Vikalevarakaivalyam tripaadraamamaham bhaje.
“Shukarahasyopanishad is verily
the crown of all Upanishads”
“The Upanishads”, said Sri Sadashiva, “is to the Vedas what the head is to the body, but Shukarahasyopanishad is verily the crown of all Upanishads. Whoever meditates on the Brahman conceived by this secret Upanishad develops detachment,” as a prelude to spiritual fulfillment. This was the assurance given by Sri Sadashiva to Sri Shuka when the latter sought from the Omniscient Lord of the Universe, the consort of Uma and endowed with attributes of Sat-Chit-Ananda, the secret knowledge of the Parabrahman innate in Pranava and also the secret doctrines epigrammatically enshrined in the four great Vedic proclamations known as “Maha Vakyas” and the six secret limbs thereof, each Maha Vakya conceived not only as a Mantra but also as an expression of compendious connotation of tattva.
The Rishis once went to Brahma and after offering salutations said, “Bhagavan! Please take us to the secret lore of Rahasyopanishad.”
“In the past,” said Brahma, “the great effulgent Vyasa, having known all about the Vedas, was the repository of thapas, Thaponidhi. Once he went over to Sri Sadashiva and with folded hands said, “Devadeva, the all-knowing! The ripe time for initiation of son Shuka to Vedic culture and the Brahmic lore has come. The initiation must come from you as the preceptor of the Universe – as the Jagadguru.”
“If I give the initiation,” said Iswara, “there will be everlasting Kaivalya in the very Brahman. After taking leave of the son, he will attain self-luminosity.”
“Let the Upanayana karma,” said Vedavyasa, “be as per injunctions. May my son stay in the Brahman by your grace Maheshwara! Bless my son to be an omniscient.”
All the Devarshis present were pleased with Vyasa’s prayers.
As Shuka who was a picture of fulfillment, approached Sadashiva with utmost bhakti, he got the Pranava from Shiva and said to him, “Lord of all the elements and Ocean of Kindness! Shower your blessings! Besides initiation into the concept of Parabrahman innate in Omkara, I would like to know in consonance with prescribed path from you the Mahavakyas like “Tattvamsi” especially prajna and the like and the meta-physical significance of shadangas (six limbs). Sadashiva! Lead kindly light to the secret lore.
“Shuka! Repository of knowledge, Muni and great intellectual,” said Sri Sadashiva, “I shall reveal a secret you have heard of – a secret pregnant with the meaning of Vedic embellishments. The six-limbed lore is called Rahasyopanishad and the knowledge of it leads one directly to supreme liberation (salvation) without doubt.”
“A preceptor (or Guru)”, continued Sadashiva “should not initiate one to Vakyas or mantras bereft of limbs (bereft of anganyasa and karanyasa). The Maha Vakyas should be given as far as possible with their six limbs or parts. This Rahasyopanishad is the crown of all Upanishads and concentration on the swarupa of the Brahman conceived by this Rahasyopanishad pulls one from the material to the spiritual path. What are the benefits of punya from theerthas, mantra, sravana and japa? Manifold will be such benefits from disquisitions into the meaning of Maha Vakyas and also from a solitary instance of japa coupled with dhyana of the Rishi and the limbs of the mantra.”
“Hamsa Rishi is the Rishi for the Maha Vakya Mahamantra. The mantra is in Avyakta Gayathri metre. The Devata is Paramahamsa. Ham is the beeja, Saha is the Shakti and Soham is the kheelaka. The japa is applied to seek the blessings of the presiding deity of the mantra namely Paramahamsa Paramatman.”
“The karanyasa and anganyasa portions themselves describe the Brahman as “Satya-jnanam-anantam Brahma, Nityanando nityanandamayam, Yo vai bhooma, yo vai bhoomadhipatihi, Ekameva aditveeyam Brahma, which are time-honoured Vedic proclamations throwing light on the hidden meaning of the Mahavakyas – suggestive of the attributes of the Brahman as Truth and Knowledge and blissful infinity, as the all-pervading Lord of the Cosmos and as the singular one without a second.”
“By the performance of the mantra japa with Rishi, chandas, Devata, beeja, keelaka, karanyasa and anganyasa, not to mention the importance of the dhyana sloka common to all mantras before the moola mantra japa, the achievement of mantra siddhi, the grace of the mantra Devata and the pratishta or installation of the anga devatas of the mantra in the various limbs of the human body so as to provide it with the strength of an armoury, (all leading to the fulfillment of the very pursuit of japa), will be a fait accompli – an established fact.”
“The well-known sloka “Nityanandam paramsukhadam…” constitutes the dhyana sloka of Maha Vakyas.”
“The salutation to the Sadguru who dwells in bliss, who is a bestower of supreme happiness, a personification of knowledge, who is singularly alone, bereft of duality, exalted, absolute, eternal, of pure expression the witness to all intellectual phenomena, transcending conception and bereft of the trinity of gunas, highlights the paramount feature of the tattva enunciated by Tattvamasi and other Maha Vakyas.”
The four Maha Vakyas
The four Maha Vakyas are: Om Prajnanam Brahma, Aham Brahmasmi, Tattvamasi and Ayamatma Brahma.
Whoever pursues the japa of Tattvamasi, the Vakya which proclaims absence of all differentiations between Jeevatman and Paramatman, will attain the glory of Shiva Sayujya Moksha.
The Maha Vakya Tattvamasi consists of three padas or words, namely Tat (That) tvam (you) and asi (are) meaning “That you are”.
Rahasyopanishad reveals the secret mantras separately for each of the three padas.
The mantra japa of “Tat” (That), the first pada, with its six fold delineation of nyasa is done with the intention of attaining salvation of the Sayujya type laying emphasis on “Tat” or That which shines with the attributes of truth, knowledge, bliss and that Tat-purusha transcending all.
The second pada “tvam” (you) is recited in the same way for seeking blessings for liberation from bondage.
It is the dhyana sloka of this ‘tvam’ pada mantra that Sarva antaryamin who is ‘that’ (Tat) indivisible force appears in all beings as ‘Tvam’ with the subtle characteristics of the self, namely, of chitta, ahankara and the corporeal appendage. The salvation is the force to the jeevan (Tvam) who however is none other than Paramatman (Tat). This indeed is the quintessence of the doctrine of ‘tattvamsi’. The crowning glory of achievement of salvation consists in one unfettering oneself from these shackles of bondages and appendages. The ‘asi’ pada mantra reveals the process of discovery of the true form of the Jeevatman who is the same as Paramatman. The consciousness of the superimposition and the vanishing point of the ‘camouflage’ or illusory cover will mean understanding of the identity of the Brahman.
Although in the ‘asi’ pada, the application of the mantra is consecrated to the so-called union of Jeevan and Brahman (Jeeva-brahma-aikyarthe japaha), which is understandable from a material plane, in reality it will be seen that the absolute identity of the two seemingly different concepts is factually subtle and the discovery itself is a recognition of the understanding of reunion. In the body of the ‘Asi’ mantra, the reference to “jeeva-brahma-aikyarthe jape viniyogaha” is therefore to be considered only from the angle of paaramaarthika as the Ardhanareeshwara symbol of this union (the presiding deity of the mantra) is already resident in one – Asi!
When there is a mental assimilation of the meaning of Vakya that the Jeevan is the Brahman, then what is to be merged the two-some facet of Tat and Tvam by contemplating on ‘Asi’.
It is interesting to note that in the structure of the ‘Asi’ pada mantra, the Shukarahasyopanishad refers to the dual combination of atomic particles namely matter and anti-matter particles with which Ishwara installed himself systematically. It is in the dhyana sloka of this ‘tvam’ pada mantra that the Sarvaantaryamin who is that (Tat) indivisible force stays, as indicated by the ‘nyasa’, in the five-old elemental structure of the universe. Nyasa implies the installation of angadevatas or various presiding tutelary deities in different parts of cosmos – cosmos which is within Himself. At the time of creation, nyasa implied a mental exercise for the Creator in consonance with the profound assertion “Ichha-maatrena srishti prabho”, suggesting that the world came into being the very moment He thought about creation.
In this way, the Maha Vakya consists of six limbs.
Rahasyopanishad now proceeds to interpret the meaning of the Maha Vakyas in perfect detail.
