Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has come among men and is providing
spiritual sustenance and guidance, in order to re-establish Truth, Justice, Peace and Love
as the main-spring of individual, social and national life. He is using for this great
task ancient and modern instruments, Sanathana Dharma and science. His writings,
discourses and conversations which correct, communicate and convince are full of
statements and commentaries on the discoveries of physical and metaphysical sciences.
This book which gives, in English, His articles (first published
in Telugu in the Sanathana Sarathi) on the Ten Upanishads (invaluable text-books on
spiritual discipline and on the glorious fruit of spiritual adventure) will reveal to you
the vast limitless Mercy which impels Him to save us from trivialities and prompts Him to
guide us along, until we reach the Goal of Life.
Making us tread the path discovered by the Sages of the past,
inducing us to revere their Light and their Message, illumining in us the Flame of
Knowledge which dispels delusion - that is what Bhagavan, with His Supreme Love, does for
us in this book.
Let us read it with care, recapitulate it with earnestness in the
silence of our hearts and practise it with humility and faith, in every turn of thought,
in every tilt of tongue and in every digit of deed.
Man is essentially Divine. However, he believes himself to be an
individual, limited and temporary, because he is entangled in the characteristics of the
Five Elements, namely, Sound, Touch, Form, Taste and Smell. This error brings about joy
and grief, good and bad, birth and death. To escape from this association with the
Elements, to rid oneself of the pulls of their characteristics, is the sign of Liberation,
called in Sanskrit as Kaivalya, Moksha or Mukthi. Names may change; but the achievement is
While entangled in the Five Elements, man is attracted, distracted
or disappointed by them; all this causes distress. Wealth, possessions - vehicles,
buildings - all these re transmutations of the elements. Man craves for them; when he
loses them or fails to get them, he spurns them.
Let us take the Five Elements, one by one. The living being has
the first one, the Earth, as its base. Water, the second, is the basis for the earth.
Water is produced from Fire, the third element, Fire itself emanating from Wind, the
fourth. Wind or Vayu arises from Ether, or Akasa. Akasa emerges from the Primal Nature and
the Primal Nature is but the manifestation of one aspect of the majesty of God, or the
Supreme Sovereign Atma, the Paramatma.
Seeking to reach that Param-atma, the source and core of the
Universe, the Individual or Jivi, who has entangled himself in the elements, has to
overcome, by discrimination and steady practice of detachment, the bonds one by one; such
a person is a Sadhaka; he who wins in this struggle is the Jivan-muktha, 'Liberated even
For the exercise of such discrimination and for the visualisation
of one's innate reality, one has to study the Upanishads. They are collectively called
Vedanta. They form the Jnana kanda of the Vedas, the section that deals with the Higher
Wisdom. Liberation from the consequences of Ignorance can be secured only by Knowledge or
Jnana. The Upanishads themselves declare, "Jnaanaad eva thu kaivalyam":
"By Knowledge alone can freedom be won."
The Vedas are reputed to be "three sectioned", "Kaanda-thrayaathmakam"
- the three sections being Jnana, Upasana and Karma. These three are found in the
Upanishads too; they provided the basis for the Adwaitha, Visishtadvaitha and the Dwaitha
systems of Philosophy also.
The term Upanishad denotes the study and practice of the innate
truth: the term, Brahmavidya, denotes the supremacy of spiritual contemplation; the term,
Yogasastra denotes the mental churning that brings success. What is the fundamental
activity which is required of man? What is the basic thing to be known? It is only one's
basic reality. The Upanishads describe the various stages and the various modes of this
search for realising this.
The name is full of significance. 'Upa' means the process of
studying with 'Nishta' or steadfastness; 'shad' means the attainment of the Ultimate
Reality. The name Upa-ni-shad arose for these reasons. The Upanishads teach not only the
principles of Atmavidya; they indicate also the practical means of realisation. They point
out not only the duties and obligations one has to bear, but also the actions to be done
and those to be avoided.
The Gita is but the essence of the Upanishads. Arjuna acquired
through the lessons of the Gita the fruit of listening to the Upanishads. In the
Upanishads, the statement, "Thath-thwam-asi", "That thou art",
is found. In the Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna, "I am Arjuna among the Pandavas",
that is to say, "I and You are the same". This is the same as saying "Thou
art That", that Jiva and Iswara are the same.
So, whether it is the Gita or the Upanishads, the teaching is
Non-duality, not Duality, or qualified Monism. The human eye cannot delve into the minute
or the magnitudinous. It cannot read the mystery of the virus or the atom or the stellar
universe. Therefore, scientists supplement the eye with the telescope and the microscope.
Similarly, sages are able to experience Divinity through the eye of knowledge, gained by
following the Dharma of moral conduct and spiritual discipline. When the human eye stands
in need of an extraneous instrument to observe even the insignificant worm and virus, how
can one refuse to go through the process of manthra if he desires to see the omnipresent
transcendent Principle? It is very hard to acquire the eye of wisdom. Concentration is
essential for this. And, for concentration to develop and stabilise itself, three things
are very important: purity of consciousness, moral awareness and spiritual discrimination.
These qualifications are difficult of attainment by ordinary folk.
Man is endowed with the special instrument of discrimination, of
judgement, of analysis and synthesis, which among all animals, he alone possesses. He has
to develop this and utilise it to the best purpose. Through this instrument, he can
realise the Immanent Divinity.
Instead, man pesters himself and others with the question: Where
does God reside? If He is real, why is He not seen? Hearing such queries, one feels like
pitying the poor questioners. For, they are announcing their own foolishness. They are
like the dullards who aspire for university degrees without taking pains even to learn the
alphabet. They aspire to realise God without putting themselves to the trouble of
practising the Sadhana required. People who have no moral strength and purity talk of God
and His existence and decry efforts to see Him. Such people have no right to be heard.
Spiritual Sadhana is based on the holy Sastras. They cannot be
mastered in a trice. They cannot be followed through talk. Their message is summed up in
the Upanishads; hence, they are revered as authoritative. They are not the products of
human intelligence; they are the whisperings of God to man. They are parts of the eternal
Vedas. The Vedas shine gloriously through all their parts.
The Upanishads are authentic and authoritative, as they share the
glory of the Vedas. They are 1180 in number, but, through the centuries, many of them
disappeared from human memory and only 108 have now survived. Of these, 13 have attained
great popularity, as a result of the depth and value of their contents.
The sage Vyasa classified the Upanishads and allotted them among
the four Vedas; The Rigveda has 21 branches and each branch has one Upanishad allotted to
it. The Yajurveda has 109 branches and 109 Upanishads. The Atharvanaveda has 50 branches
and 50 Upanishads were its share. The Samaveda has a thousand branches and the balance,
namely, 1000 Upanishads were its share. Thus, the 1180 Upanishads were assigned by Vyasa
to the Four Vedas.
Sankaracharya raised the status of ten among the Upanishads by
selecting them for writing his commentaries and so they became especially important.
Humanity stands to gain or fall by these ten. All who are seeking human welfare and
progress are now apprehending whether even these ten will be forgotten, for, neglecting
them will usher in moral and spiritual disaster. There is no reason, however, for such
fears. The Vedas can never be harmed. Pundits and those with faith should resolve to
present before humanity these ten Upanishads at least. They are Isa, Kena, Katha,
Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Thaithiriya, Aithareya, Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka.
The remaining 98 are: Brahma, Kaivalya, Svethasva, Jabali,
Hamsa, Garbha, Aruni, Paramahamsa, Amrithanada, Narayani, Amrithabindu, Atharvasikha,
Atharvasira, Kasithara, Mathrayani, Nrisimhatapani, Brahmajabala, Maithreya, Kalagnirudra,
Sulabha, Manthrika, Kshithi, Niraalamba, Sarvahara, Vajrasuchika, Subharahasya,
Thejobindu, Nadabindu, Dhyanabindu, Brahmavidya, Atmabodhaka, Yoga, Thathwa,
Naradaparivrajaka, Brahmana, Sita, Yogachudamani, Nirvana, Mandala, Dakshinamurthi,
Skandaa, Sarabha, Adwaitha, Thaaraka, Mahanarayana, Sowbhagyalakshmi, Saraswathirahasya,
Mukthika, Bhavaricha, Ramathapana, Ramarahasya, Mudgali, Vasudeva, Pingala, Sandilya,
Mahabhikshuka, Yogasiksha, Sanyasa, Thuriyathitha, Parmaparivrajaka, Narasimha,
Akshamalika, Annapoorna, Ekakshara, Akshika, Adhathya, Surya, Kundisakhya, Aatma,
Savithri, Parabrahma, Pasupatha, Thripurathapana, Avadhootha, Thripura, Devi, Bhavana,
Katha, Yogakundali, Rudrahrdaya, Rudraksha, Bhasma, Darsana, Ganapathi, Thahasata,
Mahavakya, Panchabrahma, Gopalathapani, Pranagnihothra, Garuda, Krishna, Datthatreya,
Varaaha, Yajnavalkya, Sathyaayana, Avyektha, Hayagriva, and Kalisantharna.
The Upanishads have also inspired other works on Geography,
Astronomy, Astrology, Economics and Political Theory, as well as the 18 Puranas comprising
Skanda, Siva, Garuda and others. The Vedas and the Upanishads are the very foundation for
There is one interesting feature to be noted. This religion has no
one Founder as the others have. That invisible unknown founder is God, the source of all
wisdom. He is the Prophet of this Sanathana Dharma. He is the Founder; His Grace and His
Inspiration manifested through the pure Sages and they became the spokesmen of this
Dharma. When the moral purity of men degenerates, God takes form as grace and inspiration
in sages and teachers. He has also given through the Upanishads the Sathya-Jnana, the
Wisdom concerning the Reality.
The Lord, intent on the regeneration of the world, communicated
Vedas through Hiranyagarbha and Hiranyagarbha, in turn, passed Them on to his ten
Manasa-puthras, including Athri and Marichi. From them, the Vedas spread among humanity,
handed down from one generation to another. As time passed, ages accumulated and
continents moved, some Vedas got lost, or were neglected as too difficult for
comprehension, and only Four have survived into modern times. These Four were taught by
Vedavyasa, the greatest among the exponents of the Vedas, to his disciples, in the
When Vyasa was thus expounding the Vedas, engaged in spreading the
sacred scripture, one disciple of his, Yajnavalkya by name, incurred his wrath and as a
punishment, he had to regurgitate the Yajurveda that he had already learned, into the
custody of his guru and leave the place, to take refuge in Suryadeva, the treasure-house
of the Vedas. Just then, the Rishis who revere the Vedas, flew into the place in the shape
of Thiththiri birds and ate up the regurgitated Yajurveda. That particular section of the
Veda is called "Thaithiriyam".
Meanwhile Suryadeva was pleased with the devotion and
steadfastness of the unfortunate Yajnavalkya. He assumed the form of a Vaji or Horse and
blessed the sage with renewed knowledge of the Yajurveda. The sections thus taught by the
Vaji came to be called 'Vajasaneyi'. The Yajurveda as promoted by Vedavyasa is called
Krishnayajurveda and that handed down by Yajnavalkya as the Suklayajurveda. In these, the
first few chapters are Manthras connected with the Karmakanda and the last few sections
deal with Jnanakanda.
The Isavasya Upanishad is concerned with this Jnanakanda. Since
the opening manthra of this Upanishad starts with the words, 'Isavasyam', the Upanishad is
called by that name.
Isavaasyamidam sarvam yathkinchajagathyaam jagath
Thena thyakthena bhunjeethaah, maa gridhah kasyaswid-dhanam
"All things of this world, the transitory, the evanescent,
are enveloped by the Lord who is the real Reality of each. Therefore they have to be used
with reverent renunciation, without covetousness or greed for they belong to the Lord and
not to any one person". That is what this sloka means.
That is to say, the Universe is the Immanence of the Lord, His
Form, His Body. It is wrong to take the Universe and its Lord as different. It is a
delusion, a product of the imagination of man. Just as your image under the water is not
different from you, the Universe (which is His Image produced on your Ignorance) is the
same as He.
So long as man has this delusion, he cannot visualise the Reality
immanent in him; on the other hand, he will slide into wrong thoughts, words and deeds. A
piece of sandalwood if kept in water will produce a bad smell; but, if it is taken out and
rubbed into paste, the former perfume will return. When the authority of the Vedas and
Sastras is repeated and when discrimination is sharpened on the practice of Dharmakarmas,
the evil smell of wrong and wickedness will vanish and the pure innate perfume of the Atma
will emerge. Then the duality of doer and enjoyer will disappear; then, you reach the
stage called Sarvakarmasanyas, the withdrawal from all activity. In this Upanishad, this
type of Sanyas is described as the pathway to Liberation or Moksha.
The sanyasa which involves the destruction of the three urges (for
a mate, for progeny and for wealth) is very difficult to attain without purity of the
chiththa or mind.
In this Upanishad, the means for getting this is declared in the
second Manthra. That is to say: carry out the Agnihothra etc. prescribed in the Sastras,
believe that for liberation one has to be actively engaged in such work and get convinced
that no sin can cling so long as one is so engaged. Work without the desire for the fruit
thereof slowly cleanses impurities like the crucible of the goldsmith. The pure mind is
Jnana; it is the consummation of detachment.
If you are able to divest yourselves of desire when you are doing
work, no impurity can touch you. You know the "Chilliginji" seeds when dropped
into muddy water have the power of separating the dirt and depositing it at the bottom;
the seeds too sink to the bottom, and slip out of sight! In the same way, those who are
adepts in doing Karma without attachment will have their minds perfectly cleansed and the
results of their acts will also lose effectiveness and sink to the bottom.
