Meditation On "OM"
Mandukya Upnishad


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"All this is verily Brahman. This Atman (the Supreme Self) is Brahman. This Atman has four quarters (four feet, portions, aspects or conditions)."

This Atman called Om is Para (higher) Brahman as well as Apara (lower) Brahman and has four quarters, four feet, not like those of a cow, but like the fractions of a coin.

The Sanskrit word Pada literally means foot. In this first Mantra, it is said that Om the word is allthis. ln this Mantra it is said "All this is verily Brahman." This clearly denotes that Om is Brahman.

All this is verily Brahman: all-the manifested and the unmanifested world comprised in the word 'all'-is Brahman. All that has been declared to consist of Om in the above Mantra is Brahman. In the previous text the whole of the objective manifestation has been said to be of the form of Om or Brahman. In this Mantra it is said that Brahman is not only the visible, manifested world but also the very innermost Self or the Atman.

This Atman is Brahman. Brahman cannot he demonstrated. But it is possible to infer its existence from certain empirical facts. The existence of Brahman is inferred or known on the ground of its being the self of everyone. For, everyone is conscious of the existence of his self and never thinks 'l am not.' lf the existence of the Self were not known, everyone would think 'l am not.' And this Self of whose existence all are conscious, is Brahman. That Brahman whose existence is inferred by certain empirical facts, by the study of the Upanishads, is now pointed out as being directly cognized or realized by the text, "Ayam Atma Brahma-this self or jivatma is Brahman." The word Atma means that which pervades all.

Direct realization of Brahman (Aparoksha Anuhhuti) is pointed out here. The author or the seer points out with his forefinger to the region of the heart or breast. "this Atman is Brahman." People have generally got the belief that the region of the heart is the seat or abode of the Atman, Brahman, the Soul. That is the reason why the seer points out with his forefinger to the region of the heart. The words "this Atman" indicates something very near. A sage is a seer who possesses direct intuitional knowledge of Brahman. He knows Brahman through Self-realization (Atma-sakshatkara). Just as one knows the Amalaka fruit in his hand, so also he knows Brahman. That is the reason why he declares with certainty with a gesture of hand, "this Atman is Brahman."

There are four Mahavakyas or great sentences in the Upanishads. Each Veda contains one Mahavakya. "Ayam Atma Brahma-This Atman is Brahman" is the fourth Mahavakya. This is contained in this Mandukya Upanishad of the Atharva Veda. This is Anubhavabodha-vakya, the great text or the great sentence that gives expression to the inner intuitive experience or Aparoksha Anubhuti, the direct perception of the innermost self by the aspirant through meditation (Nididhyasana). This Mahavakya denotes the identity or oneness of the individual soul, with Brahman, the Supreme Soul. The other three Mahavakyas are:

l. "Prajnanam Brahma-Consciousness is Brahman." This is Svarupa-bodha-vakya, the great sentence that explains the nature of Brahman, the Self. This is contained in the Aitareya Upanishad of the Rig-veda.

2. "Aham Brahmasmi--l am Brahman." This is Anusandhana-vakya. The aspirant tries to fix his mind on the idea "I am Brahman." This is contained in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of the Yajur-veda.

3. "Tat-tvam-asi-Thou art That." This is Upadesa-vakya. The teacher instructs the student "my child, Thou art That, Thou art Brahman. Realize this and be free." This is contained in the Chhandogya Upanishad of the Sama-veda.

Chatushpad: four feet; four quarters; Pada means foot or instrument. Visva (Jagrat Avastha, the waking state), Taijasa (Svapna Avastha, the dreaming state), Prajna (Sushupti Avastha, the state of deep sleep) and Turiya, super consciousness which is same as Brahman, the Atman, Atman are the four feet or the four conditions of Atman.

Just as a quarter-coin is merged in the half-coin, the half is resolved in the three-fourth and the three quarters is finally resolved in the full coin so also Visva is resolved in Taijasa, Taijasa in Prajna, and ultimately Prajna is merged in Turiya. The fourth is realized by merging the other three states in it, in the order of the lower in the higher. The word quarter means here an "instrument" that helps one for the realization of the fourth, the Turiya.

 Visva is the individual soul who experiences the gross objects in the waking state. Visva is the reflected intelligence (Chaitanya, Chidabhasa). Taijasa is the reflected Chaitanya, the individual soul who experiences the dream objects in the dreaming state. Prajna is the individual soul, the reflected Chaitanya or intelligence who experiences the bliss of deep sleep state. Visva, Taijasa and Prajna are one. The experience of Prajna in deep sleep is expressed by Visva in the waking state. It is Visva who says: "l enjoyed sound sleep last night. I did not know anything."

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