Prasna Upanishad (Part-5)- Why meditate on AUM


atha yadi dvimaatrena manasi  sampadhyate so.antariksham yajurbhirunniiyate somalokam.h | sa somaloke  vibhutimanubhuuya punaraavartate || 4||

If, again, he meditates on the  second letter, he attains the mind and is led up by the yajur verses to the  intermediate space, to the Plane of the Moon. Having enjoyed greatness in the  Plane of the Moon, he returns hither again.

One who meditates on the second matra (sound produced by pronouncing ‘U’) is carried after death by the hymns of  Yajur Veda to the world of the moon or mind  and after enjoying there the pleasures and  glories of that world returns to the mortal world.


yah punaretam  trimaatrenomityetenaivaaksharena param purushhamabhi- dhyaayiita sa tejasi  suurye sampannah | yathaa paadodarastvachaavinirbhuchyata evam ha vai sa  paapmanaa vinirbhuktah sa saamabhirunniiyate brahmalokam sa  etasmaajjiivaghanaat.h paraatparam purushayam purushhamiikshate | tadetau  shlokau bhavatah || 5||

Again, he who meditates on the  Highest Person through this syllable AUM consisting of three letters, becomes  united with the effulgent Sun. As a snake is freed from its skin, even so he is  freed from sin.

As against these two meditators,  one who meditates on the third part of AUM, namely ‘M’ which constitutes the  hymns of Sama Veda is carried after death to the world of the sun, where  contemplating on the Purusha in the Sun, he becomes merged and identified with  the sun. His sins being burnt, he becomes pure and resplendent as the Sun, just  as a serpent lives a new life after casting off its old skin. He is then raised  to the Brahmaloka, the world of Hiranyagarbha who is the support of the whole  cosmos.  It is this third kind of  meditator who gets gradual liberation (krama mukti) and becomes one with  the Parabrahman.


tisro maatraa mriatyumatyah  prayuktaa anyonyasaktaah anaviprayuktaah | kriyaasu baahyaabhyantaramadhyamaasu  samyak.h prayuktaasu na kampate gyah || 6||

The three letters of AUM, if  employed separately, are mortal; but when joined together in meditation on the  total Reality and used properly on the activities of the external, internal and  intermediate states, the knower trembles not.

Of the three letters of the  syllable AUM, ‘A’ represents the earth, the Rig-Veda and the waking state. ‘U’  represents the intermediate space, the Yajur-Veda and the dream state. ‘M’  represents heaven, the Sama-Veda and deep sleep state.  Further three deities viz.; Virat,  Hiranyagarbha and Isvara control the three states respectively.
  The seeker meditating on the  three letters separately as the symbol of the three deities attains  corresponding planes on death. But he who meditates on the entire syllable AUM,  keeping in mind his identity with Brahman as also with Virat, Hiranyagarbha and  Isvara, attains Brahma Loka and finally Liberation. There is no fear whatsoever  for him.



rigbhiretam  yajurbhirantariksham saamabhiryat.h tat.h kavayo vedayante |  tamonkaarenaivaayatanenaanveti vidvaan.h yattachchhaantamajaramamritamabhayam  param cheti || 7||

The wise man, meditating on  AUM, attains this world by means of the rik verses; the intermediate world by  means of the yajur verses; and that which is known to the seers by means of the  sama verses. And also through the syllable AUM he realizes that which is  tranquil, free from decay, death and fear and which is the Supreme.

The three letters (matras) of AUM, associated with three sounds, were discussed earlier. There is another  aspect of AUM, known as ardhamatra, or half-letter, an undifferentiated  sound which lingers after the three differentiated sounds die away. This is  called the Fourth and is used as the symbol of Turiya or Pure  Consciousness, the attributeless Brahman.

AUM is the sound symbol of  Brahman, the first sound produced at the beginning of creation. The Creator,  Brahma, with the help of AUM, manifests the three principal Vedas and the three  worlds. Further, the three letters of AUM comprise three feet of the Gayatri.  From ‘A’ was produced the first foot of Gayatri, tat saviturvarenyam, -  “That which is adored by the sun” - which was expanded into the Rig-Veda; from  ‘U’ the second foot of Gayatri, bhargo devasya dheemahi, - “We meditate  on That which is the power of the deity” - which was expanded into the  Yajur-Veda; and from ‘M’, the third foot, dhio yo no prachodayat, - “May  He awaken our consciousness” - which was expanded into the Sama-Veda. The Atharva  Veda, dealing mostly with sacrifices and rituals, is excluded from the Trayi or Vedic Triad.

The answer to the fifth question  concludes with the assertion that the correct method of meditation is to blend  all the three syllables and meditate upon them in their totality as ONE  BRAHMAN. The meditator should also merge himself in the imperceptible sound in between  two successive chants of AUM. Such meditation leads to results which are  superior to even those obtained through ritualistic recitation of Vedic  Mantras. It leads to That which is tranquil, imperishable, immortal, fearless  and Supreme.

iti prashnopanishhadi  pajnchamah prashnah ||


We shall take up the Sixth  Question next time.

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