Mundaka Upanishad

The Mundaka Upanishad is a collection of philosophical poems used to teach meditation and spiritual knowledge regarding the true nature of Brahman and the Self (Atman). It contains the teachings of Angira Rishi to Saunaka, regarding the two types of knowledge - the lower type about the material universe, and the higher knowledge about the transcendental Brahman, that cannot be described or perceived by the senses, the mind or intellect. The first Mundakam defines the science of "Higher Knowledge" and "Lower Knowledge", and then asserts that acts of oblations and pious gifts are foolish, and do nothing to reduce unhappiness in current life or next, rather it is knowledge that frees. The second Mundakam describes the nature of the Brahman, the Self, the relation between the empirical world and the Brahman, and the path to know Brahman. The third Mundakam expands the ideas in the second Mundakam and then asserts that the state of knowing Brahman is one of freedom, fearlessness, complete liberation, self-sufficiency and bliss. The Mundaka Upanishad has three Mundakams (parts, or shavings), each part has two khanda (खण्ड, section or volume). The section 1.1 has 9 mantras structured as metered poetic verses. Section 1.2 has 13 verses, section 2.1 includes 10 verses, section 2.2 is composed of 11 verses, section 3.1 has 10, while the last section 3.2 has 11 verses. Combined, the Upanishad features 64 mantras. This editions uses Shankara's commentary from the translation by S. Sitarama Sastri [Mundaka Upanishad with Shankara’s Commentary (1905)].

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Shanti Mantra

॥ मुण्डकोपनिषत् ॥

॥ श्रीः॥

॥ मुण्डकोपनिषत् ॥

ॐ भद्रं कर्णेभिः श्रुणुयाम देवाः भद्रं पश्येमाक्षभिर्यजत्राः ।

स्थिरैरङ्गैस्तुष्टुवासस्तनूभिर्व्यशेम देवहितं यदायुः ।

स्वस्ति न इन्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः ।

स्वस्ति नस्तार्क्ष्यो अरिष्टनेमिः स्वस्ति नो बृहस्पतिर्दधातु।

॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Sloka : 1.1.1

॥ ॐ ब्रह्मणे नमः ॥

॥ प्रथममुण्डके प्रथमः खण्डः ॥

ॐ ब्रह्मा देवानां प्रथमः संबभूव विश्वस्य कर्ताभुवनस्य गोप्ता ।

स ब्रह्मविद्यां सर्वविद्याप्रतिष्ठामथर्वाय ज्येष्ठपुत्राय प्राह ॥ १॥

oṃ | brahmā devānāṃ prathamaḥ saṃbabhūva viśvasyakartā bhuvanasya goptā |

sa brahmavidyāṃ sarvavidyāpratiṣṭhāmatharvāya jyeṣṭhaputrāya prāha || 1 ||

Brahma was the first among the Devas, the creator of the universe, the protector of the world. He taught the knowledge of Brahman, on which all knowledge rests, to his eldest son Atharva.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The word “Brahma” means “much grown,” “great”, as excelling all others in virtue, knowledge, freedom from desires and power. The word Devanam means Indra and others, literally, those possessing “enlightenment.” The word ‘Prathama’ means “preeminent by attributes” or “at first.” Sambahhava means “became manifest well,” i.e., of free choice not like mortals who are born in Samsara, in consequence of their good and bad deeds; for, the Smriti says “He who is beyond the reach of the senses and cannot be grasped, etc.” Visvasya means “of the whole universe.” Karta, ‘creator Bhuvanasya, ‘of the world’ so created; gopta, ‘protector the epithets for Brahma are for eulogising the knowledge. He, i.e., Brahma whose greatness is thus celebrated. Brahma Vidyâm, ‘knowledge of the Brahman or the Paramatmam’ because it is described as knowledge ‘by which one knows the undecaying and the true Purusha that knowledge is of the Paramatman; or Brahma vidya may mean “knowledge taught by Brahma the first born.” Savva vidya pratishtam means “that on which all knowledge rests for support”; because it is the cause of the manifestation of all other knowledge; or, it may he, because the one entity to he cognized by all knowledge is only known by this; for the Sruti says “by which, what is not heard becomes heard; what is not thought of becomes thought of; and what is not known becomes known.” The expression “on which all knowledge depends” is also eulogy. He taught this knowledge to his eldest son; as Atharva was created at the beginning, in one of the numerous creations made by Brahma, he is said to be his eldest son. To him, his eldest son, he taught.

Sloka : 1.1.2

अथर्वणे यां प्रवदेत ब्रह्माऽथर्वा तां पुरोवाचाङ्गिरे ब्रह्मविद्याम् ।

स भारद्वाजाय सत्यवाहाय प्राह भारद्वाजोऽङ्गिरसे परावराम् ॥ २॥

atharvaṇe yāṃ pravadeta brahmātharvā taṃ purovācāṅgire brahmavidyām |

sa bhāradvājāya satyavāhāya prāha bhāradvājo'ṅgirase parāvarām || 2 ||

That knowledge of Brahman which Brahma taught to Atharva, Atharva taught to Angira in ancient days; and he taught it to one of the Bharadvaja family by name Satyavaha; and Satyavaha taught to Angiras the knowledge so descended from the greater to the less.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—That knowledge of Brahman, which Brahma taught to Atharva, the same knowledge thus acquired from Brahma, Atharva in ancient days taught to one named Angih; and this Angih taught it to one named Satyavaha of the line of the Bharadvaja; and Bharadvaja taught it to Angiras, his disciple or his son. Paravaram, because it was acquired from superior by inferior sages; or, because it permeates the subject of all knowledge, great and small; the term Praha, i.e., taught should be read into the last clause.

Sloka : 1.1.3

शौनको ह वै महाशालोऽङ्गिरसं विधिवदुपसन्नः पप्रच्छ

कस्मिन्नु भगवो विज्ञाते सर्वमिदं विज्ञातं भवतीति ॥ ३॥

śaunako ha vai mahāśālo'ṅgirasaṃ vidhivadupasannaḥ papraccha |

kasminnu bhagavo vijñāte sarvamidaṃ vijñātaṃ bhavatīti || 3 ||

Saunaka, a great grihasta, having duly approached Angiras, questioned him “What is that, O Bhagavan which being known, all this becomes known.”

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Saunaka, the male issue of Sunaka. Mahasalah means “the great house-holder”; Angiras, i.e., the disciple of Bharadvaja and his own preceptor; Vidhivat means ‘duly i.e., according to the sastras; Upasannah means ‘having approached Paprachha means ‘questioned from “the approaching duly” mentioned just after the connection between Saunaka and Angiras, it should be inferred that in resect of the manner of approaching, there was no established rule among the ancients, before him. The attribute “duly” might have been intended either to fix a limit, or to apply to all alike, on the analogy of a lamp placed amidst a house; for the rule about “the manner of approaching” is intended in the case of persons like us also. What did he say? “What is that? Oh Bhagavan, etc.” The particle ‘nu’ expresses doubt. Bhagavo means ‘O Bhagavan.’ “All this” means “everything knowable.” Vijnatam means ‘specially known or understood.’ [Oh Bhagavan what is that which being known everything knowable becomes well-known]. Saunaka having heard the saying of good men that “when one is known, he becomes the knower of all,” and being desirous of knowing that one in particular, asked in doubt “what is that, etc.”; or, having seen merely from a popular view, questioned. There are in the world varieties of pieces of gold, etc., which, though different are know n by people in the world by the knowledge of the unity of the substance (gold, etc.); similarly “Is there one cause of all the varieties in the world, which cause being known, all will be well-known?” It may be said that when the existence of the thing is not known, the question “what is that, etc.,” is not appropriate and the question in the form “is there, etc.,” would then he appropriate; if the existence is established, the question may well be “what is that, etc.,” as in the expression, “With whom shall it be deposited.” The objection is unsound; the question in this form is appropriate from fear of troubling by verbosity.

Sloka : 1.1.4

तस्मै स होवाच । द्वे विद्ये वेदितव्ये इति ह स्म

यद्ब्रह्मविदो वदन्ति परा चैवापरा च ॥ ४॥

tasmai sa hovāca | dvevidye veditavye iti ha sma

yadbrahmavido vadanti parā caivāparā ca || 4 ||

To him he said “There are two sorts of knowledge to he acquired. So those who know the Brahman say; namely, Para and Apara, i.e., the higher and the lower.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Angiras said to Saunaka. What did he say? (He said) that there were two sorts of knowledge to he known. So indeed, do those who know the import of the Vedas and who see the absolute truth, say what these two sorts are; he says:- Para is the knowledge of the Paramatman and Apara is that which deals with the means and the results of good and bad actions. It may be asked how, having to say what it was that Saunaka asked about in the question—“What being known one becomes omniscient,’ Angiras stated what he was not asked about, by the passage “there are two sorts of knowledge, etc.” This is no fault; for the reply requires this order of statement. Apara vidya is ignorance and that ought to be dispelled. When what is known is Apara vidya, i.e., the subject of ignorance, nothing can be known as it is. The rule is that after thus refuting the faulty theory, the true conclusion should be stated.

Sloka : 1.1.5

तत्रापरा, ऋग्वेदो यजुर्वेदः सामवेदोऽथर्ववेदः

शिक्षा कल्पो व्याकरणं निरुक्तं छन्दो ज्योतिषमिति ।

अथ परा यया तदक्षरमधिगम्यते ॥ ५॥

tatrāparā ṛgvedo yajurvedaḥ sāmavedo'tharvavedaḥ

śikṣā kalpo vyākaraṇaṃ niruktaṃ chando jyotiṣamiti |

atha parā yayā tadakṣaramadhigamyate || 5 ||

Of these, the Apara is the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda, and the Atharva Veda, the siksha, the code of rituals, grammar, nirukta, chhandas and astrology. Then the para is that by which the immortal is known.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Of these, what Apara vidya is, is explained. Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and the Atharva Veda, these four Vedas, the siksha, the code of rituals, grammar, nirukta, chhandas and astrology, these six angas (of Vedas), all this is knowledge called Apara; now, knowledge called Para is explained. It is that by which the “immortal” as hereafter described is reached; for, the root gam, with adhi before it, generally means reach. Nor is the attainment of the highest, different from the sense of knowledge. The attainment of the highest is merely the removal of ignorance. They mean the same thing. It may he asked how that Vidya could be called para and a help to emancipation, if such Vidya be excluded by the Rig Veda, etc; for, the Smriti says “Those Smritis which are excluded by the Vedas, etc.” It will become unacceptable, because it sees wrongly and leads to no good results; and again the Upanishads will become excluded by the Rig Veda, etc., but if they are included in the Rig Veda, etc., a separate classification is useless. How then can it be called para? The objection has no force; for by the term “Vidya” is here meant the knowledge of a subject; by the term “Para vidya” is meant primarily in this context, that knowledge of the immortal which could be known through the Upanishads and not the mere assemblage of words in them; but by the term vidya is always understood the assemblage of words forming it. As the immortal cannot be realised by a mere mastery of the assemblage of words without other efforts, such as the approaching a preceptor and spurning all desires, etc., the separate classification of the knowledge of Brahman and its designation as Para vidya are proper.

Sloka : 1.1.6

यत्तदद्रेश्यमग्राह्यमगोत्रमवर्णमचक्षुःश्रोत्रं तदपाणिपादम् ।

नित्यं विभुं सर्वगतं सुसूक्ष्मं तदव्ययं यद्भूतयोनिं परिपश्यन्ति धीराः ॥ ६॥

yattadadreśyamagrāhyamagotramavarṇamacakṣuḥśrotraṃ tadapāṇipādam |

nityaṃ vibhuṃ sarvagataṃ susūkṣmaṃ tadavyayaṃ yadbhūtayoniṃ paripaśyanti dhīrāḥ || 6 ||

That which cannot be perceived, which cannot be seized, which has no origin, which has no properties, which has neither ear nor eye, which lias neither hands nor feet, which is eternal, diversely manifested, all-pervading, extremely subtle, and undecaying, which the intelligent cognized as the source of the Bhutas.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As in the matter of an injunction (vidhi) there is something to be clone, as of the nature of Agnihotra, etc., subsequent to the realization of its import, with the aid of many requisites (karaka.), such as the doer, etc., there is nothing here to be done in the matter of the knowledge of the Brahman. It is accomplished simultaneously with the realization of the import of the text; for, there is nothing here except being centred in the knowledge revealed by mere words. Therefore, the Para vidya is here explained with reference to Brahman, as described in the text “that which cannot be perceived, etc.”; what is to be explained is realized in the mind and referred to, as what is already known by the expression “that which”; Adresyam means ‘that cannot be perceived’, invisible, i.e., beyond the reach of all the intellectual senses; for, vision externally directed is the medium for the working of the five senses. Agrahyam means ‘that cannot be seized,’ i.e., not an object for the organs of action. Gôtram means ‘line or source’; therefore Agotram means ‘unconnected with anything,’ for it has no source with which it can be connected. Varnah means “those which are described, i.e., properties of objects such as bigness, etc., whiteness, etc.; avarnam, ‘that which has no properties’; the eye and the ear are organs found in all animals perceiving name and form. It is said to be achakshu srotram, becaus it has not these organs. From the attribute of intelligence, as inferred from the text “who knows all and everything of each”, it may be thought that it accomplishes its purpose, like people in samsara, with the aid of organs such as the eye, the ear, etc. This supposition is here avoided by the expression “having neither eye nor ear”; for the texts “he sees without eyes” and “hears without ears”, etc., are found; moreover, it has neither hands nor feet, i.e., has no organs of action; thus as it is neither grasped nor grasps, it is nitya, i.e., immortal. Vibhum, because it is diversely manifested in the form of living things from Brahma down to the immovable. Sarvagatam, i.e., all-pervading like the akas. Susukshmam, i.e., extremely subtle, because there is no cause like sound to make it gross; for, it is sound and the rest that are the causes seriatim of the greater and greater grossness of the akas, wind and the rest; as they do not exist here, it is very subtle; again, it is avyayam, i.e., undecaying, because of its being what it was just stated to be; it does not decay, therefore, it is undecaying; for decay consisting in the diminution of limbs, as in the case of a body, is not possible in what has no limbs; nor is ‘decay’ consisting in the diminution of treasure possible as in the case of a king; nor is ‘decay’ in respect of attributes possible, because it has no attributes and is itself all. Yat, answering to this description. Bhutayonim, the source of all created things or elements, as earth is of all that is immovable and movable. Paripasyanti, see everywhere the Atman of all, i.e., the immortal Dhirah, the intelligent, i.e., those possessed of discernment; that knowledge by which this immortal Brahman is known is what is called Para vidya; this is the drift of the whole.

