The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter III

Ninth Brahmana: Many Gods and One Brahman

But, there was one man who would not listen to this advice. He had to do something, and he puts a very intricate question. He was the last man to query. There were eight people who put questions. Now the eighth man comes and he dies actually, in the very audience, due to an incident that took place on account of too much meaningless querying. He was called Śākalya.

  1. atha hainam vidagdhaḥ śākalyaḥ papraccha: katy devāḥ, yājñavalkya, iti. sa haitayaiva nividā pratipede, yāvanto vaiśvadevasya nividy ucyante; trayaś ca trī ca śatā, trayaś ca trī ca sahasreti. aum iti. hovāca, katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya, iti. trayaś triṁśad iti. aum iti. hovāca, katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya, iti. ṣaḍ iti. aum iti. hovāca, katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya, iti. traya iti. aum iti. hovāca, katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya, iti. drāv iti. aum iti. hovāca, katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya, iti. adhyardha iti. aum iti. hovāca, katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya, iti. eka iti, aum iti, hovāca katame te trayaś ca trī ca sahasreti.

Atha hainam vidagdhaḥ śākalyaḥ papraccha: This gentleman gets up and asks certain questions. They are very very long queries, and very long answers also are given. "How many gods are there?" This is what Vidagdha Śākalya wanted to know. The question put to Yājñavalkya by Śākalya means this much – katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya, iti.  Sa haitayaiva nividā pratipede, yāvanto vaiśvadevasya nividy ucyante. When the question "How many gods are there?" was put, Yājñavalkya contemplated the list of gods given in a passage, or a Mantra of the Veda called the Nivid, which has reference to a group of gods called Viśvedevas. And in accordance with the statement made in that Mantra, called the Nivid in the Veda, Yājñavalkya says: Trayaś ca trī ca śatā:  "Three hundred and three." The answer was given. Then he says: Trayaś ca trī ca sahasreti: "Three thousand and three." "All right! Let me see," was the retort of Śākalya. Katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya: "Is this the answer that you give me to my question, how many gods are there? Three thousand and three; three hundred and three! Have you no other answer to this question?" Then Yājñavalkya gives another answer. Trayaś triṁśad iti: "There are thirty-three gods." Aum iti. hovāca: "All right!" Again he asks, not being satisfied with this answer. "Tell me again properly; how many gods are there?" – katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya. Ṣaḍ iti:  "Six are there." "All right!" He was not satisfied; he again asks a question. Hovāca, katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya: "How many gods are there. Tell me again. Think properly." Traya iti: "Only three gods are there." Aum iti. hovāca, katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya: Not being satisfied, he asks again: "How many gods are there? Tell again.Drāv iti: "Two gods are there." Again he asks a question, not being satisfied. "Tell again; how many gods are there?" Katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya. "One and a half gods" – adhyardha iti. Then he was very much upset. "What is this you say, one and a half gods. Tell again properly; how many gods are there?" – Katy eva devāḥ, yājñavalkya. Eka iti: "One god is there," he said finally. So, a series was recounted by Yājñavalkya in a very humorous manner, all of which has some meaning which will be mentioned in the following passages. Katame te trayaś ca trī ca sahasreti: "All these numbers that you have mentioned – three thousand and three, three hundred and three – what are these gods? Give the names of these gods, the deities." Then Yājñavalkya said:

  1. sa hovāca, mahimāna evaiṣām ete, trayas trimśat tv eva devā iti. katame te trayas triṁśad iti. aṣṭau vasavaḥ ekādaśa rudrāḥ, dvādaśādityāḥ, te ekatriṁśat indraś caiva prajāpatiś ca trayastriṁśāv iti.

Sa hovāca, mahimāna evaiṣām ete, trayas trimśat tv eva devā iti: "All these three thousand and all that I mentioned – they are not really gods. They are only manifestations of the thirty-three. The thirty-three are the principal manifestations, and others are only their glories, radiances, manifestations, magnificences or forces, energies, powers." "But what are these thirty-three?" katame te trayas triṁśad iti. "The thirty-three gods are eight Vasus, eleven Rudras, twelve ādityas – they make thirty-one (ekatriṁśat) – then Indra and Prajāpati – these make thirty-three gods."

Now, these are called gods in a very special sense, and there is a meaning behind their being designated as gods. The term 'god' means a power that causally works inside a form. That which regulates from inside any particular individual, groups of individuals, etc. is the god of that individual or the god of that group of individuals. In a broad sense we may say, the cause of anything is the deity of that thing. Now again we have to bring to our mind the meaning of the word 'cause'. The deity does not operate as an external cause. The sun as the cause of the eye is not the sun that is ninety-three million miles away, disconnected from the eye in space. That principle which controls the eye or any other organ has something to do internally also with the structure of the organ. Likewise is the case with every other function. The god of any particular phenomenon is the invisible presence. So it will be mentioned here in the following passages that every visible object has a presiding deity inside. Even the hands cannot be lifted unless there is a force inside; the eyes cannot wink unless there is a force inside the eyes, likewise with every other function or limb of the individual. What are these Vasus, Rudras and ādityas? They have to be explained. They are not far away from us. They are immanent within us.

  1. katame vasava iti. agniś ca pṛthivī ca vāyuś cāntarikṣaṁ cādityaś ca dyauś ca candramāś ca nakṣatrāṇi ca, ete vasavaḥ, eteṣu hīdam sarvaṁ hitam iti, tasmād vasava iti.

Katame vasava iti: "What are these Vasus which are eight in number?" "Fire is one deity; earth is one deity; air is another; the atmosphere is one deity; the sun is one deity; the heaven is one deity; moon is one deity; the stars are one deity. These constitute eight groups" – agniś ca pṛthivī ca vāyuś cāntarikṣaṁ cādityaś ca dyauś ca candramāś ca nakṣatrāṇi ca. Ete vasavaḥ: "Why do you call them Vasus?" What is the meaning of the word Vasu? Vasu is that in which something resides. In Sanskrit, Vasu means, to abide. That which is an abode of something; that in which something abides; that which is the repository or the support of something is the Vasu of that thing. Now, these things mentioned here, eight in number, are really the substances, in a subtle form, out of which everything is made, including our own selves. All bodies are constituted of the vibrations of which, ultimately, these principles consist. Agnī, Prthivi, Vāyu, āntariksa, etc. are not solid bodies, though names are given here which are applicable to physical bodies. Even the earth is not a solid body. It is a vibration. It is something difficult to understand for a casual observer. There is no such thing, ultimately, as a 'solid' body. Everything is a conglomeration of forces. Force concretises itself. The increased density of a particular force is the reason why we give it a particular name in a particular context, as it becomes visible. Even these distinctions between earth, fire, air, etc. are tentative distinctions. One is convertible into the other. So we see that there is an internal connection among the gods. We know that solids can become liquids, and liquids can become gases, and anything can be converted into anything by certain processes to which they are subjected. The solidity of the earth; the fierceness of fire, the fine character of air; the glowing nature of the sun, etc., can be attributed to the increased density of the manifestation of the force of which they are all constituted. Distance does not matter here. Even if the sun is so many millions of miles away, it can regulate us, control us. Distance is completely overruled by the existence of invisible powers, cosmic energies that can reach over great distances as immense light does. So, all bodies are constituted of these Vasus. Our physical body, our subtle body and the physical bodies and the subtle bodies of everyone and everything everywhere – all these are made out of the energies of certain forces which go to make up these elements – the fire, the earth, etc. What is there in our body except these things? If you dissect the body of any individual and constituents, you will find that these constituents of the bodies of individuals are nothing but the constituents of these eight principles mentioned. They are, therefore, called Vasus because everything abides in them. Eteṣu hīdam sarvaṁ hitam iti, tasmād vasava iti: "Everything is deposited as it were in these constituent principles. Therefore, they are called Vasus."

  1. katame rudrā iti. daśeme puruṣe prāṇāḥ ātmaikādaśaḥ; te yadāsmāt śarīrān martyād utkrāmanti, atha rodayanti, tad yad rodayanti, tasmād rudrā iti.

Katame rudrā iti: "Who are the Rudras?" The Rudras are inside us. They are not in Mount Kailaśa, as theology would tell you. They are inside us, operating in a particular manner. The powers which constitute the Rudras are the ten senses and the mind. They are eleven in number. "The ten senses and the mind make eleven. These are the Rudras." They make you do whatever they like. They are the controllers of your system. You cannot do anything independent of the senses and the requisites of the mind. What can the body do? What can the individual as a whole do, except in the direction pointed out by the senses and the mind? – katame rudrā iti. daśeme puruṣe prāṇāḥ ātmaikādaśaḥ.

Te yadāsmāt śarīrān martyād utkrāmanti, atha rodayanti, tad yad rodayanti, tasmād rudrā iti: Rudu is to cry, in Sanskrit. "When the senses and the mind leave the body, they make one cry in anguish." One is in a state of grief, and weeps in sorrow due to pain of severance of the senses and the mind from the physical abode. The individual concerned also cries (when they are leaving) and the other people connected with that individual also cry at the time of the departure of what we call the soul in the individual, which is nothing but this total function of the senses and the mind. Inasmuch as these eleven, the senses and the mind, subject the individual to their dictates and make you yield to their demands and clamours, and make you cry in agony if you violate their laws, they are called Rudras.

  1. katama ādityā iti. dvādaśa vai māsāḥ saṁvatsarasya, eta ādityaḥ, ete hīdaṁ sarvam ādadānā yanti; te yad idaṁ sarvam ādadānā yanti, tasmād ādityā iti.

Katama āditya iti: "What are the twelve ādityas, the suns?" They are not twelve suns. "They are twelve forces of the sun," twelve functions of the sun, twelve ways in which the sun's energy works. Dvādaśa vai māsāḥ saṁvatsarasya, eta ādityaḥ, ete hīdaṁ sarvam ādadānā yanti: āditya is a Sanskrit word meaning the sun. The forces of the sun, the movements of the sun, the phases of the sun, take away the lives of people. ādadānā means, they take you, withdraw you, absorb you. Every day is a passing of life. The movement of the sun is not merely a beautiful phenomenon that we can gaze on with wonder every morning. Every rise of the sun is an indication that so much life has gone. Every bell that rings tells you that your death is nearing. And so, these twelve months of the year may be regarded as the twelve functions of the sun. They are twelve functions in the sense that they are responsible for the twelve ways in which the sun influences the individuals on earth and the entire atmosphere around it. The movement of the planets, and other stellar bodies in connection with the location of the sun, becomes responsible for what we call the twelve months in the passage of time. And inasmuch as there is such movement which is twelve in number, there is a twelvefold influence of the sun on things around, and these twelve influences of the sun are called twelve ādityas, by way of symbology. And they are called ādityas because they withdraw the lives of things. They cause transiency in things. They are the cause of the perishability of bodies – ādadānā yanti; te yad idaṁ sarvam ādadānā yanti, tasmād ādityā iti: Time, actually is meant here, which "takes away the vitality of people."

  1. katama indraḥ, katamaḥ prajāpatir iti, stanayitnur evendraḥ, yajñaḥ prajāpatir iti. katamaḥ stanayitnur iti. aśanir iti. katamo yajña iti, paśava iti.

Who is Indra? The power that overpowers everybody, that is Indra. The energy that is with you by which you assert yourself and feel a confidence in yourself is Indra. Even if you are a weakling, you feel a confidence sometimes. That confidence comes due to a hidden potentiality in you, a power in you which is beyond your present conceivable capacity. Katama indraḥ, katamaḥ prajāpatir iti. "Who is Indra? Who is Prajāpati?" (other gods who are mentioned in the list) Stanayitnur evendraḥ: "The rain cloud can be called Indra. Yajñaḥ prajāpatir iti: Sacrifice can be called Prajāpati." Katamaḥ stanayitnur iti: "What do you mean by rain cloud?" "By rain cloud I do not actually mean the cloud, but the lightning which is the embodiment of energy." Indra, therefore, is the designate of force which overwhelms other forces. It is Indra because it rules. It rules in the sense that nothing can stand in its presence. So, in short, Indra represents here a deity designating a force present in every individual, yourself and myself included, a force that can give you the confidence of there being nothing impossible for you. That hidden hope and energy which is present even in the smallest creature is God Himself, revealing Himself in some minute form. A ruler in everybody and the energy that is hiddenly present in every individual is what the term Indra conveys in this context.

Yajñaḥ prajāpatir iti: Prajāpati is the Supreme Being Himself. He is identified with Yajña, or sacrifice. Here, sacrifice does not mean merely oblations in a sacred fire, but a compulsion exerted upon every individual body by this Prajāpati, or the Universal Virāt, or Hiraṇyagarbha, by which it becomes obligatory on the part of every individual to accede to the Law of this Being. Sacrifice is a form of self-surrender. What is sacrifice? It is an offering of what you have and what you are in some measure in the direction of something which you regard as the goal. Now, here the goal is Prajāpati. He is called Yajña, and he is identified with paśava iti. The individual is called the victim of the sacrifice because of the compulsion exerted upon it by the goal of the sacrifice. We are all victims of the sacrifice in the sense that we are obliged, compelled, forced to yield to a law which is transcendent to our own selves. It is not true that we are entirely free, though it looks as if we are like that. Our freedom is conditioned by the necessity of that law which operates within us as the Antāryamin, and which calls for a sacrifice on our part, not in the sense of offering ghee, etc. in fire, but the surrender of our own value to the Eternal Value. Therefore, in that sense, Prajāpati, Yajña – Supreme Sacrifice, includes within Himself everything that is the victim of the sacrifice, which means to say, every individual is included in the universal.

  1. katame ṣaḍ iti. agniś ca pṛthivī ca vāyuś cāntarikṣaṁ cādityaś ca dyauś ca, ete ṣat; ete hīdaṁ sarvaṃ ṣad iti.

Katame ṣad iti: "How many gods are there? You said six gods." "The six are the same as already mentioned, minus two. Agnis ca prithivi ca vayus cantariksam cadityas ca dyaus ca, ete sat: ete hidam sarvam sad iti: The fire principle, the earth principle, the atmospheric principle, the sun and the moon, the sun and the heavens – these are the six. So they are not new things. I have already mentioned eight. Two I have excluded. By excluding two, I tell you, six gods are there."

  1. katame te trayo devā iti. ima eva trayo lokāḥ, eṣu hīme sarve devā iti. katamau tau dvau devāv iti, annaṁ caiva prāṇaś ceti. katamo'dhyardha iti, yo yam pavata iti.

Now – katame te trayo devā iti: "What are the three gods? The three worlds themselves are the three gods." We do not have gods outside the universe. They are inside the universe. In traditional theology, sometimes we are told that gods are outside. They are in paradise; they are in heaven. It is not true. They are not outside. The word 'outside' is inapplicable to the connection of gods to the bodies over which they preside. I have already mentioned, they are like causes with effects. They are immanently hidden in the bodies, which they preside over, which they control, and which are the effects thereof. So, the universe includes every effect – your body, my body and every body. All the fourteen realms of beings, called the Lokas, are what we call the worlds. They are constituted of three levels – the higher, the middle and the lower. These three worlds are the entire creation. These three levels may be regarded as the gods in the sense that the threefold conceivable division of the Eternal Reality in respect of these three worlds is the threefold god. Inasmuch as the gods are inseparable from the worlds, the worlds themselves are called gods, just as your body is pointed out by some other person, saying, "this is the person". This is not the person! The person is something transcendent to your body, and yet you identify the personality of yours, or the person in you, with the body that is appearing outside. Likewise, the worlds are identified with the gods which preside over them. So, in a way, the three worlds are the three gods. No other god, or gods, exist. Katame te trayo devā iti. ima eva trayo lokāḥ, eṣu hīme sarve devā iti: "All the gods are inside the three worlds." They are not outside. Even the heavens are inside these three worlds only.

Katamau tau dvau devāv iti: Now finally he says: "There are two gods." "Who are the two gods?" Annaṁ caiva prāṇaś ceti: "Energy and matter – these are the two gods." The whole universe consists of matter and energy. There is nothing else. Outwardly it is matter, inwardly it is energy. And these may be called the ultimate gods in one sense, matter and energy, called here Anna and Prāṇa. "Be satisfied Śākalya," says Yājñavalkya.

In the enumeration of the number of gods, in the conversation which one of the learned men in the assembly had been sage Yājñavalkya, the sage referred to various principles and designated them as gods because of their being causes of the corresponding effects in a special manner; not as extraneous or instrumental causes, but as immanent causes, inseparable from the effects of which they were presiding as superintending deities. And enumerating this number of the gods, he comes to a point where he said, in one context, that the "God is one and a half" by which he means that the Cosmic Vital Force functions in two ways, cosmically and individually. In its comprehensive transcendent aspect it is one; there is nothing second to it. But, inasmuch as it appears as if it is whole, even in individuals, it makes each individual imagine that he or she or it is complete and not a part thereof. This capacity of the Cosmic Prāṇa, or Sūtra-ātman, to remain complete in the Cosmic status and yet make the individuals also complete in themselves, is responsible for the designation of this force as one and a half. It is this way and that way, both ways – katamo'dhyardha iti, yo yam pavata iti.

  1. tad āhuḥ, yad ayam eka ivaiva pavate, atha katham adhyardha iti. yad asminn idaṁ sarvam adhyārdhnot, tenādhyardha iti, katama eko deva iti. prāṇa iti, sa brahma, tyad ity ācakṣate.

Tad āhuḥ, yad ayam eka ivaiva pavate, atha katham adhyardha iti: "There is one Being which is the Sūtra-ātman, the Supreme Vāyu Principle; how do you call it one and a half?" For that the answer is given by Yājñavalkya. Yad asminn idaṁ sarvam adhyārdhnot, tenādhyardha iti, katama eko deva iti. prāṇa iti, sa brahma, tyad ity ācakṣate: "Because of the fact, as mentioned, that everything flourishes on account of the function of this Vital Force." Adhyārdhnot has been translated as 'flourish', or that which is responsible for the nourishment of people. It is present in every individual, and yet it remains transcendent, so it is called Tyat. Tyat means remote. To the individuals, this Cosmic Immanent Being appears as a remote Reality, this is why we refer to God as something other than us, 'That'. The demonstrative pronoun 'That', which is usually used in pointing out or referring to the Universal Reality, is inapplicable, really. You cannot actually call it 'That', as if it is there far off in distant space. This Tyat, or Thatness, Bhūtātathata, as usually philosophers call it, is the Tyat mentioned in this passage, because of its transcendent character from the point of the individuals to whom it remains an external Reality and a cause, though it is also immanent in them. It is the Brahman, the Supreme which is, and which in other words is known in Vedānta language as the Hiraṇyagarbha principle.

