About the Author
Born in the year 1935 at Razole, a village in
East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, Shri Bulusu Lakshmi- prasanna
Satyanarayana Sastri comes from a family of Vedic scholars. His father, the
late Bulusu Somanatha Sastri, was a Telugu Pandit and litterateur. He performed
several “Ashtavadhanams” before he joined service in the Revenue Department in
East Godavari District and later retired as a First Class Magistrate in Andhra
Sri B. L. Satyanarayana Sastri had his
education at Kakinada and at Bombay. He is, at present, assisting the
Collector, East Godavari District, in matters pertaining to Planning and
Development. He is the author of Mandukyageetam, a study of Mandukyopanishad in
Telugu, which is under publication. His first novel Vividisha in Telugu was
serialised in “Andhra Prabha Illustrated Weekly” in the year 1978.
The present work on Mandukyopanishad directs all
thinking men to delve deep into their own conscience to unfathom the mysterious
phenomena of life and death to transcend them on to a Limitless Experience.
Among all living creatures, man occupies the
top place in evolution. All other creatures can think of things other than
themselves, but it is only given to man to think of himself, too. All
literature is the result of man’s thoughts. Books give us the experience of
others. There are sacred books which directly deal with the secret of life and
the world. They teach us what we really are, how we can know ourselves, and how
this knowledge, by removing our ignorance, can remove our limitations and
Millions of people, all over the world, read
books which do not tell them about the ultimate truth of existence. A few
thousand people are led to read spiritual works and even they do not pursue the
matter till they gain real knowledge. Blessed are those who are fortunate
enough to read holy books early in their lives and spend their days in serious
pursuit of Truth.
In the entire sacred literature of the world,
the Vedas and the Upanisads stand out like the Himalayas, with their
unparalleled glory of deepest and highest thoughts. The Mandukyopanisad is a
work, the like of which it is vain to search for in any literature of the
world. It is given to only a few rare fortunate souls to think of making a
serious study of this Upanisad, for a study of this work is the shortest path
Shri B. L. Satyanarayana Sastri, a young member
of the District Collector’s staff, despite being absorbed the whole day in
official drudgery, has found time to study this Upanisad, not merely as a
philosophical excursion but as a life-and-death question. Not only that, he has
chosen t follow it up in his actual day-to-day life. I have several times tried
to estimate the level of his understanding of the essence of this Upanisad and
have invariably found him achieving some sort of identity with it. By
temperament a deeply religious man, wedded to a life of incorruptible moral
behaviour in all his dealings, the young author, when we touch him on the
subject, goes into a state of inspired fervour, and - to put it in a few words
- he conveys to us the quintessence of the Upanisad.
Sri B. L. Satyanarayana Sastri has written this
treatise giving an exposition of the message of this Upanisad both in Telugu
and in English. It is a delight to go through these pages. He has made it
easiest to understand a most difficult work. I asked him why he undertook this
unedifying work from the point of view of the modern world; his only answer is,
“I cannot help it.” He has succeeded in giving a lucid and correct exposition.
He writes, not as a scholar nor as a mere student, but he writes about the
Upanisad as if it really and exclusively belongs to him by birth-right.
All the Upanisads contain utterances reflecting
direct experience of the Truth, which they call Brahman. The Mandukyopanisad is
the shortest of the Upanisads. The central point taken for investigation is the
state of deep sleep. What a wonderful thing it is that we can see “God by
analysing our sleep! All creatures sleep, but human beings are expected to know
the meaning of their sleep. We however take the state of sleep as if it were a
routine affair. In fact, whatever state we can analyse closely, in that we can
The very same Jivatma or individual soul goes
through the three states of Jagrat, Svapna and Susupti, i.e. the wakeful, dream
and the dreamless deep-sleep states. The same person returns to the waking
state from the dream and dreamless sleep states. In the first two states, the
person has experience of pleasure and pain of happiness and sorrow. But in the
deep-sleep state, all creatures enjoy unmixed bliss. The reason is plain. The
individual soul finds itself in its original state, shorn of all disturbing
adjuncts of body, mind, senses and thought, which are not really part of the
soul. These are the outer trappings of the soul, which cover up its natural
brilliance, peace and happiness. If one can for ever live in deep sleep, one
will never experience sorrow. One will be immersed in eternal bliss. But there
is the seed still remaining which brings back the soul to other states. When
the seed is destroyed by true knowledge, the individual soul finds its real
state, i.e. the state of Brahman or Brahmavastha. That is called the Turiya or
the fourth state.
Salvation is liberty or freedom from all
bondage and one has to know what binds one before one can disown it. Just as
the body, mind and sense complex is obliterated in the deep sleep state, in the
Turiya state, the separateness of the individual soul is obliterated and the
Brahman, one without a second, shines in its pristine glory. The Karikas
(Explanatory Verses) of Gaudapada logically prove all this. It is what is
called Ajati-vada or the argument that does not posit the existence of the
universe at all. If we admit the universe, we shall be admitting a second
besides the secondless Brahman. In a nutshell, the author has given us the
exposition of the Upanisad, the Karikas and the great commentary of Sri
The book deserves serious study at the hands of all
seekers of Truth.
Of all living beings that inhabit this planet,
it is given only to man to think of himself. Yet he thinks and thinks of
everything except himself. He just functions un- aware of that which makes him
function. Generally, man’s thoughts range over past recollections, present problems
and future aspirations. His bodily cravings and psychological in-pulls drive
him helter-skelter throughout his life, leaving him in the end sans peace.
When man’s search for peace outside of himself
re-coils on him, he begins to look inwards into himself, for he is not merely a
psycho-physical complex. A deep abiding truth must underlie that complex. The
search for Truth stems from a deep spiritual unrest within. As long as one
compromises oneself with the embodiment and environment, there is neither
spiritual unrest nor search.
