On Mundaka Upanishad: Arrow sharpened by devotion, and the mighty weapon of the Upanishad

Acharya Prashant
8 min readFeb 23, 2022

Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

धनुर्गृहीत्वौपनिषदं महास्त्रं शरं ह्युपासानिशितं संधयीत ।
आयम्य तद्भावगतेन चेतसा लक्ष्यं तदेवाक्षरं सोम्य विद्धि ॥

dhanurgṛhītvaupaniṣadaṃ mahāstraṃ śaraṃ hyupāsāniśitaṃ saṃdhayīta
āyamya tadbhāvagatena cetasā lakṣyaṃ tadevākṣaraṃ somya viddhi

Take up the bow of the Upanishad, that mighty weapon, set to it an arrow sharpened by adoration, draw the bow with a heart wholly devoted to the contemplation of That, and O fair son, penetrate into That as thy target, even into the Immutable.

~ Verse 2.2.3

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Acharya Prashant (AP): “Take up the bow of the Upanishad, that mighty weapon, set to it an arrow sharpened by adoration, draw the bow with a heart wholly devoted to the contemplation of That, and O fair son, penetrate into That as thy target, even into the Immutable.”

The Upanishad is the mighty weapon, the bow, and you have to shoot into the Immutable, that one Truth that the Upanishads worship. So, the Upanishad is the bow, the Truth is the target, but the verse does not explicitly state what is to be shot into the Truth. What is it? I will re-read the verse for you.

“Take up the bow of the Upanishad, that mighty weapon, set to it an arrow sharpened by adoration” — ‘adoration’ here is not an accurate translation of what it says in the verse. “Set to it an arrow sharpened by austerities or devotion, upāsana.” And then, “Draw the bow with a heart wholly devoted to the contemplation of That” — read ‘heart’ here as mind — ”and then penetrate into That as your target.” Fair enough. But what is it that will penetrate into That? What is it that the bow of Upanishads will shoot into the Truth? That’s the ego-self. What else is the subject matter of all Upanishadic enquiry? The ego-self and its…

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