Self was here verily in the beginning; nothing else opposing at all. He beheld, saying: Let me now put forth worlds.

He put forth these worlds: the great sea, the ray-world, the death-World, the waters. The great sea is above, beyond heaven; in it heaven is set firm. The mid-world is the world of rays. Earth, the death-world. What is beneath it is the waters.

He beheld, saying: Here then are worlds for me; let me now put forth world-lords. From the waters verily, laying hold on spirit, he gave it form.

He brooded round it. As he brooded round it, a mouth was divided out like an egg. From this mouth came formative-Voice; from formative-Voice, fire.

Two nostrils were divided out. From the two nostrils came the life-breath; from the life-breath, wind.

Two eyes were divided out. From the two eyes came seeing; from seeing, then sun.

Two ears were divided out. From the ears came hearing; from hearing, the spaces.

Skin was divided out. From the skin came hairs; from the hairs, plants, the lords of the forest.

The heart was divided out. From the heart came mind; from mind, the moon.

The lower trunk was divided out. From the lower trunk came the downward-life; from the downward-life, death.

The power of putting-forth was divided out. From the power of putting-forth, vital force; from vital force, the waters.

They, these shining powers, thus put forth in this great ocean, moved forward. Them he followed with hunger and thirst. Him they addressed: Cause a house for us to be born, wherein, standing firm, we may eat food; said they.

Toward them he led up the cow. They addressed him: Verily for us this is not enough; said they. Toward them he led up the horse. They addressed him: Verily for us this is not enough; said they.

Toward them he led up man. They addressed him: Well made, truly! Man verily is well made. He addressed them:

Enter according to your abodes; said be.

Fire, becoming formative-Voice, entered, his mouth.

Wind, becoming life-breath, entered his two nostrils.

Sun, becoming seeing, entered his two eyes.

Space, becoming hearing, entered his two ears.

Plants, lords of the forest, becoming hairs, entered his skin.

Moon, becoming mind, entered his heart.

Death, becoming downward-life, entered his middle.

Waters, becoming vital force, entered the power of putting- forth.

Him hunger and thirst addressed: For us two also cause a place to be born; said they. Them he addressed: In these verily, in the shining powers, I give you a share; in these I make you two sharers. Therefore to whatever shining power offering is brought, hunger and thirst verily become two sharers therein.

He beheld; saying: Here are worlds for me and world-lords; food for them let me now put forth.

He brooded round the waters; from them brooded round, form was born. And this form that was born is food.

And this, put forth beyond it, it tried to reach and eat.

Through voice he tried to take it; he was not able to grasp it through voice. Had he been able to grasp it through voice, then by naming it would food be enjoyed.

He tried to take it through life-breath; he was not able to grasp it through life-breath. Had he been able to grasp it through life-breath, then by breathing round it would food be enjoyed.

He tried to take it through seeing; he was not able to grasp it through seeing. Had he been able to grasp it through seeing, then by seeing would food be enjoyed.

He tried to take it through hearing; he was not able to grasp it through hearing. Had he been able to grasp it through hearing, then by hearing would food be enjoyed.

He tried to take it through skin; he was not able to grasp it through skin. Had he been able to grasp it through skin, then by touching would food be enjoyed.

He tried to grasp it through mind; he was not able to grasp it through mind. Had he been able to grasp it through mind, then by thinking would food be enjoyed.

He tried to grasp it by the power of putting-forth; he was not able to grasp it by the power of putting-forth. Had he been able to grasp it by the power of putting-forth, then by putting forth would food be enjoyed.

He tried to grasp it by the downward-life. He laid hold, on it. So it is the taking of food, this breath. For this breath is the life of food.

He, beholding, said: How may this be without me?

He, beholding, said: By which may I reach forward to it?

He, beholding, said: If by voice it is spoken, if by breath breathed, if by seeing seen, if by hearing heard, if by skin touched, if by mind thought, if by the downward-life down-breathed, if by the power of putting-forth it is put forth, then who am I?

