Aitareya Upanishad

Aitareya Upanishad

Invocation

Let my voice  be established in mind which in turn is established in power of speech itself.

Let my speech and mind act in harmony.

O Self Illumined Paramatman, kindly reveal yourself to me.

O Word and Mind, kindly give me access to Vedas.

Let not what I listen, abandon me.

May I burn the mid-night oil in this study.

May my voice carry the truth that is affirmed  in my mind.

Let the speaker and the listener be protected.

May He protect me and the orator.

Let the affliction caused by self, others and nature be ameliorated.

Creation

In the beginning, there was only Self (Atman) and nothing was active beside It.

Atmn desired to create the world.

Atman brought in existence four spheres of material world:

  • Ambh: the outermost sphere of clouds that is established in divine world.
  • Marichi: The space below the Ambha
  • Mar: The Earth
  • Ap: The land beneath the earth.

Having created the spheres, Atman thought of having their appropriate guardians. So he created a body mass from Water.

Atman intent brought into existence the body mass of primordial being.

Accordingly an egg shaped head and face appeared from the body mass.

From the face appeared mouth and power of speech & voice developed there-from. The fire originated from  power of speech.

Appearance of nostrils followed. From nostrils emanated prana (upward energy controlling inputs and life force) and air forged from prana.

Eyes materialized the same way. From the eyes arose faculty of sight and from them emerged the sun.

Ears ensued from the Face and from Ears developed ability to listen and all the directions (space) evolved there-from.

After the Ears, skin appeared and from skin germinated hair and from hair grew the earth with trees, shrubs and medicinal plants.

Heart appeared after skin and from it grew forth the mind which birthed the moon.

After heart naval came into being  and Apana (the downward energy controlling expulsions)  was expressed there-from carrying with it the death.

Lastly, the phallus appeared. From phallus came the seminal fluid that brought the water into being.

                                                                              (translation of Aitareya Upanishad to continue)

May We Find the Way Together

May We Find the Way Together

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Purpose of knowing Brahma

( ‘Bramha’, ‘Atman’ and ‘Self’ can be used interchangeably in this text. All denote the one and only Ultimate Reality.)

How and why should one know Brahma?

One who knows Atman does not grieve over different emotions and experiences that emerge, evolve and die as a result of the contact of senses with their objects.

These statements seem to convey that Atman is different from the senses. But it is not so. Atman is omnipresent.

Senses are subordinate to mind which is ruled by Intelligence. The intelligence is governed by Ego which serves the soul.

But the Atman, whose glimpse liberates mankind and grants immortality, is beyond soul. It pervades in whole existence but has no means of perception as there is nothing to perceive.

(Q) So something that does not perceive can-not be perceived?

(A) Atman cannot be perceived by senses. It cannot be seen by eyes. It can be glimpsed through mindful contemplation by self possessed intelligence that controls the mind. This knowledge liberates us from sufferings of mortality.

(Q) How can self possessed intelligence be developed?

(A) The absolute state of being is when the senses turn inward and become still along with the mind and when even the intelligence makes no attempt whatsoever.

This integrated state of being is called Yog. At that point the Yogi (one who attains such state) becomes centered, unaffected and quiet. Every  event rises and falls in this state of consciousness.

(A)Atman can not be grasped by speech, sight or mind. How can it be attained by people who affirm that It is?

(B) Atman can be attained through faith and knowledge. The knowledge is revealed to those who develop faith that It is.

One who perceives Atman gets released from all the desires of the heart and becomes emancipated from the mortality while still being in the physical body.

(Q) When do the desires get eliminated?

(A) Only this much is declared that when all the knots ameliorate or dissolve  in the heart while in this life, the mortal becomes immortal.

The thumbsize Atman is situated within the heart of all beings. It should be experienced by exercising discipline and patience, just as grass is peeled to reveal Culm.

Think of Atman as the purest nectar. Think of Atman as purest nectar.

Nachiketa, knowing all about Atman as elucidated by Yama, the god of Death, got established in Brahma and transcended dualities of  birth & death and Dharma & Adharma.

Anyone who conceives Brahma and understands the way to attain It would also achieve this status.

