by Srisa Chandra Vasu | 1909 | 25,279 words | ISBN-13: 9789332869165
The English translation of the Mundaka Upanishad (Mundakopanishad) including the commentary of Madhva called the Bhasya. It is associated with the Atharva Veda and contains three parts having two section each. The text discusses the science of knowledge, the knowledge of Brahman, the self and the soul. The Mundaka Upanishad is also known as: Muṇḍa...
1. This is the True. The karmas which the sages revealed in the mantras, (were and do still exist in harmony as if one, in the higher beings, i.e., men of Krita age). They became in the three lower ages diversified in many ways (and crystallised into exoteric creeds). Practise, ye lovers of the True! as a rule, the karmas of the Kavis (the seers) (and not the diversities introduced into them by intellect unillumined by inspiration). This is your path to the world of the Good.—10.
Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:
The word “Satya [satyam]” means “the Lord”. “tat etat satyam” means “This is the True, i.e., God”.
Satya-kāmāḥ means “devoted to the True”—desiring to please the Lord. Perform work desiring to please Him, for then even such work would become Parā Vidyā. Works not performed with this motive become but frail rafts”—“adṛḍhā yajña rupāḥ”.
2. When the current plays in the fully kindled vehicle of invocation, let a man make his invocations between the space set apart for the two oblations of butter, an invocation of Faith.—11.
Note.—When the Kuṇḍalinī—the arcis, the flame in the ark—is fully active and moves freely up and down the vehicle of invocation, i.e., through the spinal cord, between the two nāḍis called Iḍā and Piṅgalā, which are on the right and left of the Suṣumnā, and called here the two portions of the clarified butter, then is the proper time to invoke with faith,
Exoterically, in every Fire sacrifice two oblations are first made, on the right and left of the fire on the altar, when the fire is fully kindled. One on the right is offered with the words “agnaye svāhā” that on the left with “somāya svāhā.” This offering to the two Eternals, Agni and Soma, must be made before any Deva can be invoked.
The offerings must be made when the fire is fully kindled, never when it is imperfectly kindled, or smoking, etc. The seven stages through which the fire passes before it is fully lighted and fit to receive āhutis, are described in the fourth verse.
When the Śruti says “perform karmas” it means perform acts which are religious, which are duties and not acts in general. The karmas thus include all acts taught in the Śrutis; and cover the control of thought (Śama), control of conduct (Dama), tolerance, meditation, etc. The Karmas do not mean merely ritualistic karmas. The karmas thus are of many kinds: 1, The offering to the Devas. 2. The study of sacred literature. 3. The offering to the ancestors. 4. The feeding of the stranger, etc. The Deva-Yajña or offering to the Devas is the type of all Karmas. It is performed by offering oblations to fire and its other name is Homa. The verse gives the inner meaning of this Homa and the method of its performance. The fire oblations are commenced by the offering of clarified butter (ājya-bhāga) unto fire. Then take place offerings of rice, cake, barley, sugar, scents, Caru, etc. The ceremony is closed by another offering of clarified butters. Thus clarified butter (ghee) begins and ends all offerings—therefore the text says “between the two Ājyabhāgas all other offerings should be made.” This is then the method of all Homas:—Ājya-bhāgas—other substances like Caru etc., called āhutīs and the second ājya-bāhgas. A Brahmacārī offers mere fuel to the fire. A house-holder should offer barley, rice, milk, curd, &c. All must offer according to the stage or āśrama in which they are.
3. The seven worlds are lost of that man whose Agnihotra is not accompanied by the new-moon and the fullmoon, the four-monthly and the six-monthly offerings, or in which guests are not honoured, or who offers no sacrifice or who performs no Vaiśva-deva ceremony, or who offers according to wrong rule. Or of such a person the Septenary (Fire) destroys completely the seven worlds, i.e., the Septenary does not allow that person to enter those worlds.—12.
Note.—The person who in spite of being an adhikāri does not offer oblations to the fire, loses the advantage of getting the help of the Fire Devas in his passage to the Higher worlds.
Thus the Agnihotra is ordained for all men in the three Āśramas: with appropriate meditations, etc. But this Agnihotra itself has several culminating periods or days, when ordinary daily offerings assume a little more gorgeous aspect. All the fortnightly, the monthly, the quarterly, the six-monthly or harvest offerings must be performed. Lest the daily Homa should degenerate into individualistic prayer service, and the congregational aspect of it be forgotten, the daily individualistic Homa must be supplemented by congregational service. The simplest of these is the fortnightly service called Darśā and Paurṇamāsa—the New-moon and the Full-moon offerings. These are done in assemblies and not in the solitude of one’s family hearth. On these days one should throw open the door of his house to his neighbours, and invite them to participate with him in the worship of the Lord. The man who does not do so, who rests satisfied with his daily prayers, does not reap the full reward of the Agnihotra. Therefore the verse says “He whose Agnihotra is not accompanied by Darśā, etc., is as if he had not [???] any sacrifice.” The Lord Agni (called Saptamān—the Septenary)—destroys [???] of such a man—that is obstructs the passage of that soul to higher worlds. [???]hese congregational and seasonal services should bo duly performed, but [???] attention should be paid to the proper discharge of the daily Agnihotra [???] only this but other Yajñas also should be performed, such as, feeding the [???]e Vaiśva deva offering, the Śrāddha or offering to the Pītṛs [Pitṛs?], offering to [???] and the poor and all animate creation. In fact, the well-known Five Great [???]ould be performed by all who desire for their physical, moral and spiritual [???].
4. The black, red, green, yellow, purple or blue, violet [???] shining white, are the seven tongues of the fire as [???]d on the altar.—13.
[???] The Agnihotra is to be performed only in well-lit fire not in a fire which is [???]. The seven tongues or flames of fire are known by their respective names
He who works when those (seven) are shining, [???]g oblations in them in due time, (can go out of his r[???]) these flames as Solar rays, carry him there where [???]preme the one Lord of the Devas.—14.
Note.—The man who makes his offerings in these flames properly and in proper season, is carried after death by these. The last line of this verse really contains two sentences (1) tam nayanti etāḥ yatra devānām, etc. (2) tam nayanti sūryasya raśmayaḥ yatra etc. In the first “sūryasya raśmaya” is omitted; in the second “Etāḥ” is omitted. The verse is to be so interpreted, in order to show the two-fold objects——goal and the means of reaching it. The first tam nayanti etāḥ yatra, etc. “Him carry these where dwells for kalpas the one Lord of the Devas”—shows the fruit or goal reached by karmas. The second “tam nayanti sūryasya raśmayaḥ, etc.” shows the means or vehicles of reaching that goal.
The Bhāgavatas who are karmins are of two kinds: Apratīkālambanās [Apratīkālambanas?]: who worship without any symbol: who do not take the help of any symbol: (2) Pratīkālambanās [Pratīkālambanas?], those who take such help of symbol. The first class consists of Devas and others who see the Lord as All-pervading. All Devatas, one hundred among the Ṛṣis, one hundred among the Gandharvas belong to this class of Adhikārins. The Pratīkālambanas are of two kinds 1. Dehālambana and 2. Pratimālambanā [Pratimālambana?]. Those who see the Lord in their body, they are Dehālambanas. The Ṛṣis, etc., called Madhyama Adhikāris belong to this class. “They sec the Ātman in the Ātman (body).” While the Pratimālambanās [Pratimālambanas?] are those who see God in an image——who can not imagine Him without some form. Men belong to this class.
These homas—these sacrifices, gifts, penances, etc.—carry him, the worshipper, if he is an Apratikālambana to the abode of the Lord, namely to Vaikuṇṭha Loka, where the Lord of the Devas, i.e., Viṣṇu dwells for ages. If he is a Dehālambana Adhikāri, then these Homas carry him to Satyaloka, where dwells the Lord of the Devas, namely, Brahmā, the Four-faced. If he is a Pratimālambana Adhikāri then these Homas carry him to Mahar, Jana or Tapas Loka. They (the Pratimālambanas) dwell in these lokas for long icons. When the fire kindled by Saṅkarṣaṇa’s Breath—the great Pralaya fire burns up the three lower planes, Bhur, Bhuvar, and Svar: the Mahar Loka becomes uninhabitable, and so they go leaving Mahar, Jana and Tapas Lokas to Satya Loka. The Karmas become fruitful of the highest results through Jñāna alone.
