Mandukya Upanisad and Prasna Upanisad both belong to Atharvaveda. They keep important position as regards Jnana Kanda the knowledge portion of the Vedas.
Mandukya, though it is the smallest Upanisad - it consists of only twelve short passages - it encompasses the entire range of human consciousness. It describes beautifully all the states of consciousness along with the discipline - Sadhana to raise our consciousness from the lowest to the highest, culminating in full attainment of the Self-Atman or Brahman.
The main subject discussed in the Prasna Upanisad that of Prana (The Primal Energy) in the form of four questions. The fifth question is about Pranava. In it we get the indication about the Sadhana spiritual discipline to realise the ultimate Truth. The last question is about the Goal, about the Being whom we have to discover in ourselves.
Shri Anirvan was born on July 8, 1896 in the town of Mymensingh (now in Bangladesh). At the age of eleven he knew the Ashadhyayi of Panini by heart and daily recited a chapter from the Gita. He went for his college studies to Dhaka and later on to Calcutta. After completing his studies, Shri Anirvan took Sanyasa and became Nirvanananda Saraswati. But a few years later he dropped the ochre robes and changed his name to Anirvan, by which name he became known to the world at large.
Between 1930 and 1942, he lived with a friend at Allahabad, Lucknow, Delhi and Ranchi. Later on, he moved to Lohaghat in Almora where Madame Lizelle Reymond, a Swiss lady, spiritual seeker joined him and literally took him to the West through her books. Shri Anirvan moved to Shillong in Assam and finally to Calcutta in 1965. He fell ill in July 1971 and passed away on 31 May, 1978 at the age of 82.
His first book was a Bengali translation of Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine which was published in 2 vols. during 1948-51. But the centre of his studies was the Vedas on which subject he acquired a rare mastery over the years. His great work, Veda Mimamsa, in Bengali was published in 3 vols. in 1961, 1965 and 1970. Meanwhile, several other works on Upanishads, the Gita, Vedanta and Yoga had also been published in Bengali and translated into English and Hindi.
Vedas are supreme authority in Indian Philosophical Tradition. They are held in highest realm, where knowledge, both worldly and spiritual, culminates in Hindu Civilization.
Upanisads are in the form of Mantra and by meditating on these mantra we invoke all these powers of the Supreme Divine Being, to protect us, to enter in us, so that they may transform our physical, vital and mental being and make us divine.
The present work is based upon Mandukya Upanisad and Prasna Upanisad, both belonging to Atharvaveda tradition, is the exposition by renowned and realized spiritual seer Shri Anirvan from West Bengal. Shri Anirvan who originally gave his expositions in Bengali, which were subsequently translated into English by his disciple and scholar Sh. Gautam Dharmapal. Shri Anirvan's other works on Veda, and Upanisads are exclusively published by Sh. Harish Chandra, M/S Akshaya Prakashan. Unfortunately both Shri Anirvan and Sh. Gautam Dharmapal are no more, and MSS on these were with Sh. Harish Chandra who has written to ICPR to with them as important series on Upanisad and to complete them as commentary by Sh. Anirvan on principal Upanisads.
The present work entitled `Mandukya Upanisad and Prasna Upanisad' which is not only a philosophic-literary work in the form of greatly, adeptly and depth fully explaining the meaning of mantra with insightfully imbibing the spiritual deeper understanding but also inviting readers also to go deeper in their interest and understanding of Vedic and Upanisadic philosophical literature.
It is a matter of privilege to me to write a foreword for such an important and insightful exposition of Upanisadic philosophic literature. It is also to state that ICPR has taken up this important work for making the series of principal Upanisads complete by the means present two here, namely, MANDUKYA UPANISAD and PRASNA UPANISAD by publicizing and approving the publication of the remaining three mainly Taittiriya Upanisad, Svetasvatar Upanisad, Kausitaki Upanisad unpublished works by Shri Anirvan ji.
I deeply acknowledge the guidance by most respectable Sh. Suresh Soniji who has been a constant source of inspiration to initiate and complete this important series by Shri Anirvanji which was awaiting to be brought before scholars and public alike. I also acknowledge the efforts by Shri Harish Chandra, M/S Akshaya Prakashan for making this work well type set, cover designing and composing along with preserver of MSS of Shri Anirvan ji. I also acknowledge the efforts of Dr. Sushim Dubey, Programme Officer, ICPR for taking care of various aspects towards its publication.
Mandukya Upanisad belongs to Atharvaveda. Though it is the smallest Upanisad - it consists of only twelve short passages - it encompasses the entire range of human consciousness. It describes beautifully all the states of consciousness along with the discipline - Sadhana to raise our consciousness from the lowest to the highest, culminating in full attainment of the Self-Atman or Brahman.
