Published: 26 February 2011 | Written by Swami Veda Bharati
SHIVA SANKALPA SUKTA1
Our much maligned mind deserves a look at its positive attributes. It is the most creative form of energy in the universe. It is our very being. With some malignancy, it is still the source of immense benevolence, all beneficent knowledge, and all love and beauty.
Recently I wrote a series of 27 articles for Life Positive (India) magazine, titled “MIND: THE PLAYGROUND OF GODS.” It is now converted into a book by the same title, yet to be published. There is much to sing in praise of the mind.
No pathologies here; only the divine power of the mind — so the ancient Rishi sang in the Vedas.Shiva-sankalpa-sukta, ‘Hymn to the Mind Fulfilled with Divine and the Beneficent’, is well known. The 33rd chapter of Kanva recension of Yajur-veda contains only the first mantra. The 34th chapter of the Vajasaneya recension has six. These are the most well known. Less known is the apocryphal version in the Khila-suktas of Rg-veda (Khila-sukta 33), containing 26 mantras
In this presentation I plan to synthesize the commentaries of the great acharyas, Sayana, Uvvata, Mahidhara and Swami Dayananda Saraswati into paraphrased presentation of a comprehensive rendering.
The portion paraphrased from the first three acharyas is given the heading SUM and the one by Swami Dayananda Saraswati is given the heading SDS.
This, for the first six of the mantras from Yajur-veda. The remaining 20 mantras are being translated for the first time.
It has required these many paragraphs to translate the mere 21 words of the first mantra as presented below. Other mantras are also more or less consisting of similar number of words but they require lengthy explanations.
The explanations of mantras given here are by no means exhaustive, only illustrative. The true meaning will dawn upon the contemplative muni only through meditation. As meditation progresses through its many stages and states, so does the meaning unveil itself.
No mantra is ever recited in the tradition without worshipfully remembering its rishi, the seer and its devata, the deity, divine conscious power. Quite often the real name of the sage is not known as s/he has taken on a name reflecting on the subject matter revealed. Thus the rishi of the first six mantras from the 34th chapter of Yajur-veda is named Shiva-sankalpa and the deity is mind itself. The rishis of the mantras from khila-suktas, apocryphal hymns, are not known.
What are presented here are paraphrases and not always literal translations of commentaries, although we have attempted to maintain an integral intellectual honesty in making these presentations, staying as close as possible to the original.
I am the self that is consciousness2 . I am purusha, dweller of the city of body and nature.
I have a mind.
This, my mind rises like the sun. It rises above and beyond my senses and travels far beyond them.
In my wakeful state it traverses and is operative towards even the distant objects through its contact with the senses.
So also does it go to the objects concealed as they are of the past, future, present, too close, or too distant. It goes to them as though they were in its own realm.
Similarly goes the mind of one seeing dreams. It goes to distant objects, objects that are in the form of imprints and impressions that have created realities that consist of latent proclivities (vasanamaya padartha)
As the mind reaches out far in dream and sleep by whatever path, by the same path does it return to where it has been in the wakeful state.
The mind of one asleep, being in its natural state, goes to atman the spiritual self which is normally thought of as distant; it becomes absorbed in it, coalesced with it.
This divine mind is the medium through which is expressed bliss.
This angelic godly mind (daivam manah) is by which one becomes a being of bliss and does no longer grieve or suffer3 .
– Brhad-araNyaka Upanishad 1.5.19
The divine in the human person is the cognition-self. In that does the mind dwell and it is through the medium of this mind that cognition-self is grasped; hence it is of the shining ones, angelic, godly. As it is said:
‘Through mind alone can one perceive the Immeasurable and Permanent One’.
– Brhad-araNyaka Upanishad 4.4.19
It is called light because it is the instrument of illumination and operation of the senses which are the means of cognition of each of its realm.
It is one single light among the lights known as senses that lead one to experiential consciousness and cognition.
Of these senses, mind is the true light, the one light of many lights, the illuminator, the one that impels them into involvements (pr-vartakam). The senses only thus impelled do become involved each in its realm.
Atman connects with mind; mind with the senses; the senses with their objects – so says Nyaya4 . Without being connected with the mind they cannot be operative.
May my mind be of resolve towards the fruits such as the celestial and heavenly ones in the life beyond, and of welfare, bene, in the current life. May it be resolved upon the right means such as sacraments for attaining the celestial and worldly beneficence.
May it be such, keeping dharma as its object, that its resolve and inclination is always productive of bene.
May dharma alone dwell in my mind and never any sinfulness.
May such a mind, not dependent on causes homogeneous to senses, my realm, the conditionality (upadhi) of all operations, of me who am the field-knower, be shiva-sankalpa5 .
