BRAHMOPANISHAD OF THE YAJUR VEDA
by C.R. Srinivasa Ayangar
(From "The Theosophist", February, 1891.)
and as reprinted from “Theosophical Siftings” - Volume 6 - 1893-1894
[Page 13] THIS Upanishad is intended to give a complete and clear idea of the nature of Atma, that has four states of consciousness (avasthas) and four seats, for the better consummation of the Nirguna Dhyana (contemplation on an object without Gunas.)
OM. SAUNAKA MAHASALA questioned the holy sage Pippalada of the Angiras Gotra thus: — "In this beautiful Brahmapura, the fit residence of divine beings, how are (the deities of Vak, etc.) located ? How do they function ? To whom belongs this power (manifestations of Buddhi, etc.) ? He to whom this power belongs, what is He ? "
Commentary. — Brahmapura means body, and is so-called as it forms a whereby to attain Brahm. There are four questions here. The first is, "What is that, depending on which, Vak and others function in this body ?”' The second is, "What is that that sets these in action ?" The third is, "What is it that causes the Buddhi, etc to manifest themselves ? " The fourth is, "What is the real nature of that which exercises this power ? "
Pippalada then having deeply considered, imparted to him the Brahmavidya (Divine Wisdom — Theosophy), — that most excellent of all things. "It is Prana, i.e., Atma. It is Atma that exercises this power"
Comm. —Anticipating a question, "Is this the material
Prana?" he says ”.It is Atma”. This is a general answer to the four questions, but he gives
a special answer to the third in saying, 'It is Atma that exercises this power”.
It is the life of all Devas (Divine powers). It is their death and (their) life.
Comm. — On the existence of Atma, depends theirs.
The Brahma that shines pure, Nishkala, resplendent, and all-pervading, in this divine Brahmapura (body), rules (all).
Comm. — Here he defines its place. Nishkala means without Prana, etc., which are the results of avidya.’ Having given 'a negative' description, he gives a positive one by the following epithets, "all pervading”. [Page 14]
The original is akashara. It comes from 'as' to pervade. 'He rules all.' This is an answer to the second question. As said in the Brihadaranyaka, ' He who is in the Prithvi, but pervades it, he who causes Prithvi to move, he whom Prithvi does not know, he is Atma, the Antaryami (Inner mover), the Amrita (immortal).'
The Jiva (identifying himself with) the Indriyas, rules them like a spider. The spider throws out from a single thread out of his body a whole web, and draws it into himself by that same thread, so Prana, wherever it goes, draws after it the objects of its creation (Vak, etc.).
Comm. — As said in the latter part of this Upanishad "as the spider throws out threads and draws them back", so the Jiva goes and returns in the ' Jagrat and Swapna.' Here atma stands for the spider, Prana for the thread, and Vak, etc., for the web. As said elsewhere, 'As a strong horse, when it runs off, draws along with it the pegs to which the ropes are attached, so Prana (when it goes away) drags along with it the other Pranas'.
During ‘Sushupti' (the Prana) goes to its seat (Brahma) through the nadis of which it is the Devata, like an eagle, that making air as the means of communication, reaches his abode.
Comm, — Here he answers the question: "How does Prana attract them ? " This also holds good during trance and death.
They say, as Devadatta, though beaten (during Sushupti) by a stick, etc., does not move, so also the actor does not suffer or enjoy for the merits or demerits of religious actions.
Comm. —They say, this is an answer to the question "How do we know that it goes to its abode, the Brahma, and not anywhere else ? " On awaking the person says, ' I have slept happily', so he goes to his abode, i.e., ananda (bliss) and returns from it, and ananda is Brahma. as Devadatta, " How can he, while concerning himself with good and bad actions, enjoy happiness during Sushupti ? " He answers it. The person does not moves because he is conscious of nothing else but bliss, because there does not exist the cause of sorrow (adharma).
Just as a child obtains happiness without desiring for it (in play), so also Devadatta obtains happiness in Sushupti.
Comm.—Here he answers the question, "If adharma, the cause of sorrow, does not exist in Sushupti, then dharma, the cause of happiness, also does not exist ? Then where is bliss ? " By saying that the eternal happiness (Nityananda) exists, and the proof is simply the experience of the persons. The child plays, for play's sake, but he enjoys happiness [Page 15] withal. It is said, "There are only two who are free from anxiety and are drowned in Paramananda (supreme happiness) — the innocent and inexperienced child and the person who is freed from all Gunas".
