Chapter II (Continued)
First Brahmana: A Progressive Definition of Brahman
We go now to the Second Chapter which begins with an instructive anecdote, and is incidentally a kind of teaching bordering on the distinction between qualified and unqualified Reality, the conditioned and unconditioned Brahman. What is conditioned Reality, and what is unconditioned Reality?
- dṛpta-bālākir hānūcāno gārgya āsa, sa hovāca ajātaśatruṁ kāśyam, brahma te bravāṇīti, sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, sahasram etasyām vāci dadmaḥ. janakaḥ, janaka iti vai janā dhāvantīti. .
There was a learned man, called Bālāki. He wanted to parade his knowledge before an emperor called Ajātaśatru. Here was a learned man, proud of his learning, thinking himself wise, imagining that he knew Brahman, a person born in the family of the sage Gārgya, and he went to the court of king Ajātaśatru, and told the king: "I shall teach you Brahman." The king was highly pleased. "Well, I have a very good Master to teach me Brahman." Ajātaśatru was the king of Kāśi. Sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, sahasram etasyām vāci dadmaḥ: "You are so kind, indeed. Even for the very generous gesture of offering to teach me Brahman, I shall give you a thousand cows, like King Janaka." People always say, "Janaka, Janaka". "Very good, let me also have this humble privilege of imitating this great, charitable man, learning from you and offering you too a gift in the same manner. People always take the name of Janaka. His name is so renowned everywhere. We are so happy to be seated in that manner. People everywhere run about in search of learned ones, and here you come to me with such generosity of feeling to teach me Brahman. It's kind of you indeed!" Such was the happiness of the king.
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ, ya evāsāv āditye puruṣaḥ, etam evāhaṁ brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātśatruḥ; mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ atiṣṭhāḥ sarveṣāṁ bhūtānāṁ mūrdhā rājeti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam upāste, atiṣṭhāḥ sarveṣām bhūtānāṁ mūrdhā rājā bhavati.
What did the teacher tell? Bālāki, the learned man, spoke to the king by way of instructing him in the nature of Brahman. Sa hovāca gārgyaḥ: Gārgya speaks. Ya evāsāv āditye puruṣaḥ, etam evāhaṁ brahmopāsa iti: "Do you know how I meditate on Brahman?" asked the scion of the Gārgya. "I meditate upon the sun as Brahman. You also do that meditation." But the king retorted back; he did not accept this teaching. It so happened that the teacher went to the wrong disciple. The king, instead of saying, "I thank you, I shall meditate upon the sun as you instructed me," gave him back in his own coin. Mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ: "Do not speak to me like this. This is not the way I meditate." The king said so, because he seemed to know something more than the teacher himself. Atiṣṭhāḥ sarveṣāṁ bhūtānāṁ mūrdhā rājeti vā aham etam upāsa iti: "I also meditate upon the sun, but not as you tell. The reason is that the sun is only a conditioned form, and you are considering this conditioned form as the Absolute. This is not the way in which it should be contemplated. There is a reality behind the sun. I meditate upon that. There is a general reality behind the particular form, the sun. Why not meditate upon that instead of the particular form? It could have taken many forms other than the sun, and so if you resort yourself to that general being behind the form, naturally you would be in the realisation of every other form. You will have every form under your control. Now, how do I meditate on the transcendent support of everything? There is an energising vitality behind the sun. That is what I meditate upon, the King of all beings." Sūrya, or the sun, is held by the Veda as the eye of all creatures, the ātman or the very Self of all beings. That means to say there is something in the sun which is not visible to the eye. Maybe that is the reason why the influence exerted by the sun upon us is ununderstandable, inscrutable indeed. Mūrdhā rājā: "The supreme head of all creatures and the basic reality behind all things is he – this is the way I meditate, and not on the form of the sun. Sa ya etam upāste, atiṣṭhāḥ sarveṣām bhūtānāṁ mūrdhā rājā bhavati: One who contemplates thus, in this manner, the general transcendent reality behind the sun becomes supreme among all people. He becomes a king in the circle he moves, and this is the result of such meditation; otherwise you would be stuck to the single form only and the other forms will not pay any homage to you. If you want homage or tribute to be paid to you by every form, you should go to the general background behind all forms, and not cling only to one particular form." This is what the disciple told the so-called instructor.
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ: ya evāsau candre puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātśatruḥ, mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ. bṛhan pāṇḍara-vāsāḥ somo rājeti vā aham etam upāsa iti. sa ya etam evam upāste, ahar ahar ha sutaḥ prasuto bhavati, nāsyānnaṁ kṣīyate.
Then the instructor spoke something else. "If that is the case, then I have got something more to tell you. Ya evāsau candre puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti: I meditate on the moon as a symbol of Brahman." "Do not speak to me like this," says Ajātaśatru, here again. "I am not meditating like this." Mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ. bṛhan pāṇḍara-vāsāḥ somo rājeti vā aham etam upāsa iti: "There is something in the moon which attracts us. Why not meditate upon that? What is the value of the moon, after all? You are thinking of the moon as a form, but I am thinking of something in the moon that makes it enviable to people, and attractive and valuable. I meditate upon the moon, of course, but not as you say. I consider it an embodiment of the cosmic vitality which beams forth through the form, as if it is dressed in white. The rays of the moon may be compared to a white robe. But they are not real robes, though they look like them. But what are these white robes? They are nothing but the Prāṇic energy that is emanating from the moon. That is greater, more important than the form of the moon." Bṛhan pāṇḍara-vāsāḥ somo rājeti: "The lord of all such manifestation is called Rājā, and the moon is called Soma, Chandra, these being the names of the moon. How do I meditate upon Soma as the King of all such producers of balming or cooling rays? I meditate upon that which is responsible for what value you behold in the moon. The coolness of the moon, its watery aspect and the rays of the moon, its light or luminosity are nothing but the expression of Prāṇa. That is what I meditate upon. If one meditates like this, what happens?" Sa ya etam evam upāste, ahar ahar ha sutaḥ prasuto bhavati, nāsyānnaṁ kṣīyate: "One becomes endowed with everything that one needs. The food that is required does not get diminished. Anything that you need may be considered as your food. You will have abundance of everything, and your lineage will continue unbroken. People in your family, in your line of succession, will continue to be like you because of the force that you exert upon the people that follow you in your family and lineage."
