By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Ramottaratapaniya Upanisad, RAmottaratApaniya UpaniSad, Raamottarataapaniya Upanishad
Rāmottaratāpaniya Upaniṣad is a continuation of the Purvatāpaniya Upaniṣad. In Purvatāpaniya Upaniṣad, Rāma is described as nirviśeṣa Brahman whereas in the Rāmottaratāpaniya Upaniṣad, he is described as saviśeṣa to facilitate meditation by devotees.
Contents of Rāmottaratāpaniya Upaniṣad
The whole text is in the form of a dialogue between the sage Yājñavalkya and some sages like Bṛhaspati, Bharadvāja and Atri. It contains 121 verses including passages in prose. It is spread over five khaṇḍas or chapters.
Overview of Rāmottaratāpaniya Upaniṣad
The first khaṇḍa has three passages. It contains the following topics:
- It describes the importance of Kurukṣetra and Avimukta, their sacredness and their identity with the space in between the eyebrows inside us.
- The belief that Śiva utters the tārakamantra into the ears of the dying persons is alluded too.
The second khaṇḍa has 19 verses and prose sections. It deals with the following:
- Power of the Rāma-sadaksara-mantra, "rāih rāmāya namah", as tāraka or endowed with liberating power.
- It's comparison with Oṅkāra or Praṇava.
- Sādhaka who repeats it daily is freed from all sins is also stated.
- Description of the Praṇava as representing Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata, Satrughna and Sītā.
- Seven mantras of the Māndukya Upanisad find a place in this section.
This khaṇḍa has 16 passages. It delineates the following:
- Ātman is infinite bliss and can be realized by meditating on it in the space between the eyebrows, above the nose.
- How Śiva performed austerities like japa, arcana and homa to please Rāma.
- How Rāma appeared before him and granted him his desire that all those who die including animals or even worms on the Maṇikarṇikā-ghāṭ on the bank of the river Gaṅgā in Kāśī should get liberation. For this, only Śiva had to utter Rāmamantra in the ear of the dead being.
The fourth khaṇḍa has 49 paras and verses. It deals with the following:
- Number of mantras, each with 40 letters, partly resembling the Gāyatrīmantra.
The fifth or the last khaṇḍa has 34 verses and paras. It describes the following:
- Greatness of the Rāmaṣaḍakṣara-mantra
- Eulogizing it in 24 verses as far superior to the mantras of deities like Gaṇapati, Śiva, Devī and even Viṣṇu.
- He is the Brahman without attributes.
- He is the Brahman with attributes.
- Avimukta means Kāśī or Vārāṇasī.
- It is “Rāma”.
- Japa means repetition of Rāma’s name.
- Arcana means worship.
- Homa means oblations into a duly consecrated fire.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore