mANDUkya upaniShad Part 13

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Mantra 12

अमात्रश्चतुर्थोऽव्यवहार्यः प्रपञ्चोपशमः शिवोऽअद्वैत
आत्मैव संविशत्यात्मनाऽऽअत्मनं य एवं वेद य एवं वेद ॥ १२॥

amAtrashchaturtho.avyavahAryaH prapa~nchopashamaH shivo.Advaita
evamo~NkAra .

Atmaiva saMvishatyAtmanA.a.AtmanaM ya evaM veda ya evaM veda || 12 ||

chaturtha – The fourth (aspect)
o~NkAra – of the syllable OM
amAtra – (has) no parts (i.e. is limitless);
avyavahArya – (is) transcendental (not at the level of empirical transactions),
prap~nchopashamam – has no phenomenal existence,
shivaH – is ‘all bliss’
Advaita – (and) non-dual.

Atma eva – (It is therefore) verily the Self.
ya evaM veda – Whosoever knows this
saMvishati atAnaM – merges his self
AtmanA – into the Self.

The fourth aspect of OM is silence. It is transcendental, without any worldly existence, blissful and non-dual; it is the Self. Whoever knows this realizes his oneness with the Self.  Whoever knows this. (This last bit is repeated to emphasize the supreme importance of this pursuit and to leave the reader with this thought as the last statement of the Upanishad. Many of the translations and commentaries omit the repetition for some reason.)

Just like turIya, amAtra cannot be described. Any word spoken would immediately destroy the silence! The identity is emphasized here by using the same words to refer to amAtra as were used in the 7th mantra with reference to turIya. Both are without attributes – nirguNa; blissful – shivam; and non-dual – Advaitam. The three states are associated with their respective universes of objects: gross, subtle and causal (unmanifest). The three mAtra-s are the ‘names’ which refer to those universes and observers. Both turIya and amAtra are described as prapa~nchopashama. Whereas turIya has nothing to do with the worlds of objects, amAtra has nothing to do with the names (sounds) that refer to those objects.

There is an implicit reference to the vAchArambhanaM sutras in Chandogya Upanishad again here. (See earlier discussion.) The sounds are the names of the objects and amAtra, the witness of the sounds, is turIya, the witness of the three states. Shankara says that the cause of both speech and mind is ignorance and, since there is no ignorance in Atma, it is not possible either to comprehend it (Atma) or speak about it. Anandagiri clarifies this by pointing out that ‘speech’ means ‘naming’, abhidhAna, and ‘mind’ means ‘object’, abhidheya. “…for there is no object apart from mind ­– they arise because of ignorance, and when ignorance ceases to exist – speech and mind, the name and the nameable objects all disappear” (Ref. 2).

As a result of investigating into the nature of the Self and analyzing OM, we can come to the realization that everything can be negated except Consciousness, the witness of all. Just as there is no bangle, chain or ring, but only gold, so there is no waker, dreamer or deep-sleeper, only turIya. And, once the objects have been nullified, the words have no further relevance and can also be dropped. So we are left with only silence and the ever-present witness of that silence. (Remember the quotation of Shankara given in the analysis of the first mantra: “the necessity of understanding their identity arises from the fact that (once this identity is established,) one can by a single effort eliminate both the name and the nameable to realize brahman that is different from all.“)

Thus, the benefit of meditation on amAtra is ultimately that there is release from saMsAra, i.e. no rebirth. The causal element for the gross and subtle aspects is held in prAj~na. Once the three states are as though ‘merged’ into turIya, there is no longer any ‘seed’ (bIja) for the ‘sprout’ (a~Nkura) of rebirth. (Gaudapada uses this metaphor in I.13.)

Shankara says that OM known in this way has 3 mAtra-s and 3 pAda-s and that therefore OM is Atma.

The message of this Upanishad is further explored by the kArikA-s in the first chapter, AgAma prakAraNa, and these aspects are covered in the main text (of my book A-U-M).

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