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Mundakopanishad-49

Author: Srimaan Sribhashyam Srinivasacharyulu

Dear RAmAnuja DAsas and Asthikas,

In this posting we shall continue by taking up the 7th Mantra onwards of the 4th part of the Upanishad.

Mantra 7, Part-4

arA iva rathhanAbhau samhathA yathra nADyah
sa eshonthascharathe bahudhA jAyamAnah|
omithyevam dhyAyathha AthmAnam
svasthi vah pArAya thamasah parasthAth||

Word Meanings

sa eshah = this akshara Brahman
jAyamAnah = who incarnates
bahudhA = in many ways.
charathe = resides
anthah = inside (such heart) of the every living entity,
yathra = in which
samhathA = are placed together
nADyah = the veins and arteries of the body,
arAh iva = like spokes of the wheel of a carriage (placed)
rathhanAbhau = in the hub of the carriage.
.One should
dhyAyathha = meditate
AthmAnam = that akshara Brahman
omithyevam = with the praNavam only
pArAya = to reach the far side shore that is in the form of release from the births and
deaths, and which lies
parasthAth = beyond
thamasah = the primordial cosmic matter the great darkness.
vah svasthi = Let there be happiness and prosperity for you all.

The place of that paramAtma is identified to be the heart chamber of a meditator in the nArAyNopanishad of thaiththireeyam. The relevant passages read as follows padmakosa pratheekAsam hRidayam chApyadhomukham and hRidayam thath vijAneeyAth visvasyAyathanam mahath. Further, santhatham sirAbhisthu lambathyAkosa sannibham. It is said that the heart chamber looks like an inverted bud of a lotus flower. From that only all the veins and arteries extend to all parts of the body. In essence, the heart is considered to be the origin for all such veins and arteries. Like the assertion in the thaiththireeyam, presently in this mantra also, all the nADis the tubes in the body the veins and  arteries are said to originate from the heart chamber only like the spokes of a wheel are emanating from the central hub of the wheel. Further it is stated in the present Mantra that the paramAtma is there in that heart chamber in a  subtle form.

The descent of ParamAtma and study of its nature. bahudhA jAyamAnah It is felt that the elaboration of bhagavad avathAra thaththvam is the  necessity here. Though it takes some space in the book it is essential to understand the
nature of His descent in the p43resent context. The ParamAtma who resides in the heart of every entity takes many descents avathAras for the sake of restoring the universe to its normalcy and safeguarding His devotees. His descent is not that He is born but there appears a need for Him to descend into this universe. He is in fact ajAyamAna a person who does not have births. In spite of that He takes descent many times as said bahudhA vijAyathe takes birth in many ways, in the Vedas. What is the reason for this unusual birth? The Vedas say that only those who are in the knowledge of the reality of the nature and characteristics of paramAtma know the reason behind His descents. Thasya dheerAh parijAnanthi yonim dheerAh the well read scholars (only) thasya yonim the reason of His descent (birth) parijAnanthi know in full. When He is an avApthasamasthakAma that person whose every desire has been fulfilled, what for should He descend? The answer for this question is given by Him in Bhagavad-Gita. Krishna the paramAtma himself reveals the reason for His descents.

parithrANAya sAdhUnAm vinAsAya cha dushkRithAm|
dharmasamsthhApanArthhAya sambhavAmi yuge yuge||

He does not descend for Himself. His avathAram is only for safeguarding the interests of sAdhu purushas His devotees who are good and honest. That is the primary and important benefit of His descent. He is Omnipotent, who can perform the creation and other such acts by His intention itself. When He is so powerful, there can be a minor doubt that when He could have protected His devotees the PAnDavas from His abode SrivaikunTham itself, why should He take all the trouble of descending as Krishna? Bhagavad RAmAnuja in his commentary to Gita had elaborated on the qualities and characteristics of the sAdhu purushas gave a very apt and heart-warming reply for this doubt. He says sAdhavah ukthalakshaNa dharmaseelAh, vaishNavAgresarAh, mathsamAsrayaNe pravRiththAh, mannAmakarma svarUpANam vAn~gmanasAgocharathayA maddarsanAdvinA svAthmadhAraNa poshaNAdikam alabhamAnAh kshaNamAthrakAlam kalpasahasram manvAnAh prasidhila sarva gAthrA bhaveyurithi, mathsvarUpacheshTitha avalokanAlApanAdi dAnena theshAm parithrANAya&. Its meaning can be summarised as below the good and honest persons having the characteristics as established earlier do follow the scriptural duties. They are in the forefront of the devotees of VishNu. They are on the pursuit to visualise Him. They cannot stand or live even for a minute without visualising my form in person and consider that period of not being able to visualise me in person to be some ages. Unable to see me in physical form they have their parts of body getting drained out and becoming totally dependent on me. Considering all these, to protect them and make them happy, I come down with my physical form and all my qualities and characteristics. They become happy by seeing my form, characteristics and acts. The characteristics of a vaishNava the follower of vishNu is given in VishNu purANa as follows

