The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
by Swami Krishnananda


Chapter I (Continued)

Fifth Brahmana (Continued): The Threefold Creation

  1. ‘trīṇy ātmane’kuruta’ iti, mano vācaṁ prāṇaṁ, tāny ātmane ‘kuruta’: anyatra manā abhūvaṁ nādarśaṁ, anyatra manā abhūvaṁ nāśrauṣaṁ iti, manasā hy’eva paśyati, manasā sṛṇoti, kāmaḥ saṁkalpō vicikitsā, śraddhā’ śraddhā, dhrtir adhṛtir hrīr dhīr bhīr ity etad sarvam mana eva. tasmād api pṛṣṭhata upaspṛṣṭo manasā vijānāti; yaḥ kaś ca śabdō, vāg eva sā; eṣā hi antam āyattā, eṣā hi na prāṇo’pānovyāna udānaḥ samano’na ity etat sarvaṁ prāṇa eva. etanmayo vā ayam ātmā, vāṅ-mayaḥ mano-mayaḥ, prāṇa-mayaḥ.

The Creator fixed for himself the three kinds of food, namely, the mind, the speech and the vital force. The meaning of these three faculties in the human individual as instruments for the acquisition of food has been explained elsewhere. The mind is the real seer, not the eyes, and the mind is the real sense-organ and not the other well-known ones, because it is observed that when the mind is elsewhere the eyes will not see their objects and the senses do not act in that condition. Thus, it is to be concluded that the mind is the principal medium of knowledge. What are generally known as desire, resolution or determination, doubt, faith, or the absence of it, patience, or impatience, modesty, understanding, fear, are all in fact the mind itself operating in different ways and forms. One can feel a sensation through the mind even if one is touched from the back.

Likewise, all modulations of voice and formations of sound may be said to be comprehended by the principle of speech. While speech can express the character of objects, it cannot express itself. In a similar way, Prāṇa, Apāna, Vyāna, Udāna and Sāmana are different forms of the activity of the central vital force. This central vitality is designated here in this passage as 'Ana', without the prefixes attached to its other forms mentioned.

The entire personality of the individual, the whole body, is composed and consists of these three elements only, namely, mind, speech and Prāṇa (vital force).

  1. trayo lokāḥ eta eva, vāg evāyaṁ lokaḥ, mano'ntarikṣa lokaḥ, prāṇo'sau lokāḥ.

The principal functions in our body are speech, mind and Prāṇa, through which we do everything that we can do in this world. The words that we utter, the thoughts that we think, and the energy that we have – these are the constituent factors of our personality through which we deal with others, which we regard as our endowments or faculties of action. These have to be set in tune with the outer world. The three worlds, says this passage, are to be harmonised with the three functions within us. There are three worlds. Trayo lokāḥ: This physical world, the atmospheric world and the celestial world, or the divine paradise, are the three worlds. Vāg evāyaṁ lokaḥ: his world of physical perception is to be identified with everything that words can express through speech, because speech can express only what is sensible, what is visible to the eyes, and this world is what is visible to the eyes. It is an object of the senses, and inasmuch as this world is defined by us as an object of our senses, and the function of speech is only to describe what is an object of the senses, a similarity is to be established between the object-world which is tangible, visible, etc., with the speech which expresses everything that is visible. Speech is, thus, this world. The connection is that speech expresses everything that has a form, everything that can be defined or explained through language which is identified with the world that is visible.

But the mind can think also what is not visible to the eyes. It can infer the existence of certain objects and even worlds which are invisible. The mind is more difficult to understand than the function of speech, because while speech can express only what is tangible, visible, etc., it cannot infer things without the function of the mind. So, the mind has a peculiar advantage of being in a position to deduce things by induction and deduction. The world that is above the physical is such a one. It cannot be visibly perceived; it can only be deduced by inference, and therefore the mind is the only faculty in us which can do this work. Hence the mind is to be identified in meditation with the invisible world which is superior to the physical one and is in mediately above it – mano'ntarikṣa lokaḥ.

Prāṇo'sau lokāḥ: Now, the most inscrutable thing within us is the Prāṇa. It cannot think like the mind; it cannot infer; it cannot do the work of logical induction and deduction. It cannot also perceive things like the eyes, but it is a strange element within us which gives energy even to the mind. If the Prāṇa is not to function, the mind also will not think. The Prāṇa is the general reservoir of energy like a powerhouse, and its functions are beyond conception, over which we have no control. To some extent we may have control over our thoughts, but we cannot control the energy function, or the Prāṇa-Śakti within us. It is superior to everything, in a sense, the sense being that it acts according to its own way. It has its own manner; it is regulated by certain other laws altogether, independent of the laws that we can think of in our minds. We cannot increase or decrease the energy within us. We cannot even direct its course, as we can do with the mind or speech. So, the most subtle realm which is the divine or celestial one, the paradise, is identified with the Prāṇa, the pure energy. Prāṇo'sau lokāḥ: The highest world, which is celestial, is inscrutable beyond conception, cannot be even inferred by the mind, cannot be expressed through speech, and is as unintelligible as the Prāṇa and is the one with which the Prāṇa is to be identified in meditation.

  1. trayo vedā eta eva, vāg eva ṛg vedaḥ, mano yajur vedaḥ prāṇah sāma vedaḥ.

These three functions – speech, mind and Prāṇa – are to be identified with certain other important factors also in meditation, namely the Vedas, for instance. Just as there are three worlds with which the three functions have been identified for the purpose of meditation, there are three Vedas, three repositories of knowledge, or wisdom, with which these functions have to be identified. Trayo vedā: There are three Vedas – Ṛg, Yajur and Sāma. Vāg eva ṛg vedaḥ, mano yajur vedaḥ prāṇah sāma vedaḥ: Ṛg Veda is to be identified with all speech because it is the immediate source available of all hymns offered to the gods. An outcome of it, something that is based upon it for the purpose of a further practical performance, is Yajur Veda. The correlation between the Ṛg Veda and the Yajur Veda is something like the correlation between the speech and the mind which work together. So is the case in the application of the Ṛg Veda and the Yajur Veda Mantras in sacrifice. They are correlated in action. Sāma Veda is the essence, the quintessence of the Mantras of the Ṛg Veda. Certain important Mantras from the Ṛg Veda are culled out and set into tune or music, which collection of Mantras is called the Sāma Veda which is chanted in certain intonations. And it, being the last essence and therefore more difficult to understand than the other two Vedas, is identified with that principle within us which is more difficult to understand than the others, namely the Prāṇa. So, the meditation is that the speech-principle may be identified with the Ṛg Veda, the mind with the Yajur Veda and the Prāṇa with the Sāma Veda.

  1. devāḥ pitaro manuṣyā eta eva, vāg eva devāḥ, manaḥ pitaraḥ, prāṇo manuṣyāḥ.

Just as there are three worlds, there are three types of denizens in this world. The inhabitants of these worlds are also to be identified with the three functions in meditation. The gods inhabit heaven; the Pitrs, or ancestors, inhabit the atmospheric realm which is midway between earth and heaven; the human beings inhabit this physical world. These three have to be identified in meditation, so that they also become harmonised with our own being. Vāg eva devāḥ, manaḥ pitaraḥ, prāṇo manuṣyāḥ: The speech is to be identified with the celestials, the mind with the Pitrs or ancestors in the atmospheric realm, and the Prāṇa with all created beings here in this physical world. The idea behind this meditation is that everything conceivable should be set in tune with one's own being. The distractions in meditation, the difficulties that we have in meditation are all due to there being certain things external to us. They may be objects; they may be persons or worlds or realms, whatever may be. The existence of these things, which cannot be reconciled with our own being, is the reason why we have distraction in meditation. We have problems with these things, and they cannot be set in harmony with us. We are dissimilar to them in quality and they are dissimilar to us in character. They remain always alien to us as foreign elements. But the very presence of these alien elements disturbs our minds. They come to our thoughts and then begin to tell us that they are there as irreconcilable creations. So, the irreconcilability of our being with something or the other in the world outside is the cause of difficulties in meditation. If everything can be harmonised with what we are, the mind will go straight to its target of meditation without any problem on the way. Every problem is a kind of irreconcilability, and the whole function of these meditations throughout, right from the Fifth Chapter onwards, is to find ways and means of reconciling ourselves with anything and everything.

  1. pitā mātā prajā eta eva, mana eva pitā, van mātā, prāṇaḥ prajā.

Also, you identify yourself with the family members. Do not have any kind of tension with them. You have a father; you have a mother; you have children in the family. Now, you set your mind in tune with these in meditation – the mind as the father, speech as the mother and the Prāṇas as the children, because they come out of the union of speech and mind. So, you have here symbols for meditation which take into consideration whatever is immediately present in the family, whatever is the object of your learning the Vedas, whatever is regarded by you as the entire creation, the three realms of being, the three worlds mentioned here and the inhabitants of all the three worlds. Nothing is left out; everything is brought into consideration. All beings have become friendly with you; they have been set in tune with you; they are objects of your meditation. And the purpose of the meditation is to enable you to identify your being with all these beings. It is not a meditation on some external object merely for the purpose of apprehending its outer character. The meditation, whatever be the nature of that meditation, has its final aim in communion with the object, so that the object ceases to be an object and becomes a part of you. The intention of meditation is to abolish the existence of the object and affirm the existence of the subject only, which remains there as an enhanced existence because it has become larger than the original form it assumed as an individual subject isolated from the object. Now it has become a more magnified subject because it has already absorbed into its being the object also. Every object is, thus, absorbed into the subject so that you are a very large subject; a magnified form of your own being.

