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 VIII - Yajnavalkya and Gargi (II)

Now Brahman, which is devoid of hanger etc., unconditioned, immediate and direct, and is within all, has to be described. Hence the present section.

 

Verse 3.8.1:

अथ ह वाचक्नव्युवाच, ब्राह्मणा भगवन्तो हन्ताहमिमं द्वौ प्रश्नौ प्रक्श्यामि, तौ चेन्मे वक्श्यति, न वै जातु युष्माकमिमं कश्चिद्ब्रह्मोद्यं जेतेति; पृच्छ गार्गीति ॥ १ ॥

atha ha vācaknavyuvāca, brāhmaṇā bhagavanto hantāhamimaṃ dvau praśnau prakśyāmi, tau cenme vakśyati, na vai jātu yuṣmākamimaṃ kaścidbrahmodyaṃ jeteti; pṛccha gārgīti || 1 ||

1. Then the daughter of Vacaknu said, ‘Revered Brāhmaṇas, I shall ask him two questions. Should he answer me those, none of you can ever beat him in describing Brahman.’ ‘Ask, O Gārgī.’

Then the daughter of Vacaknu said. Having previously been warned by Yājñavalkya, she had desisted lest her head should fall off. Now she asks the permission of the Brāhmaṇas to interrogate him once more. ‘Revered Brāhmaṇas, please listen to what I say. I shall ask him, Yājñavalkya, two more questions, if you will permit it. Should he answer me those, none of you can ever possibly beat him in describing Brahman.’ Thus addressed, the Brāhmanas gave her the permission. ‘Ask, O Gārgī.’

 

Verse 3.8.2:

सा होवाच, अहं वै त्वा याज्ञवल्क्य यथा काश्यो वा वैदेहो वोग्रपुत्र उज्ज्यं धनुरधिज्यं कृत्वा द्वौ बाणवन्तौ सपत्नातिव्याधिनौ हस्ते कृत्वोपोत्तिष्ठेत्, एवमेवाहं त्वा द्वाभ्यां प्रश्नाभ्यामुपोदस्थाम्, तौ मे ब्रूहीति; पृच्छ गार्गीति ॥ २ ॥

sā hovāca, ahaṃ vai tvā yājñavalkya yathā kāśyo vā vaideho vograputra ujjyaṃ dhanuradhijyaṃ kṛtvā dvau bāṇavantau sapatnātivyādhinau haste kṛtvopottiṣṭhet, evamevāhaṃ tvā dvābhyāṃ praśnābhyāmupodasthām, tau me brūhīti; pṛccha gārgīti || 2 ||

2. She said, ‘I (shall ask) you (two questions). As a man of Benares or the King of Videha, scion of a warlike dynasty, might string his unstrung bow and appear close by, carrying in his hand two bamboo-tipped arrows highly painful to the enemy, even so, O Yājñavalkya, do I confront you with two questions. Answer me those.’ ‘Ask, O Gārgī.’

Having received the permission, she said to Yājñavalkya, ‘I shall ask you two questions.’ The extra words are to be supplied from the preceding paragraph. Yājñavalkya was curious to know what they were. So, in order to indicate that the questions were hard to answer, she said through an illustration: As a man of Benares—the inhabitants of which are famous for their valour—or the King of Videha, scion of a warlike dynasty, might string his unstrung bow and appear close by, carrying in his hand two bamboo-tipped arrows—an arrow might be without this bamboo-tip; hence the specification—highly painful to the enemy, even so, O Yājñavalkya, do I confront you with two questions, comparable to arrows. Answer me those, if you are a knower of Brahman. The other said, ‘Ask, O Gārgī.’

 

Verse 3.8.3:

सा होवाच, यदूर्ध्वं याज्ञवल्क्य दिवः, यदवाक् पृथिव्यः, यदन्तरा द्यावापृथिवी इमे, यद्भूतं च भवच्च भविष्यच्चेत्याचक्शते, कस्मिंस्तदोतं च प्रोतं चेति ॥ ३ ॥

sā hovāca, yadūrdhvaṃ yājñavalkya divaḥ, yadavāk pṛthivyaḥ, yadantarā dyāvāpṛthivī ime, yadbhūtaṃ ca bhavacca bhaviṣyaccetyācakśate, kasmiṃstadotaṃ ca protaṃ ceti || 3 ||

3. She said, ‘By what, O Yājñavalkya, is that pervaded which is above heaven and below the earth, which is this heaven and earth as well as between them, and which they say was, is and will be?'

