Shankara on the Yoga Sutras Technical introduction

Technical introduction

The text

This is a pioneer translation of a text on Yoga, a vivaraṇa sub-commentary on the Vyāsa bhāṣya to Patañjali’s Yoga sūtra, claiming to be by Śaṅkara Bhagavat-pāda (definable as the author of the Brahma sūtra bhāṣya). It came to notice as No. 94 in the Madras Government Oriental Series published in 1952, having been put together, with impressive scholarship and patience, from a single defective manuscript.

It has been unknown except for publication of a small portion in another context (Madras University Sanskrit Series, No. 6) in 1931, which context however seems to establish that it was already in existence in the fourteenth century. The editing, which involved rearranging, was done by two pandits: P. S. Rama Sastri and S. R; Krishnamurti Sastri, who judged that this was indeed a work by the great Śaṅkara.

In 1968, Paul Hacker published an influential article accepting the identification (though on somewhat different grounds), and further proposing that it was an early work by Śaṅkara, then a follower of the Yoga school, and only later an Advaita Vedāntin. Some others who have worked on it have found no absolute bar to Śaṅkara’s possible authorship. A. Wezler has examined another manuscript, and the existence of still another is reported. He has pointed out that this Vivaraṇa contains some different, and sometimes superior, readings of the Vyāsa, when compared with Vācaspati’s version in his Tattvavaiśāradī sub-commentary.

Wilhelm Halbfass, in an important 25–page appendix to his monograph Studies in Kumārila and Śaṅkara (No. 9 of Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik, Reinbek, 1983), compares some of the philosophical ideas of the Vivaraṇa with parallels in Śaṅkara’s works, and finds striking resemblances. For example, the doctrine of ‘lights’ in the Vivaraṇa II.20 is close to the doctrine presented in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad bhāṣya to IV.3.7. He concludes that some of the passages correspond to and supplement what is found also in ‘mature’, ‘classical’ works.

Two leading Japanese Vedānta scholars, H. Nakamura and S. Mayeda, are inclined to think it genuine. Nakamura has published what he calls a tentative translation of Part One, the samādhi pāda (in Japanese), in 36 successive issues of the Japanese Buddhist journal Agama, from December 1979. Nakamura remarks that it is not at all necessary to suppose that Śaṅkara must have been a Yoga school follower when he wrote this, and he points out in his notes some instances of advaita ideas strongly expressed in the Vivaraṇa. For instance, Puruṣa’s experience is not real, as it is in orthodox Saṅkhya doctrine, but merely attributed as colours are attributed to a pure crystal; this last is an advaitic view. He also points out a number of places where the printed text is defective.

Sengaku Mayeda, who has analysed a number of works attributed to Śaṅkara and verified their authenticity, believes that the Vivaraṇa may well be by Śaṅkara. See, for example, his article on Śaṅkara in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition: ‘it is very probable that Śaṅkara is the author’. He gives some details in the notes to his translation of Śaṅkara’s A Thousand Teachings (Tokyo University Press, 1979).

The swing towards Śaṅkara advaita

This text is on yoga practice, as the author says at the beginning, and comparisons with Śaṅkara’s practice can also be made. (For instance, a corollary of the ‘lights’ doctrine forms the basis of a yogic practice under sūtra I.38, for calming the mind; it is in striking contrast to Vācaspati’s interpretation.) This practice could be roughly summed up as throwing leggings and a stick to a nervous man trapped in a room by a coiled snake near the door. He puts them on and has confidence to walk out past the snake, which he then finds out to have been a rope all along. The thrower had told him this, but he was too nervous to put it to the test. So the thrower takes the snake as real for the moment, and provides the protection.

When the Vivaraṇa practice is examined along with the theory, it appears that the Vivaraṇa was written not by an orthodox Yoga school follower, but by an advaitin. The basis is the Śaṅkara bhāṣya to Brahmā sūtra II.1.3, to the effect that the Yoga śāstra is authoritative as regards meditation, for śruti refers to it as such, but outside that, it shares with Sāṅkhya two defects: the doctrine of pradhāna (the principal defect, pradhāna-malla), and the doctrine of plurality of Puruṣa-s. These two defects the sub-commentator (henceforward V-Śaṅkara, or V-Ś) corrects, very forcibly in the case of the principal one, and more indirectly in the second case. He avoids head-on clashes with the main texts, and where necessary follows them on points which he has refuted elsewhere.

This is not a study, and I am simply pointing out a few indications noticed during the translating.

1 The philosophical swing

Pradhāna, in Yoga the unconscious and real cause of the manifestation of the universe, is declared as such in sūtra II.19, and this is not challenged there. But already the five sūtra-s on God (I.24–28) have entirely discarded it as the world-cause in favour of most elaborately supported arguments for an intelligent, omnipotent, omniscient, and purposeful divine mind. This section takes up nearly one-quarter of the whole Vivaraṇa on the Samādhi-pāda, itself the first third of the whole.

The arguments are teleological, ontological and analogical, and presented with confidence, originality and a large group of Upaniṣadic quotations.

As the pradhāna doctrine is the ‘principal opponent’ (punning pradhānamalla), which Śaṅkara attacks, the force of his presentation of the creative divine mind is significant. (It is interesting that the pradhāna-malla saying is quoted in the Vivaraṇa also.) Some of the main themes presented are expansions of ideas in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad bhāṣya III.8.9 and elsewhere.

There are a number of other places in the Vivaraṇa where pradhāna is replaced by Upaniṣadic conceptions, sometimes almost casually as it seems; see, for instance, the quotation under sūtra II.19: ‘From that, from this Self, space was created’ (Taittirīya Upaniṣad II.1).

The other point on which Śaṅkara rejects Sānkhya-Yoga doctrine is the plurality of Selves. It is correct in discerning a pure Self free from qualities, but fails to perceive the unity of that Self, as perceived by Manu.

The fact that in Yoga doctrine the Lord is distinguished as a particular Puruṣa (I.24) and that the Puruṣa of a yogin is only like the divine Puruṣa (Vyāsa to I.29) assumes distinction between them. However, V-Ś, though accepting this as it stands, elsewhere equivocates. The distinctions, after all, are made only on the basis of separate minds with which the Puruṣa-s are identified, and the identification is illusory.

Under I.41, he describes the released Puruṣa as ever freed, ever the Lord (sadaiva muktaḥ sadaiveśvaraḥ), which has been given by Vyāsa (on sūtra I.24) as part of the description of the Lord. Again, V-Ś remarks (on sūtra I.42) that the Puruṣa-s being attributeless cannot conceivably be different in their nature (svarūpeṇa bhedo duravabodha eva).

Then in the Vivaraṇa to I.28, speaking of what reveals itself to the yogin practising OM, he glosses the already slightly unexpected word paramātman in Vyāsa with a Vedic title for the creator-god, namely parameṣṭhin. This not very frequent compound comes in the Adhyātma-paṭala of the Āpastamba Lawbook (v. 10), on which there is a commentary by Śaṅkara likely to be genuine. He there glosses it as the creator Self Brahman standing in the space in the heart, and explains that from Him comes forth the whole world. This same verse is quoted in the Brahmā sūtra bhāṣya, where it is explained as referring to the highest Self, the efficient as well as material cause of the world.

Here in the Vivaraṇa it refers to the Self of the yogin engaged in repeating and meditating on OM.

It cannot be said that V-Ś is necessarily out of line with Vyāsa in these places, inasmuch as Vyāsa himself (IV.22) quotes a verse, ‘That hiding-place where the eternal Brahman lies concealed is not under the earth, nor a mountain cave, nor darkness, nor a cavern in the deep, but the mental process when not distinguished (from him) – so the sages declare.’ Here Puruṣa is equated with Brahman: aham Brahmāsmi.

Śaṅkara occasionally compares his methods to medical treatment – for instance, in the introduction to his Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad commentary, though there he takes the simile no further. In this Vivaraṇa, however, there is a continual edging in the direction of Śaṅkara’s true attitude to the spiritual injunctions: the doctor gives a placebo to a panic-stricken man who wrongly believes he has been bitten by a snake, and who is sweating and writhing in painful cramps as a result. The doctor must give the placebo with intense seriousness: ‘this will cure you’. The placebo has the same level of reality as the source of pain, and the doctor’s statement is true: the sufferer is cured. At the beginning of Vivaraṇa II.23 it is shown how Knowledge-of-the-difference, though itself an idea, dissolves the false idea of conjunction with ideas, which is pain and bondage.

2 The swing in yoga practice

It is a fundamental principle of the Yoga sūtra that meditation taken to saṃyama produces side-effects, regardless of the intention of the meditator. For instance, when one practises meditation (bhāvanā) on Friendliness and so on (I.33) to steady the mind, if it comes to saṃyama, powers of friendliness arise (III.23). If one practises non-stealing till he is firm in it (explained as without contrary thought), ‘from all directions precious things come to him’ (II.37), which is certainly not his intention.

A central group of sūtra-s is III.35–37. Sūtra 35 says that from saṃyama on what-is-for-its-own-sake, comes knowledge of Puruṣa; the next sūtra says that from this saṃyama arise certain supernormal powers, such as sight of divine beings, the next sūtra says that these powers are obstacles to samādhi. Now the doctrine of what-is-for-its-own-sake is a major one for Śaṅkara, but in his advaita, knowledge of Self would not produce, of itself, supernormal powers, which would be in Ignorance. Self-knowledge dissolves illusions: it does not produce them. Here in the Vivaraṇa, V-Ś flatly contradicts sūtra 36, ‘they arise’, by saying at the end of his comment on sūtra 37: ‘They do not arise in a concentrated mind (samāhita citta) which is detached.’

This is a striking swing of the Yoga sūtra doctrine, and Vyāsa, towards advaita of Śaṅkara. The conclusion, that appearance of supernormal phenomena is the result of latent desire, is in accord with the Vivaraṇa on I.35, where spontaneous appearances of a ray, or lights and so on are attributed not to skill (Vācaspati: vaiśāradya) but to unsteadiness (reading vaiṣamya). It may be possible to suppose that the alteration in the reading was made deliberately, as part of the drive towards Śaṅkara’s own standpoint.

The Vivaraṇa to I.35 makes the striking comparison of the supernormal perceptions there with the smoke which appears when wood is being rubbed to create fire. Smoke is the opposite of what is wanted finally, but it marks a stage, and so gives confidence.

Two further remarkable examples are given later under Contrast with Vācaspati’s Interpretation.

Variations in the sūtra text

There are a number of variations in the text of the sūtra-s as glossed by V-Ś. Four of them are given by V-Ś with the comment that others have a different reading, which he then gives. This different reading is that of Vācaspati’s text. In most cases, however, V-Ś does not note any alternative reading.

Sūtra-s II.7 and 8 appear in the Vivaraṇa text of the sūtra, and in the Vivaraṇa itself, as sukhānujanmā rāgaḥ, and duḥkhānujanmā dveṣaḥ. In both places he glosses anujanmā as anuśayī, and notes under II.7: sukhānuśayī tathā duḥkhānuśayī anyeṣām pāthaḥ. In fact, when V-Ś himself quotes II.7 in the comments on IV.11, he gives it as sukhānuśayī.

The third and fourth variations occur in sūtra II.19, where two neuter plurals in the standard version appear as masculine plurals. The sūtra normally runs: viśeṣāviśeṣaliṅgamātrāliṅgāni guṇaparvāṇi, but the Vivaraṇa text goes: viśeṣāviśeṣaliṅgamātrāliṅgā guṇaparvāṇaḥ.

V-Ś does not read these masculines in the first instance as bahuvrīhi compounds, but justifies them at length as nouns of agency in the masculine formed correctly from verbs. At the end of his comments, however, he allows the possibility of bahuvrīhi, and he also notes the standard reading as keṣāmc̣id ayameva pāthaḥ.

Another variation is a reading of the standard ananta of sūtra II.47 as ānantya in the Vivaraṇa sūtra text and the Vivaraṇa itself, though the Vivaraṇa Vyāsa has ananta. The effect is to rule out the Hinduistic interpretation as Ananta the cosmic serpent, which Vācaspati and several other commentators adopt.

The alternative reading ānantya is, however, noticed in the Candrikā commentary for instance.

The remaining ones are all small, and mostly with only slight change of meaning.

Vācaspati sūtraVivaraṇa sūtra

I.26 Sa eṣa …

Sa …

I.51 … samādhiḥ

… samādhiriti (the iti is glossed)

II.7,8 anuśayī


II.19 parvāṇi


II.41 sattvaśuddhau


II.47 ananta


III.12 tataḥ punaḥ …

tatra punaḥ

III.20 na ca tat sālambanam

na ca sālambanam

III.35 parāthatvāt


III.48 tato manojavitvam

tato manojavatvam

III.50 sthāny upanimantraṇe

sthāny upamantraṇe

III.55 kaivalyam

kaivalyam iti

IV.17 taduparāgāpekṣitvād asya vastu

taduparāgāpekṣatvāccittasya vastu

IV.18 puruṣasyāpariṇāmāt


IV.32 samāptir guṇānām

parisamāptir guṇānām

Variations in the Vyāsa text

There are far too many variations in the Vivaraṇa text from the Vyāsa text as commented on by Vācaspati to make a list here, and of course there are other Vyāsa texts which differ. M. Honda in his Yoga-sho Chūkai (Notes on the Yoga literature, published by Heirakuji Shoten, in Japanese, Kyōto, 1978) gives in passing in his notes some hundred variations. Many of them are simple omission of a word which does not materially alter the sense. But he was not listing them, and there are still more. For example:

1 The gloss on vārtā, in sūtra III.36. This word comes at the end of a list of supernormal perceptions: of sound (śabda), touch (vedana), sight (ādarśa), taste (āsvāda), and vārtā. Hypnotized by the conviction that this must complete the group of senses, Vyāsa renders it as ‘fragrance’ (gandha). Vācaspati follows him, adding that the Vyāsa comment is easy. Other commentators fall in with the interpretation by Vācaspati. There seems to be a tacit agreement not to mention that vārtā has nothing to do with fragrance. (Only Bhoja attempts a feeble justification.) Vārtā refers to events in the world – news, in fact. The Vivaraṇa gives its true meaning:

Vācaspati’s VyāsaVivaraṇa
vārtāto divyagandha vijñānam – ityetāni nityam jayanteVārtātas saṃvyavahāratva rūpam yathāvat adhigacchati

It is interesting that Vijñāna Bhikṣu, in his free-wheeling exposition Yogasārasaṅgraha, has this word as vāta, which still does not have the sense of fragrance, though he glosses gandhagrahanam. (He could hardly do otherwise, as he commits himself to saying that the set consists of perfections of the senses.)

This is an example where the Vivaraṇa gloss is clearly better than the accepted text of Vyāsa, which is purely arbitrary.

2 The final comment of Vācaspati’s Vyāsa: etāni nityam jayante ‘these always arise’, is deliberately omitted by the Vivaraṇa. Deliberately, because it would be contradicted by the Vivaraṇa to the next sūtra, which thus also contradicts sūtra 36 itself, at least partially. This is in accord with Śaṅkara’s general line, that the supernormal powers are not inevitable accompaniments on the path to release.

3 In the discussion on fruition of karma, under sūtra II.13, Vyāsa instances cases of double fruition, namely experience and life span, giving the names of Nandīśvara and Nahuṣa. But the Vivaraṇa inserts a sentence which makes these cases of triple fruition. This has to be justified against the opponent.

Vācaspati’s VyāsaVivaraṇa
dvivipākārambhī vīdvivipākārambhī vā
nandīśvaravat nahuṣavadvetitrivipākārambhī vā

(There are, however, editions of Vyāsa which give this same phrase.)

Some of the variations from Vācaspati’s Vyāsa text are simple substitutions of a synonym like pravādiṣyāmaḥ for upapādiṣyāmaḥ. There are other cases where there is some change in meaning, such as sargādiṣu for sargāntareṣu (I.27). This last is also an example of the tendency of the scribe of the present Vivaraṇa text to amend the connected passages of the Vyāsa to what is now the standard text, while retaining the specific Vivaraṇa readings in the body of V-Ś’s gloss. The effect is that in some cases V-Ś appears to be commenting on words which do not appear in the main Vyāsa text. In the present example, sargāntareṣu appears in the Vyāsa text, but V-Ś is glossing sargādiṣu. In such cases I have kept to the Vivaraṇa reading throughout.

Here are two cases in the Samādhi-pāda where the Vivaraṇa reading gives an entirely different meaning to the whole passage; in one case it is in fact the omission of a negative.

4 Vyāsa commentary to sūtra I.36: the Vivaraṇa reads vaiṣamya (uneven), but Vācaspati vaiśāradya meaning skill.

The Vyāsa commentary is referring to fixing attention on the heart-lotus, by which meditation the mind-sattva appears in its true nature like shining space. Then Vyāsa says, according to the accepted text followed by Vācaspati, ‘By skill (vaiśāradya) in keeping stable in this, the perception becomes transformed into resplendent forms such as the sun or moon or a planet or a gem.’ Vācaspati gives some references, presumably in connection with the ‘skill’, to the circle of the sun and of the moon and so on in the heart-lotus.

V-Ś, on the other hand, has not vaiśāradya but vaiṣamya, and he explains that the forms of sun and ray and so on appear because the meditation on the true form of shining space is still uneven. This view is in line with passages like Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad II.11, and others in the Mahābhārata, to the effect that such shining forms are only forerunners.

In the text, the standard vaiśāradya appears in the Vyāsa passage, but in the actual Vivaraṇa the word is vaiṣamya, and V-Ś comments on it as such. Under sūtra 35 the Vivaraṇa refers again to the unsteadiness which produces the limited luminous forms like the sun, and the same word vaiṣamya is used there. This is quite different from Vācaspati’s interpretation.

5 Vyāsa to sūtra I.47: Vivaraṇa has anurodhi, and Vācaspati ananurodhi.

This is a direct contradiction between Vācaspati who, reading ‘not progressively’ (ananurodhi), takes it that prajñā-knowledge is independent of any time sequence, and V-Ś who, reading ‘progressively’ (anurodhi), takes it to mean that the knowledge becomes progressively clearer as practice continues.

Later commentaries either directly quote ananurodhi as does the Vārttika, or paraphrase like Maṇiprabhā, which has akrameṇa. V-Ś had other texts of Vyāsa to compare (as we can tell from references to some alternative readings), so it seems the Vyāsa was not standardized in his time.

There are other occasions where the new reading reverses the sense. As I have noted in the translation, in the bhāṣya to II.4 the Vivaraṇa Vyāsa has in one place adagdha instead of dagdha, which does not fit in well with the sense.

In II.3, an important variation is the reading kāryakaraṇa (a much-favoured compound with Śaṅkara for body and senses) for kārya-kārana. This changes Vyāsa’s description of the action of kleśa from ‘increasing the current of effect and cause’ to ‘increasing the current in the body and senses’, which V-Ś further glosses as activity of the body and senses such as the eye.

In the bhāṣya to II.19, at the end of the account of the unmanifest, the standard Vyāsa has a final nir-asat. It is not glossed or noticed in the Vivaraṇa. This nir-asat is one of the phrases interpreted by Vācaspati as ruling out a doctrine of illusion. There are other variations in this section of the text, and it is not clear whether V-Ś had it before him and deliberately ignored it, or whether it was already missing.

There are scribal errors affecting a single letter. At the end of the long explanations of karma in II. 13, the standard text, reproduced in the Vivaraṇa Vyāsa, runs: ihaiva te karma kavayo vedayante – ‘here it is that the sages instruct you on karma’. But the Vivaraṇa itself glosses śarma instead of karma, so that the sentence now reads ‘on (your) welfare’ instead of ‘on karma’. V-Ś explains śarma here as sukha and śānti. He would never have glossed karma as śānti, as they are polar opposites in his thought.

There are many small changes which do not affect the sense. In II.28, the samyagjñāna at the beginning of the Vyāsa and Vivaraṇa Vyāsa becomes samyagdarśana in the Vivaraṇa. We find changes like visrambhopagata for viśvopagata, and yo manyuḥ ujjihāsā for yah pratigho manyur jighāṃsā; uhyamāna (in II.15) ‘borne away’ is probably an improvement on the original vyuhyamāna, which may be a scribal error for vyuhyamāna (as in some of the editions).

In sūtra II.50, the śvāsa and praśvāsa have become switched round in the Vivaraṇa, so that checking the breath after expiration now becomes the internal operation. However, this is merely a matter of name, which does not recur, and V-Ś identifies them in the orthodox way by the alternative names given by ‘others’, namely pūraka and recaka, which he identifies as associated with apāna and prāṇa respectively, just as is done in the Gītā bhāṣya IV.29. This is one of the many places in the Gītā commentary where Śaṅkara uses the technical terms of yoga.

Sometimes, however, a new meaning is produced by a scribal error. The Vyāsa and Vivaraṇa Vyāsa to II.34 have vitarkāṇāṃ ca amum evāmanugatam; this becomes vitarkāṇāṃ chāyām ivānugatam, so that the sense of following like a shadow appears.

Śaṅkara and yoga

Śaṅkara refers in his commentaries to ‘yoga śāstra’ as an authority for things other than meditation, for instance for saṃnyāsa (Gītā bhāṣya introduction to VI), and on diet (Gītā bhāṣya VI.16). But it is most often cited as authoritative for meditation. In his Brahmā sūtra bhāṣya he cites yoga for the ability of Vyāsa and other ṛṣi-s to converse with the gods (I.3.33), yoga as a means to vision of truth (atha tattvadarśanopāya) (II.1.3), on the mental processes (II.4.12), on meditation practice (II.1.3), on multiplication of bodies and other powers of the liberated in Brahmaloka (IV.4.15), on posture in meditation (IV.1.10).

Yoga śāstra at the time of Śaṅkara is generally assumed to refer to Patañjali’s Yoga sūtra-s glossed by Vyāsa, but there are references in Ś to yoga śāstra-s that cannot be identified with the Yoga sūtra-s as we now have them. For instance, commenting on Taittirīya Upaniṣad I.6.2 he remarks that the channel called suṣumnā is well known from the yoga śāstra. But the word suṣumnā does not occur in either Patañjali or Vyāsa (nor in the Vivaraṇa, as a matter of fact). Other commentators on Vyāsa are referred to here in the Vivaraṇa, and these were presumably classed as yoga works (see for example commentary on sūtra I.24).

The ‘atha tattvadarśanopāyaḥ yogaḥ’ just mentioned is not in Vyāsa, nor is the direction on diet in Gītā VI.16 glossing ‘moderate diet’

uktaṃ hi ardham aśanasya savyañjanasya tṛtīyam udakasya tu vāyoḥ sañcaraṇārthe tu caturtham avaśeṣayet ityādi.

There is nothing like this in Vyāsa, but Bhāskara evidently knew of this yoga-śāstra, as he mentions something similar in his comment on Gītā IV.30:

udarasyārdham annena pūrayet tṛtiyam bhagam udakena caturtho vāyuḥ saćarārthaḥ iti yogaśāstre darśitam.

By the time it has reached Ānandagiri on Gītā VI.16, it has become a verse:

pūrayed aśanenārdham tṛtīyam udakena tu, vāyoḥ sañcaraṇārtham tu caturtham avaśeṣayet,

There is a somewhat similar verse in Gheraṇḍa Saṃhita V.12, doubtless much later:

annena pūrayed ardham toyena tu tṛtīyakam udarasya turīyāṃśaṃ saṃrakṣed vāyucāraṇe.

Śaṅkara makes a few references to yama-niyama as listed by Patañjali. Commenting on Praśna Upaniṣad V.l he has as necessary auxiliaries to OM meditation leading to release the following: satya, brahmacarya, ahiṃsā, aparigraha, tyāga, saṃnyāsa, śauca, santoṣa, amāyāvittva. This is very close to the first seven of the yama-niyama set in the Yoga sūtra (II.30, 32). Again, yama-niyama are cited as auxiliaries to an aspirant’s partial saṃnyāsa in the introductory comments on Gītā VI.

Śaṅkara often speaks of the yogin-s in passing, and especially in connection with unusual powers, which he sometimes cites as examples. In the commentary to Gauḍapāda Kārika IV.9, for example, to gloss the word ‘success’ he instances successful yogin-s who have acquired the powers of becoming very small and so on. As an example of one and the same effect being produced by different causes, he says (Bṛhadāranyaka bhāṣya I.4.2): ‘In the case of animals that see in the dark, the connection of eye with the object alone suffices, even without the help of light, to cause the perception. In the case of yogin-s, the mind alone is the cause of it. While with us there is a combination of causes such as connection of the eye with the object, and light, which again may vary, in quality or strength.’ And on I.2.1, ‘Another reason for supposing the pre-existence of the effect is the fact that the knowledge of the yogin-s concerning the past and future of a jar is infallible. Were the future jar non-existent, that perception of it would prove false. Nor is this perception a mere figure of speech.’

His remark that their precognition is an actual fact is repeated in the strong assertion (to Brahmā sūtra I.3.33) that yoga does lead to acquirement of extraordinary powers, ‘a fact which cannot be set aside by mere emphatic denial’. This is however what his pupil Padmapāda does in Pañcapādikā II.4 when he says that it is not found that meditation leads to perception of anything. There is a contradiction between his pupil and Śaṅkara, who here is apparently speaking from experience, for he cites in these places no other authority for his positive asseveration.

It may be remarked however that according to the Yoga-sūtra-s themselves, yogin-s who exercise such powers are creating obstacles in the way to release. Omniscience is a natural concomitant of the highest states of training, but sūtra III.37 says that the other powers are perfections to an extraverted mind but are obstacles to samādhi; the Vivaraṇa comments briefly on this, that they do not arise in a concentrated mind which is detached. They are limited and mostly have to be acquired by special meditations. They are possessed by an individual, and as such are quite different from the omniscience and godly power referred to in Brahmā sūtra III.1.7 which become manifest when the self becomes free from the illusion of being connected with the body–mind aggregate, and realizes its identity with the Lord.

Śaṅkara presupposes skill in samādhi for his own spiritual practice: it is one of the qualifications (Upadeśa Sāhasrī I.17.23, Bṛhadāranyaka bhāṣya IV.4.23). In Gītā bhāṣya to II.39, samādhi is one of the elements of karma yoga, essential to purify the mind to receive knowledge; sometimes Ś singles out samādhi yoga as the means to this end (to Gītā IV.38). In this commentary, Ś more than forty times follows Vyāsa’s gloss ‘yoga is samādhi’ by himself glossing yoga and its derivatives by samādhi and its derivatives. This is not dictated by the nature of the Gītā text, for Bhāskara commenting on the same text avoids the word.

This applies not only to the karma yoga passages, but to the jñānaniṣṭha passages such as Gītā V.8–9: here the truth-knower (tattvavid), who in the introduction is called ātmavid and samyagdarśin, is now directed solely to meditate with concentrated mind (samāhita cetas) on ‘I do nothing at all’, even during apparent actions like speaking and moving. This meditation is in fact natural to a truth-knower, Śaṅkara explains repeatedly: the practice is simply not to disturb it. It leads to Release, after which knowledge does not remain a second longer; if it did, duality would not have ceased (Māṇḍūkya bhāṣya VII). This is exactly the point in the Yoga sūtra doctrine that even discriminative knowledge (vivekajñāna), though the means to Release, is itself a creature of the guṇa-s and does not exist for Puruṣa-in-its-own-nature.

Śaṅkara makes samādhi one of the necessary means to release. In the philosophical texts he does not go into it in any detail: he simply assumes it. In Brahmā-sūtra bhāṣya II.3.39 and 40, samādhi is recognized by him as taught in the Vedānta texts for Self-realization represented by the Upaniṣads: ‘The Self indeed is to be seen, heard of, thought on, and deeply meditated on’, ‘The Self we must seek, must try to realize’, and ‘Meditate on the self as Om’. ‘For the scripture does enjoin it (samādhi-vidhānāt).’

In his free composition, A Thousand Teachings, he says (I.17.22):

22.When the mind becomes pure like a mirror, knowledge shines forth; (the mind should be purified) by abstention (yama), permanent rites, sacrifices and tapas (austerities).

23.The best tapas of the body etc., should be performed to purify the mind. The concentration of the mind etc. (samādhāna) and emaciation of the body in this and that (season) (should be performed).

In similar terms he speaks of the means to knowledge: saṃnyāsa, śama, dama, uparama, titikṣā and samādhāna (Brahma sūtra bhāṣya IV.4.21). There are many such examples.

In the Brahma sūtra commentary to III.2.24 he confirms that the yogin-s see the Self referred to in the Upaniṣads in their profound meditation. He cites moreover Mahābhārata XII.47.55 that such yogin-s are sleepless, with breathing conquered (jitaśvāsaḥ), senses subdued (samyatendriya). (XII.46.55 begins with a description of Kṛṣṇa sitting like a statue, senses inoperative, and becoming aware in samādhi of the condition of the dying Bhīṣma.) Śaṅkara had no need to describe such details in his commentary, and it is a clearly approving reference to Patañjali-style trance meditation, applied to Brahman realization.