This is the central intention of this Upaniṣhad meditation, an enhancement of the magnitude of the subject, which is achieved by the absorption of the object into the subject, here meaning anything which the mind thinks as existing, so that they may not come and interfere with the meditation. Even the gods should not place an obstacle before you in meditation, because they too are brought and made subjects or converted into such objects of meditation. Neither should you have trouble from people in this world, nor from the world outside, nor from gods in heaven. Nothing should be an obstacle to you in your great objective of spiritual contemplation. That is why you set yourself in tune with all things in the beginning itself.

  1. vijñātaṁ vijijñāsyam avijñātam eta eva; yat kiṁ ca vijñātam, vācas tad rūpam, vāgg hi vijñātā, vāg enaṁ tad bhūtvāvati.

Vijñātaṁ vijijñāsyam avijñātam eta eva: There are three types of objects – known objects, objects which are to be known, and the objects which have not been known. All these three types have to be identified with speech, mind and Prāṇa. Yat kiṁ ca vijñātam, vācas tad rūpam: Whatever is known already may be identified with the realm of speech. As has been mentioned earlier, speech is nothing but a means of expressing by way of definition anything that is visible to the eyes, the tangible world of sense. Whatever is known alone can be expressed by speech. What is unknown or intended to be known cannot be expressed by speech. Speech, which is language, is employed for the purpose of defining, expressing things which are already known. And, therefore, identify the realm of speech with everything that is known. Yat kiṁ ca vijñātam, vācas tad rūpam, vāgg hi vijñātā, vāg enaṁ tad bhūtvāvati: If you are able to identify your aspect of being which is superintended over by the speech principle with everything that is known, what happens? What is the result that follows from this meditation? You become that very visible thing, the entire visible realm within you, upon which you have been meditating, and that ceases from obstructing you in any way. The visible word shall not be an obstacle to you afterwards. It shall protect you, take care of you, help you onwards, rather than put an obstacle before you. The world shall not obstruct you. It shall only help you, on the other hand, in your onward march, on account of this kind of meditation where your aspect of expression through language and speech is identified with the whole known world. That which is not known completely, but can be known by inference, etc., has to be identified with the mind because this is the function of the mind. The mind can imagine by inference what is not known, but can be known by deduction, etc.

  1. yat kiṁ ca vijijñāsyaṁ, manasas tad rūpam; mano hi vijñāsyam, mana enaṁ tad bhūtvāvati.

Yat kiṁ ca vijijñāsyaṁ, manasas tad rūpam; mano hi vijñāsyam: While speech can express things clearly, the mind is of a different nature altogether. It cannot express things so clearly as speech does. You cannot understand your own mind so clearly as you can understand what you have spoken through words. Your expressions through speech are clearer than the thoughts in the mind, which are more complicated. So, the mind is something to be known, not already known clearly. Such a thing which the mind is, has to be identified with everything that is capable of being known, but not yet known – the worlds that are not clearly visible, but can be inferred by deduction, etc.

The faculties mentioned are to be employed for the purpose of meditation on the known realms of being and those realms that are not known, but are capable of being known by methods of knowledge, and those other realms which are unknown totally. So, the comparison made between these three realms of objects of knowledge and the instruments, namely speech, mind and Prāṇa, is that speech expresses everything that is visible, that which is of the known world, while the mind can infer the existence of even those which are not directly known. The imperceptible also can be inferred by induction and deduction by the mind, and therefore the mind is to be meditated upon as connected with the realm which is superior to the merely perceptible or the visible. The Prāṇa is something inscrutable. It has already been mentioned that while the speech expresses what is known and the mind is superior to the realm of speech because of the fact that it can argue, by pros and cons, the objects of knowledge and knows things which are not directly perceptible, the Prāṇa is a different realm altogether over which we have no control. We can direct our thoughts by the employment of consciousness, and we control our speech by the use of common sense, but we have no say in the matter of the movement of the Prāṇa, which has its own say. It works of its own accord by a law which is independent, as it were, of the one over which we have some sway, or say. We can stop thinking, we can stop speaking, but we cannot stop breathing or restrain the activity of the Prāṇa, completely.

  1. yat kiṁ cāvijñātam, prāṇasya tad rūpam; prāṇo hy avijñātaḥ, prāṇa evaṁ tad bhūtvāvati.

Here, in the Upaniṣhad, it has been the practice to identify the Prāṇa with Hiraṇyagarbha, the Cosmic Prāṇa, or Sūtra-ātman. It is considered as the unknown. So, in this threefold meditation on the realms connected with speech, mind and Prāṇa there is an inclusiveness of every realm of existence – that which is known, that which is hidden behind and not visible or perceptible, and that which is totally unknown. Well; we may even compare these realms to the physical, the astral and the causal by extension of meaning. So, here is a kind of meditation on the three realms of existence – the visible, the invisible and the transcendent causal state.

  1. tasyai vācaḥ pṛthivī śarīram, jyotī-rūpam ayam agniḥ; tad yāvaty eva vāk, tāvatī pṛthivī, tāvan ayam agniḥ.
  2. athaitasya manaso dyauḥ śarīram, jyoti-rūpam asāv ādityaḥ, tad yāvad eva manas, tāvatī dyauḥ, tāvān asāv ādityaḥ. tau mithunaṁ samaitām: tataḥ prāṇo ajāyata sa indraḥ, sa eso'sapatnaḥ: dvitīyo vai sapatnaḥ: nāsya sapatno bhavati, ya evaṁ veda.

Of speech, the whole earth may be regarded as the abode, the body, as it were, the embodiment, even as fire, which is supposed to be the presiding deity over speech, is the light of the whole earth. Earth becomes the abode for the manifestation of fire, for fire does not manifest itself without a means, and the means is any earth element. The principle of fire, which requires the element of the earth as its means or conducting principle, is the presiding deity of speech. So, the connection between speech and the elements of earth and fire is that fire in its original nature as a divine principle, Agnī, is the superintending power over speech and the earth naturally, because it is the abode of all ignitions and power of burning, and should equally be regarded as the realm over which speech has sway. So, Prithavi (earth) and Agnī (fire) are the abode as well as the light, the expressing power respectively of the function of speech. The speech, therefore, extends over everything over which earth elements have sway and over which speech as Agnī also has sway. Yāvaty eva vāk, tāvatī pṛthivī, tāvan ayam agniḥ: This is a subtle form of meditation whereby an enquiry is made into the very principle of speech and entry is gained into the principle of fire which is regarded as the deity of speech. And by this subtle method of enquiry, which is the meditative process, one gains mastery over the principle of earth as well as fire.

Likewise is the meditation to be conducted over the mind and the Prāṇa in respect of their realms, or the regions over which they have sway. Athaitasya manaso dyauḥ śarīram: The heaven and the atmosphere are the abode of the activities of the mind. The sun himself is the light, in the light of which the mind functions. And whatever be the region which is held under sway by the sun as well as the entire atmosphere and the heaven – that is the region through which the mind also can travel. The mind has a greater capacity to understand than the speech, which only expresses what is already understood by the mind. The realms, which are superior to or higher than the earth and the fire, are taken here as objects of contemplation by the mind, namely, the sun and the atmospheric region including the heavens. That speech and mind combined together produce Prāṇa as their child, is a favourite theme of the Upaniṣhads. This is a subtle psychology. Prāṇa is universal energy, no doubt, but it functions in a particular manner in the body of an individual on account of the intentions of the mind. The mind restrains the Prāṇa and locates it within the body; otherwise we would not be so intensely conscious of this body alone as our own self. The Prāṇa is equally present in every person, in every body, everywhere, in every part of creation. But we are not apparently connected with the manifestations of Prāṇa through other bodies, other individuals and other species of being. Our direct connection seems to be with this particular embodiment which is presided over by a single mind, which is, again, connected by an ego, a self-affirmative principle; and so the Upaniṣhad, in this passage, suggests that the localised function of the Prāṇa in this embodiment of the individual, being made possible by the activity of the mind in connection with the speech which is the instrument of expression of the mind, we should consider Prāṇa as the effect of the combined activity of mind and speech. Tau mithunaṁ samaitām: tataḥ prāṇo ajāyata: By the combined activity of these two, by a joint collaboration of mental intention and the power of speech, Prāṇa functions in a particular way, in a given manner, in a direction which is already laid down in the particular individual, one being different from the other. One who knows this secret goes beyond the limitation of Prāṇa, mind and speech.

The analysis provided here in these passages of the Upaniṣhad is intended to gain entry into a realm which transcends the ordinary realm of speech, mind and Prāṇa as individuals. By analysis of this kind, we begin to understand what is the reason behind the limitation imposed upon speech, mind and Prāṇa. When the limitation is understood, we gain mastery over the limitation. We become unlimited in our capacity over these functions, and then one does not have any imposing force in front of him. Then he becomes the lord over everything – sa indraḥ. Indra is master over everything. And one becomes free from any kind of opposition from outside who knows thus. Sa eso'sapatnaḥ: He has no enemy outside. And who is an enemy? Anyone who is other than oneself is an enemy – dvitīyo vai sapatnaḥ. Anyone who is external to you is your enemy, because you have to fear one who is not you. Here, in the case of this masterly meditation, an 'other' than oneself does not exist, and therefore there cannot be enmity from any side. He is unopposed in every direction. The inimical force is that which is external, but there is no such thing here. Nāsya sapatno bhavati: There shall not be inimical opposition from any quarter whatsoever in the case of this person, ya evaṁ veda, one who knows this secret. But in the case of others, there is bondage and there is division complete on account of the presence of externals.

  1. athaitasya prāṇasyāpaḥ śarīram, jyotī-rūpam asau candraḥ, tad yāvān eva prāṇaḥ, tāvatya āpaḥ, tāvān asau candraḥ, ta ete sarva eva samāḥ, sarve'nantāḥ: sa yo haitān antavata upāste antavantaṁ sa lokaṁ jayati. atha yo haitān anantān upāste, anantaṁ sa lokaṁ jayati.

Athaitasya prāṇasyāpaḥ śarīram: As is the case with speech and mind, so is the case with Prāṇa in its instrumentality in meditation. Water is the abode, the body, the embodiment of Prāṇa. The Upaniṣhads tell us that the essence of water that we drink goes to form the Prāṇa, or the energy within us. The Prāṇa gets dried up if there is no water element in the body. It becomes exuberant, energetic and active due to the preponderance of the water-principle in the body. So, water is regarded as the embodiment, or the body of the Prāṇa. Jyotī-rūpam asau candraḥ: The moon is its luminous form. It is again a doctrine of the Upaniṣhads that the moon is watery in effect, perhaps due to the coolness of the rays of the moon and for certain other esoteric reasons which the Upaniṣhads propound in various ways in different contexts. So, the Prāṇa is connected with the moon as well as water, both being related to the water principle in some way. Tad yāvān eva prāṇaḥ, tāvatya āpaḥ, tāvān asau candraḥ, ta ete sarva eva samāḥ: In contemplation we are not supposed to make a distinction between the speech, the mind and the Prāṇa. They are equals. The realms over which they have sway are of a similar character. The three worlds are only three densities of a single manifestation of creation. They are not three different worlds actually. They are three types of density of a single substance. Three degrees of expression of a single embodiment appear in the form of this manifestation. And so, they are to be regarded as uniform and not distinct, one from the other – sarva eva samāḥ. Sarve'nantāḥ: All are infinite in their capacity, ultimately. There is nothing which speech cannot achieve if it is properly directed, based on truth. There is nothing which the mind cannot do if it is based on truth, and there is nothing which the Prāṇa cannot achieve if it functions on the basis of truth. Every one of these is infinite in its capacity essentially, though in their manifested form through the bodies of individuals, they appear to be limited in function. The words that we utter do not have infinite capacity, because of the fact that this speech of ours is limited to the bodily conditions. But if it transcends bodily conditions, the word becomes true. Whatever you speak will become manifest at once. Such is the power of speech of great masters and Yogins. If they say anything, it happens, because they have transcended the limitation of speech, while otherwise is the case with individuals who are body-conscious. Such is also the mind. If an ordinary person thinks, it cannot materialise. But if a powerful mind thinks, the Yogin's mind especially, it shall materialise at once, because the capacity to materialise any thought depends upon the connection of the mind with its infinite background. The force comes from infinity, not merely from the particularised manifestation of the mind. When the mind tunes itself with the cosmic Mind, any thought can materialise itself in any form. So is the Prāṇa; even a mere breath is as powerful as thought or word. Certain Gurus initiate disciples just by breathing; some initiate merely by look; some others initiate by thought; and certain others by actual words of expression. So, it means that there is power hidden in everything. Every faculty is a potency, and it has the power to execute the function which is expected of it, provided that it is connected to infinite power. If an infinite power house is at the background of an electrical connection, any strength of voltage or wattage can flow through that conducting medium. The only condition is that one should be connected to an inexhaustible power house. If that is the case, nothing is impossible. This is the case with every Yogin. His mind, Prāṇa and speech become unified, whereas in the case of an ordinary individual they are differently oriented. The mind, the speech and the Prāṇa are independent, as it were, in the case of ordinary individuals. But in the case of a master or a Yogin, they are three expressions of a single intent of the soul, so that it is the soul that manifests itself as speech, mind and Prāṇa in the case of a knower; not otherwise.

Sa yo haitān antavata upāste antavantaṁ sa lokaṁ jayati. atha yo haitān anantān upāste, anantaṁ sa lokaṁ jayati: If we are ignorant enough to imagine that we are limited to this body alone, and therefore we can speak only what is in connection with this body, we can think only what is in connection with this body and we can have the function of the Prāṇa also only in relation to this body, then limited is the result that we can achieve through these functions. But if our contemplation is on infinitude, infinite is the effect that we can produce by words, speech and even breathing – if our soul is connected to the infinite. Then, every function can produce any effect. What speech can execute, Prāṇa can do; what Prāṇa can do, mind can do; and so on in the case of every other function. Otherwise, ordinarily each function has its own independent capacity which is different from the capacity of other functions. In the case of a Yogin, they mingle, one with the other, so that any one can perform the function of any other. Thought and speech and mind and soul differ not one from the other in the case of one who has identified himself with the infinite source of things.

  1. sa eṣa saṁvatsaraḥ prajāpatiḥ, ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ; tasya rātraya eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, dhruvaivāsya ṣodaśi kalā. sa rātribhir evā ca pūryate, apa ca kṣīyate; so’māvāsyāṁ rātrim etayā ṣoḍasyā kalayā sarvam idaṁ prāṇabhṛd anupraviśya, tataḥ prātar jāyate. tasmād etaṁ rātrim prāṇa-bhṛtaḥ prāṇaṁ na vicchindyād api kṛkatā sasya, etasyā eva devatāyā apacityai.

The meditation is further extended in the following section. Sa eṣa saṁvatsaraḥ prajāpatiḥ, ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ:  We can contemplate the creative principle in its relevance to the principle of time, or the passage of time. As we have observed earlier, the Upaniṣhad gives us various symbologies for contemplation. In fact, one can utilise any phenomenon for the purpose of meditation. Anything and everything in this world of space, time and objects can become an instrument or aid in meditation on the Absolute. You can meditate on space; you can meditate on time; you can meditate on any object. Any one of these can become a passage to the infinite. So, here the suggestion is that certain aspects of the manifestation of time can be regarded as instruments for the purpose of meditation. The creator is sixteenfold in power, as it were. Soḍaśa-kalaḥ prajāpatiḥ: Prajāpati is the Creator. He has sixteen forces, sixteen aspects of energy or sixteen digits of expression. Now, these sixteen digits are compared here, for the purpose of meditation, with the sixteen digits of the moon who is connected with sixteen processes by way of days and nights, which constitute a half of the lunar month. There are fifteen days in the bright half of the lunar month, as there are fifteen days in the dark half. One half of the lunar month is of the waxing moon; the other half is of the waning moon. Both are of fifteen days and fifteen nights in duration. Each particular day, including the night, is supposed to have connection with one digit of the moon, and each particular digit is connected with the mental functions in an individual. It is said that the moon is the presiding deity over the mind. The waxing and the waning of the moon has some connection with the mental horizon. People who are insane or not properly balanced in their mood are supposed to be affected by the movements of the moon. But the moon affects even normal persons, not merely abnormal ones. Only, the normal persons do not feel the effect so much as the others who have no control over their minds. Because of the intense force that we exert on our own minds by our egos, we are unable to feel the force of the moon on our minds, but if we are to relax the mind completely and not impress the ego upon the mind too much, then we may be able to discover the distinction we feel, one day after another, as the moon waxes or wanes. The traverses of the mind are sixteenfold. Full incarnations of God are sometimes regarded as endowed with sixteen powers – soḍasa-kalā-mūrti, as we call them. The sixteen Kalās, or digits, are the sixteen powers of the mind. The sixteen powers are always not manifest in every individual, so that no one is entirely in possession of one's own mind. We have control over certain aspects or features of the mind, but not over the entire mind. If we are identical in our soul with the whole of our mind, then we may lift the world by our hands. Such strength does not come to anyone because of a partial identification of consciousness with the mind, or the mental functions.

Here, the meditation process mentioned suggests that the digits, or the powers which are symbolically connected with the fifteen days and nights of the lunar half month, are veritably forces of the Creator Himself. Ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ; tasya rātraya eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, dhruvaivāsya ṣodaśi kalā: The moon has, and the mind also has, one transcendent element in it which is called the sixteenth Kalā or the sixteenth digit. The fifteen are temporal; the one is transcendent. The fifteen days and nights represent the temporal aspect of the digits; the sixteenth one is not included in the fifteen days and nights. It is supposed to be invisible, and existing at a particular juncture between the new moon and the next day after the new moon, as well as between the full moon and the next day after the full moon. The sixteenth digit is supposed to operate in the moon and the minds of people, also. That is why Pūrnimā and Amāvasyā are regarded as holy days. The full moon and new moon are considered as of special importance in religious parlance. Special worships, etc. are conducted on full moon and new moon days because the mind assumes a role which it cannot on other days. It becomes complete in itself. It is completely absorbed or completely expressed; not partially absorbed or partially expressed as on other days. So, the fifteen days and nights represent the fifteen Kalās, or digits, and the one that is invisible, midway between the full moon or the new moon and the other day is the sixteenth one, the element of transcendence. This is the permanent digit-dhruvaivāsya ṣodaśi kalā.

