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Chapter 2-Canto 1

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Mundak Upanishad-2/1
[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 2-Canto 1

Shlok 1
It is true that just as a great fire manifests thousands of sparks that share it nature, so the manifold world has evolved from the Indestructible and is absorbed back into Him again.

All creatures, rather everything, has evolved from Him and will go back to Him only. Absolute Truth is - (1) that which is self-existent, that which is never born and therefore never dies; (2) that which is never destroyed and everlasting; (3) that which alone has the power to liberate one. The goal of human life is to attain the Absolute Truth but people find a wall standing between them and the Absolute Truth. Their mind and senses lead them to external world. To have a ,look inside, one has to train his mind, then they can live in the world like a lotus flower lives in water - means one should live in water, but still above the water - unaffected by it.

Love and attachment are two opposing principles - attachment contracts the human personality, while love expands it. Many people think that they cannot survive without attachment. This is true - they can survive only for a short period, just to finally destroy attachments, but then it itself again attacks to people. But those who understand the difference between attachment and love know that attachment means lust while love means selfless giving. Love is a great power that has liberating qualities. When one learns to live in this world doing his duties lovingly (with selfless desire), then he remains unattached, unaffected and liberated from the bondage of Karm. Such human beings are aware that although attachment is the cause of all misery; love is the very nature of life and liberates from all miseries.

From the standpoint of A-Dwait, there is no death or birth. The life force is never born, nor does it die. When the person starts believing that he is identical and essentially one with Cosmic Self then only he experiences the imperishable joy.

Shlok 2
Purush, the Supreme Consciousness, is self-shining, formless and unborn. It rules over the entire external and internal world. It is beyond Praan and mind, It is perfect and pure.

When the person crosses the curtain of delusion created by his own ignorance with the help of meditation and contemplation, and when he directly experiences that his Individual Soul is the Cosmic Soul, then only he knows that the Supreme Self is resplendent and without any form. That Self is unborn, self-existent, pure Purush. Cosmic Self does not need Praan or mind to support its self-existent reality.

He also knows that there is no birth, no death, no modifications, therefore there is no decomposition. He knows that Brahm is without Praan, mind, senses, or body. No attributes can be imposed on the pure Brahm; but when He is in association with His Maayaa, which is Brahm's own power, it is the cause of manifestation. Whenever the Upanishadic Mantra describes Brahm as a cause of manifestation, it refers to Sa-Gun Brahm - Brahm with attributes.

Shlok 3
From Him evolves Praan (life energy), the mind, all the senses, all elements which support the whole earth.

This verse describes how the human being has come into existence and how the birth and death are illusory. Actually the manifestation of the different names and forms of the Universe do not have any existence of their own, they exist only because Absolute Truth exists. It is through Maayaa that the pure splendid Brahm appears as the universe and its numerous objects.

Both before and after the manifestation of the Universe, Brahm is free from Praan, mind senses, organs, forms and names. All these are the forms of only Sa-Gun Brahm. According to Upanishadic philosophy, all these projections or modifications are totally unreal - just as various ornaments made from gold have no existence independent of gold, similarly these objects also have no existence of their own. They are merely words used for convenience and communication in our day-to-day life. The manifestation of this universe is like a dream. Just as the dream is real to the dreamer, so is the Universe seems real to the ignorant and such ignorant person continues to live in darkness of ignorance until he is awakened to the light of Absolute Truth.

Shlok 4
Fire is His head, Moon and Sun are His eyes, directions are His ears, Ved are His speech, air is His Praan, the whole Universe is His heart, Earth has evolved from His feet and He alone is the Inner Self (soul) of all living beings.

Comments 2-1-4

Shlok 5
Having the Sun as the source of energy, the fire has evolved from Him, Som has also evolved from Him. From Som comes the rain, and from rain come all the herbs growing on Earth. Just as a man plants the seed in a woman and thus life starts, in the same way countless beings have evolved from Purush.

This verse also describes the attributes of Sa-Gun Brahm - Viraat Purush. Heaven is the first projection of Viraat Purush and the Sun is its fuel. The Moon showers his blessings on the earth - rain and rain clouds which are classified as the second fire. Herbs grow from Earth which is the third fire. Herbs are eaten by men and that is the fourth fire. The men sow their seeds in women which is the fifth fire. In this manner many creatures are born from Viraat Purush.

Thus this verse refers to the five fires which are described in Chhaandogya Upanishad. According to that story, Shwetketu, the son of a Rishi named Gautam, visited a great king of Paanchaal. The king asked the boy if he knew how the offerings made at the sacrifices were transformed into human bodies. Neither the boy, nor his father could answer the question, so the king himself explained the matter by describing the five fires mentioned above.

[Here the readers should not be confused because of the word 'fire' or 'Agni'. Verily this is all fire. Life is sustained by fire, breath is fire, Praan is fire, the mind functions because of fire, therefore when we talk of fire Saadhanaa, it refers to the fire of knowledge as well.]

