The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (with the Commentary of Śaṅkarācārya)
Section IV - Death and the Hereafter
The description of transmigration has been introduced. In that connection it has been said, ‘The infinite being, completely detaching himself from the parts of the body,’ etc. (IV. iii. 36). In order to state when that detachment takes place and how, it is necessary to describe the process of transmigration in detail. Hence the present section.
स यत्रायमात्माबल्यं न्येत्य संमोहमिव न्येति, अथैनमेते प्राणा अभिसमायन्ति; स एतास्तेजोमात्राः समभ्याददानो हृदयमेवान्ववक्रामति; स यत्रैष चाक्शुषः पुरुषः पराङ् पर्यावर्ततेऽथारूपज्ञो भवति ॥ १ ॥
sa yatrāyamātmābalyaṃ nyetya saṃmohamiva nyeti, athainamete prāṇā abhisamāyanti; sa etāstejomātrāḥ samabhyādadāno hṛdayamevānvavakrāmati; sa yatraiṣa cākśuṣaḥ puruṣaḥ parāṅ paryāvartate'thārūpajño bhavati || 1 ||
1. When this self becomes weak and senseless, as it were, the organs come to it. Completely withdrawing these particles of light, it comes to the heart. When the presiding deity of the eye turns back from all sides, the man fails to notice colour.
When this self, which is under consideration, becomes weak. Really it is the body that becomes weak, but its weakness is figuratively spoken of as that of the self; for being formless, it can never by itself become weak. Similarly it becomes senseless, as it were, i.e. fails to discriminate. It cannot by itself be senseless or otherwise, for it is the eternal self-luminous Intelligence; hence the expression ‘as it were.’ The state of helplessness noticeable at the time of death, which is caused by the withdrawal of the organs, is attributed by ordinary people to the self. So they say, ‘Oh, he has become senseless!’
Or the expression ‘as it were’ should be connected with both the adjectives, meaning ‘becomes weak, as it were, and senseless, as it were,' for both states are alike due to extraneous limiting adjuncts, and both the verbs agree with the same subject. At this time the organs such as that of speech come to it, the self. Then this self that is in the body is detached from the parts of the body. How does this detachment take place, and how do the organs come to the self? This is being answered: Completely withdrawing these particles of light, i.e. the organs such as the eye, so called because they reveal colour etc. The adverb ‘completely' shows the distinction of this state from a dream, when they are just drawn in, not absolutely, as in this case, as is known from such passages as, ‘The organ of speech is absorbed, the eye is absorbed' (II. i. 17), ‘He takes away a little of this all-embracing world (the waking state)’ (IV. iii. 9), and ‘Taking the shining functions of the organs with him,’ etc. (IV. iii. 11). It comes to the heart, i.e. the ether in the lotus of the heart; in other words, its intelligence is manifested in the heart. (The withdrawal in question is attributed to the self) simply because the activities of the intellect and so forth are at rest. The Ātman by itself cannot move, or undergo changes such as the stopping of activities, for it has been said, ‘It thinks; as it were, and shakes, as it were’ (IV. iii. 7). It is through its limiting adjuncts such as the intellect that all Changes are attributed to the self. When does it withdraw the particles of light? This is being answered: The presiding deity of the eye—lit. the being associated with the eye—who is a part of the sun, being directed by the experiencer's past work, goes on helping the functions of the eye as long as he lives, but he ceases to help the eye and is merged in his own self, the sun, when the man is about to die. This has been stated in the passage, ‘When the vocal organ of the £ead man has been merged in fire, the vital force in Vayu, the eye in the sun,’ etc. (III. ii. 13). They will again occupy (their respective places) when the man takes another body. This (dual phenomenon) takes place when a man is fast asleep, and when he wakes up. This is expressed by the text: When the presiding deity of the eye turns hack front all sides, the dying man fails to notice colour. At this time the self completely withdraws the particles of light, the eye and other organs, as in the dream state.
एकीभवति, न पश्यतीत्याहुः; एकीभवति, न जिघ्रतीत्याहुः; एकीभवति, न रसयतीत्याहुः; एकीभवति, न वदतीत्याहुः; एकीभवति, न शृणोतीत्याहुः; एकीभवति, न मनुत इत्याहुः; एकीभवति, न स्पृशतीत्याहुः; एकीभवति, न विजानातीत्याहुः; तस्य हैतस्य हृदयस्याग्रं प्रद्योतते; तेन प्रद्योतेनैष आत्मा निष्क्रामति—चक्शुष्टो वा, मूर्ध्नो वा, अन्येभ्यो वा शरीरदेशेभ्यः; तमुत्क्रामन्तं प्राणोऽनूत्क्रामति; प्राणमनूत्क्रामन्तं सर्वे प्राणा अनूत्क्रामन्ति; सविज्ञानो भवति, सविज्ञानमेवान्ववक्रामति । तं विद्याकर्मणी समन्वारभेते पूर्वप्रज्ञा च ॥ २ ॥
ekībhavati, na paśyatītyāhuḥ; ekībhavati, na jighratītyāhuḥ; ekībhavati, na rasayatītyāhuḥ; ekībhavati, na vadatītyāhuḥ; ekībhavati, na śṛṇotītyāhuḥ; ekībhavati, na manuta ityāhuḥ; ekībhavati, na spṛśatītyāhuḥ; ekībhavati, na vijānātītyāhuḥ; tasya haitasya hṛdayasyāgraṃ pradyotate; tena pradyotenaiṣa ātmā niṣkrāmati—cakśuṣṭo vā, mūrdhno vā, anyebhyo vā śarīradeśebhyaḥ; tamutkrāmantaṃ prāṇo'nūtkrāmati; prāṇamanūtkrāmantaṃ sarve prāṇā anūtkrāmanti; savijñāno bhavati, savijñānamevānvavakrāmati । taṃ vidyākarmaṇī samanvārabhete pūrvaprajñā ca || 2 ||
2. (The eye) becomes united (with the subtle body); then people say, ‘He does not see.’ (The nose) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not smell.’ (The tongue) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not taste.’ (The vocal organ) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not speak.’ (The ear) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not hear.’ (The Manas) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not think.’ (The skin) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not touch.’ (The intellect) becomes united; then they say, ‘He does not know.’ The top of the heart brightens. Through that brightened top the self departs,‘either through the eye, or through the head, or through any other part of the body. When it departs, the vital force follows; when the vital force departs, all the organs follow. Then the self has particular consciousness, and goes to the body which is related to that con-scioṇsness. It is followed by knowledge, work and past experience.
Every organ becomes united with the subtle body of the dying man; then people at ḥis side say of him, ‘He does not see.’ Similarly, when on the withdrawal of its presiding deity the nose becomes united with the subtle body, they say, ‘He does not smell.’ The rest is to be similarly explained. The moon or Varuṇa is the deity of the tongue; when he stops functioning, they say, ‘He does not taste.’ Similarly they say that he does not speak, hear, think, touch and know. This means that at that time the presiding deities cease to work, and the organs are united in the heart. What takes place in the body after the organs have been united in the heart is now being stated: The top of the heart mentioned above, i.e. of the orifice of the heart—its ‘top’ here means the nerve-end, which is the exit for the self—brightens, as in the dream state, its own lustre due to the drawing in of the organs being revealed by its own light as the Ātman. Through that top brīghtened by the light of the Ātman, the individual self, with the subtle body as its limiting adjunct, departs. As the Praśna Upaniṣad puts it: ‘On whose departure must I depart, and on whose stay, must I stay?—He projected the vital force’ (VI. 3).
In the subtle body the self-effulgent intelligence of the Ātman is always particularly manifest. It is because of this limiting adjunct that the self comes under relative existence involving all such changes as birth and death, and going and coming. The twelve organs, including the intellect, consist of it; it is the Sūtra, the life, and the inmost self of the movable and immovable universe. As the self departs with the help of the light at the top of the heart, by which way does it leave the body? Through the eye, if it has a store of work or relative knowledge that would take it to the sun, or through the head, if they are such as would entitle it to go to the world of Hiraṇyagarbha, or through any other part of the body, according to its past work and knowledge. When it, the individual self, departs for the next world, i.e. when it has the intention to go there, the vital force follows, like the Prime Minister of a king; and when the vital force departs, all the organs such as that of speech follow. This simply denotes conformity to their respective leaders, not that the vital force and the organs go one after the other, as it happens in a party.
Then the self has particular consciousness, as in dreams, in consequence of its past work, not independently. If it had this consciousness independently, everybody would achieve the end of his life; but it never has that. Hence Vyāsa says, ‘(A man attains whatever he thinks of at the moment of death) if he has always been imbued with that idea’ (G. VIII. 6). As a matter of fact, everybody has at that moment a consciousness which consists of impressions in the form of particular modifications of his mind (regarding the next life) that are induced by his past work. And goes to the body which is related to that consciousness, i.e. is revealed by that particular consciousness. Therefore, in order to have freedom of action at the time of death, those aspirants after the future life who have faith should be alert in the practice of the system of Yoga and right knowledge, and in the acquisition of particular merit (by doing good deeds). All the sacred books also carefully seek to dissuade men from doing evil; for nothing can be done at the dying moment, as there is no independence for the man, who is carried away by his past work. It has been said, ‘One indeed becomes good through good work and evil through evil work’ (III. ii. 13). The aim of the Upaniṣads in all the recensions is to prescribe remedies for this evil. There is no other way to eradicate this evil completely except by following the course laid down by them. Therefore all should try to practise the remedies prescribed by the Upaniṣads; this is the gist of the whole passage.
It has been stated that the departing self, loaded with materials, goes making noises like a cart. Now, as it starts for the next world, what is its food on the way or for consumption on reaching that world, corresponding to the carter’s load, and what are the materials for building its new body and organs? The answer is being given: It, this self journeying to the next world, is followed by knowledge of all sorts, those that are enjoined or forbidden as well as those that are neither enjoined nor forbidden; also work, enjoined or forbidden, and neither enjoined nor forbidden, and past experīence, i.e. the impressions of experiences regarding the results of past actions. These impressions take part in initiating fresh actions as well as in bringing past actions to fruition; hence they too accompany. Without these impressions no action can be done, nor any results of past actions achieved, for the organs are not skilful in unpractised work. But when the organs are prompted to work by the impressions of past experience, they can easily attain skill even without practice in this life. It is frequently observed that some are clever in certain kinds of work such as painting from their very birth, even without practice in this life, while others are unskilful even in some very easy tasks. Similarly in the enjoyment of sense-objects also some are observed to be naturally skilful or dull. All this is due to the revival or non-revival of past experience. Therefore without past experience we cannot understand how anybody can proceed to do any work or to enjoy the results of past work. Hence these three—knowledge, work and past experience—are the food on the way to the next world, corresponding to the load of the carter. Since these three are the means of attaining another body and enjoying (the results of one's past work), therefore one should cultivate only the good forms of them, so that one may have a desirable body and desirable enjoyments. This is the purport of the whole passage.
Now the question is, when the self loaded with knowledge etc., is about to go to another body, does it leave the old body and go to another like a bird going to another tree? Or is it carried by another body serving as a vehicle to the place where, according to its past work, it is to be born? Or does it stay.here, while its organs become all-pervading and function as such? Or is it that so long as it remains in the body, its organs are contracted to the limits of that, but when it dies they become all-pervading—like the light of a lamp when the (enclosing) jar is broken—and’ contract again when a new body is made? Or, as in the Vaiáeṣika system, does only the mind go to the place where the new body is to be made? Or is there any other theory in the Vedānta? This is being answered: We know from the Śruti text, ‘These are all equal, and all infinite’ (I. v. 13), that the organs are all-comprising. Another reason for this is their resting on the vital force, which is all-comprising. Their limitation in the sphere of the body and the elements (as colour etc.) is due to the work, knowledge and past impressions of men. Therefore, although the organs are naturally all-pervading and infinite, since the new body is made in accordance with the person’s work, knowledge and past impressions, the functions of the organs also contract or expand accordingly. As it has been said, ‘Equal to a white ant, equal to a mosquito, equal to an elephant, equal to these three worlds, equal to this universe’ (I. iii. 22). It is also supported by the following: ‘He who meditates upon these as infinite,’ etc. (I. v. 13), and ‘(One becomes) exactly as one meditates upon Him,’ etc. (Ś. X. v. ii. 20). Therefore the impressions called past experience, under the control of the person’s knowledge and work, stretch out, like a leech, from the body, retaining their seat in the heart, as in the dream state, and build another body in accordance with his past work; they leave their seat, the old body, when a new body is made. An illustration on this point is being given:
तद्यथा तृणजलायुका तृणस्यान्तं गत्वान्यमाक्रममाक्रम्यात्मानमुपसंहरति, एवमेवायमात्मेदं शरीरं निहत्य, अविद्यां गमयित्वा, अन्यमाक्रममाक्रम्यात्मानमुपसंहरति ॥ ३ ॥
tadyathā tṛṇajalāyukā tṛṇasyāntaṃ gatvānyamākramamākramyātmānamupasaṃharati, evamevāyamātmedaṃ śarīraṃ nihatya, avidyāṃ gamayitvā, anyamākramamākramyātmānamupasaṃharati || 3 ||
3. Just as a leech supported on a straw goes to the end of it, takes hold of another support and contracts itself, so does the self throw this body aside—make it senseless—take hold of another support, and contract itself.
