नान्तःप्रज्ञं न बहिष्प्रज्ञं नोभयतःप्रज्ञं न प्रज्ञानघनं न प्रज्ञं नाप्रज्ञम् ।अदृष्टमव्यवहार्यमग्राह्यमलक्षणमचिन्त्यमव्यपदेश्यमेकात्मप्रत्ययसारं प्रपञ्चोपशमं शान्तं शिवमाद्वैतं चतुर्थं मन्यन्ते स आत्मा स विज्ञेयः ॥ ७ ॥
nAntaHpraj~naM na bahiShpraj~naM nobhayataHpraj~naM na praj~nAnaghanaM na praj~naM nApraj~nam |adRRiShTamavyavahAryamagrAhyamalakShaNamachintyamavyapadeshyamekAtmapratyayasAraM prapa~nchopashamaM shAntaM shivamAdvaitaM chaturthaM manyante sa AtmA sa vij~neyaH || 7 ||
This (consciousness) is known as the ‘fourth’. (It is) neither (the knower of) the internal (world), nor the external. Neither (is it the knower of) both. (And it is) not (just) a ‘mass’ of consciousness. (It is) not consciousness (in the empirical sense of conscious ‘of’) nor (is it) unconsciousness. (It is) imperceptible, transaction-less, not ‘graspable’, un-inferable, unthinkable, and indescribable. (It is) the essential ‘I’-experience. (It is) the negation of the experience of all plurality of the universe. (It is) pure, tranquility, and non-dual. This is the Self. This is to be understood.
This 7th mantra is possibly the single most important mantra in the whole of the Vedic scriptures; it attempts to ‘describe’ the nature of absolute reality, knowing that such description is intrinsically impossible.
yatra supto na ka~nchana kAmaM kAmayate na ka~nchana svapnaM pashyati tat suShuptam | suShuptasthAna ekibhUtaH praj~nAnaghana evAnandamayo hyAnandabhuk chetomukhaH prAj~nastRRitIyaH pAdaH || 5 ||
tat suShuptam – That (is called) the deep-sleep state yatra supto – in which the sleeper kAmyatena ka~nchana kAmaM – desires nothing (not any desired objects) napashyatika~nchana svapnaM – nor sees any dreams. tRRiitIyaH pAdaH – The third aspect prAj~naH – (is called) ‘the one who knows or understands’, suShuptasthAna – the state of deep sleep. ekibhUtaH – (In this state), everything is undifferentiated (literally ‘one element’), praj~nAnaghana eva – just a homogenous mass of Consciousness AnandamayaH – full of bliss, hi Ananda bhuk – indeed the ‘enjoyer’ of bliss. chetomukhaH – (Literally) it is the one whose mouth is intelligence.
The third aspect of the Self is prAj~na. This is the deep-sleep state in which one neither desires anything nor sees any dream. Everything is undifferentiated; simply blissful Consciousness alone, gateway to the other two cognitive states.
dvitIyaH pAdaH – The second aspect (of the Self) taijasa – is called taijasa. svapna sthAna – (Its field of action is) the dream state. antaHpraj~naH – (Consciousness is) turned inwards (as opposed to the waking state in the previous mantra, where it was turned outwards). sapta a~Nga – (As with the waking state) (it has) seven divisions. viMshatimukhaH – (and) nineteen interfaces. praviviktabhuk taijaso – taijasa is the enjoyer (bhug = bhuk = bhoktA; experiencer, enjoyer) of the private, internal world (pravivikta).
The second aspect of the Self is taijasa. This is the dream state in which one’s awareness is turned inwards. taijasa has seven parts and experiences the dream world via 19 interfaces.
prathamaH pAdaH – The first aspect (of the Self) vaishvAnara – is vaishvAnara (or vishva) jAgaritasthAna – (This is) the waking state praj~na – (and it is one in which one’s) knowing awareness bahis – (is) turned outwards sapta a~Nga (a~Nga literally means ‘limb’) – (This aspect has) seven divisions ekonaviMshatimukhaH – and nineteen interfaces (with the outside world) (viMshati is ‘twenty’ and ekona is ‘one less than’; mukha literally means ‘mouth’ or ‘opening’) sthUlabhugvaishvAnaraH – vaishvAnara (is) the enjoyer (bhug = bhuj = bhoktA; experiencer, enjoyer) of the gross world.
