Path of the wise

“Two birds are sitting on a tree. One of them eats the sweet fruits of the tree. The other looks on without eating.”

This is the metaphor employed by the Mundaka Upanishad to drive home the point that there are people in this world who are always immersed in worldly activities and all its attendant troubles and sorrows and who constantly grieve about this, saying that they are powerless against these troubles.

Whereas, the man who garners inner strength to surmount his afflictions by learning from the example of learned and experienced souls savours the sweet fruits of success and happiness. How do these wise men overcome worldly troubles? The Mundaka Upanishad expounds on this.

Though philosophical in its tenor, the practicality and wisdom are remarkable in their relevance. This Upanishad says the wise man is he who understands that there is only one source of all beings. It is the immutable, supreme power from which everything originates.

As the Upanishad says, “Just as the spider sends forth the gossamer threads from its belly, just as herbs sprout from the earth, just as hair grows from the body of a man, similarly everything in this universe springs forth from the immutable power. Just as sparks of similar nature emanate from a blazing fire, all kinds of beings arise from the great Lord. For the wise one, this truth is like a great bow on which he places the arrow of his meditation and shoots at the target of the Lord and just as the arrow pierces the target, he unites with the Lord in devotion.”

Such a wise man shakes off all merits and demerits of his actions and attains supreme identity with the Lord. In this state, he ceases to speak of mundane matters. He revels in his knowledge and continues doing his duty, unmindful of the external world.

Now comes the famous, oft (mis)quoted, misused statement “Satyameva Jayate - Truth alone reigns supreme, not untruth. Truth is the highway of the gods, by which the realised sages and noble souls have traversed towards their destination of the abode of the Lord, the supreme seat of truth”.

Such a man of purified nature attains all that he desires, if at all there are any vestiges of desires remaining in him. There is nothing left for him to accomplish. He is the ‘Jivanmukta’ in Vedantic parlance, freed from rebirth,to be worshipped by men who desire on earth. This is the significance of according utmost respect to great souls in Indian tradition.

The Upanishad cautions that entertaining uncontrolled desires results in repeated births. The message of the Mundaka Upanishad is, “Develop inner strength through control of the senses, respect men of attainments and wisdom, follow their path, do not aimlessly do rituals, ascertain the true import of the scriptures, do your duty and thrive.”

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