BRHADARANYAKA UPANISAD | 3.5.1 | AMOETD

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BRHADARANYAKA UPANISAD | 3.5.1 | SRI SANKARACARYA

atha hainam kaholah kausītakeyah papraccha: yajnavalkya , iti hovaca , yad eva saksad aparoksad brahma , ya atma sarvantarah , tam tam me vyacaksva iti . esa ta atma sarvantarah-katamah , yajnavalkya , sarvantarah . yo'sanaya-pipase sokam moham jaram mrtyum atyeti . etam vai tam atmanam viditva , brahmanah putraisanayas ca vittaisanayas ca lokaisanayas ca vyutthaya , atha bhiksacaryam caranti . ya hy eva putraisana sa vittaisana ya vittaisana sa lokaisana , ubhe hy ete esane eva bhavatah ; tasmad brahmanah , pandityam nirvidya balyena tisthaset ; balyam ca panḍityam ca nirvidya , atha munih ; amaunam ca maunam ca nirvidya , atha brahmanah . sa brahmanah kena syat . yena syat tena idrsa eva ato'nyad artam . tato ha kaholah kausītakeya upararama . || 3.5.1 ||

1 . Then Kahola , the offspring of Kusitaka , asked : " Yajnavalkya , explain to me the Brahman that is immediate and direct ― the self that is within all . " " This is your self that is within all " . " Which is within all , Yajnavalkya ? " " That which transcends hunger and thirst , grief , delusion , decay and death . Knowing this very Self the Brahmanas renounce the desire for progeny , for wealth and for the worlds , and lead a mendicant's life . That which is the desire for progeny is the desire for wealth , and that which is the desire for wealth is the desire for the worlds , for both these are but desires . Therefore the knower of Brahman , having known all about scholarship , should try to live upon that strength which comes of knowledge ; having known all about this strength and scholarship , one becomes meditative ; having known all about both meditativeness and its opposite , one becomes a knower of Brahman . How does that knower of Brahman behave ? Howsoever one may behave , one is just such . Except this , everything is perishable . " Thereupon Kahola , the offspring of Kusitaka , kept silent .

|| BHASYA || : Then Kahola , the offspring of Kusitaka , asked : " Yajnavalkya " , ― to be explained as before ― " explain to me the Brahman that is immediate and direct ― the self that is within all " , knowing which one is freed from bondage . Yajnavalkya said , " This is your self . "

QUESTION : Do Usasta and Kahola ask about one and the same self , or do they ask of different selves having similar characteristics ?

Some * say : It ought to be different selves , for then only can the two questions be other than a repetition . Had Usasta and Kahola asked about the same self , then one question having dealt with that , the second would have been redundant ; and the passage in question is not a mere elucidation . Therefore the two selves must be different , viz the individual self and the Supreme Self .

REPLY : No , because of the use of the word " your " . It has been said in the reply , " This is your self " ( III . iv . 1-2 : this text ) , and the same aggregate of body and organs cannot have two selves , for each aggregate possesses a single self . Nor can Usasta and Kahola mean selves essentially different from each other , since both cannot be primary , and self , and within all . If one of the two be Brahman in a primary sense , the other must be secondary ; similarly with selfhood and being within all , for these three terms are contradictory . If one of the two Brahmans be the self , primary , and within all , then the other must be non-self , secondary , and not within all .

Therefore one and the same self has been mentioned twice with a view to telling something special about it . That part only of the second question which is common to the first is a repetition of the latter , and the second question is introduced in order to furnish some detail not mentioned before .

OBJECTION : What is this detail ?

REPLY : It is this . In the first question it has been stated that there is a self distinct from the body , whose bondage together with its stimulating causes has been spoken of : but in the second something more is added , viz that this self is beyond relative attributes such as hunger ― a detail , by knowing which , together with renunciation , one is freed from the bondage above spoken of . Therefore we conclude that in both cases the question and answer , ending with the words , " This is your self that is within all " , have an identical meaning .