She said: By what, O Yājñavalkya, is that Sūtra, already referred to, pervaded, as the element earth is by water, which is above heaven, or the upper half of the cosmic shell, and below the earth, or the lower half of the cosmic shell, which is this heaven and earth as well as between them, the two halves of the cosmic shell, and which they say, on the authority of the scriptures, was in the past, is doing its function at the present moment, and will be continuing in future, as is inferable from indications—which (Sūtra) is described as all this, in which, in other words, the whole dualistic universe is unified?

 

Verse 3.8.4:

स होवाच, यदूर्ध्वं गार्गि दिवः, यदवाक् पृथिव्याः, यदन्तरा द्यावापृथिवी इमे, यद्भूतं च भवच्च भविष्यच्चेत्याचक्शते, आकाशे तदोतं च प्रोतं चेति ॥ ४ ॥

sa hovāca, yadūrdhvaṃ gārgi divaḥ, yadavāk pṛthivyāḥ, yadantarā dyāvāpṛthivī ime, yadbhūtaṃ ca bhavacca bhaviṣyaccetyācakśate, ākāśe tadotaṃ ca protaṃ ceti || 4 ||

4. He said, ‘That, O Gārgī, which is above heaven and below the earth, which is this heaven and earth as well as between them, and which they say was, is and will be, is pervaded by the unmanifested ether.’

Yājñavalkya said, ‘That, O Gārgī, which you have referred to as being above heaven, etc.—all that which is called the Sūtra—is pervaded by the unmanifested ether: This manifested universe consisting of the Sūtra exists in the unmanifested ether, like earth in water, in the past, present and future, in its origin, continuance and dissolution.’

 

Verse 3.8.5:

सा होवाच, नमस्तेऽस्तु याज्ञवल्क्य यो म एतं व्यवोचः, अपरस्मै धारयस्वेति; पृच्छ गार्गीति ॥ ५ ॥

sā hovāca, namaste'stu yājñavalkya yo ma etaṃ vyavocaḥ, aparasmai dhārayasveti; pṛccha gārgīti || 5 ||

5. She said, ‘I bow to you, Yājñavalkya, who have fully answered this question of mine. Now be ready for the other question.’ ‘Ask, O Gārgī.’

She again said, ‘I —these and the following words indicate the difficult nature of the question—who have fully answered this question of mine. The reason why it is difficult to answer is that the Sūtra itself is inscrutable to ordinary people and difficult to explain; how much more so, then, is that which pervades iti Therefore I bow to you. Now be ready, hold yourself steady, for the other question.’ Yājñavalkya said, ‘Ask, O Gārgī.’

 

Verse 3.8.6:

सा होवाच, यदूर्ध्वं याज्ञवल्क्य दिवः, यदवाक् पृथिव्याः, यदन्तरा द्यावापृथिवी इमे, यद्भूतं च भवच्च भविष्यच्चेत्याचक्शते, कस्मिंस्तदोतं च प्रोतं चेति ॥ ६ ॥

sā hovāca, yadūrdhvaṃ yājñavalkya divaḥ, yadavāk pṛthivyāḥ, yadantarā dyāvāpṛthivī ime, yadbhūtaṃ ca bhavacca bhaviṣyaccetyācakśate, kasmiṃstadotaṃ ca protaṃ ceti || 6 ||

6. She said, ‘By what, O Yājñavalkya, is that pervaded which is above heaven and below the earth, which is this heaven and earth as well as between them, and which they say was, is and will be?’

All this has been explained. The question and the answer are repeated in this and the next paragraph in order to emphasise the truth already stated by Yājñavalkya. Nothing new is introduced.

 

Verse 3.8.7:

स होवाच, यदूर्ध्वं गार्गि दिवः, यदवाक् पृथिव्याः, यदन्तरा द्यावापृथिवी इमे, यद्भूतं च भवच्च भविष्यच्चेत्याचक्शते, आकाश एव तदोतं च प्रोतं चेति, कस्मिन्नु खल्वाकाश ओतश्च प्रोतश्चेति ॥ ७ ॥

sa hovāca, yadūrdhvaṃ gārgi divaḥ, yadavāk pṛthivyāḥ, yadantarā dyāvāpṛthivī ime, yadbhūtaṃ ca bhavacca bhaviṣyaccetyācakśate, ākāśa eva tadotaṃ ca protaṃ ceti, kasminnu khalvākāśa otaśca protaśceti || 7 ||

7. He said, ‘That, O Gārgī, which is above heaven and below the earth, which is this heaven and earth as well as between them, and which they say was, is and will be, is pervaded by the unmanifested ether.’ ‘By what is the unmanifested ether pervaded?’

