V Subrahmanian, Thursday, November 13, 2014 11:15 am

The Pra?nopani?at – Part 1

Part 1

The Pra?nopani?ad is a part of the br?hma?a portion of the Atharvaveda.  At the beginning of the bh??ya, commentary, to the Pra?nopani?ad ?r? ?a?kar?c?rya says ‘This detailed exposition of what has been stated in the mantra portion is commenced herewith.’ The Upani?ad contains six separate dialogues between a set of six different aspirants and the Teacher, Sage Pippal?da.  

The story comprising of questions posed by the ??is and the replies given by Sage Pippal?da is a eulogy to the vidy?, esoteric knowledge, that comes out of the dialogue.  In the same way, the injunction to stay in brahmacary?, etc. and penance that are needed to gain this knowledge and that the knowledge is to be given out by no less an ?c?rya than the omniscient Pippal?da and not any ordinary person, too, go to eulogize the vidy?.  As the means such as brahmacary? is indicated, it shows that they have to be necessarily adhered to. 

The First Pra?na

(‘Pra?na’ is a question)

?????? ? ????????? ???????? ???????? ????????? ? ????????  ?????????????????? ??????? ???????? ?????? ???????????? ???? ????????? ????????????? ??? ???????????????? ?? ? ?? ???????? ?????????? ?? ? ?????????? ??????? ????????????????? ? ? ?

?????? Suke?? ? ????????? Son of Bharadv?ja  ?????? ? son of ?ibi ???????? Satyak?ma  ????????? Saury?ya?? ? ???????? family of Garga ??????? Kausalya ? ????????? son of ??vala ??????? family of Bh?gu ???????? Vaidarbhi ?????? Kabandh? ????????? K?ty?yana ?? ? ??? all these ?????????? devoted to Brahman  ????????????? firm in Brahman ??? ?????? ??????????? seekers the Supreme Brahman ?? ? ?? ‘He indeed ???????? all that (about Brahman) ???????? will teach’ ??? thus ?? ? they  ?????????? with samit in hand ??????? venerable ?????????? Pippal?da ???????? approached.

Om. Suke??, the Son of Bharadv?ja and Satyak?ma, the son of ?ibi and Saury?ya??, belonging to the family of Garga and Kausalya, the son of A?vala and Vaidarbhi, belonging to the family of Bh?gu and Kabandh?, the Son of K?ty?yana — all these, devoted to Brahman and firm in Brahman and seeking the Supreme Brahman, approached, fuel in hand, the venerable Pippal?da with the conviction that he would tell them everything about Brahman. 

These are the aspirants who want to become disciples of Sage Pippal?da:

  1. Suke???, son of Bharadv?ja.
  2. Satyak?ma, the son of ?ibi
  3. Saury?ya??.  He is the son of Saurya who in turn is the son of S?rya. He belongs to the Garga gotra (family).  
  4. Kausalya, the son of A?vala.
  5. Bh?rgava, belonging to the family of Bh?gu, of the country of Vidarbha.
  6. Kabandh?, son of Katya, the young one whose great grandfather is alive. 

These six, who had taken the inferior (attributed) Brahman to be the Supreme Brahman and were seriously engaged in practices leading to the attainment of the Supreme.  They were charged with the quest of the Supreme: ‘What is That which is Eternal and worthy of realizing?’ ‘To attain It we shall strive to our hearts’ content’.  In order to know It they had come to Sage Pippal?da with the determination ‘He will teach us That in all Its completeness’.  They approached him ceremonially, carrying the samit, the sacrificial fuel, in their hands.  One can recall the Mu??akopani?at injunction that the seeker of Truth has to certainly approach only a Knower-Teacher reverentially carrying the samit in hand. 

Mantra 1.2

????? ? ???????? ??? ?? ???? ???????????? ???????? ???????? ????????? ??????? ??????????????? ??? ???????????? ????? ? ?? ???????? ??? ? ? ?

???? ? to them ? ???? the Sage ???? said ??? ‘one more ?? alone ???? austerities ???????????? brahmacary? ???????? intense faith ???????? year ????????? stay on ??????? to your heart’s content ????????? questions ?????? pose ??? in case ???????????? we know ????? all ? ??  to you ???????? shall tell‘ ??? thus

The ??i said to them: Stay with me a year more, practicing austerities, chastity and faith. Then you may ask questions according to your desire. If we know we shall tell you all. 

