The muNDakopaniShat – Part 11
In the previous mantra it was said that Brahman is beyond the darkness of avidyā, ignorance. The enlightened Teacher has given the instruction to his disciples. The disciples too, who have committed to the realization of Brahman, the object of parā, higher, vidyā, are free of actions involving the attainment of the worldly goals, aparā, lower, vidyā. The benevolent Ācārya wholeheartedly wishes them unhindered success in their committed endeavor. So, He utters the benediction ‘Unhindered may your journey to the other shore (of the ocean of ignorance) characterized by the realization of the Self, verily Brahman, free of ignorance.’
In the next mantra, the ‘location’ of Brahman is stated:
यः सर्वज्ञः सर्वविद्यस्यैष महिमा भुवि ।
दिव्ये ब्रह्मपुरे ह्येष व्योमन्यात्मा प्रतिष्ठितः ॥ ७ ॥
यः He who सर्वज्ञः knows all सर्ववित् understands all यस्य whose एष this महिमा glory भुवि in the world दिव्ये in the effulgent ब्रह्मपुरे abode of Brahman हि indeed एष He व्योमनि in the heart space आत्मा this Self प्रतिष्ठितः is established
He who knows all and understands all and to whom belongs all the glory in the world — He, Atman, is placed in the space in the effulgent abode of Brahman, the body.
That Brahman which constitutes the goal of all meditation towards attaining the liberating knowledge is All-knowing, sarvajña, one who knows everything in general. It is also the knower of everything in particular too. Such a being is endowed with immense glory. What is that glory? Within the Lordship, Rulership, of Brahman do the heavens and the earth remain firm. In the governance of Brahman alone the sun and the moon rotate incessantly like a fire brand. In the cosmic supervision of Brahman the rivers and oceans do not transgress their banks. So too do the moving and unmoving beings remain controlled. The seasons, the equinoxes and years do not miss their cyclic occurrence. And those who engage in actions and the results of actions too do not give up their regularity. This constitutes the glory of Brahman. What is conveyed through this description of the glory is that behind the order perceived in the world there is a sentient being that lends sentience, the power, to the insentient world while it itself is not in need of that power from any other source. Also is embedded in such descriptions the dependence of the world on Brahman and the implication that such dependent existence is the mark of the unreality of the depending entity and the sole reality of that on which it is dependent.
That Brahman is ‘located’ in this body which is called ‘brahmapuram’, the abode, city, of Brahman. What does this mean? Again, it is the body which is the locus where there is this activity that reveals sentience, consciousness, like thinking, seeing, smelling, etc. It is as though illumined by these perceptions and hence the Upaniṣad specifies the body where Brahman is housed. And all these perceptions are experienced in the cave of the intellect where it is specified that there is a ‘space’ in which Brahman is available for realization. Certainly, the all-pervading Brahman cannot be said to be ‘located’ in a finite enclosure. Brahman transcends all exiting, entering and remaining localized.
मनोमयः प्राणशरीरनेता प्रतिष्ठितोऽन्ने हृदयं संनिधाय ।
तद्विज्ञानेन परिपश्यन्ति धीरा आनन्दरूपममृतं यद्विभाति ॥ ८ ॥
मनोमयः He assumes the form of the mind प्राणशरीरनेता leads the actions of the prāṇa and the body, प्रतिष्ठितः अन्ने He dwells in the body हृदयं having the heart संनिधाय as the abode तद्विज्ञानेन by realizing Him परिपश्यन्ति look upon धीरा the knowers आनन्दरूपम् the blissful form अमृतं immortal यत् विभाति which shines.
He assumes the forms of the mind and leads the body and the senses. He dwells in the body, inside the heart. By the knowledge of That which shines as the blissful and immortal Atman, the wise behold Him fully in all things.
The Ātman, verily Brahman, is known, experienced, recognized, by all, whether consciously or otherwise, through the mind alone. This happens because all perceptions, experiences, are activities of the mind. Hence, owing to the limiting adjunct that is the mind, Brahman is called ‘manomayaḥ’, the one with the mind as Its chief abode/instrument. The prāṇa that is the vital power of the body is itself activated by the Super Sentience, Brahman. Brahman is established in the subtle body that is different from the gross body. Though Brahman is all-pervading, yet in order to draw the attention of the aspirant to the source where It can be realized, the Upaniṣad specifies the subtle body where the mind/intellect is the primary, vital, characteristic as the region where Brahman is established. Thereby the Upaniṣad emphasizes that the gross body is not the place where one ought to look for It for the purpose of contemplation/realization. Those rare discriminating ones endowed with the non-negotiable qualifications such as restraint of the mind and senses, meditation, renunciation and supreme dispassion, coupled with the grace of the teaching of the Ācārya and the scripture, śāstram, realize Brahman through the special knowledge generated thereby and succeed in perceiving, realizing, Brahman everywhere, within and without. What is the nature of that Brahman they realize? It is ānandarūpam, that pure bliss untainted by all maladies born of the activities of the world. It is amṛtam, Immortal, never to come to an end, which is experienced in the mind always, incessantly.
Śrī Śaṅkarācārya in the commentary above reminds one of the effort that is needed in realizing the Self directly. The mantra has specified the effort in the foregoing and in the current mantra is only mentioning the fruit of the realization. That such a magnificent fruit is attainable only through committed perseverance is what is stated above in the commentary. That alone is explicitly stated in the sequel.
भिद्यते हृदयग्रन्थिश्छिद्यन्ते सर्वसंशयाः ।
क्षीयन्ते चास्य कर्माणि तस्मिन्दृष्टे परावरे ॥ ९ ॥
भिद्यते broken हृदयग्रन्थिः fetters of the heart छिद्यन्ते cease सर्वसंशयाः all doubts क्षीयन्ते extinguished च also अस्य his कर्माणि actions तस्मिन् when That दृष्टे has been realised परावरे the high and low
The fetters of the heart are broken, all doubts are resolved and all works cease to bear fruit, when He is beheld who is both high and low.
What is meant by ‘the knot, fetters, of the heart’? All desires have their abode, support, in the impressions, vāsanās, that have their root in avidyā, ignorance. So says the śruti (Kaṭhopaniṣat 2.3.14 and Bṛhadāraṇyaka upaniṣat 4.4.7) ‘kāmā ye asya hṛdi śritāḥ’ (‘those desires that reside in the heart’). Ignorance, and its product, desire, have their locus in the heart, the mind-stuff, and not the Ātman. This is a very important point to be noted by the aspirant. Never should one entertain the erroneous idea that ignorance is an attribute of the Self, the Ātman. It is the mind that carries the notion of ignorance, desires, impressions of actions, etc. These get destroyed. All doubts cease to be. What are these doubts? These are the ones that continue, like the flow of the river Gaṅgā, to baffle the jīvā till death. Unless one comes to Vedānta and gets to realize the truth, one will have these doubts about the true state of the jīva, the state after death, etc. For this aspirant whose avidyā has been annulled, doubts have been set at rest, all those actions performed in the previous births and those in this birth up to the point of attaining the direct realization, called sañcita karma, which have not commenced bearing their fruit, too, get extinguished. Of course, those actions the Jñānī, the realized person, would perform subsequent to his realization, till the fall of the body, will also not bear fruit. The reason for this is that those actions will be performed without the ‘I am the doer’ notion as the ignorance that creates such a notion is no more for him. Hence, these, known as āgāmi karma, cannot bear fruit giving him further births. Birth is caused only by actions which have ignorance as their basis. Self-realization does not have the power to annihilate those actions that have already begun to give their fruit, prārabdha karma, just as one would have no power to withdraw or stop an arrow that has been released from the bow. It will stop only upon hitting its target. Similarly, the prārabdha karma, signified by the commencement of the present body (in which the aspirant has consummated his sādhana for self-realization), which is the last body/birth, will not be put an end to by vidyā, Knowledge. This last body will live out its course and upon its fall no more births will be there for the Jñānin.