Sloka : 1.1.7

यथोर्णनाभिः सृजते गृह्णते च यथा पृथिव्यामोषधयः संभवन्ति ।

यथा सतः पुरुषात्केशलोमानि तथाऽक्षरात्संभवतीह विश्वम् ॥ ७॥

yathorṇanābhiḥ sṛjate gṛhṇate ca yathā pṛthivyāmoṣadhayaḥ saṃbhavanti |

yathā sataḥ puruṣātkeśalomāni tathā'kṣarātsaṃbhavatīha viśvam || 7 ||

As the spider creates and absorbs, as medicinal plants grow from the earth, as hairs grow from the living person, so this universe proceeds from the immortal.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—It was said the immortal is the source of all created things. How it is the source is explained by well-known analogies; as is well-known in the world, the spider without requiring any other cause itself creates, i. e., sends out threads not distinct from its own body and again absorbs them itself, i. e., draws them into itself or makes them part of itself; as medicinal plants, i. e., from the corn plant to the immovable, not distinct from the earth, proceed from the earth, and as from the living person the hairs proceed different in nature from him; as in these illustrations, so here, i. e., in the circle of samsara, all the universe of the same and different nature proceeds from the akshara above described, without requiring any other cause; the statement of many analogies is to facilitate easy understanding of the meaning; universe which proceeds from the Brahman proceeds in this order and not all at once, like the throwing of a handful of apples.

Sloka : 1.1.8

तपसा चीयते ब्रह्म ततोऽन्नमभिजायते ।

अन्नात्प्राणो मनः सत्यं लोकाः कर्मसु चामृतम् ॥ ८॥

tapasā cīyate brahma tato'nnamabhijāyate |

annātprāṇo manaḥ satyaṃ lokāḥ karmasu cāmṛtam || 8 ||

By tapas Brahman increases in size and from it food is produced; from food the prana, the mind, the Bhûtas the worlds, karma and with it, its fruits.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This mantra is begun for the purpose of stating the fixed order of creation. ‘By tapas,’ by knowledge of how to create the Brahman which is the source of all created things; ‘increases,’ i. e., becomes distended, being desirous to create the world as a seed when sending out the sprout, or as a father desirous of begetting a son dilates with joy; from the Brahman thus extended by its omniscience, i. e., by its knowledge and its power of creation, preservation and destruction of the universe; Annam means ‘that which is eaten or enjoyed’, i.e., the unmanifested (avyakritam) common to all in samsara is produced in the state fit for emancipation; and from “the unmanifested”, i. e., the “Annam” in the state fit for manifestation. Prana, i. e., Hiranyagarhha, the common cosmic entity, endowed with the power of knowledge and activity of the Brahman, the sprouting seed, as it were, of the totality of cosmic ignorance, desire, karma, and creatures and the Atman of the universe. “Is produced”, should be supplied. From that prana that which is called “mind” whose characteristic is volition, deliberation, doubt, determination, etc., is produced; and from that mind whose essence is volition, etc., what is called satyam, i.e., the five elements such as the akas, etc., are produced and from the five elements called satya, the seven worlds, the earth, etc., are produced in the order of the globes; and in them karma, for the living beings, man, etc., according to caste and the order of life, is produced; and with karma as the cause, its fruits. As long as karma is not destroyed, even by hundreds of millions of kalpa, so long is its fruit not destroyed. Hence it is called Amritam.

Sloka : 1.1.9

यः सर्वज्ञः सर्वविद्यस्य ज्ञानमयं तपः ।

तस्मादेतद्ब्रह्म नाम रूपमन्नं च जायाते ॥ ९॥

॥ इति मुण्डकोपनिषदि प्रथममुण्डके प्रथमः खण्डः ॥

yaḥ sarvajñaḥ sarvavidyasya jñānamayaṃ tāpaḥ |

tasmādetadbrahma nāma rūpamannaṃ ca jāyāte || 9 ||

From the Brahman who knows all and everything of all and whose tapas is in the nature of knowledge, this Brahma, name, form and food are produced.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—By way of concluding what was already stated the mantra says as follows:- ‘Yah,’ above described and named akshara; Sarvajna means he who knows all, who knows all things as a class. Sarvavid, i.e., who knows everything in particular; whose tapas is only a modification of knowledge, consists in omniscience and is not in the nature of modification. From him so described, omniscient, this, i.e., manifested Brahman by name Hiranyagarbha, is produced. Again name, such as ‘This is Devadatta and Yajnadatta, etc.’; and form such as this is white, blue, etc., and food such as corn, yava, etc., are produced in the order stated in the last text; thus there is no inconsistency.

Sloka : 1.2.1

॥ प्रथममुण्डके द्वितीयः खण्डः ॥

तदेतत्सत्यं मन्त्रेषु कर्माणि कवयो यान्यपश्यंस्तानि त्रेतायां बहुधा संततानि ।

तान्याचरथ नियतं सत्यकामा एष वः पन्थाः सुकृतस्य लोके ॥ १॥

tadetatsatyaṃ mantreṣu karmāṇi kavayo yānyapaśyaṃstāni tretāyāṃ bahudhā saṃtatāni |

tānyācaratha niyataṃ satyakāmā eṣa vaḥ panthāḥ sukṛtasya loke || 1 ||

The various karma which seers found in the mantras are true and were much practised in the Treta age; practise them always with true wishes. This is your way to the attainment of the fruits of karma.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—By the text the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, etc., all Vedas with their angas (appendages) have been stated to be apara vidya; and para vidya has been specifically stated to be that knowledge by which the akshara described in the text beginning with “That which cannot be perceived, etc,.” and ending with “Name, form and food are produced”, is known. Hereafter, the next text is begun to distinguish between the bondage of samsara and emancipation, the subjects of these two sorts of knowledge respectively. Of these, the subject of apara viyda is samsara which consists in the variety of action, its means such as doer, etc., and its results, is without beginning or end, and being misery in its nature, should be discarded by every embodied being; and in its entirety it is of an unbroken connection like the stream of a river. The subject of para vidya is emancipation which consists in the cessation of samsara, which is beginningless, endless, undecaying, immortal, deathless, fearless, pure and clear and is nothing but being centred in self and transcendant bliss without a second; first it is attempted to elucidate the subject of apara vidya; for, it is only when it is seen that it is possible to get disgusted with it; accordingly it will be said later on “Having examined the world attained by karma”; and as there can be no examination of what is not presented to the view, the text shows what it is. ‘Satyam.’ True.” What is that? Mantreshu, in the Vedas known as Rig, Yajur, etc. ‘Karmani’, Agnihotra and the rest disclosed by texts of the Vedas; ‘Kavayah,’ ‘seers like Vasishtha and ‘others’. Apasyan have seen. This is true because they are the unfailing means of accomplishing the objects of man. These enjoined by the Vedas and seen by the Rishis were done in diverse ways by the followers of karma. Tretayam, i.e., wherein there is the combination of the three Vedas of the three inodes of rites performed with the aid of a hota, adhvaryu and udgata, or it may mean that they were generally performed in the Treta age. Therefore, you should do them always; ‘Satyakamah’ ‘wishing for those fruits which they can bear.’ This is your route for the attainment of the fruits of Karma. Sukritasya, performed by you; Loka is what is found, or enjoyed; hence the fruits of Karma are denoted by the word “LoJca.” The meaning is that, to attain them, this is the route. These Karma, Agnihotra and the rest enjoined in the Vedas form the road, i.e., the means for the attainment of the necessary fruits.

Sloka : 1.2.2

यदा लेलायते ह्यर्चिः समिद्धे हव्यवाहने ।

तदाऽऽज्यभागावन्तरेणाऽऽहुतीः प्रतिपादयेत् ॥ २॥

yadā lelāyate hyarciḥ samiddhe havyavāhane |

tadājyabhāgāvantareṇāhutīḥ pratipādayet || 2 ||

When the flame of the fire burning high is moving, then one should perform the oblations in the space between the portions, where the ghee should be poured on either side.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Of the various kinds of karma, agnihotra is first explained to show what it is, because it is the first of all karma. How is that to be performed? When the flame moves, the five being well fed by fuel, then in the flame so moving between the portions where quantities of ghee are poured on either side, i.e., in the place called avapasthana one should throw the oblations intending them for the devata. As the same has to be done during many days the plural oblations is used. This karma marga which consists in properly offering the oblations, etc., is the road to the attainment of good worlds but it is not easy to do that properly and the impediments are many.

Sloka : 1.2.3

यस्याग्निहोत्रमदर्शमपौर्णमासमचातुर्मास्यमनाग्रयणमतिथिवर्जितं च ।

अहुतमवैश्वदेवमविधिना हुतमासप्तमांस्तस्य लोकान्हिनस्ति ॥ ३॥

yasyāgnihotramadarśamapaurṇamāsamacāturmāsyamanāgrayaṇamatithivarjitaṃ ca |

ahutamavaiśvadevamavidhinā hutamāsaptamāṃstasya lokānhinasti || 3 ||

He whose agnihotra is without Darsa, without Paurnamasa, without Chaturmasya, without agrayana, without atithi (guests) and without oblation is without vaisvadeva, or irregularly performed, destroys his worlds till the seventh.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How is that so? ‘Without Darsa’, without ritual named Darsa; for, one who performs agnihotra should necessarily perform Darsa; though connected with agnihotra (as a part of it) it becomes as it were an attribute of agnihotra. The drift is Agnihotra, without Darsa performed. The expressions “without paurnamasa, etc., as attributes of agnihotra should be similarly noted; for, all are equally the angas (parts) of agnihotra. ‘Without Paurnamasa,’ devoid of the Paurnamasa ritual. ‘Without Chaturmasya,’ devoid of the Chaturmasya ritual. ‘Without agrayana’, devoid of the agrayana ritual which is to he performed in autumn, etc.; similarly ‘without atithi’, devoid of the daily propitiation of guests; ‘ahutam’, oblation not offered well by himself at the time for agnihotra. “Without vaisvadeva”, like “without Darsa”, means devoid of the vaisvadeva ritual. Is ‘irregularly performed,’ oblation though offered, not offered in the proper manner. What such karma, as agnihotra ill-performed or not performed at all, leads to, is stated immediately after. ‘Till the seventh’, inclusive of the seventh. ‘His,’ of the doer. ‘Destroys the seven worlds of the doer’, seems to destroy; because only the trouble taken is the fruit; for, it is only when karma is properly performed, the seven worlds beginning with Bhu and ending with satya are obtained as result, according to the fruition of the karma. These worlds are not obtainable by agnihotra and other karma, performed as just above stated and they are therefore said to be as it were destroyed; but the mere trouble is ever present; or, it may be construed to mean that the three ancestors (the father, the grand-father and the great-grand-father) and the three descendants (the son, the grandson and the great-grandson) connected by the offer of oblations do not confer any benefit on his soul by virtue of the agnihotra and the rest, performed as above stated.

Sloka : 1.2.4

काली कराली च मनोजवा च सुलोहिता या च सुधूम्रवर्णा ।

स्फुलिङ्गिनी विश्वरुची च देवी लेलायमाना इति सप्त जिह्वाः ॥ ४॥

kālī karālī ca manojavā ca sulohitā yā ca sudhūmravarṇā |

sphuliṅginī viśvarucī ca devī lelāyamānā iti sapta jihvāḥ || 4 ||

Kali, karali, also manojava, sulothia, sudhumravarna, sphulingini, and visvaruchi are the seven moving tongues of fire.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The seven tongues of the (flaming) fire, from kali down to visvaruchi, are intended to swallow the oblations thrown on it.

Sloka : 1.2.5

एतेषु यश्चरते भ्राजमानेषु यथाकालं चाहुतयो ह्याददायन् ।

तं नयन्त्येताः सूर्यस्य रश्मयो यत्र देवानां पतिरेकोऽधिवासः ॥ ५॥

eteṣu yaścarate bhrājamāneṣu yathākālaṃ cāhutayohyādadāyan |

tannayantyetāḥ sūryasya raśmayo yatra devānāṃ patireko'dhivāsaḥ || 5 ||

Him who performed karma (agnihotra) in the bright flames at the proper time, these oblations, performed by him, conduct through the rays of the sun where the Lord of the Devas is sole sovereign.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The agnihotri who performs the karma, agnihotra and the rest, in these different bright tongues of the fire, at the time fixed for the performance of the karma, these oblations (performed by him) becoming so many rays of the sun conduct him to Heaven, where Indra, Lord of the Devas, singly rules over all. ‘Adadayan,’ taking (the sacrificer).

Sloka : 1.2.6

एह्येहीति तमाहुतयः सुवर्चसः सूर्यस्य रश्मिभिर्यजमानं वहन्ति ।

प्रियां वाचमभिवदन्त्योऽर्चयन्त्य एष वः पुण्यः सुकृतो ब्रह्मलोकः ॥ ६॥

ehyehīti tamāhutayaḥ suvarcasaḥ sūryasya raśmibhiryajamānaṃ vahanti |

priyāṃ vācamabhivadantyo'rcayantya eṣa vaḥ puṇyaḥ sukṛto brahmalokaḥ || 6 ||

These oblations shining bright carry the sacrificer through the rays of the sun bidding him welcome, propitiating him and greeting him with pleasing words. This is the well-laid path of virtue leading to Brahmaloka.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How these carry the sacrificer through the sun’s rays is now explained; calling “come, come,” these bright oblations greeting him with pleasant words, i.e., with words of praise, etc., and propitiating him, i.e., addressing him with such pleasing words, as “this is your virtuous and well-laid road to Brahmaloka, the fruits of your deeds.” The word Brahmaloka by the force of the context means “Svarga or Heaven.”

Sloka : 1.2.7

प्लवा ह्येते अदृढा यज्ञरूपा अष्टादशोक्तमवरं येषु कर्म ।

एतच्छ्रेयो येऽभिनन्दन्ति मूढा जरामृत्युं ते पुनरेवापि यन्ति ॥ ७॥

plavā hyete adṛḍhā yajñarūpā aṣṭādaśoktamavaraṃ yeṣu karma |

etacchreyo ye'bhinaṃdanti mūḍhā jarāmṛtyuṃ te punarevāpi yanti || 7 ||

The eighteen persons necessary for the performance of sacrifice are transitory and not permanent and karma in its nature inferior, has been stated as resting upon these. Those ignorant persons who delight in this, as leading to bliss, again fall into decay and death.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This karma, devoid of knowledge, bears but this much fruit and being accomplished by ignorance, desire and action, is sapless and is the source of misery. Therefore it is condemned. “Plava” means ‘ephemeral’ because these are adridha, i.e., not permanent. Yajnarupa, the forms of sacrifice, i.e., necessary for the performance of the sacrifice. Eighteen in number, consisting of the sixteen Ritviks, the sacrificer and his wife. Karma stated in the sastras depends on these. Avaramkarma, i.e., mere karma devoid of knowledge; and as the performance of karma which is inferior depends on these eighteen who are not permanent. The karma done by them and its fruit are ephemeral, as, when the pot is destroyed, the destruction of milk, curd, etc., in it, follows. This being so, those ignorant persons who delight in this karma as the means of bliss, fall again into decay and death, after staying some time in Heaven.

