by Swami Sivananda
Katha Up. I.3.10-11 teaches merely that the Self is higher than everything else.
Adhyanaya prayojanabhavat III.3.14 (373)
(The passage in Katha Upanishad I.3.10 tells about the Self only as the highest) for the sake of pious meditation, as there is no use (of the knowledge of the objects being higher than the senses and so on).
Adhyanaya: for the sake of meditation; Prayojanabhavat: as there is no use, as there is no other necessity. (Prayojana: of any other purpose; Abhavat: on account of the absence.)
The previous discussion is continued.
We read in the Kathaka (I.3.10-11), "Higher than the senses are the objects, higher than the objects there is the mind," etc., "higher than the Atman there is nothing, this is the goal, the highest road."
Here the doubt arises whether the purport of the passage is to intimate that each of the things successively enumerated is higher than the preceding one, or only that the Atman is higher than all of them.
The Purvapakshin or the opponent holds the former alternative because the text expressly declares the objects to be higher than the senses, the mind higher than the objects and so on. He maintains that these sentences are separate and not one as referring to the Atman alone. Therefore the purpose of the text is to teach that the objects are superior to the senses and so on.
This Sutra refutes it and declares that it is one sentence and means that the Atman is superior to all these.
The object of the Sruti is not to say that each later category is higher than the former, because there is no spiritual gain or any useful purpose in such a declaration. The aim is to declare that Brahman is higher than all, as such knowledge leads to Moksha.
The Atman alone is to be known, because the Knowledge gives freedom or the final release. The scripture also says "He who has perceived that, is freed from the jaws of death" (Katha Up. I.3.15).
Further, the text intimates highest reverence for the Atman by declaring that nothing is higher than the Atman and that He is the highest goal and thereby shows that the whole series of objects is enumerated only for the purpose of giving information about the Atman. This information is given for the sake of meditation on the Atman which results in the knowledge of it.
Atmasabdaccha III.3.15 (374)
And on account of the word Atman.
Atmasabdat: on account of the word 'Atma'; Cha: and.
An argument in support of Sutra 14 is given.
The above conclusion is confirmed by the fact that the subject of discussion is called the Self or Atman. "That Self is hidden in all beings and does not shine forth, but it is seen by subtle seers through their sharp and subtle intellect" (Katha Up. I.3.2). From this we conclude that the text wishes to represent the other things enumerated as the non-Self.
"A wise man should keep down speech and mind" (Katha Up. I.3.13). This passage enjoins pious meditation as a means of the Knowledge of the Supreme Self. It thus follows that the Sruti indicates various excellences in the case of the Atman only and not in that of the other things enumerated.
The text "He reaches the end of his journey and that is the highest place of Vishnu" suggests the question as to who is the end of the journey and we therefore conclude that the enumeration of the senses, objects, etc., has merely the purpose of teaching the highest place of Vishnu and not of teaching anything about the relation of the senses, objects and so on.
But the enumeration of the senses is not altogether useless. It enables the aspirant to turn the outgoing mind towards the Inner Self or the Atman. This subtle Atman cannot be attained without abstraction, introspection and profound meditation.