Similarly in his introduction to the Gītā, he describes Release in terms of an unmoving yogin: ‘He is without merit and without sin, without good or evil – who is sitting in one posture, absorbed, silent, and thinking nothing (kiñcid acintayan)’ (Anugītā). This last phrase is an echo of Gītā VI.25: ‘settling the mind on Self, let him not think of anything (na kiñcidapi cintayet).’ Śaṅkara cites this with approval as the highest yoga. It is the citta-vṛtta-nirodha of the Yoga sūtra-s, where mind is directed to Puruṣa and then dissolved.

The same phrase na kiñcidapi cintayet comes in the Gauḍapāda Kārikā I.24, and in 25 Śaṅkara glosses yuñjīta as samādadhyād. There are many references to samādhi practice in the commentary to the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad. Niruddham manas comes also in the Kārikā comment on III.33.

Occasionally Śaṅkara sums up the Upaniṣadic doctrine by a single phrase. Four times in his Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad commentary he cites ‘one should meditate on it as the Self alone’ as giving the whole Upaniṣad in a nutshell, or as a sūtra. And in his Gītā commentary on XIII.4 he selects this same phrase as the example of a Brahmā sūtra ‘well-reasoned and definite’.

Commenting on Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad I.4.7, Śaṅkara denies that cittavṛttinirodha alone is a means to mokṣa apart from the Brahman-Self identity known from Vedānta. But he adds:

Na hi ātma-vijñāna-tatsmṛtisantāna vyatirekeṇa cittavṛttinirodhasya sādhanam asti. Abhyupagamyedamuktam, na tu brahmavijñana vyatirekeṇa. anya-mokṣa-sādhanam avagamyate. (For inhibition of the mental processes is not a means apart from Self-realization and the continuous remembrance of that. Admittedly it is mentioned, but it is not recognized as a means to Release apart from Brahman-realization.)

In the same way, in the Brahma sūtra commentary to II.1.3, ‘By that, the Yoga system is refuted’, he points out that though it is authoritative on such things as meditation and renunciation, it is unacceptable on the two points already established against Sānkhya: the plurality of separate Puruṣa-s, and the unconscious pradhāna as source of the world. It is these two points in the Yoga system which the present Vivaraṇa apparently seeks to replace with Vedāntic views, in most places by hints and implications, but in sūtra I.25, for instance, with lengthy and unconcealed arguments on the inevitability of a creator-Lord. Elsewhere, by hints such as calling the successful yogin ‘parameṣthin’ (to I.28) or even ‘parameśvara’ (to III.45), he briefly indicates that the inner self is realized as the all-creator and the Self of all (as in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad IV.4.13).

The Brahma sūtra bhāṣya sums up Śaṅkara’s standpoint on yoga practice. There is a clear distinction between the Yoga school, and those practising the yoga meditation methods on the basis of Upaniṣadic truths: either meditation with bhakti devotion to the Lord as such, namely with divine attributes, or meditations on the highest Self alone.

Sūtra II.1.3 rejects the philosophy of the Yoga school on the two grounds previously put forward against the Sānkhya: pradhāna, and plurality of Selves. The Yoga texts are, however, authoritative on meditation; yoga practice is mentioned in the Upaniṣad-s, even as to details. For example, Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad II.8 describes meditation posture.

Bhāskara on the same sūtra takes a similar line, also quoting the verse of Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad, though strangely altered.

Under sūtra II.1.3 Śaṅkara adds that the yoga taught in the Upaniṣad-s means meditation on Upaniṣadic truth, thus distinguishing it from many practices of the Yoga school. Finally, under sūtra III.2.5 he says that those who strenuously meditate on the Lord begin to acquire divine powers, but concludes that all such are dependent on the Lord (IV.4.18).

Contradiction of the Sūtra

Sūtra III.36 states that from saṃyama on Puruṣa come supernormal knowledge, and hearing, touch, sight, taste, and awareness of events. Śaṅkara does not deny this immediately, but he omits the reinforcing remark of Vyāsa: ‘These always arise.’ At the end of the Vivaraṇa comments on the next sūtra, he says: ‘They appear from saṃyama on Puruṣa, but not in a concentrated mind (samāhita citta) which is detached.’

This is a contradiction of the sūtra, which had said that they do appear, and a total rejection of Vyāsa. But in Śaṅkara’s Vedānta, samādhi on Self would not of itself lead to supernormal perceptions, which would be illusory like all things in Ignorance.

In most cases, the contradiction is not under the sūtra itself, but elsewhere. For instance a contradiction of the pradhāna doctrine comes in the commentary on sūtra II.19 where space is given as arising from ātman, according to the Upaniṣad.

The very long commentary on God implicitly contradicts the pradhāna doctrine; it says that the creation is intelligent, but does not say it is unreal. The doctrine of unreality does, however, come up in places – for instance, under IV.31 where the scriptural text about the blind man piercing the gem and other impossibilities are taken as examples of the world-process. The impossible happens, which can happen only in illusion. The interpretation is the same as that given in the Gītā bhāṣya to XIII. 14, on this same text which is quoted there by Śaṅkara.

The statement of sūtra I.24 that the Lord is a special kind of Puruṣa is contradicted by the later statement that the Puruṣa-s being attributeless cannot conceivably be different in their nature.

Contradiction of Vyāsa

The Vivaraṇa is written with great confidence. It does not hesitate to overrule Vyāsa, when he says that from one action there can be no more than one birth. The Vivaraṇa cites Manu as decisive authority that Brahmin-murder leads to many births in animal incarnations (sūtra II.13).

It has just been pointed out how the Vyāsa comment on III.36 ‘they always arise’ is omitted, and the conclusion of Vyāsa and the sūtra itself rejected.

The gloss on ‘vārtā’ already referred to (earlier) is probably not really a variant of the Vyāsa reading, but a complete rejection of it, and substitution of a new, and far superior, gloss by the Vivaraṇa itself. It is possible to suppose that the missing word ‘gandha’ was accidently dropped from a very early Vyāsa manuscript, and its gloss got attached to ‘vārtā’, which then lost its own gloss.

There are a great number of places where the Vyāsa is modified without being overtly contradicted.

Contrast with Vācaspati’s interpretations

There are many cases where the Vivaraṇa runs counter to Vācaspati. Here are a couple, on yoga practice, where the instructions are absolutely different. Vivaraṇa on I.38, Or meditation on the knowledge of dream and sleep, explains:

What the mind meditates on as its own being, that form indeed it becomes. In the dream state, there is knowledge without any physical objects like sound and so on, and the nature of that knowledge is pure illumination. Now he meditates on what that knowledge is. But not on the remembered objects themselves (appearing in the dream). For the mind can be caught by the bridle of an object even merely remembered.

Compare Ś in the Brahma sūtra bhāṣya III.2.4

Moreover the topic of dream is introduced for revealing the self-effulgence of the witnessing self as a distinct fact. This is done because in the waking state we have the existence of the contact between the objects and the senses, and an admixture of the light of the sun etc., so that the self-effulgence of the self cannot be distinguished from them.

Vācaspati’s comment is altogether different:

When in his dream he adores the exalted Maheśvara’s image which abides within a sequestered forest and seems as if it were sculptured out of the moon’s orb; its members and limbs are soft as lotus stems; it is made of precious moonstone gems and festooned with garlands of exceedingly fragrant jasmine and lālatī flowers; it captivates the heart. When in the very act (of adoration) he awakens with mind in undisturbed calm; then, reflecting upon that same (image) which had become the object supporting the perception in his dream, while his mind is identical in form with it, his mind reaches a stable state in that very condition.

This is the reverse of V-Ś’s direction to meditate on the knowledge which illumines the dream, but never on any object of dream. Vācaspati’s comment is one of several examples of the devotion to a form, elaborately described, which he recommends in his commentary, whereas nothing of the sort is found in the Vivaraṇa, or in Śaṅkara’s writings even in the many passages on devotion in the Gītā bhāṣya. There are numerous other places where the two commentaries differ.

A typically different interpretation of a sūtra phrase appears in the respective sub-commentaries on sūtra III.38: ‘From loosening of the cause of tying, and awareness of how the mind moves, the mind can enter another body.’

The words are pracāra cittasya, and Vyāsa does not feel a need to explain them, but Vācaspati glosses pracāra as:

cittasya gamāgamādhvāno nādyastasmin pracāre saṃyamāt (it means the nāḍī-s, the paths for the coming and going of mind).

V-Ś is quite different, nothing to do with nāḍī practices:

‘asminnimitte hṛsyati muhyati lubhyati cānena kāraṇena’ ity evamādi svacitta sañcaraṇasatattvavedanāñca (from this cause it thrills, or is deluded, or it is disturbed on account of that cause’ – this sort of awareness of the movements and real state of the mind).

Thus here Śaṅkara shows the same lack of enthusiasm for nāḍī practices as elsewhere, even when he has to comment on them (e.g. Gītā bhāṣya introduction to IX).

The Vivaraṇa and the Gītā

There are some interesting cross-correspondences between the Vivaraṇa and the Gītā bhāṣya. V-Ś frequently quotes from the Gītā, sometimes in paraphrase (sūtra I.25). In his Gītā commentary, which he himself calls a vivaraṇa, on verse II.39 he defines karmayoga (the first time this concept occurs in his commentary on the verses) as closely parallel with the kriyāyoga of Yoga sūtra II.1. The main points are almost the same:

Yoga sūtra KriyāyogaGītābh. Karmayoga
Tapas, defined as dvandva-sahatva
īśvarapraṇidhāna, defined as kriyāṇāmīśvare samarpaṇa
dvaṃdva-prahāṇa īśvarārādhanārthe karmānuṣṭhāna
svādhyāya, defined as japa of praṇava and mokṣaśāstra beginning with upaniṣadssamādhi yoga

There is a remarkable intrusion of Gītā ideas, apparently quite out of context, in the Vivaraṇa on sūtra II.15’s bhāṣya: ‘To the vivekin, all is nothing but pain.’ Vyāsa quotes the saying about a man caught up in the craving for pleasure, that he is ‘like one running away from a scorpion who is bitten by a venomous snake’ (quoted in Jacob, Popular Maxims, under Vṛiñcika bhita). Vācaspati sums up the passage with a verse of Manu (II.94) to the effect that gratification of desire only increases it, like ladling butter on to a fire, and he also cites the example of a man eating a sweet mixed with poison, whose pleasure is necessarily of only short duration. He quotes Gītā XVIII.38 (on rājasik happiness): ‘The happiness arising from sense contacts with objects, like nectar at the beginning (agre), and in time (pariṇāme) like poison (visa).’ Chocolates to a diabetic would be a modern example.

