The 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 II - Yajnavalkya and Artabhaga

The relation of the story to the subject has already been dealt with. The emancipation from death in the form of time as well as rites has been explained. Now what is this death, the emancipation from which has been explained? It consists of the Grahas (organs) and Atigrahas (objects), which are centred in the attachment due to our natural ignorance, and are limited by the objects relating to the body and the elements. The forms such as fire and the sun of one who has been freed from that death consisting in limitation have been explained in the section on the Udgītha, and some details about them have been set forth in reply to Aśvala’s questions; all that is the result of rites coupled with meditation. Liberation from this relative existence consisting of ends and means has to be effected; hence the nature of death is being described, for it is the man in bondage who has to be liberated. It is true that the nature of an emancipated man has also been described, but such a man is not yet free from death in the form of the organs and objects. So it has been said with reference to the being who is in the sun, ‘For hunger is death’ (I. ii. i) and ‘This indeed is death’ (Ś. X. v. ii. 2); also, ‘Death, though one, has many forms’ (Ś. X. v. ii. 16). In other words, he alone who has attained identity with the sun is spoken of as escaping from the clutches of death; and the organs and objects, which are but forms of death, are not absent in the sun. It has already been said, ‘Heaven is the body of this mind, and that sun is its luminous organ’ (I. v. 12), and it will be said further on, ‘The mind is also the Graha (organ); it is controlled by the Atigraha (object), desire’ (III. ii. 7), ‘The Prāna (nose) is the Graha; it is controlled by the Atigraha, the Apāna (odour)’ (III. ii. 2), and ‘The organ of speech indeed is the Graha; it is controlled by the Atigraha, name’ (III. ii. 3). We have thus explained it in the passage bearing on the three kinds of food; and we have fully argued the point that what causes the starting of bondage cannot lead to its cessation.

Some, however, consider every rite to be leading to the cessation of bondage. Therefore, they say, he who resorts to the succeeding forms of death (bodies) is freed from the preceding forms of it: he resorts to the former not to cling to them, but to turn away from them; so everything is a form of death until duality is at an end, and when this takes place, he really transcends death. Hence, they say, the intermediate liberation is but a relative and secondary one.

All this, we say, is unwarranted by the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad.

Objection: Does not liberation consist in identity with all, as is borne out by the Śruti text, ‘Therefore It became all’ (I. iv. 10)?

Reply: Yes, it does, but such Śruti texts as, ‘One who desires villages must sacrifice’ (Tā. XVII. x. 4), and ‘One who desires animalś must sacrifice’ (Tā. XVI. xii. 8), do not convey liberation. If they did, they would not signify villages, cattle, heaven, etc., and hence the latter would not be understood as such. But they are considered to be the varied results of our past actions. Moreover, if the Vedic rites conveyed liberation, there would be no relative existence[1] at all.

Objection: We maintain that although identity is the purport of those passages, yet relative existence is the very nature of rites, which follow automatically (from a knowledge of the Vedic injunctions), as when a lamp is lighted to show a particular form, everything in that place is brought to light.

Reply: Not so, for it is unwarranted by any means of knowledge. In other words, if the Vedic rites together with meditation convey only identity, there is nothing to prove that bondage follows automatically (from a knowledge of the Vedic injunctions). There is neither perception, nor for that very reason inference[2], nor scriptural evidence.

Objection: But both identity and relative exist ence may be conveyed by the same sentence, as light or the digging of a canal, for instance, serves multiple purposes.

Reply: It cannot be, for it would be against the laws of sentences. Nor can you say that the import of a sentence (here, rites) serves both to initiate bondage and to stop it. The examples of light, the digging of a canal, and so forth are in order, because their uses are matters of perception.[3]

You may say that there are Mantras[4] in support of your view; but it is just this view of yours that is untenable. We have to find out whether these Mantras mean this or something else. Therefore we conclude that death in the form of the organs and objects is bondage, and this section is introduced to show a way out of that bondage. We do not know the trick of taking up an intermediate position,[5] as between waking and sleeping states; it would be as absurd as the same woman being one-half old and one-half young. The reason why after the words ‘go beyond death’ (III. i. 3, adapted), the organs and objects are mentioned, is that these latter also really mean death. In other words, the whole range of ends and means constitutes bondage, because it is not free from the organs and objects. Only when the fetters are known, can the fettered man try to get rid of them. Hence the present section is introduced to describe the nature of bondage.


