Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Who is the controller - answer from the Kenopanishad


Who is the controller?

It is a very interesting question, is it not?  This is the exact question that is asked and answered in detail in Kena Upanishat. This Upanishat explainsby whom everything works. In Sanskrit, Kenameans ‘by whom’.  Fine. Can we go to the questions, now?

Kenoshitam patati preshitam manah? Kena pranah prathamah praiti yuktah? |
Kenoshitam vachamimam vadanti? chakshuh shrotram ka u Devo yunakti? || – Kena Upanishat, Mantra 1.1

Meaning: By whose will and direction mind lights on  its objects? By whom urged the first breath goes forth? By whom urged people speak the words? Who directs the eye and the ear?

Human mind and body system is an amazing machine. It works  so smoothly by careful balancing act. Many organs like heart, brain, stomach, etc. apparently work involuntarily. Is that really so? Does some other force help them to function? These fundamental questions are being asked here by the disciple.  Further, here are the questions in the above Upanishat mantra:

  • It seems like, our mind, pretty much independently desires to think and direct itself to give us thoughts.  But, it is not so. Then the question is: Who desires and directs our mind to work?
  • We are all alive because of breathing.  Right? When was the last time we focused our attention to breathing? When climbing a staircase? :)  Jokes apart, we actually take our breathing granted when we are living! It looks like breathing happens without anybody’s assistance. But, it is really not so.  Just think for a moment: Who really starts our first breath to make us alive ? Who sustains it so that we can breathe continuously without any effort?
  • We talk almost spontaneously and effortlessly. Apparently, we believe that speech is generated automatically. Actually, it is not so. Then, by whose command words come out? or Who generates words and controls our speech?
  • We see with our eyes and hear using our ears. Who directs the function of these organs so that they do their respective jobs?

In summary, who is the real director of our body and mind machinery? Who starts, sustains and stops the function of organs such as mind, speech, eye and ear? Who puts everything into their respective functions?

Very important and great questions indeed! EntireKena Upanishat is devoted to answer these. The devoted disciple(Shishya) asks these very fundamental questions to a Great Sage(Maharishi). The Master bestows the authoritative answer.

Asking the right questions is the most important first step in knowing anything. This why the disciple must be qualified enough to ask relevant questions to understand the answers clearly.

Are you eager to know the answer? OK. We will try to give an excerpt  for you. Be attentive! Our Great Master replies in the next mantra.

Shrotrasya shrotam manaso mano yat vacho ha vachagm sa u pranasya pranah |
Chakshushasya chakshuratimuchya dheerah pretyasmallokadamritaa bhavanti ||            – 
Kena Upanishat, Mantra 1.2

Meaning: It is that which is ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of the speech, life breath of the life breath, eye of the eye . By abandoning(the sense of ‘I’  in these) and departing from this world, the wise become immortal.

Insights: What a beautiful statement by ourMaharishiThat Brahman (also known asUniversal Self, God, Paramatma etc.)  gives the capability for the ear to listen. That force which is in everything, beyond everything  and controls everything is called the Brahman by our Great Masters in Upanishads.

He is the ear of the ear. Otherwise, ear cannot listen and it becomes deaf! Similarly, eye of the eye: eye cannot see without That Brahman. In other words, the Brahman makes the eye function. Otherwise, eye becomes blind! Moreover, mind cannot think without the assistance of Brahman.   Very interesting!

Similarly, other components of our mind and body system like life breath and speech do not function without the help and command of That Force called Brahman.   It is That Force of Brahman  that makes everything work including so called involuntary systems like mind.

To summarize, apparently we control(at least, we think so!) many organs of our body like hands, legs etc. But, what about involuntary organs like mind? Who makes every organ work? The answer is: It is That Force of Brahman which makes every organ work. Thus, the Brahmandirects and controls everything.

Knowing this Truth, we should not attach ourselves with our body and organs. Because, our real us in us is  not the body or some organ. We need to know that eternal Brahman beyond our body and mind, who commands and controls  everything. We can only  know it clearly by our own experience by merging with it. Thus, we can become immortal.

I am curious! How can we experienceBrahman?

A Great question! But, simple answer: Prepareyourself. Practice traditional yoga by the Grace of a Realized Master. You can easily experience it! In fact,  Mundaka Upanishat also says the same:

Tadvijnaartham sa Gurumevabhigacchet samitpanih Shrotriyam Brahmanishtam | – Mundaka Upanishat, Mantra 1.2.12

Meaning: To know that Truth(Brahman) he approaches a Guru(Master), who is well-versed in the Vedas and realized the Brahman, holding holy firewood in his hand.  It commands that one has to approach a Realized Master with reverence to know that Brahman. Got it?

