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Gaudapada Karikas

From: Vijay Srinivasan (
Date: Fri Sep 20 1996 - 08:59:18 PDT

Dear Prapatti Group Members:

Here is some info. on the above subject that one of my Madhva Sampradaya friend 
was kind enough to pass on.  Since I am not very familiar with the subject, I 
am unable to evaluate its usefulness.  However, I thought this might answer 
some of Mr. Vidya Sankar's questions on Gaudapada Karikas.


This Upanishad is in four sections.  In each, there is a portion in prose, 
followed by verses which explain and support the points made in prose earlier.  
Some verses which are considered part and parcel of
the Upanishad by Sri Madhva, are considered as part of the Gaudapada-karika, in 
the Advaita tradition.  B N K Sharma has discussed the controversy whether they 
form part of the Upanishad in detail in several papers, and has conclusively 
proved that they are indeed a part. The main points to be noted in this context 
are :

1. Sri Ramanuja also quotes some of these verses as Shruti and  interprets them.

2. A number of Advaita commentators such as Anandagiri, Brahmananda,  and 
Appayya Dixita, etc., also quote these texts as Shruti.

3. Sri Shankara himself quotes these as Shruti elsewhere.

It is clear that these form part of the Upanishad text.  Gaudapada must have 
considered these as his source texts and put them together as `Agama-prakaraNa' 
at the commencement of his Karika.  The very
description of these as Agama-prakaraNa also shows that these were not his 
compositions, but were verses revealed to Chaturmukha Brahma (Brahma d.rshhTa). 
It is noteworthy, that some of these appear to be supportive of Advaita, and 
the Dvaita tradition would not have taken the trouble to elevate them to the i
mpregnable status of the Shruti and interpret them in a different manner, 
unless they were indeed a
part of the Upanishad.

Meaning of Omkaara

This Upanishad makes the opening statement that "Om" means Akshara. Three 
important points are mentioned about OM or Akshara.  It is `guNapUrNa' (full of 
auspicious attributes), `trikAlAtIta' (beyond
the three modes of time) and `Atma' or `sarvaniyAmaka' (controller of all 
else). The expressions `sarva' and `brahma' convey `guNapUrnatva', and the term 
`akshara' conveys `trikAlAtItatva'. `AtmA' conveys
`sarvaniyAmakatva'. The implication of `trikAlAtItatva' is that it does not 
undergo any modification or change at any time (`shAshvadekaprakAra').  
`shrItatva' or Lakshmi also has the same characteristic by the grace of God.

Vijayaraghavan Srinivasan