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 ...

Chapter VII - Brahman as External Objects

Having thus proved the existence of the Paramātman by referring to His presence in the body as jiva, the perceiver, the śruti, with a view to afford a further proof of His existence in the form of the objects of perception, now proceeds to teach that He has transformed Himself as the objects of perception.

तदनुप्रविश्य । सच्च त्यच्चाभवत् । निरुक्तं चानिरुक्तं च । निलयनं चानिलयनं च । विज्ञानं चाविज्ञानं च । सत्यं चानृतं च सत्यमभवत् । यदिदं किञ्च । तत्सत्यमित्याचक्षते ॥ ८ ॥

tadanupraviśya | sacca tyaccābhavat | niruktaṃ cāniruktaṃ ca | nilayanaṃ cānilayanaṃ ca | vijñānaṃ cāvijñānaṃ ca | satyaṃ cānṛtaṃ ca satyamabhavat | yadidaṃ kiñca | tatsatyamityācakṣate || 8 ||

8. That having entered, both the being and the beyond He became, the definite and the indefinite, the abode and the non-abode, the conscious and the unconscious; both the real and the false did the Real become, and whatever else is here. That, they say, is the Real.


Form and the formless.

Having entered the creation, He became the being and the beyond, the corporeal and the incorporeal, form and the formless, mūrta and amūrta.

All things from the Avyākṛta or Unmanifested Being down to the bodies are included in these two classes of objects, form and formless.—(S).

Having entered in the form of the perceiver (bhokṭri) the bodies that were created, He then transformed Himself into the objects of perception, the being and the beyond, See. The being’ refers to the visible objects, the three states of matter, namely, earth (pṛthvī), water (ap) and fire (tejas); and ‘ the beyond’ refers to the two invisible states of matter, air (vāyu) and ether (ākāśa). The Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upa-niṣad teaches, in the words “Form comprises this, what is distinct from air and from ether,”that the three states of matter other than air and ether, namely, earth, water and fire, are corporeal, and describes them as sat or the being, “this is the being air and ether being described as tyad or the beyond. Under these two categories are brought together all objects which are distinguished as the visible and the invisible. To these two categories should be added two other categories composed of their abhāvas or negations. Thus, Brahman transformed Himself into the four categories of things.

These,—forms and the formless,—which, prior to creation, resided in the Ātman, undifferentiated in name and form, are (now, at the beginning of creation) differentiated by the Ātman dwelling within them. Though thus differentiated and spoken of as form and formless, they still remain one with the Ātman in time and place, and therefore He is said to have become the being and the beyond.

The definite is that object which is distinguished from other classes of objects and from other objects of the same class, and known as existing at a particular time and a particular place; that which can be specifically pointed out “this it is.” What is opposed to the definite is the indefinite.

The definite: What can be fully defined, as, this pot which is here before me with its body widely bulging out, which is made of clay, a tangible object capable of holding water. What is opposed to this is the indefinite, that which can be spoken of only in vague terms, as for example, the minute distinctions of a particular taste such as sweetness or of a particular odour, and so on; these cannot be fully described.

These two, the definite and the indefinite, are only descriptive attributes of form and the formless respectively. Thus, form and the formless are respectively the definite and the indefinite, the visible and the invisible. So also they are the abode and the non-abode. Abode constitutes an attribute of form and the non-abode of the formless.

The abode: the seat, such as the flower, sugar. That which is opposed to this is non-abode, that which dwells in another, such as odour and taste.

Though “the beyond,” etc., are spoken of as the attributes of the formless, still they pertain to objects in the differentiated world, inasmuch as they are said to have come into being after creation. ‘The beyond’ denotes Prāṇa (vāyu or air), etc.; and these—namely, air and ether—are indefinite and also constitute the non-abode. Wherefore, these attributes of the formless pertain only to the category of the differentiated being.[1]


The conscious and the unconscious.