He pierced an opening here, at this division of the hair, and entered. Therefore this is called the opening, this is the door, this is the giver of bliss. Of this are the three dwellings, of this the three dreams. There is this dwelling, this dwelling and this dwelling.

He, having entered into birth, looked round on beings: What is there here foreign to me? said he.

He beheld this individual spirit as the Eternal. This have I beheld, said he.

From this, its name is Idan-dra [“that beheld”]; Idandra verily it is called. And this, which is really Idandra, is spoken of as Indra, by a hidden name; for the bright ones are, as it were, pleased with what is hidden.

This is at first in the active power as a germ; what is seed, is that; it is radiance come into being from all the parts. Within self, verily, self is borne. When the active instils this into the passive, he causes the germ to come to life. This is its first birth.

This reaches self-being through the passive; becoming as a part of the passive, this, therefore, does not injure the passive. And the passive supports this self thus entered into it.

The passive that supports is also to be supported. The passive bears the germ. The active at first, at the beginning of birth, is the superior cause of the new being. And as the active, at the beginning of birth, is the superior cause of the new being, thereby the active causes self to come into being for the continuing of these worlds. For thus these worlds are continued. This is its second birth.

This is his self put forward for good works; thus this is his other self for doing what has to be done. And reaching its full age, this goes forth; and going forth hence, is born again. This is its third birth.

This was said by a Seer:

Being yet in the germ, of these bright ones I followed out all the births; a hundred iron ones kept me in the dwelling; downwards like a falcon I swiftly descended.

While lying, verily, in the germ Vâmadeva said this.

He, thus knowing, from the separation of the body here, ascending upwards, in that heaven-world all desires obtaining became immortal.

What is this self?—saying this we approach it in worship;—which self is this by which he beholds form, by which he hears sound, by which smell smells, by which he modulates what is to be spoken, by which he discerns between sweet and not sweet?

This that is the heart, the mind this, conscience, apprehension, discernment, perception, knowing, insight, comprehending, thinking, understanding, consciousness, memory, will, resolution, life, desire, power,—all these verily are names of perceiving consciousness.

This formative power, this sky-lord, this Lord of beings, all these bright powers and these five elemental creatures—earth, air, shining ether, the waters, fires—these also that are compounded of parts, the seeds and the lesser seeds, the egg-born, the womb-born, the sweat-born, the fission-born, horses, cows, men, elephants, whatever there is that has life and moves and flies, and what is stationary, all this is what leads perception, and is set firm in perceiving consciousness. The world is what leads perception; the basis of it—what it stands firm in—is perception; while perceiving consciousness is the Eternal.

He, verily, through this perceiving consciousness, through the Self, ascending from this world here, in that heaven-world there gaining all desires has become immortal.

Commentary: The Primordial Man

If the Taittiriya Upanishad was more directly concerned with the individual teaching of the pupil, and the relations between the pupil and the Master, as typified in the story of the sage Bhrigu, then the Aitareya Upanishad is concerned with the great scheme of the manifestation of worlds, in its widest and most universal conception.

The beginning of the Aitareya Upanishad takes us back to a time,—if time it can be called, when there is no time,—when even the ideal universe, was not yet in being; when Self alone was, and nothing at all but Self, self-supported, self-shining, self-contained.

Then comes the formation, the putting-forth, as it is called, of the primordial, ideal universe; the first faint outline, the plan, the frame on which the fully manifested worlds are afterwards to be formed.

“The Self, beholding, said: Let me now put forth worlds.”

The word here translated, “beholding, said,” means at once to see or to view and to speak; as though it were a visible voice, or an audible flash of light. It is well worth while to take this word, and trace it all through the Upanishads, so as to bring out exactly its use and meaning.

In this Aitareya Upanishad it is used all through for the speaking and beholding of the formative Self, and for nothing else; when the emanated powers, the manifested parts of the formative Self, speak, another word is used, which expresses common speech.

