The muNDakopaniShat – Part 12
It is to be appreciated that from the Jñānin’s point of view, however, there have been no births ever, even in the past and the present. He would realize himself as the ever-existing Brahman which is devoid of actions, karma, and the experiencing, bhoga, of their fruits. Pure Consciousness is no kartā, performer of action, and no bhoktā, enjoyer of the fruits of actions. Says Śrī Śaṅkaracārya:
Contrary to the earlier belief that I have doership & enjoyership, in all the three periods of time I am the Supreme Brahman that is devoid of doership & enjoyership. I was not a kartā (a person acting) or a bhoktā (a person enjoying/experiencing) before, I am not that even now and I will not be that in the future as well. The knower of Brahman understands thus.// [Shankara’s brahmasūtra bhāṣya: 188.8.131.52]
When that Supreme Self taught as the sarvajña, asamsārin (‘All-knower and ever-liberated’) in the foregoing mantras is directly apprehended by the aspirant, all the fruits stated therein occur. What else is the nature of that Supreme Self whose realization brings all these magnificent fruits? It is the ‘High’ as the Cause of the entire creation and ‘low’ as the effect that is the creation. In other words, the Upaniṣat is teaching that it is Brahman Itself that has ‘become’ this created universe. Brahman alone appears as the experienced world of names and forms of beings both sentient and insentient.
हिरण्मये परे कोशे विरजं ब्रह्म निष्कलम् ।
तच्छुभ्रं ज्योतिषां ज्योतिस्तद्यदात्मविदो विदुः ॥ १० ॥
हिरण्मये in the golden परे highest कोशे sheath विरजं shining ब्रह्म Brahman निष्कलम् indivisible तत् that शुभ्रं blemishless ज्योतिषां of lights ज्योतिः light तत् that यत् which आत्मविदः knowers of the self विदुः know
There the stainless and indivisible Brahman shines in the highest, golden sheath. It is pure; It is the Light of lights; It is That which they know who know the Self.
The next three mantras state in a condensed form what has been already said in the foregoing. In the locus, like a scabbard of a sword, that is the luminous intellect which is the supreme since it is the abode where the realization of the Ātman is possible, shines Brahman that is devoid of all defects such as avidyā. The word ‘Brahman’ signifies that which is greater than everything in creation. It is free of any divisions. And since It is free of all defects and parts It is pure. It is the Light of all luminous objects such as the fire. All luminous entities in creation are known, illumined, by this Light. What is meant is that the luminosity of all these objects such as fire is derived from this Brahman-Consciousness that is inhering in them. This is the Supreme Light which is not illumined by all other objects in creation. The knowers of the Self realize It as the one that is aware of all the transformations of the intellect, etc. They accomplish such a realization owing to their constant recognition of this fact of being aware of these transformations. Since It is the Supreme Light, only they realize It and not those who are distracted by the external transformations.
न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्रतारकं नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोऽयमग्निः ।
तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति ॥ ११ ॥
न not तत्र there सूर्यः sun भाति shines न not चन्द्रतारकं the moon and star न not इमाः these विद्युतः lightnings भान्ति shine कुतः how indeed अयम् this अग्निः fire can? तम् That एव alone भान्तम् shining अनु after भाति shine सर्वं all तस्य by Its भासा shine सर्वम् all इदं this विभाति is lighted
The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these lightnings, not to speak of this fire. With the shine of That, everything shines; by His light everything is lighted.
How is Brahman called the ‘Light of lights’? This is being answered thus: In that Brahman which is the very self, the sun does not shine. This means that the sun cannot reveal, illumine, Brahman. The sun indeed, with the power derived from Brahman, illumines all other inert objects in the world. The sun has not the capability to shine by itself. So also the moon and the stars, the lightning and the fire that is perceptible to us. None of these luminous bodies can illumine and reveal Brahman. What more need be said? This world shines, that is, becomes known to us, only by the light of the self-luminous Brahman. Just as water, a fire-brand, etc., owing to contact with fire, are hot/aglow, by the fire which is itself hot/burns, and not by themselves, so too this world of sun, etc, is glowing only due to the shine of Brahman. We should note that by the ‘shine’ of Brahman no physical light is meant, but the Pure Consciousness that is the very nature of Brahman that is signified. No entity, devoid of its own light, can illumine another. Pots, etc. are not seen to illumine other objects, and sun, etc. are seen to illumine other objects. In this couple of examples, Śaṅkarācārya is using the anvaya-vyatireka (concordance-discordance) method to establish the idea that only that entity which is luminous can illumine others and that which is devoid of luminosity cannot illumine others.
