The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter I

Second Brahmana: The Creation of the Universe

Now follow some very difficult symbols of the Upaniṣhad. Literally, they cannot be easily grasped. Even the Sanskrit is not classical; it is highly archaic. It is a Vedic language. And the idea conveyed through this most difficult style is still more difficult, so that one cannot easily make out the sense of some passages, unless we deeply think over the words as well as the meanings that are hidden between the lines. An unphilosophical mind may not be able to understand the hidden meaning of these symbols, and perhaps it is the case with all symbols; they cannot be understood literally.

The symbolic description here is one of the process of creation. How things come; and what it is that we see with our eyes. Where are we living? What is the connection between the effect and the cause? What is our connection with the Universal Being? What is the relationship between the individual and the Absolute? All these points are discussed in a pithy and pointed way, in a few passages, commencing from the Brāhmaṇa, or the section of the Upaniṣhad that we are to study now.

  1. naiveha kiṁcanāgra āsīt, mṛtyunaivedam āvṛtam āsīt, aśanāyayā, aśanāyā hi mṛtyuḥ; tan mano'kuruta ātmanvī syām iti. so'rcann acarat, tasyārcata. āpojāyanta, arcate vai me kam abhūd iti; tad evārkasya arkatvam; kaṁ ha vā asmai bhavati, ya evam etad arkasya arkatvaṁ veda.

Originally, there was nothing. Death was enveloping everything. That is all the meaning, literally, of this sentence. In the beginning of things, what was there? Nothing was there. There was a devouring, all-consuming death principle, as it were; nothing else can we conceive. In the Veda, also, there is this very same point reflected in the Nāsadīya Sūkta, which proclaims that, in the beginning, there was neither existence, nor non-existence. What was there, originally? Darkness enveloped, as it were, because there was not the light of sensory perception. What we call light is nothing but the capacity of the senses to perceive. When the senses cannot perceive, we say there is no light. In pitch darkness, a kind of light exists; but the eyes are incapable of catching the ray of that light. That frequency is quite different from the one that is necessary for the eyes to perceive. So, when there was no possibility of external consciousness, when there was no sensory activity, when there was no distinction between the subject and the object, when the seer was not distinguishable from the seen, what was there? We can imagine for ourselves, what can be there. If we are not to perceive anything outside, what would be our condition? We cannot imagine it, because such a condition has never been seen; but it would be a veritable abolition and obliteration of all consciousness, obliteration of all consciousness, because every kind of consciousness is equivalent, in our case, with externality. Therefore, in the condition of non-objectivity which is the origin of things, the cosmic beginning of things, where the distinction between the seer and the seen was not marked, where the one commingled with the other, where one entered the other, where the two could not be distinguished, for reasons obvious, what was there? Nothing was there! Naiveha kiṁcanāgra āsīt: Originally, nothing was there, because our idea of 'something' is an 'object'. There is no object present, because the object enters the subject, and vice versa. What was there, then? If nothing was there, could you tell me that it is capable of definition in some way?

The devouring death principle is the element of hunger which grasps objects. Here, hunger does not mean merely the appetite for edible dishes like rice, barley, etc. Here is a metaphysical principle. Here, the hunger is a cosmic element. It is not an operation of the biological spleen or the liver or the stomach of the individual. What is here intended is the principle of grasping. The object can be regarded as the hunger of the soul of the individual. There was nothing except the desire to grasp the object, if at all one could say that anything was there. Aśanāyayā is the hunger of the individual to grasp, absorb, contact, abolish and devour the object.

Now, this is a condition which cannot be easily analysed, unless we pause for a while on this subject, and visualise what actually is here the author's intention. How did diversity arise? How could here be a development of the distinction between the seer and the seen from that theoretic nebular condition of universal darkness and cosmic waters? That condition is not of the Absolute, but what sometimes is described in the Purānas, and in the Epics, as the precondition of the manifestation of the external universe. It is difficult to imagine this condition, because we cannot understand what could be the precondition of the manifestation of externality, which is what we call creation. Creation is nothing but the projection of externality in Indivisible Being. The creation of the universe, therefore, is not actually the manufacture of a new substance. This is the great point which will be explained in greater detail, further, as we proceed.

In creation, a new thing is not created, because nothing can come from nothing. If a new thing is to be created, it must have been produced out of nothing. How can 'nothing' produce 'something'? This is illogical. The effect must have existed in some causal state. This causal state is the substance of the universe. Now, what is actually the distinctive mark of the universe that is created, as different from the original causal condition? In what way does the effect get differentiated from the cause? If everything that is in the effect is in the cause, what is the distinctive feature, what is the distinguishing mark, which separates the effect from the cause? If the effect is entirely different from the cause, we cannot posit a cause at all, because the cause is non-existent. If the cause is non-existent, the effect also would be non-existent. So, the cause must have contained the effect in a primordial state; and, therefore, nothing can be visualised in the effect which could not have been in the cause. In a sense, therefore, what is in the effect is what is in the cause. The effect is the cause. There is no final non-distinction between the effect and the cause, inasmuch as in substance they are the same. But yet, we make a distinction between the two.

This peculiarity, Viśeshata, which characterises the distinction between the cause and the effect, is the principle of what we call space-time in modern philosophical language. But, otherwise, it is the principle of externality. The principle of externality is not a substance. It is a peculiar state of consciousness. That is the distinguishing principle. The effect gets isolated from the cause by a peculiar adjustment of consciousness within the cause, not necessarily involved in change or modification of the cause, but only a state of mind or consciousness. Now, when the effect gets psychologically isolated from the cause, there is the seed sown for the further diversity of creation. The two become four, four become eight, eight become sixteen, and multiplicity, thus, proceeds from the original Single Atom of the cosmos. And, when this diversity, which is creation, is conceived as possible and capable of being hiddenly present in the cause, we have to assume, also, a peculiar potency in the cause, which becomes the reason behind the manifestation of diversity. This is called the Śakti in certain philosophies, the force, energy, that is present in consciousness, a peculiar indistinguishable, indescribable, eluding something, without the assumption of which creation cannot be assumed. And, sometimes, people call it Māya, merely because they cannot understand what it is. It is not a substance that exists. It is rather an inability to grasp the meaning of it; that is all.

Now, this peculiarity, whatever we may call it, whatever designation may be applied to it, is the cause of the distinction of the effect from the cause, and that becomes the first breeding ground for the further multifarious division we see in the form of this vast creation. The moment this creation begins, the moment there is the potency released for the external expression of what was hiddenly present in the cause, there is a catastrophic change taking place. And, this is the urge for creation, the urge for diversity, multiplicity, colour, sound, activity, etc. This characteristic of self-division is called Mṛtyu (death principle), that which destroys the indivisible, that which isolates the one from the other, that which disfigures the original condition of things, the destroyer of the original state of affairs. That is symbolically called death here, and further, it is described as the hunger of things to grab other objects.

Now, what is this hunger mentioned here – aśanāyayā hi mṛtyuḥ? It is the urge that is simultaneously present in the process of creation for an involution of things. When there is a separation of one thing from another in creation, the seer becomes distinguished from the seen, the subject is separated from the object, they struggle to become one; because that which is separated has hiddenly present in itself the capacity to unite also, as the two are nothing but the substance of the one. So, the indivisibility of the one presses itself forward even in the divisibility of the two. So, there is restlessness everywhere. Our sorrows, our difficulties or problems, our griefs and every kind of unwanted things here, are a tussle between two elements in our soul – the urge for diversity and the urge for unity, fighting with one another. This struggle is Samsāra, right from the original Creator, Brahma, down to a blade of grass. This Aśanāyayā, the hunger of the spirit, is the activity of the cosmos, where, on one side, it struggles to become more and more wide in its physical quantitative expanse, and on the other side, it struggles to become one with the Universal Spirit. So, we have two elements present in us always – the tendency to unity and the tendency to diversity. We ask for expansion in quantity, and at the same time, we ask for a heightening of our value in quality. However, the Upaniṣhad here mentions, in a very difficult word, that the origin of creation is indescribable, and it is indescribable merely because it preceded a state which requires the presence of the effect in the cause, and which was also preceded by a state which has within it, invisibly present, the capacity to multiply and also the capacity to unite.

