Now that we have almost concluded the unfolding of the kArikA-s, we can return to that cover image! The ‘hand-sign’ is not actually mentioned in the Mandukya Upanishad, nor by Gaudapada, though it is highly relevant. As I mentioned in the introduction, it is a gesture associated with the Sage who is said to be the first teacher of Vedanta - Dakshinamurti. As such, he was the head of the teaching sampradAya and did not himself have a teacher – i.e. he was already fully enlightened. He is also identified with the God Shiva. It is called chin mudrA or j~nAna mudrA (more usually chin), where chin means Consciousness and mudrA means sign.
It is often said that Dakshinamurti taught through silence. Of course, this would not make any sense. Silence can be interpreted in innumerable ways, few of which are likely to convey useful knowledge! But, once we have the knowledge, a symbol can convey a world of information, reminding us through memory of what we have previously learned. Witness the vast amount of knowledge which is now conveyed to you through the word OM.
The hand position shown on the cover of this book is another symbol of this sort. And it is highly relevant to the same knowledge.
Here is the symbolism:
- The thumb represents paramAtman. There is some reasoning behind this. The scriptures speak of paramAtman as residing in the space in the heart (hRRidaya). By this, we were expected to understand ‘mind’, since it used to be thought that the mind was contained in the physical organ of the heart. Since the heart is about the size of a fist, it was reasonable to think that the space inside was about the size of a thumb.
- The forefinger represents the individual or jIva. It could also be thought of as the ego or sense of myself. It is common in many cultures to use the forefinger to point out personal opinions and also to threaten or criticize others whose views differ from ‘mine’.
- The second finger represents the gross body, sthUla sharIra or waker.
- The third finger represents the subtle body, sUkShma sharIra or dreamer.
- The fourth finger represents the causal body, kAraNa sharIra or deep-sleeper.
- The first finger is normally held in association with the other three, indicating our identification with the body and mind.
- All four fingers depend upon the thumb for their strength and ability to do practically anything. It is this feature which distinguishes us from other animals and gave humanity its great advantage in manipulating objects.
- When the index finger is moved to touch the tip of the thumb, it separates from the other three, indicating realization that I am not in fact these bodies at all. In forming an unbroken circle with the thumb, it is recognizing that jIvAtman and paramAtman are one, unaffected by the three mithyA states of consciousness.
Below is the list of contents from the book (which, as the title implies, aims to give a short, traditionally authentic, and comprehensive introduction to the subject):
Search for happiness
Title of this book
Brief Note on the Presentation
A (very) little Sanskrit background
OM = Everything = God
Structure and Content of the Text
Gold Ring Metaphor
Reality and Unreality
Means of Acquiring Knowledge, with an emphasis on Inference
Relevance of Scriptures
WHAT THE MANDUKYA UPANISHAD IS ABOUT
States of consciousness
The Waking State – vishva and virAT
The Dream State – taijasa and hiraNyagarbha
The Deep-Sleep State – prAj~na and antaryAmin (Ishvara)
Summary of the three states
The ‘Fourth’ – turIya
Investigation into OM
Silence – amAtra
Comparison of the States – Ignorance and Error
THE WORLD APPEARANCE
Unreality of dream
Unreality of waking world
First objection to world being unreal
Second objection to world being unreal
Third objection to world being unreal
Fourth objection to world being unreal
Accepting the world as mithyA
Falsity of waking and dream objects
Criticism of dualists
jIva is never born
Pot space metaphor
Scriptural Negation of jIva
Refutation of Other Philosophies
satkAryavAda vs asatkAryavAda
Refutation of sAMkhya theory
Refutation of dvaita theory of karma
Refutation of Buddhism
Nothing can come into existence (K4.53-56)
An aside discussion of the Sanskrit in these four verses
Theories of Creation
Creation according to scripture
Creation According to Reason
The concept of mAyA
NATURE OF REALITY
Origin of Belief
Advaita is different
Why does Advaita teach duality?
Mistaking the Self
Rope and snake metaphor
How does Duality come about?
The delusion of duality
Firebrand metaphor - only Consciousness is real
Truth of the Self/Reality
Reality for awakened jIva
The mind and its ‘death’
Problems and Misconceptions
OM – The 4 aspects of consciousness
karma and bhakti yoga
Knowledge and the fruit of knowledge
Meditation on OM
Summary of what should be done and benefits
Removal of obstacles
APPENDIX 1 – TRANSLATION OF AND COMMENTARY ON THE UPANISHAD
shAnti pATha and Introduction by Shankara
Mantra 9 (and kArikA K1.19)
Mantra 10 (and kArikA K1.20)
Mantra 11 (and kArikA K1.21)
APPENDIX 2 – OTHER STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
The state of swoon, faint or coma
APPENDIX 3 – chidAbhAsa
The ‘real I’ verses the ‘presumed I’ – An Examination of chidAbhAsa
APPENDIX 4 – manonAsha
manonAsha – not the literal death of the mind
APPENDIX 5 – ITRANS
The five basic vowels
The compound vowels
The first group of consonants (guttural)
The second group of consonants (palatal)
The third group of consonants (cerebral)
The fourth group of consonants (dental)
The fifth group of consonants (labial)
Table of basic consonants
The complete alphabet
APPENDIX 6 – SIMILARITY OF WAKING AND DREAM – AN APPARENT CONTRADICTION
APPENDIX 7 – EKA-JIVA-VADA – ‘ONE JIVA’ THEORY
GLOSSARY – Sanskrit terminology