What a great revelation of the eternal Turths in Upanishads from our Great Masters! Our respectful salutations to them for their Highest Knowledge.

Note: As you can see, it is very challenging or almost impossible to understand Upanishadsdirectly without referring to any commentary. So, while interpreting mantras in Upanishads, we followed the traditional commentary, Shankara Bhashya  of our Great Master Shri Shankara Bhagavatpadah.

Essence of the Kenopanishad by Swami Sivananda

Essence of the Kenopanishad
by Swami Sivananda

Hari Om! May my limbs, speech, Prana, eye, ear, strength and all my senses grow vigorous. All (everything) is the Brahman of the Upanishads. May I never deny Brahman. May Brahman never spurn me. May there be no denial of Brahman. May there be no spurning by the Brahman. Let all the virtues recited by the Upanishads repose in me, delighting in the Atman! May they in me repose!

Om Peace! Peace!! Peace!!!

The Indwelling Power

1. Who is the director of the mind? Who impels the mind to alight on its object? Brahman.

2. At whose command does the Prana proceed to function? The command of Brahman or the Absolute.

3. At whose command do men utter speech? The command of Brahman.

4. What intelligence directs the eyes and the ears towards their respective objects? The Intelligence of Brahman.

5. Behind the Prana and the senses there is Brahman or the supreme Self. He who knows this attains immortality.

6. Ignorant people identify themselves with the body, mind, Prana and senses on account of nescience or Avidya.

7. They mistake these false, perishable limiting adjuncts or vehicles for the pure immortal Atman, and so they are caught in the round of births and deaths.

8. But some wise people abandon this false identification, separate themselves from these limiting adjuncts through enquiry, discrimination, Anvaya-Vyatireka- Yukti, and practice of Neti, Neti doctrineI am not this body, I am not this Prana, I am not this mind, I am not the senses,identify themselves with the all-pervading, immortal, pure Brahman and obtain knowledge of Brahman and attain immortality.

9. Rise above sense-life and live in the Atman. You will attain immortality and eternal bliss.

10. You will become immortal while living in this body, if you attain knowledge of Brahman. You need not wait till you leave this body.

11. Just as the water in a cup borrows its heat from the sun or the fire, so also the mind. Prana and senses borrow their light and power from the Atman.

12. The ear hears through the light of the Atman, the tongue speaks through the power of the Atman, the mind thinks through the power of the Atman, and the Prana performs its functions through the power of the Atman only.

13. The mind and the organs are inert and non-intelligent. They appear to be intelligent through the light and power of the Atman.

14. The ears, eyes, mind and Prana exist for the use of the Atman, just as a house exists for the use of its owner. The Director is Brahman or Atman.

15. Brahman shines by its own light. By its light all this universe is illumined.

16. The sun, moon, stars, fire and lightning shine by its light.

17. No one can live and breathe if there were not the self-luminous Brahman.

18. Brahman leads Prana up and Apana down.

19. One becomes immortal by renouncing all desires.

Intuitive Realisation of Truth

20. The Sruti says: Not by works, not by offerings, not by wealth, but by renunciation alone does one attain immortality.

21. How can the eyes see the sun, the seer of sight? The eye is an object of perception for the mind and Atman. One cannot jump on one's own shoulders.

22. Brahman cannot be an object of perception because it is partless, attributeless, extremely subtle and infinite.

23. To define Brahman is to deny Brahman.

24. Satchidananda is only a provisional definition of Brahman.

25. The Srutis explain Brahman through the Neti-Neti (not this, not this) doctrine.

26. The disciple should possess a subtle, sharp, pure, and one-pointed intellect.

27. Brahman cannot be known like the objects of the world. It cannot be explained by mere words, just as you explain to others the nature of the objects of the world.

28. Brahman is distinct from the known, from the whole manifested universe and from the unknown, too.

29. Brahman is the only Reality. It is the basis and source for everything.

30. Brahman is not an object. It is all-pervading, mysterious, incomprehensible, Chaitanya or pure consciousness.

31. Brahman must be known through intuition.

32. It is very difficult to understand the nature of Brahman. It is very difficult to explain the nature of Brahman, because there is no means or language by which to do so.

33. Those who are endowed with a pure and subtle intellect can easily grasp the subtle ideas of the Upanishads.

34. As Brahman is beyond the reach of the senses and the mind, the aspirant should at first have a comprehensive understanding of Brahman through the study of the Upanishads and the instructions of an illumined preceptor.

