Right understanding comes from study of Scriptures and study of Prasthana Traya gave me right understanding. Human must identify Avidya and Vidya. Vidya is that knowledge, which is the experience of the ultimate Reality, “Brahman”. Here we will discuss “Para Vidya”, the Higher Knowledge as described in “Mundaka Upanishad”. Right knowledge and understanding are essential. After right understanding comes realization. It is purely personal, beyond description. Cannot be said in words. Only realization works finally. Faith, devotion, speculation, belief will not work alone. Therefore, following points are essential to understand.
1.Purpose of Life:
2.Nature of Brahman: The Supreme Reality:
3.The Origin of the Universe:
4.Karma, Rebirth, Maya, Afterlife, Immortality etc.
All the above topics are part of Higher Knowledge: Para Vidya:
The Vedas clearly Speak of two distinct fields of Knowledge:
A) The Lower Knowledge (Apara Vidya) & B) The Higher Knowledge (Para Vidya).
Question: What is that by knowing which, everything else is known.
Mundaka Upanishad is one of the Ten Principal Upanishads, a Sanskrit Text embedded inside Atharva Veda. In this Upanishad, the aspirant Saunaka asks the Sage Angira, the famous question ” What is that by knowing which, everything else is known.”
Then sage Angira starts explaining about two kinds of knowledge.
Apara Vidya begins with the Karma Kanda. Those who follow the Karma Kanda Rituals (Agnihotra) are desirous of obtaining pleasures through actions. But this is not our goal. Sage Angria said to householder Saunaka : ” The Sages studied the Rituals described in the Vedas, went beyond them to the Truth. You may find it better to stay with them; if you seek the reward of your actions, stay with them”.
Few lines from the Text follows.
Agnihotra (fire sacrifice) is considered to be null and void if even one of the eight given conditions is not full filled.
Also, it is said that better than Karma Kanda is Upasana Kanda which is the middle path, and it prepares for the Gyan Kanda.
Sparks from the Flaming FIRE:
Know this Truth from the higher standpoint:
The fire sparks, though of one nature with the fire, leap from it; uncounted beings leap from the Everlasting, but these, my son, merge into it again.
Absolute Nature of Brahman: Nirguna Brahman & Saguna Brahman
The Divine is Shapeless (Divine formless), Birthless, Breathless, Mindless, above everything, outside everything, inside everything. Absolutely Pure, verily even from the Indestructible (Causal), higher than Highest means transcending even the transcendent Ishwara” means beyond the Causal state.
Saguna Brahman as “Hiranyagarbha” –the Subtle Macrocosm:
From Him (Brahman) are born the Prana, the Mind, and all the sense organs, the elements, sky, wind, fire, water, and earth which support all creation.
According to Bhasya, the creation of the Subtle Body at Samasthi or microcosmic level is emphasized here. Aim is to show that Prana, mind and all other elements cannot co-exist with Brahman. From Brahman, in association with Maya, arises Ishwara, the Creator. From Ishwara, arises the five subtle elements known as Tanmatras. From Tanmatras arise the mind and the pranas, from their Sattvic and Rajasic portions respectively.
Saguna Brahman as Virat- the Gross Macrocosmic.
HE is the inmost Self of all. Fire His head; Sun and moon, His eyes; the four quarters, His ears; The Vedas when uttered are His voice; Wind, His Breath; The Universe, His Heart; Earth, His Feet. He is indeed the inner Self of all beings. This is the macrocosmic picture of Virat that is Total Gross Universe.
The Five Fires in the Cosmos: The ” Panchagni”
Fire is from Him, its fuel Sun, moon from Sun, rain from moon, food from rain, man from food, seed from man; thus, all descends from Purusha (Supreme).
From HIM are produced the 1st Fire, whose fuel is SUN. From the MOON comes the Rain Clouds (2nd Fire), from Clouds, the Herbs (3rd Fire) on Earth. From Herbs comes Man (the 4th Fire). His semen is Shed into the Woman (the 5th Fire). In this sequential process, many living beings from the PURUSHA are produced. This is the “Cycle of Five Fires.” “The Panchagni- Five Cosmic Fires.”
