Monday, February 21, 2011

Paramahamsa Upanishad - and the goal of evolution

A beautiful line from one translation of the Paramahamsa Upanishad caught my eye.

It goes:
He attains the goal of evolution.
Truly he attains the goal of evolution.

"He" refers to the paramahamsa, the liberated, the avadhoota. The full portion is (source):

The aspirant who is seeking the Lord
Must free himself from selfish attachments
To people, money, and possessions.
When his mind sheds every selfish desire,
He becomes free from the duality
Of pleasure and pain and rules his senses.
No more is he capable of ill will;
No more is he subject to elation,
For his senses come to rest in the Self.
Entering into the unitive state,
He attains the goal of evolution.
Truly he attains the goal of evolution.
(Translated by Eknath Easwaran, 1987) 

Looking up the original, to our surprise not only is most of this not present, but quite a lot of what is there in the final two verses is not present in this beautiful translation. Here's the original (final section) with a closer translation alongside:

सर्वे कामा मनोगता व्यावर्तन्ते

दुःखे नोद्विग्नः

सुखे न स्पृहा

त्यागो रागे

सर्वत्र शुभाशुभयोरनभिस्नेहो

न द्वेष्टि न मोदं च

सर्वेषामिन्द्रियाणां गतिरुपरमते य आत्मन्येवावस्थीयते


कृतकृत्यो भवति कृतकृत्यो भवति

All desires of the mind cease to exist,

(and consequently) he is not agitated by grief,

and has no longing for happiness;

renunciation of attachment to sense-pleasures comes,

and he is everywhere unattached in good or evil,

(consequently) he neither hates nor is elated.

The outgoing tendency of all the sense-organs subsides in him who rests in the Atman alone.

Realising “I am that Brahman who is the One Infinite Knowledge-Bliss” ,

he reaches the end of his desires, verily he reaches the end of his desires.

(Translated by Swami Madhavananda)

However, i still like the way Sri Easwaran translated (or interpreted) the last line "कृतकृत्यो भवति" to mean "attaining the goal of evolution". "कृतकृत्य" usually is translated as "being fulfilled" or having accomplished what one was supposed to do. He brings this out as the culmination of innumerable lives. Interestingly, on some forum i found a long discussion about whether the Vedic rishis knew about evolution. Someone took this translation very literally!

Another portion which caught my eye as being changed in translation was:
"For he knows he is neither body nor mind". The original is: स्ववपुः कुणपमिव दृष्यते which means, he sees his body (sva-vapu) as a corpse (kuNapam iv). A good interpretation, I would say.

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