The Vedas and the Upanisads which are the
repositories of the sublimest thought, take care of such a one who has
expressed his deep dissatisfaction with the order of things and the flow of
events as they are at present. They present him a number of theories and
philosophies which, though they appear to be contradicting one another, slowly
and steadily lead him to the Ultimate Reality, through reason and experience.
They ultimately make a true seeker rise above
blind belief and make him plunge into himself to unravel the mystery of this
puzzling phenomenon-the Universe.
The Rsis of the Vedas rightly direct all
thinking men to make a co-ordinated investigation into human experience during
the wakeful, dream and deep-sleep states, to have a total picture of human
existence and experience. Even though all of us are aware of the three states,
most of us, pitiably, do not know the basis of these three states and simply
lead mechanical, matter-of-fact lives. The Mandukyopanisad mentions that a
fourth one called Turiya is the true nature of the human being and if that is
known (realised), all the riddles of human existence, nay the very mystery of
existence, is unravelled.
The wakeful state is a contact of consciousness
(Caitanya) with the mind and sense-organs. The dream state is a projection of
mental confabulations without the aid of the sense-organs. Then what is mind
and what is the source of its power? There is no clear definition of mind. Mind
is and we have its experiences. We in fact do not know what our own mind is and
what constitutes it. We are totally ignorant of the inner alchemy of the mind.
Verily, if mind is known, there is nothing else to know.
The Mandukyopanisad directs us to make a
thorough investigation into all these and to know what it is, that is awake,
that dreams and that goes into deep sleep. The preoccupations of our day-to-day
lives cloud us from making a probe into what we really are. Most of our time during
our wakeful state, is invariably spent for earning a living and for indulging
in pleasures associated with eating and mating. We retire into slumber to get
relief from the stress, strain and vexations of the works we perform.
To go beyond, Vedanta (Philosophy of the
Upanisads) declares that divinity is inherent in man and that the prime duty of
man is to recognise his identity with it. The Upanisads are the expressions of
the experiences of those great seers in their communion with the Ultimate Reality.
The Vedas can broadly be divided into two parts - ritualistic and
philosophical. The Upanisads belong to the second category.
The Vedic scriptures-Rk, Yajus, Sama and
Atharva - repeatedly emphasise the need to know the Ultimate Reality to get
release from self-imposed bondage, the cause of all sorrow and woe. In the
Vedas, at every turn, we have the direction, ‘Ya evam veda’. These words denote
that all this is to be known. The Vedas en- join the seeker not to be blindly
carried away by any idea other than the Ultimate Truth.
The Mandukyopanisad forms part of the Atharva
Veda. The importance of this Upanisad, is underlined by another Upanw.ad
(Muktikopanisad) which declares that the study of Mandukya is enough for
attaining liberation by the seekers. The word Manduka in Sanskrit means ‘frog’.
Just as a frog leaps from the submerged state in deep waters on to the shore at
will, seekers by devout and intense study and practice, leap-frog to
Immortality at will. Hence its name Mandukyopanisad. Sri Gaudapadacarya wrote
215 explanatory verses on this Upanisad in Sanskrit. They are called Gaudapada
Karikas. Sri Adi Samkara, the master of Advaita philosophy and a pupil of sri
Govindabhagavatpada, himself a student of Sri Gaudapada, declares that this
Upanisad together with the Karikias of Sri Gaudapada constitutes the
quintessence of Vedanta. Sri samkaracarya wrote an elaborate commentary on the
Upanisad as well as on the Karikas. The Mandukyopanisad makes a direct appeal
to all those who experience wakeful, dream and deep sleep states to realise
that the same consciousness makes all these states exist and makes us
Human beings are endowed with a well-developed
intellect. They occupy a special place among all sentient beings. But
generally, the experiences of human beings, whether they pertain to the
wakeful, dream or deep sleep state, are only partial. Men who have experienced
the Turiya, the fourth state, call upon us to know and realise it. If at all
the real meaning of life is to be sought, it is to be done only within and not
without. It is only because of the presence of Self or Atman that all is known.
All human achievements are possible because of the presence of a conscious self
within and not due to any other phenomenon. The sun is a supreme source of
light and warmth. But it is the consciousness that is aware of the presence of
the sun, the moon, the stars and other planets of the phenomenal Universe. It
is only the conscious principle in living beings that can know the light, the
source of light and the objects shining in light, and also darkness. The
Upanisads, therefore, direct man to know the nature of his own self, the source
of real knowledge and eternal bliss. So did the Greek philosophers who said
Gnothi Seaution (Know thyself).
In the following explanation of the Mantras of
the Mandukyopanisad, an attempt has been made to conduct an enquiry into the
inner import of this great Upanisad. The Upanisadic texts are called Mantras.
The literal meaning of the word Mantra (Mananat Trayate iti Mantrah) is that by
repeated examination of its inner meaning, it protects men (from the cycle of
births and deaths).
So, a study of the Upanisad is to be commenced
with a clean and open mind as the great sages would enjoin the seekers to
approach the Upanisads.
I am profoundly grateful to Professor B.
Venkates- warlu, the renowned translator of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan’s Indian
Philosophy and Bhagavad Gita into Telugu, for the kind Foreword he has given to
Words fail me to express my gratitude to Sri
Vedantam Lakshmayya, an erudite scholar, non-conformist Vedantin and intrepid
reformer, who first introduced me to a study of the Mandukyopanisad. The fruit-
of my labours is mainly due to the seed he had sown in my mind.
I dedicate my work as a flower-offering at the lotus
feet of Mother of Jillellamudi, a great beacon-light, shedding illumination and
living the Upanisadic Truth. We are fortunate to have been born as her
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