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ: ya evāsau vidyuti puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātśatruḥ, mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ, tejasvīti vā aham etam upāsa iti. sa ya etam evam upāste, tejasvī ha bhavati, tejasvinī hāsya prajā bhavati.
Then the instructor Gargya said: "If that is what you say, I have another method of meditation. Why not follow that? You know that there is lightning. I meditate upon the lightning as Brahman because it flashes forth, indicating as if the spiritual light itself is flashing. I contemplate Reality, the Puruṣha, in the form of the flash of lightning because of the similarity between the lightning flash and the flash of Brahman-Consciousness." "Do not speak to me like this," said Ajātaśatru. "I do not meditate upon lightning in this manner. How do I meditate then? I merely meditate on luminosity. Lightning is one of the forms of potential luminosity. There can be various other forms of lustre, and I contemplate on lustre itself. It can be the lustre of lightning; it may be that of the sun; it may be of the moon; it may be of fire; it may be of one's own understanding. What does it matter? I meditate on the general background of all luminosity. That, of course, includes lightning. I do not meditate on Brahman in lightning, as you say. My method is quite different. I contemplate on the generality behind these particulars. One who meditates in this manner – what happens to him? Sa ya etam evam upāste, tejasvī ha bhavati, tejasvinī hāsya prajā bhavati: One becomes lustrous in contemplating like this. There is a kind of energy generated by that person. He becomes a magnetic force. Power emanates from him, wherever he is, and he becomes brilliant not only in his deeds, but also in his thoughts, in his understanding. His entire personality changes. So does his progeny, his family, everything that comes after him, because of the force exerted by him."
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ, ya evāyam ākāśe puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, mā maitasmin samvadiṣṭhāh, pūrṇam apravartīti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste, pūryate prajayā paśubhiḥ nāsyāsmāl lokāt prajodvartate.
So, Gārgya had failed, but he said: "Well, then I have something else to tell you. I meditate on space itself as Brahman. You follow this instruction. Space is all-pervading; Brahman is all-pervading. So space can be regarded as a symbol of Brahman, which is omnipresent." "Do not speak to me like this." This is what Ajātaśatru, the king, said. "I contemplate space in a different manner, not the way you say. How do I meditate? Pūrṇam apravartīti: I contemplate on plenitude and immobility. That is the priority in the character of space itself. What is space? It is a completeness of perception, and it is an immobility. Everything moves, but space does not move. It is fullness. If you contemplate fullness or infinitude, space is included in it. So, why go for the manifested form of space? I contemplate on that which is prior to the manifestation of space, the Supreme Bhūma, the fullness of Being, the immobile Reality."
Sa ya etam evam upāste, pūryate prajayā paśubhiḥ nāsyāsmāl lokāt prajodvartate: "One who contemplates Brahman as the infinite, inclusive of every kind of fullness conceivable, space included, becomes full in every respect. There would be nothing lacking in this person because of the contemplation of plenitude. His family and all that is associated with him becomes full on account of the force of such meditation. He is filled with abundance of every kind. He prospers materially, socially, intellectually and spiritually. And his lineage is never broken; it continues to glory in this world. Such is the great effect produced by this meditation on fullness, or plenitude, or completeness, which is the abstract priority behind the particular manifestation called space."
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ, ya evāyaṁ vāyau puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ indro vaikuṇthoparājitā seneti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste, jiṣṇur hāparājiṣṇur bhavaty anyatastya-jāyī.
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ, ya evāyam agnau puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ, viṣāsahir iti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste viṣāsahir ha bhavati, viṣāsahir hāsya prajā bhavati.
Gārgya does not keep quiet. He says again: "I have something to tell you. I meditate on fire as Brahman. You know the power of fire. It can burn anything. It has tremendous energy in it. I take it as a symbol of Brahman and meditate. So, you also meditate like this." Ajātaśatru retorted: "Do not speak to me like this. My meditation on fire is something else. It is of a different nature altogether. How? Viṣāsahir iti vā aham etam upāsa iti: I contemplate fire as supreme tolerance. Nobody can tolerate things as fire does. It accepts whatever is thrown into it. It does not say, "I do not want, I do not agree with it'. Fire is a consumer, acceptor and absorber of anything and everything. Fire is tolerance incarnate. So, I meditate on fire as universal tolerance, a capacity to absorb anything into oneself. I do not meditate on fire as luminosity, as you may be thinking of. The supreme capacity to absorb everything into oneself – that is how I contemplate on fire. That is a greater concept, a more generalised form of it than the particular one which is the fire you think of. If one meditates like this, what happens to him? Sa ya etam evam upāste viṣāsahir ha bhavati: One becomes very tolerant. The person will never resent. He will not speak against, or criticise; he will not find fault with anything. Everything will look beautiful to him, because he is a supreme absorber of everything. He becomes a general force which can take into its bosom every particular form – whether it is intellectual, social, individual or spiritual. Viṣāsahir hāsya prajā bhavati: His progeny also becomes an embodiment of tolerance, goodness and generosity of expression in every manner, if this meditation is practised."