Out of the 18 manthras in this Upanishad only the first two deal
directly with the problem of Liberation and its solution. The other sixteen elaborate this
solution and serve as commentaries thereon.
The Atma never undergoes any modification; yet it is faster than
any mind! That is the mystery and the miracle; it appears to experience all states, but it
has no growth, decline or change. Though it is everywhere it is not perceivable by the
senses; it is because of its underlying existence and ever-present immanence that all
growth, all activities, all changes take place. Cause and effect act and react on account
of the Basic stratum of the Atmic reality. The very word, 'Isa' carries this meaning. The
Atma is near and far, inside and outside, still and moving. He who knows this truth is
worthy of the name Jnani.
The ignorant can never grasp the fact of Atmic immanence. Those
who are conscious can see things and can feel their presence near them. Those who have
lost awareness will search for the lost jewels though they actually wear them at the
moment. Though one may know all things, he conceives the Atma as existing in some
un-approachable, unreachable place on account of loss of consciousness. But the Jnani, who
is aware, sees the Atma in all beings and all beings as Atma: He sees all beings as the
same, and perceives no distinction or difference. So he saves himself from duality.
The Isavasya makes this great Truth clear to all. The Jnani who
has tasted that vision will not be agitated by the blows of fortune or the enticements of
the senses. He sees all beings as himself, having his own innate identity; he is free from
bondage, from Dharma and Adharma, and the needs and urges of the body. He is
"Swayamprakaasa". So, the Jiva-rupa is not his genuine form, no, not even the
gross and the subtle bodies called the Sthula and the Sukshma sariras.
That is why in the first manthra of the Isavasya, the Jnana-nishta
characterised by the absence of craving of any sort is expounded. This is the primary
Vedartha; but, those who have cravings will find it difficult to get stabilised in that
Nishta or state of mind. For such, the second manthra prescribes a secondary means, the
Karmanishta. The rest of the manthras elaborate and support these two nishtas - based on
Jnana and Karma. Karma-nishta has Desire and Delusion as the cardinal urges; Jnana-nishta
has Vairagya, the conviction that the world is not Atma, that is to say, not true, and
therefore, it is profitless to have any dealings with it. Such an attitude to Vairagya is
the gateway to Jnana-nishta. From the third to the eighth manthra, the real nature of the
Atma is depicted, through the condemnation of the Avidya, which prevents the understanding
of the Atma.
Thus the Isavasya teaches the lesson of renunciation through the
first manthra and the lesson of 'liberating activity' (through Karma devoid of Raga and
Dwesha) in the second manthra. In the fourth and fifth manthra, it speaks of Atmathathwa
and later of the fruits of the knowledge of that Atmathathwa. In the ninth manthra, the
path of progressive liberation or Karmamukthi (useful for those who are too weak to follow
the path of total renunciation but who are adepts in acts that are conducive to moral
development and inner purification) is laid down; this is the path which co-ordinates all
Karma on the principle of Upasana. Those who are engaged in acts contrary to Vidya are
full of Ajnana, it says; those who confine themselves to the study and practice of divine
forms are even worse, for their desire is for powers and skills. Vidya leads to Deva-loka,
Karma leads to Pithr-loka, it is said. So, the Jnana that results in Atmasakshathkara or
Self-realisation is something quite distinct from these, no attempt to co-ordinate the two
Of course, one should not engage in anything opposed to the
Sastras; and all actions are classed as Avidya, in the ultimate analysis. At best, Karma
can help only to cleanse the mind and the Upasana of Gods can lead to single-mindedness.
The Upasana has to rise to the level of the worship of the Cosmic Divinity, the
Hiranyagarbha; it has to ripen and develop into Jivanmukthi, before the end of this life.
The Devatha-Jnana and the Karma-nishta have both to be
complementary and co-ordinated; then, one can escape the round of birth and death and
The story of Nachikethas, who was initiated in a spiritual
discipline by Yama Himself, is found in this Upanishad. The same story is also mentioned
in the Thaithiriya Brahmana and in the Mahabharatha too, in the 106th Chapter of the
Anusaasanaparva. This Upanishad has become famous on account of its clarity and depth of
imagination. Many of the thoughts expressed in it can be found in the Bhagavadgitha. Since
it belongs to the Katha Saakha of the Krishna Yajurveda School, it is called
A very strict ritualist, Vaajasravas, also known as Gouthama,
performed a Yaga. As part of the sacrifice he gave away cows that were no longer able to
eat grass or drink water, much less yield milk! They were too old for any useful purpose.
Seeing this, his virtuous and intelligent son, Nachikethas by name, realised that his
father was in for a great deal of sorrow, consequent on the sinful gifts. The boy wanted
to save his father from his fate as far as it lay in his power; he asked his father, to whom
he intended to offer him as a gift! He importuned that he too should be given away
to some one. At this the father got so incensed that he shouted in disgust, "I am
giving you to the God of Death". Whereupon, Nachikethas resolved that his father's
words must not be falsified though they were uttered in the Jiva-loka, infected with birth
and death. So he persuaded his father to offer him, in strict ritualistic style, as a gift
to Yama. Nachikethas promptly proceeded to the abode of the God of Death. He had to wait
three nights before he could see Yama. The Lord of Death felt sorry for the delay in
receiving a Brahmin guest and promised Nachikethas (by way of atonement) three boons, one
for each night he spent outside his doors.
Nachikethas wanted first, that when he returned to his native
place and home at His behest, his father must welcome him gladly, free from all anger over
his former impertinence, and full of mental equanimity. His second desire was to know the
secret of the absence in heaven of hunger or thirst or the fear of death. Yama gladly gave
him these boons. In addition Yama initiated him into a special ritual, and its mystery.
Nachikethas listened reverentially and grasped the details of that ritual quickly and
clearly. Yama was so delighted with his new disciple that He gave the Yaga a new name
Nachiketha Agni! This was an extra boon for the young visitor. Nachikethas said;
"Master! Man is mortal; but, some say that death is not the end, that there is an
entity called Atma which survives the body and the senses; others argue that there is no
such entity. Now that I have the chance, I wish to know about the Atma from you."
Yama desired to test the credentials of his questioner's
steadfastness and eagerness to know the Highest Wisdom. If he was undeserving, Yama did
not want to communicate the knowledge to him. So, He offered to give him instead, various
other boons, related to worldly prosperity and happiness. He told him that the Atma is
something very subtle and elusive, that it is beyond the reach of ordinary understanding
and He placed before him other attractive boons that could be enjoyed 'quicker' and
'better'. Nachikethas replied: "Revered Master! Your description of the difficulty of
understanding it makes me feel that I should not let go this chance for, I can get no
teacher more qualified than You to explain it to me. I ask this as my third boon and no
other. The alternative boons You hold before me cannot assure me the everlasting benefit
that Atmajnana alone can bestow."
Seeing this Sraddha and this steadiness Yama was pleased and He
concluded that Nachikethas was fit to receive the highest wisdom. He said, "Well, My
dear Boy! There are two distinct types of experiences and urges, called Sreyas and Preyas,
both affect the individual. The first releases; the second leashes. One leads to salvation
and the other to incarceration! If you pursue the Preya path, you leave the realisation of
the highest goal of man, far behind. The Sreya path can be discerned only by the refined
intellect, by Viveka; the Preya path is trodden by the ignorant and the perverted. Vidya
reveals the Sreyas and Avidya makes you slide into the Preyas. Naturally, those who seek
the Sreya road are very rare."
Yama continued: "The Atma is agitationless, unruffled; it is
Consciousness, infinite and full. He who has known the Atma will not be moved by the dual
ideas of 'is' and 'is-not', 'Do-er' 'Not-doer' etc. The Atma is not even an object to be
known! It is neither knower, known nor knowledge. Discovering this is the supremest
Vision; informing one of this is the supremest instruction. The Instructor is Brahmam, and
the Instructed is also Brahmam. Realisation of this ever-present Truth saves one from all
attachment and agitation and so, It liberates one from birth and death. This great Mystery
cannot be grasped by logic; it has to be won by Faith in the Smrithis and
"The Atma is capable of being known only after vast
perseverance. One has to divert the mind from its natural habitat - the objective world -
and keep it in unwavering equanimity. Only a hero can succeed in this solitary internal
adventure and overcome the monsters of egoism and illusion! That victory alone can remove
The teaching of the Vedantha is that the Highest Truth is capable
of being realised by all. All the texts proclaim so with one voice; they also say that the
Pranava or the syllable Om is the symbol of the Para and the Apara Brahmam; they declare
that the Upasana of the Pranava brings within your reach even the Hiranyagarbha stage and
helps you to attain two stages of Brahmam, too. The Hiranyagarbha is enveloped by the
thinnest veil of Maya and through Om, it can be rent asunder, and both Para and Apara
The Kathopanishad also elaborates on the Atma in various ways. It
says that the Atma is not measurable, that it can never be contained by limitations,
though it appears so. The image of the Sun in a lake quivers and shakes due to the
quivering and shaking of the water; the Sun is but a distant witness. It is unaffected by
the media which produce the images. The Atma likewise is the witness of all this change in
space and time.
The Jiva, the Individualised Ignorance, is the participant of the
fruits of action, of right and wrong, of good and evil; the Jivi forges bondage through
Egoism and loosens the bonds through Buddhi, the counter-force of ignorance. Realise that
all is won the moment the indriyas (external and internal) are put out of action. Discard
them as false and misleading; merge them all in the Manas. Throw the Manas back into the
Buddhi and the Buddhi or individualised Intelligence into the Cosmic Intelligence of
Hiranyagarbha. And, having reached that stage of Sadhana, merge the Cosmic intelligence in
the Atma-thathwa of which it is but a manifestation. Then you attain the stage of
Nirvikalpasamadhi, the perfect unruffled equanimity of Absolute One-ness which is your
true Nature. That is the secret propounded by this Upanishad; that and the fact that all
creation is a proliferation of Nama and Rupa.
Misled by the mirage, you are unable to see the desert waste;
frightened by the snake (superimposed by you on the rope) you are unable to discern the
basic reality. The beginningless delusion that haunts the Jivi has to be broken through.
The 14th Manthra of this Upanishad wakes up the Jivi from the sleep of ages and leads him
on towards the goal.
The Atma is beyond Sabda, Sparsa, Rupa, Rasa and Gandha; it knows
no end. The senses are object-bound, outward-bound. The Atma is the prime instrument for
all activity and knowledge, the inner motive-force behind everything. This delusion of
manifold-ness, variety, multiplicity, many-ness, has to die. It is born of Ajnana. The
"many" is a mirage caused by "circumstances"; the feeling that you are
separate from the One is the root of all this seeming Birth and Death, which the
individual appears to go through. Yama then declared the Nature of Brahman to Nachikethas,
to remove his doubts on that point.
Like a light hidden by smoke, the Thumb-sized Purusha (the
Angushtamaathra) is eternally shining. As the torrent of rain falling on a peak is
shattered downwards in a thousand streams, the Jivi, who feels many-ness and difference,
falls down through many-ness and goes to waste. This Upanishad announces that there is
nothing higher than the Atma or even equal to it. The roots of a tree are invisible; they
are hidden underground; but their effect is evident in the flowers that are visible, is it
not? This is true of this Samsaravriksha, the Tree of Life. From that experience, you have
to infer that the root, Brahmam, is there as sustenance and as support, said Yama.
The Tree of Samsara is like the magician's mango tree; it is just
an illusion. He who has purified his Buddhi can see in it, as in a fine mirror, the Atma,
in this very life. Brahmam is the Jneyam, the thing known to the seeker of knowledge; it
is the Upaasyam, the thing attained by the seeker of attainment. The Jnani is liberated by
his visualisation of Brahmam, but the Upasaka reaches Brahmaloka after death. There, he
merges in Hiranyagarbha and at the end of the kalpa, he is liberated along with the
Nachikethas understood without a flaw this Brahmavidya that Yama
taught him; he was released by Death and attained Brahmam. So far as this Brahmavidya is
concerned even he who attempts to know what it is, becomes thereby a better personality,
free from the taint of sin.
This Upanishad has taught in many ways the fundamental subjects:
Pranavaswarupa, Sreyas and Brahmavidya. My resolve is to tell you now the essence of these
teachings. Of course, one Mantra is enough to save those who have sharpened intelligence
and who are full of the yearning to escape. For the dull-witted, sense-prompted individual
immersed in secular pleasure-seeking, advice however plentiful is a waste.
The Atma is like the ocean; to instruct a person about it, you
need not ask him to drink the entire ocean. A single drop placed on the tongue will give
him the needed knowledge. So too, if you desire to know the Upanishad, you need not follow
every Manthra. Learn and experience the implication of one Manthra; you can realise the
Goal without fail. Learn and practice. Learn to practice: That is the secret of the
This Upanishad begins with an Invocation, praying that
the eye may see
auspicious things, the ear may hear auspicious sounds, and that life may be spent in the
contemplation of the Lord. The teaching of this Upanishad is referred to as Brahmavidya,
either because it describes first the message of Hiranyagarbha, the casual Brahma, or
because the message relates the glory of Brahmam. This Upanishad speaks of Brahmavidya as
the mystery which only those with shaven heads and those who go through a rite of having
Fire on the shaven head can understand. So, it is called Mundaka, or shaven Head. Apart
from this, this Upanishad is honoured as the crest of all, since it expounds the very
essence of Brahma Jnana. It is assigned to the Fourth Veda, the Atharvana.
This knowledge has been handed down from teacher to pupil by word
of mouth, enriched and confirmed by experience; it is also called Paravidya, the knowledge
of the Other when it deals with the attributeless Principle; when it deals with the
attribute-full, the Saguna, the materialised principle, it is called A-paravidya, the
knowledge of the Immanent, not the Transcendent aspect. These are the two that are found
in this Upanishad. They were taught by Saunaka to Angirasa; that is what the text
announces. The Vedas and the Vedangas deal with A-paravidya. The Upanishads deal specially
with Para-vidya. But, the interesting thing is: the A-para-vidya leads on to the Para, the
knowledge of Brahmam, which is the goal.
The spider evolves out of itself the magnificent manifestation of
the web; so too, this jagath (moving, changing world) is manifested from the causative
Brahmam. The jagath or samsar is the product of creator-creation complex. It is true and
factual and useful, so long as one is unaware of the Reality. The utmost that one can gain
by activity, that is to say, holy or sacred activity is Heaven or Swarga, which has a
longer lease of life, but, which has an end in spite of it. So, the seeker loses all
yearning for Heaven; he approaches an elderly teacher full of compassion, who instructs
him in the discipline for realising the Brahmam.
All beings are Brahmam and no other. They all do emanate from
Brahmam. As sparks emanate from fire, as hair grows on the skin but is different from it,
so too beings originate from Brahmam. Brahmam causes the sun, moon, stars and planets to
revolve in space; Brahmam grants the consequence of all the acts of beings. The Jivi and
the Iswara, the Individual and the Universal are two birds sitting on the same tree i.e.,
the human body. The Jivi acts, and suffers the consequences of those acts. The Iswara sits
quiet, as a witness of the other bird. When the Jivi looks at the Iswara and realises that
it is but an image, it escapes from grief and pain. When the mind is drawn by yearning to
know the Iswara, all other low desires diminish and disappear. Then, knowledge of Atma is
attained. The last manthra of this Upanishad declares that its aim is to make man attain
that Jnana. Munda means head; this Upanishad is the Head of all Upanishads, we can say. So
even the Brahma suthra devotes two chapters to elaborate the inner meaning of the manthras
of this Upanishad.
It has three sections, with two chapters in each. In the first
section, the A-paravidya, and in the second, the Paravidya and the means of mastering them
are dealt with. In the third, the nature of the Reality and of the release from bondage,
is defined. The Karma that helps attain the Brahmam is denoted in the manthras. That is
why this Upanishad is respected as very sacred.
The spider, as already indicated, spins out the web from itself
without any extraneous agency; it also takes in the web it has spun. So too, Creation was
effected without an agent and the Universe emanated. This Nature or Prakrithi is but a
transformation of the basic Brahmam, like pot from mud, cloth from cotton, jewels from
Gold. So Brahmam is called the Upadana cause of Prakrithi. It is also the Nimiththakarana,
or the Nimiththa cause. For, this Universe can only be the result of a High Intelligence,
an Intelligence that is all-comprehensive, a Sarvajna. Heaven is the highest attainable
stage through Karma. Of such Karmas or rites, the worship of Fire called Agnihotra is the
chiefest. The performance of such rites contributes to the cleansing of the mind. Such
cleansing is a necessary preliminary to Paravidya. The flames that rise high from the
sacrificial altar of fire appear to the performer as if they are hailing him on to realise
the Reality or Brahmam. He who does the rite with full awareness of the significance of
the manthra is able to reach the Solar Splendour, through the offerings made; they take
him to the region of Indra, the Lord of the Gods.
The Vedas recommend two types of obligatory Karmas: Ishta and
Poortha. The rite of Agnihotra, adherence to Truth, Thapas or Asceticism, Veda-adhyayanam
or study of the Vedas, the service offered to guests in one's home - these are Ishta;
construction of temples, caravan-serais, rest-houses, tanks, planting of avenue trees -
such acts are Poortha. These give consequences that are beneficial but, all such
cause-effect chains are transient, they are fundamentally defective.
The entire Creation is bound up with name and form and so unreal.
It can be described in words and so, limited and circumscribed by the intellect and the
mind. The Paramapurusha, the Supreme Person alone is eternal, real, and pure. He is the
prompter of activity and the dispenser of consequence. But, He is beyond the eye, beyond
the intellect. Like the spokes of a wheel that radiate from the hub, that lead from all
directions to the centre, all creation radiates from Him.
To reach the central hub and know that all spokes radiate from it,
the mind is the instrument. Brahmam the target is to be reached by the arrow-mind. Have
your mind fixed on the target and using the Upanishadic teaching as the bow, shoot
straight and hard, to hit the Brahmam and master. That is to say, the Pranava or the OM is
the arrow; Brahmam is the target.
The Brahmam illumines the Jivi by getting reflected in the inner
consciousness or Anthah-karana. One has only to turn that consciousness away from the
objective world, contact with which contaminates the mind. Now, train the inner
consciousness to meditate on the OM, with single-pointed attention. Meditate on the Atma
as unaffected by the Jivi, though in him and with him and activating him. Meditate on Him
in the heart, from which radiate countless nadis, subtle nerves, in all directions. If
this process is followed, one can attain Jnana or Wisdom.
The Universe is an instrument to reveal the majesty of God. The
inner firmament in the heart of man is also equally a revelation of His Glory. He is the
Breath of one's breath. Since He has no specific form, He cannot be indicated by words.
Nor can His mystery be penetrated by the other senses. He is beyond the reach of
asceticism, beyond the bounds of Vedic rituals. He can be known only by an intellect that
has been cleansed of all trace of attachment and hatred, of egoism and the sense of
Jnana alone can grant self-realisation. Dhyana can confer
concentration of the faculties; through that concentration, Jnana can be won, even while
in the body. The Brahmam activates the body through the five vital airs or Pranas. It
condescends to reveal itself in that same body as soon as the inner consciousness attains
the requisite purity. For the Atma is immanent in the senses, inner and outer, as heat in
fuel and as butter in milk. Now, the consciousness is like damp fuel, soaked in the
foulness of sensory desires and disappointments. When the pool in the heart becomes clear
of the slimy overgrowth, the Atma shines in its pristine splendour. He who acquires the
knowledge of this Atman is to be revered. For, he is liberated. He has become Brahmam,
that which he strove to know and be.
This Upanishad is the kernel of Vedantha; it is the most profound
among all the Upanishads; it is also the chiefest, having the distinction of being
recommended as, by itself, enough to lead man to salvation. It is very brief, consisting
of just a dozen manthras! They are divided into four sections, Agama, Vaithathya, Adwaitha
and Alathasanthi. In the Agamaprakarana, the secret doctrine of Pranava which is the key
to self-realisation is expounded. In the second Prakatana, the doctrine of Dualism, the
great obstacle to liberation is discussed and rebutted. In the third, the A-dwaitha or
non-dual Unity is propounded. The last Prakarana describes certain mutually contradictory
non-Vedic doctrines and rejects them.
No sound is beyond the ken of Om; all sounds are permutations and
products of Om. Brahmam too is Om, identified by It and with It. The Brahmam, which is
beyond Vision, is manifest for the vision as Atma.
The distinctions of Viswa, Taijasa and Prajna are but appearances
imposed on the Atma; that is to say the Atma continues the same, unaffected by the waking,
the dreaming and the deep-sleep stages of man's existence. This Atma and the Atma which
one refers to as 'I' are both the same. The 'I' or the Atma swims like a fish in the
river, paying no regard to this bank or that, though the waters are limited and guided by
them. In deep sleep, all the vasanas or impulses are suspended and though they still
persist, they are not manifest or active. In dream, man follows the impulses and wins
satisfaction in the process. All the manifold pulls and attractions of the sensory world,
which impel man towards the objects around him, are born during the waking and the dream
stages. The mind is full of agitations and these are the fertile fields where the vasanas
grow, multiply and strike root. As a matter of fact, it is the agitating mind that causes
Creation, that is behind all Srishti.
There is however a Fourth stage, distinct from these three: it is
named Thuriya! This stage cannot be described by words or even imagined by the mind, for
it is beyond both Buddhi and Manas. The experience is inadequately described as Santham,
Sivam, Adwaitham; that is all. It is Peace. It is Grace. It is One-ness. The mental
agitations are stilled and so there is no more mind. It is the conquest of the mind, its
negation, the A-manaska stage. What a victory it is! For, in deep sleep the Mind is
latent; in dream, the Mind is restless with agitations; in the waking stage, it is active
and motivating. In all the three stages, Truth remains unknown. The objective world is but
a delusion of the agitated mind, the super-imposition on the rope of a non-existent snake.
The world is not born, nor does it die; it is born when you are ignorant; it dies when you
The AUM of the Omkara, representing the Viswa, Taijasa and Prajna
aspects of the waking, dreaming and deep sleep stages of existence, have each a particular
role in Sadhana. Upasana which A emphasises more, makes one realise all desires; if U is
concentrated upon, then Jnana increases and if M is specially dwelt upon in the Upasana,
the final merging of the Soul in the Supreme is effected. The Upasaka of Pranava will also
earn the knowledge of the Truth of the world and Creation. The Upasaka, therefore, of the
Pranava draws unto himself the reverence of all.
The A, U and M proceed from one to the other in the Pranava and
finally merge in an A-manthra, a letterless resonance which thins out into silence. That
is the symbol of the Santham, the Sivam and the Adwaitham, the merging of the
individualised soul in the Universal, after the shedding of the limiting particulars of
name and form. This is not all. The Karikas 24-29 of this Upanishad praise Pranava as the
cause of Creation. It is extolled as quenching all grief. Why? He who ruminates on he Om,
ever aware of its significance can steadily move on to an Awareness of the Real behind all
this unreal Appearance, of the Paramatmathathwa Itself.
In the first section, the A-dwaithic uniqueness of the Atma is
established in a general way; in the second, as has been said, the positing of two
entities, God and the World, is shown as mistaken, impermanent. In the section called
specifically Adwaitha, the doctrine is established by arguments and affirmations. At
first, the world was latent and un-manifest; Brahma is Himself an effect; and so,
reflection on the effect will not lead man to the source of all things. The Brahma
revealed in this Upanishad is not the Effect; It is the Primal Cause. It is not born, nor
limited; it is not broken into all this many.
The Atma is like Akasa or Ether, all-pervasive. It may seem
enclosed in certain limits, like a pot or a room and may be spoken of as so
individualised. But in that limitation, there is no truth. The body too is like the pot,
which limits the sky enclosed in it, for all appearances. There is no basic distinction
between the sky in the pot and the Sky outside; take away the limiting factor, and they
are One. When the body is destroyed, the Jivi merges with the Universal or the Paramatman.
It is in the limitation that appears to qualify the Atma, otherwise it is the Paramatma
itself. The Jivi can never be considered a limb or an avayava, an adaptation or Vikara of
The birth and death of the Jivi as wanderings in space and from
one Loka to another, are all unreal. It is appearance, not reality. Go deeply into the
matter you will find that Dwaitha is not opposed to A-Dwaitha. The opposition is between
various Dwaithic religions and schools of thought. For the A-Dwaithin, all is Parabrahmam
and so he knows no opposition. For the Dwaithin, there is always the atmosphere of
attachment and pride and hate for where there are two there is always fear and attachment
and all the consequent passions. A-dwaitha is the Highest Truth; Dwaitha is a certain
mental attitude. So, dualism can move you only so long as the mind is active. In sleep or
in Samadhi, there is no cognition of "Two". When Avidya prevails, difference is
rampant; when Vidya is established, Unity is experienced. So, there is no opposition or
quarrel between Dwaitha and A-Dwaitha. The rope is the Cause of all the Illusion and
Delusion; Brahmam is the Cause of all this Illusion and Delusion connoted by the word,
World, or Jagath.
It is not correct to say that the Paramatma is born as Jagath,
for, how can one's essential quality, the Svabhava be changed? Manifold-ness is not the
characteristic of Paramatmathathwa. The Sruthis declare this in many contexts. Why, they
even condemn those who see It as many. The Witness of all the phases of the mind, of even
its annihilation, can never be known by the Mind. That witness alone is eternal,
unaffected by Time and Space. That is the Atma-chaithanyam, the Sathyam. The rest is all
Turn the mind away from the sensory world through the practice of
discrimination and non-attachment; then, you attain the A-manobhava, the no-mind
experience. Well, you have to remember another thing: trying to control the mind without a
clear understanding of the nature of the sensory world is a vain valueless effort, the
attachment will not end, the agitation will not cease so easily.
They will sprout at the first chance. What has to be done is to
develop the inertness of the mind during the deep sleep stage into a stage of permanent
ineffectiveness. When the conviction that all sensory experiences are unreal is well and
truly stabilised, the mind will no longer function as a distracting agency; it will lie
powerless, as a defunct limb. However hungry a man may be, he will not certainly crave for
excreta, will he?
To know that the Atma, which is the goal of realistion, is devoid
of sleep, birth, name, form and so on, that It is eternally Self-effulgent,
Nithyaswayamprakasa, to know this is to transcend all Vikaras or agitations of the Mind.
Attempting to curb the mind without the aid of discrimination or to make known to man the
unreality of Vishaya objects is like the attempt to empty the ocean by means of a blade of
grass, foolish and fruitless. Be firmly fixed in the conviction that the world is a myth
and then you can aspire for Prasanthi and Abhaya, Peace and Fearlessness.
As the motivating force behind every birth or product, there
should be a purpose, either Sath or A-sath or Sathasath, isn't it? What exactly is the
transformation that happens? The cause or Karana undergoes a change or vikara and gets
transformed into the karya. Well, Sath has no Vikara and so no birth is possible from
Sath. A-sathya is void and nothing can emanate from it. Sath and Asath are inconceivable
together. Therefore, logically, nothing can be born or produced; karana cannot become
When you remember fire, you do not feel the heat; it is only when
you hold it in your hand that you experience the heat. So too, all objects are different
from Jnana about them. Knowledge is one thing, actual experience is another. Moreover, the
search for the First Cause is an endless adventure. For, even in the complete absence of
the snake, one sees it in the rope. It is all a figment of the imagination. In dreams,
with nothing concrete, all the joy and sorrow of manifoldness are undergone. For the
machinations and inferences of the mind, no basis or explanation is needed. Irresponsible
inferences about the unreal world will pester the mind so long as the illumination of
Truth is absent. Clasping delusion is the fate of those who are steeped in Avidya or
This Upanishad has declared in unambiguous terms that the Sath can
never be the Cause for the karya viz. Asath. The external world is created by our own
chiththa, like smoke emanating from a burning scent-stick. Everything is appearance, an
Adhyasa, an Abhasa, something mistaken to be there, but really non-existent. The
atmosphere of Ajnana is the fertile field for their birth and multiplication. Samsaara,
which has the dual characteristic of evolution, of origin and ruin, is the fruit of this
Since Paramatma is Sarvaathmaswarupa, there is no possibility of
Cause-Effect or Wish-Fulfillment or Purpose-Product appearing in it. For him who has had
the Vision of Atma, all is Atma. The maya-infected seed will sprout into a maya-infected
tree; both are false and fleeting. So too, the birth and death of the Jivi are both false;
they are mere words, signifying nothing. The things seen in dreams are not distinct from
the dreamer, are they? They may appear as different and as outside the dreamer, but,
really, they are part of the dreamer, arising out of his own consciousness. He who is the
witness has no beginning or end. He is not bound by duties or obligations, right or wrong.
To know this, and to get firm in that knowledge is to attain liberation from the shackles.
It is the quivering of the Chiththa that causes things to originate. Chith-thaspandana is
the cause of Uthpaththi.
The Brihadaaranyakopanishad is affiliated to the Sukla Yajur Veda;
it has six sections, of which all except the third and fourth, describe Upanasa or Worship
associated with Karma or ritualistic Action. The third and the fourth sections deal with
the teachings of Yajnavalkya on spiritual Truth imparted to Janaka. The grandeur of the
intellectual eminence of that sage is impressively evident in this Upanishad. For
aspirants eager to reach the goal of Liberation, this part of the Brihadaaranyaka offers
the best guide. The sections are therefore referred to as Yajnavalkya Kanda. It is the
last of the famous Ten Upanishads. On account of its size, it is named Brihath or Big;
since it is best studied in the silence of the forest or Aranya, it is an Aranyaka; it
instructs in Brahmajnana and so is classed as an Upanishad.
Scholars have designated the first two sections of this Text as
Madhura-kanda, the next two as Muni-kanda and the last two as Khila-kanda. Khila means
appendix and hence the name is appropriate. The first section deals with the basic
principles, as they are; the second proves their truth by reference to experience. The
third shows how to practise the same and get mastery over it. The first section teaches
Jnana, essential for spiritual progress; it is related to the paths of Karma and Upasana.
It is not mere dry intellectual discipline.
For those eager to earn Jnana, there are four instruments or media
for acquiring that wisdom. They are: Pada, Bija, Sankhya and Rekha. Pada means the Vedas,
and the Smrithis that attempt to explain them. Bija connotes the entire gamut of manthras
learnt direct from the Guru. Sankhya is of two kinds, Vaidika and Loukika. Vaidika-sankhya
means the calculations and quantitative analysis of the various manthras; Loukika-sankhya
refers to the numbers and their inter-relations so far as they are related to the external
world and the interrelations of human activities. Rekha too has two such categories, the
Vaidika-Rekha being a part of the Upasana activity mentioned in the Vedas and
Loukika-Rekha being a part of the Mathematics of the Universe.
The Madhura-kanda describes the Brahmathathwa or the Brahma
Principle in the light of the categories accepted as authoritative by the Scriptures.
Purusha is the Primeval Person, from whom or on whom all this Name-Form Manifoldness has
emanated. We conceive the horse in the Aswamedha as Prajapathi Himself. He is directed to
impose on the Horse the characteristics and attributes of Prajapathi, so that he might
acquire the fruits of that ritual. This portion is known also as Aswa-Brahmana. Again, the
Fire which is the central figure in the sacrifice is also to be felt and consecrated as
Prajapathi and there are descriptions attributing the qualities of Prajapathi to Agni. So
this is called Agni-brahmana.
This Jagath, taken as true by the deluded, is just a jumble of
Names and Forms devoid of the permanence that Atma alone can have. Hence, it breeds
disgust and discontent and causes renunciation to grow. The mind is soon free from
attachment to the objects of sensory pleasure and it moves along its natural bent to
Brahmam itself. All sounds are names; vaak or voice is the cause for its emergence. Rupa
or Form is the result of vision or sight: it emerges from the eye. Karma similarly has the
body as its source; the body is just a context for vaak and other instruments.
Contemplation on such truths helps the process of Atma vichara to start and progress.
The Prana or Vital Air, the Sarira which is its basis, the Siras
(head), which is the seat of the instruments for acquiring knowledge, the strength that is
derived from food - all these are considered in this Upanishad.
As the sweetness of a thousand flowers is collected into honey,
this Jagath is a concatenation of the elements. Dharma, Sathya, and such abstract
principles, men and such concrete living beings, the Virat-Purusha and such conceptions -
all these again are the effects of the same Brahmathathwa, that is, an immortal changeless
Thathwa. The realisation that the Thathwa inheres in every individual is Brahma-Jnana.
Janaka, the King of Videha, celebrated a Sacrifice giving away
vast wealth in gifts. Many Brahmins attended this Yaga from the Kuru-Panchala territory.
The king had a thousand cows decorated with anklets, necklaces and hornlets of gold; he
announced that they would be donated to whoever taught him the Brahman. Many Brahmins,
though great scholars in their own line, hesitated to claim the cows, through fear of
failure. But, Yajnavalkya was so confident that he asked his students to drive the cows to
his Ashram! The other Brahmins got enraged at his audacity and started testing his
scholarship and experience.
The first to come forward to challenge Yajnavalkya was the family
priest of Janaka. The answers that the sage gave to his questions clarify the method of
attaining the Atma encased in the pranas, through the conjoint yogas of Karma and Bhakthi.
In the Yajna, the Rithwik's voice is Agni, the Kala is Vayu, the Mind of the Performer is
Chandra - such is the manner in which one has to grasp the meaning of ritual and free
one-self from the limitations of mortality.
The next to accost the sage was Bujyu; his questions were: Is
there an Entity called Purusha who is ruled by the senses and who is entangled in this
current named Samsara? Or is there no Purusha of this type? If there is one such, what are
Yajnavalkya answered him thus: Your Atma is the Entity you
inquired about; just as a wooden contrivance cannot operate on its own, but must be moved
by some outside power or inside force, or just as this arm can move like this only when
the will operates on it, so too, unless a super-spiritual power presides, the body cannot
act nor can the vital airs function as they do. He is the seer of the seeing function of
the body; He hears, and not the ear. That Chethana or Super-consciousness that sees and
hears and feels is but a reflection of the Atma on the mind. That Chethana sees even the
Seer; what happens is that the Chethana reflected in the mind moves out through the senses
and grasps the external world of the five elements and so it appears as if the Chethana is
engaged in activity. Really speaking, it has no activity.
That Chethana is the Atma; it is beyond the reach of the senses,
it is above and beyond the subtle and even the causal sariras. It has been understood by
experience where the Atma is to be attained by total renunciation. Attachment to children,
riches, wife, etc., - all have to be given up; these originate in Kama, Desire. Why, all
activities whether ordinary or ritual or worshipful are basically the products of Kama.
The desire for the fruit is present in Karma-sadhana also. There is no denying this. And
hence they are opposed to true Sanyas.
Light and darkness cannot be together, at the same place and time.
So too, Karma-activity and Atma-jnana cannot be together. Sanyas is Sarvakriya-parithyaga;
begging for food is a Karma and against Sanyas. The Brahmins of ancient days knew this;
they gave up attachment, and, through the path of Nivritti or withdrawal, realised the
Reality. He alone is a Brahmin who has detached himself from all things which are
concerned with non-Atmic ends. All other credentials are secondary.
In this Upanishad, the Sarvantharyamithwa of the Atma is
described. All this earth becomes habitable through association with water. Or it would
fall apart like a lump of rice flour. Gargi asked Yajnavalkya on what is the earth based.
This question and the answer given inform us that Earth, Water, Akasa, Surya, Chandra,
Nakshatra, Deva, Indra, Prajapathi, Brahma-loka - all these, one from the other, were
woven out of the Paramathmathathwa, which is the warp and woof, the garment of Creation.
Such truths are beyond the reach of the imagination of man. They have to be imbibed from
the Sastras by a clarified intellect.
Yajnavalkya refuted the arguments of Gargi, for her questions
could not be solved by mere intellectual feats; they could be solved only by intuition,
earned by the guidance of a Guru. The earth is pervaded and protected by Vayu, or air. The
individualised Universal, individualised according to the impressions of experience in
previous lives, is associated with the 5 Karmendriyas, 5 Jnanendriyas, the 5 Pranas, Manas
and Buddhi - these seventeen instruments. The concrete body is a vikara or mutation of the
earth: it is pervaded by vayu or 'air'. There are forty-nine 'earth-bits', or angas which
can be identified in the body and like a string that holds pearls together, 'air' holds
these together as one co-ordinate whole. When the 'air' leaves the body for good, the
angas become distinct and derelict. The body then, becomes a 'corpse'. There is however an
Antharyami, the immanent spirit in the body-complex abode, the mystery that is beyond the
reach of that complex, the motivating force of the impulses and intentions of that
complex; that Antharyami has no death; It is Atma.
Gargi put her second question, after taking due permission from
the gathering, for, it is not courteous to hurl problems without such notice. Her question
was: On what does the Inner Core - the Atma - rest in the Past, Present and Future, in
this Dual World? The intention of Gargi was to bring about the discomfiture of
Yajnavalkya, for he would be forced to admit "The timeless Entity is beyond words and
cannot be described at all". This also shows that Gargi too was an adept in
Brahmajnana and hence you can infer that in the field of Brahmavidya, there is no place
for distinctions based on sex.
"The Brahmavids or masters of Brahmic wisdom declare that the
Parabrahma is immanent in the un-manifested Akasa" said Yajnavalkya, thus escaping
from the trying situation into which Gargi wanted to drive him. Then, he described the
nature of that Indestructible Akshara thus: It has no gross, subtle or such changes; it
has no material qualification like colour, smell, shape etc. There are no 'measures' to
comprehend It. Time is but the execution of Its will. Why elaborate? The Sun and the five
elements all carry out its Will. Gargi then asked the assembled Brahmins to bow before
Yajnavalkya and acknowledge his supremacy. That stopped further questionings.
The Atma is Effulgent, as the Sun is, by its very nature. People
say that they 'see' the Atma or Its effulgence. But, there is no seeing It. Since It has
no second, nothing is outside It. It is neither seen nor can It see. It has no organs of
sight or smell; nor has it any part, which when co-ordinated can perform any function.
From the lowest Joy to the highest Brahmanandam, each step is an
increase of the feeling. Words like Paramanandam indicate only stages of Anandam. As a
matter of fact, all types of Anandam are derived from the primary basic source of
Brahmanandam. Yajnavalkya explained all this to Janaka, for he took great delight in
instructing the King on all that he knew.
Like a tree sprouting from a tiny seed the body grows and the seed
in the fruit grows into another tree, when the body like a ripe fruit falls to the ground.
The vaak and other Indriyas also follow him; the breath too takes to its own path. The
Atma alone is not affected, one way or the other. It remains as ever: unmoved, immovable.
Through sinful deeds sin; through meritorious deeds, merit ...
thus paapa and punya accumulate. They produce the impulses for a new body, as the primary
motive force of the Sarira. The Atma leaves the old body, with its vision directed to the
new one it occupies, like the caterpillar which fixes its forelegs on a spot, when it
lifts up the hindlegs. The Atmajnani, however, has no impulse towards bodily activities
and so the Atma in this case is not bothered by a new body at all. The Jnanamarga is the
path of the Brahmavid, the knower of Brahman.
The Karma-enthusiasts are led on to Thapas, the Atmajnani has
escaped from Kama or desire and so his mind knows no anguish or agony or yearning, which
is the mark of Thapas. He is the Viswakartha - the very artist who has evolved the Viswa
or Creation. He who has attained the vision of Brahmam-hood has nothing further to attain
or realise or guard or seek.
The instruction that Yajnavalkya gives in this Upanishad to
Maithreyi, his consort, reveals to us clearly the Atmajnana which comes after a study of
the Sastras with Tarka as a constant companion; it also describes the principles of
Sanyas, which is the instrument for getting that Jnana. The entire sensory world and the
senses too have to be equated with the dream-reality only; there is no use pursuing them,
as ultimate and valuable.
The Atma alone has to be loved; all other things are loved for the
sake of the Atman. When the Atman is understood, everything else is understood. All
effects are subsumed by the Cause. The ocean is the goal of all the waters, so too all
tastes find their goal in the tongue; all forms realise themselves in the eye; all sounds
are for the ear; all resolutions have the mind as their goal. That is to say, the entire
Jagath merges in Brahmam.
In his reply to Bhujyu, Yajnavalkya reveals his knowledge of the
process of evolution of the Universe, the Brahmanda-nirmana. In his reply to the two
questions of Gargi, he reveals and instructs the swarupa of Brahmam, which is Aparoksha.
