Anchored again to Avthara Veda, Mandukya Upanishad by the illustrious Maharshi Manduka visioned Twelve ‘Paramaardha Shlokas’ or Poignant Statements and secured the reputation as of being the most succinct and direct exposition of Existence and Beyond seeking the Ultimate Truth; this Upanishad is commended as follows: Mandukyamekameva alam mumukshunaam vimuktyate/ or this Upanishad alone is a Single and Far fetching direct exposition with no frills and fringes directly hitting the Actuality of Life and the Path of Realisation. The Basics are explained as Pranava or Omkara; the magnificence of Antaratma or the Inner Consciousness of Self which is but the reflection of the Supreme; the Vaishvaanara or the Virat Purusha possessive of four quarters or spheres of Action , viz. ‘Jaagarita’ or the Waking State, the ‘Taijasa’ or the Dream Stage, ‘Sushupta’ or ‘Pragjna’ or Deep Sleep, and finally ‘Sarvagjnata’ or Omniscience ; and the description of Virat Purusha or Pranava. Existence of the Universe commences and climaxes with Pranava indeed. Gaudapaada the Preceptor of Adi Shankara annotated the contents of the Upanishad that acquired fine tuning as ‘Gaudapaaada Kaarikas’.

Maandukyas I &II: The most Sacred Word OM is the exposition of the Universe in totality besides ‘Kaalamaana’ the Time Cycle of the Past-Present-Future. Om is Brahman and Self being just the same. The Unique Composition of OM is of ‘chatuspaad’ or four quarters, aptly described as Vishva-Taijasa-Pragjna- Turiya, all merging in successive stages.

Maandukya III:The First Quarter is of Vaishvaanara whose sphere of activity is in ‘Jaagarita Sthaana’ or the state of Wakefulness. He enjoys ‘Bahir Pragjna’ or the awareness of the happenings around in relation to the happenings in the open society as being equipped with ‘saptaangas’ or seven limbs and senses to see, hear, smell move about, feel, generate-clear out and above all to think, introspect and retrospect. While this is the status of an Individul Self, the Virat Purusha or the Composite Self comprises of four entities viz. Prithvimaya, Tejomaya, Amritamaya and Purusha. This indeed is the Atma, Amtita, Pagjna, Brahma and Sarvam or the Totality.

Maandukya IV:Taijasa is the second quarter and its sphere of acitivity is the dream stage of sub-consciousness. Its consciouness is in rooted or inward bound or looking within; it is possessed of seven body limbs and nineteen mouths of five each of Panchendriyas, five supportive Elements of Nature, the mind and praana while together these are capable of experiencing the joy of subtle objects. Taijas is essentially stationed in dream stage yet no doubt active otherwise but normally dormant. In the dream stage, the organs and senses remain inoperative except through mind. The Pancha Bhutas or the Basic Elements whose offshoots are the sensory organs of the body are aware and so does the Prana which is Hiranyagarbha Himself and thus the Inner Consciousness which is Paramatma’s reflection is aware of the happenings even during the dream state of mind. The person’s mind in that stage thus creates a world of his own, puts the body aside and creates himself chariots, horses, highways. He might also imagine fears and failures, defeats and even one’s own death! The Individual is the agent of making unreal things real in that dream state.Thus mind assumes sub consciousness turning objects and senses real!

Maandukya V: The state of ‘Sushupti’ is of dense and deep sleep as differentiated from mere slumber in either normal nor of dreams and desires, fears and feelings. In this dreamless state the person concerned is joyous and is at the two way door of consciousness and deep sleep. In this dreamless state, one becomes undivided as of a ‘pragjnaa ghana’ of an undifferentiated mass of over all consciousness and as ‘ekeebhuta’ or a specified host of duality as of the states of wakefulness- dream-and intermediate mental vibrations, verging on the state of ‘ananda bhuk’ or of elevated happiness, free from the limiting body attachments and senses like a transparent flow of water. During the state of Sushupta the person full of joy experiencing the experi-mental and experiential status!

Maandukya VI: Most certainly, the term of ‘Pagjnatva’ even in normal wakefulness is not only an experiencer of Sushupti but of fulfledged Brahman himself as the Omni Present, Omni Scient, and Omni Potent Over Lord. While in a dream situation, the mind flies in various directions as though a bird or a kite is tried to a string which indeed is like praana the vital force, a Pragjnaana Swarupa is manifested as Antaryaami, Yonih Sarvasya, Prabhavaapyaayou hi bhutaanam or the Internal Controller and Regulator and the Singular Source of Creation- Sustenance-Dissolution.

