Swami Muni Narayana Prasad
While comparing commentaries on the final chapter XVIII of the Bhagavad Gita, I have been reading Swami Muni Narayana Prasad's various translations. The more I read him, the more convinced I become of his deeply profound understanding of the meaning of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. Not only is Swami Muni Narayana Prasad an enlightened being, with a gentle humility that shines from his intelligent eyes, but he also has the gift of putting these very subtle metaphysical ideas into English in a way that communicates their essence directly into the heart and mind.
I would say that I have not yet come across better translations and commentaries of the various Upanishads. Thus I am strongly happily recommending his many translations to you. I am so impressed with his work that I have undertaken a word-by-word study and rendering of his translation of the Mundaka Upanishad, which I find both brilliant and enlightening. He just gets it — and then gets it into me! And not only have I not found one glimmer of any false thought or feeling, the Oneness has gifted him with the magnificent and astonishing talent of translating these important source texts into English for all the world to read.
I can’t say enough good things about this very humble and amazing man. Swami Muni Narayana Prasad has offered humankind an invaluable treasure and source of Truth in this terrible moment of our current Kali Yuga, when it seems that we are indeed about to be consumed by the Matrix masquerading as the Digital-Military-Corporate complex.
The Truth does set you free!
Swami Muni Narayana Prasad (December 9, 1938 -)
Although I know little about Swami Muni Narayana Prasad, I began reading him because he had translated many of the Upanishads. I was struck by his refreshing ability to directly communicate the meaning of the texts into powerful yet simple language. It seemed obvious to me that his understanding was so great, profound and comprehensive that he was able to write the essence of these ancient texts as concisely as humanly possible and in an accessible down-to-earth modern English. His translation of the Mundaka Upanishad influenced my thinking and opened my understanding to greater depths. Thus I began to buy his other publications, including the Bhagavad Gita.
Swami Muni Narayana Prasad was born in December 9, 1938 in Kerala, India. He graduated from Engineering College Thiruvananthapuram (the capital). From 1960 he lived in Narayana Gurukulam as a disciple of Nataraja Guru. He has authored over 90 books including commentaries on the Katha, Kena, Mundaka, Prasna, Taittiriya, Aitareya and Chandogya Upanishads. The official language of Kerala is Malayalam and his books were originally written in Malayalam. He is obviously a wonderfully gifted writer and I am grateful that he decided to devote part of his life to the difficult task of translating these sacred Sanskrit texts into the more limited and certainly less expressive English language.
My recommendation of Swami Muni Narayana Prasad’s translations in no way relegates or diminishes my respect and feelings for the Kashmir Shaivite saint and scholar, Swami Lakshmanjoo. My experience with Swami Lakshmanjoo is a rock, a pivotal peak in my spiritual life. Even though I never was fortunate enough to meet him when he was living and in Kashmir, for me Swami Lakshmanjoo is living in my Heart today, and in the Hearts of many others, who continue to be touched by his Grace.
Swami Muni Narayana Prasad’s books are another flavour, another approach to the same eternal Truth. I have found them to be of great value in that they are down-to-earth clear, practical, straight-forward Truth written in highly accessible modern English and simultaneously imbued with the deepest profound esoteric Wisdom-Knowledge found in the ancient Sanskrit texts. And yes, I know I am repeating myself — but how often can one say this about a Sanskrit translation?
The genius scholar and saint, Abhinavagupta said that we should learn from everyone. There is nothing wrong with learning from the various Wisdom Schools, such as Sufism, Taoism, etc., knowing full well that in the end we must, each and every one of us, go alone — and alone, reach the One within us.
Swami Muni Narayana Prasad’s translation and commentary on the Mundaka Upanishad is profoundly imbued with the eternal Truth, Satya. One can read it again and again, continuing to learning from his contagious jewels of insight. The Sanskrit word Mundaka implies the practice of shaving the hair off the head, so this Upanishad is meant for those who are serious about reaching enlightenment, God-Consciousness as Swami Lakshmanjoo says.
The Mundaka Upanishad was composed by the Rishi Seer Angiras and is a reply to the question from his disciple Saunaka, “Venerable Sir, knowing what does all this world become known?” It is interesting to note that he Mundaka denounces Vedic ritualism, as does Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita II.46. Ritualistic practices must have already become a problem and impediment when it was written, and the Mundaka advises the “seeker to become indifferent” to ritual.
“Of no more use than a pool when the entire land is flooded are the Vedas to the Self-Realized person.” [Translation by K.K. Nair/Krishna Chaitanya.]
The Temporal Illusory Holographic Universe
The understanding that life is a temporal illusory hologram is difficult to grasp. We must experience the truth that beyond the five-sense perception waveform signals transmitted to our brain — ‘there is no out there, out there.’ This aspect of metaphysical Wisdom-Knowledge is a very difficult concept to put into words. One can experience this, but the experience often loses the power of its meaning in words. Yet, Swami Muni Prasad has succeeded in doing this in his truly bullseye superb commentary on Mundaka Upanishad II.1.3 which I here quote and paraphrase.