May the Lord protect and nurture both of us, the Teacher and the taught. May we together cultivate capability to achieve knowledge.  What we study should be light unto itself and not harbour malice.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

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(thus concludes Kathopanishad)

The Inverted Tree of Existence

The Inverted Tree of Existence

inverted Ashwath

  • From the visible, we can deduce its invisible cause.
  • From the study of fruit, we try to infer the nature of the roots of the tree that bore that fruit.
  • In the same way, tracing from our knowledge of material world that we perceive through our senses, we try to determine the nature of Brahma, the causal origin of existence.
  • The Eternal Pipal Tree with its roots in the heaven and branches in the material world is Brahma, the purest light and nectar for immortal life. All the dimensions are within its confines and nothing can transcend it.

(Question) The knowledge of Brahma delivers us free from the fear of death. Though it is the substratum of all apparent reality, it cannot be perceived through the senses, therefore it does not exist. It follows that the whole material world has been created out of nothing.

(Answer) It is not so. The entire material world emanates and exists within Bramha.    The universe obeys Brahma just as fearful people do before the mightiest weapon which is ready to strike. People who know this fact transcend the cycle of birth and death.

(Question) Moved by the fear of Almighty Brahma, how does the world conduct itself?

(Answer) Frightened by Brahma, sun and fire emanate heat, Indra sends rain & breeze and death follows set rules.

  • Attaining knowledge of Brahma before death makes one free from the fretters of mortality. If it does not so happen, one continues to acquire different bodies in the transient worlds.It is so because Brahma is pristinely reflected in human body just as a face is seen clearly in a mirror. This clarity of experience is well neigh impossible in any other world except in the kingdom of Brahma itself.

  • Uncontaminated human intelligence can perceive Brahma just like reflection in a mirror.
  • Brahma appears like a dream in land of ancestors where we go after death.
  • It appears like a reflection in water in land of gods.
  • But in the land of Brahma, it as clear as light and shadow (as actual object).

(a continued translation of Kathopanishad)

 

Searching for Atman

Searching for Atman

Finding the Bramha

( ‘Bramha’, ‘Atman’ and ‘Self’ can be used interchangeably in this text. All denote the one and only Ultimate Reality.)

Brahma is abstruse and extremely difficult to fathom. Still this section of Kathopnishad makes an effort to grasp its attributes.

This mortal body with eleven opening is the seat of eternal and omniscient Bramha .

The person who conceives it in thought does not grieve and transcends time & the cycles of cause and effect.

But how does the timeless, absolute and undivided Bramha reside in different bodies at the same time?

Bramha is the essence and movement of all lives. It is displayed in motion, brightness of sun, life breath of cosmic air, fire in the womb of earth and the elixir in water.

It is the power that inspires human beings and gods. It is the seed of Truth and all action. It pervades in space, water, earth, mountains, rituals and is their magnificent essence.

Coming to other identifiable characteristics, it is said that Bramhan drives Prana (forward or upward moving energy in beings which governs reception of inputs like food and sensations) and Apana (downward or outward moving energy which controls expulsions from the body), and is worshipped in the center of the heart.

Its withdrawal causes immediate death and destruction of body.

The argument that the life comes from physical and vital sheaths of the body is farthest from reality. All these sheaths are the destructible constructs over the essential foundation that is Bramhan.

Now Yama explains what it is like to die without having a glimpse of Bramha.

Unaware of Ultimate Reality and caught in the momentum generated by the extent of their knowledge and karma, most of the people are born in different life forms including the immobile ones.

When the life forces are asleep, this eternally pure and immortal Bramha remains awake and creates the objects of desire.

It contains the whole material world and cannot be transcended. This is decidedly The Absolute Reality.

Despite being explained a number of times, the knowledge of Atman does not get established in the minds of those scholars whose intelligence is swayed  by arguments of rationalists.

For them, the scripture reiterates that just as the energy (fire and air) enters the myriad lives and appears in their shape and form, Bramha also resides and appears as all the life forms and extends beyond them too.

This all pervasive Bramha includes the negative emotions like grief and fear too.
Just as the Sun shine reflects on all the objects to make them visible but the Sun remains unaffected by these objects, the Bramhs remains unaffected by the sorrow of the beings it resides in and extends beyond them too.

Eternal happiness is for only those prudent ones whose intellect perceives Atman as the Master of all forms of existence and which appears as many despite being one.

Eternal peace enjoins only the prudent ones whose intellect perceives Atman which alone fulfills all the desires and exists as the permanence within the impermanent & the mindful awareness in the conscious beings.

This experience of Atman or self realization is described as absolute bliss by the enlightened ones.

Can this Atman be glimpsed by our limited intellect?

It is said that the kingdom of Atman shines in its own effulgence. All the apparent objects are illumined by the light of either fire, electricity, stars, moon and sun. But these sources of light derive their luminescence from Atman alone.

