question of 'higher' knowledge vs. 'lower' knowledge.

    I hope to hear your continued insights and others regarding this matter.

    praṇām


    words
    prakṛti = pra प्र excessively , very , much + kṛti कृति doing, action
    Last edited by yajvan; 19 October 2009 at 07:04 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  6. #6

    Red Face Re: Darkness of knowledge?

    Namaste Yajvanji

    I find your every effort useful , one thing pl. tell me , so that I may not proceed to darkness of knowledge.
    You use the picture of lord Rama but never discuss about .Is anything from darkness to knowledge which cites using Hanumanji [ rama bhakta ] emblem in Krsns chariot flag ?

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    Re: Darkness of knowledge?

    Quote Originally Posted by yajvan View Post
    Those who worship (upāsana) ignorance (avidyā) enter/move forth (praviśanti) into blind darkness (andha-tamaḥ);
    yet ( 'u' or on the other hand) those that delight (ratā or are enamored) with knowledge ( vidyā or vidyāyṁ) in the same manner (iva) fall into or are possessed ( r become i.e. bhūya) by darkness (tamas).
    Upon reading these words, 1.02. of the Siva Sutras was brought to mind:
    Knowing differentiatedly is bondage and not knowing undifferentiatedly is bondage.
    http://www.universalshaivafellowship..._02_first.html

    It's a little different in meaning but appears in the first moment to be just as paradoxical and challenging.

    The "knowledge" of which one can become enamored is not the supreme knowledge, rather its pale and distorted reflection; accumulated intellectual knowledge which can become a prison and a support for the ego. In this we fall to differentiated knowledge; self, other, right, wrong, mine, yours etc.

    To sink into ignorance is to have no thirst for knowledge, to never seek. To be entirely preoccupied and engrossed with the sensory world and also to have no awareness of the undifferentiated state within deep sleep.

    The knowledge we need is gnosis, direct and untainted. Awareness illuminating the blind darkness.

    At least that is how I interpret it.

    Namaste

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    Re: Darkness of knowledge?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namast srivijaya


    Quote Originally Posted by srivijaya View Post
    http://www.universalshaivafellowship..._02_first.html

    It's a little different in meaning but appears in the first moment to be just as paradoxical and challenging.

    The "knowledge" of which one can become enamored is not the supreme knowledge, rather its pale and distorted reflection; accumulated intellectual knowledge which can become a prison and a support for the ego. In this we fall to differentiated knowledge; self, other, right, wrong, mine, yours etc.

    To sink into ignorance is to have no thirst for knowledge, to never seek. To be entirely preoccupied and engrossed with the sensory world and also to have no awareness of the undifferentiated state within deep sleep.

    The knowledge we need is gnosis, direct and untainted. Awareness illuminating the blind darkness. At least that is how I interpret it.
    Yes, we have talked of this in the past in the śiva sūtra posts of ~2008. This 2nd sūtra says:
    jānaṁ bandhaḥ
    jāna ज्ञान - knowing, knowledge (is) bandha बन्ध- binding, tying , a bond , tie , chain


    This knowledge from the śiva sūtra-s fits nicely with the wisdom offered in the īśāvāsya upaniṣad. The 2nd sūtra says its binding, but what knowledge is binding? That which is limited or agāḥ , the limb or part. It is when this knowledge is not connected to the whole agi ( the whole), this is what makes it bound. It is the limited perception of the individual that binds.


    And what is the whole? It is īśā or brahman that is the whole. When we are disconnected , even with knowledge from the whole, then this binds.


    So , the question could be (upon exiting this immediate post) how did svāmī Lakman-jū get to this translation of the 2nd sūtra ?
    Knowing differentiatedly is bondage and not knowing undifferentiatedly is bondage.
    ...as the wisdom still applies quite nicely to the īśāvāsya upaniṣad

    praṇām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Darkness of knowledge?

    Namaste Yajvan ji and Srivijaya,

    Quote Originally Posted by srivijaya View Post
    The "knowledge" of which one can become enamored is not the supreme knowledge, rather its pale and distorted reflection; accumulated intellectual knowledge which can become a prison and a support for the ego. In this we fall to differentiated knowledge; self, other, right, wrong, mine, yours etc.
    That is very nicely stated !

    Let me add some more here :

    Isavasya Upanishad sets the tone with its Shanti Path which deserves a very close examination and deep understanding. Purnam Adah ... that is whole/complete/infinite (here Purnam is used as noun and not adjective, so this Purnam is independent of any limitations & must encompass all by definition) and again it says Purnam Idam .... this is whole/complete/infinite. As having two Purnam simultaneously is an impossibility, there should be no real difference between these two Purnams ... i.e. both must be essentially the same.

    But it does talk about two Purnams ... an obvious contradiction. Why ? Because within the mental realm there is perception of the manifested and the unmanifested ... i.e. two. The same Purnam which is can be stated neither unmanifested nor manifested in reality when reflected from mind gives perception of two Purnams where one appears manifested and the other unmanifested. And therefore the need of two Purnams in this verse.

    If we examine the verses 2 & 9 to 14 keeping the Shanti Path of this Upanishad in mind, the intention of Rishi becomes very clear. The seeker must not neglect the knowledge of manifested reality (or action in this life or worshipping the manifested) for knowledge of ( or worshipping ) the unmanifested or vice-versa.

    ------------------------------------------

    I would like to hear Yajvan ji's and others' views on verse 15 :

    Hiranmyena pAtrena satyasyApihitam mukham,
    Tatvam pUshannpAvriNu satyadharmAya dristaye ll

    (The face of the truth is covered with a golden disc. Unveil it, O Pushan, for so that I who love/worship the Truth may see it)

    What is the golden disc here ?

    OM
    Last edited by devotee; 20 October 2009 at 11:19 PM.
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: Darkness of knowledge?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namast devotee (et.al)

    Quote Originally Posted by devotee View Post
    I would like to hear Yajvan ji's and others' views on verse 15 :

    Hiranmyena pAtrena satyasyApihitam mukham,
    Tatvam pUshannpAvriNu satyadharmAya dristaye ll

    (The face of the truth is covered with a golden disc. Unveil it, O Pushan, for so that I who love/worship the Truth may see it) What is the golden disc here ? OM
    Yes, this is worthy of addressing - what of this pātra पात्र (a drinking-vessel , goblet , bowl , cup , dish , pot , plate ) ?

    Yet I thought you would ask 'why have we gone from īśā to puṣan? ' . Puṣ पुष् is to cause to thrive or prosper , nourish. From this root we can see why īśā may be addressed as such. This puṣan is one of the ādityā-s , He nourishes the earth and the yajamāna. We find Him called out in the ṛg ved. In fact in the ṛg ved 1.42 we find Him as a remover of obstacles and for me fits nicely with the 15th śloka , asking puṣan to uncover it ( or unvail it as you have mentioned) - remove this obstacle.

    Yet what of this pātra ? What could it be covering? Reality, truth (satya) as the śloka says. This is the hint... the truth is covered by this golden disc.

    Some too take this 15th śloka as a prayer of the dying. This is not my view, yet I have offered it as many suggest this as such.

    praṇām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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