Mandukya Upanishad, Class 17


Karika # 23:

अकारो नयते विश्वमुकारश्चापि तैजसम्
मकारश्च पुनः प्राज्ञं नामात्रे विद्यते गतिः २३

The sound letter A helps the meditator to attain a well-developed waking personality (vishva). The meditator on U attains a well-developed Taijasa (mind and intellect) and for one who meditates on M reaches Prajna. In the “ soundless” state, after Mkara, there remains no attainment.

 Swamiji said the Upanishad is analyzing Omkara from mantra # 8 onwards. The Upanishad talked about Omkara and A U M was equated to first three padas of atma. It also gave three Upsanasas to practice for the unprepared students. Thus meditating on Akara symbolizes Virat, U kara symbolizes Hiranyagarbha and M kara symbolizes Pragya or Anataryami, respectively.

After practicing the upasana for some time one comes to Omkara Vichara and then resolves A U and M. An example of this process of resolution was provided by our discussion of Bangle, Chain, Ring and Gold. We found there is no substance called bangle, chain or ring respectively. We found that in all of them gold alone is the substance. This understanding that there is no bangle, chain or ring is called padartha-nisheda or negating substantiality of all three ornaments except gold. Padartha Traya Laya, this dissolution of all three, occurs by clear thinking. Once this dissolution occurs question may come up as to why when three padarthas are not there anymore why do we still have the three words? Now, existence of a word is relevant only if there is a corresponding object. First substance, bangle was negated; then we found there is no relevance for word ring as well and in a similar manner relevance of chain was also negated. Padatraya nisheda, means negation of corresponding words. Thus padartha and padatraya, that is all three padas (Virat, Hiranyagarbha and Pragya) and respective three matras (A U M, are negated and then only advaitam gold remains.

Similarly we have to negate sthula, sukshma and karana prapanchas just as we did for padarthas. Once we negate three padarthas only Turiyam remains. There are no more stula, sukshma, and Karana prapancha substances as well. The relevant words also have no more relevance; hence A U M also has no relevance. We have to keep in mind that A U M corresponds to sthula, sukshma and karana prapanchas. Thus A U M are also gone. What is left is Amatra the only substance or only truth of all three and this has to be revealed by an enquiry. This Amatra is now revealed in Mantra # 12.

Mantra # 12:

अमात्रश्चतुर्थोऽव्यवहार्यः प्रपञ्चोपशमः

शिवोऽद्वैत एवमोङ्कार आत्मैव


एवं वेद १२

That which has no parts, the soundless, the cessation of all phenomena, all blissful and non-dual AUM, is the fourth, and verily it is the same as the Atman. He, who knows this, merges his self in the supreme Self, the individual in total.

By negating Prapancha Trayam we come to Turiyam. By negating Matra Trayam (Omkara) we come to Amatra. Amatra is silence following Om. Amatra is the fourth matra. There is no dimension to this silence known as Amatra. This silence is also not finite like A U M. Definition of Amatra: It is exactly same as Turiyam as defined in mantra # 7.

As per this definition, Amatra or truth of Omkara, equals Turiyam, truth of universe. Also, Amatra is fourth part of Omkara even as Turiyam is the fourth pada of Atma. You can never talk about Turiyam and Silence.

When one talks, you know his language, but when a person is silent there is no language spoken; it is attributeless. It is free from pada prapancha, A U M. While Turiyam is free from padartha prapancha or world of objects, Amatra is free from world of names.

Shivaha, in mantra means Amatra or auspicious. Advaita means Amatra is non-dual. In this manner Omkara and four padas of Atma are identical. If I know this, what is the benefit? If a man knows that he is not Vishwa, Taijasa and Karana prapancha but that he is Turiyam, he enters into Atma.

