Open main menu

Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 1.djvu/431

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


and have not arrived at a knowledge of the true Self, go to the worlds of the Asuras, which are covered with blind darkness. If then the same blind darkness is said in verse 9 to be the lot of those who worship not-knowledge, this can only mean those who have not discovered the true Self, but are satisfied with the performance of good works. And if those who perform good works are opposed to others who delight in true knowledge, that knowledge can be the knowledge of the true Self only.

The difficulty therefore which has perplexed Sankara is this, how, while the orthodox believer is said to enter into blind darkness, the true disciple, who has acquired a knowledge of the true Self, could be said to enter into still greater darkness. While Sankara in this case seems hardly to have caught the drift of the Upanishad, Uvata and Mahîdhara propose an explanation which is far more satisfactory. They perceive that the chief stress must be laid on the words ubhayam saha, "both together" in verses 11 and 14. The doctrine of certain Vedânta philosophers was that works, though they cannot by themselves lead to salvation, are useful as a preparation for the highest knowledge, and that those who imagine that they can attain the highest knowledge without such previous preparation, are utterly mistaken. From this point of view therefore the author of the Upanishad might well say that those who give themselves to what is not knowledge, i.e. to sacrificial and other good works, enter into darkness, but that those who delight altogether in knowledge, despising the previous discipline of works, deceive themselves and enter into still greater darkness.

Then follows the next verse, simply stating that, according to the teaching of wise people, the reward of knowledge is one thing, the reward of ignorance, i.e. trust in sacrifice, another. Here Mahîdhara is right again by assigning the pitriloka, the world of the fathers, as the reward of the ignorant; the devaloka, the world of the gods, as the reward of the enlightened, provided that from the world of the gods they pass on to the knowledge of the Highest Self or Brahman.

The third verse contains the strongest confirmation of Mahîdhara's view. Here it is laid down distinctly that he only who knows both together, both what is called ignorance and what is called knowledge, can be saved, because by good works he overcomes death, here explained by natural works, and by knowledge he obtains the Immortal, here explained by oneness with the gods, the last step that leads on to oneness with Brahman.

Uvata, who takes the same view of these verses, explains at once,