The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
by Swami Krishnananda


Chapter I

Fourth Brahmana: Creation from the Universal Self (Continued)

What is bondage? It is dependence of some kind, a hanging on of the subject on some kind of object, whether physical or conceptual. It may be an imaginary object, or it may be a really existent material object; yet it is some object on which the knowledge hangs, and without which it seems to have no worth. This dependence of knowledge on a particular object outside becomes a binding factor. So, our minds are bound by objects of sense. The objects outside us, the contents of our individualistic knowledge become the sources of our bondage and sorrow. They do not illuminate us. We are under a misapprehension when we think that the content of our knowledge is an illuminating factor. We are very learned when we have a lot of content in our acumen. Not so is the truth. It is going to be a bondage, because it is a content which has not got absorbed into the structure of knowledge. The 'being' of knowledge, the essence of knowledge is outside the 'being' of the object, and, therefore, knowledge hangs on the object as if it is a leaning staff. Thus, it has no worth of its own; it has no intrinsic value. All the knowledge that human beings may be said to possess is bereft of a final intrinsic worth. It has an extrinsic value in the sense that it is related to objects, and so it is relative knowledge, not Absolute Being.

Absolute Knowledge is that which can stand on its own, and it does not need any other support from outside. That knowledge is God-Knowledge. This is what is known as Divine Knowledge. And the Upaniṣhad tells us that such was the knowledge with which God was endowed, and is always endowed, and may be supposed to have been the essence of God's Being prior to the manifestation of the universe. When the universe was not there before it was created, there were no space, time and objects. God was, and He knew something even when the universe was not there. What was it that He knew when the objects of the universe did not exist? He knew only Himself. The Absolute knew Itself alone. This is the answer of the Upaniṣhad – tad ātmānam evāvet. And what sort of knowledge was it, that knowledge of the Self? 'I am the All': – This Selfhood of God, which was the content of His knowledge, was an Allness of Being; it was comprehensive reality, so that it did not exclude anything. Here is the standing difference between individual knowledge and Absolute Knowledge. The knowledge which the individual has in respect of himself, as 'I am', is a knowledge which one may have of himself, but that stands opposed to an object that is outside. Here is a knowledge of the Universal 'I am', which does not stand opposed to an object, but gets absorbed into the object, and here the object is united with the Supreme Subject.

Because of the knowledge of God being equivalent to the 'Being' of all things, God's Being was the 'Being' of all things. He was All, because His knowledge was All. His omniscience was also omnipresence. The presence of God is itself the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of God is the presence of God. They are not two different things. Existence and Consciousness are identical in the case of God. Sat and Chit are identical in the Absolute. The Being and the Awareness of Being are the same, and such was the Knowledge that God had, and therefore, He became everything. He was all things.

Whoever was the individual, celestial or otherwise, who related himself to this Knowledge, he became the All. It is not that God has the prerogative of this Knowledge, and no one else can have it. For this 'anyone else' cannot be outside God's Being. Everyone can have this knowledge which God had, and God has, provided one gets attuned to the Being of God. Because, outside God there can be no 'another'. The attunement of our 'being' with God's Being is the criterion of our God-knowledge, and when we stand outside God, naturally we become puppets in the hands of fate and nature, and then we are bound by these strings that control our activities, thoughts, feelings, etc. All the gods who rose up to this level of awakening had the same experience as God had. So is the case with even human beings, not merely celestials. The Upaniṣhad says: be not afraid that only gods are fit to have this knowledge. Even you can attain to this knowledge. Sa eva tad abhavat, tathā ṛṣīṇām, tatha manuṣyāṇam: Not only gods, celestials, but sages and perfected beings and also ordinary human beings are fit for that knowledge when they are so raised and united. No one is debarred from having this entry into the Absolute. There is, however, a qualification which has to be acquired before this entry into the domain of Divine Existence. That qualification is simple and not complicated, and it is that you have to be in tune with the Being of God. There should not be any gulf or gap between your 'being' and God-Being.

If that could be fulfilled, you may be anyone, anything, existing at any place, under any condition. And then, at once, you get flooded with the Being of God. This happened to a great master of ancient times, called Vamadeva, to which reference is made in the Ṛg Veda, Aham manur abhavaṁ sūryas ca, is a Mantra, the beginning of a Sūkta, a hymn in the Ṛg Veda, and the Upaniṣhad points to that Mantra of the Veda, and says: Rishi Vāmadeva had this knowledge, and having this knowledge, having awakened himself to this Divine Status, Vāmadeva began to proclaim his experience even in the womb of his mother. He had not even come out of the womb of the mother. He was inside the womb only, when suddenly there was a flash inside the womb, and he began to realise his Cosmic Existence. That is, his Prārabdha was exhausted the moment he entered the womb. He had only that much of Karma as to compel him to take birth in the womb. The moment he entered, the force thereof got exhausted, and he had the Consciousness of Universal Existence. So, at once, he began to explain, or rather exclaim the feelings of his, as mentioned in the Ṛg Veda Mantra, which is reiterated here, "I was once the sun, shining in the sky," felt Vāmadeva within the womb. "I am not a small baby inside. I was the shining sun; I was the Manu, the progenitor of this world. I was the sage Kakshīvān. I was many things. Through all these species and forms of existence I have passed to come to this experience." There was the bursting of the bubble, and his individuality broke to pieces. His consciousness entered the Being of the Universal, and then he ejaculated in this manner, "I am the All." This is the experience recorded in the Upaniṣhad, with reference to Vāmadeva, the great Master.

Even today this experience can be had, not merely in ancient times during the time of Vāmadeva. Even this day it can be attained, provided the conditions are fulfilled, and the conditions have been mentioned. Even the gods cannot prevent such a Knower from attaining this supreme state. Nobody can oppose him from having this realisation. One need not be afraid that there can be some obstacle here. No obstacle can be there when this is the aspiration. Not even the celestials can be obstacles. Why? Because when one has this knowledge, he becomes the Self of the gods themselves, who are likely to put the obstacles. Such a one becomes the Self of the enemy himself. How can the enemy attack him? So, when one becomes the Soul of that which is likely to put an obstacle, how can any obstacle come? He is the Soul of the object itself. He has no fear because he becomes the Soul of even the cause of fear.

But, a warning is given here at the same time, by the Upaniṣhad. If you are not cautious, you may get bound. What is that caution that you have to exercise? It is impossible, humanly, to think in the way you are expected to think by the Upaniṣhad; that is the difficulty. You have been given a recipe. If this recipe could be swallowed, if this prescription could be understood, if you can think in this manner, as prescribed in this Upaniṣhad, there would be no difficulty, of course; but you cannot think like this. That is all your difficulty. Though you are able to appreciate the significance of this teaching, it cannot enter into your heart; it cannot be absorbed by the mind; it cannot become a part of your nature, because it requires years of practice for the purpose of assimilating this understanding into the feeling of oneself. We have passed years and ages in wrong thinking. We do not know how many aeons have passed in such thought, and now, suddenly, we have come to an awakened state of appreciating the value of this teaching, and that is a great blessing, indeed. We should regard ourselves as thrice-blessed, but that is not enough. That understanding has not yet become a part of our existence, being, nature, habit. It has always tried to maintain its existence on our skin, on our surface. It has not become a part of our flesh and bones and marrow. Until that takes place, this knowledge will remain an outside foreigner. It will not come inside us, and it will not help us. That is the caution. And so, the Upaniṣhad says; if you regard this God as an outside deity, then you are like an animal bound to a peg for sacrifice, and you are a victim. Why are you a victim in this world? Because you regard your benefactor as one outside you. Who is your benefactor? It is God Himself, and you consider Him as an outsider, and therefore, He is your bondage. So is the case with anyone who worships any deity or source of support as outside oneself.