In the Sakalyabrahmana, the sage has astounded every one by his erudition in spiritual
mysteries. He earned victory in the hall of Janaka from the wisest of the land. He
sanctified it by his teaching. He met the hard tests of the crooked Bhujyu and the harder
tests of the eager inquirer, Gargi, with equal equanimity and skill. He was acclaimed as
the crown jewel of scholars. Of course, he himself acknowledged greatness wherever he
recognised it; he was generous enough to recognise the greatness of the teachers who were
instructing Janaka till then. Lastly he felt that he had no more to learn or earn and so,
he became a monk. Realising that Maitreyi, his cosort, was also eager to attain
Realisation, he instructed her in Brahma-jnana, for in those days, women were considered
equally fit to practise the Jnana-marga, which leads to Liberation.
Contemplate on this and reach up to the Thuriya stage of
consciousness. Then Nama, Rupa, Vasthu, Bhava, all get merged in the One All-pervasive
This Upanishad teaches man the essential philosophy, in the
briefest terms. It does not refer in the least to Karma or kindred subjects. It concerns
itself purely with the Science of Atmathathwa.
The Prasnopanishad is an annexure of the Atharvana Veda. It is
named so, since it is in the form of questions (Prasna) and answers. By this means, it
discusses more elaborately some topics dealt with briefly in the Mundakopanishad. It has
thus become a commentary on the Mundakopanishad.
For example, the Mundaka says that Vidya is of two types: Para and
Apara, and that Apara Vidya is of two kinds: Karma and Upasana. Of these, the second and
third Prasnas in this Upanishad deal with Upasana. Since the discipline of Karma is fully
covered in the Karma-kanda it is not elaborated here. When both Karma and Upasana are
practised, regardless of the fruits thereof, they promote renunciation and non-attachment.
This is the conclusion arrived at by the First Prasna. So, if the Prasnopanishad is
studied after the Mundaka, the subject would become clearer.
Of the two entities, Parabrahma and A-parabrahma, the A-parabrahma
is incapable of conferring the Purusha-arthas, which are of lasting value: realising this,
and eager to attain the Eternal Parabrahma, the aspirants approached the competent
Teacher, Pippalada. The word Anveshamaanaa (seeking) used here to signify the attitude of
the discipline shows that those attached to the A-parabrahma, (the Lower Self unrelated to
the Over-soul) fail to identify their own basic truth as the Atman. That is why they still
"seek" it, somewhere outside the truth of their being! The eternal unique
Parabrahma principle can be known only through the discipline of the Sastras, directed
personally by a Guru or Teacher.
The seekers have to approach the Guru, as a
"Samithpaani"; that is to say not simply "holding the ritualistic fuel, the
sacrificial fire". It also implies the presentation of worthy desirable offerings.
The seekers meet Pippalada and he tells them, "The rare and precious teaching related
to the fundamental mystery of the Universe and the Self, known as Brahmavidya, cannot be
imparted to the un-initiated. The students have to be first kept under observation and
tested for a year".
When the year was over, Kathyayana asks Pippalada thus: "On
account of what reason are beings born?" "Those who wish for progeny are the
Prajakamas; the wish is basically to become oneself the progeny, to perpetuate oneself.
Hiranyagarbha, who is non-separate from Para-Brahma, is the Prajapathi. Hiranyagarbha, as
Prajapathi, wishes for Progeny; he has traces of A-para Vidya attached to Him from past
origins that induces in Him the wish". This is the reply of the Guru.
Surya or the Sun with His Rays illumines all beings in the ten
regions. Surya is the very Self of Prajapathi, and hence, all beings - both in the regions
so illumined - become the very "self" of Prajapathi. The word "Prana"
therefore refers to Adithya Itself, for Adithya (the Sun) gives Prana (the Vital Essence).
Since all beings are able to live by consumption of food etc., the Sun is also known as
Viswanara. The whole Universe is of His Nature and so He is also known as Viswarupa.
Samvathsara or the year, is an indicator of Time, according to the position of the Sun.
Time is but a series of days and nights, and these are phases caused by the Sun. The
rotation of the Moon causes Thithis or stages in fullness. The twin Forces, the Sun and
the Moon, are the products of Prajapathi and so, Time, which is marked out by the tropics,
the seasons, the months etc., is also of the same essence. Prajapathi has the Northern and
the Southern cycles also.
The contemplation and worship of Prajapathi in this universal
aspect is referred to as "Jnana" itself. He who is endowed with this Jnana and
who has mastery over the senses as well as faith in the Vedas, can easily convince himself
that he is the very Atman; pursuing the Uttaramarga or the Northern Path, he reaches the
spiritual stage known as Suryaloka. That Loka is the refuge of all living beings. Only
those who worshipfully engage themselves in their daily duties, without any desire for the
fruits thereof, can enter that Loka.
The seasons like Vasantha or Spring are the Feet of the Sun, the
symbol of Time; the twelve months are His Personal Traits; He is the Cause of the worlds -
these are truths expressed in the fourth and sixth manthras. The rains too are caused by
the Sun; so, He is the master of another Loka too, the third, the Dyu-loka.
Akasa, Vayu, Agni, Jala, Bhumi - the elements which compose the
body have their presiding deities; the activating senses like speech and the
"knowing" senses like the eye have also their deities which reside in them and
promote their functions: the mind and the intellect too have their deities; they all are
pillars which support the Being and prevent the structure of the body from falling
The body is a complex produced by a combination of the 5 elements.
The Jnanendriyas are the consequences of this combination. So the body is a bundle of
consequences and causes. Like the spokes of the wheel, they are fixed in the hub of Prana.
So too, the Riks, the Yajurvedic manthras, the Sama-vedic manthras, the Yajnas where they
are employed, the Kshathra which protects the people from danger, the Brahmanic Force
consecrating the Yajnas, ... all these are of the nature of Prana. When Prajapathi becomes
the Cloud and pours rain, all beings rejoice and are enabled to live. "All things
that contribute to happiness are bound to You; cherish us therefore as the Mother. You
cause all wealth and welfare, related to spiritual and physical protection. Give us that
wealth and that wisdom". This is the prayer addressed to Prajapathi. The Rig, Yajus,
Sama manthras are the Brahmanic wealth; riches are the Kshatriya wealth. Thus, the
Upanishad elaborates on the Prana Prajapathi and its Functions and Attributes.
Thereafter, Pippalada takes up the question of Bhargava, and,
later, Kosalya, the Aswalayana, asks him about Prana. Then, Pippalada says, "My dear
boy, like shadow caused by a person the Prana is produced by the Atma. The Prana dedicates
itself to the Atma through the sankalpa of the Manas. Like a ruler who arranges for the
governance of his possessions, the Chief Prana appoints different Pranas assigning
functions and areas of work for each. The Mukhya prana or the Chief has Adithya and other
Gods as its Impelling Force. Like sparks leaping out of the flames of a raging fire,
beings emanate from the Imperishable Paramatma; they lose themselves in the self-same
Fire". This is mentioned in the Mundaka, (II - 1 - 1).
Then, Pippalada answered Gargi thus: "The rays of the setting
sun merge in the Sun itself; they emanate and spread again, when the sun rises the next
day. In the same manner, during dream, the sensory world gets merged in the
consciousness-reflecting Mind and when one wakes from sleep, the sensory impressions
emanate as of old and move out in their native form. That is why the Self or Purusha does
not hear or see or touch or enjoy. He does not walk or talk.
The Atma, which is Pure Effulgence during the dream Stage, sees,
hears and experiences, as Vasanas, whatever it sees, hears and experiences during the
waking stage. When the statement is made that "the Atma is the base of every
thing" the impression is created that everything is different from it. But, the
distinction that is apparent between the "Base of All" and the "Jivas"
that rest upon It is merely an illusion caused by circumstances; it is mental, not
fundamental. Pippalada also said that whatever Loka is connoted by the deity worshipped
through Pranava, that Loka will be attained.
Next, Sukesa, the son of Bharadwaja, questioned the master and his
answer ran thus: "The Purusha you inquire about is in this body itself, as the
resident of the Inner Sky, the Heart. It is on account of His being there, that you are
shining forth in full splendour of attainment and personality. They emanate from Him and
merge in Him. Like milestones, progressively increasing and inter-dependent, the Earth,
Durga, Food and Purusha - all four Principles originate one from the other (according to
the second section of the Thaithiriya). The origin might not be evident to the eye but,
since the origin of the Jnanendriyas and the Karmendriyas has been described already, the
origin of the Purusha is as good as said. All rivers join the sea and lose therein their
Names and Forms. The rivers are thereafter called "the sea". So too, only the
Purusha remains. He is without any attainment and traits or changes. He is imperishable,
endless. That is all I know about Brahman and that is all there is to know", said
Pippalada to Kadandhi and other disciples.
This Upanishad ends with the respectful homage paid by the
disciple to the master. The father gives but the body; Pippalada gave them the
Brahma-sarira by teaching them the Atmathathwa. The six disciples, Kadandhi, Vaidarbhi,
Kosalya, Souryayani, Sthyakama and Sukesa finally ask six questions in all. These
questions and answers bring out the implications of the Mundaka and serve as a nice
commentary on that succinct text.
The 6 questions are:
- What exactly is Para and Apara?
- Who protects and guards created beings?
- How does Hiranyagarbha emerge from Paramatma?
- How does Creation take place from Paramatma?
- How does the Chaithanya-full principle, the Prana, enter the body
and get diverted into five channels?
- Which are the senses that operate in the three stages - the waking,
dreaming and sleeping?
These are the lines of inquiry that are followed in this
The Kenopanishad is ascribed to Sama Veda and its Thalavakara
branch and hence it is also referred to as the Thalavakaropanishad. The name Kena is
derived from the first word of the stanza of the first section of the Upanishad:
"Keneshitham pathathi preshitham manah, Kena praanah
prathamah Praithiyuktah, keneshithaam vaacham imaam vadanthi, chakshuhsrothram kaudevo
"Who impels the mind to alight on its object? Enjoined by
whom does the vital force proceed to function? At whose behest do men utter speech? What
Intelligence, indeed, directs the eyes and ears?"
The ear, skin, eye, tongue, nose - these five senses are able to
cognise sound, touch, form, taste and smell respectively; objects of knowledge are
cognised through these five only. The world is experienced through these instruments,
which stand intermediate between the knower and the knowable. The inner capacity to
understand objects is named mind, or Manas. The Manas moves out through the Jnanendriyas
aforesaid and attaches itself to objects and at that time, by that very occurrence, the
manas assumes the form of that object; this is called a vritti or function. The manas is
achethana and so, its transformations and manipulations or vikaaras are also achethana,
non-intelligent, non-vital. A wooden doll has only the property of wood; a sugar doll has
just the property of sugar. The a-chethana manas cannot achieve the knowledge of Chethana
or of the Supreme Intelligence that pervades the Universe.
Just as the unintelligent chariot is directed by a charioteer,
there must be a Charioteer who directs the unintelligent Manas, seated in it and having it
as His vehicle. The Motive Force that activates the Inner Instruments, the Senses of
Action, the Senses of Knowledge, the Five Pranas, that Force is God. The question quoted
above implies that this Force is distinct from the Senses. Naturally, therefore, the
Motivator of the entire group of senses must be distinct from the Manas too, is it not?
Those who seek to know the Eternal, convinced that all acts and activities are ephemeral
will not worry about the Eternal.
That Eternal Entity is agitation-less and so it is not moved by
the Three-fold urge. It does not order the senses about for this purpose or that. Then the
question arises: "Do the Manas, the Prana, the Vaak, the Eye, the Ear etc., carry out
their respective functions, prompted by the Law of Cause and Effect? Or, do they act so,
moved by the wish of a conscious force?" That is the doubt.
The ear has the capacity to know sound, the eye is endowed with
the skill to know and distinguish form. The other senses are also similarly equipped. When
the manas passes out through the knowing-senses towards objects and envelopes them, you
acquire knowledge about them. The five senses and the manas are all, therefore,
instruments of knowledge. How could they manage to perform this intelligent function,
being themselves devoid of intelligence?
Well, the answer is: Due to the presence of the Atma, due to the
reflection of the effulgence of the Atma, on the Anthahkarana. The Sun illumines the world
and makes it active in a thousand ways. So too the Atma, by its Thejas, activates and
illumines the world. All instruments of knowledge are activated by the Atma; the current
of electricity energises the machines and does various operations - printing etc., but it
is not visible or concrete. The electric current is the Mover of the movement, the Machine
of the Machine. So too, the Atmic Tejas is the Ear of the ear; the Eye of the eye. That is
the activating current.
The wonder is: the Atma is inactive and without qualifications. It
does not get anything done with the manas or the senses, remember. They get activated by
the very presence of the Atma! The rays of the Sun are not aware at all of the activity
they invoke; the Atma is not responsible for the activity of the senses (This teaching was
given by Varuna to his son Bhrigu).
The eye, when illumined by the Splendour of the Atma, is able to
grasp Form, which is its sphere; it can never hope to illumine the Atma, which is
self-luminous. The lamp illumines objects; but, the objects cannot, in their turn,
illumine the lamp. The Vaak can describe or denote only such as possess qualifications,
like name, form, guna, kriya etc. How can it describe or define that which has no
qualifications, no name, no form, no characteristic ... viz. the Paramatma? You cannot
describe sweetness or similar tastes by means of words. The Atma is not a subject for
description. The non-intelligent Manas cannot experience the Intelligence. There is no
knower who can know the Knower of all. He is beyond all knowable things. When known, He is
no longer Knower or Knowledge.
Brahmam is Jnanam itself: so, it can never be "known" by
a "knower". By the process of knowing, other things can be known, not Knowledge
itself. The lamp will not crave for another lamp to see itself nor will it crave for its
own light. It has light, it is light - that is all. It sheds light on other objects; it
does not shed light on its light. So too you are Light, you are Atma. The Atma in you is
of the same nature as the Atma in all beings. It is the only one Reality; it has no
limitation or attribute or qualification.
The Atma can be cognised by the study of the Sastras and by
following the injunctions laid down there. That which cannot be illumined by words or
speech or by the senses, that which illumine the word and speech and all the senses - that
is Brahman, or Atma. The first Khanda of this Upanishad makes clear that Brahmam is
incapable of being limited or discarded or over-looked.
So, for those who claim that they have seen Brahmam,
"It" is yet a subject for further investigation and inquiry. They have not
reached the final stage. For, theirs is not authentic Jnana; theirs is but a delusion. The
Atma of the person who knows, is itself the very Brahmam; that is the undoubted verdict of
Vedantha, is it not? Fire cannot burn itself; how can Atma know Atma, how can the knower
know Himself? Therefore, the statement, I have known Brahmam, is an indication of
delusion, not of real knowledge.
It is said that Brahmam has various cognisable and countable
forms; but, that is only in the limited sense of being qualified by Name and Form. By
Itself, the Absolute has not got sound or smell or taste or touch or form. It is
ever-existing. In whatever activity you become aware of its presence, that activity lends
its appropriate characteristic. In whichever sphere the Sastras discuss and decide, that
sphere becomes for the particular Sastras, the characteristic of Brahmam. The
Consciousness which becomes apparent when it is limited by certain bounds or vessels -
that Chaithanya is Brahmam. Chaithanya is attachment-less; but, yet, when associated with
objects like the physical body, It gives the impression that It is attached. From the fact
that when the waters of the lake are agitated the image of the Sun under the water shakes,
you cannot infer that the Sun in the Sky, which is remote and afar, also shakes! The Sun
and the sheet of water are unrelated. No relationship can be posited between these two.
Similarly when the body undergoes growth, decay, destruction etc., it gives the impression
that the Atma too is so affected; but, the Atma is unaffected. Brahmam is beyond the reach
of the intellectual seeker; it can be reached only by those who give up the intellect as a
useless instrument. Experience alone is the method of approach, the proof, the result. The
ultimate state of Brahma-jnana is the end of all enquiry, all search. Actual Realisation,
Sakshathkara is the fruition thereof. This highest stage is reached in Samadhi, the
quietening of all agitations in all levels of consciousness, though of course, the
preliminary steps of Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana are concerned with Buddhi or the
Intellect. One will acquire the Sathyaswarupa, if he understands the nature of the Atma;
if he does not, then, it is a big loss, no doubt. The Jnani recognises in every being and
every object the Principle of the all-pervading Atma and when he leaves the world, he
becomes free from birth and death.
Brahmajnana is the heritage of Man; he is entitled to it. If he is
aware of this and if by his efforts, he achieves the Jnana of Brahmam adopting the
above-mentioned methods, then verily, his career in this world is worth while. Otherwise,
it is all a waste. The Atma, when cognised in the Consciousness, flashes like a streak of
lightning; in a second it will reveal its brilliance and splendour. It is impossible to
grasp its full majesty. Manas is the cloak of the Atma; it conditions the Atma, or rather
appears to. So, it seems to be very close to the Atma, and makes you believe that it
attains It; it is incapable of doing so. Since it is closest, the Sadhaka imagines that
his mind has realised the Atma and yearns for the experience again and again. This, of
course, is good, for it fosters the search for the merger with Brahmam.
For the Brahmajnani, the opposites of Dharma and Adharma, of Merit
and De-merit, are non-existent. Dharmic life offers the Upper Lokas after death and
Adharmic life leads one to the Lower Lokas; but, both are shackles for the aspiring
Sadhaka, whose eye is on the removal of ignorance and realisation of Truth. He has to seek
to snap the strings that bind the heart to the objective world. So, he wants an answer to
the question with which this Upanishad starts: By which does the mind grasp things etc.?
To attain the Jnana of Brahmam, Thapas, Self-control, Vedic rites, Image-Worship, are all
good helps. Jnana has Sathya as its location.
This Upanishad gives all seekers the Upadesa of Brahmajnana: it
deals with Brahmam, which is Sathyam, Jnanam and Anantham.
IX. CHANDOGYA UPANISHAD
This Upanishad is incorporated in the Samaveda. It has 8 sections,
the first 5 dealing with various Upasanas or Forms of approaching the Ideal and the last 3
explaining the manner of acquisition of true Knowledge. Purity of the Consciousness is the
essential pre-requisite for Upaasana. Single-minded concentration is essential for
Knowledge of Brahmam. These can be got by Karma and Upasana; thus is Brahmajnana won. That
is the reason why in the Sastras, Karma is first described and Upasana next and Jnanam
In the First Chapter of the Chandogya, the Upasanas which form
part of the Sama Veda are detailed. In the Second, the entire ritual of Sama is described.
In the Third, the Upasana of Surya known as Madhuvidya, the Gayathri Upasana, and the
Sandilya Vidya are all given. In the Fourth, the Samvarga Vidya, and the sixteen-phased
Brahmavidya are taught. In the Fifth, the three Vidyas, Prana, Panchagni and Vaiswanara
Uddalaka taught his son, Swethakethu, that knowledge which if
known, all things can be known. The knowledge of mud and of gold will give the knowledge
of all pots and pans, as well as of all bracelets and necklaces. The mud and the gold are
the truth; their modifications and transformations are temporary, mere name-forms. So too,
the world, like the pot and the bracelet, is just an effect, the cause being
"Sath". Sath means "Is-ness" is common to all objects; the pot
"is", the "bracelet" "is". "Is-ness" becomes
manifest through association with the pots and pans, the bracelets and necklaces. The
"is-ness" may not be apparent to gross intelligences, for, it needs subtlety to
realise it. The rosy colour which is manifested in the rose "is", even in the
absence of the flower.
Similarly, the "is-ness" that is the universal
characteristic of all objects persists even in the absence of objects. Prior to creation,
there was only just this 'is-ness'. There was no void then; there was this
"is-ness" everywhere! When the "is" was reflected in Maya or Primal
Activity, it resulted in Iswara who partook of that activity to manifest as the Universe
with the three elements of Fire, Earth and Wind. All creation is but the permutation of
The line of Uddalaka is steeped in the study of the Vedas and so
it is famed as a noble high-born family. But Swethakethu, the son, was wasting precious
years after Upanayana in idleness, without using them for Vedic Study. This caused concern
for Uddalaka, for he who neglects the study of the Vedas, being born as a Brahmin, does
not deserve that appellation. He can only be called Brahmanabandhu, one who has Brahmins
as his relatives! So, Uddalaka took him to task and forced him to go to a teacher. There,
by the exercise of his superior intelligence, he mastered before he grew up to 24 the Four
Vedas with their meanings. He returned, proud and pompous, swelling with egoism, declaring
that there was no one to equal him in scholarship and righteousness.
In order prick his pride, Uddalaka asked him one day, "You
have become haughty that you have no equal in learning and virtue. Well, did you seek from
your Teacher the Message that reveals the Absolute, the lesson that only the practice of
the Sastras can impart, the message which when imagined makes you imagine all things
imagined? Did you learn that? That Message would have shown you the Atma which is the
fulfillment of all Study and Scholarship."
The Atma is the base of individuals like Swethakethu. The pure
Consciousness becomes apparently limited into a variety of individuals. In deep sleep, the
variety disappears and each individual lapses back into this "is-ness". Then,
all the manifold activities, and experiences, like, "I am Ranga", "I am
Ganga", "I am father", "I am son" etc., are destroyed. The
sweetness and fragrance of many flowers are collected and fused into one uniformly sweet
honey, where all the manifold individualities are destroyed. The names Ganga, Krishna,
Indus are all lost when they enter the sea.
They are thereafter called "the sea". The Jivi who is
eternal and immortal is born again and again, as a transitory mortal; he continues to
accumulate activity, prompted by inherited impulses and the activity produces
consequences, which he must shoulder and suffer. It is the body that decays and dies, not
the Jivi or the Individualised Soul. The banyan seed will sprout even if it is trampled
upon. The salt placed in water, though not available for the grasp, is recognisable by the
The Jivi, befogged by Ajnana, is unable to recognise his Reality.
Discrimination will reveal the truth. A millionaire is kidnapped and left alone in a
jungle but he discovers the way out and comes back into his home. So also, the Jivi is
restored to his millions! Once the Jivi reaches its Real Status, it is free from all the
change and chance that is involved in Samsara, or the Flow of Time and Space, of Name and
Form. If he does not reach that Status, then, like the happy sleeper who wakes into the
confusion of the day, he will be born into the world of decay and death.
Brahmam is described as Ekameva-adwithiyam; all this visible world
is denoted as Thath-swarupa or the Form of Brahmam; it can be realised by Sagunopasana, or
Worship of the limited qualified Divinity, just as Sathyakama and others did. The path of
Brahmopasana is called the Sushumna Marga also. The Omnipresent Brahmam can be enclosed
and discovered in the firmament of the heart! It is the capital of that Raja. Since He is
seated there, the heart is called Brahmavesma, or the House of Brahmam. That firmament
cannot, of course, limit or set boundaries to the illimitable Brahmam!
Yogis who are turned away from the objective world can attain the
Parabrahmam, with Its Splendour of Realised Knowledge, in the pure clear sky of their
hearts. The worlds are fixed as the spokes of the wheel in the hub of Brahmam. Decline,
decay and death do not affect It. Since the Supreme Entity can achieve whatever it decides
on, It is called Sathyakaama and Sathyasankalpa. Now, what exactly is the Parabrahmam? We
can know it by a single test. That which remains, after everything is negated as 'Not
this,' 'Not that' - that is Brahmam.
This is the Truth that all aspirants seek. Attaining It, they get
the status of emperors and can travel wherever they like. The Jnani who is established in
the pure Reality sees all desires that dawn in his heart as expressions of that Truth
The Atma transcends all the worlds. It is uncontaminated. He who
is aware of only the Atma is ever in Bliss. The Brahmacharya stage is an important step
for attaining Atmaic Wisdom. Yajnas, fasts and other vows are also equally helpful. The
solar energy surges through the countless nerves of the body; the senses merge in the mind
at the moment of death; the Jivi who has realised that it was all this, while limited by
the mind, then escapes into the Hridayakasa through the nerves. At last, on the point of
death, the Jivi moves out of the Sushumna into the solar rays and from thence to the
Suryaloka itself. The journey does not end there. It reaches out into Brahmaloka too.
But, the Jivi who is caught in the mire of Ajnana, who is
identified with the mind and its vagaries, escapes through the ear or eye or other senses
and falls into lokas, where Karma rules. The feeling of content and joy one gets in deep
sleep is the result of Ajnana persisting in the individual.
The Chiththa is the source and support of Resolution. All
resolutions, decisions and plans are the products of the Chiththa; they are of its form;
they originate there; why they are registered there. That is when death overtakes a
scholar of all Sastras, he becomes but the equal of ordinary men and his fate is the same
as that of the Ajnani. The Chiththa has to be saturated with Brahmic endeavour; then only
will it be an instrument of Liberation, freed from the shackles of Sankalapa. The mind
etc., cannot free itself, as the Chiththa can. The Chiththa discriminates between
resolutions; it tests them as duty and not-duty and justifies with proper reasons the
classification it has made. Once this selection is made, the word utters it, the name
signifies it. The special sound-forms or manthras incorporate the resolutions, accepted as
duty, by the purified Chiththa; the rites become one with the manthras. There can be no
proper Karma without Chiththa.
Next, about Dhyana, which is even superior to Chiththa. Dhyana is
the fixing of the Buddhi on the Divine, when it transcends such inferior helps as images,
idols or saligrams. In Dhyana, all agitations cease, all modifications are unnoticed. On
account of the effect of the Thamoguna, and even of the Rajoguna, all created things like
the waters, the hills and mountains, the stars and planets, men with the spark of the
Divine in them, all are agitation-bound, change-bound.
Vijnana is better than Dhyana. Jnana based on scholarship steeped
in the Sastras is referred to as Vijnana. It is attained by Dhyana and, hence, it is more
valuable than Dhyana.
Superior to Vijnana is Balam ... Strength, Fortitude, Vigour. It
illumines the objective world, it sharpens the Prathibha or Intuition. Prathibha is the
power by which you can sense the Consciousness in all knowledge objects. Now there is one
thing superior even to Prathibha: Annam, Food, Sustenance. It is the support of life;
deprived of it for ten days man becomes powerless to grasp anything. It is life that makes
possible study, service of the teacher, listening to his teaching, cogitation over what he
has taught, and the earning of Thejas.
Thejas or Illumination is higher than Intuition, Prathibha or
Food. Thejas is Fire, heat and light. Thejas creates water and water produces food. Thejas
can make even Wind lighter. It shines as lightning and sounds as thunder.
Akasa is superior to Thejas, remember. It is through Akasa that
sounds are transmitted and heard. Love and play are products of Akasa. Seeds sprout on
account of Akasa.
Now, consider this. Smarana, memory, is superior to Akasa. Without
it, all experience is meaningless, all knowledge is waste, all effort is purposeless.
Nothing can be experienced without the help of memory. Objects like the Akasa will be
recognised in its absence. It can be said that memory creates the Akasa and other objects.