V-Ś on the same passage also quotes the Manu text, and makes the poisoned sweet example more telling by instancing a man who already knows that the food is poisoned. To him even the present pleasure of the sweet is pain.

But the Vivaraṇa unexpectedly changes the whole context by likening the lesser venom of the scorpion (which is of course real) with a merely apparent pain, escaping which a man falls into real calamity. He paraphrases (without acknowledging it) the Gītā verse which comes before Vācaspati’s, on the happiness of sattva. It runs (XVIII.37): ‘that which is poison as it were (viṣam iva) at first (agre), and in time (pariṇāme) like nectar, that happiness (sukha) is declared to be sāttvik, born of the purity of the self.’ In his Gītā commentary to this verse he explains ‘poison as it were at first’ by ‘attended by the trouble of acquiring jñāna, vairāgya, dhyāna and samādhi’. ‘Born of the purity of the self he explains as ‘ātmaviṣaya vā ātmāvalambanā vā buddhi ātmabuddhi, tatprasāda prakarṣād vājātam’. It is noteworthy that here Śaṅkara gives two yoga terms, dhyāna and samādhi, along with jñāna and vairāgya, as precursors of happiness. Now in the Vivaraṇa, the text runs: tathā ayam agra-duḥkhābhāsāyāḥ pariṇāma-mahāsukhāyā nivṛtto duḥkhabuddhyā bhīta. The key words are very alike.

This is a sudden irruption of the Vedānta teaching on the bliss of ātman in the middle of a passage saying that all is pain to the vivekin. However, Vyāsa does later follow sūtra II.42, and accepts that from santoṣa there arises unsurpassed happiness even in this world.

Another echo of yoga technique comes in Śaṅkara’s bhāṣya to Gītā XVIII.33, which speaks of holding fast activities of thought, of prāna, and of senses, by firmness ever accompanied by yoga. Here, as so often in the bhāṣya, Śaṅkara glosses yoga by samādhi, and avyabhicāriṇya by nityasamādhyanuvatayā. This is the cittaikāgrya given by Vyāsa (II.55) as the true mastery of the senses, and identified as the view of Jaigīśavya.

Sūtras II.13, V-Ś cites two Mahābhārata texts (the first of which, XII.204.16a, he quotes also in Gītā bhāṣya to XIII.23 and Brahmā Sūtra bhāṣya to III.3.32), to distinguish the way of release of Sāṅkhya and of yoga. This distinction, in these terms, of course comes everywhere in his commentary to the early chapters of the Gītā, but it is unexpected here.

There are a good many such assonances between the Vivaraṇa and Śaṅkara’s Gītā bhāṣya. They are not the result of the nature of the Gītā as a yoga text, for Bhāskara, writing at about the same time as Śaṅkara, does not use the yoga terms to the same extent in his own commentary.

Citations from sacred authority

There are some unusual features in the use of sacred authority. In the first third of the Samādhi pāda, V-Ś cites Sāṅkhya masters quoted by Vyāsa, and some grammarians, but only one śruti text: Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad II.4.4, on bringing a pupil’s mind to concentration (samādhi).

Then in the middle of the very long sub-commentary to I.25, V-Ś suddenly begins to quote Upaniṣads (Muṇḍaka I.1.9 and Kaṭha 2.22); a little further on there is a whole group of them. All are texts used by Śaṅkara; one of them (Taittirīya Saṃhitā II.1.1), ‘Vāyu is the swiftest god’, is here used to make the same point as in Śaṅkara’s Brahma sūtra bhāṣya I.3.33 – false statements are no praise.

The second Part has many quotations, but in the third and fourth they total only five.

There are a few texts not traced, as there are in Śaṅkara’s authenticated works. He had access to Upaniṣadic texts not now extant, for example, the account of the answer of silence in his Brahma sūtra bhāṣya III.2.17. Similarly he knew of other works on yoga, not now available. For instance, in his Taittirīya Upaniṣad bhāṣya I.6.2 he refers to yoga śāstra for description of the nāḍī called suṣumnā, not however to be found in Patañjali, Vyāsa, or the present Vivaraṇa. A yoga śāstra, said to give details of nāḍī practice, is named here as Hairaṇyagarbha.

Five texts are untraced; they include two creation texts referring to Prajāpati. In a couple of places (in commentary on sūtras 1.25 and II.15) the Gītā is quoted without direct acknowledgment. The identified texts are: 23 śruti, and 34 smṛti. Those simply repeated from Vyāsa not included.

Śruti (Upaniṣad)Smṛti
Chāndogya3other Mahābhārata10
Muṇḍaka2‘a Purāṇa’1

The sources, and proportions, agree well with Śaṅkara’s established preferences.

A smṛti ‘bījānyagnyupadagdhāni’ quoted without source in Brahma sūtra bhāṣya III.3.32 is here identified as from Vyāsa, and is in fact Mahābhārata XII.204.16a. The ‘mirror’ quotation on (sūtra IV.23) from Śānti Parva is also quoted in the Gītā bhāṣya III.4 by Śaṅkara, and by Bhāskara under III.1. The Gautama quote ‘tataḥ śeṣena’ is used by Śaṅkara in the introduction to Taittirīya Upaniṣad and elsewhere.

There is an interesting citation of Upavarṣa in the comment to sūtra III.16 here, though his contention is now rejected from the point of view of sphota. But he is still called ‘bhagavān Upavarṣa’. His words (gakāraukāravisarjanīyaḥ) are those cited by Śabara, and not the ‘varna eva tu śabdaḥ’ of Brahmā sūtra bhāṣya I.3.28.

An example of the use of Upaniṣadic texts as authority comes under sūtra II.19, when describing the development of the guṇa-s into elements such as space. An opponent is put up (in the commentary on sūtra II.19) to maintain that space is eternal, and this is met, in the first instance, with a phrase from the Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.1) which meets the point but goes against the whole context: ‘From that, from this Self, space was created.’ This well-known text on creation refers to Brahman, and is out of place in a Sāṅkhya-style account of creation as development of guṇa-s. In sūtra II.1, texts on release are mentioned under svādhyāya, and the Upaniṣads are given as the first example.

It must be significant that the Gītā verse (XI.55) which Śaṅkara quotes in his presentation of worship of God is characterized by him in his Gītā bhāṣya as summing up the whole message of the Gītā.

Other commentators

The Vivaraṇa records a number of alternative readings, and also alternative interpretations, by ‘others’. They are usually rejected. Not all of them are in the tradition represented by Vācaspati. See examples in the commentary on sūtras 1.24 and II.13.

The grammatical excursus

The first is under sūtra II.5, and pages 135, line 22 to 137, line 28 of the Sanṣkrit text. The passage is made more difficult by the fact that the text is corrupt: it seems necessary not only to amend the copyist’s smṛti for vṛtti as the editors suggest, but also to change his nir- to ni-. The passage is set out in pūrvapakṣa-siddhānta form.

The phrase vrttyantarādau pratītiḥ (p. 135 last line) seems to echo the Nyāsa on Kāśikā II.ii.6, abrāhmaṇam ānayety ukte brāhmaṇa-sadṛśe kṣatriyādau pratītir bhavati. Further, the phrase (p. 137, penult, para.) asevitagrahaṇe punaḥ kriyamāne ca bahuvrīhīyyaṃ vijñāyate, avidyamāna-sevito ‘sevita iti parallels Kāśikā VI.i.145, asevitagrahaṇe … bahuvrīhir ayam … vijñāsyate. avidyamānaṃ sevitam asminn iti bahuvrīhiḥ … The author of the Nyāsa, Jinendrabuddhi, is now placed in the eighth century.

Comparing the siddhāntas of V-Ś and Vācaspati, Vācaspati’s interpretation of agoṣpada as ‘a big tract of land’ (no mere puddle) seems simple and convincing on the face of it. But the Vivaraṇa interpretation has the merit of relating the meaning strictly to Pāṇini’s interpretation (VI.i.145), as expressing a place impenetrable (asevita) to cows. And in considering the word asevita, which occurs in Pānini but not in Vyāsa, he quotes a phrase from the Nyāsa. (This meaning ‘impenetrable to cows’ appears in the new Dictionary of Sanskrit, Deccan College, Poona, whereas Vācaspati’s does not.)

The second excursus comes under sūtra II.19, and has already been mentioned under variations of the sūtra text.

A third, very long, disquisition on grammar comes under III.17. In this, Upavarṣa is mentioned, and there is a remarkable example of humour where V-Ś quotes, refutes, and then re-writes verses of Kumārila with which he disagrees (from the sphoṭa standpoint).


There are long polemical passages against Buddhist, Naiyāyika, and other schools. They mostly originate in the Vyāsa commentary, but some of them go well beyond it; the vigour of the attacks would imply that these were living opponents in the time of the Vivaraṇa author. As A. Wezler has illustrated, it may be that there are references in the Vivaraṇa arguments to works of these vanished schools which are no longer extant. The use of sūtra III.17 to mount a sustained and ironical attack on Kumārila, a great opponent of Śaṅkara, must be significant.

As to the Buddhists, in general the treatment follows that of Śaṅkara in the Brahma sūtra bhāṣya and elsewhere, by which the Vijñāna-vādin is allowed some reason for his belief, though erroneous, whereas the Śūnyavādin is summarily dismissed as knave or fool.

