Vedic Lore Age of the Vedas Upanishads Brahma Devas I Devas II Rta and Satya Yajña RIGVEDA Mandala I Mandala III Mandala V Mandala X Author e-mail me

Upanishads

Upanishads

O god Savitri (Creator), impart to us todya your divine felicity/grace

Along with (or as one does for) offspring and subjects.

Remove evil dream. (RV V.82.04)

We introduce on this page the Self (Ātman).

Our notions, illusions and dreams are the obstacle.

 

Prayer of the Isha Upanishad

 

That (outside) is whole (poorna), this (within) is Whole;

(That) whole comes out of (this) Whole.

Whole coming out from Whole, what remains is still whole (complete, intact).

 

How can there be two wholes? Whole A and whole B will either be one and the same and therefore not two or if different, then something in one would be missing in the other. Isn’t it perplexing? Is it that mantra is fallacious? No, mantra is perfectly right. Let us try to understand it. Two wholes could be like seed and tree.

Mantra is supralogical. It is not humanly possible, never possible to independently or unaided conceive of such two wholes. Why? Because our senses, mind and intellect are unidirectional and also because, according to devout tradition, knowledge is not created but divine, eternal and revealed.

The two wholes is a recurring theme of the Vedas, though guised most of the times. The picture will get clearer when we take up the Mandukya Upanishad below. According to that Upanishad, the two wholes (each called Brahma there) are ‘all this’ [outside, knowable jagat] and that Ātman (inmost Self, the witness/knower, called the Fourth there). Unless we clearly know the two wholes and distinction between the two, we do not know the Veda, we do not know Brahma comprehensively. The Rig Veda says it categorically and deplores one who knows Rik and but does not know Brahma. (I.164.39 ibid.)

The other thing to be noted here is that outer whole comes from inside whole (Ātman). Therefore, fulfilling oneself with outside objects is fallacious. Ātman is already whole (Brahma).

 

The Isha Upanishad

(The Yajur Veda, chapter 40)

By Lord pervadable (or habitable) is all this

 

Whatsoever existing in this changing world (jagat =going) is pervaded by Lord.

In surrender to Him, enjoy! Do not [in vain] covet anyone’s riches! ¶1

All belongs to true Lord. All this world around is non-self (un-Ātman). Things are neither yours nor you.

Doing verily (kurvan eva) works in this world, live a life of hunderd years.

Thus, for you there exists no other route as to escape blame of karma! ¶2

True servant is obligated to carry out master’s commands. He thus incurs no liability for carrying out his allotted duty faithfully. It is not your Karma! Life indeed is not your choice.

Demonic are the worlds, enclosed in utter darkness;

Whereto head the Self-destroyers [who violate above dicta],

Even when they depart from here. ¶3

(That Lord is) unmoving, one, outrunning mind;

The gods (and senses) [manifest only at creation] can not grasp the Primeval One.

Standing he surpasses others in the race,

Under his aegis, Mātarisvan (Vayu) upholds works. ¶4

That [Lord] moves, That moves not, That is far, That is near.

This is within all, That indeed is outside of all too. ¶5

One who sees all beings as Self (Ātman) alone

And self in all beings, does not fear and suspect. ¶6

For one if all beings become as Self alone,

Then what delusion and what sorrow can attend him,

Realising ONENESS everywhere! ¶7

Bright, bodyless, scarless, sinewless, pure, unpierced by evil, He has become all this.

He is eloquent Seer (kavi), Thinker, Realiser (becoming all this), Self-existent.

From time without beginning, He has throughout revealed the Vedas (knowledge, or Word) and, in conformance with the Vedas, Ordered objects (World) [true to their nature as signified in the Vedas]. ¶8

Object in Sanskrit is called padārtha (=pada+artha). That suggests objects have origin in speech.