OBJECTION : How can the same self possess contradictory attributes such as being beyond hunger etc and having them ?

REPLY : The objection is not valid , having already been refuted ( p 212 ) . We have repeatedly said that the relative existence of the self is but a delusion caused by its association with limiting adjuncts such as the body and organs , which are but the modifications of name and form . We have also made this clear while explaining the apparently contradictory passages of the Srutis ( p 273 ) .

For instance , a rope , a nacre , or the sky , becomes a snake , silver , or blue respectively , owing to attributes imputed by people , but in themselves they are just a rope , a nacre , or the sky . Thus there is no contradiction if things possess contradictory attributes .

OBJECTION : Will not such Upanisadic texts as , " One only without a second " ( Ch . VI . ii . 1 ) . and " There is no difference whatsoever in It " ( IV . iv . 19 ; K . IV . 11 ) , be contradicted if you admit the existence of the limiting adjuncts , name and form ?

REPLY : No ; this has already been refuted by the illustrations of the foam of water and ( the modifications of ) clay etc . But when name and form are tested from the standpoint of the highest truth in the light of the above Sruti texts , as to whether they are different from the Supreme Self or not , they cease to be separate entities , like the foam of water , or like the modifications ( of clay ) such as a jar .

It is then that such passages as , " One only without a second " , and " There is no difference whatsoever in It " , have scope from the standpoint of the Supreme Self as referring to the highest realisation .

But when on account of our primordial ignorance , the reality of Brahman , although remaining as it is , naturally untouched by anything ― like the reality of the rope , the nacre and the sky ― is not discriminated from the limiting adjuncts such as the body and organs , which are created by name and form , and our natural vision of those adjuncts remains , then this phenomenal existence consisting of things different from Brahman has full play .

This unreal phenomenal existence created by differentiation is indeed a fact for those who do not believe in things as different from Brahman as well as for those who do believe . But the believers of the highest truth , while discussing in accordance with the Srutis , the actual existence or non-existence of things apart from Brahman , conclude that Brahman alone is the one without a second , beyond all finite relations . So there is no contradiction between the two views .

We do not maintain the existence of things different from Brahman in the state when the highest truth has been definitely known , as the Srutis say , " One only without a second " , and " Without interior or exterior " ( II . v . 19 ; III . viii . 8 ) . Nor do we deny the validity , for the ignorant , of actions with their factors and results while the relative world of name and form exists .

Therefore scriptural or conventional outlook depends entirely on knowledge or ignorance . Hence there is no apprehension of a contradiction between them . In fact , all schools must admit the existence or non-existence of the phenomenal world according as it is viewed from the relative or the absolute standpoint .

Regarding the nature of the self as it is in reality once more the question is asked : " Which is within all , Yajnavalkya ? " The other replied , " That which transcends hunger and thirst . " ― The word " which " in the text should be construed with " transcends " coming shortly after . ― As the sky , fancied by the ignorant as being concave and blue , is really without these qualities , being naturally untouched by them , similarly Brahman , although fancied as being subject to hunger , thirst , etc , by the ignorant , who think that they are hungry or thirsty , really transcends these qualities , being naturally untouched by them , for the Sruti says , " It is not affected by human misery , being beyond it " ( Ka . V . 11 ) ― ie by misery attributed by ignorant people . Hunger and thirst have been compounded in the text , as both are vital functions .

Grief is desire . The discomfort that one feels as one reflects on some covetable thing is the seed of desire for one afflicted with a hankering , because it kindles desire ; while delusion is a mistake , a confusion , arising from a false notion ; it is ignorance , the fruitful source of all troubles . The two words are not compounded , as grief and delusion produce different results . They have their seat in the mind . ( The self also transcends ) decay and death , which centre in the body .

" Decay " is that modification of the body and organs which is marked by wrinkles , grey hair , etc " Death " is the fall of the body , the last modification to overtake it . These , the hunger and the rest , which centre in the vital force , mind and body , and are present in beings in an unbroken succession like days and nights , etc , and like the waves of an ocean , are called the relative or transmigratory existence with regard to them . But that which is described as the witness of vision and so forth , which is immediate or unobstructed and direct or used in a primary sense , which is within all , and is the self of all beings from Hiranyagarbha down to a clump of grass , is ever untouched by such relative attributes as hunger and thirst , as the sky is untouched by impurities like the clouds etc .

Knowing this very Self , their own reality , as " I am this , the Supreme Brahman , eternally devoid of relative attributes , and ever satisfied " , the Brahmanas ― they are mentioned because they alone are qualified for renunciation ― renounce , lit . rise up in an opposite direction to ― what ? ― the desire for progeny , as means to winning this world , thinking , " We will win this world through progeny " in other words , marriage ; hence the meaning is , they do not marry . ( The desire ) for wealth : procuring cattle etc , which are the means of rites , in order that one may perform rites through them and win the world of the manes , or that one may win the world of the gods either by combining rites , with meditation , which is divine wealth , or solely through meditation on Hiranyagarbha .

Some say that one cannot renounce divine wealth , since it is through this that renunciation is possible . But this view is wrong , for divine wealth also falls within the category of desires , as we know from the Sruti passage , " This much indeed is desire " ( I . iv . 17 ) . It is the meditation on the gods such as Hiranyagarbha which is spoken of as wealth , because it leads to the world of the gods .

The knowledge of Brahman , which concerns the unconditioned Pure Intelligence , cannot certainly be the means of attaining the world of the gods . Witness the Sruti texts . " Therefore It became all " ( I . iv . 10 ) , and " For one becomes their self " ( Ibid ) . It is through the knowledge of Brahman that renunciation takes place , for there is the specific statement . " Knowing this very Self " Therefore they renounce all these three objects of desire which lead to worlds that are not the Self . ― " Esana " means desire , for the Sruti says , " This much indeed is desire " . ― That is to say , they cease to hanker after all this threefold means of attaining worlds that are not the Self .

Every desire for means is a desire for results ; therefore the text says that desire is one . How ? That which is the desire for progeny is the desire for wealth , for both are alike means to tangible results . And that which is the desire for wealth is the desire for the worlds , for it is directed towards results . People adopt different means , actuated by the desire for results . Hence desire is one , because the desire for the worlds cannot be attained without the requisite means ; for both these are but desires , one being but a means to the other .

Therefore the knower of Brahman has nothing to do with rites or their accessories . ― " Brahmanas " in the text means those of past time . ― The rites and their accessories here spoken of refer to the holy thread etc , which are means to the performance of rites pertaining to the gods , the manes and humans , for through them these rites are performed . Compare the Sruti . " The holy thread that hangs straight down from the neck is for rites pertaining to persons " ( Tai . S . II . v . ii 1 ) . Therefore the ancient Brahmanas ― knowers of Brahman renouncing rites and their accessories such as the holy thread , embrace the life of a monk of the highest class ) known as the Paramahamsa , and lead a mendicant life , live upon begging ― giving up the insignia of a monk's life prescribed by the Smrtis , which are the means of livelihood for those who have merely taken recourse to that life .

Witness the Smrtis : " The knower of Brahman wears no signs " , " Therefore the knower of religion , who wears no signs , ( should practise its principles ) " ( cf . Mbh . XIV . xlvi . 51 ) , and " One's signs are not manifest , nor one's behaviour " ( cf . Va . X . ) . And the Sruti : " Then one becomes a monk , wears the ochre robe , shaves one's head , and does not accept ( superfluous ) gifts " , etc ( Ja . 5 ) ; also , " Having cut off one's hair together with the tuft and giving up the holy thread " , etc ( Ks . I . , II . 3 ) .

OBJECTION : Because of the use of the present tense in it , the passage , " The Brahmanas renounce . . . and live a mendicant life " should be taken as a mere eulogy ; it has none of the three suffixes denoting an injunction . Therefore on the strength of a mere eulogy the abandonment of the holy thread and other such accessories of rites prescribed by the Srutis and Smrtis cannot be urged . " One only who wears the holy thread may study the Vedas , officiate in sacrifices , or perform them " ( Tai . A . II . i . 1 ) . In the first place , the study of the Vedas is enjoined in the mendicant life . " By giving up the study of the Vedas one becomes a Sudra ; therefore one must not do that " ( Quoted in Va . X ) . Also Apastamba : " Uttering speech only when studying the Vedas " ( Ap . II . xxi . 10 , 21 ) . The scriptures condemn giving up the study of the Vedas in the verse , " Quitting the study of the Vedas , condemning the Vedas , deceitful evidence , murder of a friend , and eating forbidden or uneatable food ― these six acts are equivalent to drinking " ( M . XL 56 ) .

Secondly , the passage , " One should wear the holy thread while serving the preceptors , old people and guests , performing sacrifices , repeating sacred formulae , eating , rinsing one's mouth and studying the Vedas " ( Ap . I . xv . 1 ) , enjoins the holy thread as an accessory of those acts , and the Srutis and Smrtis prescribe such acts as the attending on the preceptors , study of the Vedas , eating and rinsing one's mouth among the duties of a monk ; therefore we cannot understand the passage in question as advocating the giving up of the holy thread .

Although the renunciation of desires is enjoined , yet it means the renunciation of only the three desires , viz those concerning progeny and so forth , and not of all rites and their means . If all rites are abandoned , it will be doing something not enjoined by the Srutis , and discarding the holy thread etc , actually enjoined by them . This omission of acts enjoined and performance of those forbidden would be a grave offense . Therefore the assumption that the insignia such as the holy thread should be abandoned is merely an instance of the blind following the blind ( thoughtless procedure ) .

REPLY : No , for the Sruti says , " The monk should give up the holy thread , the study of the Vedas , and all such things " ( Ks . 4 ; Kr . 2 ) . Moreover , the ultimate aim of the Upanisads is to teach Self-knowledge . It has already been stated , " The Self is to be realised ― to be heard of , reflected on " , etc ( II . iv . 5 ) ; and it is common knowledge that that very Self is to be known as immediate and direct , as being within all , and devoid of the relative attributes of hunger etc . Since this entire Upanisad sets itself to bringing this out , the passage in question cannot form a part of some other ( ritualistic ) injunction , and is therefore not a eulogy .

For Self-knowledge is to be attained , and the Self , being devoid of the attributes of hunger etc , is to be known as different from the means and results of an action . To know the Self as identified with these is ignorance . Witness the Srutis : ' One ( who worships another god thinking ) , " It is one , and I am another " , does not know ' ( I . IV . 10 ) , " One goes from death to death who sees difference , as it were , in It " ( IV . iv . 19 ; Ka . IV . 10 ) , " It should be realised in one form only " ( IV . iv . 20 ) , " One only without a second " ( Ch . VI li i ) , " Thou art That " ( Ch . VI . viii . 7 ) , etc .

That means and results of an action are different from the Self that is beyond the relative attributes such as hunger , and fall within the category of ignorance , as is proved by hundreds of texts like the following : " When there is duality , as it were " ( II . iv . 14 ; IV . v . 15 ) , ' One who worships another god thinking , '' It is one , and I am another " , does not know ' , " While those who know It as otherwise ( become dependent and attain perishable worlds ) , " etc ( Ch . VII . xxv . 2 ) .

Knowledge and ignorance cannot co-exist in the same individual , for they are contradictory like light and darkness . Therefore the knower of the Self must not be supposed to have relations with the sphere of ignorance consisting of actions , their factors and their results , for it has been deprecated in such passages as , " One goes from death to death " , etc . All actions with their factors and results , which fall within the category of ignorance , are meant to be shunned through the help of knowledge , the opposite of ignorance ; and such auxiliaries as the holy thread fall within the same category .

Therefore desire is different from and associated with things other than the Self , which by Its nature is neither the means nor the result of an action . They , the means and the result of an action , are both desires , and the holy thread etc and the ceremonies to be performed through them are classed under means . This has been clenched by a reason in the clause , " For both these are but desires " ( this text ) . Since the means such as the holy thread , and the ceremonies to be performed through them are within the range of ignorance , are forms of desires , and are things to be shunned , the renunciation of them is undoubtedly enjoined .

OBJECTION : Since this Upanisad seeks to inculcate Self-knowledge , the passage relating to the renunciation of desires is just a eulogy on that , and not an injunction .

REPLY : No , for it is to be performed by the same individual on whom Self-knowledge is enjoined . The Vedas can never connect with the same individual something that is enjoined and something that is not enjoined . Just as the Srutis connect pressing , pouring and drinking ( of the Soma juice ) with the same individual ― that one should press the juice out , pour it into the fire , and drink what is left ― because all the three are obligatory , similarly Self-knowledge , renunciation of desires and begging would be connected with the same individual if only these were obligatory .

OBJECTION : Suppose we say that being under the category of ignorance and being ( auxiliaries of ) desires , the abandonment of the holy thread etc is a mere corollary of the injunction on Self-knowledge , and not a separate injunction ?

REPLY : No . Since it is connected with the same individual along with the injunction of Self-knowledge , the obligatory nature of this renunciation as well as the begging is all the more clearly established ; and the objection that it is a mere eulogy because of the use of the present tense does not hold , since it is analogous to such injunctions as that the sacrificial post is * made of fig-wood .

OBJECTION : We admit that the passage , " ( The Brahmanas ) renounce desires . . . and lead a mendicant life " , enjoins monasticism . In this life , however , means such as the holy thread and certain insignia are enjoined by the Srutis and Smrtis . Therefore the passage in question means that accessories other than these , although the latter are ( auxiliaries of ) desires , should be renounced .

REPLY : Not so , for we know that there is another kind of monasticism different from this one . The latter is connected with the same individual as Self-knowledge , and is characterized by the renunciation of desires . This monasticism is a part of Self-knowledge , because it is the renunciation of desires , which contradict Self-knowledge , and are within the province of ignorance .

Besides this there is another kind of monasticism , which is an order of life and leads to the attainment of the world of Hiranyagarbha and so on ; it is about this that means such as the holy thread and particular insignia are enjoined . When there is this other kind of monasticism in which the adoption of means like the ( auxiliaries of ) desires is just a duty peculiar to that life , it is wrong to contradict Self-knowledge that is enjoined by all the Upanisads . If one seeks to adopt means such as the holy thread , which are within the province of ignorance and are ( auxiliaries of ) desires , it would certainly be contradicting the knowledge one's self ― which is neither the means nor the result of an action , and is devoid of such relative attributes as hunger ― as being identical with Brahman . And it is wrong to contradict this knowledge , for all the Upanisads aim at this .

OBJECTION : Does not the Sruti itself contradict this by teaching the adoption of desires in the words . " ( The Brahmanas ) lead a mendicant life " ? ― That is to say , after enjoining the renunciation of desires it teaches in the same breath the adoption of a part of them , viz begging . Does this not imply the adoption of other connected things as well ?

REPLY : No , the begging does not imply other things as well , just as the drinking of the remnant ( of Soma juice ) after the oblation has been offered does not include any additional things ; since it relates only to the disposal * of what is left , it implies nothing else . Moreover , the begging has no purifying effect ; the drinking of the juice might purify a person , but not the begging . Though there may be some merit in observing the rules regarding it , yet its application to the knower of Brahman is inadmissible .

OBJECTION : If this is so , why should there be mention of begging food ?

REPLY : It is quite in order , because the passage thereby enjoins the rejection of other means of subsistence .

OBJECTION : Still what is the necessity of that ?

REPLY : None , if realization has reached that point of inaction ; we accept that view . As to the texts regarding monasticism such as , " One only who wears the holy thread may study ( the Vedas ) , " etc ( Tai A . II . i . 1 ) , we have already answered your objection by saying that they concern only the monasticism of those who have not known Brahman : we have pointed out that Self-knowledge would otherwise be contradicted .

That the knower of Brahman has no work * to do is shown by the following Smrti passage , " The gods consider one a knower of Brahman who has no desires , who undertakes no work , who does not salute or praise anybody , and whose work has been exhausted , but who oneself is unchanged " ( Mbh . XII . cclxix . 34 ) . Also , " The knower of Brahman wears no signs " , and " Therefore the knower of religion , who wears no signs " , etc ( cf . Mbh . XIV . xlvi . 51 ) . Therefore the knower of the Self should embrace that vow of the highest order of monks which is characterized by the renunciation of desires and the abandonment of all work together with its means .

Since the ancient Brahmanas , knowing this Self as naturally different from the means and result of an action , renounced all desires , which are such means and results , and led a mendicant life , Giving up work producing visible and invisible results , together with its means , therefore to this day the knower of Brahman , having known all about scholarship or this knowledge of the Self from the teacher and the Srutis ― having fully mastered it ― should renounce desires .

This is the culmination of that scholarship , for it comes with the elimination of desires , and is contradictory to them . Since scholarship regarding the Self cannot come without the elimination of desires , therefore the renunciation of these is automatically enjoined by the knowledge at the Self . This is emphasized by the use of the suffix " ktvac " in the passage in question , as referring to the same individual who has the knowledge of the Self .

Therefore the knower of Brahman , after renouncing desires , should try to live upon that strength which comes of knowledge . Those others who are ignorant of the Self derive their strength from the means and results of actions The knower of Brahman avoids that and resorts simply to that strength which comes of the knowledge of the Self , which is naturally different from the means and results of an action . When one does this , one's organs have no more power to drag one down to the objects of desire .

It is only the fool without the strength of knowledge , who is attracted by one's organs to desires concerning objects , visible or invisible . Strength is the total elimination of the vision of objects by Self-knowledge ; hence the knower of Brahman should try to live upon that strength . As another Sruti puts it , " Through the Self one attains strength " ( Ke . II . 4 ) ; also , " This Self is unattainable by the weak " ( Mu . III . ii . 4 ) .

Having known all about this strength as well as scholarship , one becomes meditative , in other words , a Yogin . What a knower of Brahman should do is to eliminate all ideas of the non-Self ; doing this one accomplishes one's task and becomes a Yogin . After having known all about scholarship and strength , which respectively mean Self-knowledge and the elimination of ideas of the non-Self , one knows all about meditativeness too ― which is the culminating result of the latter ― and its opposite , and becomes a knower of Brahman , or accomplishes one's task : one attains the conviction that all is Brahman . Because one has reached the goal , therefore one is a Brahmana , a knower of Brahman ; for then one's status as a knower of Brahman is literally true .

Therefore the text says : How does that knower of Brahman behave ? Howsoever one may behave , one is just such ― a knower of Brahman as described above .

The expression , " Howsoever one may behave " , is intended for a tribute to this state of a knower of Brahman , and does not mean reckless behaviour .

Except this state of realization of Brahman , which is the true state of one's self which is beyond hunger etc , and is eternally satisfied , everything , ie desires , which are within the category of ignorance , is perishable ― lit . beset with troubles ― unsubstantial like a dream , an illusion , or a mirage ; the Self alone is detached and eternally free . Thereupon Kahola , the offspring of Kusitaka , kept silent .

( Notes : * Bhartrprapanca is meant . | * Here " is " means " must be " . | * Pratipatti-karma is the disposal of the accessories of a rite after they have served their purpose , to prevent their interfering with other work . | * " Work " in this connection means ritualistic work . )


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