by Swami Sivananda
The Self mentioned in Ait. Up. I.1. is the Supreme Self and the attributes of the Self given elsewhere should be combined with this meditation.
Atmagrihitiritaravaduttarat III.3.16 (375)
(In the Aitareya Upanishad I.1.) the Supreme Self is meant, as in other texts (dealing with creation) because of the subsequent qualification.
Atmagrihitih: the Supreme Self is meant; Itaravat: as in other texts (dealing with creation); Uttarat: because of the subsequent qualification.
We read in the Aitareya Upanishad "Verily in the beginning all this was the Self, one only; there was nothing else whatsoever" (I.1). Here the doubt arises whether the term "Self" denotes the Supreme Self or some other being such as Hiranyagarbha.
It refers to the Supreme Self, even as the word "Self" in other texts which treat of creation refers to It, and not to Hiranyagarbha. "From the Self ether was produced" (Tait. Up. II.1). Why? Because in the subsequent text of the Aitareya we have "It thought shall I send forth worlds? It sent forth these worlds" (Ait. Up. I.1.2). This qualification, viz., that "It thought" before creation is applied to Brahman in the primary sense in other Sruti passages. Hence we conclude from this that the Self refers to the Supreme Self or Para Brahman and not to Hiranyagarbha, or any other Being.
Anvayaditi chet syadavadharanat III.3.17 (376)
If it be said that because of the context (the Supreme Self is not meant) (we reply that) it is so (i.e., the Supreme Self is meant) on account of the definite statement (that the Atman alone existed in the beginning).
Anvayat: because of connection, because of the context; Iti: this, so; Chet: if; Syat: it might be so; Avadharanat: on account of the definite statement.
An objection to Sutra 16 is raised and refuted.
The Sutra consists of two parts namely an objection and its reply. The objection is 'Anvayaditi chet' the reply is 'Syad-avadharanat'.
The reference is to Para Brahman or the Highest Self. The word "Asit" shows that the reference is to Para Brahman alone, because He alone existed before all creation. The Lokasrishti or creation of the world is only after the Mahabhutasrishti or creation of the five great elements.
The Purvapakshin says: "In the Aitareya Upanishad (I.1), it is stated that Brahman created the four worlds. But it is said in the Taittiriya and other texts that Brahman created ether, air, fire, water and earth, the five elements. It is only Hiranyagarbha that creates the world with the aid of the elements created by the Highest Self. Hence the Self in the Aitareya Upanishad cannot mean the Supreme Self but only Hiranyagarbha or the Karya-Brahman."
This Sutra refutes it and declares that on account of the statement "Verily, in the beginning all this was the Self, one only" (Ait. Up. I.1.) which intimates that there was one only without a second, it can only refer to the Highest Self or Para Brahman and not to Hiranyagarbha, the Karya-Brahman. The Highest Self created the four worlds after creating the elements as described in other Sakhas. The attributes of Para Brahman or the Highest Self which are mentioned in other places are to be combined in the Aitareyaka meditation.