Sa rātribhir evā ca pūryate, apa ca kṣīyate; so'māvāsyāṁ rātrim etayā ṣoḍasyā kalayā sarvam idaṁ prāṇabhṛd anupraviśya, tataḥ prātar jāyate: It is the belief among people versed in the science of occultism and higher psychology that the moon enters every part of the world by its sixteenth digit on Amāvāsyā, or the new moon day. Physicians, especially those who are learned in the āyurveda, are particular in extracting the juices of certain herbs on the Amāvāsyā day, and give it to patients, because that is supposed to be highly medical in its value. Plants are supposed to be tremendously influenced by the moon on Amāvāsyā day. Religiously minded people do not pluck leaves on Amāvāsyā day; they do not touch trees and plants lest they be hurt on Amāvāsyā. The reason is that the sixteenth digit of divinity is supposed to be present in all the forms of creation, and on that day special religious festivals are held, worships are conducted on account of the connection this particular digit has with the mind as well as with the moon, whose waxing and waning are the causes of the fifteen and the sixteen digits being manifest. Tasmād etaṁ rātrim prāṇa-bhṛtaḥ prāṇaṁ na vicchindyād: On the Amāvāsyā day they do not hurt anyone, says the Upaniṣhad. Not anyone, even plants, not even the least of animals like a lizard, api kṛkatā sasya, etasyā eva devatāyā apacityai, even such insignificant things like flies and mosquitoes are not to be injured on that day. Divinity manifests itself uniformly in a pronounced way on the new moon day. The great Divinity is to be adored in all creation, particularly on that day on account of its special manifestation. This is an occult secret this Upaniṣhad mentions in this passage for the purpose of meditation on the digits of the moon in their connection with the mind, when the time process is taken as the target of meditation.

  1. yo vai sa samvatsaraḥ prajāpatiḥ ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ, ayam eva sa yo'yam evaṁ-vit puruṣaḥ tasya, vittam eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, ātmaivāsya ṣoḍaśi kalā, sa vittenaivā ca pūrayte apa cakṣīyate. tad etan nadhyam yad ayam ātmā, pradhir vittam. tasmād yady api sarvajyāniṁ, jīyate, ātmanā cei jīvati, pradhināgād ity evāhuḥ.

Yo vai sa samvatsaraḥ prajāpatiḥ ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ, ayam eva sa yo'yam evaṁ-vit puruṣaḥ tasya, vittam eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, ātmaivāsya ṣoḍaśi kalā: Now, another symbology is presented for purpose of meditation. Sixteen are supposed to be the digits of power in a human being. Fifteen are temporal; one is transcendent. One aspect of this meditation has already been explained. The other is stated now. Whatever you have, and whatever you are – these two aspects are the objects of meditation here. You know the distinction between these two – whatever you have, and whatever you are. Whatever you have, is called wealth, and whatever you are, is called the soul. Whatever you have, is temporal; whatever you are, is eternal. People generally lay too much emphasis on what they have, rather than on what they are. There is a tendency in people to accumulate more and more of wealth and extend the domain of their possessions. They wish to have the largest infinitude of having, rather than being. It is naturally expected of people to enhance their being to infinitude, but instead of that, they try to enhance their having to endlessness. There is a greed to possess more and more of things. Even if the whole earth were to be possessed, you will not be satisfied. If the earth and the heavens are to become your possessions, you are not going to be happy, because satisfaction does not come from temporal relationship. Satisfaction is a character of eternity manifest, and if our relationship is only with the temporal, that which we really are will always remain grief-stricken and neglected completely. We ignore our being in our interest in what we want to have in this world. This is not to be. A coordination has to be established between what we have and what we are, or what we would like to have and what we ought to be. Vitta is the word used in this passage for anything that can be called wealth in general. Any property, anything that you expect to possess, anything that is worthwhile as a value in this world, an appurtenance of your life is Vitta, or the wealth of yours. The whole wealth of the world which people would like to collect and have is the fifteen-aspected digit. It is large indeed, but it is temporal. The world is apparently larger than you – apparently only, not really. It looks as if we are insignificant, little individuals crawling like insects on the surface of the earth, while the earth, the world around us is so big, so terrifying as to engulf us. Thus, in a way, the fifteen numbers seem to be bigger than the single number, one. One is smaller than fifteen, but this one is bigger than the fifteen, really, even as the soul is superior to the whole world.

Vittam eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, ātmaivāsya ṣoḍaśi kalā, sa vittenaivā ca pūrayte apa cakṣīyate: A person appears to wax and wane according to the extent of the wealth that one has. The richer you are in your possessions, the larger you consider yourself to be in the estimation of yourself and of others. The lesser is your wealth and riches, the poorer you consider yourself to be. So, there is a waxing and waning of the individual also, as is there waxing and the waning of the moon outside. But the waxing and the waning of the individual in respect of wealth outside is not to be stressed too much, because even if all the wealth is lost, there is something remaining in you which is more valuable than everything that you might have lost.

Sa vittenaivā ca pūrayte apa cakṣīyate. tad etan nadhyam yad ayam ātmā: The self that you are is like the axle of a wheel, which is the cause of the movement of the wheel, notwithstanding the fact that the spokes also are necessary. While the spokes move up and down, the axle does not move. It is the permanent element which is fixed in the movement of the wheel. So is the entire world of possessions and wealth, riches which rotate and revolve round the axle of the self, without which there would be no motion and progress at all, just as without the axle there cannot be a movement of the wheel. Tad etan nadhyam yad ayam ātmā, pradhir vittam: The soul is the centre; the wealth that we have is only a periphery, a circumference, moving and passing.

Tasmād yady api sarvajyāniṁ, jīyate, ātmanā cei jīvati, pradhināgād ity evāhuḥ: People generally are in a position to console themselves and reveal their composure even after losing everything they possess, provided that their soul-power is intact. People do not grieve so much for the loss of wealth as for the loss of themselves. You know very well that you are more valuable than your wealth. You have a greater love for your own self, ultimately, than for anything that you possess. So, if everything that you have is lost completely, and you alone are left finally, single, unbefriended, unconnected with others, yet you have a satisfaction of your own – after all, I am. If you also are not to be, that would be much worse than to lose everything that you have or might have had.

So, the contemplation is that the ātman is superior to everything that is external and possessional. And, as is the connection between the circumference and the centre of the wheel, or the spokes of the wheel with the axle, so is the connection between the entire world of possession outside and the self within. They have to be coordinated in a proportionate and harmonious manner for the purpose of establishing union between the external and the internal, finally laying the proper emphasis on the Universal Internal, which is the ātman, which, when realised, puts an end to all greed for wealth, and then even a need for possession becomes absent because of the fact that the ātman is all the wealth of the world. The ātman is not merely the centre in you, but the centre which is everywhere.

The Self Identified with the Sixteenfold Prajapati, the Time Spirit

  1. sa eṣa saṁvatsaraḥ prajāpatiḥ, ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ; tasya rātraya eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, dhruvaivāsya ṣodaśi kalā. sa rātribhir evā ca pūryate, apa ca kṣīyate; so’māvāsyāṁ rātrim etayā ṣoḍasyā kalayā sarvam idaṁ prāṇabhṛd anupraviśya, tataḥ prātar jāyate. tasmād etaṁ rātrim prāṇa-bhṛtaḥ prāṇaṁ na vicchindyād api kṛkatā sasya, etasyā eva devatāyā apacityai.

The meditation is further extended in the following section. Sa eṣa saṁvatsaraḥ prajāpatiḥ, ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ:  We can contemplate the creative principle in its relevance to the principle of time, or the passage of time. As we have observed earlier, the Upaniṣhad gives us various symbologies for contemplation. In fact, one can utilise any phenomenon for the purpose of meditation. Anything and everything in this world of space, time and objects can become an instrument or aid in meditation on the Absolute. You can meditate on space; you can meditate on time; you can meditate on any object. Any one of these can become a passage to the infinite. So, here the suggestion is that certain aspects of the manifestation of time can be regarded as instruments for the purpose of meditation. The creator is sixteenfold in power, as it were. Soḍaśa-kalaḥ prajāpatiḥ: Prajāpati is the Creator. He has sixteen forces, sixteen aspects of energy or sixteen digits of expression. Now, these sixteen digits are compared here, for the purpose of meditation, with the sixteen digits of the moon who is connected with sixteen processes by way of days and nights, which constitute a half of the lunar month. There are fifteen days in the bright half of the lunar month, as there are fifteen days in the dark half. One half of the lunar month is of the waxing moon; the other half is of the waning moon. Both are of fifteen days and fifteen nights in duration. Each particular day, including the night, is supposed to have connection with one digit of the moon, and each particular digit is connected with the mental functions in an individual. It is said that the moon is the presiding deity over the mind. The waxing and the waning of the moon has some connection with the mental horizon. People who are insane or not properly balanced in their mood are supposed to be affected by the movements of the moon. But the moon affects even normal persons, not merely abnormal ones. Only, the normal persons do not feel the effect so much as the others who have no control over their minds. Because of the intense force that we exert on our own minds by our egos, we are unable to feel the force of the moon on our minds, but if we are to relax the mind completely and not impress the ego upon the mind too much, then we may be able to discover the distinction we feel, one day after another, as the moon waxes or wanes. The traverses of the mind are sixteenfold. Full incarnations of God are sometimes regarded as endowed with sixteen powers – soḍasa-kalā-mūrti, as we call them. The sixteen Kalās, or digits, are the sixteen powers of the mind. The sixteen powers are always not manifest in every individual, so that no one is entirely in possession of one's own mind. We have control over certain aspects or features of the mind, but not over the entire mind. If we are identical in our soul with the whole of our mind, then we may lift the world by our hands. Such strength does not come to anyone because of a partial identification of consciousness with the mind, or the mental functions.

