The Praśnopaniṣat – Part 10
Continuing the Mantra 4.8….
Earth, pṛthvī, that is endowed with five guṇas (śabda, sparśa, rūpa, rasa and gandha) and its source in the subtle pṛthvī that has for its native attribute, smell, gandha. Water and the subtle water, Fire and the subtle fire. So too vāyu, air and the subtle air. Ether, ākāśa, and subtle ākāśa. These are all the gross and subtle elements. The sensory organs (jñānendriyam) and their respective objects are enumerated hereby: The organ eye and its object, form, the organ ear and its object sound, the organ nose and its object smell, the organ tongue and its object taste and the organ skin with its object, touch.
Now the motor organs (karmendriyam) and their objects are specified: the organ vāk, speech, and its object speech, the hands and their objects that which are to be grasped, the reproductive organ and its object enjoyment, the excretory organ and the excreta, the organ legs and the space to be trodden. The organ ‘mind’ is the same that has been already specified. Its object, that is, ‘subject matter’ is ‘that which is to be thought of.’ ‘Buddhi’, intellect, is that faculty concerning determining. That which is to be firmly known is the object of this faculty. Ahankāra, ego sense, is the function/mode of the mind alone that manifests as ‘I’ and ‘mine’. This alone is its object. ‘Cittam’ is that faculty of the inner organ which manifests the consciousness. The function of this faculty is in being conscious of. Tejaḥ, verily skin, as distinguished from the indriyam, organ, of touch. Its object is that which is revealed by this organ called skin. Prāṇa is that entity called ‘Sūtra’ (string) (Hiraṇyagarbha who ‘strings’ together the entire created universe). All that has been enumerated so far is a conglomerate, an assembly, existing for the sake of someone other than the members of the assembly. This is akin to the doors, windows, pillars, etc. that go to make a house that is meant for the dweller thereof. All that is just name and form has been included in the above delineation. In other words, the mantra gives a list that constitutes the created world of name-form. This is distinct from the uncreated Brahman, the fundamental substratum.
एष हि द्रष्टा स्प्रष्टा श्रोता घ्राता रसयिता मन्ता बोद्धा कर्ता विज्ञानात्मा पुरुषः । स परेऽक्षर आत्मनि संप्रतिष्ठते ॥ ९ ॥
एष he हि verily is द्रष्टा seer स्प्रष्टा feeler श्रोता hearer घ्राता smeller रसयिता taster मन्ता thinker बोद्धा knower कर्ता doer विज्ञानात्मा the sentient self पुरुषः Puruṣa स he परे in the Supreme अक्षरे Imperishable आत्मनि Ātman संप्रतिष्ठते is established
- He, verily, it is who sees, feels, hears, smells, tastes, thinks and knows. He is the doer, the intelligent self, the puruṣa. He is established in the Highest, the imperishable Ātman.
Henceforth the essence of that Self, verily Brahman, that has ‘entered’ this body-mind complex, similar to the reflection of the Sun that has ‘entered’ the reflecting body, the reservoir, who, remaining in the body, appears to be engaged in the mind-bodily functions of seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting, thinking and knowing and doing. ‘Knowing’ is generally the instrument involved in knowing, namely, the intellect etc. On the other hand what is referred to here is the knowing self, the individual. He is of the nature of knowing. In other words, the mantra teaches that the individual residing in the body and appearing to be engaged in all these functions is none other than that Conscious entity which is Brahman. He is puruṣa owing to the etymology that he is ‘full of’ (‘pūrṇa’) of the upādhi, adjunct, called body-mind complex. The true ‘abode’ of this puruṣa is the Supreme Self, Paramātman. This is akin to the reflection of the sun, when the water body dries up, ‘returning’ to the real Sun. Again, the Upaniṣad is stressing that the conscious entity experienced by one and all in the body-mind complex is none other than that Supreme Brahman which is the ‘support’, for all that is created and experienced. To firmly realize that ‘I am not the individual, finite, entity endowed with the body-mind complex but I am the Only Conscious entity, Brahman, that has no connection with the finite, perishable, body-mind complex, whatsoever.
परमेवाक्षरं प्रतिपद्यते स यो ह वै तदच्छायमशरीरमलोहितं शुभ्रमक्षरं वेदयते यस्तु सोम्य । स सर्वज्ञः सर्वो भवति तदेष श्लोकः ॥ १० ॥
परम् Supreme एव indeed अक्षरं Imperishable प्रतिपद्यते realizes स he यः who ह वै verily तत् that अच्छायम् free from tamas अशरीरम् without body अलोहितं free from all attributes शुभ्रम् Pure अक्षरं undecaying वेदयते knows यः he तु indeed सोम्य O loveable one स he सर्वज्ञः all-knowing सर्वः all भवति becomes तत् that एष this श्लोकः mantra
- He who knows that imperishable Being, bright, without tamas , without body, without color, verily attains the Supreme, the undecaying Puruṣa, O my good friend, he who knows Ātman becomes all-knowing, becomes all. About it there is the following verse.
The fruit of realizing the Oneness that is the Supreme Truth is stated. The one who realizes this Truth is free from all desires.
He attains the Supreme Imperishable that is of these characteristics:
It is free of tamas. It is bereft of all bodies with names and forms that form the limiting adjuncts to It. There are no attributes to it of any kind such as the red color. Hence alone It is Pure. Since it is free of all attributes it is imperishable. This shows that any object that is endowed with attributes is bound to decay and destruction when the attributes diminish and become non-existent. It is Satyam, the Undecaying Truth called Puruṣa. It is the most Auspicious, Śivam, bereft of prāṇa and beyond the grasp of the mind. Absence of prāṇa denotes absence of activity and any sense/motor organs in It. It is Peace Supreme that is everything inside and outside. This shows that It is not a finite object, located in a place. An object such as a house has both inside and outside which finitize it. Brahman is not so. He who knows this Truth, O good-looking one, is verily all-knowing; there is nothing that he does not know of. Prior to this realization he was, owing to avidyā, ignorance, not an all-knower. Subsequently, owing to vidyā, knowledge, he becomes everything; the avidyā-caused wrong notion of taking oneself to be a finite, perishable, miserable being, is annulled. This mantra is a concise declaration of this fact (of the fruit of his knowing the Truth of the stated characteristics.)
विज्ञानात्मा सह देवैश्च सर्वैः प्राणा भूतानि संप्रतिष्ठन्ति यत्र ।
तदक्षरं वेदयते यस्तु सोम्य स सर्वज्ञः सर्वमेवाविवेशेति ॥ ११ ॥
विज्ञानात्मा the intelligent being सह along with देवैः deities च and सर्वैः all प्राणाः sense organs भूतानि beings संप्रतिष्ठन्ति established यत्र where तत् that अक्षरं Imperishable वेदयते knows यः he तु indeed सोम्य O good looking one! स he सर्वज्ञः all-knowing सर्वम् all एव indeed आविवेश entered इति thus
- He, O friend, who knows that imperishable Being wherein rests the intelligent self, together with the gods, the prāṇas and the elements, he becomes all-knowing and enters into all.
The jīvātmā is the one endowed with the sense and motor organs. All these organs are presided by specific deities, devatās. The five elements such as earth, too, are present in the jīvātmā in subtle form. (This is required for the jīva to assume an appropriate gross body when he transmigrates from one body to another upon death.) All this, that is, the jīvātmā, along with the above entities, rest forever, as superimpositions, in the Supreme Brahman, the Great Substratum. He who realizes the Truth that he is none other than this Brahman, sheds his jīva-identity, and becomes one with It. That translates to saying that such a one becomes one with ‘all’. This is the expression of Infiniteness. That is liberation.
Here ends the Fourth Question.
The Fifth Question
अथ हैनं शैब्यः सत्यकामः पप्रच्छ । स यो ह वै तद्भगवन्मनुष्येषु प्रायणान्तमोंकारमभिध्यायीत कतमं वाव स तेन लोकं जयतीति ॥ १ ॥
अथ Thereafter ह indeed एनं him शैब्यः son of Śibi सत्यकामः Satyakāma पप्रच्छ asked स he यः who ह indeed वै verily तत् that भगवन् Respected Sir मनुष्येषु among humans प्रायणान्तम् until death ओंकारम् the syllable Om अभिध्यायीत meditates कतमं which वाव particular स he तेन by that लोकं world जयति attains इति thus
- Then Satyakāma, the son of Śibi, asked Pippalāda, ‘Sir, if among men someone should here meditate on the syllable AUM until death, which world, verily, would he win thereby?’
After the fourth question posed by the fourth aspirant was addressed by the Teacher, Āchārya Pippalāda, it was the turn of the fifth aspirant, Satyakāma, son of Śibi, to pose his question to the revered preceptor. The question is set in the context of enjoining the meditation on the syllable ‘Om’. This meditation is possible to be performed to accomplish two ends, whichever one chooses, such as attaining the Supreme, Unattributed, Brahman or the lower, attributed, Brahman. The meditator, indeed, is a very rare one. This is because the meditation involves supreme commitment to the chosen goal and the unswerving concentration demanding very strong dispassion. Not everyone is capable of equipping oneself with these. Hence alone the rarity.