There are many more subtle symbols in Upanishad. Without knowing these symbols in their profoundness their teachings cannot be understood fully. A competent teacher teaches both theory and practice of the scriptures. The theory gives the knowledge of philosophy of the Universe and its creation. The practice of contemplation and meditation helps one to realize that the Individual Self is the same Self as in all.

Shlok 6
Mantra of Rig Ved, Saam Ved and Yajur Ved have come from Him only - they contain the knowledge related to initiation, rituals, the sacrifices and the concept of giving offerings. Units of Time, people who wish to perform rituals for Him, in fact the whole world - purified, illuminated and sustained by Som and Soorya has emerged from Him.

All Ved come from Him. Even sacred chants and all the rules and regulations of the ceremonies originate from Him. The Rig Ved contains Vaidik mantra in verse, as well as the rules and regulations and metric system (Chhand) for Mantra, as in the Gaayatree Mantra. The Saam Ved consists of the Mantra and their classifications. These Mantra are set to music from which the classical music of India has originated. All keynotes are described in the Saam Ved. The Yajur Ved contains mainly Mantra in prose form. These scripture prescribe many methods for conducting ceremonies which have their origin in spirituality.

Shlok 7
Many celestial beings, Saadhya, human beings, animals, birds, Praan and Apaan, all kinds of grains, Tap, faith, truth, discipline of mind and senses, many rules and laws all have evolve from Him.

From Him arise the finer forces of life, Devtaa, men, beasts and birds, Praan and Apaan, grains austerity, faith, truth, continence and the law. All the objects and their forms originated from Brahm - the only cause of everything. Such an attitude enforces faith in Brahm and helps to proceed on the path of light. All the actions performed by both ignorant and wise men are regarded as sacrificial acts. Everything has its origin from Brahm.

Shlok 8
Seven types of Praan, seven flames, seven fuels, seven kinds of offerings and seven Lok have also evolved from Him. Residing in the cave of the body the heart, seven types of Praan continue their journey.

Seven Praan also originate from Him - they live in human head - two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and one mouth. They are also referred to as seven Rishi. The seven acts of sensation created by the seven Praan are called the seven flames. Praan are ablaze and are lit by objects. The seven kinds of knowledge are actually seven sensations which are called oblations. There are seven flames, which are the seven Chakra (wheels), in the human body where the Praan dwells in every place. Here the Praan is not used as a vital force but that which functions in the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and one mouth. Because of their different functions all the Praan operate in each center in a spiritual ay which is coordinated by the mind. These different Praan vehicles function all the time, even in deep sleep. The Inner Being lives in the heart inside the body. It is this heart that controls the physical heart and brain.

Yog science describes more than 72,000 channels of Praan energy and their vehicles. Here Praan is referred to as the vital force - the first unit of life. There are ten major Praanik vehicles, but in this Upanishad only seven Praan vehicles are described. When a person learns the internal fire ceremony, then he uses the objects of the senses as offerings for that sacrificial fire.

Shlok 9
Various oceans, mountains, rivers and all the herbs, all have emerged from Him and thus He lives in all of them as their Inner Self.

Everything comes from Him - all oceans, rivers, mountains; plants, flowers, favors, fragrances; herbs and grains and other sources to sustain. Nowhere does this Upanishad mention that animals are sacrificed in any of the ceremonies, or that they are meant to be eaten by human beings. Thus the foods that come from plants, herbs and trees - such as rice, barley, wheat, vegetables, fruits are only healthy foods for maintaining the physical body.

Meat eaters are also called "secondary vegetarians", because they eat the meat of those animals who eat vegetables. A vegetarian diet is a healthy diet for both physical and mental health; but this does not mean that non-vegetarians cannot walk on the path of spirituality; but it is better if the seeker learns to live on a simple diet.

In order to live a long and healthy life (health includes physical, mental and spiritual) there are other considerations besides simple eating. These include a knowledge of the science of breath and breathing exercises (Praanaayaam), cheerfulness as a great tonic; a positive attitude toward life. If one eats nutritious diet but experiences the pressure of mental agony or emotional pain, it may convert the nutritious diet into poison.

Shlok 10
This whole Universe is the expansion of Purush alone. Tap, knowledge and its result manifest from Brahm and ultimately Consciousness is the essence of al that exists. He who knows the Purush residing in the cave of the heart frees himself from ignorance in this lifetime.

Everything comes from Brahm only. This verse is just re-strengthening that this Universe has no existence of its own, it has born from Brahm. This Upanishad starts with the Mantra pertaining to the question - "By knowing what, can all be known?" and the answer is given here - "since all come from Brahm, therefore nothing else can come out of Brahm except Brahm, so by knowing Brahm one can know everything."




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