V Subrahmanian, Monday, February 16, 2015 11:34 am

The muNDakopaniShat – Part 14

Part 14

(Continuing Mantra 3.1.4)

The knower of Ātman sports with the Self and does not find interest in sporting with wife, son, etc. Hence he is called ‘Ātmakrīḍaḥ’.  And he is ‘Ātmaratiḥ’, as he delights in the Self.  While sport, krīḍā, requires an external object, ‘ratiḥ’, delight, does not require any object; it is just love for an external object.  The knower of the Self is also a man of action: contemplation, meditation, dispassion, etc. are those that engage him constantly.  In any case the epithet ‘man-of-action’ found in the mantra can never mean that he combines scripturally ordained duties like agnihotra along with the knowledge of Brahman. This is because it goes against what the mantra also says: he is the ‘foremost of knowers’.  Only he who has withdrawn from external action can be truly sporting with the Self.  Engaging in action and sporting with the Ātman is akin to the combining of darkness and light.  The two cannot be in the same locus.  Thus, such a Knower of Brahman, who does not indulge in worldly talk, who always sports in the Self, delighted in the Self, is the foremost among Knowers.    

In the sequel the qualities such as adhering to truth that aid the arising of right knowledge is being enjoined:

Mantra 3.1.5


सत्येन लभ्यस्तपसा ह्येष आत्मा सम्यग्ज्ञानेन ब्रह्मचर्येण नित्यम् ।

अन्तःशरीरे ज्योतिर्मयो हि शुभ्रो यं पश्यन्ति यतयः क्षीणदोषाः ॥ ५ ॥

सत्येन by truth लभ्यः is attained तपसा by austerity हि indeed एष this आत्मा Ātman सम्यग्ज्ञानेन by right knowledge ब्रह्मचर्येण continence नित्यम् constantly अन्तःशरीरे inside the body ज्योतिर्मयः resplendent  हि indeed शुभ्रःpure यं whom पश्यन्ति realize यतयः sannyāsins  क्षीणदोषाः freed of defects

This Atman, resplendent and pure, whom the sinless sannyāsins behold residing within the body, is attained by unceasing practice of truthfulness, austerity, right knowledge and continence.

By truth, that is, by eschewing untruth, is the Ātman attained. Also by austerity of the form of restraining the senses and the mind as taught in the Mahābhārata Śāntiparva 250.4: ‘the rendering the mind and the senses one-pointed is admitted to be the highest austerity.’  This indeed is the most favorable means to Self-knowledge and not the other kind of severe austerity known by the names cāndrāyaṇa etc.  The other essential disciplines one has to inculcate are right knowledge of the Self and continence of the nature of non-cohabitating. All these disciplines have to be practiced and kept aglow constantly.  The Prśnopaniṣat says ‘…not for those in whom there is crookedness, untruth and conceit.’ (1.16).

What is the nature of the Ātman that is attained by the above lofty means? That Self that is available for direct realization in one’s own heart, the ‘space’ within the lotus-shaped organ, resplendent, of the golden hue, pure, which those endeavoring sannyāsins who are cleansed of all impurities behold. This Self is attainable only by those who practice the above disciplines constantly and not an occasional adherence to these means such as truth. The eulogy of the great disciplines such as truth is what the mantra does.

Mantra 3.1.6

सत्यमेव जयते नानृतं सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः ।
येनाक्रमन्त्यृषयो ह्याप्तकामा यत्र तत्सत्यस्य परमं निधानम् ॥ ६ ॥

सत्यम् truth एव alone जयते triumphs न not अनृतं untruth सत्येन by truth पन्थाः path विततः  laid out देवयानः path of gods येन by which आक्रमन्ति proceed ऋषयः the sages हि indeed आप्तकामाः fulfilled desires यत्र where तत् that सत्यस्य of truth परमं highest निधानम् abode

Truth alone prevails, not falsehood. By truth the path is laid out, the Way of the Gods, on which the seers, whose every desire is satisfied, proceed to the Highest Abode of the True.   

The one committed to truth alone triumphs and not the one who lies. Truth, unless established in a person, does not triumph or lose by itself. It is well known in the world that the one who stands by truth ruthlessly, wins over the liar.  Therefore it is well established that truth is a strong means to attain right knowledge.  The Vedanta describes Brahman, Ātman, as ‘satyam’.  That which never goes out of existence is satyam.  To attain that , to realize that as one’s real nature, is incumbent on one adhering to truth in all his actions.  Further, it is known from the scripture too that truth is a lofty means to attain the supreme good.  To him who steadfastly abides by truth, the path of gods, devayāna panṭhā, is wide laid out constantly.  By this path the exalted ones, the ṛṣis, seers, who are completely devoid of deceit, diplomacy, guile, ego, hypocrisy, untruth and who have risen above longings, attain to the absolute truth, paramārtha tattvam.  That path through which they attain is laid with truth.