When you pray to God, worship God, adore God, conceive God in your mind, you have already created a gulf between you and Him. You have there an unbridgeable difference between the object that you pray to, and yourself. The gulf is wide. This gulf is to be bridged. Until this is done, there cannot be any communication. It is something like an electric current that cannot pass even if there is a little difference of distance in the nature of the contact of the conducting element, and so, even if there is a little psychological distance between you and the Supreme Being, there cannot be then a real contact. And when the contact is not there, even if the distance is very little, it is as if there is a long distance. Therefore, the distance has to be abolished. The moment this distance is created, there is a fear coming from all sides. When the distance is removed, fear also goes with it, at once. And whoever conceives of various deities, various gods, various ideals and various objectives and aims of life, such a person is pitiable indeed, because there are no such many divinities, many ideals and many objectives in life. Whatever be your pursuit in life, it is a single pursuit in the end. All these roads which we are treading in this life, through the different avenues of activity, are really processes of the soul's journey for union with God. If this point is not remembered, there could be an unfortunate diversity in the objective of life, and it will look as if one has no connection with the other, while there is all connection between one and everything else. Every approach is an approach to the One, and it is necessary, at the very outset to clear the cobwebs of confusion in the minds of people by enlightening them to the true relationship of the various ideals that appear to be diverse outwardly. They are interconnected. The ideals and pursuits in human life are various methods or means adopted by individuals according to their own mental patterns, but the aims are not different. So, you are not, in fact, worshipping many gods, but if you think that there are really many gods, then you will not reach the real God. If you think that God is somewhere, and you are here, well, you will always be here, and He will be there. There will be no connection between the two. Such a person knows nothing. He is illogical, and no knowledge is there. Like an animal is he. What knowledge has an animal?

The Upaniṣhad says: a person who has no knowledge, and is ignorant, is like a victim of the celestials. He worships gods, various deities, for propitiating them for selfish purposes, and he becomes a food of these gods. They control him, catch hold of him, as animals are caught. And these ignorant individuals who do not know the truth of things, but hang on individual deities, and become victims thereof, are naturally prevented by these deities from going above. Just as a master of cattle does not want his cattle to be lost, says the Upaniṣhad, these deities do not want you to reach the higher level; they do not want you to go above them, and so they always keep you under control, and, tell you, 'This much is enough, not more'. As you do not wish to lose even one animal, if it is yours, naturally, the celestials who are propitiated as deities keep you under subjection in a similar manner. And, why should they allow you to go above them? They are very selfish.

The celestials put obstacles upon you. You have heard it mentioned in the Epics and the Purāṇas, that when you practice meditation, do Tapas (austerity), the celestials will come with obstacles. They do not want you to go above them. They always keep you down by tempting you into diverse ideals which are other than the one that you are aspiring for. And, therefore, the commentator of this passage discretely adds a line, 'It is better that you propitiate these gods first, and not suddenly try to go to the heights by rejecting them, because they will trouble you if they are not appeased. So, go slowly; do not go to the skies immediately'. This is the caution.

  1. brahma va idam agra asit, ekam eva; tad ekaṁ san na vyabhavat. tac chreyo rūpam atyasṛjata kṣatram, yāny etāni devatrā kṣatrāṇi, indro varuṇaḥ somo rudraḥ parjanyo yamo mṛityur īśāna iti. tasmāt kṣatrāt paraṁ nasti, tasmāt brāhmaṇaḥ kṣatriyam adhastād upāste rājasūye, kṣatra eva tad yaśo dadhāti; saiṣā kṣatrasya yonir yad brahma. tasmād yady api rājā paramatām gacchati, brahmaivāntata upaniśrayati svām yonim. ya u enaṁ hinasti, svāṁ sa yonim ṛcchati, sa pāpīyān bhavati, yathā sreyāṁsaṁ hiṁsitvā.

Now, the story of creation continues. Creation is really threefold – cosmic, individual and social. We have been given an idea of the nature of cosmic creation, and also the creation of the individual. Cosmic creation is the manifestation of the universe in its primordial nature. The five elements, for instance – ether, air, fire, water, earth – may be regarded as cosmic objects of creation. They have no individuality of their own; they have no personality-consciousness. But, then comes individual creation, that is, the distinction of 'I', 'you', etc. The individuals begin to manifest themselves as isolated beings, and, in addition to the cosmic physical creation of Īshvara, here we have psychic individuals manifesting themselves – we call them the Jīvas. The mind begins to operate as the differentiating principle in individuals, though, physically speaking, we cannot draw a distinction between one individual and the other. Physically, what is the difference between one person and another person? We will find nothing special biologically or chemically. If we examine the body of an individual, we will see that they are all made up of the same substance, so that whether it is 'A', 'B', 'C', or 'X', 'Y', 'Z', it would make no difference to them as humans. But why is this difference, then? We see that this person is different from that person, and it is to be attributed to psychic differences. The minds are different, not the bodies. When the minds are different, it looks as if the individuals are different. Thus is individual creation.

Now comes social creation which is something peculiar. What is society? We say that we live in human society. What do we mean by human society? Many people sitting together may be said to be a society. But what is this 'many people'? Many people are many individuals. Many individuals are considered a society. What is the difference between individual existence and social existence if society is nothing but individuals grouped together? There is a difference, yet. And it is a very subtle difference. This is a vast subject of psychology, and essentially it suggests that the mind of the individual projects itself into another in a special way when it thinks in a social manner, apart from its individual ways of thinking. Our individual way of thinking is different from our social way of thinking, though it is the same mind that thinks both ways. The social atmosphere calls for a particular adjustment of the individual mind in respect of the existence and needs of other individuals, other than the one that thinks. Here is the reason for the assumption that there is an atmosphere called society, independent of, or at least different from, the individual's own personal atmosphere. Inasmuch as there is such a thing as society, a situation which arises on account of the existence of various individuals of different characters, mentally, there comes about a need for bringing about a harmony in society, for otherwise there would be conflict and warfare, the law of the jungle would operate everywhere.

The principle of coordination, administration, harmony and justice has to be explained. For that purpose, the atmosphere of society is brought into the picture by the Upaniṣhad. The intention of the Upaniṣhad is to tell us what is Dharma; – what is law, ultimately. But before we try to explain the meaning of law or rule, or regulation of any kind, we would do well to know how came this need at all. Why should there be law at all? Law becomes a necessity since it is the means of regulating irreconcilable individuals. Disharmonious units have to be brought together and made a complete whole. That principle which brings about this harmony is called law. We call it Dharma in the various degrees of its active working.

While the society of individuals may be said to be constituted of all living beings created in the entire cosmos, it can be classified into certain groups, and these groups are conceived in accordance with the predominant psychic characters of individuals. We have various features in our own individual minds, but all these multiple features of the mind can be classified into four important features under which all others can be subsumed. The spiritual aspiration is a novel occupation in the mind, and it is a very predominant feature. Sometimes, it is visible dominantly; at other times it is not visible so markedly; but nevertheless it is present everywhere. That is one aspect. The other feature of the human mind is the desire to control, dominate, rule and keep others under subjection. This is also an important requirement in the human mind. It does not want something else or someone else to go above it and put it down in any manner. There is, again, a desire to be given due justice. Whether it comes forth or not, there is the desire that it must be there; and if it does not come forth, there is also a desire to see that it is made to function. And the necessity to keep irreconcilable impulses in people under subjection of a law or rule is also a very important human requisition. The absence of such legal regulation may stir up the lower instincts in man, and cause mutual harm and destruction. There is, further, the longing for material needs. Economic values are very important in life. As are all other values, this a very important value, also. We depend on material values in a pronounced manner, all which is well known to us. Economic and commercial values go together. The fourth feature of the mind is the urge to put forth effort, to work, to labour, so that an effect or product be produced out of this labour, because unless one works, nothing comes out. We work for certain ideals, and to introduce some kind of change in the present state of affairs. Human society stands on manpower as its feet, has commerce as its thighs, administration as its arms, and knowledge as its brain. Philosophers, whether in the East or the West, have tried to classify human society into these groups. These groups have been called Varṇa, or characterisations of human society, in accordance with the capacities and aptitudes of people who are so grouped for the integration and solidarity of society.

The Upaniṣhad gives the rationality behind this social classification. It is not an unfortunate or unjust introduction of an unwanted element into the set-up of society, but a need felt for regulation in human society. For this purpose, this classification was made originally, right at the beginning of creation, and it does not exist just outwardly as if it is thrust by somebody from external sources. The classification obtains in the structure of the mind itself. There are various facets of the mind, and these sides of human nature are responsible for the creation of its external feature as the social groups. These forms or classes are called, Brāhmaṇa, Kshatriyā, Vaisyā, and Sudrā.

We are told, in the Mahābhārata and certain other scriptures, that during the golden age of creation, Kṛta-yuga, there were no such distinctions. They became necessary later on. No administration is necessary where law automatically functions without someone administering it with the strength of the rod of punishment. Originally, there was a uniform society. This is what we hear. This was a time when people lived like divine beings, or celestials. Dharma rules not by injecting fear into people, but by becoming a spontaneous impulsion in all individuals. Such Dharma was called Hamsa, or Brahma-Dharma. But that was not the conclusive state of affairs. There came a time when it became necessary to introduce regulation from outside, because external consciousness became more and more pronounced in people. The inward harmonising consciousness of Dharma got diluted as time passed in the process of history, and bodily consciousness, individuality consciousness, or one may say, even selfishness, began to show its head, and the affirmation of individuals from their own points of view, naturally, created a circumstance where they had to be restrained by the introduction of a law. This restraining principle is the Kṣhatra, or the ruling power, which the Upaniṣhad mentions here. The Upaniṣhad tells us that knowledge, which is the endowment of the Brāhmaṇa, was not in a position to control human society as time passed, when Treta-Yuga came, as we hear from the Purāṇas. In the Kṛta-Yuga, no such need was there, but in Treta, the Kṣhatra principle arose. And the Kṣhatriya is adored in the Rajasuya, for instance, as a deity, and even the Brāhmaṇa adores him as a need of human existence. Kṣhatra, or the king, is seated on a throne, on an elevated place, in the Rājāsūya ceremony, and the Brāhmaṇa sits below him. Where the need for the Kṣhatra, – Dharma is felt, it becomes as important as the Brāhmaṇa-Dharma. But, there is an interdependence of this truth – immediately the Upaniṣhad is careful to add a proviso. It is not that one is superior to the other.

It is very important to remember, as the Upaniṣhad cautiously adds here, that the ruling force is not all. It should not become a source of threat and tyranny to people. It should be based on knowledge. And so, Brahmavarchas and the Brāhmaṇa's wisdom should be the guiding principle of Kṣhatriya's law. The rule of law should be guided by the wisdom of the very aim of human society in the end. It is not that one wants to exercise law, but the need for it arises on account of the common aim of human society. Knowledge, wisdom, or understanding of the purpose of the operation of law is important, and it should precede the actual action of law. If knowledge is absent, and law merely operates with a blind force, it will be a devastating energy and would be like the possession of power without the knowledge as to how to use that power. One can imagine what consequences will follow if there is power but no knowledge. Thus, knowledge and power should be together, because knowledge is the Yoni, the abode of power. The power of the Kṣhatra is rooted in the knowledge of Brahma.

Though the Upaniṣhad tells us the Kṣhatra, or the ruling power, is superior as is made out, for instance, in the Rājasūya ceremony, or in the coronation ceremony, yet the king or the administrative head takes advice from the Brāhmaṇa, and he will not act contrary to the advice that is thus given. So, knowledge becomes the guiding principle of the operation of action, because knowledge is the Yoni, the abode, or the seed of power and action. If one does not abide by the guidance of knowledge, and goes ahead with the power of action, such a one would destroy himself and destroy others, too. That would be something like attacking one's own soul, or cause. The cause, or the source, of power is knowledge. Where knowledge is absent, power also is not. Power assumes significance and meaning only when it is backed up by knowledge. Hence, if one acts by the force of power contrary to the knowledge that is to be behind it, that power would destroy itself, and be a source of threat and fear for others also. Such is, naturally, not the intention of the manifestation of Kṣhatra.

The Upaniṣhad admonishes that knowledge and power should go together; and it will now tell us further that knowledge and power alone are not sufficient for a complete life. There are other aspects of life which have also to be harmonised in our social existence, for the purpose of individual integration, with the final aim of cosmic realisation and God-knowledge.

The four orders, or groups of individuals, have been constructed as necessary features of the creation by Īshvara. We have to connect the following passages with the earlier ones that have touched upon the more general aspects of creation from which the particular ones and more diversified ones gradually follow.

  1. sa naiva vyabhavat, sa viśam asṛjata, yāny etāni devajātāni gaṇaśa ākhyāyante, vasavo rudrā ādityā viśvedevā maruta iti.
  2. sa naiva vyabhavat, sa śaudraṁ varṇam asṛjata pūṣaṇam, iyaṁ vai pūṣā, iyaṁ hīdaṁ sarvaṁ puṣyati yad idaṁ kiṁ ca.

Creation is regarded as the working of an urge, which requires to be satisfied till its purpose is fulfilled. This purpose is the utmost diversity, and the greatest multiplicity and variety, up to which point the urge has to reach. It is a desire to play the extreme type of game which exhausts itself in the manifestation of its deepest potentialities. A desire cannot be fulfilled unless its root itself is satisfied. It is not enough if merely one of its aspects is fulfilled. It is the ultimate cause that requires to be satiated. The Upaniṣhad, in its great symbology of creation, makes out that the Cosmic Wish to create does not get satisfied merely with the intermediary stages of manifestation, just as a little satisfaction is not going to extinguish a deep-seated desire. It has to be fulfilled to the brim and to the overflowing limit, and then it exhausts itself and returns to its original condition. It is very interesting to note that every desire is constituted of two phases – the urge to exhaust itself until it is totally extinguished and becomes a void, and thereafter, the returning to the cause which originated the desire. The whole process of the fulfilment of a wish, or a desire, is like the movement of a wheel. It is a recurring cycle, and therefore its movements are unintelligible to the linear logic of the human mind. It is an extreme of action on the part of the Creative Will, leading up to the other extreme of reabsorption into its pristine condition.

So now, in this section of the Upaniṣhad, we are told that the Creative Will was not satisfied with the creation of the intellectual type only. The higher calibre of understanding is not all that the Creative Will requires. It has the need for other aspects of manifestation. When you ask for variety, you do not know what you are asking for, because variety is endless. So, it is an endless type of asking, until the asking gets tired of asking and it is satisfied therefore. So it seeks a many-sided satisfaction, until it comes to a conclusion that every aspect has been comprehended in the manifestation of the wish. It is a very vast and incomprehensible movement, like the many-sided rush of the waves in a turbulent ocean, and in this manner, as it were, the Universal Will rushed forth into the diversity of manifestation in the form of this creation. It wanted the capacity to understand; it wanted the power to exercise control over the items of creation. And, in the completeness of manifestation, as I have tried to point out earlier, various aspects come forth into high relief, of which four at least are predominant, namely, understanding, power, material stability and the urge to action. We are composed of four aspects where we require and ask for the maximum of knowledge, the maximum of power, the maximum of material comfort and the maximum capacity for action. These are the psychological sides of the desire to manifest in a form of variety. So, the Master Will of Īshvara seems to have manifested Itself in all these ways, and when all this creation was complete, the utmost limit of variety was reached, another necessity arose. It is not enough if you merely create a variety, because the variety will go wild and become a problem if it is not controlled by some principle which has the power to maintain order in the midst of this tremendous variety that has been created.