‘Gaudapaada Kaarikas’ on above Mandukyas : While Vishwa or the Individuals in collection discerns all the extraneous objects, Taijasa experiences the subtleities or nuances of the internal features of all the entities and Pragjna is the Consciousness in totality.Indeed it is the same entity considered in three ways viz.waking-dream-deep sleep or sushupti, just as a largefish moving along river banks or a hawk flying free in the Sky.The Self is unaffected in any of the states of existence with the result of its contact with body parts and actions as covered bythe veil of ignorance in the waking state or desires to rest in sleep or in deep sleep. Thus the transcendence or the superiormost excellence of the Self is firmly established in three stages of awakenness-dream- sushupti. Gaudapada explains further in annotation of Vishwa-Taijasa and Pragjna, Vishwa the Composite Self especially in reference to Praana is met with in the right eye since that happens to be the place of experiences.; Taijasa is built in one’s own mind as the motivating and thinking power; Pragjna is in the heart directly connected with Akaasha or Space. Indeed these three entities of the physique are the built- in features of Existence. Thus Gaudapaada Kaaraka asserts that the very existence of a body comprises of three ways viz. Vishwa-Taijasa-Pragjna. WhileVishwa is delighted with the magnitude and variety which represents as gross, Taijasa is joyous with subtleness and intricacies while Pragjna is immersed in idyllic bliss. Thus enjoyment is three folded: ‘Sthula’ or gross yielding fulfillment, the suble satiffies the Taijasa, whiler Pragjna demands bliss and ecstacy alone. The Self seeks to experience all the thre phases of satisfaction. But since ignorance is covered by Maya or ‘Make Believe’, each and every Being has its own origin, species, name, form and feature. But Praana the alternate of Brahman is manifested in every being as Antaratma pronouncing as it were as ‘Ahamasmi’or I am Myself! But as the values of Dharma came to a low ebb and due to the inordinate pull of Maya, the nearness had replaced the distance; Upanishads are the capacity to bring near to this Truth that Praana couched in alive body is the Self the Supreme and indeed THAT IS THE TRUTH. While Vidwans who are indeed aware of the magnificene and splendour of the Almighty are sure of the origin and process of creation, the ignorant ones feel over-awed and surmise that the creation and uniformity of species as prototypes is sheer magic as an enigma!

Maandukya VII: Delineation of the Self as thus far described thus comprises of ‘Chatush Paada’ or Four Quarters: Vishwa-Taijasa- Sushupti-Pragya. Now Prajnaanam is defined; ‘Naantah Pragjnaanam’ or that is not of conscious -ness of the internal world eliminating ‘Taijasa’; ‘na bahirprajnaanam’ or of external world eliminating ‘Vishwa’; ‘na ubhayatah pragjnaam’or nor of consciousness of both the worlds of intermediate state between dream and awakenness; ‘ na pragjnaanam ghanam’ or an undifferentiated mass of consciousness; ‘na pragjnaam na apragjnaam’ or neither knowing nor unaware beyond empirical dealings of the core of Singular Self in whom existence merges as of non-duality, the Turiya Status of Tat Tvam Asi or Thou Art Thou. Indeed three basic needs amalgamate as the Deities of Existence seeking contact with the Self viz.mind-vital force- and speech. As soon as a person departs, speech is the first casuality withdrawn ino mind, other faculties following suit; then mind gets withdrawn to Praana, praana into Fire and Fire to the the Conciousness or the Supreme!

Maandukya VIII: ‘ Omityekaksharam idam sarvam’/ The Singular Word AUM signifies the entirety of the Universe and beyond as ‘Atma-Adhyaksharam-Adhimaatram’ or Symbolic of Atma- the Akshara or the eternal syllable of Omkaara-and the ‘Adhimaatram’ or the Unique Letters identified with the Quintessence of Vedas. Together with introspection, the three phases of Jaagrat- Swapna-Sushuptha or the realms of Aawkenness- dream stage-deep sleep or the external-internal-intermediate stages would lead to qualitative mortality towards immortality with the pathana-manana-tanmayata as the practice with OM as the guiding flag! Maandukya IX: Vaishvaanara or the Virat Swarupa or the Antaratma the Inner Awareness in his ‘Jaagriti Sthaana’ or in his sphere of active awakenness represents the first syllable of ‘Akaara’ of the Pranava Shabda represents the Head as of Vaishvaanara the Heaven, Surya as his eyes, Vaayu as the Praana, Sky as the middle segment of the body, water as his bladder, Earth as the feet, the Sacrificial Altar as his chest, kushagrass as his hair, Garhapatyaagni as his heart, Aavaahaarya Pachanaagni as his mind, his mouth as the oblation of food into Aahavaneeya Agni. Vaishvanara is the Self in the micro individual angle while in the cosmic connotation too he is the same. Similarly Taijasa is identified with Hiranyagarbha, Pagjnaa with unmanifested Substance).

