Munduka Upanishad ‘As Is’


I bow to the best among men, who, by means of knowledge, which is like akasa and which is non−different from the goal of knowledge, realized the nature of the jivas (dharmas), which, too, are like akasa.

I bow to the yoga known as asparsa, taught in the scriptures, which promotes the
happiness and well−being of all creatures and is free from strife and contradictions.

Some disputants postulate that only an existing entity can again come into existence, while other disputants, proud of their intellect, postulate that only a non−existing entity can come into existence. Thus they quarrel among themselves.

An existing entity cannot again come into existence (birth); nor can a non−existing entity come into existence. Thus disputing among themselves, they really establish the non−dualistic view of ajati (non−creation)

We approve the ajati (non−creation) thus established by them. We have no quarrel with them. Now hear from us about Ultimate Reality, which is free from all disputations.

The disputants assert that the unborn entity (Atman) becomes born. How can one expect that an entity that is birthless and immortal should become mortal?
The immortal cannot become mortal, nor can the mortal become immortal. For it is never possible for a thing to change its nature. How can one who believes that an entity by nature immortal becomes mortal, maintain that the immortal, after passing through change, retains its changeless nature?

By the prakriti, or nature, of a thing is understood that which, when acquired, becomes the essential part of the thing, that which is its characteristic quality, that which is its inalienable nature from its very birth, that which is not extraneous to it and that which never ceases t be itself.

All the jivas are, by their very nature, free from senility and death. But they think they are subject to senility and death and by the very power of thought they appear to deviate from their true nature.

The disputant according to whom the cause itself is the effect must maintain that the cause is born as the effect. If it is born, how can it be called birthless? If it is subject to modification, how then can it be said to be eternal?

If, as you say, the effect is non−different from the cause, then the effect too must be unborn. Further, how can the cause be eternal if it is non−different from the effect, which is born?

There is no illustration to support the view that the effect is born from an unborn cause. Again, if it is said that the effect is produced from a cause which itself is born, then this leads to an infinite regress

How can they who assert that the effect is the cause of the cause and the cause is thecause of the effect, maintain the beginninglessness of both cause and effect?

Those who say that the effect is the cause of the cause and that the cause is the cause of the effect maintain, actually, that the creation takes place after the manner of the birth of father from son.

If causality is asserted, then the order in which cause and effect succeed each other must be stated. If it is said that they appear simultaneously, then, being like the two horns of an animal, they cannot be mutually related as cause and effect.

The cause that you affirm, cannot be established as the cause if it is produced from the effect. How can the cause, which itself is not established, give birth to the effect?

If the cause is produced from the effect and if the effect is, again, produced from the cause, which of the two is born first upon which depends the birth of the other?

The inability to reply to the question raised above, the ignorance about the matter and the impossibility of establishing the order of succession if the causal relation is admitted clearly lead the wise to uphold, under all conditions, the doctrine of ajati, or non−creation

The illustration of the seed and the sprout is something which is yet to be proved. The illustration i.e. the middle term, which itself is not yet proved, cannot be used forestablishing a proposition to be proved.

The ignorance regarding the antecedence and the subsequence of cause and effect clearly proves the absence of creation (ajati). If the jiva (dharma) has really been horn, then why can you not point out its antecedent cause?

Nothing whatsoever is born, either of itself or of another entity. Nothing is ever produced, whether it be being or non−being or both being and non−being.

The cause cannot be produced from a beginningless effect; nor can the effect be produced from a beginningless cause. That which is without beginning is necessarily free from birth.

Subjective knowledge must have an object for its cause; otherwise variety becomes non−existent. Further, from the experience of pain, the existence of external objects, accepted by the dualistic scriptures, must be admitted.

The dualists, by force of reason, assert that there is a cause of subjective knowledge. But from the standpoint of the true nature of things we assert that the so−called cause is, after all, no cause.

