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 V - The Interdependence of Created Objects

The section on Maitreyī was commenced in order to indicate that means of immortality which is wholly independent of rites. It is the knowledge of the Self, with the renunciation of everything as part of it. When It is known, the whole universe is known; and It is dearer than everything; therefore It should be realised. And the way to this realisation is set forth in the statement that It should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon. It should be heard of from the spiritual teacher and the scriptures, and reflected on through reasoning. The reasoning has been stated in the passage furnishing arguments in support of the proposition, ‘All this is but the Self’ (Ch. VII. xxv. 2), viz. that the universe has sprung only from the Self, has the Self alone for its genus and dissolves only into the Self. Now the validity of this reason may be questioned. It is to refute this doubt that this section is commenced.

Because there is mutual helpfulness among the parts of the universe including the earth, and because it is common experience that those things which are mutually helpful spring from the same cause, are of the same genus and dissolve into the same thing, therefore this universe consisting of the earth etc., on account of mutual helpfulness among its parts, must be like that. This is the meaning whicfr is expressed in this section. Or, after the proposition, ‘All this is but the Self,’ has been supported by the reason that the universe has its origin, continuance and dissolution in the Self, the meaning is concluded with the present' section, which preponderates in scriptural evidence. As the Naiyāyikas say, ‘The restatement of a proposition after stating the reason is conclusion’ (Gau. N. I. i. 39). Others[1] explain that the scriptural passages preceding the illustration of the drum are for the purpose of hearing, those prior to the present section are for reflection—since they give the arguments, and the present section enjoins meditation. In any case, since reflection through reasoning must be strictly in accordance with the verdict of scriptural evidence, and meditation too must be in accordance with reflection through reasoning, that is to say, with the findings of scriptural evidence and reasoning, a separate enjoining of meditation is unnecessary. Therefore, in our opinion, the allocating of separate sections to the hearing, reflection and meditation is meaningless. At any rate the meaning of this and the foregoing chapter is summed up in this section.

 

Verse 2.5.1:

इयं पृथिवी सर्वेषां भूतानाम् मधु, अस्यै पृथिव्यै सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्यां पृथिव्यां तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यस्चायमध्यात्मं शारीरस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽ'यमात्मा; इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ १ ॥

iyaṃ pṛthivī sarveṣāṃ bhūtānām madhu, asyai pṛthivyai sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasyāṃ pṛthivyāṃ tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yascāyamadhyātmaṃ śārīrastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā; idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 1 ||

1. This earth is (like) honey[2] to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this earth. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this earth, and the shining, immortal, corporeal being in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

This well-known earth is the honey or effect—being like honey—of all beings from Hiraṇyagarbha down to a clump of grass. Just as a beehive is made by a great many bees, so is this earth made by all beings. Likewise all beings are the honey or effect of this earth. Also, the shining, i.e. possessed of the light of intelligence, and immortal being who is in this earth, and the shining, immortal—as above—corporeal being in the body, i.e. the self as identified with the subtle body, are like honey—being helpful—to all beings, and all beings are like honey to them. This we gather from the particle ‘ca’ (and) in the text. Thus these four are the composite effect of all beings, and all beings are the effect of these four. Hence the universe has originated from the same cause. That one cause from which it has sprung is.alone real—it is Brahman. Everything else is an effect, a modification, a mere name, an effort of speech merely. This is the gist of this whole section dealing with the series of things mutually helpful. (The above fourfold division) is but this Self that has been premised in the passage, ‘This all is the Self’ (II. iv. 6). This Self-knowledge is the means of immortality that has been explained to Maitreyī. This (underlying unity) is the Brahman which has been introduced at the beginning of this chapter in the passages, ‘I will speak to you about Brahman’ (II. i. 1) and ‘I will teach you (about Brahman)’ (II. i. 15), and the knowledge of which is called the knowledge of Brahman. This knowledge of Brahman is that by means of which one becomes all.

 

Verse 2.5.2:

इमा आपः सर्वेषां भूतानां मधु, आसामपां सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमास्वप्सु तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं रैतसस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषःअ, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा; इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ २ ॥

imā āpaḥ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānāṃ madhu, āsāmapāṃ sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamāsvapsu tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ raitasastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥa, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā; idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 2 ||

2. This water is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this water. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this water, and the shining, immortal being identified with the seed in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality, this (underlying unity) is Brahman, this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

 

Verse 2.5.3:

अयमग्निः सर्वेषां भूतानाम् मधु, अस्याग्नेः सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु, यश्चायमस्मिन्नग्नौ तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं वाङ्मयस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा; इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ ३ ॥

ayamagniḥ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānām madhu, asyāgneḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu, yaścāyamasminnagnau tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ vāṅmayastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā; idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 3 ||

3. This fire is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this fire. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this fire, and the shining, immortal being identified with the organ of speech in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality, this (underlying unity) is Brahman, this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

Similarly fire. It exists specially in the organ of speech.

 

Verse 2.5.4:

अयं वायुः सर्वेषां भूतानाम् मधु, अस्य वायोः सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्मिन्वायौ तेजोमयओऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यशायमध्यात्मं प्राणस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयंएव स योऽयमात्मा, इदम् अमृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ ४ ॥

ayaṃ vāyuḥ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānām madhu, asya vāyoḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasminvāyau tejomayao'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaśāyamadhyātmaṃ prāṇastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayaṃeva sa yo'yamātmā, idam amṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 4 ||

4. This air is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this air. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this air, and the shining, immortal being who is the vital force m the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

Likewise air. It is the vital force in the body. The elements are called honey, because they help by furnishing materials for the body. While the beings, shining and so forth, residing in them are called honey, because they help by serving as the organs. As has been said, ‘The earth is the body of that organ of speech, and this fire is its luminous organ’ (I. v. 11).

 

Verse 2.5.5:

अयमादित्यः सर्वेषाम् भूतानां मधु, अस्यादित्यस्य सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्मिन्नादित्ये तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं चाक्षुषस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा, इदम् अमृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ ५ ॥

ayamādityaḥ sarveṣām bhūtānāṃ madhu, asyādityasya sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasminnāditye tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ cākṣuṣastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā, idam amṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 5 ||

5. This sun is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this sun. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this sun, and the shining, immortal being identified with the eye in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

So also the sun is like honey. In the body, the being identified with the eye.

 

Verse 2.5.6:

इमा दिसः सर्वेषां भूतानां मधु, आसां दिशां सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमासु दिक्षु तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं श्रोत्रः प्रातिश्रुत्कस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा, इदम् अमृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ ६ ॥

imā disaḥ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānāṃ madhu, āsāṃ diśāṃ sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamāsu dikṣu tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ śrotraḥ prātiśrutkastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā, idam amṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 6 ||

6. These quarters are like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to these quarters. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is these quarters, and the shining, immortal being identified with the ear and with the time oí hearing, in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

Likewise the quarters are like honey. Although the ear is the counterpart of the quarters in the body, yet the being identified with the time of hearing is mentioned, because he is specially manifest at the time of hearing sounds.

 

Verse 2.5.7:

अयं चन्द्रः सर्वेषाम् भूतानां मधु, अस्य चन्द्रस्य सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्मिंस्चन्द्रे तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं मनसस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा, इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ ७ ॥

ayaṃ candraḥ sarveṣām bhūtānāṃ madhu, asya candrasya sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasmiṃscandre tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ manasastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā, idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 7 ||

7. This moon is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this moon. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this moon, and the shining, immortal being identified with the mind in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

Similarly the moon. In body, the being identified with the mind.

 

Verse .2.5.8:

इयं विद्युत्सर्वेषां भूतानाम् मधु, अस्यै विद्युतः सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्यां विद्युति तेजोमयो'मृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं तैजसस्तेजोमयो'मृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स यो'यम् आत्मा, इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ ८ ॥

iyaṃ vidyutsarveṣāṃ bhūtānām madhu, asyai vidyutaḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasyāṃ vidyuti tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ taijasastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yam ātmā, idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 8 ||

8. This lighthing is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this lightning. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this lightning, and the shining, immortal being identified with light in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

So also lightning. In the body, the being identified with the light that is in the organ of touch.

 

Verse 2.5.9:

अयं स्तनयित्नुः सर्वेषां भूतानाम् मधु, अस्य स्तनयित्नोः सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्मिन्स्तनयित्नौ तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं शाब्दः सौवरस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा, इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ ९ ॥

ayaṃ stanayitnuḥ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānām madhu, asya stanayitnoḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasminstanayitnau tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ śābdaḥ sauvarastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā, idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 9 ||

9. This cloud is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this cloud. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this cloud, and" the shining, immortal being identified with sound and voice in the body. (These • four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

Likewise the cloud. Although the being identified with sound is the one represented the body, yet as he is specially manifest in voice, he is here mentioned as such.

 

Verse 2.5.10:

अयमाकाशः सर्वेषां भूतानां मधु, अस्याकाशस्य सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्मिन्नाकाशे तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः, पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मम् ह्र्द्याकाषस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा, इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ १० ॥

ayamākāśaḥ sarveṣāṃ bhūtānāṃ madhu, asyākāśasya sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasminnākāśe tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ, puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmam hrdyākāṣastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā, idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 10 ||

10. This ether is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this ether. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this ether, and the shining, immortal being who is (identified with) the ether in the heart, in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

Similarly the ether. In the body, the ether in the heart.