The question then arises, how can the Yajamāna go to Viṣṇu Loka when he is clothed in a body, for even after death, their remains a body in which the soul is clothed and Viṣṇu Loka is a place where no Prakṛtic matter can enter? This is answered by the second sentence—the Sūrya rays carry the soul. The word “Sūrya” means He who is attained by the Sūris or Wise—that is the Supreme God Viṣṇu. The rays or powers of Viṣṇu carry the soul to Viṣṇu Loka. These Viṣṇu rays carry the soul to that place where dwells the one Lord of the Devas. They carry the soul to the Heart where the Lord dwells. The first stage of death is that these Sūrya rays—these Divine rays (the web of Life)—carry the Jīva into the heart—and there they begin to glow into a steady flame. There in the heart, the Lord Viṣṇu carries His devotee outside the heart: as is said: “Then Viṣṇu with his light illumines the heart and the passage at its top, and through that goes out taking the Jīva with Him.”
6. The resplendent devas thus invoked say to him:—“Come, come.” They carry the sacrificer on the rays of the sun, while they utter pleasant speech, glorifying him with the words:—“This is your holy Brahma-world, selfcreated by your thought.”—15.
Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:
The word “Sukṛta” means the good deeds performed for the sake of the Lord. A work so done is Sukṛta or “well done,” it alone is a virtuous, or sukṛta work.
“A work performed without desire (of acquiring heaven, etc. and with knowledge (that I am not the true agent, but the Lord is the real agent) carries the performer to the Eternal Brahman. Such a karma is the true renunciation. This renunciation constantly practised leads to the ‘Ancient Eternal.’”
So also the Śruti:—
“For him who worships the Ātmā, the great refuge alone, there is no exhaustion of Karmas.”
So also in the Gita the Lord says:—
“Having in ancient times emanated mankind together with sacrifice the Lord of emanation said etc., etc.” (Gitā III. 10, 16.) So also in another passage (Gitā IX, 25) He says:—
“My worshippers come unto Me.” “I am. indeed the enjoyer, etc.” (Gitā IX, 24ḍ and though in the Gitā III, 17, He says:—“But the man who rejoiceth in the Self, with the Self is satisfied and is content in the Self for him verily there is nothing to do”; yet He says also “as the ignorant act from attachment to action, O! Bhārata, so should the wise act without attachment, desiring the welfare of the world.” (Ibid III, 25). “Who carp at My teaching and act not thereon, senseless, deluded in all knowledge, know thou these mindless ones as fated to be destroyed.” (Ibid, III, 32).
(Objection.)—If work is to be performed always, then there remains no necessity of Sannyāsa āśrama, for that is a stage in which all actions are to be renounced?
(Therefore though the anchorites need not perform the agnihotra, etc., like the householders, they must perform actions appropriate to their āśrama, such as control of thought, conduct, etc.)
“In the Krita age, people worshipped Hari alone, the abode of all Devas, by sacrifice like agni-ṣṭoma, etc. They considered Hari as the Cause working through all the Devas, and the Devas as his servants. Thus did worship the man Vasu.” (In the Krita age even when offerings were made under the name of Indra etc., they were made with this formula “Svāhā to Hari the Antaryāmin or inner Ruler of Indra.” “Svāhā to Hari the Ruler within of Agni,” &c).
“But in the Tretā age, the host of Devatās began to be worshipped by the ignorant, on their own account, and not as servants and agents of Hari, as says the Upaniṣad:—“tretāyām bahudhā santatāni.” (Padma Purāṇa). The names like Indra, etc., were names of Hari in the Krita age:—“Him whom they call Indra, whom they call Varuna (the All-pervading) whom they call Mitra (the Friend), whom they call Satya (the True), He who is the highest Deva among all the Devas, who is the father of Vāyu, to Him I offer this Soma through these names (of Indra, etc.)
“In the Krita age all the people thus worshipped only Viṣṇu, the Father of Vāyu, along with the other Devas (mentioned above as so many qualities of Viṣṇu). In the Tretā some only worshipped Viṣṇu in this way. Others began to worship Indra, etc., as separate from Viṣṇu, as independent Devas: but at the end uttered the formula “I offer all this to Viṣṇu.” While others even omitted to do that also.” (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa.)