The mind is not related to external objects or to the ideas that appear as such objects. This is so because objects are non−existent and the ideas that appear as external objects are not distinct from the mind.

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The mind does not enter into the causal relation in any of the three periods of time. How can it ever be subject to delusion, when there is no cause for such delusion?

Therefore neither the mind nor the objects perceived by the mind are ever born. To see their birth is like seeing the footprints of birds in the sky.

The cause, Brahman, from which the birthless mind is asserted, by the dualists, to have been born is itself unborn. Because Brahman is ever unborn, therefore it is never possible for It to be other than what It is.

If, as the dualists contend, the world is beginningless, then it cannot be non−eternal.Moksha (Liberation) cannot have a beginning and be eternal.

If a thing is non−existent in the beginning and in the end, it is necessarily non−existent in the present. The objects that we see are really like illusions; still they are regarded as real. The utility of the objects of waking experience is contradicted in dreams; therefore they are certainly unreal. Both experiences have a beginning and an end.

All entities seen in dreams are unreal, because they are perceived inside the body. How is it possible for things that are perceived to exist, really to exist in Brahman, which is indivisible and homogeneous?

It is not reasonable to think that a dreamer actually goes out in order to experience the objects seen in the dream, because of the discrepancy of the time involved in such a journey. Nor does he, when awakened, find himself in the places seen in the dream.

The dreamer, after awaking, realizes the illusoriness of the conversations he had with friends etc. in the dream state. Further, he does not possess in the waking state anything he acquired while dreaming.

The dream body is unsubstantial because the other i.e. the physical body, different from it, is perceived. Like the dream body, all things cognized by the mind are unsubstantial.

Since the experience of objects in dreams is similar to the experience of objects in the waking state, waking experience is regarded as the cause of dream experience. It is only by him who admits waking experience to be the cause of dream experience that waking experience can be regarded as real.

All entities are a\said to be unborn, since birth cannot be established as a fact. It is utterly impossible for the unreal to be born of the real.

A man filled with the impressions of the unreal objects seen in the waking state sees those very things in dreams as well. But he does not see in the waking state the unreal objects seen in dreams.

The unreal cannot have another unreality for its cause, nor can the real have the unreal for its cause. The real cannot be the cause of the real. And how utterly impossible it is for the real to be the cause of the unreal!

As a person in the waking state through false knowledge appears to handle objects, whose nature is inscrutable, as if they were real, so also, in dreams, he perceives, through false knowledge, objects whose existence is possible in the dream state alone.

Wise men teach causality only for the sake of those who, afraid of non−creation, assert the reality of external objects because they perceive such objects and also because they cling to various social and religious duties.

Those who, because of their fear of the truth of absolute non−creation and also because of their perception of external objects, deny ajati (non−creation) are not affected by the evil consequent on the belief in creation. This evil, if there is any, is insignificant.

As an elephant conjured up by a magician is taken to be real because it is perceived to exist and also because it answers to the behavior of a real elephant, so also external objects are taken to be real because they are perceived to exist and because one can deal with them.

It is Consciousness, Vijnana, alone that appears to be born or to move or to take the form of matter. But this Consciousness is really ever unborn, immovable and free from the traits of materiality; it is all peace and non−dual.

Thus the mind is never subject to birth. All beings, too, are free from birth. Those who know this do not fall into false knowledge.

As the line made by a moving fire−brand appears to be straight, crooked, etc., so
Consciousness, when set in motion, appears as the perceiver, the perceived and the like.

As the fire−brand, when not in motion, is free from all appearances and remains
changeless, so Consciousness, when not in motion, is free from all appearances and remains Changeless.

When the fire−brand is set in motion, the appearances that are seen in it do not come from elsewhere. When it is still, the appearances do not leave the motionless fire−brand and go elsewhere, nor do they enter into the fire−brand itself.

The appearances do not emerge from the fire−brand, because their nature is not that of a substance. This applies likewise to Consciousness, because of the similarity of the appearances.

