This Upanishad is an integral part of the Shaunak branch of Atharvaveda. Like
Kathopanishad, one sees the explanation of the Divine Cosmic Soul in the
Mundakopanishad. In this Upanishad, curious Shaunak Rishi went to Angira Rishi
to acquire the divine knowledge.
BHADRAM KARNEBHIHI SHRUNAYAM DEVA
BHADRAM PASHYEAKSHA JATRAHAA|
STHIRAI RANGAITUSHTUVASANSATNUBHIHI VYASHEEM DEVHITAM YADAYUHU|
SWASTI NO INDRO VRIDDHASHRAVAHA SWASTI NA PUSHAA VISHWA VEEDAAHAA|
SWASTI NASTARKSHYO ARISTANEMIHI SWASTI NO BRIHASPATIRDA DHATU||
AUM SHANTI! SHANTI! SHANTI!
FIRST MUKUNDA-FIRST CHAPTER
TRADITION OF THE PROCESS OF SELF REALIZATION
Brahma was the first one to emerge from the almighty divine Cosmic soul. After
this, the Divine soul gave birth to all the other gods, Maharshis, Marichi,
Prajapati and finally created all the worlds (lokas) and the rules to protect
them. The eldest son of Lord Brahma was Atharva whom Brahma gave the first
sermon of the knowledge of divinity. Atharva Rishi passed on that knowledge to
Agni, who in turn passed it on to Satyavaha Rishi. It is in this tradition that
Bharadwaj Rishi handed on this knowledge to Angira Rishi. After this, the
knowledge of divinity was given by Angira Rishi to the humble Shaunak Muni.
QUESTIONS OF SHAUNAK: Shaunak Muni was the headman of the clan. He tried to study the knowledge of divinity and he came to Angira Rishi and asked with faith and devotion- "O Revered One! What is that divine element by which one knows everything which is animate and inanimate? How can one realize the divine element?"
SERMONS BY ANGIRA RISHI: Angira Rishi replied: “ Shaunak! To realize divinity humans need to know two types of knowledge that is 'Paraa' and 'Aparaa'. That is 'Aparaa Vidya' which speaks about the pleasures of the material world and heaven and the ways to attain them. Rigveda, Yaurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda and the six Angas of Veda- shiksha, kalpa, vyakrana, nirukta, jyotish and chhanda come under Aparaa Vidya.
That is called 'Paraa Vidya' where there is knowledge of the impeccable infinite, all pervasive divine Cosmic soul. The Vedas do comprise of the descriptions of the aforesaid things. Leaving that portion of the Vedas and the Vedangas, they all come under 'Aparaa Vidya'.
DESCRIPTION OF FORMLESS DIVINE SOUL: We cannot understand God with the aid of the Jnana Indriyas (hands, legs, mouth). ‘He’ is devoid of all titles, castes, communities, creed and colour etc. He is in fact totally devoid of a form. He does not possess the senses or the mind etc. at all. That divine Cosmic soul is minute, comprehensive, situated within the recesses of the heart and is indestructible. He is the cause behind all the creatures. The scholars see him omnipresent and all-pervasive.
THE PROCESS OF THE EVOLUTION OF THE UNIVERSE
All the animate and inanimate things of this world take birth from that divine Cosmic soul. It is the main and auxiliary cause for the creation of this universe. Just as a spider which creates a web out of the material that is predominantly there in its stomach and at the end gulps it down. Similarly, the Divine Soul creates a plethora of all the animate and inanimate things and at the time of final dissolution, it is absorbed by the divine soul.
Just like the seeds of medicines and food, grass, trees, creepers are predominantly present in the earth and they grow in favourable situations and climatic conditions. Earth has no sort of bias towards any of these things. Similarly according to the seeds of actions, God creates humans in different births.
During the evolution of the universe, the Divine soul takes a resolution for creation of this universe and by assuming the form of Brahma, he creates the prana, the mind, space (elements), creatures, their habitat, their actions, their good and bad fruits and similarly the entire universe.
This divine soul is omniscient and it is by his resolution that the universe is created by itself and all the creatures, their forms and food took birth automatically. By realizing the divine soul one can realize everything.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF APARAA VIDYA AND ITS BENEFITS
For the people, who desire material happiness and progress, great sages made some changes in the methods of performing yagyas and in the recitation of Vedic mantras. Hence those people desirous of material prosperity should apprise themselves of the scriptural knowledge and follow it assiduously. This is the noblest path to divinity for the human body. It is not appropriate for humans to behave like animals and engage in sensual pleasures, ignorance, sleep and lethargy.
An authorized person should offer oblation to the fire enkindled in the Yagya (sacrificial altar). We, along with the Agnihotra should perform the Yagya like Darsha, Paunamaasa, Chaturmaasya. He should also perform the 'Balivaishwa Devakarma'. Doing so, he begets all the material pleasures in Brahmaloka.