Sloka : 1.2.8

अविद्यायामन्तरे वर्तमानाः स्वयं धीराः पण्डितं मन्यमानाः ।

जङ्घन्यमानाः परियन्ति मूढा अन्धेनैव नीयमाना यथान्धाः ॥ ८॥

avidyāyāmantare vartamānāḥ svayaṁ dhīrāḥ paṇḍitaṃ manyamānāḥ |

jaṅghanyamānāḥ pariyanti mūḍhā andhenaiva nīyamānā yathāndhāḥ || 8 ||

Being in the midst of ignorance and thinking in their own minds that they are intelligent and learned, the ignorant wander, afflicted with troubles, like the blind led by the blind.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Moreover, being in the midst of ignorance, i.e., being utterly ignorant and thinking in their own minds “we alone are intelligent and have known all that should be known.” Thus flattering themselves, the ignorant wander much afflicted by old age, sickness and a lot of their troubles, being devoid of vision as the blind in this world, going the way pointed out by persons, themselves blind, fall into ditch and brambles.

Sloka : 1.2.9

अविद्यायां बहुधा वर्तमानाः वयं कृतार्था इत्यभिमन्यन्ति बालाः ।

यत्कर्मिणो न प्रवेदयन्ति रागात्तेनातुराः क्षीणलोकाश्च्यवन्ते ॥ ९॥

avidyāyaṃ bahudhā vartamānā vayaṃ kṛtārthā ityabhimanyanti bālāḥ |

yatkarmiṇo na pravedayanti rāgāttenāturāḥ kṣīṇalokāścyavante || 9 ||

The ignorant following the diverse ways of ignorance, flatter themselves that their objects have been accomplished. As these followers of karma do not learn the truth owing to their desire, they grow miserable and after the fruits of their karma are consumed, fall from Heaven.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The ignorant acting diversely according to ignorance, flatter themselves that they have achieved what they should. This being so, the followers of karma do not learn the truth as they are assailed with the desire for the fruits of karma; they grow miserable for that reason and fall from heaven after the fruits of their karma are consumed.

Sloka : 1.2.10

इष्टापूर्तं मन्यमाना वरिष्ठं नान्यच्छ्रेयो वेदयन्ते प्रमूढाः ।

नाकस्य पृष्ठे ते सुकृतेऽनुभूत्वेमं लोकं हीनतरं वा विशन्ति ॥ १०॥

iṣṭāpūrtaṁ manyamānā variṣṭhaṃ nānyacchreyo vedayante pramūḍhāḥ |

nākasya pṛṣṭhe te sukṛte'nubhūtvemaṃ lokaṃ hīnataraṃ vā viśanti || 10 ||

These ignorant men regarding sacrificial and charitable acts as most important, do not know any other help to bliss; having enjoyed in the heights of Heaven the abode of pleasures, they enter again into this or even inferior world.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—“Ishtam” karma enjoined by the Srutis as sacrifices, etc. “Purtam” karma enjoined by Smritis such as the digging of pools, wells, tanks, etc. Regarding these alone as the most important aids to the attainment of human objects, these ignorant men, being infatuated with attachment to their sons, cattle and relatives, do not know the other called ‘knowledge of self’ which is the help to bliss. Having enjoyed in the top of heaven—the place of pleasures—the fruits of their karma, they enter again into this world of men or even inferior world, such as the world of horizontal beings, hell, etc., according to the residue of their karma.

Sloka : 1.2.11

तपःश्रद्धे ये ह्युपवसन्त्यरण्ये शान्ता विद्वांसो भैक्ष्यचर्यां चरन्तः ।

सूर्यद्वारेण ते विरजाः प्रयान्ति यत्रामृतः स पुरुषो ह्यव्ययात्मा ॥ ११॥

tapaḥśraddhe ye hyupavasantyaraṇye śāntā vidvāṃso bhaikṣyacaryāṃ carantaḥ |

sūryadvāreṇa te virajāḥ prayānti yatrāmṛtaḥ sa puruṣo hyavyayātmā || 11 ||

But they who perform tapas and sraddha in the forest, having a control over their senses, learned and living the life of a mendicant, go through the orb of the sun, their good and bad deeds consumed, to where the immortal and undecaying purusha is.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—But those who possess the knowledge contrary to that of persons previously mentioned, i.e., the hermits of the forest and the Sanyasins. ‘Tapah,’ the karma enjoined on one’s order of life. ‘Sraddha,’ the worship of the Hiranyagarbha and other deities. ‘Upavasanti,’ follow:- ‘Aranye,’ living in the forest. ‘Santah,’ having control over the group of senses. ‘Learned’ includes also house-holders who possess chiefly knowledge, living by begging; because, they have nothing to call their own. ‘Living on alms’ is connected with ‘living in the forest.’ ‘Through the orb of the sun,’ through the northern route indicated by the sun. ‘Virajah,’ their good and bad deeds being consumed. ‘Prayanti,’ go with excellence. ‘Where,’ to Satyaloka where the immortal Purusha, the first born, undecaying Hiranyagarbha is. ‘Undecaying,’ because he lives to the end of samsara. With this, end the movements within the pale of samsara attainable, through apara vidya. If it be said that some regard this as emancipation, we say it is not so, because of the Srutis, ‘All his desires are even here absorbed’ and ‘those intelligent persons whose mind is concentrated reach the all-pervading, on all sides and enter into everything, etc.,’ and because of the mention of emancipation being irrelevant in this context; for, in the course of treating of the apara vidya, there is no pertinency of emancipation being brought in. The consumption of karma spoken of is only relative; all the result of the apara vidya being in the nature of ends and means and diversified by the difference of acts, requisites and fruits and partaking of duality is only this much, which ends with reaching Hiranyagarbha. Accordingly also it has been said by Manu speaking of the various stages within samsara from the immovable upwards:- ‘The wise consider this a high and pure stage to attain the world of Brahma, the Prajapatis (creators), virtue, mahat and avyakta.

Sloka : 1.2.12

परीक्ष्य लोकान्कर्मचितान्ब्राह्मणो निर्वेदमायान्नास्त्यकृतः कृतेन ।

तद्विज्ञानार्थं स गुरुमेवाभिगच्छेत् समित्पाणिः श्रोत्रियं ब्रह्मनिष्ठम् ॥ १२॥

parīkṣya lokānkarmacitānbrāhmaṇo nirvedamāyānnāstyakṛtaḥ kṛtena |

tadvijñānārthaṃ sa gurumevābhigacchetsamitpāṇiḥ śrotriyaṃ brahmaniṣṭham || 12 ||

Let a Brahmin having examined the worlds produced by karma be free from desires, thinking, ‘there is nothing eternal produced by karma?; and in order to acquire the knowledge of the eternal, let him Samid (sacrificial fuel) in hand, approach a perceptor (preceptor?) alone, who is versed in the Vedas and centered in the Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Now, this is said for the purpose of showing that only the person thoroughly disgusted with all samsara which is in the nature of ends and means, is entitled to acquire the para vidya. ‘Parikshya,’ well knowing that the subject of apara vidya consisting of the Rig, and other Vedas, performable by a person tainted with the defects of natural ignorance, desires and karma has been intended for a person possessed of such defects and after examining those worlds which are the fruits of such karma performed, attainable by the northern and southern routes and these others such as Hell, the world of beasts and the world of departed spirits, which are the result of the vices of not performing the prescribed karma and performing the forbidden karma; after having examined these worlds with the aid of experience, inference, analogies and agamas, i.e.. determined the true nature of all these worlds attainable by one, within the pale of samsara, beginning from the avyakta down to the immovable, manifested and unmanifested in their nature, productive of each other like the seed and its sprout, agitated by a hundred thousand troubles, fragile like the womb of the plantain, similar in kind to illusion, the waters of the mirage, the shape of cities formed by the clouds in the sky, dreams, water-bubbles and foam and destroyed every moment and discarding all these as being produced by good and bad deeds and acquired by karma induced by the faults of ignorance and desire. The word ‘Brahmana’ is here used because the Brahmin is specially competent to acquire the knowledge of Brahman through wholesale renunciation. What he should do after examining these worlds is explained. ‘Nirvedam,’ the root vid with the prefix nih is here used in the sense of freedom from desires. The meaning is that he will get disgusted. The mode of disgust is thus shown:- ‘Here,’ in samsara there is nothing which is not made; for, all worlds produced by karma are transitory. The meaning is:- there is nothing eternal; for all karma is help to what is merely transitory. All that is produced by karma is one of four kinds, that which is produced, that which is reached, that which is refined and that which is modified; beyond this nothing can be done by karma. Hut I am a seeker after that consummation which is eternal, immortal, fearless, changeless, immovable and constant; but not after one of a contrary nature; of what use therefore is karma which is full of trouble and which leads to misery? Thus disgusted, the Brahmin should, for knowing that abode which is fearless, full of bliss, not made, and eternal, only approach a preceptor, possessing attributes such as control of mind, control of the external senses and mercy, etc., (the force of the word ‘alone’ is to show that even one versed in the recital of the sastras should not independently by himself seek the knowledge of the Brahman) with a load of Samid in his hand. ‘Srotriyam,’ versed in the recital of the Vedas and the knowledge of its import. ‘Brahmanishtham’; like japanishtha and taponishtha, this word means ‘one who is centred in the Brahman devoid of attributes and without a second, after renouncing all karma; for, one performing karma cannot be centred in the Brahman on account of the antagonism between karma and the knowledge of the Atman. Having duly approached the guru, let the Brahmin propitiate him and question him about the true and immortal Pursha.

Sloka : 1.2.13

तस्मै स विद्वानुपसन्नाय सम्यक् प्रशान्तचित्ताय शमान्विताय ।

येनाक्षरं पुरुषं वेद सत्यं प्रोवाच तां तत्त्वतो ब्रह्मविद्याम् ॥ १३॥

॥ इति मुण्डकोपनिषदि प्रथममुण्डके द्वितीयः खण्डः ॥

tasmai sa vidvānupasannāya samyakpraśāntacittāya śamānvitāya |

yenākṣaraṃ puruṣaṃ veda satyaṃ provāca tāṃ tattvato brahmavidyām || 13 ||

To him who has thus approached, whose heart is well subdued and who has control over his senses, let him truly teach that Brahmavidya by which the true immortal purusha is known.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—‘He,’ the learned preceptor who knows the Brahman; ‘Upasannaya ' who has approached him. ‘Samyak, i.e., well, according to the sastras; ‘Prasanta chittâya,’ i.e., whose heart is subdued, who is free from such faults as pride, etc. ‘Samanvitaya,’ who has control also over the external senses, i.e., who has turned away from everything in the world. ‘By which knowledge,’ by the para vidya, ‘Aksharam’ that which has been described as imperceivable, etc., and denoted by the word Parasha, because it is all pervading; or, because it is seated in the city of the body. ‘Satyam,’ the same, because it is truth in its nature. ‘Akshara,’ because it knows no decay, because it is scathless, and because it knows no destruction. ‘Veda’ means ‘know.’ The meaning is ‘let him teach that knowledge of the Brahman, as it should be taught. This is the duty of also the preceptor, that he should make the good pupil duly approaching him, cross the sea of ignorance.

Sloka : 2.1.1

॥ द्वितीय मुण्डके प्रथमः खण्डः ॥

तदेतत्सत्यं यथा सुदीप्तात् पावकाद्विस्फुलिङ्गाः सहस्रशः प्रभवन्ते सरूपाः ।

तथाऽक्षराद्विविधाः सोम्य भावाः प्रजायन्ते तत्र चैवापि यन्ति ॥ १॥

tadetatsatyaṃ yathā sudīptātpāvakādvisphuliṅgāḥ sahasraśaḥ prabhavante sarūpāḥ |

tathākṣarādvividhāḥ somya bhāvāḥ prajāyante tatra caivāpi yanti || 1 ||

This is true; as from the flaming fire issue forth, by thousands, sparks of the same form, so from the immortal proceed, good youth, diverse jivas and they find their way back into it.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Everything made, as the result of apara vidya has already been stated. That entity known as Purusha from which samsara derives its strength, from which, as its immortal source, it proceeds and into which it is again absorbed is true; the subsequent portion of the book is begun for the purpose of explaining him, who being known, all will become known and who is the subject of ‘Brahinavidya.’ The satyam or truth which is the subject of the apara vidya and which is in the nature of the fruits of karma is only relatively true; but this which is the subject of para vidya is absolutely true, being defined as absolute existence. This satyam is real, being the subject of knowledge; the other mtyam is false, being the subject of ignorance. How could men directly cognize the immortal and real Purusha, seeing that it is altogether beyond the reach of direct perception. To this end, the Sruti gives an example:- ‘As from the fire well-fed sparks, i.e., particles of fire issue forth by thousands like fire in their form; so, from the immortal abode described, diverse jivas, diverse because of the difference of conditions, i.e., in their various bodies, come into existence. Just as from akas, the spaces enclosed as it were within the limits of a pot, etc.’ As these spaces undergo varieties corresponding to the varieties of their conditions such as pot, etc., so also the jivas according to the varieties of their bodies created by names and forms. Th e jivas are absorbed into the immortal purusha when the bodies conditioning them cease to exist, as the various cavities cease to exist, when the pot, etc., cease to exist. As the origin and destruction of the various cavities in the akas are due to its being enclosed in a pot, etc., so also the cause and the absorption of the jiva are due to the akshara, being conditioned by bodies bearing names and forms.

Sloka : 2.1.2

दिव्यो ह्यमूर्तः पुरुषः सबाह्याभ्यन्तरो ह्यजः ।

अप्राणो ह्यमनाः शुभ्रो ह्यक्षरात्परतः परः ॥ २॥

divyo hyamūrtaḥ puruṣaḥ sa bāhyābhyantaro hyajaḥ |

aprāṇo hyamanāḥ śubhro hyakṣarātparataḥ paraḥ || 2 ||

He is bright, formless, all-pervading, existing without and within, unborn, without prana, without mind, pure and beyond the avyakrita, which is beyond all.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—With a view to describe the nature of that akshara, i.e., which is beyond what is known as avyakrita (the unmanifested), the seed of all name and form and transcending its own modifications which is devoid of all varieties of conditions and bereft of all forms like the akas and which is capable of being only negatively defined, the text says thus. ‘Divyah,’ bright, being self-resplendent, or born of itself or distinct from all that is wordly. ‘Hi’, because; ‘amurtah,’ having no form of any kind. ‘Parusha,’ all-pervading or seated in the city of the body. ‘Sabahyabhyantarah’ means ‘existing both without and within.’ ‘Unborn’ is ‘not born of anything,’ i.e., neither from itself nor from any other, there being no other, from which it could be born. As wind, etc., in the case of water bubbles, and as the pot, etc., in the case of the different cavities of akas, so modifications of things, have birth for their source, and all these modifications are denied when birth is denied. The drift is that he is both without and within, unborn and therefore undecaying, immortal, changeless, constant and fearless. Though he appears to be in the various bodies with prana, with mind, with senses and with their objects owing to the ignorance of those who perceive difference of conditions, such as bodies, etc., as they see in the akas the colour etc., of the surface; but still to those who see the reality, he is without prana, etc.; he is without prana, i.e., in whom the mind, which has various active powers and whose characteristic is motion, does not exist. He is without mind because in him the mind with its various powers of knowledge and with its characteristics of voltion, etc., does not exist. It should he understood that of him are denied the varieties of winds such as prana, the active sensory organs, their objects and accordingly intelligence, mind, the organs of knowledge and their objects. Accordingly, another Sruti says ‘It seems to think and move.’ He is suhhra or pure, because both these conditions are thus denied of him. The Akshara which is beyond all, the Avyakrita whose nature is indicated as the seed condition of all name and form, as it is known to be the seed of all effects and causes; ‘param’ because the akshara known as avyakrita is in its condition above all its modifications. The Purusha is beyond even this unmanifested akshara, i.e., not subject to any conditions. In whom is the akshara known as akas with all the objects of duality strung together as warp and woof. How then could it be said to be without prana, etc? It prana, etc., existed as such in their own forms before their creation like the purusha. then the purusha can be said to be with prana because of their then existence; but they, the prana, etc., do not, like the purusha, exist in their own forms, before their creation. So the highest purusha is without prana, etc.