Examination of the debates would be a job for specialists. It would bear on the problem of authenticity, but not on the relevance today of the central theme of this text, which is yoga practice.

The experimental basis

If this text is genuine, it will establish the experimental and experiential basis behind Śaṅkara’s view of revelation. Śruti is a revelation of truth, and a great point in the Upaniṣads is that this truth is confirmable today directly. Yoga experiences are not to be brushed aside as ‘auto-hypnosis’; the yogin-s see the Self in their meditation, says the Brahma sūtra III.2.24. But he stresses in many places that final release is not a special mental state; it is in fact complete separation from buddhi.

Experimental results are not subject to criticism from a standpoint which takes no account of them. In the early nineteenth-century battle between the rival theories of the nature of light – waves which spread and may annihilate each other, or particles which cannot do so – the two positions were taken as fundamentally and irreconcilably opposed. The wave theory triumphed for a long time. But today the physicist reports light registering as particles, or as waves, depending on the nature of the experimental setup. He is not accused of inconsistency, nor is it supposed that his views must have changed between the experiments.

In the same way, it may not be necessary to suppose that Śaṅkara was inconsistent, or that his views changed during his career. The experiential results, confirmations of revelation, may be true, but inconsistent from a standpoint which has not performed the experiments.

Yoga technique

The author of this Yoga commentary was himself an expert: there are technical comments from time to time which show familiarity with the practices, and which are not derived from previous texts.

For instance, the experiential sensations during prāṇāyāma (sūtra II.50). The interesting comment on sa-vitarka samāpatti, that it is like ordinary concentrated attention except that it is absolutely unbroken, and descriptions of the buddhi experiences, show familiarity with them.

Similarly the Śaṅkara of the Gītā bhāṣya gives comments on details of the practices – for example, the nose-tip gaze (VI.13).

In both cases it is clear that the writer knew the Yoga techniques and practised them. In modern times, Dr. Hari Prasad Shastri, a close follower of Śaṅkara and who translated many of Śaṅkara’s works, both practised and taught Patañjali’s Yoga techniques, on which he gave many lectures, while pointing out the insufficiencies in the philosophy. He followed Śaṅkara in holding that only meditation on Upaniṣadic truths could give complete freedom.

Sūtra-s III.35–37

As an example of the relationship between this Vivaraṇa and Śaṅkara, take these central sūtra-s III.35–37, which sum up the main points of the whole Yoga sūtra, including the assertion and then depreciation of supernormal power.

35Experience is an idea which does not distinguish between sattva and Puruṣa, though they are absolutely separate: by saṃyama on what-is-for-its-own-sake, (distinct) from what-is-for-sake-of-another, there comes knowledge of Puruṣa

36From that (saṃyama) arise supernormal knowledge and hearing, touch, sight, taste, and awareness of events

37They are obstacles in samādhi, but perfections in the extravertive state

In these sūtra-s the yoga is summarized. Compare the way the points appear in the Vivaraṇa (II.19, II.20-21) and Śaṅkara’s accepted works.

The opening sentence of sūtra 35 is rather similar to the opening of the Brahma sūtra bhāṣya:

Subject and object are opposed to each other as darkness and light … it is wrong to superimpose upon the subject, whose self is intelligence, the objectand vice versaBut from wrong knowledge, man fails to distinguish them, though they are absolutely distinct.

The Self as what-is-for-its-own-sake distinct from what-is-for-the-sake-of-another, is a central theme of Śaṅkara’s Upadeśa Sāhasrī II.2. For instance, the pupil comes to realize: notionscannot exist for their own sake, for like objects they areperceived by a perceiver different in nature … . I have pure consciousness for my nature, so I exist-for-my-own-sake.

In this whole section 2, Śaṅkara deliberately abstains from Upaniṣadic citations, so prominent in the previous section, and which he often states to be essential for release. However he is presenting Upaniṣadic truth by this concept of Atman’s existence-for-itself. It parallels Yoga sūtra III.35, to which as a matter of fact Vyāsa supplies one of his very few Upaniṣadic citations: By what, indeed, would one know the knower? (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.5.15). In Upadeśa Sāhasrī I.19.2 Śaṅkara mentions that this same doctrine is held also by ‘others’, namely Yogin-s, and it seems that here there are direct references to the Yoga sūtra III.35.

On meditation as the direct means (antaraṅga) to knowledge, though not to release, Upadeśa Sāhasrī II.1.5 refers to the twenty essential means to knowledge given in Gītā XIII.7–11. These begin with Humility, but go on to include other qualities which have nothing to do with humility, such as Sense-control, Detachment (vairāgya), Withdrawal (nirodha) from worldly involvements, unwavering Devotion to Me (God) in exclusive yoga (Śaṅkara glosses a-pṛthak-samādhi), Solitude, Steadiness in Self-knowledge, and end with Keeping in View the Goal of Knowledge (namely release). So these are not ‘virtues like Humility’, but ‘beginning with Humility, the set ending with Keeping in View the Goal of Knowledge’. In his bhāṣya Śaṅkara concludes:

It is only when one perceives the goal of knowledge of truth, namely mokṣa, release, that one will endeavour to cultivate the qualities -from Humility to Keeping in View the Goal of Knowledge – which are the means of attaining that knowledge.

Here, as in innumerable other places, he distinguishes knowledge-of-truth from release, just as does the Yoga sūtra and Vivaraṇa (III.50). A typical summarizing statement, which incidentally includes the Yoga śāstra as an authority, is in the Introduction to Gītā III: in all the Upaniṣads, in the Itihāsas, in the Purāṇa, and in the Yoga śāstra, renunciation of all karma is enjoined on the seeker of mokṣa as an accessory to knowledge. Meditation per se is not the means to release, but meditation on Upaniṣadic truth is the direct means to knowledge.

Knowledge, in steadiness (niṣṭhā) and with renunciation, both of which are natural consequences of knowledge and need only not to be disturbed, is the means to release (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad I.4.7, Gītā bhāṣya XVIII.55).

Meditation after knowledge is only to preserve the natural continuance of knowledge from disturbances due to memories (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad I.4.7) of illusion, caused by prārabdha karma, which may temporarily cloud over the knowledge (Upadeśa Sāhasrī I.4.3).

There is a striking parallel between the Vivaraṇa comments on sūtra III.35 … by saṃyama on what-is-for-its-own-sake, (distinct) from what-is-for-the-sake-of-another, there comes knowledge of Puruṣa, and verses 6 and 7 of Śaṅkara’s Upadeśa Sāhasrī I.12, which read in Mayeda’s translation:

6.A Yogin, seeing the notion (of the intellect) on which the reflection of the Seeing (= ātman) is mounted like the reflection of a face in a mirror, thinks that ātman is seen.

7.Only if he knows that the various deluded notions do not belong to the Seeing, is he beyond doubt the best of Yogin-s. No one else can be.

This is very close to the Vivaraṇa here, sūtra III.35. The inferior yogin corresponds to the Opponent who says: ‘But if Puruṣa is made the object of an idea, and Puruṣa is known by it, the Puruṣa ends up as for-the-sake-of-another.’ The answer explains. ‘… As a mirror set before a face is changed to the form of the face, so the mind (citta) changed into the form of Puruṣa, a semblance of Puruṣa, is what is perceived by Puruṣa.’ And the Vivaraṇa adds the interesting example that a face reflected in a sword appears long, though the face is not long – this proves the reflection is merely a semblance.

The point is, that knowledge-of-Puruṣa does not mean a mental operation by which Puruṣa is known as an object, though that is how it is understood by yoga practitioners at first. Properly it is bare awareness of a mentally constructed semblance of itself, and ultimately it is pure awareness, power-of-consciousness, the Seer, Puruṣa in its own nature. This is a technical point of meditation, said by teachers to be difficult to realize in practice. The fact that Śaṅkara picks it out shows that he was an expert.

As already pointed out, sūtra III.36 and Vyāsa are overruled, on the rise of supernormal powers from saṃyama on Puruṣa. This reflects Śaṅkara’s general position, that such powers may arise from meditation on Brahman, but only if Brahman is meditated on in that way.

To sum up: each point in these three central sūtra-s is either found in Śaṅkara’s works in a prominent position, or else has been swung, in the Vivaraṇa, towards Śaṅkara’s doctrine, even at the cost of contradicting Vyāsa and the very sūtra itself. This points to an association between the two Śaṅkara-authors, and probably an identity.


To compare this text with authenticated works of Śaṅkara would be a tremendous task, and for specialists. I have not found anything which would, as far as my knowledge goes, absolutely rule out Śaṅkara as the author.

There are a number of striking parallels which could point to him. For instance:

(1)Vivaraṇa on sūtra III.52 (unreality of abolute time) yathā ā godohanam svapiti … paricchedakatvasya ca ā godohamāste ityādiṣu

Gauḍapāda kārikā bhāṣya II.14 (on same point)
yathā ā godohanamāste

(2)Vivaraṇa on sūtra III.52 (dream-time) tathā svapnapi ghaṭikāmātreṇa buddhiparikalpitaṃ yojanasahasramaneka samvatsareṇaiva (gantavyam) gacchati

Gauṣapāda kārikā bhāṣya II.2
dahadeśādyyojanaśatāntarite māsamātraprāye

Such cases are weak singly, but enough of them can be quite a strong indication.

Already in the 1968 Frauwallner Festschrift, Mayeda showed that the Vivaraṇa reflects Śaṅkara’s view of perception (already indebted to Vyāsa’s Yoga sūtra bhāṣya). He concludes: ‘ātman’s perceivership does not mean that ātman is the agent of perceiving action but that the reflection of self-effulgent ātman whose nature is perception is in the pratyaya of the buddhi. ātman does not do anything but simply exists as it is.’ He cites Upadeśa Sāhasrī II.5.4 and other texts from the same work.