It has been stated that the elements beginning with earth and ending with the ether as also the gods, identified respectively with the body and the organs, are like honey to each individual because of their helpfulness. What connects them with these individuals so that they are helpful like honey, is now being described:

 

Verse 2.5.11:

अयं धर्मः सर्वेषाम् भूतानाम् मधु, अस्य धर्मस्य सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्मिन्धर्मे, तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं धार्मस्तेज्ōमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा, इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ ११ ॥

ayaṃ dharmaḥ sarveṣām bhūtānām madhu, asya dharmasya sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasmindharme, tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ dhārmastejōmayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā, idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 11 ||

11. This righteousness (Dharma) is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this righteousness. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this righteousness, and the shining, immortal being identified with righteousness in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

This righteousness, etc. Although righteousness is not directly perceived, it is here described by the word 'this' as though it were, because the effects initiated by it (earth etc.) are directly perceived. Righteousness has been explained (I. iv. 14) as consisting of the Śrutis and Smṛtis, as the power which controls even the Kṣatriyas etc., which causes the variety of the universe through the transformation of the elements, and which is practised by people. This last is another reason why it has been mentioned here as something directly perceived—as ‘this righteousness.’ There truth and righteousness, consisting respectively of the scriptures and approved conduct, have been spoken of as one. Here, however, in spite of their identity they are mentioned as separate, because they produce their effects in two distinct forms—visible and invisible. Righteousness that is invisible, called Apūrva,1 produces its effects invisibly in a general and a particular form. In its general form it directs the elements such as earth, and in its particular form it directs the aggregate of body and organs, in matters relating to the body. Of these, the shining being who is in this righteousness that directs the elements such as earth, and, in the body, (the being identified with righteousness) that fashions the aggregate of body and organs (are also like honey to all beings and vice versa).

 

Verse 2.5.12:

इदं सत्यम् सर्वेषाम् भूतानाम् मधु, अस्य सत्यस्य सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्मिन्सत्ये तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं सात्यस्तेज्ōमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा, इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ १२ ॥

idaṃ satyam sarveṣām bhūtānām madhu, asya satyasya sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasminsatye tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ sātyastejōmayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā, idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 12 ||

1 Lit. new. According to the Mīmāmsakas every action, after it is over, remains in a subtle form, which has the peculiar, indestructible power of materialising at a subsequent period as the tangible result of that action.

12. This truth is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this truth. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this truths and the shining, immortal being identified with truth in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

Likewise that righteousness, in its visible form as good conduct that is practised, comes to be known as truth. It also is twofold—general and particular. The general form is inherent in the elements, and the particular form in the body and organs. Of these, (the being who is) in this truth that is inherent in the elements and consists of present action, and, in the body, (the being identified with the truth) that is inherent in the body and organs (are like honey to all beings and vice versa). ‘The wind blows through truth,’ says another Śruti (Mn. XXII. 1).

 

Verse 2.5.13:

इदं मानुषं सर्वेषाम् भूतानां मधु, अस्य मानुषस्य सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्मिन्मानुषे तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमध्यात्मं मानुषस्तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा,  इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ १३ ॥

idaṃ mānuṣaṃ sarveṣām bhūtānām madhu, asya mānuṣasya sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasminmānuṣe tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamadhyātmaṃ mānuṣastejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā,  idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 13 ||

13. This human[3] species is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this human species. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this human species, and the shining, immortal being identified with the human species in the body. (These four) are but this Self. (This Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

This particular aggregate of body and organs is directed by righteousness and truth. The human and other species are the particular types to which it belongs. We observe in life that all beings are helpful to one another only by belonging to the human or other species. Therefore these species, human and the rest, are like honey to all beings. These too may be indicated in two ways—externally as well as internally.[4]

 

Verse 2.5.14:

अयमात्मा सर्वेषां भूतानां मधु, अस्यात्मनः सर्वाणि भूतानि मधु; यश्चायमस्मिन्नात्मनि तेजोमयोऽमृतमयः पुरुषः, यश्चायमात्मा तेजोमयोऽ मृतमयः पुरुषः, अयमेव स योऽयमात्मा, इदममृतम्, इदं ब्रह्म, इदं सर्वम् ॥ १४ ॥

ayamātmā sarveṣāṃ bhūtānāṃ madhu, asyātmanaḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu; yaścāyamasminnātmani tejomayo'mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, yaścāyamātmā tejomayo' mṛtamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, ayameva sa yo'yamātmā, idamamṛtam, idaṃ brahma, idaṃ sarvam || 14 ||

14. This (cosmic) body is like honey to all beings, and all beings are like honey to this (cosmic) body. (The same with) the shining, immortal being who is in this (cosmic) body, and the shining, immortal being who is this (individual) self. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.

The aggregate of bodies and organs which is connected with the human and other species, designated here as this body (i.e. the cosmic body), is like honey to all beings.

Objection: Has this not been indicated by the term ‘corporeal being’ in the passage dealing with, earth (II. v. 1)?

Reply: No, for there only a part, viz. that which is a modification of earth, was meant. But here the cosmic body, the aggregate of bodies and organs devoid of all distinctions such as those pertaining to the body and the elements, and consisting of all elements and gods, is meant by the expression ‘this body.’ The shining, immortal being who is in this (cosmic) body refers to the cosmic mind which is the essence of the subtle (II. iii. 3). Only a part of it was mentioned as being associated with earth etc. But no manifestation with reference to the body is mentioned here, because the cosmic mind has no such limitation. The term this self refers to the only remaining entity, the individual self, whose purpose this aggregate of gross and subtle bodies subserves.

 

Verse 2.5.15:

स वा अयमात्मा सर्वेषाम् भूतानमधिपतिः, सर्वेषां भूतूनां राजा; तद्यथा रथनाभौ च रथनेमौ चाराः सर्वे समर्पिताः, एवमेवास्मिन्नात्मनि सर्वाणि भूतानि, सर्वे देवाः, सर्वे लोकाः, सर्वे प्राणाः, सर्व एत आत्मनः समर्पिताः ॥ १५ ॥

sa vā ayamātmā sarveṣām bhūtānamadhipatiḥ, sarveṣāṃ bhūtūnāṃ rājā; tadyathā rathanābhau ca rathanemau cārāḥ sarve samarpitāḥ, evamevāsminnātmani sarvāṇi bhūtāni, sarve devāḥ, sarve lokāḥ, sarve prāṇāḥ, sarva eta ātmanaḥ samarpitāḥ || 15 ||

15. This Self, already mentioned, is the ruler of all beings, and the king of all beings. Just as all the spokes are fixed in the nave and the felloe of a chariot-wheel, so are all beings, all gods, all worlds, all organs and all these (individual) selves fixed in this Self.

This Self, already mentioned, refers to the Self[5] in which the remaining individual self of the last paragraph was stated to be merged (II. iv. 12). When the latter, which is possessed of the limiting adjunct of the body and organs created by ignorance, has been merged through the knowledge of Brahman in the Jrue Self (or Brahman), it—such a self—becomes devoid of interior or exterior, entire, Pure Intelligence, the Self of all beings, and an object of universal homage —the absolute ruler of all beings, not like a prince or a minister, but the king of all beings. The expression ‘ruler of all’ qualifies the idea of kingship. One may be a king by just living like a king, but he may not be the ruler of all. Hence the text adds the qualifying epithet ‘ruler of all.’ Thus the sage, the knower of Brahman, who is the Self of all beings, becomes free. The question, ‘Men think, “Through the knowledge of Brahman we shall become all.” Well, what did that Brahman know by which It became all?’ (I. iv. 9)—is thus answefed. That is, by hearing of one’s own self as the Self of all from the teacher and the Śrutis, by reflecting on It through reasoning, and by realising It at first hand, as explained in this and the previous section (one becomes all). Even before realisation one has always been Brahman, but through ignorance one considered oneself different from It; one has always been all, but through ignorance one considered oneself otherwise. Therefore, banishing this ignorance through the knowledge of Brahman, the knower of Brahman, having all the while been Brahman, became Brahman, and having throughout been all, became all.

The import of the scripture that was briefly indicated[6] has been completely dealt with. Now illustrations are being given to show that in this knower of Brahman who is the self of all and has realised himself as such, the whole universe is fixed: Just as all the spokes are fixed in the nave and the felloe of a chariot-wheel, so are all beings from Hiraṇyagarbha down to a clump of grass, all gods such as Fire, all worlds such as this earth, all organs such as that of speech, and all these selves, which penetrate every body like a reflection of the moon in water and are conjured up by ignorance—in short, the whole universe, fixed in this Self, i.e. in the knower of Brahman who has realised his identity with the Supreme Self. It has been stated (L iv. io) that Vāmadeva, who was a knower of Brahman, realised that he had been Manu and the sun; this identification with all is thus explained: This man of realisation, this knower of Brahman, identifies himself with all as his limiting adjunct, is the self of all, and becomes all. Again he is without any limiting adjuncts, without name, devoid of interior or exterior, entire, Pure Intelligence, birthless, undecaying, immortal, fearless, immovable, to be described as ‘Not this, not this,’ neither gross nor subtle, and so on.