Sloka : 2.1.3

एतस्माज्जायते प्राणो मनः सर्वेन्द्रियाणि च ।

खं वायुर्ज्योतिरापः पृथिवी विश्वस्य धारिणी ॥ ३॥

etasmājjāyate praṇo manaḥ sarvendriyāṇi ca |

khaṃ vāyurjyotirāpaḥ pṛthivī viśvasya dhāriṇī || 3 ||

From him are born the prana, the mind, all the sensory organs, the akas, the wind, the fire, water and the earth which supports all.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As Devadatta is said to be ‘aputra’ when a ‘putra’ is not born to him, so it is explained how it is said in this connection that in the case of the purusha the prana, etc., do not exist; because from this purusha alone viewed as conditioned by the seed of name and form is born the prana, the modification of the object of ignorance, a mere name and in its nature a non-entity; for, another Sruti says ‘The name is mere speech, a modification and a falsehood’; by prana, which is an object of ignorance and a falsehood, the highest cannot be said to be possessed of it (prana), as a sonless man cannot be said to have a son, by a son seen in dreams; similarly the mind, all the sensory organs and their objects are born of this. Therefore, that he is really without prana, etc., is established. It should be known that just as these prana, etc., did not really exist before the creation, so, even after absorption as the organs, the mind and the senses, so the bhutas which are the causes of the bodies and objects. ‘Kham,’ the aka s, the air internal and external, o various kinds such as avaha, etc.; ‘Jotihi’, fire. ‘Apah’, water. ‘Prithivi,’ earth. ‘Visvasya,’ o all. All these whose attributes are sound, touch, form, taste and smell and which are respectively formed by the combination of the latter with the previous attributes are born of him. Having briefly stated the immortal, unconditioned, eternal Purusha, the object of para vidya, by the text ‘Bright, formless, etc.,’ the Sruti next proceeded to explain his nature in detail and at length. It is only when a thing is explained briefly and at length it becomes capable of being easily understood as if explained by Sutras and by their commentaries.

Sloka : 2.1.4

अग्नीर्मूर्धा चक्षुषी चन्द्रसूर्यौ दिशः श्रोत्रे वाग् विवृताश्च वेदाः ।

वायुः प्राणो हृदयं विश्वमस्य पद्भ्यां पृथिवी ह्येष सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा ॥ ४॥

agnīrmūrdhā cakṣuṣī candrasūryau diśaḥ śrotre vāgvivṛtāśca vedāḥ |

vāyuḥ praṇo hṛdayaṃ viśvamasya padbhyāṃ pṛthivī hyeṣa sarvabhūtāntarātmā || 4 ||

This is he, the internal atman of all created things whose head is agni, whose eyes are the sun, and the moon, whose ears are the four directions, whose speeches are the emanated Vedas, whose breath is vayu, whose heart is all the universe and from whose feet the earth proceeded.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This text is intended to show that the virat purusha within the globe, who is born of Hiranyagarbha the first born, is born only and a modification, of this purusha, though apparently distanced by an intermediate principle. The text also describes him. ‘Agnihi,’ the devaloka or svarga, from the Sruti ‘This loka verily is Agni, O Gautama.’ ‘Murdha,’ head; whose eyes are the sun and the moon. The word ‘yasya’ (of whom) should be read in every clause. The word ‘asya’ subsequently occurring being converted into ‘yasya’ whose speech are the opened, i.e., celebrated Vedas. ‘Hridayam’ heart. ‘Visvam,’ the whole universe. The whole universe is only a modification of the mind for it is absorbed into the mind during sleep and because it issues from the mind when waking, like sparks of fire and from whose feet the earth was born; this deity, all-pervading, endless, the first embodied existence having for its body the three lokas is the interior atman of all created things; for, it is he who, in all created things, is the seer, the hearer, the thinker, the knower and who is the cause of all. It is next stated that all living beings who come into samsara through the five fires are also born of the same purusha.

Sloka : 2.1.5

तस्मादग्निः समिधो यस्य सूर्यः सोमात्पर्जन्य ओषधयः पृथिव्याम् ।

पुमान् रेतः सिञ्चति योषितायां बह्वीः प्रजाः पुरुषात्सम्प्रसूताः ॥ ५॥

tasmādagniḥ samidho yasya sūryaḥ somātparjanya oṣadhayaḥ pṛthivyām |

pumānretaḥ siñcati yoṣitāyāṃ bahvīḥ prajāḥ puruṣātsaṃprasūtāḥ || 5 ||

From him the Agni (Dyu loka) whose fuel is the sun; from the moon in the Dyu Loka, parjanya (clouds); from the clouds, the medicinal plant that grows on earth; from these, the male (fire) which sheds the semen on woman, thus gradually many living beings such as Brahmins, etc., are born of the Purusha.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—‘From him,’ from the Purusha. ‘Agni,’ the Dyu loka, a kind of abode for man. That Agni is described. ‘Samidhah’ fuel; for which the sun is. as it were, a fuel; for, it is by the sun that the Dyu loka is lighted. From the moon emerging out of the Dyu loka parjanya, the second fire, is produced; and from the parjanya, the medicinal plants proceed, grow on earth:- and from the medicinal plants offered to the purusha fire serving as the material cause the man (fire) sheds semen on the woman (fire). Thus gradually from the purusha are produced many living beings such as Brahmins, etc.; moreover, the helps to karma and their fruits also proceed from the Purusha.

Sloka : 2.1.6

तस्मादृचः साम यजूंषि दीक्षा यज्ञाश्च सर्वे क्रतवो दक्षिणाश्च ।

संवत्सरश्च यजमानश्च लोकाः सोमो यत्र पवते यत्र सूर्यः ॥ ६॥

tasmādṛcaḥ sāma yajūṃṣi dīkṣā yajñāśca sarve kratavo dakṣiṇāśca |

saṃvatsaraśca yajamānaśca lokāḥ somo yatra pavate yatra sūryaḥ || 6 ||

From him the Rig, the Sama, the Yajur, Diksha, sacrifices, all Kratus, Dakshina, the year, the sacrificer and the worlds which the moon sanctifies and the sun illuminates.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How? ‘Tasmat,’ from the Purasha; ‘Richah the mantras whose letters, feet and endings are determined and which are marked by Chhandas (metre) like the gayatri. Sama with its fivefold and sevenfold classification characterized by sthoba and other gita (music). ‘Yajus,’ mantras in the form of sentences, whose letters, feet and endings are determined by no rules. Thus the threefold mantras. ‘Diksha’, restrictions such as the wearing of a mounjee (a kind of cord), etc., imposed upon the performer (of a sacrifice). ‘Yajnas,’ all sacrifices such as Agnihotra, etc. ‘Kratu’ sacrifices which require a yupa (i.e., sacrificial post). ‘Dakshinah,’ rewards distributed in sacrifice from a single cow up to unbounded whole wealth. ‘Year,’ stated time as a necessary adjunct of karma. ‘Yajamano’ the performer, i.e., the sacrificer. The worlds which are the fruits of his karma are next described “which the moon renders sacred and where the sun shines”; these are attainable by the northern and southern routes and are the fruits of the karma performed by the knowing and the ignorant.

Sloka : 2.1.7

तस्माच्च देवा बहुधा सम्प्रसूताः साध्या मनुष्याः पशवो वयांसि ।

प्राणापानौ व्रीहियवौ तपश्च श्रद्धा सत्यं ब्रह्मचर्यं विधिश्च ॥ ७॥

tasmācca devā bahudhā saṃprasūtāḥ sādhyā manuṣyāḥ paśavo vayāṃsi |

prāṇāpānau vrīhiyavau tapaśca śraddha satyaṃ brahmacaryaṃ vidhiśca || 7 ||

From him also the devas are variously born, the sadhyas, the men, the cattle, the bird, the prana and the apana, the corn and yava, tapas, devotion, truth Brahmacharya and injunction.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Tasmat, “from him also, from the purusha. ‘Variously,’ in various groups such as vasus, etc. Samprasutah, well born. Sadhyas, a species of Devas. Men those that are entitled to perforin karma; cattle, both of the village and the forest. Vayamsi, birds. The food of men, etc., The Prana and the Apana; corn and yava, to be used for making havis (oblations). Tapas, both as an indispensable adjunct to karma whose efficacy lies in the purification of the performer and as an independent means of attaining the fruits of karma. Devotion, that state of mind which precedes the mental calm and a belief in a future state necessary to the accomplishment of all human ends. Similarly, truth, i.e., avoiding falsehood and speaking out what has really happened, without harm to others. Brahmacharyam, absence of sexual intercourse. Injunction, the statement of what ought to be done.

Sloka : 2.1.8

सप्त प्राणाः प्रभवन्ति तस्मात्सप्तार्चिषः समिधः सप्त होमाः ।

सप्तेमे लोका येषु चरन्ति प्राणा गुहाशया निहिताः सप्त सप्त ॥ ८॥

sapta prāṇāḥ prabhavanti tasmātsaptārciṣaḥ samidhassaptahomāḥ |

sapta ime lokā yeṣu caranti prāṇā guhāśayā nihitāḥ sapta sapta || 8 ||

From him mare borne the seven pranas, the seven flames, their sevenfold fuel, the sevenfold oblation and these seven lokas where the pranas move, seven and seven in each living being lying in the cave, there fixed.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again the seven pranas, i.e., (organs of sense) in the head are born of this purusha alone. ‘Their seven flames,’ their light which enlightens their objects. Similarly, the sevenfold fuel, their sevenfold objects; for, it is by these objects that the pranas, i.e., organs of sense are fed. ‘The sevenfold oblations’, the perceptions of the sevenfold objects; for, another Sruti says:- “He offers the oblation which consists in the perception of the objects by the senses.” The seven lokas, i.e., the seats of the senses where the pranas move. The clause “where the pranas move” is intended to exclude the vital airs, i.e., prana, apana and the rest. ‘Lying in the cave,’ lying during sleep in the body or the heart. ‘Fixed,’ fixed by the creator. ‘Seven and seven’, in every living thing. The meaning of the context is that all karma performed by knowing men who propitiate their Atman and the fruits of such karma as well as the karma performed by the ignorant and their means and fruits; all these proceed only from the highest and the omniscient purusha.

Sloka : 2.1.9

अतः समुद्रा गिरयश्च सर्वे अस्मात्स्यन्दन्ते सिन्धवः सर्वरूपाः ।

अतश्च सर्वा ओषधयो रसश्च येनैष भूतैस्तिष्ठते ह्यन्तरात्मा ॥ ९॥

ataḥ samudrā girayaśca sarve'smātsyandante sindhavaḥ sarvarūpāḥ |

ataśca sarvā oṣadhayo rasaśca yenaiṣa bhūtaistiṣṭhate hyantarātmā || 9 ||

From him proceed the oceans and all the mountains and the diverse rivers; from him also, all the medicinal plants and taste, by which encircled by the Bhutas, i.e., gross elements, the intermediate Atman, i.e., subtle body is seated.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—‘From him,’ from the purusha. ‘The oceans’, all, the salt ocean, etc. ‘Mountains’, the Himalayas and the rest are all from this purusha. ‘Syandante,’ flow. ‘Rivers’, such as the Granges. ‘Sarvarupah,’ of many forms. From this purusha, also proceed, the medicinal plants, such as corn, yava paddy, etc. ‘Taste,’ sixfold such as sweetness, etc. ‘By which’, by which taste. ‘Bhutaih,’ by the five gross bhutas. ‘Pariveshtitah’, encircled. ‘Tishthate’, is seated. ‘The internal Atman’, the subtle body, so called, because it is the Atman, as it were, intermediate between the gross body and the soul proper.

Sloka : 2.1.10

पुरुष एवेदं विश्वं कर्म तपो ब्रह्म परामृतम् ।

एतद्यो वेद निहितं गुहायां सोऽविद्याग्रन्थिं विकिरतीह सोम्य ॥ १०॥

॥ इति मुण्डकोपनिषदि द्वितीयमुण्डके प्रथमः खण्डः ॥

puruṣa evedaṃ viśvaṃ karma tapo brahma parāmṛtam |

etadyo veda nihitaṃ guhāyāṃ so'vidyāgranthiṃ vikiratīha somya || 10 ||

The purusha alone is all this universe—Karma and Tapas. All this is Brahman, the highest and the immortal who knows this as seated in the cavity of the heart, unties the knot of ignorance even here, Oh good looking youth!

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Thus, out of purusha, all this is born; therefore, as the Sruti says “The name is mere speech, a modification and a falsehood and the purusha alone is true.” Therefore all this is only purusha. The universe has no separate existence apart from purusha. Hence to the question propounded “O Bhagavan, by knowing whom, all this becomes known,” the answer has been given, i.e., when this purusha, the supreme Atman, the first cause is known, it becomes clear that all this universe is purusha and nothing else exists except him. What then is this “all,” it is thus explained. Karma is of the nature of Agnihotra and the rest. Tapas, knowledge and the fruit due to it. By ‘all’ this much is meant. And all this is evolved out of Brahman. Therefore everything is Brahman. He who knows that lie himself is this Brahman the highest and the immortal placed in the hearts of all living beings, destroys the dense tendencies of ignorance. Iha, even while living and not merely after death. Soumya, good looking.

Sloka : 2.2.1

॥ द्वितीय मुण्डके द्वितीयः खण्डः ॥

आविः संनिहितं गुहाचरं नाम महत्पदमत्रैतत्समर्पितम् ।

एजत्प्राणन्निमिषच्च यदेतज्जानथ सदसद्वरेण्यं परं विज्ञानाद्यद्वरिष्ठं प्रजानाम् ॥ १॥

āviḥ saṃnihitaṃ guhācarannāma mahatpadamatraitatsamarpitam |

ejatprāṇannimiṣacca yadetajjānatha sadasadvareṇyaṃ paraṃ vijñānādyadvariṣṭhaṃ prajānām || 1 ||

Bright, well-fixed, moving in the heart, great and the support of all; in him is all this universe centred, what moves, breathes and winks. Know this which is all that has form and all that is formless, which is to be sought after by all, which is beyond the reach of man’s knowledge, and the highest of all.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—It is now explained how the akshara which is formless, could be known. Avihi, bright, shining as the percipient of sound, etc., according to the Sruti, “It shines through its conditions of speech, etc.” It is seen in the heart of all living beings appearing there with the attributes of seeing, hearing, thinking, knowing, etc. This Brahman shining is Sannihita, i.e., well seated in the heart. It is celebrated as guhacha- ran because it moves in the cavity in modes of seeing, hearing, etc. ‘Great’, because it is greater than all. Padam, reached by all, because it is the seat of all objects. How is it said to be great, etc? Because in the Brahman all this universe is centred as the various spokes are in the wheel-ring of the chariot. Ejat, moving, i.e., birds, etc; pranet, breathes, i.e., men, cattle, etc., having prana, a puna, etc; and ‘winks’, all that winks and all that winks not, from the force of the particle cha; this in which all is centred, know, O disciple, that that is your own atman; both sat and asat; for without it, sat and asat, that which has form and that which has not, i.e., the gross and subtle do not exist. Varenyam, covetable; because of all objects it is the only eternal entity. Param, distinct from, or, beyond; this is connected with the expression “knowledge of men” though remote; the meaning is that it is beyond the reach of wordly knowledge. Varishtham, the highest of all; because of all that is high, the Brahman is pre-eminently high, being free from all faults.