Note.—Having thus described the going out of the Jīva from the heart, this verse describes how after leaving the heart the Jīva next leaves the body, and enters the path of Arcis, etc., in order to reach the Viṣṇu Loka. The verse ehi ehi etc., like the last verse, has also two sentences mixed up in one. The one sentence is: tam āhūtayaḥ suvarcasaḥ
sūryasya raśmibhiḥ yajamānam vahanti. This describes the method of getting out of the body. Its meaning is: “The oblations or works done to please the Lord, carry the Yajamāna by the solar rays.” These “solar rays” are solar forces residing in the nāḍis or astral currents of the body: as is said “verily a thousand rays of the sun are spread into these nāḍis: of these the white is the Suṣumnā called also the Brahma-yāna the Path of Brahman. As the solar rays are in the Suṣumnā, they illumine the path, and by that light the soul goes out.” This shows that the path here is in the nāḍis and the rays of the sun are also in the nāḍis. These rays take out the Yajamāna from the body, and carry him dwelling in the buddhic web of life to the Turīya state. Because the Jīva was performing Bhāgavata works, therefore he goes out of the heart by the path of Suṣumnā lighted by the rays of the sun. As has been said: Viṣṇu in the form of Turīya dwells in the Dvadaśānta. That is the form which the muktas reach.”
Even among the nāḍis there is a distinction. The Suṣumnā has five sub-divisions: the middle portion is the Suṣumnā proper called the Bralnna-nāḍi and on four sides of it are the other four naḍis called Vajrikā, Aryā, Prakāśini [Prakāśinī?] and Vaidyuta. The apratikālambanās [apratikālambanas?], go by the central nāḍi, the Suṣumnā proper, the Brahma Nāḍi and pass out of the centre of the head: as is said: “Those who reach the highest Viṣṇu Loka, Vaikuṇṭha, pass out of the middle of the skull.” The Dehālambanās [Dehālambanas?] pass out of the body by any one of the remaining four Nāḍīs of the Suṣumnā, except of course the Bramanāḍī. They reach Satyaloka, the Loka of Brahmā. The Pratimālambanās [Pratimālambanas?] go out by the Nāḍī called Piṅgalā. This is the path called Devayāna: while the Suṣumnā Path is called the Equatorial Path.
Thus going out of the body—whether through Brahmanāḍi, or through Vajrikā, etc., or through Piṅgalā, the Jīva reaches the Turīya. Thence he goes on the path of Arcis, etc. This is done under the second interpretation which is to be given to this verse. The āhutaya must now mean the Devas presiding over the Arcirādi Path. They are the Day, the Bright Fortnight, the Northern six months of the year, the Lightening, Varuṇa, Prajāpati, Sūrya, Soma, Vaiśvānara, Indra, Dhruva, Devī and Diva. These fourteen successively carry the Jīva, till the First Begotten—the Highest Vāyu is reached. Then Vāyu, the great mediator, carries the soul to the Lord, the Highest Spirit. These Devas address the soul saying “This is your Loka obtained by you through your performing the will of the Lord.”
The Brahma loka of this verse is to be interpreted differently according to the adhikārī addressed. If the Apratikālambanā is addressed, then the Brahma Loka is the Loka of the Supreme Brahman, Vaikuṇṭha. If the Dehālambanā is addressed then the Satyaloka is meant; and if the Pratimālambanā is addressed then Mahar, etc., loka is meant.
The God is reached only through the Son, the Supreme Vāyu: the other Devas on the path like the Day, etc., are secondaries only.
7. But these symbolic rites, which consist in the performance of the lower mysteries, as that taught by the eighteen, are verily like rotten boats, dangerous to the sailor. The fools who think this to be the highest and rejoice therein suffer again and again birth, old age and death.—16.
8. Fools remaining in ignorance, wise in their own estimation, thinking themselves to be Learned, oppressed by misery, go round and round, even as blind men led by the blind.—17.
9. Because the fools have dwelt long in darkness, they consider “we are happy.” Because these ritualists have no foresight, on account of their attachment to rewards, therefore when there takes place the exhaustion of their merit, they fall miserably back into re-birth.—18.
10. Considering sacrifices and gifts to be the best, these deluded ones know no higher ideal. Therefore, having enjoyed their reward in the wide stretched realms of the heaven called Naka, they come back to this world or to some lower one.—19.
