Cognitive Scientific Perspective of Isaavaasya Upanishat


Mantra 1:

Om! Isaavaasyamidamsarvam
Yatkim cha jagatyaamjagat

Om! In this expanding (moving) world whatever is moving (transient or transitory) and has life ( is information-ridden), all this is enveloped (contained in), pervaded by Almighty Supreme Soul (chit sakti); leaving (ignoring) that portion which appears as the world, by not cognizing it, experience the Lord (Atman or Brahman); just as one can experience (re-cognize or spot) the earth (mud part) of the pot by ignoring that part of the change as a conch-like neck etc, of the pot, so also one can, by abandoning (ignoring or unconcerned with) that part of change (addition as information) as name and form etc, in the world (inner mental world-the projection of the mind -as feelings, thoughts, experiences, urges, senses, meanings etc,) get the experience of the pure Existence which is the Cause-Upaadaana and NimittaKaarana (material and instrumental cause). Thus be these words, the Yoga of knowledge has been expounded. The five words that follow say about Yoga of Action; do not have any desire (covet or have attachment to) for anybody’s wealth (the wealth of information contained in the cognition).

In this sloka, Isa refers to Atman or Brahman, idam refers to prapancham or jagati - to inner mental world created by sense organs together with antahkanrnas –manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaram and jagat refers to the current moment state of mental functions taking place with experience of ego (jiva state). Knowing that jagat or jiva bhava is adhyasa –veil, over sat-chit-ananda - the ever-present conscious state of Atman as peace (santi), bliss (ananda or priyam), silence (mouna) and also be aware of the fact about transient or transitory nature of jagat or jiva bhava as unreal (appearance over natural Arman or Brahman state) or virtual (present at one instant or in some phase and disappear next instant or in another phase of mind) and be rid of (tyaktena- by removing or sacrificing) the unreal or transient jiva bhava or tanmatra or vishaya to be set in eternal paramaatmaanubhava and live as that – our natural or original state- is the goal and essence of spirituality which enables one to mentally function efficiently without getting entangled in the stresses and strains caused by egoistic mind through wrong anvaya (identification). The true or proper or correct anvaya (identification) is that we are divine (ego-free or-ego-transcending) by nature which we experience the moment we stop falsely identifying with our body, mental traits, social status, gender, etc.,

Human mind functions in Jagrat (wakeful conscious state) and Swapna (dream conscious state) – termed as dvaita ( Two – aham- idam ) conscious states - using above mental tools and simultaneously uses these Jagrat and Swapna conscious states and alternates between dvaita and advaita No Two – only Aham – Aham - the Jagrat Sushupti- conscious state and aids humans to know, reason, do intellectual operations, understand, experience and be blissful, peaceful and silent. In the dvaita (aham-idam) conscious state a differentiated perception of knower and known exists while knowing/learning. Thus a triad (triputi) of knower-knowing-known exists and perceived. The perception of this triad is absent in advaita (Aham-Aham) conscious state; then perception of knower and known gets absorbed in knowing and only awareness of knowing in the form of meaningful experience / experienced meaning /understanding remains /results12. In advaita state experience / understanding / sense (of a word) becomes cognitive energy-form by and in Eternal Awareness Prajnanam , transcending dvaita conscious state. Advaita conscious state is also the state of purport - tatpara, tatparya, rasa or bhakti state.

Mantra 2

Evamtvayinaanyathe to asti
Na karma lipyatenare

Doing the ordinate actions in this world, one should desire to live long a hundred years. A life eternal is implied here, which is the fruit of the yoga of Action. In this way, the action does not stick to you, the man, it does not result in attachment. There is no other way than this one. The meaning is that for the actions not to stick, the one and only way is to perform the ordained actions without any desire (or attachment or expectation).

This sloka talks about the action without aiming or thinking of fruit of action, the precursor to Bhagavadgita pronouncement “karmanyadhikaarasaya maa phaleshu kaaachana”

Mantra 3

Ye ke cha aatmaahanojanaaha

Shrouded by blind darkness because of the complete loss of the force of knowledge, raanthi they take away asoon the life forces, make one bereft of right knowledge; the feelings that are obstacles to right knowledge are called asuraas; in the compound, in the sense of pertaining to, the word becomes asooryaa; naama, by name, it has to be inferred that these worlds exist beyond the ken of our perception.

All those who kill their souls- in the context, the meaning is this: because of two reasons that they lack self-knowledge and are tainted by actions, at the time of final exit, they are unable to separate the Gnostic being from the body; so they kill their soul, because of the slip from right knowledge, they become equal to inanimate objects. They repair to the aforesaid worlds of asooryaa at the time of passing away; it is learnt that the worlds of these are akin to the world of a man who has swooned.