Verse 3.2.1:

अथ हैनं जारत्कारव आर्तभागः पप्रच्छ; याज्ञवल्क्येति होवाच, कति ग्रहाः, कत्यतिग्रहा इति । अष्टौ ग्रहाः, अष्टावतिग्रहा इति; ये तेऽष्टौ ग्रहाः, अष्टावतिग्रहाः, कतमे त इति ॥ १ ॥

atha hainaṃ jāratkārava ārtabhāgaḥ papraccha; yājñavalkyeti hovāca, kati grahāḥ, katyatigrahā iti | aṣṭau grahāḥ, aṣṭāvatigrahā iti; ye te'ṣṭau grahāḥ, aṣṭāvatigrahāḥ, katame ta iti || 1 ||

1. Then Ārtabhāga, of the line of Jaratkāru asked him. ‘Yājñavalkya,’ said he, ‘how many are the Grahas,[6] and how many are the Atigrahas[7]?’ ‘There are eight Grahas and eight Atigrahas.’ ‘Which are those eight Grahas and eight Atigrahas?’

Then, i.e. when Aśvala stopped, Ārtabhāga, the son of. Ṛtabhāga, of the line of Jaratkāru. asked Yājñavalkya, already introduced. ‘Yājñavalkya,’ said he —this is to draw his attention. The particle ‘ha’ suggests the narration of a past incident. As before, comes the question, ‘How many are the Grahas, and how many are the Atigrahas?’ The particle ‘iti’ marks the close of the speech.

Objection: The subject-matter of the question, viz. the Grahas and Atigrahas, may be either known or not known. If they are known, then their number, which is an attribute, is also known. In that case, the question regarding it, ‘How many are the Grahas, and how many are the Atigrahas?’ is out of place. If, on the other hand, the Grahas and Atigrahas are not known, then the question should be regarding their nature: ‘What are the Grahas, and what are the Atigrahas?’ and not,’How many are the Grahas, and how many are the Atigrahas?’ Again, questions may be asked regarding the particulars of things about which we have a general knowledge, as for instance: ‘Which of these belong to the Kaṭha recension and which to the Kalāpa?’ But no such things as Grahas and Atigrahas are known in life. It they yere, the question might be regarding the particulars about them.

Reply: It has been asked (III. i. 3) how the sacrificer ‘goes beyond’ death. It is only one who is controlled by a Graha (that which seizes) that can be liberated. It has been mentioned twice—'This is liberation; this is emancipation’ (Ibid.). Therefore the Grahas and Atigrahas are known things.

Objection: Even in that case four Grahas and Atigrahas have been mentioned, viz. the vocal organ, eye, vital force and mind. So the question ‘how many’ is not to the point, for the number is already known.

Reply: Not so, because there the number was indefinite. The passage in question did not seek to fix it at four. Here, however, in the meditation on the Grahas and Atigrahas, the attribute of number is sought to be fixed at eight; so the question is quite in order. Therefore liberation and emancipation have been mentioned twice in the passage. ‘This is liberation; this is emancipation.’ The Grahas and Atigrahas too are settled facts. Hence Ārtabhāga asked, ‘How many are the Grahas, and how many are the Ati-grahas?’ Yājñavalkya replied, ‘There are eight Grahas and eight Atigrahas.’ ‘Which, in particular, are those eight Grahas and eight Atigrahas that you have spoken of?’