The tongue of the god Agni, is embellished with the seven types of flames. The person who offers oblation to the fire during the yagya reaches heaven via the rays of the Sun. A person who performs these eighteen types of Yagyas properly, undoubtedly attains heaven. But it should always be remembered that if one is desirous of heaven and if there are some shortcomings in the performance of the yagya, the result is not heaven. Even the heaven is not the ultimate form of happiness or bliss. Only fools praise the greatness of heaven and have to continually undergo the vicious cycle of life and death.
THE RESULTS OF AVIDYA
People, who are desirous and want to attain heaven, reside in Avidya but consider themselves to be intelligent. Such people undergo wale of sufferings. If a blind guides a blind then both of them end up nowhere and roam aimlessly. Such fools, who are desirous, roam aimlessly and do not attain the bliss state of divinity. They consider material happiness to be the noblest and do not even attempt to attain divinity selflessly.
THE RESULT OF VIDYA
Unlike the desirous and materially-oriented people, those who tread on the path of righteousness selflessly are the intelligent people. Although they might be householders or the one who go to the forest to practice penance, these people with total restraint control their senses and strive to experience the beauty of the Divine Cosmic soul.
A person who wants to attain this state of divinity shall need to refrain from material life. He should go to a Guru along with faith, devotion and an earnest desire to know more about divinity. In this way, he should take sermons from the principled teacher.
THE DUTY OF THE KNOWLEDGEABLE: Seeing a curious and devoted disciple, who is in search of divinity, the Guru should explain to him the ultimate knowledge through narration and analysis so that the disciple could understand the eternal knowledge of the Divine Cosmic soul which is indestructible.
SECOND MUNDAKA- FIRST CHAPTER
THE SERMON OF VIDYA BY THE GURU
Maharshi Angira says- "O Shaunak! I told you about the form of the Divine Cosmic soul in the previous Mundaka which is the truth in total. During the time of creation of the universe, one got many types of things, matter which were tangible, palpable just like the enkindled fire from which we get thousands of cinders which are a part of fire itself.
That divine soul is undoubtedly formless, devoid of flaws, is pure and chaste and is all pervasive. He does not possess prana or senses. Despite being devoid of all this, he can do anything he pleases. During the time of evolution, the prana, the mind, all the senses, the space, air, water etc. all the elements simultaneously came into existence.
THE GOD POSSESSING FORM: The world is the gigantic form or expression of that intangible divine soul. In this gigantic form, the head of the divine soul is Dyuloka, the Moon and the Sun both are eyes, all the directions are his ears, the prosody and 'richas' of the Vedas are his speech, the air is prana, the animate and inanimate world is his heart and the earth is his feet. But the divine Cosmic soul is present as the soul in every creature.
THE EVOLUTION OF THIS UNIVERSE
The fire element first took birth from that divine Cosmic soul. This Agni is enkindled continually in the form of the Sun. Agni gave birth to the Moon and the Moon in turn gave birth to the clouds. Due to rain, different types of herbs and medicines were created. When humans partake medicines, semen is created and as a result progeny is created. In this way this multifarious world or nature was created, the animate as well as the inanimate.
All the four Vedas, Yagyas (religious sacrifices), years, time, all took birth from that divine Cosmic soul. Different types of gods such as Vasus, Rudras took birth from the Cosmic spirit. It is out of these that different human beings, animals, birds and all the other creatures took birth.
The life giving ‘prana’, 'apara' and the food for all the creatures and animals etc. also has taken birth from the divine Cosmic soul. Similarly penance, faith, devotion, truth, celibacy, methods to perform Yayga also took birth from the one and only Cosmic spirit. The cause for everything in this world is that divine Cosmic spirit.
O Shaunak! Only he, who realizes God, can break the wall of ignorance and delusion. He is the person who can liberate himself from all suspicion, delusion and attain union with the divine Cosmic spirit.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OR FORM OF GOD
This all pervasive God is hidden in the recesses of the heart of every creature. All creatures and their like reside in that supreme God. He is the one and only worth supplicating and understanding. He is the most noble one and is not decipherable or intelligent for the mere intellectual.
He is very minute and he is only 'Akshar Brahma' (indestructible Brahma). He is the one who gives life to one and all.
THE METAPHOR OF THE BOW AND THE ARROW
To realize the supreme God, the metaphor of bow and arrow has been presented. On the weapon known as ‘Pranav’, which is described in the Upanishads, hold an arrow sharpened by propitiation and penance. After this with total faith and devotion, pull the string of the bow and by aiming perfectly at the supreme God, one should shoot the arrow. Hence one should practice reciting ‘AUM’ for maximum duration with total concentration, faith and devotion. Doing so, the vibrations emanating from the pranav mantra definitely reach the supreme God. This is the best way to reach God.