The creation of God is not like a mob, or a chaos. It is not a hotchpotch of multiplicity where anything is of any kind, at any time, in any manner whatsoever. But, that would be the outcome, and that would be the meaning of mere creation of unconnected variety, where every item of variety bears no relation to the others. You can imagine what that condition could be, where every isolated entity bears no connection with the next one. Each one is absolutely independent and has a status of its own. That sort of isolated individual freedom would be tantamount to chaos and a catastrophic situation will arise, and to prevent that confusion, creation had to include within its purview a Supreme Ordering Principle that has to be manifest. Without that, there would be no beauty of the drama. If each of the personnel in the dramatic performance were absolutely independent, and had no connection with the other individuals in the performance, there would be no drama. It would be something quite different altogether, as you know.

The beauty of the drama, or the enactment, lies in the harmony of concept that is behind the enactment, which is in the mind of the Director. If the directive intelligence is not there behind the variety of dramatic personnel, there would be no enjoyment of the drama because there would be no 'embodiment' of the drama. It would be a discrete chaos and warfare of a freedom that has gone mad. To prevent that, there is a need for a directive intelligence, which is at once a force which can exercise itself with the intelligence with which it is identical. That force which is at once understanding par excellence, and which regulates, is called Dharma, a term which defies easy definition, but which has a profound significance. After the variety became manifest, Dharma was manifest. Law was created. A principle was laid down for the purpose of maintaining order amidst this variety that otherwise looks like a wild growth of weeds in a jungle, bereft of the order and law that is supposed to be immanent therein.

Sa naiva vyabhavat: So, the Creative Will was not satisfied even with this utmost manifestation of variety. If you have everything that can be counted as valuable, you cannot be satisfied even thereby, because satisfaction is not merely in the counting of a multitude of variety which is material, visible, physical. Satisfaction is a condition of consciousness, a state of mind. It is not located in an object, and so, this condition which is requisite for the manifestation of a satisfaction is essential, in spite of the variety that may be there. You may have all the money that you could wish for, all the wealth of the world, and you may have every kind of association conceivable, worthwhile in this life; but if there is no harmonising principle in the midst of this variety of possession, there would be no satisfaction arriving from this possession. A person who possesses an immense variety of things should have also the capacity to bring order among them, otherwise there would be no purpose or satisfaction in the possession of those things. It is not merely a heaping up of particulars that would be the cause of satisfaction of a person, but something else which is invisible to the eyes, and which itself cannot be regarded as a material possession. What brings satisfaction is not anything that is material. It is a very important thing to remember, though it may appear to the untutored mind that material objects bring satisfaction. Satisfaction, to repeat once again, is a condition of the mind. It is a state of consciousness which rises within, under certain conditions. And the objects outside which are supposed to bring satisfaction are only instruments in rousing this condition in consciousness, so that it is consciousness that is ultimately responsible for the satisfaction which we feel inside. Even the minutest type of satisfaction, even the silliest type of happiness, is a condition of the mind only. It is consciousness. But, the other things that are apparently the causes of the happiness that we enjoy in life, are extraneous instruments which create circumstances for the consciousness to reveal its necessary condition, which experience is called happiness.

Such a thing is what we call principle, apart from personality. It is not personality that causes value, or brings about needs in life. There is a principle behind every personality that is invisible to the eyes, that cannot be seen with the eyes, that cannot be thought by the mind, ordinarily. But that is the reality of things. The invisible principle is the controlling force behind things and persons. That was needed for the fulfilment of the creation of variety, without which there would be no fulfilment. Suppose the Creator, while creating a human being, as we are told in certain scriptures for instance, created only different parts. Suppose He created one finger, a thumb, a nose, an eye, a skull, etc. and the various parts were heaped together – it does not become a human being. Various parts of a machine, lumped together in a basket, do not make a machine. They have only become a weight; that is all. And yet, these parts constitute the machine. But they do not constitute a machine merely because they are heaped together in a basket, or a trunk. So, the heaping up of the parts, which is the variety of the creation, is not the completion of creation; it is not the perfection of creation; it is not the beauty of creation; it is not the grandeur of creation. It becomes grand, beautiful, perfect and attractive when it is harmoniously adjusted. The parts are related to one another by the machine, by fitting them in the required manner, which then become a machine, as you call it, something which is an instrument for the output of tremendous value. That something was required in creation. Then creation could become a fulfilment. For that purpose, a principle was made manifest, a universal principle. That is what they call eternal Dharma.  

  1. sa naiva vyabhavat. tat chreyo-rūpam atyasṛjata dharmam; tad etat kṣatrasya kṣatraṁ yad dharmaḥ, tasmād dharmād paraṁ nāsti: atho abalīyān balīyāṁsam āśaṁsate dharmeṇa, yathā rājñā evam. yo vai sa dharmaḥ satyaṁ vai tat; tasmāt satyaṁ vadantam āhuḥ, dharmaṁ vadatīti, dharmaṁ vā vadantam, satyaṁ vadatīti, etad hy evaitad ubhayaṁ bhavati.

Chreyo-rūpam atyasṛjata: He created thereafter a glorious something, in the form of a power or a principle, resplendent in its nature, because it is the ruling power, standing above even the so-called rulers of the world. Even a king cannot rule unless there is a ruling principle. The power of a king is an invisible something. It is not visible to the eye. We see a monarch, an emperor, or a supreme head of administration, as a power. Where is that power? You cannot see it anywhere. It is not in a box, tied up somewhere. You try to locate the existence of this power of a supreme master of administration, a monarch, or whatever he is – you cannot see it anywhere. Even the wielder of the power cannot see where it is. It is not there to be seen. But it is, existent and operating, and it is feared by everyone. Why is this fear when it is not even visible to the eye? What is this that you call law? What you call law, whether it is a family law, communal law, social law, political law, whatever law it is, it is something which you cannot see with your eyes. But yet it is tremendously operating, and nothing can be more effective in its action than law. What a miracle! A thing that cannot be seen at all anywhere, which apparently does not exist for tangible purposes, is the supreme guiding principle of which everyone is a limb, as it were, and to go against which, everyone is afraid. How can a visible person, solid in his substantial body, fear something which is ethereal, inconceivable, almost non-existent for all practical purposes? This is an indication, as it were, that reality is always invisible. It is not necessarily physical. Even the physical, weighty object can be controlled by the operation of an invisible law. Such a law was made manifest – chreyo-rūpam atyasṛjata dharmam.

Tad etat kṣatrasya kṣatraṁ: This is the Kṣhatra of the Kṣhatra; this is the Ruler of the rulers. That is called Dharma – yad dharmaḥ. Here, a monarch is afraid of the law. It is not a great wonder. Even the maker of law is afraid of the law that is made, because he is involved in that law. So, there is something transcendent, above the manifestation of law. It is not an occasion for us to discuss what law is, and how it is manifest. We are only concerned with the topic that we touched upon, here in this section, that Divine Order manifested itself as a ruling power in the world of this variety. And, some light is thrown upon what Dharma is – tad etat kṣatrasya kṣatraṁ yad dharmaḥ.

