Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (with the Commentary of Śaṅkarācārya)

by Swāmī Mādhavānanda | 1950 | 272,359 words | ISBN-10: 8175051027

This Upanishad is widely known for its philosophical statements and is ascribed to Yajnavalkya. It looks at reality as being indescribable and its nature to be infinite and consciousness-bliss. Ethics revolve around the five Yajnas or sacrifices. This book includes the english translation of the Bhāṣya of Śaṅkara. The Shankara-Bhashya is the most ...

Section VI - The Three Aspects of the Universe

Verse 1.6.1:

त्रयं वा इदम्—नाम रूपं कर्म; तेषां नाम्नां वागित्येतदेषामुक्थम्, अतो हि सर्वाणि नामान्य् उत्तिष्ठन्ति । एतदेषां साम, एतद्धि सर्वैर्नामभिः समम्; एतदेषां ब्रह्म, एतद्धि सर्वाणि नामानि बिभर्ति ॥ १ ॥

trayaṃ vā idam—nāma rūpaṃ karma; teṣāṃ nāmnāṃ vāgityetadeṣāmuktham, ato hi sarvāṇi nāmāny uttiṣṭhanti | etadeṣāṃ sāma, etaddhi sarvairnāmabhiḥ samam; etadeṣāṃ brahma, etaddhi sarvāṇi nāmāni bibharti || 1 ||

1. This (universe) indeed consists of three things: name, form and action. Of those names, speech (sound in general) is the Uktha (source), for all names spring from it. It is their Sāman (common feature), for it is common to all names. It is their Brahman (self), for it sustains all names.

The differentiated universe consisting of means and ends, which was introduced as the subject-matter of ignorance, with its results culminating in identification with the vital force, as well as its state prior to manifestation denoted by the word ‘undifferentiated,’ like a tree and its seed—all this indeed consists of three things. What are they? Name, form and action, all non-Self, and not the Self that is the Brahman, immediate and direct. Therefore one should turn away from it. This is the import of this section. One whose mind is not averse to this non-Self, has no inclination to meditate upon the Self, one’s own world, as ‘I am Brahman,’ for the two tendencies—one going outwards and the other devoting itself to the inner Self—are contradictory. Compare the following from the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (IV. 1): ‘The self-born Lord injured the organs by making them outgoing in their tendencies. Therefore they perceive only external things, but not the inner Self. Once in a while some steady man, desiring immortality, turns his gaze inwards and sees the inner Self.’

How can one establish the fact that this differentiated and undifferentiated universe made up of actions, their factors and their results, consists only of name, form and action, and is not the Self? This is being answered: Of those names as set forth (in the preceding portion), speech, i.e. sound in general—for it has been stated, ‘And any kind of sound is but the organ of speech’ (I. v. 3)— is the Uktha, the cause or material of these particular names, as the salt rock is of particles of salt. This is expressed by the text: For all names, the differentiations such as Yajñadatta and Devadatta, spring from it, this generality of names, like particles of salt from the salt rock. And an effect is not separate from its cause. Also particulars are included in the general. How does the relation of general and particulars apply here? It, sound in general, is their Sāman, so called because of sameness, i.e., common feature. For it is common to all names, which are its own particular forms. Another reason is that the particular names, being derived from it, are not different from it. And we see that something which is derived from another is not different from it, as a jar, for instance, is not different from clay. How are particular names derived from speech? This is being explained: Because it, what is designated by the word ‘speech,’ is their Brahman, śelf, for names are derived from speech, since they have no reality apart from sound. This is being demonstrated: For it, sound in general, sustains or supports all names or particular sounds by giving them reality. Thus on account of their relation as cause and effect, and as general and particulars, and the one giving the other reality, particular names are proved to be just sound. Similarly in the next two paragraphs all this is to be applied as here set forth.


