Yoga Wisdom of the Upanishads: Kena... Mundaka... Prashna... Ishavasya (An Old and Rare Book)


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About the Author

Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda was born on Feb 3rd, 1931 in a pious family in Dumari Buzurg, District saran, Bihar, a province sanctified by the great Lord Buddha and his holy associations. From his very childhood days he evinced various marks of his future saintliness. He was calm and reflective, brilliant in his work at school and college, loved by his friends and relatives. Always a source of inspiration to all who came in contact with him, he never faltered in his high ethical ideals. Side by side with his higher studies and duties of a practical nature, he reflected upon the deeper problems of life.

The overwhelming feeling to serve humanity through spiritual life led him to embrace the ancient order of Sanyasa on Feb 3rd, 1953 at the age of 22. Tirelessly he practised intense austerities, living in the Himalayan retreats by the sacred Ganges River. For over 9 years he was a religious professor at the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy giving lectures on the Upanishads, Raja Yoga, and all important scriptures of India. Besides this teaching, he was the Editor of “Yoga Vedanta” journal. To his Guru, Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda was a gem, ever able to assist foreign student in their understanding of Yoga and Vedanta. His intuitive perception of their problems endeared him to all.

His exemplary life, great command of spiritual knowledge, love towards all beings, and his very impressive and dynamic exposition of Yoga and Vedanta Philosophy attracted enormous interest all over India, and in different countries of the world. He frequently lectured by invitation at All India Vedanta Conferences in Delhi, Amritsar, Ludhiana, and other parts of India.

After many requests, he consented to come to the U.S.A. in 1962 to spread the knowledge of India. Crossing Europe, he lectured in various countries. There is a development of an unusual dimension in his range and richness of wisdom–he never contradicts the great scriptures of the world, but adds to them by his unique explanations. In 1964, he toured North and South America, inspiring and elevating numerous students of Yoga.

Publisher’s Note

This important book brings to the spiritual aspirants all over the world a glorious fulfilment of a long-cherished need for gaining an insight into the Upanishads. Surpassing even the expectations of the seekers of truth, this book will certainly redouble their pursuit of wisdom. The author, His Holiness Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda, Presents this valuable work, abounding with wisdom, in his most classical style. It is distinguished by a direct approach which encourages serious study and practical application in life.

Without exception, this book is suited not just for students of yoga and Vedanta, but for every student of any religion who would understand the true meaning of a religious spirit, and put it into practice. Any aspirant can delve into the depths of the soul if he undertakes a comprehensive study of the Upanishads on which the entire Yoga Philosophy is founded.

The reverend author, Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda, with his unique ability to interpret the teachings of the Upanishads in a modern style, makes this study especially suited to the Western mind deeply involved in the scientific and technological advancement of the present era. Special emphasis is given on how the Upanishadic knowledge can be utilized in one’s day to day practice. Consequently, it helps to resolve the multi-aspected problems that life abounds with in this complex world of the present.

No longer meant just for the recluses and monks of the Himalayan caves of India where it has been secluded for centuries, now this wisdom will provide imperishable wealth of spiritual values for the entire world. If properly understood, it will undoubtedly prove to be the nourisher of all that is sublime and grand in human life, irrespective of the barriers of political systems, cultural differences, religious beliefs, and sectarian dogmas. The hideous veil of ignorance that conceals the unity of all mankind and perpetuates distinction and distrust among the races is lifted by this wonderful work founded on the wisdom of the Upanishads. Within the pages of this book there is a silent call for all to realize: “I am That. The Self is Eternal, and all is ONE UNITY.”

From the culture based upon the Upanishadic Wisdom there will arise great men and women endowed with dynamism, creativity, magnanimity, and a self- effacing spirit. This flowing wisdom nourishes every aspect of human life, lifting the human intellect towards its intuitional unfoldment.

Sri Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda has given special emphasis towards the practical application of the teachings. With his intuitive insight, he has designed the book not only to suit the academic needs of the scholars at the Universities, but also for the aspirants who are endeavoring to attain the realization of the Self.

Like a diver who plunges deep into the depths of the sea to bring forth pearls, so too our beloved author has brought forth the true pearls of this great work of wisdom by diving deep into the ocean of the Upanishads.

This is the first in the series of our Upanishadic collection, which we have selected from vast, already prepared manuscripts of Sri Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda. These four important Upanishads: KENA, MUNDAKA, PRASHNA, and ISHAVASYA, cover all the vital and salient points of Yoga and Vedanta philosophy.

Some of the highlighted topics in this book are: Transcendental Worship and Meditation, The True End of Life, The Nature of Intuitive Knowledge, Insight into Karma and Reincarnation, Three States of Consciousness, Experiences after Death, Immortality of the Soul, Means of Attaining Self-realization, and many others.

