We have had a long discussion on the mantra at 3.14.1 of the chAndogya Upanishad in Oct 2020. We examined its significance from both epistemological and ontological angles. We had also noted that the full thrust of the mantra can be appreciated only if the entire section, and the mantra at 3.14.4 and particularly Shankara’s commentary there on are also taken into account. Otherwise, there is a danger that one may try to read into the mantra a meaning which is not its purpose at all!
Somehow all of us missed a very highly relevant and meaningful point that Shankara makes about this mantra at 1.3.1, BSB . It has a clear bearing on our discussions and settles the issue, IMHO, without any scope for even an iota of doubt. I like to bring it to the attention of all the interested members.
Shankara says: “As for the use of “all” and “brahman” in apposition in the text, “All this is (but) brahman” (chAndogya, 3.14.1), it is meant for the elimination of the universe,(**) and not for proving heterogeneity (in brahman).”
Swami Gambhirananda, considering the possibility that some readers may still misinterpret Shankara’s intention, very helpfully adds a footnote explaining the purport of the mantra as follows in his translation of BSB:
(**) – To remove the false conception of a stump as a thief, somebody may say, “Your thief is a stump”, which statement denies the existence of the thief, and is not meant to establish the identity of the thief and the stump. So, in the present case, the apposition does not imply that brahman and creation are equally true.
In other words, we cannot simply conclude that “I cognize a multitude of objects and I take what I see is brahman.” A similar point was made by Shankara at 4.24, BGB too.