Translated by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier
Published by The Theosophical Publishing House, Chennai
Om ! Let my limbs and speech, Prana, eyes, ears, vitality And all the senses grow in strength. All existence is the Brahman of the Upanishads. May I never deny Brahman, nor Brahman deny me. Let there be no denial at all: Let there be no denial at least from me. May the virtues that are proclaimed in the Upanishads be in me, Who am devoted to the Atman; may they reside in me.
Om ! Let there be Peace in me ! Let there be Peace in my environment ! Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me !
I-1-4. Then we shall expound the Mahopanishad. They say Narayana was alone. There were not Brahma, Shiva, Waters, Fire and Soma, Heaven and Earth, Stars, Sun and Moon. He could not be happy.
From the (desire of) the Paramatman, the Yajnastoma (hymn known as Avyakta) is said to have arisen.
I-5-6. In it arose fourteen Purushas (Brahman, Vishnu, Rudra, Isana, Sadashiva and nine Prajapatis like Daksha), one maiden (Mula-Prakriti), the ten organs (five of perception and five of action), Mind as the eleventh, bright intellect as the 12th, ego as the 13th, Prana as 14th, Atma as 15th, Buddhi, Kama, Karma and Tamas, five Tanmatras, along with gross elements and the Being was the 25th (Sutratman).
Employing him in creation, the supreme Being remained detached. From him do all things come into being.
I-7. Again, Narayana, desiring something else, thought. From his forehead a person arose with three eyes and a trident, having glory, fame, truth, celibacy, austerity, detachment, mind, lordship, seven Vyahritis (Bhur etc.,) along with Pranava, Rik and other Vedas, all metres is his body – so, he is the great Lord.
I-8-9. Then again, desiring something else, he thought – From his forehead, sweat fell and became the wide waters: from it a bright golden egg – in it was born the four-headed Brahma facing east. Narayana became the Vyahriti, Bhur, the chandas Gayatri, the Rig-Veda and the deity, Agni. Facing west he became Bhuvar, the chandas Tristubh, the Yajur-Veda and deity, Vayu. Facing north, he became Vyahriti Suvar, Jagati-chandas, Sama-Veda and the deity Surya. Facing south he became Mahar, chandas Anustubh, Atharva-Veda and Soma.
I-10-13. (Meditate upon) the god of a thousand heads and eyes, source of cosmic well-being, beyond all, eternal Narayana – the universe subsists in Him. Like a lotus calyx, the human heart hangs down, dripping drops of cold water for sustaining life. In its midst is a great flame, facing everywhere, subtle and facing upwards; the great being is present – He is Brahma, Shiva, Indra, undying and self-shining.
II-1-11. Suka, of great lustre, devoted to Natural Bliss, the prince of sages, realised Truth even at birth (without instruction). So also a person may get certain knowledge of the self by himself by long self-analysis. (This is because) the self is beyond description, un-realisable (by worldly means) by the mind and the sense organs; Pure Bliss, atomic, subtler then even ether. The millions of particles undergo generation, subsistence and dissolution inside the supreme Being by rotation of the power.
The supreme being is Ether because there is nothing outside it and yet not the ether, because it is all pure consciousness – it is nothing which can be pointed out (specified such and such) as a thing, reality etc.
He is conscious, being lustrous, yet like rock, because he cannot be (normally) known; causing the picture-like awakening (existence) of the world in himself, the pure ether.
This cosmos is only the manifestation of that being; there is nothing other than that; the differences in the universe are also his manifestation.
Present everywhere, connected with every thing, yet He does not move as there is nowhere to go; He does not exist as there is nowhere (substratum) to exist, yet exists because he is Existence by nature.
Brahman is knowledge, Bliss and the resort (source) of the giver of Jivanmukti. Giving up of all mental desires is the way (to that knowledge). The wise say that the understanding of that Being is the absence of worldly conceptions. The dissolution and creation of the universe are due to the contraction and expansion, respectively, of the Power.