Anyone devoted to this profound study will without a doubt climb higher and higher on the ladder of Yoga to his real inheritance of Self-realization- beyond the turmoils of the world and all its objects and circumstances. May that Most Perfect Divinity of the Upanishads guide you on your journey to your Eternal Home!


Publisher's Note iii
Dedication vi
Kena Upanishad : Section 1
The Nature of Brahman 6
The Supreme Prompter 7
The transcendental Worship 11
Section 2
The Nature of Intuitive Knowledge 12
The True End of Life 16
Section 3
The Mystic Story of Yaksha 18
The Symbolic Meaning of the Story 23
Section 4
Instruction Given by Uma to Gods 25
Brahman is Loved by All Beings 28
The Disciplines for Attaining Brahman 30
The Fruit of Self-realization 31
Peace Chant 32
Mundaka Upanishad
Peace Chant 35
Three Types of Miseries 37
First Mundaka: Section 1
Mysticism of the Story of Creation 39
Transcendental Knowledge 41
Intellect versus Intuition 42
Two Forms of Knowledge 43
The Planes of Existence 49
First Mundaka: Section 2
(Apara Vidya -- Lower Knowledge)
Insight into Karmas 52
Seven Flames of Sacrificial Fire 57
The Fruits of Sakamya Karma (Action with Desire) 59
Gradual Liberation and Instantaneous Liberation 64
Qualifications of an Aspirant 65
The Tradition of 'Renunciation' 67
Second Mundaka: Section 2
The Nature of Para Vidya (Supreme Knowledge) 69
The Nature of the Supreme Being 70
The Cosmic Form of the Divine Self 70
The Supreme Self as the Source of Creation 78
The Knots of the Heart 80
Second Mundaka: Section 2
The Supreme Abode of All Beings 82
The Supreme Self is the Target 83
Illustration of Bow and Arrow 85
The Four Types of Self-effort 86
Different Forms of Grace 88
Different Forms of Karma 90
Sixteen Rays of the Self 92
Third Mundaka: Section 1
The Two Birds (God and Soul) 95
Jiva Turns to God 97
Wheel of the World-process 98
Seven States of Wisdom 100
The Glory of Truth 104
Meditation on Brahman 106
The Glory of Realization 107
Devotion to Guru 109
Third Mundaka: Section 2
Higher and Lower Samadhi 110
Reason and Intuition 112
Self-effort and Grace 114
Spiritual Sadhana 115
The Transcendental State 120
The Vow of Renunciation 123
"I am One and All" 126
Prashna Up Anishad
Peace Chant 129
First Question
The Nature of Creation 132
Prana and Rayi (Spirit and Matter) 133
Cosmic Being as the Sun 136
Southern and Northern Paths 139
The Mystic Implications of Hatha Yoga 144
Qualities for Attaining the World of Brahman 146
Second Question
Supremacy of Prana 150
Prana as the Symbol of the Cosmic Self 152
Meditation on Prana as the Cosmic Self 154
Prayer to Prana as the Cosmic Self 156
Third Question
Chitta and Prana (Mind and Vital forces) 160
Kundalini Shakti 162
The Functions of the Five Pranas 164
The Movements of the Soul after Death 166
The Fruit of Knowledge 169
Fourth Question
Three States of Consciousness 171
Waking Dream and Deep Sleep 172
Human Life as a Sacrificial Performance 174
The Dream State 176
The Sleep State 177
The Transcendental State 179
The Result of Self-realization 181
Fifth Question
Meditation on Om 183
The Four Aspects of Om 184
Meditation on the Integral Understanding of Om 186
Sixth Question
Sixteen Aspects of the Self 190
Victory over Death 197
The Glory of Spiritual Preceptor 198
Peace Chant 199
For Him Death is a Myth (poem) 200
Ishavasya Upanishad
Peace Chant 203
Prakriti and the Three Gunas 206
Five Sheaths 207
Renunciation - Secret of Prosperity 207
Karma and Upasana (Action and Meditation) 209
Killers of the Self 211
The Philosophy of Perception 213
Freedom from Grief and Hatred 214
Worship of Avidya and Vidya 217
Worship of Matter and Spirit 219
Blend of Action and Devout Meditation 222
The Termination of the World-process 224
The Path of Liberation 227
Spiritual Enquiry into "Who am I?" 229
Glossary 238
The Self is All this xii
The Cessation of All Sorrows xiii
The Non-dual Bliss xiv
Seek Union with the Divine Self xv
I am One and All 126
Death Holds no Fear for Me 237
I am He 240
Photographs and Illustrations
Author Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda xvi
His Holiness Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda 4
Goddess Uma--the Embodiment of Wisdom 22
His Holiness Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda 34
Bow and Arrow 84
The Two Birds (God and Soul) 94
Guru and Disciples 128
Meditation on Om 182
His Holiness Swami Jyotir Maya Nanda 202
The Three Bodies 226

Sample Pages