Part I, Sections 1-3

[Introduction]
Building the Cosmos

Like the Chhandogya Upanishad, the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad consists of a series of Instructions for Disciples. The former begins with illustrations of the law of correspondences, first simple and then more complex, so that the learner may gradually gain an understanding, first, of the unity of all Life in the universe, and, second, of the principles of symmetry and cohesion, in virtue of which each element of life is related to all other elements, and the whole universe is represented in all its parts. Contemporary science is advancing toward an understanding of this vital and fundamental law; it has already recognized the unity of design between the solar system and the atom, and accounts of the universe insist that all energies in our world, and all energies in man, are derived from the great life-giving forces in the sun, which in turn conforms to the principles of structure present in all suns throughout the vast stellar system; and it is now held that stellar systems are innumerable.

The Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad begins with the formation of stellar systems, a description of the forces which underlie the manifestation of the Cosmos as a whole. Part I contains six Sections, of which three are here translated. Each of these Sections teaches and illustrates a fundamental aspect of the Cosmos. The first Section seeks to impress on the pupil that the Cosmos is a living organism, with related parts, permeated through and through with Life, and equally permeated with the principle of sacrifice. For this purpose, the symbol of the Horse consecrated for sacrifice is used. The second Section describes the emanation of the Cosmos after the period of non-manifestation which is called Cosmic Night, the manifestation of the Logos, the appearance of the first duality in the Logos, and thereafter the progressive manifestation of the planes and principles of the worlds. The third Section describes two contending principles, or classes of being, present everywhere throughout the universe: the forces of manifestation and of dissolution, here called Devas and Asuras; and the pupil is shown how they interpenetrate all life, and in particular, his own life.

Coming back to the first Section, the Horse consecrated for sacrifice is taken as the symbol of the Cosmos, in order to show that the Cosmos lives, and that the Cosmos is permeated by sacrifice. The ceremony of the sacred Horse is exceedingly ancient. The sacrifice was not universal; it could indeed be offered only by the monarch, the supreme ruler. And it was a ceremony of symbolic consecration, in which in fact no animal was slain, though many animals, birds, beasts, fishes, had a part; it seems to have been a symbolical consecration of every form of life, a dramatic affirmation that the principle of consecration runs through all life and all being. The choice of the Horse, at once the symbol of royalty and of organic perfection and beauty, and therefore the central figure of the ceremony, as the symbol illustrating the life and consecration of the Cosmos, is thus appropriate and natural.

Each symbol has many meanings, which gradually revealed themselves to the awakening intuition of the disciple. Thus Dawn is the beginning of day, of all “days,” from the Day of Brahma, the day of each cyclic period, to the day which is the common unit of our time. The Sun, Wind and Fire are symbols of the three great principles which are manifested in the Three Worlds: Heaven, Midworld, Earth, everywhere throughout the Cosmos; the three being further subdivided into seven. The fire common to all men is the vital principle or energy manifested in physical life, which is in fact common to all men, and to which, as man develops, the fire of the soul, corresponding to the Midworld, and the fire of the spirit, corresponding to Heaven, are in due time to be added.

The circling year is the type of all cycles, beginning with the alternating Day and Night of Brahma; the cycles in and through which every form and degree of life is progressively manifested; therefore, the circling year is fittingly called the self (the body) of the Horse which represents the living Cosmos. Our first natural division of time is the hour, the time in which the moon moves back against the background of the stars through a distance equal to her own breadth, a space of half a degree; therefore in twenty-four hours the moon moves backward twelve degrees, completing the circle of three hundred and sixty degrees in thirty days, the lunar month, made up of the waxing fortnight, from new moon to full moon, and of the waning fortnight, from full moon to new moon; the two fortnights thus symbolizing the complete circle of the descent into matter and the reascent to spirit. In the same way, the series of about twelve lunar months completes the solar year with its changing seasons, and the years accumulate in larger cycles. Thus the whole operation and succession of cycles are gradually instilled into the understanding of the pupil.

In like manner, by the identification of parts of our world with the vital organs of the Horse consecrated for sacrifice, the pupil is led to perceive that our world is an organism, with its own vital organs; clouds, rivers, mountains, trees are shown as permeated with life.

Finally, the Horse, as symbol of the formative Logos, is shown as carrying or sustaining four great classes of formative beings: Devas, Gandharvas, Asuras, men: or, as we might call them, classes of Planetary Spirits, of cosmic elementals, whether constructive or destructive, and human beings. The significance of the name, Celestial Choristers, is, that these beings are one aspect of the Logos, and, through the powers of sound, “create” the Voice. And the Section ends with the affirmation, concerning the formative Logos, that “in the Great Deep is the place of his birth.”

The second Section takes the disciple back to a consideration of the period before the beginning of manifestation, the period of universal Darkness, or Cosmic Night. And he is led to perceive a universal principle of Being: that all that is manifested must in time pass into unmanifestation, as night follows day. More than that, this principle is active throughout the whole period of manifestation; a new form can come into being only through the transformation of the old form, its disappearance, its death, as that form. This may be illustrated from geology: new strata are being continuously formed through the breaking down and abrasion of older strata. And, through the geological periods, new organisms, new forms of life, come into being through the transformation and supersession of the old. In the same way, Philo and Paul describe spiritual life as a “continual dying,” a death to the old accompanying a birth to the new. Therefore, this universal principle or tendency, without which there could be no life and growth, is fittingly named Death; just as, in another Upanishad, the Lord of Death is the Initiator, since Initiation is at the same time a death to the old and a birth to the new life. “Death is Hunger” says the Commentator, since all death is a consuming, the action of a force of disintegration preparing the way for new forces of re-integration.

So these symbols, Death and Hunger, represent at once the darkness of Cosmic Night before the dawn of manifestation, and that hunger for new being which causes manifestation, and then sustains manifestation through the continual transformation of the older into the newer form. In the formative Logos, moved by this everlasting impulse, was formed the thought: “May I become possessed of a self, a body! May I become manifested!” He advanced, singing praises. From him, singing praises, the Waters of space were born. Here again, we have the thought of the vibrations of sound, the tones of the Voice, as formative powers. And, it may be added, the manifestation of the same power in man lies at the root of all that is said later, regarding the efficacy of the great Chant.

Cognate with the formative power manifested through Voice is the formative power manifested through Light. Here, astronomy may lend us an illustration. Much is now known, or surmised, concerning the differing characters of the stars, and the presence in them of various metals and elements. Each one of these metals or elements makes itself known, not as a tangible substance, but as a certain rhythm of light, of colours arranged in a definite way. The differing colours, which express different arrangements of electrons, are an essential manifestation of these elements; one might almost speak of the colours condensing to form the metals. So that “radiance” is a fitting description of this formative power.

The Waters of space were the radiance; the foam of the Waters curdled; that became Earth, the symbol of manifested matter. On this Earth, throughout matter thus manifested, the formative Power made a mighty effort; the fervour and essence of Him, thus effortful, fervid, became Fire, the electrical or vital energy which permeates all matter. One aspect of it is, perhaps, the driving force within the atom, which keeps the electrons spinning around the nucleus; the same force which keeps the planets spinning around the sun, and the sun spinning for ever through space; a universal force active everywhere through the universe, and therefore rightly to be traced back to the formative Logos.

The third Section considers more in detail this dual power which is present everywhere throughout Being, as a fundamental expression of the very nature of Being; the tendency, in virtue of which eternity is measured by alternating Days and Nights of Brahma.—Light and Darkness succeeding each other.

The Powers of Light are here called Devas, a name which means any “radiant” force, any force which runs outward with a rhythm of vibration, any formative or creative force. So the Powers of Darkness are the complementary forces, not of creation, but of dissolution; forces which disintegrate, so that a new re-integration may take place. The disciple must learn to use this force, to bring about the disintegration of his lower nature, in order that the higher nature may be integrated in him. If he fail rightly to use this consuming power, it will consume him. If he attach himself to the body subject to death, identifying himself with it, and believing it to be himself, the tendency to dissolution will consume both the body and the imagined self. He must rule the Asuras, or be eaten by them. And he can rule them only through the powers of the Logos, which he will find, when he has learned to recognize them, permeating his whole being. Therefore, his life will become a continual dying, but a dying which is Life. He must put off the old man, in order that he may put on the new.

The powers of the Logos, the Voice, are symbolized, as has already been said, by the dynamic forces held to be inherent in the great Chant, a potent magical song which played an important part in the formal system of sacrifices and offerings. The Buddha later formulated them, for his disciples, as Right Meditation, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood. These are the powers by which the disciple may raise his life to the Higher Self. On the other hand, Wrong Thought, Wrong Speech, Wrong Action will drag him down to the lower self, inevitably subject to dissolution. The Buddha, therefore, recognized in each of these powers their right or wrong use, good and evil.

