Learning Sanskrit by fresh approach – Lesson No. 68

Learning Sanskrit by fresh approach – Lesson No. 68

संस्कृतभाषायाः नूतनाध्ययनस्य अष्ट-षष्टितमः (६८) पाठः ।

Now in this lesson एकादशः मन्त्रः of ईशावास्योपनिषत्  –

विद्याञ्चाविद्याञ्च  यस्तद्वेदोभयं सह |

अविद्यया मृत्युं तीर्त्वा विद्ययामृतमश्नुते  || ११ ||

१ सन्धि-विच्छेदान् कृत्वा समासानां पदानि च दर्शयित्वा  |

विद्याम् च अविद्याम् च यः तत् वेद उभयं सह |

अविद्यया मृत्युम् तीर्त्वा विद्यया अमृतम् अश्नुते || ११ ||

२ समासानां विग्रहाः शब्दानां व्युत्पत्तयः विश्लेषणानि च |


२.१ विद्याम् “विद्” २ प. (= to know, to learn, to understand) इति धातुः | तस्मात् विध्यर्थि विशेषणम् “विद्य” (= what should be learnt, what should be known) | स्त्रीलिङ्गि “विद्या” | तस्य द्वितीया विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च |

२.२ च (= and) अव्ययम् |

२.३ अविद्याम् |

  • २.३.१ न विद्या = अविद्या | नञ्-तत्पुरुषः |
  • २.३.२ न (= not) अव्ययम् |
  • २.३.३ विद्या “विद्” २ प. (= to know, to learn, to understand) इति धातुः | तस्मात् विध्यर्थि विशेषणम् “विद्य” (= what should be learnt, what should be known) | स्त्रीलिङ्गि “विद्या” |
  • २.३.४ अविद्याम् “अविद्या” (= what should not be learnt) इति सामासिकं स्त्रीलिङ्गि नाम | तस्य द्वितीया विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च |

२.४ यः “यत्” (= He who) ) इति संबन्धसूचकं सर्वनाम | अत्र पुल्लिङ्गि | तस्य प्रथमा विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च |

२.५ वेद “विद्” २ प. (= to know, to learn, to understand) इति धातुः | तस्य वर्तमाने प्रथमपुरुषे एकवचनम् |

२.६ उभयम् “उभय” (= both) इति सर्वनाम | अत्र नपुंसकलिङ्गि | तस्य द्वितीया विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च |

२.७ सह (= with, together) अव्ययम् |

२.८ मृत्युम् “मृ” ६ आ. (= to die) इति धातुः | तस्मात् क्रियावाचकं पुल्लिङ्गि नाम “मृत्यु” |  तस्य द्वितीया विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ||

२.९ तीर्त्वा “tRU ” १ प. (= to cross over) इति धातुः | तस्मात् त्वान्तं अव्ययम् |

२.१० अमृतम् |

  • २.१०.१ न मृतम् येन तत् = अमृतम् | नञ्-बहुव्रीहिः |
  • २.१०.२ न (= not) अव्ययम् |
  • २.१०.३ मृतम् “मृ” ६ आ. (= to die) इति धातुः | तस्मात् भूतकालवाचकं विशेषणम् “मृत” (= deceased, dead) | अत्र नपुंसकलिङ्गि | प्रायः नाम अपि मृतम् = मरणम् (= death) | तस्य प्रथमा विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च |
  • २.१०.४ अमृतम् “अमृत” (= nectar, immortality) इति नपुंसकलिङ्गि नाम । तस्य द्वितीया विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।

२.११ अश्नुते “अश्” ५ आ. (= to get) इति धातुः | तस्य लट्-वर्तमाने प्रथमपुरुषे एकवचनम् |

३ अन्वयाः अनुवादाः च |


३.१ यः विद्याम् च अविद्यां च उभयम् सह तत् वेद । = He, who understands “That” alongwith understanding of what is knowledge and what is not knowledge

३.२ अविद्यया मृत्युम् तीर्त्वा = by understanding what is not knowledge one would transcend death

३.३ विद्यया अमृतं अश्नुते | = by understanding what is knowledge one gets immortality

४ टिप्पणयः |


४.१ As mentioned in the notes in previous lesson श्रीमान् आदिशन्कराचार्यः and आचार्य विनोबा भावे have given different connotations of the words “विद्या” and “अविद्या”

४.२ In this मन्त्र the thought is carried forward to derive the conclusion that understanding both “विद्या” and “अविद्या” should finally lead to understanding “That”, i.e. “ईशतत्त्व” or “परमात्मतत्त्व”.

