Taittiriya Upanishad- Petal 3

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SIKSHA VALLI

SECTION 4 – MEDHA SRI KAMA JAPA HOMAU - A TEACHER’S PRAYER

This section contains mantras to be used daily as japa and for havan. Here Japa is advised for the development of the intellect in a student.

MANTRA 1

yashchandasamrishabho vishvarupah .
chandobhyo.adhyamritatsambabhuva .
sa mendro medhaya sprinotu .
amritasya deva dharano bhuyasam.h .
shariram me vicharshanam.h . jihva me madhumattama .
karnabhyam bhuri vishruvam.h .
brahmanah kosho.asi medhaya pihitah .
shrutam me gopaya . avahanti vitanvana .. 1..

May He who is the bull of the Vedic hymns, who assumes all forms, who has sprung from the immortal hymns of the Vedas—may that Indra cheer me with wisdom. O God, may I be the possessor of immortality! May my body be competent; may my tongue be exceedingly sweet; may I hear abundantly with my ears. Thou art the sheath of Brahman, concealed by intelligence. Guard for me what I have learnt.

This is a prayer addressed to the Supreme Being soliciting mental power and physical fitness without which knowledge of Brahman is not possible.

He who is the bull of Vedic Hymns – This refers to the sacred syllable OM, the symbol and designation of Brahman. The mystic syllable OM is set forth in the Upanishads as the object of profound meditation and the highest spiritual efficacy is attributed to it. It is considered the quintessence of the Vedas. The Bhagavad Gita says that the Lord himself is OM in all the Vedas (7.8 & 9.17), that this monosyllabic Brahman should be uttered by a dying man for attaining the highest destiny (8.13)and that it is the designation of Brahman (17.23).

May that Indra cheer me with wisdom – May that supreme Lord cheer me with intellectual vigor i.e. bless me with intelligence and mental power, especially with a resolute memory because the seeker after Brahmavidya must be able to concentrate his thought on a given object and keep it uninterruptedly in the field of attention. The mind should achieve one-pointed attention and be free from its wandering tendencies so that the seeker can concentrate his thought and retain what has been learnt. Hence this prayer  right at the start.

May I be the possessor of immortality – Amrita in the text means immortality or what confers immortality. Here it stands for the Vedas which are a means to immortality.

The Upanishad Mantra further declares the need of strength - physical, moral and spiritual - for realizing our higher destiny.

Thou art the sheath of Brahman, concealed by intelligence – OM is the cover or sheath of Brahman suggesting that the Highest reality which is the immediate and innermost Self of man can be objectified for the purpose of worship only through a Pratika or a symbol for which purpose OM is the most appropriate.

The prayer contained in this section has two distinct parts. The first part which we have seen above is Japa. They are the Japa mantras meant for silent repetition for as long as one needs. By such Japa  mantras, one recognizes Brahman in the altar of worship.

The second part of this upasana is a form of homa - a Havan- performed as a physical act of worship of Brahman already recognized in the altar of worship.

We may note here that the entire Japa mantra is for gaining intellectual vigor and memory extending deep into the Upanishad knowledge.  This is one of the very important forms of worship commonly used in the pursuit of Upanishad knowledge. One usually does this Japa before undertaking a study of any Upanishad, especially before commencing a study of Brahma Sutra mantras.

MANTRA 2

kurvana.achiramatmanah . vasa{\m+} si mama gavashcha .
annapane cha sarvada . tato me shriyamavaha .
lomasham pashubhih saha svaha . a ma yantu brahmacharinah svaha .
vi ma.a.ayantu brahmacharinah svaha .
pra ma.a.ayantu brahmacharinah svaha .
damayantu brahmacharinah svaha .
shamayantu brahmacharinah svaha .. 2..

Om. Next bring me, without delay, fortune accompanied by wool and cattle—fortune which always provides me with clothes and cattle, food and drink. Increase them when they have been acquired and preserve them long when increased. Svaha! May brahmacharins come to me variously! Svaha! May brahmacharins come to me!. Svaha! May brahmacharins practise self—control! Svaha! May brahmacharins enjoy peace! Svaha!

This prayer is an oblation in the Havan Kund. Every mantra in the Havan ends with the utterance of the word svaha and it is with this mantra one performs the ahuti - the oblation of the offering into the fire in the Havan kund. What happens to the offering then? It becomes ONE with the fire, just as on joining the ocean, the river becomes one with the ocean.

In one's spiritual endeavor to uplift oneself by cultivating the necessary mental disposition, this symbolic act of oblation into fire – agni devata - is one of extraordinary significance. The significance is this: The material used for oblation represents the Jiva, - the individual who performs the ahuti. The fire - the Agni Devata into which the oblation is made is the visible manifestation of the Invisible Brahman. The material used for oblation, becoming ONE with the fire represents jiva-brahma aikyam - the upliftment of Jiva to reach the state of total identity with Brahman, which is indeed the overriding purpose of life. This is possible only if Jiva is free from aham - ego "I". That is why the ahuti is made with the utterance of the svaha mantra.