Sloka : 2.2.2

यदर्चिमद्यदणुभ्योऽणु च यस्मिंल्लोका निहिता लोकिनश्च ।

तदेतदक्षरं ब्रह्म स प्राणस्तदु वाङ्मनः तदेतत्सत्यं तदमृतं तद्वेद्धव्यं सोम्य विद्धि ॥ २॥

yadarcimadyadaṇubhyoṇu ca yasmiɱllokā'nihitā lokinaśca |

tadetadakṣaraṃ brahma sa prāṇastadu vāṅmanaḥ tadetatsatyaṃ tadamṛtaṃ tadveddhavyaṃ somya viddhi || 2 ||

What is bright, what is smaller than the small, in what are centred all the world and those that live in them is this immortal Brahman. That is prana, that is speech and mind. That is true and immortal; good looking youth. Strike thy mind upon that which should be struck by the mind.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Besides it is archimat, bright, because it is by the light of the Brahman that the sun, etc., shine; again it is subtler than the subtlest (i.e.,) grain, etc. From the particle cha, it is suggested that it is bigger than the biggest, such as earth, etc. In whom all the worlds such as earth, etc., are fixed and men and the rest, inhabitants of those worlds; for all are well-known to depend upon “Intelligence”, i. e., Brahman; this immortal Brahman on which all depend is prana, speech, mind and all the instruments. It is their internal intelligence for the whole combination of prana, senses, etc., is dependent upon that intelligence, according to the Sruti ‘It is the prana of prana, etc. This immortal Brahman which is the internal intelligence of prana, etc., is true and, therefore, endless. Veddhavyam, should he seized by the mind. The meaning is that the mind should be concentrated upon the Brahman. This being so, O good looking youth, strike that, i.e., concentrate your mind upon that Brahman.

Sloka : 2.2.3

धनुर्गृहीत्वौपनिषदं महास्त्रं शरं ह्युपासानिशितं सन्दधीत ।

आयम्य तद्भावगतेन चेतसा लक्ष्यं तदेवाक्षरं सोम्य विद्धि ॥ ३॥

dhanurgṛhītvaupaniṣadaṃ mahāstraṃ śaraṃ hyupāsāniśitaṃ saṃdhayīta |

āyamya tadbhāvagatena cetasā lakṣyaṃ tadevākṣaraṃ somya viddhi || 3 ||

Having taken the how furnished by the Upanishads, the great weapon—and fixed in it the arrow rendered pointed by constant meditation and having drawn it with the mind fixed on the Brahman, hit, good looking youth! at that mark—the immortal Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How that is hit is now explained. Dhanuh. the bow. Grihitva, having taken. Upanishadam horn in, i.e., well-known in the Upanishads. Mahastram, great weapon, i.e., the arrow; fix the arrow; of what quality is stated. Upasauisltam, rendered pointed by constant meditation, i.e., purified; after fixing it and drawing it, i.e., having drawn the mind and the senses from their external objects and bending, i.e., concentrating them on the mark, for the bow here cannot be bent as by the hand; hit the mark—the immortal Brahman—above defined with thy mind, Oh good looking youth, engrossed by meditation upon the Brahman.

Sloka : 2.2.4

प्रणवो धनुः शरो ह्यात्मा ब्रह्म तल्लक्ष्यमुच्यते ।

अप्रमत्तेन वेद्धव्यं शरवत्तन्मयो भवेत् ॥ ४॥

praṇavo dhanuḥ śāro hyātmā brahma tallakṣyamucyate |

apramattena veddhavyaṃ śaravattanmayo bhavet || 4 ||

The Pranava is the how, the Atman is the arrow and the Brahman is said to be its mark. It should he hit by one who is self-collected and that which hits becomes, like the arrow, one with the mark, i.e.. Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—What the bow and the rest above referred to are, is explained. The Pranava, i.e., the syllable “Om” is the bow; as the bow is the cause of the arrow entering into the mark, so the syllable “Om” is the cause of the Atman entering into the Brahman; for it is only when purified, by the repetition of Pranava, that the Atman supported by it becomes fixed in the Brahman without obstruction, as the arrow by the force of the bow is fixed in the mark. Therefore the Pranava is like a bow. The arrow is the Paramatman itself conditioned as the Atman having entered the body here, as the sun enters the water, as the witness of all states of consciousness. That, like an arrow, is discharged towards itself—the immortal Brahman. Therefore the Brahman is said to be its mark, because it is seen to be the Atman itself by those who fix their mind upon it as on a mark. This being so, the Brahman which is the mark should be hit by one who is self-collected, i. e., who is free from the excitement caused by a thirst to get at external objects, who is disgusted with everything, who has conquered his senses and whose mind is concentrated. When that is hit, the Atman becomes like the arrow, one with the mark, i.e., the Brahman. Just as the success of the arrow is its becoming one with the mark, so the fruit here achieved is the Atman becoming one with the immortal Brahman by the dispelling of the notion that the body, etc., is the Atman.

Sloka : 2.2.5

यस्मिन्द्यौः पृथिवी चान्तरिक्षमोतं मनः सह प्राणैश्च सर्वैः ।

तमेवैकं जानथ आत्मानमन्या वाचो विमुञ्चथामृतस्यैष सेतुः ॥ ५॥

yasmindyauḥ pṛthivī cāntarikṣamotaṃ manaḥ saha prāṇaiśca sarvaiḥ |

tamevaikaṃ jānatha ātmānamanyā vāco vimuñcathāmṛtasyaiṣa setuḥ || 5 ||

He in whom the heaven, the earth, the antariksha (sky), the mind with the pranas are centred; know him to be the one Atman of all; abandon all other speech; this is the road to immortality.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As the “Immortal” cannot be easily grasped by the mind, the repetition is for the purpose of making it more easily cognisable. He, the immortal Brahman, in whom Dyouh, earth, and antariksha are centred, as also the mind with the other instruments; know him, O disciples as “the one,” the support of all; the Atman, i.e., the internal principle of yourselves and all living beings; having known that, leave off all other speech of the nature of “Apara vidya” as also all Kar ma with their aids elucidated by it; for, this, i.e., the knowledge of the Atman is the road to the attaintment of emancipation, the bridge as it were by which the great ocean of Samsara is crossed, as another Sruti says “having known him thus, one travels beyond death; there is no other road to emancipation.”

Sloka : 2.2.6

अरा इव रथनाभौ संहता यत्र नाड्यः। स एषोऽन्तश्चरते बहुधा जायमानः ।

ओमित्येवं ध्यायथ आत्मानं स्वस्ति वः पाराय तमसः परस्तात् ॥ ६॥

arā iva rathanābhau saṃhatā yatra nāḍyaḥ sa eṣo'ntaścarate bahudhā jāyamānaḥ |

omityevaṃ dhyāyatha ātmānaṃ svasti vaḥ pārāya tamasaḥ parastāt || 6 ||

Where the nerves of the body meet together as the spokes in the nave of a wheel, this Atman is within it variously horn; meditate upon “Om” as the Atman. May there be no obstacle to your going to the other side beyond darkness.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Within the heart where all nerves running through the body meet together, as the spokes in the nave of the wheel, this Atman, spoken of, dwells within, as the witness of the states of consciousness, seeing, hearing, thinking, knowing and as it were, being variously born by the modifications of the mind, such as anger, joy, etc; men in the world say ‘He has become angry, he has become “joyful”, according to the conditions of the internal sense (mind); meditate upon Atman having the syllable “Om” as your support and imagining as stated. And it has been said “the preceptor who knows must instruct the disciples.” The disciples are those who being desirous to acquire the knowledge of the Brahman, have renounced Karma and taken the road to emancipation. The preceptor gives his benediction that they may attain the Brahman without hindrance; svasti vah paraya, let Him be without hindrance to your reaching the other shore. Parastat, beyond; beyond what? Beyond the darkness of ignorance, i. e., for the realisation of the true nature of the Atman devoid of ignorance. He who should be reached after crossing the ocean of Samsara and who is the subject of the Para vidya.

Sloka : 2.2.7

यः सर्वज्ञः सर्वविद्यस्यैष महिमा भुवि । दिव्ये ब्रह्मपुरे ह्येष व्योमन्यात्मा प्रतिष्ठितः ॥

मनोमयः प्राणशरीरनेता

प्रतिष्ठितोऽन्ने हृदयं सन्निधाय ।

तद्विज्ञानेन परिपश्यन्ति धीरा

आनन्दरूपममृतं यद्विभाति ॥ ७॥

yaḥ sarvajñaḥ sarvavidyasyaiṣa mahimā bhuvi divyebrahmapure hyeṣa vyomnyātmā pratiṣṭhitaḥ |

manomayaḥ prāṇaśarīranetā

pratiṣṭhito'nne hṛdayaṃ sannidhāya |

tadvijñānena paripaśyanti dhīrā

ānandarūpamamṛtaṃ yad vibhāti || 7 ||

This Atman who knows all and all of everything and whose glory is so celebrated on earth is seated in the akas of the blight city of Brahman. He is conditioned by the mind, is the leader of the prana and the body and is seated in food, i.e., the body fixing the intelligence (in the cavity of their heart). The discerning people see by means of their superior knowledge on all sides the atman which shines, all bliss and immortality.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Where He is, is now explained; the terms ‘sarvajna’ and ‘sarvavit’ have already been explained. He is again described; by the expression “whose glory is this” is meant “whose glory is celebrated.” What is that glory? By whose commands stand supported the earth and the sky, by whose command, the sun and the moon always rotate as the flaming fire-brand. By whose command the rivers and the seas do not overstep their limits, whose command all that is moveable and immoveable likewise obey, whose commands in the same way, the seasons, the solstices, and the years do not transgress; by whose commands all karma, their performers and their fruits do not likewise go beyond their appointed time; that is his glory. Bhuvi, in the world. This Deva whose is all this glory and who is omniscient. Divye, bright, i. e., illuminated by all the states of consciousness. Brahmapure, in the lotus of the heart, so called because the Brahman is always manifesting himself there, in the form of intelligence. Vyomni, in the akas, within the cavity of the heart. He is perceived as if seated there because, otherwise, motion to or from, or fixity in a place is not possible for him who is all-pervading like the akas. Manomaya, because seated in the heart, he is perceived only by the modifications of the mind. (Thus) conditioned by the mind. Leader of the prana and the body, because lie leads the prana and the body from one gross body into another body. Pratishthitah, fixed. Anne, in the food, i.e., in the body which is a modification of the food eaten and which grows and decays day by day. Hridayam, intellect, Sannidhaya, fixing—in the cavity of the lotus; for, the Atman is really seated in the heart and not in the food. Tat, the entity of the Atman. Vijnanena, by knowledge, thorough, produced by the teachings of the sastras and the preceptor, and arising from control of the mind, control of the senses, meditation, complete renunciation and freedom from desire. Paripasyanti, see on all sides full. Dhirah, the discerning. A’nandarupam, free from all dangers, miseries and troubles. Vibhati, shines much in one-self always.

Sloka : 2.2.8

भिद्यते हृदयग्रन्थिश्छिद्यन्ते सर्वसंशयाः ।

क्षीयन्ते चास्य कर्माणि तस्मिन्दृष्टे परावरे ॥ ८॥

bhidyate hṛdayagranthiśchidyante sarvasaṃśayāḥ |

kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi tasmindṛṣṭe parāvare || 8 ||

When he that is both high and low is seen, the knot of the heart is untied; all doubts are solved; and all his karma is consumed.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The fruit of the knowledge of the Paramatman is stated to be the following. Loosened is “the knot of the heart,” i.e., the group of tendencies in the mind due to ignorance, the desire which clings to the intellect according to the Sruti “The desires which lie imbedded in the heart, etc.” This is attached to the heart (intellect) not to the Atman. Biddyate. undergoes destruction; doubts regarding all knowable things have their solution—doubts which perplex worldly men up to their death, being (continuous) like the stream of the Granges; of the man whose doubts have been solved and whose ignorance has been dispelled, such karma as was anterior to the birth of knowledge in this life, such as was performed by him in previous births and had not begun to bear fruit and such as was existing at the birth of knowledge come to an end; but not that karma which brought about this birth, for it had begun to bear fruit. He, “the omniscient”, not subject to samsara; ‘both high and low,’ high as being the cause and low as being the effect; when he is seen directly as “I am he”, one attains emancipation, the cause of samsara being up-rooted.

Sloka : 2.2.9

हिरण्मये परे कोशे विरजं ब्रह्म निष्कलम् ।

तच्छुभ्रं ज्योतिषां ज्योतिस्तद्यदात्मविदो विदुः ॥ ९॥

hiraṇmaye pare kośe virajaṃ brahma niṣkalam |

tacchubhraṃ jyotiṣaṃ jyotistadyadātmavido viduḥ || 9 ||

The stainless indivisible Brahman, the pure, the light of all lights is in the innermost sheath of golden hue. That is what the knowers of the Atman know.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The three following texts briefly elucidate the meaning already expressed. Hiranmaye, golden, i.e., full of light, or bright with intelligence and knowledge. ‘The highest sheath’, sheath, as it were, of a sword; highest, because it is the place where “the Atman is realised as located” and because it is the innermost of all. Virajam, free from the taint of ignorance and all other faults. Brahma, because it is the greatest of all and Atman of all. Nishkalam, that from which the kalas had proceeded, i.e., devoid of parts; because it is untainted and devoid of parts, therefore it is subhram or pure. The light of all lights, whose light enlightens even those that illumine all other things such as fire, etc. The meaning is that the brightness of even the fire, etc., is due to the splendour of the intelligence of the Brahman within; the light of the Atman is the highest light which is not illumined by other lights. ‘The knowers of the atman’, those discerning men who know the Self as the witness of the objective states of consciousness regarding sound and the rest; as it is the highest light, it is only those who follow (are in) the subjective state of consciousness, not others, who follow (are in) the perceptions of external objects, that know it.