Thus analysing the value and relative importance of objects and
powers, man must give up identification of self with the physical body and recognise his
real Reality. Such a man rises to the height of an Uttamapurusha, the noblest of men,
laughing, playing and moving without regard to the needs or comforts of the body. The
body-bound man is caught in Samsara; for the one who is free from that bondage, Swaswarupa
is the field of activity. The wind, the lightning and the thunder have no permanent
existence. When the rainy season comes on, they appear in the sky and get merged in it. So
too the particularised Jivi appears as separate for a time against the background of
Brahmam and gets merged in It, at last.
This Ashtaadhyayi Upanishad teaches the series of evolved objects
from Hiranyagarbha, Kasyapaprajapathi, Manu and Manushya; this lineage and the lessons to
ennoble it are vital for mankind. It has to be learnt by sons and students from father and
This Upanishad is incorporated in the Rig-Veda; it shines
bejewelled by six chapters which describe the absolute Atmic Principle. It is therefore
famous as the Atma-shataka, or the Atmic Six. The Vision of the Atma which results from
the destruction of Delusion and Ignorance is made possible for the aspirant by this
Upanishad. The term is used in two ways: Vyavahara and Visishta. Used in the Vyavahara
sense it indicates the Jivi; in every Jivi, the Atma expresses itself through the senses
of perception or the jnanendriyas into the outer world. The word is derived from the root
Ath ... which indicates "expansion, consumption, movement", among other things.
So, the word Atma denotes universal immanence, universal assimilation and perpetual
movement. That is to say, it connotes the Brahmam itself.
In the waking stage, it enjoys all the experiences; in the dream
stage, all the senses of perception and action hold back their activities but, it creates
its own forms and names on the basis of experiences and impressions collected from the
outer world; in the "deep sleep" stage, it becomes immanent everywhere and
assumes its basic role of pure bliss, unaware of any thing outside or inside. The meaning
of the world is in conformity with the experience of the three stages. On account of the
apparent limitation in time, space and condition, the Atma too is taken to be conditioned
and limited; but, that is not its real nature. It is endless, beginningless, changeless.
It knows all, can achieve all; it has no attributes. It is eternal, unsullied, conscious,
free. It has no second; it is unique, whole without parts.
The external world is cognised through direct perception etc. So,
all that is capable of being pointed out as this or that, or of being indicated by a name
or a form is subsumed by the idea of "Creation", Srishti. Creation means an act:
a result: what then was before that act? "Idam agre, Atma eva aaseeth" -
"Before this, the Atma alone was". The Jagath or World is a product which was
latent; later it becomes patent. In the latent stage, it was unmanifest in the Atman
itself. When the urge to manifold has appeared the multiplicity of names blossomed forth
and all this variety arose to view. Being perceptible by the senses ... this is the test
Name is fundamentally sound, manifesting as a word. In the
statement, this is Ranga, when the sound Ranga is produced the listener turns to the
person indicated before him and identifies him as Ranga. The word and its meaning are
inseparable. They two were both non-existent before Creation. Therefore, the Atma and the
un-manifested Jagath were unreachable by the intelligence, and the world which it
fashions. After Creation, since Name and Form became the essence of all this, everything
can be grasped by words and meaning. The non-dual which was and is and will be, is the
Atma; the multiple manifestation of variety proliferating in name and form, is Jagath.
But, basically, it is just one unique Vasthu, or Substance.
The one uniform Ocean appears as foam, bubble, wave and wavelet;
so too, Creation made manifest the apparent manifoldness from the changeless One.
Manifoldness is due to myopia, ignorance. There is no need to posit a second entity, other
than the Atma. The ignorance or myopia or maya is but a product of the will of the Atma.
It is not distinct from the Atma. Strength is not distinct from the strong person, is it
not? The Atma is devoid of distinctions, from the same kind or from different species or
from one's own characteristic. It is categorically declared as Eka eva: One Only.
But, it does not become clear so soon that all this is one. The
idea is just like the rope appearing as the snake, or the mirage deluding; the Atma too is
misleading us as Jagath. It is all a magician's tricks, manipulated by the wish of the
Absolute. The rope is the prime cause for the illusion of the snake on the rope. The Atma
is beyond the reach of the senses; it has no limbs or body. Only the explanation that it
is all an unreal illusion can satisfy the critic who questions how the Jagath can emanate
from the Atma, which is pure Consciousness only.
Everything is Atma, even Maya, which is the delusion of variety.
It is so strong that it causes the execution of deeds through instruments like the sensory
organs; you then declare that it is our will and power that did that deed, though it is
the delusion that was manifested by Atma that accomplished it.
The world thus created is devoid of Consciousness and so it has to
be fostered like a yanthra. How can a machine operate after its manufacture and even
installation, without a mechanic or machinist? He created the Virat-Purusha, from out of
the five elements; He also endowed him with head and limbs. Like the figure of clay made
by the potter from earth dug up by him, the Virat-Purusha was produced from the elements.
From the limbs of that Purusha, the Lokapalas were created. Then, each sense was separated
and equipped with an appropriate Deity. In front, the face and the mouth, with Agni as the
deity of the Vaak or Speech which is the function of the Mouth, the nose, the eyes; in
this manner, the senses and their respective deities were created and assigned.
These deities bless the senses and see that they function
properly. The external appearance of the eye, the nose and the ear may be quite right but
yet without the help of the presiding deity, they may not function at all. The cow and the
horse were created from the waters and offered to the gods. But, they were yet
discontented; so to answer their prayers, the Purusha was created similar to the
Virat-Purusha. Since that Purusha was associated with discrimination or Viveka, the gods
were delighted. All bodies other than human are merely instruments for the experiencing of
the fruits of action. The human is the only instrument for liberation.
The Lord after entering the body becomes the ruler of the
conjunction of the senses and the mind with the objective world. Like an actor, He
contacts the outer world and experiences all the lessons of the previous births. In the
Presence of the Lord, danseuse Buddhi dances her steps keeping to the timing of the
senses, moving from one object to another.
Thus, the Lord illumines everything through the form of the Jivi.
The Paramatma, who is limited as Jivatma has three areas of recreation: the eye, the
throat and the heart. The eyes shine with a special splendour when the realisation of
Brahmam is achieved or even attempted. This is an evident fact. When the Jivi has earned
the knowledge of its reality, it may not be able to describe how all is nothing besides
Atma; but it will achieve the knowledge that Brahmam itself is appearing as all this. He
who delves deep into the unity of the Jiva and the Brahmam has certainly discovered the
goal of Life; there is no doubt of that.
The stages of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep are unrelated to
the Atma. They are concerned only with the physical sensory causes and effects. Every
human being has two bodies; One's own and the progenetic. The duties of study, teaching,
japam and these assigned tasks are handed down by the father to the son at the time of his
death and they are carried on by him as the representative of the father and on his
behalf. Then, the father leaves this body, assumes another, more in conformity with the
actions and tendencies cultivated and established in this birth. That is the third birth
of the father. The first three manthras speak about the two births, the physical and the
spiritual. Now, a third one is added; the continuation by the son.
Vamadeva Rishi understood the Atma Swarupa in this form and became
liberated from all the constant flux of the objective world.
Brahmavidya is the specific theme of this Upanishad. It has three
sections: Siksha Valli, Ananda Valli or Brahma Valli, and Bhrigu Valli. The latter two
sections are very important for those seeking Brahmajnana. In the Siksha Valli, certain
methods to overcome the obstacles placed in men's way by Devas and Rishis and to acquire
one-pointedness in mental exertions are detailed. This Valli has twelve Anuvakas, or
Sections. In the other two Vallis, the same Instruction, the Vaaruni Vidya, is given,
which leads to Liberation and so they are practically one; for convenience of study, it is
dealt with in two Sections, that is all.
In the Siksha Valli, subjects like Samhitha, which are not
antagonistic to Karma, and like Upasana which are associated with Karma are dealt with.
These lead to Swaarajya. But, by these alone, the complete destruction of Samsara or Flux
will not be accomplished. Upasana exists along with Desire. So, like Karma, even Upasana
cannot bring about Liberation. All this Flux, this Samsara, is due to A-jnana; bondage is
the result. So, when the A-jnana is destroyed, then, the bonds loosen and Liberation is
attained. A-jnana is there, persisting, through natural causes. It is just like the
delusion that it is your train that is moving, when the truth is your train is stationary
and the train on the adjacent rails is moving! Watch your train only and you know the
truth; watch the other train, and you are deceived. There is no use seeking to know the
cause of this delusion. Seek how to escape from it. This A-jnana, which is the seed out of
which Samsara sprouts, can be destroyed only by Brahma-jnana. There is no other method.
All that is caused, everything that is a result, is short-lived;
this is evident from the Sastras as well as experience and reason. The Sastras speak of
aspirants who discarded even higher regions like Heaven, which are attainable by persons
who perform the prescribed rites; for Liberation is beyond the reach of those who dwell
therein. Heaven and hell are results of actions, they are created objects and so they
cannot be eternal; they are conditioned by birth, growth, decay and death. They do not
exist from the very beginning; they were made; before that act, they were not. That which
once was not and later will not be is as good as "not" even in the present. The
fruit of Karma shares this quality and so, it cannot grant eternal joy.
No effort can result in the creation of Akasa now; nothing can
produce anew what already exists. Moksha exists and is there self-evident. It cannot be
produced anew by any Karma. The moment the A-jnana which hides it from experience
disappears, that moment you are liberated and you know your Reality; you are free from
bondage. Prior to that moment, you were free, but imagined you were bound and you behaved
as if you were bound. How then are you to get rid of this idea that you are bound? By
listening to the teachings of the Vedas with faith therein. Then only can A-jnana perish.
That is the task which the Brahma Valli has placed before itself, in this Upanishad.
It is in the nature of things that ignorance prompts men to crave
for plentiful fruits through the performance of actions. Then, they become despondent that
they only bind them more and do not help to make them free. That craving for fruit, is
hard to shove off, though this fearful flux of growth and decay makes them shiver in
In this Upanishad, the three words, Sathyam, Jnanam, Anantham, are
meaningfully affixed to Brahmam, to explain its characteristics. They are three distinct
words, signifying qualities seeking to mark out the One from the rest, the One Brahmam
from other types of Brahmam which have not these traits. That is to say, Brahmam is not to
be confused with anything that is not Sathyam, Jnanam and Anantham. All that are limited
by time, space and objectivity are jada, material apparently different from Brahmam. The
characteristics of Sathyam, Jnanam, Anantham, help to differentiate and distinguish from
kindred and similar phenomena the real Brahmam. Whichever Rupam a thing is determined to
have, if that rupa is unchanged, then it is referred to as Sathyam. If that rupa undergoes
change, then it is A-sathyam. Modification is the sign of untruth; absence of modification
is the sign of Truth.
Brahmam is Sathyam, that is to say, it has no modifications. It is
nithyam, it is unaffected by time. All that is not Brahmam ... that is, Jagath, is subject
to change. All objects are subject to the triple process of the intellect: are known, the
knower and knowledge; hence, the intellect or Buddhi is spoken of as a guha or cave, where
the threefold process resides.
In the Taittiriya Brahmana as well as in this Upanishad, Dharma
too is treated elaborately. It has three forms: Kamya, Naimittika, and Nithya. The Sastras
seldom command that Karma has to be pursued; there is no need to do so for karma comes
naturally to man. Kama (desire) is the prompter of such Karma and man gets various fruits
thereby. The Sastras teach only the ways of directing this natural activity to ensure
The Upanishad exhorts you not to swerve from duties of learning
and teaching. "Swerve not from the true and the truth", it says. "From the
true, it will not do to swerve nor from Dharma nor from welfare and well-being, nor from
duties to Devas and Pitris. Treat thy mother as God. What works are free from fault, they
should be resorted to, not others..." this is what the Upanishad teaches.
Listening, rumination and concentration are the three steps in
Realisation. Listening refers to Vedas, which have to be revered in faith and learnt by
heart from a Guru; this confers the knowledge of the unknowable. Manana or Rumination is
the Tapas taught in the Bhriguvalli. By this process, the Brahma Atma Swarupa can be fixed
in the mind. Concentration helps the development of single-minded attention on the
Principle so installed. In the two Vallis, Brahma and Bhrigu, Brahmavidya or the
discipline which ensures the Realisation of Brahmam is expounded. The Brahmavalli teaches;
the Bhriguvalli proves by experience.
Bhrigu, the son of Varuna, tells him that Brahmam is Food, Prana,
the Senses, Manas, Vaak, etc. But, since the son soon learns that these are not Brahmam he
declares that Brahmam is that from which these are born and by which they live and
function. He first believed that Annam or Food is Brahmam since all beings exist on food
but, later, he feels that Brahmam is much more inclusive. He asks for direct teaching of
the Real, the Brahmam.
Thereafter, he was told that Thapas is Brahmam, for it is that by
which Brahmam the Reality is known. He discovered by Thapas that Vijnanam is Brahmam, for
Vijnanam is that in which creatures are born and it is that by which creatures live.
Thus it is announced that, of all disciplines and subjects of
study, the Brahmavidya is the most sacred, holy and esoteric. Annam is not to be decried;
that should be the vow of the Wise. The vital airs are all Annam. The physical body is the
gift of Annam. The Prana or vital airs have the body as the vehicle. So, Annam should not
be slighted. That should be the resolution. The waters in conjunction with the fire in the
stomach become food. In the water that comes down as rain the "fire" of
lightning is inherent. So, whoever is established in the Aapojyothi or the Splendour of
water is aware of the splendour of Annam and is persuaded to revere it. Annam is the Guru,
for it leads you on to the knowledge of Brahmam. It should not therefore be treated with
disrespect. That must be observed just like a vow by the aspirant.