४.३ The statements (३.२) and (३.३) are again somewhat challenging to grasp their full import. Possibly the famous मन्त्र “मृत्योर्मामृतम् गमय” also connotes the same conclusion as is presented by these two statements (३.२) and (३.३)

४.४ विनोबाजी ’s definition of “अविद्या” as the state devoid of sensibility appeals to be a good definition to understand how knowledge of this state would lead one to transcend death. A state devoid of sensibility is akin to death. Achieving that state at a conscious level is transcending death !

४.५ The concept of death can as well be understood to be idiomatic. One can transcend death conceptually. There is an interesting episode in महाभारतम्. After the epic battle, there was the ceremony for enthroning युधिष्ठिर as the king. Many Brahmins had come from all over the kingdom and also from all friendly kingdoms. Among those Brahmins was also a demon चार्वाक disguised as a Brahmin. Just when the ceremonial rituals were about to commence, चार्वाक challenged युधिष्ठिर that he was not eligible to be the king. युधिष्ठिर also never wanted to be a king with any strain of non-approval in anyone’s mind. He listened patiently to चार्वाक’s arguments. चार्वाक argued, “Eh yudhiShThira, You have been a party in a war where hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, hundreds of thousands of mothers lost their sons, hundreds of thousands of wives lost their husbands, hundreds of thousands of sisters lost their brothers, hundreds of thousands of innocent children lost their fathers. You are a killer, a gruesome murderer. Only atonement for a murderer is to penalise oneself to death.”

युधिष्ठिर very calmly replied, “Oh Brahmin, do you not know that I have been a famous king, who ruled from my capital in इन्द्रप्रस्थ ? I have been such a king, of whom there is no equal. I have been a king who had no equal in the entire history of human race. I am a king, who shall have no equal anytime in the future. I say this with great pride. Pride is suicidal. So, by indulging in self-praise I have committed suicide. Secondly, oh Brahmin, by your argument, you have inflicted insult on  a king. Insult is virtual death for a king. So, I have already atoned myself by dying twice.”

Pride and insult were both “अविद्या”. युधिष्ठिर was knowledgeable of this “अविद्या” and transcended death by that knowledge !

४.६ श्रीमान् आदिशङ्कराचार्य explains “अविद्या” saying “अविद्या” is following prescribed practices, without questioning “why” of those prescriptions. By logic of the converse, “विद्या” means pursuing the field of knowledge with the spirit of enquiry, inquiring also about the ईशतत्त्व ! And if this pursuit leads to “realisation” of that “ईशतत्त्व”, that then would be the pinnacle of “विद्या”, immortality! “विद्यया अमृतं अश्नुते” !

४.७ There is another episode again in महाभारतम्, which in a way exemplifies this. After running the affairs of the state honourably for hundreds of years, पाण्डव-s alongwith द्रौपदी decided to retire to the heavens. But in the final climb, युधिष्ठिर was left alone. However one dog kept him company all along. Finally युधिष्ठिर and the dog arrived at the gates of the heaven. इन्द्र had known that युधिष्ठिर was on his way and sent his charioteer माताली to receive युधिष्ठिर ! “Welcome, Sir !” said माताली.  युधिष्ठिर beckoned the dog also to join. At that, माताली said, “Sorry, Sir ! But dogs are not allowed admission here.” युधिष्ठिर replied, “I have not known of any code of justice where you forsake a friend who has given you company all along in a long journey. If you do not admit this dog, then I also would not seek entry into such unjust heaven !” माताली was perplexed because it was beyond his diktat to make an exception.

Suddenly, Lord यम made his appearance from nowhere. He said to माताली, “Admit him !” माताली started to say something like “But, Sir …..!”  He was looking around for the dog. But there was no dog !