Tasmād dharmād paraṁ nāsti: atho abalīyān balīyāṁsam āśaṁsate: Even a weak person can overwhelm a strong person by resorting to law, because strength and weakness depend upon the proportion or extent to which one is in harmony with the law. If you are disharmonious with the law, you are a weak person. If you are in harmony with the law, you are a strong person. So, your strength does not depend upon anything other than your participation in the working of the law. So law is the strength, not any other visible article of physical possession, as people wrongly imagine. When you participate in the law, whatever that law be, you become positive, healthy and endowed with strength. It can be the law of health; it can be the law of society; it can be the law of the universe; it can be the law of the Absolute. Whatever that law be, you have to participate in it by attuning yourself to it, and that law then becomes your friend. And when law becomes your friend, nobody can shake a hair of your body, because law is the supreme ruler. It is God operating in some form. So, the weakness of a person goes when he becomes attuned to the law, or Dharma – atho abalīyān balīyāṁsam āśaṁsate dharmeṇa.

Yathā rājñā evam. yo vai sa dharmaḥ satyaṁ vai tat: Truth and Dharma the are same, says this passage of the Upaniṣhad. So, Dharma may be said to be the form of Truth. So to be in harmony with the law is another way of being in harmony with the Truth. Satyānnāsti paro dharmaḥ: There is no Dharma above Truth. But you must know what Truth is, in order to know what Dharma is, and it is not an easy thing to know it. That which is ultimately true and is in consonance with the nature of things is the repository of law, and so, law and Truth are identical – yo vai sa dharmaḥ satyaṁ vai tat.

Tasmāt satyaṁ vadantam āhuḥ, dharmaṁ vadatīti: what is it that is usually referred to when a person is said to speak the truth? Well, he is speaking Dharma: he is righteous; that is what people say. So, truthfulness and righteousness are identified with each other. Dharmam vā vadantam, satyaṁ vadatīti: So, when someone is righteous, we also say, he is a truthful person. So truthfulness and righteousness are identical in their nature. Etad hy evaitad ubhayaṁ bhavati: It is difficult to distinguish between truth and righteousness because they appear to be the obverse and the reverse sides of the same coin.

  1. tad etad brahma kṣatraṁ viṭ śūdraḥ. tad agninaiva deveṣu brahmābhavat, brāhmaṇo manuṣyeṣu, kṣatriyeṇa kṣatriyaḥ, vaiśyena vaiśyah, sūdreṇa śūdraḥ; tasmād agnāv eva deveṣu lokam icchante, brāhmaṇe manuṣyeṣu, etābhyāṁ hi rūpābhyāṁ brahmābhavat. atha yo ha vā asmāl lokāt svaṁ lokam adṛṣtvā praiti, sa enam avidito na bhunakti, yathā vedo  vānanūktaḥ anyad vā karmākṛtam. yad iha vā apy anevaṁvid mahat-puṇyaṁ karma karoti, taddhāsyāntataḥ kṣīyata evaātmānam eva lokam upāsīta; sa ya ātmānam eva lokam upāste, na hasya karma kṣīyate, asmādd hy eva ātmano yad yat kāmayate tat tat sṛjate.

Tad etad brahma kṣatraṁ viṭ śūdraḥ. tad agninaiva deveṣu brahmābhavat, brāhmaṇo manuṣyeṣu, kṣatriyeṇa kṣatriyaḥ, vaiśyena vaiśyaḥ, sūdreṇa śūdraḥ; tasmād agnāv eva deveṣu lokam icchante, brāhmaṇe manuṣyeṣu, etābhyāṁ hi rūpābhyāṁ brahmābhavat: All this variety, the fourfold classification of individuals mentioned in the earlier sections, is a particular form of Divine Law working. And it is said here that this law is working not merely in this physical realm of human beings, but in all the realms of creation. Creation is not merely physical; it is not only earthly; it is not only the visible cosmos that we call creation. There are levels and degrees and realms of existence, planes of beings, one above the other, one interpenetrating the other, subtler than the other – all these are controlled by the same law. This variety is present in every realm of being, and that controlling Dharma also is operating in every realm of being. All this is the glory of the Absolute – brahmābhavat.

Atha yo ha vā asmāl lokāt svaṁ lokam adṛṣtvā praiti, sa enam avidito na bhunakti: Now comes a masterly proclamation of the Upaniṣhad, after having said all this. It is very beautiful, indeed, to appreciate this magnificence of the creation of God. But unless it becomes a part of your practical living, it is not going to benefit you. This is a very strange and important statement of this Upaniṣhad, that anything that has not become a part of your being is as good as non-existent for you. Its existence has no meaning for you. If a person leaves this world, at the time of death, without knowing the true nature of the world in which he finds himself, then this world is not going to help that person. You are not going to receive any support from the world which you have not understood, which has not become a part of your life, which you have always tried to keep away from yourself as if it is an outside object. As for instance, the Vedas which have not been studied are not going to help you. Yathā vedo vānanūktaḥ anyad vā karmākṛtam: An action that you have not performed is not going to yield fruit in your case, because you have not done that action. An action that is not performed by you will not yield fruit for you; and knowledge that you have not acquired is not going to help you. Likewise, the world which has not become part of you is not going to be of any advantage to you. Therefore, the world is going to take steps to see that you understand it; and the punishing rod of Dharma will be lifted for the purpose of compelling you to understand your relation to this creation. As you are a part of this creation, it is your duty to know your relation to this creation, just as it is the duty of every citizen to know the law of his land. If ignorance of law is no excuse in the human realm, it is equally so in the Divine realm. If you do not know the Divine Law, the Divine Law will come upon you like a nemesis, with retribution, as human law also will act upon you even if you do not know its existence and operation.

So, the world that has been neglected by ignorance on the part of the individual, who is a part of the world, will cause him to reap the recompense in a manner which will require repeated participation by continued births and deaths. So, reincarnation, or births and deaths, and repeated suffering in various shapes of metempsychosis, cannot be escaped if we remain ignorant of the Law that has been mentioned here. After all this variety had been created, Dharma was created, which is regarded as identical with truthfulness supreme. So, if this Dharma is not understood, if this truth has not been recognised in one's life; if only the variety of creation has been seen physically, as a cat would see, or a mouse would see, or as an ass would see, for example, without any understanding of the meaning of this variety, then there would be no benefit accruing from this world. And, therefore, the world which has not become friendly with the individual shall become the source of trouble for the individual. Anything that is not understood is a source of problems and it is a trouble. Therefore be cautious, says the Upaniṣhad. It is no use merely being born into this world and not understanding it, just as it is no use living in a country without knowing its laws. You will be in great sorrow one day or the other, if that is the case. So, it is no use living in a world without knowing the law that operates in that world, and here the law does not mean a man-made law, but an eternal law which is identical with Truth-God Himself. What is that Truth?

It has been mentioned already, and it shall be again mentioned, that the truthfulness of creation lies in the immanence of the Creator in every part of creation. If this point is missed, the world shall remain as a foe, as it were, rather than a friend. Yad iha vā apy anevaṁvid mahat-puṇyaṁ karma karoti, taddhāsyāntataḥ ksīyata eva: Without the knowledge of this eternal principle operating in this world, you may be a very charitable person, but this charity is not going to help you. You may be a very great philanthropist; it is not going to be of much benefit to you. Whatever good actions that you have done in this world in the eyes of people cannot be regarded as good, really, if they have been performed without the knowledge of this Truth. If you do not know the 'why' and 'wherefore' of things – the Ultimate Law that is the cause behind every name and form and action; if you are an ignorant person performing ignorant actions for purposes not known to you yourself, then the fruit that accrues out of these actions will be perishable. It shall not bring you eternal satisfaction. Whatever be the great virtuous actions that you do in this world, they will be like burnt ashes without any essence in them – mahat-puṇyaṁ karma karoti, taddhāsyāntataḥ kṣīyata eva.