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When Consciousness is associated with the idea of activity, as in the waking and dream states, the appearances that seem to arise do not come from anywhere else. When Consciousness is non−active, as in deep sleep, the appearances do not leave the non−active Consciousness and go elsewhere, nor do they merge in it. The appearances do not emerge from Consciousness, for their nature is not that of a substance. They are incomprehensible, because they are not subject to the relation of cause and effect.

A substance may be the cause of another substance and a non−substance, the cause of another non−substance. But the jivas cannot possibly be anything like a substance or a non−substance.

Thus external appearances (objects) are not caused by the mind, nor is the mind caused by them. Hence thoughtful people hold to the principle of absolute non−creation.

As long as a person clings to the belief in causality, he will find cause producing effect. But when this attachment to causality wears away, cause and effect become non−existent.

As long as a person clings to the belief in causality, samsara will continue to expand for him. But when this attachment to causality wears away, samsara becomes non−existent.

The entire universe is created by false knowledge; therefore nothing in it is eternal.
Everything, again, as one with Ultimate Reality, is unborn; therefore there is no such thing as destruction.

Birth is ascribed to the jivas; but such birth is not possible from the standpoint of Reality. Their birth is like that of an illusory object. That illusion, again, does not exist.

The illusory sprout is born of the illusory seed. This illusory sprout is neither permanent nor destructible. The same applies to the jivas.

The term permanent or impermanent cannot be applied to the birthless jivas. What is indescribable in words cannot be discriminated about as permanent or impermanent.

As in dreams the mind acts through maya, presenting the appearance of duality, so also in the waking state the mind acts through maya, presenting the appearance of duality. There is no doubt that the mind, which is in reality non−dual, appears to be dual in dreams; likewise, there is no doubt that what is non−dual i.e. Atman, appears to be dual in the waking state.

The dreamer, wandering about in all the ten directions in his dream, sees the whole variety of jivas, born of eggs, moisture, etc.

These entities, which are objects of the mind of the dreamer, do not exist apart from his mind. Likewise, the mind of the dreamer is an object of perception of the dreamer alone.

The waking man, wandering about in all the ten directions in his waking state, sees the whole variety of jivas, born of eggs, moisture, etc. They are the objects of the mind of the waking man and do not exist apart from it. Likewise, the mind of the waking man is an object of his perception alone.

Both the mind and the jivas are objects of each other’s perception. Can the one exist independent of the other? The reply of the wise is in the negative. There is no evidence of the existence of the one without the other; they are cognized only through each other.

As the dream jiva comes into existence and disappears, so also these jivas perceived in the waking state appear and disappear. As the jiva conjured up by the magician comes into existence and disappears, so also these jivas perceived in the waking state appear and disappear. As an artificial jiva comes into existence and disappears, so also these jivas perceived in the waking state appear and disappear.

No jiva ever comes into existence. There exists no cause that can produce it. The supreme truth is that nothing ever is born.

The world of duality, which is perceived to exist and is characterized by the subject−object relationship, is verily a movement of the mind. The mind, again, from the standpoint of Reality has no contact with any object. Hence it is declared to be eternal and unattached.

That which exists on the strength of false knowledge based upon imagination does not really exist. Again, that which is said to exist on the strength of the views advanced by other schools of thought does not really exist.

Atman is called birthless (aja) from the standpoint of false knowledge based upon
imagination; in reality It is not even birthless. The unborn Atman is said to be born from the standpoint of the false knowledge cherished by other schools of thought.

People persistently hold to the idea of unreality i.e. duality. But such duality does not exist.One who has realized the absence of duality is not born again, since there remains no longer any cause for his birth

When the mind finds no cause−superior, inferior, or middling−it becomes free from birth. How can there be an effect without a cause?

The birthlessness of the mind, which is free from manifestation and causal relationship, is absolute and constant. For duality i.e. the perceiving mind and its objects is merely an objectification of the mind.