The mind of the cosmos, which is called the Cosmic Mind, in usual parlance, is regarded here as an evolute, and not the original Being. The Absolute is Transcendent Being, and not a mind, thinking. It is not even a causal state. Even the causal state is supposed to be posterior to the Absolute. We never associate the Absolute with the world. The Brahman of the Upaniṣhad, or the Absolute of philosophy, is the assertion of Being which is unrelated to creation. And, when we have to associate God with creation, we have a new word altogether for it. Īshvara is the word we use in the language of the Vedānta. Such words do not occur in the Upaniṣhads. They are all to be found in the later Vedānta, but they are assumed here.

In the Sāṁkhya and the Vedānta cosmological descriptions, we have certain grades mentioned of the coming out of the effect from the cause. Before we go further into the difficulties envisaged in these passages of the Upaniṣhads, it is better to understand the evolutionary principles as initiated in the Sāṁkhya and the Vedānta. The Sāṁkhya tells us that there was an original condition where everything was potent, though not patent. Everything was hidden, though not expressed. Everything was in a universal causal state. That is regarded as the non-existent, dark, undeveloped, indivisible state of things. That is called Prakṛiti in the Sāṁkhya language. Those of us who have studied the Sāṁkhya philosophy will know what is Prakṛiti, and how evolutes proceed, come out, from this Prakṛiti. Prakṛiti is only a Sanskrit term for the matrix of all things, the original state where everything is in a mass, where one thing cannot be distinguished from the other, what the astronomers would call the nebular dust, in some way. But this is something more than that. It is a cosmic death, one may call it. Everything is contained there, and everything is hidden; everything is undeveloped and indistinguishable, incapable of being perceived, because even the sense-organs are not developed there.

Then, there is a tendency to think. The cosmic thought develops itself. That is what is indicated here by the words, 'tan mano' 'kurata'. From this undeveloped Being which was equivalent to universal darkness, mind arose. That mind is the Cosmic Mind. In the Sāṁkhya, we call it Mahat; and in the Vedānta, we call it Hiraṇyagarbha. This cosmic undeveloped state is sometimes called Īshvara. Now, Īshvara is not undeveloped in the sense of a primitive state where intelligence is absent, but it is an exceedingly intelligent condition where distinctions are not present. We call it symbolically dark, because the light of the senses will not operate there. It is a light that is transcendent; and in the passages occurring in such verses as the Manusmriti, we are told that it was shinning as brightly as thousands of suns, Sahasramśusamaprabhm. How can we call it darkness? But, it was darkness to the eyes which were not developed, just as the blaze of the sun may be darkness to the eyes, when it is very intense.

So, the mind that is supposed to be the evolute, immediately proceeding from the undeveloped condition, is the Hiraṇyagarbha principle of the Vedānta, coming from the Īshvara principle, or Mahat coming from Prakṛiti. Then, there is the Ahamkāra proceeding from Mahat, the Self-sense of the cosmos. This is how the Sāṁkhya would describe the development of the original, Cosmic 'I'-sense from the Cosmic Intelligence, which, again, is an evolute of the Cosmic Prakṛiti. Then, there is the distinction between the subject and the object; on one side, there is the physical universe, and on the other side, there are the individuals. The physical universe is constituted of the Tanmātras – Śabda, Sparśa, Rūpa, Rasa, Gandha, which become concretised by a process called quintuplication into the five elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth. And, subjectively, they become the individuals with the five Koṣhas – Annamaya, Prānamaya, Manomaya, Vijñānamaya and ānandamaya. These Koṣhas are the vestures of the individual soul – the physical, the vital, the mental, the intellectual and the causal bodies. These are called the five Koṣhas. And within these Koṣhas we have the Prāṇas, the senses of perception and action, and the mind, the ego, the subconscious, the unconscious, and the intellect; and ultimately, a very unintelligible substance within us which we experience in deep sleep – that is the causal state. So, this is how the Sāṁkhya would describe the process of creation, which is followed literally, to some extent, in the Vedānta also, with only a distinction in definition. Instead of the terms; Prakṛiti, Mahat, Ahamkāra, we have the terms; Īshvara, Hiraṇyagarbha, Virāt.

So, this cosmological process, the development of the effect from the cause, gradually, from the Universal Being, down to the lowest of diverse elements – this it is that is described here in this Brāhmaṇa, which says that originally nothing was, from where the element of distinction between the subject and the object, characterised by a double activity of grasping and separation, was evolved, and then arose the Cosmic Mind, Hiraṇyagarbha.

Here is a passage of great significance from the point of view of philosophical technique employed in the understanding of the relation between the individual and the Universal. This which is a symbolic statement in the Upaniṣhad, very hard, indeed, to understand, conveys a wealth of meaning. What exactly is the connection between the diverse individuals and the Universal Absolute? This has been a great point of discussion throughout the history of philosophy, and it is not easy to come to a conclusion. Often, it is thought that the Universal is a collection of all the individuals or particulars. Many a time, we are told by philosophers that the Absolute is the whole, and the individuals are the parts thereof; so that to get the Absolute, one has only to collect all the individuals and group them together, which means to say, anything that we find in the individual will be found in the Absolute. There will be nothing more in the Absolute than what we see in the individual. This conclusion also will follow, if this assumption is correct; and it is a very uncomfortable conclusion, because we are not seeking in the Absolute merely what is in us. A million people put together cannot be regarded as qualitatively superior to what a single individual is. It is also held that the Absolute is transcendent in the sense that it has no connection at all with the visible universe. Often, it is also held that the Absolute is so much absorbed in the universe that we cannot find it outside the universe. So, we have theories and theories, and doctrines and doctrines.

This Upaniṣhad, in this one single sentence, tells us what the fact is. The original condition, causing the manifestation of diversity, is the death of universality. This is what is called Mṛityu. The death of something becomes the birth of something else. For the birth of the individual, the universal has to die. Very strange, indeed! We cannot understand what this means. The death of the universal means the complete abolition of the consciousness of the universal; and for all practical purposes, death and absence of consciousness are the same. The condition that is requisite, absolutely necessary, for the manifestation of the universe in the form of diversity, is an abolition of the consciousness of the Absolute, because there is no question of the manifestation of diversity in the Absolute. Manifestation requires space, time and cause, and many other things that follow. If the Absolute is spaceless and timeless, durationless, infinitude, eternity, the question of creation, manifestation, etc. does not arise there. Then, how comes this universe? From where has this universe arisen, or the diversity come? It can be explained, says this Upaniṣhad, by a strange phenomenon that should be assumed to have taken place, if at all creation is to be taken as a fact.

The consciousness of the existence of the universe is different from the consciousness of the Absolute. That the two are not identical, is a point that is made out here. Once the existence of the universe is accepted in consciousness, everything else that follows from it can also be accepted. If two and two make four, four and four make eight, and so on, arithmetically, we can draw conclusions. But two and two must, first of all, make four. We must accept that. If that is not true, then any multiplication, therefrom, also is not true. There is a distinction between Absolute-Consciousness and universe-consciousness. That distinction is the cause behind this line drawn here between Pure Being that is Absolute, and the condition precedent to creation. It is difficult for the human mind to understand what the Absolute is. Whatever be our stretch of imagination, we cannot conceive it, because every conception is quantitative and qualitative. The Absolute is neither a quantity nor a quality, and therefore no thought of it is possible. Even the subtlest thought that can be applied to the Absolute is, after all, a magnified form of the quantity-quality relation in terms of which alone is the mind able to think. There is no such thing as 'thinking' the Absolute. Such a thing is not possible, because the thought which thinks the Absolute cannot exist independent of the Absolute; for, what we call the Absolute is that which includes everything, including even the mind. So, the mind that thinks the Absolute is a part of the Absolute itself, and therefore the mind cannot think the Absolute. This is a very reasonable conclusion. Inasmuch as the thinker is involved in what is thought, there is no such thing as thinking at all in terms of 'That'. Either the Absolute is outside the mind, in which case it ceases to be the Absolute, or it is not an object of thought. It is not even a concept for philosophical disquisitions. But that being the nature of the Absolute, we cannot attribute to it any quality that is visible in the universe of creation. What about diversions, three dimensions, for instance? The three-dimensional universe, which is of space and of time which is duration, cannot be correlated with the Absolute, if this is its character, this is its nature, and this is the essence of its Being.

In order that the universe may be manifest, some phenomenon should take place; and that phenomenon is described here as Mṛityu. And Mṛityu, here, does not mean the ordinary phenomenon of death or destruction of a body. It is a metaphysical concept that is introduced here. It is a tentative withdrawal of the consciousness of the Absolute, and a manifestation of a new universal which embodies within itself, in a seed form, everything that we call the gross universe. The Will of God is supposed to be the originator of the universe, as we hear of, as proclaimed in the scriptures of the religions. The God of the universe, who is the Creator, manifested through His Will all this creation. Now, the attribution of 'Will' to God is indeed a difficult task, because, as far as we know, Will is a psychological function, and it can be defined in certain specific manners. But the definition of the 'Will' that we have in psychology is something which cannot be attributed to a God who is Universal. However, we have to assume a different kind of 'Will', and the Will which is responsible for the projection of the universe in a seed form, originally, can be described as a kind of potency or potentiality or latency of being, as the seed may be said to be the latency of the tree. The vast banyan tree which is so big, grows towering to the skies, is hiddenly present in a very tiny seed, as we know. We may say that the seed is the potential condition of the tree, though if we cut the seed, we cannot see there anything of the tree. Visibly, there is nothing; but we have to infer the presence of all the diversity of the banyan tree in this little seed which is so tiny. Likewise, a condition is assumed which is the potential seed of all the diversities to be manifest.

Now, many thinkers of the topmost calibre, in the field of philosophy, have held that the cause of creation is not a desire on the part of God, as many would ordinarily think, because it is impossible to imagine that God can have a desire. Achārya Śankara, and such other thinkers, tell us that the cause of the universe is not the desire of God, just as the moon shining in the sky is not the cause of the thief breaking into somebody's house – a very beautiful analogy. If, with the help of the moonlight, some burglar enters somebody's house, the action of burglary cannot be imputed to the moon because it is responsible, in some way, in shedding light to the thief. Likewise is the presence of the Will of God in the process of the manifestation of the universe. The activity of creation, or the substance, the material of creation is, in some way, distinguished from the efficient cause of creation. The efficient cause of creation is the potency of God's Will, which does not desire the world to be created, but becomes necessary for the manifestation of the universe in a particular fashion. The fashion, the pattern, or the shape which the universe takes in a particular cycle of time, is supposed to be the grossened form of the subtle psychological or psychic potency, present in the individuals who lay unliberated at the end of the previous cycle, or the Kalpa, as we call it. The individuals who are not liberated at the end of the world lie potent, latent, seed-like, in the bosom of the cosmos, and they are said to lie for as long a time as the universe lasted earlier. Such is the night of Brahma as the scriptures tell us, as was the day of Brahma, earlier.

This night of the cosmos is compared to the cosmic waters in some mythologies, as we have the waters mentioned, also, in this Upaniṣhad. The cosmic waters, mentioned in creative or cosmological theories, are nothing but the original condition of things, subsequent to the dissolution of the cosmos, and prior to the creation later on, during which period the unliberated individuals lie like seeds about to sprout. A particular set of individuals – they may be millions, hundreds of millions, thousands of millions, etc. – are grouped together in a particular category; and this grouped category of individuals, in their generality of psychic structure, becomes responsible for the material shape which the universe has to take after the fructification of those potencies. Just as the seed does not sprout into a tree at all times – it requires conditions, such as proper atmosphere, good climate, rain and suitable soil, etc. – the individuals who are lying in a seed form do not sprout into activity until maturity takes place. This maturity is supposed to take place somewhat like the waking of the individual from sleep. How long do you sleep in the night? As long as it is necessary for the psychic potencies to wake up into activity. The awakening of the psychic potencies within, into activity, is called waking from sleep, which happens into the daylight of consciousness. Something like that is supposed to take place, cosmically, during the time of creation. The individuals, collectively, feel the fructification of their psychic contents, and they germinate into action. And, the world that is manifest, the universe that is projected, is of a character which is necessary for the fulfilment of the desires left unfulfilled by the individual during the time of the dissolution of the universe earlier.

So, such is the very interesting doctrine propounded by thinkers like Achārya Śankara. We find it in the Brahma-Sūtras, especially, mentioned in a very concise form. Perhaps, this doctrine is based upon the Upaniṣhads, which are more concise and less clear in their exposition. Here we have such a type of doctrine of creation, which makes out that the consciousness of the world is the reverse of the Consciousness of the Absolute, which is very strange for us to hear and even to understand. It is not a part of the Absolute that we are seeing when we are looking out into the world. We are seeing something topsy-turvy, a reversed form, as we see ourselves reversed in water as a reflection. When we stand on the bank of the Ganga and see ourselves reflected, we will find that the head which is topmost will be the lowermost there. The feet which are the lowermost will be the uppermost in the reflection. So, there is a complete reversal of the position of the body when it is reflected. Some such thing is said to have taken place at the time of creation, so that, when we see the head of ours reflected in water, it appears to be our head, but it is not really our head. The head that we see, reflected in water, looks like our head, and it is exactly like our head. We may mistake it for our head, but it is not our head, really. Likewise, we may mistake these things of the world for the Absolute, but they are not, in the same way as we may think the reflected head is ours, but it is not.

And, also, another analogy is given in a passage of the Katha Upaniṣhad as to what happens in creation. There is a reversal of the whole position, as our face is reversed in a mirror where it is reflected – the right becomes left, and the left becomes right – even so, the subject becomes the object, and the object becomes the subject, when the creation takes place, which is the essence of the whole matter. Very interesting, and very comforting, indeed! We can imagine where we are seated, and what has happened to us. God has played a very beautiful joke with us, made us great fools, turned us upside down by positing the subject in the context of the object, and the object in the context of the subject. Really, we are the objects; the universe is the subject. This is the truth. But, we think that we are the subjects, and the universe is the object, and gaze at it, look at it, try to exploit it for our own individual purposes, under the misapprehension that we are the subjects. We are subjects in the same sense as the reflected head is our head.