Regarding this passing on to another body the following is an illustration: Just as a leech support ed on a straw goes to the end of it, takes hold of another straw as support and contracts itself, i.e. one part of its body, to where the other part is, so does the self, the transmigrating self that is being discussed, throw this body, the one already taken, aside, as it does when entering the dream state—make it senseless by withdrawing itself from it—take hold of another support or body, as the leech does another straw, by stretching out its impressions, and contract itself, i.e. identify itself, at the place where the new body is being formed, with that new body, movable or immovable—as in dreams the self creates a new body and dwells, as it were, in that dream body.
There the organs, under the sway of the person’s past work, are combined so as to manifest their functions; an external body, like one made of straw and clay, is also formed. When the organs have been arranged, the presiding deities such as fire come to the body to help the organ of speech and so forth. This is the process of the formation of a new body.
Now, in this formation of a new body does the self again and again crush the materials that are always there ready at hand and with them make a new body, or does it collect new materials every time? This is being answered through an illustration:
तद्यथा पेशस्कारी पेशसो मात्राम् अपादायान्यन्नवतरं कल्याणतरं रूपं तनुते, एवमेवायमात्मेदं शरीरं निहत्य, अविद्यां गमयित्वा, अन्यन्नवतरं कल्याणतरं रूपं कुरुते—पित्र्यं वा, गान्धर्वं वा दैवं वा, प्राजापत्यं वा, ब्राह्मं वा, अन्येषां वा भूतानाम् ॥ ४ ॥
tadyathā peśaskārī peśaso mātrām apādāyānyannavataraṃ kalyāṇataraṃ rūpaṃ tanute, evamevāyamātmedaṃ śarīraṃ nihatya, avidyāṃ gamayitvā, anyannavataraṃ kalyāṇataraṃ rūpaṃ kurute—pitryaṃ vā, gāndharvaṃ vā daivaṃ vā, prājāpatyaṃ vā, brāhmaṃ vā, anyeṣāṃ vā bhūtānām || 4 ||
4. Just as a goldsmith takes apart a little quantity of gold and fashions another—a newer and better—form, so does the self throw this body away, or make it senseless, and make another—a newer and better—form suited to the Manes or the celestial minstrels, or the gods, or Virāj, or Hiraṇyagarbha, or other beings.
Just as a goldsmith takes apart a little quantity of gold and fashions another—a newer and better—form than the previous model, so does the self—these and the preceding words have been explained—again and again crush the five elements beginning with earth and ending with the ether that are always ready at hand, which have been described in the second chapter in the passage, ‘Brahman has but two forms’ (II. iii. 1), and stand for the gold—and make another—a newer and better—form, or body, suited to the Manes, i.e. fit for enjoyments in the world of the Manes, or the celestial minstrels, i.e. fit for their enjoyments, or the gods, or Virāj, or Hiraṇyagarbha, or other beings, according to its past work and knowledge.
All those things which are the limiting adjuncts of the self and are styled its bonds, and connected with which it is considered identified with them, are here gathered together and pointed out in a group:
स वा अयमात्मा ब्रह्म विज्ञानमयो मनोमयः प्राणमयश्चक्शुर्मयः श्रोत्रमयः पृथिवीमय आपोमयो वायुमय आकाशमयस्तेजोमयोऽतेजोमयः काममयोऽकाममयः क्रोधमयोऽक्रोधमयो धर्ममयोऽधर्ममयः सर्वमयस्तद्यदेतदिदंमयोऽदोमय इति; यथाकारी यथाचारी तथा भवति—साधुकारी साधुर्भवति, पापकारी पापो भवति; पुण्यः पुण्येन कर्मणा भवति, पापः पापेन । अथो खल्वाहुः काममय एवायं पुरुष इति; स यथाकामो भवति तत्क्रतुर्भवति, यत्क्रतुर्भवति तत्कर्म कुरुते, यत्कर्म कुरुते तदभिसंपद्यते ॥ ५ ॥
sa vā ayamātmā brahma vijñānamayo manomayaḥ prāṇamayaścakśurmayaḥ śrotramayaḥ pṛthivīmaya āpomayo vāyumaya ākāśamayastejomayo'tejomayaḥ kāmamayo'kāmamayaḥ krodhamayo'krodhamayo dharmamayo'dharmamayaḥ sarvamayastadyadetadidaṃmayo'domaya iti; yathākārī yathācārī tathā bhavati—sādhukārī sādhurbhavati, pāpakārī pāpo bhavati; puṇyaḥ puṇyena karmaṇā bhavati, pāpaḥ pāpena | atho khalvāhuḥ kāmamaya evāyaṃ puruṣa iti; sa yathākāmo bhavati tatkraturbhavati, yatkraturbhavati tatkarma kurute, yatkarma kurute tadabhisaṃpadyate || 5 ||
5. That self is indeed Brahman, as well as identified with the intellect, the Manas and the vital force, with the eyes and ears, with earth, water, air and the ether, with fire, and what is other than fire, with desire and the absence of desire, with anger and the absence of anger, with righteousness and unrighteousness, with everything—identified, as is well known, with this (what is perceived) and with that (what is inferred). As it does and acts, so it becomes; by doing good it becomes good, and by doing evil it becomes evil—it becomes virtious through good acts and vicious through evil acts. Others, however, say, ‘The self is identified with desire alone. What it desires, it resolves; what it resolves, it works out; and what it works out, it attains.’
That self which thus transmigrates is indeed Brahman, the Supreme Self that is beyond hunger etc., as well as identified with the intellect (Vijñānamaya), being noticed through it; for it has been said, ‘Which is the self? This infinite entity (Puruṣa) that is identified with the intellect and is in the midst of the organs,’ etc. (IV. iii. 7). The self is called Vijñānamaya, resembling the intellect, because it is conceived as possessing the attributes of the intellect, as in the passage, ‘It thinks, as it were, and shakes, as it were’ (Ibid.). Likewise identified with the Manas, because of its proximity to that. Also identified with the vital force that has the fivefold function; for which reason the individual self is observed as moving, as it were. Similarly identified with the eyes, when it sees forms. Likewise identified with the ears, when it hears sounds. Thus as each particular organ functions, the self becomes identified with that.
Similarly, being identified with the eyes and other organs through the intellect and vital force, the self becomes identified with the elements such as earth. When a body preponderating in elements of earth has to be made, it becomes identified with earth. Similarly, when creating a watery body in the world of Varuṇa and so forth, it becomes identified with water. Likewise, when an aerial body has to be made, it becomes identified with air. Similarly, when making an ethereal body, it is identified with the ether. Thus when it makes bodies for the gods, which preponderate in elements of fire, it becomes identified with fire. As opposed to these, the bodies of animals, of denizens of hell, of ghosts, and so forth, are composed of materials other than fire; with regard to them the text says, identified with what is other than fire. Similarly, being identified with the body and organs, the self, on seeing something to be attained, forms the false notion that it has got this one, and has to get that one, and setting its heart on that, becomes identified with desire. When on seeing evil in that thing its longing for it ceases, and the mind becomes serene, pure and calm, then it becomes identified with the absence of desire. Likewise, when that desire is somehow frustrated, it takes the form of anger, and the self becomes identified with anger. When that anger is appeased by some means, and the mind becomes serene and peaceful, it is called the absence of anger; the self becomes identified with that. Thus the self, becoming identified with desire and anger as well as with the absence of them, becomes identified with righteousness and unrighteousness, for without desire, anger, etc. the tendency to righteousness and so forth cannot arise. Witness the Smṛti: ‘Whatever action a man does, is the outcome of desire’ (M. II. 4).
Being identified with righteousness and unrighteousness it becomes identified with everything. Everything is the effect of righteousness and unrighteousness: whatever is differentiated is the result of these two. The self, on attaining it, becomes identified with that. In short, identified, as is well known, with this, i.e. with objects that are perceived, and therefore with that. ‘That’ refers to imperceptible objects that are indicated only by their perceptible effects. The mind has an infinite number of thoughts, which cannot be definitely specified; they are known at particular moments through their effects, which lead us to infer that this or that particular thought is in one’s mind. Through that perceptible effect—which marks the identification of the self with ‘this’ or the perceptible—its remote or internal activity is indicated, and it is therefore designated as identified at present with ‘that’ or the imperceptible. To put it briefly, as it habitually does and acts, so it becomes. ‘Doing’ refers to prescribed conduct as indicated, for instance, by injunctions and prohibitions, while ‘action' is not so prescribed; this is the distinction between them. By doing good it becomes good: This amplifies the idea of ‘As it does,’ and by doing evil it becomes evil, the idea of ‘As it acts.’
The use of a suffix denoting habit (in four words of the text) may lead to a notion that the identification with good and evil actions consists in intense association with them, not in merely doing them. To remove this it is said, it becomes virtuous through good acts and vicious through evil acts. The identification comes of merely doing good and evil acts, and does not require habitual performance. This last only intensifies the identification; this is the difference. The long and short of it is, that doing good and bad deeds under the impulse of desire, anger, etc., is the cause of the Ātman's identification with everything, its undergoing transmigration and passing from one body to another; for, impelled by this, the self takes one body after another. Therefore good and bad deeds are the cause of its transmigratory existence. Scriptural injunctions and prohibitions are directed to this. Herein lies the utility of the scriptures.
Others, other authorities on bondage and liberation, however, say: It is true that good and bad deeds prompted by desire etc. are the cause of a man's taking a body; still it is under the influence of desire that he accumulates these deeds. When desire is gone, work, although present, does not lead to the accumulation of merit or demerit. Even if he goes on doing good and bad deeds, these, bereft of the desire, produce no results; therefore desire is the root of transmigratory existence. As the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad says, ‘He who longs for objects of desire, making much of them, is born along with those desires in places where he will realise them’ (III. ii. 2). Therefore the self is identified with desire alone. Its identification with other things, although it may be present, does not produce any results; hence the text emphatically says, ‘Identified with desire alone.’ Being identified with desire, what it desires, it resolves. That desire manifests itself as the slightest longing for a particular object, and, if unchecked, takes a more definite shape and becomes resolve. Resolve is determination, which is followed by action. What it resolves as a result of the desire, it works out by doing the kind of work that is calculated to procure the objects resolved upon. And what it works out, it attains, i.e. its results. Therefore desire is the only cause of its identification with everything as well as of undergoing transmigration.
तदेष श्लोको भवति ।
तदेव सक्तः सह कर्मणैति
लिङ्गं मनो यत्र निषक्तमस्य ।
प्राप्यान्तं कर्मणस्तस्य यत्किञ्चेह करोत्ययम् ।
तस्माल्लोकात्पुनरैत्यस्मै लोकाय कर्मणे ॥
इति नु कामयमानः; अथाकामयमानः—योऽकामो
निष्काम आप्तकाम आत्मकामो न तस्य प्राणा उत्क्रामन्ति,
ब्रह्मैव सन्ब्रह्माप्येति ॥ ६ ॥
tadeṣa śloko bhavati |
tadeva saktaḥ saha karmaṇaiti
liṅgaṃ mano yatra niṣaktamasya |
prāpyāntaṃ karmaṇastasya yatkiñceha karotyayam |
tasmāllokātpunaraityasmai lokāya karmaṇe ||
iti nu kāmayamānaḥ; athākāmayamānaḥ—yo'kāmo
niṣkāma āptakāma ātmakāmo na tasya prāṇā utkrāmanti,
brahmaiva sanbrahmāpyeti || 6 ||
6. Regarding this there is the following verse: ‘Being attached, he, together with the work, attains that result to which his subtle body or mind is attached. Exhausting the results of whatever work he did in this life, he returns from that world to this for (fresh) work.’ Thus does the man who desires (transmigrate). But the man who does not desire (never transmigrates). Of him who is without desires, who is free from desires, the objects of whose desire have been attained, and to whom all objects of desire are but the Self—the organs do not depart. Being but Brahman, he is merged in Brahman.
Regarding this subject there is also the following verse: Being attached, i.e. with his desire for it roused, he, the man who transmigrates, together with the work that he did with attachment to its result, attains that result to which his subtle body or mind is firmly attached, i.e. for which it yearns, since he did the work out of a desire for that.—The mind is called the subtle body, Liṅga, because it is the principal part of the latter; or the word ‘Liṅga' may mean a sign, that which indicates the self.—Therefore, only on account of this attachment of his mind, he attains the result through that action. This proves that desire is the root of transmigratory existence. Hence a knower of Brahman who has rooted out his desires may work, but it will produce no (baneful) result; for the Śruti says, ‘For one who has completely atta ìned the objects of his desire and realised the Self, all desires dissolve in this very life’ (Mu. III. ii. 2).
Further, exhausting the results of work—what kind of work?—whatever work he did in this life, by experiencing them, he returns from that world to this for work, for work holds the foremost place in this Avorld. Hence the text says, ‘For work,’ i.e. to work again. After working again, he, owing to attachment to results, again goes to the next world, and so on. Thus does the man who desires transmigrate. Since ît is this man of desire that transmigrates thus, therefore the man who does not desire, does not transmigrate anywhere.
It has been said that only the man who is attached to results transmigrates. Since one who has no desires cannot perform (ritualistic) work, the man who does not desire necessarily attains liberation. How does a man cease to desire? He who is without desires is the man who does not desire. How is this absence of desire attained? This is being explained: Who is free from desires, i.e. whom desires have left. How do they leave? The objects of whose desire have been attained. How are they attained? Because he is one to whom all objects of desire are but the Self—who has only the Self, and nothing else separate from It that can be desired; to whom the Self alone exists— the Pure Intelligence without interior or exterior, entire and homogeneous; and neither above nor below nor in the middle is there anything else but the Self to be desired. What should a person desire who has realised: ‘When everything has become the Self to one, what should one see, hear, think or know, and through what? For a thing that is known as other than oneself may become an object of desire. But such a thing does not exist for the knower of Brahman, the objects of whose desire have all been attained. He to whom all objects of desire, being but the Self, are already attained, is alone free from desires, is without desires, and does not desire any more; hence he attains liberation. For he to whom everything is the Self, has nothing else to desire. It is contradictory to say that he has something other than the Self to desire, and again, that to him everything is the Self. Since a man who has realised his identity with all has nothing to desire, he cannot perform rites.
Those who hold that even a knower of Brahman must perform rites in order to avoid evil, cannot say that to him everything is the Self, for they regard the evil that they wish him to avoid as different from the Seif. Whereas we call him a knower of Brahman who constantly knows the Self which is beyond hunger etc. and untouched by evil; he constantly sees the Self which is beyond hunger and so forth. Work can never touch him who does not see anything other than the Self to be avoided or received. But one who is not a knower of Brahman must perform rites to avoid evil. Hence there is no contradiction. Therefore, having no desires, the person who does not desire is no more born; he attains only liberation.
Since the man who does not desire has no work and therefore has no cause to go to the next world, his organs such as that of speech do not depart or go up from the body. That man of realisation who has attained all the objects of his desire, since they are but the Self to him, has become Brahman in this very life, for as an illustration of the Infinite Brahman the following form was pointed out: That is his form—in which all objects of desire have been attained and are but the Self, and which is free from desires’ (IV. iii. 21.) Now that of which the above is an illustration is being concluded in the words, ‘But the man who does not desire,’ etc. How does such a man attain liberation? This is being stated: He who sees the Self, as in the state of profound sleep, as undifferentiated, one without a second, and as the constant light of Pure Intelligence—only this disinterested man has no work and consequently no cause for transmigration; therefore his organs such as that of speech do not depart. Rather this man of realisation is Brahman in this very life, although he seems to have a body. Being but Brahman, he is merged in Brahman. Because he has no desires that cause the limitation of non-Brahmanhood, therefore ‘being but Brahman he is merged in Brahman’ in this very life, not after the body falls. A man of realisation, after his death, has no change of condition—something different from what he was in life, but he is only not connected with another body. This is what is meant by his becoming ‘merged in Brahman’; for if liberation was a change of condition, it would contradict the unity of the Self that all the Upaniṣads seek to teach. And liberation would be the effect of work, not of knowledge—which nobody would desire. Fuither, it would become transitory, for nothing that has been produced by an action is seen to be eternal, but liberation is admitted to be eternal, as the Mantra says, ‘This is the eternal glory (of a knower of Brahman),’ etc. (IV. iv. 23).
Moreover, nothing but the inherent nature of a thing can be regarded as eternal. If liberation is the nature of the self, like the heat of ñre, it cannot be said to be a consequence of human activity. The heat or light of fire is surely not a consequence of the activity of fire; it is a contradiction in terms to say that they are, and yet that they are the natural properties of fire. If it be urged that they are an outcome of the activity of combustion, the answer is, no, because they depend on manifestation by the removal of obstructions to one’s perception. That fire is manifested through its qualities of heat and light by the process of combustion etc., is due not to the fire itself, but to the fact that those qualities, not being connected with anybody’s vision, were hidden, and are manifested when the obstructionś. to vision are removed by the process of combustion. This leads to the error that the qualities of heat and light are produced by the combustion. If heat and light are not admitted as the natural properties of fire, well then, we shall cite as examples whatever be its natural properties. Nobody can say that things have no natural properties at all.
Nor can liberation be a mere negative something—the cessation of bondage, like the breaking of fetters, for the Supreme Self is supposed to be the only entity that exists. As the Śruti says, ‘One only without a second’ (Ch. VI. ii. 1.). And there is no other entity that is bound, whose freedom from bondage, as from fetters, would be liberation, for we have spoken at length of the absence of any other entity but the Supreme Self. Therefore, as we have also said, the cessation of ignorance alone is commonly called liberation, like the disappearance of the snake, for instance, from the rope when the erroneous notion about its existence has been dispelled.
Those who hold that in liberation a new knowledge and bliss are manifested, should explain what they mean by manifestation. If it means ordinary perception or the cognition of objects, they should state whether the knowledge or bliss that is manifested is existent or non-existent. If it is existent, it is the very self of that liberated man to whom it is manifested; hence, there being possibly no bar to the perception, it will always be manifest, and for this reason it is meaningless to specify its being manifest to the liberated man. If, however, it is manifest only at certain times, then because of the obstacles to its perception, it is different from the self, and therefore there arises the question of its manifestation through some other means; hence there will be the necessity of these means also. But if the knowledge and bliss in question have the same support as the perception, then, there being no possibility of obstacles, they will either be always manifest or always hidden; there is no warrant for conceiving an intermediate stage between the two. Now attributes that have the same support, and are a part and parcel of the same substance, cannot have the relation of subject and object to one another. Besides, the entity that is subject to transmigration before the manifestation of knowledge and bliss, and liberated after it, must be different from the Supreme Self, the eternally manifest Knowledge Absolute, for the two are totally different from each other, like heat and cold; and if differences are admitted in the Supreme Self, the Vedic position will be abandoned.
Objection: If liberation makes no difference from the present state, it is unreasonable to make a particular effort for it, and the scriptures too become useless.
Reply: No, for both are necessary to remove the delusion created by ignorance. Really there is no such distinction as liberation and bondage in the self, for it is eternally the same; but the ignorance regarding it is removed by the knowledge arising from the teachings of the scriptures, and prior to the receiving of these teachings, the effort to attain liberation is perfectly reasonable.
Objection: There will be some difference in thé self that is under ignorance, due to the cessation or continuance of that ignorance.
Reply: No; we have already (p. 477) said that it is admitted to be the creation of ignorance, like a rope, a desert, a mother-of-pearl and the sky appearing as a snake, water, silver, and blue respectively.
Objection: But there will be some difference in the self due to its being or not being the cause of ignorance, as in the case of man affected with the eye-disease called Timira or free from it.
Reply: No, for the Śruti denies that the Ātman by itself is the cause of ignorance, as in the passage, ‘It thinks, as it were, and shakes, as it were’ (IV. iii. 7); and the error we call ignorance is due to a combination of diverse activities. Another reason is that ignorance is an object witnessed by the self. He who visualises the error of ignorance as something distinct from his own self, like a jar etc., is not himself under that error.
Objection: Surely he is under that error, for one feels that one sometimes has the notion, ‘I do not know, I am confused.’
Reply: No, for that too is distinctly perceived. He who distinctly perceives a thing cannot surely be said to be mistaken about it; it is self-contradictory to say that he perceives it distinctly, and at the same time, that he is mistaken about it.
You say that a person feels, ‘I do not know, I am confused’: thereby you admit that he visualises his ignorance and confusion, in other words, that these become the objects of his experience. So how can the ignorance and confusion, which are objects, be at the same time a description of the subject, the perceiver? If, on the other hand, they are a description of the subject, how can they be objects and be perceived by the subject? An object is perceived by an act of the subject. The object is one thing, and the subject another; it cannot be perceived by itself. Tell me how under such circumstances the ignorance and confusion can be a description of the subject. Moreover, a person who sees ignorance as something distinct—perceives it as an object of his own cognition—does not regard it as an attribute of the perceiver, as is the case with thinness, colour, and so forth in the body. (Similarly the effects of ignorance also are not attributes of the self).
Objection: But everybody perceives pleasure, pain, desire, effort, etc. (as belonging to himself).
Reply: Even then the man who perceives them is admittedly different from them.
Objection: Well, we have referred to the person who says, ‘I do not know what you say, I am confused.’ What do you say to that?
Reply: Let him regard himself as ignorant and confused; we, however, accept one who sees like this as knowing and possessed of a clear perception. For instance, Vyāsa has said that the owner of the field (the self) reveals the entire held (body and mind), including desire. And there are hundreds of texts like the following: ‘(He truly sees who) sees the Supreme Lord living the same in all beings—the immortal Principle in the midst of things perishable’ (G. XIII. 27). Therefore the Ātman by itself has no difference due to bondage or liberation, knowledge or ignorance, for it is admitted to be always the same and homogeneous by nature.
Those, however, who, considering the reality of the self to be different, reduce the scriptures dealing with bondage and liberation to mere plausible statements, would dare to find the foot prints of birds in the sky, to pull it with their clenched hands, or to cover it as with a skin. But we can do no such thing. We hold that it is the definite conclusion of all the Upaniṣads that we are nothing but the Ātman, the Brahman that is always the same, homogeneous, one without a second, unchanging, birthless, undecaying, immortal, deathless and free from fear. Therefore the statement, ‘He is merged in Brahman’ (this text), is but a figurative one, meaning the cessation, as a result of knowledge, of the continuous chain of bodies for one who has held an opposite view.
Transmigration, which was the thing that was sought to be explained by the example of going into the waking and dream states, has been described; so also its causes—knowledge, work and past experience. Those limiting adjuncts, the elements comprising the body and organs, surrounded by which the self experiences the transmigratory existence, have also been mentioned. After stating, as a prima facie view, that their immediate causes are good and bad deeds, the cause has finally been decided to be desire. Having described bondage and its cause by showing that the decision of the Brāhmaṇa on this point agrees with that of the Mantra, the Śruti has concluded the topic with the words, ‘Thus does the man who desires (transmigrate)’ (IV. iv. 6). Then beginning with, ‘But the man who does not desire (never transmigrates)’ (Ibid.), liberation consisting in the identity with all, which is the thing that was sought to be explained by the example of the state of profound sleep, has been described. And the cause of liberation has been stated to be the attainment of all objects of desire through their becoming the Self. But since this state is unattainable without Self-knowledge, the cause of liberation has by implication been stated to be the knowledge of Brahman. Therefore, although desire has been said to be the root of bondage, it is ignorance that, being the opposite of what leads to liberation (knowledge), has virtually been stated to be the cause of bondage. Here also liberation and its means have been dealt with by the Brāhmaṇa. To strengthen that, a Mantra, called Śloka, is being quoted:
तदेष श्लोको भवति ।
यदा सर्वे प्रमुच्यन्ते कामा येऽस्य हृदि श्रिताः ।
अथ मर्त्योऽमृतो भवत्यत्र ब्रह्म समश्नुत ॥ इति ।
तद्यथाहिनिर्व्लयनी वल्मीके मृता प्रत्यस्ता शयीत, एवमेवेदं शरीरं शेते, अथायमशरीरोऽमृतः प्राणो ब्रह्मैव तेज एव; सोऽहं भगवते सहस्रं ददामीति होवाच जनको वैदेहः ॥ ७ ॥
tadeṣa śloko bhavati ।
yadā sarve pramucyante kāmā ye'sya hṛdi śritāḥ |
atha martyo'mṛto bhavatyatra brahma samaśnuta || iti |
tadyathāhinirvlayanī valmīke mṛtā pratyastā śayīta, evamevedaṃ śarīraṃ śete, athāyamaśarīro'mṛtaḥ prāṇo brahmaiva teja eva; so'haṃ bhagavate sahasraṃ dadāmīti hovāca janako vaidehaḥ || 7 ||
7. Regarding this there is this verse: ‘When all the desires that dwell in his heart (mind) are gone, then he, having been mortal, becomes immortal, and attains Brahman in this very body.’ Just as the lifeless slough of a snake is cast off and lies in the ant-hill, so does this body lie. Then the self becomes disembodied and immortal, (becomes) the Prāṇa (Supreme Self), Brahman, the Light. ‘I give you a thousand (cows), sir,’ said Janaka, Emperor of Videha.
Regarding this very theme there is this verse or Mantra: When all the desires, forms of yearning, of the knower of Brahman all the objects of whose desire are the Self, are gone, are destroyed together with their root. That dwell in his heart, those well-known desires concerning this and the next life, viz. the desire for children, wealth and worlds, that abide in the intellect (mind) of the ordinary man. Then he, having been mortal, becomes immortal, being divested of desires together with their root. It is virtually implied that desires concerning things other than the Self fall under the category of ignorance, and are but forms of death. Therefore, on the cessation of death, the man of realisation becomes immortal. And attains Brahman, the identity with Brahman, i.e. liberation, living in this very body. Hence liberation does not require such things as going to some other place. Therefore the organs of a man of realisation do not depart; they are merged in their cause, the self, just where they are. As has been said (III. ii. 12), only their names remain.
But how is it that when the organs have been merged, and the body also has dissolved in its cause, the liberated sage lives in the body identified with all, but does not revert to his former embodied existence, which is subject to transmigration? The answer is being given: Here is an illustration in point. Just as in the world the lifeless slough of a snake is cast off by it as no more being a part of itself, and lies in the ant - hill, or any other nest of a snake, so does this body, discarded as non-self by the liberated man, who corresponds to the snake, lie like dead.
Then the other, the liberated man identified with all—who corresponds to the snake—although he resides just there like the snake, becomes disembodied, and is no more connected with the body. Because formerly he was embodied and mortal on account of his identification with the body under the influence of his desires and past work; since that has gone, he is now disembodied, and therefore immortal. Prāṇa means that which lives. It will be said in a succeeding verse, ‘The Vital Force of the vital force’ (IV. iv. 18): and another Śruti says, ‘The mind (individual self), my dear, is tethered to the Prāṇa (Supreme Self)’ (Ch. VI. viii. 2). From the context and the sentence also it is clear that the word ‘Prāṇa’ here means the Supreme Self. Brahman, the same as the Supreme Self. What is that? The Light of Pure Intelligence, the light of the Ātman, illumined by which the universe gets its eye of knowledge, and beaming with intelligence, remains unshaken in its path.
That wished-for question for the purpose of liberation, about which Yājñavalkya gave Janaka a boon, has been elaborately answered by the Śruti, taking the form of the story of Janaka and Yājñavalkya. It deals with bondage and liberation together with their causes, by means of themes and illustrations. The way of deliverance from relative existence has been told to all. Now the Śruti itself states that Janaka said such and such to compensate for the instructions he had received. What was it? ‘Thus delivered, I give you a thousand cows, sir, as a requital for the instructions received,’ said Janaka, Emperor of Videha. Now, since the meaning of liberation has been ascertained, why does he not offer himself as well as the empire of Videha, but merely give a thousand cows, as when only a part of liberation was explained? What is the idea behind it?
Here some say, Janaka, who takes delight in the knowledge of the Self, wants to hear again through Mantras what he has already heard; hence he does not offer everything. He thinks he will do it at the end, after he has heard what he wants to from Yājñavalkya. He is afraid lest, in case he offers everything now, the sage should think that he does not want to hear any more, and withhold the Mantras. So he gives a thousand cows to intimate his desire to hear more. All this is wrong for the Śruti, being trustworthy authority, can never have recourse to a subterfuge like a man. Besides there is something more to be explained; although liberation, which is attainable through Self-knowledge, has been explained, a part of the latter, viz. the relinquishment of desires that is called renunciation, is yet to be described. Therefore the view that the Emperor merely wishes to hear the Mantras is not sound. A resort to repetition can be made only when there is no other way out, and should be avoided when there is an alternative; and we have already said (p. 486) that renunciation is not a mere eulogy on Self-knowledge. It may be urged that in that case the Emperor should say, ‘(Please instruct me) further about liberation itself.’ To this we reply: The objection does not hold. The Emperor thinks that renunciation is not a direct cause of liberation like Self-knowledge; accordingly it can go in like a subsidiary act in a sacrifice. For the Smṛti says, ‘One should give up the body through renunciation.’ Even if renunciation were a means to liberation, it would not necessitate the request, ‘(Please instruct me) further about liberation itself,’ because it merely serves to mature Self-knowledge, which is the means of liberation.
तदेते श्लोका भवन्ति ।
अणुः पन्था विततः पुराणो मां स्पृष्टोऽनुवित्तो मयैव ।
तेन धीरा अपियन्ति ब्रह्मविदः
स्वर्गं लोकमित ऊर्ध्वं विमुक्ताः ॥ ८ ॥
tadete ślokā bhavanti |
aṇuḥ panthā vitataḥ purāṇo māṃ spṛṣṭo'nuvitto mayaiva |
tena dhīrā apiyanti brahmavidaḥ
svargaṃ lokamita ūrdhvaṃ vimuktāḥ || 8 ||
8. Regarding this there are the following verses: The subtle, extensive, ancient way has touched (been reached by) me. (Nay) I have realised it myself. Through that sages—the knowers of Brahman—(also) go to the heavenly sphere (liberation) after the fall of this body, being freed (even while living).
Regarding this subject, that liberation is attained by the knower of Brahman all the objects of whose desire are the Self—a subject that has been dealt with by both Mantra and Brāhmaṇa in the preceding portion—there are the following verses showing the details: The subtle, being difficult to comprehend; extensive, or on account of another reading, ‘Vitara,’ effectively leading to liberation; ancient primeval, being revealed by the eternal Śrutis, not modem like the misleading paths emanating from the intellect of the logicians; way, the path of knowledge that conduces to liberation; has touched me, i.e. has been reached by me. That which is attained by somebody is connected with him as if it touched him; hence the path of liberation consisting in the knowledge of Brahman, having been attained by me, is said to have touched me. I have not merely attáined it, but have realised it myself. Realisation (Anuvedana) is that attainment which, as knowledge ripens, culminates in the ultimate results, as eating culminates in satiety. In the previous clause only a contact with knowledge is meant. This is the difference.
Objection: Is this seer of the Mantras the only person who has achieved the result of the knowledge of Brahman, and has none else done it, so that he asserts, T have realised it myself’?
Reply: There is nothing wrong in it. It is a eulogy on the knowledge of Brahman, inasmuch as its result is unique—it is subjective. Such indeed is Self-knowledge: it gives one the conviction that one is completely blessed, and it requires no other witness than the testimony of one’s own experience; so what can be better than this? Thus it is a glorification of the knowledge of Brahman; not that no other knower of Brahman attains that result. For the Śruti says, ‘Whoever among the gods (knew It also became That)’ (I. iv. 10), which shows that the knowledge of Brahman is accessible to all. This is expressed by the text: Through that path of the knowledge of Brahman sages, men of illumination, i.e. other knowers of Brahman also, go to the heavenly sphere, or liberation, which is the result of the knowledge of Brahman—‘Heavenly sphere’ generally means heaven, the abode of the gods, but here from the context it means liberation—after the fall of this body, being freed even while living.
तस्मिञ्छुक्लमुत नीलमाहुः पिङ्गलं हरितं लोहितं च ।
एष पन्था ब्रह्मणा हानुवित्तः, तेनैति ब्रह्मवित्पुण्यकृत्तैजसश्च ॥ ९ ॥
tasmiñchuklamuta nīlamāhuḥ piṅgalaṃ haritaṃ lohitaṃ ca |
eṣa panthā brahmaṇā hānuvittaḥ, tenaiti brahmavitpuṇyakṛttaijasaśca || 9 ||
9. in Some speak of it as white, others as blue, grey, green, or red. This path is realised by a Brāhmaṇa (knower of Brahman). Any other knower of Brahman who has done good deeds and is identified with the Supreme Light, (also) treads this path.
Seekers after liberation are at variance regarding this path leading to liberation. How? Some aspirants speak of it as white, pure or limpid, others as blue, others as grey, green, or red, according to their experience. In reality, however, they are the nerves Suṣumnā and so forth, filled with phlegm and other liquids, for they have been mentioned in the words, ‘(Filled) with white, blue, grey,’ etc. (IV. iii. 20). Or they consider the sun to be this path of liberation, because of the reference in another Śruti, ‘He is white, he is blue,’ etc. (Ch. VIII. vi. 1). Besides, the path of realisation cannot have any colour, white or any other. In either case these white and other colours refer to some other path than that of knowledge of Brahman, which is the one under consideration.
It may be urged that the word ‘white’ refers to the pure monistic path. To this we reply: Not so, for it is enumerated along with the words, ‘blue,’ ‘yellow,’ etc., denoting colour. The white and other paths that the Yogins designate as the paths of liberation, are not really such, for they fall within the range of relative existence. They merely lead to the world of Hiraṇyagarbha and so on, for they relate to the exit through particular parts of the body: ‘Through the eye, or through the head, or through any other part of the body’ (IV. iv. 2). Therefore the path of liberation is the absorption of the body and the organs such as the eye in this very life, like the going out of a lamp—when transmigration is impossible, owing to the exhaustion of all desires through their attainment by the transformation of all objects of desire as the Self. This path of knowledge is realised by a Brāhmaṇa who has given up all his desires, and become one with the Supreme Self. Any other knower of Brahman also treads this path of the knowledge of Brahman. What kind of knower of Brahman? Who first of all has done good deeds and then given up the desire for children etc., and is identified with the Supreme Light—by connecting himself with the Light of the Supreme Self, is metamorphosed into that, that is, has become the Ātman in this very life. Such a knower of Brahman treads this path.
One who combines good work with knowledge is not meant here, for we have said that these are contradictory. The Smṛti too says, ‘Salutation to that Embodiment of Liberation whom serene monks, fearless about rebirth, attain after the cessation of the effects of their good and bad deeds’ (Mbh. XII. xlvi. 56). There is also the exhortation to relinquish merit and demerit: ‘Give up doing good and evil’ (Mbh. XII. cccxxxvii. 40). And there are the following Smṛti passages: ‘The gods consider him a knower of Brahman who has no desires, who undertakes no work, who does not salute or praise anybody, and whose work has been exhausted, but who himself is unchanged’ (Mbh. XII. cclxix. 34), and ‘For a knower of Brahman there is no wealth comparable to unity, sameness, truthfulness, virtue, steadfastness, noninjury, candour, and withdrawal from all activities’ (Mbh. XII. clxxiv. 37). Here also the Śruti, a little further on, after giving the reason why work will be unnecessary, in the passage, ‘This is the eternal glory of a knower of Brahman: it neither increases nor decreases through work’ (IV iv. 23), will advise the giving up of all activities in the words, ‘Therefore he who knows it as such becomes self-con trolled, calm,’ etc.. (Ibid.). Therefore the clause, ‘Who has done good deeds,’ should be explained as we have done. Or the sentence may mean: The knower of Brahman who treads this path is a doer of good deeds and a Yogin who has controlled his senses. Thus it is a eṇlogy on the knowledge of Brahman. A doer of good and a Yogin of this type are considered highly fortunate people in the world. Hence these two epithets serve to glorify the knower of Brahman.
अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति येऽविद्यामुपासते ।
ततो भूय इव ते तमो य उ विद्यायां रताः ॥ १० ॥
andhaṃ tamaḥ praviśanti ye'vidyāmupāsate |
tato bhūya iva te tamo ya u vidyāyāṃ ratāḥ || 10 ||
10. Into blinding darkness (ignorance) enter those who worship ignorance (rites). Into greater darkness, as it were, than that enter those who are devoted to knowledge (the ceremonial portion of the Vedas).
Into blinding darkness, i.e. darkness that obstructs one’s vision, or ignorance that regulates transmigration, enter those who worship, i.e. follow ignorance, the opposite of knowledge, i.e. work consisting of ends and means, in other words, those who practise rites. Into greater darkness, as it were, than even that enter those who are devoted, or attached, to knowledge, that portion of the Vedas which deals with things that are the outcome of ignorance, i.e. the ritualistic portion, in other words, those who disregard the teachings of the Upaniṣads, saying that that portion alone which deals with the injunctions and prohibitions is the Vedas, and there is none other.
अनन्दा नाम ते लोका अन्धेन तमसावृताः ।
तांस्ते प्रेत्याभिगच्छन्त्यविद्वांसोऽबुधो जनाः ॥ ११ ॥
anandā nāma te lokā andhena tamasāvṛtāḥ |
tāṃste pretyābhigacchantyavidvāṃso'budho janāḥ || 11 ||
11. Miserable are those worlds enveloped by (that) blinding darkness (ignorance). To them, after death, go those people who are ignorant and unwise.
What is the harm if they enter into the darkness that obstructs one’s vision? This is being answered: Miserable are those worlds enveloped by that blinding darkness which obstructs one’s vision; that is, they are the province of that darkness of ignorance. To them, after death, go—who?—those people who are ignorant. The word ‘people’ means common folk, or those subject to repeated births. Will only ignorance in general take one there? No, they must be unwise (Abudh) too. The word is formed from the root ‘budh,’ meaning, to know, by the addition of the suffix ‘kvip’; that is, devoid of the knowledge of the Self.
आत्मानं चेद्विजानीयादयमस्मीति पूरुषः ।
किमिच्छन्कस्य कामाय शरीरमनुसंज्वरेत् ॥ १२ ॥
ātmānaṃ cedvijānīyādayamasmīti pūruṣaḥ |
kimicchankasya kāmāya śarīramanusaṃjvaret || 12 ||
12. If a man knows the Self as ‘I am this,’ then desiring what and for whose sake will he suffer in the wake of the body?
If a man, one in a thousand, knows the Self, which is his own as well as the Supreme Self, which knows the desires of all beings, which is in the heart (intellect), and is beyond the attributes of hunger etc. The word ‘if’ shows the rarity of Self-knowledge. Knows how? As ‘I am this’ Supreme Self, the witness of the perception of all beings, which has been described as ‘Not this, not this,’ and so on, than which there is no other seer, hearer, thinker and knower, which is always the same and is in all beings, and which is naturally eternal, pure, enlightened and free; desiring what other thing, of the nature of a result, distinct from his own Self, and for whose sake, for the need of what other person distinct from himself: Since he as the Self has nothing to wish for, and there is none other than himself for whose sake he may wish it, he being the Self of all, therefore desiring what and for whose sake will he suffer in the wake of the body—deviate from his nature, or become miserable, following the misery created by his limiting adjunct, the body, i.e. imbibe the afflictions of the body? For this is possible for the man who does not see the Self and consequently desires things other than It. He struggles desiring something for himself, something else for his son, a third thing for his wife, and so on, goes the round of births and deaths, and is diseased when his body is diseased. But all this is impossible for the man who sees everything as the Self. This is what the Śruti says.
यस्यानुवित्तः प्रतिबुद्ध आत्मास्मिन्संदेह्ये गहने प्रविष्टः ।
स विश्वकृत्, स हि सर्वस्य कर्ता, तस्य लोकः, स उ लोक एव ॥ १३ ॥
yasyānuvittaḥ pratibuddha ātmāsminsaṃdehye gahane praviṣṭaḥ |
sa viśvakṛt, sa hi sarvasya kartā, tasya lokaḥ, sa u loka eva || 13 ||
13. He who has realised and intimately known the Self that has entered this perilous and inaccessible place (the body), is the maker of the universe, for he is the maker of all, (all is) his Self, and he again is indeed the Self (of all).
Further, he, the knower of Brahman, who has realised and intimately known the Self—how?—known himself as the innermost Self, as ‘I am the Supreme Brahman,’ the Self that has entered this place (the body) which is perilous, beset with numerous dangers, and inaccessible with hundreds and thousands of obstacles to enlightenment through discrimination—this knower of Brahman who has realised this Self through intuition is the maker of the universe. How? Is it only in name? This is being answered: No, not in name merely, for he is the maker of all: He is not such under the influence of any extraneous agency. What then? All is his Self. Is the Self something different from him? The answer is: He again is indeed the Self (Loka). The word ‘Loka’ here means the Self. That is to say, all is his Self, and he is the Self of all. This innermost Self which has entered this body, beset with dangers and inaccessible, and which the knower of Brahman realises through intuition, is not the individual self, but the Supreme Self, because It is the maker of the universe, the Self of all, and all is Its Self. One should meditate upon one’s identity with the Supreme Self, the one only without a second: This is the gist of the verse.
इहैव सन्तोऽथ विद्मस्तद्वयम्, न चेदवेदिर्महती विनष्टिः ।
ये तद्विदुरमृतास्ते भवन्ति, अथेतरे दुःखमेवापियन्ति ॥ १४ ॥
ihaiva santo'tha vidmastadvayam, na cedavedirmahatī vinaṣṭiḥ |
ye tadviduramṛtāste bhavanti, athetare duḥkhamevāpiyanti || 14 ||
14. Being in this very body we have somehow known that (Brahman). If not, (I should have been) ignorant, (and) great destruction (would have taken place). Those who know It become immortal, while others attain misery alone.
Further, being in this very body, so full of dangers, i.e. being under the spell of the long sleep of ignorance, we have somehow known that Brahman which is under consideration as our own self; oh, blessed are we—this is the idea. If we had not known that Brahman which we have known, I should have been ignorant (Avedi). ‘Vedi’ is one who has knowledge; hence ‘Avedi’ means ignorant. The shortening of the last vowel does not affect the meaning. What harm would there have been had I been ignorant? Great, of infinite magnitude; destruction, consisting in births, deaths, etc., would have taken place. Oh, blessed are we that we have been saved from this great destruction by knowing Brahman, the one without a second; this is the idea. As we have escaped this great destruction by knowing Brahman, so those who know It become immortal, while those others, people other than the knowers of Brahman, who do not thus know Brahman, attain misery alone, consisting in births, deaths, etc. That is to say, the ignorant never escape from them, for they regard misery itself (the body) as the Self.
यदैतमनुपश्यत्यात्मानं देवमञ्जसा ।
ईशानं भूतभव्यस्य, न ततो विजुगुप्सते ॥ १५ ॥
yadaitamanupaśyatyātmānaṃ devamañjasā |
īśānaṃ bhūtabhavyasya, na tato vijugupsate || 15 ||
15. When a man after (receiving instructions from a teacher) directly realises this effulgent Self, the Lord of all that has been and will be, he no longer wishes to hide himself from it.
But when a man, somehow meeting a highly merciful teacher and receiving his grace, afterwards directly realises this effulgent (Deva) Self, or, the Seif that bestows on all the respective results of their deeds, the Lord of all that has been and will be, i.e. of the past, present and future, he no longer wishes particularly to hide himself from It, this Lord. Everyone who sees diversity wishes to hide himself from God. But this man sees unity, hence he is not afraid of anything. Therefore he does not want to hide himself any more. Or the meaning may be: When he directly realises the effulgent Lord as identical with his own self, he no longer blames anybody, for he sees all as his self, and for that reason whom should he blame?
यस्मादर्वाक्संवत्सरोऽहोभिः परिवर्तते ।
तद्देवा ज्योतिषां ज्योतिरायुर्होपासतेऽमृतम् ॥ १६ ॥
yasmādarvāksaṃvatsaro'hobhiḥ parivartate |
taddevā jyotiṣāṃ jyotirāyurhopāsate'mṛtam || 16 ||
16. Below which the year with its days rotates, upon that immortal Light of all lights the gods meditate as longevity.
Also, below which Lord, i.e. in a different category from it, the year, representing time which limits everything that is born, with its own parts, the days and nights, rotates, occupies a lower position without being able to limit It—upon that immortal Light of all lights, which is the revealer of even such luminaries as the sun, the gods meditate as longevity. Things other than that perish, but not this Light, for it is the longevity of all. Because the gods meditate upon this Light through its attribute of longevity, therefore they are long-lived. Hence one who desires a long life should meditate upon Brahman through Its attribute of longevity.
यस्मिन्पञ्च पञ्चजना आकाशश्च प्रतिष्ठितः ।
तमेव मन्य आत्मानं विद्वान्ब्रह्मामृतोऽमृतम् ॥ १७ ॥
yasminpañca pañcajanā ākāśaśca pratiṣṭhitaḥ |
tameva manya ātmānaṃ vidvānbrahmāmṛto'mṛtam || 17 ||
Moreover, that Brahman in which the five groups of five, the celestial minstrels etc., who are five in number, viz. the celestial minstrels, the Manes, the gods, the Asuras and the Rākṣasas—or the four castes with the Caṇḍālas as the fifth—and the ether called the Undifferentiated, which pervades the Sūtra, are placed—it has been said, ‘By this Immutable, O Gārgī, is the (unmanifested) ether pervaded’ (III. viii. 11)—that very Ātman I regard as the immortal Brahman. I do not consider the Self as different from that. What then is it? Knowing Brahman, I am immortal. I was mortal only through ignorance. Since that is gone, I, the knowing one, am indeed immortal.
प्राणस्य प्राणमुत चक्शुषश्चक्शुरुत श्रोत्रस्य श्रोत्रं मनसो ये मनो विदुः ।
ते निचिक्युर्ब्रह्म पुराणमग्र्यम् ॥ १८ ॥
prāṇasya prāṇamuta cakśuṣaścakśuruta śrotrasya śrotraṃ manaso ye mano viduḥ |
te nicikyurbrahma purāṇamagryam || 18 ||
18. Those who have known the Vital Force of the vital force, the Eye of the eye, the Ear of the ear, and the Mind of the mind, have realised the ancient, primordial Brahman.
Further it is by being revealed by the light of the Ātman that is Pure Intelligence, its own Self, that the vital force functions; therefore It is the Vital Force of the vital force. Those who have known the Vital Force of the vital force, as also the Eye of the eye, the Ear of the ear: The eye and the other organs receive their powers of vision and so forth only by being inspired by the energy of Brahman; by themselves, divested of the light of the Ātman that is Pure Intelligence, they are like wood or clods of earth; and the Mind of the mind—in other words, those who have known the Self not as a sense-object, but as the innermost Self whose existence is inferred from the functions of the eye etc., have realised, known with certainty, the ancient or eternal, and primordial Brahman; for the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad says, ‘That which the knowers of the Self realise’ (II. ii. 19).
मनसैवानुद्रष्टव्यं, नेह नानास्ति किंचन ।
मृत्योः स मृत्युमाप्नोति य इह नानेव पश्यति ॥ १९ ॥
manasaivānudraṣṭavyaṃ, neha nānāsti kiṃcana |
mṛtyoḥ sa mṛtyumāpnoti ya iha nāneva paśyati || 19 ||
19. Through the mind alone (It) is to be realised. There is no difference whatsoever in It. He goes from death to death, who sees difference, as it were, in It.
The means of the realisation of that Brahman is being described. Through the mind alone, purified by the knowledge of the supreme Truth, and in accordance with the instructions of the teacher, (It) is to be realised. There is no difference whatsoever in It, Brahman, the object of the realisation. Although there is no difference, one superimposes it through ignorance. He gáes from death to death. Who? Who sees difference, as it were, in It. That is to say, really there is no duality apart from the superimposition of ignorance.
एकधैवानुद्रष्टव्यमेतदप्रमयं ध्रुवम् ।
विरजः पर आकाशादज आत्मा महान्ध्रुवः ॥ २० ॥
ekadhaivānudraṣṭavyametadapramayaṃ dhruvam |
virajaḥ para ākāśādaja ātmā mahāndhruvaḥ || 20 ||
20. It should be realised in one form only, (for) It is unknowable and eternal. The Self is taintless, beyond the (subtle) ether, birthless, infinite and constant.
Since It is such, therefore It should be realised in one form only, viz. as homogeneous Pure Intelligence, without any break in it, like the éther; for It, this Brahman, is unknowable, owing to the unity of everything (in Brahman). One is known by another; but It is one, hence unknowable. Eternal, unchangeable, or immovable. It may be objected: Surely this is contradictory—to say that It is unknowable, and also that It is known; ‘It is known,’ means, that It is cognised by the means of knowledge, and ‘unknowable’ is the denial of that. To this we reply: It is all right, for only this much is denied that It, like other things, is known by any other means than scriptural evidence. Other things are cognised by the ordinary means independent of scriptural evidence; but the truth of the Self cannot thus be known by any other means of knowledge but that. The scriptures too describe It merely by the negation of the activities of the subject, the evidences of knowledge, and so on, in such terms as these: When everything is the Self, what should one see, . . . know, and through what?—and not by resorting to the usual function of a sentence in which something is described by means of names. Therefore even in the scriptures the Self is not presented like heaven or Mount Meru, for instance, for it is the very Self of those that present it. A presentation by someone has for its object something to be presented, and this is possible only when there is difference.
The knowledge of Brahman too means only the cessation of the identification with extraneous things (such as the body). The relation of identity with It has not to be directly established, for it is already there. Everybody always has that identity with It, but it appears to be related to something else. Therefore the scriptures do not enjoin that identity with Brahman should be established, but that the false identification with things other than That should stop. When the identification with other things is gone, that identity with one’s own Self which is natural, becomes isolated; this is expressed by the statement that the Self is known. In Itself It is unknowable—not comprehended through any means. Hence both statements are consistent.
The Self is taintless, i.e. free from the impurities of good and evil, beyond the ether, subtler, or more pervasive, than even the unmanifested ether, birthless—the negation of birth implies that of the five succeeding changes of condition also, for these originate from birth—infinite, vaster than anything else, and constant, indestructible.
तमेव धीरो विज्ञाय प्रज्ञां कुर्वीत ब्राह्मणः ।
नानुध्यायाद्बहूञ्छब्दान्, वाचो विग्लापनं
हि तत् ॥ इति ॥ २१ ॥
tameva dhīro vijñāya prajñāṃ kurvīta brāhmaṇaḥ |
nānudhyāyādbahūñchabdān, vāco viglāpanaṃ
hi tat || iti || 21 ||
21. The intelligent aspirant after Brahman, knowing about this alone, should attain intuitive knowledge. (He) should not think of too many words, for it is particularly fatiguing to the organ of speech.
The intelligent aspirant after Brahman, knowing about this kind of Self alone, from the instructions of a teacher and from the scriptures, should attain intuitive knowledge of what has been taught by the teacher and the scriptures, so as to put an end to all questioning—i.e. practise the means of this knowledge, viz. renunciation, calmness, self-control, withdrawal of the senses, fortitude and concentration. (He) should not think of too many words. This restriction on too many words implies that a few words dealing exclusively with the unity of the Self are permissible. The Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad has it: ‘Maditate upon the Self with the help of the syllable Om’ (II. ii. 6), and ‘Give up all other speech’ (II. ii. 5). For it, this thinking of too many words, is particularly fatiguing to the organ of speech.
स वा एष महानज आत्मा योऽयं विज्ञानमयः प्राणेषु य एषोऽन्तर्हृदय आकाशस्तस्मिञ्छेते, सर्वस्य वशी सर्वस्येशानः सर्वस्याधिपतिः; स न साधुना कर्मणा भूयान्, नो एवासाधुना कनीयान्; एष सर्वेश्वरः; एष भूताधिपतिः, एष भूतपालः, एष सेतुर्विधरण एषां लोकानामसंभेदाय; तमेतं वेदानुवचनेन ब्राह्मणा विविदिषन्ति यज्ञेन दानेन तपसाऽनाशकेन; एतमेव विदित्वा मुनिर्भवति । एतमेव प्रव्राजिनो लोकमिच्छन्तः प्रव्रजन्ति । एतद्ध स्म वै तत् पूर्वे विद्वांसः प्रजां न कामयन्ते, किं प्रजया करिष्यामो येषां नोऽयमात्मायं लोक इति; ते ह स्म पुत्रैषणायाश्च वित्तैषणायाश्च लोकैषणायाश्च व्युत्थायाथ भिक्शाचर्यं चरन्ति; या ह्येव पुत्रैषणा सा वित्तैषणा, या वित्तैषणा सा लोकैषणा, उभे ह्येते एषणे एव भवतः । स एष नेति नेत्यात्मा, अगृह्यो नहि गृह्यते, अशीर्यो नहि शीर्यते, असङ्गो नहि सज्यते, असितो न व्यथते, न रिष्यति; एतमु हैवैते न तरत इति—अतः पापमकरवमिति, अतः कल्याणमकरवमिति; उभे उ हैवैष एते तरति, नैनं कृताकृते तपतः ॥ २२ ॥
sa vā eṣa mahānaja ātmā yo'yaṃ vijñānamayaḥ prāṇeṣu ya eṣo'ntarhṛdaya ākāśastasmiñchete, sarvasya vaśī sarvasyeśānaḥ sarvasyādhipatiḥ; sa na sādhunā karmaṇā bhūyān, no evāsādhunā kanīyān; eṣa sarveśvaraḥ; eṣa bhūtādhipatiḥ, eṣa bhūtapālaḥ, eṣa seturvidharaṇa eṣāṃ lokānāmasaṃbhedāya; tametaṃ vedānuvacanena brāhmaṇā vividiṣanti yajñena dānena tapasā'nāśakena; etameva viditvā munirbhavati | etameva pravrājino lokamicchantaḥ pravrajanti | etaddha sma vai tat pūrve vidvāṃsaḥ prajāṃ na kāmayante, kiṃ prajayā kariṣyāmo yeṣāṃ no'yamātmāyaṃ loka iti; te ha sma putraiṣaṇāyāśca vittaiṣaṇāyāśca lokaiṣaṇāyāśca vyutthāyātha bhikśācaryaṃ caranti; yā hyeva putraiṣaṇā sā vittaiṣaṇā, yā vittaiṣaṇā sā lokaiṣaṇā, ubhe hyete eṣaṇe eva bhavataḥ | sa eṣa neti netyātmā, agṛhyo nahi gṛhyate, aśīryo nahi śīryate, asaṅgo nahi sajyate, asito na vyathate, na riṣyati; etamu haivaite na tarata iti—ataḥ pāpamakaravamiti, ataḥ kalyāṇamakaravamiti; ubhe u haivaiṣa ete tarati, nainaṃ kṛtākṛte tapataḥ || 22 ||
22. That great, birthless Self which is identified with the intellect and is in the midst of the organs, lies in the ether that is within the heart. It is the controller of all, the lord of all, the ruler of all. It does not become better through good work nor worse through bad work. It is the lord of all, It is the ruler of all beings, It is the protector of all beings. It is the bank that serves as the boundary to keep the different worlds apart. The Brāhmaṇas seek to know It through the study of the Vedas, sacrifices, charity, and austerity consisting in a dispassionate enjoyment of sense-objects. Knowing It alone one becomes a sage. Desiring this world (the Self) alone monks renounce their homes. This is (the reason for it): The ancient sages, it is said, did not desire children (thinking), ‘What shall we achieve through children, we who have attained this Self, this world (result).’ They, it is said, renounced their desire for sons, for wealth and for the worlds, and lived a mendicant life. That which is the desire for sons is the desire for wealth, and that which is the desire for wealth is the desire for the worlds, for both these are but desires. This self is That which has been described as ‘Not this, not this.’ It is imperceptible, for It is never perceived; undecaying, for It never decays; unattached, for It is never attached; unfettered—It never feels pain, and never suffers injury. (It is but proper) that the sage is never overtaken by these two thoughts, ‘I did an evil act for this,’ and ‘I did a good act for this.’ He conquers both of them. Things done or not done do not trouble him.
Bondage and liberation together with their causes have been described by the preceding portion consisting of the Mantras as well as the Brāhmaṇa. The nature of liberation has again been elaborately set forth by the quotation of verses. Now it has to be shown how the whole of the Vedas is applicable to this subject of the Self; hence the present paragraph is introduced. By recapitulating the topic of Self-knowledge with its results in the way it has been dealt with in this chapter, it is sought to show that the entire Vedas, except the portion treating of ceremonies having material ends, are applicable to this. Hence the words, ‘That great,’ etc., recapitulating what has been stated. That refers to something already mentioned. What is it? It is pointed out by the words, ‘Which is identified with the intellect,’ etc., which are intended to preclude any reference to the Self just mentioned (verse 20). Which one is meant then? The answer is: Which is identified with the intellect and is in the midst of the organs. The passage is quoted for settling the doubt, for at the beginning of Janaka’s questions it has been stated, ‘Which is the self?—This (infinite entity) that is identified with the intellect and is in the midst of the organs,’ etc. (IV. iii. 7). The idea is this: By the demonstration of desire, work and ignorance as attributes of the non-Self, the self-effulgent Ātman that has been set forth in the passage in question is here freed from them and transformed into the Supreme Self, and it is emphatically stated, ‘It is the Supreme Self, and nothing else’; it is directly spoken of as the great, birthless Self. The words, ‘Which is identified with the intellect and is in the midst of the organs,’ have been already explained and have the -same meaning here. Lies in the ether that is within the lotus of the heart, the ether (Ākāśa) that is the seat of the intellect. The Ātman lives in that ether containing the intellect. Or the meaning may be that the individual self in the state of profound sleep dwells in that unconditioned Supreme Self, called Ākāśa, which is its very nature. This has been explained in the second chapter by way of answer to the question, ‘Where was it then?’ (II. i. 16).
It is the controller of all, Hiraṇyagarbha, Indra, and the rest, for all live under It. As has been said, ‘Under the mighty rule of this Immutable (O Gārgī),' etc. (III. viii. 9). Not only the controller, but the lord of all, Hiraṇyagarbha, Indra and others. Lord-ship may sometimes be due to birth, like that of a Prince over his servants, although they are stronger than he. To obviate this the text says, the ruler of all, the supreme protector, i.e. independent, not swayed by ministers and other servants like a Prince. The three attributes of control etc. are interdependent. Because the Self is the ruler of all, therefore It is the lord of all, for it is well known that one who protects another as the highest authority, wields lordship over him; and because It is the lord of all, therefore It is the controller of all. Further It, the infinite entity identified with the intellect, the light within the heart (intellect), being one with the Supreme Self, does not become better, or improve from the previous state by the accession of some attributes, through good work enjoined by the scriptures, nor worse, i.e. does not fall from its previous state, through bad work forbidden by the scriptures. Moreover, everyone doing these functions of presiding, protection, etc. is attended with merit and demerit consequent on bestowing favours and inflicting pains on others; why is the Self alone absolved from them? The answer is: Because ‘It is the lord of all,’ and accustomed to rule over work also, therefore It is not connected with work. Further ‘It is the ruler of all beings,’ from Hiraṇyagarbha down to a clump of grass. The word ‘ruler’ has already been explained. It is the protector of all those beings. It is the bank—what kind of bank?—that serves as the boundary among the divisions of caste and order of life. This is expressed by the words ‘to keep the different worlds,’ beginning with the earth and ending with the world of Hiraṇyagarbha, apart, distinct from one another. If the Lord did not divide them like a bank, their limits would be obliterated. Therefore, in order to keep the worlds apart, the Lord, from whom the self-effulgent Ātman is not different, acts as the embankment.
One who knows it thus becomes ‘the controller of all,’ and so on—this sets forth the results of the knowledge of Brahman. The whole of the ceremonial portion of the Vedas, except that dealing with rites having material ends, is applicable as a means to this knowledge of Brahman as delineated, with the results described above, in the present chapter beginning with, ‘What serves as the light for a man?’ (IV. iii. 2-6). How this can be done is being explained: The Brāhmaṇas—the word ‘Brāhmaṇa’ implies the Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas, for all the three castes are equally entitled to the study of the Vedas—seek to know It, this infinite entity as described above, that can be known only from the Upaniṣads, through the study of the Vedas consisting of the Mantras and Brāhmaṇas—by daily reading them. Or the passage may mean, ‘They seek to know It through the Mantras and Brāhmaṇas relating to the ceremonial portion.’ How do they seek to know It? ‘Through sacrifices,’ etc.
Some, however, explain the passage as follows: ‘They seek to know that which is revealed by the Mantras and Brāhmaṇas.’ According to them the word ‘Vedānuvacana’ would mean only the Āraṇya-kas, since the ceremonial portion does not speak of the Supreme Self; for the Śruti distinctly says, ‘That Being who is to be known only from the Upaniṣads’ (III. ix. 26). Besides, the word ‘Vedānuvacana,’ making no specification, refers to the whole of the Vedas; and it is not proper to exclude one portion of them.
Objection: Your interpretation is also one-sided, since it excludes the Upaniṣads.
Reply: No, the objection does not apply to our first explanation, in which there is no contradiction. When the word ‘Vedānuvacana’ means daily reading, the Upaniṣads too are of course included; hence no part of the meaning of the word is abandoned. Besides it is used along with the words, ‘sacrifices,’ etc. It is to introduce sacrifices and other rites that the word ‘Vedānuvacana’ has been used. Therefore we understand that it means the rites, because the daily reading of the Vedas is also a rite.
Objection: But how can they seek to know the Self through such rites as the daily reading of the Vedas, for they do not reveal the Self as the Upaniṣads do?
Reply: The objection does not hold, for the rites are a means to purification. It is only when the rites have purified them, that people, with their minds pure, can easily know the Self that is revealed by the Upaniṣads. As the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad says, ‘But his mind being purified, he sees through meditation that Self which has no parts’ (III. i. 8). The Smṛti also says, ‘A man attains knowledge only when his evil work has been destroyed,’ etc. (Mbh. XII. ccii. 9).
Objection: How do you know that the regular rites are for purification?
Reply: From such Śruti texts as the following: ‘He indeed sacrifices to the Self who knows that this particular part of his body is being purified by this (rite), and that particular part of his body is being improved by that (rite),’ etc. (Ś. XL 11. vi. 13). All the Smṛtis too speak of rites as being purificatory, as, for instance, the passage, ‘The forty-eight acts of purification,’ etc. (cf. Gau. VIII. 22). The Gītá also says, ‘Sacrifices, charity and austerity are purifying to the intelligent aspirant’ (XVIII. 5), and ‘All these knowers of sacrifices have their sins destroyed by the sacrifices' (IV. 30).
Through sacrifices, viz. those performed with things and those consisting in knowledge, both of which conduce to purity; and one who, being cleansed, has a pure mind, will spontaneously attain knowledge. Hence it is said, ‘They seek to know through sacrifices.’ Charity, for this too destroys one’s sins and increases one’s merits. And austerity. The word meaning without distinction all forms of austerity including (even extreme forms like) the Kṛcchra, Cāndrāyaṇa, etc., it is qualified by the phrase: consisting in a dispassionate enjoyment of sense-objects. This absence of unrestrained enjoyment is the real meaning of the word ‘Anāśaka,’ not starvation, which will only lead to death, but not to Self-knowledge. The words, ‘study of the Vedas,’ ‘sacrifices,’ ‘charity’ and ‘austerity,’ refer to all regular rites without exception. Thus the entire body of regular rites—not rites that have material ends—serves as a means to liberation through the attainment of Self-knowledge. Hence we see that the section of the Vedas dealing with knowledge has the same import as that dealing with rites.
Similarly, knowing It alone, the Self as described in the preceding portion, in the above-mentioned way, one becomes a sage, a man of reflection, i.e. a Yogin. Knowing It alone, and none other, one becomes a sage. It may be urged that one can become a sage by knowing other things also; so how is it asserted, ‘It alone’? To which we reply: True, one can become a sage by knowing other things too, but not exclusively a sage; he may also become a ritualist. But knowing this Being that is to be known only from the Upaniṣads, one becomes a sage alone, and not a ritualist. Therefore it is to indicate his unique feature of becoming a sage that the text asserts, ‘It alone.’ Since action is impossible when the Self is known, as is expressed in the words, ‘What should one see and through what?’—only reflection can then take place. Further, desirīng, or seeking, this world alone, their own Self, monks renounce their homes, lit. depart in the most effective way, i.e. relinquish all rites.
Because of the assertion, ‘Desiring this world alone,’ we understand that those who seek the three external worlds are not entitled to the monastic life, for an inhabitant of the region of Banaras who wishes to reach Hardwar does not travel eastward. Therer fore, for those who desire the three external worlds, sons, rites and meditation on the conditioned Brahman are the means, since the Śruti says, ‘This world of men is to be won through the son alone, and by no other rite,’ etc. (I. v. 16). Hence those who want them should not reject such means as the son and embrace the monastic life, for it is not a means to them. Therefore the assertion, ‘Desiring this world alone monks renounce their homes,’ is quite in order. The attainment of the world of the Self is but living in one’s own Self after the cessation of ignorance. Therefore, should a person desire that world of the Self, for him the chief and direct means of that would be the withdrawal from all activities, just as the son and the like are the means of the three external worlds; for such acts as would secure the birth of a son, and so on, are not means to the attainment of the Self. And we have already mentioned the contradiction involved in them on the ground of impossibility. Therefore, desiring to attain the world of the Self, they do renounce their homes, that is to say, must abstain from all rites. Just as for a man seeking the three external worlds, a son and so forth are enjoined as the requisite means, so for one who has known about Brahman and desires to realise the world of the Self, the monastic life consisting in the cessation of all desires is undoubtedly enjoined.
Why do those seekers after the world of the Self particularly renounce their homes? The text gives the reason in the form of a laudatory passage. This is the reason for that monastic life: The ancient sages, ancient knowers of the Self, it is said, did not desire children, as also rites and the meditation on the conditioned Brahman.—The word ‘children’ suggests all these three means to the three external worlds.—In other words, they did not try for sons etc. as means to those three worlds. It may be objected that they must practise the meditation on the conditioned Brahman, since they could renounce desires on the strength of that alone. The answer is: No, because it is excluded. To be explicit: In the passages, ‘The Brāhmaṇa ousts one who knows him as different from the Self’ (II. iv. 6; IV. v. 7), and ‘All ousts one,’ etc. (Ibid.), even the meditation on the conditioned Brahman is excluded, for this Brahman too is included in the word ‘all.’ Also, ‘Where one sees nothing else,’ etc. (Ch. VII. xxiv. 1). Also because it has been forbidden to see in Brahman differences about prior or posterior, and interior or exterior, in the passage, ‘Without prior or posterior, without interior or exterior’ (II. v. 19). And, ‘Then what should one see, . . . know, and through what?’ (II. iv. 14; IV. v. 15). Therefore there is no other reason for the renunciation of desires except the realisation of the Self.
What was their intention? They thought: ‘What object or result shall we achieve through the instrumentality of children, for they are definitely known to be the means of attaining an external world, and that world does not exist apart from our own Self, since everything is our own Self, and we are the Self of everything; and just because It is our Self, It cannot be produced, attained, modified or improved by any means. Acts that purify the performer of sacrifices to the Self merely concern his identification with the body and organs, for the Śruti speaks of the relation between the whole and part, etc., regarding them, “This particular part of my body is being purified by this (rite),” etc. (Ś. XI. 11. vi. 13). One who sees the Self as Pure Intelligence, homogeneous and without a break cannot meditate upon purification or improvement based on a relation between the whole and part. Therefore we shall achieve nothing through means such as children. It is only the ignorant man who has to attain results through them. Because a man who sees water in a mirage proceeds to drink from it, another who sees no water there, but a desert, cannot certainly be so inclined. Similarly we who see the Truth, the world of the Self, cannot run after things to be achieved through children etc.—things that are like a mirage and so forth, and are the objects of the defective vision of ignorant people.’ This was their idea.
This is expressed as follows: We beholders of the Truth, who have attained this Self that is free from hunger etc. and is not to be modified by good or bad deeds, this world, this desired result. There are no means to be desired for realising this Self that is free from all such relative attributes as ends and means. It is only with regard to a thing which is attainable that means are looked for. If a search is made for means to secure something that is unattainable, it would be like swimming on land under the impression that it is water, or like looking for the footprints of birds in the sky. Therefore the knowers of Brahman, after realising this Self, should only renounce their homes, and not engage in rites; because the ancient knowers of Brahman, knowing this, did not want children. What they did after condemning this dealing with the world of ends and means as being the concern of the ignorant, is being described: They, it is said, renounced their desire for sons, for wealth and for the worlds, and lived a mendicant life, etc. All this has been explained (III. v. i).
Therefore, desiring the world of the Self monks renounce their homes, i.e. should renounce. Thus it is an injunction, and harmonises with the eulogy (that follows). The sentence, which is provided with a eulogy (immediately after), cannot itself have the force of glorifying the world of the Self, for the verb ‘renounce’ has for its eulogy the succeeding passage, ‘This is (the reason),’ etc. If the previous sentence were a eulogy, it would not require another eulogy; but the verb ‘renounce’ (as interpreted above) does require the eulogy, ‘This is (the reason),’ etc.
Because ancient sages, desisting from rites directed towards obtaining children etc., did renounce their homes, therefore people of to-day also renounce them, i.e. should renounce them. If we thus construe the passage, the verb ‘renounce’ cannot have the force of glorifying the world of the Self. We have explained this (III. v. 1) on the ground that the verb is connected by the Śruti with the same subject as that of ‘knowing.’ Moreover, the verb ‘renounce’ is here used along with ‘the study of the Vedas,’ etc. As the study of the Vedas and other such acts, which have been enjoined as means to the realisation of the Self, are to be taken literally, and not as eulogies, so also the renunciation of home, which has been mentioned along with them as a means to the attainment of the world of the Self, cannot be a eulogy. Besides, a distinction in the results has been made by the Śruti. The words, ‘Knowing It—this world of the Self—alone’ (this text), divide the Self as a result distinct from the other results, the external worlds, as a similar division has been made in the passage, ‘This world is to be won through the son alone, and by no other rite; the world of the Manes through rites’ (I. vi. 16, adapted). Nor is the verb ‘renounce’ eulogistic of the world of the Self, as if this were something already known. Besides, like a principal sacrifice, it itself requires a eulogy. Moreover, were it a eulogy it would occur in the text only once. Therefore it is purely a mistake to consider it as a tribute to the world of the Self.
Nor can renunciation as an act to be performed be regarded as a eulogy. If, in spite of its being such an act, it is considered to be a eulogy, then rites such as the new and full moon sacrifices, which are to be performed, would also become eulogies. Nor is renunciation clearly known to have been enjoined elsewhere outside of the present topic, in which case it might be construed here as being eulogistic. If, however, renunciation be supposed to be enjoined anywhere, it should primarily be here; it is not possible anywhere else. If, again, renunciation is conceded to be enjoined on those who are not qualified for any rite, in that case acts such as the climbing of trees may also be considered as equally appropriate injunctions, for both are alike unknown as obligatory under the circumstances. Therefore there is not the least chance of the passage in question being a eulogy.
It may be asked: If this world of the Self alone is desired, why do they not undertake work as a means to its attainment? What is the good of renunciation? The answer is: Because this world of the Self has no connection with work. That Self, desiring which they should renounce their homes, is not connected, either as a means or as an end, with any of the four kinds of work, viz. those that are produced, etc. (p. 448). Therefore this self is That which has been described as ‘Not this, not this’; It is imperceptible, for it is never perceived, etc.—this is the description of the Self. Since it has been established through scriptural evidence as well as reasoning, specially in this dialogue between Janaka and Yājñavalkya, that the Self as described above is not connected with work, its results and its means, is different from all relative attributes, beyond hunger etc., devoid of grossness and so on, birthless, undecaying, immortal, undying, beyond fear, by nature homogeneous Intelligence like a lump of salt, self-effulgent, one only without a second, without prior or posterior, and without interior or exterior—therefore after this Self is known as one’s own Self work can no more be done. Hence the Self is undifferentiated. One who has eyes surely does nöt fall into a well or on thorns while going along the way. Besides, the entire results of work are included in those of knowledge. And no wise man takes pains for a thing that can be had without any effort. ‘If one gets honey near at hand, why go to a mountain for it? If the desired object is already attained, what sensible man would struggle for it?’ The Gītā too says, ‘All work, O Arjuna, together with its factors is finished with the attainment of knowledge’ (IV. 33). Here also (IV. iii. 32) it has been stated that all other beings live on particles of this very Supreme Bliss that is accessible to the knower of Brahman. Hence the latter cannot undertake work.
Because this sage, desisting from all desires, after realising the Ātman that has been described as ‘Not this, not this’ as his own Self, lives identified with That, therefore it is but proper—these words are to be supplied to complete the sentence—that he who has this knowledge and is identified with that Self is never overtaken by these two thoughts that are just going to be mentioned. Which are they? The following ones: ‘I did an evil act for this reason, for example, the maintenance of the body. Oh, my action was wretched. This sinful act will take me to hell.’ This repentance that comes to one who has done something wrong, does not overtake this sage who has become identified with the Self, described as ‘Not this, not this.’ Similarly ‘I did a good act, such as the performance of a sacrifice or charity, for this reason, owing to the desire for results. So I shall enjoy the happiness that comes of it in another body.’ This joy also does not overtake him. He, this knower of Brahman, conquers both of them, both these actions, good and bad. Thus for a monk who has known Brahman, both kinds of action, whether done in the past or in the present life, are destroyed, and no new ones are undertaken. Also, things done, such as the regular rites, or those very things not done—the omission of them—do not trouble him. It is the man who is ignorant of the Self that is troubled by the actions done, by having to receive their results, and by those not done, by being visited with their adverse consequences. But this knower of Brahman burns all work to ashes with the fire of Self-knowledge. As the Smṛti says, ‘Just as a blazing fire (burns) the fuel (to ashes),’ etc. (G. IV. 37). As to those actions that caused the present body, they are worked out through actual experience. Hence the knower of Brahman has no connection with work.
एष नित्यो महिमा ब्राह्मणस्य न वर्धते कर्मणा नो कनीयान् ।
तस्यैव स्यात्पदवित्, तं विदित्वा न लिप्यते कर्मणा पापकेन ॥ इति ।
तस्मादेवंविच्छान्तो दान्त उपरतस्तितिक्शुः समाहितो भूत्वात्मन्येवात्मानं पश्यति, सर्वमात्मानं पश्यति; नैनं पाप्मा तरति, सर्वं पाप्मानं तरति; नैनं पाप्मा तपति, सर्वं पाप्मानं तपति; विपापो विरजोऽविचिकित्सो ब्राह्मणो भवति; एष ब्रह्मलोकः सम्राड्, एनं प्रापितोऽसीति होवाच याज्ञवल्क्यः; सोऽहं भगवते विदेहान् ददामि, मां चापि सह दास्यायेति ॥ २३ ॥
eṣa nityo mahimā brāhmaṇasya na vardhate karmaṇā no kanīyān ।
tasyaiva syātpadavit, taṃ viditvā na lipyate karmaṇā pāpakena ॥ iti ।
tasmādevaṃvicchānto dānta uparatastitikśuḥ samāhito bhūtvātmanyevātmānaṃ paśyati, sarvamātmānaṃ paśyati; nainaṃ pāpmā tarati, sarvaṃ pāpmānaṃ tarati; nainaṃ pāpmā tapati, sarvaṃ pāpmānaṃ tapati; vipāpo virajo'vicikitso brāhmaṇo bhavati; eṣa brahmalokaḥ samrāḍ, enaṃ prāpito'sīti hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ; so'haṃ bhagavate videhān dadāmi, māṃ cāpi saha dāsyāyeti ॥ 23 ॥
23. This has been expressed by the following hymn: This is the eternal glory of a knower of Brahman: it neither increases nor decreases through work. (Therefore) one should know the nature of that alone. Knowing it one is not touched by evil action. Therefore he who knows it as such becomes self-controlled, calm, withdrawn into himself, enduring and concentrated, and sees the Self in his own self (body); he sees all as the Self. Evil does not overtake him, but he transcends all evil. Evil does not trouble him, (but) he consumes all evil. He becomes sinless, taintless, free from doubts, and Brāhmaṇa (knower of Brahman). This is the world of Brahman, O Emperor, and you have attained it—said Yājñavalkya. ‘I give you, sir, the empire of Videha, and myself too with it, to wait upon you.’
This, what has been stated by the Brāhmaṇa, has been expressed by the following hymn: This, what is described as ‘Not this, not this,’ etc., is the eternal glory of a knower of Brahman who has given up all desires. Other glories are due to work, hence they are not permanent; but this glory is distinct from them—it is eternal, for it is natural. Why is it eternal? The reason is being given: It neither increases nor decreases through work—it does not undergo the change called growth through good work done, nor does it undergo the change called decay through evil work. Since all changes are due to growth or decay, they are all negated by these two epithets. Hence this glory, being changeless, is eternal. Therefore one should know the nature of that glory alone. The word ‘Pada’ literally means that which is attained or known; hence it means only the nature of this glory; one should know that. What would come of knowing it? The answer is being given: Knowing it, this glory, one is not touched by evil action, comprising both good and evil, for both are evil to a knower of Brahman.
Since this glory of the knower of Brahman is thus unconnected with work, and is described as ‘Not this, not this,’ therefore he who knows it as such becomes self-controlled, desisting from the activities of the external organs; also calm, averse to the desires of the internal organ or mind; withdrawn into himself, free from all desires, a monk; enduring, indifferent to the pairs of opposites (pleasure and pain, etc.); concentrated, attaining one-pointedness by the dissociation from the movements of the organs and mind. This has been stated before in the words, ‘Having known all about the strength that comes of knowledge, as well as scholarship,’ etc. (III. v. 1). And sees the Self, the inner Intelligence, in his own self, the body and organs. Does he see only the Self limited to the body? No, he sees all as the Self, he sees that there is nothing different even by a hair’s breadth from the Self. By reason of his reflection he becomes a sage, giving up the three states of waking, dream and profound sleep. Evil, comprising merit and demerit, does not overtake him, the knower of Brahman who has this sort of realisation, but he, this knower of Brahman, transcends all evil, by realising it as his Self. Evil, consisting in what has been done or not done, does not trouble him, by producing the desired result or generating sin, but he, this knower of Brahman, consumes all evil, burns it to ashes with the ñre of the realisation of the Self of all. He, who knows It as such, becomes sinless, i.e. devoid of merit and demerit, taintless, i.e. free from desires, free from doubts, and a Brāhmaṇa (knower of Brahman), with the firm conviction that he is the Self of all, the Supreme Brahman.
Such a man becomes in this state a Brāhmaṇa (lit. a knower of Brahman) in the primary sense of the w'ord. Before living in this state of identity with Brahman, his Brāhmaṇahood was but figurative. This identity with the Self of all is the world of Brahman, the world that is Brahman, in a real, not figurative, sense, O Emperor, and you have attained it, this world of Brahman, which is fearless, and is described as ‘Not this, not this’—said Yājñavalkya.
Janaka, thus identified with Brahman—helped on to this state by Yājñavalkya—replied, ‘Since you have helped me to attain the state of Brahman, I give you, sir, the empire of Videha, the whole of my dominion, and myself too with it, i.e. Videha, to wait upon you as a servant.’ The conjunction ‘and’ shows that the word ‘myself’ is connected with the verb ‘give.’
The topic of the knowledge of Brahman is finished, together with its offshoots and procedure as well as renunciation. The highest end of man is also completely dealt with. This much is to be attained by a man, this is the culmination, this is the supreme goal, this is the highest good. Attaining this one achieves all that has to be achieved and becomes a knower of Brahman. This is the teaching of the entire Vedas.
स वा एष महानज आत्माऽन्नादो वसुदानः; विन्दते वसु य एवं वेद ॥ २४ ॥
sa vā eṣa mahānaja ātmā'nnādo vasudānaḥ; vindate vasu ya evaṃ veda || 24 ||
That great, birthless Self which has been expounded in the story of Janaka and Yājñavalkya, is the eater of all food, living in all beings, and the giver of wealth, i.e. the fruits of the actions of all, in other words, he connects all beings with the results of their respective actions. He who knows It, this birthless Self that is the eater of food and the giver of ‘wealth,’ as such, as described above, i.e. as endowed with these two attributes, eats food, as the Self of all beings, and receives wealth, the entire fruits of everybody’s actions, being their very Self. Or the meaning may be, the Self is to be meditated upon as endowed with these attributes even by a man who wants visible results. By that meditation he becomes the eater of food and the receiver of wealth; that is to say, he is thereby connected with visible results, viz. with the power to eat (plenty of) food and with cows, horses, etc.
स वा एष महानज आत्माजरोऽमरोऽमृतोऽभयो ब्रह्म; अभयं वै ब्रह्म; अभयं हि वै ब्रह्म भवति य एवं वेद ॥ २५ ॥
इति चतुर्थं ब्राह्मणम् ॥
sa vā eṣa mahānaja ātmājaro'maro'mṛto'bhayo brahma; abhayaṃ vai brahma; abhayaṃ hi vai brahma bhavati ya evaṃ veda || 25 ||
iti caturthaṃ brāhmaṇam ||
Now the import of the whole Upaniṣad is being summed up in this paragraph, as much as to say that this is the gist of the entire Upaniṣad. That great, birthless Self is undecaying, i.e. It does not wear off; immortal, because It is undecaying. That which is born and decays also dies; but because It is indestructible on account of Its being birthless and undecaying, therefore It is undying. That is to say, since It is free from the three changes of condition—birth and so on, It is also free from the other three changes of condition and their effects—desire, work, delusion, etc., which are but forms of death. Hence also It is fearless: Since It is possessed of the preceding attributes, It is devoid of fear. Besides, fear is an effect of ignorance; by the negation of that effect as well as of the six changes of condition, it is understood that ignorance too is negated. What is the fearless Self that is possessed of the above-mentioned attributes? Brahman, i.e. vast, or infinite. Brahman is indeed fearless: It is a well-known fact. Therefore it is but proper to say that the Self endowed with the above attributes is Brahman.
He who knows It, the Self described above, as such, as the fearless Brahman, becomes the fearless Brahman. This is the purport of the whole Upaniṣad put in a nutshell. It is to bring home this purport that the ideas of projection, maintenance, dissolution, etc., as well as those of action, its factors and its results were superimposed on the Self. Again, by their negation—by the elimination of the superimposed attributes through a process of ‘Not this, not this’—the truth has been made known. Just as, in order to explain the nature of numbers from one up to a hundred thousand billions, a man superimposes them on certain lines (digits), calling one of them one, another ten, another hundred, yet another thousand, and so on, and in so doing he only expounds the nature of numbers but he never says that the numbers are the lines; or just as, in order to teach the alphabet, he has recourse to a combination of leaf, ink, lines, etc., and through them explains the nature of the letters, but he never says that the letters are the leaf, ink, lines, etc., similarly in this exposition the one entity, Brahman, has been inculcated through various means such as the projection (of the universe). Again, to eliminate the differences created by those hypothetical means, the truth has been summed up as ‘Not this, not this.’ In the end, that knowledge, further clariñed so as to be undifferentiated, together with its result, has been concluded in this paragraph.
Footnotes and references:
That is, the subtle body with its seat in the heart.
IV. iii. 9.
III. vii. 2.
The particle ‘anu’ (after) here means 'according to.’ Really they all go together.
Regarding common or trivial things; similarly with work.
Of the different views given here, the first three are those of the Jains, the Devatāvādins (the upholders, of the theory of angel-guides), and the Särhkhya and allied schools respectively, while the fourth represents the Vedāntic view.
In their form relating to the gods.
Due to the non-performance of the regular rites.
See, for instance, pp. 116, 147, 298.
Which is the cause of the idea of bondage.
That is, different from those arising from sense-contact.
That is, in the state of relative existence, being frequently obstructed by iniquity etc.
Which will make liberation akin to relative existence.
Causing distorted vision.
Therefore it cannot be an integral part of the subject.
An adaptation of Gītā XIII. 33.
Pratipatti-karma «. See footnote on p. 483.
This word does not occur in the above text.
Through meditation on the D^ḥara (the ether in the heart) etc., and attained extraordinary powers. This is Ānandagiri’s explanation of the word ‘Taijasa.’ ‘Tejas’ according to him means the organs.
By describing him as being of equal status to the other two.
1 Same as verse 9 of the Iśāvāsya Upaniṣad.
Separateness or diversity.
An adaptation of II. iv. 14 and IV. v. 15.
According to Yāska a thing comes into being, exists, grows, begins to decline, decays and dies.
From here up to ‘worlds apart’, the results accruing to one who realises one’s identity with Brahman are being described.
The reference is to Bhartṛprapañca.
Which include among others the Upaniṣads.
The earth, the world of the Manes and heaven.
The renunciation in question follows this indirect knowledge so as to mature it into actual realisation.
As a matter of fact, there are several verbs in the passage that repeat the idea.
According to place.
Serving for paper.