Yājñavalkya repeated Gārgī’s question as it was. and emphasised what he had already stated by saying, ‘By the unmanifested ether.’ Gārgī said, ‘By what is the unmanifested ether pervaded?’ She considered the question unanswerable, for the unmanifested ether itself, being beyond time past, present and future, was difficult to explain; much more so was the Immutable (Brahman) by which the unmanifested ether was pervaded; hence It could not be explained. Now, if Yājñavalkya did not explain It for this reason, he would lay himself open to the charge of what is called in the system of logic ‘non-comprehension’, if, on the other hand, he tried to explain It, notwithstanding the fact that It was a thing that could not be explained, he would be guilty of what is called ‘a contradiction’; for the attempt to explain what cannot be explained is such a contradiction.

 

Verse 3.8.8:

स होवाच, एतद्वै तदक्शरः, गार्गि ब्राह्मणा अभिवदन्ति, अस्थूलमनण्वह्रस्वमदीर्घमलोहितमस्नेहमच्छायमतमोऽ-
वाय्वनाकाशमसङ्गमचक्शुष्कमश्रोत्रमवागमनोऽ-
तेजस्कमप्राणममुखममात्रमनन्तरमबाह्यम्, न तदश्नाति किंचन, न तदश्नाति कश्चन ॥ ८ ॥

sa hovāca, etadvai tadakśaraḥ, gārgi brāhmaṇā abhivadanti, asthūlamanaṇvahrasvamadīrghamalohitamasnehamacchāyamatamo'-vāyvanākāśamasaṅgamacakśuṣkamaśrotramavāgamano'-tejaskamaprāṇamamukhamamātramanantaramabāhyam, na tadaśnāti kiṃcana, na tadaśnāti kaścana || 8 ||

8. He said: O Gārgī, the knowers of Brahman say, this Immutable (Brahman) is that. It is neither gross nor minute, neither short nor long, neither red colour nor oiliness, neither shadow nor darkness, neither air nor ether, unattached, neither savour nor odour, without eyes or ears, without the vocal organ or mind, non-luminous, without the vital force or mouth, not a measure, and without interior or exterior. It does not eat anything, nor is It eaten by anybody.

With a view to evading both the charges, Yājñavalkya said: O Gārgī, the knowers of Brahman say, this is that about which you have asked, ‘By what is the unmanifested ether pervaded?’ What is it? The Immutable, i.e. which does not decay or change. By referring to the opinion of the knowers of Brahman, he evades both the charges by suggesting that he will say nothing objectionable, nor that he has failed to comprehend the question. When he thus answered her question, Gārgī must have rejoined, ‘Tell me, what is that Immutable which the knowers of Brahman speak of?’ Thus addressed, Yājñavalkya said: It is not gross, i.e. is other than gross. Then It must, be minute? No, nor minute. Then is It short? Neither short. Then It must be long? No,nor long. By this fourfold negation of size all the characteristics of a substance are denied of It; in other words, this Immutable is not a substance. Is It then red colour, which is a quality? No, It is different from that too—neither red colour; red colour is a quality of fire. Is It then the oiliness of water[1]? No, nor oiliness. Is It then a shadow, being altogether indescribable? No, It is different from that too—neither shadow. Is It then darkness? No, nor darkness. Let It then be air. No, neither air. May It then be the ether? No, nor ether. Is It then sticky like lac? No, It is unattached. Is It then savour? Neither savour. Let It then be odour. No, nor odour. Has It then eyes? No, It is without eyes, for It has not that instrument of vision; as the Mantra says, 'He sees without eyes' (Śv. III. 19). Similarly It is without ears, as the Śruti puts it: ‘He hears without ears’ (Ibid.). Let It then have the vocal organ. No, It is without the vocal organ. Similarly It is without the mind. Likewise It is non-luminous, for It has no lustre like that of fire etc. It is without the vital force; the vital force in the body is denied of It. Has It then a mouth or opening? No, It is without a mouth. Not a measure: It does not measure anything. Is It then porous? No, It is mthout interior. Then may be It has an exterior? No, It has no exterior. Is It then an eater? No, It does not eat anything. Then is It anybody’s food? No, nor is It eaten by anybody. In other words, It is devoid of all attributes, for It is one only without a second; so what is there that can be specified, and through what?