The logicians and certain self-styled scholars versed in the Śrutis (Mīmāṃsakas), not knowing this import of them, think that they are contradictory, and fall into an abyss of confusion by attempting fanciful interpretations. This import of which we speak is borne out by the following Mantras of the scriptures: ‘One and unmoved, but swifter than the mind’ (Iś. 4), and ‘It moves, and does not move' (Iś. 5). Similarly in the Taittiriya Āraṇyaka, ‘Than which there is nothing higher or lower’ (Śv. III. 9; Mn. X. 4) and ‘He goes on singing this hymn: I am the food, I am the food, I am the food,’ etc. (Tai. III. x. 5). So in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, ‘Laughing (or eating), playing and enjoying’ (VIII. xii. 3), ‘If he desires to attain ibe world of the Manes, (by his mere wish they appear)’ (Ch. VIII. ii. 1), ‘Possessed of all odours and all tastes’ (Ch. III. xiv. 2), and so on. In the Muṇ-ḍaka Upaniṣad too, (That which) knows things in a general and particular way’ (I. i. 9 and II. ii. 7), and ‘It is farther than the farthest, and again It is here, right near’ (Mu. III. i. 7). In the Kaṭha Upaniṣad too, ‘Minuter than an atom and bigger than the biggest’ (II. 20), and ‘Who (but me can know) that Deity who has both joy and the absence of it?’ (Ka. II. 21). Also ‘Staying, It surpasses those that run’ (Īś. 4). Similarly in the Gītā: ‘I am the Vedic sacrifice and that enjoined in the Smṛtis’ (IX. 16), ‘I am the father of this universe’ (IX. 17), ‘(The self) does not take on anybody’s demerits’ (V. 15), ‘(Living) the same in all beings’ (XIII. 27), ‘Undivided among divided (things)’ (XVIII. 20), and ‘The devourer as well as producer’ (XIII. 16). Considering these and similar scriptural texts as apparently contradictory in Lhdr import, they, with a view to arriving at their true meaning on the strength of their own intellect, put forward fanciful interpretations, as for instance, that the self exists or does not exist, that it is or is not the agent, is free or bound, momentary, mere consciousness, or nothing—and never go beyond the domain of ignorance, because everywhere they see only contradictions. Therefore those alone who tread the path shown by the Śrutis and spiritual teachers, transcend ignorance. They alone will succeed in crossing this unfathomable ocean of delusion, and not those others who follow the lead of their own clever intellect.

The knowledge of Brahman leading to immortality has been completely dealt with. It was this that Maitreyī asked of her husband in the words, ‘Tell me, sir, only of that which you know to be leading to immortality’ (II. iv. 3; IV. v. 4). In order to extol this knowledge of Brahman the following story is introduced. The two Mantras are meant to give the purport of the story in brief. Since both Mantra and Brahmaṇa extol it, the capacity of the knowledge of Brahman to confer immortality and the attainment of identity with all becomes obvious as if it were set up on the highway. As the rising sun dispels the gloom of night, so (does the knowledge of Brahman remove ignorance). The knowledge of Brahman is also eulogised in this way, that being in the custody of King lṅdra it is difficult of attainment even by the gods, since this knowledge carefully preserved by Indra was attained after great pains even by the Aśvins, who are doctors to the gods. They had to behead the instructing Brāhmaṇa and fix a horse’s head on him. When this was severed by Indra, they restored the Brāh-maṇa’s head to its place, and heard the entire knowledge of Brahman from his own lips. Therefore there neither has been nor will be—and of course there is not—any better means of realising our life’s ends than this. So this is the highest tribute that can be paid to it.

The knowledge of Brahman is further extolled thus: It is well known in the world that rites are the means to attain all our life’s ends; and their performance depends on wealth, which cannot possibly confer immortality. This can be attained only through Self-knowledge independently of rites. Although it could easily be treated of in the ritualistic portion, under the Pravargya rites, yet, because of its contradiction to rites, this Self-knowledge, coupled only with renunciation of the world, is discussed as the means of immortality, after that portion is passed. This shows that there is no better means of attaining our life’s ends than this. In another way also is the knowledge of Brahman eulogised. Everybody delights in company. The Śruti says, ‘He (Virāj) was not happy (alone). Therefore people (to this day) do not like to be alone’ (I. iv. 3). Yājñavalkya, though just like any other man, gave up through his Self-knowledge his attachment to worldly objects such as wife, children and wealth, became satisfied with knowledge, and took delight only in the Self. The knowledge of Brahman is further eulogised thus: Since Yājñavalkya, on the eve of his departure from the worldly life, instructed his beloved wife about it just to please her. We infer this from the following, ‘You say what is after my heart. Come, take your seat,’ etc. (II. iv. 4).