So, this reversal of the position of the Absolute is called Mṛityu, or destruction, or death, here. Well, it is destruction indeed, when we mistake one thing for another thing by completely forgetting the original, and we are destroyed, in fact, when we are in a different paradise altogether, where we are under an illusion. And, consciousness gets reflected wherever there is this reversed position, cognised or felt, where consciousness attends. So there is a reflected consciousness, also. The entire personality of ours may be said to be a reflected structure. Even the intellect is a reflection of the consciousness of God. It is not qualitatively equivalent to God-consciousness. It does not mean that a tiny part of God is in our brains. Not so; it is reflected, which means distorted. The sun, reflected in water, may look like the sun, but it does not have the quality of the sun. It will not burn you. You cannot warm yourself by the reflected sun in the water.

There is a diversity in the form of this creation, made possible by a reversal of the position of the ultimate Reality and that reversed position assumes a consciousness of its own, originally. That is what is known as the Universal Mind. It is attended with Self-Consciousness – ātmanvī syām iti. 'I-Am', the Cosmic 'I-Am', is something less than the Absolute. It is a condition that has to be accepted, subsequent to the reversal, which, again, has to be assumed prior.

The Cosmic Mind, Hiraṇyagarbha, as we call it in the Vedānta, is the Cosmic 'I-Am'. It is Self-Consciousness, Pure Universality. And, here is the seed of all diversity. In a sense, we may say that we are parts of this Cosmic Mind, but not, indeed, correctly. As I pointed out, we cannot regard ourselves as parts of the Absolute. Nothing that we see with our eyes can be regarded as a real representation of the Absolute. Thus, we have to understand that we are not parts, even of the Hiraṇyagarbha. We are much less than that. We are far down below the condition of Hiraṇyagarbha and Virāt, for reasons we shall see shortly. For the time being, it is enough if we understand the actual meaning of this passage. There was a destruction, a Mṛityu, a complete abolition of Reality, which is what the Sāṁkhya calls Prakṛiti, the Vedāntins call Maya, Mula-Prakṛiti, etc., the Potential Being, the Matrix of the universe. That becomes the seed for the manifestation of the Cosmic Mind, known as Mahat and Cosmic Ahamkāra. The Vedānta calls them Hiraṇyagarbha and Virāt.

So׳rcann acarat, tasyārcata. āpo׳jāyanta, arcate vai me kam abhūd iti; tad evārkasya arkatvam; kaṁ ha vā asmai bhavati, ya evam etad arkasya arkatvaṁ veda. One who makes this phenomenon, assumes power over this phenomenon, becomes that, is the advice with which the passage concludes. The cosmic condition is thus to be described. The Mind which was created, cosmically, in this manner, by a reversal of the content of the Absolute, this cosmic condition, is the seed of the universe. This seed of the universe, we call Īshvara; we call Hiraṇyagarbha; we call Virāt, in the various degrees of the densities manifested. It assumed a joy. It became the energy of the universe. It became Vaiśvānara. Here the word 'Arka' is sometimes taken to mean Cosmic Fire, or, we may say, Universal Energy, which is also the same as the great Joy of the Universal. 'Kam' means joy, happiness. There is a happiness which is untarnished and undiminished in this condition on account of the retention of universality, though it is the seed-form of all diversity. The conditions of Hiraṇyagarbha and Virāt are potential diversities, no doubt, but not manifest diversities. What we call diversity, responsible for the sorrow of the individual, has not taken place yet. There is no sorrow in Virāt, Hiraṇyagarbha and Īshvara, though there is a potency for diversity. The reason is that there is the Universal Consciousness maintained yet, in spite of the potentiality for diversity. There is an organic connectedness of things in Virāt and above, and this consciousness is maintained. Therefore, on account of the absence of the loss of universality there, the Joy of the Universal also is present. Whoever knows this becomes that; and knowing this, he is also equal to have the power of it. Knowledge and Power are identical. So the knowledge of it is necessary, by 'being it' in meditation. And then there is power that is unlimited, power that is born of unlimited knowledge on account of unlimited 'Being'.

  1. āpo vā arkaḥ. tad yad apāṁ śara āsīt, tat samahanyata, sā pṛithivy abhavat, tasyām aśrāmyat. tasya śrāntasya taptasya tejo raso niravartatāgniḥ.

Here, again, we have some description of the condensation of the dense form of things, gradually taking place in the process of creation – the subtle becomes gross. The cosmic waters hardened, as it were, became solid, gradually, and the Earth element was formed. By the Earth element, what is meant here is not merely this little globe of the earth on which we are living, but the entire Earth Principle of the whole astronomical universe, through which your eyes cannot pass. The whole element of Earth can be regarded as the solidified form of this cosmic condition, the subtle nature of things which is called here, Waters. It solidified itself. From Fire comes Water; from Water comes Earth. This is the chronological order of creation of the gross forms, ordinarily speaking. Sā pṛithivy abhavat: That became the Earth, the grossened form of things.

Here is the end of Cosmic creation. There is a famous passage in a text of the Vedānta, known as Panchadaśi, written by Sage Vidyāraṇya, who describes this in one Sloka: Iksānadi-praveśāntā ṣṛṣhtirīśena kalpitā. Jāgradādi-vimokṣhantah samsāro jivīkalpita. This passage of the Upaniṣhad, and such other passages are given their meaning in this verse of the Panchadaśi. From the Cosmic Will down to Divine Immanence, it is Īshvara's creation. From walking till liberation, it is the individual's creation. Īshvara's creation or God's creation ends with the manifestation of the universal physical form, and God is not responsible for what the individual is experiencing. The loves and sorrows, the joys and pains, the births and deaths of the individual are not created by God. They are created by some other factor which is not to be attributed to God. The condensation of the cosmos, right from the causal condition down to the physical, through the subtle, may be said to be the manifesting activity of God. He becomes the 'All' and becomes also the consciousness of the 'All'. But the reversal of attitude, the considering of the object as the subject and the subject as the object, and the desire to grab objects for the purpose of personal satisfaction, and the capacity to fulfil certain desires and the incapacity to fulfil certain others, the getting fatigued in personality on account of the inability to fulfil all desires, the falling into sleep every day on account of the latent condition of desires unfulfilled, etc. – these are all the phenomena of individuality, not of Cosmic Being. Even the 'process' of Mokṣha, or liberation, is not God's creation, because God has no Mokṣha. He is always in the state of Mokṣha only. The process of bondage and liberation, the cycle of births and deaths and joys and sorrows and activity, everything of this nature is an outcome of certain subsidiary character assumed by the individual, isolated from the Universal, so that we may say that there is no sorrow down to the point of the Virāt manifestation. Sorrow starts after that, when there is a split into the diverse individuals who regard themselves as self-contained, self-sufficient, self-exhaustive individuals. Each one of us regards himself as complete. That there is nothing lacking in us, is a misconception. We lack everything, but we think we are complete in ourselves, so that we have a soul of 'our own', an entire soul, which is entirely ours, independent, unconnected with others! This is called the ego-principle which affirms a total isolation of itself from others. This has happened subsequently, and anything that follows out of it is the responsibility of the Jīva, the individual, not of Īshvara.

Here we have a description of creation down to the point of Virāt. Tejo raso niravartatāgniḥ: A luminous essence, which we may call the Cosmic Fire, emanated from this condition, which is the outrush of the Creative Process. That luminous Cosmic Essential Being, the Fire Universal, is what we call Vaiśvānara or Virāt. Then what happens? We are slowly to come down to our sorrowful state, not yet begun, but going to begin.

The intermediary conditions are now described, which are prior to the manifestation of our grossened individualities. There are certain intermediary stages – the division of the Virāt into the Tripartite Being, known in technical language as Adhyātma (subject), Adhibhūta (object), and Adhidaiva (transcendent). There is no such thing as Adhyātma, Adhibhūta, Adhidaiva in the Virāt. All the three aspects are one there, but these three have to be separated and conceived independently for the purpose of subsequent creation. That point is slowly being arrived at, in these passages.

  1. sa tredhātmānaṁ vyakuruta, ādityaṁ tṛtīyam, vāyuṁ tṛtīyam, sa eṣa prāṇas tredhā vihitaḥ. tasya prācī dik śiraḥ, asau cāsau cairmau; athā asya pratīcī dik puccham, asau cāsau ca sakthyau; dakṣiṇā codīcī ca pārśve, dyauḥ pṛṣṭham, antarikṣam udaram, iyam uraḥ, sa eṣo׳psu pratiṣṭhitaḥ, yatra kva caiti tad eva pratitiṣṭhaty evaṁ vidvān.

Threefold is the manifestation subsequent to this original condition. ādityaṁ tṛtīyam, vāyuṁ tṛtīyam, sa eṣa prāas tredhā vihitaḥ: Here Prāṇa means the Cosmic Prāṇa, Hiraṇyagarbha, or we may say, Virāt. He assumed a threefold form – the transcendent (Adhidaiva), the objective (Adhibhūta) and the subjective (Adhyātma). Prior to this, there was no such distinction as the transcendent, the objective and the subjective. Now we have the God who is above, the world which is outside, and ourselves here. This tripartite distinction has now taken place. So, when we pray to God, we look up, as if He is 'above'. He was not above previously. Now He has become above, because we have lost Him. He has run up to the skies, as it were. And the world is 'outside' us, and we are looking at it, and we are 'here' as imagined subjects. We are subjects falsely arrogated to ourselves. This is, perhaps, the fall described in the Biblical context, the Satan falling, assuming individuality, independent of God. The assumption of individuality immediately calls for a transcendent Creator and an external universe. The moment you become conscious of yourself as an isolated being, you begin to see an outside world, and then you conceive, not perceive, a transcendent God. Here, God becomes merely a conception; He is not an object of perception. Originally, He was a content of direct perception, experience, realisation. He was 'Being', 'Existence', 'Vitality', the 'Soul' itself. Now He has escaped our grasp, and over and above us become transcendent, and remained only as a theoretical Creator for our prayers and worships. What we physically see is only the world of gross objects, towards which we run every moment of time, assuming that we are the sole monarchs of this world, that we are the rulers of things; an assumption, false indeed, for reasons quite obvious.

This Cosmic Prāṇa, Hiraṇyagarbha, or Virāt, assumed a threefold aspect – Adhibhautika, Adhyātmika and Adhidaivika, viz., the physical, the subjective and the transcendent. The objective or the physical, the subjective or the psychic, and the transcendent which is the invisible divine content, are later formulations.

Here again the Upaniṣhad brings us back, by a Simhāvalokana, as it were, a retrospective look, to the unity of things, in spite of the tripartite diversification that has taken place. In spite of this threefold manifestation, which is apparently a segmentation of creation into three different corners, as if unconnected with one another, there is yet a unity among them. That point is brought out here, in this analogy, which describes the unity present in the midst of this tripartite diversity, by the comparison of this triad with that of the horse in the Aśvamedha Sacrifice, and also in terms of a particular shape the sacrificial ground takes in the Aśvamedha Sacrifice, viz. the shape of a bird. The sacrificial ground is drawn in a particular shape. The shape is of a bird. So, the bird is described here, or we may say, the horse itself is described. Both comparisons are apt. The eastern direction of this sacrificial ground in this drawing which is of the shape of a bird, or of this Aśvamedha Sacrificial horse; of this, the eastern direction is the head. And the various limbs are described further, as before. Its arms are the intermediary quarters, northeast and southeast. The western quarter is its tail. Again, the hip bones in the body of the horse are the other intermediary quarters, viz., northwest and southwest. The southern direction and the northern direction are the sides of the body. The sky is the back; the atmosphere is the belly; this earth is the chest. And this is the description of the cosmic condition. This Virāt description is to be found in the sacrificial diagrams of the Aśvamedha Sacrifice, as also in temple constructions.

The temples, especially in Southern India, are constructed in the shape of the Virāt. The Holy of Holies inside is the head of the Virāt, which is represented by a luminous glow of a sacred light in a dark room, comparable to the ānandamaya Koṣha (causal sheath) which is dark, but illumined by the ātman within, and encompassed by seven Prakaras, or corridors. Sometimes these are five, comparable to the five Koṣhas or vestures of the body – Annamaya, Prāṇamaya, Manomaya, Vijñānamaya, ānandamaya – the physical, vital, mental, intellectual and causal sheaths. And there is the Balipitha, the sacrificial altar, at the entrance, which is represented by a huge post. Before you enter the body of the Virāt, you have to offer yourself first; otherwise, no entry is possible. You have to pay a fee to the Virāt before you gain access into it, and the fee is your own self. You have to cease to be, first, as you are now, in order that you may become what you want to become. This is the symbol of temple construction, and also of the patterns drawn in the Aśvamedha Sacrifice. That pattern is described here in its correlation with the parts of the universe. Such is the geometrical description of the creation of the universe, with its deep philosophical significance and spiritual connotation. One who knows this becomes strong and obtains a resting place, wherever he be.

  1. so׳kāmayata dvitīyo ma ātmā jāyeteti, sa manasā vācam mithunaṁ samabhavad aśanāyā mṛtyuḥ, tad yad reta āsīt, sa saṁvatsaro ׳bhavat; na ha purā tataḥ saṁvatsara āsa. tam etāvantaṁ kālam abhibhaḥ. yāvān saṁvatsaraḥ, tam etāvataḥ, kālasya parastād asṛjata; taṁ jātam abhivyādadāt, sa bhāṇ akarot saiva vāg abhavat.

It willed, or He willed: "May I have a second Self." This is the origin of creation. The world, this creation, this universe is the second Self, as it were, of the Supreme Being. This 'other' Self, which is this vast creation, is animated by the Supreme Being Himself. It is 'other' in the sense that is had not all the characters of the Absolute. Yet, it is the Self. Though it is the 'other', it is also the Self. It is called the 'Other Self', inasmuch as the Selfhood of the Absolute is transparently present in this creation. The Universal ātman is immanent in the whole universe, in all aspects of creation; and yet the universe is an 'otherness', as it were, of God, an object of God. It is as if the Universal 'I' is envisaging a universal object, including all that is visible or sensible – space, time and causal relation. A single Subject encountering a single Object is the state which is described in this passage, a Cosmic Consciousness becoming aware of a Cosmic Object in a peculiar manner, not in the way in which the ordinary individual is aware of an object outside. The way in which God is conscious of the universe, is different from the way in which an ordinary Jīva, or individual, is conscious of an object. This makes all the difference between Universal Consciousness and particularised consciousness.

The object, in an ordinary perception, is segregated from the subject by the differentiating medium of space and of time, so that there is no vital connection between the object that is perceived and the subject that perceives. But there is a living connectedness between the Cosmic Object and the Cosmic Subject. This connection is sometimes described as one of Body and Soul. We know that there is a connection between the soul and the body. This relation between the soul and the body is different from the relation between an individual subject encountering an outside object. The soul and the body cannot be separated from each other. They are organically one. This relation is called Śariri – Śarira-Bhāva, the relation between consciousness and its embodiment. Thus, we can say that the Cosmic Awareness of the universe, in the case of God-Consciousness, is one of inseparable relation, like the relation of the soul and the body. When we are aware of our bodies, we are not only becoming aware of an object situated in space and time. We can say that this body is an object because it can be sensed, it can be seen, and it has all the characters of any object in the world; but, at the same time, it is an object which clings to us vitally and organically, not like an object such as the mountain which is far off in space and, perhaps, in time.

