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Vedas And Upanishads

Svetasvatara Upanishad - Chap 2 Invocation To Savitr (The Sun) And Practice Of Yoga
By T.N.Sethumadhavan, September 2011 [tnsethu@rediffmail.com]

Chapter :

Mantra 10
same śucau śarkarāvahnivālukā- vivarjite śabdajalāśrayādibhi /
mano'nukūle na tu cakupīane guhānivātāśrayae prayojayet // 2.10 //

Let yoga be practiced within a cave protected from the high wind, or in a place which is level, pure and free from pebbles, gravel and fire, undisturbed by the noise of water or of market-booths and which is delightful to the mind and not offensive to the eye. 

The importance of physical surroundings is highlighted here. A congenial place and ambience is always recommended for Yogic Practices in various scriptures. A convenient location without external disturbances caused by noise, fire, human traffic etc., and also pleasing to the eye is recommended to help concentration of mind and still the senses.

A reference may be made to the Bhagavad Gita which says:

yogee yunjeeta satatamaatmaanam rahasi sthitah
ekaakee yatachittatmaa niraasheeraparigrahah  // 6.10 //
shuchau deshe pratishthaapya sthiramaasanamaatmanah
naatyucchritam naatineecham chailaajinakushottaram  // 6.11 //
tatraikaagram manah kritwaa yatachittendriyakriyah
upavishyaasane yunjyaadyogamaatmavishuddhaye  // 6.12 //

“A Yogi should always try constantly to concentrate his mind (on the Supreme Self), remaining in solitude, living alone with the mind and body controlled, free from desires and possessions. Having established in a clean spot his firm seat, neither too high nor too low, made of a cloth, a skin and Kusa grass, one over the other. There, having made the mind one-pointed, with actions of the mind and sense controlled, let him, seated on the seat, practice yoga for the purification of the self”.

The main point to keep in mind is to concentrate the mind on Brahman in a calm and peaceful environment.

Mantra 11

nīhāradhūmārkānalānilānā khadyotavidyutsphaikāśaśīnām /
etāni rūpāi purasarāi brahmay abhivyaktikarāi yoge // 2.11 //

When yoga is practiced, the forms which appear first and which gradually manifest Brahman are those of  snow-flakes, smoke, sun, wind, fire, fire-flies, lightning, crystal and the moon. 

Certain visions which the seeker experiences as the forerunners to the revelation of Brahman in the path of Yoga have been described. They indicate the progress in the Yogic Path. But one should keep in mind that visions do not occur to all and the crux of the matter is the change of character of the seeker for better whether visions occur or not. The idea is that if one has many visions but no transformation in character those visions are as good as useless. The main thing to observe is whether those visions enhance one’s God vision or not.

Mantra 12

pthvyaptejo'nilakhe samutthite pañcātmake yogague pravtte / 
na tasya rogo na jarā na mtyu prāptasya yogāgnimaya śarīram // 2.12 //

When earth, water fire, air and akasa arise, that is to say, when the five attributes of the elements, mentioned in the books on yoga, become manifest then the yogi's body becomes purified by the fire of yoga and he is free from illness, old age and death. 

In this Mantra and the next the emanation of subtle powers of the sense organs due to the gross personality becoming subtle by the practice of Yoga are being described. Each of the subtle elements is endowed with its unique characteristic like earth with smell, water with taste, fire with form, air with touch and akasa (space) with sound. Through concentration the Yogi can experience these attributes. Thus by concentrating on the tip of the nose he enjoys a heavenly fragrance; by concentrating on the tip of the tongue; a heavenly flavor; on the middle of the tongue, a heavenly touch; on the root of the tongue, a heavenly sound. By means of these perceptions the whole personality becomes subtle and the mind becomes steady, for it is no longer attracted by outward objects. This is referred to as attaining siddhi in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. But the seeker should not become arrogant with attaining these powers as his final goal is realizing Brahman.

Mantra 13

laghutvam ārogyam alolupatva varaprasāda svarasauṣṭhava ca /
gandha śubho mūtrapurīam alpa yogapravtti prathamā vadanti // 2.13 //

The precursors of perfection in yoga, they say, are lightness and healthiness of the body, absence of desire, clear complexion, and pleasantness of voice, sweet odor and slight excretions. 

The previous Mantra told us that Pranayama awakens the subtle powers in the seeker. This Mantra gives the details about the effect of such awakening on the body such as lightness, clear complexion etc. But it should always be noted that these are only initial stages and Pranayama should not be considered as the final objective. It is only a purification process for the final goal of concentration and self-absorption in Brahman.