na chalathi nijavarNa dharmatho yassamamathih AthmasuhRidvipakshavarge|
na harathi na cha hanthi kinchiduchchaih sithamananam thamavehi vishNubhaktham||

one who does not abrogate deviate from the prescribed duties under any circumstances, who treats all persons equally irrespective of them being friends or foes, does not look for acquiring others properties, does not harm anybody, becomes a pious person and he can be construed as a true devotee of BhagavAn VishNu. Such persons show their vexation with the samsAra the mundane life and they proceed with firmness to approach BhagavAn for the relief from this mundane world. They have a strong desire to visualise physically the beautiful form of Him, behold the extra-ordinary acts of Him, and have chat with Him. Being innumerable in number and not capable of capturing the beauty and sweetness of those innumerable names of Him, extra-ordinary acts of Him and unthinkable form of Him with this mundane body and sensory organs, they are unable to bear the anxious and painful wait for them. Thus they spend their time as if a minute is like ages as said thRiTi yugAyathe thvAmapasyathah a minute part becomes a yuga a very long period of lakhs of years as You are not being visible to us; in GopikAgeethas. Their bodies and organs tend to lose their vitality. How does He protect such of His devotees if He does not descend in front of them and let them see His physical form, His unusual acts and talk with Him? Thus His descent is only for the protection of His devotees.

The scriptures do say darsanam thu parAbhakthih physical visualisation is called parAbhakthi. In other words, a devotion which leads one to the physical visualisation of Him is known to be called as parabhakthi. Personalities like PrahlAda, Dhruva, and AkrUra are such people who longed to be able to see or visualise physically His form and succeeded in having their wish fulfilled. AzhwArs also belong to such a category only. The purpose of His avathAram or descent is to protect and fulfil the wishes of such of His devotees only. There lived a scholarly Brahmin called Govindaswamy in Tirupati in the olden times. He did a very hard penance to visualise His exciting physical form and acts as described and detailed in the various scriptures. The Lord also being extremely pleased with him re-enacted and showed him all His acts and forms in various avathArams to him. This was stated by Sri Thirumangai AzhwAr in his work Periya thirumozhi in the pAsuram mAka mAnilam muzhuthum vandiRainjum malaraDi kaNDa mAmaRaiyALan (5-8-5).

Similar was the experience of the famous poet MadhusUdana sarasvathi who says kRishNAthparam kimapi daivamaham na jAne. He desired to see Him in this life itself and was blessed also with such a benefit from Him. Whatever alms he could get daily was being offered to Lord KrishNa and was partaking the same food along with Him with utmost pleasure. He expressed that happiness in one poem of his work named Ananda mandAkinI sthavam as given below

madhyAhne yamunAthaTe viTapinAm mUle vayassyaissamam
dadhyannAnyupabhujyu rajyathi punasthath kreeDane cha thvayi|
nAkesa sthripurAnthakah kamalabhU ranyecha nAkAlayAh
kAkAkAra jusho muhuh kabaLayanthyuchchishTamishTam thava||

Its meaning O young KrishNa! When you are playing after eating the curd rice with other cowherd boys during midday, the celestials like Indra, Rudra, and the four-faced Brahma etc. appeared there in the form of crows and are picking up the auspicious leftover rice again and again. Thus MadhusUdana Sarasvathi is blessed by the visualisation of BhagavAn. There are many more such devotees like St. ThyAgarAja etc. who were longing to have the darsanam of BhagavAn. It would not have been possible to give them the physical darsanam to them from SrivaikunTham unless He descended in front of them. Thus His descent was necessitated to grant the wishes of His devotees and this is the beautiful explanation given by Sri RAmAnuja in his commentary to Bhagavad-Gita.

To continue In the next posting, we shall continue with some objections and the answers to this view. Dasoham,

Adiyen

Srinivasa RAmAnuja DAsan