 

Verse 3.8.9:

एतस्य वा अक्शरस्य प्रशासने गार्गि सूर्याचन्द्रमसौ विधृतौ तिष्ठतः, एतस्य वा अक्शरस्य प्रशासने गार्गि द्यावापृथिव्यौ विधृते तिष्ठतः, एतस्य वा अक्शरस्य प्रशासने गार्गि निमेषा मुहूर्ता अहोरात्राण्यर्धमासा मासा ऋतवः संवत्सरा इति विधृतास्तिष्ठन्ति; एतस्य वा अक्शरस्य प्रशासने गार्गि प्राच्योऽन्या नद्यः स्यन्दन्ते श्वेतेभ्यः पर्वतेभ्यः, प्रतीच्योऽन्याः, यां यां च दिशमनु; एतस्य वा अक्शरस्य प्रशासने गार्गि ददतो मनुष्याः प्रशंसन्ति, यजमानं देवाः, दर्वीं पितरोऽन्वायत्ताः ॥ ९ ॥

etasya vā akśarasya praśāsane gārgi sūryācandramasau vidhṛtau tiṣṭhataḥ, etasya vā akśarasya praśāsane gārgi dyāvāpṛthivyau vidhṛte tiṣṭhataḥ, etasya vā akśarasya praśāsane gārgi nimeṣā muhūrtā ahorātrāṇyardhamāsā māsā ṛtavaḥ saṃvatsarā iti vidhṛtāstiṣṭhanti; etasya vā akśarasya praśāsane gārgi prācyo'nyā nadyaḥ syandante śvetebhyaḥ parvatebhyaḥ, pratīcyo'nyāḥ, yāṃ yāṃ ca diśamanu; etasya vā akśarasya praśāsane gārgi dadato manuṣyāḥ praśaṃsanti, yajamānaṃ devāḥ, darvīṃ pitaro'nvāyattāḥ || 9 ||

9. Under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gārgī, the sun and moon are held in their positions; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gārgī, heaven and earth maintain their positions; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gārgī, moments, Muhūrtas,[2] days and nights, fortnights, months, seasons and years are held in their respective places; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gārgī, some rivers flow eastward from the White Mountains, others flowing westward continue in that direction, and still others keep to their respective courses; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gārgī, men praise those that give, the gods depend on the sacrificer, and the Manes on independent offerings (Darvīhoma).[3]

 

The Śruti, by attempting to negate various attributes of the Immutable, has indicated Its existence. Yet, anticipating the popular misconception about It, it adduces an inferential evidence in favour of Its existence: Under the mighty rule of this Immutable, the Brahman that has been known to be within all, immediate and direct—the self that is devoid of all attributes such as hunger, O Gārgī, the sun and moon, which are like two lamps giving light to all beings at day and night respectively, are held in their positions, as a kingdom remains unbroken and orderly under the mighty rule of a king. They must have been created for the purpose of giving light by a Universal Ruler who knows of what use they will be to all, for they serve the common good of all beings by giving light, as we see in the case of an ordinary lamp.[4] Therefore That exists which has made the sun and moon and compels them, although they are powerful and independent, to rise and set, increase and decrease, according to fixed place, time and causes.[5] Thus there exists their mighty Ruler, the Immutable, as the lamp has its maker and regulator. Under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gārgī, heaven and earth maintain their positions, although they are by nature subject to disruption because of having parts, inclined to fall owing to their weight, liable to separate, being a compound, and are independent, being each presided over by a conscious deity identifying itself with it. It is this Immutable which is like a boundary wall that preserves the distinctions among thing—keeps all things within their limits; hence the sun and moon do not transgress the mighty rule of this Immutable. Therefore Its existence is proved. The unfailing sign of this is the fact that heaven and earth obey a fixed order; this would be impossible were there not a conscious, transcendent Ruler. Witness the Mantra, ‘Who has made heaven powerful and the earth firm’ (Ṛ. X. cxxi. 5).

