The muNDakopaniShat – Part 3
In the foregoing the Supreme brahman, akSharam, was stated to be the source of the entire creation. This is being elucidated with the help of well known analogies:
यथोर्णनाभिः सृजते गृह्णते च
यथा पृथिव्यामोषधयः सम्भवन्ति ।
यथा सतः पुरुषात्केशलोमानि
तथाक्षरात्सम्भवन्तीह विश्वम् ॥ ७ ॥
यथा just as ऊर्णनाभिः the spider सृजते spreads out गृह्णते च and withdraws यथा just as पृथिव्यां on the earth ओषधयः plants सम्भवन्ति grow यथा just as सतः from a living पुरुषात् individual केशलोमानि hairs तथा even so अक्षरात् from the akShara सम्भवन्ति arise इह here विश्वम् the world
As the spider sends forth and draws in its thread, as plants grow on the earth, as hair grows on the head and the body of a living man—so does everything in the universe arise from the Imperishable.
It is quite well known in the world that the spider, without resorting to anything external, itself spreads out threads non-different from its body. Later it also withdraws the very same threads making them one with itself. So also on the earth grow a whole range of vegetation such as paddy and trees. These are verily non-different from the earth, pRRithivI, being its products. Also from a living individual grow hairs of the body and those of the head. These, however, are distinct from the person. The idea is that from the living person who is sentient, hairs that are insentient, grow.
As shown in the examples, the effect, the whole world, characterized by both non-distinct as well as distinct, emerges, without the need for an external cause, from the imperishable, akShara. The citing of various examples is with a view to enable easy grasping of the concept.
In the sequel it is taught that the world emerging from brahman manifests in a certain order and does not manifest at once as a fistful of berries let out of the hand scatters in all directions.
तपसा चीयते ब्रह्म ततोऽन्नमभिजायते ।
अन्नात्प्राणो मनः सत्यं लोकाः कर्मसु चामृतम् ॥
तपसा by austerity चीयते expands ब्रह्म brahman ततः from that अन्नम् primal matter अभिजायते emerges अन्नात् from matter प्राणः prANa मनः mind सत्यं elements लोकाः worlds कर्मसु works च also अमृतम् immortal
brahman expands by means of austerity and from It primal matter is produced; from matter, prANa, from prANa, mind; from mind, the elements; from the elements, the worlds; thence works and from the works, their immortal fruits.
The Creator, the Source of everything, endowed with the knowledge of the mode of creation, ‘expands/bulges’. Just as a seed bulges just before sprouting, and just as a person, out of elation, expecting the birth of a son, brahman, intending to create the world ‘expands’. Thus, from the omniscient brahman ‘filled’ with the knowledge of creation, sustenance and destruction of the world, arises the ‘food’, the unmanifest, which is the state just prior to the manifestation of the bound beings, samsArin-s. From this unmanifest state called ‘food, annam’ emerges prANa, hiraNyagarbha, who is the representative of brahman’s powers of knowledge and action, omniscience and omnipotence, which is the common name for the entire world. This hiraNyagarbha is the abode, sprout, that is the conglomeration of the avidyA, ignorance, kAma, desire and karma, action, of the beings. Thus, hiraNyagrbha is the self-of-the-manifest world, verily the world.
From this prANa, hiraNyagarbha, arises the cosmic ‘stuff’ called mind, manas, characterized by its functions of volition, deliberation, doubt, determination etc. From this cosmic mind arises ‘satyam’, truth, which is none other than the five elements called space, etc. From this five-fold elements arise the seven worlds (named ‘bhUH, bhuvaH, suvaH, mahaH, janaH, tapaH and satyam) in succession after the creation of the cosmic egg. In these loka-s, worlds, arise the actions pertaining to the humans, etc. beings subject to their varNa, caste, and Ashrama, stage. And actions surely bring about results that are denoted by the word ‘amRRitam’, immortal. This is so because the fruits remain indestructible as long as the force of the fundamental action remains which could span over billions of kalpa-s (cycles).
What has been said before is being concluded in a concise manner, in the sequel:
यः सर्वज्ञः सर्वविद्यस्य ज्ञानमयं तपः ।
तस्मादेतद्ब्रह्म नाम रूपमन्नं च जायते ॥ ९ ॥
यः he सर्वज्ञः omniscient सर्ववित् all-knowing यस्य whose ज्ञानमयं verily knowledge तपः austerity तस्मात् from him एतत् this ब्रह्म brahmA नाम name रूपम् form अन्नं food च as well जायते emerge
For Him who knows all and understands everything, whose austerity consists of knowledge—from Him, the Imperishable brahman, are born brahma, name, form and food.