Utter darkness do those enter who [extroverts or hedonists] seek asambhooti (material pursuits);

Deeper darkness those enter, who seek sambhooti alone [withdrawal or renunciation]. ¶9

Others are said to be the fruits of sambhooti; others are said to be of asambhooti;

So we heard from the sages who kindly distinguished the two for us. ¶10

But one who realises the value of both sambhooti and asambhooti;

After crossing death with asambhooti, enjoys immortality with sambhooti. ¶11

(1) Renounce or hoard? Either alone may not be the right course. Remember: all belongs to Lord.

(2) Closing line suggests: Begin with asambhuti to realise true Self, but then, with sambhuti, realise all as manifestation/expansion of Self.]

Utter darkness do those enter who seek avidya (ignorance or livelihood skill);

Deeper darkness those enter, who seek vidya [knowledge] alone. ¶12

Others are said to be the fruits of vidya; others are said to be of avidya;

So we heard from the sages who kindly distinguished the two for us. ¶13

But one who knows (and pursues) vidya and avidya together;

After crossing death with avidya, enjoys immortality with vidya. ¶14

Vayu (life-breath) merges with the immortal Anila (Air); body ends in ashes.

Om Kratu (individual), remember. Remember your acts. Remember your constraint. ¶15

The individual acts against Divine Will. That exactly is his sin.

O Agni, lead us on right paths as you know raison d’etre of all works;

Purge us of devious attraction of sin; to you we submit our profoundest adorations. ¶16

Face of Truth is hidden by the Saviour Prajāpati (Hiranyagarbha).

[Or face of Truth is hidden under glittering cover. Greed is the stumbling block!]

The Purusha over there, there [in Sun], That I am.

Om, Brahma is all-encompassing (kha). ¶17 Finis.

 

Prayer of the Mandukya Upanishad

 

O gods (or learned men), may we hear what is noble (bhadra)!

O altruist sacrificers, may we see what is noble!

May we, blessed with sturdy limbs and bodies and lauding you,

Enjoy the god-allotted life span in service of gods or all life (deva-hita)! ¶1

May Indra, lord of ancient/ageless fame, riches and inspirations (sravas),

Be well-disposed to us! May all-reaching Pooshan foster and nurture us well!

May Tārkshya of unhampered and salutary rule (or cylce of life) make our course safe!

May magnificent Brihaspati be gracious unto us! ¶2

 

Why pray? Because life is deva-hita (god-allotted as part of karma justice). Or because the purpose of life is service of gods or all life.

Pooshan is Sun that stimulates rain cycle and food-making by green plants (photosynthesis).

 

The Mandukya Upanishad

An Upanishad of The Atharva Veda

An Introduction to Self (Ātman)

 

1. The syllabic sound Om is changeless (akshara[1] stirring intuition and waters) and all this. Its brief explanation is:

That has been or is or is yet to be; all is Omkāra only.

And else too, that exceeds three times, is Omkāra.[2]

[1] That does not change, break, or spend; alternatively, indeclinable or indivisible. But according to Nirukta, akshara stands for waters at the physical plane.

[2] Aren't all and else linguistically incompatible? Yes, they are, but not here. Else is clarified in the following hymn.

2. For all this is Brahma; that Ātman is Brahma[3]. This Ātman has four quarters!

[3] ‘All’ is not complete. All and Self together form supreme Reality (called Brahma or Om/Omkāra). All-Self distinction is paramount and is also called Viveka. Refer to discussion on Avidya Sutra (Section 5) in my book Yoga: An Analytical Release.

3. With seven organs and nineteen openings, awake, extrovert (attention directed outward), is the Universal Man, enjoying gross [common] objects. That is first quarter [comprising world of senses].[4]

[4] Regard and realise waking life as a quarter of Reality! Refer to Purusha Sukta (RV X.90.3). Remind yourself, again and again.

4. With seven organs and nineteen openings, dreaming, introvert (attention directed inward), is the Radiant, enjoying subtle [personal] objects. That is second quarter [comprising world of mental images].