Madhva’s commentary called the Bhāṣya:
Those who believe in Viṣṇu as somewhat higher than all other Devas take their re-birth on this earth. Those who believe Viṣṇu to be equal to other Devas or inferior to them, enter into Darkness—the plane lower than the earth, as says an authority:—“The worshipper who considers Viṣṇu to be higher than all other Devas in lordliness only, as a king is higher than all men (in lordliness only, and may not be so in wisdom, etc.) reach the world of men. But those who consider him as equal or inferior to other Devas, go to the world of Tamas.” So also in the Gitā (IX. 20—24)
“The knowers of the three, the Soma-drinkers, the purified from sin, worshipping Me with sacrifice, pray of Me the way to heaven; they, ascending to the holy world of the Ruler of the Shining Ones, eat in heaven the divine feasts of the Shining Ones.—(20).
“They, having enjoyed the spacious heaven-world, their holiness withered, come back to this world of death. Following the virtues enjoyed by the three, desiring desires, they obtain the transitory.—(21).
“To those men who worship Me alone thinking of no other, to those ever harmonious, I bring full security.—(22).
Even the devotees of other Shining Ones, who worship full of faith, they also worship Me, 0 son of Kunti, though contrary to the ancient rule.”—(23).
“I am indeed the enjoyer of all sacrifices and also the Lord, but they know Me not in Essence, and hence they fall.—(24).
11. But those who practise meditation and contemplation, in a retired place, tranquil, wise and living on alms, reach through the help of the sun, being free from raj as, that Immortal Person whose essence is unchanging.—20.
12. Let a seeker of Brahman, after he has examined (and thoroughly mastered the forces of) the worlds, that are
reached by the occult) works, acquire freedom from desire for them. For the uncreate world of Brahman, cannot be gained through the created worlds. Therefore to know this, let him approach with folded hands, the Guru, who is inspired and dwells constantly in the eternal.—21.
13. Then Aṅgiras taught the truth to Śaunaka; to him who had penetrated to his presence, whose mental body (chitta) was in perfect calm, and who had thought-control (śama). To him the wise Aṅgiras fully explained, in all its essence, that Divine Wisdom, by which one knows the True, the Imperishable Person.—22.
Note.—What are the authorities from which we can learn the rules about the performance of Karmas, the rewards of such performance, etc.? “The eighteen sources of Vidyās,” is the answer, namely, the four Vedas—Ṛk, Yajuṣ Sāman and Atharvan, the six Vedāṅgas, Phonetics, Liturgy, Grammar, Lexicon, Prosody and Astronomy, Logic, Exegetics, the Law books, the Purāṇas, Medicine, Music, Archery and Political Economy. When one has learnt all that these can teach, what else must he learn which will harmonise all these, which will make all this knowledge fruitful? The knowledge of the Imperishable, the Akṣara the Parā Vidyā, the science of sciences is the keystone of all Vidyās. When acts are done with the motive of pleasing the Lord, then the Karmas which were lower before, become higher; but when not performed with this motive they are “frail boats.” Therefore the injunction satya “kāmāḥ karmāṇi ācaratha”—“perform all acts desiring to please Him who is called the True.” When we act thus we go to Heaven.
In the Krita age all acts were performed with this single motive—satya kāmāḥ—the desire of pleasing the True, the Lord. In the next age, the Tretā, the motive became diverse: the true Bhāgavatas still retained the highest motive—desire to please the Lord. The second class the Ritualistic worshippers called Traividyas, had the motive to attain Heaven; but even they at the end of all their acts uttered the formula “We offer the fruit of all our works to the Bhagavat.” The third class, the haters of the Lord, omitted even the utterance of this formula: and performed all acts with the simple motive of self gratification. But those who desire in all their acts to please the Lord alone—who are Satya Kāmas—sedulously perform in every age (whether it be Tretā, Dvāpara or Kali) the dharmas of the Krita age—with the object of pleasing the Lord alone. Therefore the Śruti saws “O Satya Kamas (in the plural) perform ceaselessly good works with the highest motive; for work thus done is the only way to the abode of the Lord—this is the only way for you to obtain the knowledge of God. But if you perform acts like the Traividyas or like the haters of the Lord, then your place is either in this world or to some lower plane.” Thus threefold is the reward of Karma, according to the motive. With the highest motive—the Satya Kāma, the desire to please the Lord—the Karmin goes to the abode of the Lord, i.e., gets fitted to obtain the knowledge of God. When performed like the Traividyas with the desire of Heaven, the Karmin goes to Heaven after death, but is born again on this earth when the fruit of Karma is exhausted. The third class—the haters of the Lord, also go to the subtler plane after death, but their re-birth is in some lower plane.
