Upanishad | Mundak
[Taken from "Wisdom of the Ancient Sages: Mundak Upanishad / by Swami Rama. Honesdale, PA, The Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA. 1990.]
This writing was inspired by the above mentioned book. This book has been written in very simple language and explains many words, ideas, concepts so that the new readers of Hindu religious books can understand Hindu scriptures clearly. It is not a reproduction of the book, still many sentences have been copied just to make the meaning as clear as the author wants to express. I feel fortunate that I found this book as it helped me a lot to understand Upanishad literature. I hope that this writing will help others also in doing so. It is in no way the replacement of the book.
Mundak Upanishad belongs to Atharv Ved and presumably to the Shaunakeeya Shaakhaa (branch). Its teachings were taught to Shaunak Jee by Aangiras who learned this Vidyaa (knowledge) from Satyavaha Bharadwaaj, the disciple of Atharvaa, the eldest son of and pupil of Brahmaa Jee. This Vidyaa is called Paraa Vidyaa (knowledge related to other shore) and is considered be Sarv Vidyaa Pratishthaa - the source of all Vidyaa. This Paraa Vidyaa removes the cover of ignorance from Aatmaa. There are 64 verses or Mantra in this Upanishad. These verses are divide in three chapters, each chapter comprising two Cantos.
The etymological meaning of Mundak means is a shaving razor and a person with shaven head - meaning a Sanyaasee or a monk. The Mundak and Prashn Upanishad, being originated from Atharv Ved are complementary - what is taught in one, is elaborated upon in the other one. Vyaas Jee also used the first through the sixth verses of the Mundak Upanishad in composing the first aphorism of the Vedaant Sootra.
Like other Upanishad, this Upanishad is also in the form of dialog between the preceptor and his disciple. Aangiras is the preceptor and Shaunak is a totally prepared disciple in this Upanishad. Brahmaa Jee taught this knowledge to Atharvaa, Atharv taught it to Angiraa, Angiraa taught this to Satyavaha Bharadwaaj and Satyvaha Bharadwaaj taught this to Aangiras, and Aangiras taught this to Shaunak Jee - a householder.
It contains three chapters and each chapter is divide into two Cantos.
The great tradition of transmission of knowledge through Aachaarya to a disciple is recorded in Mundak Upanishad between Brahmaa, the Creator, and his eldest son Atharvaa about the Brahm. Atharvaa taught this knowledge to Angiraa, who taught it to Satyavaha (from the family of Bharadwaaj), and Satyavaha passed it on to Aangiras.
So Shaunak, a householder, approached to Aangiras and asked him - "O illustrious Sage, What is that by the knowing of which all this becomes known?" Sage Aangiras explained - "There are two kinds of knowledge needs to be known according to the knowers of Brahm - the higher knowledge Paraa Vidyaa, and the lower knowledge A-Paraa Vidyaa. The lower knowledge includes all Ved, six Vedaang (Shikshaa (phonetics), Kalp (rituals), Vyaakaran (grammar), Nirukt (etymology) Chhand (meter) and Jyotish (astrology)); and the higher knowledge is that by which the Immortal Brahm is attained.
A-Paraa Vidyaa ie four Ved and their six Ang are to understand the nature of Dharm; and the Paraa Vidyaa is the knowledge to know the Brahm who is the embodiment of Dharm. That Omnipresent and Omnipotent has been defined as the source, sustenance and dissolution of this world. According to the 2nd Brahm Sootra, "The Brahm is cognized only through the scriptures which are the sources of authoritative knowledge about the Brahm. The next Brahm Sootra points out that Brahm is the main subject of all Ved and Upanishad. For the same reason one cannot abandon Ved considering them A-Paraa Vidyaa and jump on Paraa Vidyaa. Ved show us the way to know the Brahm.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 06/09/11