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Mandukya Upanishad

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mandukya Upanishad is one of the shortest Upanishads, that form the speculative metaphysical parts of the Hindu texts, the Vedas. It belongs to the Atharva Veda. It devotes itself entirely to the explanation of the mystic syllable Aum. It is in prose.

Contents

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About the Upanishad

For the very reason that it explains the esoteric meaning of the fundamental syllable Aum of Hindu spiritual tradition, the Upanishad has been extolled greatly. The Muktikopanishad, which talks about all other Upanishads, says that if a person cannot afford to study all the hundred and more Upanishads, it will be enough to read just the Mandukya Upanishad. According to Dr.S. Radhakrishnan, in this Upanishad we find the fundamental approach to the attainement of reality by the road of introversion and ascent from the sensible and changing, through the mind which dreams, through the soul which thinks, to the divine within but above the soul.

Commentary by Gaudapada

The first extant commentary on this Upanishad was written by Gaudapada, before the time of Adi Shankara. This commentary, called the Mandukya-karika, is the earliest systematic exposition of the advaita point of view of Vedanta. Its importance can be gauged from the fact that when Shankara wrote his commentary on Mandukya Upanishad, as he did for ten other Upanishads, he merged the Karika of Gaudapada with the Upanishad and wrote a commentary on the Karika also.

Explanation of Aum as in Mandukya Upanishad

[

Three matras

There are three matras in the word aum : ‘a’ as the ‘u’ in ‘but’; ‘u’ as the ‘u’ in ‘put’; and the ‘m’. The term matra is used for the upper limb of Nagari characters and a syllabic instant in prosody. Esoterically, the ‘a’ stands for the first stage of wakefulness, where we experience in our gross body the totality of external experiences through our mind and sense organs. The ‘u’ stands for the dream state of sleep in which mental experiences are available, though erratically, by the mind which is the only thing which is then awake, without the help of the external sense organs or the presence of the rationalising intellect.

Waking state and Dream state

The two kinds of experience, namely those of the waking state and those of the dream state, contradict each other, in the sense that a man may experience hunger in a dream though he has eaten in the waking state a few minutes earlier.

[Deep sleep state

In the state of deep sleep, represented by the sound ‘m’, there is no consciousness of any experience; even the mind has gone to sleep. But still there is an awareness after the deep sleep is over that one has been sleeping. Mandukya Upanishad says that in the state of deep sleep, the Atman which is always present, has been the witness to the sleep of the body and it is this source from which issues the memory of sleep.

 

Beyond the three states

It is the Atman which is also present beyond the three states of experience. The fourth state (turiya avastha) (see turiya) corresponds to the silence that ensues after one has steadily pronounced aum. It is the state of no matra (amatra). In that silence Consciousness alone is present; there is nothing else. Therefore there is nothing to be cognized or be conscious of. This is the substratum of even the other three states of experience. During the silence that follows the recitation of aum, one is advised to merge in that Consciousness, in fact, be that Consciousness. That Consciousness is the Atman. That is Brahman. To underscore the point that the ‘fourth state’ is not another ‘state’ of consciousness, but consciousness itself, turiya avastha is simply called turiya (the fourth).

Gaudapada’s thesis

In his karika on the Upanishad, Gaudapada deals with all the outstanding problems of philosophy, such as perception, idealism, causality, truth, and reality. In turiya, he says the mind is not simply withdrawn from the objects but becomes one with Brahman, who is free from fear and who is all-round illumination. In both deep sleep and transcendental consciousness there is no consciousness of objects. But this objective consciousness is present in an unmanifested 'seed' form in deep sleep while it is completely transcended in the turiya. Specifically, if one identifies the amatra state of silence with the turiya and meditates on it without intermission, one realizes one's self and 'there is no return for him to the sphere of empirical life', says Gaudapada.

 

 

 

Sources

  • Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. The Principal Upanishads. George Allen and Unwin. 1969
  • Eight Upanishads. Vol.2. With the commentary of Sankaracharya, Tr. By Swami Gambhirananda. Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 1990.
  • Swami Nikhilananda: Mandukyopanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika and Sankara’s Commentary. Shri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysore. Sixth edn. 1974
  • V. Krishnamurthy. Essentials of Hinduism. Narosa Publishing House, New Delhi. 1989

 

External links

  • [1], Musical version of Mandukya Upanishad Composed by Pandit Jasraj.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandukya_Upanishad"

 




 

 

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