Maandukyas X & XI: The second syllable of AUM being ‘U’ is represented by ‘Taijasa’is in ‘swapna sthaana’ being the intermediate state of dreams. The Individual Self then surely has a senseof fulfillment of worldy affairs and at the same time of interest of Paramatma; in fact, persons of this category do have ‘jijnaasa’ or awareness and interest. It is the third syllable ‘M’ or Mkaara of Pranava Shabda that signifies Pragjna of the Self. This is of the analogy of ‘miteh’ or measurement; any item of measurement in say a vessel has two sizes of entering and exiting or birth and death of any Praani of Vishva and Taijasa concepts. Indeed ‘A’ kaara is entry and ‘U’kaara and ‘M’akaara or of merger points of Taijasa and Pragjna. ‘ Minoti ha vai idam sarvam’ or the individual as being fully aware and cognizant of the Universe and then seeks merger .

Maandukya XII, the Ultimate : Amartascha turyo avyavahaaryah prapanchopashamah shivodvaita evam Aumkaaraa aatmaiva samvishati aatmanaatmaanam ya evam Veda/Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih/ (‘Amarascha turyo’or the totally integrated and unified Pranava Mantra A-U-M is thus the Ultimate Truth comprising all the quarters of the Atman the Self Consciousness viz. Vishvaanara- Taijasa- ragjna viz. the Highest and the Fourth State ofTuriya; the Absolute Self is ‘avyavahaarya’ or beyond experimentaal or empirical situations; ‘prapanchopashamah’ or the Finality of Universal Existence or the Limit of Ignorance and Non-Reality; ‘Shivah’ or the Beginning of Total Auspiciousness; ‘Advaitam’ or the Realisation of ‘Taadaatnya’ or Non Duality as the merging point ofVaishvaanara ashe Totality of All the Units or Reflections of Individual Selves ot the Univeral Self and the Supreme ie. the Climactic Merger and the Grand Unification. Indeed, OM the Self finally enters the very Self. He who becomes aware of this Self Realisation becomes Almighty Himself!)
Gaudapaada Kaarikas on the above Maandukyas: As ‘ Omkaara’ is to be realised quarter by quarter or step by step or by the designations of Vishva- Taijasa- Pragjna-Turiya as indeed these are all ramifications of the Composite Self, there is truly no other knowledge or its pursuit needed as all the desires and materials are fulfilled and so do the spiritual requirements. One needs however to ponder and fix on or yunjeeta cheta pranave brahma nirbhayam/ Then ‘pranavo nitya yuktasya na baahyam vidyate kvachit/ or Pranava shields and safeguards fear or disasters anywhere always. Om is the Cause and Effect, yet it is Apoorva as no cause preceeds It has no origin. Om is the synthesis of the Beginning- Sustenance-Dissolution of the Universe as also the antithesis of life and death syndrome. Pranavam Ishvaram vidyat/ or Be it known that Pranava is a manifestation of Parameshwara; He is right within one’s heart; it is in the hearts of all the Beings in the Srishti as all the hearts are the high seats of perceptions, memories, and action-reaction controllers. Indeed that is the place worthy of prayers, supplications and worship as that Reality is in the Self Itself. Om is ‘amaatra’ or immeasurable, ‘anantah’ or Infinite, Shivah or the High Seat of Auspiciousness, ‘Advaitah’ or Indivisible and Homogenous with Absolute Unity and Non Duality; whoso ever absorbs this paramount Truth and Reality as acclaimed as Brahmagjanis who are like Brahman Himself! Thus Gaudapaada ‘Kaarikas’ by highlight the Supremacy of AUM as the Mandukya Upanishad aptly concludes vide the last Mandukyas of VIII-XII.

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