 

Verse 2.5.16:

इदं वै तन्मधु दध्यङ्ङाथर्वणोऽश्विभ्यामुवाच । तदेतद् ऋषिः पश्यन्नवोचत् ।
तद्वां नरा सनये दंस उग्रमाविस्कृणोमि तन्यतुर्न वृष्टिम् ।
दध्यङ् ह यन्मध्वाथर्वणो वामश्वस्य शीर्ष्णा प्र यदीमुवाच ॥ इति ॥ १६ ॥

idaṃ vai tanmadhu dadhyaṅṅātharvaṇo'śvibhyāmuvāca | tadetad ṛṣiḥ paśyannavocat |
tadvāṃ narā sanaye daṃsa ugramāviskṛṇomi tanyaturna vṛṣṭim |
dadhyaṅ ha yanmadhvātharvaṇo vāmaśvasya śīrṣṇā pra yadīmuvāca || iti || 16 ||

16. This is that meditation on things mutually helpful which Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught the Aśvins. Perceiving this the Ṛṣi (Mantra) said, ‘O Aśvins in human form, that terrible deed called Daṃsa which you did out of greed, I will disclose as a cloud does rain—(how you learnt) the meditation on things mutually helpful which Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught you through a horse’s head.’

We have said that the story given here is for the sake of eulogy. What is that story? It is as follows: This refers to what has just been dealt with, for it is present to the mind. The particle ‘vai’ is a reminder. It reminds us of the story narrated elsewhere (Ś. XIV. 1. i., iv.) in a different context, which is suggested by the word that.

That meditation on things mutually helpful which was only hinted at, but not clearly expressed, in the section dealing with the rite called Pravargya, is described in this section in the words, ‘This earth,’ etc. (II. v. i). How was it hinted at there?—

‘Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught these Aśvins the section dealing with the meditation on things mutually helpful; it was a favourite subject with them; therefore he came to them (wishing to teach them) thus’ (Ś. XIV. 1. iv. 13):

‘He said,

“Indra has told me that he will behead me the moment I teach it to anybody; therefore I am afraid of him. If he does not behead me, then I will accept you as my disciples.”

They said, “We will protect you from him.” “How will you protect me?”

“When you will accept us as'your disciples, we shall cut off your head, remove it elsewhere and preserve it. Then bringing a horse’s head we shall fix it on you; you will teach us through that. As you do so, Indra will cut off that head of yours, then we shall bring your own head and replace it on you.”

“All right,” said the Brāhmaṇa, and accepted the Aśvins as his disciples. When he did so, they cut off his head and kept it by elsewhere; then bringing a horse’s head they fixed it on him; through that he taught them. As he was teaching them, Indra cut off that head. Then the Aśvins brought his own head and replaced it on him’ (Ś. XIV. 1. i. 22-24).

On that occasion, however, only that portion of the meditation on things mutually helpful was taught which forms part of the rite called Pravargya, but not the secret portion known as Self-knowledge. The story that was recited there is here mentioned for the sake of eulogy. This is that meditation on things mutually helpful 'which Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught the Aśvins through this device.

Perceiving this deed the Ṛṣi or Mantra said: O Aśvins in human form, that terrible deed, etc. ‘That’ qualifies the remote Daṃsa, which is the name of the deed. What kind of deed was it? ‘Terrible.’ Why was it done? Out of greed. People do terrible deeds in the world tempted by greed; these Aśvins too appear to have done exactly like that. What you have done in secret, I will disclose. Like what? As a cloud does rain. In the Vedas the particle ‘na’ used after a word denotes comparison, not negation, as in the expression, ‘Aśvam na,’ (like a horse). ‘I will disclose your terrible deed as a cloud indicates rain through rumbling noise etc.’—this is the construction.

Objection: How can these two Mantras be in praise of the Aśvins? They rather condemn them.

Reply: There is nothing wrong in it; these are eulogistic, not condemnatory. Because in spite of doing such a despicable deed they passed off absolutely scatheless; nor did they suffer anything in the unseen realm. Therefore these two Mantras are eulogistic. People sometimes rightly construe blame as praise, and likewise it is common knowledge that praise may be blame in disguise.

The secret meditation on things mutually helpful, known as Self-knowledge, which Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught you through a horse’s head. ‘Ha’ and ‘im’ are expletives.

 

Verse 2.5.17:

इदं वै तन्मधु दध्यङ्ङाथर्वणोऽस्विभ्यामुवाच । तदेतदृषिः पश्यन्नवोचत् ।
आथर्वणायाश्विना दधीचेऽश्व्यं शिरः प्रत्यरयतम् ।
स वां मधु प्रवोचदृतायन् त्वाष्ट्रं यद् दस्रावपि कक्ष्यं वाम् ॥ इति ॥ १७ ॥

idaṃ vai tanmadhu dadhyaṅṅātharvaṇo'svibhyāmuvāca | tadetadṛṣiḥ paśyannavocat |
ātharvaṇāyāśvinā dadhīce'śvyaṃ śiraḥ pratyarayatam |
sa vāṃ madhu pravocadṛtāyan tvāṣṭraṃ yad dasrāvapi kakṣyaṃ vām || iti || 17 ||

17. This is that meditation on things mutually helpful which Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught the Aśvins. Perceiving this the Ṛṣi said, ‘O Aśvins, you set a horse's head on (the shoulders of) Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda. O terrible ones, to keep his word he taught you the (ritualistic) meditation on things mutually helpful connected with the sun, as also the secret (spiritual) meditation on them.'