35. The aspirant should equip himself with the four means Viveka (discrimination), Vairagya (dispassion), Shat-Sampat (sixfold virtue), Mumukshutva (yearning for liberation) and practise constant meditation. Then alone will he attain knowledge of Brahman. He will realise Brahman like an amalaka fruit in his hand. Then all doubts and delusion will vanish.

36. That which is distinct from the known and the unknown is Brahman.

37. The knowledge of Brahman has been traditionally handed down from preceptor to disciple. Gaudapada taught Brahma-Vidya to Govindapada, Govindapada to Sankara, Sankara to Padmapada and others, and so on.

38. Brahman can be known only by instruction from an illumined teacher or realised sage and not by logical discussions or by intelligence, great expositions, austerity or sacrificial rites, etc.

39. The soul of man is the Atman. The soul of the universe is Brahman. The Atman is identical with Brahman.

40. What speech does not enlighten, but what enlightens speech, know that alone to be Brahman.

41. Speech cannot reveal or illumine Brahman. Brahman is beyond the range of speech. Speech expresses itself through the power or light of Brahman.

42. Speech is finite. How can the finite speech reveal the infinite Brahman?

43. Brahman alone illumines speech and its organ, the Vak-Indriya. Brahman is the speech of speech, the tongue of tongue.

44. Brahman is within speech and directs speech.

45. This Atman is Brahman or Bhuma (infinite or the unconditional).

46. Brahman is unsurpassable, big, great, the highest of all, all-pervading. So it is called Brahman.

47. Brahman is eternal, unchangeable, self-luminous, formless, colourless, attributeless, timeless, spaceless, indivisible, unborn, undecaying immortal.

48. Vedanta is not hostile to devotion. It only deprecates worship with selfish interest.

49. A Vedantin or a Sage is a perfect devotee.

50. Para-Bhakti or supreme devotion and Jnana or wisdom are one.

51. Vedanta says that Isvara whom people worship is one's own Self. It teaches an expanded form of Bhakti, the highest form of devotion.

The Self and The Mind

52. Brahman is the silent witness of the activities of the mind and all the organs.

53. That which cannot be comprehended by the mind but what causes the mind to think and to apprehend an object, know that alone as Brahman.

54. The mind is connected with all the organs. It is the commander-in-chief of all active forces.

55. Desire, volition, deliberation, faith, negligence, courage, timidity, shame, intelligence, fear all these are ultimately the mind.

56. Mind is the 'Drik' or the seer, the objects are the 'Drishya' or the seen. The Atman is the Seer, the mind is the seen.

57. The senses carry the impressions of objects to the mind. The mind presents them to the Atman. The Atman returns them to the mind. Then alone does the comprehension of objects become perfect and complete.

58. What cannot be seen by the eyes, but by which the eyes are able to see know that alone as Brahman.

59. Brahman cannot be seen by the eyes, as it is not an object of perception.

60. The eye is a finite instrument that carries the impressions of objects, colour, shape, form, size, etc., to the mind.

61. The eye derives its power of seeing from Brahman only, its source.

62. The eye is made to move towards the objects by the enlightening intelligence of Brahman.

63. Brahman is the real unseen seer of sight. It is the silent witness of the activities of the eye.

64. Brahman is the Lord or the Proprietor of this mind-factory. The eyes, ears, etc. are ordinary clerks. The mind is the head-clerk. The intellect is the managing director.

65. What cannot be heard by the ears, but by which the ears are able to hear, know that alone is Brahman.

66. Brahman directs the ears towards sound.

67. The ear is a finite instrument. It carries the impressions of sound to the mind. The activity of the ear is connected with the activity of the mind.

68. The ear derives its power of hearing from Brahman only, its source.

69. The ear is made to move towards sound, music, etc., by the enlightening intelligence of Brahman.

70. Brahman is the real unheard hearer. It is the silent witness of the activity of the ear.

71. What smell does not perceive, but directs smell to its objects, know that alone as Brahman.

72. That which one breathes not with the breath, but by which breath is breathed, know that alone as Brahman.

73. That which is not enlivened by the Prana, but what gives Prana the power of enlivening all beings know that alone as Brahman.

74. Brahman is not an object of perception. Knowledge of Brahman is intuitive self-awareness.

75. The Prana is made to move towards its objects by the enlightening intelligence of Brahman.

Truth Transcendental

76. There is no objective and subjective consciousness for the sage; subject and object are the same for him. He sees only Brahman everywhere.

77. The Self or Soul of everyone is Brahman.

78. Brahman cannot be made the object of the knowledge of another, because besides it none that knows exists.

79. Brahman is different from what is known. It is also beyond what is not known.

80. He who is endowed with the four means, and who is pure and intelligent, can understand the teachings of the Upanishads.