Impediments in the path of Self Realization

Impediments in the path of Self Realization

 

Impediments in the path of Self Realization

Though the Atman is intrinsic to all matter, it remains hidden from us. We can have its glimpses only through mindfulness. Some may ask why mindfulness is necessary for self realization and what the obstructions in achieving that state are. This section also explains how we can establish ourselves in mindfulness after removing these impediments.

The organs of perception( powers to see, smell, touch, hear and taste) are trained towards external world. This way their potential for self realization remains suppressed. In pursuit of everlasting knowledge, the wise men restrain their perceptions from material world and turn them inwards to perceive the transcendental Atman.

Ignorance is the chief impediment to self realization because it drives sensory perceptions to external world.  Attention and attachment to visible and invisible pleasures of external world lead the unwise to  all pervasive web of death. The wise ones, knowing immortal Self, do not fall for transient pleasures.

It is told that the knower of Atmn (Bramhan) does not strive for any further knowledge. How can this Atmn (Bramha) be perceived.

Yama replies: Nothing remains to be known after Self Realisation because the Atmn is the substance and medium of all perception through touch, smell, taste, appearance, sound and sensuous pleasures.

Atmn is extremely subtle and obscure. The omnipotent Atmn throbs in both the states of dream and wakeful reality. So the knower of Atmn does not fall in grief.

Atmn beholds life force, and in it cause & effect and time-all exist together. One who knows such Atmn does not even wish to protect it. This Absolute existence dwell within each life.

Prayerful austere practices lead the Knowledgeable to perceive Hiranyagarbha, the seed of cosmos, which is the primeval source of creation. This seed precedes the elements’(water,fire,air,earth and space) coming to existence.

This Hiranyagarbha is Atmn or Bramha. This is what Nachiketa seeks to know.

From Hiranyagarbha arises The Life Force along with the Elements and it resides within the sacred recess of cosmic intelligence. This primary life force is called Aditi.

The direct perception of Hiranyagarbha through cosmic intelligence is preserved by mindful meditation, prayer and sacred actions just as an expectant mother cares for her womb by proper diet and conduct.

This Life force is the ambit of material existence marked by food, speech and abode of gods etc. The Sun rises and sets within its confine only.

Yama clarifies that this material world is not different from the Bramha. He reiterates that the selfsame Atmn exists within the mortal body, life and also beyond it. One who sees Bramha as separate from apparent life existence, gets caught in the mire of birth and death.

The mind trained by Teacher and Scripture can achieve consciousness of Atmn before it(mind) establishes in Universal Existence. There are no separate constituents of Existence. It is one and undivided. People who do not see it as whole are condemned from death to death.

Still this primeval existence is represented in a thumb size space in heart region. Knowing it as what rules over chronological time, one becomes free from fear of destruction of body.

This thumb size element, the Bramha, remains like a smokeless flame and is not confined by limit of time.

People see different phases of the rivers from their emanation from mountains till their final merger at separate points and come to believe them as unrelated to one another. In the same way, the unaware people think of myriad lives as distinct from one another.

The knowledgeable one’s vision penetrates beyond the external attributes and perceives the universal existence throbbing in all the creations.

The wisdom of such exalted minds equipped with unified vision becomes pure as the clean droplet added to vessel of pure water

 

Instrument, Investigation and Impact

Instrument, Investigation and Impact

Instruments

There is a series of channels leading to the most sublime knowledge. The instruments of investigation gradually get finer in precision as the observer probes deeper. The sequence of these agencies in the order of increasing subtlety is given as follows;

Organs of perception > objects of perception > Mind > intellect > Soul > indivisible matter > Self (Atman).

This Self or the Atman is the loftiest, finest and fundamental state of existence.

Pervading in whole material universe, this Atman can not be observed. It only lends its glimpses to people of flawless perception through their lightening sharp intellects.

Method

The discreet seeker should sublimate the faculty of speech into the mind and then merge it in the effulgence of intellect.

The ignorant should arise, awake and approach enlightened ones to  seek this knowledge.

(Because) The prudent ones say that this way is extremely difficult to negotiate and is as dangerous as a sharp  edged razor.

Effect

Atman is beyond sound, touch, form, smell and taste. It is eternal, everlasting and does not diminish with time and space. It is more exalted than soul and perfectly still.

One who knows the Atman is saved from the clutches of death.

The wise ones who speak about or listen to this sacred knowledge are universally praised.

 Our ancestors get eternally blessed if we read this scripture as tribute to them.

(to continue)

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