The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
by Swami Krishnananda


Chapter I (Continued)

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

  • athātaḥ samprattiḥ. yadā praiṣyan manyate, atha putram āha, tvam brahma tvam yajñaḥ. tvaṁ loka iti. sa putraḥ praty āha, aham brahma, aham yajñaḥ, ahaṁ loka iti. yad vai kiṁ cānūktam, tasya sarvasya brahmety ekatā. ye vai ke ca yajñaḥ, teṣāṁ sarveṣām yajña ity ekatā; ye vai ke ca lokāḥ, teṣāṁ sarveṣām loka ity ekatā; etāvad vā idaṁ sarvam, etanmā sarvaṁ sann ayam ito’bhunajad iti, tasmāt putram anuśiṣṭhaṁ lokyam āhuḥ, tasmād enam anusaśāti, sa yadaivaṁ vid asmāl lokāt praiti. athaibhir eva prāṇaiḥ saha putram āviśati, sa yady anena kiṁ cid akṣṇayā kṛtam bhavati, tasmād enaṁ sarvasmāt putro muñcati tasmāt putro nāma sa putreṇaivāsmiṁl loke pratiṣṭhati, athainam ete daivāḥ prāṇā amṛtā āviśanti.
  • How does a person at the time passing from this world transfer his powers to his own son, or immediate successor? By means of contemplative rituals, is what is mentioned in this section. At that time a contemplative or a meditative ritual is performed by the application of thought, together with the recitation of certain Mantras. "Whatever I have been in this world, that you have to be, after I leave this world. Whatever I have learnt in this world, that knowledge should continue in your being, after I leave this world. Whatever sacrifices I have been performing in this world, those sacrifices you perform by means of a continuation of the tradition, after I pass away from this world." This is the transference ritual which is called Sampratti, meaning the transference of power when one feels that the time has come for one to leave this world. Here is not merely a transference of one's legacy – physical, social and psychological – but also a communion of spirits, which one achieves for the purpose of the attainment of higher worlds. That it is a spiritual and not merely a temporal ritual can be seen from the way its consequences are described in the following passage. The senses, the mind and the intellect, the entire subtle body of the father is gradually communicated to its own sources by means of these meditations. It is not just a ritual of chants, but one of an augmenting of thought, which is the same as contemplation. The tradition is that one's progeny is a continuation of oneself in every respect. The son is not an individual independent of the father in a social sense, merely. It is a spiritual relation that obtains between the father and the son, so that the endowments of the father are transferred to the personality of the son, and the future blessedness of the father is insured by the conduct and performances of the son. Because of the fact that the son can free the father from limitations such as those of the senses and the mind and of his actions in this world, he is called Putra, which means to say one who frees the father from limitation or restriction and bondage. When this rite is performed, when the ritual takes place, when this meditation is affected, the dying person's personality is supposed to expand into a larger dimension, and then it is that the senses return to their sources, by means of which one regains the status one had in the higher regions. Whatever there be unstudied (Brahma), unperformed (Yajña), or unattained (Loka), that the son completes by his life and conduct.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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