The Praśnopaniṣat – Part 3
पञ्चपादं पितरं द्वादशाकृतिं दिव आहुः परे अर्धे पुरीषिणम् ।
अथेमे अन्य उ परे विचक्षणं सप्तचक्रे षडर आहुरर्पितमिति ॥ ११ ॥
पञ्चपादं five-footed पितरं father द्वादशाकृतिं twelve-formed दिवः above sky आहुः call परे others अर्धे living in that region पुरीषिणम् giving rain अथ then इमे these अन्ये others उ परे knowers विचक्षणं omniscient सप्तचक्रे sun षडर six-spoked आहुः say अर्पितम् fixed इति thus
Some call Him the father with five feet and with twelve forms, the giver of rain and the dweller in the region above the sky. Others, again, say that the world is fixed in the omniscient Sun, endowed with seven wheels and six spokes.
The Prajāpati, called Prāṇa, is spoken of by those adepts in reckoning time as endowed with five feet which are nothing but the five seasons. Just as the feet are required to move from place to place, so too these seasons are there signifying the movement, cyclically, of the time principle which is also Prāṇa alone. These are the ‘feet’ of Āditya, sun, who is the embodiment of the samvatsara, year. While there are six seasons, the total number five is arrived at by counting the hemanta and śiśira seasons as one. He is called a father since all creation proceeds from him. The twelve months are as though his forms. These are his parts. He stays in the upper half region of the heaven, which is the third heaven. He is called ‘Purīṣī’, the one who is full of water (since the sun causes cloud which yields water). On the other hand, others who are diligent in the computation of time call him the Omniscient one. In him, who moves incessantly with seven wheels, which are seven horses, and is the self of Time, the six seasons are enshrined, this entire world is located just as the spokes are fixed in the navel of a chariot.
Whether five-footed and twelve-limbed or seven-wheeled and six-spoked, in all respects this self-of-Time, the Prajāpati, who is also signified by the sun and moon, is the cause of the world.
That very Prajāpati in whom this whole universe is resting, who is known as the ‘samvatsara’ (Year), completely pervades his own limbs which are the twelve months:
मासो वै प्रजापतिस्तस्य कृष्णपक्ष एव रयिः शुक्लः प्राणस्तस्मादेत ऋषयः शुक्ल इष्टं कुर्वन्तीतर इतरस्मिन् ॥ १२ ॥
मासः वै verily the month is प्रजापतिः Prajāpati कृष्णपक्षः dark-half एव verily रयिः food, rayiḥ, शुक्लः bright-half प्राणः eater, prāṇa तस्मात् therefore एते these ऋषयः ṛṣis शुक्ले during bright-half इष्टं sacrfices कुर्वन्ति perform इतरे others इतरस्मिन् in the other (dark-half).
The month, verily, is Prajāpati. Its dark half, verily, is food, rayi; its bright half, the eater, prāṇa. Therefore some ṛṣis perform sacrifice in the bright half, some in the other half.
That prāṇa who is already stated to be a pair and who is Prajāpati is verily the ‘māsaḥ’, month. He, who is composed of the months, has the dark-half, the food, rayi, whch is Chandra (the moon), for his one half. The other half is the bright-half, called prāṇa, Sūrya (the sun), the eater, fire. For the reason that Prāṇa, the bright half, is looked upon as ‘everything’, therefore those ṛṣis that are adepts in recognizing the Prāṇa, perform the sacrifices in the period of dark-half too, since they do not view the dark-half as apart from the Prāṇa. The others, on the other hand, not visioning the Prāṇa, see only the dark-half that is marked by obstructing the vision. They perform the sacrifice only in the ‘other’, the dark-half, even though they may be doing so in the bright-half. This is because, they are endowed with ignorance pertaining to Prāṇa and therefore their bright-half is deemed to be the dark-half alone. The mantra is implicitly censuring their ignorance.
अहोरात्रो वै प्रजापतिस्तस्याहरेव प्राणो रात्रिरेव रयिः प्राणं वा एते प्रस्कन्दन्ति ये दिवा रत्या संयुज्यन्ते ब्रह्मचर्यमेव तद्यद्रात्रौ रत्या संयुज्यन्ते ॥ १३ ॥
अहोरात्रः day and night वै indeed is प्रजापतिः Prajāpati तस्य his अहः day एव alone is प्राणः prāṇa रात्रिः his night एव alone रयिः food प्राणं prāṇa वा indeed एते these प्रस्कन्दन्ति dissipate ये those दिवा during day रत्या with women संयुज्यन्ते copulate ब्रह्मचर्यम् continence एव alone is तत् that यत् which रात्रौ during night रत्या with women संयुज्यन्ते copulate.
Day and night, verily, are Prajāpati. Of these, day is the eater, prāṇa and night, the food, rayi. Those who join in sexual enjoyment by day verily dissipate life; but to join in sexual enjoyment by night is, verily, chastity.