Sloka : 2.2.10

न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्रतारकं

नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोऽयमग्निः ।

तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं

तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति ॥ १०॥

na tatra sūryo bhāti na candratārakaṃ

nemā vidyuto bhānti kuto'yamagniḥ |

tameva bhāntamanubhāti sarvaṃ

tasya bhāsā sarvamidaṃ vibhāti || 10 ||

The sun shines not there, nor the moon and the stars. Nor do these lightnings shine. How could this fire? All shine after him who shines. All this is illumined by his radiance.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How that is the light of all lights is explained. The sun, though enlightening all. does not shine in, i.e., does not illumine the Brahman which is his Atman; for, the sun illumines the whole universe other than the Atman with the light of the Brahman, but has not in himself the capacity to illuminate. Similarly neither the moon and the stars nor the lightning shines. How could this file which is in the range of our vision? Why dilate? This universe which shines, shines with the light of Him, the Lord of all, who shines being himself luminosity. Just as water and the rest by their contact with fire, heat with the heat of the fire, but not by their own inherent power, so all this universe, the sun and the rest shine with the light of the Brahman. As it is the Brahman alone that thus shines and shines with varying light in its diverse manifestations, itself luminosity, is inferred; for, that which is not itself light cannot illumine others as we see that pots, etc., do not illumine others and that the sun and the rest having light, illumine others.

Sloka : 2.2.11

ब्रह्मैवेदममृतं पुरस्ताद् ब्रह्म पश्चाद् ब्रह्म दक्षिणतश्चोत्तरेण ।

अधश्चोर्ध्वं च प्रसृतं ब्रह्मैवेदं विश्वमिदं वरिष्ठम् ॥ ११॥

॥ इति मुण्डकोपनिषदि द्वितीयमुण्डके द्वितीयः खण्डः ॥

brahmaivedamamṛtaṃ purastādbrahma paścādbrahma dakṣiṇataścottareṇa |

adhaścordhvaṃ ca prasṛtaṃ brahmaivedaṃ viśvamidaṃ variṣṭham || 11 ||

All this before is immortal Brahman; certainly all behind is Brahman; all to the south and to the north; all bellow and all alone stretched out, i.e., extended, all this is certainly Brahman, the highest.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The statement, Brahman alone the light of lights is true and that all else is only its modification, a matter of speech is a mere name and falsehood first made and logically demonstrated at length (afterwards) is affirmed again as a conclusion by this mantra. That which is before us and which, in the eyes of the ignorant, appears to be not Brahman is certainly Brahman. Similarly what is behind us; so, that to the south; so, that to the north; so, that below, and that above and all that is extended everywhere in the form of effect, appearing otherwise than Brahman and possessed of name and form. Why say much? All this vast universe is Brahman certainly. All perception otherwise than as Brahman is mere ignorance, just as the perception of a serpent in a rope. The declaration of the Vedas is that the one Brahman alone is really true.

Sloka : 3.1.1

॥ तृतीय मुण्डके प्रथमः खण्डः ॥

द्वा सुपर्णा सयुजा सखाया समानं वृक्षं परिषस्वजाते ।

तयोरन्यः पिप्पलं स्वाद्वत्ति अनश्नन्नन्योऽभिचाकशीति ॥ १॥

dvā suparṇā sayujā sakhāyā samānaṃ vṛkṣaṃ pariṣasvajāte |

tayoranyaḥ pippalaṃ svādvattyanaśnannanyo abhicākaśīti || 1 ||

Two inseparable companions of fine plumage perch on the self-same tree. One of the two feeds on the delicious fruit. The other not tasting of it looks on.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The Para vidya has been explained, by which the immortal ‘purusa’ or the Truth could be known, by whose knowledge the cause of Samsara, such as the knot of the heart, etc., can be totally destroyed. Yoga which is the means to the realization of the Brahman has also been explained by an illustration “taking the bow and the rest.” Now the subsequent portion is intended to inculcate the auxiliary helps to that yoga, as truth, etc. Chiefly, the truth is here determined by another mode, as it is extremely difficult to realize it. Here, though already done, a mantra (brief) as an aphorism is introduced for the purpose of ascertaining the absolute entity. Suparnau, two of good motion or two birds; (the “word Suparna” being used to denote birds generally); Sayujau inseparable, constant, companions; Sakhayau, bearing the same name or having the same cause of manifestation. Being thus, they are perched on the same tree (‘same,’ because the place where they could be perceived is identical). ‘Tree’ here means ‘body;’ because of the similitude in their liability to be cut or destroyed. Parishasvajate, embraced; just as birds go to the same tree for tasting the fruits. This tree as is well known has its root high up (i.e., in Brahman) and its branches (prana, etc..) downwards; it is transitory and has its source in Avyakta (maya). It is named Kshetra and in it bang the fruits of the karma of all living things. It is here that the Atman, conditioned in the subtle body to which ignorance, desire, karma and their unmanifested tendencies cling, and Isvara are perched like birds. Of these two so perched, one, i.e., kshetrajna occupying the subtle body eats, i.e., tastes from ignorance the fruits of karma marked as happiness and misery, palatable in many and diversified modes; the other, i.e., tbe lord, eternal, pure, intelligent and free in his nature, omniscient and conditioned by maya does not eat; for, lie is the director of both the eater and the thing eaten, by the fact of Ids mere existence as the eternal witness (of all); not tasting, he merely looks on; for, his mere witnessing is direction, as in the case of a king.

Sloka : 3.1.2

समाने वृक्षे पुरुषो निमग्नोऽनीशया शोचति मुह्यमानः ।

जुष्टं यदा पश्यत्यन्यमीशमस्य महिमानमिति वीतशोकः ॥ २॥

samāne vṛkṣe puruṣo nimagno'niśayā śocati muhyamānaḥ |

juṣṭaṃ yadā paśyatyanyamīśamasya mahimānamiti vītaśokaḥ || 2 ||

On the self same tree, the Jiva drowned as it were and perplexed, grieves owing to helplessness. Hut when he sees the other, the lord who is worshipped by all, and his glory, lie becomes absolved from grief.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—In this state of things, the Jiva, i.e., the enjoyer occupying the body as above described, under the heavy load of ignorance, desire and thirst for the fruits of Karma, etc., sinks down like a bottle-gourd in the waters of the sea, is convinced beyond doubt that the body is the atman and thinking that he is the son of this man or the great-grandson of that, lean or stout, with or without good qualities, is enjoying or suffering, and that there is none but him, is born, dies, is united with and parted from relations and kinsmen; therefore, he grieves from helplessness thus:- “I am good for nothing; I have lost my son; my wife is dead; what avails my life” and so forth and is subject to anxiety from ignorance owing to numerous kinds of troubles; but when thus constantly degenerating in births, of pretas, beasts, men and the like, he happens, owing to the result of pure deeds stored up in many (previous) births to be instructed in the path of Yoga by some preceptor surpassingly compassionate and being qualified by abstinence from giving pain, truth speaking, continence, complete renunciation and control over the internal and external senses and with his mind concentrated, finds by dint of meditation, the other who is approached by different paths of Yoga and by the followers of Karma distinct from him, conditioned in the body, not subject to the bondage of Samsara, unaffected by hunger, thirst, grief, ignorance, decay and death and lord over all the universe and thinks thus:- “I am the atman, alike in all, seated in every living thing and not the other, the illusory atman, enclosed under conditions created by ignorance and this glory—this universe is mine, the lord of all,” then he becomes absolved from grief, i.e., is released entirely from the ocean of grief, i.e., his object is accomplished.

Sloka : 3.1.3

यदा पश्यः पश्यते रुक्मवर्णं कर्तारमीशं पुरुषं ब्रह्मयोनिम् ।

तदा विद्वान्पुण्यपापे विधूय निरञ्जनः परमं साम्यमुपैति ॥ ३॥

yadā paśyaḥ paśyate rukmavarṇaṃ kartāramīśaṃ puruṣaṃ brahmayonim |

tadā vidvānpuṇyapāpe vidhūya nirañjanaḥ paramaṃ sāmyamupaiti || 3 ||

When the seer sees him of golden line, the creator, lord, Purusha, and the source of (Apara) Brahma, then the knower, having shaken off all deeds of merit and sin, attains supreme equality, being untouched with stain.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Another mantra also conveys the same meaning at length. Yada, when; Pasyaha, one who sees, i.e., a learned man, i.e., a man of practice. Rukmavamam, of self-resplendent nature, or, of imperishable brightness as that of gold. ‘Creator,’ of all the universe; ‘Brahmayonim’ the Brahman who is the source of the manifested Brahman. When he sees the Brahman thus, then the learned man shaking off, or burning away good and bad deeds, forming a bondage to their root and being unaffected, i.e., freed from grief, attains that supreme equality which is identity with the Brahman. The equality in matters involving duality is certainly inferior to this.

Sloka : 3.1.4

प्राणो ह्येष यः सर्वभूतैर्विभाति विजानन्विद्वान्भवते नातिवादी ।

आत्मक्रीड आत्मरतिः क्रियावानेष ब्रह्मविदां वरिष्ठः ॥ ४॥

praṇo hyeṣa yaḥ sarvabhūtairvibhāti vijānanvidvānbhavate nātivādī |

ātmakrīḍa ātmaratiḥ kriyāvāneṣa brahmavidāṃ variṣṭhaḥ || 4 ||

This is, indeed. Prana, i.e., Isvara, shining variously with all living beings. Knowing him, the wise man becomes not a talker regarding anything else. Sporting in self, delighted in self and doing nets (enjoined), this man is the best of those who know the Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again this Isvara is the prana of prana. This, now treated of. ‘All living things,’ from the Brahman down to the worm. The instrumental case in “Sarvabhutaih” has the force of “thus become.” The meaning is ‘existing in all living things, i.e., the atman of all.’ Vibhati, shines variously. The man of knowledge who directly realises Him who is in all things as his own Atman and thinks “I am he” does not become an ativadin. merely by the knowledge of the import of the mahavakya. Ativadi, means one whose nature is to talk of all other things more, when he sees that all is the Atman and nothing else exists; how then could he talk of anything else. It is only where one sees anything else, he could well talk of that; but this man of knowledge sees, hears and knows none other than the Atman; so. he is not a talker of anything else. Again, he is an atmakridah, i.e., one whose sport is within his own Atman and not elsewhere, such as son. wife, etc. Similarly, he is atmaratih, i.e., one who delights or revels in his own Atman. The term krida or play requires some external help. But delight or revelling does not require any external help but indicates merely the attachment to an external object. This is the distinction. Similarly, kriyavan, i.e., one whose activity consists in knowledge, meditation, freedom from desire, etc. But if the reading he “atmaratikriyavan” (a compound) the meaning is he whose activity is mere delight in man; as between the Bahuvrihi and the “matup” ending, one is sufficient without the other; but some contend that the single compound, denotes a combination of both karma, i.e., Agnihotra and the rest, and the knowledge of Brahman. It is not possible for one to he playing with external objects and at the same time to he delighted in self. It is only the man who has turned away from external activity that becomes delighted in self; for, external activity and delighted in itself are opposed to each other; for, it is not possible that darkness and light could exist in the same place. Therefore, the statement that a combination of karma and knowledge is inculcated by this text is certainly the prattle of the ignorant. This also follows from the Srutis “Leave off from all other speech” and “by renunciation of Karma, etc.” Therefore, he alone is “kriyavan” whose activity consists in knowledge, meditation, etc., and who is a Sanyasin not transgressing the limits of prohibitory injunctions. Such a man as is not an ativadin, as sports in his own self, as delights in himself and as is a Kriyavan (whose activity is aforesaid) is the first among all the knowers of Brahman.

Sloka : 3.1.5

सत्येन लभ्यस्तपसा ह्येष आत्मा सम्यग्ज्ञानेन ब्रह्मचर्येण नित्यम् ।

अन्तः शरीरे ज्योतिर्मयो हि शुभ्रो यं पश्यन्ति यतयः क्षीणदोषाः ॥ ५॥

satyena labhyastapasā hyeṣa ātmā samyagjñānena brahmacaryeṇa nityam |

antaḥśarīre jyotirmayo hi śubhro yaṃ paśyanti yatayaḥ kṣīṇadoṣāḥ || 5 ||

This Atman within the body, resplendent and pure, can be reached by truth and tapas, by sound knowledge and by abstinence from sexual pleasures constantly practised; he is within the body, resplendent and pure; him, assiduous Sanyasins see, their faults removed.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Now truth and the rest chiefly characterized by restraint are enjoined upon a bhikshu, i.e., mendicant, as auxiliary aids with sound knowledge; he should be attained by truth, i.e., by abstaining from falsehood; as also by tapas, i.e., by concentration of the senses and the mind, which is declared to be the highest tapas; for, it is this which is of greatest help, as it is turned towards beholding the Atman, not the other forms of tapas, such as the performance of the chandrayana (a penance), etc. “This Atman should he attained” should be read into every clause. ‘By good knowledge’, by beholding the Atman as it really is. ‘By Brahmacharya,’ by abstinence from sexual pleasure. Nityam, always. The word “always” should be read with every one of the words ‘truth,’ ‘tapas,’ etc. Just as a lamp within a building illumines every part of it, it will be said, later on, that they seethe Atman in whom there is neither deceit, nor falsehood, nor cunning. Who this Atman is that should be attained by these aids is explained. ‘Within the body,’ in the midst of the body, i.e., in the akas of the lotus of the heart. ‘Resplendent’, of golden hue. Subhra, pure. The yatayah, i.e., those who are habitually seeking, i.e., the Sanyasins, ‘their faults removed,’ i.e., devoid of all taint of mind such as anger, etc., find this atman. The drift is that the atman is attained, by Sanyasins with these aids as truth, etc., constantly practised and cannot be attained by them occasionally practised. This text is a eulogy of such aids as truth, etc.

Sloka : 3.1.6

सत्यमेव जयते नानृतं सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः ।

येनाऽऽक्रमन्त्यृषयो ह्याप्तकामा यत्र तत्सत्यस्य परमं निधानम् ॥ ६॥

satyameva jayate nānṛtaṃ satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ |

yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā yatra tat satyasya paramaṃ nidhānam || 6 ||

Truth alone wins, not falsehood; by truth, the Devayanah (the path of the Devas) is widened, that by which the seers travel on, having nothing to wish for to where there is that—the highest treasure attained by truth.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Truth alone, i.e., he who speaks the truth alone, wins; not he who utters falsehood, for there can be neither victory nor defeat between abstract truth and falsehood where they do not cling to men. It is well known in the world that he who utters falsehood is defeated by him who speaks the truth; not the converse. Therefore, it is established that truth is a strong auxiliary; again, the superiority of truth as an aid is also known from the sastras; how? It is only by truth, i.e., by a determination to speak what had occurred, the road named “Devayanah” (the way of the gods) is widened; i.e., is kept up continually; by which road, seers free from deceit, delusion, fraud, pride, vanity and falsehood and having no desires, go about to where the absolute truth, the highest treasure covetable by man and attainable by the important aid, truth, exists. The expression “where the greatest, etc.,” is connected with the preceding clause “the road by which they go is widened by truth.” What that is and what its characteristics are, will be explained.