The 'pranav' which is synonymous to the supreme god is itself the bow, the living being itself is the arrow and the Divine Cosmic spirit is the aim. Only he, who practices this assiduously, gets and attains divinity.
THE FORM OF GOD: Everything stretching from the heaven to the hearts and minds of all creatures comprises of the divine Cosmic spirit. It simultaneously includes all the senses, the mind, the intellect and everything intangible. Hence try to realize God by the aforesaid method. This is the bridge that shall lead to immortality. Due to that, the divine Cosmic spirit regulates each and every action of each and every creature of this universe that is referred to as 'Manomaya'. Intelligent people realize the divine spirit through special study and contemplations.
THE BENEFITS OF REALIZING DIVINITY: When people realize the divine Cosmic soul as a concept of cause and effect, all the impediments towards the realization cease automatically and all the skepticism go. Similarly all the things, which we label as auspicious or inauspicious tend not to exist and finally, the living being is emancipated from this world and attains divinity.
THIRD MUNDAKA- FIRST CHAPTER
THE POSITION OF THE LIVING BEING AND Cosmic SPIRIT
This human body is like a tree. The living being and the Cosmic spirit are two birds (friends) that stay among the branches of this tree. Amongst these two, one bird- the living being enjoys the fruits he begets out of his actions which are either good or bad. The other bird- divine spirit does not attach himself to any of the actions or the fruits of the actions; he merely becomes the onlooker.
In this way, human being is attached with the fruits of Karma and hence experiences continual form of incompleteness. Whenever he realizes the divine knowledge of himself, the universe with the help of the selfless God, he automatically becomes devoid of sorrow and pain.
REALIZATION OF SUPREME GOD
When a human being realizes the divine Cosmic spirit, he destroys all the good deeds and all the sins together and becomes pure and chaste. He attains a state of balance and equipoise. He experiences the divinity of God in each and every creature but never talks big of himself as he knows that the divinity he possesses is merely a fraction of the expression of that divine Cosmic soul.
He follows the orders of that divine Cosmic spirit and performs all his Karmas according to the Varnashrams. He plays and enjoys the beauty of divinity within himself. Such a knowledgeable devotee is really noble and great.
MEANS TO ATTAIN REALIZATION
Divine Cosmic spirit is the embodiment of truth. Truth is always victorious. Hence to attain divinity, truth is an inevitable instrument. One should hence abstain from self-conceit, self-admiration, self-adulation and hypocrisy.
That divine Cosmic spirit is celestial, divine and dull and moreover all pervasive. Hence one does not need to go anywhere to attain God.
A devotee whose heart is full of devotion, faith and full of knowledge only can perceive Him. People of inferior thinking cannot attain divinity. Those people, who desire comforts, may attain all what they want if they serve a just and judicious person with a pure heart and devotion.
EULOGY OF SELFLESSNESS
A person who renounces all material pleasures attains divinity by concentrating on that radiant, effulgent embodiment of eternal truth i.e. supreme God. Such people emancipate themselves from the vicious cycle of life and death.
CRITICISM OF BEING DESIROUS
People who indulge in all sensual and material pleasures, take birth according to their actions. But those who love God become 'Purnakama' (they who exhaust all their desires and become detached eventually); such people do not take birth again and again, but attain state of bliss.
THE EULOGY OF THE DEVOTEES WHO LOVE GOD
God cannot be realized by those who merely give good speeches or those who indulge in reasoning and display of knowledge or those who just listen to a lot of stories related to God.
People who want to attain bliss do not seek recourse to intellect; on the contrary they wait for the divine inspiration and blessing. God blesses such people and emancipates them from ‘Maya’ (delusion). In this way, the earnest devotee can attain the supreme Cosmic spirit.
THE GREATNESS OF THE PERSON WHO REALIZES GOD
A person who realizes God, dwells in completeness and totality. He exhausts all his desires and becomes peaceful and calm. He attains divinity and merges into that Cosmic element.
THE GLORY OF SALVATION
Those who contemplate and understand the Vedanta Shastra and eventually realize God, abandon all the desires and, as a result, their heart and mind becomes an abode of divinity. At the moment of demise of such great souls, the body ceases to exist, while the soul merges with that divine Cosmic element.
At the time of death, all the gods residing in the body go and assume their respective positions. They are in no way connected to the emancipated soul. After this the soul merges into divinity. Just like the rivers flow into the ocean and lose their entity and name, similarly that realized soul merges in that divine Cosmic element that is like an ocean where no existence remains. Such a person realizes God and is free from all bondages.
WHO CAN REALIZE THE COSMIC SPIRIT
Those people, who perform actions according to their ability, Varnashrama and the situations and supplicate the divine Cosmic spirit, those, who practice austerities, penance, rows, yagyas etc. according to the scriptures, such a person is worthy of realizing the Divine Cosmic spirit.
SHANTI! SHANTI!! SHANTI!!!