Friday, May 8, 2009

Upanishads - Brihadaranyaka and Mandukya

The Upanishads
The Upanishads are Hindu scriptures that constitute the core teachings of Vedanta. ... The Upanishads speak of an universal spirit (Brahman) and of an individual soul (Atman), and at times assert the identity of both. Brahman is the ultimate, both transcendent and immanent, the absolute infinite existence, the sum total of all that ever is, was, or shall be. The mystical nature and intense philosophical bent of the Upanishads has led to their explication in numerous manners, giving birth to three main schools of Vedanta.
Bṛhadāraṇyaka ( page on Wikipedia

What I have in this and other posts to follow on the Upanishads and the book are snippets from the different chapters, where each chapter covers one Upanishad. Also to be included will be excerpts from the introduction and the Afterword by Michael Nagler, a student of the author, Eknath Easwaran.

Among the Vedic mantras the Brihadaranyaka contains there contains a famous refrain which has sustained millions of aspirants:

Lead me from the unreal to the Real;
Lead me from darkness to light;
Lead me from death to immortality.

which may be better known to most people in its Sanskrit transliteration:

Asato ma sad gamaya,
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya,
Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya

असतो मा सदगमय
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय
मृत्योर मा अमृतं गमय
ॐ शांति शांति शांति

CHAPTER III - The Imperishable

6. In what is space itself woven, warp, and woof? Tell me, Yajnavalkya.
7-8 The sages call it Akshara, the Imperishable. It is neither big nor small, neither long nor short, neither hot nor cold, neither bright nor dark, neither air nor space. It is without attachment, without taste, smell, or touch, without eyes, ears, tongue, mouth, breath, or mind, without inside or outside. It consumes nothing, and nothing consumes it.
The States of Consciousness
6. When the sun sets, Yajnavalkya, and the moon sets, and the fire goes out, and no one speaks, what is the light of man?
The Self indeed is the light of man, your majesty, for by that we sit, work, go out, and come back.
7. Who is that Self?
The Self, pure awareness, shines as the light within the heart, surrounded by the senses. Only seeming to think, seeming to move, the Self neither sleeps nor wakes nor dreams.
9. The human being has two states of consciousness: one in this world, and the other in the next. But there is a third state between them, not unlike the state of dreams, in which we are aware of both worlds, with their sorrows and joys. When a person dies, it is only the physical body that dies; that person lives on in a nonphysical body, which carroes the impressions of the past life. It is these impressions that determine his next life. In this intermediate state he makes and dissolves impressions by the light of the Self.
21. The Self is free from desire, free from evil, free from fear.
23-30. In that unitive state one sees without seeing, for there is nothing separate from him; ...
2. ... He who is dying merges in consciousness, and thus consciousness accompanies him when he departs, along with the impressions of all that he has done, experienced, and known.
5. The Self is indeed Brahman, but through ignorance people identify it with intellect, mind, senses, passions, and the elements of earth, water, air, space, and fire. This is why the Self is said to consist of this and that, and appears to be everything.
As a person acts, so he becomes in life. Those who do good become good; those who do harm become bad. Good deeds make one pure; bad deeds make one impure. So we are said to be what our desire is. As our desire is, so is our will. As our will, so are our acts. As we act, so we become.
6. We live in accordance with our deep, driving desire. It is this desire at the time of death that determines what our next life is to be. We will come back to earth to work out the satisfaction of that desire.
7. ... When all the desires that surge in the heart Are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.

The Medium of Awareness: The MANDUKYA Upanishad
One of the Upanishadic mahakavyas or "great sayings" occurs in the second verse: ayam atma brahma, "the Self if Brahman." ... Shankara declared that if one could only study a single Upanishad it should be this one; similarly in a late Upanishad, the Muktika ("Deliverance"), Rama appears and tells a devotee that "the Mandukya alone is sufficient for the deliverance of the aspirant,"... [page 59]
1. AUM stands for the supreme Reality.
It is a symbol for what was, what is,
And what shall be. AUM represents also
What lies beyond past, present, and future.
7. The fourth is the superconsciousness state called
Turiya, neither inward nor outward,
Beyond the senses and the intellect,
In which there is none other than the Lord,
He is the supreme goal of life. He is
Infinite peaace and love. Realize him!
Extremely condensed, it was and is considered the most difficult of the Upanishads to understand accurately. Although Shankara does not mention it for some reason in this commentary on the Brahma Sutras, his teacher's teacher, Gaudapada, had written a 215-verse commentary which was to become one of the most influential documents of Indian philosophy, being the earliest expositions of the Vedanta we possess (and a brilliant demonstration of its validity by intellectual methods alone, independent of scriptural authority or dogma). [page 62]

  • Paperback: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Nilgiri Press; 1 edition (June 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0915132397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0915132393
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.5 x 1 inches

Books on the Upanishads