Sloka : 3.1.7

बृहच्च तद्दिव्यमचिन्त्यरूपं सूक्ष्माच्च तत्सूक्ष्मतरं विभाति ।

दूरात्सुदूरे तदिहान्तिके च पश्यन्त्विहैव निहितं गुहायाम् ॥ ७॥

bṛhacca taddivyamacintyarūpaṃ sūkṣmācca tatsūkṣmataraṃ vibhāti |

dūrātsudūre tadihāntike ca paśyantvihaiva nihitaṃ guhāyām || 7 ||

That shines as vast, heavenly, of unthinkable form and subtler than the subtle, much farther than the distant, near, also here, and seen fixed in the cavity, by the intelligent.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—The Brahman now treated of and attainable by truth, etc., is vast, because it is all-pervading; ‘heavenly,’ self-luminous and imperceivable by the senses. Therefore alone, is it that its form is unthinkable; it is subtler than even the subtle, such as the akas and the rest; for, being the cause of all, it is of unsurpassing subtlety. Vibhati, shines diversely, i.e., in various forms such as that of the sun, the moon, etc. Again it is farther, even from the most distant places; for, the Brahman cannot be in the least approached by the ignorant. It is also near, i.e., in the body itself; because, it is the atman of those who know and because it is within all, from the Sruti which declares it to be even within the akcas. ‘In those who see,’ among the intelligent men. ‘Fixed,’ seated, i.e., seen by yogis, as possessed of the activity of seeing, etc. Where? in the cavity, i.e., in the intellect; for, it is seen as lodged there by those who know; still, though lodged there, it is not seen by the ignorant, as it is veiled by ignorance.

Sloka : 3.1.8

न चक्षुषा गृह्यते नापि वाचा नान्यैर्देवैस्तपसा कर्मणा वा ।

ज्ञानप्रसादेन विशुद्धसत्त्वस्ततस्तु तं पश्यते निष्कलं ध्यायमानः ॥ ८॥

na cakṣuṣā gṛhyate nāpi vācā nānyairdevaistapasā karmaṇa vā |

jñānaprasādena viśuddhasattvastatastu taṃ paśyate niṣkalaṃ dhyāyamānaḥ || 8 ||

He is not grasped by the eye; nor by speech; nor by other senses; nor by tapas; nor by karma; when one’s mind is purified by the clearness of knowledge, then alone he sees the indivisible (Brahman) by contemplation.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Again, a special aid to the attainment of Brahman is explained. It is not seen by the eye of anybody, because it has no form; nor is it grasped by speech, because it cannot be the subject of words; nor by the other senses. Though tapas is an aid to the attainment of all, the Brahman cannot be reached by Karma enjoined by the Vedas, such as agnihotra and the rest though their greatness is well known. What, then, is the means by which it could be grasped is explained. Gnana prasadena, though the intellect in all men is by nature competent to know the Atman, still being polluted by such faults, as love for external objects, etc., and hence unclear and impure, it does not, like a stained mirror and muddy water, grasp the entity of the Atman though always near; but when, by removal of the polluting taint, such as desire, etc., produced by contact with the objects of the senses, it is made clear and calm like mirror and water, then the intellect becomes clear; by this clearness of the intellect the mind is purified and the man becomes competent to realize the Brahman. Therefore, he sees the Atman which has no parts, by meditation, having recourse to such helps such as truth, etc., having controlled his senses and with a concentrated mind.

Sloka : 3.1.9

एषोऽणुरात्मा चेतसा वेदितव्यो यस्मिन्प्राणः पञ्चधा संविवेश ।

प्राणैश्चित्तं सर्वमोतं प्रजानां यस्मिन्विशुद्धे विभवत्येष आत्मा ॥ ९॥

eṣo'ṇurātmā cetasā veditavyo yasminprāṇaḥ pañcadhā saṃviveśa |

prāṇaiścittaṃ sarvamotaṃ prajānāṃ yasminviśuddhe vibhavatyeṣa ātmā || 9 ||

This subtle Atman should be known by the mind as being in the body, whose prana entered in five different forms; the mind in all creatures is pervaded by these pranas. When it is purified, then the Atman shines out of itself.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This Atman, who is thus seen, is subtle and should be known by the mind, i.e., by the mere intellect purified. Where is this Atman? In the body which, prana in five different forms, has well entered. The meaning is; he should be known by the mind as existing in the body, i.e., in the heart; by mind, how circumstanced should he be known, is explained; mind in all creatures is pervaded by the pranas and the senses, as milk by oil, and fuel by fire. The mind in all living beings is well known in the world, to be possessed of intelligence; when the mind is purified, i.e., freed from the taint of grief, etc., then this Atman above-defined shines out, shows itself out, by itself.

Sloka : 3.1.10

यं यं लोकं मनसा संविभाति विशुद्धसत्त्वः कामयते यांश्च कामान् ।

तं तं लोकं जयते तांश्च कामांस्तस्मादात्मज्ञं ह्यर्चयेत्भूतिकामः ॥ १०॥

॥ इति मुण्डकोपनिषदि तृतीयमुण्डके प्रथमः खण्डः ॥

yaṃ yaṃ lokaṃ manasā saṃvibhāti viśuddhasattvaḥ kāmayate yāṃśca kāmān |

taṃ taṃ lokaṃ jayate tāṃśca kāmāṃstasmādātmajñaṃ hyarcayetbhūtikāmaḥ || 10 ||

Whatever worlds he covets by his mind, and whatever objects he wishes for the man of pure mind, he gains those worlds and those objects; therefore, let him who longs for Bhuti (manifested power) worship him who knows the atman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This text explains that the man who identifies the atman of all with his own, obtains as the fruits thereof, all that he longs for; because of the fact that he is the Atman of all. Whatever worlds, i.e., such as those of the manes and the rest, he covets either himself, or for others, or whatever enjoyments he wishes for the man of pure mind who is free from all grief and who knows the Atman, he obtains those worlds and those enjoyments. Therefore, i.e., because the wishes of the knower of the Atman are always realised; let one who longs for vibhutis propitiate the knower of the Atman, whose mind is purified by such knowledge, by cleaning his feet with water, personal service, prostration and the rest; therefore, he is worthy of worship.

Sloka : 3.2.1

॥ तृतीयमुण्डके द्वितीयः खण्डः ॥

स वेदैतत्परमं ब्रह्म धाम यत्र विश्वं निहितं भाति शुभ्रम् ।

उपासते पुरुषं ये ह्यकामास्ते शुक्रमेतदतिवर्तन्ति धीराः ॥ १॥

sa vedaitatparamaṃ brahma dhāma yatra viśvaṃ nihitaṃ bhāti śubhram |

upāsate puruṣaṃ ye hyakāmāste śukrametadativartanti dhīrāḥ || 1 ||

He knows the highest Brahman, the place where all this universe rests, and which shines with clear brightness. The intelligent, who, free from all desire, worship this man, travel beyond this seed.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—As he knows the Brahman above defined, the highest of all, the place where all desires rest, where all the universe rests and which shines purely by its own light, the intelligent, who free from yearning for vibhuti and with a desire for emancipation, worship even this man as the highest, travel beyond this seed, i.e., the material cause of embodied existence, i.e., are never born again of the womb, according to the Sruti, ‘He does not like any abode.’ The meaning is that one should worship such a knower.

Sloka : 3.2.2

कामान्यः कामयते मन्यमानः स कामभिर्जायते तत्र तत्र ।

पर्याप्तकामस्य कृतात्मनस्तु इहैव सर्वे प्रविलीयन्ति कामाः ॥ २॥

kāmānyaḥ kāmayate manyamānaḥ sa kāmabhirjāyate tatra tatra |

paryāptakāmasya kṛtātmanasvihaiva sarve pravilīyanti kāmāḥ || 2 ||

He, who broods on and longs for objects of desire, is born there and there with such desires; but of him whose desires have been fulfilled and who has realised, the Atman, the desires end even here (in this world).

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This text shows that the primary help to him who is desirous of emancipation is the renunciation of all desire. He who covets visible or invisible objects of desire, brooding on their virtues is born again and again with those desires of external objects which are incentive to the performance of good and bad deeds. Wherever his desires direct him to perform karma for the realisation of their objects, he is born with those self-same desires in those objects. But of him who from a sound knowledge of the absolute truth has all his desires fulfilled, because the Atman is the object of his desire and whose Atman through knowledge has been made to assume its highest, i.e., true form by the removal of the lower form imposed on it by ignorance, all desires impelling him to do meritorious and sinful deeds are destroyed even while his body lasts. The drift is that desires do not spring up, because the causes of their rising are destroyed.

Sloka : 3.2.3

नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन ।

यमेवैष वृणुते तेन लभ्यस्तस्यैष आत्मा विवृणुते तनूं स्वाम् ॥ ३॥

nāyamātmā pravacanena labhyo na medhayā na bahunā śrutena |

yamevaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyastasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanūṃ svām || 3 ||

This Atman cannot be attained by dint of study or intelligence or much hearing—whom he wishes to attain—by that it can be attained. To him this Atman reveals its true nature.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—If thus the realisation of the atman is the greatest gain of all, it may be thought that means such as study, etc., should be largely employed for its attainment. This text is intended to dispel that notion. This atman which has been explained and whose realisation is the highest object of human desire cannot be attained by means of much study of the Vedas and the Sastras. Similarly not by intelligence, i.e., by a retentive memory of the purport of writings; nor by much heard, i.e., by much hearing. By what then could the Atman be attained is explained. The Paramatman whom this knower wishes to attain, by that seeking alone can that Brahman be attained; not by any other means, because his nature is always attained. What is the nature of this knower’s attainment of the Atman is explained. As pot, etc., reveals its form where there is light, so does the Atman concealed by ignorance reveal his true nature when there is knowledge. The drift is the wish for the realisation of the Atman after renouncing all others is alone the means to the attainment of the Atman.

Sloka : 3.2.4

नायमात्मा बलहीनेन लभ्यो न च प्रमादात्तपसो वाप्यलिङ्गात् ।

एतैरुपायैर्यतते यस्तु विद्वांस्तस्यैष आत्मा विशते ब्रह्मधाम ॥ ४॥

nāyamātmā balahīnena labhyo na ca pramādāttapaso vāpyaliṅgāt |

etairupāyairyatate yastu vidvāṃstasyaiṣa ātmā viśate brahmadhāma || 4 ||

This Atman cannot he attained by one devoid of strength or by excitement or by tapas devoid of linga. But of the knower who strives with these aids, the Atman enters into the Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Combined with the wish to realise the Atman, strength, absence of excitement, and knowledge coupled with Sanyasa are helps; because this Atman cannot be attained by one devoid of strength produced by concentration on the Atman or by excitement caused by associating with objects of the world, as son, cattle and the rest, or by tapas devoid of linga. ‘Tapas’ here means ‘knowledge.’ “Linga,” means “Sanyasa.” The meaning is that the Atman cannot be attained by knowledge without Sanyasa. But of the knower who, with these aids, strength, absence of excitement, Sanyasa and knowledge—strives intent after the Atman, the Atman enters its abode, the Brahman.

Sloka : 3.2.5

सम्प्राप्यैनमृषयो ज्ञानतृप्ताः कृतात्मानो वीतरागाः प्रशान्ताः

ते सर्वगं सर्वतः प्राप्य धीराः युक्तात्मानः सर्वमेवाविशन्ति ॥ ५॥

saṃprāpyainamṛṣayo jñānatṛptāḥ kṛtātmāno vītarāgāḥ praśāntāḥ |

te sarvagaṃ sarvataḥ prāpyadhīrā yuktātmānaḥ sarvamevāviśanti || 5 ||

Having attained Him, the seers content with their knowledge, their purpose accomplished, free from all desire, and with full composure, having attained the all-pervading Atman on all sides, ever concentrated in their minds, enter into everything.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—How they enter into Brahman is explained. Having known him well, the seers content with that knowledge and not by any external means of delight tending to the growth of their body, their Atman having become one with the Paramatman, free from the fault of desire, etc., their senses subdued, having attained him all pervading like the akas on all sides, i.e., not in any particular place limited by conditions (what then do they attain? The Brahman itself, one and without a second as their own Atman), being discerning and with concentrated minds enter into everything when their body falls, i.e., cast off all limitations imposed by ignorance, as the akas in the pot when the pot is broken. Thus do the Knowers of Brahman enter into Brahman abode.

Sloka : 3.2.6

वेदान्तविज्ञानसुनिश्चितार्थाः संन्यासयोगाद्यतयः शुद्धसत्त्वाः ।

ते ब्रह्मलोकेषु परान्तकाले परामृताः परिमुच्यन्ति सर्वे ॥ ६॥

vedāntavijñānasuniścitārthāḥ saṁnyāsayogādyatayaḥ śuddhasattvāḥ |

te brahmalokeṣu parāntakāle parāmṛtāḥ parimucyanti sarve || 6 ||

Having without doubt well ascertained the significance of the knowledge of Vedanta the seekers, their minds purified by dint of renunciation, attain the worlds of the Brahman and when their body falls, their Atman being one with the highest immortal Brahma n are absolved all round.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Having without doubt determined the object of the knowledge of Vedanta, i.e., that Brahman should be known, the seekers, their minds purified by dint of renunciation of all karma and by being centred in the pure Brahman, attain the worlds of the Brahman at the end of samsara, which for the seekers after emancipation corresponds to the time of death of those rotating in samsara. As men who seek emancipation are many, the world of Brahman, though one, appears to be many or is reached as many; so, the plural number ‘worlds of the Brahman’ is used. Brahman being the world reached, the expression ‘in the worlds of the Brahman’ means ‘in Brahman.’ Paramritah, they whose atman has become the highest immortal, i.e., Brahman. They become the highest and immortal Brahman, even during life and are absolved in all sides like a lamp that has gone out and like the akas in the pot, i.e., they have no need of any other place to go to; for, the Sruti and the Smriti say “as the footmark of birds in the air and that of aquatic animals in water are not seen, so the track of the knowing men” and they go by no road, who would reach the ends of the roads of samsara. Motion limited by place is only in samsara, because it is accomplished by means limited; but as the Brahman is all, it cannot be reached in a limited space; if the Brahman were limited in respect of place, it would like a substance having form, have a beginning and an end, be dependent on another, composed of parts, non-eternal and be a product. But the Brahman cannot be like that; so, its attainment too, cannot be limited by conditions of place.

