Mundakopanishad ( Part – 4 )


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By U. Ve. , MahAmahOpAdhyaya, Dr. Sriman Srirangam Nallan Chakravarthy Raghunathacharya Swami: Translated into English by Sriman K.S. Rajaji I.A.S.,

In continuation, the next of the Mundakopanishad’s synopsis is given below-
In the beginning itself, it was stated that a speciality of this Upanishad is that it explains profound principles with interesting examples. Readers would already have noticed this in the preceding Khandas. In the 5th Khanda also the differences in the form and attributes between the sentient, the insentient and the Omnipotent, omniscient Isvara are explained in simple and easy style, with examples as may be seen from the following.

There are two birds on a tree. These two birds which normally move together would normally have the same attributes. But of the above two, one bird eats the fruits from the tree and is in a sad state. The other bird does not partake of the fruits and is therefore in a shining form. Here the philosophy is explained in a wonderfully simple way. The tree stands for the body. The two birds refer to the JivA, who has entered a body as a result of his karma, while the other is Isvara, who is the Indweller and the witness. As a matter of the course, these two have a close contact and have qualities of eternal knowledge and bliss. But the JivA is experiencing the joys and sorrows caused as a result of “karma”.

Isvara is beyond “karma” and though as an in-dweller, He is inside the being, the sorrows do not attach themselves to Him. Je is of eternal effulgence. From this we know that the attributes of the insentient nature which is like the tree, the JivA, which suffers the effects of the karma and the Isvara who enters the being to be the controller and the eternal witness, are different from him is within him, that He is Omnipotent and realizes His grandeur, worships Him, then the being will be released from cares (anxieties) and liberated. Liberation consists in the liberated soul – the Atma attaining utmost similarity (parama sAmyam) with the Lord. Truth, penance, knowledge of the Reality and continence are the causes for devotion to the Lord. The Brahman, who cannot be realized from words or by the physical senses like the eyes, can be realised only by a mind which is devoid of the RAjasik and ThAmasik qualities and becomes totally SAthvika quality. The mind will be able to develop such SAthvika qualities only by the Grace of Lord. For the Lord to be so gracious, a person has to perform his oblations, karma, jnAna and Bhakti yOgAs. Though the JivA is atomic in size, due to the grace of the Lord, can obtain liberation and attain grandeur of Omniscience.


(In this section, there is a brief mention of the ArchirAdi and DhoomAdi mArga in the original. However, some more details are added by DAsan to explain about these two MArgas)
One who acquires the knowledge about the indestructible Brahman, the refuge for the entire universe, will not suffer the sorrows of rebirth. A person, who develops love for the Lord, love without any limits, all his desires for the extraneous objects, will cease to exist. Such desires of the jivAs propel him to carry out good and evil deeds. These in turn become the cause for the Karmaphala. This ensures that the JivA takes rebirth to experience the Karmaphala and thus the cycle continues without a break until his Karmaphala becomes nil. This can happen only when these desires are no more generated. This can happen only when he gets fully engaged in an unlimited love for the Lord. Because of such unlimited love towards Him, his thoughts and actions are only about Him and for Him filled with devotion. With this sort of his thoughts and deeds being only about Him and for Him continuing without any break, He becomes pleased with him and becomes gracious. The JivA perceives Him in front of him continuously without any break as if it is Reality. This is the result of meditation with love. If such love and devotion are absent in the JivA, the seeker, how much seriously he learns Vedas and recites them, how many Yajnas he may perform, whatever so called meditation he may be practicing, him realising Him will not be possible. A JivA who can control his sensory organs, has acquired the knowledge of the reality by continuous listening from the scholars and AastikAs, and is devoted towards Him as explained above, will on his leaving this body i.e., after the death, will travel to become an ardent servant of  Him on the ArchirAdi high road to Paramapadam. He will be endowed with his original attributes   same as attributes of the Lord except the creation capability. As explained in GitA, there are two routes which a JivA travels after death viz., the archirAdi the path of extreme Brightness and DhoomAdi- the smoky road. Those who perform the deeds to enjoy the fruits of this world and other higher worlds like the heaven etc., take the smoky route the DhoomAdi mArga, to enjoy their fruits of the virtues in heaven etc. As soon as the virtue’s fruits are exhausted he is back in the circuit of births and deaths. The devoted seekers of the Lord, as mentioned earlier take the road of brightness, the ArchirAdi, which leads to the paramapadam, and they have no rebirth thereafter. For such people, they leave this body when the Karmaphala, the resultant of their deeds is fully experienced in this life and the net Karmaphala becomes nil.  If at all any Karmaphala is still left over as sanchita karma, deposited Karmaphala, which becomes ineffective by His grace. Similarly, the Karmaphala which is the result of the acts the JivA does during this life (after becoming total surrendered devotee of the Lord through the practice of the Brahma VidyA) by accident and not be design, also become ineffective due to His grace.  Soon after JivA leaves this body, his subtle body moves on the ArchirAdi high way till the borders of this universe.

The JivA is escorted by immortal personality called Athivaahikas and after he takes a bath in the River Viraja he attains a body like all the residents of paramapadam. River waters has a separate identity till it enters the confluence with the sea and once the waters merge with the ocean, the separate identity is lost and it becomes a part of the sea and cannot be separately identified.  Similarly the liberated JivA would be giving up all his earlier forms as devas, humans etc and attains the parama sAmyam – the supreme likeness to the Supreme Godhead.
This knowledge pertaining to the Akshara Brahman is part of the AtharvaNa Veda. It is stipulated that the disciples who study this Veda should have a headgear of long cloth and should carry their sacrificial fire while learning this. However there is no such stipulation for those who follow the other Vedic Branches. Since this Akshara VidyA is one of the 32 Brahma Vidyas, the person who is serious in learning the Akshara Brahma VidyA can approach a suitable AchArya and learn it from him.  May we offer our salutations to the Guru Parampara – the succession of Acharyas who taught this Brahma VidyA- the science of Akshara Brahman.

In our next posting we shall start with the Mantras and the detailed exposition of them by Sriman Raghunathacharya SwAmi.

.. to be continued
Courtesy– Srinivasa Ramanuja DAsan.

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