Since the physical body is the transformation of food, it has an
Annamayakosa: the vital airs form another sheath, the Pranamaya. It weighs between good
and bad, right and wrong in the sheath of mind, or Manomaya-kosa. When it fixes upon a
step, with a purpose in view, it is the function of the Vijnanamayakosa. When the joy of
achievement is tasted, it is the Anandamayakosa that functions.
To progress with Brahmic outlook, that you are Brahmam and not the
body etc., the Pranamaya is the first instrument. It is subtle and separate and different
from the body. It is activated by Vayu and is saturated with it. It pervades and subsumes
the entire Annamayakosa. You can say that the Pranamaya is the soul of the Annamaya, for
it makes it function from head to foot. It cannot survive without the Prana. It is the
motive force; it has five varieties: Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana. By
contemplating that the Pranamaya is the Atma of the Annamaya, the notion that the body is
the Self will disappear. You rise from the gross to the subtle. Prana is like the molten
metal in the crucible. By effort, the Pranamayakosa can be experienced.
Prana appears in the form of the breath. Prana activates the head,
Vyana the right, Udana the left, Samana the central and Apana the lower parts of the body.
The Prana moves from the heart through the nerves of the face, the nose etc., and reaches
the head. From there, it motivates the various nerves flowing through the body under
different names with distinct functions. The Prana that functions round the navel is, for
example, called Samaana.
For the Mano-maya Kosa, the Yajurveda is the head; the Riks form
the right wing; Sama is the left wing, Brahmanas are the soul; the Atharvanaveda is the
tail. The Manthras of the Yajurveda are used very much in Yagas; with them, food is
offered ceremonially in the sacrificial Fire. Hence, it is considered as the Head. The
sound of Yajus produces modifications which are auspicious. That is the reason for the
significance attached to the other Vedas also. Thus all manthras become the causes of
mental modifications. These in turn illumine the splendour of the Atma; thus the Vedas and
the Mystery of their Syllables belong to the Science of the Atma itself. The Vedas become,
therefore, eternally valuable and eternally existent. The Atharvana Veda treats of various
rites to win relief from evil forces and ailments and so, it is described as the tail.
The Kosa thus described merges in the Vijnanamaya and later into
the Anandamaya and finally, the aspirant passes beyond even that, into the region of pure
The Sruthis declare "Ekam eva Adwithiyam Brahma"
(Brahmam is One Only, without a second). That is to say, there is nothing besides Brahmam.
Under all conditions, at all times, everywhere, Brahmam alone is. In the beginning, there
was just Sath and nothing else, says the Chhandogya. The Mandukya names it as Santham,
Sivam, Adwaitham. Only the evolved or the manifested can appear as two. That which is seen
is different, one from the other and all from the seer. Moreover, the seen is the product
of the seer's likes and dislikes, his imagination and feelings, his impulses and
tendencies. When the lamp is brought in, the "snake" disappears and the rope
alone remains and is understood as such. When the world is examined in the light of Brahma
Jnana, the illusory picture which attracted and repelled, the picture of Duality
It is the "Two" that causes fear. If one is oneself the
listener, the seer, the doer, the enjoyer, how can fear arise? Consider your condition
when asleep! The external world is then absent; you are alone with yourself. The state is
"One, without a second". Contemplation of that One and worship of that One
leading to the realistion of Secondlessness gives you that experience. Like the other, He
is Immanent; like the vital air, He is the Chith, the secret of all consciousness,
Sath, Chith, Ananda, Paripurna, Nithya - Brahmam is described by
these five attributes. Through an understanding of these, Brahmam can be grasped. Sath is
unaffected by Time: Chith illumines and reveals itself as well as all else; Ananda creates
the utmost desirability; Paripurna knows no defect or diminution or decline, or defeat.
Nithyam is that which is unaffected by the limitations of space, time and objectivisation.
In the light of this Brahmajnana, the World is a Mirage,
temporary, unreal, negatived by knowledge. The World is but another name for "things
seen, heard, etc.,". But "You, the Jivi, the seer are Sath Chith Ananda
Brahmam" - remember. Get fixed in that assurance; meditate on the Om which is its
best Symbol. Become aware from this moment that you are the Atma. When the fog of
ignorance vanishes, the Atma in each will shine in its native splendour. Then, you know
that you were pursuing a mirage in the desert sands, that you were taking as
"real", objects that had a beginning and therefore had an end.
The mind becomes bound with attachment when it dwells upon an
object, or desires it or dislikes it. To get free from such bondage, the mind should be
trained not to dwell on any object or desire it or dislike it. It is the mind that binds
and unbinds. If dominated by Rajas, it easily falls into bondage; if Sathwa predominates,
it can achieve freedom.
He, who feels one with the gross body, pursues feverishly the
pleasure derivable through the senses. Desire is the consequence of identification with
the physical frame. Give that up and you are given up by desire. Joy and grief are like
right and wrong, to be transcended. Affection and hatred are of the nature of the internal
instruments of man. They do not belong to the "Liver" who lives with them, the
Jivi or to the Atma, the essential reality of the Jivi.
The Atma is ever pure, ever free from attachment, for there is no
second to get attached to. The Mundakopanishad (III-i) manthra says: Two birds, ever
together, with significant and subtle wings, are perched on a tree. (The tree is the body
and the twin birds are Jivatma and Paramatma). One bird is engaged in tasting the fruits,
(The Jivatma experiences joy and grief from the deeds it engages itself in). The other
just watches. (The Paramatma is subtler than the subtlest and is just a Witness).
How can this gross physical frame of plasma and pus be the pure,
the self-luminous, the ever witnessing Atma? This is built up by food; this is ever in a
flux; it was not, before birth nor is after death! It is perishable any moment. It can
live on without a limb or two but the moment the vital air stops its flow, it starts to
decompose. So, the body should not be taken as the chief or as the Be-all and the End-all.
The Yoga you should practise is: watch the agitation in the mind
as a witness, free yourself from resolutions and even decisions, for and against. Have
your mind and its journeys always under control. Yoga is the parallel progress of the
Jivatma, every step in tune with the Paramatma. The goal is the merger of both: then, all
grief ends. He who steadily takes up yoga with faith and who is prodded on by unswerving
renunciation (non-attachment) can certainly win victory.
Chith in Sath-Chith-Ananda means Vijnana, the Super-knowledge that
confers perfect equanimity and purity, in fact, the Atmajnana which can be experienced by
one and all. In common parlance Vijnana is used to indicate the sciences but really it
means the Higher Wisdom. In that Swa-rupa, "Self-form", there is no room for
"impressions from Karma" nor for wishes that prompt Karma. Wishes vitiate the
mind. Wishes lead to action, action leaves a scar, a Vasana on the Mind. Be alone with
yourself and, then the mind can be negated. It is for this reason that Yogis retire into
The Vasanas or impressions fall into two Categories;
"Subha" or Beneficent and "Asubha" or Maleficent. Beneficent Vasanas
help liberation. Japa, Dhyana, Good Works, Charity, Justice, Unselfish Service, Fortitude,
Compassion - these are all beneficent. The maleficent tendencies of Anger, Cruelty, Greed,
Lust, Egoism have to be uprooted with the help of the beneficent; and finally, as the
thorn with which the thorn in the foot is removed, is also thrown away, the Vasanas that
were used to overcome the Vasanas that hurt are also to be discarded. The Subhavasanas are
the products of attachment and produce further attachment which may persist through many
births. The Jivamuktha too has to conquer the Subhavasanas. For him, they should be like a
burnt rope that cannot bind. In fact the entire group, sensual craving, desire, greed,
gets burnt, the moment the Atman is visualised. He will not be inclined towards anyone or
anything; nor will he be attached. Where the sun sets, there he lays himself down for
rest. He moves among men, unknown and unrecognised, seeking no recognition, why even
When the seer and the seen are both the same, the joy is described
as that of the fourth stage, the Thuriya stage. Beyond this, the Atman is certain to be
reached. By dwelling constantly on the Atma and its reality, the attachment to the world
will fall off. The Sadhana must be without break. The genuine Sadhaka must, with all his
resources, redirect the mind from the affairs of the world and the objects that entice the
senses, and concentrate on the austere purpose of knowing Brahmam.
Thamasic resolutions spell grief, Sathwic resolutions promote
Dharma and help sustain society and individual; the Rajasic ones plunge you into the
worldly flood. Give up these three and then you become entitled to the honour of
Brahmam is of immeasurable depth; how can it be measured and
comprehended by this petty mind? It is Aprameya, beyond all possibility of being described
by categories; it is Aparichhinna, without limit; it is Avyapadesya, beyond denotation; to
grasp It through the senses is an impossible task.
"The Brahmam, which the Vedanta declares can be spoken of as
only 'Not-this, not-this' is I-Myself; My reality is the Brahmam in the cavity of my
heart; I am that Brahmam which Sadhakas strive to know and succeed in reaching. Brahmam is
that which remains after subtracting the body, the mind, the vital airs, the brain
etc.," This knowledge is reached by the discipline of negation. Just as by this
method of elimination, you arrive at the conclusion, "So, this is Devadattha",
by this principle of "Jagrathajagratha", the truth, "Thath thwam asi"
"That thou art" is established. When the veil hiding the Jivi is removed, the
Jivi is revealed as Paramatma or Parabrahmam. The Jivatma is of the essence of Paramatma.
"I" refers to this Reality, the Sath-Chith-Ananda: it is
only ignorance that can use it to indicate the body! This ignorance and this wrong
identification are the causes of continuous chapters of grief and joy. So, use the word
"I" with discrimination to mean only your Brahmic reality; that will win
Atmajnana for you.
For experiencing the Atma as your Reality, control of the senses,
removal of physical attachment and truth are essential. The Brahmam is the Brihaspathi
prompting the Buddhi, the Manas of the manas, the Ear of the ear, the Eye of the eye, the
Illuminer of all the Self-Luminant One. His splendour is the light from which everything
else emanates. He is the Basic support and Sustenance. In the Mind, He is wisdom; the
Manas and the Buddhi do envelop the senses. Without Him, the Manas and the Buddhi are
helpless to function; they emerge from Him and merge in Him like grass that is born from
the earth and becomes part of it. Iron placed in fire becomes red and turns black again
when cooled: so too, Buddhi becomes resplendent with Jnana by dwelling on Parabrahma who
God is encased everywhere as the child in the womb. Some declare
that they will believe only in a God that can be seen or demonstrated. This is the usual
argument of the worldly minded. But it is not easy to see, with gross physical eyes, the
Paramatma which is Subtler than the Subtlest. You must first get command over a powerful
microscope, fit for the purpose. Either the Janana Chakshu or the Prema Chakshu is wanted,
the Eye of Wisdom, the Eye of Love; only with these can you see God. Can you show others
what the thing called "pain" is or "sweetness"? The eye cannot see an
abstract thing like love, pity, mercy, virtue, faith; it is beyond its capacity.
But by words, actions and behaviour, we infer that a person has
Love in his heart. So too, it is possible to judge whether a person is a Brahma-vid, how
deep he is established in his own Reality, whether by fits and starts or steadily and
securely. Divine Wisdom, Divine Treasure, Harmony with Nature, through these He can be
identified and discovered. Therefore, endeavour by all means to earn either the
Jnanachakshu or the Premachakshu.
Just as sugar in cane-juice, or sweetness in sugar, the Paramatma
is ever Immanent in creation; He is the inner core of all Beings. He is everywhere, always
in everything, He has no form; Atma is "A-thanu" "without body". It is
the in-dweller, the Purusha. Only by throwing off the attachment to the body, and
purifying the Mind and the Buddhi, can you merge in your Truth and earn the eternal Bliss,
highest Prasanthi, the purest Wisdom. Thus only can man earn liberation from the bondage
of birth and death.
"Deha", the word which means the body, is derived from
the root "dah" meaning "burn". It implies that which has to be burnt.
But, the Jnani has three bodies, the gross, the subtle and the causal. What is it then
that is burnt? The fuels, Adhibhoutika, Adhideivika and Adhyatmika, called the
Thaapathraya or the Hrdaya-Kaashta can burn and consume the three bodies quicker and more
completely than fire. However informed a person may be, if he identifies himself with the
body, he must be pronounced foolish. On the other hand, a person who is fixed in the faith
that he is Sath-Chith-Ananda will be transformed into Divinity Itself. Do not identify the
Jivi with the gross body of flesh and bone or even with the subtle and causal. The Atma
must be identified with the Paramatma alone. Then only can permanent Bliss emerge. Joy and
Grief, good and bad belong to the realm of the Mind, not to you. You are not the doer or
the enjoyer of the fruits of the deeds. You are ever-free.
Virtue is dharma; Vice is Adharma. These are products of the Mind,
strings that bind the heart. When Man experiences this higher Truth, he becomes free from
both, and achieves the vision of Reality. As the silk worm gets entangled and imprisoned
in the cocoon that it spins around itself, so Man too spins a cocoon of wishes around
himself and suffers.
The Atma is ever dis-entangled. It is "A-samsari".
"Not-bound by flux". Its nature is purity, wholeness, joy, wisdom; where Ego is,
there bondage persists. Where there is no "I", there freedom holds sway. The
"I" is the real shackle.
There are three obstacles in the path of the seeker after
Atmajnana; obstacles of the past, the present and the future. These must be overcome. The
Jivan-muktha is not worried over these. He has gone beyond the triple distinction of the
seer, the seen and the sight; he has known that the distinction is artificial, a product
of the mind. Once you have conquered the Triple illusion of Triputi, you will experience
Brahmam in all things at all times.