Under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gārgī, moments, Muhūrtas, etc.—all these divisions of time, which count all things past, present and future that are subject to birth—are held in their respective places. As in life an accountant appointed by his master carefully calculates all items of income and expenditure, so are these divisions of time controlled by their master, the Immutable. Similarly some rivers, such as the Ganges, flow eastward from the White Mountains, the Himalayas, for instance, and they, notwithstanding their power to do otherwise,[6] keep to their original courses; this too indicates a Ruler. Others flowing westward, such as the Indus, continue in that direction, and still others keep to their respective courses, do not deviate from the courses they have taken; this is another indication.

Moreover, even learned men praise those that give gold etc., even at a personal sacrifice. Now the conjunction and disjunction of gifts, their donors and their recipients are seen to take place before our eyes in this very life. But the subsequent recombination (of the donor and the fruit of his gift) is a matter we do not directly see. Still people praise the charitable, for they observe on other evidence that those that give are rewarded. This would be impossible were there no Ruler who, knowing the various results of actions, brought about this union of the giver and the reward, for the act of giving obviously perishes then and there. Therefore there must be someone who connects the givers with the results of their charity.

Objection: Cannot the extraordinary result of an action (Apūrva) serve this purpose?

Reply: No, for there is nothing to prove its existence

Objection: Does not the same objection apply to the Ruler too?

Reply: No. for it is an established fact that the Śrutis seek to posit His existence. We have already (p. 53) said that the Sruits aim at delineating the Reality. Besides, the implication on which the theory of the extraordinary result depends is out of place, for the fruition can be otherwise accounted for. We observe that the reward of service is obtained from the person served; and as service is an act. and sacrifices, gifts, offering oblations in the fire, etc., are just as much acts, it stands to reason that the reward for their performance should come from those in whose honour they are performed, viz. God and so forth. Since we can explain the obtaining of rewards without sacrificing the directly observed inherent power of acts, it is improper to sacrifice that power. Moreover, it involves a superfluity of assumptions. We must assume either God or the extraordinary result. Now we observe that it is the very nature of an act of service that it is rewarded by the person served, not by the extraordinary result; and no one has ever actually experienced this result. So (in your view) we have to assume that the extraordinary result, which nobody has ever observed, exists; that it has the power to confer rewards; and that having this power, it does in addition confer them. On our side, however, we have to assume only the existence of the person served, viz. God, but neither His power to confer rewards nor His exercise of it, for we actually observe that the person served rewards the service. The grounds for inferring His existence have already been shown in the text: ‘Heaven and earth maintain their positions,’ etc. (this text). Likewise the gods, although they are so powerful, depend on the sacrificer for their livelihood—for such means of subsistence as the porridge and cakes.. That in spite of their ability to live otherwise they have taken to this humiliating course of life, is possible only because of the mighty rule of the Lord. Similarly the Manes depend for their subsistence on independent offerings. The rest is to be explained as before.

 

Verse 3.8.10:

यो वा एतदक्शरं गार्ग्यविदित्वास्मिंल्लोके जुहोति यजते तपस्तप्यते बहूनि वर्षसहस्राणि, अन्तवदेवास्य तद्भवति; यो वा एतदक्शरं गार्ग्यविदित्वास्माल्लोकात्प्रैति स कृपणः; अथ य एतदक्शरं गार्गि विदित्वास्माल्लोकात्प्रैति स ब्राह्मणः ॥ १० ॥

yo vā etadakśaraṃ gārgyaviditvāsmiṃlloke juhoti yajate tapastapyate bahūni varṣasahasrāṇi, antavadevāsya tadbhavati; yo vā etadakśaraṃ gārgyaviditvāsmāllokātpraiti sa kṛpaṇaḥ; atha ya etadakśaraṃ gārgi viditvāsmāllokātpraiti sa brāhmaṇaḥ ॥ 10 ॥

10. He, O Gārgī, who in this world, without knowing this Immutable, offers oblations in the fire, performs sacrifices and undergoes austerities even for many thousand years, finds all such acts but perishable; he, O Gārgī, who departs from this world without knowing this Immutable, is miserable. But he, O Gārgī, who departs from this world after knowing this Immutable, is a knower of Brahman.

Here is another reason for the existence of the Immutable, because until one knows It one is bound to suffer transmigration; and That must exist, the knowledge of which puts a stop to it, for this is but logical.

