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 XI - The Exhortation

(Eleventh Anuvāka)

In the Tenth Lesson a mantra has been taught which may berecited in lieu of Brahma-yajña; so that, even to a man of dull intellect, Brahma-yajña is easy of performance. Thus it is possible for one to combine performance of the works taught in the śruti and the smṛti with practice of the contemplation taught before, thereby to attain liberation through an intermediate stage. In the Eleventh Lesson the śruti teaches that performance of works is by itself a step towards mokṣa, inasmuch as it creates a taste for wisdom.


Works are necessary for wisdom.

In proceeding in this lesson to enjoin the observance of certain necessary duties, the śruti evidently means that, prior to the attaining of the knowldge that the Self (Ātman) is one with Brahman, it is absolutely necessary to perform the works enjoined in the śruti and the smṛti. The aim of this exhortation is evidently the regeneration of the aspirant. Indeed, Self-knowledge does readily spring up in him who has been regenerated, i.e., whose manas (sattva) has been purified. Hence the smṛti,

“By tapas (austerity) man killeth sin; by Vidyā (wisdom) he reacheth the Immortal.”

In the sequel here the śruti says:

“By tapas do thou seek to know Brahman.”[1]

So, to bring about the dawn of wisdom, works must be performed, because of the śruti’s exhortation; and transgression of the exhortation cannot but lead to evil, First, too, in order comes the exposition of works. (In this Upaniṣad), prior to the exposition of pure Brahma-vidyā, works are treated of; and once the Brahma-vidyā has arisen, works serve no purpose, as this Upaniṣad teaches in the sequel:

“He finds the Fearless as the mainstay.”[2]
“Him verily in truth burns not the thought
‘why have I not done righteousness?’”[3]
“He has no fear of anything whatever.”[4]

From this it may be concluded that works conduce to the rise of knowledge by way of extinguishing the past accumulated sins. And there is a mantra to the same effect:

“By avidyā (works) crossing over death,
by vidya does one reach the Immortal.”[5]

The mention of right speech and other duties in the Ninth Lesson is meant to remove the impression that they are of no use whatever, while here the śruti means to teach that their observance is necessary as conducing to the dawn of knowledge.

Two sides of the injunction should be distinguished here; (1) that prior to the attainment of knowledge it is necessary to perform works, and (2) that it is only prior to knowledge that their performance is necessary.—(A) He who aspires to mokṣa should observe the duties mentioned here with a view to obtain wisdom. They should be observed till the Self-knowledge is attained. Once the Self-knowledge has been attained, all human aspiration has been achieved; and as the Self is ever free in Himself, there is no more purpose to be served by works. It is, therefore, only prior to Brahma-jñāna that performance of works, as tending to the purification of manas, is absolutely necessary.—(S)


Know as well as learn the Veda.

वेदमनूच्याचार्यो'न्तेवामिनमनुशास्ति ॥ १ ॥

vedamanūcyācāryo'ntevāminamanuśāsti || 1 ||

Having taught the Veda, the teacher then exhorts the pupil.

After teaching the Veda[6] to the pupil (ante-vāsin, lit., he that dwells near), then the teacher begins to exhort him: that is to say, when the pupil has learnt the texts, the teacher then instructs him in the meaning of the texts. This gives us to understand that after learning the Veda the pupil should not turn back from the abode of the teacher without making an enquiry into Dharma, into the nature of the works enjoined in the Veda, And the smṛti says:

“And one should know and then engage in works.”[7]

Who the teacher is, Manu says as follows:

“The twice-born who draws the pupil near and teaches him the Veda with the (ritualistic) formulas as well as the secrets, him they call a teacher.”[8]

The pupil is he who always dwells in close proximity with a teacher, such as the one described above. The smṛti says:

“Never leaving him, his shadow as it were, (the pupil) should reside with the teacher.”

To such a pupil, the master teaches the Veda after drawing him near, i. e., after due initiation (Śḥ. up-nī = to lead near). Then, when the pupil has learned the text, the teacher instructs him in the duties to be performed. From this we understand that after learning the Veda the pupil should not return home from the teacher’s family without enquiring into Dharma.


Duties briefly stated.

सत्यं वद । धर्मं चर ॥ २ ॥

satyaṃ vada | dharmaṃ cara || 2 ||

2. Speak the true. Follow Dharma.

Speak the true: give utterance to what thou comest to know by proper evidence and what is worthy of utterance. And thou shalt follow Dharma, too. ‘Dharma’ here stands for duty in general, inasmuch as the several duties, such as truth-speaking, are particularised below.

The wise who know all Dharma lay down that truth-speaking consists in giving utterance to a thing as it is perceived, without hypocrisy or a motive to do injury. The wise say that Dharma consists in the observance of Agnihotra and other works.—(S).

Truth-speaking stands also for other virtues mentioned along with it, such as “harmlessness, truth, the abstaining from theft,” etc.[9] ‘Dharma’ means Agnihotra and other sacrificial rites enjoined in the extant śrutis. Jaimini has defined it thus; “Dharma is the thing taught in (the word of) command (Veda)”[10] Thus the two comprehensive sentences teach that all duties enjoined in the śruti and the smṛti should be observed.


Duties never to be neglected.

On the principle that “Once done, the command of the scriptures has been observed,” one may suppose that after a single performance of the works enjoined in the śruti and the smṛti they may be abandoned. To prevent this supposition the śruti commands as follows:

स्वाध्यायान्मा प्रमदः । आचार्याय प्रियं धनमाहृत्य प्रजातन्तुं मा व्यवच्छेत्सीः । सत्यान्न प्रमदितव्यम् । धर्मान्न प्रमदितव्यम् । कुशलान्न प्रमदितव्यम् । भूत्यै न प्रमदितव्यम् । स्वाध्यायप्रवचनाभ्यां न प्रमदितव्यम् । देवपितृकार्याभ्यां न प्रमदितव्यम् ॥ ३ ॥

svādhyāyānmā pramadaḥ | ācāryāya priyaṃ dhanamāhṛtya prajātantuṃ mā vyavacchetsīḥ | satyānna pramaditavyam | dharmānna pramaditavyam | kuśalānna pramaditavyam | bhūtyai na pramaditavyam | svādhyāyapravacanābhyāṃ na pramaditavyam | devapitṛkāryābhyāṃ na pramaditavyam || 3 ||

3. From study swerve thou not. Having offered dear wealth to the teacher, cut thou not the progeny’s line. From the true it will not do to swerve, nor from Dharma, nor from welfare. Neither will it do to swerve from well-being, nor from study and teaching, nor from duties to Devas and Pitṛs.

Be thou never negligent of study.

Never forget the scriptures thou hast learnt from the Guru. The smṛti says:

“Know that to forget what has been learnt Is equal to brāhmanicide.”

As a return for the knowledge, do thou obtain for the teacher a most acceptable wealth[11] and give it to him. Then, with the permission of the teacher, secure a suitable wife and prevent break in the line of descent. It will not do to bring about a break in the line of descent. That is to say, if a son is not born, attempts should de made to get a son by means of sacrificial rites such as the Putrakamya-iṣṭi, a rite performed with a view to get sons. This appears to be the meaning of the śruti because of the mention of three duties, “offspring, begetting, and propagation.”[12] Otherwise, the śruti would have mentioned only one,—that of begetting. To swerve from the true is to have an occasion to utter a falsehood. In virtue of the word ‘swerve’ we understand that it will not do to utter falsehood even in forgetfulness: otherwise the śruti would have simply forbidden the uttering of falsehood.

The śruti again speaks of the duty of truth-speaking with a view to teach that one should never tell a lie, however small, even in forgetfulness.—(S).

It will not do to swerve from Dharma. Dharma refers to some particular works to be done; to swerve from Dharma, therefore, means to neglect those works. Dharma should never be neglected; it should be observed. It will never do to swerve from welfare—i. e., from acts tending to self-preservation—nor from well-being, i. e., from those auspicious acts which promote one's prosperity.

The means of self-preservation are either physical or superphysical. The Vedas recommend certain rites whereby to secure longevity and health (vide. Taittirīya-Saṃhitā II. iii. 11), and these are the super-physical means; medicine and the like constitute the physical means. Similarly, there are both physical and super-physical means of acquiring wealth. The Taittirīya Saṃhitā 2–1–1 prescribes a super-physical means to it. The accepting of gifts from others is the physical means. Since, without welfare and wealth, it is not possible to perform the woks which are conducive to mokṣa, it is necessary to warn against the neglect of welfare and wealth.

To study the Vedas and to teach them are indeed absolutely necessary.

First the śruti warned against the forgetting of what has been learned. Here is a warning against the neglect of teaching to others what has been learnt, as well as against the omission of Brahma-yajña.

It is also necessary to observe all the rites (enjoined for the propitiation) of Devas and Pitṛs.

The rites propitiative of Devas—such as Vināyaka-Vrata, Ananta-Vrata—-are enjoined in the Purāṇa; the annual ceremonies and the like are propitiative of the Pitṛs.


Persons worthy of worship.

Now the śruti enjoins that one should worship one’s mother etc., as Devatās, without regarding them as mere men:

मातृदेवो भव । पितृदेवो भव । आचार्यदेवो भव । अतिथिदेवो भव ॥ ४ ॥

mātṛdevo bhava | pitṛdevo bhava | ācāryadevo bhava | atithidevo bhava || 4 ||

4. Treat thy mother as a God; as a God treat thou thy father; as a God shalt thou treat thy teacher; thy guests as Gods shalt thou treat.

These should be worshipped as Devatās.

Worship thy mother as if she were a Deva,—Rudra, Viṣṇu, Vināyaka, or the like.


How far to observe Vedic prescriptions and orthodox custom.

यान्यनवद्यानि कर्माणि । तानि सेवितव्यानि । नो इतराणि ॥ ५ ॥
यान्यस्माकं सुचरितानि । तानि त्वयोपास्यानि । नो इतराणि ॥ ६ ॥

yānyanavadyāni karmāṇi | tāni sevitavyāni | no itarāṇi || 5 ||
yānyasmākaṃ sucaritāni | tāni tvayopāsyāni | no itarāṇi || 6 ||

5. What works are free from fault, they should be resorted to, not others,

6. What are good works of ours, they should be done, not others.

Thou shalt do such other works as are free from blame and sanctioned by śiṣṭāchāra or practice of wise men, but not those works which, though practised by the wise, are open to blame.

As to the works intended to produce unseen results, thou shalt necessarily engage in the good works which

we, the teachers, practise and which are not contrary to the teaching ot the Vedas, but not in the contrary ones though practised by the teachers.

As to acts other than those mentioned above, thou shalt strive to perform those which are practised by the wise, and which do not seem to involve any evil. It will never do to resort to evil acts or to those which are open to the least suspicion of evil, though practis 3 d by the wise. Thou shalt follow our example only with regard to those acts which are not contrary to the śruti and smṛti and which are in accordance with the practice of the wise.—(S).

As to the works tending to promote welfare and prosperity, the śruti lays down some restrictions.—These works are of two classes: those which are open to blame and those which are not. Those which have been already referred to,---namely, the sacrificial rites- cenducLe to longevity, acceptance of gifts, the conducting of a sacrificial rite for another,—are works not open to blame and are therefore worthy of performance; the others, such as the magical rites performed for malevolent purposes, though conducive to welfare by way of destroying the enemy, should not be resorted to, since they are open to blame as leading to hell.

Wise men’s practice being authoritative like-the śruti and the smṛti, one may suppose that the teacher’s example should be followed in all acts. But here too, the śruti makes a certain reservation.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa has described two kinds of sampad or nature—Daivī and Āsurī, divine and demoniac—in the following words:

“Fearlessness, purity of heart, steadfastness in knowledge and Yoga, alms-giving, self-restraint and sacrifice, sacred reading, austerity, uprightness;

“Harmlessness, truth, absence of anger, renunciation, tranquillity, absence of calumny, compassion to creatures, uncovetousness, gentleness, modesty, absence of fickleness;

“Boldness, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, absence of hatred, absence of pride; these belong to one born for a divine lot, O Bhārata.

“Ostentation, arrogance and self-conceit, anger as also insolence, and ignorance belong to one who is born, O Pārtha, for an Āsuric lot.”[13]

Now thou shalt follow us in cultivating the good qualities such as fearlessness, but not ostentation etc. This principle should be extended to the whole range of śiṣṭachāra or orthodox custom. To illustrate: Paraśurāma, the son of Jama-dagni, killed his mother by the father’s command. Here we should follow the example of Paraśunzma in the good act of obeying the father’s command, but not in the sinful act of killing the mother. And so in other cases.


Conduct towards great men.

ये के चार्मच्छ्रेयांसो ब्राह्मणाः । तेषां त्वयाऽऽसने न प्रश्वसितव्यम् ॥ ७ ॥

ye ke cārmacchreyāṃso brāhmaṇāḥ | teṣāṃ tvayā''sane na praśvasitavyam || 7 ||

7. Whatever brāhmaṇas are better than ourselves, in their sitting it will not do for thee to breathe.

Whoso among the brāhmaṇas—not kṣatriyas and others—are eminent as teachers[14] versed in the sāstras or scriptures etc., and are superior to ourselves, thou shalt entertain them by offering them seats and so on, ī. c., remove their fatigue. Or(to interpret in another way): when such bmhmaṇas are seated in an assembly for discussion, thou shalt not even so much as breathe; thou shalt merely grasp the essence of what they say.

In their discourses, thou shalt not hasten to say anything. Thou shalt grasp the essence of their discourse and never thwart them, if ever you have power to do so.—(S)

If ever you meet righteous persons, superior by age, knowledge and qualities to us who are thy teachers, thou shalt remove their fatigue by offering them seats, by washing their feet and by such other kinds of service. Or—to interpret in another way,—thou shalt not breathe in their assembly. Much less shalt thou engage in a discussion with them in a tone of familiarity, thinking that thou art very learned. All thy concern should be to learn what they teach.


How to make gifts.

श्रद्धया देयम् । अश्रद्धयाऽदेयम् । श्रिया देयम् । ह्रिया देयम् । भिया देयम् । संविदा देयम् ॥ ८ ॥

śraddhayā deyam | aśraddhayā'deyam | śriyā deyam | hriyā deyam | bhiyā deyam | saṃvidā deyam || 8 ||

8. With reverence should gifts be made, never with irreverence should a gift be made. With liberality should gifts be made, with modesty should gifts be made. With fear[15] should a gift be given, in friendliness should a gift be given.

Whatever thou hast to give, do thou give it only with reverence. Never with irreverence should a thing be given.

When thou givest wealth to a brāhmaṇa, thou shalt give it reverently. Nothing should be given with irreverence. What is irreverently given is of no use in either world. Accordingly the Lord says:

Whatever is sacrificed, given, or done, and whatever austerity is practised without faith, it is called A sat, O Pārtha; it is naught here or hereafter.”[15]

To interpret the śruti in another way: Just as a reverential man makes a gift, so, even in the absence of reverence, a mail should make a gift. The verse quoted above teaches only that thereby he does not reap the fruit of a gift made sāttvically. But he does reap the fruits of a rājasic or a tāmasic gift. Accordingly the Lord distinguishes three kinds of gifts:

“That alms which is given—knowing it to be a duty to give—to one who does no service, in place and in time, and to a worthy person, that alms is held Sāttvic.

“And what is given with a view to receiving in return, or looking for the fruit, or reluctantly, that alms is held to be Rājasic.

“The gift that is given at a wrong place or time to unworthy persons, without respect or with disdain, that is declared to be Tāmasic.”[16]

With ostentation, with modesty, or from fear of śāstras, with the discrimination of the nature of the time, place, and the donee should gifts be made. These sentences treat of the three kinds of giving mentioned above. “I am rich in wealth; as my wealth goes to slaves, men and women, so let it go to the brāhmaṇas.” When a gift is made thus insultingly by a man because of his vast wealth, that gift is tāmasic. When a man makes gifts in the same spirit because of the shame felt by him when abstaining from making gifts while his equals do so, his giving is rājasic. Those gifts are sāttvic which, for fear of sin, a man makes to the sacrificial priests and the like as laid down by law. A man with sāttvic nature should give with discrimination. For example, he should know that full fees are due to the four important priests such as the Adhvaryu, half fees to the next four such as Pratiprasthātṛ, one-third to the next four such as Neṣṭṛ, one-fourth to the next four such as Unnetṛ.

Or, the whole passage speaks of sāttvic gift only. “There should be no guile in the matter of wealth”; thus the law lays down that gifts should be made according to one’s means. A wealthy man should make large gifts lest making small gifts may bring great shame on him.


How to decide matters of doubt.

Having thus taught of the duties which cannot otherwise be known, the śruti now proceeds to shew how to decide in matters of doubt:

अथ यदि ते कर्मविचिकित्सा वा वृत्तविचिकित्सा वा स्यात् ।  ये तत्र ब्राह्मणाः संमर्शिनः । युक्ता आयुक्ताः । अलूक्षा धर्मकामाः स्युः । यथा ते तत्र वर्तेरन् । तथा तत्र वर्तेथाः ॥ ९ ॥

atha yadi te karmavicikitsā vā vṛttavicikitsā vā syāt |  ye tatra brāhmaṇāḥ saṃmarśinaḥ | yuktā āyuktāḥ | alūkṣā dharmakāmāḥ syuḥ | yathā te tatra varteran | tathā tatra vartethāḥ || 9 ||

9. Now if to thee a doubt as to a deed, or a doubt as to conduct, should occur, as the brāhmaṇas there—who are thoughtful, zealous, well-versed, not hard (at heart), desirous of Dharma—would act in such matters, so there shalt thou act.

If, to thee, thus acting, there should ever occur[17] a doubt as to a deed enjoined in the śruti or in the smṛti, or a doubt as to a custom (āchāra), then, in those matters, thou shalt act just in the way in which the brāhmaṇas of the country and the age—who are competent to judge[18], well versed in the matter, not urged on by others to the deed or custom, seeking Dharma, seeking what is beyond the senses, unassailed by kama (worldly desire)—would act in such matters.

Deeds are of two classes, those which are enjoined in the śruti, such as the Agnihotra, and those which are enjoined in the smṛti such as the sandhyā-vandana or worship of the Divine Being at the main points of time in the day. To take an example from the works enjoined in the śruti; In one place the śruti says “The offering of oblation should be made when the sun has risen;” and elsewhere it says “The offering of oblation should be made when the sun has not yet risen.” This may give room to a doubt. Again, to take an example of the works enjoined in the smṛti: A doubt may arise as to whether the Sandhyā Devatā—the form in which the Divine Being should be worshipped at the main points of time in the day—is of the male or female sex, the scriptures speaking of the Devatā in either way. To take an example of a custom in worldly affairs handed down in the family: A doubt arises as to the propriety of marrying a maternal uncle’s daughter or of eating animal food, inasmuch as contradictory views obtain in these matters. In such matters of doubt as these thou shalt act in the way in which those brāhmaṇas would act who live in the same country, age, and tribe in which thou livest at the time; who, as free from attachment, aversion, anxiety and other evil tendencies of mind, are competent to decide as to the real meaning of the scriptures; who are themselves engaged in the observance of the constant and incidental duties, intent on their due performance; who are free from anger, free from bigotry; and who work only for virtue (Dharma), not for gain and honor.


On intercourse with the accused.

Having thus taught how to act in matters of doubt, the śruti now goes on to teach the procedure whereby to decide as to whether one should abstain or not from social intercourse with persons accused of a sinful act:

अथाभ्याख्यातेषु । ये तत्र ब्राह्मणाः संमर्शिनः । युक्ता आयुक्ताः । अलूक्षा धर्मकामाः स्युः । यथा ते तत्र वर्तेरन् । तथा तत्र वर्तेथाः ॥ १० ॥

athābhyākhyāteṣu | ye tatra brāhmaṇāḥ saṃmarśinaḥ | yuktā āyuktāḥ | alūkṣā dharmakāmāḥ syuḥ | yathā te tatra varteran | tathā tatra vartethāḥ || 10 ||

10. Now as to the accused: as the brāhmaṇas there—who are thoughtful, zealous, well-versed, not hard (at heart), desirous of Dharma—would act in such matters, so there shalt thou act.

Now as to those who are suspected to be guilty of a blameworthy act, do thou proceed as recommended above.


The Peroration.

The exhortation is concluded as follows:

एष आदेशः । एष उपदेशः । एषा वेदोपनिषत् । एतदनुशासनम् । एवमुपासितव्यम् । एवमु चैतदुपास्यम् ॥ ११ ॥

eṣa ādeśaḥ | eṣa upadeśaḥ | eṣā vedopaniṣat | etadanuśāsanam | evamupāsitavyam | evamu caitadupāsyam || 11 ||

11. This is the direction; this the advice; this the secret of Vedas; this the command; thus shall devotion be, and thus verily (all) this shalt thou observe.

This is the direction, this is the advice that fathers or others should give to their sons, etc. This is the secret,—-the meaning,—of the Vedas. This is the word of God[19]; this is the exhortation as to all things that are authoritative. Therefore all that has been taught shall be duly done. The repetition shews high regard for the instruction here set forth, implying that all this should be observed, that none should fail to observe it.

The righteous should strive to obey every command that has been thus laid down.—(S).

The instruction thus given from para 2 to 10 is ādeśa, the Vedic injunction. Just as a king commands his servants so does the Vedic injunction command the devotee. Upadeśa is the command laid down in the smṛti, so called because the smṛtis are very near to the śruti, upon which they are based. Even in the smṛtis that cannot be traced to the original śrutis, directions such as “speak the true” are given in the same form. What has been taught in the words “speak the true” etc., constitutes the essence of the Vedas. Of the three parts of the Vedas,—the mantras (prayers to Gods &c.), the arthavādas or subsidiary passages, and the vidhis or injunctions,—the last, namely, the injunctions, constitute the very essence of the Vedas. These commands are the commands of God, as the Lord says “Śruti and smṛti are my own command”

Because these duties,—such as “speak the true”—taught in the śruti and the smṛti are enjoined by God Himself and constitute the essence of the Vedas, therefore it is a bounden duty to observe them.

Seeing that here the śruti lays so much stress on works, some hold that works alone can lead to mokṣa: while some others hold that mokṣa results from works and knowledge combined. Both these theories were refuted by us (in the introduction to the study of the Upaniṣads) when discussing the relation between the ritualistic section and the wisdom section of the Vedas. Though works are not the direct cause of mokṣa, they conduce to it by way of creating a desire for knowledge. Hence the injunction of works in the wisdom section of the Veda.


Does the highest good accrue from works or from knowledge?

In the opening section (the introductory part of the bhāṣya) it was shewn that Vidyā or knowledge of Ātman by itself leads to the Highest Bliss. To establish the proposition still more firmly, the commentator again enters into a discussion of the point on this occasion when the śruti is found to enjoin works, his main object being to shew that works and knowledge serve each a distinct purpose—(A)

Now, to discriminate between Vidyā and Karma, knowledge and works, we shall discuss the following question: Does the highest good accrue from works pure and simple, or from works aided by knowledge, or from knowledge and works operating together conjointly as co-ordinate factors, or from knowledge aided by works, or from knowledge pure and simple?


The theory that the highest good accrues from works.

One may say that the highest good accrues from works (karma) pure and simple, because he alone is qualified for works who possesses a knowledge of the whole Vedic teaching. And this knowledge includes a knowledge of Ātman as taught in the Upaniṣads, as the smṛti says “The whole Veda with the secret (rahasya) should be learnt by the twice-born.” In the words “knowing thus, one sacrifices,” “knowing thus, one officiates at a sacrifice,” the śruti shews that only a man of knowledge is qualified for works of any kind. It is also said “knowledge first, then action.” There are indeed some exegetists who maintain that the whole of Veda is intended to teach works; so that if the highest good cannot be attained by works, the Veda is of no use.

It is a principle recognised by all exegetists that the Veda speaks of things as they are only with a view to teach something else which has to be done, which has to be newly brought into existence. On this principle, we should understand that, where the Veda treats of Ātman as He is, i: subserves an injunction of an act by way of creating an exalted notion of the nature of the agent concerned in the act; so that, the śruti speaking of the fruits accruing from the knowledge of Ātman points in the main to the injunction of an act. The highest good, therefore, accrues fiom works alone.—(A)


Works cannot produce liberation.

Not so, because of the eternality of mokṣa. It is indeed admitted that mokṣa is eternal, and it is also known to all that the effect of an act is temporary. If the highest good accrue from works, then it would bo temporary, a conclusion which nobody is prepared to accept.

(Objection):—The interested and prohibited acts being avoided, the ārabdha-karma being exhausted by its fruits being enjoyed, no sin of omission being incurred when all obligatory duties are performed, mokṣa is attained even without knowledge.

(Answer):—This cannot be, because, as was already shewn,[20] there possibly exists some residual karma which gives rise to another body; and the performance of obligatory works cannot neutralise that part of the residual karma which is not opposed to them.

As to the contention that he alone is qualified for works who possesses a knowledge of the whole Vedic teaching, we answer: This too cannot be, because, apart from the knowledge acquired by a mere study of what is heard (i. e. of Vedic texts), there is upāsana. Possessing the knowleīge acquired by a mere study of Vedic texts, a man is indeed qualified for works; no such knowledge as has to be acquired by means of upāsana is necessary for works. And upāsana is laid down as another means to mokṣa, as a means which is quite distinct from the knowledge acquired by a study of Vedic texts. And so it must be, because the śruti declares that it is a distinct thing. That reflection (manana) and meditation (nididhyāsana or upāsana) are distinct from the knowledge acquired by a mere study of Vedic texts is clear from the fact of separate efforts being enjoined in the śṛuti, which, after directing “thou shalt hear of the Self,” teaches again that “thou shalt reflect and meditate upon the Self.”


Neither does liberation accrue from works and Upāsana combined.

(Objection): —So, then, let mokṣa accrue from works aided by Vidyā or Upāsana. It is possible that, when aided by Vidyā, works acquire a power to produce a new effect. Just as a poison, dadhi or thick sour milk, etc., though in themselves liable to produce death, fever and such other effects, acquire, when co-operating with a mantra, sugar, etc., power to produce quite new effects. So, mokṣa may be produced by works aided by Vidya.

(Answer):—No.Theobjection already stated, that what is produced cannot be eternal, applies to this view also.

(Objection):-On the authority of the Vachana[21] (saying, i. e. śruti) mokṣa, though produced, is eternal.

(Answer):—No, because the śruti is a revelation. Śruti, as we all understand, reveals a thing as it is; it does not make what has not been in existence. Indeed, not even on the authority of a hundred śrutis, can it be that the eternal is produced, or that what is produced is imperishable.

This argument will do also to refute the view that Vidyā and Karma, conjoined as co-ordinate factors, produce mokṣa.

(Objection):—Vidyā and works serve to remove the obstacles on the way to mokṣa.

Avidyā and adharma are the obstacles. They are destroyed by Vidyā and works respectively. Thus, these do not produce mokṣa itself. Mokṣa, which consists in remaining as the Self, is eternal. And all philosophers admit that non-existence known as destruction (pradhvamsābhāva), though an effect produced, is eternal.— (A)

(Answer): —No: we find that works produce quite a different effect. Works are found to bring about one of the following effects:—utpatti or production of a new thing, vikāra or change of state, samskāra or consecration, āpti or acquisition; but mokṣa is different from production or any other of these effects.

The cessation of avidyā can be brought about only by Vidyā ('Brahma-jñāna) as taught in the śruti;

“The heart’s knot is dissolved; all doubts are cut apart; deeds peṛṣ when higher and lower That have once been seen.”[22]

To effect it, Vidyā does not require help; and the effect of work, it is well known, is something different. To llu.-trate these effects with reference to Vedic sacrificial acts; a sacrificial cake (puroḍāśa) is a thing produced by an act; grain is consecrated by the act of sprinkling water thereon while uttering some mantras; the soma plant changes its original state by the act of pressing out the juice of the plant; and the Veda is acquired by the act of studying. On the contrary, mokṣa, the state of remaining as the One Self, cannot have a beginning, is not capable of improvement, is not subject to change, is not a thing to be acquired; and it cannot therefore be an effect of Karma.—(A)

(Objection):—Because of a path being spoken of in the śruti, mokṣa is attainable. The śruti speaks of a passage in the following words: “They, free from stain, go forth by the sun’s gate.”[23] “Rising by this, one reaches deathlessness.”[24] Mokṣa is therefore a thing to be reached.

As the śruti speaks of the Path of Light leading to mok-sha, we understand that mokṣa consistsṛn reaching Brahman who dwells beyond the Brahmāṇḍa, the Mundane Egg. Therefore it cannot be contended that mokṣa is ever present, is inherent in the nature of the Self.—(A)

(Answer): —No, because (the goal) is everywhere and is not a thing different from the pilgrim. As the cause of akāśa and all else, Brahman is omnipresent; and all conscious souls (Vijñānātmans) are identical with Brahman. So that, mokṣa is not a thing to be attained. What is to be gone to must be distinct from the goer, must be a thing removed in space from the goer. What is not distinct from another cannot be gone to by that other. That the goer here is not distinct from the Goal is taught in hundreds of passages in the śrut and the smṛti, such as the following:

“Having created it, He penetrated into it.”[25]

“And do thou also know Me as kṣetrajña in all kṣetras (bodies)[26]

(Objection):—This contention is opposed to the śruti which speaks of the Path and the Divine glory (of the liberated Soul). To explain:—There is yet another objection. To hold that mokṣa is not a state to be attained is to contradict the passages speaking of the Path, and those passages which declare as follows:

“He becomes one, he becomes three......”[27]

“When he desires the world of the fathers (pitṛs) , by his mere will the fathers  come to receive him..........”[28]

“He moves about there eating, playing, and rejoicing, be it with women, carriages, or relatives, never minding the body into which he was born.”[29]

(Answer): —No; because these passages refer to Kārya-Brahman, to Brahman manifested in the evolved universe. It is only in the evolved Brahman that women, etc., can be found, but not in Brahman who is the cause, as witness the following passages:

“Existence alone, my dear, this at first was, one alone without a second.”[30]

“Where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing else, that is the Infinite.”[31]

“When the Self only is all this, how should he see another?”[32]


Combination of Vidya and works is impossible.

In arguing that works can have no effect on mokṣa, it has been hitherto assumed that a conjunction of works and knowledge is possible. Now the bbāṣyakāra proceeds to argue that the conjunction is impossible.—(A).

And because of their mutual opposition, combination of (right) knowledge and works is an impossibility. Of course, Vidyā or Right Knowledge which is concerned with the Reality wherein agency and other factors of action are altogether absent, must be opposed to karma or works which can only be brought about by various factors operating together. It is, indeed, impossible to regard one and the same thing both as being really marked by agency and so on and as devoid of all such distinctions. One of the two states must, of necessity, be an illusion. If one of them is an illusion, it is the duality that should be regarded as an illusion, set up as it is by the innate ajñāna or ignorance of truth as said in hundreds of passages such as the following:

“For, when there is, as it were, duality, then one sees the other.”[33]

“He who sees any difference here goes from death to death.”[34]

“Where one sees something else, that is the finite.”[35]

“Now, if a man worships another deity, thinking the deity is one and he another, he does not know.”[36]

“If he makes but the smallest distinction in It, there is fear for him.”[37]

That oneness is the truth is declared in the following passages:

“This Eternal Being that can never be proved is to be perceived as one only.”[38]

“One alone without a second.”[39]

“Brahman alone is all this.”[40]

“The Self alone is all this.”[41].

And no work is possible in the absence of a consciousness of all such factors of action as sampradāna, i. e., a being to whom something may be given. Moreover, there are thousands of passages in the śruti, teaching that, in right knowledge, there is no consciousness of distinction. Hence the mutual opposition between Vidyā and Karma, between right knowledge and works; and hence the impossibility of their combination. Wherefore, the contention that mokṣa accrues from Vidyā and Karma combined does not stand to reason.

(Objection):—This contention is opposed to the śruti inasmuch as works are enjoined (in the śruti). (To explain): If it be argued that the śruti imparts a knowledge of the oneness of the Self by denying the agent and the other several factors of action, like unto that knowledge of the rope which removes the illusion that it is a serpent, this argument is opposed to all Vedic texts which treat of works, as there would be nothing left for them to teach. But the works are enjoined; and such an opposition will not do, since the Vedic texts are all authoritative.

(Answer): —No, because the śruti aims to teach the best interests of man. (To explain): The passages of the śruti which are devoted to knowledge (Vidyā) aim at delivering man from samsāra and therefore proceed to impart wisdom with a view to bring about, by means of wisdom, the cessation of avidyā or nescience which is the cause of samsāra.

(Objection):—Even this contention is opposed to the sāpira which aims to teach the reality of the agent and other factors of action^

(Answer): —No. The śāstra which, assuming the existence of the several factors of action as popularly understood, enjoins works with a view to the extinction of sins already incurred is conducive to the interests of those who seek liberation as well of those who seek the (immediate) fruits of action, and as such it cannot operate so far as to teach further that the several factors of action are real.

That is to say, the various texts of śruti which have been learned in pursuance of the Vedic command should be held as, authoritative (i. e., imparting true wisdom) not because the distinctions, mentioned therein are real, but because they teach what is to the best interests of man.—(A).

No rise of wisdom is possible so long as the obstacle of accumulated sin lies in the way to it. And on the extinction of this sin[42] wisdom arises; then comes the cessation of avidyā, and then the final cessation of samsāra.

Till now, the impossibility of a conjunction of Vidyā and Karma, of knowledge and works, has been argued on the ground that they are respectively based on truth and illusion. Now the bhāṣyakāra proceeds to argue the point on the ground that Vidyā and Karma are intended respectively for akāmins and kāmins, for those who are free from kāmā or desire and those who are not yet free from it.—(A)

Moreover, desire for the not-self (external objects) arises in him who sees the not-self; and thus desiring, he does works; and, to reap the fruits of those works, he will have to take a body etc., to undergo samsāra, to pass through birch and death. To one who, on the contrary, sees the oneness of the Self (Ātman), there can be no desire. Ātman (the Self) being not different from one’s own self, Ātman cannot be an object of desire; so that to be established in one’s own true Self is mokṣa. Hence, too, the opposition between knowledge and works. And because of their mutual opposition, knowledge does not stand in need of works to bring about mokṣa.

And we have shown that as to the (right) knowledge itself coming into existence, the obligatory works are the cause of knowledge as removing the accumulated sins of the past which lie as obstacles in the way, and that therefore the works are treated of in this section.[43] Hence no contradiction of the śrutis enjoining works.

We therefore conclude that the Highest Good accrues from Vidyā alone, from knowledge pure and simple.


Knowledge leads to salvation without the aid of works.

That in leading to mokṣa, knowledge does not require the help of works, has been determined in the Vedānta-sūtras III, iv. 25, as follows:

(Question):—Does or does not the Self-knowledge require the help of works in producing its fruits?

(Prima facie view):—It does require the help of works, because these latter form its anga, its limb as it were. The Darśa-Pūrṇamāsa rite, for instance, does require the help of the Prayāja, its anga. It has been no doubt shewn in the opening section (III. iv. 1.) that knowledge, as an independent means to the end of man, cannot form an anga or appendage of works. It has not, however, been shewn that works do not form an anga or appendage of knowledge; so that, as our premise that works are an appendage of knowledge still holds good, knowledge cannot do without works.

(Conclusion):—Bramajñāna, does not require any external help in removing what it has to remove (namely, avidyā or ignorance of the true nature of the Self), because it is an illuminator, like a light, or like the consciousness of a pot. As to the contention that works form its anga or appendage, we ask, in what way do works form its appendage? Is it by way of helping knowledge in bringing about its fruits like the prayāja, or because they are necessary to bring knowledge itself into existence, just as the pounding of grain is necessary to bring a cake into existence? The former cannot be the case; for, then, mokṣa as produced by works would be only a temporary effect. If the latter were the case, the prayāja and the like could not be called aṅgas, inasmuch as they do not bring the principal act into existence. Therefore, once the knowledge has arisen, it does not stand in need of works to produce its effect.


Works are necessary for the rise of knowledge.

That works are necessary for knowledge to arise has been determined in the Vedānta-sūtras III. iv. 26-27 as follows:

(Question):—Are works necessary or not necessary for Brahma-Vidyā to arise?

(Prima facie view):—Just as the Brahma-Vidyā does not require the help of works to produce its fruit, so also no works are necessary for its birth. Otherwise, it will be playing fast and loose, once saying that Brahma-Vidyā requires the aid of works and again that it does not require it.

(Conclusion);—There is no playing fast and loose here. For, one and the same thing does or does not require an external aid according to the end in view and according to its capacity for the achieving of that end. A horse, for example, is not necessary for dragging a plough, but he is necessary for driving in a coach. And it cannot be urged that there is no authority to prove that works are necessary for knowledge to arise. “Him, by the recitation of the Vedas, do the brāhmaṇas seek to know, by sacrifice, by gifts, by the austerity of fasting;”[44] in these words the śruti gives us to understand that recitation of the Veda and' such other works form the remote means to the knowledge of Brahman, by way of creating a desire for knowledge. “Having become tranquil, self-controlled, quiet, patient, well-balanced, one sees the Self in the self:”[45] in these words

the śruti enjoins tranquillity, self-control and other forms of nivṛtti or quietistic life as a means of bringing about knowledge; so that these form the proximate means to knowledge. Therefore, works like sacrificial rites, and virtues like tranquillity and self-control, are necessary for the rise of knowledge.


In working for knowledge, the duties of the order are fulfilled.

In the Vedānta-sūtras III. iv. 32—35 it has been determined that, in doing works for the sake of knowledge, the duties of the order are also fulfilled.

(Question):—Is it necessary to perform the prescribed duties twice separately,—once for the sake of knowledge, and again by way of observing the duties of the order? Qr will it do to perform them only once?

(Prima facie view):—The very works such as sacrifices etc., which are enjoined in the Upaniṣad as a means of acquiring knowledge, are also the works which are enjoined in the ritualistic section as the duties of the several orders. As the ends in view in the two cases are different, the works should be done twice.

(Answer):—Not necessary. When a person eats food in fulfilment of a śrāddha (a ceremonial rite performed in honor of the manes) the call of hunger is also answered by that very act. So, too, by doing works for the sake of know ledge, the demands of the holy order to which the individual belongs are also answered. One may perhaps urge that works for knowledge are optional as prompted by desire, while the duties of the order are obligatory and therefore constant; and that, such being the case, when we do the works only once to achieve both the ends, we only confound together two such contradictory things as constant and temporary duties. But this objection cannot stand; for on the authority of scriptures, one and the same act may put on two different aspects. For example, the śruti says “the sacrificial post should be of khadira wood,” and again says “for the seeker of manliness, the sacrificial post shonld be of khadira wood.” Here on the authority of the scriptural injunction, one and the same thing serves the purposes of both the obligatory and the interested sacrificial acts. So, too, here. Therefore, it will do to perform the sacrificial acts, etc., only once for the attainment of both the ends in view.


Works of all orders conduce to knowledge.

(Objection):—If so, there is no room for other āśramas or orders of religious life, because of Vidyā being caused by works. And since works are enjoined exclusively with reference to the order of householders, it īā the only order of life (in which man may work for knowledge); and the texts, too, which enjoin life-long observance of works will favour this view above all others.

(Answer):—No; for, works are of many kinds. Agnihotra, etc., are not the only works. There are works unmixed (with cruelty and the like),—namely, chastity (brahmacharya), penance (tapas), truth-speaking, śamā or control of the mind (or inner sense), dama or control of the external senses, ahiṃsā or abstention from cruelty, and others, enjoined on other orders as everybody knows, and which conduce even more effectively to knowledge; and there are also works such as Dhyāna, Dhāraṇā and the like. And the śruti itself is going to declare “By tapas (meditation) do thou seek to know Brahman.”[46] It is possible, in virtue of the works done in the former births, to attain knowledge even prior to entering on the life of a householder; and since the order of a householder is entered on only for the sake of works, it is quite useless for a man to become a householder when he possesses the knowledge for which works are intended. Moreover, sons etc., are intended for attaining to the several lokas or regions of enjoyment. How can a man actively engage in works, when from him have fled all desires for the enjoyments of this world, or of the Pitṛ-loka, or of the Devaloka, which are to be secured by means of sons (works and upāsana), and when, realising the eternal Self, he finds works of no use? Even a man who has already entered the order of householders should abstain from all works when, on the rise of right knowledge, he loses all attachment as the knowledge becomes ripe, and he finds all works quite useless to him. And this is indicated by the śruti in the words “Verily, my dear, I am about to go forth from this place.”[47]

(Objection):—It is not proper to say so, because it is found that the greater part ot the śruti is devoted to works. The śruti puts forth more effort to teach Agnihotra and other works; and there is much trouble involved in the works themselves, inasmuch as Agnihotra and the like can be accomplished only with the aid of many things. Such duties as austerity and chastity enjoined on other orders pertain to the order of the householders alike, and all other works can be accomplished with very limited means. It is, therefore, improper to hold that other orders of life are alternatives quite equal to the order of householders.

(Answer): —No, because of the aid rendered by the works done in former births. (To explain:)—The argument that a greater part of the śruti is devoted to works does not detract from the validity of our contention. For, even the works done in former births,—be they works like Agnihotra or works like the practice of brahmacharya (chastity),—are helpful to the rise of wisdom; and this is why we find some persons free from all attachment from their very birth, while some others, who are engaged in works, are not altogether free from attachment and hate knowledge. Wherefore it is desirable that those who, in virtue of the purificatory acts done in former births, are free from attachment, should enter other orders of life (than that of householders).

And because of the multiplicity of Works. (Tū explain) Because innumerable results accrue from works, and because people long more for those results—“May I come by this,” “may I come by that;” thus do people desire innumerable things,—it is but right that a greater part of the śruti should be devoted to works.

And because works are means.—We have already said that works are the means of attaining knowledge. Greater effort should be put forth as to the means, not as to the end.

(Objection):—As knowledge is caused by works, there is no use making further effort. Knowledge arises from works on the extinction of the accumulated sins of the past which have obstructed its rise. All exertion—such as the study of Upaniṣads—other than the performance of karma or Vedic rituals is useless.

(Answer): —No, because there is no such rule. There is no law laid down to the effect that knowledge comes from the extinction of obstacles alone, but not from the Divine Grace (Īśvara-Prasāda), or from the practice of austerity (tapas) and dhyāna and the like. Ahiṃsā (abstention from injury), brahmacharya (chastity) and the like are all conducive to wisdom, while śravaṇa (study of Upaniṣads), manana (reflection upon their teaching^, and nididhyāsana (meditation) are the immediate cause of wisdom. We therefore, conclude that there are other āśramas or orders of life. And we also conclude that all orders are qualified to work for vidyā, and that the highest good accrues from knowledge alone.


Knowledge is possible even beyond the pale of asramas.

That even the works of those who do not belong to any one of the four recognised orders conduce to knowledge has been determined in the Vedānta-sūtras III. iv. 36—39 as follows:

(Question):—Does that man attain knowledge or not, who does not pertain to one of the four recognised orders?

(Prima facie view):—-Knowledge of the Reality cannot be attained by a widower, by a snātaka (one who has finished his studies with the teacher and has been just initiated into the order of householders, but who has not yet taken a wife), and in short, by any person who, having completed the duties of one order, has not for some reason entered on the duties of the next succeeding order; for, such a person does not belong to any recognised order of religious life, which is the means of purifying the mind (buddhi).

(Conclusion):—Knowledge is possible even for those who do not belong to any one of the four recognised orders of religious life, inasmuch as there are works, such as japa (recitation of the set formulas), which are quite independent of the four holy orders and are yet conducive to the purification of the mind. The smṛti says “By sacred recitation alone, verily, can a brāhmaṇa be perfected; there is no doubt of this.”[48] In the śruti, we are told that Raikva, who does not belong to any particular order and is yet to marry, is qualified for samvarga-vidyā.[49] Thus Gārgī and other instances of persons who do not belong to any one of the recognised orders may be cited. This does not mean that the recognised orders serve no purpose; for they tend to accelerate purification. Knowledge is, therefore, possible even for him who does not belong to any one of the recognised holy orders.


Footnotes and references:




T. U. H. 7.


Ibid. II. 9.




Īśa-up. II.


The whole Veda —(S)


Vide Āpastamba-Dharmasūtra, 2—21 — 5.


Op. cit. 2–140.


Yājñavalkya-śmriti 1.122.


Pūrvamīmāṃsā I. i. 2.


Cows, gold, cloth &c. (Sāyāṇa) such as the teacher desires in accordance with the Law—(S).


Tait. Up. X. 9.


Bhag. Gītā XVI. 1–4.


It is a common thing that for fear of the king etc.. people make gifts during marriage and other occasions.—(S)


Bhag. Gītā XVII, 28


Ibid. XVII. 20-22.


Owing to confusion of mind—(S)


Who are able to discern the subtle points—(S).


Īśvara, the Paramātman, the Highest Self.—(S)


Vide ante page 5.


This refers to such passages as “And again he retur ns not.’ (Chha-Up. 8—15—1.)-—(A)


Muṇḍ. Up. 2–2–8.


Muṇḍ. Up. 2–11.


Kaṭha. Up. 6–16.


Taitt. Up. 2–6.


Bha. Gītā XIII. 2.


Chhā. 7.16.2.




Ibid. 8-12-3.


Chhā. 6-2-1.


Ibid. 7-24-1.


Bṛ Up. 4-5-15.




Kaṭh. Up. 2-10.


Chha. Up-7-24-1.


Bṛ. Up-1-4-10


Taitt. Up-2-7-1




Chhā. Up- 6 - 2-1


Nṛ. Ut.Tap-7.


Chhā. 7-25-2


By due performance of works enjoined.—(Tr.)


Which is devoted to vidyā.–(Tr)


Bṛ. Up. 4-4-22.


Ibid. 4-4-23.




Bri Up-4-5-2.


Manu, 2–87.


Vide Chhāndogya. Up. 4–1. et seq.

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