Taittiriya Upanishad

by A. Mahadeva Sastri | 1903 | 206,351 words | ISBN-10: 8185208115

The Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the older, "primary" Upanishads, part of the Yajur Veda. It says that the highest goal is to know the Brahman, for that is truth. It is divided into three sections, 1) the Siksha Valli, 2) the Brahmananda Valli and 3) the Bhrigu Valli. 1) The Siksha Valli deals with the discipline of Shiksha (which is ...

Lesson V - Contemplation of the Vyāhṛtis

(Fifth Anuvāka)

Contemplation of Saṃhitā (conjunction) was first taught. Then followed the mantras intended for him who seeks wisdom and those intended for him who seeks fortune. These mantras subserve wisdom indirectly. Here follows the contemplation of Brahman within, in the form of Vyāhṛtis, the utterances hereby to secure the fruits of self-lordship (svārājya).

Accordingly this section proceeds to extol His glory.—(S.)

The three Vyāhṛtis being held in high regard, Brahman declared independently of them may not be readily accepted by the intellect; wherefore the śruti teaches the disciple to contemplate, within the heart, Brahman, otherwise termed the Hiraṇyagarbha, as embodied in the Vyāhṛtis.—(A.)

The fifth arid the sixth anuvākas treat of the contemplation of Brahman; the fifth treating of the contemplation, of the subordinate Devatās, while the sixth treats of Brahman, the Supreme Devatā. First, the śruti speaks of the three Vyāhṛtis as the symbols of the three subordinate Devatās.


The three Utterances.

भूर्भुवः सुवरिति वा एतास्तिस्रो व्याहृतयः ॥ १ ॥

bhūrbhuvaḥ suvariti vā etāstisro vyāhṛtayaḥ || 1 ||

1. ‘Bhūḥ,’ ‘Bhuvaḥ,’ ‘Suvaḥ’: there are thus, verily, these three utterances.

The utterances mentioned here are known as the most celebrated ones.

Vyāhṛtis are so called because they are uttered in various rituals, such as agnihotra, as is well known to all.


The Fourth Utterance.

Having thus spoken of the three Vyāhṛtis well known in connection with the ritualistic section, the śruti proceeds to declare another Vyāhṛti as a symbol:

तासामु ह स्मैतां चतुर्थीम् । माहाचमस्यः प्रवेदयते । मह इति ॥ २ ॥

tāsāmu ha smaitāṃ caturthīm | māhācamasyaḥ pravedayate | maha iti || 2 ||

2. Of them, verily, that one, the fourth, ‘Mahaḥ’, did the son of Mahāchamasa discover.

This Vyāhṛti, namely ‘Mahaḥ’, is the fourth of them. It was the son of Mahāchamasa that discovered this fourth Vyāhṛti. As a past event is described here, the present tense should be understood in the sense of past time. Mention of Māhāchamasya is intended to show that the Vyāhṛti was discovered by a Ṛṣi. Since the name of the Ṛṣi is mentioned here, we understand that contemplation of the Ṛṣi forms an integral part of the upāsana taught here.

Mahāchamasa is so named after the great vessel (chamasa) of Soma. The vesssel of Soma is spoken of as ‘great because it is used in most of the Soma Sacrifices. His son is the Ṛṣi here referred to as Māhāchamasya. That Ṛṣi teaches the Vyāhṛti ‘Mahaḥ’,—the fourth of the Vyāhṛtis of which three have been mentioned as Bhūḥ etc.,—as the main object of contemplation.


Contemplation oī the Utterances.

Now the śruti proceeds to enjoin how the four Vyāhṛtis should be regarded in contemplation.

तत् ब्रह्म । स आत्मा । अङ्गान्यन्या देवताः ॥ ३ ॥

tat brahma | sa ātmā | aṅgānyanyā devatāḥ || 3 ||

3. That is Brahman; that is Ātman; its limbs the other Gods.

The Vyāhṛti uttered as Mahaḥ, and discovered by the son ot Mahāchamasa,—that is Brahman.[1] Indeed, Brahman is Mahat (the Great); and the fourth Vyāhṛti, too, is Mahaḥ.—What else is that Vyāhṛti?—It is that Ātman,[2] because it is all-reaching. The other Vyāhṛtis,—i. e., the worlds, the Gods, the Vedas, the prāṇas,—are all, indeed, reached by the Vyāhṛti, ‘Mahaḥ,’ i.e., by the sun, the moon, Brahman (Praṇava) and food respectively. The other Gods are therefore its limbs. Here ‘Gods’ stand for others also, namely, worlds, Vedas and prāṇas.

‘Mahaḥ’, the fourth Vyāhṛti, should be regarded as Brahman, the Reality. Because it is Brahman, this fourth Vyāhṛti is Ātman abiding in the middle of the body. The other Gods of the Vyāhṛtis should be regarded as its limbs, namely, hands, feet, and the like.—Or, this may be a mere praise of the fourth Vyāhṛti, no contemplation of them as such being enjoined here.. The word ‘Mahaḥ’ being derived from a root meaning ‘to worship,’ it is but proper to praise the Vyāhṛti as Brahman, the Adorable One. Just as the conscious Self is superior to the limbs of the body, so ‘Mahaḥ’ the fourth Vyāhṛti is superior to the other Vyāhṛtis.


Contemplation of the Utterances as the Worlds.

The Upaniṣad proceeds to enjoin the contemplation' of the Vyāhṛtis as the worlds:

भूरिति वा अयं लोकः । भुव इत्यन्तरिक्षम् । सुवरित्यसौ लोकः । मह इत्यादित्यः । आदित्येन वाव सर्वे लोका महीयन्ते ॥ ४ ॥

bhūriti vā ayaṃ lokaḥ | bhuva ityantarikṣam | suvarityasau lokaḥ | maha ityādityaḥ | ādityena vāva sarve lokā mahīyante || 4 ||

4. As Bhūḥ, verily, is this world; as Bhuvaḥ,  the mid-region; as Suvaḥ, the other world; as  Mahaḥ, the sun; by the sun, indeed, do all worlds excel.

Because Gods, the worlds, etc., are all the limbs of the Vyāhṛti ‘Mahaḥ,’ which is the trunk as it were, therefore it is said that by the sun the worlds attain growth and so forth. It is indeed by the trunk of the body that the limbs attain growth. Thus the first Vyāhṛti ‘Bhūḥ’ should be regarded as the world, as Agni, as the Ṛgveda, as prāṇa; and so should the other Vyāhṛtis be regarded each in four forms.

The Vyāhṛti ‘Mahaḥ’ is the trunk as it were of Brahman or the Hiraṇyagarbha who ensouls the worlds etc. As the trunk of the body contributes to the growth of the limbs, so in the form of the sun etc., the Vyāhṛti ‘Mahaḥ’ contributes to the growth of the worlds and so on.—This is another reason why Mahaḥ is spoken of as Ātman, the first reason being that Mahaḥ reaches all.—(A. & S.)

Because all worlds fall within the ken of our regard (mah = to regard with reverence) only when illumined by the sun, it is very proper that Mahaḥ should be regarded as the sun.......


Contemplation of the Utterances as Gods.

Now the Upaniṣad enjoins the contemplation of the Vyāhṛtis as Gods:

भूरिति वा अग्निः । भुव इति वायुः । सुवरित्यादित्यः । मह इति चन्द्रमाः । चन्द्रमसा वाव सर्वाणि ज्योतींषि महीयन्ते ॥ ५ ॥

bhūriti vā agniḥ | bhuva iti vāyuḥ | suvarityādityaḥ | maha iti candramāḥ | candramasā vāva sarvāṇi jyotīṃṣi mahīyante || 5 ||

5. As Bhūḥ, verily, is Agni, Fire; as Bhuvaḥ is Vāyu, the Air; as Suvaḥ is Āditya, the Sun; as Mahaḥ is Chandramas, the Moon; by Chandramas, indeed, do all luminaries excel.

It is only when the moon shines that all the stars around shine in excellent forms.


Contemplation of the Utterances as the Vedas.

Then the Upaniṣad enjoins the contemplation of the Vyāhṛtis as the Vedas:

भूरिति वा ऋचः । भुव इति सामानि । सुवरिति यजूंषि । मह इति ब्रह्म । ब्रह्मणा वाव सर्वे वेदा महीयन्ते ॥ ६ ॥

bhūriti vā ṛcaḥ | bhuva iti sāmāni | suvariti yajūṃṣi | maha iti brahma | brahmaṇā vāva sarve vedā mahīyante || 6 ||

6. As Bhūḥ, verily, as the Ṛks; as Bhuvaḥ, the Sāmans; as Suvaḥ, the Yajuses.; as Mahaḥ, Brahman; by Brahman, indeed, do all the Vedas excel.

“Brahman” here means the syllable ‘Om’; none else can be meant here where we are concerned with words, namely, the Vedas.

The Ṛks, the Sāmans, and the Yajuses refer to the mantras occurring in the three Vedas respectively. ‘Brahman’ here denotes the syllable ‘Om.’ By ‘Om’ indeed are all the Vedas made excellent, inasmuch as the recitation of the Vedas is preceded by that of the Praṇava.


Contemplation of the Utterances as life-breaths.

Now the Upaniṣad enjoins the contemplation of. the Vyāhṛtis as prāṇa, life-breath:

भूरिति वै प्राणः । भुव इत्यपानः । सुवरिति व्यानः । मह इत्यन्नम् । अन्नेन वाव सर्वे प्राणा महीयन्ते ॥ ७ ॥

bhūriti vai prāṇaḥ | bhuva ityapānaḥ | suvariti vyānaḥ | maha ityannam | annena vāva sarve prāṇā mahīyante || 7 ||

7. As Bhūḥ, verily, is the upward life; as Bhuvaḥ, the downward life; as Suvaḥ, the pervading life; as Mahaḥ, the food; by food, indeed, do all lives excel.

It is only when food is eaten that the cravings of vitality are satisfied.


Vyāhṛtis represent Puruṣa in His sixteen phases.

Now the Upaniṣad concludes its teaching concerning the Vyāhṛtis regarded as the worlds and so on:

ता वा एताश्चतस्रश्चतुर्ध । चतस्रश्चतस्रो व्याहृतयः ॥ ८ ॥

tā vā etāścatasraścaturdha | catasraścatasro vyāhṛtayaḥ || 8 ||

8. They, verily, these four (Vyāhṛtis) become fourfold; four, four are the Vyāhṛtis.

They, namely, these four (Vyāhṛtis), Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, Suvaḥ and Mahaḥ, are each fourfold, each being in four forms. Four in all, they become each four.—Reiteration of them as presented above is meant to impress that they should necessarily be contemplated in the aforesaid manner.

It is not merely to magnify the Vyāhṛtis that this is repeated. It is intended to impress that each Vyāhṛti should be contemplated in its four aspects, so that the contemplation may comprehend the Supreme Spirit (Puruṣa) in His sixteen phases —(A.)

Each Vyāhṛti becoming four, the Vyāhṛtis in all become sixteen. To show that all of them should enter into the contemplation, ‘four’ is twice repeated in the last sentence.


Contemplation of the Utterances enjoined.

Now the Upaniṣad enjoins the contemplation of the Vyāhṛtis:

ता यो वेद । स वेद ब्रह्म । सर्वेऽस्मै देवा बलिमावहन्ति ॥ ९ ॥

tā yo veda | sa veda brahma | sarve'smai devā balimāvahanti || 9 ||

9. Whoso contemplates them, he knows Brahman; to him do all Devas offer tribute.

He who contemplates the Vyāhṛtis mentioned above knows Brahman,

(Objection):—Brahman being already known,—as has been declared above “That is Brahman; That the Ātman,”—there is no necessity to declare here that he knows Brahman, as if Brahman were unknown before.

(Answer:) —No. There is no room here for such objection, because the śruti intends to teach something in special about Brahman.—True; that the fourth Vyāhṛti is Brahman has been known; but neither the distinctive feature of His being knowable within the heart nor the whole description (to be given in the next lesson) of Himself and of His attributes,—that He is formed of thought, that He is full of peace, and so on,— is yet known. It is indeed with a view to teach all this that the śāstra looks upon Brahman as if unknown and says “he knows Brahman.” Hence no room for the objection. The meaning is this: he knows Brahman, who contemplates Him as possessed of all the attributes to be described in the sequel. So that this lesson relates to the same thing that is treated of in the next: both the lessons treat, indeed, of one and the same upāsana. And there is also something in the sequel which points to this conclusion. The words “He is established in Fire as Bhūḥ” constitute a mark pointing to the unity of upāsana. Nothing here goes to signify that two distinct contemplations are here enjoined. There are no words, indeed, such as ‘Veda,’ ‘upāsīta,’— i.e. ‘let him regard’, ‘let him contemplate,’— marking off one injunction from the other., The words “he who knows (veda) them,” occurring in the fifth lesson refer to what is to come next and does not therefore point to any distinction in the contemplation (upāsana). It has been shewn how these words refer to what is to be said in the next lesson which teaches the distinctive features of Brahman (to be contemplated here).

To him who contemplates thus, all Devas, becoming his subordinates, bring tribute on his attaining to selflordship (svārājya). All the worlds as well as all Devas contribute to his enjoyment according to their respective powers. This is the fruit accruing to the contemplator.

To him who contemplates the Vyāhṛtis regarded as the Earth and. so on, Indra and all other Gods pay reverential homage.

(Objection):—He who contemplates symbols such as the Vyāhṛtis here spoken of cannot attain to the Brahmā-loka, inasmuch as in the Vedānta-sūtras, IV. iii. 15, it has been determined that those alone attain to that region who contemplate Brahman independent of a symbol. Thus as they do not attain to Brahman, it is not right to say that he is worshipped by all Gods.

(Answer):—No such objection can be urged here. For, when a person contemplates the Vyāhṛtis, he contemplates Brahman also as taught in the next lesson. The contemplation of Brahman is, indeed, the primary factor, while the contemplation of the Vyāhṛtis is supplemental to it. The contemplator, therefore, does attain to Brahman, and it is but right to say that he will be worshipped by all Gods.


Footnotes and references:


That is to say, let this fourth vyāhṛti be contemplated upon as Brahman. It should be regarded as Brahman, because of its greatness, and as Ātman because it pervades all.—(S.)


Ātman is derived from a root which means ‘to reach,’ ‘to pervade.’

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