That very Prajāpati who is verily the months, is recognized in the day and night that are his limbs. Therefore the day-night pair is Prajāpati. His day alone is prāṇa, the eater, fire and night indeed is rayi, food, the eaten, as stated before. They eject, exhaust, waste away by alienating from themselves Prāṇa, the day. Who are these censurable ones? Those are the ignorant ones who unite in copulation with women during day. Incidentally the Veda is prohibiting such an act. On the other hand the engaging in conjugal union during the night, in the appropriate period of the woman, is laudable and hence, incidentally, is a Vedic injunction. The purport of this mantra is that Prajāpati who is verily the day-night pair is well established as food in the form of rice and barley.
अन्नं वै प्रजापतिस्ततो ह वै तद्रेतस्तस्मादिमाः प्रजाः प्रजायन्त इति ॥ १४ ॥
अन्नं वै food verily is प्रजापतिः Prajāpati ततःfrom him ह वै certainly indeed तत् that रेतः semen emanates तस्मात् from that इमाः these प्रजाः creatures प्रजायन्त are born इति thus.
Food, verily, is Prajāpati. From that comes semen; from semen are all these creatures born.
Food indeed is Prajāpati. How is this possible? From food evolves semen the seed of humans which upon being placed in the womb of the female brings forth offspring of the species of humans, etc.
The disciple Kabandhī Kātyāyana, at the commencement of the dialogue, had posed the question: From where do the creatures emerge? This was replied in the rest of the mantras by elucidating the process consisting of the coupling of Chandra and Āditya as the beginning and the specifying of the day and night as the end, through the union of blood and semen. This is how beings are born from Prajāpati.
तद्ये ह वै तत्प्रजापतिव्रतं चरन्ति ते मिथुनमुत्पादयन्ते । तेषामेवैष ब्रह्मलोको येषां तपो ब्रह्मचर्यं येषु सत्यं प्रतिष्ठितम् ॥ १५ ॥
तत् thus ये those ह वै well known indeed तत् this प्रजापतिव्रतं vow of Prajāpati चरन्ति undertake ते they मिथुनम् pair उत्पादयन्ते beget तेषाम् theirs एव alone एष is this ब्रह्मलोकः brahmaloka येषां whose तपः vow ब्रह्मचर्यं of continence येषु in whom सत्यं truth प्रतिष्ठितम् is established firmly.
Those, therefore, who practise this rule of Prajapati beget a pair. But Brahmaloka belongs to those who observe austerity and chastity and in whom truth is firmly established.
The method of creation of beings having been thus explained in the foregoing, the actual way of creation of human species is now stated. Those householders who follow the path of the scripture engage in copulation only during the specified period, signifying the ‘vow pertaining to Prajāpati’ (the word ‘prajāpati’ means ‘the Lord of creatures/progeny’). For those householders the fruit of this vow is perceived directly, dṛṣṭa-phalam, and that is that they beget the pair, of both male and female progeny. And what is the unseen, adṛṣṭa, fruit? For those householders who engage in the scripture-ordained society-oriented works such as digging wells, ponds, planting trees, laying out parks, giving away gifts, etc. they alone attain the ‘brahmaloka’ specified by the world of moon, Chandra. This is the world of the manes. These householders have dutifully practiced the vow of ‘snātaka’, the one who has graduated from the gurukulam, and celibacy signified by not copulating with wife during periods that are prohibited. Also, these householders carefully avoid speaking untruth. The destination of the world of manes is there only for such pious householders and not for others.
Now, in contrast with the above, who are those that will attain the other world of Āditya, sun, which is attained by the bright, uttarāyaṇa’ path, which is pure and not subject to waxing and waning like the lunar world?
तेषामसौ विरजो ब्रह्मलोको न येषु जिह्ममनृतं न माया चेति ॥ १६ ॥
तेषाम् theirs असौ this विरजः pure ब्रह्मलोकः solar brahmaloka न not येषु in whom जिह्मम् crookedness अनृतं falsehood न is not there माया च and deception इति thus.
The stainless World of Brahma belongs to those in whom there is no crookedness, no falsehood and no deception.
For the householders, the very nature of their living does not afford them the way to be completely free of crookedness. There are many contradicting social situations that arise in their daily life. They cannot stay clear of these wrongs in the course of, for instance, their engaging in play or merriment. They will be compelled to resort to falsehood, fraud and deceit. ‘Deceit’ is that condition where one poses to be something in the public while actually acting to the contrary. These defects are not there in the case of brahmacārins (celibates), vānaprasthas (forest-dwellers) and sannyāsins (renunciates). Only those who are free of the above stated defects, engaging in scripture-ordained duties combined with meditation, attain the world of Āditya, which is distinct from that of Chandra (which is attained by those who engage in mere scriptural actions with the exclusion of meditation). The idea is that the fruit of the extra element of meditation, which is indeed more demanding, has to be higher relatively.
[Here ends the first section, verily the first Question (and answer) of the Praśnopaniṣat.]