Prasna Upanishad (Part-6)-Where to look for the Cosmic Person


sa yathemaa nadhyah syandamaanaah samudraayanaah samudram praapyaastam gachchhanti bhidhyete taasaam naamarupe samudra ityevam prochyate | evamevaasya paridrashhturimaah shhodashakalaah purushhaayanaah purushham praapyaastam gachchhanti bhidhyete chaasaam naamarupe purushha ityevam prochyate sa eshho.akalo.amrito bhavati tadeshha shlokah || 5||

As these flowing rivers, bound  for the ocean, disappear into the ocean after having reached it, their names  and forms being destroyed and are called simply the ocean - even so, these  sixteen parts of the seeker, whose goal is the Purusha, disappear into the  Purusha after having reached Him, their names and forms get merged and are  called simply the Purusha. He becomes free of parts and immortal. On this there  is the following verse:

The sixteen parts enumerated here are representative of the multitude of manifestations which constitute the cosmos. They all originate from the Unmanifest Absolute and eventually they all dissolve into the Unmanifest Absolute. This has been illustrated by the teacher with the analogy of rivers reaching their destination in the ocean and losing their individual identity of names and forms.

The import of this Mantra is that the universe and all living beings are projected, through avidya, from Brahman. Through avidya, again, names and forms are superimposed upon them to serve the practical business of daily life. When the names and forms are destroyed by knowledge, the living beings are realized to be Brahman alone. Thus the knowledge of the Purusha leads to Immortality.


araa iva rathanaabhau kalaa yasminpratishhtitaah | tam vedhyam purushham veda yatha maa vo mrityuh parivyathaa iti || 6||

Know Him, the Purusha, who  alone is to be known and in whom the parts rest firm, like the spokes in the  nave of a wheel, that death may not affect you.

Purusha, the Cosmic Person, Absolute Being, is the support of all his manifestations just as the spokes are being supported by the hub of a wheel. If a man has not known the Purusha as his inmost Self, he becomes stricken with death and suffers.


taan.h hovaachaitaavadevaahametat.h param brahma veda | naatah paramastiiti || 7||

Pippalada said to them: Thus  far, indeed, I know the Supreme Brahman; there is nothing higher than this.

The instructions of the teacher have come to an end. The teacher made the students feel that the purpose of their seeking guidance from him has been completely accomplished.


te tamarchayantastvam hi nah pitaa yo.asmaakamavidhyaayaah param param taarayasiiti | namah paramarishhibhyo namah paramarishhibhyah || 8|| 

And they, worshipping him,  said: You, indeed, are our father - you who have taken us across our ignorance  to the other shore. Adoration to the supreme Rishis! Adoration to the supreme Rishis!

The concluding Mantra contains another innovative example to be followed by the sincere students. The disciples thank Pippalada for ferrying them across the sea of ignorance to the shores of wisdom. They also state that his spiritual discourse has been like a second birth for them and accordingly they acknowledge him as their father. The repetition of the word ‘Rishi’ is to show their high regards and respect to the great seers who first realized the knowledge of Brahman and transmitted it through a succession of teachers.

The concluding remarks of Adi Sankaracharya, the great commentator of the Upanishads, in this connection are really magnificent and hence it will be pertinent to quote them in full here.

“Thus instructed by the teacher, the pupils realized that their purpose was accomplished; they felt that they were blessed indeed. But they realized that no earthly return was adequate for the Knowledge received. Therefore they worshipped him with flowers and touching his feet with their heads, said ‘You are truly our father, you have today begotten, through knowledge, our Brahman Body, eternal, undecaying, immortal and fearless. By means of the bout of knowledge you have taken us across the ocean of ignorance - characterized by perverse knowledge and filled with the manifold miseries of birth, old age, disease and death - to the other shore of Liberation, from where one returns no more to samsara. Therefore it is proper that we regard you alone as our real father - nay more than any other father. If the earthly father, who begets the body only, is considered most worshipful in the world, what need to be said of him who is the giver of supreme fearlessness?’ ”

iti prashnopanishhadi shhashhthah prashnah ||




The Peace Chant

Om.  May we, O gods, hear with our ears what is auspicious! May we, O worshipful  gods, see with our eyes what is good! May we, strong in limbs and body, sing  your praise and enjoy the life allotted to us by Prajapati!

Om.  Peace! Peace! Peace!

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