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Chapter 3-Canto 1

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Mundak Upanishad-3/1
[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 3-Canto 1

Shlok 1
Two identical birds that are Eternal companions, perch on the very same branch of tree of life - one eats many fruits of various tastes, but the other one only looks on, does not eat.

This is a beautiful metaphor which illustrates the difference between Jeev (the Individual Soul) and  Brahm (Paramaatmaa, or Pure Consciousness, or Self). Although essentially and qualitatively both are the same, inseparable, still in this world both perform different functions.

According to the non-Dualistic philosophy ( A-Dwait Vaad), the center of consciousness is that force from which consciousness flows on different degrees and grades, but because of the apparent superimposition, the Jeev is bound to the body and mind and develops attachment to worldly objects, performs actions and reaps the fruits therein. While Brahm is essentially Pure Consciousness, but when He enters the body, He comes with His Maayaa (cosmic power). While Brahm is knowledge and light, this Jeev with Maayaa is ignorant and dark (or shadow).

In the same way, while Brahm is unaffected by Maayaa thus also is unaffected by enjoyment and suffering; Jeev is completely indulged in worldly things, consequently in enjoyment and sufferings. Jeev is the image of Param Brahm reflected in a person's mind. Both are inseparable. The only difference between them is that Jeev is covered with Maayaa and thus identifies himself with the objects of the mind and body (senses), and feels himself the doer of all actions, consequently he enjoys and suffers the fruits of his actions and experiences pleasure and pain.

According to Bhagvad Geetaa, which is derived from Upanishadic literature, the opposites, such as pleasure and pain, are felt only when the mind, with the help of senses, contacts the objects of the world.

Students of School of Duality (Dwait Vaad) believe that Jeev is an entirely separate entity and enjoys the fruits of actions. However the followers of non-Duality (A-Dwait Vaad) believe that that the Jeev can never undergo change. Only superimposition makes one feel that Jeev has an identity separate from Brahm. Only mind and matter experience changes but the soul himself never changes. Being Jeev himself cannot experience any change, only witnesses, but remains unaffected by the functions d changes of mind.

Only Brahm Vidyaa or Paraa Vidya (knowledge of Brahm) can help knowing Brahm. The Jeev refers to mind which stores thoughts, impressions, feelings and desires. As long as a Jeev resides in the body, He is called individual soul, or Being, or Spirit; but as He detaches from the world, He joins Brahm and Himself becomes Brahm who is called Pure Consciousness, or Purush.

Shlok 2
Seated on the same tree, the deluded Purush (Jeev) becomes entangled and worries helplessly. But at the moment he recognizes the glory and greatness of the other bird, he attains freedom from all pleasures and pains.

Both birds are sitting on the same tree, but one is under the influence of Maayaa; while the other is free from attachments. Two feelings lurk in the human mind as a result of absence of pure knowledge (Brahm Vidyaa). The Jeev is bewildered because of His own impotence through Maayaa. He identifies Himself with the objects of mind and senses which are constantly changing and decaying. He is ignorant, and is always indulged in fulfilling His desires, doing actions, longing to reap the fruits of His actions, and is drowned in this Sansaar (world). Until He knows the way to remove and destroy the cover of Maayaa, He continues to take delight in worldly matters; but as He learns Tyaag and Vairaagya (detachment from worldly affairs), He attains freedom.

This false identification (with the objects of mind and senses) changes the personality of Jeev. Thus through this mask worn by Jeev, according to His predispositions, regards Himself as a son, father, mother, sister, grandfather etc. He is supposed to develop attachments towards others. Thus the Jeev takes up a different kind of role is lost so much in playing that role that He forgets His true nature. He starts experiencing pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow according to that role. He experiences birth and death also. When He knows His true nature, He becomes free from all this drama.

When the Jeev develops a longing for spiritual life and practices discipline, such as non-violence, truthfulness, self-control etc, as explained by Patanjali, the codifier of Yog science, then only He attains a new tranquil mind. Brahm (the Pure Consciousness) is beyond grief and sorrow, pleasure and pain, hunger and thirst, life and death. Feeling all these changes are the nature of the body, not of Brahm.

Shlok 3
When the person knows the Purush - the true force behind his all actions, the source of all knowledge then that wise man washes off the Sanskaar of his all virtuous and non-virtuous deeds, becomes pure and attains the status of the highest.

When the person learns to meditate upon Brahm, he starts enjoying splendid happiness. Freedom from from duality (Brahm and Jeev) means the unification of the Jeev with Brahm.

Shlok 4
After knowing the truth that Praan (Purush in Jeev form) exists in all living beings, a realized Yogee does not take any interest in discussions or debates; rather he takes delight in Aatmaa (soul), enjoys his meditation and is considered the highest knower of Brahm.

Praan has been used here in the sense of Brahm (in the form of Jeev), not the two breaths which may be considered as only horses not the rider. Praanaayaam is the science of learning that all phases of life are the projections of that Brahm.

There are three paths of Saadhanaa - (1) Saadhanaa through the mind, intellect, emotion which is the path of knowledge and Bhakti; (2) Saadhanaa through Brahmcharya which means austerity and control of senses through celibacy; and (3) the path of Vaayu which is not only breathing exercise. These exercises help to regulate the motion of lungs and keep he body healthy. All breathing exercises are valid, but Praan is not only the two breaths. Only because of Praan's support the mind functions intelligently and brilliantly and the senses have the power to work.

Shlok 5
This Aatmaa can be experienced through a constant practice of Truth, Tap, right knowledge and Brahmcharya. Yogee who are pure, see this this Self-illuminated bright light within this body. 

Comments 3-1-5

Shlok 6
Only Truth wins, not the Untruth. The path that leads to Divine is paved with by Truth. By following his path seers who are free from all desires attain the highest the highest abode of Truth.

If someone practices Truth with mind, speech and action, he indeed becomes victorious. In fact Truth is the most important part of the discipline to be observed  while walking on the path of light or Devayaan (the path of bright beings). Such people get liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

The eighteenth Mantra of Eesh Upanishad explains the path of light. If you want to practice the Truth, you have to bring its principles into practice.. First, one should learn not to lie. Not lying means not to speak words or sentences that do not relate exactly to the world of objects. Thus by practicing not to lie, one practices to speak truth and applying the principle of speaking the truth means do not lie.

When one has implemented this in his practical life, the whole structure of this verse changes. Therefore not lying leads one to Truth. Practicing truthfulness with mind, speech and action is a complete practice. Practicing thus one learns to restrain himself from doing what is not to be thought and does not speak what is not to be spoken. By not speaking, thinking or doing what is wrong, one starts thinking, speaking and doing only what is right. Therefore all the rules and injunctions declared in the scriptures are practiced this way.

It is important to note the principles and practices are two different things. The people who are free from delusion, falsehood, vanity and attachment to the world and who have no worldly desires attain this Supreme.

Shlok 7
It is infinite (unlimited). Divine and indescribable, is subtler than the subtlest, still to those who see IT, it is very close residing in the cave of their hearts.

Vast is happiness - as vast as imagination and which is subtler than the subtlest and is self luminous. He who lives in all creatures is very close to those who see IT. The glimpse of the Supreme self (Brahm) leads a person to self-realization, then only he can know that One who is far and yet is very near, and He lives in all creatures.

Shlok 8
IT cannot be seen with the eyes, nor can IT be described with speech, nor IT can be known through senses, nor IT can be achieved by Tapasyaa or ritual or ceremonies. When, as a result of knowledge, the person's mind is purified and calm, he meditates on Brahm and attains the direct experience.

This verse gives a special method of realization of Brahm. A shallow knowledge cannot take you anywhere, at the same time mere knowledge of the scriptures will nourish only the vanity and therefore the so-called learned ones will be only egoist rather than the actual knower of the valuable sayings of the scriptures, such as some people do charity only for name and fame sake. This attitude does not change the internal state of their minds. In the same way only reading the scriptures does not help to dispel the darkness of ignorance. But this does not mean that one should not study them.

Sensory perception does not have the power to grasp Brahm, nor does the Tap. So even after understanding Upanishad's sayings one cannot realize Brahm. Intellect is necessary to develop for this, inner strength has to be developed - only training in understanding does not help. Buddhi is the finest of all modifications of our internal states. By virtue of its nature, it is pure. The mind is polluted by selfishness and attachments to the world. Thus Buddhi is not aware of Brahm; but when desires, thoughts, feelings and inclinations do not disturb mind, then mind stays calm and one can see Brahm through the clear water.

Shlok 9
This extremely subtle Aatmaa who resides in the cave of the heart, can be known only through pure Buddhi. Praan resides in the body in five forms and goes around inside the body continuously. When this body and mind organization is purified, Aatmaa shines forth.

How to purify Buddhi so that you can see your Aatmaa. The previous verse described a systematic method of meditation and the necessity of contemplation and prayer. Here the path of Gyaan (pure Buddhi) is explained. It is like walking on a razor's edge, it is difficult, but not impossible. It is possible only by purifying the higher Buddhi. Higher Buddhi has the inherent qualities of perfection and exactness in knowing what is right and what is wrong, what is permanent and what is impermanent, who is mortal and who is immortal. It knows how to make decisions on time, how to judge the objects of the world without identifying them.

Intellect can be purified by reading, studying and understanding the sayings of scriptures. It leads the person to a state called - "Saakshaatkaar" (means "seeing Truth face to face"). The Aatmaa (soul) is realized within the human body and is discriminated from the first unit of life force and its vehicles - which are many, although only five are mentioned in the scriptures.

On the path of Gyaan Yog, Buddhi, which is the finest instrument of knowledge, is purified directly. The purification practices consist of methods of consciously withdrawing Buddhi from the sense perceptions. Most people think that Gyaan Yog helps a person to do , speak or act in any way he likes - this is not so. The purification exercises to purify higher Buddhi are very subtle only a few fortunate people can go on this path and get success.

Shlok 10
A person with a purified mind can attain any plane of existence or any object of desire. Therefore anyone, desirous of prosperity should honor and serve the knower of Aatmaa.

Whether it is a path of selfless action, or love and devotion, or Raaj Yog, or Gyaan Yag; all paths require the purification of internal states. Purification of desires is very important upon whatever object a person fixes his mind and heart, or meditates; then this person attains those words or objects. Many people do Jaap (Jap) but their mind wanders around the worldly objects. In this situation this Jaap remains only recitation. Therefore Patanjali, the codifier of Yog science, says - "Tad Japas tadarth bhaavanaam" - means the Jap practice is complete in itself when it is done with knowledge and full devotion. Real Jaap begins only when Jaap becomes "A-Japaa Jaap" - when the whole mind is purified, is united, and is focused in Brahm. In this situation Jaap is not done cautiously, but it goes on even unconsciously, even during sleep. When a person breathes Mantra, eats Mantra, sleeps Mantra, walks Mantra then only he is led to he direct experience of the self-luminous Aatmaa.




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