The basis of Vedantic statements, yet beyond words, It is ‘I Reality, knowledge, bliss and nothing else’.
II-12-13. Suka knew all this by his own subtle intellect; then remained with his mind ceaselessly rapt in it.
He did not have the conception that the Atman is real; his mind simply turned away from worldly temptations, the many (material) worldly enjoyments which break very much, like the satisfied Chataka bird from torrent water.
II-14-37. (He knew all but out of respect for tradition, passed at this stage).
Once Suka of pure knowledge asked with devotion, of his father Vyasa, the seer seated alone at Meru mountain, ‘O Seer, how did this elaborate (pomp of) worldly life arise, how does this become dissolved, how much and when ?’
Being thus asked, Vyasa instructed everything to his son.
Having already known all this, Suka did not value the verbal statement.
Sage Vyasa, knowing the son’s thought said, ‘I do not know the truth; you can know all from Janaka, the king of Mithila who knows it correctly. Being told this, Suka went from there, to the earth and the city of Videha, ruled by Janaka.
He was announced to Janaka by the ushers ‘O King, Suka, the son of Vyasa, waits at the entrance’. Desiring of knowing Suka, Janaka said ‘Let him wait’ and tarried for seven days. Then he permitted him into the court and Janaka regaled Suka with women and other luxuries. They did not attract Suka, just as gentle breeze cannot shake a mountain. He simply remained pure, like the full moon, equable, silent and composed. Janaka looked at him and bowed knowing his nature. He said ‘You have (adjured) all worldly actions and for all your desires, what (more) do you desire ? Suka replied ‘this grandiose world – how did this arise and how dissolved ? Janaka narrated all correctly – the same as was spoken by father Vyasa.
‘I myself knew this already; the same was told to me by my father; also by you, most eloquent speaker; this is also the matter seen in the Shastras. The mass of mental fancies dies away by the death of the fancies; worldly life is also buried away – this is certain. So great-armed Janaka, pray tell me the truth, firmly – the world gets peace for the reeling mind from you’.
(Janaka) replied): ‘O Suka, listen to what I speak, the details of knowledge, the essence of wisdom, by knowing which one can get the status of Liberation in life’.
II-38-41. When there is generated a wiping away of visible phenomena by the mind realizing that there is no (real) visible object, then arises the great joy of Nirvana (Extinction – Liberation).
The best, total adjuration of mental impressions (tendencies) is said by the good (people) to be liberation – it is a pure procedure (whereas) those people whose tendencies are (not given up but) purified, not subject to the danger of re-birth – these wise ones are said to be the enlightened, Liberated-in-life. Strong (intense) brooding over objects is said to be bondage; its thinning out is, Oh Brahman, liberation.
II-42-62. He is said to be ‘Liberated while living’ who has lost taste for enjoyment by means of penance etc., and no other cause.
Who does not rejoice, nor languish, being detached when joy and grief befall (him) according to time (destiny);
Who is untouched in the mind, by exaltation, anger, fear, lust and meanness;
Who gives up (as if) playfully, the egotist tendency and remains giving up brooding;
Who is free from desire and non-desire as he is introvert and behaves as in deep sleep;
Who is seated delighting in the spirit, replete, pure in mind having got excellent repose and desires nothing in the material world and lives without unction;
Who is un-smeared in the region of the heart with (objects of) knowledge and whose consciousness is not inert;
Who performs without expectation, likes and dislikes (actions) (acts of) joy and grief, virtue and vice, success and failure;
Who is silent, egoless, prideless, avoiding jealousy and does actions without agitation;
Who exists like a detached onlooker and functions without attachment and desire everywhere;
Who has given up internally all of Dharma and Adharma, thought and desire;
Who has given up fully the (worldly) view;
Who eats with equal detachment what is bitter, sour, salty, astringent, seasoned and unseasoned;
Who has given up Dharma and Adharma, joy and grief, death and birth;
Who, free from tension and joy, does not get depressed or elated, with a pure intellect;
Who has given up all desires, all doubts, all conation, all rigid thoughts;
Who is equal towards birth, existence and death, rise and fall.
Who does not dislike or hanker after anything and enjoys incidental pleasure.
Whose thought of worldly life has quietened down, who has aspects and yet is aspect-less, having mind – yet mindless.
Who is active towards all objects, yet is desireless as if they are alien objects, is full in spirit.
II-63-69. He gives up the state of Jivanmukta when this body is consigned to time (death) and enters the state of Adehamukta (liberated without body), like wind which does not move.
Such a person does not rise or set, is neither real nor unreal, nor is he far away, nor ‘I’ nor ‘another’. Other, than him, there is no lustres nor darkness which is steady and profound, ineffable and unmanifest. Not empty vacuum, not having form, neither visible nor vision; nor a mass of creations but existing infinitely.
Undesignated in nature, fuller than the fullest, neither real nor unreal, neither being nor coming into being, pure consciousness; not the Chaitya (world created by mind), endless, ageless, auspicious, having no beginning, middle or end, having no ailment in mind or body. That which is considered as the vision amidst the seer, seeing and object of seeing. O sage, there is surely nothing beyond this.
II-70-73. It is known by yourself as well as heard from a preceptor: – one is bound by one’s own fancy and released by being rid of it – detachment towards enjoyment of all visible (external) objects has arisen (in you); all that is to be got has been got by you with a perfect mind; you feel (erred) in regard to your own nature but now being liberated, give up error; you see that you are Brahman itself beyond what is external and internal – you see but you do not see; you are the sole and perfect onlooker (un-involved).
II-74-77. Suka, reposed silently (passively) in the Supreme Being in the own normal state, devoid of grief, fear and strain. Then he went to the peak of Meru mountain, unimpeded, for trance. There, for thousands of years he remained in ‘unqualified trance’ and attained rest in himself, like a flame without oil.
Purified of the blemish of manifold thought, in the pristine and pure condition, he became one, with all (worldly) tendencies melting away like water-drop in the ocean.
III-1-15. A lad, Nidagha, prince of seers and enlightened, permitted by his father to go on a pilgrimage, had ablution in three and a half Crores of sacred places, then told Ribhu about himself. ‘After bathing in so many places an enquiry (question) has arisen there in my mind:
The world is born only to die and dies only to be reborn – all the actions of the moving and unmoving things are ephemeral; Things such are sources of splendour are sinful and give place to all calamities; unconnected with each other, like iron-stakes, they come together, only by mental fancy. I have lost taste in various things, like a traveller in deserts my mind is tormented as to how this suffering will die down; riches please me not but give only cycles of worries just as houses with children and women cause danger.
This (material) glory in the world is delicate, cause only delusion, does not give happiness. Life is unsteady like a drop of water hanging on to the top of a tender leaf; like an insane person it goes away, leaving the body suddenly. Life causes strain to those whose mind is shattered by contact with the poison from the snake of worldly objects and who lack mature discrimination of the self.
It is (possible) reasonable to envelop wind and to cut into (empty) space, to string together watery waves but not give up attachment to (worldly) life.
(In contrast) by attaining Brahman, what is to be got is got, which causes no grief; it is the place of highest joy.
Even trees live, so do animals and birds – only he (really) lives, whose mind is sustained by contemplation; the others who have no (spiritual) rebirth are only old donkeys.
Shastra is a burden to one who lacks (spiritual) discrimination, knowledge is a burden to one attached (to life); mind is a burden to one without security, body is a burden to one ignorant of the self.
II-16-26. From ego does danger arise, so do bad mental ailments and desire – there is no enemy more dangerous than Ego; whatever in the moving and unmoving world was enjoyed by Ego – all that is unreal; only freedom from Ego is real. The mind runs hither and tither, in vain and with zeal, like a dog in the village. O Brahman, I have been made inert by the pursuit of thirst and eaten by my mind as by a dog.
Containment of the mind is impossible even by drinking up the ocean uprooting Meru and eating fire. Mind is the cause of objects; when it exists, the three worlds exist; when it does not, so do they, so it should be cured with effort.
Whatever wealth of merit I acquire, that Thirst cuts down, like a mouse cutting a string. Thirst is a fickle monkey – it sets foot in impassable places, hankers after fruits even when filled with them; never rests long in a place.
Throat is a bee in the lotus-heart. One moment, it goes to Patala; another, the sky; and another, it hovers in the bush of space; of all the griefs of worldly life, only thirst gives the longest grief; a person (well-guarded) in the harem it involves in great trouble.
Abandonment of brooding is the (preventive) chant for the cholera of Thirst.
II-27-38. There is nothing as pitiable as the body, low and meritless; it exults over a little and suffers over a little. The body is the great abode of the house-holder i.e. the Ego. Let it roll about or be steady – what is it to me, O Preceptor !
This body pleases me not – the senses (animals) are bound by six ropes (vices) – in its yard, Ego leaps about, it is crowded with the servants – the mind. It is frightening with the entrance held by the monkey (tongue) – in it are seen the (bared) teeth and bones. Tell me, what is attractive in the body which is made of blood and flesh, in and out, and which is only to perish – let him trust the body, who sees steadiness in lightnings, autumn clouds, and cities in the sky (illusions). Childhood is the abode of fear from the teacher, mother, father, other people and older children.
One is overwhelmed by the goblin of lust which exists in the cave of one’s mind and causes many delusions. Slaves, sons, women, relatives and friends laugh at a man shaken by old age as at a mad man. Desire is full of the defect of helplessness, grows long in old age, the sole friend of all danger and confuse foment is the heart.
The attribution of happiness to worldly life – even this is cut by time like grass by a rat. Time tries to possess selfishly (every thing from) grass and dust (to) Indra and gold, which is the dust of Meru – destroys all and all the three worlds are occupied by it.
III-39-48. What is auspicious about woman – a puppet of flesh – moved by a machine in the cage of the body – having nerves, bones and knots ?
Why are you deluded; separate the skin, flesh, blood and tears and then look at the body. Is it attractive ?
The pearl necklace on the breast is like the current of Ganga on Meru (fleeting and ephemeral) – the same breast is eaten by dogs at the due time like a lump of food, in the cemetery and corners of the directions.
Women are the flame of sin, have the soot of hair, pleasing to the eye but not to be touched; they burn man like grass.
Women are the fuel lovely, yet harmful, of the fires of all blazing at a distance whether they have taste (attachment) or not.
Women are the traps to catch the birds – men, spread by the hunter, Manmatha, the lump of bait, the string of wickedness to men who are the fish in the pond of birth (life) and moving in the mud of mind.
I will have none of this woman who is the basket of all defects – gems – the chain of misery. Only he with a woman has desire for enjoyment; where is enjoyment for one who has no woman ? Giving up women means giving up the world; by this one shall be happy.
III-49-54. Even the Quarters (like North) are not seen, regions give other (wrong) instruction; even the oceans and the stars dry up, even the permanent becomes impermanent, even Yogins (Siddhas) perish, demons and others decay; Brahma is reduced (to nothing), the unborn Vishnu too; Shiva becomes non-existent, the lords of the quarters decay. Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and all classes of creatures run towards destruction, like water-streams towards the marine fire. Dangers come for a moment, so does wealth; birth and death are only for a moment – everything dies. The brave ones are killed by those not brave – a hundred are killed by one. Poison changes its scope (effect) – poison is not poison !
III-55-57. Objects (of the world) destroy (only) one more birth, poison destroys life only once; it is time my mind is burnt in the forest fire of defects. Desires for enjoyment do not flash even in the illusory fatamorgana; so, oh preceptor, waken me quickly with the knowledge of truth. If you do not, I shall take to silence, without pride and jealousy, contemplating Vishnu with the mind like one turned into a painting.