Objection: May not rites alone do this?

Reply: No, he, O Gārgī, wḥo in this world, without knowing this Immutable, offers oblations in the fire, performs sacrifices and undergoes austerities even for many thousand years, finds all such acts but perishable. After he has enjoyed their fruits, those rites are inevitably exhausted. Besides, that mighty Ruler, the Immutable, exists, by knowing which misery is at an end—transmigration is stopped, and not knowing which the ritualist is miserable—enjoys only the results of his rites and moves in an endless series of births and deaths. So the text says: He, O Gārgī, who departs from this world without knowing this Immutable, is miserable, like a slave etc. bought for a price. But he, O Gārgī, who departs from this world after knowing this Immutable, is a knower of Brahman.

It may be contended that like the heat and light of fire, the rulership of the Immutable is natural to the insentient Pradhāna (of the Sāṃkhyas, and not to Brahman). The reply is being given:

 

Verse 3.8.11:

तद्वा एतदक्शरं गार्ग्यदृष्टं द्रष्टृ, अश्रुतं श्रोत्तृ, अमतं मन्तृ, अविज्ञातं विज्ञातृ; नान्यदतोऽस्ति द्रष्टृ, नान्यदतोऽस्ति श्रोतृ, नान्यदतोऽस्ति मन्तृ, नान्यदतोऽस्ति विज्ञातृ; एतस्मिन्नु खल्वक्शरे गार्ग्याकाश ओतश्च प्रोतश्चेति ॥ ११ ॥

tadvā etadakśaraṃ gārgyadṛṣṭaṃ draṣṭṛ, aśrutaṃ śrottṛ, amataṃ mantṛ, avijñātaṃ vijñātṛ; nānyadato'sti draṣṭṛ, nānyadato'sti śrotṛ, nānyadato'sti mantṛ, nānyadato'sti vijñātṛ; etasminnu khalvakśare gārgyākāśa otaśca protaśceti || 11 ||

11. This Immutable, O Gārgī, is never seen but is the Witness; It is never heard, but is the Hearer; It is never thought, but is the Thinker; It is never known, but is the Knower. There is no other witness but This, no other hearer but This, no other thinker but This, no other knower but This. By this Immutable, O Gārgī, is the (unmanifested) ether pervaded.

This Immutable, O Gārgī, is never seen by anybody, not being a sense-object, but is Itself the Witness, being vision itself. Likewise It is never heard, not being an object of hearing, but is Itself the Hearer, being hearing itself. So also It is never thought, not being an object of the mind, but is Itself the Thinker, being thought itself. Similarly It is never known, not being an object of the intellect, but is Itself the Knower, being intelligence itself. Further, there is no other witness but This, the Immutable; this Immutable Itself is everywhere the Witness, the subject of vision. Similarly there is no other hearer but This; this Immutable Itself is everywhere the Hearer. There is no other thinker but This; this Immutable Itself is everywhere the Thinker, thinking through all minds. There is no other knower but This; this Immutable Itself—neither the insentient Pradhāna nor anything else—is the Knower, knowing through all intellects. By this Immutable,O Gārgī, is the (unmanifested) ether pervaded. The Brahman which is immediate and direct, which is the self within all and is beyond the relative attributes of hunger etc., and by which the (unmanifested) ether is pervaded, is the extreme limit, the ultimate goal, the Supreme Brahman, the Truth of truth (the elements) beginning with earth and ending with the ether.

 

Verse 3.8.12:

सा होवाच, ब्राह्मणा भगवन्तस्तदेव बहु मन्येध्वं यदस्मान्नमस्कारेण मुच्येध्वम्; न वै जातु युष्माकमिमं कश्चिद्ब्रह्मोद्यं जेतेति; ततो ह वाचक्नव्युपरराम ॥ १२ ॥
इत्यष्टमं ब्राह्मणम् ॥

sā hovāca, brāhmaṇā bhagavantastadeva bahu manyedhvaṃ yadasmānnamaskāreṇa mucyedhvam; na vai jātu yuṣmākamimaṃ kaścidbrahmodyaṃ jeteti; tato ha vācaknavyupararāma || 12 ||
ityaṣṭamaṃ brāhmaṇam ||

12. She said, ‘Revered Brāhmaṇas, you should consider yourselves fortunate if you can get off from him through salutations. Never shall any of you beat him in describing Brahman.’ Then the daughter of Vacaknu kept silent.

