1. परमेवाक्षरं प्रतिपद्यते स यो ह वै तत् अच्छायं अशरीरं अलोहितं शुभ्रं अक्षरं वेदयते यस्तु सोम्य। स सर्वज्ञः सर्वः भवति॥
paramevākṣaraṁ pratipadyate sa yo ha vai tat acchāayaṁ aśarīraṁ alohitaṁ śubhraṁ akṣaraṁ vedayate yastu somya | sa sarvajñaḥ sarvaḥ bhavati || (Praśna Upaniṣad IV.10)
Meaning: O! Somya, the Self is spotless, formless, colourless, pure and eternal. He who knows that Self becomes that Self himself. Such a person is all knowing and feels he is one with everyone and everything.
2. अथ ह एनं शोब्यः सत्यकामः पप्रच्छ। स यो ह वै तत् भगवन् मनुष्येषु प्रायणान्तं ओंकाराम् अभिध्यायीत। कतमं वाव स तेन लोकं जयतीति॥
atha ha enaṁ śobyaḥ satyakāmaḥ papraccha | sa yo ha vai tat bhagavan manuṣyeṣu prāyaṇāntaṁ oṁkārām abhidhyāyīta | katamaṁ vāva sa tena lokaṁ jayatīti || (Praśna Upaniṣad V.1)
Meaning: If a person continuously meditates on OM till the end of his life, which world he reaches after death.
3. स यो ह वै तत्परम् ब्रेह्म् वेद ब्रहमैव भवति न अस्य अब्रह्मवित् कुले भवति।तरति शोकं तरति पाप्मानं गुह्या ग्रन्थिभ्यो विमुक्तः अमृतः भवति॥
sa yo ha vai tatparam breahm veda brahamaiva bhavati na asya abrahmavit kule bhavati |tarati śokaṁ tarati pāpmānaṁ guhyā granthibhyo vimuktaḥ amṛtaḥ bhavati || (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad III.ii.9)
Meaning: He who knows that Supreme Brahman becomes Brahman himself and none in his lineage is born without knowledge of Brahman. He goes beyond all sorrows and sins and virtues. He is free from the bonds of ignorance relating to the Self in his heart and attains Brahman.
4. ॐ ब्रह्मवित् आप्नोति परम्॥ om brahmavit āpnoti param || (Taittirīya Upaniṣad II.1)
Meaning: He who knows the biggest attains Brahman.
Praśna Upaniṣad IV.10 explains the Supreme Self, which is often called Brahman. The question is whether Brahman is He or She or It. Correct answer would be IT. Brahman is beyond gender and has no shape or form. Then what are Its characteristics? Praśna Upaniṣad says that It is Param. Param is explained as the highest in Cosmos. What are Its qualities? It is bright, formless, colourless, pure and immortal. In order to become Brahman, we have to reach the same state that of Brahman, if we want to merge with It and this merger is known as liberation. What is liberation? Liberation from transmigration or cessation from rebirths and its associated pains.
But what prevents us to realize It then? We are concentrating only on our body and mind and not worried about It (soul) within. What is the reason and why we are not trying to seek It within? Because we are under constant illusion that our physical body is the most important factor of our existence. What is this illusion? It is called māyā, which means unreality, deception. In order to realize the true nature of Brahman, the first step would be to get rid of inherent māyā. How māyā can be removed. Only through knowledge and this supreme knowledge is revealed through Upaniṣad-s. What is the difference between Scriptures and Upaniṣad-s? Scriptures lay foundation for one’s spiritual life. Study of Scriptures is like studying in elementary schools. It inculcates basic steps to enter into spiritual path. Basic steps are nothing but worshiping Brahman in different shapes and forms and with different mantras. This process is a prerequisite to have absolute knowledge about Brahman, but they cannot and will not reveal Braham as it is. Only Upaniṣad-s reveal the ways of knowing Brahman. Brahman is also known as Absolute or Consciousness or Self. It is beyond all attributes and dualities and triads. Then what is Self? Self can be explained as Self only as nothing can be explained as Self. In other words, Self cannot be explained as this or that. That is why, Upaniṣad-s explain as not this, not this (neti neti, as explained in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad II.iii.6). Then what is Brahman. We do not know, as It is incomprehensible and beyond saying incomprehensible, nothing can describe Brahman.