When all yajñas whether offerings to Agni or Vāyu or Soma, etc.—are, performed in this spirit, as offerings to Viṣṇu, they become the highest Karmas and lead to unending lokas. But when Yajñas are performed as worship of inferior deities, they lead to finite lokas, from which there is a return and re-birth. Then these Yajñas instead of being a strong ship which could carry the sailor beyond the troubled sea of Saṃsāra, become adṛḍha plavā—frail rafts which bring disaster on those that try to cross the sea through their aid. All lower Yajñas aim at the three worlds excluding the three higher planes of the mental world even. The seven sub-planes of the physical Bhuḥ Loka, the seven sub-planes of the astral (Bhuva loka), and the four sub-planes of the mental (called Rūpa—Svarga) form the 18 sub-planes of lower Yajñas. It is this 18 which is decried in this second chapter. The three higher sub-planes of the mental are not reached by such yajñas; hence their transitory and phenomenal nature. These lower yajñas are performed with the eighteen only, namely with the Sukṣma Śārīra (consisting of the well-known 17 elements) and ahaṃkāra. The higher manas or Vijñāna does not enter into their performance. Hence they are deprecated. But when yajñas are performed with Vijñāna, they lead to Immortal worlds. Moreover these lower Yajñas are performed under a partial and superficial understanding. The 18 Scriptures or sources of knowledge are enumerated in the following verse:—“The four Vedas, the six Vedāṅgas, the Purāṇas, Nyaya, Mīmāṃsā, the Dharma Śāstras, the Ayur Veda, the Dhaur Veda, the Gandharva Veda and Political Economy are the eighteen classes of Science.” Therefore it is said the Yajñas taught by the eighteen are inferior and lead to transitory results. See also Chandogya Up. VII Prapāṭhaka where these 18 Sciences are enumerated. The enumeration in this Upaniṣad is incomplete. The soul is carried to those worlds by the rays of the sun. The soul is not immaterial though atomic. The Jīva is no doubt an aṃśa or part of God, a spark of divine fire, but a spark encased in matter. The covering of the soul in its most pristine state even has an atom of the matter of all the planes, mental astral and physical. These are the permanent atoms that constitute the body of the soul—the undying Liṅgadeha: which drops only when Mukti is obtained. This atomic body is carried to its appropriate heaven by the solar rays. The heaven may be on a physical globe like the earth or on a globe of non-physical matter but the solar rays (physical or super-physical) are the vehicles through which the souls pass from globe to globe, sphere to sphere, one plane to another. The good that men do in this life become thought-forms, living entities in the interior subtler planes. If a man thinks high thoughts, performs noble actions, sacrifices his own interests to the interests of the community; his thoughts, words and deeds create a host of elemental forms, called thought-forms. These welcome the soul when it leaves the body and proceed towards the heaven plane. The devas of those planes also join in welcoming him; such souls are carried beyond the Triloki (Bhuḥ, Bhuvaḥ and Svar—Physical, Astral and Mental) to one of the three higher planes.
But the souls of the ordinary good people, who perform mere Yajñas without love of God, go the round of birth and death in the Triloki. Karmas may be performed with various motives; but these latter may be broadly divided into three classes Divine, Human and Demoniac. The divine motive is that when a man does all acts as acts of sacrifice, for the sake of the Lord and to carry out His Will, without asking for any reward. Such Karmas lead the soul beyond Triloki. Human Karmas are performed with the motive of reward—enjoyment of heaven or worldly prosperity. Such Karmas carry the soul to one of the heavens of the Astral or Mental planes. Demoniac motive makes a man do a Karma with the pure and simple object of injuring another. It leads the soul to lower worlds. “Frail are these rafts of sacrifice”—is a sentence applied to the second class of Karinas. Such Karmas do not lead to mukti, but to a transmigratory existence. The karmas taught in the eighteen topics mentioned above are, therefore, transitory in their results when not illumined and directed by the right motive. The second Chapter thus teaches the Great Laws of Karma and Re-incarnation and the planes in which they find their scope. The Triloki (Physical, Astral and Lower mental) is the field of karma—the Kurukṣetra where takes place the eighteen days fight of the eighteen Akṣauhiṇī) of army corps. The number eighteen thus appears to be the type and symbol of the Karmic planes.