VISION OF GOD

Mantra 14

yathaiva bimba mdayopalipta tejomaya bhrājate tat sudhāntam /
tad vātmatattva prasamīkya dehī eka ktārtho bhavate vītaśoka // 2.14 //

As gold covered by earth shines bright after it has been purified, so also the yogi, realizing the truth of Atman, becomes one with the non-dual Atman, attains the goal and is free from grief.

The seeker’s attainment of the state of Samadhi is described in this Mantra. A gold plate covered with dust regains its original state of brightness and shining when the dust gathered on it is rubbed out. So too, from the state of ignorance when the impurity of subject-object relationship is removed the real nature of Pure Consciousness or Atman shines forth and the seeker attains the non-dual perception of universal unity.  Avidya is the dirt, Sadhana is Tapas and Pranayama is the means to achieve this goal. The seeker then becomes free from all sorrows of the world of duality.

SELF-KNOWLEDGE DESTROYS GRIEF

Mantra 15

yad ātmatattvena tu brahmatattva dīpopameneha yukta prapaśyet /
aja dhruva sarvatattvair viśuddha jñātvā deva mucyate sarvapāśai // 2.15 //

And when the yogi beholds the real nature of Brahman, through the Knowledge of the Self, radiant as a lamp, then, having known the unborn and immutable Lord, who is untouched by ignorance and its effects, he is freed from all fetters. 

The question what happens when the seeker is absolutely purified by knowledge is answered in this Mantra. The answer is that he simultaneously realizes his identity with Brahman just like a lamp becomes luminous when it is lit. As the luminosity is the very nature of the lamp which it regains when it is lighted so also the seeker identifies himself with Brahman and its power the moment he acquires Self-Realization. The point to note is that the identity of Sadhaka with Brahman is not something which is attained but it is their very nature, an eternal fact, which is cognized only in Samadhi. The realization is that the seeker was never different from Brahman or the thing that is sought just as the lamp and its luminosity were never different from each other and that there was never a Sadhaka really speaking. Thus Shuddha Atma and Shuddha Mind are one and the same.

IMMANANENCE OF GOD

Mantra 16

ea ha deva pradiśo 'nu sarvā pūrvo ha jāta sa u garbhe anta /
sa eva jāta sa janiyamāna pratya janās tiṣṭhati sarvatomukha // 2.16 //

He indeed, the Lord, who pervades all regions, was the first to be born and it is He who dwells in the womb of the universe. It is He, again, who is born as a child and He will be born in the future, He stands behind all persons and His face is everywhere.

On attaining Self-Knowledge the seeker starts looking at the world through a different looking-glass. Earlier he was feeling ‘I am’, ‘My body’ ‘Your house’ etc., and now he feels that all relative things of the world as that very Brahman itself. He sees the gross world of multiplicities as the manifestation of Brahman and that there is no difference between them - he concludes ‘Verily all this is Brahman’, “sarvam khalu idam brahma”.  Everything that is perceived in human consciousness is seen as the manifestation of Brahman. This truth becomes a fact in the Sadhaka’s life. This is called ‘samyakdarshana’.

CONCLUSION

Mantra 17

yo devo agnau yo apsu yo viśva bhuvanam āviveśa /
ya osadhīṣu yo vanaspatīṣu tasmai devāya namo namaḥ // 2.17 //

The Self-luminous Lord, who is fire, who is in water, who has entered into the whole world, who is in plants, who is in trees - to that Lord let there be adoration! Yea, let there be adoration! 

So far the seeker was adoring the Lord  as an auxiliary aid to Sadhana and now he adores the Lord as an expression of devotion or bhakti wherein no dualistic salutation is meant but a salutation in which the person who salutes, the saluted and the salutation all three are the one Brahman. Such a realized person points out that the same God who is in the fire, water and who pervades the whole world is in the plants as well as in big trees, and everywhere. He salutes such a God again and again indicating that there is nothing other than God anywhere including himself and his salutations. “Not I, but Thou and Thou alone”. This is Advaita and Bhakti. The whole Sadhana is a blend of Bhakti and Jnana.

Iti Svetasvataropanishadi dvitiyo’dhyayah ||
HERE ENDS THE SECOND CHAPTER OF THE SVETASVATARA UPANISHAD

Chapter :

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