Introduction to Mundaka Upanishad | The Journey of Dissolving Ego and Realizing the Self

Introduction to Mundaka Upanishad

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Integrity proceeds from Brahma-Anubhava

Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavati (ब्रह्मविद ब्रह्मैव भवति ) . This is perhaps the last stop on the path of Jnana Marga. The one who knows the Brahman, who has realized himself becomes the Brahman.  Unless Brahma-Anubhava (ब्राहमानुभवा the experience of Brahman) becomes a part of the seeker of Brahman, all other forms of knowledge will appear broken, incomplete and unsatisfactory. When one is under the illusion of the Mayic force, the senses which are born out of Maya cannot transmit that which is real, that source from which everything emanates. When a person speaks out of some experience, what gives authenticity to his words is his integrity and truthfulness of experience. When a man who is established in Brahman speaks, his words may appear simple, without any ornamentation. The power of the words however will turn out to be of highest value. This is because the words emanate from the depth of Truth which is in the direct experience of the speaker, through integrity born out of Brahma-Anubhava.

Modern science is just one of Mother Nature’s moves

The Mundaka Upanishad talks about the infinitum that Brahman represents. It is a direct challenge to all the so-called modern sciences which are born out of the limited nature of worldly experience meant to simply manipulate and adjust with the inherent smallness of the world. Modern science cannot be anything more than that. All inventions are born out of man’s necessity to adjust within limitedness of the world. What the Mundaka Upanishad exhorts is that all experience without the direct experience of Brahman is mere gloating. It says that real knowledge is only born out of the Self. All other types of knowledge are born out of ignorance and merely a guess work that Nature puts into place based on time, place and circumstance. If Thomas Alva Edison invented the electric bulb, he was just a mere instrument at the hands of Mother Nature. The electric bulb had to be invented and it never mattered as to who would become a tool for this purpose. It was just a tiny occurrence on the vast landscape of natural occurrences and nothing more.

Intellect is a figment of Maya

It is important for man to go deeper into every experience of life whether he is making coffee or flying an aircraft. It is important for man to grasp the transience associated with every single activity of the world. Only when the transience of activity is observed and realized, can man hone the ability to look beyond it so as to catch a glimpse on the background that is still, vast and magnanimous. If nature is transient then what is eternal, is an obvious question. The question can never be answered through intellect because intellect is born out of matter. It is finite and fickle to be able to answer such a profound question. Since the intellect is born out of Nature, it is fleeting and cannot grasp that which is eternal and permanent, which is also the cause for Nature. Even if an individual becomes interested in the transience of things and enquires as to what is eternal, it is still of great value. The question is a signal that the heart-strands of the individual that bind him to this fleeting world, Samsara, are already loosening. It is also an indication that these strands can be severed easily with one stroke of the Jnana sword.

Delusive conclusions are the result of Falsity

Desire prompted actions always emanate from the limited. Although desires may prompt good or bad actions the outcomes of such actions are temporary by nature and keep the doer on a shaky, ever- jittery ground. There can be no clarity in action or in the outcome. The learnings associated with the outcomes are heavily dependent on the external conditions which are by nature non-permanent. This means that all such learnings are illusive by their very nature. It does not contribute towards the growth of the individual. Instead, he becomes slave to erroneous conclusions which his sullied intelligence throws at him at the end of an experience. In addition, owing to the experience, one’s egoic-shell also gets strengthened pushing him further towards delusive thinking. When man comes under the sway of deceptive conclusions he may be pushed into lower forms of existence in succeeding lives where he is forced to take up unlearnt lessons. All sorts of delusive conclusions result by the dint of falsehood alone. Man is hesitant to accept truth because he is not matured enough to undergo the humbling experience of Truth.

Ego is an impediment to Truth

Practice of Truth, is the highest form of Sadhana. Practice of Truth, penance, Brahmacharya and the acquirement of correct knowledge are the practices that bestow strength on the aspirant—physical, mental, moral, intellectual and spiritual strength; and an aspirant endowed with this strength alone can reach the Goal—not a weakling, says the Mundaka Upanishad. These are all preparatory practices and they aid self-purification before one can inch further. However all these practices are actions and no action by itself can attain that which is unattainable by any action, the Supreme Brahman. Nevertheless, without these preliminary practices, the journey can never begin. The rupturing of the ego-centric shell is vital. The ego is the greatest impediment towards the perception of the Universal self. When one continuously fails to perceive Truth, the egoic shell hardens as a renewed continuum. With every failure in accepting Truth, the ego proliferates and takes one step further away from Truth.

The Formula of Atman-Remembrance

The Upanishad forbids us from talking about anything other than the all-inclusive Self. The austerity of speech is in recognition of the Truth about the Self. The inner mood should be in recognition of the fact that everything is an expression of the Self alone. Trying to identify anything or anyone differently is to deride the Truth of the Self. The Atman is the Self that animates every being. If the recognition of Atman becomes an object of continuous remembrance, there can be no utterance of anything contemptuous or hurtful. Speech would automatically become humbly truthful and hence dependable. The act of sacrifice is also the dissolution of the ego-born falsehood and nothing else. The love for the Self automatically triggers Vairagya (वैराग्य renunciation) in the heart that shall open the gateways towards liberation.  Meditating on the Self with a thorough understanding of the Mundaka Upanishad shall automatically initiate the path towards self-revelation. The Upanishad is a formula towards solving the problem of endless incarnations born out of the ego’s continuing thirst to maintain itself thereby keeping the soul bound to the limited experience of the world. The Mundaka Upanishad is an invitation to pulverize ignorance born out of ego.