This would seem to be the meaning of the Parable of the Devas and Asuras. As the Devas bring each power into manifestation, the Asuras pierce it with evil. So the progression ascends, up to and including Mind; there is, on the one hand, whatever of beauty one imagines and wills, and, on the other, whatever one imagines and wills that is unseemly. Then comes a change. The principal Life-breath is manifested; the Asuras run against it to attack it; as a clod striking a stone, they are shattered in all directions, and are destroyed. The principal Life-breath, the crown of Life, is the Higher Self, the eternal Monad, which endures through all eternity, because it is, in essential being, one with the Eternal. Therefore, be who is faithful unto death inherits this crown of Life.

“Through the Higher Self he who thus knows, prevails over the hated enemy.” This sentence, in many forms, promising many blessings, runs through the Upanishad like a golden thread. The disciple is to understand that his learning should mean, not only the gaining of information, but increase of spiritual life, spiritual consciousness and power continually enriched, approaching ever nearer to the plenitude of the Higher Self.

The old life must be dissolved in order that the new life may be integrated. This integration of a truer, more real Self, is beautifully symbolized in the later part of the parable: “That divinity, striking off evil, death, from these divinities, carried them beyond death.” As the powers are carried over and transmuted, they build up “the new man, the lord from heaven.”

That this is the meaning, is shown by the three sentences:

Cause me to go from the Unreal to the Real!
Cause me to go from Darkness to Light!
Cause me to go from Death to the Immortal!


[Translation]
Three Parables of the Cosmos
[Section 1]

Dawn is the head of the Horse consecrated for sacrifice; the sun is the eye; the wind is the life-breath; the open mouth is the fire common to all men; the circling year is the self, the body, of the Horse consecrated for sacrifice; the over-arching heaven is the back; the midworld is the interior; the earth is the underparts; the directions of space are the two sides; the intermediate directions are the ribs; the seasons are the limbs; the months and the lunar fortnights are the joints; the days and nights are the foothold, the feet; the stellar mansions are the bones; the clouds are the muscles; the half-digested food is the sand; the rivers are the entrails; the liver and lungs are the mountains; plants and trees, lords of the forest, are the hair and mane; the ascending sun is the foreparts; the descending sun is the hindparts; when he yawns, that is the lightning; when he shakes himself, that is thunder; when water descends, that is rain; his voice, verily, is the Voice.

Day was born as the sacrificial vessel before the Horse; the place from which it is born is in the eastern ocean; night was born as the sacrificial vessel behind; the place from which it is born is in the western ocean; these two, verily, came into being about the Horse as the two sacrificial vessels. As a charger he carried the Devas, the Bright Powers; as a steed he carried the Gandharvas, the Celestial Choristers; as a courser he carried the Asuras. the Dark Powers; as a horse he carried men. The Great Deep, verily, is his kin; in the Great Deep is the place of his birth.

[Section 2]

Naught, verily, was here in the beginning; by Death was this enveloped; by Hunger, for Hunger is Death. He made the thought: “May I become possessed of a self, a body!” He advanced, singing praises. From him, singing praises, the Waters of space were born.

“For me, singing praises, radiant joy came into being,” said He. This, verily, is the radiant being of radiance; radiant joy comes into being for him who thus knows this radiant being of radiance.

The Waters of space, verily, were the radiance; that which was the foam of the Waters curdled and coagulated; that became Earth. On that He made a mighty effort; the fervour and essence of Him, thus effortful, fervid, was manifested as Fire.

This Fire separated itself threefold: the Sun is a third part; the Air of the midspace is a third part; Fire here is a third part. Therefore this Life-breath is disposed threefold. The eastern direction is the head; on this and that side of it are the forequarters. The western direction is the tail; on this and that side of it are the hindquarters. South and north are the flanks. The over-arching heaven is the back. The midworld is the interior. This forms the underparts. So He is firmly established in the Waters of space. Knowing thus, he is firmly established, whithersoever he goes.

He desired, saying: “Would that a second self of me might be born!” Through thought He united himself with Voice, He who is Hunger, He who is Death. That which was the seed of being became the circling year. Before that, the circling year was not. He bore him for a period of time equal to the circling year. At the end of a period equal to the circling year, He brought him into manifestation. He approached him, thus born, with open mouth; as if in fear, he uttered a cry; this became Voice.

He beholding said : “If I shall design anything against him, I shall make the world-food less!” Through that Voice, through that self, He brought into manifestation all this, whatsoever exists here, as the Rig verses, the Yajur formulas, the Sama chants, the hymns, sacrifices, living beings, animals. Whatsoever He brought into manifestation, all that He began to consume. He is the eater of all; this is the consuming power of the boundless Being. He becomes the eater of all this, all becomes food for him, who thus knows the consuming power of boundless Being.

He desired, saying: “With a further sacrifice let me sacrifice further!” He made a mighty effort, He brooded with fervour; from Him, thus effortful, fervid, brilliance, valour went forth. The life-breaths, verily, are brilliance, valour; as the life-breaths went forth, the body began to expand. His body, verily, was Mind.

He desired, saying: “May this body of mine be consecrated for sacrifice! May I become possessed of a self through this!” Thereupon the Horse came into being, because this expanded. This was consecrated for sacrifice. This is the sacrificial character of the Horse consecrated for sacrifice. He truly understands the sacrifice of the Horse, who knows it thus. He held him in thought, not confining him. At the end of the year, he took him for sacrifice. The animals he delivered to the Bright Powers. Therefore the sacrifice to the Lord of beings is offered to all the Bright Powers. He who is fervent is as the sacrifice of the Horse; the circling year is his self, his body. This fire is the radiance, these worlds are its selves, its bodies. There are these two, this radiance and the sacrifice of the Horse, yet they are one Divinity, Death. He overcomes the second death, nor does Death gain him; Death becomes his body, he becomes one of these divinities, who thus knows.

[Section 3]

These two were derived from the Lord of Beings: the Devas, Bright Powers, and the Asuras, Dark Powers. Of them, the Devas were younger, the Asuras were elder. In these worlds they strove against each other.

The Devas said: “Come, let us prevail against the Asuras in the sacrifice through the great Chant!” They said to Voice: “Do thou sing for us the great Chant!” “So be it!” said Voice. Voice sang for them the great Chant. Whatever delight there is in voice, that it sang for the Devas; whatever of beauty one speaks, that is for self. The others knew, “By this singer they will prevail against us!” Running to attack it, they pierced it with evil. This evil is whatever one speaks that is unseemly; this is the evil.

So they said to the forward Breath: “Do thou sing for us the great Chant!” “So be it!” said the forward Breath. The forward Breath sang for them the great Chant. Whatever delight there is in the forward Breath, that it sang for the Devas; whatever of beauty one breathes, that is for self. The others knew, “By this singer they will prevail against us!” Running to attack it, they pierced it with evil. This evil is whatever one breathes that is unseemly; this is the evil.

So they said to Vision: “Do thou sing for us the great Chant!” “So be it!” said Vision. Vision sang for them the great Chant. Whatever delight there is in vision, that it sang for the Devas; whatever of beauty one sees, that is for self. The others knew, “By this singer they will prevail against us!” Running to attack it, they pierced it with evil. This evil is whatever one sees that is unseemly; this is the evil.

So thy said to Hearing: “Do thou sing for us the great Chant!” “So be it!” said Hearing. Hearing sang for them the great Chant. Whatever delight there is in bearing, that it sang for the Devas; whatever of beauty one hears, that is for self. The others knew, “By this singer they will prevail against us!” Running to attack it, they pierced it with evil. This evil is whatever one bears that is unseemly; this is the evil.

So they said to Mind: “Do thou sing for us the great Chant!” “So be it!” said Mind. Mind sang for them the great Chant. Whatever delight there is in mind, that it sang for the Devas; whatever of beauty one imagines and wills, that is for self. The others knew, “By this singer they will prevail against us!” Running to attack it, they pierced it with evil. This evil is whatever one imagines and wills that is unseemly; this is the evil.

So they said to the principal Life-breath: “Do thou sing for us the great Chant!” “So be it!” said the principal Life-breath. This Life-breath sang for them the great Chant. The others knew, “By this singer they will prevail against us!” Running to attack it, they strove to pierce it with evil. Then, as a clod striking a stone would be shattered, they were shattered in all directions, and were destroyed. Therefore the Devas prevailed over the Asuras. Through the Self he who thus knows, prevails over the hated enemy.

Then they said: “In what was be who thus adhered to us? It is he who is in the inner being, he who is called Ayasya Angirasa, that is, the essence of the powers.”

So that divinity is named Far, for far from it is Death; far from him is death, who thus knows. So that divinity, striking off evil, death, from these divinities, caused evil to go thither, where is the end of the spaces. There it set down their evils. Therefore, let him not go to the abode, to the end. Let me not meet with evil, with death.

So that divinity, striking off evil, death, from these divinities, carried them beyond death. It carried Voice over first. When it was delivered from death, it became Fire. This Fire, transcending death, shines. It carried over the forward Breath. When it was delivered from death, it became Wind. This Wind, transcending death, purifies. It carried Vision across. When it was delivered from death, it became Sun. This Sun, transcending death, enkindles. It carried Hearing across. When it was delivered from death, it became the Spaces. These Spaces transcend death. It carried Mind across. When it was delivered from death, it became Moon. This Moon, transcending death, gives light. Thus, verily, that divinity carries him beyond death, who thus knows.

So the principal Life-breath sang for itself food. Whatever food is eaten, by this is it eaten; here he is established. The Devas said: “So great is all this, as food; this for thyself thou hast sung. Do thou make us to be partakers in this food!” “Do ye then enter altogether into me!” “So be it!” They entered him completely from all sides. Therefore, whatever food one eats through this, by it all these are satisfied.

Thus, verily, his own all enter into him, he becomes a supporter of his own, best, foremost leader, overlord, who thus knows. He who, among his own, seeks to withstand him who thus knows, such a one does not suffice for those whom he should support; but he who follows him, and, following him, seeks to support those whom he should support, such a one suffices for those whom he should support.

So this, called Ayasya Angirasa, is the essence of the powers; the Life-breath is the essence of the powers. Since the Life-breath is the essence of the powers, from whichever of the powers the Life-breath departs, that, verily, dries up, for this is the essence of the powers. This is also Brihaspati; for Voice is Brihati, and this is her lord; therefore, he is Brihaspati. This is also Brahmanaspati; for Voice is Brahma, the spirit of the Eternal, and this is her lord; therefore, he is Brahmanaspati.

This is also the Sama chant, for Voice, verily, is the Sama. This is Sa and Ama, She and He; this is the Sama character of the Sama. Or it is because it is equal to a midge, equal to a fly, equal to an elephant, equal to these three worlds, equal to all that is, therefore, it is the Sama. He attains unity of being, unity of place, with the Sama, who knows this Sama thus. It is also the great Chant. The Life-breath is great, for by the Life-breath all this is upheld. And Voice, verily, is the Chant; thus these make up the great Chant.

Therefore, Brahmadatta, grandson of Chikitana, when he was making the offering of King Soma, said: “May King Soma cause this man’s head to fall off, if Ayasya Angirasa sang the great Chant by any other means; by Voice, verily, and by the Life-breath he sang it!”

He who knows the essence of this Sama chant, possesses that essence. The tone is the essence. Therefore, let him who is about to offer the sacrifice, seek for the tone in Voice; with that Voice endowed with tone let him offer the sacrifice. Therefore, at the sacrifice, they wish to see one possessing the tone, one who possesses the essence. He possesses the essence, who thus knows the essence of the Sama chant.

He who knows the golden quality of this Sama chant, possesses gold, for the tone is the golden quality; he possesses gold, who thus knows the golden quality of the Sama chant.

He who knows the foothold of this Sama chant, he, verily, stands firm. Voice, verily, is the foothold, for in Voice this Life-breath is established. But some say it is set firm in food.

Then the offering of the invocations which purify. The celebrant sings the Sama chant; when be sings, let him (for whom the sacrifice is offered) murmur these sentences:

Cause me to go from the Unreal to the Real!
Cause me to go from Darkness to Light!
Cause me to go from Death to the Immortal!

When be says, “Cause me to go from the Unreal to the Real,” Death, verily, is the Unreal, the Real is the Immortal. “Cause me to go from Death to the Immortal! Make me immortal!” This he says. “Cause me to go from Darkness to Light!” Death is Darkness, the Light is the Immortal. “Cause me to go from Death to the Immortal! Make me immortal!” This he says. “Cause me to go from Death to the Immortal!” There is no obscurity in this. So whatever other praises there are, in these he may win food for the self. In them let him choose a wish, whatever desire he may desire. The celebrant who knows thus, whatever desire he may desire, whether for himself or for him who offers the sacrifice, that he wins. This is world-winning. Nor is there any prospect that he will not win that world, who thus knows this Sama chant.


Part I, Sections 4-6

[Introduction]
Building the Cosmos

Much of the earlier part of The Secret Doctrine might well serve as a commentary upon the great, archaic symbols of this section of the greatest of the Upanishads. And, indeed, those early pages almost of necessity contain many references to the teaching of the Upanishads.

We are there told, first, of “an Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable Principle, on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception. . . . It is beyond the range and reach of thought—in the words of the Mandukya, ‘unthinkable and unspeakable’” ; and, further that once we pass from this Immutable Principle “duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter; Subject and Object. Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded, not as independent realities, but as the two symbols or aspects of the Absolute, Parabrahman, which constitute the basis of conditioned Being whether subjective or objective. Considering this metaphysical triad as the Root from which proceeds all manifestation, the Great Breath assumes the character of Pre-cosmic Ideation. It is the fons et origo of Force and of all individual Consciousness, and supplies the guiding intelligence in the vast scheme of cosmic Evolution. On the other hand, Pre-cosmic Root-Substance (Mulaprakriti) is that aspect of the Absolute which underlies all the objective planes of Nature. . . . Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual Consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle (upadhi) of matter that consciousness wells up as ‘I am I,’ a physical basis being necessary to focus a Ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity.”

This, then, is the territory covered by the opening passages of the sections which follow. We have the One; then the manifestation of duality within the One, which nevertheless remains One; and we have the primordial root of the “I am I” consciousness, later to be reflected in organized beings.

We also see how from the first duality the whole train of manifestation follows, the manifestation of worlds and of their inhabitants, the two advancing in unison. And, since these symbols are universal, mirroring the macrocosmic as well as the microcosmic, we have, at the same time, an outline of the evolution of mankind in this world in the present period: first, a dual being, male-female; then the separation of the sexes; and, further, the indication that man was the earliest of the mammals, as is also insisted upon in The Secret Doctrine. This is explained in the commentaries on Stanza vii, in the second volume.

The rotation of the fire-stick, producing heat, is the symbol of the rotary motion of the primordial Force, when Fohat ran circular errands, and this again is the cause of the rotation of electrons about the positive nucleus of the “atom,” a tremendous, ceaseless activity to which modem science does not appear as yet to have assigned a cause. Food and the Eater of Food are Experience and Experiencer, Object and Subject, the primordial duality.

The lines which follow refer to a mystery: the One, which is not a self-conscious Individuality, nevertheless brings into being the self-conscious Individuality of the Masters; this is the super-emanation of Brahma the Evolver.

Then we come back to the eternal truth that, although the endless pageant of differentiation fills the universe, yet the One remains the One; and, in the last analysis, nothing has real being but the One. So we are told that “Atma, breathing, is named the Life-breath; Atma, speaking, is named Voice. Atma, thinking, is named Mind.” All these are aspects of Atma; Atma alone truly is.

The further list of the super-emanations of the Eternal, namely, “Warrior, Indra, Varuna, Soma, Parjanya, Yama, Mrityu, Ishana,” is at once macrocosmic and microcosmic; these are heavenly powers, but they are also the principles of man. Indra, the Ruler, is the monad, Atma-Buddhi; Varuna, the limitation or boundary, whereby Atma-Buddhi becomes individual; the Lunar Lord is Manas; Parjanya, Lord of lightning, is the electrical, attractive force of Kama; Yama, the Controller, is that which controls the shape of the body; Mrityu, the substance of the physical body, subject to dissolution; Ishana, the golden sun, is Prana.

Then comes the emanation of the races of mankind, here represented by what are called the “Four Castes”; and, in each case, for each race, there is a heavenly prototype, the Regent of that race.

The fifth section takes us over much the same ground, with a more fully developed sevenfold classification: the seven foods. It is not quite easy to allocate these seven foods to their respective principles, but the correspondences seem to be as follows. The Father, the eternal Monad, “made three for himself”; these are the three higher principles: Atma, as the Life-breath, elsewhere called the “central Life”; Atma manifested as Voice, or Buddhi; Atma manifested as Mind, Manas, spiritual self-consciousness. The “two shared with the Devas” are the middle principles, Kama, or energy, and its form, the Devas here being the cosmic elementals of energy, differentiated by form. “Milk” is the vital force present even in minerals. The food “common to all” is differentiated matter. Thus, the “seven foods” are the seven principles, both macrocosmic and microcosmic.

Again, the three Vedas are used, as they so often are, as the frame of a threefold division: Rig, Yajur, Sama corresponding to lower, middle and higher worlds, or principles.

The “sixteen parts” appear to represent the Monad and the five sheaths, or coverings, of the Taittiriya Upanishad, each of the latter having three aspects, and thus making a total of fifteen. They are correlated with the days of the waxing or waning moon, which gains, or loses, one “part” each day. On the one hand is the Monad; on the other, the five sheaths, each threefold, which are the “possessions” of the Monad, the vestures through which the Monad becomes manifest in the descending scale of worlds.

