Glory of Bharath  »  Atharva Vedic Upanishads - II
Mandukya Upanishad
The theme of the Mandukya Upanishad is an exposition of the Mystic Syllable, Om, with a view to training the mind in meditation, for the purpose of achieving freedom, gradually, so that the individual soul is attuned to the Ultimate Reality. The Mandukya Upanishad is the shortest of the Upanishads - the scriptures of Hindu Vedanta. It is in prose, consisting of just twelve verses expounding the mystic syllable Aum, the three psychological states of waking, dreaming and sleeping, and the transcendent fourth state of illumination. The Muktikopanishad, which discusses other Upanishads, says that the Mandukya Upanishad alone is enough for salvation. Gaudapadacharya was the author of Mandukya Karika, a commentary on Mandukya Upanishad. It was written in 8th century, and is one of the earliest works on Advaita Vedanta.

All this is the letter Om. A vivid explanation of this (is begun). All that is past, present, and future is but Om. Whatever transcends the three periods of time, too, is Om. All this is certainly Brahman. This Self is Brahman. This Self, as such, is possessed of four quarters.

(The Self) seated in the waking state and called Vaisvanara who, possessed of the consciousness of the exterior, and seven limbs and nineteen mouths, enjoys the gross objects, is the first quarter.

(The Self) seated in the state of dream and called Taijasa who, possessed of the consciousness of the interior, and seven limbs and nineteen mouths, enjoys the subtle objects, is the second quarter.

Where the sleeper desires not a thing of enjoyment and sees not any dream, that state is deep sleep. (The Self) seated in the state of deep sleep and called Prajna, in whom everything is unified, who is dense with consciousness, who is full of bliss, who is certainly the enjoyer of bliss, and who is the door to the knowledge (of the preceding two states), is the third quarter.

This is the Lord of all; this is omniscient; this is the in-dwelling controller (of all); this is the source and indeed the origin and dissolution of all beings.

The Fourth is thought of as that which is not conscious of the internal world, nor conscious of the external world, nor conscious of both the worlds, nor dense with consciousness, nor simple consciousness, nor unconsciousness, which is unseen, actionless, incomprehensible, un-inferable, unthinkable, indescribable, whose proof consists in the identity of the Self (in all states), in which all phenomena come to a cessation, and which is unchanging, auspicious, and non-dual. That is the Self; that is to be known.

That same Self, from the point of view of the syllable, is Om, and viewed from the stand point of the letters, the quarters are the letters, and the letters are the quarters. The letters are a, u and m.

Vaisvanara seated in the waking state is the first letter a, owing to its all-pervasiveness or being the first. He who knows thus verily accomplishes all longings and becomes the first.

Taijasa seated in the dream is u, the second letter (of Om), owing to the similarity of excellence or intermediate position. He who knows thus verily advances the bounds of his knowledge and becomes equal (to all) and none who is not a knower of Brahman is born in his family.

Prajna seated in the state of deep sleep is m, the third letter (of Om), because of his being the measure or the entity wherein all become absorbed. He who knows thus measures all this and absorbs all.

That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.


- October 11
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