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ, ya evāyam apsu puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ, pratirūpa iti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste, pratirūpaṁ haivainam upagacchati, nāpratirūpam, atho pratirūpo'smaj jāyate.
"Well that is all right," Gārgya speaks again. "I have some other method of meditation. You take this. I meditate on the water principle as Brahman because it is liquid and it is formless. It is characterised by some aspect of reality which is the uniformity that I see in water." "Do not speak to me like this about water. I also meditate upon it, but in some other way that is different from what you are speaking of," said Ajātaśatru. "I meditate upon water as that which is agreeable, and it is so because I find in water the character of agreeability. Everyone is fond of water. Water is agreeable to everyone, human, subhuman or superhuman. If one meditates like this, one becomes agreeable to everyone. He will not be shied away from by people. Just as water is liked by everyone, the same will happen to the meditator. In some way or the other, they will find some worth in him. Pratirūpa iti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste, pratirūpaṁ haivainam upagacchati: All agreeable things will come to you. Everything blessed will come to you of its own accord – uncalled for, unexpected. Everything good in this world will be yours. If you become agreeable to everyone, everything shall become agreeable to you. And I contemplate on the general character of goodness and amiability and agreeability which I find reflected in the principle of water. If one meditates like this, you know the result, of course. Etam evam upāste, pratirūpaṁ haivainam upagacchati, nāpratirūpam, atho pratirūpo'smaj jāyate: Nothing disagreeable will come to you. You will find all things are pleasant and beautiful, and whatever emanates from you will be agreeable and pleasant. You will receive only pleasant things and agreeable things; and whatever proceeds from you, whatever you give and whatever emanates from you will also be of a similar nature. This is how I meditate."
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ, ya evāyam ādarśe puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ. rociṣṇur iti vā aham etam upāsa iti. sa ya etam evam upāste rociṣṇur ha bhavati, rociṣṇur hāsya prajā bhavati, atho yaiḥ saṁnigacchati, sarvāṁs tān atirocate.
Gārgya says: "I have another method. I meditate upon that which is seen in the mirror." "No," he said. "This is not how I meditate. I do not meditate upon what I see in the mirror." There is a kind of meditation called Darpana-Yoga, even now practiced by some people. This is a humorous thing to hear, but it has a point about it. It is said that nothing is more attractive than one's own face. It is liked by people more than anything else. If you look at your face in the mirror, you would not like to withdraw your attention from it. You would go on looking, because you are somehow the most beautiful person in the world. Others are secondary. No one can be as beautiful as 'I'. Everyone thinks like this. The mind is drawn to the face in the mirror. If you wish to concentrate upon an object, concentrate on your own face first. Then the mind will not wander away. Your difficulty of the drifting mind will not be there afterwards. What was in the mind of Gārgya, we do not clearly know. He said, "I meditate upon that which is reflected in a mirror." "No; that is not the way. I also meditate on this form, but not as you say. I do not contemplate on the form, or the shape that is reflected in the mirror, but the capacity of reflection itself. That is what I regard as superior to what is reflected. How is reflection possible at all? That is more important than what is reflected. I meditate on the reflecting capacity in the mirror, which is something different from the form of the mirror or even the shape of the reflected form. Not the face only, but the light, the luminosity or the reflection aspect is what I contemplate upon – not the reflected object. The capacity to reflect is prior to the object that is reflected. My method of meditation is simple. Always go to the prior, the antecedent, rather than the subsequent or the posterior; because the posterior is the effect. Why not go to the cause? How could you see an effect in the mirror if the mirror were not to reflect? But, how could it reflect? There is something in the mirror which enables it to reflect the object in itself. That something is superior, I regard, to the object that is reflected. Rociṣṇur iti vā aham etam upāsa iti: I contemplate Brahman as luminosity, the capacity to reflect. The possibility of reflecting is the object of my meditation. Sa ya etam evam upāste rociṣṇur ha bhavati: You can reflect everything in yourself afterwards. You become a mirror by yourself. Everything will see itself in you. Every person will see himself or herself in you. You will be the beloved of all people. You will be loved by everyone the way one loves one's own self. Rociṣṇur hāsya prajā bhavati: So also does become your family, your lineage. Atho yaiḥ saṁnigacchati, sarvāṁs tān atirocate: You become more lustrous and luminous than others. You become supreme in the capacity to reflect, in the capacity or the ability to shine in the midst of all others, everywhere."
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ; ya evāyam yantam paścāt śabdo’nūdeti; etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ; mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ, asur iti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste, sarvaṁ haivāsmiṁl loka āyur eti, nainam purā kālāt prāṇo jahāti.
