Mandala-brahmana Upanishad of Shukla-Yajurveda

by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar | 1914 | 3,988 words

This is the English translation of the Mandala-brahmana Upanishad (belonging to the Shukla-Yajurveda): a minor Sanskrit treatise selected amongst a collection 108 extant upanishads, dating to at least the 1st millennium BC. The Mandala-brahmana-upanishad presents itself in the form of a dialogue between sage Yajnavalkya and Narayana (Purusha of th...

Chapter I (first brāhmaṇa)

[note: Maṇḍala means sphere. As the Puruṣa in the maṇḍala or sphere of the sun gives out this Upaniṣad to Yājñavalkya, hence it is called Maṇḍala-Brāhmaṇa. It is very mystic. There is a book called Rājayoga Bhāṣya which is a commentary thereon; in the light of it which is by some attributed to Śri Saṅkarācārya, notes are given herein.]

Om. The great muni Yājñavalkya went to Adityaloka (the sun's world) and saluting him (the Puruṣa of the sun) said: "O reverend sir, describe to me the Ātmā-tattva (the tattva or truth of Ātmā)."

(To which,) Nārāyaṇa (viz., the Puruṣa of the sun) replied: "I shall describe the eightfold yoga together with Jñāna. The conquering of cold and heat as well as hunger and sleep, the preserving of (sweet) patience and unruffledness ever and the restraining of the organs (from sensual objects)—all these come under (or are) yama. Devotion to one's guru, love of the true path, enjoyment of objects producing happiness, internal satisfaction, freedom from association, living in a retired place, the controlling of the manas and the not longing after the fruits of actions and a state of vairāgya—all these constitute niyama. The sitting in any posture pleasant to one and clothed in tatters (or bark) is prescribed for āsana (posture). Inspiration, restraint of breath and expiration, which have respectively 16, 64 and 32 (mātrās) constitute prāṇāyāma (restraint of breath). The restraining of the mind from the objects of senses is pratyāhāra (subjugation of the senses). The contemplation of the oneness of consciousness in all objects is dhyāna. The mind having been drawn away from the objects of the senses, the fixing of the caitanya (consciousness) (on one alone) is dhāraṇā. The forgetting of oneself in dhyāna is samādhi. He who thus knows the eight subtle parts of yoga attains salvation.

"The body has five stains (viz.,) passion, anger, out-breathing, fear, and sleep. The removal of these can be effected respectively by absence of saṅkalpa, forgiveness, moderate food, carefulness, and a spiritual sight of tattvas. In order to cross the ocean of saṃsāra where sleep and fear are the serpents, injury, etc., are the waves, tṛṣṇā (thirst) is the whirlpool, and wife is the mire, one should adhere to the subtle path and overstepping tattva[1] and other guṇas should look out for Tāraka.[2] Tāraka is Brahman which being in the middle of the two eyebrows, is of the nature of the spiritual effulgence of Saccidānanda. The (spiritual) seeing through the three lakṣyas (or the three kinds of introvision) is the means to It (Brahman). Suṣumnā which is from the mūlādhāra to brahmarandhra has the radiance of the sun. In the centre of it, is kundalinī shining like crores of lightning and subtle as the thread in the lotus-stalk. Tamas is destroyed there. Through seeing it, all sins are destroyed. When the two ears are closed by the tips of the forefingers, a phūtkāra (or booming) sound is heard. When the mind is fixed on it, it sees a blue light between the eyes as also in the heart. (This is antarlakṣya or internal introvision). In the bahirlakṣya (or external introvision) one sees in order before his nose at distance of 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 digits, the space of blue colour, then a colour resembling śyāma (indigo-black) and then shining as rakta (red) wave and then with the two pīta (yellow and orange red) colours. Then he is a yogin. When one looks at the external space, moving the eyes and sees streaks of light at the corners of his eyes, then his vision can be made steady. When one sees jyotis (spiritual light) above his head 12 digits in length, then he attains the state of nectar. In the madhyalakṣya (or the middle one), one sees the variegated colours of the morning as if the sun, the moon and the fire had joined together in the ākāś that is without them. Then he comes to have their nature (of light). Through practice, he becomes one with ākāś, devoid of all guṇas and peculiarities. At first ākāś with its shining stars becomes to him Para-ākāś as dark as tamas itself, and he becomes one with Para-ākāś shining with stars and deep as tamas. (Then) he becomes one with Mahā-ākāś resplendent (as) with the fire of the deluge. Then he becomes one with Tattva-ākāś, lighted with the brightness which is the highest and the best of all. Then he becomes one with Sūrya-ākāś (sun-ākāś) brightened by a crore of suns. By practising thus, he becomes one with them. He who knows them becomes thus.

