Sūtasamhtā Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣat – Part 6
Continuing the explanation of the verse 37:
The purport of the mantra ‘एकधैवानुद्रष्टव्यमेतदप्रमयं ध्रुवम्’ (Bṛ.Up.4.4.20) [‘Unknowable and constant, It should be realized in one form only’] The meaning of this mantra is: This Self is to be realized as being of one nature of Pure Consciousness, as that which never is an object but ever the subject, firm, with no transformations. Aspirants who are seriously longing for liberation, equipped with the necessary qualifications such as composure, etc.; and striving constantly without break have to realize the Ātman directly as ‘I am this.’ If the Self were an object, it would be no different from any inert entity such as a pot. An entity different from oneself is perceived by anyone as an object. The Self is one without a second and hence it is not grasped by anyone as different from oneself. Hence, once realized as oneself, the Self always shines to the Knower as his very Being; not as an object distinct from oneself. Hence alone the Ātman is called a-prameya, never a knowable object. Also, the Ātman is pure, free from any blemish. Any blemish can happen only through dharma and adharma. Since the Ātman is devoid of a body-mind complex, it is impossible for it to engage in any activity that could generate dharma, merit, or adharma, demerit. Merit is also considered a blemish since it leads to rebirth. The Self is ‘Great’, mahān, since It is all-pervading being the Cause of everything in creation. It is Firm, dhruvaḥ, Immutable.
The mantra of the Bṛ.Up. 4.4.21 is cited:
तमेव धीरो विज्ञाय प्रज्ञां कुर्वीत ब्राह्मणः ।
नानुध्यायाद्बहूञ्छब्दान्वाचो विग्लापनं हि तत् ॥ ३८॥
तम् Him एव alone धीरः the intelligent विज्ञाय having known प्रज्ञां contemplate कुर्वीत let do ब्राह्मणः seeker न not अनुध्यायात् think of बहून् too many शब्दान् words वाचः of speech विग्लापनं exhausting हि indeed तत् that
The intelligent seeker of Brahman, learning about the Self alone, should practise wisdom (prajñā). Let him not think of too many words, for that is exhausting to the organ of speech.
Having heard from the Preceptor and known from the scripture that Ātman of the nature described in the foregoing, the ardent seeker of Brahman has to engage in deep contemplation with a view to internalize the knowledge. The idea is that the delusion that is directly experienced will not be dispelled by indirect right knowledge. The knower of the Self ought not to engage in thinking of too many words pertaining to the not-Self. This is surely a distraction and a pain to the organ of speech. There will be a drain of energy of the aspirant thereby affecting his contemplation of the Self.
स वा एष महानात्मा जन्मनाशादिवर्जितः ।
वशी सर्वस्य लोकस्य सर्वस्येशान एव च ॥ ३९॥
स he वा indeed एष this महानात्मा Great Self जन्मनाशादिवर्जितः devoid of origin and destruction वशी controller सर्वस्य of all लोकस्य worlds सर्वस्य of all ईशानः Lord एव alone च too
The Bṛ.Up. mantra 4.4.25 स वा एष महानज आत्माजरोऽमरोऽमृतोऽभयो ब्रह्माभयं वै ब्रह्माभयं हि वै ब्रह्म भवति य एवं वेद ॥ २५ ॥ is explained.
25. That great, unborn Self is undecaying, immortal, undying, fearless; It is Brahman (infinite). Brahman is indeed fearless. He who knows It as such becomes the fearless Brahman.
Other mantras that follow this are also taken up for delineation in the verses that follow.
The Brahman that is to be realized for liberation is being specified here. This Brahman is the Cause of creation and is available for everyone to be realized in the heart as the consciousness that everyone experiences. He is infinite, devoid of all transformations (six-fold changes that the body undergoes: birth, existence, growth, changes in appearance, decay and death). He is the Controller of all celestials like Brahmā and Indra. The Taittiriya Upaniṣad says: Out of fear of the Supreme, Vāyu, Sūrya, Agni, Indra and Yama engage ceaselessly in their cosmic functions. Brahman is the Lord of these divinities as well. The entire creation is functioning under the Supervision of Brahman. The Super vision is none other than the Supreme Consciousness without which nothing in the creation acts.
सर्वस्याधिपतिः शुद्धो न भूयान्साधुकर्मणा ।
कर्मणाऽसाधुना नैव कनीयान्सुरपुङ्गवाः ॥ ४०॥
सर्वस्य of all अधिपतिः Lord शुद्धःPure न not भूयान् increase साधुकर्मणा by noble deeds कर्मणा by deeds असाधुना ignoble न एव never कनीयान् decrease सुरपुङ्गवाः Of foremost of Gods!