Here, the meditation process mentioned suggests that the digits, or the powers which are symbolically connected with the fifteen days and nights of the lunar half month, are veritably forces of the Creator Himself. Ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ; tasya rātraya eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, dhruvaivāsya ṣodaśi kalā: The moon has, and the mind also has, one transcendent element in it which is called the sixteenth Kalā or the sixteenth digit. The fifteen are temporal; the one is transcendent. The fifteen days and nights represent the temporal aspect of the digits; the sixteenth one is not included in the fifteen days and nights. It is supposed to be invisible, and existing at a particular juncture between the new moon and the next day after the new moon, as well as between the full moon and the next day after the full moon. The sixteenth digit is supposed to operate in the moon and the minds of people, also. That is why Pūrnimā and Amāvasyā are regarded as holy days. The full moon and new moon are considered as of special importance in religious parlance. Special worships, etc. are conducted on full moon and new moon days because the mind assumes a role which it cannot on other days. It becomes complete in itself. It is completely absorbed or completely expressed; not partially absorbed or partially expressed as on other days. So, the fifteen days and nights represent the fifteen Kalās, or digits, and the one that is invisible, midway between the full moon or the new moon and the other day is the sixteenth one, the element of transcendence. This is the permanent digit-dhruvaivāsya ṣodaśi kalā.

Sa rātribhir evā ca pūryate, apa ca kṣīyate; so'māvāsyāṁ rātrim etayā ṣoḍasyā kalayā sarvam idaṁ prāṇabhṛd anupraviśya, tataḥ prātar jāyate: It is the belief among people versed in the science of occultism and higher psychology that the moon enters every part of the world by its sixteenth digit on Amāvāsyā, or the new moon day. Physicians, especially those who are learned in the āyurveda, are particular in extracting the juices of certain herbs on the Amāvāsyā day, and give it to patients, because that is supposed to be highly medical in its value. Plants are supposed to be tremendously influenced by the moon on Amāvāsyā day. Religiously minded people do not pluck leaves on Amāvāsyā day; they do not touch trees and plants lest they be hurt on Amāvāsyā. The reason is that the sixteenth digit of divinity is supposed to be present in all the forms of creation, and on that day special religious festivals are held, worships are conducted on account of the connection this particular digit has with the mind as well as with the moon, whose waxing and waning are the causes of the fifteen and the sixteen digits being manifest. Tasmād etaṁ rātrim prāṇa-bhṛtaḥ prāṇaṁ na vicchindyād: On the Amāvāsyā day they do not hurt anyone, says the Upaniṣhad. Not anyone, even plants, not even the least of animals like a lizard, api kṛkatā sasya, etasyā eva devatāyā apacityai, even such insignificant things like flies and mosquitoes are not to be injured on that day. Divinity manifests itself uniformly in a pronounced way on the new moon day. The great Divinity is to be adored in all creation, particularly on that day on account of its special manifestation. This is an occult secret this Upaniṣhad mentions in this passage for the purpose of meditation on the digits of the moon in their connection with the mind, when the time process is taken as the target of meditation.

  1. yo vai sa samvatsaraḥ prajāpatiḥ ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ, ayam eva sa yo'yam evaṁ-vit puruṣaḥ tasya, vittam eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, ātmaivāsya ṣoḍaśi kalā, sa vittenaivā ca pūrayte apa cakṣīyate. tad etan nadhyam yad ayam ātmā, pradhir vittam. tasmād yady api sarvajyāniṁ, jīyate, ātmanā cei jīvati, pradhināgād ity evāhuḥ.

Yo vai sa samvatsaraḥ prajāpatiḥ ṣoḍaśa-kalaḥ, ayam eva sa yo'yam evaṁ-vit puruṣaḥ tasya, vittam eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, ātmaivāsya ṣoḍaśi kalā: Now, another symbology is presented for purpose of meditation. Sixteen are supposed to be the digits of power in a human being. Fifteen are temporal; one is transcendent. One aspect of this meditation has already been explained. The other is stated now. Whatever you have, and whatever you are – these two aspects are the objects of meditation here. You know the distinction between these two – whatever you have, and whatever you are. Whatever you have, is called wealth, and whatever you are, is called the soul. Whatever you have, is temporal; whatever you are, is eternal. People generally lay too much emphasis on what they have, rather than on what they are. There is a tendency in people to accumulate more and more of wealth and extend the domain of their possessions. They wish to have the largest infinitude of having, rather than being. It is naturally expected of people to enhance their being to infinitude, but instead of that, they try to enhance their having to endlessness. There is a greed to possess more and more of things. Even if the whole earth were to be possessed, you will not be satisfied. If the earth and the heavens are to become your possessions, you are not going to be happy, because satisfaction does not come from temporal relationship. Satisfaction is a character of eternity manifest, and if our relationship is only with the temporal, that which we really are will always remain grief-stricken and neglected completely. We ignore our being in our interest in what we want to have in this world. This is not to be. A coordination has to be established between what we have and what we are, or what we would like to have and what we ought to be. Vitta is the word used in this passage for anything that can be called wealth in general. Any property, anything that you expect to possess, anything that is worthwhile as a value in this world, an appurtenance of your life is Vitta, or the wealth of yours. The whole wealth of the world which people would like to collect and have is the fifteen-aspected digit. It is large indeed, but it is temporal. The world is apparently larger than you – apparently only, not really. It looks as if we are insignificant, little individuals crawling like insects on the surface of the earth, while the earth, the world around us is so big, so terrifying as to engulf us. Thus, in a way, the fifteen numbers seem to be bigger than the single number, one. One is smaller than fifteen, but this one is bigger than the fifteen, really, even as the soul is superior to the whole world.

Vittam eva pañcadaśa-kalāḥ, ātmaivāsya ṣoḍaśi kalā, sa vittenaivā ca pūrayte apa cakṣīyate: A person appears to wax and wane according to the extent of the wealth that one has. The richer you are in your possessions, the larger you consider yourself to be in the estimation of yourself and of others. The lesser is your wealth and riches, the poorer you consider yourself to be. So, there is a waxing and waning of the individual also, as is there waxing and the waning of the moon outside. But the waxing and the waning of the individual in respect of wealth outside is not to be stressed too much, because even if all the wealth is lost, there is something remaining in you which is more valuable than everything that you might have lost.

Sa vittenaivā ca pūrayte apa cakṣīyate. tad etan nadhyam yad ayam ātmā: The self that you are is like the axle of a wheel, which is the cause of the movement of the wheel, notwithstanding the fact that the spokes also are necessary. While the spokes move up and down, the axle does not move. It is the permanent element which is fixed in the movement of the wheel. So is the entire world of possessions and wealth, riches which rotate and revolve round the axle of the self, without which there would be no motion and progress at all, just as without the axle there cannot be a movement of the wheel. Tad etan nadhyam yad ayam ātmā, pradhir vittam: The soul is the centre; the wealth that we have is only a periphery, a circumference, moving and passing.

Tasmād yady api sarvajyāniṁ, jīyate, ātmanā cei jīvati, pradhināgād ity evāhuḥ: People generally are in a position to console themselves and reveal their composure even after losing everything they possess, provided that their soul-power is intact. People do not grieve so much for the loss of wealth as for the loss of themselves. You know very well that you are more valuable than your wealth. You have a greater love for your own self, ultimately, than for anything that you possess. So, if everything that you have is lost completely, and you alone are left finally, single, unbefriended, unconnected with others, yet you have a satisfaction of your own – after all, I am. If you also are not to be, that would be much worse than to lose everything that you have or might have had.

So, the contemplation is that the ātman is superior to everything that is external and possessional. And, as is the connection between the circumference and the centre of the wheel, or the spokes of the wheel with the axle, so is the connection between the entire world of possession outside and the self within. They have to be coordinated in a proportionate and harmonious manner for the purpose of establishing union between the external and the internal, finally laying the proper emphasis on the Universal Internal, which is the ātman, which, when realised, puts an end to all greed for wealth, and then even a need for possession becomes absent because of the fact that the ātman is all the wealth of the world. The ātman is not merely the centre in you, but the centre which is everywhere.