He certainly knows (being) Param jyotis, and the person desiring jyotis, enjoys bliss in the contemplation of jyotis.
Comm .— 'There being no consciousness in Sushupti, how could he be said to enjoy bliss ?' He answers this by saying that being Param jyotis, i.e., atma jyotis that is independent of anything, he certainly knows it. As said in the Srutis: ' Being indestructible, there is no diminution in the power of vision of the seer !' ' But how does he enjoy it without desiring it?' He answers it thus: — 'To him who longs after Atma everything appears dear'. So says the Sruti. So being always desirous of Atma, he thirsts for jyotis and delights in its enjoyment. During Sushupti there being no other desire, that which remains is only desire for Atma. Being tainted with desire he appears as acting on the jagrat plane. But in Paramatma there is no change. The Sruti say, 'He who longs after Atma, has satisfied all his desires'.
Then he comes back to the dream plane by the same way, like a jalouka (a leech). It, remaining on a blade of grass, first puts forward its foot on another blade in front, conveys its body to it, and having got a firm hold of it, then only leaves the former and not before. So this is the jagrae state.
Comm. — So also the Jiva having got into the Swapna body, then only leaves the Sushupti body, so also for jagrat; so also in death, where it takes another body before leaving this. The Srutis say 'As the jalouka, so this person is under the control of and follows Karma'. By this example it will be seen, that the jiva experiences and is conscious of the three states.
As this (Devadatta) bears at the same time eight skulls, so this jagrat, the source of Devas and Vedas, clings to a man like the breasts to a woman.
Comm. — This answers the question, "How can one jiva experience all these states simultaneously?" But, " These three states contract and expand. How can they exist in atma that has no second form?" The second example answers this. The breasts that contract and expand are found in a woman.
During the Jagrat Avastha, merit and demerit are postulated of this Deva (power), he is capable of great expansion and is the Inner mover, He is Khaga (bird), Karkata (crab), Pushkara (Akas), Prana, pain, Parapara, Atma and Brahma. This deity causes to know. [Page 16]
Comm. — 'How are we to know that Jagrat is the source of Vedas and Devas and not Swapna ? ' He answers this thus: The actions of a person during the Jagrat state only are rewarded or punished, and not during the Swapna; these results are laid down in the Vedas and are influenced by the Devas. By saying that it is postulated, it seems that there is some connexion also with the Swapna state. Expansion, the universe proceeds from him. Bird, as he knows what is going on elsewhere. Crab, as he proceeds crookedly (spirally?). Akas being pure like it. Prana being its creator. Pain being its giver. Para the cause, apara, the effect. To show that he is not different from Jiva, he says Atma (i.e.,) Pratyagatma. Being the soul of all, he causes everything to be known. 'There is no other seer' says the Sruti.
He who knows thus, obtains Brahma, the Supreme, the support of all things, and the Kshetragna (witness). He obtains Brahma, the Supreme, the support of all things, and the Kshetragna. The Purusha has four seats, — navel (Manipurakachakra), heart (Anahatachakra), neck (Visuddhichakra), and head (Agnachakra).
Comm. — These are specially mentioned, as contemplation on these chakras facilitates progress.
There Brahm with the four feet specially shines. Those feet are Jagrat, Swapna, Sushupti and Turiya.
Comm.— 'Are these the only places ? Are not the Muladhara, etc., mentioned ? 'He answers this by saying that it shines in these places specially (i.e.), a slight contemplation there is enough. He calls the states, feet; being only illusory, they are represented by the unimportant parts of the body, and it is only through these that it manifests itself.
In Jagrat he is Brahma, in Swapna Vishnu, in Sushupti Rudra, and in Turiya the Supreme Akshara. He is Aditya, Vishnu, Iswara, Purusha; Prana, Jiva, Agni, and resplendent. The Para Brahm shines in the midst of these (states). He is without Manas, ear, hands, feet and light. There the worlds are not worlds, Devas no Devas, Vedas no Vedas, sacrifices no sacrifices, mother no mother, father no father, daughter-in-law no daughter-in law, Chandala no Chandala, Paulkasa no Paulkasa, Sramana no Sramana, beasts no beasts, hermits no hermits, so one only Brahm shines as different.
