Namaskaar. In this Part 31 we conclude Section 2 of Chapter 3 and move on to Section 3. Now we are getting towards the end of the Upanishad. The commentator continues with a brilliant explanation of the subtle topic.
The mantra 2.2.15 that is being studied now is about the self-luminous nature of brahman which illumines the entire creation while not requiring anything else to illumine It. By listing the luminous bodies in the world namely the sun, the moon, the stars, the lightning and the fire as not being in a position to illumine brahman, the upaniShad is conveying to us the idea that these bodies, being created, are themselves dependent on the Ultimate Luminous Body, brahman, for their very luminosity. Not just that, by saying this, the upaniShad is informing us that the entire creation is illumined by brahman. This shows that the universe has to depend on something other than itself for being known.
If the universe, the objective world, were to be self-luminous, there would not be a need for an illumining source to know the world; it would announce its presence by itself. That such a thing is not seen to happen confirms that the created universe is dependent on brahman for its very existence. Such a phenomenon is seen only in the case of the rope-snake. The superimposed snake has no reality/existence of its own; it has to ‘exist’ on the borrowed reality of the underlying rope.
This logic underlies the unreality of the world as well. In the case of water, a fire-brand, etc. the heat/light etc. occur due to contact with fire and hence we say ‘the water is hot’, ‘the fire-brand is aglow’, etc. and not in the absence of such contact with fire. In the same way the luminous bodies like the Sun shine and also the other objects in creation become known only by the contact of the One all-pervading Consciousness.
brahman shines and also especially shines owing to the above method. By observing the effect of brahman’s shine in the world we understand the self-luminous nature of brahman. In other words, by the fact of ‘knowing’ everything in the world, we conclude, on the authority of the upaniShad, that brahman is luminous. If brahman were not luminous by Itself, it would be impossible for it to illumine any other thing. In any case, the luminosity of brahman is not to be understood as physical light.
We can understand this phenomenon better by considering this example: The objects like a pot are not known to illumine any other object. On the other hand, the Sun, etc. are known to illumine other objects. It is only because the Sun, etc. are luminous is it possible to have the other objects illumined by the sunlight. In the same way, it is only because brahman is luminous by Itself that the other objects are illumined and hence known/knowable.
With the above mantra the second section of the second chapter of the KaThopaniShad is concluded. Continue reading