The planes of Jñāna are above these.
The second Chapter deals with the third Imperishable, namely Matter, Karma or the eternal chain of Causation, Yajñas or the employment of the forces of nature to bring about certain results—all deal with Matter and her forces. These forces on the plane of Unity—called the Kṛta Plane or the plane of Buddhi of the Theosophical literature—are not diverse. It is one force there. As the current comes down into the three lower planes—called the Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali—the Third, Second and First plane—it branches off into various kinds. But even on the lowest plane (physical) we can see the unity of forces—the transformation of energy is a great proof of this. This is the meaning of the phrase “the karmas which the sages saw in the Kṛta became diverse in the Tretā, etc.”
The Veda was one before, like one caste-subsequent ages have divided the Veda into four, as subsequent evolution divided the one Brahmin caste into the variety of castes and races of the world. The first key, therefore, to the interpretation of the Vedas (and as a matter of fact of all sacred scriptures) is this idea of unitary force. All the so-called Gods of the Vedas—Indra, Agni, Vāyu, Marut, etc.—are but different names of one God Viṣṇu. “ekam sad viprāḥ bahudhā vadanti”. Agni means Viṣṇu. Vāyu means Viṣṇu, Indra means Viṣṇu and so on. This was in the Krita age. With the progress of time, the words degenerated. Agni which meant Viṣṇu before now came to mean the Deva of a high order, presiding over a hierarchy called “The Hierarchy of Fire” and so with Vāyu and other Vedic terms. This was in the Tretā age. In the Dvapāra, a further degeneration took place in the meaning of this word—it came to mean the elemental of Fire. While in this Kali age, Agni means fire—the physical fire. The history of the meaning of this term from the Vedic upto the present time shows, through what stages this word has passed, and how corruption gradually has set in.
The First Law, therefore, by which we can find out the Esoteric meaning of the scriptures is to take all these words to mean Viṣṇu, the Supreme God. The Corrollary that follows from it is that all Yajñas or religious and occult ceremonies must be addressed to Viṣṇu. He alone should be worshipped and no inferior deity.
Those men, whose nature is that of Krita age men, should worship Viṣṇu alone as God. Yāga means offering of anything with recitation of mantras in honor of any Devata. So when a Yāga is performed in honor of Viṣṇu and Vedic mantras are recited therein, those mantras must necessarily apply to Viṣṇu, in order to be appropriately used in a Viṣṇu Yāga. Since all Vedic Mantras can be employed in Viṣṇu Yāga, consequently all Vedic Mantras must denote Viṣṇu, otherwise they cannot be so employed. For example, we cannot employ an Agni Mantra in offering Yāga to Vāyu or Indra, as individual Devatās of those names; but Krita Yuga people employed all mantras whether addressed to Agni, Vāyu, Indra etc., in offering Yāga to Viṣṇu. Their conduct, therefore, showed that by Agni, Vāyu, etc., they understood Viṣṇu and these words had this connotation in that age. The words, however, have a tendency to change their meaning, some time for the better, some time for the worse. In course of time these words came to mean different persons.
If Viṣṇu alone was worshipped as God, then it follows that either Brahma and others should never be worshipped at all, or should never be worshipped as God. This objection, Madhva answers by saying they should also be worshipped in the sense of “honored, as we honor our elders and benefactors, as a mark of love and gratitude; but they should never be worshipped as God.” In Kṛta age also, Brahma and others were worshipped, i.e., honored, as Gurus—-Great Ones, Teachers. The above passage does not prohibit their worship, or paying respect to them, but it teaches that they should never be worshipped as God. It should further be remembered that some fallen Devatas bear also the names of Brahmā, &c: they must not be worshipped, even in this secondary sense: as says a text; “one should never worship the fallen (apa bhraṣṭa) and the nondevas, though they may bear the name of Brahmā, etc., the word deva is applied to them in the sense of dīna or poor.” The Devas like Brahmā, etc., bear the name of Manu also, because they possess intelligence (manas).