Comm. — Light, without the light of Indriyas, Chandala, one born of a Brahman woman by a Sudra. Paulkasa, one born of a Sudra woman by a Nishada (hunter). Sramana, also a man of a very low caste. Where does Brahm shine and in what form ? He says:
In the Hridayakas (Akas in the heart) is the Chidakas. That is Brahm. It is extremely subtle (Chidakas). The Hridayakas can be known. This moves in it. In Brahm everything is strung.
Comm. — The Mantras say, 'The heart should be known as the great residence of the All'. What is the fruit of thus knowing him ? He says
Those who thus know the Lord know everything.
Comm. — As said in the Chandogyopanishad, If he longs after Pitriloka, by his very thought the Pitris arise; so he attains Pitriloka and is great there.
In Him (the Gnani) the Devas, the worlds, the Pitris and the Rishis do not rule. He who is awakened knows everything.
Comm. — Each man is supposed to be indebted to three persons in his life, i.e., the Devas, the Pitris, and the Rishis. He pays the first by studying the Vedas and performing the sacrifices, the second by begetting a son, and the third by daily giving Arghya (oblations of water). The Gnani being free from all the three, they no longer rule over him.
All the Devas are in the heart, in the heart are all the. Pranas, in the heart is Prana, Jyotis and the threeplied holy thread. In the heart, in Chaitaniya (consciousness) it (Prana) is.
Comm. — To impress upon the mind the necessity of renouncing everything known and unknown, he says that the worship of external deities is wrong and that everything is within. Devatas, Brahma and others, the deities of the Indriyas. Pranas, Vak and others. Jyotis, that which enables us to perceive objects. To show that the pure Brahm, though the source of all things and unmanifested, shines in the heart, he says 'The holy thread' It represents the nine modifications of Satwa, Rajas and Tamas. He now gives the Mantra to be pronounced when putting on the holy thread.
Put on the Yagnopavita (the holy thread), the supreme, the holy, which came into existence along with Prajapati, which gives long life, and which is very excellent; let this give you strength and Tejas (spiritual splendour).
Comm. — The Yagnopavita is worn across the breast to show that the Chaitaniya is in the heart.
The wise man having shaved his head completely, should throw away the external thread. He should wear as the holy thread the supreme and indestructible Brahm. It is called Sutra, because it shows (that the Atma is in the heart). Sutra means the supreme abode. He who knows that [Page 18] Sutra is a Vipra (Brahmin), and he has crossed the ocean of the Vedas. In that Sutra (thread) everything is strung, like beads on a thread. The Yogi, well versed in Yoga and having a clear perception of Truth, should wear that thread. Practising the noble Yoga, the wise man should abandon the external thread. He who wears the Sutra in the form of Brahm, he is a sentient being. By wearing that Sutra he is not polluted. They whose Sutra is within, whose Yagnopavita is Gnana, they only know the Sutra, and they only wear the Yagnopavita in this world. Those whose tuft of hair is Gnana, who are firmly grounded in Gnana, whose Yagnopavita is Gnana, consider Gnana only as supreme. Gnana is holy and excellent. He whose tuft of hair is Gnana, like the flame of Agni, he, the wise one, only wears a true Sikha; the others simply wear mere tufts of hair. Those Brahmanas and others who perform the ceremonies prescribed in the Vedas, they only wear this thread as a symbol of their ceremonies. Those who know the Vedas say that he only is a true Brahmin who wears the Sikha of Gnana and whose Yagnopavita is the same. This Yagnopavita (Yagna Vishnu and Upavita that surrounds, hence the form of Vishnu) is supreme and is the supreme refuge. He who wears that really knows, he only wears the Sutra, he is Yagna (Vishnu), and he only knows Yagna (Vishnu).
Comm. — Hereafter he begins to praise the Most Excellent, by attaining whom the various bonds are removed, by whose favour is obtained the Divine sight, and death avoided.