This is that meditation, etc., is to be explained as in the preceding paragraph; it refers to the other Mantra that relates the same story. Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, etc. There may be others versed in the Atharva-Veda; so the term is qualified by mention of the name, Dadhyac. ‘O Aśvins,’ etc.—this is spoken by the Ṛṣi[7] who visualised the Mantra. ‘When the Brāhmaṇa’s head was severed, you cut off a horse’s head —O the cruelty of it!—and set it on the Brāhmaṇa’s shoulders. And he taught you the meditation on things mutually helpful that he had promised to teach you.’ Why did he run the risk of his life to do this? To keep his word —desiring to fulfil his promise. This is a hint that keeping one’s solemn promise is more important than even life. What was the meditation on things mutually helpful that he taught? That which was connected with the sun: The head of Yajña,[8] being severed, became the sun. To restore the head the rite called Pravargya was started. The meditation concerning the severing of the head of Yajña, its restoration, and so on, which forms a part of the rite, is the meditation on things mutually helpful connected with the sun. Terrible ones —who destroy their rival forces, or kill their enemies. ‘He taught you not only the ritualistic meditation on things mutually helpful connected with the sun, but also the secret meditation on them relating to the Supreme Self’ which is dealt with in the present section, in fact, throughout this and the preceding chapter. The verb ‘taught’ is to be repeated here from above.

 

Verse 2.5.18:

इदं वै तन्मधु दध्यङ्ङाथर्वणोऽश्विभ्यामुवाच । तदेतदृषिः पश्यन्नवोचत् ।
पुरश्चक्रे द्विपदः, पुरश्चक्रे चतुष्पदः ।
पुरः स पक्षी भूत्वा पुरः पुरुष आविशत् ॥ इति ।
स वा अयं पुरुषः सर्वासु पूर्सु पुरिशयः; नैनेन किंचनानावृतम्, नैनेन किंचनासंवृतम् ॥ १८ ॥

idaṃ vai tanmadhu dadhyaṅṅātharvaṇo'śvibhyāmuvāca | tadetadṛṣiḥ paśyannavocat |
puraścakre dvipadaḥ, puraścakre catuṣpadaḥ |
puraḥ sa pakṣī bhūtvā puraḥ puruṣa āviśat || iti |
sa vā ayaṃ puruṣaḥ sarvāsu pūrsu puriśayaḥ; nainena kiṃcanānāvṛtam, nainena kiṃcanāsaṃvṛtam || 18 ||

18. This is that meditation on things mutually helpful which Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught the Aśvins. Perceiving this the Rṣi said, ' He made bodies with two feet and bodies with four feet. That Supreme Being first entered the bodies as a bird (the subtle body). ' He on account of his dwelling in all bodies is called the Puruṣa. There is nothing that is not covered by him, nothing that is not pervaded by Him.

This is that meditation, etc., is to be explained as before. The two foregoing Mantras sum up the story which is connected with the rite called Pravargya. They express in the form of a story the purport of the two chapters that have a bearing on that rite. Now the text proceeds to describe through the two following Mantras the purport of the two chapters that deal with the meditation on Brahman. It has been said that the Brāhmaṇa versed in the Atharva-Veda also taught the Aśvins a secret meditation on things mutually helpful. What that meditation was is now being explained. He made bodies, etc.—the Supreme Lord who made this universe come out of the unmanifested state, in the course of His manifesting the undifferentiated name and form, after first projecting the worlds such as this earth, made bodies with two jeet, viz. human and bird bodies, and bodies with jour jeet, viz. animal bodies. That Supreme Being, the Lord, first entered the bodies as a bird, i.e. as the subtle body. The text itself explains it: He on account of His dwelling in all bodies is

called the Puruṣa. There is nothing that is not covered by Him; likewise there is nothing that is not pervaded by Him. That is, everything is enveloped by Him as its inside and outside. Thus it is He who as name and form—as the body and organs—is inside and outside everything. In other words, the Mantra, ‘He made bodies,’ etc. briefly enunciates the unity of the Self.