"Know that yoga is twofold through its division into the pūrva (earlier) and the uttara (later). The earlier is tāraka and the later is amanaska (the mindless). Tāraka is divided into mūrti (with limitation) and amūrti (without limitation). That is mūrti tāraka which goes to the end of the senses (or exists till the senses are conquered). That is amūrti tāraka which goes beyond the two eyebrows (above the senses). Both these should be performed through manas. Antardṛṣṭi (internal vision) associated with manas comes to aid tāraka. Tejas (spiritual light) appears in the hole between the two eyebrows. This tāraka is the earlier one. The later is amanaska. The great jyotis (light)[3] is above the root of the palate. By seeing it, one gets the siddhis aṇimā, etc. Śāmbhavīmudrā occurs when the lakṣya (spiritual vision) is internal while the (physical) eyes are seeing externally without winking. This is the great science which is concealed in all the tantras. When this is known, one does not stay in saṃsāra. Its worship (or practice) gives salvation. Antarlakṣya is of the nature of Jalajyotis (or waterjyotis). It is known by the great Ṛṣis and is invisible both to the internal and external senses.

"Sahasrāra (viz., the thousand-petalled lotus of the pineal gland) Jalajyotis[4] is the antarlakṣya. Some say the form of Puruṣa in the cave of buddhi beautiful in all its parts is antarlakṣya. Some again say that the all-quiescent Nīlakaṇṭha accompanied by Umā (his wife) and having five mouths and latent in the midst of the sphere in the brain is antarlakṣya. Whilst others say that the Puruṣa of the dimension of a thumb is antarlakṣya. A few again say antarlakṣya is the One Self made supreme through introvision in the state of a jīvanmukta. All the different statements above made pertain to Ātmā alone. He alone is a Brahmaniṣṭha who sees that the above lakṣya is the pure Ātmā. The jīva which is the twenty-fifth tattva, having abandoned the twenty-four tattvas, becomes a jīvanmukta through the conviction that the twenty-sixth tattva (viz.,) Paramātmā is 'I' alone. Becoming one with antarlakṣya (Brahman) in the emancipated state by means of antarlakṣya (introvision), jīva becomes one with the partless sphere of Paramākāś.

"Thus ends the first Brāhmaṇa."

Footnotes and references:


Comm.: Rising above the seven Prāṇas, one should with introvision cognise in the region of Ākās, Tamas and should then make Tamas get into Rajas, Rajas into Sattva, Sattva into Nārāyaṇa and Nārāyaṇa, into the Supreme One.


Tāraka is from tr., to cross, as it enables one to cross samsāra. The higher vision is here said to take place in a centre between the eyebrows—probably in the brain.


The commentator puts it as 12 digits above the root of the palate—perhaps the Dvādasānta or twelfth centre corresponding to the pituitary body.


The commentator to support the above that antarlakshya, viz., Brahman is jala- or water-jyotis quotes the Prāṇāyāma-Gāyatrī which says: "Om Āpojyotī-raso’amṛtam-Brahma, etc."—Apo-jyotis or water-jyotis is Brahman.

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