V Subrahmanian, Monday, April 25, 2016 9:30 am

The S?tasamhit?-B?had?ra?yakopani?at (Part 1)

The S?tasamhit?


Part 1

The S?tasamhit? forms part of the Skandapur??am.  There, in the part known as ‘Brahmag?t?’ are expositions of several Upani?ads.  The B?had?ra?yaka Upani?at too is accorded a place there. Here, in this article series, the 10th Chapter of the Brahmag?t?, covering a section of the B?had?ra?yaka Upani?at is taken up for a study. This section is named ‘?tmano brahmatvapratip?danam’, that is, the delineation of the identity between the ?tman and Brahman.

Verse 1

?????????? –

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

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

Brahm? said:

????? exists ?????????? beyond all ?????? witness ????????????  innermost Self ?????????? self-effulgent  ??? that ?? alone ?????? Brahman ?????????? the ever-full  ?????????? most immediate ????? O Gods

This section, called the ‘U?asta-br?hma?am’ in the Upani?ad occurs to demonstrate the nature, by means of epithets, of the ?tman which is to be realized for liberation. In the Upani?ad, U?asta poses the question to sage Yajñvalkya: ????????????????????????? ? ????? ????????????? ?? ?????????? [’Tell me about that which is direct and immediate Brahman, which is the ?tm?, the innermost of all’] (B?.up.3.4.1)

The reply to this question was provided by sage Yajñvalkya by pointing out ‘?? ? ?????’ [’This is your Self’] as the one which is known by everyone by direct experience. The above verse condenses the purport derived from the question and answer stated above. The word ?????????? denotes that entity which is situated beyond all the body-mind-organ-pr??a complex . It is the s?k??, the witness without any obstruction, of everything. The status of being the seer, relatively the ‘inner’ one, endowed with up?dhi, is possible through the medium of the mental modes, anta?kara?a-v?ttis. However, the inner-most entity, which is devoid of any limited adjuncts, nirup?dhika, since it  directly perceives, is the s?k??, the absolute witness. It is also self-effulgent, not needing any other illumining agent to make it luminous. This is the innermost ?tman of all. This ?tman alone, popular in the Vedas, is the absolutely direct, aparok?atamam, the self-luminous, infinite Brahman. There is no difference whatever between the two, ?tman and Brahman.     

Verse 2

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

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

?????????????????? of the pr??a, etc. groups ?? that ???????????????? existence-sentience provider ???? whose ????????????? by mere proximity ??????? moves ???? everything ????? O Gods

Even after sage Yajñavalkya pointed to, by gesture, the innermost Self,  by saying ‘This is your very Self’, since U?asta did not comprehend it, the former resorted to teach the Self by the means of specifying the external, adopted, attributes of the ?tman.  The words ‘?? ??????? ????????’   – (B.r. Up. 3.4.1)  of the Upani?ad teaches that the various modes of the vital air, the pr??a, ap?na, etc. perform their respective functions by the power they derive from the ?tman.  The various sense and motor organs, the mind, etc. do perform unique functions as they are designed that way.  Yet, they derive their power to so function from a common source, the ?tman. How does the ?tman ‘provide’ them that power? It is not by any volitional, deliberate, act on the part of the ?tman but by its mere presence, the sense organs, etc. by being in its proximity, derive their existence, satt?, and sentience, sphura?a.  Just as the iron filings move in the proximity of a magnet.  This shows that the organs do not have an existence and sentience of their own.  They are created, being effects of the five elements, ether, air, fire, water and earth. In the absence of the ?tman while these cannot even exist, the question of their functioning is farfetched.      

Verse 3

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

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

?? ? he who ??????? of all ?????????? activity ?????? indifferent ?????????? non-doer ?????? himself ? he ??  indeed ?????????? innermost ???????? direct ????? self ? not ????? other ????????? Foremost of Gods!