ब्रह्मैवेदममृतं पुरस्ताद्ब्रह्म पश्चाद्ब्रह्म दक्षिणतश्चोत्तरेण ।
अधश्चोर्ध्वं च प्रसृतं ब्रह्मैवेदं विश्वमिदं वरिष्ठम् ॥ १२ ॥
ब्रह्म Brahman एव alone इदम् this अमृतं immortal पुरस्तात् before ब्रह्म Brahman पश्चात् behind ब्रह्म Brahman दक्षिणतः right च and उत्तरेण left अधः below च as also ऊर्ध्वं above च and प्रसृतं expansive ब्रह्म Brahman एव alone इदं this विश्वम् world इदं that वरिष्ठम् Supreme.
That immortal Brahman alone is before, that Brahman is behind, that Brahman is to the right and left. Brahman alone pervades everything above and below; this universe is that Supreme Brahman alone.
That Brahman which is the Light of all lights alone is the Truth. All that is Its transformation is no more than mere words (as taught by the Chāndogya Upaniṣat mantra 6.1.4) and therefore unreal. This idea has been established in detail with the help of reasoning in the foregoing and is now being concluded. Brahman alone is this, that is, what is available for experience immediately in front of us, but not recognized as Brahman by those of ignorant vision. Brahman is what is behind, right and left. What is below and above and everywhere too is Brahman alone. That which falsely appears extended everywhere in the form of an effect (of a cause), in the shape of all names and forms, is only Brahman. Briefly stated, this entire universe is nothing but the Supreme Brahman alone. The appearance of the universe as though it is not Brahman (but the world of names, forms and objects) is only due to ignorance, avidyā, just as the perception of snake in the locus that is the rope. Brahman alone is the one absolute truth is what the Veda declares. This expression of the identity of the world with Brahman is called ‘bādhāyām sāmānādhikaraṇyam’ which can be understood through the example ‘what was wrongly seen as snake is now realized as none other than the rope’. This purport is brought out in the Bhagavadgītā 4.24 and the commentary as well.
Here ends the second section of the second chapter of the Muṇḍaka upaniṣat.
Now begins the first section of the third chapter
The higher, parā, vidyā has been delineated in the foregoing, through which one would realize the Truth called by the name ‘Puruṣa.’ By attaining this realization the absolute annulment of the cause of transmigratory life, samsāra, in the form of the knot of the heart, etc., (ibid 2.2.9) is accomplished. The means to such realization too has been specified in the form of the bow-arrow imagery (ibid 2. 2. 3, 4). In the sequel is commenced the discourse on the auxiliary means such as adhering to truth. Even though the absolute Vedāntic Truth has been presented already, yet owing to its inscrutable nature it is spoken of again principally, in an alternate way. In this regard a pithy mantra is introduced in order to determine the transcendental Reality:
द्वा सुपर्णा सयुजा सखाया समानं वृक्षं परिषस्वजाते ।
तयोरन्यः पिप्पलं स्वाद्वत्त्यनश्नन्नन्योऽभिचाकशीति ॥ १ ॥
द्वा two सुपर्णा birds सयुजा united सखाया same name समानं same वृक्षं tree परिषस्वजाते cling तयोः of the two अन्यः one पिप्पलं fruit स्वादु tasty अत्ति eats अनश्नन् without eating अन्यः the other bird अभिचाकशीति just looks on.
- Two birds, united always and known by the same name, closely cling to the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit; the other looks on without eating.
There are two birds of pleasing plumage, remaining, with the same names and the same abode of realization of their true nature. This abode is the body, which is presented in the mantra with the imagery of a tree. In the tree, that is the body, are these two birds, the jīvātman (individual Self) and the paramātman (Supreme Self) perched, embracing each other with the objective of consuming the fruits of the tree.
Part 1, Part 11, Part 13