kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 27 17:20:51 CDT 2006

Ch. 1: Agama PrakaraNa-Mantra I

Mantra 1:

HariH Om! Omityetadaxaramidagam sarvam| tasyopavyAkhyAnam| bhUtam bhavad
bhavishyad iti, sarvam OmkAra eva| yaccAnyat trikAlAtItam tadapi OmkAra

HariH! Om! This very word ‘Om’ is this entire phenomenal world. A clear
explanation of this follows. ‘All this’ means all that is within the
three periods of time, that is all that is past, all that is present and
all that will be in future – All this is nothing but OmkAra only.  If
there is anything that exists beyond the three periods of time is also,
indeed, Omkaara only. 

Agama means Veda signifying that which came from the Lord.  PrakaraNa is
an explanation of the scriptural teachings.  Bhagavaan Shankara in his
introduction to his bhAShya or commentary on this upaniShad makes
following observations:

1. The text begins with Om! It fulfils the traditional requirements of
introducing in the beginning of the verse both the (a) subject matter
and (b) the purpose or object of the study in the beginning verse. Here
the upaniShad starts with ‘Om!’ indicating both the subject matter and
the object of the study is Om!. The subject matter is the very essence
of all upaniShads.  The subject is nothing but ‘Om’ which is everything
which is nothing but Brahman. ‘Om iti eka axaram brahma’- ‘one letter Om
signifies Brahman’ says Krishna in Gita. 

2. The object of the study of the upaniShad is also indicated by Om! The
purpose of the study of upanishad is to understand Om! Understanding of
Om! to understand everything that is to understand Brahman. 

3. The Om! being the subject and Om! being the object of the study, the
identity of the subject and object is implied.  The essence of the
upaniShad is also this very identity of the subject ‘I’ and the object
of any study indicated by ‘this’. Thus the purpose of the study of this
upaniShad is to realize the identity of oneself with Brahman, and this
aspect will be expounded in the text itself.  This is also ‘THE END’ in
itself since it is the end of all human pursuits,  since it ends all
samsaara or human suffering just like any disease ends when an
appropriate medicine is taken.  Here samsaara or human suffering is
considered as symptom of the disease arising called ‘ignorance of
oneself’, the subject, I. 
Understanding of the upaniShad restores the seeker to his normal state
by removing the cause of the disease.  The ignorance of the
subject-object identity results in ‘delusion’, moha, because of which
the apparent duality is taken as reality. Hence, realization of reality
of non-duality of the apparent subject-object duality is the cure for
the disease. This is accomplished by revealing Brahman by means of
knowledge of Om and the self, which destroys the ignorance of the self. 

4. Shankara quotes Br. Up mantra from Maitreyi brAhmanam. 2-4-14, which
implies that giving a reality to duality is the fundamental problem. It
is the duality that causes all the problems of samsAra. But once it is
recognized that it is only apparent and not real, all the problems of
duality cease to be real. Just as paper tiger does not cause any more
fear similarly when one recognizes that the world of plurality is
mithya, all the problems that originated from duality are dissolved.  

The upaniShad starts by defining the word Om or what it stands for. 
Every word or name stands for a conceptualized object or conversely
every object is named for conceptualization.  Thus, name and form, where
form includes conceptualized object, go together and stored together in
the memory as a unit for subsequent transaction or vyavahaara. 
Language, communication, and transactions are possible only by naming
the objects.  As one progresses to higher mathematics the communication
reduces to pure symbolism.  In modern mathematics, Greek letters are
extensively used to symbolize the concepts. All mathematical formulas
are communicated by symbolic language.  E = mc2 is a familiar example
where each letter has symbolic meaning which is precisely defined.  The
equal sign itself is symbolic representation that provides a precise
relationship between two entities represented on each side of the sign. 
Symbolic language provides a mathematical precision for defining and
communicating the knowledge.  Here upaniShad is communicating to us
through symbolic representation of the truth relating nAma (name) with
nAmi (object that it represents).  

In this mantra a general definition for the word is provided.  The Vedic
student is quite familiar with the word ‘Om’, since almost all Vedic
mantras and invocations start with that word. Om! is also called
praNava, since provides the very life for all mantras. We cannot chant
any mantra without beginning with Om! Hence mantra starts – Om iti etat
axaram’ – here ‘Om iti’ – thus the word Om – indicating that the
discussion is going be about the word Om! – ‘etat’  meaning ‘this very
word’ indicating that it is the most familiar of the word for the
student of Vedanta.  Since this word Om! has been extensively used in
the earlier portions of the Vedas as well as in other upaniShads. 
upanishad says this word is ekAxaram, which is single word, but is a
samyukta axaram or conjugate letter consisting of A U M.  (In English A
exactly does not translate the Sanskrit first letter in term of the
sound – The first letter in Sanskrit sounds more like that of U in rum,
rut, rug etc than that of A in race, pace, or pac, sac etc.  Similarly
the middle letter U is similar to the sound in put, and M sound is
similar to m in rum, plum, etc.) In Sanskrit A and U pronounced in the
way indicated above when combined together will give conjugate letter O
which sounds like in hOpe. Thus AUM together becomes Om! as single
conjugate syllable. Mantra says it is axaram meaning it is as though a
single letter. Axaram has significance in view of the definition for Om
that follows.  Axaram also means that which is not xaram or that which
does not gets destroyed or that which does not undergo any mutation or
change. Hence, the mantra indicates that this very word symbolically
represents that which is indestructible and eternal, which is truth.  By
saying that OM is axaram, UpaniShad is indicating that it represents the
ultimate truth.  Lord Krishna endorses this by saying that ‘Om iti
ekAxaram brahma’ – single letter Om stands for Brahman – B.G.8-13.
kaThopaniShad (1-2-15) glories Omkaara  upAsana both as means and a
goal, and the who realizes this is revered even in Brahma loka – ‘yetad
Alambanam jnAtvA brahmaloke mahIyate’ 1-2-17.

The above upaniShad mantra takes up this Omkaara mantra as the subject
matter and  provides a detailed description of what it stands for.  The
equation provided is 

     Om = All ‘this’, bounded by time and ‘this’ that can exist beyond

Here equation (1) is given where the left side of the equation is the
word Om.  The mantra defines the right side of the equation providing
what exactly it is equal to, first in general terms.  Later from mantra
8 to 12 it provides more specific details.  By this symbolic language,
Vedanta is instructing us what one should understand whenever or
wherever the word ‘Om!’ is used. 

Examining the right side of the equation, we gather from the mantra
itself that ‘all this’ includes all this that one can point out, for
example, in the present.  Therefore any thing that can be pointed out
comes under the category of ‘this’.  In principle, I can point out
‘anything’ and ‘everything’ in the universe as ‘this’.  Hence it
includes everything that can be existing in the universe that since all
that can be pointed as ‘this’. Hence it includes all the objective
sciences since objective sciences comes under the category of ‘this’
only. To emphasize this aspect, mantra specifically uses the words –idam
sarvam – meaning ‘this everything’ implying there are no exceptions.  

How big is ‘this everything’? Since it excludes ‘nothing’, it includes
this entire universe – jagat – consisting of all objects.  This universe
itself has to be infinite since if it is finite then question arises
what is there outside the finite universe.  If something is there, it
can be pointed by ‘this’ – and hence that also comes under the category
of ‘this universe’.  Hence Vedas proclaim ‘this is infinite’ – pUrNam
idam. (pUrNam adaH pUrNam idam
). Hence ‘idam sarvam’ includes this
entire universe which can be pointed out as ‘this’ and hence by equation
1, the whole universe is included in Om!.

Just to insure that the above equation is correctly understood,
upanishad declares that it is not just the current existing universe
present in the ‘present time’, ‘this’ includes that which existed in the
past and also that which will exist in future. Hence the statement ‘that
which existed in the past, that is existing in the present and that
which may come into existence in the future – all that is included in

Here we need to recognize Krishna statement of Law of Conservation in
the B. Gita.II-6  – ‘nAsato vidyate bhAvo, nAbhAvo vidyate sataH’ – that
which is non-existent cannot come into existence and that which exists
can never cease to exist.  Hence creation can only be a modification of
that which was existing before into something else – in essence one this
transforming into another ‘this’, like gold becoming into an ornament.  

Combining all of the above analysis, we gather that ‘Om!’ includes all
those objects that existed before in the past, those that transformed
into something else in the present and those that may transform into
something else in the future.  If it includes that which is there before
transformation and that which is there after transformation, it implies
that it includes the very essence that remains changeless in the
changing things. The absolute changeless entity is nothing but Brahman. 
That is which is changeless absolutely is beyond time and there Om
includes that too.  Hence to bring this aspect to our understanding
mantra emphasizes that that which is beyond all the three times is also
Om! It says ‘yat ca anyAt trikAla atItam, tad api OmkAra eva’. Here ‘ca’
(also) is used to indicate specifically all that which is changing i.e.
the names and forms and also that which remains changeless the
substantive is Om! only.  Hence it include both the world of object that
can be pointed as ‘this’ which are names and forms; and also that which
remains as changeless both in the relative and in the absolute  sense in
the changing this is included.  

Finally, when we specify ‘this’ it excludes something that cannot be
specified as ‘this’.  We can point out everything as this, this, and
this, but we can not point out one thing in the universe as ‘this’. 
That thing is nothing but myself, who is doing the pointing. Thus I
cannot point out the subject I as this.  Hence the mantra includes the
word ‘tat api’ even that – indicating that ‘Om!’ includes even that
which cannot be indicated by ‘this’.  In the description it is also
pointing out that subject is ‘trikAla atItam’ that which is beyond three
periods of time. 

The first mantra has discussed only an out line of what is going to
address in the upanishad.  Hence it declares ‘tasya upavyAkhyAnam’ – the
discussion of this ‘Om!’ will be provided in the upanishad.  

Thus it has provided outline of Eq. 1 in mantra 1. 

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