The eternal bliss residing deep beneath layers has been an elusive concept most of the time in my life. Partially due to the fact that I failed to cognise that layers are manifestation of the eternal bliss too, and also due to my rebellious mind refusing to quieten down in meditation. This Upanishad was told for the express purpose to help the seeker not to ignore life and its manifestations as an opposing and non conducive element but to accept it as part of eternal bliss itself.
As a child, mind and its boundaries has always enchanted me. I would continuously keep exploring the boundaries of mind and I often confused it with transcending mind. When swami ji often sees me overusing my mind he would lovingly chide me and say “Chidiya! 4 X 1/4 makes 1 but you are trying to write a huge 1/4 in a large poster. It won’t become 1.” Little did I know that he was giving me Mandukya upanishad in a small digestible capsule.
He was prodding me to explore other quarters of my consciousness. Completion and combination of which constitutes the atman.
जागरितस्थानो बहिष्प्रज्ञ: सप्ताङ्ग
एकोन विन्शतिमुख्: स्थूलभुक्
वैश्वानर: प्रथम: पाद:||
The first quarter of the consciousness is Vaiswanara. It is he who cognises the external world and it is the waking state. It has 7 limbs and 19 mouths. This state of consciousness consumes the world through its 19 mouths and operates through 7 limbs
Just like the individual Atman has 19 mouths the supreme consciousness which is omni present which in waking and sleeping state we call the Virat atman or Virat purusha (macrocosm) has 7 limbs. Very loosely translated we consume the illusionary world played by the Virat atman using his seven operators through the 19 touch points described as mouths in this upanishad. But these 19 mouths belong to the स्थूल शरीरा or the gross body. the awareness known as प्रज्ञ: is outward.
स्वप्नस्थानोन्त: प्रज्ञ: सप्ताङ्ग
एकोन विन्शतिमुख्: प्रविविक्तभुक्तैजसो द्वितीय पाद:||
Similar to our gross body we have sort of an exact copy as a subtle body. This body too has the same 19 mouths at a subtle level. The subtle body too consumes the illusionary world operated by the virat atman using its seven limbs. The awareness is turned inwards in this dream state. This is why we have very vivid experiences in dreams. we feel the heat, smell things, hear voices and see people. We even solve problems and foresee things owing to antahkaranas being operative ( mano, chitta, ahankara and buddhi). We call this quarter of consciousness “taijasa”.