Swami Muni Narayana Prasad on Mundaka Upanishad II.1.3
The Sanskrit word vishva means ‘the all’ and the all in the sense we think of as cosmos. “The microcosm and macrocosm, the mental and physical aspects of existence, are basically constituted of the same substance.” Many who meditate are able to see this substance, often as vibrating pulsating light that appears as all form. It is what I call the 'goo'!
The reason that the mental aspect of existence is capable of grasping the physical aspects as objects is because this substance, effulgence, prakasha, 'goo' exists everywhere, ubiquitous, and is basic to ‘the all’ vishva. We are That, we are everything. We are the five basic elements, space, air, fire, water, and earth. Our five senses correspond to each one of these basic elements, thus making the connection between mind and matter possible.
The invisible connection between mind & matter
Space (akasha) transmits waves, sound, light and radio waves. “Ear, the sense-organ of sound, is in essence formed of the subtle aspects of space. The mutual interaction of ear and sound thus shows merely the essential oneness of ear and space. One’s hearing a sound is thus really the event of forgoing the conditional factors that differentiate ear and space, and of realizing their essential oneness.”
This mutual interaction that is a product of the essential oneness of ‘the all’ is what allows us to project the ‘appearance’ of the temporal illusory hologram and explains why each of us really does seem to be existing, often seemingly quite alone, in our own world. So very often, we just don’t ‘see’ things the same way. It is the variances in our five sense perceptions that define what we see, hear, etc. These variations in our five-senses produce the amazingly notable differences in our individual perceptions. They are founded within and formed from our individual gunas, (the modes sattva, rajas, and tamas), accumulated over multiple lifetimes and carried in our spirit body that moves from one life to the next.
Just as Swami Muni Narayana Prasad has described the interaction between wave forms, sound and the ear, the same resulting mutual interaction of the other elements and their correlative senses is based on “realizing their essential oneness” because of what I call the ‘goo’! Air has touch for its “distinguishing characteristic” — and skin “the organ that senses touch…the event of sensing touch, is the actual event of realizing the oneness of air and the tactile sense-organ.”
Fire is the next grosser element and interconnected with the eye. Water is still grosser and interconnected with the tongue and the sense of taste. Earth is the most ‘gross’ of all five elements and has “smell for its distinguishing feature while possessing the qualities of the other four…the olfactory organ is earth in essence. Earth is thus the one element that serves as the basis for all the other elements and…is all-supporting (vishva-dharini).”
The temporal illusory holographic universe is the manifestation of the One that dwells in the Heart of All. The ‘appearance’ of solidity is continually being projected, altered, sustained, and destroyed by our own five-sense perceptions, which are metaphorically, if not essentially, continuously creating a holographic out there sort of virtual reality from our individual gunas.
We are the One. These days in the twilight of the Kali Yuga, we are rather more the Borg — and we seem to have lost our users' manual. The work of Swami Muni Narayana Prasad, his translations of the Bhagavad Gita and many Upanishads are a potent gift, a guided missile to planet Earth and those of us who are ready to wake up. And in recognition of our Source, our true Self, and as instruments of God-Consciousness, once more take up the process of rebalance and primordial metaphysical harmony. That is real power, the power to heal and bring Truth, Satya, back into this realm.
As the 14th century Sufi poet Mahmud Shabistari has said, “Beneath the curtain of each atom, lies the life increasing beauty of the face of the Beloved.”
Here are a few quotes from Swami Muni Narayana Prasad, which I feel will give you further insight into his greatness and hopefully encourage you to read his books, perhaps the Bhagavad Gita and the Mundaka Upanishad, and others that are available at Exotic India and also Amazon.
From the Chandogya Upanishad:
“Ever since the great advaitin Shankara wrote his famous commentaries on the ten major Upanishads, what other commentators have done so far is elaborate on Shankara’s ideas. Deviating from his line of thought seems to be considered a sort of sin. We, on the other hand, felt it imperative to take a fresh look at the Upanishads in view of all the modern developments of thought in science as well as philosophy.”
“The one Reality that underlies and forms the essential content of all appearances, as visualized by the Rishis, was denoted by the word Brahman. …The Upanishads generally appear appended to the four Vedas, and depend on the Vedic tradition of which they are an outgrowth.”
The Chandogya Upanishad is “in the format of a dialectical revaluation of Vedic rituals, rendering them insignificant in the all-engulfing brilliance of Vedantic wisdom.”
From The Mundaka Upanishad:
The Upanishads do not insist on any inviolable basic tenet, instead they enjoin us to “closely observe the world we live in, our life, its changefulness and activities, and to know the Truth – the unchanging Reality – underlying all.”
“Thus basically the Upanishads are different expressions of the one vision of Reality. The Rishis, when they uttered these words of vision, were not inspired by the zeal of a religious missionary or of a messenger of God, or even that of a propounder of a new vision. Countless are the ways the one Reality is visualized, as each Upanishad manifests.”
