The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (with the Commentary of Śaṅkarācārya)
by Swāmī Mādhavānanda | 1950 | 272,359 words | ISBN-10: 8175051027
This Upanishad is widely known for its philosophical statements and is ascribed to Yajnavalkya. It looks at reality as being indescribable and its nature to be infinite and consciousness-bliss. Ethics revolve around the five Yajnas or sacrifices. This book includes the english translation of the Bhāṣya of Śaṅkara. The Shankara-Bhashya is the most ...
In the Madhukāṇḍa, which predominates in scriptural statements, the truth about Brahman has been ascertained. In the chapters relating to Yājñavalkya, which predominate in reasoning, by setting up opposing sides, the same subject has been discussed more by way of a debate. In the fourth chapter, by means of questions and answers between the teacher and his disciple, it has again been discussed at length and brought to a conclusion. Now the present Section relating to Maitreyī is being introduced as a conclusion of the proposition regarding the same topic. And this is the method adopted by the authorities on logic, as stated in the following definition, ‘The restatement of a proposition after stating the reason is conclusion’ (Gau. N. I. i. 39). Or it may be like this: That Self-knowledge together with renunciation which has been described as the means of immortality in the Madhukāṇḍa, is also established as such by argument, for the chapters relating to Yājñavalkya preponderate in that. Therefore it is decided by both scripture and argument that Self-knowledge together with renunciation is the means of immortality. Hence those seekers after immortality who believe in the scriptures should adopt this means, for a thing that is ascertained by the scriptures and reasoning deserves credence on account of its proving universally true. As for the explanation of the words in this section, it is to be understood the same as in the second chapter. We shall explain only those portions that have not been explained.
अथ ह याज्ञवल्क्यस्य द्वे भार्ये बभूवतुः—मैत्रेयी च कात्यायनी च; तयोर्ह मैत्रेयी ब्रह्मवादिनी बभूव, स्त्रीप्रज्ञैव तर्हि कात्यायनि; अथ ह याज्ञवल्क्योऽन्यद्वृत्तमुपाकरिष्यन् ॥ १ ॥
atha ha yājñavalkyasya dve bhārye babhūvatuḥ—maitreyī ca kātyāyanī ca; tayorha maitreyī brahmavādinī babhūva, strīprajñaiva tarhi kātyāyani; atha ha yājñavalkyo'nyadvṛttamupākariṣyan || 1 ||
1. Now Yājñavalkya had two wives, Maitreyī and Kātyāyani. Of these Maitreyī used to discuss Brahman, (while) Kātyāyanī had then an essentially feminine outlook. One day Yājñavalkya, with a view to'embracing another life—
The word ‘now’ (Atha) indicates sequence after the furnishing of reasons, for the preceding portion predominates in reasons. Then in this section relating to Maitreyī, which consists mainly of scriptural statements, the theme put forward in the preceding portion is concluded. The particle ‘ha’ (meaning, it is said) refers to a past incident. The sage Yājñavalkya, it is said, had two wives: one was named Maitreyī, and the other, Kātyāyanī. Of these two wives, Maitreyī used to discuss Brahman, (while) Kātyāyanī had then an essentially feminine outlook, minding household needs. One day Yājñavalkya, with a view to embracing another life from the householder’s life that he was then living, i.e. the monastic life—
मैत्रेयीति होवाच याज्ञवल्क्यः, प्रव्रजिष्यन्वा अरे'हमस्मात्स्थानादस्मि, हन्त तेऽनया कत्यायान्यान्तं करवाणीति ॥ २ ॥
maitreyīti hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ, pravrajiṣyanvā are'hamasmātsthānādasmi, hanta te'nayā katyāyānyāntaṃ karavāṇīti || 2 ||
2. ‘Maitreyī, my dear,’ said Yājñavalkya, ‘I am going to renounce this life for monasticism. Allow me to finish between you and Kātyāyanī.’
He addressed his older wife by name and said, ‘I am going to renounce this householder’s life for monasticism, O Maitreyī. Please permit me. Allow me, if you wish, to finish between you and Kātyāyanī.’ All this has been explained.
सा होवाच मैत्रेयी, यन्नु म इयं भगोः सर्वा पृथिवी वित्तेन पूर्णा स्यात्, स्यां न्वहं तेनामृताहो३ नेति; नेति होवाच याज्ञवल्क्यः, यथैवोपकरणवतां जीवितं तथैव ते जीवितं स्यात्, अमृतत्वस्य तु नाशास्ति वित्तेनेति ॥ ३ ॥
sā hovāca maitreyī, yannu ma iyaṃ bhagoḥ sarvā pṛthivī vittena pūrṇā syāt, syāṃ nvahaṃ tenāmṛtāho3 neti; neti hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ, yathaivopakaraṇavatāṃ jīvitaṃ tathaiva te jīvitaṃ syāt, amṛtatvasya tu nāśāsti vitteneti || 3 ||
3. Maitreyī said, ‘Sir, if indeed this whole earth full of wealth be mine, shall I be immortal through that, or not?’ ‘No,’ replied Yājñavalkya, ‘your life will be just like that of people who have plenty of things, but there is no hope of immortality through wealth.’
सा होवाच मैत्रेयी, येनाहं नामृता स्यां किमहं तेन कुर्याम्? यदेव भगवान्वेद तदेव मे ब्रूहीति ॥ ४ ॥
sā hovāca maitreyī, yenāhaṃ nāmṛtā syāṃ kimahaṃ tena kuryām? yadeva bhagavānveda tadeva me brūhīti || 4 ||
Being thus addressed, Maitreyī said, ‘If indeed this whole earth full of wealth be mine, shall I be immortal through that, i.e. rites to be performed through wealth, or not?’ ‘No,’ replied Yājñavalkya, etc.—already explained.
स होवाच याज्ञवल्क्यः, प्रिया वै खलु नो भवती सती प्रियमवृधत्, धन्त तर्हि भवत्येतद्व्याख्यास्यामि ते, व्याचक्शाणस्य तु मे निदिध्यासस्वेति ॥ ५ ॥
sa hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ, priyā vai khalu no bhavatī satī priyamavṛdhat, dhanta tarhi bhavatyetadvyākhyāsyāmi te, vyācakśāṇasya tu me nididhyāsasveti || 5 ||
5. Yājñavalkya said, ‘You have been my beloved (even before), and you have magnified what is after my heart. If you wish, my deaf, I will explain it to you. As I explain it, meditate (upon its meaning).’
He said, ‘You have been beloved even before, and you have magnified determined what is after my heart. Hence I am pleased with you. If you wish to know the means of immortality, my dear, I will explain it to you.’
स होवाच, न वा अरे पत्युः कामाय पतिः प्रियो भवति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय पतिः प्रियो भवति । न वा अरे जायायै कामाय जाया प्रिया भवति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय जाया प्रिया भवति । न वा अरे पुत्राणां कामाय पुत्राः प्रिया भवन्ति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय पुत्राः प्रिया भवन्ति । न वा अरे वित्तस्य कामाय वित्तं प्रियं भवति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय वित्तं प्रियं भवति । न वा अरे पशूनां कामाय पशवः प्रिया भवन्ति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय ब्रह्म प्रियं भवति । न वा अरे क्शत्रस्य कामाय क्शत्रं प्रियं भवति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय क्शत्रं प्रियं भवति । न वा अरे लोकानां कामाय लोकाः प्रिया भवन्ति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय लोकाः प्रिया भवन्ति । न वा अरे देवानां कामाय देवाः प्रिया भवन्ति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय देवाः प्रिया भवन्ति । न वा अरे वेदानां कामाय वेदाः प्रिया भवन्ति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय भूतानि प्रियाणि भवन्ति । न वा अरे सर्वस्य कामाय सर्वं प्रियं भवति, आत्मनस्तु कामाय सर्वं प्रियं भवति । आत्मा वा अरे द्रष्टव्यः—श्रोतव्यो मन्तव्यो निदिध्यासितव्यो मैत्रेयि; आत्मनि खल्वरे दृष्टे श्रुते मते विज्ञात इदं सर्वं विदितम् ॥ ६ ॥
sa hovāca, na vā are patyuḥ kāmāya patiḥ priyo bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya patiḥ priyo bhavati | na vā are jāyāyai kāmāya jāyā priyā bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya jāyā priyā bhavati | na vā are putrāṇāṃ kāmāya putrāḥ priyā bhavanti, ātmanastu kāmāya putrāḥ priyā bhavanti | na vā are vittasya kāmāya vittaṃ priyaṃ bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya vittaṃ priyaṃ bhavati | na vā are paśūnāṃ kāmāya paśavaḥ priyā bhavanti, ātmanastu kāmāya brahma priyaṃ bhavati | na vā are kśatrasya kāmāya kśatraṃ priyaṃ bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya kśatraṃ priyaṃ bhavati | na vā are lokānāṃ kāmāya lokāḥ priyā bhavanti, ātmanastu kāmāya lokāḥ priyā bhavanti | na vā are devānāṃ kāmāya devāḥ priyā bhavanti, ātmanastu kāmāya devāḥ priyā bhavanti | na vā are vedānāṃ kāmāya vedāḥ priyā bhavanti, ātmanastu kāmāya bhūtāni priyāṇi bhavanti | na vā are sarvasya kāmāya sarvaṃ priyaṃ bhavati, ātmanastu kāmāya sarvaṃ priyaṃ bhavati | ātmā vā are draṣṭavyaḥ—śrotavyo mantavyo nididhyāsitavyo maitreyi; ātmani khalvare dṛṣṭe śrute mate vijñāta idaṃ sarvaṃ viditam || 6 ||
6. He said, ‘It is not for the sake of the husband, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved. It is not for the sake of the wife, my dear, that she is loved, but for one’s own sake that she is loved. It is not for the sake of the sons, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of wealth, my dear, that it is loved, but for one’s own sake that it is loved. It is not for the sake of the animals, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of the Brāhmaṇa, my dear, that he is loved, but for one’s own sake that he is loved. It is not for the sake of the Kṣatriya, my dear, that he is loved, but for one's own sake that he is loved. It is not for the sake of the worlds, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of the gods, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of the Vedas, my dear, that they are loved, but for one’s own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of the beings, my dear, that they are loved, but for one's own sake that they are loved. It is not for the sake of all, my dear, that all is loved, but for one’s own sake that it is loved. The Self, my dear Maitreyī, should be realised—should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon. When the Self, my dear, is realised by being heard of, reflected on and meditated upon, all this is known.