What is that absolute truth, what is its nature? 

Mantra 3.1.7

बृहच्च तद्दिव्यमचिन्त्यरूपं सूक्ष्माच्च तत्सूक्ष्मतरं विभाति ।
दूरात्सुदूरे तदिहान्तिके च पश्यत्स्विहैव निहितं गुहायाम् ॥ ७ ॥

बृहत् च It is vast तत् it is दिव्यम् luminous अचिन्त्यरूपं inconceivable सूक्ष्मात् than the subtle च तत् it is सूक्ष्मतरं more subtle  विभाति shines दूरात् farther than सुदूरे that which is far off  तत् it इह here अन्तिके close च also  पश्यत्सु in the sentient beings इहैव here itself निहितं seated गुहायाम् in the cave

That Brahman shines forth, vast, self-luminous, inconceivable, subtler than the subtle. He is far beyond what is far and yet here very near at hand. Verily, He is seen here, dwelling in the cave of the heart of conscious beings.  

That Brahman which is attained by the means such as satyam, is Great as it is all-pervading.  It is self-luminous and is beyond the grasp of the senses.  Hence alone its form, true nature, is impossible to think of.  It is subtler than those that are subtle such as the ether.  Since it is the cause of everything, its subtlety is unsurpassed. It shines variously as the sun, moon and so forth.  Also, it exists farther than the far removed, that is, for those who are ignorant it is impossible to attain.  However, it is extremely close, in this very body, to those who are able to realize it as it is the very self of all.  Also, it is the innermost self as the Veda describes it as being inside space too.  In this world Brahman is established in all sentient beings and is realized as the one that is the seer, hearer, thinker, etc. by the Yogins. Where is it located? In the cave of the heart.  The Upaniṣads make it a point to drive home the fact that Brahman can be realized by everyone by turning the attention to that sentient one that enables all activities in the person.  Since such activities cannot happen unless impelled, by a constant force, one can get the realization of it by enquiring on these lines.  Knowers have the direct vision of it in their hearts.  On the other hand, those who are enveloped by avidyā, ignorance, can never experience it, even though it is very much present in their own hearts.

The Upaniṣad, finding that the Truth is very subtle and extremely difficult to attain unless the requisite preparation is present, brings to our notice repeatedly the need for equipping ourselves with the necessary means.

Mantra 3.1.8

न चक्षुषा गृह्यते नापि वाचा नान्यैर्देवैस्तपसा कर्मणा वा ।
ज्ञानप्रसादेन विशुद्धसत्त्वस्ततस्तु तं पश्यते निष्कलं ध्यायमानः ॥ ८ ॥

न चक्षुषा not by the eye गृह्यते is it grasped न not अपि even वाचा by speech न not अन्यैः by other देवैः senses तपसा by austerity कर्मणा वा even by action ज्ञानप्रसादेन by the grace of knowledge विशुद्धसत्त्वः the pure hearted one ततः thereupon तु indeed तं that पश्यते realizes निष्कलं the partless ध्यायमानः in meditation

Brahman is not grasped by the eye, nor by speech, nor by the other senses, nor by penance or good works. A man becomes pure through serenity of intellect; thereupon, in meditation, he beholds Him who is without parts. 

Brahman, being formless, is not grasped by the eye.  Nor words can succeed in grasping it since it is devoid of any name.  Nor can other sense organs reach it.  Even tapas, austerity, that is the means of attaining anything, cannot directly get us the realization of Brahman.  Not even the scriptural actions like agnihotra, that are highly honored, can secure us the goal.  What, then, indeed is the means for its attainment?

It is by the grace of Jñāna, the Knowledge of Ātman.  Though the self is capable of being realized, yet owing to one giving to distractions from external objects of the senses, having turned his mind towards the world and away from the self, is sullied by attractions of the world and remains ignorant of his own true self despite its being his innermost.  This is akin to the mirror, when smeared with dust, does not reflect the objects in front of it.  This is also like the water covered with the overgrowth of moss, does not reflect objects beside it. When, however, he gains dispassion towards the objects of senses, and cleanses himself of the dross born thereof, his mind becomes as fit as a clean mirror or clear water to grasp the reflection, and settles peacefully, then is it the grace, prasāda, of the Ātman, descends on him.  With this grace, he becomes endowed with an extremely pure mind, fit to have the vision of Brahman.  Then he realizes the Self, devoid of any dividing parts.  When does this vision come about? It is when he is in deep contemplation with the means such as satyam, controlled senses and one-pointed mind. 

Part 1, Part 13, Part 15                  

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