There are three kinds of 'self' distinguished in the philosophy of the Vedānta. These three 'selfs' are the three aspects of the conception of the One Self. They are called the Mukhya-ātman, the Mithya-ātman and the Gauna-ātman, in Sanskrit. The Mukhya-ātman is the primary Self, which is uniform and unique in every individual, equally. It does not differ from one person to another person, from one thing to another thing, like space contained in various vessels. It is the same space that is in all vessels, irrespective of the number and size of the vessels, etc. This ubiquitous Consciousness, which is equally present in all beings, irrespective of the distinctions of space, time and cause, is the Absolute Self. That is called the Mukhya-ātman. There is also the Gauna-ātman, or the secondary self which is distinguishable from the primary Self. It is not merely that one has within oneself, immanently present, the eternal primary Self, but there is also another kind of self with which one's individuality is connected. Anything that one loves is also a self. As a matter of fact, all love is a movement of self in a particular direction. When the self moves, we call it 'love'; and when it does not move, we call it 'being'. But, it is the same 'self' that acts, whether it moves or whether it does not move. The movement of the 'self' towards an object for any particular given purpose becomes the cause of affection for that object, and the 'Self' which is primary, is recognised in the object which is secondary. So, in the love of the object we are loving our own self really, it is not just something else. The object is invested with the character of the 'Self', and then there is an immense affection felt for the object. Every form of love is the love of 'Self'. There is nothing else in any form of affection. The object which is thus invested with the character of one's own Self, becoming the centre of affection, is what is called the secondary self. It is also a self, but it is not the Absolute Self. So, it is called secondary. The third form of self is this body which is temporarily assumed as the 'self' for the purpose of working out certain Karmas done in previous births. The nature of this body is characterised by the structure of the desires expressed in previous lives, and the Karmas performed in previous lives. A Karma, or an action, is a desire that is externalised in respect of an ulterior motive. Every action is desire-propelled. A desire-propelled movement in the direction of an object is an action, and that action produces a reaction, because every action is an interference in the universality of the cosmos. The equilibrium of the universe is disturbed by every action of any individual. This disturbance that is caused by the action of an individual is set right by the balance that is ever maintained by the universe. And this balance is maintained by a reaction that is so set up. The reaction comes back as a boomerang upon the very individual who is the source of that disturbance. This is called the Karma-Phala, or the fruit of action. That Karma-Phala becomes the seed for the manifestation of a future body. So, this body which we are assuming today, and in which we are embodied, is the result of our past Karmas. It is of such a nature, such a character, such a duration of life, etc., as were our previous desires and actions. This body also is an ātman for us. We love it immensely. So it is 'self', but it is  a 'false' self. It is not the real Self. So it is called the Mithya-ātman. Thus, the threefold distinction of the ātman is made in this manner-the Mukhya-ātman, the Gauna-ātman, the Mithya-ātman-the primary Self, the secondary self, and the false self. Here, the Universal Being Willed, "Let me have a secondary Self." This is, perhaps, the meaning of this passage of the Upaniṣhad.

You have heard this great passage of the Bible: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Something like this is what the Upaniṣhad tells us here. The Eternal Wisdom was manifest, with the eternal Word, and with this Word the whole cosmos was created. The Word which is with God, and which is God, is not merely a letter, or a sound that we make through our lips. It is an energy; it is a force; it is a vibration, which materialises itself, concretises itself into object-forms. The Word is the Veda, or Eternal Wisdom which is with God, and it is inseparable from God, and so, it is God Himself. The Cosmic Mind projected itself in the form of this Eternal Word, and manifested this universe. In the Manusmriti, and such other ancient texts, we are also told in a symbolic manner that Prajāpati, the Creator, conceived the whole cosmos in the pattern of 'Om', or the Praṇava. The Praṇava, or Omkāra, is supposed to be the seed of the whole universe. That is the essence of the Word that is Divine. It is also the Veda contained in a seed form. The whole of the Veda is inside 'Om'. "Eka eva purā vedah praṇavah sarva-vāngmayah," says Bhagavan Sri Krishna, as recorded in the Srimad-Bhagavata, when he spoke to Uddhava. There was only one Veda in the beginning. It was 'Om'. We did not have four Vedas like Rik, Yajur, Sāman and Atharva. They were classifications made later on by Sage Veda-Vyāsa. 'Om' is supposed to be a vibration, which is integral in its nature, and that is the Word spoken of. This Word which is Om, is the cause of the whole cosmos. The Mind of the Universe, the Cosmic Mind, Prajāpati, got united with this Word, which means to say, Consciousness vibrated through this Word for the purpose of the manifestation of the universe. And, in the Manusmriti, we are told that Praṇava splits itself into the Vyāhṛitis-Bhūh, Bhavah, Svah. These are mystical syllables which are supposed to contain the inner content of the Praṇava. And we are also further told that the three Vyahritis split themselves into the three Pādas, or the quarters of the Gāyatri Mantra which is supposed to be expounded in a greater detail in the three sections of the Puruṣha-Sūkta. These three parts of the Puruṣha-Sūkta become the three Vedas-Rik, Yajur and Sāman, and in all their multiplications. So, the origin of this creation is supposed to be a communion of the Cosmic Mind with Cosmic Vibration, which is referred to as the Word, the Veda-Vac, which means speech, the Original Word.

Sa manasā vācam mithunaṁ samabhavad aśanāyā mṛtyuḥ: Here the word aśanāyā mṛtyuḥ is repeated once again in order to bring out the sense that creation is an 'othering' of God, an alienation, a sacrifice, which is sometimes called the 'Cosmic Sacrifice'. The Absolute becomes something other than Itself, in order that it may appear as this universe. How does it become other than it is? By the projection of the time factor. There is no time in God; it is all Eternity. The moment there is the projection of process, it becomes creation-Saṁvatsara, the time-cycle. Saṁvatsara is the principle of the year, which is time. The moment there is consciousness of time, we are in a world of experience. And in the Absolute, which is durationless Eternity, there is no such process as time; there is no past, present and future. What we call Eternity was the Essence of God Himself, and in the grasp of the Universal Consciousness of God, past, present and future come together in a single comprehension. But, in the individual's case, this is split into three sections-the past, the present, and the future, which cannot be connected easily. We cannot know the past, we cannot know the future, we are in a very fine split-fact of what is called the present. Every second, the present passes and becomes a past. The past, the present, and the future are not three distinct parts of time, cut off one from the other. They are a continuity like the flow of a river. But, due to a peculiar effect that the time has upon our minds as individuals, we are unable to conceive of the past and the future, and we are stuck up in the middle, in the present merely. However, the point made out here is that the factor of time became manifest. Na ha purā tataḥ saṁvatsara āsa: Before that, there was no time. Before creation, time was not, and time and creation are identical. The moment there is creation, there is time, and the moment there is time, there is creation. They are one.

As mentioned earlier, the whole duration for which the universe lasts is dependant upon certain factors precedent to the creation of the universe. The chronological, genealogical, or cosmological descriptions given in the Purāṇas, etc. tell us that the duration of the universe during a particular Kalpa, or cycle of time, will be determined by the time taken by the potencies of the individuals who lay unliberated in the previous Kalpa. Therefore, it cannot be said that every Kalpa is of the same duration. The night of Brahma as we call the period of dissolution of the universe, is again of that much of duration as would be necessary for the fructification of the individual potencies lying unliberated in the previous Kalpa, at the time of the dissolution. Thus, by the manifestation of time, creation becomes possible. This is the point where Virāt assumes a complete Form, and time which has not yet begun to control things starts contemplating, as it were, the control of things. In Virāt, time is controlled by the consciousness of Virāt, but subsequently time becomes the controller. We have no control over time.

