Mandukya Upanishad – Summary


Class 81


Alathi Prakarana is the fourth and final chapter of Mandukya.  In the first three chapter the teachings given out in Mandukya upanishad were discussed.  In first chapter called agama prakaranam, the mandukya verses were briefly analyzed.  In vaithathya prakaranam and advaida prakaranm, the focussed was on aham sathyam and jagat mithyam.  I the observer is the absolute reality and whatever I observe have a lower reality.  We do not say they dont’t have reality, just lower reality.  This is the main teaching of mandukya and all other upanishads.

The jagat mithyatvam was highlighted in second chapter.  Vaithathyam means mithyatvam or enjoying a lower order of reality.  In the third chapter advaida prakranam, atma sathyatvam was highlighted.  I am the absolute and ultimate and only reality.  Everything is unreal.  The meaning of I is not the physical body, mind or thought but pure consciousness which is different from them.  Anything observed is mithya.  Is God sathyam or mithya?  The counter question is what is the definition of god?  Is that an observed object or the observer the consciousness principle.  If god is an observer object, then that god also come under mithya within time and space subject to arrival and departure.  If god is chaithanya tatvam, the pure consciousness, then that god is sathyam.  Aham sathyam.  This second feature of atma sathyam is highlighted in the third chapter.  Two main corollaries:

  1. We should not count mithya along with the sathyam.  We can count two sathyam or two mithya; we cannot count one sathya and one mithya together.  We can’t add waking earning and dream earning together.  The observed world can’t be counted.  The only thing I can count is I the observer.  I the observer not only the reality but also I am nondual without a second.
  2. Sathyam can’t be affected by mithya.  A less real thing can’t pollute the absolute reality.  e.g. cinema screen, which is not affected by the images projected.  Whatever happens in the observed world can not affect me.  The observed universe can’t affect the observer.  Can the world affect me?  Counter question should be what is the meaning of word “me”.  If it refers physical body, then the world and the physical body both come under observed objects.  Then the world will affect me.  If I refers to the thuriyum, then I the pure consciousness can’t be affected by the world.  This is called ahangatvam.  This knowledge liberates me because I need not be concerned about the events in the universe.  I can’t control the universe, so If I become obsessed with it, then I will be affected by it.  I should know I am unaffected by them.  This knowledge gives me freedom and that freedom is called jivan mukthi.  From the standpoint of body, I continue to do what I need to do.  But I always remember that the total events are beyond the control of individual body. I have the sakshi bava which helps me in controlling overwhelming emotional reaction.

The essence of the teaching of the first three chapters is aham sathyam jagat mithyam.

The fourth chapter alathi shanthi prakaranm consisting of 100 verses and primary purpose is to negate other systems of philosophies and establish that anything other than advaidam will not solve the problem.  Any solution will be temporary.  In dwaida there is no permanent solution.

The second purpose of the fourth chapter, is to re-enforcement of advaidam.  The chapter is divided in five topics:

  1. Verse 1 to 10 is introduction:
    1. First Gowdapadha offers prayer to the lord and this teaching.  Lord is seen as aadhi guru.  The special title given to the teaching is asparsa yogaha.  The teaching in which I recognize myself as one who is not affected by anything in the world.
    2. Glory of this teaching:  Beyond all the debates; All the systems primarily argue about the origination of the world.  If Bagawan is omniscient. omnipotent and compassionate why should he create evil, suffering etc.  We are here and that creates suffering; suffering creates samsara; samsara requires liberation; liberation requires sadhana.   The creation is the starting point, and everyone had different theories and they all quarrel with each other.  If advaida enters into this creation, then we will get into problem of getting closer to one system becoming enemy of other systems.  If we invent a new theory which is different from all other theory, then you will be criticized by all other theory, Advaidam has no theory of creation.  How do you explain the creation?  In advaida, there is no creation at all.  I have to give a theory of creation only when there is creation.  Creation is world’s confusion, which is ignorance.  Therefore, beyond argument or avivaygaha.
  2. Verses 11 to 27 negation of other dualistic systems:  All other theories of creation will have logical problem because there is no creation; we have committed a fundamental mistake; he takes a sample of theories:
    1. Sankya dharshanam:  Beginningless prakrithi (basic matter) has produced the creation; From scrip ritual, (Sruthi), logical (yukthi) and experience (anubava).
      1. Vedas clearly says Brahman is the karanam.
      2. From our experience we know any cause is endowed with a beginning and so any cause is an effect.  Tree has borne out seed; seed has a beginning.  child and parent are all have a beginning.   There is no cause in creation which is beginningless.  Therefore, prakrithi as a beginning less cause is against experience.
      3. Logic shows any cause is subject to modification to produce effect; anything subject to modification is endowed with beginning and end.  Therefore, prakrithi as a beginning-less cause is illogical.
    2. Dwaida dharshanam:  Karma is the cause of creation.  If you take karma and sareeram, which one is the first?  Then you can’t say one is the cause of the other; you can’t say it is a chain, because then what is the beginning of the chain?  Ultimately you have to say that it is a beginning-less chain.  Whatever doesn’t have a beginning will not have an end also and therefore moksha will not be possible.
    3. Bowdha dharsham:  Buddhist philosophy:  Very close to advaidam; jagat is mithya consciousness is sathyam.  Consciousness is only momentary, and this momentary consciousness flow is sathyam.  The observer is not eternal consciousness but a flow of consciousness.   If there is a flow, then is who is witnessing the flow?  All the consciousness in this theory exist only for a moment.  To talk about a momentary consciousness, you need a permanent consciousness.
  3. Verse 28 to 54 vedanta sara:  Aham sathyam jagan mithya; The world consists of three pairs:
    1. Viswa and sthula prabanja
    2. Taijasa and sukshma prabanja
    3. Pragya and karana prabanja
    4. I the thiryum is the only sathyam.  We can say that the world is unreal only from the standpoint of thuriyum.  From the standpoint of body, the world should be treated as very real.  Treat the body properly by treating for illness etc.  You can boldly say the world is unreal if you look from thuriya dhrishti.  With the help of swapna dhrishti example he proves this.  He also gives aladha dhrishantha or fire brand.  This is to show karanam akam; the fire brand is only one but when you move is the shapes are many.  The pattern does not have reality and do not exist separate from fire brand.  That single tip of the fire brand, is bright and effulgent.  Karana ekatmvam, sathyatvam and swayam prakasam.  Similarly, consciousness is ekatvam and the entire world is anekatvam.  Consciousness alone is real the various patterns of the world you experience does not exist separate from the observer and therefore are all mithya.  The consciousness is self-revealing and need not work to know or experience this consciousness.
  4. Verse 55 to 90 Vedanta Sadhanani:  The primary and only sadhana is discovering my thuriya swaroopam.  If I discover the thuriya swaroopam, then I am beyond time and space; if I come down to body level and function as viswa and taijasa, I have come down to desa and kala – time and space.  I will have the problems created by time space:  old age, disease, death: insecurity.   Other than thuriyum, wherever you go there will be insecurity.  For gaining this knowledge, you acquire sadhana, sadhusta sambandhti; gain the knowledge that I am beyond  time and space; that alone  will create freedom.
  5. Verse 91 to 100 Conclusion:  When you discover thuriyum, whatever you are looking for, security, poornative, peace, ananda:   all the fundamental wants you will not get outside; they are all your own nature; you claim your higher nature to get those;  claim it and be free.

The nasamakra is in the form of knowledge.