Eight Different Persons and Their Corresponding Divinities

Now follow a series of mystical contemplations which are peculiar to this Upaniṣhad, and Upaniṣhads in general. They are very strange, indeed, to people who are not accustomed to esoteric concepts and subtle meditations on the forces which work inside visible forms; to minds which are accustomed to forms alone and cannot conceive of the inner connection of these principles with the forms. The purpose of the Upaniṣhad, in what follows, especially, is to give us a series of meditations, not in the sense you think meditation is, but in a novel form, a strange form, a fantastic form. However, it is very common and normal to the Upaniṣhadic thinkers who are accustomed to conceive everything as sacred and holy. Especially to the Vedas and the Upaniṣhads there is nothing unholy, nothing secular, nothing profane, nothing external, nothing material. Everything is spiritual radiance. And therefore, to people who are used to making the bifurcation of the sacred and the profane, the good and the bad, the inside and the outside, the divine and the undivine, these meditations will look very strange. But we have to take our minds back to the ancient atmosphere of the Upaniṣhad in order to be able to understand what actually it means. We should not think as people do in the twentieth century if we are to understand the spirit of the Upaniṣhad. We have to go back to the atmosphere, to the circumstances, and the way in which the minds of these people worked. As I mentioned to you in a few words, they had a very large concept of everything. They could see a whole universe in a small grain of sand. We cannot see that. That is the only difference. We see insignificance in such particles as a grain of sand, but can see a tremendous significance the moment we are able to probe into the structure of this little formation.

The distinction between right and wrong, good and bad, arises on account of the universal and the particular. And as long as these distinctions are made by us, everything else follows automatically. They are to be abolished. The whole point is that. That is the purpose of meditation.

  1. pṛthivy eva yasyāyatanam, agnir lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vai tam puruṣaṁ vidyāt sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, sa vai veditā syāt, yājñavalkya. veda vā ahaṁ tam puruṣaṁ sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇaṁ, yam āttha; ya evāyaṁ śārīraḥ puruṣaḥ, sa eṣah. vadaiva śākalya, tasya kā devatā iti. amṛtam iti hovāca.

Pṛthivy eva yasyāyatanam: Now, the meditations enumerated here begin with the physical body itself, which is not a 'brother ass', as you would like to call it, but something which has divinity in it. And you will find everything has something divine in it if you only go deep into its function, its existence and its relevance to the context to which it is connected. This body itself is an object of meditation. You will be surprised to know that the body can be an object of meditation. You try to get out of this body, but there is no 'getting out' or 'getting in' in the Upaniṣhads. Everything is all right provided it is taken in its proper place. Anything can take you to the Supreme Being. Even the smallest creature, even the tiniest little object, even the worst of conceivable things – everything can take you to the Ultimate Reality provided you are able to conceive, in a proper way, the connection that it has got with the Ultimate Cause of all causes. There is nothing that is not connected with this Ultimate Reality. Everything is, in some way or the other, connected with it. As all roads lead to Rome, everything leads to God. So, the physical body is the object of contemplation in this passage where Śākalya queries of Yājñavalkya in this respect.

Pṛthivy eva yasyāyatanam, agnir lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vai tam puruṣaṁ vidyāt sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, sa vai veditā syāt, yājñavalkya: Now, Śākalya puts a question to sage Yājñavalkya. "I regard, Yājñavalkya, that person as a real knower who can know or tell me what is that Being or Reality, whose support is the earth, whose eye is the fire principle, and whose light of understanding is the mind. Whoever knows what this is, can be regarded as a knower. Do you know this Being?" This is the question of Śākalya to Yājñavalkya. Everyone resorts to this Being. It is the support of all. Everyone loves it. And it is constituted of the physical elements. It works through the fire principle in its function of perception through the eye, and it thinks through the mind. What is that? "I know what is this," says Yājñavalkya. "I quite appreciate your question and I know the answer to your query. What is that Being you are asking, I tell you. Veda vā ahaṁ tam puruṣaṁ sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇaṁ, yam āttha: I know that repository, or reservoir, or resort of all beings to which you are making a reference. It is this body itself."

It is this physical body of the human being which is constituted of the earth in its essence. Therefore it is called pṛthivy eva yasyāyatanam. It is the earth which is its abode. It is formed of the earth element, principally. You know very well that it cannot see unless there is a fire principle associated with it. The body's guiding light is nothing but its own mind. Everyone knows that mind is the guide of a person. We always take the advice of the mind.

So, this is the description of the Being to which everyone resorts and which is a deity by itself. "This physical body is the deity to which you are referring – ya evāyaṁ śārīraḥ puruṣaḥ, sa eṣah. vadaiva śākalya: Śākalya, put further questions if you have anything more to ask." Tasya kā devatā iti: "What is the deity of this body? I regard this body itself as a deity inasmuch as it is resorted to by everybody as a beloved object. Now I ask; has it also got a deity? Does it also depend upon something else? Is there something which it also worships, adores and depends upon." "Yes! Amṛtam iti hovāca: The Amṛta is the immortal essence, due to which the body exists, for the sake of which it is struggling day and night, and which is the food and the very life of this body." Amṛta was referred to in an earlier section of the Upaniṣhad as the Antāryamin – eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛitaḥ. In the Antāryamin Brāhmaṇa, which we have already studied earlier, we were told that the Antāryamin, or the Immanent God, the Supreme Immanent Principle, the Reality of all individuals, is immortal. That is therefore called Amrita, nectar, ambrosia. It is this immortal nectar, this ambrosia like Reality, which keeps this physical body in a hopeful existence, otherwise it would wither away like a dry leaf. We cannot exist by merely clinging to the body as an Ultimate Reality. It has a reality of its own. It is an instrument for further action in life. You know the utility of the body. It does not need further explanation. But it is not an Ultimate Reality; it is a dependent reality; it is an auxiliary; it is an accessory for further higher achievements. Thus, while the physical body is a value by itself, it has a higher value upon which it hangs, and that is Amṛta, the Immortal Being.

Now, in these descriptions you will be wondering, what is the meditational aspect involved? That aspect is difficult to understand. We have to go deep into the mind of these people. What they intend to tell us is that the object becomes a deity, whatever that object be, if you regard it as non-separable from you. In that sense everything is a god in this world. You can say, there are millions of gods just as there are millions of atoms in the universe which you cannot even count. They become gods in the sense that they are values by themselves. And their spiritual value comes into relief when we are in a position to appreciate the service they can render to us in our evolution, when we befriend them as our own selves. The value of a person, the value of a thing can be known only when we befriend that person or thing. When you become one with that object, you know the worth of it. And so, everything becomes an object of adoration, an object of servicefulness and divinity by itself, veritably, if it be taken as an ideal other than which nothing exists for you, for the time being at least. In the particular stage in which you are, it is an 'ultimate' reality for you. If we study the Taittirīya Upaniṣhad, we would be able to appreciate the nature of the ascent of thought through which we are taken gradually by these meditations. In the third section of the Taittirīya Upaniṣhad, a sage (Bhrigu) is asked to contemplate on various degrees of reality, right from matter onwards – Anna, Prāṇa, Manas, Vijñāna, ānanda. These are the stages through which the mind passes. Matter is one deity by itself. It is a god; it is a reality. So, even the lowest conceivable reality, the inanimate substance, is a reality. Inasmuch as it is a reality, it is a divinity. And inasmuch as it is a divinity, it is an object of worship and adoration. Thus even matter is god, said the Master, in the Taittirīya Upaniṣhad. But, there are higher concepts of this existence, and so the mind is taken gradually from matter to vital energy – Prāṇa, from there to the mind, from there to intellect and then to ānanda (bliss). The same thing is repeated in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣhad in a different manner. The body is no doubt regarded as a value by itself in its material sense, yet dependent upon the immortal Being inside it, which exists hidden as a Reality. The inner constituents of the physical body – Prāṇa, Manas, Vijñāna, etc. – are also taken into consideration here.

  1. kāma eva yasyāyatanam, hṛdayaṁ lokāḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vai tam puruṣaṁ vidyāt sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, sa vai veditā syāt, yājñavalkya. veda vā ahaṁ taṁ puruṣaṁ sarvasya ātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, yam āttha; ya evāyam kāmamayaḥ puruṣaḥ sa eṣaḥ. vadaiva, śākalya, tasya kā devatā iti. striyaḥ, iti hovāca.

Now, Yājñavalkya's answers go on, ranging from the physical level up to the highest level. Inside the physical body, there is a vital energy which functions as desire, or rather is the instrument of the manifestation of desire in the individual. It is the Prāṇa that is inside which becomes responsible for the action of the mind in terms of desire for objects of sense. This vital force also becomes a deity, and in a particular level it is a great value by itself. In India's culture, Dharma, Artha, Kāma, Mokṣha – these four ideals are regarded as the aims of existence. They are aims of existence, and therefore, they are tremendous realities. The desires of the human beings are not to be regarded as outside the purview of Reality, even as the economic values on which they depend and which they need are also realities by themselves. They become realities under certain conditions. Dharmā virudho bhūtesu kāmo'smi: "I am the desire in beings which is not contradictory to the Ultimate Reality of things." This is what Bhagavan Sri Krishna tells us in the Bhagavadgītā.

The physical needs of life known as Artha, the vital needs known as Kāma, or desire, become realities, as they ought to be, of course, provided they are bound together by the cord of Dharma. They become part and parcel of the reality of life in its more comprehensive form, namely, Dharma, or Law, and they become citizens of a wider area. This Dharma, as you know very well, is a very enigmatic term. It really signifies the Law that operates from the point of view of ultimate liberation of individuals – Mokṣha. It is the law of Mokṣha that operates as Dharma in this world, and it is Dharma which is the law of Mokṣha that becomes responsible for giving any value at all to Artha and Kāma. So, ultimately, Mokṣha is the Supreme value. But it is present in the lower categories also. Just as the transcendent is present immanently in lower categories, Mokṣha is present in the lowest categories also and not only in the heaven as an after – death reality. Mokṣha is not an after – death realisation. It is a universal experience, and therefore, because of its being universal, its law operates in everything, in every degree of reality, in every stage of evolution, and every value that you conceive as necessary.