Here is a very peculiar symbolic expression, which seems to tell us that the urge for creation, the outrush of manifestation which is the principle of death, described here as Mṛityu, was not satisfied with creation up to the point of Virāt, and wanted to engulf Virāt itself in its bosom, so that creation would end with Virāt; but, it did not end with Virāt. The principle of manifestation was not satisfied with the manifestation of Virāt. The One has to become the many, further down. Well, the Virāt is the many, no doubt; manifold expression is there in this Body of the Virāt; everything can be seen there; everything is found there. So, in a way, we may say it is the fulfilment of the desire to create. But, the desire was not fulfilled. There has to be a further creation, and so, while the principle of death, which is the urge for creation, wanted to swallow the Virāt itself in its all-consuming mouth, the Virāt resented, as it were. It is symbolic, of course; not that there were two persons acting in two different manners. It is only a way of expressing a fact that the violent onrush of the urge for creation did not get exhausted with the manifestation of Virāt. It became more and more violent as it went down, until it saw the complete overturning of the cart, and the object sat on the throne of the subject, and that was enough. With that, the creative urge, perhaps, was satisfied. The Virāt resented the onrush of the urge for creation, which means to say, it did not accede to the idea that creation should end with Virāt. The Virāt manifested Himself further down, and his resentment is the Vāc, which means to say, the principle of speech. Here the speech means, symbolically, the Veda, and the Veda means knowledge, the Word, Vibration, Creative Force; and all that Omkāra, or Praṇava, symbolises. Then what happens?

  1. sa aikṣata: yadi vā imam abhimaṁsye, kanīyo׳nnaṁ kariṣya iti: sa tayā vācā tenātmanedaṁ sarvam asṛjata yad idaṁ kiṁ ca, ṛco yajūṁṣi sāmāni chandāṁsi yajñān prajāḥ paśūn. sa yad yad evāsṛjata, tad tad attum adhriyata; sarvaṁ vā attīti tad aditer adititvam, sarvasyaitasyāttā bhavati, sarvam asyānnam bhavati, ya evam etad aditer adititvaṁ veda.

The principle of creation which is Death, contemplated, as it were: "Why should I swallow this Virāt and end creation here? That is a very small act, indeed, if I do that. My desire is to go further. I want to consume many more things than Virāt, so that multiplicity should exceed, the multiplicity as is available in Virāt." There should be real multiplicity, not apparent multiplicity as in Virāt. So the rush for creative activity continued; the vibration which is the force of externalisation pursued its purpose. The segmentation of Virāt takes place into the Adhyātma, the Adhibhūta and the Adhidaiva, which is the beginning of multiplicity in the form of the various individuals, as we see here. The One becomes three, and the three become many. So, the Virāt did not merely stop the creative activity, but continued it further, and became many more things, in a more expressed, pointed, and clear-cut, diversified manner. What are the further manifestations?

Whatever we see with our eyes here, everything became manifest. All things down to the blade of grass, even to the atom, even to inanimate matter – all these were created. There are gradations, and various degrees of manifestation in the coming down, one below the other. And, as creation comes down to the level of lower beings, consciousness gets more and more dense. It gets more and more involved in matter, which means to say, it gets externalised more and more. There is no such thing as matter, ultimately. It is only a form of externalisation, getting more and more concretised by involvement of consciousness in space and time. Ultimately, there is no matter; it is only space-time that is appearing as matter. But, it becomes very intense, and the intensity assumes the shape of a concrete object, outside. Till that point, creation took place. Everything that we see with our eyes became manifest.

The Vedas became threefold and fourfold – Rik, Yajur, Sāman, ātharvaṇ. Yajñān prajāḥ paśūn: The sacrificial processes, human beings, animals, etc. – everything became manifest. Sa yad yad evāsṛjata, tad tad attum adhriyata: Whatever was created was conceived by the consciousness, and there was an urge to grasp every object. The more one goes down in the level of creation, the greater is the desire for the object. The higher one goes, the less is the desire. The violence of desire becomes intense as consciousness goes down and down, until there is an intense feeling of separation of the subject from the object. The intensity of the desire is due to the intensity of the separation, so that when the material form of the object becomes glaringly intense, the feeling of separation, also, becomes equally intense; and then it is that there is this desire of the soul to grasp the object, for union with itself. Consciousness became immanent in all things; it entered everything; it created all beings and became all beings.

All objects become the food for this Consciousness. It grasps them in a variegated manner, right from the Virāt down to the lowest animate created being, because the process of the grasping of the object by Consciousness varies, no doubt, in the manner of its expression, but the intention is the same. The intention of the Consciousness moving towards an object is the absorption of the object into itself. In the case of Virāt, they are both identical; the object and consciousness are the same, and they cannot be separated, even as we cannot separate our own body from our soul. It is a kind of identity of being. But, when there is a further movement down in the direction of the separation of Consciousness from the object, then there is not that organic connection between the subject and the object. There is only a desire which cannot be fulfilled, because consciousness cannot, in fact, become an object. They are two different things in character. The object can never become consciousness, and the consciousness can never become an object, inasmuch as it has its own unique nature. So, no desire can be fulfilled, finally. It only acts vigorously in the direction of objects, with the intention of extinguishing itself, but it can never extinguish itself until the body of the object becomes the body of consciousness. That is the intention, ultimately.

The desire of every individual is to become the Virāt. This is the meaning of any desire. Even if we take a cup of tea, our desire is only that; we want to become one with everything. It is a stimulation of the inner psyche towards the unification of oneself with all things. One who knows this mystery can become everything, says the Upaniṣhad, which is a great consolation and a comfort for created beings. If we can understand what all this drama means, how this creation has taken place, how Consciousness has become all things, what desire means actually in its intention, if this is comprehended properly by us, we can become 'That', which has been the cause of this manifestation. One who knows it, becomes 'That'. So is this concluding, solacing message of the Upaniṣhad to everyone – 'Knowing is Being'. If we can know this secret, we can go deep into the secret of self-mastery, so that desire ceases. The assumption by Consciousness that the object is spatially and temporarily cut off from itself is the cause of desire. But, when this assumption is understood in its proper connotation, the desire must cease, because the intention being pious, the mode of fulfilling this intention also should be equally pious, which means to say, there should be identity, which cannot be established as long as there is real separation, and the separation must be there as long as there is involvement of Consciousness in space and time. Space and time are also aspects of Consciousness only. Why should they cause this distinction? This is what is to be understood properly, and where this is grasped, desire ceases, and one can become 'That', from where one has descended.

  1. so׳kāmayata, bhūyasā yajñena bhūyo yajeyeti; so׳śrāmyat, sa tapo׳tapyata: tasya śrāntasya taptasya yaśo vīryam udakrāmat. prāṇā vai yaśo vīryam; tat prāṇeṣūtkrānteṣu śarīraṁ śvayitum adhriyata, tasya śarīra eva mana āsīt.

This passage simply repeats what has been told earlier, in a different way. He Willed: "May I sacrifice myself in more and more multifarious forms. May I become the many. Let me sacrifice myself in every form." The sacrifice of Consciousness in form is the creation of the universe. "May I do this act more and more, in greater intensity, in further diversity?" By that Will to become many, He got exhausted, as it were. Then, He concentrated Himself on the very Act. The Will to create is the concentrating activity of Consciousness, and when the Creative Will becomes successful in projecting a world outside in space and in time, and when that which is projected becomes something other than one's own Self, that becomes divested of Self; the object is bereft of Self. Well; even if the object is bereft of Self, it assumes a self, it becomes a secondary self when one is intent upon that object. Thus was, perhaps, the case at the beginning of creation when, though the universe that was externalised was bereft of the Consciousness which is of God, it assumed a consciousness in the secondary manner; it became a secondary self of the Supreme Being, because the mind of the Supreme Being was there.

It is, as it were, the Cosmic Mind contemplated its own Self in the object which is created, namely, the universe. So, the universe assumed a life. There is activity, energy, force and vitality in everything in the universe. That is because of the projection of the Cosmic Mind into this matter, which is the externalised form in space and in time. This happens in every form of perception involving emotion. An emotion is a form of concentration of consciousness on a particular object, and when that concentration is affected, the self moves to the object and enlivens the object in a particular manner. Then, because of the enlivenment, it becomes a part of itself; the secondary self does it become. As the individual object becomes a secondary self of an individual subject by way of emotional movement of self towards the object, so did it happen originally, also. The Cosmic Consciousness contemplated on the cosmic externality, which we call Prakṛiti, and thus the universe assumed life, as if it is consciousness itself, just as the body assumes a form of consciousness. Our body has life, no doubt. We can feel sensations throughout the body, but the body has no life, really. The corpse has no consciousness, it has no life, no sensation, though it is a body, still. The features of the living body can be seen in a corpse, also. But, what happened to the life? This shows that the body is not the living principle, but it assumed the character of a living principle on account of the animation conducted to it by another principle altogether. Likewise, is the energy of this universe. There is nothing substantial in this universe which is mere emptiness, a hollow, like a balloon: it looks big, but there is nothing inside, though it assumes a reality due to an impregnation by Consciousness which has been responsible for the creation. By a symbolic transference of process, as it happens in an individual case, the Cosmic Act is described in the Upaniṣhad that the universe assumed life, on account of the animation of it by the Cosmic Mind.

  1. so׳kāmayata, medhyam ma idaṁ syāt, ātmanvy anena syām iti; tato׳śvaḥ samabhavat, yad aśvat, tan medhyam abhūd iti tad evāśva-medhasyāśva-medhatvam; eṣa ha vā aśva-medhaṁ veda, ya enam evaṁ veda. tam anavarudhyaivāmanyata; taṁ saṁvatsarasya parastād ātmana ālabhata: paśūn devatābhyaḥ pratyauhat. tasmāt sarva-devatyaṁ prokṣitam prājāpatyam ālabhante; eṣa ha vā aśva-medho ya eṣa tapati: tasya saṁvatsara ātmā, ayam agnir arkaḥ, tasyeme lokā ātmānaḥ; tāv etāv arkāśvamedhau. so punar ekaiva devatā bhavati, mṛtyur eva; apa punar-mṛtyuṁ jayati, nainam mṛtyurm āpnoti, mṛtyur asyātmā bhavati, etāsāṁ devatānām eko bhavati.

The body which is bereft of life is Medhya, which means to say, it is impure. We do not like to touch a corpse; but, we have no objection to touch a living body. What is the difference between a living body and a corpse? Both are bodies. We regard a living body as holy, but a dead body as impure. So, He Willed, as it were: "May this universe that I have created, which is my Body, but which is without life, may this universe which is thus impure, bereft of consciousness, bereft of life, assume purity." That is possible only when vitality is injected into it. So, what might have happened? Idam medhyam syāt, ātmanvy anena syām iti: I become this Universe. Just as a mother loves her child, God loved the universe. The Energy of God permeated throughout His creation, and it assumed a great meaning and significance, just as a dead body can assume a significance the moment life enters into it. This is the Aśva; this is the horse of the Aśvamedha Sacrifice, says the Upaniṣhad, again, to go back to the great symbology of the Aśvamedha Sacrifice. The Aśva is very holy, highly sanctified. It is sanctified for the purpose of the Aśvamedha Yajña, and in our symbology here, it is the universe, which is the horse. Tato'śvaḥ samabhavat, yad aśvat, tan medhyam abhūd iti tad evāśva-medhasyāśva medhatvam: Thus, the conception of the Aśvamedha Sacrifice is philosophically and spiritually explained.

Eṣa ha vā aśva-medhaṁ veda: One who knows the Aśvamedha Sacrifice, Sacrifice, knows God also; that is, one who knows this universe, knows the Creator of the universe, also, because He is present, wholly there, reflected. As from a reflection one can move to the original, through the universe we can move towards God. Though the universe is not God, because it is the reflected form, yet He is implanted there as a reflection, and therefore, through the symbol which is the universe, we can move towards Him, who is the substance. Ea ha vā aśva-medha veda, ya enam eva veda: Knowing the Aśvamedha, knowing this horse, knowing this universe, is knowing God. One who knows this secret, knows the true Aśvamedha Sacrifice.

Here, the Second Brāhmaṇa of the Upaniṣhad concludes by telling us that we can overcome this urge for self-expression, for creativity, for desire, which is the principle of Death, by becoming the Self of Death. Death is overcome by that person who becomes the very Self of Death itself, just as, whenever we become one with someone, that someone becomes our friend. Even the worst of things can be our friend, provided we become the Self of that thing. Now, how is it possible? What is the meaning of saying that we can become the Self of Mṛityu, or Death? We have to become one with the process of Creative Activity. Then Creative Activity does not harm us. The world is a great trouble for us, inasmuch as we are outside it, and we are unfriendly with it, therefore. As we are outside it, naturally, it is outside us. We are cast aside, as it were, into the winds by the creative urge. We are helpless victims of the Creative Activity, and so we are unconsciously driven in the direction of creativity. But, if consciousness can be well-trained, this consciousness can attend upon this activity itself, every process becomes, then, a Selfhood. Action becomes Knowledge and Being. Perhaps, we have the seeds of Karma-Yoga here, that principle that activity can become the ātman, provided the ātman is felt to be present in the activity. Generally, an action is a movement of the self, outside, in space and time. This is ordinary action or Karma. But, when space and time are also contemplated as being parts of Consciousness, activity becomes naturally a part of Consciousness. It becomes a part of this Consciousness, because nothing can be anywhere outside this Consciousness. It is Infinity itself. How can there be anything outside the Infinite? So, how can there be a Will of God against our will? Our will and God's Will should harmonise between each other, and our will is nothing but a vibration in a tiny form of the Universal Will. So, the question of any independent assertion does not arise, such as 'I do', 'you do', and feelings of that kind. There is no such thing as 'I do', 'you do' really. There is only the One Thing that does all things. If this awareness can rise in our self, we shed our individualities and individual wills, and for the time being, set aside all creative activity and agency on the part of the ego. That is, the assertion of agency in action is given up. The will individual becomes the Will Universal. Then, there is no fear of death and birth, because the universe does not fear death. There is no such thing as birth and death for the cosmos. Everything is a process within itself, like the movements in the ocean. Thus, one who knows the secret of this Aśvamedha Sacrifice, the beginning and the ending of the process of the Aśvamedha, how the horse came about, which means to say, how creation came about, one who knows the presence of the Eternal Reality in every act and every process of the Creative Will, he becomes the ātman of the very process. He becomes the Self of the very principle of destruction, which was responsible for the reversal activity, which was the originating factor in creation. Everything becomes the Self – the subject as well as the object – also the process of the reversal of the subject into the object, and even the movement of the self towards the object – all becomes one. If this contemplation could be possible, Death can be overcome, because one becomes the very Soul of Death itself; how can Death trouble anyone, says the Upaniṣhad.