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 VII - Contemplation of Brahman in the Visible

(Seventh Anuvāka)

This lesson treats of the contemplation of the Hiraṇyagarbha.

The śruti has thus taught us to contemplate Brahman in the form of the Vyāhṛti; and now it proceeds to teach that the self-same Brahman should be contemplated in the pāṅktas or five-membered groups of objects composed of the earth and so on.[1] As related to the number five, the universe made up of these groups may be regarded in the light of the paṅkti metre [2] and the whole is therefore a pāṅkta, made up of the paṅkti. And a yajña or sacrificial rite is also a pāṅkta[3] as declared in the śruti “Five-footed is the paṅkti (metre) and yajña is a pāṅkta.” Therefore to regard this whole universe as the pāṅkta, as made up of (the five-fold groups of objects such as the earth and other) worlds and so on, is tantamount to regarding it as a yajña or sacrificial rite itself. By the yajña thus effected, one becomes the Prajāpati manifested as the pāṅkta,—as the universe made up cf the five-membered groups of objects.

The Hiraṇyagarbha or Prajāpati, i.e., Brahman manifest-ed as the universe, is a pāṅkta, because the universe has been built out of the five elements of matter. To regard the Hiraṇyagarbha as a pāṅkta is to regard Him as a yajña, which is also a pāṅkta, as brought about by the interaction of five factors,—namely,

  1. the sacrifices
  2. his wife,
  3. his son,
  4. divine wealth such as Vidyā or contemplation,
  5. and human wealth such as man’s action and the materials used in performing the sacrificial rite.

By the yajña thus effcted in contemplation, the upāsaka attains to the state of the Prajāpati, the governing Soul of the universe, manifesting Himself in the form of the three worlds.—(S. & A.).

In the Sixth Lesson has been taught the contemplation of Brahman regarded as manomaya (formed of thought) and so on. Inasmuch as this Brahman, who has none of the attributes perceivable by the eye, can be grasped only by the aspirants of the highest class, the śruti proceeds to teach in the Seventh Lesson the contemplation of Brahman endued with attributes perceptible to the eye,—a contemplation which is suited to the aspirants of a lower class.


External groups of the visible.

Now the śruti first gives three groups of five members each, external to the human organism, as the attributes (forms or embodiments) of the Brahman who has to be contemplated.

पृथिव्यन्तरिक्षं द्यौर्दिशोऽवान्तरदिशाः । अग्निर्वायुरादित्यश्चन्द्रमा नक्षत्राणि । आप ओषधयो वनस्पतय आकाश आत्मा । इत्यधिभूतम् ॥ १ ॥

pṛthivyantarikṣaṃ dyaurdiśo'vāntaradiśāḥ | agnirvāyurādityaścandramā nakṣatrāṇi | āpa oṣadhayo vanaspataya ākāśa ātmā | ityadhibhūtam || 1 ||

1. Earth, the mid-region, heaven, (the main) quarters and the intermediate quarters; Agni (Fire), Vāyu (Air), Āditya (Sun), Chandramas (Moon) and Nakṣatras (the Stars); waters, plants, trees, the bright space (ākāśa), and Ātman (the Self): thus far among the external beings.

Now the śruti proceeds to show how the whole universe is a pāṅkta. Earth, etc., constitute the pāṅkta of worlds (lokas); Agni, etc., of Devatās; waters, etc., of bhṇtas or external beings. Mentioned as one among the bhṇtas, ‘Ātman’ here means the Virāj (the Universal Soul manifesting Himself in the form of the visible or physical worlds). Before the words ‘among the external beings’ we should understand the words “among the worlds, among the Devatās,” inasmuch as the pāṅktas of the worlds and Devatās also have been mentioned.

...Waters, etc., are the five substances (dravya)......These three groups of five objects pertain to external being, because they are made up of the earth and other {objects of creation which are regarded as external, comprehended in the notion of ‘this,’ as distinguished from prāṇa (upward vital breath) and others to be mentioned below, which are comprehended in the notion of ‘I.’ So far has been taught how to contemplate Brahman in the external world,


Internal groups of the visible.

To prevent the confounding of the preceding groups with those which follow, the śruti marks off the latter from the former and proposes to describe three more groups of five things each;

अथाध्यात्मम् । प्राणो व्यानोऽपान उदानः समानः । चक्षुः श्रोत्रं मनो वाक् त्वक् । चर्म मांसं स्नावाऽस्थि मज्जा ॥ २ ॥

athādhyātmam | prāṇo vyāno'pāna udānaḥ samānaḥ | cakṣuḥ śrotraṃ mano vāk tvak | carma māṃsaṃ snāvā'sthi majjā || 2 ||

2. Now, as to the self. Prāṇa, vyāna, apāna,- udāna, samāna; the eye, the ear, manas, speech, touch; skin, flesh, muscle (snāvā), bonc> marrow.

Now will be mentioned three internal groups of five things each. Praṇa, etc., form the group of the five airs; the eye, etc., form the group of the five senses; skin, etc., form the group of the five ingredients of the physical body.

After the enumeration of the three groups of external objects, three groups of five things each comprising the self are enumerated.—The self here spoken of refers to the self familiarly so called, namely, the aggregate of the physical body and the senses, which those people who have n 1 philosophic culture look upon as ‘I’. Now the śruti proceeds to treat of the contemplation of Brahman in this self. Prāṇa, etc., are none other than the five different functions of that one vital air which abides in the middle of the body. Hence the aphorism of the Holy Sage Vyāsa concerning Prāna, “of fivefold functions like manas is it said to be” (Vedānta-sūtras II. iv. 12). And the several seats of these functions are enumerated by the ancients as follows:

“In the heart is the prāṇa; in the anus, the apāna; samāna is in the navel situated; udāna lies in the region of the throat; vyāna traverses the whole body,”


The upāsana enjoined.

The three fivefold groups of external things as well as the three fivefold groups of internal things thus far enumerated represent together the whole universe constituting Brahman’s upādhi or seat of function. It is Brahman of this nature, associated with the upādhi, that has to be contemplated. The contemplation is enjoined in the following passage by way of speaking about it in appreciative terms:

एतदधिविधाय ऋषिरवोचत् । पाङ्क्तं वा इदं सर्वम् । पाङ्क्तेनैव पाङ्क्तं स्पृणोतीति ॥ ३ ॥

etadadhividhāya ṛṣiravocat | pāṅktaṃ vā idaṃ sarvam | pāṅktenaiva pāṅktaṃ spṛṇotīti || 3 ||

3. This having ordained, the Ṛṣi spake thus: Pāṅkta, verily, is this all; by pāṅkta, indeed, does one the pāṅkta strengthen.

Having ordained that this whole universe, external as well as internal, is fivefold (pāṅkta), the ĪUshi, i.e., the Veda, or a certain sage who attained to a realisation of the same, said as follows: all this is pāṅkta, built on the principle of five. The number (five) being present in both alike, by the internal pāṅkta does (the upāsaka) strengthen the external; i.e., the former fills the latter; i.e., again the former is perceived as one with the latter. That is to say, he who contemplates thus, regarding all this as pāṅkta, as built on the principle of five, becomes one with the Prajāpati, indeed.

Having realised that the whole universe is pāṅkta, is built on the principle of five, the ḥfishi said that all this universe from Brahmā down to plant is pāṅkta and no other. Because of this identity in number, by the internal (ādhyātmika) pāṅkta does one strengthen the whole external group, the former becoming one with the latter.—(S.)

That is to say, on the principle that the lower object should be regarded as the higher, one should regard the internal group as one with the external.—(A).

A certain Ṛṣi, a seer of super-sensuous truths revealed in the scriptures, perfected in contemplation, i.e., having intensely meditated upon the earth, mid-region and other objects of holy regard to the point of realisation, i.e., having attained in his own consciousness to the state of the Virāj, the Universal Soul,—the Ṛṣi taught to his disciples the truth which he has realised in his own consciousness, in the following words: All the world we perceive,—the body of the Virāj,—is pāṅkta, is related to the paṅkti metre, as is well known to all. To explain: According to the śruti “five-syllabled is paṅkti,” the number five enters into the metre of paṅkti. So also is the universe associated with the number five, because of the declaration of the adepts, —“namely, that the great quintupled elements of matter and all their evolutions constitute what is called the Virāj. Accordingly, in virtue of the relation of similarity which the universe bears to this paṅkti metre, the universe is said to be pāṅkta. So, too, even the contemplation of the earth, etc., as concerned with groups of five things, may be regarded as pāṅkta. Therefore, the upāsaka attains to the State of the Virāj,—who, as has been shewn, is pāṅkta,—by the contemplation of the earth, etc., which is also pāṅkta. By this appreciative reference to the upāsana, the śruti implies the injunction that he who wishes to attain to the state of the Virāj should contemplate in the manner described above. On the principle already enunciated, it is to be understood that, on attaining to the Virāj, mokṣa will be attained in due course, through knowledge of the truth.


Footnotes and references:


With a view to attain great results.—(S).


Paṅkti is a Vedic metre consisting of five feet (pet das) of eight syllables each.


That is to say, the universe may bo regarded not only in the light of the paṅkti metre as has been shewn above, but also in the light of a yajña or sacrificial rite.—(A.)

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