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Vedas And Upanishads

Svetasvatara Upanishad - Chap 3 The Highest Reality
By T.N.Sethumadhavan, September 2011 [tnsethu@rediffmail.com]

Chapter :

COSMIC PERSON

Mantra 11

sarvānanaśirogrīva sarvabhūtaguhāśaya
sarvavyāpī sa bhagavās tasmāt sarvagata śiva // 3.11 //

All faces are His faces; all heads, His heads; all necks, His necks. He dwells in the hearts of all beings. He is the all-pervading Bhagavan. Therefore He is the omnipresent and benign Lord. 

The 1st Mantra of Purusha Suktam says:

Om sahasra shirsha purushaha sahasrakshas sahasrapat |
sa bhumim vishvato vritva atyatishthad dhashangulam ||

The Purusha (the Supreme Being) has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. He has enveloped this world from all sides and has (even) transcended it by ten fingers of breadth.

The implication of the above statements is that when we see multiplicity like you and me, mine and yours, he and she and so on, we develop relationships based on differences such as love and hatred, likes and dislikes. But when we are able to go beyond these diversities and perceive all as the one unitary whole, we automatically love all and hatred cannot appear on the scene.

This Mantra calls the Supreme Being as Bhagavan. The word Bhagavan means He who is the embodiment of all the six divine attributesviz., aisvarya - total power, virya - strength, yasa - fame, sri - wealth, jnana - wisdom and vairagya - dispassion.

All faces, heads, and necks, belong to the Lord only as He is the Virat Purusha, the Universal Person. He fills the entire universe. He is the inner personality of all, antaryamin. So He guides the senses, mind and intellect and actions of all. This Bhagavan, this omnipresent Siva, is the embodiment of all that is good. That is his real nature.

The previous Mantra described Brahman as transcendental (nirguna) and this Mantra describes the same Brahman as Personal God (saguna). This is the uniqueness of this Upanishad where we find the synthesis of the ideas of Personal God and Impersonal Absolute.

Mantra 12

mahān prabhur vai purua sattvasyaia pravartaka /  
sunirmalām imā prāptim īśāno jyotir avyaya // 3.12 //

He, indeed, is the great Purusha, all pervasive and all-powerful. He also inspires the mind to attain the state of purity. He is the Supreme Lord, self-luminous and imperishable.

This Mantra further eulogizes the Purusha. It says Siva is

Mahan - all pervasive, prabhuh - all powerful, vai purusah - certainly the Great Being, sunirmalam - pure, free from any trace of ignorance, imam praptim - this state, sattvasya - the mind,  pravartakah - inspires to attain, isnah - this Supreme Lord, jyoti - self -luminous, avyayah - imperishable.

The Supreme Being directs our intellect and inspires us to attain the state of pure spiritual enlightenment, the transcendental experience which is imperishable, non-decaying.

Mantra 13

aguṣṭhamātra puruo 'ntarātmā sadā janānā hdaye saniviṣṭa /  
hdā manīā manasābhikpto ya etad vidur amtās te bhavanti // 3.13 //

The Purusha, no bigger than a thumb, is the inner Self, ever seated in the heart of man. He is known by the mind, which controls knowledge and is perceived in the heart. They who know Him become immortal.

In many places we find that the Self has been described as angushtamatrah, the size of a thumb or as dhashangulam, ten fingers of breadth. We should not take these terms too literally because the Self is not a physical entity so that we can measure it or describe it as big or small. It means that it is just immeasurable or infinite as Sankara puts it. Such a Self is antaryamin, resides inside everybody, commonly stated as inside the hearts and hence who can be perceived only by the mind alone. When such knowledge of the Self arises, when such transcendental experience takes place, we are free, become immortal. We have to keep in mind that we are always free but only we are not aware of it. Realization is a matter of a change in our consciousness about what we perceive.

Mantra 14

sahasraśīrā purua sahasrāka sahasrapāt / 
sa bhūmi viśvato vtvā atyatiṣṭhad daśāgulam // 3.14 // 

The Purusha with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet, compasses the earth on all sides and extends beyond it by ten fingers' breadth. 

This Mantra is the same as in the Purusha Suktam which we have already discussed under Mantra 11 above.
 
Mantra 15

purua eveda sarva yad bhūta yac ca bhavyam / 
utāmrtatvasyeśāno yad annenātirohati // 3.15 //

The Purusha alone is all this-what has been and what will be. He is also the Lord of Immortality and of whatever grows by food. 

Purusha Suktam (2nd Mantra) also has this Mantra as follows.

purusha evedagam sarvam yadbhutam yaccha bhavyam|
utamritatva syeshanaha yadannenatirohati ||

All this is verily the Purusha. All that which existed in the past or will come into being in the future (is also the Purusha). Also, he is the Lord of immortality. That which grows profusely by food (is also the Purusha).

The Purusha is the Lord of the Past, Present and future. He is the Lord of Immortality and also the bestower of immortality because unlike the mortals He is beyond the concept of time. This mastery or lordship over time is what is depicted as Viswarupa Darshana in the 11th Chapter of the Bhagavd Gita. There is no such thing as absolute time; the concept of time itself is relative which  is proven by the fact that in common parlance the unit of time is taken to be ‘the second’ not as ‘the first’. Hence the sages say the Reality, Brahman is beyond time. He is timeless, immortal - amrita.

Mantra 16

sarvataipāda tat sarvato'kiśiromukha /
sarvataśrutimal loke sarvam āvtya tiṣṭhati // 3.16 //

16     His hands and feet are everywhere; His eyes, heads and faces are everywhere; His ears are everywhere; He exists compassing all. 

This Mantra occurs in the Bhagavad Gita (13.14) also which we have studied under Mantra 3 above in this section of the Upanishad. The idea is that Brahman is everywhere and He fills everything. He is beyond time, space and causality.

Chapter :

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