Here, we have to remember that Amatra, the fourth matra, can be translated as silence. This silence is not mere absence of sound or its non-existence; rather, it is Consciousness principle that illumines absence of silence. This silence is Consciousness principle. This silence is not blankness; it is presence of Chaitanyam. This Chaitanya silence is the fourth matra of Omkara. The beauty of this silence is that it can co-exist with sound that is A U M while normal silence cannot. Consciousness can co-exist with A U M. Therefore; Amatra is Chaitanya Tatvam which is Turiyam as well. With this phala shruti of Omkara Vichara is complete.


By enquiry into Atma we come to Turiyam

By enquiry into Omkara we come to Amatra.

Through this enquiry we come to pure consciousness.

With this the Upanishad is over. Gaudapada now further explains mantra # 12 in Amatra Karika.

Karika # 24:

ओंकारं पादशो विद्यात्पादा मात्रा संशयः  
ओंकारं पादशो ज्ञात्वा किंचिदपि चिन्तयेत् २४

The AUM syllable should be known quarter by quarter. There is no doubt, indeed, that the quarters (of the Self) are the same as the morae (letters of AUM). Having grasped thus the entire significance of Omkara, nothing else whatsoever should be thought of.

While writing his commentary Gaudapada consolidates his teaching of his previous karikas as well. He says, one has to clearly understand that the four padas of Atma equate with four matras of Omkara; thus every pada equates to a specific matra. Having clearly known Omkara and Atma, thereafter he should not have any other thought; he should arrive at Turiyam and abide in it.

(My Note: After understanding the four equations clearly, one should practice nididhyasanam with the Omkara mantra. Omkara can be used as a support for nididhyasanam. How do you meditate? Chant OM and

when you come to silence, you have to dwell upon the knowledge that there are two components in that

silence, one is silence and the other is consciousness. Then turn your attention from silence to

Consciousness then you claim that you are that Turiyam consciousness. This is called silence meditation.)

Karika # 25:

युञ्जीत प्रणवे चेतः प्रणवो ब्रह्म निर्भयम्  
प्रणवे नित्ययुक्तस्य भयं विद्यते क्वचित् २५

Soak the mind with the roar of AUM; Identify the mind with the sound of AUM; AUM is Brahman the ever fearless. He who is always unified with AUM shall know no fear whatsoever.

Having studied Mandukya and equating Omkara to the four padas of Atma, one must dwell on this through nidhidhyasanam.

Thus when one meditates on first pada Gross Cosmos comes up.

When he meditates on second pada Sukshma Prapancha comes up.

When he meditates on third pada Karana Prapancha comes up.

When he meditates on fourth pada, Turiyam comes up and he should see that other three prapanchas are non-substantial.

With Turiyam he should know that other three do not have any substance just as bangle (sthula prapancha), chain (Sukshma prapancha) and ring (karana prapancha) do not have a substance. This process of assimilation is nidhidhyasanam.

Similarly, A becomes meaningless as does U and M as well. In silence word disappears; there will only be silence consciousness. Student must perform this nidhidysanam. Now sound part of Omkara is saguna Brahman while silence part of Omkara or Amatra is nirguna Brahman. Pranava in the karika means Omkara.

This one has to learn to see in the sadhana. This will provide freedom from all insecurities. All these shlokas are nidhidhyasana shlokas. Gaudapada says you have to dwell on Omkara as often as possible as it will help in arriving at the “silence awareness”. Through Om one comes to this silence.

Advantages of this nidhidhyasanam: Once I know I am silence awareness, I am not afraid of death anymore. Sthula shariram is mortal, Suskhma shariram is mortal and Karana shariram is also mortal but I, the silence, am free from mortality.

Karika # 26:

प्रणवो ह्यपरं ब्रह्म प्रणवश्च परः स्मृतः  
अपूर्वोऽनन्तरोऽबाह्योऽनपरः प्रणवोऽव्ययः २६

AUM is verily the lower Brahman and it is also declared to be supreme Brahman. Pranava is without any cause preceding It, without subsequent manifestation, without anything inside and outside, unrelated to any effect and changeless.

All these karikas are Omkara dhyanam related. Omkara is both Nirguna Brahman (without attributes) and Saguna brahman (with attributes).