The symbol of the father making testamentary gifts to his son is twofold; the inner meaning of the “son” is at once the new being which is manifested in Devachan, and the new birth, the following incarnation, of that individual. The “second death” is the “dying” out of Devachan into a new incarnation. He who has become one with the Higher Self “escapes the second death.”

Finally, in the sixth section, the forces of differentiation and manifestation are considered as threefold: Name, Form, Work, the Triad in which the One, Atma, is veiled. This is the pre-cosmic triad of The Secret Doctrine, cosmic Ideation, cosmic Substance, cosmic Force.

So we have, in these archaic records, the same substance, the same teaching, that we have in The Secret Doctrine, the eternal truth of the Mysteries. The Secret Doctrine illumines and interprets the teaching of the Upanishads; the Upanishads demonstrate the antiquity of the teaching recorded in The Secret Doctrine.


[Translation]
Parables of the Cosmos
[Section 4]

Atma, Supreme Self, verily, was here in the beginning, having the form of Purusha. He, looking this way and that, saw naught but himself. “This am I,” he declared in the beginning. Thence the name “I” came into being. Therefore, even now, he who is addressed. first saying, “It is I,” then declares his other name, whatever it be. Because he had before (purva) consumed (ush) all sin and darkness from all this, for that reason he is named Purusha. He who knows this thus, consumes him who would be before him.

He feared. Therefore, he who is alone fears. He, considering, said, “Since there is none besides myself, why do I fear?” Thereupon, verily, his fear departed, for why should he fear? Because of a second, verily, fear comes into being.

He, verily, found no joy. Therefore, he who is alone finds no joy. He desired a second. He was then great as female and male joined together. He caused this Self to fall apart, as two. Thence a male and a female came into being. Therefore, Yajnavalkya of old declared that this self is, as it were, a half-portion. Therefore, this Radiant Ether is pervaded by the feminine power. He was joined with this. Thence the Sons of Manu came into being.

This, considering, said, “How is it that he is joined with me, having produced me from himself? Come, then, let me be hidden!” She became a cow, he became a bull. With her he was joined. Thence cattle came into being. The one became a mare, the other a sire; the one became a he-ass, the other a she-ass. With her he was joined. Thence the undivided hoof came into being. The one became a she-goat, the other a he-goat; the one became a ewe, the other a ram. With her he was joined. Thence goats and sheep came into being. Thus, verily, whatever there is, in pairs, even down to the ants, all this he emanated.

He knew, “I, verily, am this manifested being, for I emanated all that exists.” Thence manifested being came into being. He who thus knows comes into being in this manifestation of Him.

Then in this way he rotated this fire-stick: from his mouth, as the cleft, and from his two hands, He emanated fire. Therefore, these are smooth on the inside, as the cleft is smooth on the inside. Therefore, when they say here, “Offer sacrifice to that one! Offer sacrifice to that one!”—to one Bright Power or another, this is the several emanations of him, for he, verily, is all the Bright Powers.

And so whatever here is moist, that he emanated from seed; this is Soma, the moon-fluid. All that is here, verily, is Food and Eater of food. The moon-fluid is Food, the Fire-lord is the Eater of food.

This was the super-emanation of Brahma, the emanating Power, that he emanated Bright Powers better than himself; that, being mortal, he emanated Immortals. Therefore, it was a super-emanation. He who thus knows, comes into being in this super-emanation of him.

At that time, this was not differentiated. According to name and form, verily, it became differentiated, as it is said, “He has that name, he has that form.” Even now, this world is differentiated according to name and form, as it is said, “He has that name, he has that form.”

So he entered this, even to the finger-tips, as a razor would be hidden in a razor-case, as consuming fire in the fire-sticks, so that they see him not. For, manifested, he is incomplete. Breathing, verily, he is named Life-breath. Speaking, he is named Voice. Seeing, he is named Vision. Hearing, he is named Hearing. Thinking, he is named Mind. These, verily, are the names of his works. He who worships one or other of these, he knows not; for he is incomplete in one or other of these. Let him worship, meditating on Atma, for in Atma, in the Supreme Self, all these are one. This is the clue, guiding through all this being, namely, Atma, for through Atma he knows all this, just as one might trace by a footprint, thus. He who knows this thus, finds fame and praise.

Therefore, the Self is dearer than a son, dearer than wealth, dearer than aught else, for the Self is nearer. To one who speaks of what is other than the Self as dear, he should say, “The possessor will lose what he holds dear!” And so it will be. Let him worship the Self as dear. He who worships the Self as dear, his treasure cannot pass away.

Then they say, “Since by knowing Brahma, they will become the All, what then did Brahma know, whereby He became the All?”

The Eternal was here in the beginning. That knew Itself, “I am the Eternal!” Therefore, It was the All. Therefore, whichever of the Devas, the Bright Powers, became awakened to That, became the All. So also of Seers. So also of men. So, beholding this, the Seer Vamadeva began, “I was Manu and the Sun!”

This is so even to-day: he who thus knows, “I am the Eternal!” becomes the All; not even the Devas can hinder his realization, for he becomes their very Self. So he who worships any deity other than Atma, thinking, “I am other than He; He is other than I,” such a one knows not; he is, as it were, a sacrificial beast of the deities. As many beasts profit a man, so each one of these men profits the deities. When even one beast is taken away, it is unpleasant, how much more if many be taken. Therefore, it is not pleasing to the deities that the sons of men should know That.

Brahma, the Eternal, was here, verily, in the beginning, alone. Being alone, That was not made manifest. That super-emanated a better form, the Warrior. Those of the Bright Powers who are Warriors: Indra, the Ruler; Varuna, the azure Sphere; Soma, the Lunar Lord; Parjanya, Lord of the lightning; Yama, the Controller; Mrityu, Death (of the body); Ishana, the gold-coloured Solar Lord. Therefore, naught is higher than the Warrior. Therefore, the Brahman sits below the Warrior at the ceremony of consecration. For the Warrior he disposes this glory, for this is the source of the Warrior, namely, Brahma, the Eternal. Therefore, even though the King attain supremacy, he rests in the end on the Eternal as his source. He who injures him, attacks his own source. He becomes more evil, injuring what is better than himself.

He was not yet made fully manifest. He emanated the People, the Vaishya, all these Bright Powers who are enumerated according to hosts, namely: Vasus, lords of substance; Rudras, lords of energies; Adityas, lords of light; Vishvedevas, lords of hosts; Maruts, lords of the breaths.

He was not yet made fully manifest. He emanated the Shudra colour, those who serve, as Pushan, the Nourisher. So this Earth nourishes all, whatsoever is here.

He was not yet made fully manifest. He super-emanated a better form, the Law of Righteousness. So this is the Weapon of the Warrior, namely, the Law of Righteousness. Therefore, naught is higher than the Law of Righteousness. Therefore,. the weak overcomes the stronger by the Law of Righteousness, as by a King. For that Law is Truth. Therefore, when a man speaks Truth, they say, “He speaks Righteousness!” So, if he speak Righteousness, they say, “He speaks Truth!” For both are one.

Therefore, there is this: Brahma, the Eternal; Kshatra, the Warrior; Vish, the People; Shudra, the Servant. That came into being among the Devas as Agni; among men as the Knower of Brahma; as a Kshattriya, a Warrior, by means of the divine Warrior; as a Vaishya, by means of the divine Vaishya; as a Shudra, by means of the divine Shudra. Therefore, they seek a dwelling among the Bright Powers in Agni, the Firelord, and among men in the Knower of Brahma; for by means of these two forms Brahma, the Eternal, became manifest.

Therefore, he who goes forth from this world of Atma, without knowing it as his own home, he, not knowing this, profits not; it is as Vedas unrecited, as work undone. He who, not knowing this, performs even a great and holy work, that work of his fades away in the end. So he should worship Atma, the Supreme Self, as his own home. He who worships Atma as his own home, his work fades not away. From that Supreme Self, verily, whatsoever he desires, that he emanates.

So this Atma, this Supreme Self, is the dwelling-place of all beings. If he make sacrifices and offerings, thereby he becomes the dwelling-place of the Devas. If he recite the Vedas, thereby he becomes the dwelling-place of the Seers. If he make libation to the Fathers and desire progeny, thereby he becomes the dwelling-place of the Fathers. If he house men and give them food, thereby he becomes the dwelling-place of men. If he find grass and water for beasts, thereby he becomes the dwelling-place for beasts. If in his dwellings animals and birds, down to the ants, find a living, thereby he becomes their dwelling-place. Just as one would wish security, so, for him who knows thus, all beings wish security. Thus is this known, when rightly meditated on.