Sloka : 3.2.7

गताः कलाः पञ्चदश प्रतिष्ठा देवाश्च सर्वे प्रतिदेवतासु ।

कर्माणि विज्ञानमयश्च आत्मा परेऽव्यये सर्व एकीभवन्ति ॥ ७॥

gatāḥ kalāḥ pañcadaśa pratiṣṭhā devāśca sarve pratidevatāsu |

karmāṇi vijñānamayaśca ātmā pare'vyaye sarve ekībhavanti || 7 ||

The fifteen kalas go back to their source; all the powers seated on the senses go back to their corresponding deities and all his karma and the atman, all these become one, in the highest and imperishable Brahman.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Moreover, the knowers of Brahman regard emancipation as consisting only in the release from bondage, samsara, ignorance and the rest not as something produced. Besides at the time of emancipation the kalas which produce the body, pranas etc., go back to their own seat, i.e., cause. The word ‘Pratishtha’ is accusative plural. Fifteen:- fifteen in number already enumerated in the last prasna and well known. Devas, the powers adhering to the body, and lodged in the senses such as the eye, etc.; all these go to the corresponding deities such as the sun, etc.; also those actions of the seeker after emancipation which have not begun to bear fruit (for those which have begun to bear fruit can be consumed only by enjoyment) and the Atman limited by the intellect, i.e., who, mistaking the condition of the intellect so caused by ignorance for the Atman, has here entered into various bodies like the image of the sun, etc., into water, etc. (Karma being intended for the benefit of the Atman). Therefore ‘Vijnanamaya’ means ‘chiefly possessed of intellect.’ These and the Vijnanamaya Atman, after removal of the conditions imposed, become mingled as one in the Brahman, the highest, the imperishable, endless, indestructible, all-pervading like the akas, unborn, undecaying, immortal, beneficent, fearless, having neither before nor after, nor in, nor out, without a second, unconditioned, lose their distinctive features, i.e., become one as the images of the sun, etc., become one with the sun when the surface, such as water (in which lie is reflected) is withdrawn and as the akas within the pot, etc., becomes one with the akas when the pot, etc., is withdrawn.

Sloka : 3.2.8

यथा नद्यः स्यन्दमानाः समुद्रेऽस्तं गच्छन्ति नामरूपे विहाय ।

तथा विद्वान्नामरूपाद्विमुक्तः परात्परं पुरुषमुपैति दिव्यम् ॥ ८॥

yathā nadyaḥ syandamānāḥ samudre'staṃ gacchanti nāmarūpe vihāya |

tathā vidvānnāmarūpādvimuktaḥ parātparaṃ puruṣamupaiti divyam || 8 ||

Just as rivers flowing become lost in an ocean, giving up both their name and form, just so, the knower, freed from name and form, attains the bright Purusha which is beyond the avyakta.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Moreover, just as flowing streams such as the Granges and the rest having reached the sea give up their distinct individuality in it, losing both their names and form, so, the knower being freed from name and form, created by ignorance, reaches the resplendent purusha above defined, who is beyond the avyakta already explained.

Sloka : 3.2.9

स यो ह वै तत्परमं ब्रह्म वेद ब्रह्मैव भवति नास्याब्रह्मवित्कुले भवति ।

तरति शोकं तरति पाप्मानं गुहाग्रन्थिभ्यो विमुक्तोऽमृतो भवति ॥ ९॥

sa yo ha vai tat paramaṃ brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati nāsyābrahmavitkule bhavati |

tarati śokaṃ tarati pāpmānaṃ guhāgranthibhyo vimukto'mṛto bhavati || 9 ||

He who knows that highest Brahman becomes even Brahman; and in his line, none who knows not the Brahman will be born. He crosses grief and virtue and vice and being freed from the knot of the heart, becomes immortal.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—It may he said that numerous obstacles are well known to exist in the attainment of good and that even the knower of Brahman may, therefore, be impeded either by some grief or other, or be made to take some other course by some other being, such as the Devas, reach some other after death and not reach Brahman. This cannot be; for all obstacles have already been removed by knowledge. Emancipation knows only the obstacle of ignorance and no other obstacle; because it is eternal and is being the Atman itself. Therefore, he in the world who knows that highest Brahman, as “I am directly that” does not take any other course. It is impossible even for the Devas to throw any obstacle in his attempt to reach the Brahman, because he becomes the Atman of all these; therefore he who knows the Brahman becomes even Brahman. Moreover in the line of this knower, there will not be born any who knows not the Brahman; again, he overcomes even during life the heart-burning caused by frustration of his many desires, crosses over karma known as vice and virtue, and being freed from “the knots of the heart” caused by ignorance, becomes immortal. It has already been said “the knot of the heart is untied, etc.”

Sloka : 3.2.10

तदेतदृचाऽभ्युक्तम् –

क्रियावन्तः श्रोत्रिया ब्रह्मनिष्ठाः स्वयं जुह्वत एकर्षिं श्रद्धयन्तः ।

तेषामेवैतां ब्रह्मविद्यां वदेत शिरोव्रतं विधिवद्यैस्तु चीर्णम् ॥ १०॥


kriyāvantaḥ śrotriyā brahmaniṣṭhāḥ svayaṃ juhvata ekarṣiṃ śraddhayantaḥ |

teṣāmevaitāṃ brahmavidyāṃ vadeta śirovrataṃ vidhivadyaistu cīrṇam || 10 ||

This is explained by the mantra “who perform the karma enjoined, who are srotriyas, who are centred in the Brahman (lower) and who with faith, offer oblations themselves to the fire named Ekarshi, perform the vow named Sirovrata (who duly carry a fire on the head); to those alone, let one teach this knowledge of the Brahman.”

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—Now, the Upanishad concludes by indicating the rule regarding the teaching of the knowledge of Brahman. This, the rule about the teaching of the knowledge of Brahman is expounded by this text. Who perform the karma enjoined, who are Srotriyas, who being engaged in the worship of the manifested Brahman seek to know the unmanifested Brahman. Who with faith, themselves offer the oblations to the fire known as Ekarshi; to them alone whose mind is thus purified and who are, therefore, fit (to receive instruction) should one teach the knowledge of Brahman as also to those by whom is duly practised the vow of Sirovratam such being the well known Vedic vow among those who are of the Atharvana Veda.

Sloka : 3.2.11

तदेतत्सत्यमृषिरङ्गिराः पुरोवाच नैतदचीर्णव्रतोऽधीते ।

नमः परमऋषिभ्यो नमः परमऋषिभ्यः ॥ ११॥

॥ इति मुण्डकोपनिषदि तृतीयमुण्डके द्वितीयः खण्डः ॥

tadetatsatyamṛṣiraṅgirāḥ purovāca naitadacīrṇavrato'dhīte |

namaḥ paramaṛṣibhyo namaḥ paramaṛṣibhyaḥ || 11 ||

This external purusha did the seer Angiras teach in ancient times; none by whom the vow is not observed studies this; prostration to the great sages, prostration to the great sages.

Commentary of Shankaracharya

Com.—This undecaying and true purusha did the seer, known as Angiras, teach in ancient days to Saunaka who had duly approached him and questioned him (about this). The meaning is that, similarly, any other also should teach the same to one who longs for bliss and seeks emancipation and who with that end in view has duly approached the preceptor. This knowledge in the form of a book, no one who has not observed the vow, studies; for it is knowledge, only in those who observe the vow, that bears fruit. Thus ends the knowledge of Brahman which has been handed down from Brahma and the rest from preceptor to disciple. Prostration to those sages, Brahma and the rest, who have directly seen the Brahman and realised him. Prostration again to them; the repetition is both to indicate great solicitude and the fact that the Mundakopanishad here ends.

Shanti Mantra (END)

॥ इत्यथर्ववेदीय मुण्डकोपनिषत्समाप्ता ॥

ॐ भद्रं कर्णेभिः श्रुणुयाम देवा भद्रं पश्येमाक्षभिर्यजत्राः ।

स्थिरैरङ्गैस्तुष्टुवासस्तनूभिर्व्यशेम देवहितं यदायुः ।

स्वस्ति न इन्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः ।

स्वस्ति नस्तार्क्ष्यो अरिष्टनेमिः स्वस्ति नो बृहस्पतिर्दधातु।

॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥


The Mundaka Upanishad (Sanskrit: मुण्डक-उपनिषद्, Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad) is an ancient Sanskrit Vedic text, embedded inside Atharva Veda.

It is a poetic verse style Upanishad, with 64 verses, written in the form of mantras. However, these mantras are not used in rituals, rather they are used for teaching and meditation on spiritual knowledge.

The higher knowledge versus lower knowledge

The Mundaka Upanishad classifies all knowledge into two: “lower knowledge” and “higher knowledge”. The lower knowledge includes knowledge of Vedas, phonetics, grammar, etymology, meter, astronomy and the knowledge of sacrifices and rituals. The higher knowledge is the knowledge of Brahman and Self-knowledge - the one which cannot be seen, nor seized, which has no origin, no Varna, no eyes, nor ears, no hands, nor feet, one that is the eternal, all-pervading, infinitesimal, imperishable, indestructible.

Knowledge is useful

The Upanishad explains how man has been called upon, promised benefits for, scared unto and misled into performing sacrifices, oblations and pious works. The Upanishad asserts this is foolish and frail, by those who encourage it and those who follow it, because it makes no difference to man’s current life and after-life, it is like blind men leading the blind, it is a mark of conceit and vain knowledge, ignorant inertia like that of children, a futile useless practice.

The Mundaka Upanishad asserts knowledge liberates man, and those who undertake Sannyasa (renunciation) to gain such knowledge achieve that knowledge through Tapas (meditation, austerity), living a simple tranquil life on alms, without any sacrifices and rituals.

Brahman is the inner Self of all things

Mundaka Upanishad asserts that just like a blazing fire creates thousand sparks and leaping flames in its own form, beings are brought forth from Brahman in its form. The Brahman is imperishable, without body, it is both without and within, never produced, without mind, without breath, yet from it emerges the inner Self of all things. From Brahman is born breath, mind, sensory organs, space, air, light, water, earth, everything. To know Brahman, is to be liberated.

Om, Self and Brahman

The Mundaka Upanishad suggests a path to knowing the Self and the Brahman: meditation, self-reflection and introspection. It also assert that the knowledge of soul (self) and Brahman “cannot” be gained from chanting the Vedas, but only comes from meditation and inner introspection for meaning.

The Upanishad asserts that the man with the knowledge of the soul and who has become one with Brahman, is liberated, is not affected by karman, is free of sorrow and self-doubts, is one who lives in bliss.

Atman-Brahman and its Oneness

It is the knowledge of eternal self, Atman-Brahman and its Oneness with all others, that liberates. The Upanishad states that the Soul is the life of all things, and there is delight in this Soul (Ātman).

Ethical practices

Through ethical practices combined with meditation, must a man know his Self. Atman-Brahman is not perceived, states the Upanishad, by the eye, nor by speech, nor by other senses, not by penance, nor by karma of rituals. It is known to those whose nature has become purified by the serene light of knowledge, who meditate on it, who dwell unto it. This is the state when one’s thoughts is integrated and interwoven with one’s body and all else. When thoughts are pure, the Self arises, this state of man is the state of Bhuti (भूति, inner power, prosperity and happiness).

Introduction by Shankaracharya


Adoration to the Brahman. The mantra beginning with “Brahma Devanam” is one of the Atharvana Upanishads. The Upanishad at its very commencement says how the knowledge therein contained was transmitted from preceptor to disciple and does this for the purpose of praising it. By showing how and with what great labour this knowledge was acquired by great sages as a means to secure the highest consummation, it extols knowledge to create a taste for it, in the minds of the hearers; for, it is only when a taste for knowledge is created by praising it, they would eagerly seek to acquire it. How this knowledge is related to emancipation, as a means to its end, will be subsequently explained in the passages commencing with ‘Bhidyate,’ etc. Having first stated here that the knowledge, denoted by the word “Apara Vidya” such as Rig Veda, etc., and consisting merely of mandatory and prohibitory injunctions, cannot remove faults like ignorance, etc., which are the cause of Samsara, i.e., embodied existence and having, by the passages beginning with “Avidyayam antar vartamana”, etc., shown a (marked) division of Vidya into Para and Apara, it explains in the passages beginning with ‘Parikshya lokan,’ etc., the knowledge of Brahman (Brahmavidya) which is a means to the attainment of the highest (Para) and which can be attained only by the grace of the preceptor, after a renunciation of the desire for all objects whether as means or ends. It also declares often the fruits of this knowledge in the passages “He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman itself” and “Having become Brahman while yet alive, all are freed.” Although knowledge is permitted to all in any order of life, it is the knowledge of Brahman in a Sannyasin that becomes the means of emancipation; not the knowledge combined with karma. This is shown by such passages as “Living the life of a mendicant” and “Being in the order of the Sannyasin,” etc. This also follows from the antagonism between knowledge and karma; it is well-known to be impossible that the knowledge of the identity of self with Brahman can be made to co-exist, even in a dream with karma (i.e., action). Knowledge being independent of time and not being the effect of definite causes cannot be limited by time.

If it be suggested that knowledge and karma can possibly co-exist as indicated by the fact that sages in the house-holder’s order have handed down knowledge, we say that this mere indication (linga) cannot override an obvious fact; for the co-existence of light and darkness cannot be brought about even by a hundred rules, much less by mere indications (linga) like these. A short commentary is now commenced of the Upanishad, whose relation to the end desired and whose result have been thus pointed out. This is named Upanishad; it may be either because it lessens the numerous evils of conception, birth, old age, disease, etc., in persons who take kindly to this knowledge of Brahman and approach it with faith and devotion; or, because it makes them reach Brahman; or, because it totally destroys the cause of Samsara, such as ignorance, etc.; thus from the several meanings of the root shad preceded by upani.

Introduction by Max Müller

The Upanishads, Part 2 [1879]

THIS is an Upanishad of the Atharva-veda. It is a Mantra-upanishad, i.e. it has the form of a Mantra. But, as the commentators observe, though it is written in verse, it is not, like other Mantras, to be used for sacrificial purposes. Its only object is to teach the highest knowledge, the knowledge of Brahman, which cannot be obtained either by sacrifices or by worship (upâsana), but by such teaching only as is imparted in the Upanishad. A man may a hundred times restrain his breath, &c., but without the Upanishad his ignorance does not cease. Nor is it right to continue for ever in the performance of sacrificial and other good works, if one wishes to obtain the highest knowledge of Brahman. The Sannyâsin alone, who has given up everything, is qualified to know and to become Brahman. And though it might seem from Vedic legends that Grihasthas also who continued to live with their families, performing all the duties required of them by law, had been in possession of the highest knowledge, this, we are told, is a mistake. Works and knowledge can be as little together as darkness and light.

This Upanishad too has been often translated since it first appeared in the Persian translation of Dârâ Shukoh. My own copy of the text and Saṅkara’s commentary from the MS. in the Chambers Collection was made in October 1844. Both are now best accessible in the Bibliotheca Indica, where Dr. Roer has published the text, the commentary by Saṅkara, a gloss by Ânandagñâna, and an English translation with notes.

The title of the Upanishad, Mundaka, has not yet been explained. The Upanishad is called Mundaka-upanishad, and its three chapters are each called Mundakam. Native commentators explain it as the shaving Upanishad, that is, as the Upanishad which cuts off the errors of the mind, like a razor. Another Upanishad also is called Kshurikâ, the razor, a name which is explained in the text itself as meaning an instrument for removing illusion and error. The title is all the more strange because Mundaka, in its commonest acceptation, is used as a term of reproach for Buddhist mendicants, who are called ‘Shavelings,’ in opposition to the Brâhmans, who dress their hair carefully, and often display by its peculiar arrangement either their family or their rank. Many doctrines of the Upanishads are, no doubt, pure Buddhism, or rather Buddhism is on many points the consistent carrying out of the principles laid down in the Upanishads. Yet, for that very reason, it seems impossible that this should be the origin of the name, unless we suppose that it was the work of a man who was, in one sense, a Mundaka, and yet faithful to the Brahmanic law.

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