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Chapter 1-Canto 2

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Mundak Upanishad-1/2
[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.]

Chapter 1-Canto 2

Shlok 1
The ritual ceremonies which were told to people, are described in many ways in Rig Ved, Yajur Ved and Saam Ved. Who desire to attain their results may practice them. This is the path that leads to virtuous ends.

Comments 1-2-1

Shlok 2
When the fire is ablaze, the person should offer the oblations (Aahuti) systematically, one by one in the prescribed manner.

Comments 1-2-2

Shlok 3
If the person's Agnihotra ceremony is not performed in the right manner, without regarding the Moon phases, rainy season, Summer Solstice, the presence of guests, the Vishwadev ceremony, or not in the prescribed manner, then it destroys the intended goal which my stretch across all his seven worlds.

It gives the importance to the correct circumstances to perform the ritual or worship. It should be performed on full Moon day in four months of rainy season. And if the person does not learn to communicate with the external forces, if the ceremony is not performed at the right time, or if the guests who witness the ceremony are not treated well, then it disturbs all seven spheres in the human body - means it can disturb even the deeper energy levels of all the seven Chakra (wheels). The householders practicing the path of lower knowledge should perform this ceremony in the external world in a literal manner.

Shlok 4
The names of the seven tongues of fire are - Kaalee, Karaalee, Monojavaa, Sulohitaa, Sudhoomra-varnaa, Sphulinginee and Vishwaruchi. These seven flickering flames create the seven tongues of the fire.

It is interesting to note that the Vedic Rishi could clearly visualize the seven colors of these tongues and had the knowledge of seven keynotes which are used in music all over the world. In fact these seven colors are the basic colors which are named here. They arise during the fire ceremony from the fire that is well-lit.

The Yogee say that when Kundalinee, the primal fire, is wakened, it is like a serpent fire and then one can see all seven flames of the fire accurately. The fire should be shining and smokeless. Worship is conducted only when Kundalinee fire has been awakened fully. There is a cavity at the base of the the spine which is called Kund, and in this Kund dwells the primal fire of Kundalinee.

Kundalinee stays in sleeping state, by reciting Mantra the ashes that cover it are blown off and the fire is ignited. Those who perform internal worship, visualize and experience all seven tongues and then visualize awakening of the primal fire. Oblation is offered to this fire which means that all impurities and Sanskaar are burned in this awakened fire.

Shlok 5
The light of the Sun's rays lead the person who offers oblations into this fire at the right time to realize the sole sovereign of all bright beings.

The householders who have not practiced renunciation and do not understand the importance of Yogic internal worship or Yogic practices, should perform this ceremony according the rules laid down by Ved, at the time when the fire is fully lit. The oblation is made of Ghee (clarified butter) which signifies that one should attain the means to keep the fire ablaze up to the last breath of life. Ghee is made by churning the milk, so when the person churns the knowledge he has earned, then he uses his determination with a focused longing to attain Brahm. The butter symbolizes this focused determination.

Oblations should not be offered until the fire is fully ablaze and smokeless, it means that one should live a life that creates only light, no smoke. There are two paths - the path of good and the path of evil - in other words the path of light and the path of darkness. We should learn to discrimination the path of pleasant from the path of good; because that is pleasant is not necessarily good and that which is good is not necessarily pleasant. [see also Kath/3]. This Shlok says that the path of good leads the person through the path of solar fire. The person should do good by doing selfless actions in the world by learning to remain unattached and unaffected all the time. This will give him the freedom from Karm. [Eesh Upanishad's 18th Mantra says, "Agni, lead me by the good path to the fruits of my actions".]

Shlok 6
The shining oblations say to the person, "Come here, come higher" and lead him through the rays of the Sun honoring him and greeting him pleasantly. This is holy Heaven of Brahm which you have attained by your virtuous deeds.