It is noteworthy that here in the Vivaraṇa, reflection of the face is shown to be unreal, by the striking illustration of a face reflected in a sword; though the face is not long, the reflection is long, and must therefore be unreal. (Lengthening of the reflected face has been verified by the present translator with an eighth-century Indian sword.)

A point in favour of Śaṅkara’s authorship is that he does not follow Vācaspati, and it is hard to believe that if he had had that great work before him he would have so completely ignored it. Even in small points there are differences: for instance Vyāsa’s compound prāṇāyāmānabhyasyato is read by Vācaspati as prāṇāyāmān abhyasyato, but by V-Ś as prāṇāyāma anabhyasyato, and the sentence turned accordingly.

Of course, the argument cuts both ways: if Śaṅkara did write this work, it is strange that Vācaspati does not know of it and mention it. There may be a parallel, more than superficial perhaps, with the suppression by the literary executors of George Fox of the book on Quaker miracles which had been so carefully compiled by him; its existence is now known only through a few chance references in other works.

The massive swing towards the creator-god idea has already been mentioned; the Vivaraṇa commentary on the five sūtra-s on God in Part I, the samādhi-pāda, takes up about 8 per cent of the whole Vivaraṇa text. (Vyāsa and Vācaspati would be 2–3 per cent). Other, much smaller, swings away from orthodox Yoga have also been noticed.

Samyagdarśana, a favourite word of Śaṅkara, which occurs more than 50 times in his Gītā bhāṣya, for instance, comes repeatedly in this Vivaraṇa but only twice in the Vyāsa.

The technical words adhyāsa and adhyāropa are used freely and interchangeably (for example, in the commentary to sūtras 1.7, I.41 and I.44). Other terms characteristic of Ś are parivijṛmbhita for creation, nityopalabdhṛ or one who is eternally aware, of Puruṣa. Others I have sometimes noted in brackets.

The definitions of adhyāsa in the Vivaraṇa accord closely with Śaṅkara’s standard definition in the introduction to his Brahmā sūtra bhāṣya: the apparent presentation to consciousness, of the form of a memory of something previously observed elsewhere (sūtra I.8).

Under II.23 here, avidyā is defined as viparyaya, as also in Upadeśa Sāhasrī I.10.6 by Śaṅkara, though not by his successors. The Vivaraṇa gives other identifications, such as avidyā as the vāsanā of viparyaya, and avidyā as mithyājñāna.

There is a generally realist standpoint against the Buddhists. But as against the traditional view that Puruṣa actually is the experiencer, V-Ś says that Puruṣa in its essence does not change; the apparent taking on of the forms is a projection (adhyāropa), as when something is placed against a crystal which then appears to take on the colour. This is a pure advaitic view. The illusion results from kleśa.

Kleśa is used in the sense of taint, and I have so translated it; elsewhere it often means affliction. In this text it means something like doṣa or defect, as it does in some of Śaṅkara’s commentaries. There are a good many Vivaraṇa passages on it.

There are a certain number of places where V-Ś seems to say that all is illusory. On sūtra I.8 he remarks that inhibition of illusion must precede inhibition of all the other mental processes (which include right knowledge) since it is their root.

Vyāsa’s commentary to sūtra IV.31 runs:

Then from the infinity of knowledge, the knowable is slight, no more than a firefly in the sky. On which point this has been said:

A blind man pierced a gem; one without fingers strung it on a thread; one without a neck put it on; a dumb man praised it. (Taittirīya āranyaka I.11)

Vācaspati does not know what to do with this extraordinary saying about the blind man; he refers it back to the previous sūtra, and takes it to mean that after impurities have been destroyed, rebirth would be as impossible as for a blind man to pierce a gem, and so on.

But Vyāsa has introduced it with the words: ‘on which point it has been said’, so the saying must refer to the immediately preceding point, namely the littleness of the knowable. The Vivaraṇa keeps to this point: ‘The firefly in the sky is simply not a knowable at all. In the state of the highest knowledge (paramārthajñāna) all the objects of knowledge disappear. The saying about the blind man is quoted to show that the whole relation of knowledge and knowable is only in the state of illusion (viparyaya).’

There are many assonances between the Ś Gītā commentary and the V-Ś Vivaraṇa. In the former kaivalya is used for mokṣa, just as here mokṣa and nirvāṇa are used for the yoga term kaivalya. The Gītā bhāṣya is full of Yoga terms, which Bhāskara commenting on the Gītā seems to avoid. Madhusūdana was not wrong in including a commentary on most of the sūtra-s of the Samādhi-pāda in his own Gītā commentary, avowedly an expansion of Śaṅkara. But he does not seem to know of the Vivaraṇa, which is presumably a point against its authenticity.

One of Śaṅkara’s favourite words, samyagdarśana (here translated ‘right vision’), has a central position in the Vivaraṇa exposition of yoga. See typically sūtras II.1, II.9, II.4, II.18, II.20. It occurs only twice in Vyāsa.

Hacker, Nakamura and Mayeda think that the vocabulary and use of words are similar to those in authenticated Ś commentaries. A number of those who have worked on this text think it likely that Śaṅkara is the author; Halbfass and Wezler think it merely a possibility.

A possible counter-indication would be, that especially in the first Part, V-Ś introduces the opponent with ‘nanuca’ far more frequently than with ‘nanu’. It is something like 5 to 1, though the proportion drops in the later Parts. Nanuca is not common in works by Śaṅkara. However this may be merely a stylistic tic (or even a copyist’s tic), correctible when pointed out by others.

Another slight counter-indication would be the possibility that the Nyāsa on Kāśikā is quoted in the grammatical excursus.

A third point is the great number of striking ‘examples’. However Śaṅkara might have used these as substitutes for his normal reliance on śruti texts, which here are bunched together, though not lacking.

Under sūtra III.17, there is a possible obscure geographical reference. The Uddālaka-puṣpa-bhañjikā game is said to be played in eastern districts (Kāśikā: Monier-Williams).

Hacker pointed out in his original article that the fact that the colophons identify the author as Śaṅkara Bhagavat, and not as Saṅkarācārya, is a point in favour of authenticity.

Even more telling than the formal salutation to the creator-God with which the text opens, are passages like that under II.46, where the commentator almost unconsciously recommends salutation to parameśvara, Lord of all, and not to the limited īśvara of the orthodox yoga school, who is only a teacher and helper.


Another possible counter-indication of authenticity is the very great number of similitudes in this text. In a sense, they substitute for the very frequent citations of śruti and smṛti in Ś’s other commentaries. There are relatively few of these here, and mostly concentrated around I.25.

As we do not have any other authenticated commentary by Śaṅkara on the doctrine of another school, it is hard to draw a conclusion. But the list which follows certainly forms an unusual feature of the text.

Some of them are brilliant, and as far as I can find out, original. For instance,

(1)yogic omniscience is illustrated by the example of an expert goldsmith who can accurately estimate the weight of a piece of gold by merely looking at it. He needs no scales, as the yogin needs no senses, for his knowledge; nevertheless the scales are of use in demonstrating the weight to his customers.

(2)sense-impressions are compared to a seal (mudrā) and the impress that it leaves (pratimudrā). Inquiries have produced no example of this analogy in the Indian literature, though it appears in the Record of Linchi in China (ninth century), illustrating accurate transmission of realization.

(3)‘The fact of equality is the very thing that destroys it’ – illustrated by the existence of two kings of equal power.

(4)Animal sacrifice is akin to rape.

(5)The very denial of a thing pre-supposes it – this argument comes repeatedly; Potter’s Indian Metaphysics & Epistemology makes it original to Udayana (1050–1100), and dubs it Negative Ontology.

The list which follows, though lengthy, is not complete.

