Sūtasamhitā Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣat – Part 7
The method of securing the Advaitic understanding by analyzing the relevant mantras of the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣat is being discussed.
नेति नेतीति निष्कृष्टो य एष सर्वसाधकः ।
सोऽयमात्मा सदाऽग्राह्यस्वरूपो न हि गृह्यते ॥ ४४॥
न not इति thus न not इति thus इति thus निष्कृष्टः determined यः he एष this सर्वसाधकः all-achiever सः he अयम् this आत्मा Self सदा ever अग्राह्यस्वरूपः of ungraspable nature न not हि indeed गृह्यते grasped
In the foregoing, Brahman/Ātman was taught by the Upaniṣad in positive terms. One might get a doubt that such a Brahman, taught in positive terms, is actually endowed with one or the other upādhi, limiting adjunct and hence sopādhika. In order to remove that doubt the Upaniṣad embarks on the teaching of Brahman in the manner of ‘neti, neti’, which means:
In the expression ‘neti’, there are two words, ‘na’ and ‘iti.’. The latter word ‘iti’ means, or rather signifies, that which is immediately available for experience, by way of perception or otherwise. As a result, the word ‘iti’ means ‘idam’, ‘this’ that is seen, experienced, dṛśyam. By the repetition, whatever is seen, experienced, in its entirety as ‘this’ is negated. The purport of ‘neti, neti’ is: Whatever is experienced as an object, that, in its entirety, is negated and that entity that is the locus in which there remains nothing more to be negated, being devoid of any upādhi, is retained or understood as the Supreme Truth, Brahman-Ātman. It is this Ātman, the Self, that is the source from which avidyā (ignorance), kāma (desire) and karma (action), etc. arise. Apart from Brahman there is no doer-enjoyer really. What is the nature of this Brahman-Ātman that is the only Real? It is forever beyond the grasp of the sense and motor organs. The organs have no power to grasp, know, the Ātman, the innermost Self of all. The Subject, the Ātman, is ever the One that is the power behind the organs that grasp outside objects or the mind that generates thoughts. However, the organs, the objects, the mind and the thoughts, all of these are always Objects forever and never can be the Subject that grasps the Self.
तथाऽशीर्यस्वभावश्च हे देवा नैव शीर्यते ।
असङ्गरूपो भगवान्सर्वदा न हि सज्जते ॥ ४५॥
तथा also अशीर्यस्वभावः undecaying nature च too हे देवाः O Gods! न एव never शीर्यते decays असङ्गरूपः unattached भगवान् Lord सर्वदा ever न not हि indeed सज्जते attaches
Further, this Ātman, unlike the superimposed world, is not of the nature of decaying. Never indeed does the Self decompose. Being devoid of parts, it is impossible for decomposition to happen in the Self. Hence, that Self which is the limit of all negation of the observed world, will never be negated by any force. Objection: The Self that is the substratum of the superimposition of the observed world, can be tainted, owing to the association of the world that is subject to additions and deletions. Hence why can’t there be transformations in the Self too? Reply: The Self is unattached just like the lotus leaf that is unattached to the water that gets deposited on it. The Self never gets fastened to anything as belonging to It since It is devoid of the idea of identification. Also, the observed world that could generate attachment, itself is, because of being a mere appearance, mithyā, incapable of attaching to anything in absolute terms. The desert land is never moistened with the mirage-water that appears to be on the surface there.
एष नित्यो महिमा ब्राह्मणस्य
न वर्धते कर्मणा नो कनीयान् ।
तस्यैव स्यात्पदवित्तं विदित्वा
न लिप्यते कर्मणा पापकेन ॥ ४६॥
एषः this नित्यः eternal महिमा glory ब्राह्मणस्य of the Knower न not वर्धते increases कर्मणा by action नो not कनीयान् decreases तस्य his एव alone स्यात् be पदवित् Knower of the Goal तं that विदित्वा having known न not लिप्यते touched कर्मणा by action पापकेन by sinful
The foregoing message is also found in the Upaniṣadic teaching contained in the passage तदेतदृचाभ्युक्तम् । एष नित्यो महिमा ब्राह्मणस्य न वर्धते कर्मणा नो कनीयान् । तस्यैव स्यात्पदवित्तं विदित्वा न लिप्यते कर्मणा पापकेनेति । [23. “This has been expressed by the following Ṛg verse: ‘This is the eternal glory of Brahman: It neither increases nor decreases through action. Therefore one should know the nature of That alone. Knowing It one is not touched by evil action.’] (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.23) The Non-dual Truth established by applying the method of ‘neti, neti’, negating whatever name-form that is encountered and focusing on the underlying Existence-Consciousness of all phenomenon, which Truth is none but one’s own Self, is the Eternal Glory of the one who has really realized It. All other glories one attains by performing this or that action is only ephemeral and not the absolute glory. The Glory that is Brahman-Ātman, being one’s very nature, is alone Eternal. Why? It is because Brahman, The Eternal Existence, does not undergo any transformation of increasing or decreasing owing to action. Action belongs to the realm of the body-mind complex and since Brahman-Ātman is beyond the body-mind, no improvement or diminishing can happen in It. This is because Brahman-Ātman is completely unconnected, unattached, to the adjuncts where alone transformation arises. Hence, being Immutable, Brahman alone is the Eternal Glory of the Knower. It is to be recognized that there can be no glory ‘for’ or ‘of’ Brahman. On the other hand, Brahman Itself is the Eternal Glory of the Knower of Brahman.