Brahman is Consciousness
The fact that whatever is perceived by the sensory organs of hearing, sight and smell is verily Prajnanam or, Pure Consciousness will be part of our realization gradually. The gradual awareness of Prajnanam being the all-pervading Brahman itself is exactly what is implied here. It is the same force (Chaitanya) which pervades Chaturmukha Brahma, Indra, Devatas, human beings, animals such as horse or cow and even in Iswara – the same Brahma Chaitanya pervades. Hence Prajnanam is Brahman. The tattva has reference to the principle of “Tat” here.
The same principle of “Tat” which pervades the individual (microcosm) as the Atman in this body manifests itself as the fountain of enlightenment and as the witness to intellect and projects itself as “Atman” or ‘I’ or as ‘Tvam’. Here the self-effulgent, full and indivisible Atman is described as the Brahman. In other words, the Atman in this body is in reality the Brahman, Ayamatma Brahma.
By experience of identity and unity, the consequential self-proclamation as Brahman brings us to the anubhava Vakya ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (‘I’ am Brahman).
Brahman is without nomenclature and form and hence only one and bereft of a second.
Ekameva – adviteeyam Brahma
Both anterior and posterior to creation, it is the same “Tat” or Brahman without a second. It should be noted that the principle transcending the bodily sensory perceptions is denoted by the word “Tvam” here. “Asi” (is) which means the truthful state of identity of Tvam, as Tat denotes the experience of this fusion of the principles of “Tat” and Iswara. The underlying emphasis is on the transcendental principle and that of self-luminosity. The reference is to Prathyagatma in the physical frame composed of Ahamkara and the like. Prathyagatma is the Atman praised as being resident in the stoola, sookshma and karana frames of the body.
Reality and superimposition
The jnanis know the whole visible universe as illustrative of the Tvam principle from the primordial ‘Tat’. In other words, they know that the jagat is a product of the Brahman that pervades. The truth about ‘Asi’ is that ‘Tvam’ as seen by the jnanis is the same as ‘Tat’ which has assumed the role of the visible Tvam.
The Brahman called ‘Tat’ is a factor of self-luminosity attributable to Brahma sabda. The ignorance or ajnana called sleep caused by viewing the body only as reality brings within the wake the dreamy state called “aviveka”. The viveka is the ‘jagratavastha’, (conscious state) about the Brahman. The illusion is caused by ignorance about superimposition of Aviveka, which in turn gives rise to all kinds of unreal imaginations which last but for a few moments in a dream. Man lives in a world of dream or illusion or Maya, “the body” being looked upon as the only reality. The loss of proper vision and viveka about the Brahman who pervades Antahkarana or ego brings about ignorance and illusion. The powers of bheda (discrimination) are lost and hence the so-called illusion.
This illusion (dream) is dispelled and real enlightenment or awakening dawns by the grace of Guru’s teachings about the subtle distinctions and meanings of the Maha Vakyas.
The two words Vachya and Lakshya focus light on the Jagat or universe (Tvam). Jagat pin-points Brahman (Tat), or the physical and sensory perceptions (Tvam) also indicate the Atma (Tat). The one that stands (Asi) in the form of the Jagat or bodily frames is the same Brahman.
The indicator of Veda Vakya of Iswara about “Tat” is the very Brahman in eternal sat-chit-ananda. The identity of the two (Tat-Tvam; Atman-Brahman) is denoted by Asi. ‘Asi’ denotes what already exists as truth and we have to comprehend the identity of Atman and Brahman as one facet of truth and universe pervaded by Brahman and Atman as another facet.
Both the principles of Tvam and Tat constitute the one and the same sat-chit-ananda form in the upadhis of kaarya and kaarana – in the functional (effectual) and causative spheres.
The cause of both words “Tvam” and “Asi” which transcends the jagat, space and time is this only vital and sustaining force attributable to “Tat” viz., Brahman. This Brahman is the jeevan in the upadhi of kaarya and Iswara in the upadhi of karana. The concept of Poorna jnana swarupa or the ultimate reality of existence is the one that remains beyond kaarya and kaarana. Full knowledge of that ultimate reality is attained by transcending the two concepts of kaarya and kaarana. This is attained first by (sravana) listening to the Guru, then the manana (contemplation) and finally by nidhidhyasana (nurturing the spiritual wealth) and this process brings full knowledge. Any other knowledge (Apart from Brahma Vidya) is transitory. Only Brahma Vidya is capable of securing attainment of Brahman.