The muNDakopaniShat – Part 9
Continuing the Mantra 2.1.9, the Upaniṣat says:
From this Supreme Puruṣa all the oceans that are characterized as ‘salty’ etc. have emanated. All the mountains too, such as the Himālaya, have emerged from Him. From Him flow all the rivers named Gaṅgā, etc. of many forms and all the corns such as rice, barley and the juice of six types that are sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, astringent and saline issue forth. By virtue of this juice, the Inner Self, the subtle body, stands surrounded by the gross elements. It is called the ‘Inner/internal self’ because it stays as the self in between the gross body and the Self, the real Ātman.
Thus, everything in creation is shown as an effect, product, of the Puruṣa thereby establishing that the effect is non-different from the cause and all effects, in truth, are mere words and have no existence apart from the Cause, the Puruṣa. Therefore,
पुरुष एवेदं विश्वं कर्म तपो ब्रह्म परामृतम् ।
एतद्यो वेद निहितं गुहायां सोऽविद्याग्रन्थिं विकिरतीह सोम्य ॥ १० ॥
पुरुषः The Puruṣa एव alone इदं is this विश्वं world कर्म action तपः knowledge ब्रह्म brahman परामृतम् the Supreme एतत् this यः who वेद knows निहितं the one seated गुहायां in the cave (of intellect) स he अविद्याग्रन्थिं the knot of ignorance विकिरति cuts asunder इह here सोम्य O pleasant looking one.
The Purusha alone is verily the universe, which consists of work and austerity. My dear, he who knows this Brahman, the Supreme and the Immortal hidden in the cave of the heart, cuts asunder even here the knot of ignorance.
This entire created, experienced, world is none other than that Puruṣa. There is nothing called the world apart from this Puruṣa. This alone was asked at the beginning of this discourse as to ‘by knowing which, O Lord, all this becomes known?’ When one comes to realize this Puruṣa that is the cause of this entire creation, one knows that ‘All this creation is none other than the Puruṣa’. This knowledge is the liberating knowledge, at once, freeing the knower from the samsāra characterized by repeated births and deaths.
What indeed is this universe? It is marked by action such as the agnihotra. ‘Tapas’ is knowledge and its fruit. All this constitute the world. This indeed is the effect, product, of Brahman. Therefore whoever realizes that ‘I am that Brahman, the all, which is the Supreme that is seated in the cave of the intellect of every being’ he, owing to such a knowledge cuts asunder the knot of ignorance. What is this ‘knot’? It is the collection of past impressions born of action and enjoyment that remains hard defying untying. Such a knot is cut asunder by the man of knowledge even while living and not after death.
Here ends the first section of the second chapter of the Muṇḍakopaniṣat.
In the next section the method of realizing that Imperishable Truth, Brahman, which is devoid of all form, is taught.
आविः संनिहितं गुहाचरं नाम महत्पदमत्रैतत्समर्पितम् ।
एजत्प्राणन्निमिषच्च यदेतज्जानथ सदसद्वरेण्यं परं विज्ञानाद्यद्वरिष्ठं प्रजानाम् ॥ १ ॥
आविः the luminous one संनिहितं dwells गुहाचरं in the cave of the heart नाम well known महत्पदम् supreme abode अत्र here एतत् this समर्पितम् centred एजत् moving प्राणन् breathing निमिषत् winking च and यत् that एतत् this जानथ know सत् gross and असत् subtle वरेण्यं adorable परं supreme विज्ञानात् beyond knowledge यत् which वरिष्ठं that is the greatest प्रजानाम् for men.
The Luminous Brahman dwells in the cave of the heart and is known to move there. It is the great support of all; for in It is centred everything that moves, breathes and blinks. O disciples, know that to be your Self — that which is both gross and subtle, which is adorable, supreme and beyond the understanding of creatures.