To them who had come to him with due protocol, the Sage said: ‘Even though you are already tapasvin-s, engaged in severe austerities, yet stay here for a year performing austerities characterized by sense control, in particular, brahmacary?, and ?raddh? (intense faith).  Be filled with ardor serving the ?c?rya.  Thereafter, whatever questions come to you regarding what is to be known, pose them freely.  In case we know the answers we shall reply them completely.’  The ‘in case’ is indicative of humility and not ignorance or doubt on the part of the ?c?rya.  This is evident from the replies he gives to the questions posed.  

Mantra 1.3

?? ?????? ???????? ?????? ??????? ????????? ? ?? ???? ?????? ????????? ??? ? ? ?

?? then  ?????? Kabandh? ????????? the son of Katya ?????? came up ??????? and asked ????? ‘O Lord ???? ? ?? whence indeed ???? these ?????? beings ????????? are born ??? thus.

Then Kabandh?, the son of Katya, came to him and asked: Sir, whence are these creatures born? 

The question of Kabandh? is to know what is the source of the entire lot of beings characterized by br?hma?a, etc. The idea is to find out what is the fruit achieved by the combination of the lower, apar?, vidy? and action, karma.  It is well known that such a combination results in the person who so combines being born in a body that is dependent on the knowledge and action involved in the combination.

Mantra 1.4

To him replied the venerable ?c?rya:

????? ? ????? ????????? ?? ????????? ? ????????? ? ??????????? ? ??????????????? ???? ? ?????? ???????? ?? ????? ?????? ??????? ??? ? ??

????? to him ? ? the teacher ???? said  ????????? desirous of progeny  ?? was indeed  ????????? Praj?pati ? he ??? austerity ?????? performed  ? he  ??? ??????? having performed austerity (thinking) ? he ??????? pair ????????? created  ???? moon ? and ?????? pr??a ? and ??? thus ??? this pair ?? to me ????? many ?????? progeny ??????? will produce ??? thus he thought.

To him the teacher said: Praj?pati, the Creator, was desirous of progeny. He performed austerities and having performed austerities, created the pair, the moon (rayi) and the sun (pr??a). He said to Himself: “These two should produce creatures for Me in manifold ways.” 

In order to quell the questioner’s desire for an answer, the Teacher replied: Praj?pati, the first progenitor, being the self-of-all, the creator, also called Hira?yagarbha, at the beginning of the kalpa, thought to himself, with a view to produce the world, creatures, that are moving and unmoving, from himself.  He is well prepared for the act, having performed the necessary combination of work and knowledge in the previous birth/s and full of that thought. The word ‘tapa?’ is the knowledge obtained by adhering to and illumined by the Veda. Having contemplated upon the Veda-illumined knowledge, he created the pair required to bring about the creation. The couple consists of moon, the food, and pr??a, fire, the eater (the sun).  The food (moon) and the eater of the food (sun) constitute the pair. Praj?pati thought ‘This pair will produce for me several types of progeny’. He created the Sun-Moon pair in the series of creating the Cosmic Egg. In effect, the pair is symbolic of energy and matter that is required for creation.

Mantra 1.5

??????? ? ?? ?????? ?????? ???????? ??????? ????????? ????????? ???????? ? ???????????????? ???? ? ? ?

??????? sun ? ?? indeed ?????? is pr??a ???? food ?? alone ????????? moon ???? food ?? indeed  ???? ????? all this ??? that which is ?????? formed ? and ??????? without form ? and ??????? therefore  ??????? form ?? alone ???? food

The sun is, indeed, pr??a, life; the moon is rayi, food. Food is, indeed, all this — what has form and what is formless. Therefore everything having form is, indeed, food. 

Of that pair, ?ditya, sun, is the consumer, agni, fire. The consumed, food, alone is the Candram??, moon. Surely, the food is soma, the moon.  The consumer and the consumed are but one, the pair, which is none other than Praj?pati, who has identified himself with that pair.  The distinction, however, between the members of the pair is only on the basis of one being the main and the other being the subordinate. How is this two-level classification done here?  Rayi?, food, indeed is all this.  It is characterized by being formed and therefore gross and un-formed and therefore subtle. The formed and unformed, the eaten and the eater, are food alone. That m?rti?, gross, which is distinct from the subtle, unformed, is indeed rayi?, since it is eaten by the subtle eater.  The idea is that Praj?pati, who identifies himself with the pair, is seen as the eater and the eaten at the level of the rayi?, moon and as eater and eaten in the mode of pr??a, the sun. 

Part 2

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