All good deeds are shining while bad deeds are darkness. The fire ceremony is far superior than those which are performed wholly with selfish purposes. The selfish actions and rituals take the ignorant person to further darkness. While one makes an oblations, he should be peaceful and full of joy. Good deeds lead one to heaven of Brahm, the highest Heaven called Brahm Lok which lasts for longer time than the Heaven ordinarily referred by scriptures, but has no power to bestow the grace of Moksh. Heaven is not at all related to the union of individual soul (Jeev) with the cosmic soul Brahm.

Lack of real knowledge leads the person to the world of material gains and happiness, it does not have the capacity to liberate soul from bonds of life and death. Desire for materials brings the person back to the world. Therefore, even such good deeds are inferior to the path of pure light brought by the knowledge of Brahm.

Shlok 7
The life boat, composed of 18 elements (5 elements, 10 senses, mind, ego and intellect), which is supposed to perform sacrifices, if is not anchored securely drifts away in the world sea.

The simile is - the human body is like a boat. The two Praan are two oars and the mind is anchor. If they are used properly this body is supposed to take the soul to the other shore of the world sea. The 18 elements, the performers of Agnihotra are the 18 priests, and this Agnihotra Yagya is performed in the city of life by the individual soul and its wife - the higher Buddhi. All 18 members (16 priests and soul and Buddhi) are important in performing the ceremony. Still this ceremony is inferior because it is performed without the knowledge of Brahm, meditation and contemplation. In the absence of Brahm knowledge the performers destroy the ceremony because they live in darkness.

Although a human being is a finite vessel, he carries infinity, no matter where he moves, but because he identifies himself with the finite due to his ignorance, he suffers. Shankar says that cause and effect are inseparable. The effect is determined by the cause. The Imperishable cannot be attained by a perishable cause. As it is true for fire ceremony, the same is true for worship and deeds in this world also, since they are performed with perishable materials that is why their results are not everlasting. And that which is not everlasting cannot produce immortality, Moksh, and the highest goal of life.

Thus all deeds performed in ignorance (A-Vidyaa) are condemned, so that the person should aspire for beyond the delusion created by the senses, senses pleasures, mind and the desires.

Shlok 8
Only fools are caught in the net of ignorance, still they think that they are wise. They are caught in unending cycle of pain and misery and they lead their life as a blind leads another blind.

Fools, in the absence of higher knowledge, suffer because of their own ignorance. Their thoughts, feelings and desires are not controlled. Even the wise behave with pride, and the fancy people aspire for their vanity. This is also not desirable. Blind are those who have created a strong barrier of ego. Without surrendering their ego those people remain worthless. Without knowledge liberation cannot be attained.

Shlok 9
Like children, the fools are caught in the net of ignorance and think that they have achieved the highest goal. Due to attachment, they do not understand the essence of Karm and after exhausting the fruits of their Karm fall back into the cycle of life and death.

The performers of Karm or rituals are like children who feel pleasure in ignorance with their immature thinking. They think that they have achieved the highest goal of life but they do not know the Truth and thus remain attached to the world. Even if such people go to Heaven, they again fall back to earth. 

Shlok 10
Only ignorant people consider religious activities and public charity activities as supreme and of highest good. After enjoying their fruits people again come back to earth.

All the possible deeds, including the fire ceremony, that a householder performs in this world, even the learning of Ved; and all charitable deeds to help others, when done with selfish motive, though lead one to Heavenly joys, but all the joys of Earth and Heaven are perishable. Immature people think that these deeds will liberate them, but it is not so. A fool is attached to his family, deluded by ignorance. The means to final bliss is the knowledge of the Self - the Self of all.

This is a law of the physical world that a man cannot live without performing actions. Actions are of three kinds - good, bad and mixed. The fruits of a good action are being comfortable in modern life; fruits of a bad action brings misery and distress created by one's own desires and actions; and the fruits of mixed actions bring the awareness of the spiritual dimensions in life.