The Three Worlds and the Means of Winning Them

  1. atha trayo vāva lokāḥ, manuṣya-lokaḥ, pitṛ-lokaḥ. deva-loka iti. so’yam manuṣya-lokaḥ putreṇaiva jayyaḥ, nānyena karmaṇā. karmaṇā pitṛ-lokāḥ, vidyayā deva-lokaḥ, deva loko vai lokānāṁ śreṣṭhaḥ: tasmād vidyām praśaṁsanti.

There are three worlds, as we have already studied – this world, the atmospheric world and the celestial world: Manuṣya-loka, Pitṛ-loka and Deva-loka, as the scriptures tell us. We have to gain entry into all these worlds and have mastery over them. Renown in this physical world is attempted to be perpetuated by people. Even after death, they want to be known to men. How can you perpetuate your greatness even after death? The progeny of yours is the perpetuation of your glory. The son says his father is such-and-such a person. So, the great man's name continues through the son. The progeny is the continuation of the glory and the value of the person. So, one gains renown in the physical realm by the progeny that he has. The family continues its tradition; otherwise, he would be cut off root and branch by the death of the physical body. The physical world remembers the individuality of a person through the legacy that he leaves in the form of the family tradition and the children. Hence, one gains this world, as it were, through the progeny – manuṣya-lokaḥ putreṇaiva jayyaḥ. Nānyena karmaṇā: You cannot achieve renown in this physical world after your death by any other means than by this that is suggested.

Karmaṇā pitṛ-lokāḥ: But, if you want to gain entry into the world of the forefathers, the ancestors, there is no other way than to perform certain rites which are of a sacrificial nature. Certain libations, certain Yajñas are performed whose effect, called Apurva, produces a force which carries the soul after death to Pitṛ-loka wherein the soul enjoys the results of its deeds until their momentum is exhausted, and then it comes back to this world to repeat the same actions, and so on, endlessly, in the cycle of time.

Vidyayā deva-lokaḥ: The higher, celestial realms are to be attained only through knowledge, not by progeny, not by any kind of ritual, but by understanding, by spiritual contemplation. Here, Deva-loka is to be understood in the sense of every realm that is superior to the Pitṛ-loka. There are seven realms, according to the tradition of India's culture particularly, also recognised in many other cultures. The first three are temporal; the last four are spiritual, ethereal in their nature, and connected to divine ordinance. The celestial realms, the divine regions, are to be attained by knowledge and not by action of any kind, not by ritual, not by progeny, not by possession, not by wealth.

The lower worlds are attained by action, but the higher ones by worship, adoration and knowledge. The higher does one reach, the more one comes near to one's own self. That is the reason why actions become less and less applicable as the soul rises higher and higher. The more distant is the object of one's quest, the greater is the effort that is needed in the acquisition of it. The nearer it comes, the lesser is the effort, both in quantity and quality, so that, when it becomes almost inseparable from oneself, the question of action does not arise. There is then an awakening, an understanding and an enlightenment by which one realises one's affinity with the object of one's attainment; this is called knowledge. By worships or adorations, which are also meditations at the lower levels and are called Upāsanās or devotions, one gains entry into those higher realms due to the force of thought which is exerted upon those ideals which one wishes to attain. Yathā yathā upāsate tathā bhavati: As you contemplate, so you become. And that also is the nature of the object which you attain. Thus it is that knowledge is regarded as the highest of achievements, and the divine regions, the celestial realms transcending even the paradise of angels, are attainable not by ordinary action, but by deep contemplation, Upāsana, worship, which is the knowledge spoken of in this section.

Fifth Brahmana Continued): A Father's Benediction and Transmission of Charge

  1. athātaḥ samprattiḥ. yadā praiṣyan manyate, atha putram āha, tvam brahma tvam yajñaḥ. tvaṁ loka iti. sa putraḥ praty āha, aham brahma, aham yajñaḥ, ahaṁ loka iti. yad vai kiṁ cānūktam, tasya sarvasya brahmety ekatā. ye vai ke ca yajñaḥ, teṣāṁ sarveṣām yajña ity ekatā; ye vai ke ca lokāḥ, teṣāṁ sarveṣām loka ity ekatā; etāvad vā idaṁ sarvam, etanmā sarvaṁ sann ayam ito’bhunajad iti, tasmāt putram anuśiṣṭhaṁ lokyam āhuḥ, tasmād enam anusaśāti, sa yadaivaṁ vid asmāl lokāt praiti. athaibhir eva prāṇaiḥ saha putram āviśati, sa yady anena kiṁ cid akṣṇayā kṛtam bhavati, tasmād enaṁ sarvasmāt putro muñcati tasmāt putro nāma sa putreṇaivāsmiṁl loke pratiṣṭhati, athainam ete daivāḥ prāṇā amṛtā āviśanti.

How does a person at the time passing from this world transfer his powers to his own son, or immediate successor? By means of contemplative rituals, is what is mentioned in this section. At that time a contemplative or a meditative ritual is performed by the application of thought, together with the recitation of certain Mantras. "Whatever I have been in this world, that you have to be, after I leave this world. Whatever I have learnt in this world, that knowledge should continue in your being, after I leave this world. Whatever sacrifices I have been performing in this world, those sacrifices you perform by means of a continuation of the tradition, after I pass away from this world." This is the transference ritual which is called Sampratti, meaning the transference of power when one feels that the time has come for one to leave this world. Here is not merely a transference of one's legacy – physical, social and psychological – but also a communion of spirits, which one achieves for the purpose of the attainment of higher worlds. That it is a spiritual and not merely a temporal ritual can be seen from the way its consequences are described in the following passage. The senses, the mind and the intellect, the entire subtle body of the father is gradually communicated to its own sources by means of these meditations. It is not just a ritual of chants, but one of an augmenting of thought, which is the same as contemplation. The tradition is that one's progeny is a continuation of oneself in every respect. The son is not an individual independent of the father in a social sense, merely. It is a spiritual relation that obtains between the father and the son, so that the endowments of the father are transferred to the personality of the son, and the future blessedness of the father is insured by the conduct and performances of the son. Because of the fact that the son can free the father from limitations such as those of the senses and the mind and of his actions in this world, he is called Putra, which means to say one who frees the father from limitation or restriction and bondage. When this rite is performed, when the ritual takes place, when this meditation is affected, the dying person's personality is supposed to expand into a larger dimension, and then it is that the senses return to their sources, by means of which one regains the status one had in the higher regions. Whatever there be unstudied (Brahma), unperformed (Yajña), or unattained (Loka), that the son completes by his life and conduct.

  1. pṛthivyai cainam agneś ca daivī vāg āviśati, sā vai daivī vāg, yayā yad yad eva vadati, tad tad bhavati.

The speech becomes divine, the mind becomes divine, and the Prāṇa also becomes divine thereby, due to which the capacity of spoken words increases infinitely, because the limitations imposed upon speech by its connection with the present body are lifted on account of the practice of this meditation. Thus, here, the divine speech enters the person, which means to say that speech becomes an expression of a cosmic intention. Sā vai daivī vāg, yayā yad yad eva vadati, tad tad bhavati: What do you mean by divine speech as differentiated from ordinary speech? Generally, words correspond to existent facts. We speak whatever is there in fact in the external world. When our expression corresponds to facts or situations in the world outside, then that form of speech is called true speech, otherwise it is false speech. The words, the utterances or the expressions should correspond to existing situations or things in the world. But, in divine speech, it is the other way round. Whatever one speaks should materialise as a fact in the outer external world. The objects outside, the conditions or situations, are determined by the words uttered, not the reverse, as is the case with ordinary speech. When an expression takes place or a word is uttered or something is said by a person, that materialises on account of the cosmic power being there behind the word, which is also behind the object in regard to which the expression is made. There is a correspondence established, therefore, between the word uttered and the object to which it is directed. The correspondence is established by a common substratum which is behind the speech as well as the object. Such is the power of affiliation with superior dimensions of a more inclusive nature.

  1. divaś cainam ādityāc ca daivam mana āviśati, tad vai daivam mano yenānandy eva bhavati, atho na śocati.

While the characteristic of true speech is correspondence to fact, the essential nature of mind is satisfaction, or joy. Just as speech becomes divine in the case of a person who thus meditates, and it corresponds to fact not because the fact determines it but it determining the fact, so is the case with the mind of this person which is lifted from the limitations of the body. It becomes happy, not because of the acquisition of an object from outside, but because of the satisfaction arising from correspondence or coordination with existent things. This is the character of the divine mind. Its joy is the outcome of an enhanced form of being.

  1. adbhyas cainaṁ candramasas ca daivaḥ prāṇa āviśati; sa vai daivaḥ prāṇo, yaḥ saṁcaraṁś cāsaṁcaraṁś ca na vyathate, atho na riṣyati. sa evaṁ-vit sarveṣām bhūtānām ātmā bhavati. yathaiṣā devatā, evaṁ saḥ. yathaitāṁ devatāṁ sarvāṇi bhūtāny avanti, evaṁ haivaṁ-vidaṁ sarvāni bhūtāny avanti. yad u kiṁ cemāḥ prajāḥ śocanti, amaivāsāṁ tad bhavati, punyam evāmuṁ gacchati. na ha vai devān pāpaṁ gacchati.