So, here, Yājñavalkya tells us that desire by itself, in its operation as an aspect of the mind in the human individual, its abode being the physical body, as mentioned earlier, is also a value by itself. Taken by itself it may look odd, but when it is taken in its connection with the other degrees of reality, the physical body, the higher realities like mind, intellect, etc., it becomes a necessary stepping stone to the evolution of the mind. Yājñavalkya says: "I know what is this Kāmamaya Puruṣha, the desireful individual." It is the vital body inside the physical body, and its deity is its own object, whatever be that object. The object of desire is the deity of that desire. It becomes a binding principle when the object is outside. Now, here is the secret of desire. Desire is binding when its object is outside, but it is liberating when its object is its own deity. It becomes an ultimate reality by itself, so that desire has got merged into the object. And in every stage of meditation mentioned here in the Taittirīya Upaniṣhad, the object thereof is contemplated as ultimate reality. Matter is ultimate; Prāṇa is ultimate; mind is ultimate; intellect is ultimate; ānanda (bliss) is ultimate. Everything is ultimate. How can many things be ultimate? They are ultimate from your point of view, from the point of view of the stage in which you are, and therefore, when you complete a particular stage, that which is above you becomes the next reality for you, so that every degree is a reality by itself.

  1. rūpāṇy eva yasyāyatanam, cakṣur lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vāi tam puruṣaṁ vidyāt sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, sa vai veditā syāt, yājñavalkya. veda vā ahaṁ tam puruṣaṁ sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, yam āttha; ya evāsāv āditye puruṣaḥ, sa eṣaḥ. vadaiva, śākalya. tasya kā devatā iti. satyam iti hovāca.

Rūpāṇy eva yasyāyatanam, cakṣur lokaḥ: The very act of perception through the eyes also is an object of adoration. You can see God through perception. It is not possible to see the Reality in the act of perception because of the fact that we do not know or visualise the connection between our eye that perceives and the object that is perceived. As I mentioned, we regard objects as outside. Therefore, we are caught. The divinity present in things gets revealed when the connection between the object outside and the subject that perceives is appreciated in its proper form.

Yājñavalkya is queried by Śākalya by another question: "What is that reality of which form is the abode, eye is the light of perception, and mind is the guide? What is that?" Yājñavalkya says, "I know what it is. It is that Being which is in the eye and which is in the sun." The two are identical, ultimately. On what are they based? Why are you considering them as identical? In what sense can you say that the eye is one with the sun? Apparently they are different. They are so distant. Their connection lies in the fact that both are comprehended in the Virāt Puruṣha. In the Puruṣha-Sūkta and other places we are told that the sun is the eye of the Virāt – cakṣoh sūryo ajāyata. And so, our eyes have some connection, in an indirect manner, with the Supreme Eye of the Virāt, which is the sun. "This Puruṣha, whom you are referring to as the one whose abode is form in acts of perception through the eyes, this Puruṣha is the one in the sun, and its deity is Reality – Satya." What is that reality? It is the Supreme Eye. What is that Supreme Eye? It is the perceptive organ of the Virāt Puruṣha. So, when you consider the connection of the sun and the eye with the Universal Being, Virāt, they become deities by themselves, and are then objects of meditation.

  1. ākāśa eva yasyāyatanam, śrotraṁ lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vai tam puruṣaṁ vidyāt sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, sa vai veditā syāt, yājñavalkya. veda vā ahaṁ tam puruṣaṁ sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, yam āttha; ya evāyaṁ śrautraḥ prātiśrutkaḥ puruṣaḥ sa eṣaḥ. vadaiva, śākalya. tasya kā devatā iti. diśaḥ iti hovāca.

ākāśa eva yasyāyatanam, etc. "What is that Being," asks Śākalya, "whose abode is the all-pervading space, ears are the instruments of perception, and the mind is the real operating instrument?" Yājñavalkya says: "I know that. That Being is the function of the ears whose deities are the quarters, the divinities presiding over the different directions." The eye was said to have been presided over by the sun, and likewise, the ears are presided over by the divinities of the quarters. If the quarters can be identified with the act of hearing sounds, and if we do not consider sound as merely an object coming from a distant source, as something which impinges upon the eardrums, then we would be able to know the connection between the distant space and the ears within us. There will be no distance at all. The distance between the object outside and the instrument of perception gets transcended, or ceases, the moment identification is established between the instrument of cognition and the object in the act of meditation.

  1. tama eva yasyāyatanaṁ, hṛdayaṁ lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vai taṁ puruṣaṁ vidyāt sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, sa vai veditā syāt, yājñavalkya. veda vā ahaṁ tam puruṣaṁ sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, yam āttha; ya evāyaṁ chāyāmayaḥ puruṣaḥ sa eṣaḥ. vadaiva, śākalya. tasya kā devatā iti, mṛtyur iti hovāca.

Tama eva yasyāyatanaṁ, etc: "Darkness is the abode of something. Is there something whose abode is darkness? And for whom the heart is the perceiving medium, hṛdayaṁ lokaḥ, and the mind is the guide? Here, again, what is that Being whose abode is darkness?" Yajñavalka says: "I know what you are referring to. It is the phantom perception in our daily life which you are referring to as that Being whose abode is darkness. What is this phantom perception? Chāyāmayaḥ puruṣaḥ: Shadow is its Being."

Our daily perceptions are not true perceptions. They are fragmentary and distorted. We do not see things properly. The light of perception in respect of objects in our waking life is really a manifestation of darkness. It is ignorance that is parading as knowledge in our sensory perceptions. Merely because it has a utilitarian value, it does not mean that it is the Ultimate Reality. Because it is based on ignorance, it is called darkness. What is this darkness? What is this sort of ignorance that you refer to? It is the ignorance of the ultimate nature of things. That objects are outside is not true. This is the essence of the ignorance or darkness on which sense-perceptions are based. If things are not external to us, how is it possible for us to perceive them? So, every perception is an erroneous perception inasmuch as things are not outside us. The conception of the mind that things are outside is ignorance, and it is on the basis of this ignorance that there is perception. What you perceive is a mere phantom. It is not true. It is only like a shadow; it is Chāyā; it is only an appearance, like a picture cast on the screen in a cinema. It is not there, but you can see it! So a thing that is not there can be seen as a solid reality, as it were, with three-dimensional depth, as you see objects in a cinema with a flat screen. So there can be optical illusion. Your perceptions are optical illusions, and they are based on utter ignorance of the fact that objects perceived are not outside you.

So, tama eva yasyāyatanaṁ, darkness is the abode of this reality which you consider as an object by itself – hṛdayaṁ lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ. Yājñavalkya says: "I know what you are referring to. It is the imaginary Puruṣha that you are seeing outside as an object." "And what is its deity?" "Death is its deity." You are going to perish by this attachment to things. This so-called knowledge of yours, this wisdom which you identify with objects of perception, this learning and sciences that we have got these days – these are roads to death. You are going to die with your own learning. And so, Yājñavalkya clinches the whole matter by saying that the deity of this perception is death. Very strange!

  1. rūpāny eva yasyāyatanam, cakṣur lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vai tam puruṣaṁ vidyāt sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, sa vai veditā syāt, yājñavalkya. veda vā ahaṁ tam puruṣaṁ sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, yam āttha; ya evāyam ādarśe puruṣaḥ, sa eṣaḥ. vadaiva, śākalya. tasya kā devatā iti, asur iti hovāca.

Rūpāny eva yasyāyatanam, cakṣur lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vai tam puruṣaṁ vidyāt: Now, again another question is put. "There is a kind of perception whose abode, of course, is a form that is seen outside, and the eye is the light of perception, the mind is the guide, but there is something quite different from what I mentioned to you earlier. Do you know what it is, what I am thinking of in my mind?" "Yes," said Yājñavalkya, "I know what it is. It is that what you see in a reflection."

Now, this is a difficult passage to understand. What is it that you see in a reflection? You see things topsy-turvy. You do not see things properly. Suppose you see your face in a mirror, you see something wrong there. Your right ear looks like the left ear and the left ear looks like the right ear. There is a complete reversal of the original in the reflection. Now, in this ādarśa; Puruṣha, or the reflected being, there is no reality inasmuch as there is a complete topsy-turvy perception, and therefore you cannot say it is connected, really, with the original. This happens in our daily perceptions with the objects. We do not see things in their original capacity. When you see an object outside, you do not see it in its original form. The archetype of the object is not visible. The archetype, as the philosopher Plato would tell you, is in the heaven. It is not here in the physical world. What you see is only a shadow that is cast by the original. And the shadow is distorted by various factors. The distorting factors are the space-time-causal connections, due to which a difference is established between the subject and the object. Now, difference is involved or included in the spatial concept. So, when we say 'space', the difference need not be mentioned once again, as it is because of space that we see the difference. There is therefore a reversal, a distortion, a topsy-turvy vision of the object of perception. In every act of perception, when we see an object, we are seeing a distorted form of it, whether it is a human being that you see or any other object. It is distorted because of the fact that it is turned upside down. You see the top as the bottom and the bottom as the top and the right as the left, etc.

