Addressing with devotion and obedience Śrī-Rāma—the Lord Hari, at the end of His Samādhi, who being Himself changeless is the witness of the thousands of changes of Buddhi, and who ever rests in Swarapa-Dhyāna (the meditation on Reality) while seated under the bejewelled dome of the palace in the lovely city of Ayodhyā, in the midst of Sītā, Bharata and Soumitri (Lakshmana) Śatrughna and others, eulogised day and night by Sanaka and other hosts of Munis, as well as by Vasishtha, Śuka, and other devotees of Vishnu—Hanūmān, after praising them, asked: “O Rāma, Thou art Paramātmā of the nature of Sachchidānanda. O foremost of the family of Raghu, I make prostrations to Thee again and again. O Rāma, I wish to know for the sake of emancipation, Thy nature as it really is. O Rāma, be Thou gracious enough to tell me that by which I shall be easily released from the bondage of mundane existence and by which I shall attain salvation.”
(Śrī-Rāma replied:) “O mighty-armed one, well asked: hearken then to the truth uttered by Me. I am well established in Vedānta (or the end of Vedas or knowledge). Have thou recourse to Vedānta well.”
(Hanūmān again asked:) “O foremost of Raghus, what are Vedāntas? where do they abide? Pray enlighten me.” (Śrī-Rama replied:) “O Hanūmān, listen to Me. I shall truly describe to you the nature of Vedānta. Through the expiratory breath of Myself—Vishnu, the Vedas were generated as many. Like the oil in the sesamum seeds, Vedānta is well established (or latent) in the Vedas.”
(Hanūmān asked again:) “O Rāma, how many are the Vedas and their branches? O Rāghava, what are the Upanishads? Please, through Thy grace, tell me truly.”
(Śrī-Rāma said:) “Through the divisions of Ṛgveda and others, the Vedas are said to be four in number. Their branches are many. So also the Upanishads. In Ṛgveda, there are branches, 21 in number. O son of Vāyu, there are 109 branches in Yajurveda. O conqueror of enemies, there are 1,000 branches in Sāmaveda. O best of Monkeys, there are 50 branches in Atharvanaveda. In each branch, there is one Upanishad. Whoever with devotion to Me studies even one of the Ṛks (hymns) in these, attains the state of absorption, rare for the Munis to attain.”
(Hanūmān asked:) “O Rāma, some excellent Munis have said there is one kind of salvation only, while others [stated that salvation is attained] through the uttering of Thy name or the initiation into Tāraka (Om) at Kāśī (Benares); others through Sāṅkhya-Yoga, others through the Yoga of Devotion; other Mahāṛshis through the meditation upon the meaning of Mahāvākyas (the sacred sentences of the Vedas). Salvation is stated to be of four kinds through the divisions of Sālokya and others.”
(Śrī-Rāma replied:) “There is only one true emancipation. O Kapi (Monkey), even a person addicted to evil practices attains the salvation of Sālokya (My world) through the uttering of My name, but not of other worlds. Should one die in Brahma-nā.la (the lotus-stalk—also street) in Kāśī,1 he attains My Tāraka (Mantra). Such a person attains salvation without any rebirth; wherever he may die in Kāśī, Maheśwara initiates him by whispering My Tāraka (Mantra) into his right ear. Such person, freed from all sins, attains My Swarūpa (Form). It is this that is termed Sālokya-Sārūpya salvation. The twice-born who is of virtuous conduct and who, without diverting his intelligence on any other, meditates upon Me, the All-Ātmā, attains Sāmīpya (nearness) to Me.
“It is this that is termed Sālokya-Sārūpya-Sāmīpya salvation. The twice-born who according to the path opened by the teacher, meditates upon My immutable Reality attains Sāyujya (absorption) into Me, like the caterpillar into the wasp. This is the Sāyujya salvation which is productive of Brāhmic bliss and auspicious. Thus these kinds of salvation arise through the Upāsanā (worship) of Me.