Verse 3.2.2:

प्राणो वै ग्रहः, सोऽपानेनातिग्राहेण गृहीतः, अपानेन हि गन्धाञ्जिघ्रति ॥ २ ॥

prāṇo vai grahaḥ, so'pānenātigrāheṇa gṛhītaḥ, apānena hi gandhāñjighrati || 2 ||

2. The Prāṇa (nose) indeed is the Graha; it is controlled by the Atigraha, the Apāna, (odour), for one smells odours through the Apāna (the air breathed in).

Yājñavalkya replied: The Prāṇa indeed is the Graha. ‘Prāṇa’ here means the nose, from the context. It, the nose, is connected with air. ‘Apāna’ here means odour; it is so called because it always accompanies odour, for everybody smells with the nose odours presented by the air that is breathed in (Apāna). This is expressed by the sentence: For one smells odours through the Apāna.


Verse 3.2.3:

वाग्वै ग्रहः, स नाम्नातिग्राहेण गृहीतः, वाचा हि नामान्यभिवदति ॥ ३ ॥

vāgvai grahaḥ, sa nāmnātigrāheṇa gṛhītaḥ, vācā hi nāmānyabhivadati || 3 ||

3. The organ of speech indeed is the Graha; it is controlled by the Atigraha, name, for one utters names through the organ of speech.

The organ of speech indeed is the Graha. The organ of speech, as confined to one particular body, deals with things to which people are attached, and makes utterances which are untrue, pernicious, rude, offensive, and so on. It thus controls or captures people; hence it is a Graha. It, this Graha called the organ of speech, is controlled by the Atigraha, name, that is, by whatever is uttered.—The long vowel in ‘Atigrāha’ is a Vedic licence.—For the organ of speech is meant to express things; it is used by them for just that purpose; hence it is controlled by them, and there is no deliverance for it until it has done this function. Therefore the organ of speech is said to be controlled by the Atigraha, name, for it is a fact that people, impelled by their attachment to things capable of expression, get into all sorts of troubles.


Verse 3.2.4:

जिह्वा वै ग्रहः, स रसेनातिग्राहेण गृहीतः, जिह्वया हि रसान्विजानाति ॥ ४ ॥

jihvā vai grahaḥ, sa rasenātigrāheṇa gṛhītaḥ, jihvayā hi rasānvijānāti || 4 ||

4. The tongue indeed is the Graha; it is controlled by the Atigraha, taste, for one knows tastes through the tongue.


Verse 3.2.5:

चक्शुर्वै ग्रहः, स रूपेणातिग्राहेण गृहीतः, चक्शुषा हि रूपाणि पश्यति ॥ ५ ॥

cakśurvai grahaḥ, sa rūpeṇātigrāheṇa gṛhītaḥ, cakśuṣā hi rūpāṇi paśyati || 5 ||

5. The eye indeed is the Graha; it is controlled by the Atigraha, colour, for one sees colours through the eye.


Verse 3.2.6:

श्रोत्रं वै ग्रहः, स शब्देनातिग्राहेण गृहीतः, श्रोत्रेण हि शब्दाञ्शृणोति ॥ ६ ॥

śrotraṃ vai grahaḥ, sa śabdenātigrāheṇa gṛhītaḥ, śrotreṇa hi śabdāñśṛṇoti || 6 ||

6. The ear indeed is the Graha; it is controlled by the Atigraha, sound, for one hears sounds through the ear.


Verse 3.2.7:

मनो वै ग्रहः, स कामेनातिग्राहेण गृहीतः, मनसा हि कामान्कामयते ॥ ७ ॥

mano vai grahaḥ, sa kāmenātigrāheṇa gṛhītaḥ, manasā hi kāmānkāmayate || 7 ||

7. The mind indeed is the Graha; it is controlled by the Atigraha, desire, for one wishes desires through the mind.


Verse 3.2.8:

हस्तौ वै ग्रहः, स कर्मणातिग्राहेण गृहीतः, हस्ताभ्यां हि कर्म करोति ॥ ९ ॥

hastau vai grahaḥ, sa karmaṇātigrāheṇa gṛhītaḥ, hastābhyāṃ hi karma karoti || 8 |

