Mandukya Karika, verse 3.3
आत्मा ह्याकाशवज्जीवैर्घटाकाशैरिवोदितः ।
घटादिवच्च संघातैर्जातावेतन्निदर्शनम् ॥ ३ ॥
ātmā hyākāśavajjīvairghaṭākāśairivoditaḥ |
ghaṭādivacca saṃghātairjātāvetannidarśanam || 3 ||
3. Ātman may be said to be similar to Ākāśa (ether) manifested in the forms of the Jīvas (embodied selves) which may be compared to the ether enclosed in pots. Again, as pots, etc., are said to be produced from the Ākāśa (ether), similarly (gross) bodies are said to be evolved from the Ātman. This is the illustration of the manifestation (from Brahman, if any).
Shankara Bhashya (commentary)
It has been said in the previous text, “I shall now describe Brahman, birthless and free from all narrowness.” Now I shall give an illustration and a reason to substantiate the proposition. As the Supreme Ātman is like the Ākāśa, subtle, without parts and all-pervasive, it is compared to the Ākāśa. The Supreme Self again, who is likened to the Ākāśa, is said to be manifested as the embodied beings (Jīvas) or Kṣetrajñas (Knowers of bodies), and are likened to the Ghaṭākāśas or the Ākāśa enclosed in jars. This is the Supreme Self which is like the Ākāśa. Or the sentence may be explained thus:—As the totality of the Ākāśa enclosed within the pots is said to constitute what is known as the Mahākāśa or the great expanse of ether, similarly the totality of the embodied beings (Jīvas) constitutes the Supreme Being. The creation or manifestation of the Jīvas (embodied beings) from the Supreme Self, as stated in the Vedānta, is like the creation or manifestation of the Ghaṭākāśa (i.e., the ether enclosed in a jar) from the Mahākāśa (or the great and undifferentiated ether). That is to say, creation or manifestation is not1 real. As2 from that Ākāśa are produced such physical objects as the pot, etc., similarly from the Supreme Self which is like the Ākāśa, are produced the entire aggregate of material entities, such as the earth, etc., as well as the individual bodies, all3 characterised by causality, the entire4 production being nothing but mere imagination like that of the snake in the rope. Therefore it is said, “The aggregates (of the gross bodies) are produced like the pot, etc.” When5 the Śruti, with a view to the enlightenment of the ignorant, speaks of the creation or manifestation (of the Jīvas) from the Ātman, then such manifestation, being admitted as a fact, is explained with the help of the illustration of the creation of the pot, etc., from the Ākāśa.