Lord यम said, “I was that dog. I accompanied युधिष्ठिर  all along. I did so, to test युधिष्ठिर’s sense of justice !”

Turning to युधिष्ठिर, यम said, “Welcome my son ! You have passed the test !”

Sense of justice is “विद्या” By the knowledge of “विद्या” युधिष्ठिर  got uninhibited admission into the heavens ! विद्ययामृतमश्नुते !

४.८ Among spiritually accomplished souls, there are said to be those who more pursue the spiritual path with the spirit of inquiry, विद्याभ्यसनम्. There are also those, who pursue the path of following prescribed practices हरि -पाद-सेवनम्

४.९ If I may say so, from my understanding, Chapters 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 17 and 18  in गीता  are more of विद्याभ्यसनम् category. Chapters 3, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16 are of हरि-पाद-सेवनम् category.

४.१० These three मन्त्राः of ईशावास्योपनिषत्  advise that one should understand both “विद्या” and “अविद्या”. In turn the advice is that one should study all chapters of गीता !

४.११ Reference in (४.३) above, to the other famous mantra “मृत्योर्मामृतम् गमय” brings to mind that all the three lines of that मन्त्र together summarise the import of these three मन्त्राः 8th, 9th and 10th in ईशावास्योपनिषत्  It should be appropriate to study that other mantra also wholesomely in the next lesson and explore the correlation !

शुभमस्तु |


7 thoughts on “Learning Sanskrit by fresh approach – Lesson No. 68

    • नमस्ते !
      Thanks for your observation !
      I have edited the post. Now it reads –

      विद्याञ्चाविद्याञ्च यस्तद्वेदोभयं सह |

      अविद्यया मृत्युं तीर्त्वा विद्ययामृतमश्नुते || ११ ||

      १ सन्धि-विच्छेदान् कृत्वा समासानां पदानि च दर्शयित्वा |

      विद्याम् च अविद्याम् च यः तत् वेद उभयं सह |

      अविद्यया मृत्युम् तीर्त्वा विद्यया अमृतम् अश्नुते || ११ ||
      At विद्ययामृतमश्नुते I have retained it without change, since the अवग्रहः ऽ, suggested by you, is neither necessary nor compulsory, provided that the letters विद्य”यामृत”मश्नुते are written together, without break between या and मृत.

      • Dear Sir,

        It’s definitely up to you (your blog=your rules of hhighest standard). But if you don’t mind, there are some general considerations.
        1. अनुनासिक–सन्धिः instead अनुस्वार–सन्धिः makes text even more unreadable. And to be constant, you’d write, say, अभ्यङ्कर॰ instead of अभ्यंकर॰🙂
        2. In “Vachaspatyam” this same quote looks like विद्यया मृतमश्नुते, because there is a line break between विद्यया and मृतम॰ vithout hyphen. If I don’t know the source and context of quote, I’d translate “By vidya death is obtained”. So, I think, that’s not such an innocent thing as it seems to be. In some cases the price is too high. If we may mark लोपः by ऽ, we better do that.
        But, I repeat, it’s surely up to you.

        I’m afraid, my name in cyrillic letters isn’t display well, so let me introduce myself –
        Radim Navyan,
        at your service.

    • नमस्ते श्रीमन् रादिम्-नव्यान्-महोदय !

      साधु निर्दिष्टम् भवता यत् “वेद = वेत्ति” अत्र वर्तमानकालः एव |
      In another comment, about विद्यया मृतमश्नुते, you have noted, “I’d translate “By vidya death is obtained” Yes, if one separates विद्यया and मृतमश्नुते, then it would mean as per your translation. But I have with me a commentary on this ईशावास्योपनिषत् by आचार्य विनोबाजी भावे. When commenting on this मन्त्र, he cites from श्वेताश्वतरोपनिषत्, “क्षरं त्वविद्या ह्यमृतं तु विद्या” (५-१)

      So, I think विद्ययामृतमश्नुते ought to be read as such without any break. Hence it ought to be विद्ययामृतमश्नुते

      • And yet, Sir, I’d like to express you my gratitude for your detailed texts, for your site. Several years ago you inspired me to return with fresh wave in sanskrit studying, sanskrit reading and even sanskrit writing.

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