In the chapter, “That Thou Art” of the Chhandogya Upanishad it is used in exactly the same way:

“Being was in the beginning, alone and second-less; Being beholding said: Let me become great, let me produce beings; it produced the Radiance. Radiance, beholding said: Let me become great, let me produce; it produced the Waters. The Waters beholding said: Let us become great, let us produce; they produced the food-world, Earth. That bright power, Being, beholding said: Let me enter these three powers, by this life, by my Self, let me give them manifold forms and names.”

In the first passage in which it occurs in the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, the formation of the Sun, the Waters and Earth has been related,—the Sun here corresponding to the Radiance; then the formative being “beholding said: If I absorb all this, I shall make little food for myself. By this formative-voice, by this Self he put forth all this, whatsoever there is at all.” Here again the expression is used in the same singular and original sense. It next occurs in a passage in the same Upanishad, beginning, like the Aitareya Upanishad: “Self, verily, was here in the beginning. He beholding saw nothing else but Self. He made a beholding, and said: Why do I fear, since there is nothing else but me. Then he divided himself twofold into active and passive. Then the passive beholding said”—and so forth. This passive power is formative-voice. Once again the same word is used: “He, verily, the Lord of beings, made a beholding and said: Let me make a resting-place for this. He put forth the passive” formative-voice.

In the Kena Upanishad—“By whom”—it is used once for the speech of the three great powers, the Sky-lord, the Breath, the Fire-lord. “The Eternal gained a victory for the bright powers. They beholding said: this is our victory.”

In two other Upanishads the same word is used, in each of them once, in a meaning not identical but deeply suggestive. In the Katha Upanishad, the story of Death and Nachiketas, it is said:

“The Self-being pierced the openings outward; hence one looks outward, not within himself. A certain wise man beholding viewed the Self with sight reverted, wishing for immortality.”

And in the Prashna Upanishad—“The Questions”—the same meaning: “He is lead to the world of the Eternal, he beholding views the spirit that rests within the dwelling, above the highest assembly of lives.” In the same Upanishad the word is again used in the first sense: the Spirit “made a beholding and said: In the manifestation of what shall I become manifested; in the founding of what shall I be set firm?”

So that, of eighteen occurrences of this word in the Upanishads, thirteen directly refer to the formative speech of the emanating Spirit, the Logos, the Word; three refer to the speech of macrocosmic powers of the three worlds; while two refer to the illumination in Self of the individual who “views the Self with reverted sight, wishing for immortality,” who “beholds the Spirit resting above the highest assembly of lives.”

The expression is thus used either for the Voice, the formative energy of the Logos, or for the same Voice within, when the individual consciousness rises up to the Logos. Thus far the history of a word of the highest import. To return now to the world-building in the Aitareya Upanishad. The first emanation which the Self beholding viewed, or “visibly voiced,” is the Great Deep, the Ocean, the Waters of Space, wherein the four principles of the Macrocosm are to be developed. These four macrocosmic principles are called the Heavens, the Rays, the Earth, the Waters; corresponding exactly to what the teacher of Shvetaketu calls in inverse order, the World-food, the Waters, the Radiance and the higher divinity.

After this formation of the four macrocosmic principles in the Great Deep, the specialized formative Logos or Primordial Man is “laid hold on, and brought forth from the Great Deep, and given a form.”

Within this Logos are to be formed the centres or potencies of all the creative impulses which are to build the manifested worlds. For each of these centres there is a threefold formation: the centre itself: its radiation or impulse or force, and the objective or fully manifested external form corresponding to each force. Thus the mouth is the centre; formative Voice, the force; fire, the external form. This “fire” again calls to mind the “visible voice,” which is comprehended in the words “beholding, said.” Again, the two nostrils are the centres; the life-breath, the force or impulse; and the Wind, the external form. It is quite clear that these three formative steps correspond to the three worlds; the centres to the world of Radiance or the Rays; the forces or impulses to the mid-world, the world of the Waters; the external forms, to the world of form, of Earth, of death,—for the crystallization into form is death. Those who are curious in numbers may note that, if we set aside “skin, the hairs, the trees, lords of the forest,” as being no specialized centre, we shall have a series of ten centres of force, each threefold in manifestation; while, if the duplicates—two eyes, two ears, two nostrils—are reduced to one each, the centres of force in the formative Logos are reduced to seven in number, each centre putting forth a radiation through the middle world, which becomes an externalized form or element in the physical world.