Atma, Supreme Self, verily, was here in the beginning, alone. He desired, “May there be a consort for me! Then might I have progeny; would that I had possessions, then might I accomplish the work.” So far is desire. Not even if he wished, would he find more than that. Therefore, even now, he who is lonely desires, “May there be a consort for me! Then might I have progeny; would that I had possessions, then might I accomplish the work.” So far as he does not gain one or other of these, so far he thinks that he is incomplete. Now this is his completeness: Manas, Mind, verily, is himself; formative Voice is the consort; Life-breath is the progeny; Vision is his human wealth, for by means of vision, he finds That; Hearing is his divine wealth, for by means of hearing, he hears That; Atma, verily, is his work, for by means of Atma, he does work. So this sacrifice is fivefold; the beast is fivefold; man is fivefold; fivefold is all, whatsoever there is. He obtains the All, who thus knows.

[Section 5]

“When by means of wisdom, by means of fervour, the Father generated the seven foods, one was common to all, two he shared with the Devas, three he made for himself, one he bestowed upon beasts. On this food is all founded, whatever breathes, or breathes not. From what cause, then, are they not consumed, though being eaten always? Who knows this imperishableness, he eats food with his mouth; he goes to the Bright Powers, he lives on power.” So far the verses.

“When by means of wisdom, by means of fervour, the Father generated the seven foods,” for it was by means of wisdom, by means of fervour, that the Father generated them.

“One was common to all.” That which is common to all is the food which is eaten here. He who worships that food is not turned from evil, for it is mixed.

“Two he shared with the Devas.” They are the sacrifice and the offering. Therefore, they make the sacrifice and the offering to the Devas. They also say that these two are the new moon and full moon sacrifices. Therefore, let him not sacrifice simply to gain his wishes.

“One he bestowed upon beasts.” This is milk. For in the beginning verily, both men and beasts live on milk. Therefore, they touch the lips of the new-born babe with melted butter, or put it to the breast. So also they call the new-born calf “one that eats not grass.”

“On this food all is founded, whatever breathes or breathes not.” For on milk is all this founded, whatever breathes or breathes not. This that they say, “Making an offering of milk for a year, he overcomes the second death”: let him know that it is not so, for if he make this offering even for a day, on that very day he overcomes the second death, if he thus knows, for he offers all his food to the Devas.

“From what cause, then, are they not consumed, though being eaten always?” Because Purusha, the Logos, is imperishable, and he generates this food again and again.

“Who knows this imperishableness”—because Purusha is imperishable, and by meditation he generates this food, by his works. Should he not do this, it would be consumed.

“He eats food with his mouth.” The meaning is, that with his mouth he eats food.

“He goes to the Bright Powers, he lives on power.” This is praise.

“Three he made for himself.” Mind, Voice, Life-breath: these he made for himself.

So one says, “I was absent-minded, I did not see; I was absent-minded, I did not hear.” For through Mind he sees, through Mind he hears. Desire, imagination, questioning, faith, lack of faith, firmness, shame, thought, fear, all this, verily, is Mind. So, when one is touched on the back, it is by means of Mind that he discerns it.

Whatever sound there is, that, verily, is Voice; and it is finite and infinite.

Forward-breath, downward-breath, distributive-breath, upward-breath, uniting-breath, these are all Breath. So this Atma takes the form of Voice, the form of Mind, the form of Life-breath.

These are the three worlds: this world is Voice; the mid-world is Mind; that world is Life-breath.

These are also the three Vedas: Voice is Rig Veda; Mind is Yajur Veda; Life-breath is Sama Veda.

These are also Devas, Fathers, Men. Voice is the Devas; Mind is the Fathers; Life-breath is Men.

These are also Father, Mother, Child. Mind is the Father; Voice is the Mother; Life-breath is the Child.

These are also the known, the knowable, the unknown. Whatever is known is a form of Voice, for Voice is known. Voice, becoming this, guards him.

Whatever is knowable is a form of Mind, for Mind is knowable. Mind, becoming this, guards him.

Whatever is unknown is a form of Life-breath, for Life-breath is unknown. Life-breath, becoming this, guards him.

Of this Voice, the Earth is the body; its light-form is the bodily Fire. Therefore, as far as Voice extends, so far extends this Earth, so far extends this Fire.

And so of this Mind, the Sky is the body; its light-form is that Sun. Therefore, as far as Mind extends, so far extends the Sky, so far extends the Sun.

These two joined in union. Therefrom Life-breath was born. This is Indra, the Ruler. So Indra is without a rival. A second, verily, is a rival. He who thus knows is without a rival.

And so of this Life-breath the Waters are the body; its light-form is that Moon. Therefore, as far as Life-breath extends, so far extend the Waters, so far extends that Moon.

These are all equal, all infinite. So he who worships these as finite, wins a finite realm. And so he who worships these as infinite, wins an infinite realm.

So the circling year is a Lord of beings. He is made up of sixteen parts. His nights, verily, are fifteen parts. His sixteenth part stands firm. He is increased and diminished only by the nights. On the night of the new moon, entering with that sixteenth part that possesses Life-breath, in the morning he is born. Therefore, let him not cut off the Life-breath of any being that possesses Life-breath, not even of a lizard, on that night, as an act of reverence for that Divinity.

The spiritual man who thus knows, is this circling year, this Lord of beings possessing sixteen parts. His possessions are the fifteen parts; Atma, the Self of him, is the sixteenth part. Through his possessions he is increased and diminished.

Therefore, this Atma is the nave of the wheel; his possessions are the rim of the wheel. Therefore, if he suffer the loss of all his possessions, if he yet live, because of the Self, they say, “He has come off with the loss of the rim!” And so, verily, there are three realms: the realm of Men, the realm of the Fathers, the realm of the Devas.

This realm of Men is to be won by means of a son, by no other work; by work is the realm of the Fathers to be won; by wisdom is the realm of the Devas to be won. For the realm of the Devas is the most excellent of the realms; therefore, they praise wisdom.

And so this is the testamentary benediction, when one understands that he is about to depart: He says to his son, “Thou art spiritual life, thou art sacrifice, thou art the world!” The son repeats, “I am spiritual Life, I am sacrifice, I am the world!” For whatever wisdom has been handed down, the one essence of it all is “spiritual life.” And whatever forms of sacrifice there are, the one essence of them all is “sacrifice.” And whatever worlds there are, the one essence of them all is “the world.“ So great, verily, is the All.

“Being thus the All, he liberates me from this world.” Therefore, when a son has received the teaching handed down, they call him a lord of the world. For this reason, they impart to him the teaching handed down.

When one who thus knows goes forth from this world, then with these Life-breaths he enters the son. And so, if he has done anything crookedly, the son sets him free from it all; therefore, he is called a son, a deliverer. By means of a son, he stands firm in this world. Then these divine Life-breaths, immortal, enter into him.

From the Earth and from the Fire the divine Voice enters him. This is divine Voice,—that through which whatever he says comes into being.

From the Sky and from the Sun the divine Mind enters into him. This is divine Mind,—that through which he possesses bliss and sorrows not.

From the Waters and from the Moon the divine Life-breath enters him. This is divine Life-breath,—that which, whether moving or moving not, is not perturbed or impaired.

He who knows thus, becomes the Self of all beings. As is that divinity, so is he. As all beings guard that divinity, so all beings guard him. Whatever these beings suffer, with them that suffering remains; only the blessed goes to him. Sin and darkness go not to the Devas.

Here follows a consideration of the powers of action. The Lord of beings emanated the active powers. When they were emanated, they vied against one another. Voice said, “I shall utter speech!” Vision said, “I shall see!” Hearing said, “I shall hear!” The other powers also, according to their several works. Death, becoming weariness, put constraint upon them, and laid hold upon them. Laying hold upon them, Death barred them. Therefore, Voice grows weary, Vision grows weary, Hearing grows weary. But Death could not lay hold upon the central Life-breath.

Him the powers sought to know. They said, “This is the best of us, since, whether moving or moving not, he is not perturbed nor impaired. Come, then, let us all become a form of him!” Of him, verily, they all became a form. Therefore, they are named Life-breaths after him. Therefore, they name the family after him, if in a family there is one who thus knows. Whoever vies with one who thus knows, withers away, and, withering away, in the end he dies. So far concerning the powers of the Self.

And so concerning the divinities. The Fire-lord said, “I shall blaze!” the Sun said, “I shall send fervent beat!” The moon said, “I shall give light!” The other divinities also, according to their several divinities. So, as the central Life-breath is among the Life-breaths, so is the Great Breath among the divinities, for the other divinities wane, but not the Great Breath. For the Great Breath is the divinity that knows no setting.

So there is this verse:

From whom the Sun rises,
And in whom he goes to his setting—

for from the Great Breath he rises, in the Great Breath he goes to his setting—

Him the divinities made Law;
He is to-day and to-morrow also.