When this meditation is practised, the Prāṇa also gets harmonised with the cosmic Prāṇa, even as it is the case with the speech and the mind of a person. Then the divine Prāṇa enters the person. The Sūtra-ātman takes possession of the individual, and he becomes the vital force, or energy, of everything that moves and does not move, visible or invisible. And then one is not affected by what happens anywhere in the world. The Prāṇa of an individual is subject to limitations on account of the presence of persons and things outside. But in the case of the Sūtra-ātman, or the cosmic Prāṇa, such limitations are not effective, because the Sūtra-ātman is not an individualised Prāṇa. It is that which exists in everyone uniformly. On account of this reason, the Prāṇa does not exist there merely as a function of an individual, but as the Self of the person. The universal Prāṇa is indistinguishable from the universal Self. It is more in harmony with the universal Self than is the individual Prāṇa with the individual self, because of the fact that body-consciousness which is the characteristic of an individual is absent in the cosmic condition. Therefore, the Upaniṣhad says, na vyathate, atho na riṣyati – there is no pain by increase or decrease through inspiration and expiration. There is no question there of breathing, as we do with the breath here. It is uniform energy. We do have that energy within us, no doubt, but it expresses itself in activity as a fivefold function including respiration. But there, in the cosmic state, it is not merely an activity; it is not a function. It has no work to do in the form of respiration – inhalation and exhalation. It exists as an expression of the Vaiśvānara ātman, the Supreme Self. One becomes the very existence of all things – sarveṣām bhūtānām ātmā bhavati.

Yathaiṣā devatā, evaṁ saḥ. yathaitāṁ devatāṁ sarvāṇi bhūtāny avanti: We have to take care of ourselves with great effort. You know very well how cautious we have to be in protecting ourselves from external onslaught. Because we are not friendly with the world, the world also is not friendly with us. So, we have to guard ourselves by buildings, guns, swords, etc. But here, instead of your protecting yourself against the operation of external existences, the external existences automatically become forces which guard you. The world protects you because you are harmonious with it. Every fear is due to isolation of oneself from prevailing conditions, and fear arises on account of the presence of something with which we are not in harmony. There is a disharmony between ourselves and the environment outside. On account of this, there is fear, fear that the environment may inflict pain on us. So we take extra steps to see that we are guarded well. The Prāṇa is to be protected. We save our lives at any cost; but no such effort is needed here when you reach this blessed state. The world becomes your friend, and so it guards you, as each one guards one's own self. You know how much love one has for one's self; it is indescribable. There is nothing equal to the love that one evinces towards one's own self. That love or affection, that regard which one has for oneself, will be shown to this person who has become the Self of all, so that each one will regard this person who has realised this state as equal to his own, or her own, or its own self. Everything protects him; everything takes care of this condition because it is one with the supreme condition. You need not have to take care of yourself. There are forces which will spontaneously function for your sake – sarvāni bhūtāny avanti.

Yad u kiṁ cemāḥ prajāḥ śocanti, amaivāsāṁ tad bhavati: In the case of ordinary people who are bound to the body, what happens is that their sorrows are their own properties – my sorrow is mine; your sorrow is yours; you will not take my sorrow and I will not take your sorrow. This is the case with the common mass. Now the doubt arises in the mind: if one becomes the Self of all, will he also share the sorrows of everyone, so that the realised soul will be an ocean of sorrows? Well, he will be much worse than the ordinary individual who has to share just his own sorrow. Is this that state? Is it an undesirable condition, where we are going to share the sorrows of everyone, such that we cannot tolerate it at all? No, says the Upaniṣhad. It is not like that. Sorrows arise on account of affirmation of individuality. It is your attachment to your own personality and body, and the segregation of your personality from others, that is the cause of your sorrow. Such a situation cannot arise here. Punyam evāmuṁ gacchati. na ha vai devān pāpaṁ gacchati: There is no such thing as evil, sin, grief, sorrow, suffering in that realm of blessedness, which is universal being. The very term 'universal' implies the absence of externality, and, where there is no such thing as the external, there cannot be any influence from outside. And where such influence is absent, sorrow also cannot be caused by factors outside; not merely from outside but also from inside, because internal sorrow is also a kind of reaction that we set up in respect of abhorrent externals. As the externals do not exist, no internal reaction in respect of externals exists, and the external cannot inflict sorrow upon one. The question of sorrow, thus, does not arise here. It is all blessedness, virtue, righteousness. It is the justice of God that operates here, the law of the universe, and not the idiosyncrasies of the individual. The celestials, by which, here, we have to understand the realised souls, are free from subjection to grief of any kind.

Fifth Brahmana (Continued): The Unfailing Vital Force

  1. athāto vrata-mīmāṁsā. prajāpatir ha karmāṇi sasṛje, tāni sṛṣṭāni anyo’nyenāspardhanta. vadiṣyāmy evāham iti vāg dadhre; drakṣyāmy aham iti cakṣuḥ; śroṣyāmy aham iti śrotram; evam anyāni karmāni yathā karma; tāni mṛtyuḥ śramo bhūtvā upayeme; tāny āpnot; tāny āptvā mṛtyur avārundha; tasmāt śrāmyaty eva vāk, śrāmyati cakṣuḥ, śrāmyati śrotram, athemam eva nāpnot yo’yaṁ madhyamaḥ prāṇaḥ. tāni jñātuṁ dadhrire. ayaṁ vai naḥ śreṣṭho yaḥ saṁcaraṁś cāsamcaraṁś ca na vyathate, atho na riṣyati, hantāsyaiva sarve rūpam asāmeti: ta etasyaiva sarve rūpam abhavan, tasmād eta etainākhyāyante prāṇā iti. tena ha vāva tat kulam ācakṣate, yasmin kule bhavati ya evaṁ veda. ya u haivaṁ vidā spardhate, anuśuṣyati, anuśuṣya haivāntato mriyate, iti adhyātmam.

This is a new subject into which we are entering, though not entirely new, because we have had a study of this kind earlier in the beginning of the First Chapter. But, the Upaniṣhad repeats this theme, again, in a more concise form, the theme being the position of the senses and the mind in the universal state, as distinguished from their condition in the individual form. This subject is discussed by means of an anecdote. The great Creator, Prajāpati, projected the senses and the mind. He diversified Himself into the form of this world, and each form He took became an individual by itself. Each individual felt a necessity to come in contact with other individuals. The necessity of one individual to come in contact with another brought forth another necessity as a corollary thereof, namely, the projection of certain instruments of contact. How can one come in contact with another? There must be a means of communication. The means are the senses and the mind. The diversification of Prajāpati into the universe of manifestation implies the individuality of these parts and the need of each one to contact others, as well as the rise of the senses and the mind. There was the world of senses and of meditation.

These senses are presided over by certain deities. On account of there being different deities, or divinities, superintending over different senses, there is likely to be a tendency on the part of the senses to assert themselves as independent functions. Just as every part of the Creator who diversified Himself into the many asserted itself as an individual, there could be a subsequent situation when each sense organ also may assert itself. And, it did so, actually. The senses asserted themselves independently, so that the eye cannot hear, the ear cannot see, and so on. There is no mutual give-and-take spirit between the senses. The harmonisation of the functions of these senses has to be effected by another principle altogether. The senses themselves cannot do this. As we require a governor or an administrator to harmonise the individualities of persons working in an organisation of people, to avoid mutual conflict and chaos, there is a need for a synthesising principle within us, without which each sense would work in its own way and there would be no coordination of one with the other. So, with a story the Upaniṣhad tells us that the senses asserted themselves. The eye said "I alone can see; I go on seeing. Nobody is like me. Ear, you cannot see. You are blind." Thus, the ego entered the eye. The ear said "Who are you? I can hear, but you cannot hear. My superiority is very clear." Likewise, the other senses also started asserting themselves. "I do this but you cannot." Each one started clamouring, "What I do, you cannot do. So, you are inferior."

The speech started speaking. It said, "I can speak endlessly." The eye said "I can endlessly see." The ear said "I can endlessly hear. Who can prevent me from doing this?" Egoism entered them all. And, what is the consequence of this sort of egoistic affirmation? Death possessed them!

Everyone who has this self-affirming ego shall be possessed by death. Death is the law of God operating in a world of egoistic individualities. It is not some terrible spectre in the form of a Yama, or Yama-dūtas that come and threaten us. The law of the universal justice raises the rod of punishment upon the ego which has sprung as an upstart in this creation. The ego has really no place to exist, but, somehow, it has usurped the place of cosmic powers and asserted its own independence, a false freedom, a vainglorious existence. Death operating and affecting individuals means the universal law acting in an inexorable manner, not in the form of a punishment or as a wreaking of vengeance upon anybody, but as an automatic function of the balancing power of the universe. Such a law took possession of the senses. So, the eye went on seeing, but got tired. How, long can you go on seeing? The ear went on hearing, but got fed up. It could not hear anymore. The speech gets exhausted by endlessly speaking. They get fatigued on account of excessive activity. This fatigue that comes upon oneself is a tendency to exhaustion, debility and destruction. This is the incoming of death.

