Kena Upanishad

Attached to Saama Veda orientation again, is Kenopanishad. ‘Kenoshitam’ or by whom is this all directed to. The inevitable reply is ‘Manas’ or Mind as remote controlled by Almighty indeed. How does one realises this Almighty. The Teachings are invariably directed to two paths viz. Paraa Vidya and Aparaa Vidya. The former Knowledge is indended to achieve ‘Sadyo Mukti’ or of short term Liberation and Aparaa Vidya aims at superior learning to accomplish ‘Krama Mukti’. The ParaaVidya seeks to overcome desires by way of Mind from the pulls and pressures of material desires by way of Abstinences, Sacrifices, Charities and such other acts of ‘Karma Kanda’ or ‘Karma Yoga’, while ‘Aparaa Vidya’ necessarily involves elevated levels of ‘ Atma Samskara’ or of purification of mind and thought and focus on Inner Consciousness by way of demolishing the thick walls of Ignorance by way of ‘Samyak Drishti’ or Inward Vision as reflected in, and unification of the Self with the Supreme leading up the ladder of ‘Krama Mukti’. Paraa Vidya is essentially anchored to Saama Veda of the ‘Gayatra Saama’School highlighting Sacrifices, Rites, and Meditations controlled by Manas and Praana or the Mind and Vital Energy as further controlling actions and th eir far reaching effects. It is stated that there are three Lokas attainable viz. the Manushya-Pitru- and of Devas. The world of Humans is attained through sons alone, that of Pitru Devas by way of Sacrifices and Deeds of Virtue, and of the Worlds of Devas by higher learning. While the Individual Self is unaffected by the deeds of virtue or vice, Brahmans seek to upgrade themselves by study of Vedas, yagjnas,daanaas, sacrifices, penances, fastings, etc. Karma kaanda attains offspring, wealth, fulfillment of material ends, and finally turns persons as ascetics and terminates their lives; yet the Self is unattached and whatever the body and mind does has no bearing on the Karma Phala. Thus the return of the Self be it from Swarga or Pitru Loka, after rebirth occurs even after the exhaustion of temporary Liberation. But why not seek indeed the Aparaa Vidya or Superior Learning to earn ‘krama mukti’ and secure ‘Tadaatmya’ or Unification of Jeevatma and Paramatma by way of Self-Realisation! Kena Upanishad with Four Chapters of thirty five verses opens with the interrogation as to who indeed is the driving force of one’s life and the reply is that one’s mind is the cause supported by Praana the Vital Force but its Remote and Real Instructor is one’s own Conscience. The infrastructural set up of the Mind comprises the ‘Panchendriyas’or functionaries of the body and these five are divided into five each of jaanendriyas or sensory organs and a set of Karmendrias or body parts enabling the execution of the acts as speech, vision, hearing, touching, and generation all as directed by mind and remote controlled by the Conscience of Self. But indeed the Cause and Effect pattern of the Conscience causing the Praana and mind further effecting the body organs and senses is irrelevant for the simple reason of the Antaratma which is the Supreme Brahman would be far beyond comprehension of humans and Devas alike. The further stanzas of the First Chapter thus explain that the essence of Inner consciouness is neither of the faculty of ‘Vaak’ alone, nor of Manas, nor of Chakshu nor of Manas or all the faculties put together. The Second Chapter mentions of a teacher posing a question to the students whether anybody knows about Brahman; some replies of the most competent students were heard; they all provided part replies as some mentioned of the significance of speech; some of vision, some of Mind, and so on recalling the story of a blind man seeking to highlight one part of the body or another and deduce that an elephant was a head-its trunk-its tail-feet-etc. One of the disciples agrees that he does not know about Brahman but he does not consider that he does not realise that he does not know either; since he who claims that he knows indeed does not know. It is known to him to whom It is unknown; he does not know to whom It is known. The Supreme is not an object even of extraordinary knowledge but of immense introspection and Self Realisa-tion; it is neither perception nor comprehension but only intuition. Thus, to know one does not know but desires to know yet It remains unknown is all what all one knows! Once on realising the Supreme Truth, the Individual becomes aware that the Inner Consciousness or the Antaratma itself is within itself as the Paramatma. The Third Chapter wonders whether It is Maya the Yakshi ever preventing Jivas and Devas to discover the Truth. In fact Devas got elated that after all their efforts to discover Brahman finally were successful, especially to vindicate success against ‘Danavaasuras’. Yet as they tested the Yakshi but the latter failed to convince that she could nither tear off earth nor control Vaayu and nor Agni. Indra then realised the handiwork of Maya in the Form of Yakshi deluded them all. Even as Indra visioned on the Sky again there appeared an extremely charming and gracious lady identifying herself asUma Haima-vati. In Shapta Shati of Markandeya Purana (II.55), there is a reference stating that as demonaic influences seek to dominate, Devi Durga the Mother of the Universe would certainly descend to Earth to curb exreme pressures of the evil influences; Devi Durga is represented by Her divine wisdom is the spring of Brahma Vidya. In the Fourth Chapter, Devi Uma explains to Devas about the essential nature and implications of Brahma Vidya and awareness of Brahman both from the Cosmic and Individual Levels: In the Individual context, Devi Uma’s Teaching is: Athaadhyaatman, yadetat gacchati manah anena abhikshanam upasmarati etat sankalpah/ or the Indwelling Self or theAntaratma is always embedded into and anchored on to mind and ; latter once sharpened even while encased in the physical frame, be butressed with knowledge, faith., righteousness. As these are retained on the right side of the body, the truth on the left side and concentration of higest order in mind, Satya Brahman is then realised as the Truth! The phrase ‘Satyameva’ signifies the idioms ‘Sat’ or Tyat viz. Murtha-Gross and Amutra-subtle, the gros being Pancha bhutaatmika or of Five Elements as also Arishadvargaas of Kaama, Krodha,Moha, Mada, Matsaras; indeed ‘Brahman’ is Invincible, Birthless and All- Pervading! Upanishidam bhobruheetyuktaa ta upanishadraahmi vaava ta upanishadama brumeti/ Recalling the earlier query of the disciple’s request to the Teacher vide Chapter Two of this Upanishad whether he had an idea of what Brahman would be like, the cryptic reply was that the intelligent ones should turn away from the material world to realise Brahman;Tasya tapo damah karmeti pratishthaa Vedaah sarvaangaani/ Concentration, faith, renouncement are the keys, while Vedas represent the limbs and Truthfullness!

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at