ātmānam eva lokam upāsīta: Now comes the positive affection, after having given you the fearful side of it, that if you do not know it, you would be punished by the law thereof. What is that you are supposed to know? ātmānam eva lokam upāsīta: The world that you behold with your eyes is the Self of all beings. This is the knowledge that the Upaniṣhad tries to inculcate and propound. The world that you see before you with your eyes is not the world as you think it to be. It is the ātman manifest. It is the Supreme Being scintillating before you in all Its glory. It is the Master Plan of Īshvara that is before you in the form of this variety. It is the finger of God that is working through the minutest actions of creation. If this point is not remembered, the Selfhood of the world will also be missed, because Īshvara, the Supreme Being, is the Self of all beings. So to recognise God in things is to recognise the Self in things, which is identical. And so, when you behold the world in front of you, you are supposed to behold it as the Creator Himself would behold it. So, the ultimate wisdom of man would be the capacity to think as God Himself thinks. If that could be possible, the miracle takes place – ātmānam eva lokam upāsīta:

Na hāsya karma kṣīyate: Then, a miracle will follow from every little action that you perform. Everything that you say, everything that you do, will be a wonder by itself; and that wonder would be worked instantaneously, merely because of the presence of this knowledge in you. And what is this knowledge? It is, as I mentioned in the light of the Upaniāad, the ability to participate in the Will of God, to be harmonious with the thought of God; in short, to think like God. That is the supreme wisdom which one has to acquire by gradual training of thought in its various manoeuvres of activity in this life. And if that wisdom which is to be acquired, comes, every action becomes a fulfilment. It cannot produce a retribution; it cannot produce a bondage, it cannot bind you to rebirth, because no such action can produce a reaction.

Asmādd hy eva ātmano yad yat kāmayate tat tat sṛjate: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." It is an equal, as it were, of this passage that is mentioned here. Whatever you wish will instantaneously manifest itself, provided this knowledge is already there. Asmādd hy eva ātmano yad yat kāmayate tat tat sṛjate: You need not beg from people, 'give me this'. Everything shall be given spontaneously, provided you are centred in this knowledge. Just as God need not beg anything from anyone, one who has the possession of this knowledge of God need not also beg, because knowledge is power. They are identical. Supreme Knowledge is Supreme Power. One who is endowed with this ultimate knowledge has ultimate power also, and so whatever such a one wishes materialises itself instantaneously, merely because of the capacity of this knowledge. But if this knowledge is absent, one becomes poverty-stricken, and this poverty cannot be made good by any amount of accumulation of physical particulars.

  1. atho ayaṁ vā ātmā sarveṣām bhūtānāṁ lokaḥ. sa yaj juhoti yad yajate, tena devānāṁ lokaḥ. atha yad anubrūte, tena rṣiṇāṁ; atha yat pitṛbhyo nipṛṇāti yat prajām icchate, tena pitṛṇām; atha yan manuṣyān vāsayate, yad ebhyo'śanaṁ dadāti, tena manuṣyāṇām; atha yat paśubhyas  tṛṇodakaṁ vindati, tena paśūnām; yad asya gṛheṣu śvāpadā vayāṁsy āpipīlikābhya upajīvanti, tena teṣāṁ lokaḥ; yathā ha vai svāya lokāyāriṣṭim icchet, evaṁ haivaṁ vide (sarvadā) sarvāṇi bhūtāny ariṣṭim icchanti. tad vā etad viditam mīmāṁsitam.

Atho ayaṁ vā ātmā sarveṣām bhūtānāṁ lokaḥ: This Self is the world of all beings. As a matter of fact, there is no world at all except this One Supreme Being. This is the final Magna Carta, you may call it, of the great Upaniṣhad which is the Bṛhadāraṇyaka. This ātman is all the world, and whatever you expect from this world is an expression of the ātman. He shall provide you with anything and everything, as a mother would provide you with your needs. Much dearer to you is the ātman than your own mother, and more capable is the ātman than your mother is. More resourceful is the ātman than anyone else that you can regard as dear and near. It is all the world; all that you can conceive; all that you need; everything that you are and wish to be is the ātman, and nothing is outside It. Ayaṁ vā ātmā sarveṣām bhūtānāṁ lokaḥ: It is the world of not merely human beings, but of every being. It is the reservoir of supply for everything, whether of this world or of the other worlds, of all these, of the celestial, or the physical, or the nether world; and it is the treasure house of supply which is provided at once, instantaneously, without the succession of the passage of time. What sort of world is this which the ātman embodies? In what way are we to recognise the presence of this ātman in all the worlds? What is the method that we have to adopt in our practical lives in order to be commensurate with the law of the ātman? That is answered in the following passages.

It is not humanly possible to think the ātman as It is, in Itself, and therefore it is equally difficult to work up this miracle as the Upaniṣhad mentions, of knowing the Self as all this world. It is a great possibility but not an immediate practicability, for reasons known to everyone, because the identification of one's consciousness with the Selfhood of things is the greatest difficulty conceivable to the mind. It is an inveterate habit of the mind to externalise and objectivate things; and it is precisely this habit of the mind that is an obstacle to the identification of the consciousness with the ātman. So, the Upaniṣhad tells you that you cannot jump off to the skies like that at once, though that is your ideal. You have to move towards this supreme ideal of identification of your consciousness with the Selfhood of things, stage by stage, and some of the stages are mentioned. These are called, in ordinary religious parlance, the Pancha-Maha-Yajña, or the five great sacrifices which a householder, especially in India, has to perform. The five great sacrifices, called the Pancha-Maha-Yajña, mean the way in which one recognises one's own self in the variety of creation that he sees before him, by means of sympathy, consideration and feeling for others. That is the first step that you have to take before you take up the more difficult task of complete identification with the Being of all things.

The sympathy that you psychologically exercise in respect of others is the first step. The identity with others is the next step; that is a more difficult thing. To feel for others is easier than to become others, though that is the ideal. So, the Upaniṣhad tells us, you try to feel for others first and manifest this feeling in your actions before you totally become, or aspire to become one with them.

Sa yaj juhoti yad yajate, tena devānāṁ lokaḥ: You become one with the gods, the celestials. How is this possible? You adore them, worship them, participate in their nature, by prayer and recitation of holy hymns which produce in the mind vibrations sympathetic with the nature of the gods that you worship. So, all worship, all religious ceremony that is generally performed in holy shrines, etc., all prayer, all study of scripture, is an attempt on the part of the human nature to become harmonious with the divine nature; harmonious with the deity that you adore; and so, before the attempt is made to become one with the deity, a feeling sympathetic with the nature of the deity is cultivated within by worship, by sacrifice, by offering in the holy fire, etc. This is called Deva-Yajña.

Atha yad anubrūte, tena rṣiṇāṁ: You become harmonious with the thought of the great teachers or Masters of yore, by communicating their knowledge, by participating in what they call these days Jñana-Yajña, or the imparting of the wisdom of the ancient Rishis which they saw as a revelation in their own meditation. The Masters themselves participated in this Yajña by imparting this knowledge to their disciples. So, you get in communion with the intentions of these great Masters, by continuing this tradition of imparting the great knowledge to disciples and fit recipients. That is called Rishi-Yajña, the second Yajña.

Atha yat pitṛbhyo nipṛṇāti yat prajām icchate, tena pitṛṇām: You have to become, in the same manner, a participant in the will of the forefathers, the Pitṛs, as they are called, the ancestors who have gone before us, by a charity that you have to perform in your own interest. This charitable act takes various shapes. One of them is what they call Shrāddha, or the holy libations that people offer, annually or sometimes monthly; and giving in gift those things which were the objects of satisfaction to those ancestors, that which they liked, that which was their need, that which was to their satisfaction. You know very well that you will be pleased with me if I do what is pleasant to you. That is very clear. I must do exactly what is pleasant to you; then you are pleased with me. So, naturally the ancestors are pleased if you do that which was pleasant to them, and shall be pleasant to them. That would be called Pitṛ-Yajña.

