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Mandukya Upanishad and Yoga:
Twelve Verses on OM Mantra

(Upanishads) (AUM Mantra article)

The pinnacle of the wisdom and practices of the ancient sages of Yoga is contained in the terse twelve verses of the Mandukya Upanishad, which outlines the philosophy and practices of the OM mantra.

(AUM Mantra article)

It has been said that the juice of the Vedas is in the Upanishads, and the juice of the Upanishads is in the Mandukya Upanishad. OM Mantra is also suggested as a direct route to samadhi in the Yoga Sutras. The teachings of the Mandukya Upanishad are well worth deep study, discussion, reflection and contemplation. By faithfully and intently engaging these twelve verses, all of the other written and oral teachings can be explored as expansions of the foundation principles and practices encapsulated in this succinct summary. It is not only a most insightful writing, but also a complete outline for sadhana, enlightenment practices. The OM Mantra is a roadmap of the entire process of sadhana and a most practical tool for Self-Realization. (See also Mandukya Upanishad - Gaudapada's Karika)

One of the other hundred-plus Upanishads, the Mukti Upanishad (mukti means liberation), explains that for those who are seeking liberation, the understanding and practicing of the principles of the Mandukya Upanishad is sufficient for attaining that realization.

Mandukya Upanishad on Om Mantra: Yoga Vedanta Meditation
(More YouTube Videos by Swami J)

See also these articles, which relate to the levels of OM: 
   OM Mantra and 7 Levels of Consciousness 
   7 Practices with OM Mantra 
   Mandukya Upanishad - Gaudapada's Karika
   Levels of Consciousness Articles (Index page) 
   Mahavakyas - Great Contemplations
   Atma-Bodha (Self-Knowledge)
   Atma-Shatakam / Nirvana-Shatakam

Om symbol and the elements of Mandukya Upanishad:


    Verses of Mandukya Upanishad:
Verses 1-2 describe the Self and the Absolute.
Verses 3-7 explain the four levels of consciousness.
Verses 8-12 outline the four aspects of AUM.
1)  All is OM 7)  Fourth - Turiya
2)  Self - Atman - Brahman 8)  A, U, and M
3)  Waking - Vaishvanara 9)  A of AUM
4)  Dreaming - Taijasa 10)  U of AUM
5)  Deep Sleep - Prajna 11)  M of AUM
6)  Experiencer of the three 12)  Silence after AUM

The Self and the Absolute (1-2):

1) Hari Om. Om-ity-etad-aksharam-idam sarvam, tasyopavyakhyanam bhutam bhavad bhavishyaditi sarvam-omkara eva. Yaccanyat trikalatitam tadapy omkara eva.

All is OM: Hari Om. The whole universe is the syllable Om. Following is the exposition of Om. Everything that was, is, or will be is, in truth Om. All else which transcends time, space, and causation is also Om.

2) Sarvam hyetad brahmayam-atma brahma soyamatma catushpat.

Atman has Four Aspects: All of this, everywhere, is in truth Brahman, the Absolute Reality. This very Self itself, Atman, is also Brahman, the Absolute Reality. This Atman or Self has four aspects through which it operates.

Four Levels of Consciousness (3-7):

3) Jagarita-sthano bahish-prajnahsaptanga ekonavimsatimukhah sthula-bhug vaisvanarah prathamah padah.

First is Waking / Gross: The first aspect of Atman is the Self in the Waking state, Vaishvanara. In this first state, consciousness is turned outward to the external world. Through its seven instruments* and nineteen channels* it experiences the gross objects of the phenomenal world.

4) Svapna-sthano'ntah-prajnah saptanga ekonavimsatimukhah praviviktabhuk taijaso dvitiyah padah.

Second is Dreaming / Subtle: The second aspect of Atman is the Self in the Dreaming state, Taijasa. In this second state, consciousness is turned towards the inner world. It also operates through seven instruments and nineteen channels, which engage the subtle objects of the mental realm.

5) Yatra supto na kancana kamam kamayate na kancana svapnam pasyati tat sushuptam. Sushupta-asthāna ekibhutah prajnanaghana evanandamayo hyanandabhuk chetomukhah prajnastrityah padah.

