On Mundaka Upanishad: Beyond the beyond

Acharya Prashant
4 min readFeb 14, 2022

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

दिव्यो ह्यमूर्तः पुरुषः स बाह्याभ्यन्तरो ह्यजः ।
अप्राणो ह्यमनाः शुभ्रो ह्यक्षरात्परतः परः ॥

divyo hyamūrtaḥ puruṣaḥ sa bāhyābhyantaro hyajaḥ
aprāṇo hyamanāḥ śubhro hyakṣarātparataḥ paraḥ

He, the divine, the formless Spirit, even He is the outward and the inward, and He the Unborn; He is beyond life, beyond mind, luminous, supreme beyond the immutable.

~ Verse 2.1.2

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Acharya Prashant (AP): A few words now related to the ineffable Truth.

“He, the divine, the formless Spirit, even He is the outward and the inward, and He the unborn, aja.” Ja denotes birth; aja means unborn, unborn, and undying. “He is beyond life, beyond mind, luminous, supreme beyond the immutable.”

“The divine, formless Spirit, the outward and the inward, and He is the unborn; He is beyond life” — actually, the verse says beyond prāṇa, aprāṇō, beyond breath, which is beyond all physical processes.

Beyond mind. Luminous, śubhro. Hyakṣarātparataḥ paraḥ, beyond the beyond. Why must this kind of an expression be used, ‘beyond the beyond’? Because the mind has a tendency to visualize the beyond. So, when it is said ‘beyond the beyond’, what is actually being said is: beyond the mind, beyond the beyondness that the mind can conceive.

The mind loves to trespass into areas it has no business going to. You tell the mind, “This is your boundary”; the mind wants to imagine what is beyond the boundary. Therefore, the beyondness that the mind talks of is no beyondness at all. So, if you have to talk of real beyondness, then you say beyond the beyond, parataḥ paraḥ.

“Formless, the outward and the inward, the unborn, the undying, beyond physical processes, beyond all physicality and beyond mind, beyond darkness, the topmost, the supreme.” Not even immutable in the sense the mind thinks of immutability.

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