Verse 1.6.2:

अथ रूपाणाम् चक्षुरित्येतदेषामुक्थम्; अतो हि सर्वाणि रूपाण्युत्तिष्ठन्ति; एतदेषां साम, एतद्धि सर्वै रूपैः समम्; एतदेषाम् ब्रह्म, एतद्धि सर्वाणि रूपाणि बिभर्ति ॥ २ ॥

atha rūpāṇām cakṣurityetadeṣāmuktham; ato hi sarvāṇi rūpāṇyuttiṣṭhanti; etadeṣāṃ sāma, etaddhi sarvai rūpaiḥ samam; etadeṣām brahma, etaddhi sarvāṇi rūpāṇi bibharti || 2 ||

2. Now of forms the eye (anything visible) is the Uktha (source), for all forms spring from it. It is their Sāman (common feature), for it is common to all forms. It is their Brahman (self), for it sustains all forms.

Now of forms, white, black, etc., the eye, i.e. ‘anything that is perceptible to the eye, form in general, or whatever is visible, which is here denoted by the word ‘eye,’ (is the Uktha). For all forms spring from it. It is their Sāman, for it is common to all forms, It is their Brahman, for it sustains all forms.


Verse 1.6.3:

अथ कर्मणामात्मेत्येतदेषामुक्थम्, अतो हि सर्वाणि कर्माण्युत्तिष्ठन्ति; एतदेषां साम, एतद्धि सर्वैः कर्मभिः समम्; एतदेषां ब्रह्म, एतद्धि सर्वाणि कर्माणि बिभर्ति; तदेतत्त्रयं सदेकमयमात्मा, आत्मा एकः सन्नेतत्त्रयम्; तदेतदमृतं सत्येन छन्नम्; प्राणो वा अमृतम्, नामरूपे सत्यम्, ताभ्यामयं प्राणश्छन्नः ॥ ३ ॥
इति षष्ठं ब्राह्मणम् ॥
इति प्रथमोऽध्यायः ॥

atha karmaṇāmātmetyetadeṣāmuktham, ato hi sarvāṇi karmāṇyuttiṣṭhanti; etadeṣāṃ sāma, etaddhi sarvaiḥ karmabhiḥ samam; etadeṣāṃ brahma, etaddhi sarvāṇi karmāṇi bibharti; tadetattrayaṃ sadekamayamātmā, ātmā ekaḥ sannetattrayam; tadetadamṛtaṃ satyena channam; prāṇo vā amṛtam, nāmarūpe satyam, tābhyāmayaṃ prāṇaśchannaḥ || 3 ||
iti ṣaṣṭhaṃ brāhmaṇam ||
iti prathamo'dhyāyaḥ ||

3. And of actions the body (activity) is the Uktha (source), for all actions spring from it. It is their Sāman (common feature), for it is common to all actions. It is their Brahman (self), for it sustains all actions. These three together are one—this body, and the body, although one, is these three. This immortal entity is covered by truth (the five elements): The vital force is the immortal entity, and name and form are truth; (so) this vital force is covered by them.

Now all particular actions consisting of thought and perception as well as movement are being summed up in activity in general. How? Of all particular actions the body, i.e. activity in general, is the Uktha. The activity of the body is here called the ‘body,’ for it has been stated that one works through the body. And all activity is manifested in the body. Hence action or activity in general, having its seat in the body, is designated by the word ‘body.’ The rest is to be explained as before. These three, viz. name, form and action described above, combining together, being the support of one another and the cause of one another’s manifestation, and merging in one another, like three sticks supporting one another, are one. In what form are they unified? This is being stated: This body, this aggregate of body and organs. This has been explained under the three kinds of food, ‘This body is identified with these,’ etc. (I. v. 3). The whole differentiated and undifferentiated universe is this much—consists of name, form and action. And the body, although one, viz. this aggregate of body and organs, yet existing in different forms in its aspects relating to the body, the elements and the gods, is these three, name, form and action. This immortal entity, presently to be mentioned, is covered by truth. This sentence is being explained: The vital force, which is of the nature of an organ, which supports the body from within, and is (a limiting adjunct of) the Self, is the immortal entity. And name and form, represented by the body, which is an effect, are truth. (So) this vital force, which is active and supports name and form, is covered or hidden (by them), which are external, made up of the body, subject to origin and destruction, and mortal. Thus the nature of the relative universe, which is the subject-matter of ignorance, has been pointed out. After this the Self, which is the subject-matter of knowledge, has to be studied. Hence the second chapter is being commenced.

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