“The only means by which the final emancipation is attained is through Māndūkya-Upanishad alone, which is enough for the salvation of all aspirants. If Jñāna is not attained thereby, study the 10 Upanishads; thou shalt soon attain Jñāna , and then My Seat. O son of Añjanā, if thy Jñāna is not made firm, practise (study) well the 32 Upanishads. Thou shalt get release. If thou longest after Videhamukti (or disembodied salvation), study the 108 Upanishads. I will truly state in order the (names of the) Upanishads with their Śānti (purificatory Mantras). Hearken to them. (They are:) Īśa, Kena, Katha, Praśna, Munda, Māndūkya, Tittiri, Aitareya, Chhāndogya, Bṛhadāranyaka, Brahma, Kaivalya, Jābāla, Śwetāśwatara, Hamsa, Āruni, Garbha, Nārāyana, (Parama)-Hamsa, (Amṛta)-Bindu, (Amṛta)-Nāda, (Atharva)-Śira, (Atharva)-Śikhā, Maitrāyanī, Kaushītaki, (Bṛhat)-Jābāla, (Narasihma)-Tāpanī, Kālāgnirudra, Maitreyī, Subāla, Kshurikā, Mantrikā, Sarvasāra, Nirālamba, (Śuka)-Rahasya, Vajrasūchikā, Tejo-(Bindu), Nāda-(Bindu), Dhyāna-(Bindu), (Brahma)-Vidyā, Yoga-Tattwa, Ātmabodhaka, Parivrāt (Nārada-Parivrājaka), (Tri)-Śikhī, Sītā, (Yoga)-Chūdā-(Mani) Nirvāna, Mandala-(Brāhmana), Dakshinā-(Mūrti), Śarabha, Skanda, (Tripādvibhūti)-Mahā-Nārāyana, Adwaya-(Tāraka), (Rāma)-Rahasya, (Rāma)-Tāpanī, Vāsudeva, Mudgala, Śāndilya, Paiṅgala, Bhikshu, Mahat-Śāriraka, (Yoga)-Śikhā, Turīyātīta, Sannyāsa, (Paramahamsa)-Parivrājaka, Akshamālikā, Avyakta, Ekākshara, (Anna)-Pūrnā, Sūrya, Akshi, Adhyātma, Kundikā, Sāvitrī, Ātmā, Pāśupata, Parabrahma, Avadhūta, Tripuratāpanī, Devī, Tripurā, Kara, Bhāvanā, (Rudra)-Hṛdaya, (Yoga)-Kundalinī, Bhasma-(Jābāla) Rudrāksha, Ganapati, Darśana, Tārasāra, Mahāvākya, Pañchabrahma, (Prāna)-Agnihotra, Gopāla-Tāpanī, Kṛshna, Yājñavalkya, Varāha, Śātyāyanī, Hayagrīva, Dattātreya, Gāruda, Kali-(Santārana), Jābāla, Soubhāgya, Saraswatīrahasya, Bahvricha, and Muktika. These 108 (Upanishads) are able to do away with the three Bhāvanās [of doubt, vain thought, and false thought], conferring Jñāna and Vairāgya, and destroying the three Vāsanās [of book-lore, world and body].
“The twice-born—after learning the 108 Upanishads, together with the Śānti as prescribed both before and after from the mouth of a Guru well versed in the observances of Vedic knowledge and study—become Jīvanmuktas till the destruction of their Prārabdha; in course of time as Prārabdha is destroyed, they attain My disembodied salvation. There is no doubt of it. O son of Vāyu, these 108 Upanishads, which are the essence of all the Upanishads, and are capable of destroying all sins through their mere study, have been imparted by Me to you as a disciple. This science of the 108 Upanishads taught by Me, is an occult one, and will free persons from bondage, whether they read them with or without knowledge. To gratify the desire of a supplicant, a kingdom may be given or wealth, but never shall the 108 Upanishads be imparted to an atheist, an ungrateful person, one intent on vicious actions, one having no devotion towards Me, or one who loses his path in the cave of books. On no account shall they be given to one devoid of devotion. O Māruti, it is only after a thorough examination that they should be imparted to a disciple doing service (to a Guru), to a well-disposed son, or to one devoted to Me, following good observances, belonging to a good family, and being of good intelligence. Whoever studies or hears the 108 Upanishads attains Me. There is no doubt of this. This is stated in the Ṛk (verse) thus—Vidyā (Saraswatī) went to a Brāhmana (and addressed him) thus: ‘Protect me. I shall be thy treasure. Do not confide me to the envious, to one not treading the right path, or to the rogue. Then I shall be potent.’ Impart this Ātmanishtha-Vidyā relating to Vishnu to one after well examining him, who had studied much, is alert, intelligent, observant of the vow of celibacy, and serving [the Guru].”
Then Hanūmān asked Śrī-Rāmachandra to relate the Śānti of each Upanishad according to the divisions of Ṛgveda and others to which they belong. To which Śrī-Rāma replied: “Aitareya, Kaushītaki, Nāda-(Bindu), Ātmā-Bodha, Nirvāna, Mudgala, Akshamālikā, Tripurā, Soubhāgya and Bahvricha—these 10 Upanishads are of Ṛgveda and have the Śānti beginning with ‘Vāṅme-Manasi, etc’. Īśa, Bṛhadāranyaka, Jābāla, Hamsa, (Parama)-Hamsa, Subāla, Mantrikā, Nirālamba, Triśikhī-Brāhmana, Mandala-Brāhmana, Adwaya-Tāraka, Paiṅgala, Bhikshu, Turīyātīta, Adhyātma, Tārasāra, Yājñavalkya, Śātyāyanī, and Muktika—these 19 Upanishads are of Śukla Yajurveda and have the Śānti beginning with ‘Pūrnamada, etc’.
“Katha, Tittiri, Brahma, Kaivalya, Śwetāśwatara, Garbha, Nārāyana, (Amṛta)-Bindu, (Amṛta)-Nāda, Kālāgnirudra, Kshurikā, Sarvasāra, Śukarahasya, Tejo-(Bindu), Dhyāna-(Bindu), (Brahma)-Vidyā, Yoga-Tattwa, Dakshinā-(Mūrti), Skanda, Śāriraka, (Yoga)-Śikhā, Ekākshara, Akshi, Avadhūta, Kara,2 (Rudra)-Hṛdaya, (Yoga)-Kundalinī, Pañchabrahma, (Prāna)-Agnihotra, Varāha, Kali-(Santārana), and Saraswatīrahasya,—these 32 Upanishads are of Kṛshna Yajurveda and have the Śānti beginning with ‘Sahanāvavatu, etc’.
“Kena, Chhāndogya, Āruni, Maitrāyanī, Maitreyī, Vajrasūchikā, (Yoga)-Chūdā-(Mani), Vasudeva, Mahat-Sannyāsa,3 Avyakta, Kundikā, Sāvitrī, Rudrāksha, Jābāla,4 Darśana, and Jābāli,—these 16 Upanishads are of Sāmaveda and have the Śānti beginning with ‘Āpyāyantu, etc’.
“Praśna, Mundaka, Māndūkya, (Atharva)-Śira, (Atharva)-Śikhā, (Bṛhat)-Jābāla, (Nṛsihma)-Tāpanī, (Nārada-Parivrājaka), Sītā, Śarabha, Mahā-Nārāyana, (Rāma)-Rahasya, (Rāma)-Tāpanī, Śāndilya, (Paramahamsa)-Parivrājaka, (Anna)-Pūrnā, Sūrya, Ātmā, Pāśupata, Parabrahma, Tripuratāpanī, Devī, Bhāvanā, Bhasma-(Jābāla), Ganapati, Mahāvākya, Gopāla-Tāpanī, Kṛshna, Hayagrīva, Dattātreya, and Gāruda,—these 31 Upanishads of Atharvana-Veda have the Śānti commencing with ‘Bhadram-Karnebhiḥ, etc’.
“Persons desirous of emancipation and having developed the four means of salvation should, with presents in their hands, approach a Guru full of faith, of good family, proficient in Vedas, scripture-loving, of good qualities, straightforward, intent upon the welfare of all beings, and an ocean of compassion; and after studying under him, according to the rules, the 108 Upanishads, he should ever be going through the process of studying, thinking and reflecting upon them. With the cessation of the three bodies through the destruction of Prārabdha, they attain the state of Plenum without any Upādhis like the ether in the pot (after the pot is broken). This is the embodied salvation, this is the final emancipation. Therefore even those in Brahmaloka through the studying of Vedānta from the mouth of Brahmā attain with Him the final emancipation. Hence to all these is stated the final emancipation through the Jñāna path, and not through Karma, Sāṅkhya-Yoga, and other Upāsanās. Thus is the Upanishad.”