Then comes another stage in the great primeval drama of manifestation. “They, these shining powers thus put forth, moved forward in the Great Deep. Them the formative Self followed with hunger and thirst,”—With the twofold desire to become embodied, to become manifested, to taste experience. Here, very likely, as in the teaching of Shvetaketu, thirst is the tasting of experience in the middle world, the world of the Waters, while hunger is the tasting of experience in the physical world, the world of Food, of Earth. The potencies, therefore, were beset with the impulse to taste experience in this twofold way.

To gain this double experience a form is needed. Three forms are successively tried; the first two are rejected; the third, the human form, accepted: “Toward the bright powers he led up man; they addressed him: Well made, verily. Man verily is well made. He addressed them, Enter according to your abodes.”

This Man thus led up to the bright powers, is personified humanity, the reflection in the manifested world of the primordial man, unmanifest in the Great Deep. The world of the Radiance is, as it were, the Father; the world of the Waters, the Mother; the physical world, with its manifested humanity, the Son.

Then, in the same order as before, the powers enter the centres of force in man: “Fire, becoming formative-voice, entered his mouth; wind, becoming life-breath, entered his nostrils,” and so with the others. If we were to represent the doctrine of the Upanishad by a visible symbol, it would be something like this: At the top, the unmanifested Self, radiating the three macrocosmic planes or worlds in space; then, in the highest of these three worlds, a face with a mouth, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils; the centres of the heart and the two lower powers being also marked. From these centers the impulses flow downward through the middle world as forces, to the lowest world, where they again come to centers as before, in the upper world. But it is better not to harden these things into too definite forms; it is better rather to grasp them as they really are, as living forces; as seeing, hearing, voice, not as diagrams on paper.

This second man, humanity,—as the first man is divinity,—was endowed with all the powers, but without a soul. The third stage had been reached; the fourth was now to come. But before the turning-point is reached, the utmost development outward must be accomplished. This is, as far as one can see, the meaning of the long parable of the typical man (personified humanity) trying to grasp food (to reach experience) by each one of the powers successively, and then at last gaining it by the lowest, the power that corresponds to death. Then the formative Self beholding, said: “How may this man exist without me?” If voice be the speaker, if sight be the seer, if hearing be the hearer, who then is the Self?

This is the exact counterpart of a passage in the Kena Upanishad—“By Whom”: “That which is not spoken by voice, but through which voice speaks; that which beholds not by sight, but by which sight beholds; that which hears not by hearing, but by which hearing is heard—know that to be the Eternal,” the Self.

Then comes the remarkable passage:

“He pierced an opening here, at this junction of the hair (on the crown of the head) and entered. Therefore this is called the opening, this is the door, this is the giver of bliss.”

To shed light on this, we must turn back to a passage in the Taittiriya Upanishad, in the first part:

“This is the shining ether within the heart,—the inner man; in this is the spirit of the form of mind, immortal, golden; in the division of the palate, where as it were a nipple hangs down, this is the womb of Indra; and where the end of the hair turns round, in the head, in the skull.”

The conception is clearly the same in both cases. The “door” by which the Self enters is the same as “the womb of Indra,” the giver of bliss. Just as the other “bright powers” have their dwelling in the eyes, the nostrils, the mouth, so the Self is conceived as having its dwelling, its place of appearing, when manifest in the physical man. And again, as before, Indra is mentioned as a symbol, “for the bright ones are, as it were, pleased with what is hidden.”

Then comes a definition: the heart, the mind, conscience, apprehension, discernment, perception, knowing, insight, comprehending, thinking, understanding, consciousness, memory, will, resolution, life, desire, power,—all these are names of perceiving consciousness, modes of the Self. “He, verily, through this perceiving consciousness, through the Self, ascending from this world and gaining all desires in the heaven-World, becomes immortal.”