8. The hands indeed are the Graha; they are controlled by the Atigraha, work, for one does work through the hands.


Verse 3.2.9:

त्वग्वै ग्रहः, स स्पर्शेनातिग्राहेण गृहीतः, त्वचा हि स्पर्शान्वेदयत—इत्येतेऽष्टौ ग्रहाः, अष्टावतिग्रहाः ॥ ९ ॥

tvagvai grahaḥ, sa sparśenātigrāheṇa gṛhītaḥ, tvacā hi sparśānvedayata—ityete'ṣṭau grahāḥ, aṣṭāvatigrahāḥ || 9 ||

9. The skin indeed is the Graha; it is controlled by the Atigraha, touch, for one feels touch through the skin. These are the eight Grahas and eight Atigrahas..

The rest is to be explained as before. These, the organs up to the skin, are the eight Grahas and the objects up to touch are the eight Atigrahas.


Verse 3.2.10:

याज्ञवल्क्येति होवाच, यदिदं सर्वं मृत्योरन्नम्, का स्वित्सा देवता यस्या मृत्युरन्नमिति; अग्निर्वै मृत्युः, सोऽपामन्नम्, अप पुनर्मृत्युं जयति ॥ १० ॥

yājñavalkyeti hovāca, yadidaṃ sarvaṃ mṛtyorannam, kā svitsā devatā yasyā mṛtyurannamiti; agnirvai mṛtyuḥ, so'pāmannam, apa punarmṛtyuṃ jayati || 10 ||

10. ‘Yājñavalkya,’ said he, ‘since all this is the food of death, who is that god whose food is death?’ ‘Fire is death; it is the food of water. (One who knows thus) conquers further death.’

When the topic of the Grahas and Atigrahas (organs and objects) was concluded, Ārtabhāga spoke again. ‘Yājñavalkyasaid he,, ‘since all this manifested universe is the food of death—everything is born and imperilled, being swallowed by death in the form of the Grahas and Atigrahas—who is that god whose food is death even?’—for another Śruti says, ‘Whose sauce is death’ (Ka. II. 25). The intention of the questioner is this: If Yājñavalkya mentions the death of death, it will lead to a regressus in infinitum. If, on the other hand, he does not mention it, liberation from this death in the form of the Grahas and Ati-grahas will be impossible. For liberation can take place only when this form of death is destroyed, and this last would be possible if there be the death of death even. Hence, considering the question unanswerable, he asks, ‘Who is that god?’

(Yājñavalkya said): There is the death of death.

Objection: This will lead to a regressus in infinitum, since that death too may have its death.

Reply: No, because you cannot conceive another destroyer for that which is the death of all.

Objection: How do you know that there is the death of death?

Reply: We see it. Fire, for instance, is the death of all, being a destroyer. But it is swallowed by water; hence it is the food of water. So believe that there is the death of death, and it swallows all the Grahas and Atigrahas. When these fetters are destroyed—swallowed by that death—liberation from relative existence becomes possible, for it has already been said that the Grahas and Atigrahas are the fetters. So it is clear that we can get rid of these; hence our efforts to get rid of bondage are fruitful. Therefore (one who knows thus) conquers further death.


Verse 3.2.11:

याज्ञवल्क्येति होवाच, यत्रायं पुरुषो म्रियत उदस्मात्प्राणाः क्रामन्त्यहो3 नेति; नेति होवाच याज्ञवल्क्योः, अत्रैव समवनीयन्ते, स उच्छ्वयति, आध्मायति, आध्मातो मृतः शेते ॥ ११ ॥

yājñavalkyeti hovāca, yatrāyaṃ puruṣo mriyata udasmātprāṇāḥ krāmantyaho3 neti; neti hovāca yājñavalkyoḥ, atraiva samavanīyante, sa ucchvayati, ādhmāyati, ādhmāto mṛtaḥ śete || 11 ||

11. ‘Yājñavalkya,’ said he, ‘when this (liberated) man dies, do his organs go up from him, or do they not?’ ‘No,’ replied Yājñavalkya, ‘(they) merge in him only. The body swells, is inflated, and in that state lies dead.’