The first aspect of the Self is vaishvAnara. This is the waking state in which one’s awareness is turned outwards to the external world. vaishvAnara has seven parts and experiences the universe via 19 interfaces.
hariH OM | OM ityetadakSharamidaM sarvaM tasyopavyAkhyAnaM bhUtaM bhavadH bhaviShyaditi sarvamoMkAra eva | yachchaanyatH trikAlAtItaM tadapyoMkAra eva || 1 ||
OM iti etad akSharam – Thus, this syllable OM idam sarvaM – (is) all this. tasya upavyAkhyAna – The explanation begins with this: oMkAra – the syllable OM (is) itieva – thus truly sarvaM – everything – bhUta – past, bhavat – present bhaviShyat – (and) future. yat cha anya – and what is other than atIta – transcending these trikAla – three time periods tat eva – even is that only oMkAra – OM api – as well.
The syllable OM is everything. The explanation follows (with this Upanishad). All that is past, present and future is OM. And, whatever is beyond the three periods of time, that too is only OM.
I have just started reading the massive commentary on the mANDUkya, Gaudapada kArikA-s and Shankara bhAShya (if it was Shankara) by Divyaj~nAna Sarojini VaradarAjan, so I thought it might be appropriate to post my own translation and commentary on the Upanishad itself from ‘A-U-M’.
The VaradarAjan book is in two volumes and, as far as I am aware, is only available from Exotic India at £65 to post to the UK. Only 500 copies were printed and these may sell out quickly as her Upanishad commentaries are unparalleled.
My own book ‘A-U-M: Awakening to Reality’ is a ‘by topic’ rather than verse by verse commentary, although it does cover all of the material. The specific translation and commentary on the 12 verses of the Upanishad itself are relegated to an Appendix, since the material is rather ‘dense’, and the tone less ‘conversational’ than the main body of the book. It is available from Amazon:
This series will post the whole of Appendix 1 of ‘A-U-M’ and, in general, each post will cover one verse of the Upanishad. This first post, however, covers the shAnti pATha – the traditional prayer at the beginning of an Upanishad – and Shankara’s introduction.
Reality is non-dual. All Advaitins know that this is the teaching, even if they have not yet succeeded in reconciling this with the appearance of the world and their own apparent individuality.
The Self does not act. The jñānī knows this. The well-known statement in Bhagavad Gita 5.8-9 tells us that: The balanced person who knows the truth thinks: ‘I do nothing at all; it is only the senses relating to their sense objects,’ even whilst seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, going, sleeping, breathing, speaking, excreting or grasping; even just opening or closing the eyes. It is all simply the ‘play of the guṇa-s’, name and changing form, like the movement of waves on the surface of the ocean – all is always only water.
Q: I am struggling to reconcile the empirical account of what may be called ‘creation’ (the Big Bang, followed by billions of years of mechanically unfolding interactions with no sense of self, until the absurdly *recent* emergence of consciousness after further millions of years of blind evolution) with the advaitic concept of ‘creation’ (the absolute Being, timeless and changeless, manifesting in Itself as experience).
A: The ‘bottom line’ of Advaita is that there has never been any ‘creation’. There is only Brahman. Everything is Brahman. You are Brahman. The ‘universe’ is simply a ‘form’ of Brahman, to which you have given ‘names’ implying that there are separately existing entities.
The scriptures (from which Advaita derives) certainly give ‘empirical accounts’ of a creation. But these are interim explanations only to satisfy the enquirer temporarily until ready to accept the truth.
The most “radical version of Non-dual teaching” goes back to Revered Gaudapada (of 5th or 6th CE) who forms a watershed mark in the Advaita tradition. With him started the human form lineage of teacher-disciple. (Before him it was a lineage of Sages preceded by the lineage of Gods – see here).
Gaudapada says that we are prisoners of an unwavering belief in cause-effect relationships. He avers that cause-effect relationships do not exist. For example, he writes:
नास्त्यसद्धेतुकमसत्सदसद्धेतुकं तथा । सच्च सद्धेतुकं नास्ति सद्धेतुकमसत्कुतः ॥ — 4.40, Gaudapada kArikA on mANDUkya Upanishad.
Meaning: The unreal cannot have the unreal as its cause. Nor can the real be produced from the unreal. The real cannot be the cause of the real. And it is much more impossible for the real to be the cause of the unreal. (Translation: Swami Nikhilananda). Continue reading →