The Upaniṣhad says that everything sensuous was affected by death, but that hidden Power, the central Prāṇa within, works as the force of the soul. It is the soul within us that can be equated with the Cosmic Prāṇa, in the end, which is not affected by death. Everything that is personal is subject to destruction, not the soul which cannot be so destroyed. That alone remained unaffected by the sway of death, because the soul does not assert itself egoistically. The ego is an external function; it is not the soul, or the essence of being in us. This essence in us is not affected, but the external appearance in the form of the ego, the senses, etc. was overpowered. Therefore, when one takes resort to the soul, i.e., this central Prāṇa, one neither increases nor decreases, neither exerts nor feels grief in the mind. That is the permanent nature in us, which temporal forms and influences cannot touch.

The senses conferred among themselves and decided: "There is no use of our asserting independence like this. Without this central being we are nowhere. So, let us collaborate with this central function, the Prāṇa, the soul force." Etasyaiva sarve rūpam abhavan: Then they acted in conformity with this divine force. Therefore, the senses also are called Prāṇa, in the language of the Upaniṣhad – tasmād eta etainākhyāyante prāṇā iti.

Tena ha vāva tat kulam ācakṣate, yasmin kule bhavati: Just as the head of a family rules the tradition of a family, the central Prāṇa rules the tradition of the senses. The surname of a person who is leading the family is continued by the progeny and everyone who comes afterwards. Likewise, in a similar tradition, as it were, the term 'Prāṇa' is applied to the senses also, in the Upaniṣhads particularly, because they follow this central Prāṇa, work together with it and harmonise themselves with it. Therefore, we do not see any conflict of sensations in one's personality. The eyes see, but do not hear; the ears hear, but do not see, and so on; but yet we are able to synthesise their functions in ourselves. It is the central 'I' which feels, "I see," and "I am the same person that hears also," and "I can taste and smell and touch," etc. The differentiated functions of the senses are brought together into a synthesis by an eternal principle within, which is the Prāṇa-Śakti, representative, or the ambassador, we may say, of the Cosmic Prāṇa, the Self in all.

Ya u haivaṁ vidā spardhate, anuśuṣyati: A person who is a meditator on the cosmic Prāṇa has no opponents. But, if anyone opposes that person, this opponent shall dry up, says the Upaniṣhad. One who meditates on the Universal Prāṇa has no enemies. He does not oppose any person, or any thing. If, by any indiscretion, someone else starts opposing this person, that person shall not survive any more. Antato mriyate: He dries up and perishes. So, hate not, oppose not, insult not, or harm not a being who is in union with cosmic forces. Iti adhyātmam: This is an anecdote in respect of our internal function the senses.

Now, the same analogy is continued in respect of the higher forces called divinities, or deities, Devatas, who superintend over the senses. Athād-hidavatam: jvaliṣyām avāham ity agnir: In the same way as the senses started asserting their independence, the deities also began asserting themselves. Agnī, the deity of fire, who is the presiding divinity over speech, began asserting himself. "I shall burn always." The sun asserted himself, "I shall shine forever." So was the case with other celestial divinities, also.

You know the story occurring in the Kena Upaniṣhad, where the gods are said to have won victory over the demons. Agnī, Vāyu, Indra, all these gods, very self-conscious, thought they had won victory over the enemies. Each one feels a sort of pride when he wins victory even in small acts; one need not go so far as victory in a big war. When you succeed in anything, there is a little pride. There can be even what is called spiritual pride, sometimes. These divinities had some ego-sense in them. The Great Being, the Master of all things, understood this. "I see! They think they have won victory in battle. Let me teach them a lesson." The Absolute itself took a form, a mysterious, inscrutable shape, and presented itself before the gods in heaven. It was a fearsome, funny figure indeed. The gods were surprised to see this majestic, gigantic being confronting them in the paradise, as if it cared not a fig for anyone. They were in consternation and did not know what was this that was there, threatening them. Indra told the deities, "Go, and find out what this is." He sent Agnī, first. "You are a very powerful hero. Nobody can stand before you. You can burn the whole world if you so wish. Go and see who is this sitting here." Agnī rushed forth and looked up. A giant was seated there. The giant Yakṣa asked Agnī, "Who are you?" Agnī said, "I am the deity of fire, Agnī-Devata. I am a celestial in heaven." "O, I see, you are that," said the Yakṣa. "What can you do?" Agnī said, "I can burn anything. I can reduce to ashes the world in a second." "Such a power you have? Good!" The Yakṣa placed a piece of dry straw in front, and said, "You burn this." To be challenged thus was naturally a kind of insult to the great power who could burn the world to ashes. To be told, "You burn a little piece of straw" was beyond the limit of tolerance. Agnī was irritated at this confrontation and, with his indomitable force, dashed at it to burn it, but could not succeed. He could not even touch it! Though he applied all his burning power, the straw could not be shaken. Agnī could not understand what had happened. He felt defeated, and would not wish to return to the gods announcing his shame. He merely went and told Indra, "I do not know who it is. I went and saw; I cannot understand who it is." The great one did not like to say that he was defeated. "Please send somebody else." "What is the matter?" wondered Indra. "Vāyu, you go." Vāyu felt, very well. He could blow up anything. Vāyu went, and the Yakṣa asked, "Who are you?" "I am Vāyu the wind-god." "What can you do?" "I can blow up anything, even the entire earth which I can throw off its orbit." "I see, you can blow away anything. Blow off this straw." He kept the straw there. Vāyu felt insulted, indeed, and then rushed forward to blow up that little piece of grass. But he could not move it. It was there like an iron hill; and much more than that. The grass was more than a match for the gods! Vāyu felt defeated. He came back to Indra and said, "I cannot understand what this terrible thing is. You may go and find out." When Indra himself came, that Divinity vanished out of sight. Why he vanished is a different matter, which we shall see in another context.

So, the story is that the gods also can feel themselves a little important, but this is not the truth, narrates the Upaniṣhad. There is no such thing as individual importance, finally, either in the case of the senses or the divinities, much less with ordinary mortals.

  1. athādhidaivatam; jvaliṣyāmy evāham ity agnir dadhre; tapsyāmy aham ity ādityah; bhāsyāmy aham iti candramāḥ; evam anyā devatā yathā-devatam; sa yathaiṣāṁ prāṇānāṁ madhyamaḥ prāṇaḥ, evam etāsām devatānāṁ vāyuḥ,  nimlocanti hy anyā devatāḥ, na vāyuḥ. saiṣānastamitā devatā yad vāyuḥ.

The deities, Agnī, āditya, Candra, and the others, are only an expression, a functional part of the Universal Cosmic Prāṇa. That being alone is free from the tendency to self-assertion. Everyone else has this urge to assert oneself. Neither āditya, nor Agnī, nor Candramācan be said to be independent deities. They are all His names. They do not shine of their own accord. They are supplied with energy from elsewhere. Bhayād agnis tapati, bhayāt tapati sūryaḥ, says the Upaniṣhad. Fire burns due to fear of this Supreme Being, as it were; Sun shines due to fear, Wind blows due to fear, Rain falls due to fear of this Being. There is the uplifted thunderbolt of the eternal Reality, without fear of which nothing would be in harmony in this world. The universal justice is there like a raised terror. One who knows this terror of the Absolute, which is the eternal justice prevailing everywhere, he alone is free from this devilish urge to assert oneself, the ego, which is the Asura in everyone.

So it is the Cosmic Being alone, the Prāṇa-Śakti, the Sūtra-ātman, Īshvara, who is real. Everyone else is just partaking of a facet or an aspect of this Divinity, even when one feels an importance in respect of oneself.

  1. athaiṣa śloko bhavati: yataś codeti sūryaḥ astam yatra ca gacchati iti prānād vā eṣa udeti, prāṇe'stam eti, taṁ devās cakrire dharmaṁ  sa evādya sa a śvaḥ iti yad vā ete'murhy adriyanta tad evāpy adya kurvanti. tasmād ekam eva vrataṁ caret, prāṇyāc caiva, apānyāc ca, nen mā pāpmā mṛtyur āpnuvad iti; yady u caret samāpipayiṣet teno. etasyai devatāyai sāyujyaṁ salokatāṁ jayati.

The sun rises and sets on account of the operation of this Cosmic Prāṇa. If the planets move round the sun due to the gravitational pull of the latter, who assists the sun to occupy its position? The sun also has a status in the astronomical universe. It has an orbit of its own. And likewise, everything has a function and an orbit and a place in this universal structure. There is a harmonious rotation and revolution of everything in respect of everything else. There is a relativity of motion in all the universe. How comes this relativity of motion? Why should there be this harmony? Why this following the course, or the orbit of each one? Why not jump from one course to another? Why does this not happen? Because there is that Power which holds everything in unison. Why does not one hand of a person fight with his other hand? You have never seen your right hand or left hand fighting with each other, because there is something in you, the 'you' which keeps both these in position, in harmony. So is everything in creation held in harmony by this invisible Being, which is the God of the universe. On account of its working alone is it that the sun rises and sets; else he could go anywhere. There is that Law, that Righteousness, which has its own principle of working, of which no one has knowledge, but without which no one can exist. Taṁ devās cakrire dharmaṁ: That is the Dharma, or the Supreme justice which every god has to obey, to which every individual bows, and every sense-organ works in accordance with it. That law is unamendable. It is an eternal constitution. It was, it is and it shall be the same at all times-sa evādya sa a śvaḥ.