Atha yam manuṣyān vāsayate yad ebhyo'śanaṁ dadāti, tena manuṣyāṇām: You have to participate in the welfare of human beings before you try to become one with them, by giving them their needs. That is called Manuṣya-Yajña. For instance, some examples are given; you give accommodation to people who have no accommodation; you give food to people who have no food to eat, and so on and so forth. You provide the needs of people when they are actually in need of them. That would be an act or a gesture on your part, exhibiting sympathy with their nature, precedent to your identification with their Being. This is called Manuṣya-Yajña.

Atha yat paśubhyas tṛṇodakaṁ vindati, tena paśūnām: You have also another duty, the sympathy that you have to feel towards subhuman beings – animals, etc., because they are also a part of creation. So, before you try to become one with them, you have to feel a considerate, sympathetic attitude towards them, by giving them their needs, such as grass to the cow, water to the thirsty animals, and so on. These acts of sympathy constitute Bhuta-Yajña. You must have seen some people giving food to animals, birds, etc., which is indicative of this gesture of considerate feeling towards subhuman beings, because the intention is to become one with them, also, ultimately.

Yad asya gṛheṣu śvāpadā vayāṁsy āpipīlikābhya upajīvanti, tena teṣāṁ lokaḥ: The Upaniṣhad goes further then. You have a duty even towards the ants crawling in the house. Even the worthless animals, as you call them, the insignificant ones, the cats and the dogs, and the crawling insects that are in your house or about the house, the gnats and what not, which have no significance at all in life, as far as you are concerned – you allow them to live. Live and let live, is a great law that has to operate. Just as you want to live, others also have to live. You cannot extirpate the lives of others for your living, nor can you interfere with the lives of others because you want to be comfortable. So, non-interference with the lives of others, including ants and such other insignificant creatures which generally escape your notice, āpipīlikābhya – even down to the white ants and black ants, whatever they are, even to their extent you have to go, and not interfere with them, because they have their own world. And you become a participant in their world.

If you participate in the worlds of these beings – celestial, ancestor, rishi, animal, man, and what not – what happens? You become a very hospitable guest in these worlds when you depart from this world. You are received with honour wherever you go. That means you may go to any world. Who knows, you may go to the ant world; they will turn you out if you have insulted them in this world. They will say, "You are the fellow who crushed us, and now we will see to it."

So, be cautious to recognise the fact that nothing is insignificant in this world. Nobody is so poor as not to be able to wreak vengeance upon you. Nobody is so weak as not to be able to do some harm to you, one day or the other, if the necessity arises. And, therefore, no one should have the heart even to imagine that the world is segregated completely, and one can go scot-free. No one can go scot-free. There is an interconnecting Law which recognises even the worst of things and the lowest of animals and other subhuman creatures; and the fulfilment of that Law is the fulfilment of God.

The worlds of different beings are different forms of a single manifestation which is the form of Īshvara, and therefore the ultimate aim, which is the union of consciousness with that Supreme Being, naturally implies a gradual establishment of harmony between oneself and these different levels of manifestation, called the worlds of beings. Previously, we noted the necessity of five types of adjustment that one has to make – with the celestials, the ancestors, the human beings, the sages of yore and with the subhuman creatures – all which is a preparation for the higher adjustment that is required of us, namely, approximation of our being with the Supreme.

The extent to which we are successful in this harmonious adjustment of ourselves with the world outside will determine the extent of our success in life. The Upaniṣhad would tell us that most of our troubles in life are due to maladjustment with the worlds that do not belong to us. We have a very constricted vision of value. For instance, we cannot think of any value that is other than human. Neither do we know what is above the human, nor do we know what is below the human. But the comprehensiveness of God's manifestation is such that it is not partially favourable merely to humans. Thus it is that the Upaniṣhad makes out the need for our adjustment with everything that is real, and not merely favourable to human sentiment. If the adjustment is effective and properly done in all its various degrees of density, protection comes from every level of being. We are protected by human beings, no doubt, if we are friendly with humans. But what about the non-human principles in life with which we are not friendly? They can create difficulties which cannot be met by human forces.

Our problems are not human problems merely. They are very deep, and connected to various factors not visible to the human eye. Hence, it is futile on the part of a human being to imagine that concern merely with the human level is enough to avoid all problems of life. Life is not merely human. It is something different and something more, and this aspect is not visible to us, inasmuch as we are tied down to the human way of thinking. We cannot think as a snake thinks, or a monkey thinks; feel as a tree would feel, or react as a celestial being would react. All these are impossible for us, generally. But merely because it seems to be impossible does not mean that it does not exist. Even an atom can react, not merely a human being. So, it is necessary to make an all-round adjustment of personality; then only there is protection coming to us from every side. The Upaniṣhad tells us that we shall be taken care of even by the smallest of creatures, as they take care of themselves. As one loves one's own self more than anything else, so would the affection be extended to you by that with which you are friendly, in a manner which is acceptable to the Selfhood of Reality.

Yathā ha vai svāya lokāyāriṣṭim icchet, evaṁ haivaṁ vide (sarvadā) sarvāṇi bhūtāny ariṣṭim icchanti: Every creature will bless you and wish you goodwill, prosperity and protection. Vibrations of protection, security and fulfilment proceed from every quarter in the direction of that person who extends a similar attitude towards the atmosphere that is around him, and this atmosphere is what we call the world of beings. The world of beings, it has to be mentioned again, is every level of being, right from the material, what we call the inanimate, up to the topmost immaculate Consciousness. No level can be regarded as bereft of the Reality of God. Therefore, it is incumbent on the part of anyone who wishes for true success in life, to be in harmony with everything and all things, without projecting forth the excessive egoism that human beings alone are the total reality. Even those who are not human will extend to you a helping hand and provide you with all security and protection, and love you and behave with you with that very same affection that is generally extended to the Self of a person, if you are in harmony with them. Even an ant loves its own self immensely. What love you have towards yourself, even the smallest of creatures has towards itself. That feeling which it has towards itself will be communicated to you, so that you become a friend of all beings – sarvabhūta-hite-rataḥ. Then it is that security comes from all sides, otherwise, whatever be the security human beings can provide, Nature can be in a state of wrath and human beings can do nothing before it. Tad vā etad viditam mīmāṁsitam: Hereto we have described what should be done by a person who is after his own welfare in the true sense of the term.

  1. ātmaivedam agra āsīt, eka eva; so'kāmayata, jāyā me syāt atha prajāyeya; atha vittam me syād, atha karma kurvīyeti. etāvān vai kāmaḥ: necchaṁś ca na ato bhūyo vindet. tasmād apy etarhy ekākī kāmayate, jāyā me syāt, atha prajāyeya, atha vittaṁ me syād atha karma kurvīyeti. sa yāvad apy eteṣām ekaikam na prāpnoti, a-kṛtsna eva tāvan manyate. tasyo kṛtsnatā: mana evāsya ātmā, vāg jāyā, prāṇaḥ prajā, cakṣur mānuṣaṁ vittam, cakṣuṣā hi tad vindate, śrotraṁ daivam, śrotreṇa hi tac chṛṇot, ātmaivāsya karma, ātmanā hi karma karoti. sa eṣa pāṅkto yajñaḥ, pāṅktaḥ paśuḥ, pāṅktaḥ puruṣaḥ, pāṅktam idaṁ sarvaṁ yad idaṁ kiṁ ca. tad idaṁ sarvam āpnoti, ya evaṁ veda.

