CHANDOGYA UPANISAD | 6.2.1 | SRI ADI SANKARACARYA
sad eva , saumya , idam agra AsId ekam evAdvitIyam , taddhaika AhuH , asad evedam agra AsId ekam evAdvitIyam , tasmAd asataH sat jAyata || 6.2.1 ||
1 . In the beginning , my dear , this was Being only , — one , without a second . Some say that , in the beginning , this was Non-Being , only one , without a second . From that Non-Being sprang Being .
|| BHASYA || : Being only — the term " Being " stands for that entity which is mere esse , — subtile , undefinable , all pervading , one , taintless , impartite , consciousness , as understood from the Vedanta — texts . The particle " eva " " only " , serves to emphasise the statement .
QUESTION : " What is to be understood from this ? "
ANSWER : What is understood is that " this universe which with its names , forms and activities , is perceived as a modified product , — was Being only " ; such is the connection of the word " was " .
QUESTION : " When was this Being only ? "
ANSWER: In the beginning , — ie , prior to the birth of the universe .
QUESTION : " Is not this Being there now , at the present time , — that it has been qualified — as Being so in the beginning ? "
ANSWER : Not so . — " Then why the qualification ( in the beginning ) ? " — What is meant is that even now at the present moment , it is Being , but it is accompanied by differentiation of Name and Form , — the object of the idea of the term " this " , and as such it becomes this . Before birth — in the beginning , — however , it was answerable only to the idea and term " Being " ; hence it is emphasized that " in the beginning this was Being only " .
Before its birth , no object can be apprehended as being such and such in name , or having such and such a form ; it is exactly as during the time of deep sleep . What is meant is that immediately on waking from deep sleep , all that one is conscious of is mere existence ( of things ) , while during deep sleep , one is conscious of Being alone as the only entity ; and so also in the beginning — before the birth of the universe .
It is just as all this is spoken of in the ordinary world . In the morning , one sees the potter spreading out clay for making the jar and other things , — and then having gone away to another village , and returning in the afternoon , sees in the same place , many products in the shape of jars , saucers and other articles , all of diverse kinds . — One says that " all this , jar , saucer and the rest , was , in the morning , clay only " — so it is said here that " in the beginning this was Being only . "
One ; — What is meant of the assertion that it was one only , is that even in the form of its product , it does not become something else . — Without a second ; — what is denied by this negation is the likely idea that — " Just as in the making of the jar and other things , it was that , apart from the clay , there were other efficient causes , — in the form of the Potter and others , — so in the case of the Products of Being also , there would be other accessory causes , apart from the Being . " — There is no entity , second to it , hence it is without a second .
OBJECTION : " In the philosophy of the Vaisesika also all things are coordinated with Being , ( existence ) — the term " being " " exists " being found to be applied to substances , qualities and other things , in such expressions as " the existing Substance " , " the existing Quality " , " the existing Action " , and so forth " .
ANSWER : True ; it would be so . But before the birth of the product , it did not exist , — say the Vaisesikas ; as their doctrine is that " before its production , the product is non-existent " , — nor do they accept the view that before production there was a single entity , " one without a second . " — From all this it is clear that what is spoken of in the text , through the example of Clay and other things , is a cause , in the shape of " Being " , entirely different from the " Existence " posited by the Vaisesika .
In regard to this subject of determining the exact nature of the entity before its birth , the Vaisesikas have asserted , when determining the nature of things , that " Before its birth , this universe was non-being , " — ie , mere negation of Being , — one , without a second . In fact , the Bauddhas hold the view that before birth , the negation of Being is the only reality ; and this " Non-Being " is not regarded by them as some other entity which is contrary to " Being " ; — as has been assumed by the Naiyayikas according to whom , " Being " is an entity which is apprehended as it exists , and that which is apprehended as contrary to this is " Non-Being " , — both being equally real entities ( one positive and the other negative ) .
OBJECTION : " The Vaisesikas also hold the view that before its birth , this universe was mere negation of Being . — As to the question " How did this exist before its birth ? " — The answer provided by them is that " it was Non-Being , one , without a second " , where the thing spoken of is clearly related to a particular point of time ( " before birth " ) ; and they also declare its being without a second , ( and all this makes clear that this thing must be a positive entity ) . "
ANSWER : True ; but such an opinion is right for those who posit merely a negation of things ( and do not admit of any positive entity ) . In fact , the opinion that there is " non existence only " is not right ; as , if that were so , then the person holding this opinion would oneself have to " be denied ; — it might be argued that " the holder of the opinion is admitted to be an entity at the present time , not before one's birth . " — But that cannot be ; there is no evidence to show that prior to birth there was negation of Being ; so , that there is no reason for the assumption that " Before birth , it was only non-Being " .
OBJECTION : " What is denoted by the word is the Form ( commonality ) of things , how can there be any meaning of words or of the sentence , in the case of the assertion " non-Being , one , without a second " ( as none of these words is denotative of a commonality ) , and when no such meaning is possible , the assertion would become meaningless and ( hence ) wrong , invalid . "
ANSWER : This does not vitiate our position ; because what the sentence asserts is the cessation ( negation ) of the apprehension of " Being " . The term " Being " is denotative of a positive generic entity ; and the other two terms " one " and " without a second " are co-ordinated with ( qualify ) the term " Being " ; so also the term " this" and " was " ( in the sentence " this was non-Being " ) . In this sentence expressing , the Being ( positive entity ) , the negative " non " has been introduced ; and being thus introduced , it serves , on the basis of the positive sentence itself , etc preclude , from the positive connotation of the sentence , the idea relating to that positive connotation , — in the form " Being " , " one , without a second " ; just in the same way as the man on the horse , while resting on the horse itself , turns its face away from the thing standing before it .
The sentence thus does not connote mere negation of Being . — Hence , we conclude that the sentence , " this was non-Being only etc , etc " , has been used only for the purpose of denying a possible wrong notion that might be entertained by people . It is only after the wrong notion has been expressed that it can be denied ( in the next text ) ; in this way the sentence " this was non-Being " serves a distinctly useful purpose ; and hence it , becomes established that it is a Vedic assertion and fully authoritative ; and there is no force in the objection that has been urged against it . From this Non-Being , — the negative of all things , — sprang Being " . — The form " jayata " ( without the initial " a " ) is a Vedic anomaly .
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