The body-mind-organs-pr??a complex does engage in acts such as thinking, seeing, grasping and breathing.  Even though, as said above, the ?tman is the one that is the source of sentience to the mind, etc., yet the role of the ?tman is completely passive.  The Self is ni?kriya, by nature devoid of any action.  Action is possible only in that entity where there are parts, limbs, etc. The ?tman is pure Consciousness, without any parts whatsoever.  Therefore, there is no question of any action arising out of the ?tman. Also, the ?tman does not really will to trigger the mind-body-sense organ complex into their respective actions.  It is like the sun that merely remains luminous while those that come within the range of the luminosity become illumined.  The sense organs, etc., being in the range, proximity, of the ?tman, by default derive sentience and existence from the ?tman and perform the actions they are designed to. That entity that is a mere witness, the sentience provider, being indifferent to any event, is the innermost, directly experienced, ?tman.  The logic involved here is: The senses, mind, etc. are inert, being products of the inert elements.  So, they are incapable of acting on their own.  Even though they are designed to perform unique functions, the basic sentience that alone powers them into any action, is not bothered about whether actions take place or not.  Since the ?tman is pure Consciousness, Existence, the sentience and existence are borrowed by the mind-senses complex and existence and activity is perceived in them.  Nor is the ?tman affected by the meritorious (pu?ya) or sinful (p?pa) acts of the mind-body complex as there is no vik?ra, modification, in the ?tman when the sense-body-complex is engaged in actions.  Avik?ritva is the sign of the absence of any effect of the actions (of the mind-body) on the ?tman.  

Verse 4

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

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

??  he ??? this ?????????? innermost ????????  self  ?? he ??????? is the meaning of ‘I’ ? not ??????? body  ??????????? being seen  ???? its ?????? body’s ??????? seer ?? he ???? its ? he ?? alone ?? is he

In the sentence ‘aham brahma asmi’ (‘I am Brahman’), there is the word ‘I’, ‘aham’, which refers to the innermost entity. This is so with reference to all persons.  This ?tman alone is the true meaning of the word ‘aham’ and not the gross body made of sheaths. This is so because, the body, akin to the objects such as a pot, is always an observed entity. The witness, the knower, of this body alone is the innermost entity, ?tm?. The verse brings to the fore the clear distinction between the observer consciousness and the observed inert entity. The entire Vedantic literature has this clear distinction and instruction alone for its central purport: the Conscious seer ?tman is distinct from the inert observed gross body. The Bhagavadgita devotes an entire chapter, the 13th one, to delineate on this topic.

Verse 5

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

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

??  he ??? this ?????????? innermost ???????? one’s own self  ?? he ??? this ? not ???????????? endowed with pr??a ??????????? since it is observed  ????????????? the pr??a entity ??????? seer  ?? he ???? of this ? he ?? alone ?? is he

Having distinguished the ?tman from the gross body, now the subtle body is also shown to be only an observed.  What are the constituents of the subtle body? The five pr??a-s (pr??a, ap?na, vy?na, ud?na and sam?na), the ten instruments (five motor organs – hands, legs, speech, excretory and reproductive, and the five sense organs – eye, ear, tongue, nose and skin to grasp form, sound, taste, smell and touch), the buddhi (intellect) and the manas (mind), adding up to seventeen entities. This subtle body too is not the ?tman as it is only an observed being the product of the elements.

Thus, by the two verses above, the ?tman is shown as the observer of the gross and the subtle bodies (k?rya-kara?a-sañgh?ta).  In this way, the innermost ?tman is indicated to be the one without any limiting adjuncts, nirup?dhikasvar?pa.  

Verse 6

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

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

??????? of the sight  ??????? seer ??????? of hearing ?????? hearer ???? of thinking ????? thinker ? too ?? he  ????? Gods ! ????????? of intellectual activity ??? also ???????? the firm knower ? he ?? indeed ?????????? innermost ??? surpreme

The B?. Upani?ad directly teaches the innermost self that is self-luminous by the passage ‘? ????????????????? ??????…’ [3.4.2] in the method of holding the horns of a cow and asserting ‘this is the cow’. The purport of this passage is what is stated in this verse.  The words in the genetive case (?a??h? vibhakti) in the above verse and in the mantra referred, show the manov?tti, the mental mode, that is generated when the sense organ such as the eye contacts the sense object such as the form, in order to generate the knowledge such as of the form.  These mental modes therefore give the knowledge of the object outside but do not illumine the innermost Self, the ?tman, that is devoid of form, sound, etc. and which, owing to its self-luminosity, illumines all else. How indeed can the worldly mental mode, a created entity, an object by itself, illumine the ?tman, the ultimate Subject? Indeed the mental modes of sight, smell, sound, etc. are themselves pervaded by the Consciousness of the ?tman. Thus, the rule involved here is: that which is an object of a distinct subject cannot illumine the latter.

[Coming soon….Part 2]

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