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 II (second brāhmaṇa)

Then Yājñavalkya asked the Puruṣa in the sphere of the sun: "O Lord, antarlakṣya has been described many times, but it has never been understood by me (clearly). Pray describe it to me." He replied: "It is the source of the five elements, has the lustre of many (streaks of) lightning, and has four seats having (or rising from) 'That' (Brahman). In its midst, there arises the manifestation of tattva. It is very hidden and unmanifested. It can be known (only) by one who has got into the boat of jñāna. It is the object of both bahir and antar (external and internal) lakṣyas. In its midst is absorbed the whole world. It is the vast partless universe beyond Nāda, Bindu and Kara. Above it (viz., the sphere of agni) is the sphere of the sun; in its midst is the sphere of the nectary moon; in its midst is the sphere of the partless Brahma-tejas (or the spiritual effulgence of Brahman). It has the brightness of Śukla (white light)[1] like the ray of lightning. It alone has the characteristic of Śāmbhavī. In seeing this, there are three kinds of dṛṣṭi (sight), viz., amā (the new moon), pratipat (the first day of lunar fortnight), and pūrṇimā (the full moon). The sight of amā is the one (seen) with closed eyes. That with half opened eyes is pratipat; while that with fully opened eyes is pūrṇimā. Of these, the practice of pūrṇimā should be resorted to. Its lakṣya (or aim) is the tip of the nose. Then is seen a deep darkness at the root of the palate. By practising thus, a jyotis (light) of the form of an endless sphere is seen. This alone is Brahman, the Saccidānanda. When the mind is absorbed in bliss thus naturally produced, then does Śāmbhavī take place. She (Śāmbhavī) alone is called Khecarī. By practising it (viz., the mudrā), a man obtains firmness of mind. Through it, he obtains firmness of vāyu. The following are the signs: first it is seen like a star; then a reflecting (or dazzling) diamond;[2] then the sphere of full moon; then the sphere of the brightness of nine gems; then the sphere of the midday sun; then the sphere of the flame of agni (fire); all these are seen in order.

"(Thus much for the light in pūrva or first stage.) Then there is the light in the western direction (in the uttara or second stage). Then the lustres of crystal, smoke, bindu, nāda, kalā, star, firefly, lamp, eye, gold, and nine gems, etc. are seen. This alone is the form of Praṇava. Having united Prāṇa and Apāna and holding the breath in kumbhaka, one should fix his concentration at the tip of his nose and making ṣaṇmukhi[3] with the fingers of both his hands, one hears the sound of Praṇava (Om) in which manas becomes absorbed. Such a man has not even the touch of karma. The karma of (Sandhyāvandana or the daily prayers) is verily performed at the rising or setting of the sun. As there is no rising or setting (but only the ever shining) of the sun of Chit (the higher consciousness) in the heart of a man who knows thus, he has no karma to perform. Rising above (the conception of) day and night through the annihilation of sound and time, he becomes one with Brahman through the all-full jñāna and the attaining of the state of unmanī (the state above manas). Through the state of unmanī, he becomes amanaska (or without manas).

"Not being troubled by any thoughts (of the world) then constitutes the dhyāna.[4] The abandoning of all karmas constitutes āvāhana (invocation of god). Being firm in the unshaken (spiritual) wisdom constitutes āsana (posture). Being in the state of unmanī constitutes the pādya (offering of water for washing the feet of god). Preserving the state of amanaska (when manas is offered as sacrifice) constitutes the arghya (offering of water as oblation generally). Being in state of eternal brightness and shoreless nectar constitutes snāna (bathing). The contemplation of Ātmā as present in all constitutes (the application to the idol of) sandal. The remaining in the real state of the dṛk (spiritual eye) is (the worshipping with) akṣata;(non-broken rice). The attaining of Chit (consciousness) is (the worshipping with) flower. The real state of agni (fire) of Chit is the dhūpa (burning of incense). The state of the sun of Chit is the dīpa (light waved before the image). The union of oneself with the nectar of full moon is the naivēdya (offering of food, etc.).[5] The immobility in that state (of the ego being one with all) is pradakṣiṇa (going round the image). The conception of 'I am He' is namaskāra (prostration). The silence (then) is the stuti (praise). The all-contentment (or serenity then) is the visarjana (giving leave to god or finishing worship). (This is the worship of Ātmā by all Raja-yogins). He who knows this knows all.