One God, hidden in all things, pervades all things and is the Inner Life of all things. He awards the fruits of Karma, he lives in all things, he sees all things without any extraneous help, he is the soul of all, there is nothing like him, and he is without any Gunas (being secondless). He is the great wise one here the Gnana Sakti is postulated). He is the one doer among many actionless objects (here the Kriyasakti is clearly shown). He is always making one thing appear as several (by Maya). Those wise men who see him in Buddhi, they only obtain eternal peace. Having made Atma (Buddhi) as the Arani and Pranava the lower Arani, by constant practice of Dhyana, one should see the concealed deity. As the oil in the sesamum, as the ghee in the curds, as the water in the rivers, and as the fire in the Arani, so they who practise truth and austerities see him in the Buddhi.
Comm. — Arani is a piece of wood with a hole in it into which another sharp-pointed wood is inserted and made to rotate by a rope. It is used for getting fire for the sacrifices. It is very suggestive. For a detailed esoteric explanation of this, vide The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2, "Prometheus".
As the spider throws out and draws into itself the threads, so the Jiva goes and returns during the Jagrat and the Swapna.
Comm. —The heart being the place where it is to be contemplated, he proceeds to give a description of it,
The heart is in the form of a" closed lotus flower, with its head hanging down ; it has a hole in the top. Know it to be the great abode of the All.
Comm. — These lines appear in the Purusha Sukta too.
Know that during Jagrat it dwells in the eye (right), and during Swapna in the throat; during Sushupti it is in the heart and during Turiya in the head (in the nadi called Pureetati).
Comm. — As said elsewhere, Having pierced by the manas and the
breath the great bolt of Brahm in a moment, he should take rest in the great Ocean of supreme amrita. By bringing
together the Prana and Apana to the Muladhara and contemplating upon Om (in the way laid down in the Tantras)
the gastric fire is roused. The serpent Kundalini that lies coiled 3½ times around the Sushumna closing
the mouth (Brahmaranda) with his head, feels this and slowly begins to move. He should then force his breath
(current) and his mind through the opening into ; Sushumna (for where the mind wills, there the breath current
follows). There are three obstacles :—Brahma
Granthi, Vishnu Granthi and Siva Grahthi (granthi = knot). He should force his way through them and drink the
nectar flowing from the moon in the Agnachakra. That process is referred to here.
Because Buddhi unites the Pratyagatama with the Paramatma, the worship of Sandhya (union) arose. So we should perform Sandhya-vandana. The Sandhyavandana performed by Dhyana requires no water. It gives no trouble to the body or the speech. That which unites all things is the Sandhya of the one-staffed Sanyasis. Knowing that from which speech and mind turn back being unable to obtain it, and that which is the bliss of Jiva, the wise one is freed. The secret of the Brahmavidya is to reveal the real nature of the Atma, that is all-pervading, that is like ghee in the milk, that is the source of Atmavidya and Tapas, and to show that everything is in essence one.
So ends the Brahmopanishad. [Page 20]
"THOSE who are devoid of wings, coming to the Asvattha
of golden leaves, there become possessed of wings, and fly away happily. That eternal divine being is perceived
by devotees. The upward life-wind swallows the downward life-wind; the moon swallows up the upward life-wind
; the sun swallows up the moon, and another swallows up the sun. Moving about above the waters, the supreme
self does not raise one leg. (Should he raise) that, which is always performing sacrifices, there will be no
death, no immortality.
"The being who is the inner self, and who is of the size of a
thumb, is not seen, being placed in the heart. He is unborn, is moving about day and night without sloth. Meditating
on him, a wise man remains placid. That eternal divine being is perceived by devotees."
" Sanatsugâtiya," chapter 6 (Translated by K. T. Telang).
" The Soul (Purusha) which in the measure of a thumb dwells in the middle of the body (in the ether of the heart) is the ruler of the past, the future (and the present times). Hence from having this knowledge, the wise (does not desire to conceal) the soul. This is that.
" The Soul, which is light without smoke, the ruler of the past, future (and the present times), is even to-day (and) will be verily to-morrow."— " Katha Upanishad," 4th valli, verses 12 and 13; see also 5th valli, verse 3, and the Fourth Brahmana of the " Brihadaranyaka Upanishad."
" Devotion is not his, Arjuna ! who eats too much, nor his who eats not at all; nor his who is addicted
to too much sleep, nor his who is (ever) awake. That devotion which destroys (all) misery is his, who takes due
food and exercise, who toils duly in all works, and who sleeps and awakens (in) due (time).—" Bhagavad
Gîtâ," chap. 6.
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