‘When, after death[8] has been swallowed by another death, viz. the realisation of the Supreme Self, this liberated man of realisation dies, do his organs such as those of speech, called the Grahas, and the Atigrahas such as name, which in the form of impressions are in him and impel him to action, go up from him, the dying knower of Brahman, or do they not?’ ‘No,’ replied Yājñavalkya, ‘they do not. The organs and objects, becoming one with the Supreme Self, attain identity with, or merge in him only, their cause, the man of realisation who is the Reality of the Supreme Brahman—like waves in the ocean.’ The following passage from another Śruti shows the dissolution of the organs, designated by the word ‘digit,’ in the Supreme Self, ‘So do these sixteen digits of the seer, which have the Self as their merging place, dissolve on reaching It’ (Pr. VI. 5). Here their identification with the Supreme Self is shown. Does not the man die then? ‘No, it is the body that dies, for it swells, is inflated by the external air like a pair of bellows, and in that state lies dead, motionless.’ The gist of the passage is that the liberated man, after his bondage has been destroyed, does not go anywhere.


Verse 3.2.12:

याज्ञवल्क्येति होवाच, यत्रायं पुरुषो म्रियते किमेनं न जहातीति; नामेति, अनन्तं वै नाम, अनन्ता विश्वे देवाः, अनन्तमेव स तेन लोकं जयति ॥ १२ ॥

yājñavalkyeti hovāca, yatrāyaṃ puruṣo mriyate kimenaṃ na jahātīti; nāmeti, anantaṃ vai nāma, anantā viśve devāḥ, anantameva sa tena lokaṃ jayati || 12 ||

12. ‘Yājñavalkya,’ said he, ‘when this man dies, what is it that does not leave him?’ ‘Name. The name indeed is infinite, and infinite are the Viśvadevas. He (who knows thus) wins thereby verily an infinite world.’

Is it only the organs of a liberated man that are merged, or is it also all[9] that moves them to action? If it is only the former, but not the latter, then with the presence of these stimulating causes the organs would again be likely to function. If, on the other hand, everything such as desire and action is merged, then only liberation is possible. It is to bring this out that the next question is put: ‘Yājñavalkya,’ said he, ‘when this man dies, what is it that does not leave him?’ The other said: Name. That is, everything is merged; only the name[10] is left because of its relation to the type, for the name is eternal. The name indeed is infinite —the infinity of the name is its eternity— and infinite are the Viśvadevas, because they possess the infinity of the name. He (who knows thus) wins thereby verīly an infinite world. Having identified himself with the Viśvadevas who possess the infinity of the name, he wins through this realisation only an infinite world.


Verse 3.2.13:

याज्ञवल्क्येति होवाच, यत्रास्य पुरुषस्य मृतस्याग्निं वागप्येति, वातं प्राणः, चक्शुरादित्यम्, मनश्चन्द्रम्, दिशः श्रोत्रम्, पृथिवीं शरीरम्, आकाशमात्म, ओषधीर्लोमानि, वनस्पतीन्केशाः, अप्सु लोहितं च रेतश्च निधीयते, क्वायं तदा पुरुषो भवतीति; अहर सोम्य हस्तमार्तभा, आवामेवैतस्य वेदिष्यावः, न नावेतत् सजन इति । तौ होत्क्रम्य मन्त्रयांचक्राते; तौ ह यदूचतुः कर्म हैव तदूचतुः, अथ यत्प्रशशंसतुः कर्म हैव तत् प्रशशंसतुः; पुण्यो वै पुण्येन कर्मणा भवति, पापः पापेनेति । ततो ह जारत्कारव आर्तभाग उपरराम ॥ १३ ॥
इति द्वितीयं ब्राह्मणम् ॥

