V Subrahmanian, Monday, April 13, 2015 2:52 pm

The muNDakopaniShat – Part 16

Part 16


Since the realization of the ?tman is the highest accomplishment, it would be thought that one must engage in much study, etc. towards that end.  The Upani?ad does not approve of such an idea.  On the contrary it teaches that study, etc. are only secondary to the primary requirement of the aspirant’s uncompromising commitment to attain the realization of the Self. The study of the veda-s, much learning, mastering various disciplines like grammar, etc. are not the ones that ensure the securing of Self-knowledge. Nor does the intellectual capacity to retain what has been learnt constitute the direct means to realization. Not even giving to much hearing of the scriptural teaching, etc. is the primary means.  Then, what indeed is the most necessary requirement? It is the aspirant’s unswerving zeal to attain the ?tman that surpasses all the other means. This is because the ?tman is ever attained, the very nature of the aspirant and never an attainable entity. How exactly does the ‘attainment’ take place? It is of the nature of the ?tman that is covered as it were by avidy?, when uncovered by vidy?, stands revealed in all its pristine form. It is like a pot being revealed in the presence of light. Therefore the real means to attain the ?tman is the total commitment to seek the ?tman alone to the exclusion of every other goal in life.


Mantra 3.2.4


????????? ??????? ????? ? ? ????????????? ????????????? ?
??????????????? ????? ??????????????? ????? ????? ?????? ??? ? ? ?


? not ???? this ????? ?tman ??????? by the weak ????? attained ? nor ? too ????????? mistake ???? austerity ?? either ??? also ????????? non-renunciation ???? by these ?????? means ???? strives ?? he who ?? but ???????? knower ???? his ?? this ????? ?tman ?????  enters ?????? Brahman ??? abode


This Atman cannot be attained by one who is without strength or earnestness or who is without knowledge accompanied by renunciation. But if a wise man strives by means of these aids, his soul enters the Abode that is Brahman. 


What are the qualifications one has to acquire in order to successfully aspire and strive to attain the realization of the ?tman? In reply the Upani?ad says that one has to be strong, alert, austere and be a renunciate as well.  These are to be present without exception since without these the Self is not realized. Strength is characterized by the spiritual power that arises owing to constant delving in the ?tman, ?tma-ni??h?. Association with worldly connections and objects such as wife, son, cattle, etc. generate, give room for, inadvertence in the form of not being attentive to the ?tman.  One is carried away, as it were, by such association.  So, the teaching is that one has to be free of these.  How is that accomplished? The reply given is: one has to have renounced these; be a sanny?sin. ‘Tapas’ in the present context is the knowledge of the Self. Even this knowledge will be steady only when accompanied by renunciation. When the aspirant, vidv?n, endowed with discrimination, viveka, who is a knower of the self, strives constantly with the essential qualifications such as strength, alertness, renunciation and self-knowledge, by the dint of such practice, his ?tman ‘enters’ the ‘abode’ of Brahman; he is united with Brahman.  In other words, he attains the firm realization that he is non-different from Brahman.  The knower of Brahman is verily Brahman, as taught by this very Upani?ad.


Mantra 3.2.5


????????????????? ???????????? ?????????? ???????? ?????????? ?
?? ?????? ?????? ??????? ???? ???????????? ??????????????? ? ? ?


???????? having attained ???? this Self/Brahman ???? seers ???????????? content with knowledge ?????????? accomplished all ???????? free of longings ?????????? tranquil ?? they ?????? omnipresent ?????? everywhere ??????? beholding ????? wise ???????????? self-controlled  ?????? All ?? verily ???????? enter


Having realized the ?tman, the seers become satisfied with that Knowledge. Their souls are established in the Supreme Self, they are free from passions and they are tranquil in mind. Such calm souls, ever devoted to the Self, behold everywhere the omnipresent Brahman and in the end enter into It, which is all this.


