MUNDAKOPANISHAD

 

May our ears hear what is good, may our eyes see what is good. May we, what time we live, be blessed with healthy limbs and body, that we may glorify the lord? May all the gods bless us. May our minds be at peace.

This Upanishad consists of Angirasís instruction to his disciple, Shaunaka.

There are two sciences worthy of being learnt, of which the learned treat one as higher, and the other as lower. The Vedas, the Rig-Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda, the Atharva Veda, intonation, ritual grammar, etymology, metre, astronomy and all else that is commonly known as learning constitute the lower knowledge, the higher is that by which the Ever-existing is realised.*


*It should be remembered that the Veda was the encyclopedia of all the knowledge of those days, and not a hymn-book only.

2.

Ceremonials and sacrifices lead men round and round, and not to the ultimate goal to which an understanding of the Self-alone can lead.

The popular belief as regards the efficacy of sacrifices is, though not rudely negatived, politely put aside in the Upanishads as not leading to what is true and imperishable happiness.

The passage that occurs in Katha Upanishad about fools fancying themselves learned appears here with just one verbal change. Light is here thrown on what is meant by the important term avidya which occurs in the Katha and Isavasya Upanishads and also in the Gita (ch. 2, 42, 43).

3.

Realizing this, the seeker should abandon his desire and attachments for things transient, and respectfully approach a teacher who is qualified by learning and conduct to impart the higher knowledge.

1-(2)-12

This deals with the relationship between the Individual Soul and the Absolute Being.

The Soul is like the spark that is thrown out and re-absorbed by the blazing fire.

It is left to be inferred that it is of the same nature as the fire, and does not exist apart from it.

4.

The whole universe is a manifestation and pro duct of that universal, formless, causeless Being. The sun, moon and all the quarters, all knowledge, and the souls of all existing beings are parts and manifestations of that single all-immanent Being. All life and all qualities, functions and activities are forms of that single Energy.

He is the Fire which has lighted the Sun and makes it bum, like a log burning in the fire. Thereby does the sun give us warmth and light. The rain does not rain, but it is He that rains through the clouds. Beings come together and multiply, but it is He alone that multi plies through them.

5.

From Him have issued all the mountains and the seas, the rivers, the trees and plants and their life-bearing essences. He who thus knows the Supreme Spirit that dwells within the heart, dear boy, cuts off all the knots of ignorance, which bind man.

II-(l) 9-10

He has taken shape and dwells near, yea, in the cave of the human heart. Everything that moves, breathes or twinkles, moves and lives in Him. All that exists, as well as all ideas, even those, which the mind indicates to itself as inconceivable, issue out of His presence. II-(2) 1

To perceive this Absolute Foundation of all existence, the mind must be as concentrated on it as an archer concentrates on his target.

6.

The Upanishad, i.e., knowledge received from the teacher, is the bow. The understanding Self should, like an arrow sharpened by devotion, be placed in it. Directing it at the target, viz., the Brahman, pulls the bowstring well with concentrated mind and you will hit the target. As a skilful archer, when aiming, makes his arrow merge in the target in his sight, and the two become but one and the same thing, so should your Self, the arrow, be merged by concentration in the target, viz., Brahman.

II-(2) 3, 4

When the pupil pulls the bowstring with steady aim, if the teacher asks him, "What do you see " the pupil should be able to reply truly that he sees nothing but the point he aims at. He must see neither bow, nor arrow, nor anything else but Brahman.

7.

He is the whole Universe. Heaven, Earth and Sky, your mind and your life-breath are all woven into Him. All other knowledge is a mere snare of words to be escaped from. He is the one and only Existence. This knowledge is the bridge leading to Immortality.

II-(2)-5

He is within our own hearts. He has lodged Himself in the food-sustained body of men and rules both body and life even. He that sustains the whole universe and all its glory. The unruffled spirits con template on Him and realize his Deathless form of absolute joy.

8.

When His presence m our own bodies and His immanence in every aspect of existence are realized, all doubts, all attachments and all activities vanish.

II-(2)-8

On realizing Him, what is individual lifeí? What even are the sun and the moon, the stars and the lightning of the clouds? What need be said, then, of this fire? All these are but reflections of that One Undying Light. He fills all the quarters and all overhead and down below. He alone exists.

ll-(2)-10, 11

Manís suffering lasts only until he sees the Supreme Being that dwells within himself. The In dwelling Supreme Spirit and the Individual Soul are like two birds. They cling to one another and are on the same tree.

9.

One eats the fruits of the tree, the other looks on, happy. One is attached to works, the other is free. When a man sees the Universal Ruler in himself, then the distinction between Good and Evil drops out. He is freed from passions and reaches the goal, i.e., becomes one with the Universal.

III-(l)-l, 3

How can one be enabled to have a vision of the Supreme Being within oneself? Mere learning does not reveal Him. One has to realize that the Lord is the life that lives and the light that shines in everything. When he realizes this, he loses his dependence on externals and finds bliss in him self.

10.

The man who realizes "It is the Supreme Life that shines in and through all life" does not waste words. His Pleasures and his love are then all in the soul. He becomes the most enlightened among the philosophers.

III-(I)-4

Truth, penance, understanding and purity are essential requisites for this revelation of the Brahman within. When the heart is cleansed, Brahman is revealed, and He is seen shining like a burning light within oneself.

Truth wins ever, and not untruth. With Truth is paved the road to the Divine. On that road walk the Rishis with desires all quenched to reach the Supreme Abode of Truth.

11.

Truth is the only pathway to God, and the seers pursue this to reach Him. This emphatic dependence on Truth is the dominating characteristic of the Upanishads.  The Lord is not to be apprehended by the senses, but only by the mind into which all the senses have been drawn in. All thought is inter woven with the senses, and it is only when the mind is released from all this and is in a state of perfect freedom and tranquility, that the Lord reveals Himself.

Not by the eyes nor by speech or through other senses can He be apprehended: not even by austerities or ceremonials. He whose mind is pure and serene can by meditation attain a vision of the indivisible. The Subtle Spirit dwelling within, into which the fivefold life has entered, can be realized by the understanding. If the understanding that is pierced and pervaded by the senses is purified, then the spirit reveals itself unto it.

12.

This appears in the Kathopanishad also.

Much learning or scholarly discussion or force of intellect cannot enable one to realize the Spirit within.

The Spirit that yearns for self-realization realizes itself.

III-(2)-3

The yearning for realization automatically destroys other desires and attachments, and enables one to reach self-realization.

The feeble-minded, who do not make earnest effort through well-directed meditation and control of mind and senses, cannot hope to realize the Self within. The will to realize and strenuous effort are necessary. Balam in the following sloka stands for effort and strength exercised in the way of self control and steady application.

13.

Realization of the Soul cannot be attained by a man who has not strength and a vigilant spirit. It cannot be attained by austerities without devotion.

But if with understanding a man strives with these aids, his soul enters the Abode of Brahman.

III-(2)-4

Knowledge and discipline are mutually complementary. Vedanta explains the true nature of what we seek. Yoga, i.e., detachment and self-discipline, purifies the mind and enables it to perceive the Truth. Those whose understanding has been thus enlightened as well as purified become one with the Universal Spirit. They join the Supreme Being and lose them selves in Him even as all the rivers join and lose them selves in the great ocean.

ll-(2)-6, 8

Here ends our little book. Let us bow to the Rishis.