Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (with the Commentary of Śaṅkarācārya)

by Swāmī Mādhavānanda | 1950 | 272,359 words | ISBN-10: 8175051027

This Upanishad is widely known for its philosophical statements and is ascribed to Yajnavalkya. It looks at reality as being indescribable and its nature to be infinite and consciousness-bliss. Ethics revolve around the five Yajnas or sacrifices. This book includes the english translation of the Bhāṣya of Śaṅkara. The Shankara-Bhashya is the most ...

Section XII - Meditation on Food and the Vital Breath as Brahman

Verse 5.12.1:

अन्नं ब्रह्मेत्येक आहुः तन्न तथा, पूयति वा अन्नमृते प्राणात्; प्राणो ब्रह्मेत्येक आहुः, तन्न तथा, शुष्यति वै प्राण ऋतेऽन्नात्; एते ह त्वेव देवते एकधाभूयं भूत्वा परमतां गच्छतः; तद्ध स्माह प्रातृदः पितरम्, किअं स्विदेवैवं विदुषे साधु कुर्याम्, किमेवास्मा असाधु कुर्यामिति; स ह स्माह पाणिना, मा प्रातृद, कस्त्वेनयोरेकधाभूयं भूत्वा परमतां गच्छतीति; तस्मा उ हैतदुवाच वीति; अन्नं वै वि, अन्ने हीमानि सर्वाणि भूतानि विष्टानि; रमिति; प्राणो वै रम्, प्राणे हीमानि सर्वाणि भूतानि रमन्ते; सर्वाणि ह वा अस्मिन् भूतानि विशन्ति, सर्वाणि भूतानि रमन्ते, य एवं वेद ॥ १ ॥
इति द्वादशं ब्राह्मणम् ॥

annaṃ brahmetyeka āhuḥ tanna tathā, pūyati vā annamṛte prāṇāt; prāṇo brahmetyeka āhuḥ, tanna tathā, śuṣyati vai prāṇa ṛte'nnāt; ete ha tveva devate ekadhābhūyaṃ bhūtvā paramatāṃ gacchataḥ; taddha smāha prātṛdaḥ pitaram, kiaṃ svidevaivaṃ viduṣe sādhu kuryām, kimevāsmā asādhu kuryāmiti; sa ha smāha pāṇinā, mā prātṛda, kastvenayorekadhābhūyaṃ bhūtvā paramatāṃ gacchatīti; tasmā u haitaduvāca vīti; annaṃ vai vi, anne hīmāni sarvāṇi bhūtāni viṣṭāni; ramiti; prāṇo vai ram, prāṇe hīmāni sarvāṇi bhūtāni ramante; sarvāṇi ha vā asmin bhūtāni viśanti, sarvāṇi bhūtāni ramante, ya evaṃ veda ॥ 1 ॥
iti dvādaśaṃ brāhmaṇam ॥

1. Some say that food is Brahman. It is not so, for food rots without the vital force. Others say that the vital force is Brahman. It is not so, for the vital force dries up without food. But these two deities being united attain their highest. So Prātṛda said to his father, ‘What good indeed can I do to one who knows like this, and what evil indeed can I do to him either? The father, with a gesture of the hand, said, ‘Oh, no, Prātṛda, for who would attain his highest by being indentified with them?’ Then he said to him this: ‘It is “Vi.” Food is “Vi,” for all these creatures rest on food. It is “Ram.” The vital force is “Ram,” for all these creatures delight if there is the vital force.’ On him who knows as above all creatures rest, and in him all creatures delight.

Similarly, in order to enjoin another meditation the text says: Some teachers say that food—lit. what is eaten—is Brahman. It is not so—one must not understand that food is Brahman. Others say that the vital force is Brahman. It is not so —that too should not be taken as true. But why is not food to be understood as Brahman? For food rots or is decomposed without the vital force; so how can it be Brahman? For Brahman is that which is indestructible. Let the vital force then be Brahman. Not so either, for the vital force dries up without food. The vital force is the eater; hence it cannot live without eatables. Therefore it dries up without food. Since neither of them can singly be Brahman, therefore these two deities, food and the vital force, being united attain their highest, i.e. Brahmanhood.

So, having thus decided it in his mind, one whose name was Prātṛda said to his father, ‘What good indeed can I do to one who knows like this, knows Brahman as I have conceived it? That is, what worship can I offer him? And what evil indeed can I do to him either?’ That is to say, he has achieved the goal of his life. The man who knows that food and the vital force together constitute Brahman, is not slighted by any offence done to him, nor is he magnified by honours done to him. When he said this, his father, stopping him with a gesture of the hand, said, ‘Oh, no, Prātṛda, do not say so, for who would attain his highest by being identified with them, i.e. food and the vital force? No aspirant would attain perfection through this realisation of Brahman. Therefore you must not say that such a man has achieved the goal of his life.’ ‘If this is so, please tell me how he attains perfection.’ Then he said to him this, the following. What was it? It is ‘Vi.’ What is that? The answer is being given: Food is ‘Vi,’ for all these creatures rest on food[1], hence food is called ‘Vi.’ Also it is ‘Ram,’ the father said. What is that? The vital force is ‘Ram.’ Why? For all these creatures delight if there is the vital force, which is the abode of strength. Hence the vital force is ‘Ram.’ Food (i.e. the body) has the virtue of being the abode of all creatures, and the vital force that of affording delight to all, for none who is without a body as his abode is pleased, nor is any one, even if he has a body, pleased if he lacks vitality or strength. When a person has a body and strength, then only he is pleased, considering himself exceptionally fortunate, for the Śruti says, ‘It should be youth, a virtuous youth, and studious,’ etc. (Tai. II. viii. 1). Now the results attained by one who knows as above are being stated: On him who knows as above all creatures rest, because of his. knowledge of the virtue of food, and in him all creatures delight, because of his knowledge of the virtue of the vital force.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

‘Food’ here means the body, which is a modification of the food we eat.

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