Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/254

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The esteem in which the Kārikā was held is indicated by the fact that its parts are reckoned as four Upanishads. There is much probability in the assumption that its author is identical with Gauḍapāda, the teacher of Govinda, whose pupil was the great Vedāntist commentator, Çankara (800 A.D.). The point of view of the latter is the same essentially as that of the author of the Kārikā, and many of the thoughts and figures which begin to appear in the earlier work are in common use in Çankara's commentaries. Çankara may, in fact, be said to have reduced the doctrines of Gauḍapāda to a system, as did Plato those of Parmenides. Indeed, the two leading ideas which pervade the Indian poem, viz., that there is no duality (advaita) and no becoming (ajāti), are, as Professor Deussen points out, identical with those of the Greek philosopher.

The first part of the Kārikā is practically a metrical paraphrase of the Māṇḍūkya Upanishad. Peculiar to it is the statement that the world is not an illusion or a development in any sense, but the very nature or essence (svabhāva) of Brahma, just as the rays, which are all the same (i.e. light), are not different from the sun. The remainder of the poem is independent of the Upanishad and goes far beyond its doctrines. The second part has the special title of Vaitathya or the "Falseness" of the doctrine of reality. Just as a rope is in the dark mistaken for a snake, so the Ātman in the darkness of ignorance is mistaken for the world. Every attempt to imagine the Ātman under empirical forms is futile, for every one's idea of it is dependent on his experience of the world.

The third part is entitled Advaita, "Non-duality." The identity of the Supreme Soul (Ātman) with the