Having thus ‘explained’ formless Brahman Praśna Upaniṣad V.1 asks what would happen if one continuously recites om (praṇava ॐ). The next verse of this Upaniṣad says that if one chants om continuously, they attain Para-Brahman (Parabrahman). In other words, attaining Brahman is possible only through supreme knowledge (Brahma Vidyā) and not through any other means. Every ritualistic practice has to cease on its own and will cease on its own, if the goal is set towards liberation. A serious seeker will undergo several stages that will unfold to him on its own and finally will reach the ultimate triad of breath, mind and consciousness. If breathing slows down, mind will become more serene and in the purest serene, purest form of consciousness can be experienced. This may happen both during mediation and in active states. Only till such time one reaches the ultimate triad, Brahman with attributes in the form of shapes and images is necessary. However, one should pursue only one image, as multiple images and mantras will never take us anywhere closer to liberation. The ultimate aim is to have purest form of consciousness and when we get addicted to different forms and different mantras, both mind and consciousness will not have single pointed focus.
Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad III.ii.9 endorses this. It says that those who have realized Brahman, in his lineage, everyone will realize Brahman. When one realizes Brahman, he transcends all dualities such as pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow, likes and dislikes, etc. The whole material world is full of dyads and triads. Realizing the Self and attaining mokṣa (liberation) is a continuous process and these two are successive stages, former leading to the latter. Till the time of death, one will continue his or her journey towards Brahman and after death, his individual soul becomes one with Brahman. Both these stages can be experienced during meditation and in active state. Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.iii.9) explains beautifully. “The Self is not object of our vision. No one can see IT by his/her eyes. It reveals it in the heart only (heart chakra), when the mind is pure and constantly thinks of IT (meditation).” However, we are cautioned by Upaniṣad-s that our fall could be much faster than spiritual ascension. In general, a yogi does not make any mistakes. Bur if he makes mistakes by getting attached to materialistic pleasures, then his downfall will be all and sudden and it will be difficult for him to resurrect himself.
Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.1) confirms this. One who realizes Brahman becomes Brahman Himself. But what is realizing Brahman? Taittirīya Upaniṣad says is, it is the state of knowing that satyaṁ, jñānaṁ, anantaṁ brahma. In other words, Brahman is to be known as truth, knowledge and infinite. The one who realizes Brahman likes this, enters the state of Saccidānanda or sat-cit-ānanda or existence-consciousness-bliss. Bliss is the state of Saguṇa Brahman, which is also known Śakti; Consciousness is Śiva. In the first state of realization, one realizes Saguṇa Brahman and after realising Saguṇa Brahman, he begins to realize Nirguṇa Brahman and after his death he becomes one with Parabrahman. His soul is not reborn.
To conclude this, one should not stay with rituals for a longer period. Even during rituals, one should concentrate only on one form and one mantra. One should have only one Guru, one Mantra and one Devata. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad Gītā (IX – 20 – 24) Kṛṣṇa here means Brahman and we are not talking about Kṛṣṇa as an incarnation here. “Worshipping Me through rituals and sacrifices make one get rid of sins and lead him to heaven where he enjoys celestial pleasures of gods. Having enjoyed such pleasures in the heaven for some time, he returns to the earth to perform rituals and sacrifices again, only to go back to heaven. He thus shifts between heaven and earth frequently. Those who always worship Me with mind steadfastly connected to Me and thinking nothing else, I always protect them and personally attend to all their needs. Even those who worship other gods by reposing faith in those gods, though this is not the right way, only worship Me alone, because I alone is the enjoyer and Lord of all sacrifices. But they do not understand My real nature, hence they fall.”
From the state of Saccidānanda, one moves to sat-cit-ekaṁ-brahma, which is the end of one’s spiritual life. Only those who enter this state can affirm “I am That” “I am Brahman” or “ahaṁ brahmāsmi”.
Path of Self-realization is very simple and inexpensive. All we need is to work with our breath, mind and consciousness.