Sayings and similitudes

Part I

I.1when main opponent is defeated, the others collapse (Brahma sūtra bhāṣya I.4.28, II.1.12)
I.1when walking, there is a check at every step
I.4, I.7puruṣa as crystal (see also II.17)
I.4agency by mere presence: king in council, sun shining a pot, though inert, is still called a ‘cooker’
I.5water and milk
I.7sense impression like a seal (mudrā) and its impress (pratimudrā)
I.7mirage not projected by someone who has never seen water
I.7, I.25omniscience inherent in sattva (Gītā bhāṣya IV.5)
I.7sickle does not cut itself
I.7torch even on distant peak still visible
I.7vadhya-ghātaka: cat-and-mouse (Taittirīya vārttika II. 1.55)
I.7101 are the meanings of the genitive (cp. Kāśikā: many are meanings of genitive)
I.7crow’s eye looks both ways (Śaṅkara on Adhyātma paṭala 5)
I.7all pramāṇa-s can have ‘semblances’ (ābhāsa). (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad bhāṣya II.2.1; Naiṣkarmyasiddhi III.96)
I.10awareness of time lapse on awakening from deep sleep
I.10newborn child must have memory
I.11memory of memory
I.11mind as crystal (see also e.g. III.3)
I.11, I.25lamp in perforated jar (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad bhāṣya I.5.17; Bhāskara to Brahma sūtra I.1.1; Ātmabodha 51, Mānasollāsa III.6; Mahābhārata XII.194.15)
I.17, III.19telepathy need not taint the mind-reader (but see III.6 for
opposite view)
‘I-am’ (asmitā) is Ego (ahaṅkāra)
I.17thought of ‘stopping thought’ is still a thought till it disappears, as a flame still a flame till fuel consumed entirely
I.20kataka nut to clear water (Ātmabodha 5)
I.22Yoga practice like racing for a prize
I.24‘what Manu said is medicine’ (see also II.13, and Brahma sūtra bhāṣya II.1.1)
I.25the fact of equality is the very thing that destroys it, e.g. two kings
I.25sattva always overcomes rajas and tamas
I.25a thousand repetitions of ignorance dispelled by one knowledge
I.25knowledge of smoke is seed of knowledge of fire
I.25, I.26anthropic cosmological principle (Brahma sūtra bhāṣya III.2.41; II.2.2; Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad III.8.9)
arguments from design, from regularities, from precision of control, from integration of complexity
I.25everything inter-related, as actors by the plot of the drama
I.25only taints impede omniscience (Gītā bhāṣya IV.5)
I.25muncher of cake seen and heard at a distance
I.25, III.17instructions on dharma like medical prescriptions
I.25Lord manipulates beings like marionettes (Gītā XVIII.61 and bhāṣya)
4.25things perishable because they destroy each other like armed men
I.25astronomical movements like magnetic action
I.25all natural movements like human movements, i.e. intelligent (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad bhāṣya III.8.9)
I.25mention, even as denial, of thing pre-supposes its existence: ‘negative ontology’ (Potter: Indian Metaphysics and Epistemology
attributes this to Udayana in eleventh century. Frequent in this Vivaraṇa e.g. III.17)
I.25existence of a goatherd girl on a mountain cannot be denied because it is merely unevidenced
I.25words cannot drive off a fact standing there like an elephant
I.25no praise by describing what does not exist. ‘Vāyu is the swiftest god’ cannot mean that he is not
I.25body as a house (Gītā V.13 and bhāṣya)
I.25darkness is a thing (contrast Upadeśa Sāhasrī I.18.41)
I.25dazzlement by lightning
I.25snake immune to its own poison
I.25one strong man lifts a weight that would require several ordinary men
I.25skilled goldsmith can tell weight without scales
I.25a cuckoo is not projected illusorily on to mother-of-pearl as silver may be
I.32thought-stream like a line of red ants
I.32ends of a balance rise and fall correspondingly
I.32clay changes into jar, etc., like sorceress changing into many forms
I.32no mirror needed to see what is on the hand
I.35experience of divine sensations like first smoke in making fire by friction
I.36buddhi as shining expanse. The Vivaraṇa takes this as the missing sānanda and sāsmita meditations which Vyāsa does not explain as he does explain sa-vitarka and sa-vicāra (cp. Gītā bhāṣya II.65)
I.41everything must be known to someone at some time
I.41self seen in self as in a clear mirror (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva 204.8, quoted also in Gītā bhāṣya III.4)
I.41other Puruṣa-s inferred as reflected from a second mirror
I.43snake and coils
I.43crop-eared horse is not a new whole
I.49plain facts ride on the king’s highway
I.50one not thirsty does not need a drink

Part II

II.1worldly objects net the mind (cp. comm. to I.37, 38: ‘Worldly objects put a bridle on the mind’)
II.3dye has no function without cloth
II.4land supports grass and plants not separate from it
II.4karma-already-in-operation like a shot arrow in the air (cp. Gītā bhāṣya to XIII.23)
II.4Underground course of Sarasvatī river
II.4eye which has looked at an elephant does not cease to exist because it is now looking at a jar
II.4an enemy unborn or asleep is still to be feared; Indra cut up the embryo in Diti’s womb, knowing this would be his future enemy
II.4no bathing possible in a river intercepted
II.9illogical fear of death by Knower also
II.10unnecessary to grind what is already ground – piṣṭapeṣana (comm. on Kena Upaniṣad, Gītā II.21)
II.10no fire necessary for what is already burnt cp. II.22 duty done is no longer a duty
II.10many instances from Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata – cp. Upadeśa Sāhasrī I.18.100
II.12Nandīśvara and Nahuṣa (and II.22)
II.12fruiting depends on saṃskāra of seeds
II.13taints husked or scorched
II.13Yoga and Sāṅkhya different paths
II.13Vyāsa overruled by Manu, citing scripture
II.13saṃsāra without beginning
II.13only compatible karmas co-operate to produce a life
II.13karma like tent of wool
II.13antelope sire kills newborn male
II.13heaven and hell not mere subjective states of happiness or pain
II.13owl’s eye – light no help to it
II.13conflicting seeds in a field
II.13different kinds of death (Gītā VIII.6)
II.13no action possible in embryo state or in dream
II.13two antagonists fighting
II.13Manu: disease of nails destroyed by penance
II.15sweet mixed with poison (cp. II.23 imaginary contact with poison)
II.15fist blow from the beloved not resented, nor fouling by a newborn son
II.15eyeball and hard skin
II.15even yogic powers are pain
II.15darkness and light cannot be simultaneously in the same place
II.15pradhāna’s eternality not eternal (but I.45, II.19, etc.)
II.17axe needs an object in order to function
II.18Puruṣa compared to a crystal (also I.4, I.7)
II.18drummer always tends to play a drum, not to be one
II.18Mahat to clump of grass. Cp. II.28, Brahmā down to a post. Such pairings common in Śaṅkara, e.g. comm. to Gītā XIII.27, ‘Brahmā down to the immovable’
II.18where there is activity, some purpose always found (Brahma sūtra bhāṣya II.2.2)
II.18dyer’s work attributed to laundryman
II.19excess of space is a symptom in medicine
II.19from birds to serpents and plants, always a mouth
II.19snake and coils, clay and pot
II.20diamonds change internally
II.20statements about sun’s shining depend on presence or absence of objects
II.20glowing iron seems on fire
II.22many pradhāna-s (but later in II.22 and in III.53, only one)
II.22many Puruṣa-s, because of distinctions of body and senses (kārya-karaṇa)
II.23face and mirror; eye and mirror
II.23false suggestion of poison causing actual illness: Śaṅkaviṣādnimitta-maraṇāḍī-kāryopalabdeḥ (Brahma sūtra bhāṣya II. 1.14)
II.23when a thing has a purpose, that purpose is inevitably fulfilled
II.24vāsanā of Ignorance called Ignorance
II.24prārabdha karma:
palaces remain after builders go
broken branch does not at once lose leaves
shot arrow
II.26gold unrefined does not shine
II.27scorched seeds do not germinate (Mahābhārata XII.204.16a, cited in Brahma sūtra bhāṣya III.3.32)
II.27healed patient needs no more treatment
II.29six-limbed yoga (Maitrī Upaniṣad VI.18; Bhāskara on Gītā IV.18)
II.30Aśvatthāman: acting a lie
II.30impossibility of obtaining things does not count as renunciation of them
II.32Upaniṣads typical classics on release
II.34actions done under orders
II.35success in yoga directly perceptible in signs, unlike result of rituals, etc.
II.36Kuṇḍadhārārādhi becomes righteous when the gods say so
II.36Triśaṅku attains heaven when told by Viśvamitra
II.39awareness of conditions of birth (past, present or future) is a foreshadowing of samyagdarśana
II.50a ṛṣi could prolong breath for years

Part III

III.3mind in samādhi like a crystal
III.6telepathy a petty achievement causing confusion (but see under I.17,III.19,20)
III.6steps in yoga like a blind man finding his way up a staircase
III.13jar in an inner apartment still exists though hidden (IV.12)
III.13when he halts, Devadatta’s motion disappears but not the man
III.13a living Devadatta not inside his house must be outside
III.3Blind man gets himself a mirror
III.14dharma-s like coils of a rope
III.17letter-sounds like spokes of a wheel
III.17whirling of the saṃsāra wheel is beginningless
III.17denial of meaning-flash means its existence has been accepted: ‘negative ontology’, I.25
III.17one man alone cannot carry a tree-trunk
III.17digging a well
III.17image of Viṣṇu, digits in decimal places, mere conventions (cp. Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad bhāṣya I.3.1)
III.17Anything signified by a word must exist. Cp. negative ontology p. 116
III.17No one is old in only half the body (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad bhāṣya I.4.10)
III.17(running to) mirage causes discovery (of what the real ground is like): so with digits and written letters
III.17mistaking luminous cloud for moon
III.17‘frightener for children’: frightener for grown-ups
III.33ātman = īśvara
III.35distorting mirror
III.38mind as quivering struck bell, or scintillating charcoal bee-swarm
III.38prāṇa-s move body as doves move their dovecot from within
III.41space is visible within a transparent jewel
III.44atom has a structure
III.44black and white hair
III.52time illusory
III.52dream-time; meditation time
III.52time dependent on some operation (boiling the rice, etc.)
III.52jar on one potter’s wheel not in sequence with clay on another’s
III.53not a plurality of pradhāna-s

Part IV

1V.2from a 10–pala piece of iron an 80–pala spearhead cannot be fashioned
1V.7animal sacrifice akin to rape
1V.7animal sacrifice has dual causality, like eating (pleasure and sustenance) and bathing at sacred places (refreshment and blessing)
1V.7sacrifices do always achieve their aim
1V.7land traveller does not try to use a boat
1V.8karma-fruition like a boy running after someone like his mother
1V.8karma-fruition: near relatives touch us more closely than distant ones
1V.9karma-fruition: mouth waters at seeing tamarind
1V.10mind naturally omniscient (Śaṅkara Gītā bhāṣya IV.4)
1V.11Ignorance like young driver making the chariot wheels whirl when lashings of the wheels give way, chariot collapses
1V.11when the parasol goes, no shadow left
1V.12making the curds manifest by churning
1V.13jar in the future like a jar hidden in an inner apartment (compare III.13)
1V.14light from opposites: oil, wick, and fire
1V.14examples of objects of knowledge: good arguments and bad arguments
1V.15body of the son appears differently to different outlooks: beloved, hateful, delusive, food for carnivores, corpse at funeral
1V.15object in past and future: bare existence of a boy not his adulthood
1V.18inner light and outer light (cp. I.7, I.25; Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad bhāṣya IV.3.4)
1V.19part of the mind can know another part, like hand scratching the body
1V.22glowing iron has form of fire
1V.23Indra-jala – Indra’s net of illusion – catches Vaiśeṣika
1V.23Vaināśika Buddhists merely pathetically deluded
1V.23Materialists and Śunyavādin Buddhists are active deceivers
1V.23in samādhi the object is reflected as in a spotless mirror


Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!