"When the triputi[6] are thus dispelled, he becomes the kaivalya jyotis without bhāva (existence) or abhāva (nonexistence), full and motionless, like the ocean without the tides or like the lamp without the wind. He becomes a brahmavit (knower of Brahman) by cognising the end of the sleeping state, even while in the waking state. Though the (same) mind is absorbed in suṣupti as also in samādhi, there is much difference between them. (In the former case) as the mind is absorbed in tamas, it does not become the means of salvation, (but) in samādhi as the modifications of tamas in him are rooted away, the mind raises itself to the nature of the Partless. All that is no other than Sākṣi-Caitanya (witness-consciousness or the Higher Self) into which the absorption of the whole universe takes place, inasmuch as the universe is but a delusion (or creation) of the mind and is therefore not different from it. Though the universe appears perhaps as outside of the mind, still it is unreal. He who knows Brahman and who is the sole enjoyer of brāhmic bliss which is eternal and has dawned once (for all in him)—that man becomes one with Brahman. He in whom saṅkalpa perishes has got mukti in his hand. Therefore one becomes an emancipated person through the contemplation of Paramātmā. Having given up both bhāva and abhāva, one becomes a jīvanmukta by leaving off again and again in all states jñāna (wisdom) and jñeya (object of wisdom), dhyāna (meditation) and dhyeya (object of meditation), lakṣya (the aim) and alakṣya (non-aim), dṛśya (the visible) and adṛśya (the non-visible and ūha (reasoning) and apoha (negative reasoning).[7] He who knows this knows all.

"There are five avasthās (states), viz.: jāgrat (waking), svapna (dreaming), suṣupti (dreamless sleeping), the turya (fourth) and turyātīta (that beyond the fourth). The jīva (ego) that is engaged in the waking state becomes attached to the pravṛtti (worldly) path and is the participator of naraka (hell) as the fruit of sins. He desires svarga (heaven) as the fruit of his virtuous actions. This very same person becomes (afterwards) indifferent to all these saying, "Enough of the births tending to actions, the fruits of which tend to bondage till the end of this mundane existence." Then he pursues the nivṛtti (return) path with a view to attain emancipation. And this person then takes refuge in a spiritual instructor in order to cross this mundane existence. Giving up passion and others, he does only those he is asked to do. Then having acquired the four sādhanas (means to salvation), he attains, in the middle of the lotus of his heart, the Reality of antarlakṣya that is but the Sat of Lord and begins to recognise (or recollect) the bliss of Brahman which he had left (or enjoyed) in his suṣupti state. At last he attains this state of discrimination (thus): 'I think I am the non-dual One only. I was in ajñāna for some time (in the waking state and called therefore Viśva). I became somehow (or involuntarily) a Taijasa (in the dreaming state) through the reflection (in that state) of the affinities of the forgotten waking state; and now I am a Prājña through the disappearance of those two states. Therefore I am one only. I (appear) as more than one through the differences of state and place. And there is nothing of differentiation of class besides me.' Having expelled even the smack of the difference (of conception) between 'I' and 'That' through the thought 'I am the pure and the secondless Brahman', and having attained the path of salvation which is of the nature of Parabrahman, after having become one with It through the dhyāna of the sun's sphere as shining with himself, he becomes fully ripened for getting salvation. Saṅkalpa and others are the causes of the bondage of the mind; and the mind devoid of these becomes fit for salvation. Possessing such a mind free from all (saṅkalpa, etc.,) and withdrawing himself from the outer world of sight and others and so keeping himself out of the odour of the universe, he looks upon all the world as Ātmā, abandons the conception of 'I', thinks I am Brahman' and considers all these as Ātmā. Through these, he becomes one who has done his duty.

"The yogin is one that has realised Brahman that is all-full beyond turya. They (the people) extol him as Brahman; and becoming the object of the praise of the whole world, he wanders over different countries. Placing the bindu in the ākāś of Paramātmā and pursuing the path of the partless bliss produced by the pure, secondless, stainless, and innate yoga sleep of amanaska, he becomes an emancipated person. Then the yogin becomes immersed in the ocean of bliss. When compared to it, the bliss of Indra and others is very little. He who gets this bliss is the supreme yogin.

"Thus ends the second Brāhmaṇa."

Footnotes and references:


Comm.: Śukla is Brahman.


The original is, 'Vajra-Darpaṇam.'


Ṣaṇmukhi is said to be the process of hearing the internal sound by closing the two ears with the two thumbs, the two eyes with the two forefingers, the two nostrils with the two middle fingers, and the mouth with the remaining two fingers of both hands.


In this paragraph, the higher or secret meaning is given of all actions done in the pūjā or worship of God in the Hindū houses as well as temples. Regarding the clothing of the idol which is left out here, the commentator explains it as āvaraṇa or screen.


Here also the commentator brings in nīrājana or the waving of the light before the image. That is according to him, the idea, "I am the self-shining."


The Triputi are the three, the knower, the known and the knowledge. Comm.: Dhyāna and others stated before wherein the three distinctions are made.


Ūha and apoha—the consideration of the pros and cons.

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