A U M represents Saguna Virat, Hiranyagarbha and Anataryami while the silence following OM represents Nirguna Brahman.

The fourth matra of Omkara is without any second thing either inside or outside.

It is like the bangle; is it inside or outside of gold? Bangle, in fact does not even exist, as such where is the question of inside or outside?

When there is no world, where is the inside or outside to it? Thus, there is no matter inside or outside of Atma, the Consciousness. There is no matter inside or outside of Atma. In fact there is no substance called matter. Matter is just a word we use.

In Karika: Purva means karanam; Aparam means Karyam; Apurva anaparaha means beyond cause and effect.

Now, Padas one and two come under Karyam; Pada three comes under karanam; while Turiyam is karya karana vilakshanam as detailed in Karika # 11.

Consciousness is beyond matter, time and space. Avyaya means free from changes.

Karika # 27:

सर्वस्य प्रणवो ह्यादिर्मध्यमन्तस्तथैव  
एवं हि प्रणवं ज्ञात्वा व्यश्नुते तदनन्तरम् २७

AUM is verily the beginning, the middle and end of all. Knowing AUM as such, verily one attains immediately to that supreme Reality.

Gold is the only truth. It is the substance that pervades all ornaments. It is substance of ornaments. If you seek gold in ornaments in beginning, middle and in the end it is all pervading, as it alone gives existence to all three ornaments.

Similarly the beginning, middle and end of creation are borrowed from Turiyam. Prana vaha means silence, awareness part of pranava. It is beginning, middle and end; this is true both spatially and time wise. Turiya Chaitanya is content of all.  Owning up to Silence Awareness is Me. At that time there is blankness, there is stillness that is you, as witness of silence. I am that Chaitanyam, Instantaneously one becomes one with Turiya Chaitanyam.

Karika # 28:

प्रणवं हीश्वरं विद्यात्सर्वस्य हृदि संस्थितम्
सर्वव्यापिनमोंकारं मत्वा धीरो शोचति २८

Know AUM to be Isvara, the Lord, ever-present in the hearts of all; the man of discrimination realizing AUM as all-pervading does not ever grieve.

Omkara has two meanings. Direct meaning is it is the sound of Omkara; second meaning is the implied silence that follows Omkara.

Silence is the consciousness that makes blankness known. Therefore, Omkara implies Consciousness or it means awareness of Silence. It is Paramatma. Where is he, the paramatma, residing? Lord resides in mind of all and Omkara consciousness is in mind of all, as witness of presence and absence of thought. So consciousness is all pervading. For one who can understand this there is no grief (samasara) in life. He is a Muktaha.

Karika # 29:

अमात्रोनन्तमात्रश्च द्वैतस्योपशमः शिवः  
ओंकारो विदितो येन मुनिर्नेतरो जनः २९

One who has known AUM, which is moraeless and of multiple morae (meaning AUM which is soundless and of infinite sounds) and which is ever peaceful because of negation of all duality in it, is the true sage; none other.

In this concluding karika Gaudapada reminds us of mantra number twelve’s definition of Amatra.

Definition of Amatra: Amatra is one without any limitation; either related to space or time. A is limited; U is limited; M is limited; but Amatra does not have any limitation. In meditation we should not work for relative silence; here sound comes and it displaces silence. However, Vedanta says this is not the truth. The true silence is Chaitanyam that is absolute silence; which is free from duality. It is present in silence and sound. It is ever auspicious; it is never disturbed by sound, just as waker’s silence is not disturbed by dreamer’s noise. This person who recognizes Omkara in this manner is a real Seer, a wise person. With this the Amatra karika is over; Chapter # 1 is over; and Upanishad is also over.

Take Away:

Omkara meditation:

Chant OM and when you come to silence, you have to dwell upon the knowledge that there are two components in that silence, one is silence and the other is consciousness. Then turn your attention from silence to consciousness and claim that you are that Turiyam, consciousness. This is called silence meditation.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy