Saturday, April 2, 2016

Īśāvāsyopaniṣat - 4

asuryā nāma te lokā andhena tamasā~~vṛtāḥ |
tāṃste pretyābhigacchanti ye ke cā~~tmahano janāḥ || 3 ||

ye ke ātmahano janāḥ = Those people who have destroyed themselves or their souls.

We are not talking about people who commit suicide. Also, the Upaniṣat does not appear to imply that the soul is something that can be destroyed. So, the slayers of the soul are those who lose their deeper consciousness. The Supreme Soul or Paramātmā is the core of all, pervading everything. This has already been taught in the first hymn. People who do not live in the higher conscious self are said to have slayed it because to them, it does not exist. 

te tān pretya abhigacchanti = after death they attain these worlds.

Here, it is interesting to look at the word 'pretya'. It need not imply death. It could be taken figuratively in the same manner as 'self-slayers'. Those who have slayed themselves are dead. They are not literally dead; they are extremely unconscious of the Brahman.

The Taittirīya allows this interpretation through its statement:
"asanneva sa bhavati asad-brahmeti veda cet"

[A person is non-existent if one does not know the Brahman to exist.]

Which worlds do they attain?

asuryā nāma te lokā andhena tamasā āvṛtāḥ = They are the worlds of demons. To be demons is to be in violence, and without peace. These violent worlds are engulfed by great blinding darkness. Darkness is figurative of unconsciousness of Brahman. 

To summarize, the hymn teaches that those who are not conscious of the Brahman experience the world as violent, and do not attain peace or bliss.

Īśāvāsyopaniṣat - 3

kurvanneveha karmāṇi jijīviṣecchataṃ samāḥ |
evaṃ tvayi nānyatho~sti na karma lipyate nare || 2 ||

śataṃ samāḥ = For a hundred years, 
kurvan eva iha karmāṇi = certainly perform actions here
jijīviṣet - intend to live.

evaṃ tvayi = Be disposed to this discipline

nānyathā asti = There is no other discipline

na karma lipyate nare = Action does not stick to this person

Intending to live for a hundred years, a person should certainly engage in actions in this world. A disposition to act in this manner should be cultivated. There is no other way. 

Those who claim that actions are not required for people desiring liberation are cheating themselves and others. There is no way that the human condition can be restrained from acting in any way, physical or mental. As a consequence, we see monks, claiming to have abandoned everything, engaging themselves actively in political or financial pursuits, or going around with a bloated ego. It is impossible to give up all kinds of mental and physical action. It is also irresponsible, even if one were able to give up completely. One must also do one's might to the society. We certainly cannot live in a world full of monks who have given up all action. 

The 'actions' mentioned here are actions that are consistent with dharma, and not actions like revenge-mongering or cheating. 

The actions must be performed with the sense of vairāgya and ārāyaṇa-pāratantrya taught in the previous hymn. Performing actions endowed with this sense is the discipline to be cultivated. Than this discipline, there is no other way to be liberated. 

Some people object that the very nature of action (karma) is to stick to the person performing it and delivering its fruits. In that case, a person constantly engaging in action would get attached to the fruits of all kinds of karma. Liberation would then be impossible. With this argument, some teachers require the abandonment of all action.

The hymn denies this saying that one who performs action with the right disposition is unaffected by karma. Action only sticks to people and binds them if they are performed with lust and desire. But, if a person is enlightened by the knowledge in the previous hymn, there is no scope for imagining ownership or desire towards objects. One's actions become a form of service to Nārāyaṇa. It is called service or kaiṅkarya because what is performed without desire of reward is service. 

Since everything including oneself belongs to Vāsudeva, it is not a favor. A favor is done by an independent person. Since the soul belongs to Vāsudeva and is not independent, it is not a favor done in disinterested manner. This is the meaning of service. Since everything belongs to Vāsudeva, the fruit of the action also belongs to Vāsudeva. But, Vāsudeva is untainted by action. He is unaffected because it all belongs to Him anyway. There is no mistake here. But, the individual soul mistakes oneself to be independent or mistakes what belongs to Vāsudeva as one's own belonging. It is due to this error that the actions of the individual soul bind it.

But, if the individual soul performs actions with the knowledge that everything belongs to Vāsudeva, then there is no mistake. Therefore, action does not bind.

In this manner, the Upaniṣat beautifully explains the science of karma or action. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Īśāvāsyopaniṣat - 2

īśāvāsyam-idaṃ sarvaṃ yatkiṃca jagatyāṃ jagat |
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gṛdhaḥ kasya sviddhanam || 1 ||

idaṃ sarvam = all this. All this is of the form of objects of experience (bhogya) and subjects of experience (bhogtā). 

īśā = by the controller. The word 'īśa' denotes the ability to control or govern (niyamana-sāmarthya). The Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣat also said 'patiṃ viśvasya ātmeśvaram' - the Lord of the universe who governs/controls Himself. 

vāsyam = pervaded or dwelled. 

All this is pervaded by a controller.

Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣat:
yacca kiñcij-jagat-sarvaṃ dṛṣyate śrūyate~pi vā |
antar-bahiśca tatsarvaṃ vyāpya nārāyaṇaḥ sthitaḥ ||

[Whatever is seen and heard in all universe is pervaded inside and out by Nārāyaṇa.]

Śrī Viṣṇu Purāṇa:
sarvatrāsau samastaṃ ca vasatyatreti vai yataḥ |
tataḥ sa vāsudeveti vidvadbhiḥ paripaṭhyate || 

[He dwells everywhere and in everything. Therefore, the learned call Him by the name 'Vāsudeva'.]

yatkiṃca jagatyāṃ jagat = Whatever undergoes modification in the universe.
The objects of experience undergo modification in their essence (svarūpa) itself. The subjects of experience undergo modification in the expanse of their consciousness (jñāna-saṅkoca-vikāśa) but not in their essence. It is to be noted that the objects of experience are non-sentient, while the subject of experience is sentient.

All that we see undergoing modification in this universe are pervaded by a controller. 

Sahasranāma phalaśṛti
indriyāṇi mano buddhiḥ sattvaṃ tejo balaṃ dhṛtiḥ |
vāsudevātmakānyāhuḥ kṣetraṃ kṣetrajña eva ca || 

[Both the field (object) of experience (kṣetra) and the subject of experience (kṣetrajña), including the senses, mind, intellect, existence, brilliance, strength, and stability, are said to have Vāsudeva for their self. ]

It follows that the relationship between Paramātmā (Supreme Self) and the universe consisting of Jīvātmā-s (Individual selves) & Prakṛti (Nature) is that of controller and the controlled. īśa-īśitavya-saṃbandhaḥ. The mode of control is through the pervading or in-dwelling attribute of the Brahman. 

The first half of the hymn conveys the sub-ordination of all kṣetra and kṣetrajña to the control of Vāsudeva. Therefore, they teach nārāyaṇa-pāratantrya of all universe.

tena = by this. By realizing nārāyaṇa-pāratantrya of everything ...

What is the purpose of this realization? It is detachment or vairāgya. There is attachment as long as there is the view that one is independent, and the objects are also stand-alone and independent. One tries to manipulate everything to one's advantage in a selfish manner. But, by understanding the nārāyaṇa-pāratantrya of everything, one abandons attachment and cultivates vairāgya. This is indicated by tyaktena = by leaving (attachment). 

bhuñjīthāḥ. All this is to be enjoyed with a sense of detachment. Enjoyment and detachment in cohesion! One does not have to go to the forest abandoning everything or starve oneself or punish oneself with cruel practices. One shall consume whatever is necessary to live a good life. But, one shall not be attached to these objects since both the experiencer and the experienced are subordinate to a controller. 

To experience what is necessary with detachment is logical because what is being enjoyed is clearly not one's own possession. Even the enjoyer did not bring oneself into existence. All this is pervaded and controlled by Vāsudeva. So, they belong to Vāsudeva. This is emphasized next: mā gṛdhaḥ kasya sviddhanam. Do not covet the possession of another. The 'another' is Vāsudeva. Everything is His possession. Coveting His possession implies assuming that "I am independent" or that "These objects exist for my sake to be gained, possessed and enjoyed". This is called ahaṃkāra and mamakāra. The correct way to think is "I and all these objects belong to Vāsudeva since He pervades and controls all of us".  One commits an act of stealing by assuming that one is independent or that there are objects for one's possession.

Yama told his servants:
"paramasuhṛdi bāndhave kalatre suta-vanitā-pitṛ-matṛ-bhṛtya-varge |
śaṭhamatir-upayāti yo~arthatrṣṇāṃ puruṣa-paśurna hi vāsudevabhaktaḥ ||"

[A person with the mind of a rascal attains covetousness towards friends, relatives, family, children, spouse, father, mother and servants. Such a person is a human animal (for there is no difference in mindset), and is not a devotee of  Vāsudeva. ]

Īśāvāsyopaniṣat - 1

 || hariḥ om ||

pūrnam-adaḥ pūrṇam-idaṃ pūrṇāt-pūrṇam-udacyate | 
pūrṇasya pūrṇam-ādāya pūrṇamevavaśiṣyate ||

om śāntiś-śāntiś-śāntiḥ

Peace Chant
That is complete.
This is complete.
From the complete, complete comes forth.
When the complete has been taken from the complete, the complete remains.
Peace! Peace! Peace!

The narrow individual mindset comprehends objects which appeal to us as 'part' of the world. To us, no object is complete by itself. Having attained any object, the human mind desires new objects. Having removed some undesirable objects, the human mind desires more perfect states. 
But, there is one entity that is quite different (vilakṣaṇaḥ). That is Brahman. The Brahman is perfect or complete (pūrṇaḥ)
The vision of the Brahman is the complete vision, and brings peace.

What we perceive as 'that object or condition' is complete or perfect. That is, it is the Brahman. What we perceive as 'this object or condition' is also complete or perfect as it is the Brahman. Whatever proceeds from those objects or conditions is also perfect since that is Brahman too. What remains after that procession is perfect and complete; it is the Brahman.

Peace comes when the Brahman is perceived in everything.