Therefore one ideally ought to strive to realize one’s true nature that is Brahman. What accrues to the one with such a realization? By so realizing, the Knower is untainted by pāpam, sin. The word ‘pāpam’ includes ‘puṇyam’ (merit) as well since this latter too results in samsāra, bondage. Hence by merely realizing the Truth of oneself, one is freed of both puṇya and pāpa. In other words, the stock of merit and demerit is annulled by Knowledge.
ञ्शान्तो दान्तः सत्यवादी भवेच्च ।
विद्याहेतुं सन्ततं त्वभ्युपेयात् ॥ ४७॥
तस्मात् therefore ब्रह्मज्ञानलाभाय to acquire Brahman-knowledge विद्वान् the aspirant शान्तः mind-control दान्तः sense-control सत्यवादी truth-speaking भवेत् be च also कर्मत्यागी renounce action सर्ववेदान्तसिद्धं purport of all the Upanishads विद्याहेतुं means to knowledge सन्ततं constantly तु however अभ्युपेयात् adhere to
The external means to knowledge, namely reciting the Veda, performing ritual sacrifices, giving gifts and fasting, etc. were stated in the foregoing. Here, the internal means to knowledge taught in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.23 तस्मादेवंविच्छान्तो दान्त उपरतस्तितिक्षुः समाहितो भूत्वात्मन्येवात्मानं पश्यति [“Therefore he who knows It as such becomes self-controlled, calm, withdrawn into himself, patient and collected; he sees the Self in his own self (mind)’’] is condensed.
Since the fruit of Brahman-knowledge has been specified in glorious terms in the foregoing, therefore let one desirous of obtaining that state equip himself with the means such as sense and mind control, etc. that are essential. ‘śama’ or ‘śānti’ is withdrawal from action involving external organs. ‘dama’ or ‘dānti’ means freedom from the longings pertaining to the mind. The word ‘satyavādī’ (steadfast adherence to speaking the truth) is indicative, representative, of all the limbs of yoga. ‘karma-tyāgī’ (renouncing actions) is the giving up of all actions that are aimed at attaining other worlds and are therefore detrimental to the acquisition of the liberating Brahman-knowledge. Having equipped oneself with these means, one has to engage seriously in the proximate means to acquiring the Self-realization namely श्रोतव्यो मन्तव्यो निदिध्यासितव्यः [Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 2.4.5] ‘śravaṇa-manana-nididhyāsana’ [determining the purport of the Upaniṣads, cogitation with the aid of logical reasoning and steadfast meditation on the Truth].
Thus we have several levels at which means are prescribed by the Veda: The ‘external’, the ‘internal’ and the ‘proximate’ means to self-knowledge.
सदाऽऽचरेच्छङ्करवेदने रतः ।
शिवादिशब्दं च जपेद्विशेषतः
प्रपूजयेद्भक्तिपुरःसरं हरम् ॥ ४८॥
त्रिपुण्ड्रम् bhasma on the forehead उद्धूलनम् other parts of the body आस्तिकोत्तमाः O Foremost among the Pious! सदा always आचरेत् practice शङ्करवेदने in the knowledge of Shankara रतः intent शिवादिशब्दं the word ‘Śiva’, etc. च also जपेत् chant विशेषतः especially प्रपूजयेत् worship भक्तिपुरःसरं filled with devotion हरम् Hara
Apart from the proximate means to Self-realization, one has to engage in the practice of the methods taught in the Upaniṣads such as the Jābāla aimed at securing the grace of Lord Śiva. These practices involve the applying the three parallel lines made of the holy ash on the forehead and other parts of the body, chanting of the divine names ‘Śiva’, etc. devout worship of Lord Śiva. All this forms part of the internal proximate means to realize one’s true Self as non-different from the Supreme Brahman, Śiva.
साधनैः सकलैः सहितः सुरा
वेदनेन समस्तमिदं जगत् ।
देवरूपतयैव तु निश्चितं
वेद हस्ततलस्थितबिल्ववत् ॥ ४९
साधनैः with the means सकलैः that are complete सहितः endowed सुरा: O Gods! वेदनेन by knowing समस्तम् entirely इदं this जगत् world देवरूपतया as the form of the Lord एव alone तु however निश्चितं convinced वेद knows हस्ततलस्थितबिल्ववत् just as the bilva placed on one’s palm
Self-realization of the form ‘Everything that is seen and I myself are none but the Supreme Brahman, Śiva’ arises by acquiring the means as follows:
Recitation of Veda, scripture-enjoined sacrifices (yajña), gifts (dāna), austerity (fasting, etc)
Developing self control of the form of regulating the mental and sensory reactions, forbearance, withdrawal from actions
Steadfast dedication to (study) śravaṇa, cogitation (manana) and committed meditation (nididhyāsana)
When the above means are sincerely employed, the direct realization of the form stated above will be had just as a bilva-fruit placed on one’s palm is so patently cognized.
(Coming soon… Part 8)