Book of Wisdom - Isha Upanishad

  • By Swami Rama
  • August 2003

Invocation of Peace

Om Purnam-adah, Purnam-idam, Purnat Purnamu dachyate,
Purnasya, Purnam-adaya, Purnam-evavashishyate.
Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.

That Brahman, without attributes, and the highest God, is Perfect. The creation, having a form and full of many attributes is also Perfect, because only a Perfect can be born out of the Perfect. If the Perfect is taken out of the Perfect, what remains is also Perfect.
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.
Om is the first word of the Vedas. If we shut our mouth and try to utter any letter or word of any language within ourselves, nothing but the sound of Om will come out; Om is the only word which can be pronounced both with mouth open and mouth closed. The foundation stone of the whole Sanskrit language is the word Om. There is no other word like it. It’s meaning has been very explicitly explained in the Mandukopanishad.
The word O, called Pranava Brahman, or God is a compound of the letters A, U and M. these three letters stand respectively for the three states of wakefulness, dreaming sleep, and deep dreamless sleep and for the corresponding gross, subtle and causal bodies. Yet there is a fourth part of Om, as the A, U and M, merge into silence. This represents a fourth state which can be experienced. It is above feelings and thoughts, a state of pure awareness where all activity ceases. This state is called Turiya (Turiyavastha). It cannot be described, it can only be realized in experience. To realize it is the supreme experience in life.

The four padas (parts) of Om may be described in the following manner also.

Padosya Vishva Bhutani tripad-asyamritam divi.
Tripad-urdhva udait purushah, padosyehabhavat punah.

The Purushukta gives a description of all the four padas (parts) of Virat Purusha, the Grand Form of God. The first pada includes the creatures of the whole universe. The other three padas are full of the nectar of immortality; that is to say they are existence, consciousness and bliss beyond the realm of change and decay. The first pada is used in order to obtain the remaining three-this one pada which includes the whole universe is only one mantra. One mantra of Om indicates only one pada of Brahman, the Absolute Reality which includes the whole moving and unmoving world. Pranava indicates God (Brahman with attributes) and not Brahman without attributes. Om in itself is Brahman without attributes. The three padas: existence-consciousness-bliss, can be comprehended only by experience. Om contains the exposition of both the Karya Brahman and Karana Brahman and Pranava indicates only Karya Brahman. Pranava is also the Vachaka (name) of God. The unmanifest form of Brahman is beyond attributes, and therefore without name and form. In our universe cause and effect seem intertwined with each other; that which we call the veil of Maya (illusion) is confined to only one pada of Brahman which is this universe. Due to this basic ignorance we are unable to have a knowledge of the Absolute Brahman without any attributes. That is why all the pleasures of the world are imperfect; in other words whatever happiness we get in this world is only one-fourth of the whole joy of god. It is because of this that the pleasures of the world are incapable of giving full satisfaction to the Self of man. If together with worldly pleasures, we also realize existence-consciousness-bliss, the gain of perfect bliss will be everlasting. Perfect bliss is possible only by the under-mentioned knowledge of Om which is the subject of sadhana.

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