"O I see! All right," said Gārgya. In everything he had something to hear against what he said. So, now, there is something more up his sleeve. He has not finished. "I have something else to tell you. You meditate like that. You see, when you walk, especially in the dark alone, you hear sound coming from behind, as if somebody else is walking behind you. Some people fear to walk in darkness, alone, because they hear some sound from behind, as if somebody was walking behind them, or pursuing them. What is this sound from behind? I contemplate on that because it is a peculiar aspect of Reality, from my point of view." This is what Gārgya said. "No," said Ajātaśatru. "This is not the way I meditate. Do not speak to me like this about the sound that comes from behind a person when he walks alone. I contemplate on the reason behind it, not on the sound merely. Why do you hear that sound? It is not that someone is walking behind you. It is the peculiar vibration of the Prāṇa emanated by the soles of the feet. It is a thud created by the Prāṇa-Śakti that is ejected through the feet when you walk. You cannot hear it when you walk in the midst of people, or when you are in a crowd, or when you are otherwise engaged, etc. When you are alone, unbefriended, in darkness especially, when there is no distraction, nobody around you, only then can you silently hear this tic, tic, thud, thud, which is the sound made by the Prāṇa in your own body. Prāṇa is depleted through your feet when you walk, and it leaves a vibration behind, as it were, when you go forward. That is the case of the sound that you hear. I consider Prāṇa, the life principle, as the object of meditation rather than the sound that it makes because of walking. I contemplate on Prāṇa as Brahman, because this sound comes from Prāṇa only. Sa ya etam evam upāste, sarvaṁ haivāsmiṁl loka āyur eti, nainam purā kālāt prāṇo jahāti: One lives a long life, and will not have a premature death if this kind of contemplation is practised."
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ, ya evāyam dikṣu puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātśatruḥ, mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ, dvitīyo’napaga iti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste, dvitīyavān ha bhavati, nāsmād gaṇaś chidyate.
"I contemplate the quarters of the heaven, the directions, as the symbol of Brahman, because of there being a resemblance between the quarters of space and the nature of Brahman, the resemblance being that both point to an endless existence." Bālāki's advice is that this is the way to meditate and that the king, too, might continue the same method. Ajātaśatru replies, "This is not the way. Do not speak to me about this sort of meditation. I contemplate rather on an implication in this meditation, and not merely the form of it, as you are suggesting. The directions are presided over by a species of deities called Aśvins. They are twins, and they always go together. Now, I contemplate on their nature as the presiding deities of these directions, rather than the directions themselves which are only their outer expressions. My method of meditation is to see the Reality behind the forms." This is what Ajātaśatru purports to tell him. "An inseparable character (Anapaga) is what I observe in these deities, and they can never be set apart, one from the other." An invariable concomitance, connection or association of things among themselves, leading us to an interconnectedness of things is a further implication of this meditation. "So, what I observe in these directions, or quarters, is something different from what you are telling me." There is a hidden significance behind the observation of these quarters of space with our senses. The significance is that there is a deity presiding over these directions. There is nothing which is not presided over by some deity or other. There is some sort of force which controls the external manifestation of each and every thing in the world. "An inseparable connection, a permanent association of one thing with another is my way of contemplating this object which you regard as space, or regard as directions."
Sa ya etam evam upāste, dvitīyavān ha bhavati, nāsmād gaṇaś chidyate: "If one is to meditate as I am suggesting, rather than the way you are mentioning, a miraculous result will follow. One becomes inseparable from everything, and everything will become inseparable from such a one. The so-called separability or divisibility of things will vanish gradually on account of a deep contemplation on the connectedness of things, the association of everything with oneself, and oneself with everything. You receive help from everyone because of the meditation that you practise in this manner. And your relationship with things will never cease at any time. There cannot be an occasion of bereavement at any time in this world. You shall always be associated with all things because of the force of this meditation on the connectedness of all things."
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ, ya evāyaṁ chāyāmayaḥ puruṣaḥ, etam evahām brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ, mṛtyur iti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste, sarvaṁ haivasmiṁl loka āyur eti, naivam purā kālān mṛtyur āgacchati.
Then Bālāki says, "I have another way. You follow that. I contemplate on the shadow of my own body." This is also one mystical or occult method followed by certain people. The suggestion is not just some fantastic idea of people, but it has a vital connection with one's own body. The concentration of the mind on the shadow of an object, when properly done as a discipline, can move even the object. It means the object will recognise its shadow. Thus there is some point in what Bālāki is saying. But Ajātaśatru has something else to say. "That is not the way. I have some other idea about it. I see something else in what you call a shadow. The shadow of an object is the appearance of the object. This is how I look at it." While the connection is, of course, there obtaining between the shadow and its original, and so Bālāki may be right in saying that there is some point in such meditation, the idea is that this relationship between the reflection and its original is the same relationship that obtains between appearance and Reality. Appearance is death (Mṛtyu) from one angle of vision. Reality is life. Inasmuch as all those who are caught up in appearances are subject to transiency, death comes upon everyone. We may regard the shadow as a symbol of death. Mṛtyur iti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste, sarvaṁ haivasmiṁl loka āyur eti, naivam purā kālān mṛtyur āgacchati: One can contemplate the transiency of things in this manner and the destructibility of everything that is visible in the same way as the shadow may be symbolised as an externality of the original substance. One who observes non-selfhood, or the character of unconsciousness in external things i.e., unreality or appearance in objects, will free oneself from entanglement in things external, because it is the inability on the part of oneself to discover the apparent character of things that causes entanglement in things. Contemplation on the transiency of appearance frees one from attachment to forms. And one lives a long life. There is no death in the realm of reality. There can not be anything like accident to that person, and there would not be premature death.
- sa hovāca gārgyaḥ, ya evāyam ātmani puruṣaḥ, etam evāham brahmopāsa iti. sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, mā maitasmin saṁvadiṣṭhāḥ, ātmanvīti vā aham etam upāsa iti, sa ya etam evam upāste, ātmanvī ha bravati ātmanvīnī hāsya prajā bhavati. sa ha tūṣṇīm āsa gārgyaḥ.
Now, Bālāki has a trump card. He left off his earlier instruction. There is nothing else for him to say. However, here is the final word: "I contemplate the selfhood of my personality as the Supreme Reality. The being that is my own self, which is the ātman – this is the Supreme Being; this is the Reality; this is Brahman. This is my advice to you, this is my instruction, and this is how you may meditate also." Ajātaśatru turns round: "No; this is not the way I meditate. This self that you are speaking of is not the real self. I have in my mind the idea of another self altogether, of which this is a partial manifestation. This self that you are referring to has another Self beyond it, transcendent to it, and exceeding it in all limits. How I contemplate on the self you are speaking of is that it is endowed with another Self altogether, possessed of another dimension, larger than this self in which it is contained, of which this lesser self is a part, an expression, the very existence of this part being due to the existence of that other Self. There is a wider Self than the self you are contemplating. This individual self, this self of yours, this 'me' you are referring to, is not the true Self. It is only an indication, a symbol of that larger Being which, from my point of view, is the true Self, the only existence. I meditate on that ātman not the one you seem to know. And you know the result of such a meditation. You become cosmically aware, and you get endowed with a consciousness of the higher Self of which the lower self is an expression. ātmanvīnī hāsya prajā bhavati: One's progency, like the progency of Janaka of ancient tradition, becomes possessed of this knowledge." When Ajātaśatru spoke thus, Bālāki maintained silence. He did not say anything further. Sa ha tūṣṇīm āsa gārgyaḥ: He held his peace, for his bag was empty.
- sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, etāvan nu iti, etāvad-dhīti; naitāvatā viditam bhavatiti: sa hovāca gārgyaḥ upa tvāyānīti.
When Bālāki did not speak further, kept quiet, Ajātaśatru queried: "Is this all, or is there anything further for you to tell me; is everything over?" Etāvad-dhīti: "That is all," he replied. "I have nothing else to tell." So, the chapter of instruction which Bālāki gave to Ajātaśatru is complete. Then, naitāvatā viditam bhavatiti, Ajātaśatru spoke: "With this, one does not become learned. With this little learning that you have, and have posed before me, you cannot be said to have known Brahman." Sa hovāca gārgyaḥ upa tvāyānīti: Gārgya understood where actually he was positioned. "Yes; I appreciate what you say. I, now, approach you as your disciple. There is no other alternative for me. I came with the idea of teaching you. Now I have to stand before you as your student."
- sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, pratilomaṁ cai tad yad brāhmanaḥ kṣatriyam upeyāt, brahma me vakṣyatīti, vy eva tvājñapayiṣyāmīti; tam pānāv ādayottasthau. tau ha puruṣam suptam ājagmatuḥ, tam etair nāmabhir āmantrayām cakre, bṛhan pāṇḍara-vāsaḥ soma rājann iti: sa nottasthau; tam pāṇinā peṣam bodhayāṁ cakāra, sa hottasthau.
Ajātaśatru speaks: "This is very strange. How is it possible that ou come to me as a disciple? This is contrary to accepted tradition, because you are a Brāhmaṇa, and I am a Kṣatriya. Kṣatriyas learn from Brāhmaṇas, not the other way round. So, how is it possible that a learned Brāhmaṇa like you comes to me, a ruling king, a Kṣatriya, a prince, for instruction on Brahma-Vidyā? This has never happened up to this time, and it should not happen also. I cannot take you as my disciple. It is not permissible, as you know well. However, I can enlighten you on the subject. I shall tell you what the truth is, without considering myself as your master, regarding you as my disciple." And, what did Ajātaśatru say? He took Bālāki by the hand, led him somewhere near a person who was fast asleep. He then called that person who was sleeping, accosted him by the name of the Prāṇa which was the object of Bālāki's meditation, reference to which has been made in the section we have passed through already. Tam etair nāmabhir āmantrayām cakre, bṛhan pāṇḍara-vāsaḥ soma rājann iti: sa nottasthau: "O white-robed one (that was the object of Bālāki's meditation), Soma-rājann, the Prāṇa residing in the moon, get up from sleep." But the man did not wake up when he was called by the name of the Prāṇa in this manner. Tam pāṇinā peṣam bodhayāṁ cakāra, sa hottasthau: Then Ajātaśatru pushed that man with his hand, two or three times, shook him strongly. And the sleeping person woke up at once. This becomes an occasion for further instruction on the nature of the Self.
- sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, yatraiṣa etat supto'bhūt, ya eṣa vijñānamayaḥ, puruṣaḥ, kvaiṣa tadābhūt, kuta etad āgād iti. tad u ha na mene gārgyaḥ.
- sa hovāca ajātaśatruḥ, yatraiṣa etat supto'bhūt eṣa vijñānamayaḥ, vijñānamayaḥ puruṣaḥ, tad eṣām prāṇānām vijñānena vijñānam ādāya ya eso'ntar-hṛdaya ākāṣaḥ tasmiñ chete, tāni yadā gṛhṇāti atha haitat puruṣaḥ svapiti nāma. tad gṛhīta eva prāṇo bhavati, gṛhītā vāk, gṛhītaṁ cakṣuḥ, gṛhītaṁ śrotram, gṛhītaṁ manaḥ.
Wherever our consciousness is, that is the location of our self, also. So, where are we in the waking state? We are split into a thousand fragments in the waking condition. We are not an integrate personality in waking. We are distracted individuals and have no peace of mind when we are awake. We run here and there in the waking state, for the reason that we are already split into fragments. We are cut into parts. We are never wholes in the waking state. And so it is difficult, in the waking condition, to analyse the true nature of the self. The sleeping condition is an appropriate symbol for teaching the nature of the true Self, or the ātman, in the individual, due to which reason Ajātaśatru u took Bālāki to a sleeping individual, rather than to a waking one. The waking one may appear as good as the sleeping one. But, what is the difference? Both are individuals, both are human beings; in both the self exists, no doubt. But the difference is that consciousness is not centred in itself in the waking state. It is, then, outside among objects. It is meandering through all sundry things, and, therefore, the teaching in the waking condition is more difficult than in the context of sleep. What happens in sleep? Ajātaśatru says that the self is withdrawn in sleep. It is in the centre of itself. It is in the cosmic space, the ether of consciousness – eso'ntar-hṛdaya ākāṣaḥ tasmiñ chete.
Tāni yadā gṛhṇāti atha haitat puruṣaḥ svapiti: When everything is withdrawn by the self into itself, that state is called Svapa, or Svapna, in Sanskrit – svapiti nāma. Tad gṛhīta eva prāṇo bhavati, gṛhītā vāk, gṛhītaṁ cakṣuḥ, gṛhītaṁ śrotram, gṛhītaṁ manaḥ: What happens in sleep? The Prāṇas are drawn back to the self. They gravitate towards the self, rather than to objects of sense. Speech also is withdrawn; you cannot express anything in language, during sleep. The eyes are withdrawn; you cannot see anything there. The ears are withdrawn; you cannot hear anything. The mind, too, is withdrawn; you cannot think, also. All transaction with external things is put an end to and one remains what one really is in the state of deep sleep. And when one is disturbed from sleep, one enters into a state of reverie called dream. And in dream what happens is that the impressions of the experiences one had in waking become objects of experience. So the world of dreams is nothing but the world of impressions of past experience.
- sa yatraitaya svapnāyācarati, te hāsya lokāḥ: tad uta iva mahārājo bhavati, uta iva mahā-brāhmaṇaḥ, uta iva uccāvacam nigacchati: sa yadā māhārajo, jānapadān gṛhītvā sve janapade yathā-kāmam parivarteta, evam evaiṣa etat prāṇān gṛhītvā sve śarīre yathā-kāmam parivartate.
We have our own world in dream. We manufacture our own country, our own residence, our own activity and everything else. This creation of a new world in dream is out of the material of past experience in previous waking conditions. These are the worlds which the dreamer creates. Te hāsya lokāḥ: tad uta iva mahārājo bhavati, uta iva mahā-brāhmaṇaḥ: You become an emperor, or a learned man, whatever you like, in dream, according to your own wish. Uta iva uccāvacam nigacchati: You become high and you can become low; you are rich and you are poor; you are happy or unhappy; you are this and that. Like a lord do you wander in the world of dream. As an emperor or a king may go for excursions in his own country, with a large retinue, hither and thither, likewise is this intellectual or psychological self moving in the world of dream with all the objects that it has created out of its own desires; and it appears as if it is in a world of freedom which has been created by its own imagination and will.
- atha yadā suṣupto bhavati, yadā na kasya cana veda, hitā nāma nādyo dvā-saptatiḥ sahasrāṇi hṛdayāt purītatam abhipratiṣṭhante, tābhiḥ pratyavasṛpya purītati śete, sa yathā kumāro vā mahārājo vā mahā-brāhmaṇo vātighnīm ānandasya gatvā śayīta, evam evaiṣa etac chete.
What happens when the dream ceases and there is a withdrawal of consciousness into sleep? One knows nothing. There are various nerve currents within. They are called the Hīta-Nādis. They are supposed to be seventy-two thousand in number – dvā-saptatiḥ sahasrāṇi. They ramify themselves in every direction throughout the body, and it is through these nerve currents that the mind travels in the waking and the dreaming states. The number of the nerves is so much that one cannot find a single pinpoint of space in the body where these nerves are not. They spread themselves everywhere. Like water pipes moving from one direction to another, in every way, these nerve-currents seem to be pervading throughout the body, and through these currents flows the mind, drawing the consciousness of the self together with it, and so it appears that we are conscious physically. Our physical consciousness, or bodily consciousness, the feeling that the body is conscious in the waking state, is brought about by a mixture of properties affected by the activity of the mind which is the medium between the physical body and the self inside. The mind is not conscious by itself. It is something like a glass pane or a mirror which is not self-luminous. A mirror is not light, for the light comes from somewhere else. But, though the mirror has no light of its own, it can shine through borrowed light to such an extent that we may see only the light there and not the mirror. In a clean glass which is placed in bright sunlight, for instance, we cannot see the solidity of the object there. We see only bright light, nothing else. The presence of the glass is not seen on account of the transparency of the substance and the brilliance of the light that passes through this medium. Likewise, the mind is a kind of transparent substance, we may say, through which the light of the self passes. And it completely absorbs the consciousness into itself. It becomes apparently self-conscious. As the light of the sun may get absorbed into the object, e.g., the glass pane, and the glass itself may appear shining, as if it is itself the light, so the mind, the psychological being in us, apparently assumes the role of consciousness for practical activity in daily life, and it charges the nerve currents with consciousness when it moves through them, and there is a sympathetic action brought about by this mental movement in the physical body also, on account of which the body wakes up as if it is conscious. The body is charged with the force of the self by means of the mind which moves through the currents called Hītas, which are many in number. They are all centred, as if in the hub of a wheel, in the centre of the heart, which is called the Purītat, where the mind sleeps when it is absorbed from all activity. The Purītat is also a central nerve current where the mind gets lodged in the state of deep sleep. It withdraws itself from all these seventy-two thousand nerve channels when it is about to sleep. When it absorbs itself into the centre and goes to the Purītat, does not move outwardly through the nerve currents called Hītas, then, naturally, its apparent conscious activity also ceases. Due to this reason, the body loses consciousness. The body had no consciousness even before, and its real nature is exposed now in sleep. It appeared to be conscious on account of the vibration of consciousness which was communicated to it through the mind. The mind having been withdrawn in sleep, consciousness also automatically withdraws itself, because the consciousness we have is nothing but mental consciousness. And when the mind is thus withdrawn, everything that is sustained by the mind also is put to sleep. You cannot know that you are breathing; you cannot know that you have any personality at all. The senses also cease to act. The eyes, the ears and the other organs of perception are active consciously on account of the operation of the mind, again. The eyes cannot see really, because they are, in fact, unconscious substances. They are fleshy bodies; they are made up of the five elements, they are not conscious entities. But how is it possible that they are seeing, hearing, etc.? That is because they are charged with consciousness. As if a magnet is brought before an iron rod which gets charged by the magnet on account of its proximity to it, the sense-organs get charged with consciousness through their proximity to the mind, and so they begin to act as if they are alive by themselves. But when this withdrawal of the mind takes place in sleep when it goes back to lodgement in the Purītat, the senses lose contact with consciousness. Then the eyes cannot see; the ears cannot hear, etc.
One is very happy. Like an innocent child one sleeps. Like a great king one sleeps. Like a lofty genius one sleeps. Everyone sleeps in the same way. Whether you are a genius, an emperor, or a child, it makes no difference to you. When you are fast asleep, you cannot know what you are. Who knows what one is when one is asleep? One does not know whether one is a rich person or a poor person. It does not mean that the rich person's sleep is more pleasant than the poor one's. Both sleep equally well. The child's sleep and the adult's sleep are the same. The king's sleep and the beggar's sleep are alike. The man's sleep and the woman's sleep do not differ. What happens to all these differences in sleep? Where do they go? They were really not there. Differences are artificially constructed for reasons which are quite apart, not at all connected with the true nature of oneself. When one goes to one's own essential nature, there is a uniformity established, so that the whole universe becomes one mass of being. The sleep of everyone is uniformly structured. There is no up and down or a difference in intensity or degree in the sleeps of different people or different things, whether of an ant or of an elephant. This is so because the Self is one. We all go to a single ocean of consciousness when we are asleep, but when we wake up we become little ripples, small waves with all the idiocyncracies and differences, with a vehemence that asserts itself as independent in its own pattern of individuality, or body-consciousness.
So, in sleep, one is like a child, or an emperor, or a learned genius – all meaning one and the same thing in the delight of sleep, while they mean tremendously different things in waking. There is a vast difference between an emperor and a small baby, but in sleep no such difference exists. All this happens because the Self of the emperor is the same as the Self of the baby. There is no such distinction as the Self of one and the Self of another. There are not many infinites possible. The Self is a Universal Being which manifests itself as individuals in dream and waking. But in sleep these distinctions get abolished, or obliterated, on account of the return of all particularity into the Universal being which is the true Self of all. But this true Self in sleep remains unconscious of itself due to strange reasons. If only we are to be awake in sleep, we would be universally aware at one stroke, and we would not be aware of individualities; we would not be aware of space, time and objectivity. There would be an oceanic awakening into a Being which is the Being of each and every one. That would be the status we would achieve if we are to be conscious in sleep, but, unfortunately for us, we are not conscious in sleep. So we go like fools, and come back like fools, as if nothing has happened. Some wondrous thing has actually happened. A tremendous change has taken place in sleep, but we are totally unaware of this marvellous event. And so we do not know where we went; do not know from where we have come.
Unlimited is the bliss that we experience in sleep. No pleasure of the world can be compared with the pleasure of sleep. Whatever possessions we might have, even if the possession be of the whole earth itself, cannot bring that satisfaction which one has in the state of sleep, where one becomes one's own Self. The realisation of the Self is, therefore, the highest pinnacle of happiness. It is not the possession of things that brings true joy. While the possession of objects of sense and the suzerainty that one wields over others may bring about an apparent satisfaction as a reflected one through the mental being of oneself, that is not true happiness because it comes and goes, it has a beginning and an end, it is a medium that works and not the true Self that reigns. When the true Self works, there is incomparable bliss.
"This was the sleep in which condition this person was, whom I woke up just now. Why should he wake up if I call him? He was very happy there. He had to be shaken up violently, and then he woke up. When he wakes up, he does not become conscious of what he was experiencing in sleep. Immediately he gets switched on to the old routine of mental activity." While the self withdraws itself from all manifestations when it is in sleep, it projects itself in waking through the very channels through which it withdrew itself into sleep. That means to say, the same mind begins to work, and the same senses, the same Prāṇa and the same relationship with objects also obtains. Thus, when we wake up, we are the same old individuals, with the same memories and desires and frustrations, the same body-consciousness, same limitations, etc., absolutely oblivious of what happened in sleep. "This is an indication to you, O Bālāki," says Ajātaśatru, "as to what the Ultimate Reality is. This is the state into which one enters in sleep, and it is not any particular form or a shape. It is Universal Existence. This is the ātman; this is Brahman."