This Imperishable brahman spoken of as ‘akShara’ in the foregoing, is sarvajnaH, omniscient, since He knows everything in general. He is also sarvavit, possessed of particularised knowledge of everything. His tapas, austerity, is verily knowledge-constituted, omniscience, and not something characterized by effort. It is to be noted that whenever we think of austerity, tapas, what comes to mind is the great strain that is involved and which is put up by the person undertaking such austerity. From this Omniscient One is born hiraNyagarbha, the brahman denoted by effect. Thus, the Imperishable is the Primary Cause and everything denoted by the concept of ‘effect’ is ‘contained’ in, represented by, hiraNyagarbha. Also, the specific names of individuals such as devadatta, yajnadatta, too emerge (from this hiraNyagarbha). So also are born the colours such as white and blue, of the various objects of the world. And food too, such as paddy, wheat, is born of this brahman alone, in the order stated in the previous mantra. Therefore, there is no contradiction between this and the previous mantra in delineating the krama, order, of the process of creation.
Here ends the first section of the first chapter of the muNDakopaniShat.
The purpose of the second section:
By the enumeration of RRig, etc. veda-s, the lower, aparA, vidyA was stated along with its limbs (shikShA, vyAkaraNam, etc.) The higher, parA, vidyA too was stated along with its characteristics. This parA vidyA is the one by/ through which the Imperishable, akSharam, is realized. This second section aims at specifying the subject matter of these two, aparA and parA, vidyA-s, which are none other than transmigration, saMsAra, and liberation, mokSha, respectively.
Lower, aparA, vidyA:
This is characterized by action involving accessories such as a doer, etc. with distinct action and its fruit which necessarily means the enjoyer/experiencer and experiencing thereof. This, certainly, will involve the duality of joy and sorrow which is predominantly misery. Joy, when it ends, is followed by misery. In fact, this is called saMsAra. Surely this is to be avoided. saMsAra which has no beginning and no end (unless through self-knowledge), which perpetuates like the eternal flow of a mighty river, is to be put an end to individually, by every embodied being, wholly. When one individual puts in great effort and attains self-knowledge, for him the phenomenon of transmigration comes to an end wholly.
Higher, parA, vidyA:
Contrary to the above is the higher, parA, vidyA which puts an end to the former characterized by saMsAra. Naturally, then, parA vidyA is liberation, mokSha. This ‘state’ of liberation is beginningless and endless, eternal. It is free of old age, death, is immortal, fearless, pure, pleasant, placid, characterized by firm establishment in one’s own true Self. It is Supreme Bliss and without a second of any kind.
At the outset this section deliberates on the aparA, lower, vidyA. This is done with a view to generate dispassion for it. This is a necessary precursor, a pre-condition, for the embarking upon the acquiring of the parA, higher, vidyA leading to liberation. Hence it will be stated: ‘परीक्ष्य लोकान् कर्मचितान्…’ [‘After examining the worlds accomplished through action…’](1.2.12). For, unless the nature of saMsAra is presented, laid threadbare, no critical examination is possible:
तदेतत्सत्यं मन्त्रेषु कर्माणि कवयो यान्यपश्यंस्तानि त्रेतायां बहुधा सन्ततानि । तान्याचरथ नियतं सत्यकामा एष वः पन्था सुकृतस्य लोके ॥ १ ॥
तत् this एतत् verily सत्यं is truth मन्त्रेषु in hymns कर्माणि actions कवयः RRiShi-s यानि which अपश्यन् as revealed तानि these त्रेतायां in the three veda-s बहुधा variously सन्ततानि initiated तानि these आचरथ practice नियतं always regularly सत्यकामाः ye desirous of fruit एष this वः to you पन्थाः path सुकृतस्य to fruit-bearing लोके world
This is the Truth: The sacrificial works which were revealed to the RRiShi-s in the hymns have been described in many ways in the three veda-s. Practice them, being desirous to attain their true results. This is your path leading to the fruits of your works.
This is verily the true, that which is not falsified in the realm of action-results duality. What indeed is that? That which is contained in the mantras, hymnal texts of the RRig, etc. veda-s. What is contained in these texts? It is the method of actions and the nature of their results. These actions are of the type of agnihotra, etc. The mantra-s themselves expound them. Seers such as vasiShTha are the ones who have received these as revelations.