May it be totally intent upon the acts (kriya) of the hymns (sukta).
Sankalpa is the attraction towards desirables like opposite sex; may my mind become such that its desires rest pacified.
May my mind be established in Shiva, one-bliss-self, Supreme Self; may it dwell established in the in Knowledge that Supreme Self.
Oh Lord of the universe,
Through your grace, my mind that
—dwells in atman the self and serves as its instrument,
—carries a human being far and makes one grasp manifold objects,
—is the light (jyotih), the illuminator and impeller of auditory and such senses,
—thus wanders far in the wakeful state,and in sleep state similarly enters into the inner instrument ( antah-karaNa)—
may such my mind, consisting of resolves and anti-resolves (sankalpa and vikalpa), be endowed with desire towards dharma.
Those who follow the divine commands and keep company of the wise, thereby purify the mind that is endowed with manifold powers; the mind that is operative in wakefulness and pacified in sleep.
Those who know that the mind is the speediest of the speedy forces and the impeller of senses, they thereby bring the mind under control; they can thus channel the mind away from the ugly and the undesirable and towards the beautiful and the benevolent.
Without the mind being in health and self-stability6 no actions may be perfectly intent nor would they be [right] action. Sacraments and sacred acts cannot be performed without the mind, and these acts can only be undertaken when knowledge has arisen before.
This mind is unique. It is unprecedented, for, it precedes the senses. It is yet non-externalized because it is identifiable with atman the self.
This mind alone can be sacramental and sacred. It dwells within the bodies of all entities that are born. The senses dwell in the externals; the mind alone is the internal sense.
May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts7.
Because of being in the presence of God and the saintly, those who are ever intent upon action keep their minds under restraint.
They are the meditative ones (dhyani) endowed with intelligence, performing the enjoined acts such as fire sacraments, other dharma-endeavours, pursuits of experiential knowledge or in battle fields.
The mind [wherewith they so perform] is unique, endowed with the highest attributes and actions. It is honour-worthy, coalesced in the hearts of all living beings. May such a mind, identified as the very process of thought contemplation, be shiva-sankalpa, ever inclined towards the [path of] dharma.
It well behooves the human beings that, through realizational worship8 , beautiful thoughts and company of the noble ones, they divert their minds from non-dharmic conduct and incline it towards dharmic behaviour.
The mind that produces specialized cognitions in beings, is the means and the medium wherewith the highest knowledge is obtained.
This mind fully and harmoniously causes the cognition of both generalized knowledge [of direct perceptions] and the specialized cognitions [of inferential processes]; this same mind is the medium wherewith highest knowledge [from wise sages and from revelations] is received.
This mind is identical to patience and sustaining resuscitating power (cause and effect being non-differentiable)9 –
That same mind is the interior immortal light operating within as the illuminator of all senses –
Immortal, never dying, being one with atman the self.
Without this mind no action can be performed because all involvement in and operation of actions in beings is preceded by the mind. Without this mind’s health and self-stability all possibility of actions will be annulled.
May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts.
Oh Lord of the Universe
Oh highest, wise, yogin,
My mind that, when given knowledge by you, is
—the producer of specialized knowledge as buddhi the faculty of intelligence,
—as the instrument of memory,
—as identified with patience and sustaining resuscitating power (dhrti),
—the cause of [mental] actions such as modesty,
—indestructible illuminator inside the beings because it is a companion of atman the self,
—without which no action can be performed,
may the instrument of all actions, such mind of mine who am the soul-self (jiva-atman)
be filled with desire for the ever-benevolent Supreme Self (parama-atman).
Oh human beings, the mind that is the instrument of fulfilling all purposes of beings as it is the inner illuminator in four aspects of inner instrument (antah-karaNa), faculty of intellect (buddhi), mind-field (chitta) and identifying principle (aham-kara)—
Divert that mind away from injustice and non-dharmic conduct and tending and inclining towards justice and truthful action.
The mind wherewith is grasped, known, from all sides the reality relating to the past, the existent world that is present, and future
—for, The mind operates in realities relating to all three times whereas senses are limited only to the current direct perception—
this mind is immortal, that is, perennial
—for, the senses perish with liberation but the mind remains imperishable.
The mind wherewith the sacrament of seven priests10 is extended, expanded—
May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts.
Oh human beings, the mind united with the imperishable Supreme Self, wherewith all this reality staying in the three time divisions – past. Present and future, is grasped, known;
The mind wherewith the fire sacrament like agniShToma as well as the application of empirical sciences is extended, expanded,
may such my mind joined in yoga be filled with the resolve towards liberation (mokSha).
