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Monday, December 5, 2011

Mandukya Upanishad

Mandukya Upanishad
This Upanishad is the briefest of all the Upanishads, yet as per Shankara, if one could study a single Upanishad, it should be this one. Once again, this Upanishad aligns with the mainstream Upanishadic view, that there is a Brahman that is one Reality which became the infinite variety of things around us. But the USP of this Upanishad is in its way of suggesting how to get there, through the dream world.

Amazingly, the stages of sleep that the Upanishad talks about are quite similar to what
modern science shows us. Except that the latter derives no higher goal from sleep. As we saw in the Mundaka Upanishad, such a knowledge about the material world is only lower knowledge. (Note: The Upanishads do not despise a lower knowledge) Just as the Mundaka suggests that there is a higher knowledge which is Self Realization, the Mandukya also strives to know about the Self, and the mode of this realization is through sleep.

As per the Upanishad, consciousness is in four stages, awakeness, dreaming, sleep, deep sleep and an even deeper super conscious state. It associates the sounds of the three letters 'AUM' to the first three stages, and the complete "AUM" to the fourth stage. The following is the English translation of the Upanishad.
1) AUM stands for the Supreme Reality.
It is a symbol for what was, what is,
And what shall be. AUM represents also
What lies beyond past, present and future.
2) 2) Brahman is all, and the Self is Brahman.
This Self has four states of consciousness.

3) The first is called Vaishvanara, in which
One lives with all the senses turned outward,
Aware only of the external world.

4) Taijasa is the name of the second,
The dreaming state in which, with the senses
Turned inward, one enacts the impressions
Of past deeds and present desires.

5) The third state is called Prajna, of deep sleep,
In which one neither dreams nor desires.
There is no mind in Prajna, there is no
Separateness; but the sleeper is not
Conscious of this. Let him become conscious
In Prajna and it will open the door
To the state of abiding joy.

6) Prajna, all - powerful and all - knowing,
Dwells in the hearts of all as the ruler.
Prajna is the source and end of all.

7) The fourth is the superconscious state called
Turiya, neither inward nor outward,
Beyond the senses and the intellect,
In which there is none other than the Lord.
He is the supreme goal of life. He is
Infinite peace and love. Realize him!

8) Turiya is represented by AUM.
Though indivisible, it has three sounds.

9) A stands for Vaishvanara. Those who know this,
Through mastery of the senses, obtain
The fruit of their desires and attain greatness.

10) U indicates Taijasa. Those who know this,
By mastering even their dreams, become
Established in wisdom. In their family
Everyone leads the spiritual life.

11) M corresponds to Prajna. Those who know this,
By stilling the mind, find their true stature
And inspire everyone around to grow.

12) The mantram AUM stands for the supreme state
Of turiya, without parts, beyond birth
And death, symbol of everlasting joy.
Those who know AUM as the Self become the Self;
Truly they become the Self.
OM’-The symbol is comprised of three syllables put into one. In Sanskrit the vowel "o" is constitutionally a diphthong compound of a + u; hence OM is representatively written as AUM. The symbol of AUM is formed by three curves (curves 1, 2, and 3), one semicircle (curve 4), and a dot.
Symbolism behind the three Curves of OM:
Large Lower Curve:
The large lower curve forms the waking state (jagrat), in this state the consciousness of a human is turned towards the gate of sense. The larger size of the curve signifies state of human consciousness.
The Upper Curve:
The upper curve represents the state of deep slumber (sushupti) in other words, the unconscious state. This is a state where the human has no desire of anything nor does he have a dream.
The Middle Curve:
The middle curve implies the dream state (swapna). In this state the consciousness of a person is turned inwards, and the person who dreams holds an exciting view of the world.
The above-mentioned signs are the three states of a person's consciousness, and thus these three curves represent the whole physical phenomenon.
Symbolism behind the Dot:
The dot in the Aum signifies the fourth state of consciousness, which in Sanskrit is known as ‘turiya.’ This state signifies the coming to rest of all relative existence. This quiet and peaceful state is the ultimate goal of all Hindus.
Symbolism behind the Semi Circle:
Finally, the semi circle in the OM symbolizes "Maya" (illusion). This illusion or maya prevents us from the achievement of bliss. This effect is used to prevent the seeker from reaching his ultimate goal, the realization of the One, and all-pervading, absolute principle.
Symbolism behind the Sound of OM:
As regards the sound and form, AUM is symbolic of Brahma and the whole universe.
§ A symbolizes Creation
§ U symbolizes Preservation
§ M symbolizes Destruction
The three sounds also symbolize the three Vedas (Rig-Veda, Sam Veda, and Yajur Veda).
This is in other words represents the Trinity in Hindu Dharma namely Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Other Symbolism behind OM:
§ The three letters in AUM also indicate three planes of existence, called heaven, earth and netherworld.
§ AUM can represent all the words produced by the human vocal organ. This can be said because; A is produced by the throat and U & M by the lips.
§ According to the Vedas, AUM is associated with the sound of the Sun and also the sound of Light.
§ It symbolizes the sound of the infinite.
But overall the nature of OM is threefold. It is a sacred sound. It forms the essence of all mantras. It is the ultimate reality (Brahma). It is also said to be the central essence of the Vedas.
While meditating, if we chant OM, we create within ourselves a vibration that connects us with the cosmic vibration and we start thinking universally. The silence between each chant becomes felt physically. The Mind moves from the opposites of sound and silence until the sound ceases. In this silence, there is no thought. This is the state of trance.

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