Katha or Brhadaranyaka?

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Thu Feb 5 09:33:11 CST 1998

On Wed, 4 Feb 1998, Chandran, Nanda (NBC) wrote:

> G Murthy's tail quote, "When all desires in the heart have fallen away, the
> individual attains Brahman even here". Is this from Katha or Brhadaranyaka
> Upanishad? S Radhakrishnan quotes this verse in his book on Dhammapada, but
> references it to Brhadaranyaka.

The verse, which I append to my signature, is definitely from the Katha
upanishhad (verse II.3.14). This is confirmed from the Sanskrit versions,
English transliterated texts, extensive commentaries by S. Radhakrishnan,
Swami Ranganathananda, Advaita Ashrama publications etc.

That is not to say that a similar verse is not there in Br^hadAraNyaka or
other upanishhads. Quite often we see the same concept reiterated in more
than one upanishhad. Sometimes we see even the exact same verse in two
upanishhads. If Shri Nanda points out the exact reference in
Br^hadAraNyaka (quoted by S. Radhakrishnan in Dhammapada), I can look up.
Further to Shri Nanda's post, I tried to look in Br^hadAraNyaka and other
upanishhads for statements similar to the Katha u. statement (i.e.
attaining immortality here and now):

Br^hadAraNyaka (IV.4.6)

Atha akAmayamAnah: yo akAmo, nishhkAma, AptakAma, AtmakAmo,
na tasya prANA utkrAmanti; brahmaiva san brahmApyeti

Now about the man who does not desire: of him who is without desires,
who is free from desires, who has fulfilled all his desires, and to
whom all objects of desire are but the Atman, his vital airs (prAna)
do not depart. Being but Brahman (while alive), he merges in Brahman
when the body is discarded.

Kena upanishhad (II.5)

Iha cedavedIt atha satyamasti
na cedihAvedIt mahatI vinashhTih
bhuteshhu bhuteshhu vicitya dhIrAh
pretyAsmAt lokAt amr^tA bhavanti

For one who realizes It here in this world, there is true life;
For one who does not so realize It, great is the loss;
Discovering the Atman in every single being, the wise ones,
although dying to this world, become immortal.

As I understand it, the meaning of this verse is quite profound. Truth
is to be realized here and now, in this life iteself. Truth is the very
Self of the human. We know the human is not the body, the mind or the
viveka. It is the prajnAna, the awareness. Then what ? The vedas say
clearly that while we negate the body, mind and intellect, that is not
sufficient. We still need to know and be our true nature. True life for
the human begins only when he/she turns the energies in the direction of
the deathless Atman that is within and powers this vehicle. The life will
be fully achieved when the Atman is realized.

This Kena upanishhad verse, Katha upanishhad verse (II.3.14 and 15)and
the Br^hadAraNyaka statements (and many others in various upanishhads)
all exhort the human to realize It before the body falls away. One who
does not realize It in this life is suffering a great loss.

Gummuluru Murthy
Yadaa sarve pramucyante kaamaa ye'sya hr^di shritaah
atha martyo'mr^to bhavatyatra brahma samashnute   Katha Upanishhad II.3.14

When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal
becomes immortal, and attains Brahman even here.

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