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Realizing the absence of causality as ultimate truth and not finding any other reason for birth, one attains that state which is free from grief, desire and fear.

On account of attachment to unreal objects the mind pursues such objects. But it comes back to its pure state when it attains non−attachment, realizing their unreality.

The mind freed from attachment to all external objects and undistracted by fresh objects attains the state of immutability. The wise realize such a mind to be Brahman; It is undifferentiated, birthless and non−dual.

The birthless, dreamless and sleepless Reality reveals Itself by Itself; for this Dharma (Atman) by Its very nature is self−luminous.

The Lord (Atman) becomes easily hidden because of attachment to any single object and is revealed with great difficulty.

The ignorant, with their childish minds, verily cover Atman by predicating of It such
attributes as existence, non−existence, existence and non−existence and total
non−existence, deriving these characteristics from the notions of change, immovability, combination of change and immovability and absolute negation which they associate with Atman.

These are the four theories regarding Atman, through attachment to which It always remains hidden from one’s view. He who knows the Lord to he ever untouched by them indeed knows all.

What else remains to be desired by him who has attained the state of the brahmin−a state of complete omniscience and non−duality, which is without beginning, middle, or end?

The humility (vinaya) of the brahmins is natural. Their tranquility (sama) is also natural. Further, the control of the senses (dama) comes natural to them. He who has realized Brahman attains peace.

Vedanta recognizes the ordinary state of waking, in which duality, consisting of objects and the idea of coming in contact with them, is admitted. It also recognizes a purer ordinary state i.e. the dream state, in which is experienced duality consisting of objects and the idea of coming in contact with them, though such objects do not exist.

The wise recognize another state, in which there exist neither objects nor ideas regarding them. This state is beyond all empirical experiences. They describe the three: knowledge, the objects of knowledge i.e. the three states and the supremely knowable i.e. Ultimate Reality.

Having known knowledge and the threefold knowable, one after another, the knower, endowed with supreme intellect, attains in this very life and everywhere, the state of omniscience.

One should be conversant, at the very outset, with four things. These are as follows: the things to be avoided, the goal to be realized, the disciplines to be cultivated and the tendencies to be rendered ineffective. Of these four, all except the goal to be realized i.e. the Supreme Reality exist only as products of the imagination.

All Atmans (Dharmas) are to be known, by their very nature, to be beginningless and unattached like akasa. There is not the slightest variety in there in any way or at any time.

All jivas are, by their very nature, illumined from the very beginning. There can never be any doubt about their nature. He who,. having known this, rests without seeking further knowledge is alone capable of attaining Immortality.

The jivas, from the very beginning and by their very nature, are all peace, unborn and completely free. They are characterized by sameness and non−separateness. The unborn Atman is always established in sameness and purity.

Those who always wander in the realm of separateness cannot realize the purity of Atman. Their minds are inclined to differentiation and they assert the separateness of the Atmans. Therefore they are called narrow−minded.

They alone in this world are endowed with the highest wisdom who are firm in their conviction of the sameness and birthlessness of Atman. The ordinary man does not understand their way.

Knowledge, which is the very essence of the unborn jivas, is itself called unborn and unrelated. This Knowledge is proclaimed to be unattached, since it is unrelated to any other object.

To those ignorant people who believe that Atman can deviate from Its true nature even in the slightest measure, Its eternally unrelated character is lost. In that case the destruction of the veil is out of the question.

All jivas are ever free from bondage and pure by nature. They are illumined and free from the very beginning. Yet the wise speak of the jivas as capable of knowing Ultimate Reality.

The Knowledge of the wise man, who is all light, is never related to any object. All the jivas, as well as Knowledge, are ever unrelated to objects. This is not the view of Buddha.

Having realized the Knowledge of the Supreme Reality, which is hard to grasp, profound, birthless, the same throughout, all light and free from multiplicity, we salute It as best we can.

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