Mandukya Karika, verse 3.5


यथैकस्मिन्घाटाकाशे रजोधूमादिभिर्युते ।
न सर्वे संप्रयुज्यन्ते तद्वज्जीवाः सुखादिभिः ॥ ५ ॥

yathaikasmiṅghāṭākāśe rajodhūmādibhiryute |
na sarve saṃprayujyante tadvajjīvāḥ sukhādibhiḥ || 5 ||

5. As any portion of Ākāśa enclosed in a pot being soiled by dust, smoke, etc., all such other portions of Ākāśa enclosed in other pots are not soiled, so is the happiness, etc., of the Jīvas, i.e., the happiness, misery, etc., of one Jīva do not affect other Jīvas.

Shankara Bhashya (commentary)

The dualists contend that if one Ātman exists in all bodies then the birth, death, happiness, etc., of one Ātman (as Jīva) must affect all and, further, there1 must follow a confusion regarding the results of the action (done by individuals). This contention is,thus refuted:—As2 the Ākāśa enclosed within one jar being soiled by dust, smoke, etc., does not make the Ākāśa enclosed in other jars soiled with the dust and the1 smoke, so all created beings are not affected by the happiness, etc. (of one Jīva). (Objection)3—Is it not your contention that there is only one Ātman? (Reply)—Yes, we admit it. Have you not heard that there is only one Ātman like the all-pervading space, in all bodies? (Objection)—If4 there be only one Ātman then it must always and everywhere feel misery and happiness. (Reply)—This objection cannot be raised by the Sāṃkhyas. For,5 the Sāṃkhyas do not admit that misery, happiness, etc., ever cling to the Ātman; for they assert that happiness, misery, etc., belong inseparably to Buddhi.6 Further, there is no evidence for imagining multiplicity of Ātman which is of the very nature of knowledge. (Objection)—In the absence of the multiplicity of Ātman the theory that the Pradhāna or Prakṛti acts for the sake of others7 does not hold good. (Reply)—No, this argument is not valid; for whatever the Pradhāna or Prakṛti may be supposed to accomplish by itself for another cannot inseparably inhere in Ātman. If bondage8 and liberation accomplished by the Pradhāna inseparably inhered in the multiple Puruṣas, then the theory that the Pradhāna (Prakṛti) always acts for the sake of others would not be consistent with the unity of Ātman existing everywhere. And the theory of the Sāṃkhyas regarding the multiplicity of Ātman would be reasonable. But the Sāṃkhyas do not admit that the purpose of bondage or liberation can ever be inseparably associated with the Puruṣa. For, they admit that the Puruṣas are attributeless and are centres of Pure Consciousness. Therefore,9 the very existence of the Puruṣa is their support for the theory that the action of Pradhāna is directed to serve the purpose of others (the Puruṣas). But the supposition of the multiplicity of Puruṣas need not be made for this purpose. Therefore the theory of the Pradhāna seeking to serve the purpose of others cannot be an argument for the supposition of the multiplicity of Ātman. The Sāṃkhyas have no other argument in support of their supposition regarding the multiplicity of Ātman. The Pradhāna takes upon itself bondage and liberation only through the instrumentality10 of the existence of the other (the Puruṣa). The Puruṣa which is of the very nature of knowledge, is the cause of the activity of the Pradhāna by the fact of its very existence and not on account of its any specific11 qualities. So it is through ignorance alone that people imagine the Puruṣa (Ātman) to be many and also thereby give up the real12 import of the Vedas. The Vaiśeṣikas 13 and others assert that attributes such as desire, etc., are inseparably related to Ātman. This14 view is also not correct. For, the Samskāras (the impressions) which are the cause of memory cannot have any inseparable relation with Ātman which has no15 parts. Further, if16 it be contended that the origin of memory lies in the contact of Ātman with the mind, we say that this contention is not valid; for, in that case there will be no principle regarding memory. Memory of all things will come simultaneously. Besides17 mind can never be related to the Ātman which is devoid of all sensations such as touch, etc., and which belongs to a class other than that of the mind. Further the Vaiśeṣikas do not admit that the attributes (Guṇa) such as forms, etc. (Rūpas), action (Karma), generality (Sāmānya), particularity (Viśeṣa) and inherence (Samavāya), can exist independently of the substance (Dravya). If these are totally independent of one another, the contact between the Ātman and desire, etc., and also between the attributes (Guṇa) and the substance (Dravya) will be an absurdity. (Objection)—The contact characterised by an inseparable inherence is possible in the case of entities where such relation is proved to be innate. (Reply)—This18 objection is not valid; for such innate relationship cannot be reasonable, as the Ātman, the ever permanent, is antecedent to the desires, etc., which are transitory. And if desires, etc., be admitted to have inseparable innate relationship with Ātman, then19 the former would be as permanent as such innate attributes of Ātman as greatness, etc. That is not desirable, for then there would be no room for liberation of the Ātman. Further, if inseparable relationship (Samavāya) were something separate from the substance, then another factor must be stated which can bring about the relationship between Samavāya and the substance,—as in the case of the substance and the attributes. Nor can it be stated that Samavāya is a constant inseparable relationship with Ātman; for, in that case, the Ātman and Samavāya on account of their constant and inseparable relationship can never be different from one another. If, on the other hand, the relationship of Samavāya be totally different from the Ātman, and the attributes also be different from the substance, then the possessive case cannot be used to indicate their mutual relation which is possible only when the two terms connected by the possessive are not totally different. If Ātman be inseparably connected with such categories as desires, etc., which have both “beginning” and “end,” then it would itself be impermanent. If Ātman be considered to have parts and undergo changes, like the body, etc., then, these two defects always associated with the body, etc., would be inevitable in the case of the Ātman. (Therefore the conclusion is that) as the Ākāśa (ether), on account of the superimposition of ignorance (Avidyā), is regarded as soiled by dust and smoke, in like manner, the Ātman also, on account of the limiting condition of the mind caused by the erroneous attribution of Avidyā, appears to be associated with the contamination of misery, happiness, etc. And such being the case, the idea of bondage and liberation, being empirical in nature, does not contradict (the permanent nature of Ātman from the standpoint of Truth). For, all the disputants admit the relative experience to be caused by Avidyā and deny its existence from the standpoint of the Supreme Reality. Hence it follows that the supposition of the multiplicity of Ātman made by the logicians is without basis and superfluous.