The person who practices the yoga of knowledge experiences the self here itself; the person who practices the yoga of action ultimately attains immortality as he is not tainted by actions; but the other one, the killer of the soul has a repugnant end.

This is the sum and substance of the mantra.

Mantra 4


The one, being the material cause of all is the soul of All, Absolute, something indefinable. It is unmoving, stable, by nature; through its quality of knowledge it has more speed, faster than the mind. It goes in front and the gods following behind could not attain it.

It stands motionless but overtakes the others who run. In that, the wind (sphota)holds the essence of the waters (rasa, experience, sense, meaning, insight, understanding, urge, cognition, perception), its own action force.

As it does not stick to anything (as it is mere awareness or consciousness untouched by cognition or cognition-related actions, is always separate as witness and observes every cognition related action),

Is subtlest of the subtle and transcends all, no other manifestation (as jagat, prapancham, vasanaas etc,) could touch it. There is wind (vaayupranavam or sphota) as instrument, became the subtle essence and sustaining it in the form of praana vital force, attained union. This is the meaning.

Mantra 5


It moves, it moves not, in the way aforesaid. It is far away, as it is in the orb of the sun; it is quite near as it is in the heart. It is all in this, not only in the orb and in the heart [as chit sakti, Isa sakti,- Isaavaaasyamidam (prapancham, jagat, all cognitions, knowing through sense organs, storing, retrieval, perception-correlation with already stored information, vaasanaas-cognition-related experiences) sarvam]. It is also outside all this (as awareness and consciousness). It fills everything (every cognition and cognition-related experience). The two u’s are expletives

Mantra 6


Whoever sees all beings (panchabhootas-pruthvi, aapaha, tejas, vaayu, aakaasaha-) in the Self and the Self in all beings, he does not shrink with disgust (worry, happiness like emotions or feelings or thoughts etc., like things) from that experience (awareness, consciousness). He does not become disgusted with anything as the self is perceived everywhere (in every cognition or cognition-related experience, or urge etc,). The experience of this state will come only be tena tyaktena ‘leaving that (information or experience relating to cognition).

This sloka is preparation for the Bhagavadgita expression when all beings are asleep, the Jnani is awake.

Mantra 7


For the knowing one, for the knower of the Self in a particular state, all beings [(chiddabhaasa, maayaa, pranavam, sphota, viswam, idam - divyam (jnaasakti), antahkaranaani, jeevaatma, panchabhootaani, sristi, prapancham (mental impressions), jagat, swaram (praanasakti), panchapraanaani)] become only the Self, as the perception was without the separative idea.

What is delusion, what is grief to a person who perceives the oneness in that particular state (conscious states or phases of mind with antarmukha dristi (awareness of within) or bahirmukha dristi - awareness of without? The meaning is that for him there is no delusion, no grief. Earlier it was mentioned that the experience of Brahman resulted from abandoning that part of the change (cognition or cognition-related experience-which is transient in awareness or transitory awareness or unreal or virtual form or superposition of information over the eternal consciousness-peace, bliss, silence, pure consciousness, being or unoccupied awareness, contentment-free or contented awareness).

Here the perception of everything as Brahman is mentioned. Serving the changes as sensory objects results in Samsara (experience of happiness or unhappiness, joy or sorrow), the cycle of births (rise of ego) and deaths (dissolution of ego in the Self-the visraantadristi or pralayam or nidra or cessation or missing or absence of cognitions or cognition-related experiences phase). Worshipping the same as manifestations results in an integral experience unchallenged.

Mantra 8


He, the released person got a white immortal luminous divine form, body-less (without form or body awareness), without any scar as it could not be hurt nor of flesh and blood as it was not made of physical elements, pure without stain (cognition), not tainted by sin (experience) as it had not contact.

The poet seer of the Mantra the Master of the mind, pervaded everywhere being the Self of all, Self-born as he manifested of his own volition in the immortal divine form, that person created in the world for years for the benefit and welfare of those who want to know, the things that ought to be known in the light of Truth. He established these things. This is the utterance of Self-Realization of the seen made covertly. Some say that this utterance refers to God.

Mantra 9

Ye avidyaamupaasate
Ya uhvidyaayaamrataaha

Avidyaa, ignorance is mere sleep; sleep is sheer ignorance for at that time a person does not know a thing. Those who resort to avidyaa enter into a blind darkness as they are devoid of knowledge. Those who are attached to mere knowledge, knowledge arising out of the study of three Vedas etc,, and knowledge born out of worldly wisdom, enter into a darkness. By not knowing the changes, knowledge becomes non-composite and can never result in the knowledge of Brahman. There is mutual contradiction in that by division (into knower-knowing-known - the phase of triputi) the changes are known and by non-division the Brahman is experienced. Thus, this does not uproot the worship of manifestation. There as the changes are not grasped as separate things, it is only ignorance, avidyaa. Uh is expletive.