Now, you cling to this just as if it is an ultimate value by itself. Why do you cling to objects in spite of the fact that they are reflections? Do you want to cling to a reflection or do you want the original? We want the original, but we cannot see the difference between the original and the reflection. We see the moon in the water, and try to catch it like children would like to do. So, our attempts at catching objects of sense, for the purpose of our satisfaction, may be considered as the attempts of a baby to catch the moon though just a reflection in the water. The clinging of a human being, or for the matter of that, any created being, to objects of sense is a mistaken action of the mind. It is the love of life. Asuh can be translated as the love of life, Prāṇa, vitality, whatever you call it. The love of life is responsible for the clinging that we evince in respect of objects which are completely distorted and are not going to promise any satisfaction to us. This is the ādarśa; Puruṣhaarthbhagaadarsa; this is a reality by itself as long as it is seen there. It has its own value of course, but it is a deity tentatively, as any other deity is. "Asu, or love of life, is its deity."

  1. āpa eva yasyāyatanaṁ, hṛdayaṁ lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vai tam puruṣaṁ vidyāt sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, sa vai veditā syāt, yājñavalkya. veda vā ahaṁ tam puruṣaṁ sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, yam āttha. ya evāyam apsu puruṣaḥ sa eṣaḥ. vadaiva, śākalya, tasya kā devatā iti. varuṇa iti hovāca.
  2. reta eva yasyāyatanam hṛdayaṁ lokaḥ, mano jyotiḥ, yo vai taṁ puruṣaṁ vidyāt sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, sa  vai veditā  syāt, yājñavalkya. veda vā ahaṁ tam puruṣaṁ sarvasyātmanaḥ parāyaṇam, yam āttha. ya evāyam apsu putramayaḥ puruṣaḥ, sa eṣaḥ. vadaiva, śākalya, tasya kā devatā iti. prajāpatiḥ iti hovāca.

āpa eva yasyāyatanaṁ, etc: So likewise, Śākalya puts more questions to Yājñavalkya, asking him, "Do you know that Being whose abode is water, the heart is the perceiving medium and mind is the light?" Yājñavalkya says: "Varuna is the deity of water." "Who is that whose abode is Retas? Who is its deity?" asks Śākalya. "The urge for progeny (Putramayaḥ Puruṣaḥ) which is the form, has virility (Retas) as the abode, the Heart (Hṛdaya) as the eye, the Mind (Maṅas) as the light and Prajāpati as the deity," replies Yājñavalkya.

  1. Śākalya, iti hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ, tvāṁ svid ime brāhmaṇā aṅgārāvakṣayaṇam akratā u iti.

Yājñavalkya answers like this to all these fantastic questions, funny but full of meaning. Yājñavalkya gets annoyed afterwards. "What are these questions? How many questions do you ask like this? I am tired of answering your questions. Śākalya! What is the point in your going on asking questions like this on every blessed thing in the world? Is this audience here to use you as a kind of cat's paw? Are they using you as tongs to hold hot embers of fire? Are they utilising you as an instrument?" It has a double meaning. Yājñavalkya is a little bit irritated by these questions, though he has given answers to them all, even though they are very strange. Yājñavalkya refers to himself as hot fire, and one who touches him must be in danger, indeed, as he is hot embers. "And you want to catch me with the tongs of questions," he exclaims.

Five Directions in Space, Their Deities and Supports

When Yājñavalkya spoke like this, referring to the audience as if it is utilising Śākalya as a cat's paw, the retort of Śākalya was: "Yājñavalkya what are you speaking?"

  1. yājñavalkya, iti hovāca śākalyaḥ, yad idaṁ kuru-pañcālānāṁ brāhmaṇān atyavādīḥ, kiṁ brahma vidvān iti, diśo veda sadevāḥ sapratiṣṭhā iti. yad diśo vettha sa devāḥ sapratiṣṭhāḥ.

Yājñavalkya, iti hovāca śākalyaḥ, yad idaṁ kuru-pañcālānāṁ brāhmaṇān atyavādīḥ, kiṁ brahma vidvān iti: "Is it because of your knowledge, knower of Brahman, that you are referring to the audience in this manner that they are using me as a cat's paw. I will ask you further questions." He is not tired. Already he has irritated Yājñavalkya too much by putting questions. Now he says: "I will ask you more questions."

What are these questions? They are more difficult to understand than what we have studied. We are going from one complex to another complex. These last questions are full of meaning, but very complicated, indeed difficult to understand.

Śākalya asks Yājñavalkya: Diśo veda sadevāḥ sapratiṣṭhā iti: "I know the various directions with their deities and their abodes. Do you also know them?" – yad diśo vettha sa devāḥ sapratiṣṭhāḥ. Yājñavalkya says: "I know." There is nothing which Yājñavalkya does not know. Any question you ask, he says; "I know." And he gives a proper answer. Śākalya asks: "What is this deity which is above in the eastern direction? I know it, and if you also know, you tell."

  1. kim-devato'syām prācyāṁ diśy asīti. āditya-devata iti. sa ādityaḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti. cakṣuṣīti. kasmin nu cakṣuḥ pratiṣṭḥitam iti. rūpeṣv iti. cakṣuṣā hi rūpāṇi paśyati. kasmin nu rūpāṇi pratiṣṭhitānīti. hṛdaye iti hovāca, hṛdayena hi rūpāṇi jānāti, hṛdaye hy eva rūpāṇi pratiṣṭhitāni bhavantīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya.

"The deity of the eastern direction is the sun," says Yājñavalkya. āditya, of course, because the sun rises in the eastern direction. It is very holy. The eastern direction is full of vibrations. On account of the rise of the sun every day, it is charged with a new type of magnetism. "āditya, the sun, is the deity of the eastern direction, and on what is this deity, āditya, founded?" "He is, of course, founded in the eye of the Virāt, as I have already mentioned, because he is the eye of the Virāt" – cakṣuṣīti. kasmin nu cakṣuḥ pratiṣṭḥitam. What is the meaning of "the eye"? What is the very significance of eye? Eye perceives forms. So Rūpa, or form, is the abode or the foundation of the eye, because if there is no form to perceive, the eye has no meaning. So, in a sense we can say that the objects which are perceived by the eye are the abode or the support or the foundation of the eye – cakṣuṣā hi rūpāṇi paśyati. Where are these forms founded? They are founded in the heart, ultimately. There are no forms, really speaking. This is a repetition, in one sense, of what we have studied earlier. The objects of sense are projections, external in space and time, of certain circumstances or situations. They are not realities. And so, the forms that are seen outside as if they are solid objects independently existing are projections of the desire of the mind. It depends upon what desires you have got. Accordingly, you will see forms outside. So, the forms that are visualised by the eye are rooted in the heart's impression, ultimately, because it is in the heart that you perceive; it is due to the feeling that you cognise the forms outside. If you have no feeling for things, you will not perceive anything. "Well; that is very good. This is a good answer to my question," says Śākalya, and goes on further.

  1. kiṁ-devato'syāṁ dakṣiṇāyāṁ diśy asīti. yama-devata iti sa yamaḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti. yajña iti. kasmin nu yajñaḥ pratiṣṭhita iti. dakṣiṇāyām iti. kasmin nu dakṣiṇā pratiṣṭhitā iti. śraddhāyām iti. yadā hy eva śraddhatte atha dakṣiṇāṁ dadāti; śraddhāyām hy eva dakṣiṇā pratiṣṭhitā iti. kasmin nu śraddhā pratiṣṭhitā iti. hṛdaye iti. hovāca hṛdayena hi śraddhāṁ jānāti, hṛdaye hy eva śraddhā pratiṣṭhitā bhavatīti. evaṁ evaitat, yājñavalkya.

Kiṁ-devato'syāṁ dakṣiṇāyāṁ diśy asīti: "Which is the deity that rules the southern direction?" Yājñavalkya says: "Yama is the deity." Yama represents the deity of justice. We call him Dharmaraja. And Dharma is connected with the principle of Yajña. Yajña is not, as we have already observed, a mere external performance in the sacred fire, but an alienation of the lower part of one's own self. In other words, self-sacrifice is Yajña. And it is a self-sacrifice of different intensities and grades that constitutes Dharma, ultimately. The essence of Dharma is sacrifice of self. Thus Dharmaraja, the ultimate deciding factor of all canons of Dharma, or virtue, or righteousness, has something to do with Yajña, or self-sacrifice. So, a question was further put as to where Yama is founded, or what is the principle which Yama follows? The answer is "Yajña it is; sacrifice is the principle." Kasmin nu yajñaḥ pratiṣṭhita iti: "How do you decide the factor of Yajña? Where is it founded?" Dakṣiṇayam iti: "The hope of reward that will accrue out of the sacrifice is the propeller of all sacrifices." Here, Dakṣiṇa means a reward, whatever it be. And so, the impulse behind any kind of sacrifice is the reward that accrues out of it. The reward may be a lower one or a higher one, it may be a temporal one or a spiritual one. Irrespective of the nature of the reward, it is that which impels the conduct of a sacrifice. Kasmin nu dakṣiṇā pratiṣṭhitā iti: "Now, what is the principle that becomes responsible for this hope itself?" How do you entertain a hope for reward out of the sacrifice? How do you know that a reward will come at all? When you perform a sacrifice or do an action, perhaps no result may follow. What makes you feel convinced that every action, every sacrifice must bear a fruit or yield a result? Śraddhāyām iti: You have got a faith. "The faith that reward will accrue out of every action or sacrifice is therefore the foundation of the hope for reward." Yadā hy eva śraddhatte atha dakṣiṇāṁ dadāti; śraddhāyām hy eva dakṣiṇā pratiṣṭhitā iti. kasmin nu śraddhā pratiṣṭhitā iti: "Now, where is this faith founded? From where does this faith come?" "It is in your heart" – hṛdaye iti. So, ultimately it is your heart that decides everything. Feeling is not the only function of the heart. It is a huge reservoir of various inscrutable factors. Understanding, feeling and various other psychological functions are, no doubt, included in the character of the heart, but the heart is something indescribable. Here, by heart we do not mean the fleshy counterpart that we call the heart, but the essence of the human being, the central part of human nature, the quintessence of what we are in our principality. That is what is called the heart. And so, it is the heart that is responsible for the hope that you entertain, the faith that you have, and the sacrifice that you perform. If the heart is not to be connected with your feeling, with your actions, then there would be no sense conveyed by the attitude or the conduct that you have in life, or the actions that you perform.

The heart really means your own self. In a particular form, your self assumes an association with the target or the goal of your actions. It is something very inscrutable again, this point as to how your self is connected with a goal that is very remote in the future – maybe after death, after several years. But the self of the human being, which is the agent of action and which is the impulse behind all feelings, is inwardly connected with even the remotest goal or reward that may come even after millions of years. Some say, the heart is a very subtle connecting link between the individual and the Ultimate Reality. So Yājñavalkya says that justice, law, sacrifice, hope for reward, faith – all these are ultimately manifestations of the functions of the heart which is a subtle shape that is taken by the essence of the human being, namely, the ātman itself. So, Hṛdaya is the ultimate root of all things.

"Well; that is very good," said Śākalya. "Your answer is fine. Now, I ask you another question."

  1. kiṁ-devato'syām pratīcyāṁ diśy asīti. varuṇa-devata iti, sa varuṇaḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti. apsv iti. kasmin nv āpaḥ pratiṣṭhitā iti. retasīti, kasmin nv retaḥ pratiṣṭhitam iti. hṛdaye iti, hovāca; tasmād api pratirūpaṁ jātam āhuḥ, hṛdayād iva sṛptaḥ, hṛdayād iva nirmita iti, hṛdaye hy eva retaḥ pratiṣṭhitam bhavatīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya.

Kiṁ-devato'syām pratīcyāṁ diśy asīti: "In the western direction, which is the deity that rules?" varuṇa-devata iti: "Varuna is the deity. The Lord of waters is Varuna, which is the deity that rules the western direction." Sa varuṇaḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti: "What is the foundation for Varuna?" How does it function? Apsv iti: "The principle of water." You may say the subtle constituent principles of water, or the Prakriti of water, which becomes later on the gross visible water – that is the basis of the function of Varuna. Kasmin nv āpaḥ pratiṣṭhitā: "Where is water founded?" What is the foundation for the principle of water? Retasīti, kasmin nv retaḥ pratiṣṭhitam iti: Here, Retas means the vitality of the individual, or vitality of anyone for the matter of that. It is believed that the water principle and the vital force in every being are interconnected, and the vital energy is regarded as the essence of water. Water is the gross form; the vital energy is the subtle form. So the subtle form is the foundation for the gross form. Hence, "Retas is the foundation for water." "But where is Retas founded?" Again he says: "It is in the heart" – hṛdaye iti, hovāca; tasmād api pratirūpaṁ jātam āhuḥ, hṛdayād iva sṛptaḥ, hṛdayād iva nirmita iti, hṛdaye hy eva retaḥ pratiṣṭhitam bhavatīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya: "It is the heart of a person that is reborn in the child that is the replica of the individual." "This means the essence of the being, the quintessence of an individual is represented by the heart. So, again we have to say here that heart does not mean the physical substance. It is an inscrutable deciding factor of the total personality of the individual that is called the heart. It is the vitality of the individual, and therefore we call it the heart. And so, anything that is of moment or consequence in life, anything that is worthwhile and carrying tremendous effect, must have some connection with the heart. You know very well that any word that you utter from the bottom of your heart, any action that you do propelled by the heart, and any feeling that you entertain rising from the depths of the heart, must produce a corresponding effect. But if it is not connected to the heart, the result may not follow. So it is said that the heart, again in this context, should be regarded as the central foundation for all other emanations thereof."

  1. kiṁ-devato'syām udīcyāṁ diśy asīti. soma-devata iti. sa somaḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti. dīkṣāyām iti. kasmin nu dīkṣā pratiṣṭhitā iti. satya iti. tasmād api dikṣitam āhuḥ, satyaṁ vada iti: satye hy eva dīkṣā pratiṣṭhitā iti. kasmin nu satyam pratiṣṭhitam iti. hṛdaye iti hovāca, hṛdayena hi satyaṁ jānāti, hṛdaye hy eva satyam pratiṣṭhitam bhavatīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya.

Then Śākalya asks: "What is the deity of the northern direction?" – kiṁ-devato'syām udīcyāṁ diśy asīti. soma-devata iti. sa somaḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti. Now, here the answer is, in some way, connected with the ancient system of the ritualistic sacrifice. "The deity of the northern direction," Yājñavalkya says, "is Soma." Soma means the particular sacred juice which the ancients utilised for the purpose of various sacrifices, especially Soma-Yagna. And the deity of this particular sacred plant called Soma is supposed to be the moon. Therefore the moon is also called Soma. And inasmuch as it is the sacrifice that is here referred to as the connecting link with the deity of the northern direction, the foundation for this deity is supposed to be the discipline that is followed in the sacrifice. The deity of a sacrifice will not manifest itself unless the discipline thereof is properly followed. There are certain techniques of sacrifice; the sacrifices are not merely external offerings made into the sacred fire, but are coupled with chants of Mantras, and also a more important factor – meditations. So, the meditations, the chants and the actual performance – these three are the essential disciplines of a sacrifice. There are certain other minor factors, also. These disciplines are responsible for the manifestation of a deity, the vision of a deity, and the grace that is bestowed by the deity in the particular sacrifice. "So, Dīksā is the foundation for the deity." Dīksā is discipline, the sacred vow that one observes in the context of the performance of a sacrifice. Without this discipline, the fruit of the sacrifice will not be made visible, which means to say that there will not be a vision of the deity connected with the sacrifice. So, the discipline of the sacrifice is the foundation, the deciding factor of the manifestation of the deity – dīkṣāyām iti. kasmin nu dīkṣā pratiṣṭhitā iti: "What is this discipline founded upon?" Satya iti: "Truth is the foundation for the discipline followed in the sacrifice." This is a very difficult term. Here, truth means many things. It is the inner connection that obtains between the actual performance of an action and the result that deals with the remote future. In certain schools of thought, this connection is called Apurva, a special technical term implying the potency invisibly produced by an action, carrying its effect in some distant future. This is called Satya. It has also some connection with the Ultimate Reality, because the capacity of an action to produce a result in the remote future is due to the constituent nature of the Ultimate Reality itself. Otherwise, how can there be any connection between the present and the future, especially when the future is far, far away from the present, in the passage of time? Whatever be the distance between the present time and the future time, the connection is not broken. It is maintained, so that if you do an action today, its result is not destroyed. Its fruit cannot be regarded as nullified merely because of the fact that it is a small action. Even if it is the smallest action, it will produce a result.

Sometimes very weak actions produce results after many, many years. Strong actions produce results immediately. Many years, it may even be millions of years before weak actions produce their results. You may have to take many births in order to enjoy the fruit thereof, but the fruit will be there. Just as even one penny that you credit in your bank account is still there, notwithstanding the fact that it is so little, even the smallest of actions produces a result. And the possibility of the production of a result from an action, even in a distant future, is the justice of the Law of the universe, so that we may say that the universal Law is ultimately just and impartial. There is no one who will be excluded from reward. There is nothing which will be kept out of the sight of the ultimate Law of the universe. Hence it is said that this discipline of the sacrifice which yields fruit in the distant future is founded on Ultimate Truth which is Satya – tasmād api dikṣitam āhuḥ, satyaṁ vada iti.

Satye hy eva dīkṣā pratiṣṭhitā iti: "All religious vows are ultimately based on Truth. Kasmin nu satyam pratiṣṭhitam iti: Where is truth founded?" Very difficult questions, and Yājñavalkya says again: "It is in the heart of a being." Here, when he says that the heart is the foundation for truth, he means relative truth as well as Absolute Truth. There are degrees of reality, and all these are comprehended in the feelings of the heart. When it is the feeling that functions, the goal of the feeling is a tentative or a relative truth, but this relative truth is somehow or the other connected with the Absolute Truth. The materialisation of a result of an action, which proceeds out of the heart of an individual, is, to repeat what I have already mentioned to you, the consequence of the universality of Law. And so, the heart of an individual which performs actions, which propels feelings, and is the reaper of the fruits of actions, is connected with the Truth which is from all points of view relative, but from its own point of view Absolute – hṛdayena hi satyaṁ jānāti, hṛdaye hy eva satyam pratiṣṭhitam bhavatīti. evam evaitat, yājñavalkya. Śākalya agrees Yājñavalkya's answer is correct and proceeds with his questions.

  1. kiṁ-devato'syāṁ dhruvāyāṁ diśy asīti. agnī-devata iti. so'gniḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti. vāci iti. kasmin nu vāk pratiṣṭhitā iti. hṛdaye iti. kasmin nu hṛdayam pratiṣṭhitam iti.

Now, Śākalya asks: "Which is the deity of the direction which is above?" He (Yājñavalkya) has given the description of the various deities and their foundations in respect of the four quarters. "Now, kiṁ-devato'syāṁ dhruvāyāṁ diśy asīti, the direction that is overhead, the top, is also presided over by a divine principle, what is that?" Agnī-devata iti: "It is the brilliance of the sun that can be regarded as the presiding deity of the central direction which is above." The comparison is because of its brilliance. The fixed direction overhead is presided over by the fire principle whose obvious physical manifestation is the sun. So'gniḥ kasmin pratiṣṭhita iti: "Where is the fire founded?" "The speech of the Supreme Being." The Virāt Puruṣha is always mentioned in the Upaniṣhad as the cause of the manifestation of Agnī Devata, as we have already studied earlier. Kasmin nu vāk pratiṣṭhitā iti: "Now again, speech is to be founded on something." "It is in the heart." Yājñavalkya comments upon all these things by saying that everything is ultimately in your heart. Whether it is an action that you perform, or a speech that you utter, a feeling that occurs to you, or the nature of the reward of the action that accrues out of your actions, whatever be the thing that is connected with you – all this is founded in your central being, you very self, your own Hridaya, your own heart. Kasmin nu hṛdayam pratiṣṭhitam iti. Now, Śākalya asks: "Where is the heart founded?"

  1. ahallika iti hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ, yatraitad anyatrāsman manyāsai, yaddhy etad anyatrāsmat śyāt, śvāno vainad adyuḥ vayāṁsi vainad vimathnīrann iti.

Yājñavalkya says: "You are a foolish man. You are asking me, where the heart is founded? Don't you know where the heart is? You want a foundation for the heart! If the heart is not in your own self, if it be anywhere else, what will happen to you? Dogs will eat you, and vultures will tear you to pieces. What a question you ask! The heart cannot be anywhere other than in your own self." So, the question is futile, and an answer, therefore, is not called for in connection with such a stupid question as to where the heart is founded. But Śākalya is not deterred by this repulsive answer of Yājñavalkya. He further raises a question.

The Self

  1. kasmin nu tvaṁ cātmā ca pratiṣṭhitau stha iti. pkasmin nu tvaṁ cātmā ca pratiṣṭhitau stha iti. prāṇa iti. kasmin nu prāṇaḥ pratiṣṭhita iti. apāna iti. kasmin nv apānaḥ pratiṣṭhita iti. vyāna iti. kasmin nu vyānaḥ pratiṣṭhita iti. udāna iti. kasminn ūdānaḥ pratiṣṭhita iti. samāna iti. sa eṣa, na iti. na ity ātmā, agṛhyaḥ na hi gṛhyate, aṣīryaḥ, na hi śīryate, asaṅgaḥ na hi sajyate, asito na vyathate, na riṣyati. etāny aṣṭāv āyatanāni, aṣṭau lokāḥ, aṣṭau devāḥ, aṣṭau puruṣāḥ. sa yas tān puruṣān niruhya pratyuhyātyakrāmat, taṁ tvā aupaniṣadam puruṣam pṛcchāmi. tam cen me na vivakṣyasi mūrdhā te vipatiṣatīti. taṁ ha na mene śākalyaḥ, tasya ha mūrdhā vipapāta, api hāsya parimoṣiṇo'sthīny apajahruḥ, anyan manyamānāḥ.

Kasmin nu tvaṁ cātmā ca pratiṣṭhitau stha iti: "Yourself and your body, where are they founded?" Prāṇa iti: The body of an individual may be said to be founded on the Prāṇa, the vital breath, because it is the vital breath that sustains the body. The Prāṇa is a particular function of the vital force by which we breathe out. When we exhale, when we expire, it is the Prāṇa functioning. And when we inhale, the Apāna functions. So, Prāṇa, in its principal form, may be said to be the foundation for the body, the personality of the individual. "Where is the Prāṇa founded?" "In the Apāna" – apānaḥ pratiṣṭhita. If the Apāna is not to work in the opposite direction, the Prāṇa would go out. It has to be held in check by the counteracting force of the Apāna. While the Prāṇa is trying to go up, the Apāna is trying to go down. If the Prāṇa is not to be filled up, the Apāna will go down, and will no longer be inside the body. It will go down by the gravity of the earth. And if the Apāna is not to go down, the Prāṇa will go up. So the two, moving up and down, are thus themselves held in position. So, "Prāṇa is founded in Apāna." Its function, its existence within the body, is due to the work of the Apāna that goes downwards in the counter direction. "Now, where is Apāna founded?" Vyāna iti: Vyāna is the force that operates throughout the body, due to which there is circulation of blood. The blood moves equally throughout the veins and arteries etc. in the body on account of the Vyāna Prāṇa, a particular function of Prāṇa known as Vyāna. The Prāṇa and Apāna work in this manner, in the upward and downward directions, on account of the controlling activity of the Vyāna which is spread throughout the body. If the Vyāna is not to be there, the Prāṇa and the Apāna will not be held in position, or harmony. Thus Vyāna is the support of Apāna itself. Kasmin nu vyānaḥ pratiṣṭhita iti: "Where is Vyāna founded?" Udāna iti: "Udāna is the support for Vyāna." Udāna is a very peculiar function of the vital energy. It is like a post to which animals are tied. The animals try to go this way and that in various directions, but are not allowed to go according to their own whim and fancy, as they are tethered to a post. Likewise, the Udāna is a principle of Prāṇa whose seat is supposed to be the throat, to which the other functions of the Prāṇa are tied as to a post, as it were. And so, Udāna is the support for the operation of the other aspects of the vital energy, namely, Prāṇa, Apāna and Vyāna. If the Udāna is not to be there as an inviolable reality of the Prāṇa, the other functions will not perform their duties as expected. Kasminn ūdānaḥ pratiṣṭhita iti: "On what is Udāna founded?" Sāmana iti: Sāmana is the subtlest form of vital force. Its seat is in the navel. It digests food, and it is the cause of the heat that you feel inside the body. It is the subtlest form of Prāṇa, and these gross forms which are mentioned are ultimately resolvable into this subtlest form, namely, Sāmana. "So, Sāmana is the ultimate support for all these functions."

This subtle Being, which is hidden behind even the Sāmana, is your real Self, on account of whose presence these Prāṇas are operating in a systematic manner. Why should the Prāṇa move in this way, and the Apāna that way, and Vyāna and Udāna and Sāmana in different ways, as if they are following some law, or system, or order? Who is this Justice or Judge who dispenses the law in the case of the function of all these vital energies? "That is something superior to even the Sāmana, and no one can know what it is. You can only say, 'what it is not'. You cannot say, 'what it is'. It is not the body; it is not the senses; it is not any one of the Prāṇas; it is not even the mind; it is not the intellect." What else it is? You do not know. If anyone asks you, what is this essential Self in you, you can only say, 'it is not this'; 'it is not this'. But you cannot say, 'what it is', because to characterise it in any manner would be to define it in terms of qualities that are obtainable in the world of objects. The world of objects can be defined by characters perceivable to the eyes or sensible to the touch, etc. But the ātman is the presupposition and the precondition of every kind of perception. It is the proof of all proofs. Everything requires a proof, but the ātman does not require a proof because it is the source of all proofs. And therefore, no one can define it; no one can say, 'what it is'. It can only be inferred, because if it were not to be, nothing else could be. So, it can be said to be capable of definition only in a negative manner as 'not this, not this, neti neti ātmā'. This ātman is defined as 'not this, not this, or not that, not that, not in this manner, nothing that is known, nothing that is sensed, nothing that is capable of being expressed by words, nothing that is definable, nothing of this sort', etc.  What it is, no one can say! It is impossible to grasp it through either the power of speech, or the power of the senses, or the power of the mind. Na ity ātmā, agṛhyaḥ na hi gṛhyate: "It is impossible to grasp it. It is ungraspable. That is the ātman. Aṣīryaḥ, na hi śīryate: It is undiminishable." It neither grows nor does it become less in its capacity. It is, a sage says, like the immeasurable ocean. Asaṅgaḥ na hi sajyate: "It does not come in contact with anything." It is impossible to conceive of its adherence to anything. There is nothing second to it. Asito na vyathate: "It cannot be affected by anything outside it." Nothing outside it exists. So it is unmodifiable. So it has no sorrow or grief of any kind. Na riṣyati: "It never comes down in its status."

Etāny aṣṭāv āyatanāni, aṣṭau lokāḥ, aṣṭau devāḥ, aṣṭau puruṣāḥ. sa yas tān puruṣān niruhya pratyuhyātyakrāmat: Now, we have described in the earlier section the various deities, etc., the perfections, and the abodes. We have already heard all these things – the deities, their abodes, the various forms of perfection of the deities etc., divinities from earth onwards up to the last deity in the earlier section. "Now, these deities, these abodes, these perfections, and these results of sacrifice, etc., are all projected, as it were, from something and withdrawn, as it were, into something which is neither known to any of these deities, nor known to any individual, yet which must exist." It is the Supreme Being. Yājñavalkya questions Śākalya: "Do you know what is this Supreme Being I am referring to? The great Being that is sung in the Upaniṣhads – taṁ tvā aupaniṣadam puruṣam pṛcchāmi – I ask you, what is this great Puruṣha, the great Being sung of in the Upaniṣhads, in the sacred texts, the one Being due to whose existence itself, these deities function and perform their duties in a systematic manner? If you cannot tell me who this Being is, sung of in the Upaniṣhads, your head will fall!" And Śākalya did not know who this Puruṣha was – taṁ tvā aupaniṣadam puruṣam pṛcchāmi. tam cen me na vivakṣyasi mūrdhā te vipatiṣatīti. taṁ ha na mene śākalyaḥ.