81. Brahman is always the silent witnessing consciousness. He is the subject, knower and seer.

82. The seer can never be seen.

83. The knower can never be known by the intellect.

84. Anything perceived by the senses and conceived by the mind cannot be Brahman.

85. Only an object of the world can be perceived by the senses and thought by the mind.

86. Brahman is unknown by the mind, intellect and senses.

87. Brahman is certainly knowable through direct intuitive perception in Samadhi, as the Self or Atman, by the pure mind which is Brahman itself.

88. Till you attain the highest Nirvikalpa state, wherein you will feel All indeed is Brahman, there is nothing but the self, you will have to practise again and again enquiry, reflection and meditation. You must feel its presence in all names and forms.

89. You cannot know Brahman just as you know an object. Brahman is known or realised not as an object but as pure self-consciousness through intuitive or direct inner experience or illumination. Subject and object are one in spiritual experience.

90. Brahman is the witness of the waking dreaming and deep sleep states.

91. Brahman is intelligence in its essence. It is a homogeneous mass of pure consciousness.

92. Brahman is birthless, deathless, decayless, eternal, pure unconditional, one without a second. It is the Self or Atman of all beings.

93. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi, when all mental modifications merge in Brahman, there is no witness.

94. Brahman is eternal, pure self-luminous, undecaying, existence-absolute, knowledge-absolute and bliss-absolute.

95. The knower of Brahman possesses tremendous spiritual strength.

96. This Atman cannot be attained by one destitute of strength.

97. Real strength comes only through knowledge of the Self.

98. The knower of Brahman becomes absolutely fearless.

99. This Atman is invulnerable and invincible.

100. Immortality is the very nature of Brahman, just as heat is the very nature of fire.

101. Nirvikalpa Samadhi is a sublime soul-stirring experience that cannot be either imagined or described in words. You will have to experience it yourself in Samadhi when the mind, intellect and senses cease functioning.

Liberation at Hand

102. Brahma-Jnana destroys ignorance just as light destroys darkness and reveals one's inherent immortal nature.

103. Ignorance is the root cause of all human suffering.

104. If one does not know Brahman, he is caught in the round of births and deaths.

105. Really thirsty aspirants abandon the erroneous notion of I and Mine and turn away with disgust from the world, as everything here is perishable, illusory and transitory.

106. They practise meditation on the Atman and behold the one essence of the Atman in all objects. They realise the oneness of the Self or the unity of the Atman in all, and become immortal. They become Brahman.

107. He who knows that highest Brahman becomes Brahman itself.

108. He who lives in Brahman, he who has realised the Atman, really leads the true life.

109. Mundane life or sense-life is untruth. It is illusory.

110. The knower of Brahman attains liberation while living (Jivanmukti).

111. As soon as ignorance which is the cause of bondage is dispelled by the attainment of knowledge of Brahman, one gets liberation at once.

Moral of The Yaksha-Upakhyana

112. There is the real war inside between the good tendencies and the evil tendencies, between Sattva and Rajas and Tamas, between the lower impure mind and the higher pure mind.

113. The senses, the mind and the Prana begin to fight: We hold together and support this body. Prana gains the victory.

114. Prana, too, is inert. The source for this Prana, also, is Brahman. The senses, the mind and the Prana derive their light and power from Brahman only.

115. Upanishad means knowledge of Brahman or secret doctrine. Disciples sit devotedly round the preceptor for instructions: Upa-nearby, ni-devotedly and Sad-sit. Upanishad means, also the text that treats of Brahman.

116. Austerity, self-control and Sacrifice are aids to the acquisition of the knowledge of Brahman.

117. Knowledge dawns in men by the destruction of evil actions.

118. Knowledge of Brahman arises in those persons who have purified their minds by austerity, self-restraint and works, either in this birth or in several previous births.

119. Those who have not removed the impurities of the mind either disbelieve or misbelieve Brahman when it is explained, as in the case of Virochana.

120. These secrets explained become illumined to that great soul whose devotion to the Lord is great and whose devotion to his preceptor is as great as that to the Lord.

121. Knowledge of Brahman has a firm basis only in those persons who possess self-restraint and who do Tapas.

122. Truth is the abode of Brahma-Vidya or spiritual knowledge. Austerity, self-restraint, are its support. The Vedas are its limbs.

123. Truth is freedom from deceit, from fraud of speech, mind or deed.

124. Knowledge of Brahman will arise only in a person who is free from conceit and fraud in speech, mind and deed, and who is good-natured.

125. Knowledge of Brahman does not arise in a person who is deceptive and utters falsehood. Therefore it is said that truth is the abode or resting place of knowledge.

126. Truth excels others as an aid to knowledge.