It was said in the previous mantra that the aspirant, fulfilling all the conditions, becomes one with Brahman. What does this mean and how does this happen? Having secured the direct realization of the ?tman, they, having nothing else to achieve or attain, experience great contentment.  What is the source of such satisfaction?  It is the ?tman that is the very substratum of everything in creation. Their fulfillment is not by contacting any external worldly objects of enjoyment that cause some or the other transformation to the body. This mantra calls them ‘??i-s’.  That etymologically means ‘one who sees’.  They are the real seers for they see, actually experience, what is truly to be seen, known.  They have that ‘?tma dar?anam’ that is the most worthy of seeking and attaining. They have accomplished everything, k?t?tm?na?, for they have become, evolved into, the very Param?tman, the source of everything in creation. They are free of all defects such as longing, lust.  The presence of just one defect implies the presence of the rest too. Greed, for example, is accompanied by anger when thwarted. When a strongly desired object is attained there is the egoistic feeling of ‘I alone have this and none else’. When someone else too has this, then envy raises its head.


Thus the aspirant has to constantly endeavor to keep all these defects at bay.  When the sole abode of Bliss, the ?tman, is directly realized, the stated defects do not stay in him; they depart finding no occasion for their machinations. And they become tranquil minded. Longings no longer tormenting them, their mind and sense organs attain a natural state of rest, free from all needless activity. Having become thus, they attain Brahman that is all-pervading like ether, everywhere, with no confines caused by up?dhis such as body and mind which would limit a person to one place or time or object. They having realized their self to be verily Brahman, extremely discriminating, by nature ever self-controlled, they attain the All, Brahman, even while leaving the body on death.  Just as the ‘finite’ ether in a pot, when broken, without any specific action, becomes one with the all-pervading ether, so too this man of knowledge is freed from the avidy?-created body-mind limitation.  The idea is that till such time the body continues to live, there is a semblance of finitude owing to the body-mind apparatus ‘in’ which the Jñ?nin ‘lives’.  Upon physical death, there no longer being anything to so ‘restrict’ or ‘constrict’ him, he is literally one with the all-pervading infinite Brahman.  That is the goal of the human birth.  And to enable one to attain it the compassionate Veda through the compassionate ?c?rya gives the instruction.  Study of the Upani?ads is to accomplish this avowed purpose. Thus do the knowers of Brahman ‘enter’ the ‘abode’ that is Brahman.


Mantra 3.2.6


????????????????????????????? ????????????????? ????????????? ?
?? ???????????? ?????????? ???????? ???????????? ????? ? ? ?


????????????????????????????? with the firm conviction of the Ved?ntic knowledge ????????????? by the practice of sanny?sa ???? these constantly striving ????????????? with extremely purified mind ?? they ???????????? in Brahman ?????????? at the end ???????? with supreme immortality ???????????? total freedom  ????? all of them


Having well ascertained the Self, the goal of the Ved?ntic knowledge, and having purified their minds through the practice of sanny?sa, the seers, never relaxing their efforts, enjoy here supreme Immortality and at the time of the great end attain complete freedom in Brahman.


What do these ‘knowers’ know? The nature of the ?tman is taught in the Ved?nta, the Upani?ads. Resorting to this source of knowledge, they have known their Supreme Self, with the firm conviction that they are that alone and not the body-mind apparatus.  The qualification ‘Supreme’ is to show that the an?tman, not-self, consisting of body, mind, senses, etc. too claim the status of ‘?tman’.  Associating or identifying with them is ignorance and hence the qualification ‘supreme’ to denote the ?tman the real Self. They have renounced all work pertaining to the worldly attachments and are ever devoted to the contemplation of the ?tman.  As a result they are of extremely purified mind. The mantra uses a plural ‘In the brahma loka-s’ to denote their destination.  While Brahman is one alone, without a second of any kind, how do we explain the plural here? ?a?kar?c?rya says that every knower, at the end of the bodily life, is admitted to attain Brahman, as stated in the earlier mantra. Since there are many knowers, as specified in the mantra itself, there are many such terminations and consequently attainments too. Hence the plural is used.  In any case what is meant is they all enter Brahman. They attain to supreme immortality, not the kind of relative immortality as the gods, but the absolute immortality of Brahman.  They have realized themselves to be that and hence are absolutely immortal even while living.


Part 1, Part 15, Part 17

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