Actually, we mistake our fantasies, day-dreams and far-fetched notions, as part of waking life. They form our dream state, the second quarter.

5. In Sleep, one yearns no desire, nor experiences any dream.

Sleeping, that is unified (integrated), nucleus of wisdom, blest [by default], fountain of mind, and enjoyer of bliss, is called the Wise. That is third quarter [comprising void or heart].

6. This one is the Almighty (literally, all-lord) the Omniscient (literally, all-knower); the Inner-Controller; the Source of all contingent beings: their Birth and Death.

God is stated as the third quarter, or more precisely a relative state.

7. [The ultimate] Fourth is regarded neither inward-wise (introvert), nor outward-wise (extrovert), nor both-wise (extro-intro), nor nucleus of wisdom, nor wise [about particular knowledge/theories], nor unwise [unconscious]. [He in reality is] unseen, incommunicable, ungraspable, symptom-less, unthinkable, indescribable, sum conviction of oneself, calm, Shiva (or Siva)[5], advaita (second-less), with prapancha[6] (fivefold drama) dispelled. He is the Self (Ātman). He is worth meditating.

[5] Shiva means agreeable, auspicious, and favourable. Do not confuse it with personality of god by the name Shiva.

[6] It refers to disturbance or agitation involving five senses, five elements, etc. Any modification from Nature is indeed apparent. Nature and modification; it is a contradiction in terms.

N.B. First three quarters ar states (becoming); the fourth is true Self (being). Moreover, Self is not to be meditated as other or as any conventional object.

8. That Ātman [even if appearing as four-quartered or prapancha] falls into the category of akshara and is indeed Omkāra. Its first three quarters correspond to three constituent sounds a, u, m of the syllabic sound Om; and vice versa.

9. Awake, the Universal Man corresponds to a-sound, first letter, signifying attainment and beginning. Knower of this [fully participating/aware in world of senses and not mentally absent] attains all desires and becomes forebear and pioneer.

10. Dreaming, the Radiant is u-sound, second letter, signifying elevation and mediation. Knower of this [understanding illusory nature of all speculations and notions [7]] fosters wisdom chain, and remains even-minded to all[8]. None in his clan ever remains ignorant of Brahma.

[7] Every judgement of reality is subjective and therefore illusory. Distinction between inner and outer world too fades!

[8] In view of All-Self distinction (hymns 1 and 2), evenmindedness toward all follows naturally.

11. Sleeping, the Wise is m-sound, third letter, signifying measurement and mergence. Knower of this [understanding well that things disappear as a blackout and not out of understanding or Vidyā] measures, or attains ability to judge, all this; and merges all in Self and emerges all from Self.

12. Beyond letters/sounds or communication or quantification (amātra) is the Fourth, that is Shiva (or Siva), Advaita (second-less), with prapancha calmed. And thus [this Fourth] Omkāra is verily the Self of all. Knower of this merges in Self. Knower of this redeems by himself. Finis.

 

Excerpts from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (or Satapatha Brahmana)

Self (Purusha) is Asanga (unaccompanied, unaffected, untainted)

 

That very Self (Purusha), after rejoicing, roaming, and experiencing the good and bad in dream, again, habitually, rushes back to the waking state indeed. Whatsoever there He sees does not follow him, by reasons of Purusha being asanga (unattached).

That very Self (Purusha), after rejoicing, roaming, and experiencing the good and bad in dream, again, habitually, rushes back to the dream state indeed. Whatsoever there He sees does not follow him, by reasons of Purusha being asanga (unattached).

Just like big fish that moves between two banks, one or the other, so too this Purusha moves between the two ends, waking and the dream. [IV.3.15-18 ibid.]

 

 

Excerpts from the Kaivalya Upanishad

 

In the three states [waking, dream, and sleep], name or imagine

Whatsoever object — experiencer, experience, or experienced;

Discrete from them, stay I (Self) [Fourth],

That is just Conscious, Witness, and ever Shiva in nature. [18 ibid.]