Origin of Karma Kanda Rituals:
From Him come the Hymns of the Rig & Sama Vedas and the Sacrificial formula of the Yajur Veda, used in the preliminary rites. Then come the sacrifice, the sacrificial post, the sacrificial gifts etc., the time of sacrifice, the sponsor of the sacrifice, and the worlds (to be gained by the sacrifice); purified by the Lunar and Solar paths.
Origin of Upasana Kanda Rituals
From Him also Gods of various hierarchies are born. There are the celestials, the men, the animals and the birds. There are the in-breath and out-breath, the corn and barley, and austerity ; there are faith, truthfulness, sexual abstinence, and all the values of life.
“The Secret of Groups of Seven”
The Seven Pranas are born from HIM alone. The Seven flames [The Seven Tongues of Fire explained in First Mundaka, 2nd Khanda, Mantra no: 4], the Seven-fold fuel, the Seven-fold oblations; as also the Seven ” nodal points” or Chakras, where the Pranas are seated (distribution in the Body) in the “cave of the heart” (of all beings) lie all these in groups of Sevens.
Our Physical World: From HIM arise oceans, rivers, mountains, herbs and their properties. And in the middle of the elements is the innermost Self.
Brahman and Universe are ONE.
The Purusha alone is this entire Universe- the sacrificial works and austerities. He is The Supreme Consciousness. This highest and immortal Brahman. He who knows this as seated in the cavity of the heart, unties the knot of ignorance even here in this very life, O good-looking son.
This Universe, including all subjects and all objects, is only a condition supported by the Supreme Consciousness, on the basis of which appearances are experienced by the cognizing individual and without which the Universe has no Reality. In fact, what is real in the Universe is nothing more and nothing less than the Existence-Consciousness-Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda). The names and the forms are not existent substances. When the Purusha is known, all is known. In fact, there is no such thing as all, except this One Purusha. The Knowledge of the Purusha, therefore, means the absence of Duality which is the same as the destruction of Ignorance and attainment of Immortality and Absoluteness.
- Back to the Truth: 5000 years of ADVAITA by Dennis Waite. **
- THE TEN PRINCIPAL UPANISHADS: Translated by Shree Purohit** Swami and W.B.Yeats
- Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sankaracharya: Translated by Swami Gambhirananda.**
- Commentary of Mundaka Upanishad: By Swami Krishnananda.
- MUNDAKA Upanishad By Swami GuruBhaktananda.
- EIGHT UPANISADS -VOL-1 with commentary of Sankaracharya, Translated by SWAMI GAMBHIRANANDA.
- THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD: SHIKSHAVALLI-ANANDAVALLI-BHRIGUVALLI with Sri Shankara’s Commentary by Sri Swami Satchidanandera Saraswati.
- Information available on internet.
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16 thoughts on “Higher Knowledge: A special post on the Birthday of Swami Vivekananda.”
Thank you, Arun, for writing about birthday celebrations of Swami Vivekananda.
Thank you so much Joanna for your kind words. If possible, please reblog this post.
Sorry, Arun, but I write my own posts only. I wrote biography of Swami in four parts as I was so impressed with his philosophy.
I wll be happy to read all those posts of Swami Vivekananda.
Let me find out.
Thank you so much for your reply 😊🙏
It was while ago but it had to be in 4 parts because it was over 12.000 words.
Also, in series on books, there are 2 posts about Ramanujan and Indian sciences. Most read post is “India – Empire of the Spirit”.
Ramanujan I have read.
I could know many which were not known
It will be very nice if you please share direct links for post on Swami ji.
I will but not today as I am publishing my post tomorrow.
Thank you 😌
Sir, sorry for the delay response to your article. Kindly accept my pranams for your great effort in bringing this vast knowledge. I remember this verse while reading the term Agnihotra on your article and would like to share my insights.
Scriptures say –
Gururgrirdvijaateenaam varnaanaam braahmano guruh |
Patireva guruh strinaam sarvasyaabhyaagato guruh ||
(padmapuran, 51/51, brahmapuran 80/47)
Fire is regarded as Guru of the twice born, a Brahmin is the Guru of all the four castes (Varnas), while the husband is the only Guru for a woman and a guest is the Guru of all.
Vaivaahiko vidhih sweeyaanm sanskaaro vaidikh smrutah |
Patiseva gurou vaaso gruhaarthognparikriyaa || (Manusmruti 2/67)
For women obedience to the marital rites is the only vedic activity (sacred thread), service of the husband is the only period of study and household duties are her only religious sacrifice (agnihotra).
Also, In Purana Hiranyagarbha is called Brahma-ji – personal invocation with respect using “Ji”. He is a Jiva, the first Jiva manifested through Maya to project this world. So he is not Isvara. He is our grandfather. He a demi-God of Brahma-Loka. Brahmaji is a Jiva of higher order. Whereas Brahman is supreme reality. In mandyuka karika by Swami Paramaarthananda lecture says Virat falls under prathama pada whereas Hiranyagarba under vidiya pada and finally Ishvara under dwiteeya pada. Hence, I believe turiyam state is spoken and elaborated less in the whole Upanishad since it is beyond realm of quantum theory and that’s what I personally feel. Correct me if I am wrong, Virat and Hiranyagarba is experienced by reflective mind that is governed through reflective consciousness than the original consciousness such as Brahman. What is your view on this? Once again feel thankful for presenting such a wisdom. Be safe and take care
I will respond to this reply.
It requires a deep thought.
Thank you so much.
You are always right. No correction needed.
Turiyam is discussed in Mandukya Upanishad.
Have a blissful time ahead 😊
// Patireva guruh strinaam sarvasyaabhyaagato guruh ||
(padmapuran, 51/51, brahmapuran 80/47)
Fire is regarded as Guru of the twice born, a Brahmin is the Guru of all the four castes (Varnas), while the husband is the only Guru for a woman and a guest is the Guru of all.//
In response to the above sloka, my view does not go fully with the statement.
1) Puran : It is not part of Prasthana Traya. Though I have not gone through Puranas but heard about some statements. Not aligned with Advaita teachings [ NON- DUALITY].
2; Guru Tatwa says that Guru is one intelligence field. Guru can appear in any form. Wife can be Guru of her husband.
Among 4 Varnas, Brahmins are defined to be intelligent, because Brahmin is the word which implies ” He who knows Brahman is Brahmin” It should not be treated as a cast alone.
// Patiseva gurou vaaso gruhaarthognparikriyaa || (Manusmruti 2/67)
For women obedience to the marital rites is the only vedic activity (sacred thread), service of the husband is the only period of study and household duties are her only religious sacrifice (agnihotra).//
In response to the above statement, I don’t agree because it is all ritualistic and hence Apara Vidya. Para Vidya speaks about higher knowledge which is “Brahma Vidya”.
//In Purana Hiranyagarbha is called Brahma-ji – personal invocation with respect using “Ji”. He is a Jiva, the first Jiva manifested through Maya to project this world. So he is not Isvara. He is our grandfather. He a demi-God of Brahma-Loka. Brahmaji is a Jiva of higher order. Whereas Brahman is supreme reality.//…..Absolutely. In this regard, I have written one post; https://arunsingha.in/2021/06/12/the-divine-art/
Thank you Vishnupriya for giving an insights as always you do. You are a learned person. Stay blessed always.
Sir, I completely agree to your point about realising Brahman by mere upper caste alone. No where it is mentioned as such and it was deliberately misinterpreted by certain elite groups. Moreover women can also be educated in Para Vidya and attain Jeevan Mukti and that is what the manusmriti is initiating in here. When these laws were created by Manu it was applicable at that period and may not be the case now due to various modern times and limitations. Puranas are taken for reflective studies to determine spiritual growth. I will read the link you have shared about the divine art. Thank you for being there to discuss and always happy to interact with you. Be safe and take care.
Thank you so much for your reply 😊
You understand all these points.
In Advaita Vedant there is no such mention of man and woman differentiation.
Beyond body is mind. Beyond mind intellect and beyond that is bliss. So gross body man-woman is not of discussion for getting enlightenment. Subtle body doesn’t have sex identity.
Thank you so much for sharing your views 👌😊
Stay blessed always with family and friends.
Very nice post once again. Thank you.😊🙏🏻
You are always welcome. Regards 🙏😊