The idea of Shradda, the Sanskrit word that is translated into English as faith, is explained by Swami Muni Narayana Prasad not as blind acceptance, “shraddha is no dogmatic belief.” Rather faith in the real sense is an attitude that develops in the seeker, for it is “absolutely essential for the seeker to realize the Reality on his own, through his [and her] intense cognition and meditation. …Only on attaining the final enlightenment on his own does he become convinced of the veracity of such words, which until and unless realized thus are a matter of mere belief for him. Once realized, it is no more a belief but an accomplished fact.”
“The words of the Upanishads, of deep significance though they are, therefore, are mere alluring wrappings within which is concealed the real secret, yet to be uncovered. …This commentary…is meant to be considered as a mere aid to one’s own cognition and meditation on attaining wisdom’s ineffable core.”
From the Kena Upanishad:
The Human Bio-Computer: “The reality which underlies the phenomenal modulations of my consciousness underlies not only mine. It is the same consciousness that underlies in others and in the infinite appearances, which constitute the visible world, of which I am a part. It sees not only with my eyes, it is the eye of the entire system of life too. While it hears my ears, it hears the entire system of life too, and so on. That reality is pure Consciousness or [in Sanskrit] ‘cit’ in essence. It is not my consciousness or of someone else. It is just awareness pure and simple. …The Ontological existence of myself and that reality as awareness are not two, but one. When this unity becomes a living experience, all the feverishness of life becomes cooled down.”
From the Taittiriya Upanishad: This universe contains countless such eggs, like bubbles in water.
“One hundred yojanas above the Bhu Loka (this world) is the Surya Mandala (Solar Region). Above that is the Chandra Mandala (Lunar Region), and still above that is the Nakshatra Mandala (Region of the Stars). The region of the grahas (planets)…is above that. …Four hundred thousand yojanas above [the heaven, Suvar Loka], and forty million yojanas in extent is called Mahar Loka…[above that is] Tapo Loka [and above that is] Satya Loka. Above that again is utter darkness, and the foetal waters enclosed by the shell of the cosmic egg. …The cosmic egg is enveloped by an overcovering, which is ten times as extensive as the egg itself. This universe contains countless such eggs. They are like bubbles in water.”
Life’s Pilgrimage Through The Gita, by Swami Muni Narayana Prasad; D.K. Printworld, New Delhi, 2005, 2008.
Chandogya Upanishad, with the original text in Sanskrit and Roman transliteration, Translation with an Extensive Commentary by Swami Muni Narayana Prasad; D.K. Printworld, New Delhi, 2006.
Mundaka Upanishad, with original text in Sanskrit and Roman transliteration; Translation with an Exhaustive Commentary by Swami Muni Narayana Prasad; D.K. Printworld Ltd., New Delhi, 1998.
The Kena Upanishad, With the original text in Sanskrit and Roman transliteration; Translation with an Extensive Commentary by Swami Muni Narayana Prasad; D.K. Printworld Ltd., New Delhi, 1995, 2004.
The Taittiriya Upanishad, With the original text in Sanskrit and Roman transliteration; Translation with an Extensive Commentary by Swami Muni Narayana Prasad; D.K. Printworld Ltd., New Delhi, 1994, 1998.
Prashna Upanishad, with the original text in Sanskrit and Roman transliteration; Translation with an Extensive Commentary by Swami Muni Narayana Prasad; D.K. Printworld Ltd., New Delhi, 1999.
Guru Muni Narayana Prasad - Guru and Head of Narayana Gurukula
M N Prasad was born on December 9, 1938 in Nagaroor, a village situated in the northern parts of Trivandrum District, Kerala, India. After his matriculation, and a Diploma in Civil Engineering he left home and became a disciple of Nataraja Guru in 1960 and was initiated as a renunciate in 1984 as Muni Narayana Prasad. He has been the editor of the philosophical Magazine 'The Gurukulam' for twelve years and still continues to be one of its chief contributors. He has spent three years in Fiji teaching Indian Philosophy and has travelled round the world giving classes. He succeeded Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati as the head of the Narayana Gurukula.
He has written commentaries on all the works of Narayana Guru, all the Major Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita. He has many works in Malayalam and following English works:
Kena Upanshad (commentary),
The Taittiriya Upanishad (commentary),
Vedanta Sutras of Narayana Guru,
Basic Lessons on India’s Wisdom,
Functional Democracy – A Failure in India,
Karma and Reincarnation,
Childrens Narayana Guru,
The Philosophy of Narayana Guru,
Short video of him peaceful, walking...
Narayana Gurukulam foundation was established in 1923 by Nataraja Guru, the successor disciple of Narayana Guru, a Guru-disciple foundation for teaching unitive understanding and universal brotherhood. Open to all who seek the wisdom of the Absolute (Brahma - Vidya) of which Narayana Guru is a model and exemplar. The great Gurukula with its organization, the yellow fellowship is meant for larger circle of lay disciples who wish to confirm to the Gurukula way of life by accepting its motto of One caste or race, One religion and one God for man. With head quarters in Varkala, Kerala state, the Gurukulam now has centers throughout South India, in Singapore, Belgium, Australia, Fiji Islands, Europe and United States of America.
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