Mantra 10


They talk of a different result affected by knowledge which would be explained. They talk of another result affected by ignorance which would be explained. From those valorous ones who explained to us their operation, we have heard in the aforesaid fashion. The purport is that though mere knowledge and ignorance are of no use, they bear fruit compositely in another way. The same is said;

Mantra 11

Vidyaam cha avidyaam cha

The one who knows both about knowledge and ignorance together, compositely, becomes at the same time knower and non-knower. Knower of what?Non-knower of what?

If a question is asked like this, we shall comment that he is the knower of God and non-knower separately of the changes (as acquiring and retrieving of information as prapancham and jagat through sense organs and / or manas and acquired or retrieved information created experience through chittam). He crosses unconsciousness, death (dissolution or merger of ego in the Self) by the instrument of avidyaa, that is by not separately knowing the changes and attains an immortal eternal state of being in Brahman by vidyaa, that is by experience of God. One who knows the world (outer objective and inner mental world) separately and experiences, does not experience God though he knows Him by inference.

This is why pursuit of mere knowledge is prohibited. One who does not know God, even when he does not know the universe, is not stationed in samaadhi. We see him only as overcome by sleep. Therefore, sheer ignorance is blamed. The seeing together compositely of knowledge and ignorance, vidyaa and avidyaa, in the aforesaid fashion is samaadhi (savikalpa if outer objective world is also in awareness, else it is nirvikapasamaadhi).

Mantra 12

ya u sambhootyaamrataaha

Those who worship extinction, the diametrically opposite of existence, that is, those who merely die (setting of ego) enter into a blind darkness. Those who are attached to existence, those who have taken birth (rise of ego) enter into a darkness which is still more. The purport is that those who are merely born (rise of ego) enter into more darkness than those who are merely dead (ego absorbed in the Self).

Mantra 13

Ye nastatdvichachakshire

They talk of a different result effected by existence, which would be explained. They talk of another result affected by non-existence, that is extinction which would be explained. From those valorous ones who explained to us their operation we have heard in the aforesaid fashion. The purport is that though existence (phases of wakeful/awakened and dream conscious states) and extinction are causes for entering into darkness (phase of deep sleep conscious state), even so they compositely bear fruit in another way. The same is said:

Mantra 14


The one who knows, experiences both about existence and extinction, together, compositely is at the same time born and dead (ego/self-consciousness is inoperative and not in awareness though present as the moon though present in day time is not operative and light from him is dimmed by sunlight making moon’s presence and his rays irrelevant and useless). He dies here in the body (disappearance of self-consciousness- deha spruha)by relinquishing the ego-sense. By tapas he becomes unified with the inner effulgence and is born. This is how it has to be understood. He crosses unconsciousness (no deha spruha), death by extinction, by death in the body and attains immortal Brahmic state existence, by a divine birth produced by identification with the inner effulgence.

Mantra 15


The face of Truth, of the inner Self, the divine inner eye located in the region of the eye brows is covered by the eye-lid which is in the form of a golden vessel. As the upper part of the eye resembles a vessel, the metaphor golden vessel is used. Therefore, we are blind inside. O Pushan, the person in the orb of the sun, uncover it for one whose Dharma is Truth, the inner Self, for his vision. The inner vision is meant.

Mantra 16


O! nourisher, sole seer, controller, manifest in the orb as hiranyagarbha (the golden womb) the indivisible self, the lord of the people, O sun-god, marshal the rays and gather them together. This is in order t favour all my life-breaths which are of the same genre. This is the idea as the spiritual meaning of the ray is praana, life breath. I see the most auspicious of thy effulgent form. The one who is this person, he am I. This is said after direct realization.

Mantra 17

Om kratosmarakrutamsma

Vaayu has no place to merge, it is an immortal thing, devoid of any contact. And this body ends in ashes, is transient. This prayer is to Vaayu. O the form of pranava, the doer of all actions, Vaayu, remember me. Remember the meritorious acts done by me. The repetition of the sentence twice indicates the special respect shown in the course of the prayer.

Mantra 18


The Gods in the mid region and in the region of Heaven have been prayed to. Now the god of the earth region is prayed to. O Fire God. Thou knowest all places; lead us by auspicious path to wealth. Separate from us the sin which makes us ashamed. To thee we offer in abundance our words of salutation. By beginning with Isa (God) and closing with prayers to Sun, Wind and Fire, the Upanishad reminds us that these three gods are manifestations of the Supreme Isa, yea, the manifestations of the Supreme Isa – Vishnu or Sri Krishna in visistaadvaita and dvaita systems of Vedanta.


More by :  Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam

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