The “MadAlasa UpAkhyAn or Upadesha” is a beautiful song on the nature of Self, narrated in the Markandeya Purana. While there are many versions of this story, here is the one that is most popular: Once upon a time there lived a King KuvalayAswa (also Ritadhwaja) and his queen MadAlasa. She is a Self-realized yogini. This couple, in due course of time, gave birth to 4 children namely 1) VikrAnta 2) SubAhu 3) Shatrumardana 4) Alarka, respectively.
The first 3 names were selected by the king himself whose meanings are: 1) one who possesses great valor and courage 2) one who with powerful and beautiful hands & shoulders 3) one who conquers the enemies.
When the king used to select the names, the queen MadAlasa used to laugh as if she is making fun. Aggravated by her attitude, the king asks the queen to select the name herself for their 4th son. She purposefully names the 4th son as “Alarka” and laughs again.
The king questions her intention behind the name “Alarka,” which means “mad dog” and says why such meaningless name was selected to the 4th son whereas rest of the three have such meaningful names.*
Thus begins the beautiful song, as a lullaby to her infant son, where the essence of Vedanta is presented in its purest form by Madalasa.
1 Madalasa Upadesha
शुद्धोसि बुद्धोसि निरँजनोऽसि
सँसारस्वप्नँ त्यज मोहनिद्राँ
śuddhosi buddhosi niraɱjano’si
saɱsārasvapnaɱ tyaja mohanidrāɱ
shuddhosi buddhosi niranjano’si
samsarasvapnam tyaja mohanidram
Madalasa says to her crying son:
“You are pure, Enlightened, and spotless.
Leave the illusion of the world and
wake up from this deep slumber of delusion.”
2 Madalasa Upadesha
शुद्धोऽसि रे तात न तेऽस्ति नाम
कृतँ हि तत्कल्पनयाधुनैव।
पच्चात्मकँ देहँ इदँ न तेऽस्ति
नैवास्य त्वँ रोदिषि कस्य हेतो॥
śuddho’si re tāta na te’sti nāma
kṛtaɱ hi tatkalpanayādhunaiva|
paccātmakaɱ dehaɱ idaɱ na te’sti
naivāsya tvaɱ rodiṣi kasya heto||
shuddho’si re tata na te’sti nama
kritam hi tatkalpanayadhunaiva|
pachchatmakam deham idam na te’sti
naivasya tvam rodishi kasya heto||
My Child, you are Ever Pure!
You do not have a name.
A name is only an imaginary superimposition on you.
This body made of five elements is not you nor do you belong to it.
This being so, what can be a reason for your crying ?
3 Madalasa Upadesha
न वै भवान् रोदिति विक्ष्वजन्मा
शब्दोयमायाध्य महीश सूनूम्।
गुणाश्च भौताः सकलेन्दियेषु॥
na vai bhavān roditi vikṣvajanmā
śabdoyamāyādhya mahīśa sūnūm|
guṇāśca bhautāḥ sakalendiyeṣu||
na vai bhavan roditi vikshvajanma
shabdoyamayadhya mahisha sunum|
gunascha bhautah sakalendiyeshu||
The essence of the universe does not cry in reality.
All is a maya of words, oh Prince! Please understand this.
The various qualities you seem to have are are just your imaginations, they belong to the elements that make the senses (and have nothing to do with you).
4 Madalasa Upadesha
भूतनि भूतैः परिदुर्बलानि
वृद्धिँ समायाति यथेह पुँसः।
न तेस्ति वृद्धिर् न च तेस्ति हानिः॥
bhūtani bhūtaiḥ paridurbalāni
vṛddhiɱ samāyāti yatheha puɱsaḥ|
na testi vṛddhir na ca testi hāniḥ||
bhutani bhutaih paridurbalani
vriddhim samayati yatheha pumsah|
na testi vriddhir na cha testi hanih||
The Elements [that make this body] grow with accumulation of more elements or reduce in size if some elements are taken away.
This is what is seen in a body’s growing in size or becoming lean depending upon the consumption of food, water etc.
You do not have growth or decay.
5 Madalasa Upadesha
त्वम् कँचुके शीर्यमाणे निजोस्मिन्
तस्मिन् देहे मूढताँ मा व्रजेथाः।
मृदादिभिः कँचुकस्ते पिनद्धः॥
tvam kaɱcuke śīryamāṇe nijosmin
tasmin dehe mūḍhatāɱ mā vrajethāḥ|
mṛdādibhiḥ kaɱcukaste pinaddhaḥ||
tvam kamchuke shiryamane nijosmin
tasmin dehe mudhatam ma vrajethah|
mridadibhih kamchukaste pinaddhah||
You are in the body which is like a jacket that gets worn out day by day.
Do not have the wrong notion that you are the body.
This body is like a jacket that you are tied to, for the frutification of the good and bad karmas.
6 Madalasa Upadesha
तातेति किँचित् तनयेति किँचित्
अँबेति किँचिद्धयितेति किँचित्।
ममेति किँचित् न ममेति किँचित्
त्वम् भूतसँघँ बहु म नयेथाः॥
tāteti kiɱcit tanayeti kiɱcit
aɱbeti kiɱciddhayiteti kiɱcit|
mameti kiɱcit na mameti kiɱcit
tvam bhūtasaɱghaɱ bahu ma nayethāḥ||
tateti kimchit tanayeti kimchit
ambeti kimchiddhayiteti kimchit|
mameti kimchit na mameti kimchit
tvam bhutasamgham bahu ma nayethah||
Some may refer to you are Father and some others may refer to you a Son or some may refer to you as mother and some one else may refer to you as wife. some say “you are mine” and some others say “you are not mine.”
These are all references to this “Combination of Physical Elements”, Do not identify with them.
7 Madalasa Upadesha
सुखानि दुःखोपशमाय भोगान्
सुखाय जानाति विमूढचेताः।
तान्येव दुःखानि पुनः सुखानि
sukhāni duḥkhopaśamāya bhogān
sukhāya jānāti vimūḍhacetāḥ|
tānyeva duḥkhāni punaḥ sukhāni
sukhani duhkhopashamaya bhogan
sukhaya janati vimudhachetah|
tanyeva duhkhani punah sukhani
The deluded look at objects of enjoyments as giving happiness by removing the unhappiness.
The wise clearly see that the same object which gives happiness now will become a source of unhappiness.
8 Madalasa Upadesha
यानँ चित्तौ तत्र गतश्च देहो
देहोपि चान्यः पुरुषो निविष्ठः।
ममत्वमुरोया न यथ तथास्मिन्
देहेति मात्रँ बत मूढरौष।
yānaɱ cittau tatra gataśca deho
dehopi cānyaḥ puruṣo niviṣṭhaḥ|
mamatvamuroyā na yatha tathāsmin
deheti mātraɱ bata mūḍharauṣa|
yanam chittau tatra gatascha deho
dehopi chanyah purusho nivishthah|
mamatvamuroya na yatha tathasmin
deheti matram bata mudharausha|
The vehicle that moves on the ground is different from the person in it similarly this body is also different from the person who is inside!
The owner of the body is different from the body! Ah how foolish it is to think I am the body!
*Story obtained from Ramakrishna Mission source.