Śākalya the poor man who put so many questions to Yājñavalkya and received so many fantastic answers, could not answer this single question: 'Who is this Puruṣha that is sung of in the Upaniṣhads?' And Yājñavalkya had already cast an imprecation: 'You have tired me very much by querying so much. Now, I put one question only to you. You tell me, who is this Being, otherwise your head, down it would fall.' And it fell. In the presence of King Janaka, this catastrophe took place. Because of the imprecation of Yājñavalkya's words and the impossibility of Śākalya to answer this question, the head fell. Tasya ha mūrdhā vipapāta, api hāsya parimoṣiṇo'sthīny apajahruḥ, anyan manyamānāḥ: His disciples were grieved. 'Oh, my Guru has fallen down,' they cried. So they took the body and wanted to cremate it. They were carrying the load. On the road, some robbers observed some load being carried, and they thought that some treasure was being taken. So they attacked these disciples and took away the load. So, even the bones were not available for the disciples. They lost the whole person. This is a pitiable tragic conclusion of the great Bahu-Dakṣiṇa Yajña which Janaka performed and the seminar which he held, the conclusion of which was that many wonderful questions were raised, very interesting answers were given, and knowledge bloomed forth in the court of Janaka, but one man lost his head.

Man Compared to a Tree

  1. atha hovāca, brāhmaṇā bhagavanto, yo vaḥ kāmayate sa mā pṛcchatu, sarve vā mā pṛcchata, yo vaḥ kāmayate, taṁ vaḥ pṛchāmi, sarvān vā vaḥ pṛcchamīti. te ha brāhmaṇā na dadhṛṣuḥ.

Now Yājñavalkya says: "If any one of you wants to put more questions, let him come forward." Nobody dared to open his mouth afterwards. They all wanted to know whether it could be possible for them to get away from that place, because the head is very dear. Atha hovāca, brāhmaṇā bhagavanto, yo vaḥ kāmayate sa mā pṛcchatu: "Learned men! If any one of you can stand up and ask me any more questions, I am ready to answer. Sarve vā mā pṛcchata, yo vaḥ kāmayate, taṁ vaḥ pṛchāmi, sarvān vā vaḥ pṛcchamīti: Or, all of you can put questions to me at one stroke; I am ready to answer. Or, I may question you, if you like, singly. Or, I may question all of you." When this was told by Yājñavalkya, everyone kept quiet. Te ha brāhmaṇā na dadhṛṣuḥ: Everyone was frightened of this consequence of Śākalya's head falling off, and so they kept their mouths closed and did not put any further questions.

  1. tān haitaiḥ ślokāiḥ papraccha:
  1. yathā vṛkṣo vanaspatiḥ, tathaiva puruṣo’mṛṣā tasya lomāni parṇāni, tvag asyotpāṭikā bahiḥ.
  2. tvaca evāsya rudhiram prasyandi, tvaca utpaṭaḥ; tasmāt, tad ātṛṇṇāt praiti, raso vṛkṣād ivāhatat.
  3. māṁsāny asya śakarāṇi, kināṭaṁ snāva, tat sthiram; asthīny antarato dārūṇi, majjā majjopamā kṛtā.
  4. yad vṛkṣo vṛkṇo rohati mūlān navataraḥ punaḥ, martyaḥ svin mṛtyunā vṛkṇaḥ kasmān mūlāt prarohati.
  5. retasa iti mā vocata; jīvatas tat prajāyate; dhānāruha iva vai vṛkṣaḥ añjasā pretyasambhavaḥ.
  6. yat samūlam āvṛheyuḥ vṛkṣam, na punar ābhavet, martyaḥ svin mṛtyunā vṛkṇaḥ kasmān mūlāt prarohati.
  7. jāta eva na jāyate, konvenaṁ janayet punaḥ; vijñānam ānandam brahma, rātir dātuḥ parāyaṇaṁ, tiṣṭhamānasya tadvidaḥ.

Then Yājñavalkya speaks independently, without being put any question. Yathā vṛkṣo vanaspatiḥ, tathaiva puruṣo'mṛṣā: "Friends! The human being is something like a tree. There is some similarity between a tree and a human being. The hair on the body of a human being may be compared to the leaves on the tree. Just as leaves grow on the tree, hair grows on the body." Tasya lomāni parṇāni, tvag asyotpāṭikā bahiḥ: "The bark of a tree and the skin of the human being may be compared likewise. Just as there is bark outside the tree, there is skin on the outside of the body." Tvaca evāsya rudhiram prasyandi: "From the bark, the juice of the tree exudes. Likewise, blood can exude from the skin of a body." Tvaca utpaṭaḥ; tasmāt, tad ātṛṇṇāt praiti, raso vṛkṣād ivāhatat: "When you cut a tree, its essence exudes. Likewise, an injured person exudes blood from the body." Māṁsāny asya śakarāṇi, kināṭaṁ: "The inner bark of the tree may be compared to the flesh in the body of a human being." Kināṭaṁ snāva, tat sthiram: "The sinews inside the flesh of the human body may be compared to the innermost bark of the tree." Asthīny antarato dārūṇi: "The bones inside the body may be compared to the pith of the wood inside the tree." Majjopamā kṛtā: "The marrow inside the bones may be compared to the marrow inside the pith of the tree."

Yad vṛkṣo vṛkṇo rohati mūlān navataraḥ punaḥ: Now, the question of Yājñavalkya comes. He puts a question. "If a tree is cut, it grows again; it does not perish. A new tree, as it were, grows from the stem which remains even after the tree is cut. Now I ask you a question, my dear friends. What is the thing which enables the human being to grow even after death?" Martyaḥ svin mṛtyunā vṛkṇaḥ kasmān mūlāt prarohati: "If death is to snatch away the body of an individual, from which root does he grow again into new birth?" You know how the tree grows even if it is cut. But, how does the human being grow? He is killed by death, and his body is no more. When there is nothing which can be called remnant of the individual after the death of the body, what is the seed out of which his new body is fashioned? What is the connection between the future birth of an individual and the present state of apparent extinction at the time of death? Retasa iti mā vocata: "Do not tell me that the man is born out of the seed of the human being. No; because the seed can be there only in a living human being. A dead person has no seed. So the man is dead. What is it that becomes the connection between the present annihilation and the future birth? It is not the seed; it is something else." Jīvatas tat prajāyate; dhānāruha iva vai vṛkṣaḥ añjasā pretyasambhavaḥ: "The tree grows out of the seed. If the seed is not there, how can the tree grow? Something vital must be there in the tree in order that the trunk, at least, may grow. But if nothing is there, suppose you pluck out every root of the tree itself, there would be no further growth of the tree." Yat samūlam āvṛheyuḥ vṛkṣam, na punar ābhavet: "If the root of a tree is pulled out, the tree will not grow. So, if the root of a person is pulled out at the time of death, what is it that grows after death?" Martyaḥ svin mṛtyunā vṛkṇaḥ kasmān mūlāt prarohati: "You cannot conceive of any root for the individual being. There is no root if everything is destroyed. The body has gone. He does not leave a seed behind him, nor is there a root left. Even the root has gone. So, what is the answer to this question?"

Jāta eva na jāyate, konvenaṁ janayet punaḥ: "You may say; he is born and he is dead." The matter is over. Where is the question of his rebirth? Who tells you that there is rebirth? So, why do we not say that the matter is very simple. Something has come; something has gone; the matter is over. So, there is no question of there being a connection between the present state of annihilation and the future birth. "No," says Yājñavalkya. "It is not possible because – konvenaṁ janayet punaḥ na jāyate – if there is not to be rebirth, there would be an inexplicability of the variety of experiences in the present individuals." You will find that there is no answer to the question as to why there is variety of constitutions. One can enjoy what one does not deserve, and one can suffer the consequences of actions which one has not done. If there is not going to be any connection between the past and the future, anyone's actions can bear fruit in any other individual. If I do good, you may get the reward, or I may do bad, you may suffer for it. If this is not to take place, there should be some connection between the present condition of the individual and the future condition. The impossibility or the unjustifiability of someone enjoying what he does not deserve, or another suffering that which is not the consequence of his actions, is called Akritābhyasma and Prītināṣa in Sanskrit.

Yājñavalkya says, there is nothing conceivably left of the individual when he perishes in his physical body, but there is something which connects him with even the remotest form of life. He can be born in the most distant regions, not necessarily in this world. After the death of the body, rebirth can take place, not necessarily in this world but in most distant regions. What is it that carries you to that distant region? Vijñānam ānandam brahma, rātir dātuḥ parāyaṇaṁ: "It is the Absolute that is responsible for it, ultimately. He is the bestower of the fruits of all actions." And actions yield fruit only on account of the existence of the Absolute. If it were not to be, actions will not produce any result, and no cause will be connected to any effect. So, ultimately it is the Consciousness-Bliss which is the Supreme Brahman that is the root of the individual. Vijñānam ānandam brahma, rātir dātuḥ parāyaṇaṁ, tiṣṭhamānasya tadvidaḥ: "It is the support of not only the individual in future birth, but also the ultimate support of one who is established in It, by knowing It." So, the Supreme Being, the Absolute, is the support not only of the individuals that transmigrate in the process of Samsāra, but also the ultimate resort of the liberated soul who knows It and becomes It by self-identification. So, it is the goal not only relative to all the Jīvas, but also absolute to the ātman in all the Jīvas. Yājñavalkya closes his discourse and the audience disperses. The Supreme Brahman is the source of all. Every value, visible or perceivable in life, is due to Its Being. It functions not as individuals do. It acts not, but Its very existence is all action. Its very Being is all value, and the goal of the lives of all individuals is the realisation of this Brahman.