His Lordship is unrestricted and this is indicated by the word ‘sarvasya adhipatiḥ’, the Lord of All. He sustains everyone by being inside every being. He does not need any external aid to do this. He is independent. Hence He is in complete control of everything and everyone in creation. In other words, the entire creation is dependent on Him. He is pure with no blemish of whatever nature in Him. None can surpass Him in any respect. Since He is Full, no scripturally ordained action such as agnihotra is required to make Himself complete or full or more. He does not become increased in any way compared to His already existing state. Similarly no scripturally prohibited action such as killing a brāhmaṇa will render Him smaller. These expressions convey the meaning that the Supreme Brahman is immutable in stature. Only that entity dependent on action can undergo increase or decrease in stature owing to one or the other kind of action. The Upaniṣadic Brahman being free of all upādhis is not subject to any change resulting from action. He is the Lord of all that is dependent on action.
एष सर्वेश्वरः साक्षाद्भूताधिपतिरेव च ।
भूतपालश्च लोकानामसम्भेदाय हे सुराः ॥ ४१॥
एष He is सर्वेश्वरः Lord of All साक्षात् directly भूताधिपतिः the Master of All एव indeed च too भूतपालः the sustainer of all च also लोकानाम् of the worlds असम्भेदाय sustainer of limit हे Oh सुराः Gods!
Brahman alone is the Master of everyone from Brahmā (the Four-headed deity) up to the smallest creature. He alone is the sustainer, protector of everyone in creation. Brahman is the protector also because the boundaries of the fourteen worlds are to be kept intact without letting them mixing up. Brahman is the Power that maintains order in creation.
एष सेतुर्विधरणस्तमेव ब्राह्मणोत्तमाः ।
वेदानुवचनेनापि यज्ञेन सकलेन च ॥ ४२॥
एष He सेतुः bridge विधरणः ordainer तम् Him एव alone ब्राह्मणोत्तमाः O Foremost of Brāhmaṇa-s वचनेन by vedic recitation अपि also यज्ञेन by sacrifices सकलेन all च too
This Ātman alone is by being the ordainer of the orders of varṇa-s (castes) and āśrama-s (stages in life) is the dam that holds various segments of society in place. It is also a bridge that helps one cross over to the other side. Brahman is the source from which the instruction, in the form of Veda, for conduct, is made available for the jīva-s. Whoever adheres to the Vedic injunction of do-s and don’t-s will succeed in crossing over this ocean of samsāra, transmigratory existence, and attain the ‘other’ shore namely liberation. It is Brahman the source of the Veda and the very goal the jīva aims to attain. What are the means to attain this goal? The Veda itself specifies the means that generate deep thirst for knowledge: the recitation of the Veda by learning it in the formal way, performing the ordained yajña-s such as agnihotra, etc.
दानेन तपसा देवास्तथैवानशनेन च ।
वेत्तुमिच्छति यो विद्वान्स मुनिर्नेतरो जनः ॥ ४३॥
दानेन by gifts तपसा by austerities देवाः O Gods! तथा so एव too अनशनेन by fasting च as well वेत्तुम् to know इच्छति desires यः whoever विद्वान् fit person सःhe मुनिः aspirant न not इतरः anyone else जनः person
Means by which one attains the mental purity that will generate thirst for Self-knowledge:
Reciting the Veda (specified in the earlier verse)
Giving gifts to the deserving as taught in the Veda, smṛti-s, itihāsa-s, purāṇa-s, etc., of the nature, for example, of gifting gold equal to a man’s weight,
By observing austerities, tapas, of the form of fasting (not the extremely tough practices of kṛcchra, chāndrāyana, etc.) Here fasting means desisting from wayward eating and not complete avoidance of food. This caution is in place because denying oneself food will result in death thereby putting an end to the striving for knowledge.
With these means a person develops deep desire to realize the Self that has been described in the foregoing verses. The deep desire to realize the Self is coupled with the effort to acquire the other qualifications such as self-control (to be stated in the sequel). When these are all in place and the enquiry into the Self is taken up with the aid of the scripture and the Master, the resultant direct realization of the Self fructifies into the person becoming a sage. The contemplation of this sage is always about the Ātman in contrast to someone ignorant of the Self who is ever delving on worldly matters involving action. The Knower of the Self having nothing else to accomplish is a sage in the true sense. By thus explaining, the Upaniṣadic passage emphasizing ‘एतमेव विदित्वा मुनिर्भवति’ [’By realizing this Ātman alone one becomes a sage’] (Bṛ.Up.4.4.22) stands elucidated.
Coming soon part 7