Again Māruti (Hanūmān) addressed Śrī-Rāmachandra thus: “What is Jīvanmukti? what is Videhamukti? what is the authority therein? what about its perfection? what is the object of such a perfection?”
(Śrī-Rāma replied:) “The Dharma of a man’s Chitta that has the characteristics of agency and enjoyment is fraught with pains and hence tends towards bondage. The control of it (the Chitta) is Jīvanmukti. Videhamukti follows when through the extinction of Prārabdha, the removal of the vehicles [of the bodies] takes place like the ether in the pot [after the pot is broken]. The authority on the points of Jīvanmukti and Videhamukti is the 108 Upanishads. Its object [of perfection] is the attaining of eternal bliss through the removal of the pains of agency, etc. This has to be achieved through human efforts. Like progeny obtained through the Putrakāmeshti sacrifice, wealth in trade, or heaven through the Jyotishtoma sacrifice, so Jīvanmukti is gained through Samādhi arising through Vedāntic study, and accomplished through human efforts. It has to be won through the extinction of all Vāsanās. Regarding it, there are verses thus: ‘The efforts of man are stated to be of two kinds, those that transcend scriptures and those that are according to scriptures. Those that transcend scriptures tend to harm while those that are according to scriptures tend to Reality.’ To men, true Jñāna does not arise through the Vāsanās of the world, scripture and body. Vāsanā is divided into two, the pure and the impure. If thou art led by the pure Vāsanās, thou shalt thereby soon reach by degrees My Seat. But should the old impure Vāsanās land thee in danger, they should be overcome through efforts. This river of Vāsanās towards objects, which flows in the pure and impure paths, should be diverted to the pure path through human efforts. The impure ones have to be transmuted into the pure. That which is diverted from the impure turns towards the pure. So also the reverse. This child, Chitta has to be fondled through human efforts. O killer of enemies, it is only when through means of practice both Vāsanās quite abandon thee, that thou wilt be able to realise the effects of [such] practice. Even in the case of doubt, the pure Vāsanās alone should be practised.
“O son of Vāyu, there is nothing wrong in the increase of the pure Vāsanās. The extinction of Vāsanās, Vijñāna and the destruction of Manas [as these three] when practised together for a long time are regarded, O great and intelligent one, as fruitful. So long as these are not equally practised again and again, so long the [Supreme] Seat is not attained, even after the lapse of hundreds of years. Even should one of these [three] be practised for a long time, it will not yield its fruit like a Mantra imperfectly done. Through the practice of these for a long time, the firm knots of the heart are cut, without doubt, like the breaking of the threads in a lotus-stalk rent in twain. The illusory Samsāric Vāsanā that has arisen through the practice of [many] hundreds of lives never perishes except through the practice of Yoga for a long time. Therefore, O Somya [disciple], after having put away to a distance the desire of enjoyment through discriminative human effort, resort to these three alone. The wise know that a mind associated with Vāsanā tends to bondage, while a mind well freed from Vāsanā is said to be an emancipated one. O Mahā-kapi [great Monkey] practise the state of a mind devoid of Vāsanā. Vāsanā perishes through well-conducted deliberation and truth. Through the absorption of Vāsanās, Manas attains quiescence like a lamp [without oil]. He whose mind, devoid of destruction, is [centred] on Me as of the nature of Chinmātra [consciousness alone], abandoning the Vāsanās, is no other than Myself of the nature of Sachchidānanda. Whether Samādhi and Karma are performed or not, one who has a supreme Chitta with a heart devoid of all desires is an emancipated person. He whose mind is freed from Vāsanās is not subject to the fruits arising from the performance or non-performance of actions, or Samādhi or Jñāna. Except through the entire giving up of Vāsanās and through Mouna [the observance of silence towards objects], the Supreme Seat is not attained. Though devoid of Vāsanās, the eye and other organs are involuntarily prompted to their (respective) external objects through habit. Just as the eye without any desire sees without any effort the objects that fall on it, so also the undaunted man of intelligence enters into the affairs [of the world] without any desire. O Māruti, the Munis know that as Vāsanā which is manifested through the consciousness of objects, which is of the nature of the object itself, and which is the cause of the origination and absorption of Chitta. This excessively fluctuating Chitta is the cause of birth, dotage and death, due to the identification of itself with objects practised firmly [for a long time]. Like the analogy of the seed and the tree, the vibration of Prāna arises through Vāsanā and (vice versa) the Vāsanā through the former—these forming the seed of Chitta. To the tree of Chitta, there are two seeds: the vibration of Prāna and Vāsanā. Should either of them perish, both perish soon. Through the actions of the world being done without attachment, through the abandoning of the [thought of the] reality of the universe and the conviction of the destructibility of the body, Vāsanā does not arise. Through the complete giving up of Vāsanā, Chitta becomes not-Chitta. When the mind does not think at all, being completely devoid of Vāsanā, then dawns the state of mindlessness which confers the great peace. So long as you are without a mind of [true] discrimination and are not a knower of the Supreme Seat, so long should you follow whatever has been decided by the teacher and the authorities of the sacred books. When your sins are burnt up and you are a knower of the Reality without any anxiety, then all the good Vāsanās even should be given up.
“The destruction of Chitta is of two kinds, that with form and that without form. [The destruction of] that with form is of the Jīvanmuktā; (the destruction of), that without form being of the Videhamukta. O son of Vāyu, hearken to [the means of] the destruction of Chitta. That is said to be the destruction of Chitta when it, associated with all the attributes of Maitri (friendship) and others, becomes quiescent [without any resurrection]. There is no doubt of it. Then the Manas of a Jīvanmukta is free from fresh rebirth; to him, there is the destruction of Manas with form. But to the Videhamukta, there is the destruction of Man as without form. It is Manas that is the root of the tree of Samsāra with its thousands of shoots, branches, tender leaves and fruits. I think it to be Saṅkalpa alone. In order that the tree of Samsāra may wither soon, dry up its root through the quiescence of Saṅkalpa. There is only one means to control one’s mind. That is to destroy the mind as soon as it rises. That is the (great) dawn. In the case of the wise, the mind is destroyed: but in the case of the ignorant, it is indeed a fetter. So long as the mind is not destroyed through the firm practice of the One Reality, so long as Vāsanās are prancing about in the heart like Vetāla (goblin) in the night-time. The Vāsanās of enjoyment of one who has destroyed the egoism of Chitta and controlled the organs, the enemies, decay like lotuses in mid-winter. Pressing one hand against the other, setting teeth against teeth, and forcing one limb against the other, he should first conquer his mind.
“It is not possible on the part of the one-thoughted to control the mind by sitting up again and again except through the approved means. As a vicious rutting elephant is not subject to control except through the goad, so in the matter of the control of the mind, the effective means are the attainment of spiritual knowledge, association with the wise, the entire abdication of all Vāsanās and the control of prānas. While such are the [prescribed] means, should persons try to control the mind through violence, they are like those that search in darkness, having thrown aside the light (in their hands). Those who endeavour to control the mind through force are but trying to bind a mad elephant with the filaments of a lotus-stalk.
To the tree of the mind having the ever-growing branches of modifications, there are two seeds. One is the fluctuation of Prāna, and the other is the firmness of Vāsanā. The [One] All-pervading Consciousness is agitated by the fluctuation of Prāna. The means of Dhyāna by which [the one] Jñāna is attained through the one-pointedness of the mind is now imparted to you. After duly resolving back the things originated [in the universe] with all their changes, meditate upon that which remains—[viz.], Chinmātra (the consciousness alone), which is also Chidānanda (conscious-bliss). The wise say that the interval experienced by Yogins after the inspiration and before the (next) expiration is [the internal] Kumbhaka (cessation of breath); while the interval of complete equilibrium after expiration and before the next inspiration is the external Kumbhaka. Through the force of the practice of Dhyāna, the current of the modification of Manas devoid of Self that is of Brāhmic nature is said to be Samprajñāta Samādhi, while the mind with the utter quiescence of modifications that confers upon one supreme bliss is said to be Asamprajñāta-Samādhi that is dear unto Yogins. This [state] that is devoid of light, Manas and Buddhi, and that is of the nature of Chit (consciousness merely) is styled by the Munis Atadvyāvṛtti Samādhi (a Samādhi that does not care or require the aid of another). It is Plenum above, below and in the middle, and is of the nature of Śiva (auspiciousness). This noumenal (or occult) Samādhi is itself Vidhi-Mukha (sanctioned by books or Brahmā).