The scriptures say - "bad actions may lead one to a life of an animal; good actions to spirituality and mixed ones to rebirth in human body. Worshipping with ignorance is inadequate and philanthropic work done with selfish motive (name and fame) are also inferior to the knowledge of superiority. These deeds satisfy only the ego, are not healthy and not worthy to be taken as an example.

But of course if they are done to purify ego problems, that is fine. Still there is no Karm that has the power to lead one to final liberation except knowledge. And Karm and knowledge are two opposite ends of the line of human life. Knowledge alone liberates.

Who render truly selfless service it means that they have completed their share of worldly duties and decided that Karm is not the way of liberation - the knowledge is the only way of liberation. After a potter has made his pot, his wheel still continues to rotate for some time because of its momentum, but the potter is free from the fruits of the wheel. Similarly the actions performed by great sages do not affect their spiritual practices, rather they help them on the path of the spirituality.

Shlok 11
The wise with purified mind live in solitude, being satisfied with the food got in alms, observing the discipline of Tap, having firm faith enter the place where dwells immortal, unchanging eternal Purush, the Supreme Self, through the gate of the Sun.

Those people are most fortunate who enjoy the solitude of forest dwellings, lead spiritual life by following spiritual discipline with the mind, speech and action. They spend their time in meditation. After Grihasth Aashram, the wise utilize their time and energy living in forest. They are called as taken Vaanprasth Aashram. Selfish deeds are abandoned, selfless deeds are performed, senses are controlled, and their mind feels eternal joy and happiness. Ved and Upanishad guide people on such path. This path is called Devayaan - the path of light. This is the highest of all Heavens in the relative Universe. He becomes immortal, though his immortality lasts only for one cycle (Kalp).

Shlok 12
After enjoying worldly pleasures gained through one's Karm, the knower of Brahm reaches a state of dispassion and non-attachment and realizes that the highest cannot be attained through mere Karm, so he should approach a Guru who is learned and established in Brahm knowledge.

After one has enjoyed worldly pleasures, he should know that only Karm are not enough to attain spiritual knowledge so he should detachment himself from the world and approach a Guru who is learned and has deep spiritual knowledge. One is fortunate to meet such a Guru. Meeting with such a Guru is like rebirth. According to scriptures, there are three Dev - first is mother (Maatri Dev) who teaches, nourishes and gives her complete loving care to grow. The second Dev is father (Pitra Dev) who guides the growth of the child with all his support and affection. When one becomes an adult, he finishes his worldly duties and becomes frustrated from the world. He retires to woods, actually he retires from attachments and seeks a Guru (Guru Dev) to impart spiritual knowledge to him. The Guru is totally selfless, full of love and compassion.

There is an important saying that when the disciple is ready, the Guru appears. Searching  for Guru is in vain but preparation is important. In Kali Yug there are more Guru than disciples. 

Shlok 13
The learned teacher imparts the Brahm Vidyaa to the student who has approached him with reverence, whose mind is calm and who has achieved self-discipline. Only such a student can recognize the eternal Purush and Truth.

When  the seeker's mind is calm and purified by spiritual practices as directed by Guru then this Brahm Vidyaa is imparted to him. The most important thing before having this Vidyaa is to develop tranquil mind, which is possible only after somebody has withdrawn himself from the temptations of the world. Here the word Purush means that one should learn to practice the inward method of meditation which makes him aware of the Aatmaa sleeping inside him. Purush means "one who sleeps in the city of life". Etymologically "Purush" means, "that which fills all, that which dwells in the body". The word Purush is also used to refer to a person. Thus we all are Purush provided that we are aware of the force sleeping within us.

Only teaching scriptures does not help student to attain Absolute Truth. Systematic methods of meditation, contemplation, and prayer combined can only uncover Purush. He is impossible to see because He is hidden behind the senses, breath, and conscious and unconscious  mind.




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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 06/09/11