Third is Deep Sleep / Causal: The third aspect of Atman is the Self operating in the Deep Sleep state, Prajna. In this third state, there is neither the desire for any gross or subtle object, nor any dream sequences. In deep sleep, all such experiences have receded or merged into the ground of undifferentiated consciousness. Here, one is filled with the experience of bliss, and can also find the way to clearer knowledge of the two preceding states.

6) Esha sarvesvara esha sarvajna esho'ntaryamy-esha yonih sarvasya prabhavapyayau hi bhutanam.

Find the Experiencer: The one who experiences all of these states of consciousness is the omniscient, indwelling source and director of all. This one is the womb out of which all of the other emerges. All things originate from and dissolve back into this source.

7) Nantah-prajnam na bahih-prajnam, nobhayatah-prajnam na prajnana-ghanam na prajnam naprajnam. Adrishtam-avyavaharayam-agrahyam- alakshanam-acintyam-avyapadesyam-ekatma-pratyayasaram, prapancopasarnam santam sivam-advaitam caturtham manyante sa tm sa vijneyah.

The Fourth Aspect is Turiya: The fourth aspect of Atman or Self is Turiya, literally the fourth. In this fourth state, consciousness is neither turned outward nor inward. Nor is it both outward and inward; it is beyond both cognition and the absence of cognition. This fourth state of Turiya cannot be experienced through the senses or known by comparison, deductive reasoning or inference; it is indescribable, incomprehensible, and unthinkable with the mind. This is Pure Consciousness itself. This is the real Self. It is within the cessation of all phenomena. It is serene, tranquil, filled with bliss, and is one without second. This is the real or true Self that is to be realized.

Four Aspects of AUM (8-12):

8) So'yam-atma adhyaksharam-omkaro dhimatram pada matra matrasca pada akara ukaro makara iti.

Those Four are the Same with "A-U-M" and Silence: That Om, though described as having four states, is indivisible; it is pure Consciousness itself. That Consciousness is Om. The three sounds A-U-M (ah, ou, mm) and the three letters A, U, M are identical with the three states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping, and these three states are identical with the three sounds and letters. The fourth state, Turiya is to be realized only in the silence behind or beyond the other three.

9) Jagarita-sthano vaisvanaro'karah prathama matra. apteradimatvad-vapnoti ha vai sarvan kamanadisca bhavati ya evam veda.

The Sound "A" is Waking / Gross: Vaishvanara is the consciousness experienced during the waking state, and is A, the first letter of Om. That simple sound of A is first and permeates all other sounds. One who is aware of this first level of reality has fulfillment of all longings and is successful.

10) Svapna-stahnas taijasa ukaro dvitiya matrotkarshadu-ubhayatvad- votkarsati ha vai jnana-santatim samanasca bhavati nasyabrahmavit kule bhavati ya evam veda.

The Sound "U" is Dreaming / Subtle: Taijasa is the consciousness experienced during the dreaming state, and is U, the second letter of Om. This intermediate state operates between the waking and sleeping states, reflecting some qualities of the other two. One who knows this subtler state is superior to others. For one who knows this, knowers of Brahman, the Absolute Reality, will be born into his family.

11) Sushupta-sthnah prajno makras tritiya mtr miterapiter va minoti ha va idam sarvam-apitisca bhavati ya evam veda.

The Sound "M" is Deep Sleep / Causal: Prajna is the consciousness experienced during the state of dreamless, deep sleep, and is M, the third letter of Om. It contains the other two, and is that from which the other two emerge, and into they recede or merge. A knower of this more subtle state can understand all within himself.

12) Amatras-caturtho'vyavaharyah prapancopasamah sivo'dvaita evamomkara atmaiva samvisaty-atman-atmanam ya evam veda.

Silence after "A-U-M" is the True Self: The fourth aspect is the soundless aspect of Om. It is not utterable and is not comprehended through the senses or by the mind. With the cessation of all phenomena, even of bliss, this soundless aspect becomes known. It is a state of nondual (advaita) reality—one without a second. This fourth state, Turiya, is the real Self or true Self. One with direct experience of this expands to Universal Consciousness.

Swami Rama wrote a profound book on Om Mantra and Mandukya Upanishad entitled "Enlightenment Without God" that has been out of print for many years (it is not "anti" God). Here is a link to a download PDF file of this text that somebody sent me.