For what they undertook of old, that they do also to-day. Therefore, let him undertake the one obligation. Let him guide the forward and the downward Life-breath, saying, “May dark Death not lay hold on me!” What he would do, let him seek to fulfil it. Thereby he conquers union with the Great Breath and dwells therein.

[Section 6]

A Triad, verily, is this: Name, Form, Work.

Of these, of names, Voice is the uprising praise, for from Voice arise all names. This is their Sama chant, for through all chants it is the same. This is their spiritual power, for it supports all names.

And so, of forms, Vision is the uprising praise, for from Vision arise all forms. This is their Sama chant, for through all forms it is the same. This is their spiritual power, for it supports all forms.

And so, of works, Atma is the uprising praise, for from Atma arise all works. This is their Sama chant, for through all works it is the same. This is their spiritual power, for it supports all works.

Though this be a Triad, Atma is One; though Atma be one, this is a Triad. That is the Immortal, veiled by the manifest; for the Life is immortal, while Name and Form are the manifest. By these two, the One Life is veiled.


Part II, Sections 1-3

[Introduction]
Kshatriya and Brahman

The dramatic dialogue in the first of the three sections here translated illustrates a situation which occurs many times in the great Upanishads: the superiority of the Heart Doctrine which was in the possession of the Kshatriya kings, or Rajputs, as compared with the Eye Doctrine in the possession of the Brahmans. Two famous dramatic dialogues which come later in this Upanishad are illustrations of the same superiority. In all of them there is a spirit of fine irony, somewhat at the expense of the Brahmans, as, for example, the description of the young Brahman Shvetaketu, as “conceited, vain of his learning, and proud.” So the word Dripta, which forms the first part of the Brahman’s name in the present dialogue, means “arrogant”; “Arrogance, the son of Balaka,” would be a fair rendering of his name. Further, he is called “learned” rather than “wise.” So small touches are multiplied to give the dramatic fragment its atmosphere.

In conformity with this fine and gentle irony, the Brahman, when he comes to King Ajatashatru, does not wait until the king asks him a question, but at once volunteers to impart to him the ultimate wisdom, making use of a polite imperative, “Let me declare to thee the Eternal!” King Ajatashatru speaks as though he accepted the Brahman at his own high valuation, “A thousand cattle we give for teaching such as that!”

Then, when the Brahman names the spiritual Power in the sun as the Eternal, the king replies in effect, “Rest not thy claim to superior knowledge on that, for I know it already, and still more.” And it is worth noting that, while in each sentence the Brahman gives only a mental statement, an expression of theoretical knowledge, the king not only responds that this is already known to him, but adds a description of the concrete spiritual fruit which is gained when that theoretical knowledge is transformed by action into realized wisdom.

A consistent symbolism runs through all the answers. We are, in fact, explicitly advised that the teaching is symbolic in the second section here translated, where we are told of the “inverted goblet” in which all glory is disposed, and on the rim of which seven Seers are seated. For the text of the Upanishad goes on to tell us that the inverted goblet is the head, while the seven Seers are the powers of perception whose organs are on the surface of the head, with interior powers corresponding to them, which we may identify as active centres in the brain. In the same spirit of interpreted symbolism the Commentary attributed to Shankara Acharya not only gives a spiritual rendering for each of the king’s responses, but adds what we might call correspondences in the inner nature of man, “in the heart,” as he expresses it.

The powers named have the same mystical meaning as always in the great Upanishads, or, to speak more exactly, each has a multiple meaning. Thus the sun means at once the visible sun and the spiritual sun, the Logos; and in the visible sun a series of principles are recognized, beginning with the outer robe of the sun, which is the source of vital heat for living things upon the earth, and ascending to that higher corresponding power which nourishes the higher principles of our complex nature. Thus the sun is “of all beings the head and ruler”; and he who really knows the powers of the sun, and the spiritual powers of the Logos which they represent, becomes in truth “of all beings the head and ruler.”

In the same way the moon is the symbol of a series of correlated powers. The moon, called King Soma, represents, first, a power which is concerned with vital functions, including the germination and growth of plants. Therefore it is said that he who rightly knows this power is nourished and sustained by food. But Soma is also the juice pressed from a plant esteemed as sacred, which induces psychical states of lucidity, and to which much of the Sama Veda is dedicated. Soma, the moon, stands for the psychical nature, both mental and emotional; a fitting symbol, because the moon, like the psychical nature, shines by borrowed light, and perpetually waxes and wanes, like the moods of the psychical nature.

Again, “progeny” or “offspring” has a series of meanings: first, the primary meaning of sons, indispensable in the Brahman system, because they perform the sacrifice to the shades of departed ancestors, whose welfare and happiness in the unseen world depend on the punctual and repeated offering of this sacrifice; a system which is in full force among the Brahmans at the present day, and on which their law of inheritance depends. But “sons” also mean future incarnations, which are the children of the present and past incarnations. Finally, as we shall see in a later section, the “child” is the true personality, who comes into being through the transmutation of the outer personality. In this transmutation a power described as “lightning” appears to play a part; therefore the wise king says, “Radiant becomes his progeny” who rightly knows this teaching.

The king’s next response, regarding the spiritual power in “shining ether,” that fine essence which is called Akasha, carries the same teaching a step farther. For “cattle” are the symbol of powers of perception and action, in this case spiritual powers. Therefore the king declares that he who rightly knows this power is rewarded by “offspring and cattle.” The “child” grows and comes into the use of his powers; becoming a present immortal, he “does not depart from this world.”

The wind is the symbol of the Great Breath, of which the power called Fohat is said to be the active manifestation. Therefore the king says that he who rightly knows this power, becomes victorious, invincible, conquering his foes.

Fire again is a multiple symbol: bodily fire, electrical fire, spiritual fire, with the highest form, divine fire, of which these three are aspects, and which contains them all. Of him who rightly knows this, the “progeny” also is victorious.

The same teaching is carried on in the response regarding the “waters” and the “secondary” form. The waters generally stand for the reflecting power through which manifestation and self-consciousness are brought into being. In the present case, the “secondary form” is, perhaps, the “subtile” body, whose nature and consciousness are described in another Upanishad. The “mirror” in the next response would seem to be a higher aspect of the same power.

By “the breath of the word that goes after him who goes,” the Gargya may mean either a voice calling one who is departing, or the invocation of the shades of the departed, in the sacrifice offered by the son and heir. The Commentary explains it as the “breath of life,” perhaps a power transmuted, or transferred, to the subtile body, in conformity with the general trend of the king’s teaching.

In the king’s next response, the “inseparable companion” seems to be the higher individuality, attained by him who has followed the path which the king has already indicated. But the higher individuality is not thereby isolated, “nor is his company separated from him.”

The symbolism of the “shadow,” of “the light and the shadow,” occurs many times in the Upanishads. In general, the “shadow” is the vesture on any plane, while the “light” is the consciousness within, or belonging to, that vesture. In the larger cosmic sense, the light is the Logos, while the shadow is Nature, in and through which the Logos is manifested.

By “the spiritual power within oneself,” the Brahman seems to mean no more than the outer, personal consciousness. This thought the king expands by adding the inner, higher Self.

Then comes the finely ironical climax of the story. The Brahman is silent. The king asks, “Only so much?” And the Brahman is compelled to answer, “Only so much!” He has come to the end of his knowledge, which at each step has been proved inadequate and incomplete.

Then, like the humble father of the young Brahman Shvetaketu, but unlike Shvetaketu himself, the Brahman asks the Rajput to accept him as a disciple. The Rajput accepts him, after reminding him, once more with fine irony, that this is “against the grain,” quite contrary to the view of the Brahmans regarding their own superior wisdom.

In the strange episode that follows, the method of symbolism is continued. The man who is “asleep” appears to represent the common consciousness of mankind; as Paul the Initiate says, “It is high time to awake out of sleep.” Two efforts are made to awake the sleeper. First, he is called by a name we have already met, “King Soma.” This seems to mean the appeal of the mind to the mind; but a mental appeal, affecting the mind only, will not awake the sleeper. Then the king presses him with his hand, and he awakes; the meaning would seem to be that the touch of the Master is needed.

The teaching that follows, regarding the indrawing of the powers of perception and action, whether in sleep or in death, has already been given in “Prashna Upanishad,” and, more completely, in “Mandukya Upanishad,” which describes the ascending planes of consciousness from the physical, through the psychical, to the spiritual and divine. These ascending planes are traversed, in part at least, on three occasions: first, as we sleep each night, passing into the realm of dream, and then into dreamlessness; this last stage being hardly developed for the great majority of mankind, and therefore contributing almost no element to the personal memory; second, the passage of the soul through the same planes after death, the soul bringing back from the higher plane refreshment and vigour to begin a new life, but, as before, little definite memory; third, the conscious and victorious ascent of liberation, “from which he returns not.” In each case, the first step is the withdrawal of the powers of perception and action from an outer to an inner vesture, but only in the last case is this vesture fully defined.

Something has already been said regarding the meaning of the second section here translated. The mysterious “child” appears to be the nascent spiritual man; the lower and the upper house are the body and the head, whose powers, or their counterpart, are to grow in the “child.” The pillar, the power which supports the dwelling, is said by the Upanishad to be the life-breath; but this often means the “central life,” the permanent life-power of the spiritual man, which puts forth successive incarnations as the spider puts forth the web, or as the small sparks come forth from the fire. This permanent spiritual power is the energizing force in the growth of the “child.” The meaning of the cord is not clear. The Upanishad describes it as “what is eaten”; but what is eaten means, in a larger sense, what is experienced, or the Karma of the individual, which Light on the Path describes as a rope, passing from the infinite to the infinite, and at last rising from the shadow into the shine.

We are told that he who knows “holds back the seven half-brothers.” The seven half-brothers appear to be the powers of the false personality, that is, the five senses, the mind, and the lower self-consciousness, through which the man identifies himself with his body. These powers, which draw on the treasure of the life-force, are the rivals of the powers of the “child”; they must be held back if he is to come into his inheritance.

In the passage which immediately follows, the underlying thought is the thread of connection between each power of the outer man, destined to be transferred in a more spiritual form to his “child,” and a great spiritual power, to which the name of one of the traditional divinities is given, as Agni, Indra, and so on. They are the seven powers of the manifested Logos, and are here called “the seven imperishable beings.” While the details of the description may seem fanciful, the underlying thought is quite clear: each power in man, the microcosm, has its source in a corresponding macrocosmic power. The food of spiritual experience fails not for him who thus knows.

The powers of the microcosm are further given the names of seven famous Seers of the Rig Veda. The seven powers are the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and the mouth, as the location of the sense of taste concerned in the eating of food. “Voice,” the eighth, communes with the Eternal. This has a twofold meaning: first, the use of the voice in prayer and invocation; second, voice as representing the creative Logos, the formative Word, of which voice in man is the representative and derivative. These seven Seers are the Seven Rishis after whom the great northern constellation is named, thus once more suggesting the heavenly origin of the powers of man.

The third section translated is simpler; it considers the world and man under two aspects: that which has form and is therefore finite, and the formless spirit, which is eternal. Since spirit is formless, it can be defined only by negatives; by setting aside the limitations of the finite, as we do, when we say “infinite,” and “immortal.” Therefore the Upanishad substitutes for a definition the words “Not thus! Not thus!” or, more positvely, “the Real of the real.” The “form of this spiritual Power” seems to be a description of the rainbow colours which correspond to the spiritual forces; the lightning-flash is again the electrical power called Fohat.

The translation of these three sections follows.


[Translation]
[Section 1]

Driptabalaki of the Gargya clan was a learned man. To Ajatashatru, the Raja of Benares, he said, “Let me declare to thee the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “A thousand cattle we give for teaching such as that, so that folk run and cry, ‘A King like Janaka is here!’”

Then the Gargya said, “That spiritual Power in the sun, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as excellent, of all beings the head and ruler. He who thus reverences him, becomes excellent, of all beings the head and ruler.”

Then the Gargya said, “That spiritual Power in the moon, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as the great King Soma, wrapped in his pale robe. He who thus reverences him, day by day he is nourished and sustained, nor does his food fail.”

Then the Gargya said, “That spiritual Power in the lightning, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as the radiant. He who thus reverences him, becomes radiant; radiant, verily, becomes his progeny.”

Then the Gargya said, “That spiritual Power in the shining ether, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatasbatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as the full, the unchanging. He who thus reverences him, is filled with offspring and cattle, nor does his progeny depart from this world.”

Then the Gargya said, “The spiritual Power that is in the breath of the wind, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as the ruler, irresistible, the invincible host. He who thus reverences him, becomes victorious, invincible, conquering his foes.”

Then the Gargya said, “The spiritual Power that is in fire, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as the victor. He who thus reverences him becomes a victor; his progeny also is victorious.”

Then the Gargya said, “The spiritual Power that is in the waters, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as the secondary form. He who thus reverences him, attains to his secondary form, not to that which is not his secondary form. Thus the secondary form is born from him.”

Then the Gargya said, “The spiritual Power that is in the mirror, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as possessor of the rays. He who thus reverences him is endowed with rays; his progeny is endowed with rays. His rays outshine whomsoever he encounters.”

Then the Gargya said, “This breath of the word that goes after him who goes, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatasbatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as the breath of life. He who thus reverences him, even in this world gains the full span of life, nor before the time does life depart from him.”

Then the Gargya said, “The spiritual Power that is in the spaces, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as the inseparable companion. He who thus reverences him, becomes possessed of the companion, nor is his company separated from him.”

Then the Gargya said, “The spiritual Power that is formed of shadow, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as death. He who thus reverences him, even in this world gains the full span of life, nor does death come to him before the time.”

Then the Gargya said, “The spiritual Power that is in oneself, him I reverence as the Eternal!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “Nay, rest not thy teaching upon him! For already I reverence him as endowed with the Self. He who thus reverences him, endowed with the Self, verily, he becomes and his progeny is endowed with the Self.”

Then the Gargya was silent.

Then Ajatashatru said, “Only so much?”

“Only so much,” he replied.

He said, “Not with so much is it known!”

Then the Gargya said, “Let me come to thee as a disciple!”

Then Ajatashatru said, “It is against the grain that a Brahman should come to a Kshatriya, with the thought, ‘He will declare to me the Eternal!’ But I shall cause thee to know the greater wisdom!”

Taking him by the hand, he stood up. Then they two went to a man who was asleep. With these words they called upon him, “Great one in the pale robe, King Soma!” But he did not stand up.

Then pressing him with his hand, he caused him to awake, so that he stood up. Then Ajatashatru said, “When this one was thus asleep, this man who possesses knowledge, where was he then? Whence has he thus come?”

This also the Gargya did not understand.

Then Ajatasbatru said, “When this one was thus asleep, this man who possesses knowledge, then by means of his knowledge drawing in the knowledge of these life-breaths, he rests in the shining ether which is in the heart within. When he thus withdraws them, then they say that the man sleeps. Then the life-breath is withdrawn, voice is withdrawn, vision is withdrawn, hearing is withdrawn, mind is withdrawn.

“When he thus moves in the realm of dreams, those worlds are his. Then he is as a great Raja, as a great Brahman, he penetrates the high and the low. And so, as a great Raja, taking his people with him, traverses his own country according to his desire, so he, verily, withdrawing the life-breaths within his own body, traverses these realms according to his desire.

“And so, when he enters dreamlessness, so that he beholds nothing outwardly, then the two-and-seventy thousand channels, which are called ‘well-disposed,’ which lead from the heart to the region about it, slipping out by these, he rests in the dwelling. Then as a prince, as a great Raja, as a great Brahman, when he attains to the consummation of joy, night rest, thus, verily, he rests.

“Then, as a web-wombed spider might come forth, spinning his thread, or as small sparks come forth from a fire, so from this Self come forth all life-breaths, all worlds, all bright powers, all beings. His secret significance is, ‘the Real of the real.’ The life-breaths are the real; of them he is the Real.”

[Section 2]

“He, verily, who knows the child, with his lower house. with his upper house, with his pillar, with his cord, he holds back the seven hostile half-brothers.” This which is the central life, verily, is the child; this (body) is his lower house; this (head) is his upper house; the life-breath is the pillar; what is eaten is the cord. These seven imperishable beings wait upon him: these red lines that are in the eye, by them Rudra is correlated with him; these waters that are in the eye, by them Parjanya is correlated with him; the pupil of the eye, by this the Sun is correlated with him; the iris of the eye, by this Agni is correlated with him; the white of the eye, by this Indra is correlated with him; by the lower eyelash Earth is correlated with him; by the upper eyelash Heaven is correlated with him. Food fails not for him who thus knows.

Then there is this verse:

“An inverted goblet, base upward;
In it all glory is disposed;
Seven Seers are seated on the rim;
Voice as eighth communes with the Eternal.”

“An inverted goblet, base upward”: this, verily, is the head, for it is an inverted goblet, base upward. “In it all glory is disposed”: the life-breaths, verily, are all glory; thus he names the life-breaths. “Seven Seers are seated on the rim”: the life-breaths are the seven Seers; thus he names the life-breaths. “Voice as eighth communes with the Eternal”: for voice as eighth is in communion with the Eternal.

These two (ears) are Gotama and Bharadvaja; this is Gotama, this is Bharadvaja. These two (eyes) are Vishvamitra and Jamadagni; this is Vishvamitra, this is Jamadagni. These two (nostrils) are Vashishta and Kashyapa; this is Vashishta, this is Kashyapa. Voice, verily, is Atri, for by the mouth food is eaten; because he eats, it is called Atri. He becomes an eater of all, for him all becomes food, who thus knows.

