The Praśnopaniṣat – Part 16
How did the Puruṣa create?
स प्राणमसृजत प्राणाच्छ्रद्धां खं वायुर्ज्योतिरापः पृथिवीन्द्रियं मनः ।
अन्नमन्नाद्वीर्यं तपो मन्त्राः कर्म लोका लोकेषु च नाम च ॥ ४ ॥
सः He प्राणम् prāṇa असृजत created प्राणात् from prāṇa श्रद्धां śraddha खं ether वायुः air ज्योतिः fire आपः water पृथिवी earth इन्द्रियं organs मनः mind अन्नम् food अन्नात् from food वीर्यं virility तपः austerity मन्त्राः mantras कर्म action लोकाः the worlds लोकेषु in the worlds च also नाम name च too.
4 He created prāṇa; from prāṇa faith, space, air, fire, water, earth, the organs, mind, food; from food virility, austerity, the Vedic hymns, sacrifice, the worlds; and in the worlds He created names.
The Puruṣa, after due deliberation, first created the Hiraṇyagarbha, the cosmic entity that is the conglomeration of all the sense/motor organs of all beings. This is called the ‘samaṣṭi’ (the ‘vyaṣṭi’ being the individual). This is also the ‘inner-self’, as distinguished from the physical body, the external self. It is also called the ‘sūkṣma śarīram’, the subtle body. Then, the Puruṣa created ‘śraddhā’, faith, that is the important requirement for the human beings to engage in the scriptural rites that will beget them all material benefits and also, by extension, even the spiritual goal of liberation. The Bhagavad Gītā verse सहयज्ञाः प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापतिः। अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेष वोऽस्त्विष्टकामधुक्।।3.10।। [In the days of yore, having created the beings together with the sacrifices, Prajāpati said: ‘By this you multiply. Let this be your yielder of coveted objects of desire.’] is about this. Then the Puruṣa created the five elements that form the basis for the creation of the infrastructure that is required for the jīva-s’ experiencing / reaping the fruits of their karma. The life of all jīva-s is tagged to the action they have performed before. The fruit of action will come back to them in the form of experiences, both joyful and otherwise. This can be had only in the presence of objects of the senses. The sense objects themselves are of these groups: śabda (sound), sparśa (touch), rūpa (form), rasa (taste) and gandha (smell). The jīva-s have the means, instruments, the sense and motor organs, to experience these. The five elements are ether, air, fire, water and earth. These five are of the attribute of sound (for ether), sound and touch (for air), sound, touch and form (for fire), sound, touch, form and taste (for water) and sound, touch form, taste and smell (for earth). It should be noted that each of the elements has its own unique attribute (that is shown in italics above) and the other attributes are acquired from the earlier element by each element. The five elements are called ‘pañca mahā bhūtāni’, the five great and subtle elements. This is because they are of the unmanifest nature and are extremely subtle. The ‘grossification’ of these takes place only later in order to produce the objects of the world. The sense organs and motor organs are also products of the five subtle elements. The mind, the inner instrument, of the faculty of resolving and doubting, too is the product of the five subtle elements.
Having created the sense organs and mind, and the bodies, the Puruṣa, to sustain them, created food, of the nature of grains such as paddy and barley. The strength, power, required for engaging in all action, that results from the consumption of food, is also a product of the Puruṣa alone. Then, for the sake of those strong ones and those who have indulged in the admixture of castes, the Puruṣa created the tapas, austerity, as the means for purification. And those who have made themselves pure by tapas are provided with the mantras that are the means to perform karma. These mantras are of the form of the Rk, Yajus, Sāman and Atharva veda. Having created these, the Puruṣa created the karma such as agnihotra. Then He created the worlds, loka-s, as the fruit of actions performed. The specific names such as Devadatta, Yajñadatta, for the inhabitants of those loka-s were also created.
Thus these parts, kalā-s, sixteen in number, are created in relation to the seed that is the defect called avidyā, etc. Is this creation real? No. It is akin to the perceiving of two moons, mosquitoes, bees, etc. owing to an ocular disease called ‘timira’ or blurred vision. The creation is also like the objects created by an individual while dreaming. All these objects eventually resolve into that very Puruṣa, giving up their names and forms. The Upaniṣad is conveying the idea that the creation by Puruṣa, the sentient being, is not any absolute, real, creation, but an imagination. The purport is that there is a non-dual conscious being, verily Consciousness, at the base of all manifoldness. While the Non-dual ‘Puruṣa’ is the absolute Existent Reality, the manifest, experienced, objective, inert, world is a superimposition on that Truth.
How does this resolving into the Puruṣa happen? This is being said:
स यथेमा नद्यः स्यन्दमानाः समुद्रायणाः समुद्रं प्राप्यास्तं गच्छन्ति भिद्येते तासां नामरूपे समुद्र इत्येवं प्रोच्यते । एवमेवास्य परिद्रष्टुरिमाः षोडश कलाः पुरुषायणाः पुरुषं प्राप्यास्तं गच्छन्ति भिद्येते चासां नामरूपे पुरुष इत्येवं प्रोच्यते स एषोऽकलोऽमृतो भवति तदेष श्लोकः ॥ ५
स he यथा just as इमा these नद्यः rivers स्यन्दमानाः flowing समुद्रायणाः bound for the ocean समुद्रं ocean प्राप्य having attained अस्तं गच्छन्ति disappear भिद्येते separate तासां their नामरूपे names and forms समुद्रः ‘ocean’ इति एवं thus प्रोच्यते are called एवम् thus एव alone अस्य his परिद्रष्टुः of the knower इमाः these षोडश sixteen कलाः parts पुरुषायणाः bound to attain the Supreme पुरुषं Puruṣa प्राप्य having attained अस्तं गच्छन्ति disappear भिद्येते separate च as well आसां of these नामरूपे names and forms पुरुषः ‘Puruṣa’ इति एवं thus प्रोच्यते called सः he एषः this अकलः free of parts अमृतः immortal भवति becomes तत् that एषः this श्लोकः mantra
5. As these flowing rivers, bound for the ocean, disappear into the ocean after having reached it, their names and forms being destroyed and are called simply the ocean, even so, these sixteen parts of the seer, whose goal is the Puruṣa, disappear into the Puruṣa after having reached Him, their names and forms being destroyed and are called simply the Puruṣa. He becomes free of parts and immortal. On this there is the following verse.
The resolution of all effects into the Supreme Cause, the Puruṣa, is taught by taking up an analogy: The flowing rivers attain to the ocean that is their source, origin, and give up their individual identities of name and form such as ‘Gaṅgā’ and ‘Yamunā’, into the ocean, becoming one with it and are called by the common name ‘ocean’ of the nature of water, since that is what they are really. In the same manner the effects, the sixteen kalā-s, of the Puruṣa of the foregoing description, and who is the All-observer and author thereof, just as the sun is said to be the author of its illumination, attain to the Puruṣa, their very source and self, and become one with Him. Thereupon the name and form of these sixteen parts such as the prāṇa no longer exist as their identification marks. While the name-form is lost, that essence which remains undestroyed is called ‘Puruṣa’ by the knowers of Brahman. This is because the essence of the kalā-s, prāṇa, etc. is nothing but their cause, the Puruṣa, the Pure Consciousness. The Chāndogya Upaniṣad teaches that all effects that are only transformations, vikāra, are mere words, names, and the truth, essence, in them is their material cause, upādāna kāraṇam.
He who realizes this method of the resolution of the kalā-s as taught by the Guru, by that knowledge, realization, goes beyond death that is none other than the ignorance-desire-action triad that engendered these parts. In other words, it is the wrong identification with these parts as oneself due to ignorance does one remain in samsāra characterized by repeated birth and death. The realization that one is ever free of these parts makes him ‘a-kala’, one free from the kalā-s, parts. As long as one considered oneself as endowed with parts, the resultant death was inescapable, unavoidable. Once the realization of one’s true nature of Pure Consciousness, free of any material parts, arises, freedom from death ensues. He is immortal. Not that he ‘becomes’ immortal; he realizes that he is ever immortal.
Summing up the above, the next mantra says:
अरा इव रथनाभौ कला यस्मिन्प्रतिष्ठिताः ।
तं वेद्यं पुरुषं वेद यथा मा वो मृत्युः परिव्यथा इति ॥ ६ ॥
अराः इव like spokes रथनाभौ in the nave of the chariot कलाः parts यस्मिन् in which प्रतिष्ठिताः rest तं that वेद्यं worthy of knowing पुरुषं Puruṣa वेद knows यथा thus मा do not वः you मृत्युः death परिव्यथाः torment इति thus
6. Know Him, the Puruṣa, who alone is to be known and in whom the parts rest firm, like the spokes in the nave of a wheel, that death may not affect you.
(Coming soon…Part 17)