*Twenty-Six Principles (from verses 3-4):

The seven instruments are the more macrocosmic instruments, while the nineteen channels relate more to the microcosmic, individual person.

Seven Instruments: First, Consciousness manifests outward as space, air, fire, water, and earth, along with the individuation from the whole and the flow of energy (which we know as the pulsing impulse towards breath).

Nineteen Channels: Then, the individual operates through the four functions of mind (aspects of antahkarana, the inner instrument), which are manas, chitta, ahamkara, and buddhi. Those four operate through the five pranas (prana, apana, samana, udana, and vyana), the five active senses or indriyas (karmendriyas of eliminating, procreating, moving, grasping, and speaking), and the five cognitive senses (jnanendriyas of smelling, tasting, seeing, touching, and hearing)

See also these articles: 
Four Functions of Mind
Ten Indriyas)

These are explored in meditation and contemplation: All of these seven instruments and nineteen channels are the means by which the Self or Atman operates in the external world, which is Vaishvanara, the subject of this third verse of the Mandukya Upanishad. It is extremely useful, if not essential, to understand and remember these twenty-six principles, instruments, or channels. This is not just intellectual information, but rather, is a real key to the self-observation and self-awareness practices that lead to the transcendence of all of these, and the realization of the Self. If they are not conscientiously witnessed, one can be deprived of the depths of spiritual awakening.

Keeping it simple: When reading about these twenty-six principles (the seven instruments and nineteen channels), it can seem very complicated. However, please keep in mind that the entire process of inner functioning is being mapped out in these principles. From that perspective, twenty-six is really not such a large number. By systematically learning about, exploring, witnessing, and transcending those few, you find yourself at the realization of the Self, the Atman, which is the goal described in other verses of the Mandukya Upanishad.

Five elements: The five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space are literally examined during meditation and contemplation, as well as witnessed in daily life. The five elements operate in conjunction with the lower five chakras (at subtle level they are called tanmatras, which are part of tattvas, or subtle constituents). The five elements align with, and operate from the five lower chakras, along with the ten indriyas and a seed mantra for each.

See also these links on the Five Elements: 
Bhuta Shuddhi: Purifying the Five Elements 
Five elements in Sankhya Philosophy article 
Chakras and Elements in Indriyas article 

Five pranas: When the Prana operates in the body, it divides into five major flows called Vayus. These can be thought of as somewhat like major currents in one of the large oceans of the world, while there may be thousands of smaller currents. These five Vayus are the major currents that contain thousands of smaller currents. The five are literally witnessed and examined during meditaition and contemplation.

Prana Vayu operates from the heart area, and is an upward flowing energy, having to do with vitalizing life forces. 

Apana Vayu operates from the base of the torso, in the rectum area, is a downward flowing energy, and has to do with eliminating or throwing off what is no longer needed. 

Samana Vayu operates from the navel area, deals with digestion, and allows the mental discrimination between useful and not useful thoughts. 

Udana Vayu operates from the throat and drives exhalation, operating in conjunction with Prana Vayu, which deals with inhalation.

Vyana Vayu operates throughout the whole body, having no particular center, and is a coordinating energy throughout the various systems.

See also these links on the Five Pranas: 
Five pranas section of Kundalini Awakening 
Five pranas section of Meditation article 

Ten Senses or Indriyas: The human being is like a building with ten doors. Five are entrance doors, and five are exit doors. Witnessing these ten senses is an important part of meditation, contemplation, and meditation in action.

Karmendriyas: The five exit doors are five means of expression, which are called Karmendriyas (Karma means action: Indriyas are the means or senses).

Jnanendriyas: The five entrance doors are the five cognitive senses, which are called Jnanendriyas (Jnana means knowing; Indriyas are the means or senses).

See also the extensive article on the Indriyas

Four functions of mind: The four functions of mind are manas, chitta, ahamkara and buddhi. To witness these four is a tremendous practice for advancing in meditation.

Manas = sensory, processing mind

Chitta = storage of impressions

Ahamkara = "I-maker" or Ego

Buddhi = knows, decides, judges, and discriminates

See also the article: Four Functions of Mind

Witnessing: There is an extensive article on Witnessing Your Thoughts, which includes many of the seven instruments and nineteen channels outlined here in the Mandukya Upanishad.





This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.









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