yājñavalkyeti hovāca, yatrāsya puruṣasya mṛtasyāgniṃ vāgapyeti, vātaṃ prāṇaḥ, cakśurādityam, manaścandram, diśaḥ śrotram, pṛthivīṃ śarīram, ākāśamātma, oṣadhīrlomāni, vanaspatīnkeśāḥ, apsu lohitaṃ ca retaśca nidhīyate, kvāyaṃ tadā puruṣo bhavatīti; ahara somya hastamārtabhā, āvāmevaitasya vediṣyāvaḥ, na nāvetat sajana iti | tau hotkramya mantrayāṃcakrāte; tau ha yadūcatuḥ karma haiva tadūcatuḥ, atha yatpraśaśaṃsatuḥ karma haiva tat praśaśaṃsatuḥ; puṇyo vai puṇyena karmaṇā bhavati, pāpaḥ pāpeneti | tato ha jāratkārava ārtabhāga upararāma || 13 ||
iti dvitīyaṃ brāhmaṇam ||

13. ‘Yājñavalkya,’ said he, ‘when the vocal organ[11] of a man who dies is merged in fire, the nose in air, the eye in the sun, the mind in the moon, the ear in the quarters, the body in the earth, the ether of the heart in the external ether, the hair on the body in the herbs, that on the head in the trees, and the blood and the seed are deposited in water, where is then the man?’ ‘Give me your hand, dear Ārtabhāga, we will decide this between ourselves, we cannot do it in a crowd.’ They went out and talked it over. What they mentioned there was only work, and what they praised there was also only work. (Therefore) one indeed becomes good through good work and evil through evil work. Thereupon Ārtabhāga, of the line of Jaratkāru, kept silent.

The death that consists in bondage in the form of the Grahas and Atigrahas (organs and objects) has been described, and because that death has its death, liberation is possible. This liberation is the dissolution, here itself, of the Grahas and Atigrahas, like the extinction of a light. It is to ascertain the nature of the stimulating cause of that death which consists in the bondage called the Grahas and Atigrahas that this paragraph is introduced. ‘Yājñavalkya,’ said he.

Here some[12] say: Even though the Grahas and Atigrahas together with their stimulating cause are rooted out, a man is not liberated. Separated from the Supreme Self by ignorance, which springs from ḥimself and is comparable to a desert (on earth), and at thíe same time turning away from the world of enjoyment, he, with his name only left and his desires and past work rooted out, remains in an intermediate stage. His perception of duality should be removed by the realisation of the unity of the Supreme Self. So now meditation on the Supreme Self has to be introduced. Thus this school conceives an intermediate stage called Apavarga or release, and establishes a link with the next section.

Now we ask these people how it is that the disembodied man, after his organs have been destroyed, attains the realisation of the Supreme Self through hearing, reflection and meditation. They themselves maintain that a man whose organs have been dissolved has only his name left; the Śruti too says, ‘(The body) lies dead’ (III. ii. II). So they cannot even in imagination establish their position. If, on the other hand, they think that a man, during his very lifetime, has only ignorance left in him and turns away from the world of enjoyment, they should explain what this is due to. If they would attribute it to his identification with the whole universe, individual and collective, it has already been refuted (e.g. on p. 235). (Only two courses are open:) Either the sage, endowed with meditation on his identity with the universe, individual and collective, combined with rites, may, after death, with his organs (dissolved, attain identity with the universe or with Hiraṇyagarbha. Or in his very lifetime he may, with his organs intact, turn away— become averse—from the world of enjoyment and be inclined towards the realisation of the Supreme Self. But both cannot be attained through means requiring one and the same effort: If the effort be the means of attaining the state of Hiraṇyagarbha, it cannot be the means of turning away from the world of enjoyment; and if it be the means of turning away from the world of enjoyment, and inclination towards the Supreme Self, it cannot be the means of attaining the state of Hiraṇyagarbha, for what helps to cause motion cannot at the same time help to stop it. If, on the other hand, he after death attains the state of Hiraṇyagarbha, and then, with his organs dissolved and only the name left, is qualified (as Hiraṇyagarbha) foṛ the knowledge of the Supreme Self, then instruction about the knowledge of the Supreme Self for us ordinary people would be, meaningless; whereas such Śruti passages as, ‘Whoever among the gods knew It (also became That),’ etc. (I. iv. 10), teach that the knowledge of Brahman is for bringing the highest end of life within the reach of all. Therefore the above conceit is very poor and altogether contrary to the teachings of the scriptures. Now let us return to our subject.