“The clinging to objects without previous or subsequent deliberation through intense thought [or longing] is stated to be Vāsanā. O chief of Monkeys, whatever is meditated upon by a person with ardent impetuosity without any other Vāsanā—that he soon becomes. A person that is entirely subject to Vāsanā becomes of the nature of that. When he regards this [universe] as Sat [the Reality], then he is subject to delusion. Because of the many strong Vāsanās, he does not abandon the nature of the universe. This person of wrong vision sees everything under infatuation like one deluded. Vāsanās are of two kinds—the pure and the impure. The impure ones are the cause of rebirth, while the pure are the destroyers of it. The impure are said by the wise to be of the nature of intense Ajñāna, associated with the great Ahaṅkāra and generative of rebirth. Of what avail is the chewing again and again of the many Śāstric stories to one that has abandoned the seed of rebirth, having turned it into a burnt one? O Māruti, thou shouldst with effort seek the effulgence within. O tiger of Monkeys, whoever, after having abandoned the visible and the invisible, is as the One alone is not a mere knower of Brahman but is Brahman itself. One who having studied the four Vedas and the various books does not cognize the reality of Brahman is like the ladle ignorant of the taste of the dainty. Therefore what other advice of indifference can be imparted to a person that has not attained the indifference to the impure Vāsanā of delusion [or body]? This body is very impure while the one [Ātmā] that dwells in it is very pure. When the differences between the two are [thus] known, what then may be ordained as the purification? The bondage of Vāsanā is the [real] bondage, while the destruction of Vāsanā is salvation. After wholly abandoning the Vāsanās, give up even the desire for salvation. After first giving up the Vāsanā of objects dependent upon the Vāsanā of the mind, attract unto thyself the pure Vāsanās associated with Maitri [friendship] and others. Though engaged in the world with these pure Vāsanās, give up them too and retire within the quiescent desires and become of the form of the longing after Chit alone. Then, O Māruti! giving up that also associated as it is with Manas and Buddhi, mayst thou now left alone become firm in Me in Samādhi. O son of Vāyu! always worship My Reality that is destructive of pains, without sound, touch, form, decay, taste, destruction or smell, and without name and Gotra [clan]. I am that non-dual One (Brahman) that is of the nature of the visible (Jñāna), like unto the Ākāś, supreme, always shining, without birth, non-dual, without destruction, without attachment and pervading all. I am the All, and of the nature of salvation. One should ever meditate upon Me thus: ‘I am of the form of the visible [Jñāna], the pure, of changeless nature and have really no objects in Me. I am the ever-full Brahman, transverse and across, up and down.’ Also meditate upon Me thus: ‘I am birthless, deathless, ageless, immortal, self-shining, all-pervading, destructionless, causeless, pure beyond the effect (of the universe) and ever content.’ When one’s body becomes a prey to time, he gives up the state of Jīvanmukti, as the wind attains the motionless state.
“The following is said in the Ṛg [-Veda] also: Like the eye which is spread in the Ākāś (seeing all things without any obstacle), so the wise ever see the Supreme. Seat of Vishnu. The Brāhmanas that have ever the Divine vision praise in diverse ways and illumine the Supreme Seat of Vishnu.”
Om-Tat-Sat is the Upanishad.
1. There is a street in Kāsī called Brahma-nāla.
3. [Note: “Mahat” and “Sannyasa” are two separate Upanishads.]
4. [Note: This seems to be a mistake, as Jabala is included in the Sukla Yajurveda list. If Jabala is removed, and Mahat-Sannyasa divided into two, the numbering of 16 is retained.]