 

Verse 2.5.19:

इदं वै तन्मधु दध्यङ्ङाथर्वनोऽश्विभ्यामुवाच । तदेतदृषिः पश्यन्नवोचत् ।
रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपो बभूव, तदस्य रूपं प्रतिचक्षणाय ।
इन्द्रो मायाभिः पुरुरूप ईयते, युक्ता ह्यस्य हरयः शता दश ॥ इति ।
अयं वै हरयः, अयं वै दश च सहस्राणि, बहूनि चानन्तानि च; तदेतद्ब्रह्मापूर्वमनपरमनन्तरमबाह्यम्, अयमात्मा ब्रह्म सर्वानुभूः, इत्यनुशासनम् ॥ १६ ॥
इति पञ्चमं ब्राह्मणम् ॥

idaṃ vai tanmadhu dadhyaṅṅātharvano'śvibhyāmuvāca | tadetadṛṣiḥ paśyannavocat |
rūpaṃ rūpaṃ pratirūpo babhūva, tadasya rūpaṃ praticakṣaṇāya |
indro māyābhiḥ pururūpa īyate, yuktā hyasya harayaḥ śatā daśa || iti |
ayaṃ vai harayaḥ, ayaṃ vai daśa ca sahasrāṇi, bahūni cānantāni ca; tadetadbrahmāpūrvamanaparamanantaramabāhyam, ayamātmā brahma sarvānubhūḥ, ityanuśāsanam || 16 ||
iti pañcamaṃ brāhmaṇam ||

19. This is that meditation on things mutually helpful which Dadhyac, versed in the Atharva-Veda, taught the Aśvins. Perceiving this the Rṣi said, ‘(He) transformed Himself in accordance with each form; that form of Hi$ was for the sake of making Him known. The Lord on account of Māyā (notions superimposed by ignorance) is perceived as manifold, for to Him are yoked ten organs, nay hundreds of them. He is the organs; He is ten, and thousands— many, and infinite. That Brahman is without prior or posterior, without interior or exterior. This self, the perceiver of everything, is Brahman. This is the teaching.

This is that meditation. etc., is to be explained as before.. (He) transformed Himself in accordance with each form, or (to put it differently) assumed the likeness of each form. A son has the same form as, or resembles, his parents. A quadruped is not born of bipeds, nor vice versa. The same Lord, in the process of manifesting name and form, ‘transformed Himself in accordance with each form.’ Why did He come in so many forms? That form of His was for the rake of making Him known. Were name and form not manifested, the transcendent nature of this Self as Pure Intelligence would not be known. When, however, name and form are-manifested as the body and organs, it is possible to know Its nature. The Lord on account of Māyā or diverse knowledge, or (to give an alternative meaning) the false identifications created by name, form and the elements, not in truth— is perceived as manifold, because of these notions superimposed by ignorance, although He is ever the same Pure Intelligence. Why? For to Him 'are yoked, like horses to a chariot, ten organs —called ‘Hari’ because they draw —nay hundreds of them. for the purpose of revealing their objects; ‘hundreds/ because there are a great many beings. Since there are a large number of sense-objects (the Supreme Self appears as manifold). It is to reveal them, and not the Self, that the organs are yoked. As the Kaṭha Upaniṣad says, ‘The self-born Lord injured the organs by making them outgoing in their tendencies’ (IV. i). Therefore the Self is known not in Its true nature as homogeneous Pure Intelligence, but merely as the sense-objects.

Question: Then this Lord is one entity, and the organs another?

Reply: No; He is the organs; he is ten, and thousandsmany, and infinite—because there are an infinite number of beings. In short, that Brahman which is the self is without prior, i.e. cause, or posterior, i.e. effect, without interior or exterior, i.e. it has no other specifes within It or without It. What is this homogeneous Brahman? This self. What is it? The inner self that sees, hears, thinks, understands, knows; the perceiver of everything, because as the self of all it perceives everything. This is the teaching of all Vedānta texts—the gist of them. It leads to immortality and fearlessness. The import of the scriptures has been fully dealt with.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

The reference is to Bhartrprapañca.

[2]:

That is, effect, or helpful.

[3]:

This includes the oher species.

[4]:

From the standpoint of the person describing them.

[5]:

That is, the individual self as merged in the Supreme Self.

[6]:

In I. iv. 10 and II. i. 1.

[7]:

Here Śaṅkara explains the word in its literal and more plausible meaning. In paragraph 16 it was explained as the Mantra itself. The name of the sage is Kakṣīvat. For the verses given in paragraphs 16, 17 and 19 see R—I. cxvi. 12, I. cxvii. 22 and VI. xlvii. 18 respectively.

[8]:

Lit. sacrifice. Here it means Viṣṇu, who is identified wiṃ it, For the story how Viṣṇu, proud of his well-earned excellence over the other gods, stood resting his chin on the extremity of a bow, and how the others out of jealousy got some white-ants to gnaw off the bow-string, which resulted in the severing of Viṣṇu’s head, see Ś. XIV. 1. i. 6-ib. Compare also Tai. Ā. V. i. 3-6.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: