V Subrahmanian, Wednesday, September 3, 2014 5:45 pm

The kenopaniShat – Part 9

Part 9

The Upaniṣat is proceeding to give the teaching of Brahman in the aspect of a cosmic deity. 

Mantra 4.4

तस्यैष आदेशो यदेतद्विद्युतो व्यद्युतदा३ इतीन्न्यमीमिषदा३ इत्यधिदैवतम् ॥ ४ ॥

तस्य of that Brahman एष this is आदेशः the instruction यत् that एतत् which is विद्युतः of the lightning व्यद्युतत् flashed आ ३ इति इत् it is like न्यमीमिषत् winking of the eye आ ३ इति अधिदैवतम् with regard to deity.

This is the instruction about Brahman with regard to the gods: It is like a flash of lightning; It is like a wink of the eye. 

The Upaniṣat is giving a simile to the Brahman that is being discussed here.  Even though there is no analogy to the Upaniṣadic Brahman, yet in order to instruct about that Brahman the Upaniṣat itself embarks on an analogy.  What is the analogy?  All people know well the phenomenon of a flash of lightning.  Indeed it is also well known that Brahman does not shine by the shine borrowed from the lightning.  So, the meaning is: Brahman is akin to the flash of lightning. For, such a comparison is made in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka upaniṣat 2.3.6: ‘yathā sakṛdvidyutam’ [‘comparable to a single flash of lightning’]. Indeed Brahman did show Itself to the deva-s and disappeared quickly, like the flash of a lightning, as reported in this very upaniṣat. 

Or one may supply the word ‘tejaḥ’ (‘light’) in the expression of the mantra to mean ‘Brahman flashed with the brilliance of lightning but once, as it were.’  Yet another analogy is provided by the mantra: ‘Brahman winked, just like the eye winks.’  Even as the eye opens and shuts while perceiving its object, Brahman appeared and disappeared in the upaniṣadic story. Thus the two analogies accomplish the purpose of showing Brahman as a divine entity.             

Mantra 4.5

अथाध्यात्मं यदेतद्गच्छतीव च मनोऽनेन चैतदुपस्मरत्यभीक्ष्णं सङ्कल्पः ॥ ५ ॥

अथ now the अध्यात्मं instruction regarding the self  यत् एदेतत् which गच्छति इव as though goes च मनः this mind अनेन च through this (mind) as well एतत् उपस्मरति contacts with Brahman अभीक्ष्णं repeatedly सङ्कल्पः such is the resolve.

5.  Now the instruction about Brahman with regard to the individual self: The mind, as it were, goes to Brahman. The seeker, by means of the mind, communes with It intimately again and again. This should be the volition of his mind. 

Having given out the instruction with the adhidaiva, deity, angle, now the Upaniṣat goes on to give the same with the adhyātmam, the context of the self, the jīva, with regard to the individual self that dwells in the body-mind. The mind is as though making Brahman its object.  This is so since it is with the mind that the spiritual aspirant intimately recalls Brahman.  It is with the mind that one even resolves, saṁkalpa.  Since the mind is the limiting adjunct, upādhi, of Brahman, it is Brahman that gets revealed through any of the functions of the mind like remembering and resolving as though It is becoming an object (of the mind).  Therefore this, that is, the conscious recognition that during all the functions of the mind, it is Brahman that is being experienced, revealed, to the aspirant.  This is the method that the Upaniṣat instructs the spiritual aspirant to adhere to in order to get the realization of Brahman which is none other than his own innermost self, pratyagātman. 

One may recall the earlier instruction of this very Upaniṣat, ‘प्रतिबोधविदितं हि मतममृतत्वं हि विन्दते….(’Brahman is known when It is realised in every state of mind; for by such Knowledge one attains Immortality. By Atman one obtains strength; by Knowledge, Immortality’ 2.4) that was discussed in the Part 6 of this series, where, too, this method was taught as the means through which one can accomplish the realization of Brahman. 

To sum up the purport of the two kinds of instruction: the adhidaiva (deity-based) and the adhyātma (mind-function-based) we can say that the former shows that Brahman has the attribute of revealing itself instantly (like the lightning or the winking of the eye), and It is of the nature of manifesting Itself simultaneously with the functions of the mind such as remembering and resolving. 

By these two types of instructions the Upaniṣat is providing the means to the dull-witted aspirant for realizing Brahman.  This is because Brahman which is devoid of any attributes is impossible for the unrefined intellect to comprehend. 

Mantra 4.6

तद्ध तद्वनं नाम तद्वनमित्युपासितव्यं स य एतदेवं वेदाभि हैनं सर्वाणि भूतानि संवाञ्छन्ति ॥ ६ ॥

तत् ह that Brahman तद्वनं नाम is called ‘tadvanam’ तद्वनमिति as ‘Tadvanam’ उपासितव्यं one has to meditate स he य who एतत् this एवं thus वेद knows/meditates अभि ह एनं him very well सर्वाणि all भूतानि beings संवाञ्छन्ति desire/love

6. That Brahman is called ‘Tadvanam’, the Adorable of all; It should be worshipped by the name of ‘Tadvanam’. All creatures desire him who worships Brahman thus.

It is indeed that Brahman that, being the innermost self of all beings, is most loveable to all beings.  For, one’s love for one’s own true self surpasses love for all else in creation.  Hence Brahman is ‘vanam’, loveable.  Hence is Brahman well known as ‘tadvanam’ (‘It is most loveable’).  Therefore one has to meditate on It by this very attributed-name ‘Tadvanam’.  The fruit of such a meditation is being stated: whoever meditates on the above stated Brahman, such an aspirant, meditator, becomes the object of love of all beings, just as Brahman, the innermost self, is loved by all beings. 

One can understand the above thus:  When an aspirant endowed with noble qualities engages himself in the meditation of Brahman as ‘Tadvanam’, as the one that is most loveable, he himself becomes the object of such love by all those whom he contacts in life, for this pure love flows from that person towards all creatures naturally.  The person who is devoid of hatred towards any creature has only love to give to the world. Such an absolutely harmless person naturally comes to be loved by all.       

Having thus instructed, the aspirant of this Upaniṣat addresses his Ācārya, the teacher:

Mantra: 2.7

उपनिषदं भो ब्रूहीत्युक्ता त उपनिषद्ब्राह्मीं वाव त उपनिषदमब्रूमेति ॥ ७ ॥

उपनिषदं भो ब्रूहि ’Teach me Sir, the upaniṣat’  इति thus asked, the teacher replied उक्ता ते उपनिषत् ‘the upaniṣat has indeed been imparted ब्राह्मीं about Brahman वाव indeed ते to you उपनिषदम् the Upaniṣat अब्रूम I have instructed’ इति thus

The disciple said; “Teach me, sir, the Upaniṣat.” The preceptor replied: “I have already told you the Upaniṣat. I have certainly told you the Upaniṣat about Brahman.”

Having been instructed about Brahman by the Ācārya, the aspirant asked ’O Master, please instruct me the upaniṣat, the secret, that is to be cogitated upon.’  The Teacher replied ‘I have already told you about the Upaniṣat’.  What is that? It is about Brahman, the Supreme Self since the foregoing teaching is concerned with Brahman.

What is the purport behind the aspirant’s request as he has indeed heard the teaching about the Supreme Self?  If he is questioning about that which is already taught, then it would be a mere repetition of the past instruction and therefore useless.  If his question were to be directed at knowing that which was left unsaid about the Supreme Self, then the earlier declaration of the fruit of hearing and knowing the teaching as stated in ‘Upon leaving this world they become immortal’ (Kenopaniṣat 2.5) would be out of place since the fruit indicates the completion of the teaching.  What indeed is then the aspirant’s intention in putting forth that request?

Does the preceding teaching that has been given out require to be supplemented with its residual instruction about the concomitant means for its realization or without it? If it is the former then please give out those means.  If latter, then please confirm, like Sage Pippalāda of the Praśnopaniṣat (6.7), that ‘there is nothing more than this’.  This is the idea behind the aspirant’s request.

This is quite reasonable as we know from the Ācārya’s assertion ‘The upaniṣat has been instructed already’. 

The Ācārya, additionally, is going to instruct the disciple on the means to attain brahmavidyā characterized by tapas (concentration), etc. This component is quite different from any attributive constituent of the Upaniṣat or as an accessory to it.  This is quite reasonable since Brahman-knowledge dispels all ideas of distinction of works, the doer and the results of action.  The Self alone that is the only Truth is what is being taught by the Upaniṣadic teaching and to attain that knowledge there is no need to attach to the Upaniṣadic teaching ideas such as attributive constituent.  The idea, however, here is: ‘The secret teaching (upaniṣat) given out already is adequate to attain the knowledge of Brahman-Ātman without depending on anything other than Brahman-Ātman.’ And such a teaching of the essential requirement for the attainment of this liberating knowledge is what is given out by the Ācārya in the sequel.

Part 1, Part 9, Part 10

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