The conscious’ means the sentient beings, and ‘the unconscious’ the insentient objects such as stone.


The real and the false.

The real and the false: ‘The real’ here means the realities commonly so-called,—on account of the context: it does not mean the Absolute Reality, for

Brahman, the Absolute Reality, is one alone. As to the real here refered to, it is only relatively so, what we commonly speak of as real. Water, for instance, is said to be real as compared with the mirage, which is illusory. ‘The false’ means the so-called unreal.

That which never fails in our ordinary experience is veal, and what in our ordinary experience is erroneously ascribed is false. For example, the mother-of-pearl, a rope, a pillar, etc., are real; and when they are mistaken for silver, a serpent, a thief, &c., these latter are said to be false.

The categories of things here mentioned stand for the whole universe, including these and other categories of being such as heat and cold, pleasure and pain, honor and dishonor, &c.


The One Reality.

(Question):—What is it that has become all this?

(Answer):—The Real, the Absolute Reality.

(Question):—What, again, is that Reality?

(Answer):—Brahman, the subject of treatment here, wherewith this Book began in the words “Real, Consciousness, Infinite is Brahman.”

The Creator became by avidyā all this which has sprung from avidyā. It is by denying all that is composed of “the being and the beyond” that the truth is presented to us in the sequel,—the truth that ‘I am Brahman,’ the truth that all duality is absent in the true Self. Because all that we speak of as existing and as not existing have their origin in ignorance (moha), the Lord of the World says also, “It is not said to be being or non-being.”[2] Be it known that it is the One Inner Self who, witnessing the mind’s manifestation and disappearance, is unfailing. Therefore there must exist that Supreme Brahman, by whose existence all creatures of avidyā, manifesting themselves as causes and effects, appear to exist. Whatever involves intelligent design presupposes an intelligent being, as for instance, a pot; so also, the subject of contention here—namely, the universe—involving as it does a complicate design, presupposes an intelligent being.—(S).

Brahman transformed Himself as the universe made up of things classed as “the being and the beyond,” and so on. By this the śruti means to teach that Brahman must exist, as having transformed Himself in the form of the objects of perception, just as milk exists prior to its transformation as curd, &c.


Brahman experienced by the wise.

Because the one Brahman alone, who is called the Existence, became “the being and the beyond” and whatever else is included in the two categories of form and the formless,—in short, all that is comprised in the category of phenomena (vikāra), without any exception, there existing no phenomena of name and form outside Brahman,—therefore the knowers of Brahman say that all this is Brahman, the Real.

Having established Brahman’s existence by inference, the śruti proceeds here to establish the same by an appeal to the experience of the wise.

Whatever we see in this universe, whether it be the perceiver or the object perceived, it is not really the universe as such; but it is the never-failing Brahman. So say the wise. Wherefore it is wrong to say that Brahman does not exist, since His existence is a fact of wise men’s experience.


The bearing of the present section.

Now to shew the bearing of this section: The section started with the question, does Brahman exist or not? In answer to this question, it has been said that the Ātman “desired, many may I be!” And in accordance with this desire He emanated ākāśa and other things in the universe, comprising ‘the being and the beyond’ and so on; and entering the universe so created He became many, as the seer, as the hearer, as the thinker, as the knower. So that, we should understand that this Brahman—the very Brahman who is the cause of ākāśa, etc., He who dwells in all creatures, who lies hid in the highest heaven of the heart-cave, revealing Himself in all the cognitions of the mind, in all His specific manifestations (as hearer, seer, and so on),—does exist.


Brahman, the self-cause.

तदप्येष श्लोको भवति ॥ १ ॥

tadapyeṣa śloko bhavati || 1 ||

9. On that, too, there is this verse.

Just as, in the case of the five sheaths described above, verses were quoted descriptive of the Self in the Annamaya-kośa, etc., so also, a verse is quoted here which speaks of the existence of the Innermost Ātman in all, by speaking, of the universe.

असद्वा इदमग्र आसीत् । ततो वै सदजायत । तदात्मानं स्वयमकुरुत । तस्मात्तत्सुकृतमुच्यत इति ॥ १ ॥
                       ॥ अथ सप्तमोऽनुवाकः ॥

asadvā idamagra āsīt | tato vai sadajāyata | tadātmānaṃ svayamakuruta | tasmāttatsukṛtamucyata iti || 1 ||
                       ॥ atha saptamo'nuvākaḥ ॥

[Anuvaka VII.]

1. Non-being, verily, this in the beginning was. Thence, indeed, was the being born. That created itself by itself; thence is That the selfcause called.

Non-being’ means the unmanifested Brahman, as distinguished from the universe with specific names and forms manifested;[3] it does not mean absolute non-existence. ‘This’ refers to the universe composed of specific names and forms. Prior to creation, this universe was Brahman Himself, here spoken of as ‘non-being’. Thence, from that Non-being,[4] was born the being, with specific names and forms distinctly marked.

The universe composed of names and forms are in themselves non-existent, because they are not-Self. What is existent came, verily, from that One Existence, namely Brahman.—(S).

Was the creation quite distinct from Him, as the son is distinct from the father?

The śruti answers: That created itself by itself. Brahman spoken of as non-being, created Himself by Himself.[5]

That one who is “Real, Consciousness, Infinite,” creates Himself by Himself into “the being and the beyond,” when associated with avidyā.

This all-powerful Lord created all this by Himself: and therefore, the Mahātmans call Him as the well-doer (su-kṛta)—(S).

Indeed there exists nothing—neither a material cause of the universe similar to clay, nor an efficient cause like the potter—over and above Brahman. On the contrary, Brahman takes the place of both.

Such being the case, Brahman is called ‘su-kṛta,’ the Cause par excellence,[6] the self-cause. It is well known to the world[7] that Brahman is the independent cause, for, He is the cause of all.

Those who are versed in the śāstras say that Brahman is an agent by Himself. On the other hand, the jīvas are not agents by themselves; they are impelled to act by the Antaryāmin, the Inner Ruler, as the following passages of śruti and smṛti show.”

“Who from within rules the self.”[8]

“He is thy Self, the Inner Ruler, the Immortal.”[9]

“It is He who makes one do a good deed.”[10]

“In what way I am impelled by that unknown God residing in the heart, in that way I do.”


Brahman, the Good Deed.

Or, to interpret the passage in another way:—Because Brahman created all out of Himself, remaining one with the whole universe, therefore, as an embodiment of such a meritorious act (puṇya), Brahman, the Cause, is called ‘su-kṛta’ the good or meritorious act.

‘Su-kṛta’ literally means that which is well done, a good act; it refers to the act of the Lord, not to the Lord Himself who is the agent. Even in common parlance, whatever is done by the master himself with effort, that alone is said to be well done, but not that which is done by the servants—(S).

In either case, however, there exists, as is well-known in the world, what is here termed su-kṛta, that which brings about the effects (of former acts) etc., be it the Good Deed itself (puṇya), or the other one;[11] and this well-known truth can be explained only on the supposition that an Intelligent Eternal Cause exists. Accordingly, it being well-known that there exists an Independent Agent, or that there exists the Good Deed, we conclude that Brahman exists.

Taittiriya 1

Footnotes and references:


but not to the Unmanifested Brahman, the Cause, who is also formless.


Bhagavadgītā XIII. 12. The meaning of this as well as the śruti is, not that notliig exists, but that cause and effect, which are not constant, are not Brahman. —(A).


The manifested universe being called sat or being.


From the Cause.


i.e. without being impelled by any one else, He made Himself as the universe—(V),


The independent cause.—(Y).


The world here refers to the sāsfcra or scriptures.


Bṛ. Up. 3-7-22.


Bṛ. Up. 3-7-3.


Kau. Up. 3-8.


namely, Brahman, the independent cause.

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