King Ajātaśatru answers his own question as to the nature of that condition which is responsible for one's falling into sleep and also for one's rising up from that state. The state of sleep is a tendency to universality, which is not recognised by the individual set-up of the personality because of the intense connections the mind has with the body and the various forms connected with the body. It is a state of universal dissolution, as it were, though actually the dissolution does not take place. There is a pull exerted on the person from different corners or aspects or parts of reality, we may say, so that, that becomes an irresistible state. It is not that something ordinary or well known happens is sleep; it is something uncanny, weird and super-sensible that takes place there. Every part of the make-up of the personality is pulled in different directions. By what, is the question. By Reality itself. Various answers have been given as to why one falls asleep at all. Why is there a tendency to sleep? There are those who think it is due to the fatigue of the senses and the exhaustion of the mind in pursuit of happiness. The whole of the day is spent by the mind and the senses, pursuit of pleasure, satisfaction to the ego and the senses. But this satisfaction does not come from the source from where it is expected. The reason is very simple. All the pleasures of life are born of contact of the senses and the mind with corresponding objects, but there is no such thing as a real contact of one thing with another thing in this world. Contacts are impossible because of the independence asserted by all things. Everything has an independent state of its own. That is called the ego; that is called the personality; that is called the differentia of an object, or the individuality of a thing. Even an atom asserts itself; it cannot merge with another atom. There is a kind of self-affirmation manifested in various ways by all beings, due to which a real union of things not possible by mere sensory contact or even a psychological coming together. On account of this difficulty, the pleasures of sense and of the mind, the ego become a mere phantasm. They are only a makeshift, a kind of show, but really the thing expected does not come forth from that source. So, there is an exhaustion, a fatigue at the end of the day, and then the mind goes back to that source from where it has come originally and to which it really belongs. The examples given in the Upaniṣhads are some such things as these.
Just as a bird goes about hunting for its prey throughout the day, in the sky, searches for its grub, wanders about throughout the corners of the earth, gets exhausted and goes back to its nest at night, and sleeps there, so is this personality of ours an inscrutable something. We do not know whether to call it a soul, or a mind, or an ego, or a personality, or what. Some mix-up and a mixture of everything is there which we call the individual. It returns to its source for the sake of refreshing itself from the exhaustion to which it has been subjected by the search for happiness in the outer world. Other people are of the opinion that it is the Reality that pulls the individual back to itself, in sleep. Whether one is aware of this state or not is a different matter, but the pull is there. It is like a blindfolded person forcibly taken to the throne of an emperor and placed there. Yes, he is on the throne, no doubt, but he is blindfolded and knows not what is happening. A force is exerted which is super-individualistic, and that is practically identical with the Absolute state of things from which the whole universe arises. This is what seems to be the doctrine of King Ajātaśatru in respect of the source of sleep, and the cause of sleep.
- sa yathorṇanābhiś tantunoccaret, yathāgneḥ kśudrā visphuliṅgā vyuccaranti, evam evāsmād ātmanaḥ sarve prāṇaḥ, sarve lokāḥ, sarve devāḥ. sarvāni bhūtāni vyuccaranti: tasyopaniṣat, satyasya satyam iti prāṇā vai satyam, teṣām eṣa satyam.
Just as a spider vomits out web from its own mouth and then moves about through the very structure it has projected out of its mouth, just as sparks of fire jet forth from a flaming conflagration, something like this is the analogy of creation. The universe is manifested in this manner, as it were, if at all you wish to have a comparison. No comparison can be apt in this matter, of course, as is well known. The example that the creative process is something like the spider ejecting web is to point out that the material of the universe comes from the cause itself. The cause is not merely an instrumental one, but it is also the material cause. The substance of the world is of the nature of its cause, just as the substance of the thread that comes from the mouth of the spider is the substance of the spider itself. It does not come from somewhere else. The spider does not manufacture the threads as a potter manufactures pots out of clay which comes from somewhere, or as a carpenter makes a table or a chair out of wood that comes from outside. Not so. It is from the very Being, which is the cause, that the substance of the universe comes. This point is apparently made out by the analogy of the creative process being something like the spider manufacturing threads out of its own body. The other analogy that it is something like sparks of fire coming out of flames is to show the similarity in essence of the effect with the cause. The effect is not essentially dissimilar, in character, to the cause, just as the spark is not dissimilar in essence, from its cause, which is fire. Ultimately, everything, even the meanest and the lowest of creation, is qualitatively identical with the Supreme Cause. In this way, creation is effected by the Absolute, which is the Supreme Reality. From the Supreme Self everything proceeds. All the energies and all the senses (Prāṇa), everything that we call mentation, understanding, or intellection; all these worlds (Loka), the various realms of being; all the celestials (Deva), the angels in paradise; all the planes of existence, everything created, whatever is called a created being (Bhūtani); – all these are emanations from the Absolute Self. That appears as all this multiplicity.
Tasyopaniṣat, satyasya satyam iti: The secret is that it is the Reality of reality. The whole of creation may be a kind of reality, no doubt, so far as it is being experienced by us, but the Absolute is the Reality behind this reality. Prāṇā vai satyam, teṣām eṣa satyam: Individual souls are realities, no doubt, but the Supreme Being is the Reality behind these souls, also. The individual structure, the soul, the Jīva constituted of the senses and the mind, etc., is a relative reality, but this Ultimate cause is the Absolute Reality. It is absolutely real because it does not change itself, and is not subject to transcendence. It is not limited by the processes of time; it is not conditioned by space; it is not finitised by objects, and, therefore, it is absolutely real. In all the three periods of time, it is the same, and every point of space contains it entirely. Therefore, it is absolutely real (satyasya satyam), while everything else is empirically real. All things have a utilitarian value, a practical or temporary significance, not an absolute meaning.
Thus, Ajātaśatru gives a comprehensive answer to the questions he posed before Bālāki, the learned person, by a refutation of all the notions of reality held by the latter; and with the declaration that the Self is the Ultimate Reality from which everything proceeds in various ways, the conversation is concluded. But the subject of the discourse is continued by the Upaniṣhad, though without a direct connection with this conversation.