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Chapter 2-Canto 2

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Mundak Upanishad-2/2
[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 2-Canto 2

Shlok 1
There is a Great Light, known as Guhachar (Guha or Guhaa means cave and Char means dweller; thus Guhachar means who lives in a cave), in this body. All that which animates, flickers, feels and has the appearance of existence or nonexistence - all is established in It. By attaining he knowledge of that Supreme Light, a seeker surpasses all living beings.

This verse says that the Almighty lives in the innermost chamber of everybody's heart and that Light moves there as the nave of the wheel which moves to move the spokes of a wheel. It is the cause of everything that moves, blinks and breathes. Know this luminous One as your Real Self. He is both gross and Subtle, beyond the senses and mind, and is unknown to all creatures. It is His energy that keeps all senses, Praan and the mind in functional order. Without His energy nothing works. It is that Almighty that appears to be individual soul and that is how everything, touch, smell, sight etc, is experienced

Those who are not disciplined, do not understand the systematic way of contemplating of that Almighty, so that can neither meditate nor focus their mind, and thus cannot know the Inner Self. Since this Self is formless that is why it is difficult for a seeker to meditate upon Him. Without name and form He is in the power of minutest particle we can ever imagine, at the same time pervades in the whole Universe also. Verse 4 of Eesh Upanishad says - "The Self is One and unmoving, swifter than the mind."

Aatmaa (soul) is identical to this Brahm (the Inner Self). The nature of Aatmaa can be perceived by the eyes of inner mind. It causes the movement yet it does not move itself. Eesh Upanishad explains it - "Mind is faster than the light and yet Aatmaa is faster than the mind. This means that no matter how fast the mind runs, Aatmaa being all-pervading is already there."

Shlok 2
The immutable Brahm is the light which is Subtler than the Subtle. The whole Universe resides in this light. This Brahm manifests itself into Praan, speech and mind. The same alone is real and immortal, so only He should be known.

This Brahm, this light guides everything in this body though He remains indivisible. The seeker learns the Truth that He lives in the cave of the heart of every being. Concentration and meditation should be learned and practiced without any break. Patanjali, the codifier of Yog sciences says - "Sa tu deergh-kalaa-nairantarya-satkaarsevito dridhbhoomih" - means the practice become firm on ground when pursued and maintained in earnest observance for a long time with positive attitude.

Brahm is the nucleus, and the Universe is His expansion, in the same way Aatmaa is the nucleus of individual life. The mind, intellect, senses and Praan, which function according to His guidance, are His creations. A seeker should follow the path of concentration and meditation in a systematic way as a scientist conducts his experiment in his laboratory. Blind faith misleads the seeker, while reasoned faith and a mind a intellect that are purified through spiritual discipline take him to many higher levels which are not normally known to people with ordinary minds. And there is no other way to know Him except the path of concentration and meditation. In concentration the intellect is sharpened; in meditation the mind united with intellect focuses its efforts to know Him - which means with devotion with reverence.

Many students uselessly waste their time trying to argue that Bhakti is higher than Karm, or Karm is higher than Bhakti. Karm is definitely inferior to Bhakti, but selfless Karm, practiced as a worship is a part of Bhakti.

Shlok 3
Taking the bow of Upanishadik wisdom, the seeker should fix the arrow of his mind (sharpened with meditation) at its target. Draw the string with full absorption in Him and shoot at the target. O my friend, remember that immutable eternal Truth alone is the target.


Shlok 4
AUM is the bow, Aatmaa (individual Self) is the arrow, and Brahm (the Universal Self) is the target. Aim precisely and like an arrow, become merged with the target.

This verse continues to explain that AUM is used by advanced Yogee and seekers as the bow and the Aatmaa (individual Self) is used as an arrow to aim the target Brahm. Only a concentrated mind can do it. Constant Jap which is a great technique for focusing the mind, is implied here. AUM is a mystical syllable because it is beyond all names and forms, something abstract, and relating to different states and experiences of Jeevaatmaa during the waking, dreaming and sleeping states.

There is no mystery in this word for those who have studied scriptures under the guidance of a learned preceptor and who have practiced the method of Vichaar (unifying concentration) and Dhyaan (meditation) to make their mind focused and inward. AUM is considered as a Setu (bridge) between the shores. When the individual soul leaves the body, there is a period of transition during which the Jeev has to be all alone wandering here and there. Utter darkness and loneliness are experienced by him during that period, and there is no one to lead him at that time. Constant remembrance of AUM is the only help at hand. Besides, at the time of death, when the body, breath, and conscious mind fail; when there is complete isolation and separation from the external world, groove made by the constant Jaap of AUM is the only help at hand. Thus this AUM works as bridge between this shore of this world and the other world, the life hereafter.

Who have practiced thus remain free from the fear of death because they have already built a bridge which others have not been able to do.

Shlok 5
Mind, Praan, and other elements including Heaven, Earth, and spaces in-between are held in Him only. Know only that single Aatmaa. Speak of nothing else. This knowledge is bridge to immortality.

When the seeker's mind is purified by the method of focusing and meditation he does not get distracted by worldly thoughts and their attachments. The preceptor who knows Brahm well inspires his student to renounce and give up all kinds of useless actions and meditate on Brahm only. Everything - Heaven, Earth space etc, is held in Brahm only.

Preceptor guides the student that there is only one single knowledge - the knowledge of Brahm; and there is only one thing he should talk about - Brahm. He may be advised to participate in Satsang which means the company of sages, conversation with sages and never discuss about worldly things. For all seekers it is unhealthy to talk too much, this preserves their energy through foolish speech and be always busy in pleasant talks - about Brahm.

Since Aatmaa is the inmost dweller of all living beings, all seekers should focus their mind only on this Aatmaa not on other fine or finer forces, or bright colors, or lights flashing from the domain of Aatmaa. Many times during meditation, when one elementary becomes predominant, its influence on the mind creates illusory visions in the form of different lights, colors and forms. They just don't mean anything, nor are they spiritual experiences, so they should be discarded. Besides all the experiences from the psychic world are inferior to spiritual experiences. 

Only the real knowledge of the Real Self gives the strength to gain freedom from the delusion created by A-Vidyaa. By knowing the Real Self, one can gain freedom from the cycles of birth and death and go beyond these two deep habits - the habit of the body is death , and the habit of the mind for desires causes birth. To break these two habits the knowledge of Brahm is necessary.

There are two forces that are experienced on the journey to the Absolute. One is ascending force, while the other is descending force. In ascending force the seeker must make sincere efforts, and in descending force the grace flows freely to those who have accomplished their task sincerely with all their mind, speech, and action. We actually receive grace from four sources. The first three are grace of God, the grace of Guru, and the grace of your scripture that you believe in. The fourth kind of grace is the grace of the Self. In it one's own conscience approves one's actions, speech and thoughts and he feels joy all over.

Shlok 6
Just as the spokes of the wheel come together in its hub, all the Naadee (nerves or energy channels) in the human body meet in the heart where He moves manifesting Himself in various ways. Meditate on AUM so that you can reach at the other shore beyond all darkness.

After explaining the deeper meaning of the syllable AUM, and the method of focusing and meditating, this Upanishad says the the Aatmaa becomes manifold within the heart. If you visit a Shiv temple, it is interesting to note that it is a symbolic representation of the heart. Within the four walls, there is a Lingam on which the nectar drips constantly making the sound of "dub, dub" which is similar to the sound of heartbeat. If this sound increases or decreases, it denotes that there is something wrong with the city of life - if the heart is not functioning well then death may occur.

Yog science explains it in a precise manner. The Anahat Chakra (wheel), the heart center, has its location between the upper and lower hemispheres of the body, each of which contains three Chakra. Practices involving Anahat Chakra are always recommended to control Bhava, which means to balance emotional life as well as the problem of inertia or sleep. If a beginner is not yet competent to meditate on this Chakra, he experiences sleep-like inertia or dozes.

Shlok 7
He is omniscient, the source of all sciences (knowledge). It is through His greatness that the order is established on the earth. This Aatmaa alone resides in celestial regions, and in the eternal space of the heart. By manifesting in the form of mind, the Praan guides the functioning of the body. While seated in the heart, He pervades the whole body. By attaining the knowledge of that blissful Purush, the seekers of Truth see all that shine.

This verse describes the deeper significance of mediation on Anahat Chakra. That inner dweller resides in the center of the heart. He is all-wise, the all-source from which emanates all forms in mind and it is this which makes the body and senses function. The Anahat Chakra is also called Brahm Puree (not to be mistaken by the physical heart). The preceptor teaches his student to meditate upon the center of the luminous lotus where He resides.

The Upanishad are expressed in a precise, poetic and symbolic language so they cannot be understood by ordinary people, thus this is an earnest duty of the preceptor to explain the deep meaning of the contents therein. The city of life, that is the city of Brahm, is like a fortress with a very strong external outermost wall made up of five Tattwa - earth, water, fire, air and space. Its inner wall, the second wall,  is created by Indriyaan (senses). Still another inner wall, the third wall, is created by thoughts, desires and emotions. At the gate of this fortress of life, the two Praan (breaths) - inhalation and exhalation, remain on guard constantly defending the city of life. While the innermost wall, the fourth wall, is created by our Sanskaar that hold the attachments and pleasure-seeking desires.

When the mind is purified, clarity is attained. Only such a mind is capable of receiving the vision of Brahm, in which there is no smoke, no darkness, and no death.

Shlok 8
Once both shores, here and hereafter, are known, the knot at the heart is destroyed, all doubts become clear and bondage with Karm are destroyed.

A seeker who has known Brahm at the highest level as well as at the lowest level, his all ignorance is destroyed, his all doubts are cleared, and he is free from the bondage of Karm. And this self-realization is possible only in the human body. Therefore when one is born as human being possessing with breath, mind and individual soul, he should no let go this opportunity waste.

The student should understand three aspects of Karm or three effects of Karm - Praarabdh, Sanchit and Aagaamee. (1) Praarabdh refers to those Karm which are the results of those Karm that one has already performed in the present or previous lives. Such actions begin to germinate bearing fruits in this lifetime. (2) Sanchit refers to those Karm which are stored for the future to bear fruits. (3) Aagaamee refers to those Karm whose fruits will be enjoyed in future lives. An example can better explain it. An archer has already shot some arrows are called Praarabdh Karm; the arrows which are still in his hands to be shot are called Sanchit Karm; while the arrows which are still in his quiver are called Aagaamee Karm.

Unless a person has realized Brahm, the law of Karm keeps creating whirlpool for the human being. After realization of Brahm all Karm and their binding effects are destroyed but the past Karm and their fruits, until they are exhausted through enjoyment or sufferings do affect even the realized ones. Thus unless the Praarabdh, past Karm and their effects, are exhausted, total freedom is impossible.

Renunciates say, however, that even the effects of the past Karm can also be destroyed by lighting the fire of knowledge. It is still a matter of debate but the law of Karm seems to be inevitable.

Shlok 9
In the innermost golden sheath resides the pure and perfect Brahm. The seekers of Brahm realize this as the brightness of all bright lights.

Brahm is the most brilliant of all brilliances. Its Yogic description is like this: There are five sheaths or Kosh that cover Brahm or Aatmaa. They are - Annamaya, Praanmaya, Manomaya, Vigyaanmaya and the last one is Aanandmaya (the blissful sheath). These five sheaths are like five shades around a lamp and from behind the glittering curtains of those sheaths peeks Brahm full of brilliance, and completely free from all stains of ignorance. The wise know Him as the Real Self. 

But when these coverings are removed then only we can see the light clearly. The light of Aatmaa, full of brilliance, helps the Buddhi to function. That is why Buddhi is able to discriminate, decide and judge. It also helps Manas (mind) to function inside and outside the body. Because of their power, the two Praan (breaths) constantly guard the city of life, and because of the support of Aatmaa, the five elements (earth, fire, air, water and space) compose the body.

Shlok 10
In the region of Brahm, there is no Sun, no stars, no Moon, no lightning shine, not to speak of worldly fire. It is only when He shines that all the others shine. It is thorough His light only that this whole Universe is illuminated.

There are innumerable galaxies in this Universe, and every galaxy has its own solar system. In our solar system, the Sun that shines and illuminates all the objects of the world, shines because of the power of Brahm. This shining power is not the Sun's own inherent quality.  In the same way, our Buddhi, Praan and all the senses are illuminated by the innermost Aatmaa which is verily Brahm Himself.

Shlok 11
All this is immutable Brahm, Brahm is before, Brahm is behind, Brahm is on right, Brahm is on left, Brahm is above, Brahm is below. This whole Universe is an expansion of that highest Brahm.

he entire manifestation exists because of the existence of Brahm. The ignorance experience various names and forms, this delusion is created by the individual mind and body, thus light and darkness, birth and death, joy and sorrow all are the result of ignorance. All wise see only one pure consciousness - that is Brahm, the Absolute One, without the second.




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