The name of the Upanisad seems to have been derived from the Rishi named Manduka. There is a reference to Mandukayana or a seer of the Manduka gotra (clan) in Veda. There is one Manduka Sukta in Rg Veda (VIII/103). Parallel word for Manduka was Manduka from root Mand suffix Uka meaning to exhilarate, to enjoy. It was associated with the exhilaration, intoxication of Soma drink. In Rg Veda Indra is called `somapatama' - the best of the drinkers of Soma and therefore `Mandrajivha' -one whose tongue is always exhilaratingly licking Soma - a person who is always full of joy or one who has attained bliss-consciousness is a `Manduka'.
The word Manduka (meaning frog) is used as a symbol. During the rainy season we generally hear the chorus of frogs, joyous singing of frogs at the falling of rain after the hot and dry summer. Rain is also used symbolically in Veda. Indra destroys the Demon Vritra in the form of Dark cloud and releases Parjanya, (Streams of rain) the Rain-God. Streams of Rain are equated with streams of joy. All the seasons ended or fulfilled in the rainy season. It can be said that this Upanisad proclaims the wisdom of the Rishi who has attained the highest State of Bliss, of Santam, Sivam, Advaitam, the highest Peace, Good and Oneness, complete unity with the Self (Atman) or Brahman.
Sri Gaudapada, the grand-guru of Sankaracharya has written his famous Mandukya Karika (exposition of Mandukya Upanisad) which also forms the basis of Sankaracharya's commentary.
The goal of this Upanisad is to attain the highest state of consciousness which is described here as Prapancoposamam Santam Sivam Advaitam' - a state where all the worldly phenomena is quietened, a state of profound Peace, Bliss and Unity i.e. Non-duality is established and having established in that highest state to consciously and freely move about in all the other states of consciousness. Self-consciousness is divided into four states: Waking (Jagrata), Dream (Swapna), Deep-Sleep (Susupti) and the Fourth or Transcendent (Turiya). Generally it is understood that to attain the Fourth (Turiya) or Transcendent consciousness is the highest and final goal of human life and the aim of this Upanisad. But this is not wholly true. It is a narrow and onesided conclusion. The wisdom of the Upanisad is wide and all embracing.
At the very beginning the Upanisad declares, "All this is Brahman; this self is Brahman and that this self is four-footed or four-parted." If that is so, how one can say that only the Fourth (Turiya) foot or part is self or Brahman and all the rest are non-self (Anatma) or not Brahman and that only the Turiya is Real (Satya) and the rest unreal (Mithya)? We have to understand that the Self is involved in all the four feet or parts, that all the parts or states of consciousness are part and parcel of the Self and to realise and experience the Self or Brahman in all the states of our consciousness is the true aim of the Upanisad.
The Upanisad also divides the great word OM (Pranava)- the Supreme Sacred sound in four Matras - that is measures or parts and equates them with the four parts of self or four states of consciousness. The Upanisad states emphatically that by meditating on these four matras of OM separately as well as together, we realise or experience the four-fold consciousness of our self. In this Upanisad we get such a wide and clear definition and exposition of the great Mantra OM or Pranava which is a synonym or an expressive one-syllabled word for God or Brahman. In all the Mantras, OM has a very special place and significance. It is the seed of all the Mantras. Om is called both Akshara Brahman-Immutable Brahman-as well as Sabda Brahman - Word Brahman. All the Upanisads highly extol OM. The Vedic Mantras are to be chanted beginning with OM. In Kathopanishad, Yama says to Naciketa "I tell you briefly of that goal which all the Vedas with one voice propound, which all the austerities speak of and wishing for which people practice Brahmacarya (celibacy). It is this, that is OM (OM iti etat) (Katha-Upanisad I/2/15). In Prasnopanishad (5th Question) it is said, "O, Satyakama, OM is verily both higher and lower Brahman". Then the Upanisad goes on to describe the fruits of meditation on the three Matras of Om separately as well as together. In the Bhagawad-Gita also Sri Krishna says, "In all the Vedas, I am Pranava i.e. OM" (Gita VII/8).
Sri Ramakrishna used to say, "All the Vedas are condensed in the Gayatri Mantra (Rv.III/62/10). The Gayatri is condensed in the three Vyahritis (mystical utterances of the names of worlds), Bhuh (The Eaith), Bhuvah (the Midregion) and Swah (the heavens), andthe three Vyahritis are condensed in OM. And even all the Matras of OM are condensed in the melodious humming sound of the Ardha Matra which is called unpronounceable half-syllable which remains as an eternal sound.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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