Oh human beings, the mind that is trained and has become accomplished through the main methods as well as the subsidiary means of yoga, becomes thus the knower of all three time divisions11 as well as of the whole creation, and thereby the medium accomplishing action, realizational worship and knowledge —
Direct that mind to love and benevolence.
The mind in which the lauds [of Rg-veda], psalms and hymns [of Sama-veda], and the liturgical chants [of Yajur-veda] are established —it is only in the health and self-stability of that mind that there would flash the three levels of knowledge (Veda) and it is thus that in such a mind all Word is established.
In the passages of Chhandogya Upanishad starting with
‘Oh Peaceful Beloved (saumya), mind is made up of food’ —Chhandogya Upanishad 6.1-16
it has been explained that the power to recite the Word (Veda) comes only upon the health and self-stability of the mind.
How is this? An illustration is given:
As the spokes are established in the navel (the centre) of the chariot wheel, so is the network of Word established in the mind.
Furthermore, as the stretches of thread are woven and interwoven in the fabric, so also the full knowledge and accurate and harmonious cognition of beings with regard to all subjects/objects is woven and interwoven in the mind, is emplaced therein.
[It is to be reasserted that] knowledge arises [from within] only in the condition of mind’s health and self-stability; in the anxiety and disturbance of the mind there is absence of knowledge.
May such mind of mine be shiva-sankalpa, one with pacified activities, the one in which all operations are now resting in peace.
The mind in which the Rg, Yajus, Saman and Atharvan Vedas are affixed, are stabilized from all sides, like spokes in a hub,
the one in which the knowledge of beings with regard to all subjects/objects is woven like jewels in a [necklace] thread —may such my mind be filled with resolves of imparting the true scriptures such as Vedas.
Oh human beings, it well behooves you that you purify with knowledge and dharmic conduct that inner instrument, mind,
—by whose health and self-stability alone the foundation of sciences such as those of the Vedas is established and the wisdom as to the [right] behaviour patterns accrues.
It is the mind that carries the (human) beings12 exceedingly from here to there as they beings operate only impelled by the mind.
How is that? Here an illustration: the way a good charioteer, controlling, leads the horses with a whip.
Second illustration: as the charioteer leads and controls the horses with the reins.
There are two similes here. In the first the concept is ‘to lead’ and in the second it is to ‘control’. As the charioteer both controls and leads the horses, so also the mind controls and leads the beings.
This mind dwells, is established, in the heart, for, it is in the heart that it is to be found and realized13.
This mind is non-aging as it remains [unaltered] in the respective condition during childhood, youth and old age.
It is the speediest [force], for it is said
‘there is nothing speedier than wind; there is nothing swifter than mind’ 14.
May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts.
As a good and clever charioteer drives the horses from all sides with the help of the reins, similarly the mind drives living beings, such as humans, swiftly in all different directions.
Just as the charioteer controls the speedy steeds with reins and keeps them under restraint [so also does the mind].
This mind is established in the heart, impeller towards subjects/objects, free of conditions like the aging process, and is the speediest [force].
May such my mind find favour in the restraint that is identical to auspiciousness.In this mantra there are two similes.
The mind leads a human being perforce towards the object of his attachment and addiction the way a charioteer leads the horses with the reins. It reins them as a charioteer reins the horses.
The foolish ones follow this mind and the wise bring and keep it under control.
This mind is
— the cause of comfort and happiness when purified and source of sorrow when impure, and
—conquered, it grants accomplishment and adepthood (siddhi); unconquered, it generates failure.
It well behooves human beings to bring and keep this mind under their control.
The five, fifty, hundred, thousand, million, billion are the bricks of the fire altar that the body is composed of. It is all of the mind. May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -7
This great Person, of the solar hue, beyond darkness I do know; The wise ones who see its womb and origin do so with the mind. May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -8
Wherewith the wise and learned move in their acts by speech, mind or action and point in the direction of one’s self that the living beings follow; may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -9
The shining ones, devas, who cause the resolves in my heart and mind and shape the sky of my inner vision in manifold ways; they who circulate in my ears and eyes, they are of the mind. May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -10
The one whom the wisdom-endowed ones, seers and poets (kavis), purify, and reveal this moon that is verily an expansive creator and ordainer, along with the moving and unmoving entities and heaven and space, may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -11
By which the awesome heaven, earth and sky of inner vision is filled, and by which mountains, quarters and sub-quarters are all pervaded, and so, too, all this fully knowing world, may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -12
Unmanifest, immeasurable, transcending beyond manifest and unmanifest Shiva, to be known as subtler than the subtle, May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -13
On the charming peak of Kailasha15 mountain is the home temple of the Peace-creator Shiva; gods rejoice in that. May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -14
Of the solar hue, burning with ascetic splendour, that which you see in the caves as you are born; of Shiva-form, the risen Shiva, the temple of Shiva. May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts.- 15
Whereby all this that is of the world came into being, the knower of all things, even of the great gods; that which is the single foremost light of ascetic endeavour — may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -16
The half-lotus16 that is beloved of the cattle, wealth, long life-span, power, progeny, animals – may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -17
The one that is recited soundless in all the Vedas, non-pierceable self (atman), may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts.-18
That which is gayatri in Vedas and elsewhere, all-pervading great God, that is spoken when known, may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts.-19
Om in which prana is fully controlled, that same Om that is the great God, who is all, whose is all, may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -20
The one who knows the great God, Om the highest of Persons, Om the Supreme Self, may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts.-21
Om, with four arms, patron of all worlds, Spirit dwelling on Waters (naaraayaNa), stable and still in all, having entered all, pervading all, may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -22
That is Brahmaa (the creator) beyond the beyond; that is all-carrying Vishnu (preserver) beyond the beyond; that knowledge is beyond the beyond. May such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -23
Children of God (brahmaNas) who always recite this Shiva-sankalpa hymn, whereby they will attain the highest liberation, may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -24
‘Is’, ‘is not’ – upon sleeping all this vanishes, and yet again is seen certain as before;
‘is’, ‘is not’ – the middle state is the beneficial one. [Wherewith this is realized], may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts.-25.
‘Is’, ‘is not’ — this is contrary disputation;
‘Is’, ‘is not’ — all this is indeed a secret concealed in the cave;‘Is’,
‘is not’ – that which is beyond the beyond— whereby this is realized, may such my mind be of beautiful and divine resolves, filled with Shiva-thoughts. -26
1The meaning of ‘shiva-sankalpa’ will become clear as one reads the presentations below. A sukta is a hymn in the Vedas that may consist of whatever number of mantras, like stanzas of a Psalm. The word sukta is not used for post-Vedic hymns for which the word is stotra.
2 The commentators are not sectarian as regard to their school of philosophy. ‘Self as consciousness’ is Vedantic terminology, ‘purusha’ is from Sankhya.
3 Acharya Sayana’s quotation reads anando bhavaty… (becomes bliss) whereas the contemporary published text reads anandy eva bhavaty… (becomes only blissful).
4One of the six systems of Indian philosophy.
5The preceding and following paragraphs explain the meaning of shiva-sankalpa.
6Sva-stha, the term commonly used for ‘healthy’, has this verb root meaning, self-stabilized, dwelling in one’s true nature.
7The same long explanation of this phrase that was given in the first mantra is to be repeated here; to be read again for contemplation in the context of this second mantra and each subsequent mantra.
8Upasana (pronounced upaasanaa) is the highest, deepest of the three levels of worship, viz, (a) stuti, hymnal or other praise, (b) prarthana (pronounced praarthanaa), prayer, and (c) upasana, translated here as realizational worship, literally means the devotee being in a state of consciousness of ‘sitting close and near to the divinity’ in a direct experience of the presence, a realization, the Deity becoming real to oneself.
9The word dhrti is consistently translated by Shankaracharya in his commentaries as : an inner self-sustaining power in us that when the strength of one’s senses is almost totally depleted, one still calls upon this power to resuscitate oneself. Since the source of this power is in the mind and the power is an effect of the two, the cause and effect, are identified with each other.
10The commentators who were also experts at Vedic ritual often limited their translations to ‘yajnika’ (ritualistic) references and frequently ignored the ‘adhyatmika’, spiritual interpretations of greater depth. They speak of this sacrament of seven priests as the agniShToma fire rite in which the soma juice is pressed according to the ritual and liturgy prescribed. From the point of a yogin translating the current hymn, the seven priests are the seven energy fields within oneself.
11A yogin is often referred to as tri-kaala-jna or tri-kaala-darshin, one who can see beyond the present into all three divisions of time.
12According to the commentators, ‘human’ in the original is only a synecdote to include all living beings.
13This refers to special meditation practices whereby the nature of mind is realized by a yogin.
14The reference for this quotation has not been found : na cha vaataat kim-chanaasheeyo’sti na manasah kim-chanaasheeyo’sti.
15A mountain in Tibet sacred to four religions. Here, however, following the tradition of yogins, the highest centre of consciousness, the abode of Shiva.
16The suggestion seems to be towards the unpronounced, unrecited, inaudible soundless sound of the half-mora of OM.