She said: ‘Revered Brāhmaṇas, listen to my words. You should consider yourselves fortunate if you can get off from him, Yājñavalkya, through salutations, by saluting him. You must never even think of defeating him, much less do it. Why? Because never shall any of you beat him, Yājñavalkya, in describing Brahman. I already said that if he answered my two questions, none could beat him. I still have the conviction that in describing Brahman he has no match.’ Then the daughter of Vacaknu kept silent.

In the section dealing with the Internal Ruler it has been said, ‘Whom the earth does not know,’ and ‘Whom no being knows.’ Now what is the similarity as well as difference among the Internal Ruler whom they do not know, those who do not know Him, and the conscious Principle which, being the subject of the activities of vision etc. of all things, is spoken of as the Immutable?

Regarding this[7] some say: The Internal Ruler is the slightly agitated state of the ocean of Supreme Brahman, the Immutable, which never changes its nature. The individual self, which does not know that Internal Ruler, is the extremely agitated state of that ocean. They also imagine five1 other states of Brahman; again they maintain that Brahman has eight[8] states. Others say that these are but the powers of the Immutable, which, according to them, has unlimited powers. Still others maintain that these are modifications of the Immutable.

Now the states and powers are inadmissible, for the Śrutis declare the Immutable to be beyond the relative attributes of hunger etc. Certainly one and the same thing cannot simultaneously be both beyond hunger etc. and subject to those conditions. The same argument applies to the Immutable having powers, while the flaws in attributing modifications and parts to the Immutable have already been pointed out in the second chapter (p. 300). Hence all these views are wrong.

What then is the difference among them? It is all due to the limiting adjuncts, we reply: intrinsically there is neither difference nor identity among them, for they are by nature Pure Intelligence, homogeneous like a lump of salt. Witness the Śruti texts: ‘Without prior or posterior, without interior or exterior' (II. v. 19), and ‘This self is Brahman’ (Ibid.); also in the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad: ‘It includes the interior and exterior, and is unborn’ (II. i. 2). Therefore the unconditioned Self, being beyond speech and mind, undifferentiated and one, is designated as ‘Not this, not this’; when It has the limiting adjuncts of the body[9] and organs, which are characterised by ignorance, desire and work, It is called the transmigrating individual self; and when the Self has the limiting adjunct of the power of (Māyā manifesting through) eternal and unlimited knowledge, It is called the Internal Ruler and īśvara. The same Self as by nature transcendent, absolute and pure, is called the Immutable and Supreme Self. Similarly, having the limiting adjuncts of the bodies and organs of Hiraṇyagarbha, the Undifferentiated, the gods, the species, the individual, men, animals, spirits, etc., the Self assumes those particular names and forms. Thus have we explained this through the Śruti passage: ‘It moves, and does not move’ (Īś. 5). In this light alone such texts as, ‘This is your self (that is within all)’ (III. iv. 1-2; III. v. 1), ‘He is the inner Self of all beings’ (Mu. II. i. 4), ‘This (self) being hidden in all beings,’ etc. (Ka. III. 12), ‘Thou art That’ (Ch. VI. viii. 7), T Myself am all this’ (Ch. VII. xxv. 1), ‘All this is but the Self’ (Ibid. 2), and ‘There is no other witness but Him’ (III. vii. 23), do not prove contradictory; but in any other view they cannot be harmonised. Therefore they differ only because of their limiting adjuncts, but not otherwise, for all the Upaniṣads conclude: ‘One only without a second’ (Ch. VI. ii. 1).

Footnotes and references:

1.

It is an assumption of the Vaiáeṣika philosophy that oiliness is the quality of water.

2.

Equivalent to about 48 minutes.

3.

A class of offerings which have neither any subsidiary parts nor are themselves subsidiary to any sacrifice.

4.

As from a lamp we infer the existence of its maker, so from the sun and moon we infer the existence of an omniscient God, ‘the Immutable.’

5.

Adṛṣṭa or the resultant of the past work of beings.

6.

Since the deities identifying themselves with these are sentient beings.

7.

Some one-sided views within the Vedāṇtic school itself are being presented.

8.

Viz. the individual, species, Virāj, Sūtra and destiny.

9.

Viz. the above five together with the Undifíerentiated. the Witness and the individual self.

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