Brahman, the Puruṣa, is an embodiment of effulgence. This effulgence is not physical but spiritual, Consciousness. How do we understand this? It is in everyone’s experience that the sense organs are sentient in the sense that they give us the awareness, the experience, the knowledge of the world. This is in the form of our experiencing sound, form, touch, etc. The Shruti too says ‘It shines, It blazes.’ Thus, the ‘effulgence’ that is Brahman is known to us, all living beings, through the consciousness we experience the objects of the world with the sense organs. Seeing, hearing, thinking, contemplating, etc. are means through which we appreciate Brahman the effulgence. This sentient-Brahman is well seated in our intellect as enabling all these functions such as seeing and thinking. It resides in the cave of the heart expressing itself as a knower, thinker, hearer, etc. It is also ‘Great’ since It is greater than everything else in creation. It is attained by everyone and is the source wherein lies the meaning of all words. How indeed is that Puruṣa the Great Abode or Goal? It is so because in this Brahman all this creation is rooted just as the spokes of the chariot wheel are rooted in the nave. To demonstrate this, the mantra says: all that moves such as birds, all that breaths such as humans and animals which have the prāṇa, apāna, etc. (inhaling and exhaling which are functional forms of the internal air), everything that has the winking of the eyelids and those that do not wink – all this is rooted in Brahman alone for their existence.
The instruction is: Know this, ye aspirants, that which is the support of all this creation, which is the sat and asat as the very self of you. All that is sat and asat, that is, formed and un-formed, gross and subtle (as effect and cause) have no existence apart from That Puruṣa is none other than Brahman. That alone is most adorable for everyone being eternal. Even when beings seek and obtain things that are ephemeral, their quest is to obtain the eternal. Not knowing that the eternal cannot be obtained from the finite, they continue in their search. This Puruṣa is higher than the finite knowledge of the beings. In other words, the Knowledge that is Consciousness which is the very nature of Brahman, transcends all finite knowledge (endowed with one or the other object in creation) possessed by beings. This Brahman is the Supreme, the highest, among all high things, being not a thing. This is being stated since all high things in creation are endowed with one or the other defect and Brahman alone is free of any defect.
यदर्चिमद्यदणुभ्योऽणु च यस्मिंल्लोका निहिता लोकिनश्च ।
तदेतदक्षरं ब्रह्म स प्राणस्तदु वाङ्मनः ।
तदेतत्सत्यं तदमृतं तद्वेद्धव्यं सोम्य विद्धि ॥ २ ॥
यत् that which is अर्चिमत् radiant यत् which is अणुभ्यः than the subtle अणुच also यस्मिन् in which लोकाः the worlds निहिताः rest लोकिनः च and the inhabitants of the worlds तत् that एतत् which is this अक्षरं Imperishable ब्रह्म Brahman स he is प्राणः the prāṇa तत् that उ indeed वाङ्मनः is the senses (speech, etc) and mind तत् एतत् that this सत्यं the Truth तत् that अमृतं Deathless तत् that वेद्धव्यं is to be struck सोम्य the pleasant one विद्धि know thou
That which is radiant, subtler than the subtle, That by which all the worlds and their inhabitants are supported—That, verily, is the indestructible Brahman; That is the prāṇa, speech and the mind; That is the True and That is the Immortal. That alone is to be struck. Strike It, My dear one.
The Upaniṣat continues to give more ‘attributes’ to Brahman so that one easily identifies the existence of Brahman. This, however, is not to mean that these ‘attributes’ are native, natural, to Brahman; they are only superimposed on Brahman by the Upaniṣat to help the aspirant go a little further in realizing It. In that vein, it is said that Brahman is radiant. It is with the Radiance of Brahman that the luminous entities such as the Sun are radiant. It is smaller than even the very small grain called ‘śyāmāka’ (millet) and also subtle. Also Brahman is grosser than the grossest. In It are the worlds called ‘bhūḥ’ are resting. By It are supported the beings, inhabitants, humans, etc. of the worlds, as it is well known that living beings are sentient and therefore supported by Consciousness of Brahman. Brahman is the support for prāṇa and all the sense and motor organs of all the beings in creation. This is well articulated by the Bṛhadāraṇyaka upaniṣat 4.4.18 as ‘prāṇasya prāṇam’ (‘the prāṇa of prāṇa’). This means that the power for prāṇa and all the organs to do their functions is derived from Brahman the Existence-Consciousness. That which is the inner consciousness, the very true nature, of prāṇa and all other organs is that Imperishable which is the only Real. Therefore, that which is indestructible and beyond death is to be realized through the mind as one’s true Self. One has to concentrate his mind on It.