In order to ascertain what starts the bondage known as the Grahas and Atigrahas (organs and objects) the text says: When the vocal organ of a man who dies without attaining the highest knowledge and possessed of the idea that he has a head, hands, etc., is merged in fire, the nose is merged in air, the eye in the sun —the verb ‘is merged' is understood in each case— the mind in the tṇpon, the ear in the quarters, the body in the earth. The word ‘Ātman’ here means the ether of the heart, which is the seat of the self: it is merged in the external ether. The hair on the body is merged in the herbs, that on the head is merged in the trees, and the blood and the seed are deposited in water: The word ‘deposited’ indicates that they are again withdrawn.[13] In every case the words ‘vocal organ’ etc. refer to their presiding deities; the organs themselves do not depart before liberation. When the presiding deities cease to work, the organs become like tools, such as a bill-hook, laid down; and the agent, man, being disembodied, is helpless. So the question is being asked regarding his support, ‘Where is then the man?’—i.e. on what does he then rest? The question is: ‘What is that support resting on which he again takes the body and organs, and •which starts the bondage known as the Grahas and Atigrahas?’

The answer is being given: ‘Exponents of different schools have put forward different tilings, viz. nature,[14] chance, time, work, destiny, mere consciousness and void, as the support in question. Therefore, being open to various disputes, the truth cannot be ascertained by the usual method of defeating the opponent. If you want to know the truth in this matter, give me your hand, dear Ārtabhāga, we will decide this question that you have asked between ourselves. Why? Because we cannot decide it in a crowd, and we must retire to a solitary place to discuss it.’ They went out, etc., is the narration of the Śruti. What Yājñavalkya and Ārtabhāga did after retiring to the solitary place is being stated: They went out of the crowded place and talked it over. First they took up one after another the different conventional views on the subject and discussed them. Listen what they mentioned at the end of the discussion, after refuting all the tentative views. There they mentioned only work as the support which caused the repeated taking of the body and organs. Not only this; having accepted time, work, destiny and God as causes, what they praised there was also only work. Since it is decided that the repeated taking of the body and organs, known also as the Grahas and Atigrahas, is due to work, therefore one indeed becomes good through good work enjoined by the scriptures, and becomes its opposite, evil, through the opposite or evil work. When Yājñavalkya thus answered his questions, Ārtabhāga, of the line of Jarutkāru, thereupon, finding it impossible to dislodge him, kept silent.

Footnotes and references:


This is the result of one's merit and demerit, which again depend on the observance or non-observance of scriptural injunctions. Now, if these convey liberation, relative existence, having no cause, is nullified.


Because inference is based on perception.


Which do not admit of any discussion.


For example: 'He who knows meditation and rites together transcends death’ (Iś. 10).


That the ritualistic portion of the Vedas leads neither to bondage nor directly to liberation.


One of the root-meanings of the word ‘Graha’ is: that which perceives; hence an organ.


Atigraha—lit. that which is greater than a Graha; here it means a sense-object, which determines the nature of the perception.


That is, the organs and objects.


That is, the objects.


That he is a liberated man. This too as others see it.


All these refer to (the limited manifestations of) their presiding deities.


The reference is to Bhartṛprapañca


When a new body is taken.


These are advocated respectively by the Mīmàifasakas, materialists, astrologers, Vaidikas, believers in the gods, idealists and nihilists—the last two being Buddhist schools.

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