ātmaivedam agra āsīt, eka eva; so'kāmayata, jāyā me syāt atha prajāyeya; atha vittam me syād, atha karma kurvīyeti. etāvān vai kāmaḥ: necchaṁś ca na ato bhūyo vindet. tasmād apy etarhy ekākī kāmayate, jāyā me syāt, atha prajāyeya, atha vittaṁ me syād atha karma kurvīyeti: Now the Upaniṣhad turns its attention upon another factor which is equally important in spiritual life, and every kind of life – the attitude that we should have towards desires – because the wish or longing which characterises a mind is important enough, in any form or any of its intensities, to have a say in the matter of one's progress on the path to perfection. We have very little understanding of what desire is, and it is not possible to understand it because it is a part of our nature. Just as we cannot understand our own selves, anything that is inseparable from our selves cannot be understood properly. The attitude which one should have towards a desire is the same, for all practical purposes, which a physician may have in respect of a patient. How does a physician treat a patient? That would be the attitude which a healthy person would have towards desires. The desires are multifarious. They are projections of the mind in the direction of various types of satisfaction; and these impulses in the mind arise on account of the urge of the Cosmic Being Himself, as the Upaniṣhad makes out, towards diversification in various ways. That desire is a desire to exhaust itself, ultimately, for fulfilment of the purpose of a return to its source. It has a spiritual connotation, ultimately. It is an urge that is projected forth, by the Supreme Cause, until it reaches the lowest form of it, in the greatest variety of manifestation and multiplicity, till the point is reached where it turns back to the source which is the process of ascent of the individual to the Absolute.

Here, the Upaniṣhad tells us that desires are many. They are broadly classified as three primary urges – the desire for progeny, the desire for wealth and the desire for renown. These are the major desires of the human being. So, it is stated here in the Upaniṣhad, that the one wish, as it were, is to fulfil itself in three forms. To multiply itself in the form in which it is at a particular time, that is called the desire for progeny. It is present in every level of creation, in every species, and in all the planes of existence, right from the celestial down to the lowermost. It functions in various ways, but its structure or pattern is the same. It is a desire, a wish, an urge, to perpetuate existence which is eternal and indestructible. And the desire, which is called the desire for wealth here, is actually not a desire for money or physical amenities, but every comfort which is required for the maintenance of the physical body. That is called desire for wealth. These desires are purely psychological in their nature; they have very little connection with the actual existence of physical counterparts, though these counterparts (which are the physical objects) act as agents in the satisfaction of these impulses. The desire for wealth is actually desire for material comfort. It is not desire for mere luxury, but it is a need that is felt for the maintenance of the body itself. We should not mistake need for luxury, and vice versa. The body is not asking for luxury. It asks for certain primary needs. These needs are what are called the securities it asks for in the form of material comfort. That is summed up in the term 'wealth'. The maintenance of the body into which one is born, in a particular species, is the aim or objective of this impulse of the mind to have physical or material comfort – Artha, as they call it in Sanskrit language. The maintenance of this form, in a particular species, for a protracted period of time, requires a further activity and adjustment of itself, which is the desire for progeny. But it is not merely the body that is required to be attended to. There is something else in us in addition to the body. We do not ask merely for physical comfort. We also ask for psychological comfort. It is not enough if a person is physically well-maintained while being psychologically ill-treated. You know it very well. So, there is a need also for a psychological security, in addition to physical security. That necessity felt by the human mind, in the form of the ego, to maintain itself in its own secure form, is what is called the desire for renown. So, these are the primary desires, and no one can have more than these three desires, says the Upaniṣhad. Even if you wish, you cannot have more than these three. Everything is comprehended within these three only. So, one wishes to have these fulfilments for the purpose mentioned, and they have to be properly dealt with, with the intention of sublimation for the higher cause in a very intelligent manner.

Sa yāvad apy eteṣām ekaikam na prāpnoti, a-kṛtsna eva tāvan manyate: Even if one of these wishes is not fulfilled, one regards oneself as incomplete and unhappy. All these three press themselves forward for fulfilment in equal measure and intensity. And even if one of them is neglected, that would make you miserable. So, one regards oneself as incomplete, inadequate and unhappy if even one of them has not been properly attended to – a-kṛtsna eva tāvan manyate.

Tasyo kṛtsnatā: mana evāsya ātmā, vāg jāyā, prāṇaḥ prajā, cakṣur mānuṣaṁ vittam, cakṣuṣā hi tad vindate, śrotraṁ daivam, etc: Now, the Upaniṣhad tells us that by a method of contemplation, these impulses can be converted into a sort of spiritual energy, that is, the bringing of the objects of these desires into a relationship with the impulses connected with them, in such a manner that they are perpetually with the subject impulse. It is the feeling that the object is disconnected from the impulse which causes the feeling of dissatisfaction and incompleteness in oneself. So, the contemplation that is prescribed here for the purpose of removing this feeling of incompleteness is that the mind should be regarded as the source of all impulses. And knowledge, which is symbolised here in this Mantra by the word 'speech', is imagined as the 'consort' of the mind which is equivalent to consciousness, and the Prāṇa or the impulse for action is considered to be the progeny. A proper harmonious adjustment between these three inner faculties, the mind and the speech and the Prāṇa, symbolised by knowledge and action rooted in one's own consciousness, may be regarded as a remedy for the uncontrollable onrush of desires. The eyes and the ears are mentioned here as instruments of visible and invisible forms of wealth, which means to say that name and form constitute everything that one actually asks for, and needs. The ear and the eye stand for name and form; sound and colour. It is these two things that actually draw our attention in various fields of life – the form that we perceive and the name that we attach to this form. So, these two aspects of life, namely, name and form, are also symbolically attached to the ear and the eye, in addition to the faculties of mind, speech and Prāṇa, so that these five aspects of the human being, five faculties, you may say, represent the avenues of every kind of action; the processes of the manifestation of every kind of desire. If they can be integrated in such a way that they do not war among themselves as if they are independent and have independent objects of their own; if this integration could be effected in contemplation, then all things come in an instantaneous manner instead of successively.

Śrotreṇa hi tac chṛṇot, ātmaivāsya karma, ātmanā hi karma karoti. sa eṣa pāṅkto yajñaḥ, pāṅktaḥ paśuḥ, pāṅktaḥ puruṣaḥ, pāṅktam idaṁ sarvaṁ yad idaṁ kiṁ ca. tad idaṁ sarvam āpnoti, ya evaṁ veda: One who knows the rootedness of diversity in Singleness of Being, in all its fivefold manifestations – mind, speech, Prāṇa, eye and ear – such a person, who has the capacity to integrate consciousness in all these ways, acquires the fruits of these fivefold actions at one stroke. It is a difficult meditation because it is hard to instruct the mind that even its desires, normally regarded as secular, cannot be fulfilled if the spiritual element is absent. Even the secular desires cannot be fulfilled if the spiritual principle is absent. This, the mind cannot understand. All desires, whatever may be, become capable of fulfilment only if there is the activity of the principle of unity with the self behind them. How can the subject, which is the desiring element, come in contact with the object that is 'outside', unless there is a principle of unity between the two? No desire can be fulfilled if the principle of unity, which is the Spirit, is absent in things. So, it would be a futile effort on the part of any individual, or any desiring mind, to ask for things merely on the basis of the philosophy of diversity, ignoring the principle of unity. The more you are able to contemplate unity, the more is your capacity to fulfil desires, because every desire is one or other form of the principle of unity itself, asserting in one way or the other, through space and time. Desires are, really speaking, urges of unity which appear to be diverse. Thus we see that desire has a twofold nature – the unifying and the diversifying – the unifying nature asking for unity of the desiring principle with the object of desire, and the diversifying nature asking for a separation of the object and oneself.