At the Feet of the Teacher: The Brahma Bindu Upanishad
The Upanishads are a series of sacred Hindu texts passed down over the centuries through oral tradition by enlightened yogis. The term Upanishad means to sit down at the feet of a teacher and receive inner or mystic teachings. Over the years, Dileepji and Chaturbhai Patel have translated many of the Upanishads, which we will publish in Shakti Online.
We start with the Brahma Bindhu Upanishad, often referred to as the Amrita Bindu Upanishad. This scripture teaches about the workings of the mind and nature of Brahman, the universal energy. As with all aspects of yoga, the goal is knowledge of the self and merging with the eternal Brahman or highest true Self.
1. The mind is said to be of two kinds, pure and impure. The mind engrossed in worldly desires and pursuits is said to be impure and the one free from desires is pure.
2-3. The cause of bondage, as well as liberation, is mind itself. When it is entangled in the enjoyment of sense objects, one is bound; and when it is free from the sense experience, one is liberated. Therefore, those who desire liberation must always keep the mind free from worldly desire.
4. Being free from the attachment of enjoying sense objects, the mind becomes one-pointed in the heart and loses its unsteady nature. Then and only then one reaches Brahman, the Supreme State.
5. As long as the mind does not concentrate in the heart, it is necessary to keep it away from worldly pleasures. This is true knowledge and true liberation. On the other hand, there is the vastness of the scriptures.
6. Brahman, the Supreme Being, is neither comprehensible nor incomprehensible by the mind. Though it is incomprehensible, it becomes comprehensible by the pure mind. One who ponders over Brahman, who is the same homogeneous being everywhere, indeed, reaches Brahman.
7. At first, one should resort to yoga sadhana, the discipline of Yoga with the help of Om. Then one should meditate upon the attributeless Brahman beyond Om, because the moment one reaches the state beyond Om there remains no existence or absence of existence. There is no idea of true or false.
8. That is the doubtless, taintless, complete, perfect Brahman, free from conflict; and realizing that “I am Brahman,” one becomes united with Brahman.
9. By knowing the one that is without fault and limitless, the one who cannot be described by words or examples, the one who cannot be imagined, and before whom there was no one, a person becomes one with it.
10. In reality, there is neither creation nor destruction, no person to be respected or any preaching of scriptures; there is no desire for liberation, or liberation itself. This only is the true principle.
11. There is the one and the same Self (Atma) in all the three conditions of waking, dreaming and sound sleep. There is no birth for one who has gone beyond all these three states.
12. There is only one Self in all living beings. Just as the reflection of the moon is seen differently in different pots filled with water and yet the moon is a single form, similarly the Self is seen differently in different animals, and yet it is one in the Self.
13. If the pot is destroyed, the space contained in it dissolves into the exterior space. The pot is destroyed but not the space. Similarly, when a person dies, the body (pot) is destroyed, but not the spirit, the embodied One.
14. Like the pot, the Self assumes different forms, one after the other. The Self is always aware of the destruction of the body, yet one behaves as if one does not know that.
15. As long as the self remains trapped in the snare of delusion of speech, it sees itself as various forms, but as soon as ignorance is destroyed it sees nothing but its Oneness.
16. That which does not perish at the destruction of the body and other physical aspects is the real Brahman as described in the scriptures. The wise one who desires real peace for his soul should meditate upon the imperishable Brahman.
17. There are two kinds of spiritual knowledge. One is the knowledge of Shabda (word) Brahman, the other is called Parabrahma (beyond). Shabda Brahma means one as described in the scriptures. One who has become well versed in Shabda Brahman can obtain the learning of Parabrahman.
18. After studying the books or scriptures in a way so as to understand the truths of spiritual knowledge and wisdom, the wise one should give up the books just as one desirous of eating corn throws away the husk and cob.
19. The milk of various cows of different colors is still the same white. Similarly, the knowledge contained in different books is the same.
20. Wisdom in the form of the Self lies hidden or concealed in every living being, as ghee or butter is hidden in milk.
21. One should always churn the milk to obtain the butter with the churning stick (mind), with the stirrings of knowledge. Thus, after having obtained the butter, one should heat it in the fire of yoga to get ghee. By doing so, one will realize that, “I am that very Brahman which is One, indivisible, stainless and peaceful.”
22. “Being favorable and One to all, I am that who is there in every living being and in whom are all beings.”
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
We will continue this series over the coming months with the Yoga Kundalini Upanishads.