When the Self, my dear Maitreyī, is realised. How? By being first heard of from the teacher and the scriptures, then reflected on, discussed through argument or reasoning—the hearing is from the scriptures (and the teacher) alone, the reflection through reasoning—and lastly meditated upon (lit. known), ascertained to be such and such and not otherwise. What happens then? All this that is other than the Self is known, for there is nothing else but the Self.
ब्रह्म तं परादाद्योऽन्यत्रात्मनो ब्रह्म वेद, क्शत्रं तं परादाद्योऽन्यत्रात्मनः क्शत्रं वेद, लोकास्तं परादुर्योऽन्यत्रात्मनो लोकान्वेद, देवास्तं परादुर्योऽन्यत्रात्मनो देवान्वेद, वेदास्तं परादुर्योऽन्यत्रात्मनो वेदान्वेद, भूतानि तं परादुर्योऽन्यत्रात्मनो भूतानि वेद, सर्वं तं परादाद्योऽन्यत्रात्मनः सर्वं वेद; इदं ब्रह्म, इदं क्शत्रम्, इमे लोकाः, इमे देवाः, इमे वेदाः, इमानि भूतानि, इदं सर्वं यदयमात्मा ॥ ७ ॥
brahma taṃ parādādyo'nyatrātmano brahma veda, kśatraṃ taṃ parādādyo'nyatrātmanaḥ kśatraṃ veda, lokāstaṃ parāduryo'nyatrātmano lokānveda, devāstaṃ parāduryo'nyatrātmano devānveda, vedāstaṃ parāduryo'nyatrātmano vedānveda, bhūtāni taṃ parāduryo'nyatrātmano bhūtāni veda, sarvaṃ taṃ parādādyo'nyatrātmanaḥ sarvaṃ veda; idaṃ brahma, idaṃ kśatram, ime lokāḥ, ime devāḥ, ime vedāḥ, imāni bhūtāni, idaṃ sarvaṃ yadayamātmā || 7 ||
7. The Brāhmaṇa ousts one who knows him as different from the Self. The Kṣatriya ousts one who knows him as different from the Self. The worlds oust one who knows them as different from the Self. The gods oust one who knows them as different from the Self. The Vedas oust one who knows them as different from the Self. The beings oust one who knows them as different from the Self. All ousts one who knows it as different from the Self. This Brāhmaṇa, this Kṣatriya, these worlds, these gods, these Vedas, these beings and this all—are the Self.
स यथा दुन्दुभेर्हन्यमानस्य न बाह्याञ्छब्दाञ्छक्नुयाद्ग्रहणाय, दुन्दुभेस्तु ग्रहणेन—दुन्दुभ्याघातस्य वा—शब्दो गृहीतः ॥ ८ ॥
sa yathā dundubherhanyamānasya na bāhyāñchabdāñchaknuyādgrahaṇāya, dundubhestu grahaṇena—dundubhyāghātasya vā—śabdo gṛhītaḥ || 8 ||
8. As when a drum is beaten one cannot distinguish its various particular notes, but they are included in the general note of the drum or in the general sound produced by different kinds of strokes.
स यथा शङ्खस्य ध्मायमानस्य न बाह्याञ्छब्दाञ्छक्नुयाद्ग्रहणाय, शङ्खस्य तु ग्रहणेन—शङ्खध्मस्य वा—शब्दो गृहीतः ॥ ९ ॥
sa yathā śaṅkhasya dhmāyamānasya na bāhyāñchabdāñchaknuyādgrahaṇāya, śaṅkhasya tu grahaṇena—śaṅkhadhmasya vā—śabdo gṛhītaḥ || 9 ||
9. As when a conch is blown one cannot distinguish its various particular notes, but they are included in the general note of the conch or in the general sound produced by different kinds of blowing.
स यथा वीणायै वाद्यमानायै न बाह्याञ्छब्दाञ्छक्नुयाद्ग्रहणाय, वीणायै तु ग्रहणेन—वीणावादस्य वा—शब्दो गृहीतः ॥ १० ॥
sa yathā vīṇāyai vādyamānāyai na bāhyāñchabdāñchaknuyādgrahaṇāya, vīṇāyai tu grahaṇena—vīṇāvādasya vā—śabdo gṛhītaḥ || 10 ||
10. As When a Vīṇā is played on one cannot distinguish its various particular notes, but they are included in the general note of the Vīṇā or in the general sound produced by different kinds, of playing.
स यथार्द्रैधाग्नेरभ्याहितस्य पृथग्धूमा विनिश्चरन्ति, एवं वा अरेऽस्य महतो भूतस्य निःश्वसितमेतद्यदृग्वेदो यजुर्वेदः सामवेदोऽथर्वाङ्गिरस इतिहासः पुराणं विद्या उपनिषदः श्लोकाः सूत्राण्यनुव्याख्यानानि व्याख्यानानीष्टं हुतमाशितं पायितम्, अयं च लोकः, परश्च लोकः, सर्वाणि च भूतानि, अस्यैवैतानि सर्वाणि निःश्वसितानि ॥ ११ ॥
sa yathārdraidhāgnerabhyāhitasya pṛthagdhūmā viniścaranti, evaṃ vā are'sya mahato bhūtasya niḥśvasitametadyadṛgvedo yajurvedaḥ sāmavedo'tharvāṅgirasa itihāsaḥ purāṇaṃ vidyā upaniṣadaḥ ślokāḥ sūtrāṇyanuvyākhyānāni vyākhyānānīṣṭaṃ hutamāśitaṃ pāyitam, ayaṃ ca lokaḥ, paraśca lokaḥ, sarvāṇi ca bhūtāni, asyaivaitāni sarvāṇi niḥśvasitāni || 11 ||
11. As from a fire kindled with wet faggot diverse kinds of smoke issue, even so, my dear, the Ṛg-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sāma-Veda, Atharvāṅgirasa; history, mythology, arts, Upaniṣads, verses, aphorisms, elucidations, explanations, sacrifices, oblations in the fire, food, drink, this world, the next world, and all beings are all (like) the breath of this infinite Reality. They are (like) the breath of this (Supreme Self).
In the second chapter, by a description of words as the breath of the Supreme Self it has virtually been stated through implication that objects (denoted by words) such as the worlds are also Its breath. Hence they have not been separately mentioned. But since the import of the entire scriptures is being summarised here, it is necessary to make the implied meaning explicit. Hence the worlds and the rest are separately mentioned.
स यथा सर्वासामपां समुद्र एकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषां स्पर्शानां त्वगेकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषां गन्धानां नासिकैकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषां रसानां जिह्वैकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषां रूपाणां चक्शुरेकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषं शब्दानां श्रोत्रमेकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषां सङ्कल्पानां मन एकायनम्, एवं सर्वासां विद्यानां हृदयमेकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषां कर्मणां हस्तावेकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषामानन्दानामुपस्थ एकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषां विसर्गाणां पायुरेकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषामध्वनां पादावेकायनम्, एवं सर्वेषां वेदानां वागेकायनम् ॥ १२ ॥
sa yathā sarvāsāmapāṃ samudra ekāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāṃ sparśānāṃ tvagekāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāṃ gandhānāṃ nāsikaikāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāṃ rasānāṃ jihvaikāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāṃ rūpāṇāṃ cakśurekāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣaṃ śabdānāṃ śrotramekāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāṃ saṅkalpānāṃ mana ekāyanam, evaṃ sarvāsāṃ vidyānāṃ hṛdayamekāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāṃ karmaṇāṃ hastāvekāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāmānandānāmupastha ekāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāṃ visargāṇāṃ pāyurekāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāmadhvanāṃ pādāvekāyanam, evaṃ sarveṣāṃ vedānāṃ vāgekāyanam || 12 ||
12. As the ocean is the one goal of all sorts of water, as the skin is the one goal of all kinds of touch, as the nostrils are the one goal of all odours, as the tongue is the one goal of all savours, as the eye is the one goal of all colours, as the ear is the one goal of all sounds, as the Manas is the one goal of all deliberations, as the intellect is the one goal of all knowledge, as the hands are the one goal of all sorts of work, as the organ of generation is the one goal of all kinds of enjoyment, as the anus is the one goal of all excretions, as the feet are the one goal of all kinds of motion, as the organ of speech is the one goal of all Vedas.
स यथा सैन्धवघनोऽनन्तरोऽबाह्यः कृत्स्नो रसघन एव, एवं वा अरेऽयमात्मानन्तरोऽबाह्यः कृत्स्नः प्रज्ञानघन एव; एतेभ्यो भूतेभ्यः समुत्थाय तान्येवानुविनयष्यतिति, न प्रेत्य संज्ञास्तीत्यरे ब्रवीमीति होवाच याज्ञवल्क्यः ॥ १३ ॥
sa yathā saindhavaghano'nantaro'bāhyaḥ kṛtsno rasaghana eva, evaṃ vā are'yamātmānantaro'bāhyaḥ kṛtsnaḥ prajñānaghana eva; etebhyo bhūtebhyaḥ samutthāya tānyevānuvinayaṣyatiti, na pretya saṃjñāstītyare bravīmīti hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ || 13 ||
13. As a lump of salt is without interior or exterior, entire, and purely saline in taste, even so is the Self without interior or exterior, entire, and Pure Intelligence alone. (The self) comes out (as a separate entity) from these elements, and (this separateness) is destroyed with them. After attaining (this oneness) it has no more (particular) consciousness. This is what I say, my dear. So said Yājñavalkya.
When through knowledge all the effects have been.merged, the one Self remains like a lump of salt, without interior or exterior, entire, and Pure Intelligence. Formerly it possessed particular consciousness owing to the particular combinations with the elements. When that particular consciousness and its cause, the combination with the elements, have been dissolved through knowledge—after attaining (this oneness) it has no more (particular) consciousness—this is what Yājñavalkya says.
सा होवाच मैत्रेयी, अत्रैव मा भगवान्मोहान्तमापीपिपन्, न वा अहमिमं विजानामीति; स होवाच, न वा अरेऽहं मोहं ब्रवीमि, अविनाशी वा अरेऽयमात्मानुच्छित्तिधर्मा ॥ १४ ॥
sā hovāca maitreyī, atraiva mā bhagavānmohāntamāpīpipan, na vā ahamimaṃ vijānāmīti; sa hovāca, na vā are'haṃ mohaṃ bravīmi, avināśī vā are'yamātmānucchittidharmā ॥ 14 ॥
14. Maitreyī said, ‘Just here you have led me into the midst of confusion, sir, I do not at all comprehend this.’ He said, ‘Certainly I am not saying anything confusing. This self is indeed immutable and indestructible, my dear.’
She said, ‘Just here, in this very thing, i.e. Pure Intelligence, you have led me into the midst of confusion, i.e. confounded me, by saying, “After attaining (oneness) it has no more consciousness.” Hence I do not at all comprehend—clearly understand—this Self that you have described.’ He said, ‘Certainly I am not saying anything confusing; for this self that is under consideration is indeed immutable (lit. undying) and indestructible, my dear Maitreyī.’ That is to say, it is not subject to destruction either in the form of change or of extinction.
यत्र हि द्वैतमिव भवति तदितर इतरं पश्यति, तदितर इतरंजिघ्रति, तदितर इतरं रसयते, तदितर इतरमभिवदति, तदितर इतरं शृणोति, तदितर इतरं मनुते, तदितर इतरं स्पृशति, तदितर इतरं विजानाति; यत्र त्वस्य सर्वमात्मैवाभूत्, तत्केन कं पश्येत्, तत्केन कं जिघ्रेत्, तत्केन कं रसयेत्, तत्केन कमभिवदेत्, तत्केन कं शृणुयात्, तत्केन कं मन्वीत तत्केन कं स्पृशेत्, तत्केन कं विजानीयात्? येनेदं सर्वं विजानाति तं केन विजानीयात्? स एष नेति नेत्यात्मा, अगृह्यो न हि गृह्यते, अशीर्यो न हि शीर्यते, असङ्गो न हि सज्यते, असितो न व्यथते, न रिष्यति; विज्ञातारमरे केन विजानीयात्, इत्युक्तानुशासनासि मैत्रेयि, एतावदरे खल्वमृतत्वमिति होक्त्वा याज्ञवल्क्यो विजहार ॥ १५ ॥
इति पञ्चमं ब्राह्मणम् ॥
yatra hi dvaitamiva bhavati taditara itaraṃ paśyati, taditara itaraṃjighrati, taditara itaraṃ rasayate, taditara itaramabhivadati, taditara itaraṃ śṛṇoti, taditara itaraṃ manute, taditara itaraṃ spṛśati, taditara itaraṃ vijānāti; yatra tvasya sarvamātmaivābhūt, tatkena kaṃ paśyet, tatkena kaṃ jighret, tatkena kaṃ rasayet, tatkena kamabhivadet, tatkena kaṃ śṛṇuyāt, tatkena kaṃ manvīta tatkena kaṃ spṛśet, tatkena kaṃ vijānīyāt? yenedaṃ sarvaṃ vijānāti taṃ kena vijānīyāt? sa eṣa neti netyātmā, agṛhyo na hi gṛhyate, aśīryo na hi śīryate, asaṅgo na hi sajyate, asito na vyathate, na riṣyati; vijñātāramare kena vijānīyāt, ityuktānuśāsanāsi maitreyi, etāvadare khalvamṛtatvamiti hoktvā yājñavalkyo vijahāra || 15 ||
iti pañcamaṃ brāhmaṇam ||
15. Because when there is duality, as it were, then one sees something, one smells something, one tastes something, one speaks something, one hears something, one thinks something, one touches something, one knows something. But when to the knower of Brahman everything has become the Self, then what should one see and through what, what should one smell and through what, what should one taste and through what, what should one speak and through what, what should one hear and through what, what should one think and through what, what should one touch and through what, what should one know and through what? Through what should one know that owing to which all this is known? 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. Through what, O Maitreyī, should one know the Knower? So you have got the instruction, Maitreyī. This much indeed is (the means of) immortality, my dear. Saying this Yājña-valkya left.
In all the four chapters one and the same self has been ascertained to be the Supreme Brahman. But the means to Its attainment are various. The goal of all of them, however, is that Self which has been pointed out in the second chapter in the words, ‘Now therefore the description: Not this, not this’ (II. iii. 6). The same has also been ascertained in the third chapter, in the dialogue between Śākalya and Yājñavalkya, where death (the falling off of the head) was mentioned as the wager; then at the end of the third chapter, next in the dialogue between Janaka and Yājñavalkya, and again here at the conclusion of the Upaniṣad. In order to show that all the four chapters are exclusively devoted to this Self, and that no other meaning is intended in between, the conclusion has been made with the words, ‘This self is That which has been described as “Not this, not this,”’ etc.
Since, in spite of the truth being presented in a hundred ways, the Self is the last word of it all, arrived at by the process of ‘Not this, not this,’ and nothing else is perceived either through reasoning or through scriptural statement, therefore the knowledge of this Self by the process of ‘Not this, not this’ and the renunciation of everything are the only means of attaining immortality. To bring out this conclusion the text says: This much indeed—this realisation of the Self, the one without a second, by the eliminating process of ‘Not this, not this,’ is (the means of) immortality, my dear Maitreyī, and this is independent of any auxiliary means. That of which you asked me saying, ‘Tell me, sir, of that alone which you know (to be the only means of immortality),’ is just this much. So you have known it. Saying this, describing this Self-knowledge, the means of immortality, to his beloved wife Maitreyī, Yājñavalkya—what did he do?—did what he had first proposed saying, ‘I am going to renounce this life’—left, i.e. became a monk. The discussion of the knowledge of Brahman, culminating in renunciation, is finished. This much is the instruction, this is the teaching of the Vedas, this is the ultimate goal, this is the end of what a man should do to achieve his highest good.
Now we are going to have a discussion in order to get a clear conception of the meaning of the scriptures, for we see various conflicting statements in them. For instance, the following texts indicate that there is only one order of life (the householder’s): ‘One should perform the Agnihotra for life’ (Ba.), ‘One should perform the new and full moon sacrifices for life’ (Ibid.), ‘One should wish to live a hundred years on earth only performing rites’ (Iś. 2), ‘This Agnihotra is a sacrifice that must be continued till decay and death come’ (Ś. XII. iv. ii. 1), and so on. There are also statements establishing another order of life (monasticism): ‘Knowing (the Self)... they give up desires... and renounce their homes,’ ‘After finishing the student life he should be a householder, from that he should pass on to the life of a hermit in the forest, and then become a monk. Or he may do otherwise—he should renounce the world from the student life itself, or from the householder’s life, or from the hermit life’ (Np. 77; Jā. 4, adapted), ‘There are but two outstanding paths—first the path of rites, and next monasticism; of these the latter excels’ (cf. Tai. Ā. X. lxii. 12), and ‘Neither through rites, nor through progeny, nor through wealth, but through renunciation some attained immortality’ (Mn. X. 5; Kai. 2). Similarly the Smṛtis: ‘One who leads the student life renounces’ (Āp. II. xxi. 8, 19), ‘One who leads a perfectly celibate life may enter into any order of life’ (Va. VIII. 2), ‘Some say he has an option of choosing his order of life’ (Gau. III. 1); also, ‘After studying the Vedas as a student, he should seek to have sons and grandsons to purify his ancestors. Lighting the sacred fires and making sacrifices according to the injunctions, he should retire into the forest and then seek to become a monk’ (Mbh. XII. clxxiv. 6), ‘The Brāhmaṇa, after performing the sacrifice to Prajāpati and giving all his wealth to the priests as remuneration, should place the fires within himself and renounce his home’ (M. VI. 38), and so on.
Thus hundreds of contradictory passages from the Śrutis and Smṛtis are found, inculcating an option with regard to renunciation, or a succession among the orders of life, or the adoption of any one of them at will. The conduct of those who are versed in these scriptures has also been mutually conflicting. And there is disagreement even among great scholars who understand the meaning of the scriptures. Hence it is impossible for persons of shallow understanding clearly to grasp the meaning of the scriptures. It is only those who have a firm hold on the scriptures and logic, that Can distinguish the particular meaning of any of those passages from that of the others. Therefore, in order to indicate their exact meaning, we shall discuss them according to our understanding.
Prima facie view: The Vedas inculcate only rites, for the Śruti passages such as, ‘(One should perform the Agnihotra) for life’ (Ba.), admit of no other meaning. The Śruti speaks of the last rite of a man in these terms, ‘They burn him with the sacrificial vessels.’ There is also the statement about the rites being continued till decay and death come. Besides there is this hint, ‘(This) body, reduced to ashes,’ etc. (V. xv. i; īś. 17). If he were a monk, his body should not be reduced to ashes. The Smṛti also says, ‘He alone should be considered entitled to the study of these scriptures, whose rites from conception to the funeral ground are performed with the utterance of sacred formulæ, and no one else’ (M. II. 16). The rites that are enjoined by the Vedas to be performed in this life with the utterance of sacred formulæ, are shown by the Smṛti to terminate only on the funeral ground. And because a man who does not perform those rites is not entitled (to the study of the Smṛtis), he is absolutely debarred from having any right to the study of the Vedas. Besides, it is forbidden to extinguish the sacred fire, as in the passage, ‘He who extinguishes the sacred fire destroys the power of the gods’ (Tai. S. I. v. ii. 1).
The opponent’s answer: No, for the Śruti texts inculcating renunciation etc. have a different meaning. To be explicit: Since such Śruti texts as, ‘One should perform the Agnihotra for life’ (Ba.), ‘One should perform the new and full moon sacrifices for life’ (Ibid.), make such rites depend on life itself, and for that reason cannot be interpreted differently, whereas the passages inculcating renunciation etc. are applicable to those who are unfit for rites, therefore there is no option (with regard to the meaning of the Vedas as inculcating rites). Besides, since the Śruti says, ‘One should wish to live a hundred years tin earth only performing rites’ (Iś. 2), and the passage, ‘One is absolved (from rites) either by extreme old age or by death’ ÍŚ. XIL iv. i. i), leaves no room for the ritualist to quit the rites except in the event of extreme old age or death, the injunction regarding their being, continued in these cases up to the funeral ground, is not optional. Moreover, the blind, the hump-backed, and so forth, who are unfit for rites, surely deserve the compassion of the Śruti; hence the injunction about other orders of life such as monasticism are not out of place (as being applicable to them).
Question: But there will be no room for the injunction regarding the sequence of monasticism.
The opponent’s answer: Not so, for the Viśvajit and Sarvamedha sacrifices will be an exception to the rule about the lifelong performance of sacrifices. In other words, these two sacrifices are the only exceptions to the injunction about the lifelong performance of sacrifices, and the succession referred to in the passage, ‘After finishing the student life he should be a householder, from that he should pass on to the life of a hermit in the forest, and then become a monk’ (Np. 77; Jā. 4, adapted), is applicable to these cases. There will thus be no contradiction. That is to say, if the injunction relating to the sequence of monasticism applies to such cases, then there is no contradiction, for the sequence holds good. But if it is regarded as applicable to other cases, the injunction about the lifelong performance of sacrifices is restricted in its scope. Whereas, if the sequence is applicable to the Viśvajit and Sarvamedha sacrifices, there is no such contradiction.
The Advaitins reply: Your view is wrong, for you have admitted Self-knowledge to be the means of immortality. To be explicit: You have admitted the Self-knowledge that has been introduced with the words, ‘The Self alone is to be meditated upon’ (I iv. 7), and concluded with, ‘This self is That which has been described as “Not this, not this,”’ (III. ix. 26). So you are only reluctant to admit that this much alone is the means of immortality, independently of anything else. Now I ask you why you are intolerant of Self-knowledge.
Objection: Here is my reason. As, to a person who wants heaven, but does not know the means of its attainment, the Vedas inculcate such means as the Agnihotra, so here also, to one who wants to attain immortality, but does not know the means of it, they inculcate the instruction desired—‘Tell me, sir, of that alone which you know (to be the only means of immortality, (II. iv. 3; IV. v. 4)—in the words, ‘This much... my dear’ (IV. v. 15).
Reply: In that case, just as you admit the Agnihotra etc., inculcated by the Vedas, to be the means of attaining heaven, so also you should do with Self-knowledge. You should admit it to be the means of immortality exactly as it is inculcated, for in either case the authority is the same.
Objection: What would happen if it is admitted?
Reply: Since Self-knowledge destroys the cause of all actions, the awakening of knowledge would terminate them. Now rites such as the Agnihotra, which are connected with the wife and fire, can be performed only if there are agencies for whom they are meant, and this entails an idea of difference. In other words, they cannot be performed unless there are the gods—Fire, etc.—for whose sake they are undertaken, and this last depends on the sacrificer’s regarding the gods as different from himself. That notion of difference regarding the deities to be honoured, in view of which such deities are recommended by the Vedas as means to sacrifices, is destroyed in the state of enlightenment by knowledge, as we know from such Śruti passages as, ‘He (who worships another god thinking), “He is one, and I am another,” does not know’ (I. iv. io), ‘The gods oust one who knows them as different from the Self’ (II. iv. 6; IV. v. 7), ‘He goes from death to death who sees difference, as it were, in It’ (IV. iv. 19; Ka. IV. 10), ‘It should be realised in one form only’ (IV. iv. 20), and ‘He sees all as the Self’ (IV. iv. 23). Nor is Self-knowledge dependent on place, time, circumstances, etc., for it relates to the Self, which is an eternal verity. It is rites which, being bound up with persons (i e. subjective), may depend on place, time, circumstances, etc.; but knowledge, being bound up with reality (i.e. objective), never depends on them. As fire is hot, and as the ether is formless (independently of place, time, etc.), so also is Self-knowledge.
Objection: If this is so, the Vedic injunctions about rites, which are an unquestionable authority, are nullified; and of two things possessing equal authority, one should not nullify the other.
Reply: Not so, for Self-knowledge only destroys one’s natural idea of difference. It does not nullify other injunctions; it only stops the idea of difference ingrained in us.
Objection: Still, when the cause of rites is removed, they are impossible, and it virtually means that the injunctions regarding them are gone.
Reply: No, it is not open to the charge, for it is analogous to the cessation of our tendency to perform rites having material ends, when desire itself has been removed. Just as a man, induced to perform a sacrifice leading to heaven by the injunction, ‘One who desires heaven must perform sacrifices’ (Tā. XVI. iii. 3), gives up his inclination to perform this kind of sacrifice with a material end when his desire has been removed by the injunctions forbidding desires. His action does not nullify the injunctions regarding rites with material ends.
Objection: The injunction forbidding desires leads to an impression about the uselessness of them, and consequently the injunctions advocating rites with material ends cannot operate. So these injunctions are virtually nullified.
Reply: If Self-knowledge nullifies the injunctions about rites in the same way, we admit this.
Objection: But this would take away the authority of the injunctions about rites, just as the injunctions about rites with material ends are null and void when desire is forbidden. In other words, if rites are not to be undertaken, with the result that there is no one to perform them, then the injunctions about their performance become useless, and consequently the whole section of the Vedas dealing with such injunctions necessarily loses its authority.
Reply: No, it will be operative prior to the awakening of Self-knowledge. Our natural consciousness of difference regarding action, its factors and its results, will, previous to the awakening of Self-knowledge, certainly continue to be an incentive to the performance of rites, just as, before the idea about the harmful nature of desires arises, our natural craving for heaven etc. will certainly induce us to engage in rites having material ends.
Reply: No, good and evil depend on one’s intentions, for except liberation alone everything else comes within the province of ignorance. Good and evil are matters of personal whims, for we find that sacrifices are performed with death as their objective. Therefore the injunctions about rites are operative only until one is confronted with those about Self-knowledge. Hence rites do not go hand in hand with Self-knowledge, which proves that this alone is the means of immortality, as set forth in the words, ‘This much indeed is (the means of) immortality, my dear’ (IV. v. 15), for knowledge is independent of rites. Hence, even without any explicit injunction to that effect, the enlightened sage can, for reasons already stated, embrace the monastic life simply through his strong conviction about the identity of the individual self with Brahman that is devoid of the factors of an action such as the deity to whom it is performed as well as caste etc., and is immutable.
Since the ancient sages, not caring for children, renounced their homes on the ground stated in the clause, ‘We who have attained this Self, this world’ (IV. iv. 22), therefore,?ls it has been explained, this renunciation of their homes by the sages can take place simply by their knowing the world of the Self. Similarly it is proved that the man who seeks illumination can also renounce the world, for there is the statement, ‘Desiring this world alone monks renounce their homes’ (Ibid.). And we have said that rites are for the unenlightened. That is to say, because so long as ignorance persists there is scope for rites intended to produce, attain, modify, or purify, therefore rites, as we have stated, are also the means of Self-knowledge through the purification of the mind, as the Śruti says that the Brāhmaṇas seek to know It through sacrifices, etc.
Under the circumstances, if we examine the comparative efficacy, for bringing forth Self-knowledge, of the duties pertaining to the different orders of life, which concern only the unenlightened, we find that virtues such as the absence of pride which are mainly intended for the control of the senses, and meditation, discrimination, non-attachment, etc., which deal with the mind, are the direct aids. The others, owing to the predominance of injury, attachment, aversion, etc. in them, are mixed up with a good deal of evil work. Hence the monastic life is recommended for seekers after liberation, as in the following passages, ‘The giving up of all duties that have been described (as belonging to particular orders of life) is (best). Renunciation, again, is the culmination of this giving up of the duties,’ ‘O Brāhmaṇa, what will you do with wealth, or friends, or a wife, for you shall have to die? Seek the Self that has entered the cave of your intellect. Where are your grandfather and other ancestors gone, as well as your father?’ (Mbh. XII. clxxiv. 38). In the Sāṃkhya and Yoga systems also renunciation is spoken of as a direct means of knowledge. The absence of the impulsion of desire is another reason (why the seeker after liberation renounces the world). For all the scriptures tell us that the impulsion of desire is antagonistic to knowledge. Therefore, for a seeker after liberation who is disgusted with the world, the statement, ‘He should renounce the world from the student life itself,’ etc. (Np. 77), is quite reasonable, even if he is without knowledge.
Objection: But we have said that renunciation is for the man who is unfit for rites, for there alone is the scope for them; otherwise the dictum of the Śruti about the lifelong performance of rites would be contradicted.
Reply: The objection does not hold, for there is enough scope for those statements of the Śruti. We have already (p. 758) said that all rites are for the unenlightened man with desire. It is not absolutely that rites are enjoined for life. For men are generally full of desires, which concern various objects and require the help of many rites and their means. The Vedic rites are the means of various results and are to be performed by a man related to a wife and the fire; they produce many results, being performed again and again, like agriculture etc., and take a hundred years to finish, either in the householder's life or in the forest life. Hence in view of them the Śruti texts enjoin lifelong rites. The Mantra also says, ‘One should wish to live a hundred years on earth only performing rites’ (Iś. 2). The giving up of rites after the Viśvajit and Sarvamedha sacrifices refers to such a man; while in the case of those on whom lifelong rites are enjoined, these should be continued right up to the funeral ground, and the body consumed in fire. Or it may be that the injunctions of the Śruti about the lifelong performance of rites concern the other two castes except the Brāhmaṇa, for the Ksatriya and the Vaiśya are not entitled to the monastic life. In that case, texts such as, ‘Whose rites... are performed with the utterance of sacred formulae’ (M. II. 16), and ‘The teachers speak of only one order of life,’ etc. (Gau. III. 36; Bau. II. vi. 29), would refer to the Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas. Therefore in accordance with a person's capacity, knowledge, non-attachment, desire, etc., the various methods of an option with regard to renunciation, or a succession among the orders of life, or the embracing of the monastic life are not contradictory. And since monasticism has been separately enjoined on those who are unfit for rites, in the passage, ‘Whether he has completed his course of study or not, whether he has discarded the fire or been released from it,’ etc. (Jā. 4), (the above injunctions about monasticism refer to normal people qualified for rites). Therefore it is proved that the other three orders of life (besides the householder’s life) are surely meant for those who are qualified for rites.
Footnotes and references:
Omitted in the running translation to avoid clumsiness, as in some other places.
The sentence is carried over to the next paragraph.
Adapted from III. v. 1 and IV. iv. 22.
Because one has to part with all one’s wealth in them. Hence any more performance of sacrifices would be impossible for want of wealth. These persons alone are then entitled to monasticism etc.
The Mahābhārata tells of King Yudhiṣṭhira’s performing a sacrifice in advance concerning ‘the great exit.’
In IV. iv. 23.
That is, indirectly, from the teacher and the scriptures; direct realisation is not meant.
Wilfully, even when his wife is living.
By the scriptures, on the death of his wife.