[Section 3]

There are two forms, verily, of the Eternal: the formed and the unformed; the mortal and the immortal; the set and the moving; the actual and the beyond.

This, then, is formed: whatever is other than the Great Breath and shining ether; this is the mortal, the set, the actual. Of it, of this formed, of this mortal, of this set, of this actual, the (sun) which gives warmth is the animating essence, for he is the animating essence of the actual.

And so the unformed, the Great Breath, shining ether, that which is the immortal, that which is the moving, that which is the beyond; of this unformed, of this immortal, of this moving, of this beyond, the animating essence is the spiritual Power in this circular disk, for this is the essence of the beyond. So far with regard to the bright powers.

And so with regard to oneself: whatever is other than the life, other than the shining ether in the inner Self, is the formed; this is the mortal, the set, the actual. Of it, of this formed, of this mortal, of this set, of this actual, the animating essence is the power of vision, for this is the animating essence of the actual.

And so the unformed, that which is the life, the shining ether in the inner Self, that which is the immortal, that which is the moving, that which is the beyond; of this unformed, of this immortal, of this moving, of this beyond, the animating essence is the spiritual Power which is in the right eye, for this is the essence of the beyond.

Of him, of this spiritual Power, the form is as a saffron robe, as shining white wool, as the purple beetle’s covering, as a flame of fire, as a white lotus, as a sudden lightning-flash. As a sudden lightning-flash, verily, is the splendour of him who thus knows.

And so of this there is the definition: “Not thus! Not thus!” For nothing can go farther than this “Not thus!” And so the name that is given is “the Real of the real”; for the life-breaths are the real, and of them this is the Real.


Part II, Sections 4-5

[Introduction]
The Secret of Immortality

The great Upanishads, we are told, contain instructions for disciples preparing for Initiation. And, since some of the disciples began their studies when they were not more than seven years old, it is natural that we should find much of the teaching taking the form of stories, full of the gentle humour of the Orient, vivid and charming.

The story here told possesses this charm. It is further interesting because the pupil, the candidate for immortality, is a woman with the heart of a child and with a child’s simple faith. The great sage, Yajnavalkya, who plays so large a part in the stories of the Upanishads, has completed the years allotted to the life of a householder, and is about to enter on the next stage, the life of a solitary student in the forest. It is worth recalling here that Brihad Aranyaka, the name of this Upanishad, means the “great forest teaching.” When this period of solitary study, or study in company with other forest dwellers, is completed, it is followed by the fourth stage, or Ashrama, that of a teacher of disciples. So ran the fourfold life of these ancient seekers after wisdom: disciple, householder, forest dweller, teacher of disciples.

Leaving the household life, Yajnavalkya prepares to divide his possessions, his dwelling, lands, flocks and herds, whatever he may have received as gifts, between Maitreyi and Katyayani. The last has no part in the story beyond the mention of her name. But Maitreyi is a clearly drawn, living figure; the lessons designed for the young disciples are embodied in the answers to her questions.

The most vital lesson is taught in her first question, and its answer by Yajnavalkya: “If this whole earth should be full of wealth for me, may I thereby be immortal?” “No. There is no hope of immortality through wealth!”

The second essential lesson comes in the reply to her request that she may be given, not wealth, but wisdom: “While I am speaking, do thou meditate deeply!” Then comes the teaching of wisdom, and it is notable that the wise teacher begins at the point where the disciple stands; in this case, the love of the wife for her husband, the devoted love which fills Maitreyi’s heart: “Not for love of husband is the husband dear, but for love of the divine Self is the husband dear.” Only the presence of the third element, the divine, immortal Spirit, gives the union its reality and sanctity.

Maitreyi, listening, and meditating deeply, intuitively recognizes this divine Spirit, the One within the two, in the relation which she knows best, her own loving devotion, thus gaining insight into the supreme Self. Then Yajnavalkya carries the teaching forward: it is the presence of this divine Spirit, this supreme Self, which alone lends, not only value, but existence itself, to all things that are held ear. Without the divine Self, these things would have no being at all. They exist only in virtue of the divine Self, the one Reality.

This greatest truth is taught in simple words addressed to the intuition of a childlike heart. Then, through illustrations equally simple, Yajnavalkya tells how the great, manifold world comes forth from the divine Self, the Eternal. The worlds come forth from the Self, from Atma, as the sounds come forth from a drum, a conch shell, a lute; as the smoke comes forth from a fire kindled with damp fuel; illustrations with all of which Maitreyi, or the youngest disciple, is familiar.

And, as the sound of drum or lute cannot be caught by the hands, so the manifested worlds cannot be comprehended by the mind. There is always the mystery of diversity, of separation, the chasm between the knower and what is known, between consciousness and what is cognized, between spirit and matter. The mystery is solved, the chasm is bridged, by the divine Self, since both spirit and matter, both consciousness and things cognized, are in essence that divine Self, in which the wall of partition is broken down and the twain are made one.

Other illustrations, equally simple, follow: as rivers, flowing from East and West and North and South, all become one in the ocean; as all sounds are gathered together in the ear; as all wisdoms are united in the understanding heart, so all beings are one in the divine Self.

Then, solving the perplexed question of Maitreyi, comes an answer of splendid eloquence: “Where there is duality, one sees the other, one knows the other, but where all has become the divine Self, by what and whom could he see, by what and whom could he kuow? By what could he perceive That, by which he perceives all that is? By what could he perceive the Perceiver?” A striking keynote for the passage which follows may be taken from one of the Buddhist scriptures, where we are told that, as the bee seeks honey with eager, intuitive certainty, so the soul should seek and find wisdom.

This graphic symbol is here broadened and made universal: “honey” is made to represent the natural, inevitable object of any sense or faculty or power; that with which each power is by its very nature correlated. Thus, the body is correlated with the element called “earth,” the sense of vision is correlated with the sun, and so on. In each instance, the relation is that of the bee, going with intuitive certainty to the honey.

The lesson is carried further. The correlation does not exist by accident; it is due to the presence in both, in the knower and the known, of the same divine essence, the same immortal Spirit. Thus the divine Self bridges the chasm. One or two points may be made clearer by teachings drawn from other Upanishad passages or their commentaries. Thus we are told that the “waters” are the symbol of the currents of “works,” of Karma, which carry to a new life the seeds of past tendencies, impulses and insights gained in former lives. Therefore the “seed-formed” Spirit is correlated with the waters. In the same way, voice is correlated with the element, “fire”; there is a suggestion of the magical power of “voice,” like the pentecostal tongues of flame , bringing the gift of tongues, or the majestic potency of the Logos, the creative Word. Breath is the element, “air,” but it is also the breath of life; the wind that blows where it lists, and also the regenerating spirit of life. The moon, as so often, is the symbol of mind, not of the higher intelligence, but of the mental and emotional nature, which ebbs and flows as the moon waxes and wanes, and which, like the moon; shines by reflected light. So the ladder of symbols leads us up to the divine Self, where duality disappears.

Then comes the story of Dadhyanch and the two Ashvins, with its strange refrain. The story is taken from the earlier hymns of the Rig Veda. Indra, the divine Lord, had imparted spiritual wisdom to Dadhyanch, but under the penalty that, if Dadhyanch imparted it to mankind, Indra would cut his head off. The two Ashvins, who represent, we are told, the Kumara-egos incarnating as mankind, with man’s dual potencies, sought instruction from Dadhyanch. But, because of Indra’s threat, they took the precaution of cutting his head off, and putting in its place the head of a horse. When Dadhyanch imparted wisdom to them and Indra carried out his threat, the Ashvins replaced the head of Dadhyanch. It is probable that we have here an allusion to those perplexing personages, the Manasa Putras. It is probable that there is also a reference to the sacrifce which the Master inevitably makes, when he imparts spiritual wisdom to a disciple; a sacrifice which the disciple may redeem, when he wins the great battle and attains immortal life.


[Translation]
Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi
[Section 4]

“Maitreyi!” said Yajnavalkya, “I am about to enter on a higher stage of life, leaving this stage. Come then, let me make a final division with thee and Katyayani here!”

Then Maitreyi said, “Sire, if this whole earth should be full of wealth for me, may I thereby be immortal?”

“No!” said Yajnavalkya. “As is the life of those endowed with possessions, such would thy life be. But there is no hope of immortality through wealth!”

Then Maitreyi said, “What should I do with that, whereby I may not be immortal? But what my lord possesses of wisdom, that, verily, tell to me!”

Then Yajnavalkya said, “As dear, indeed, as thou art to us, so dear is what thou speakest. Come, then, be seated, and I shall tell thee fully. But, while I am speaking, do thou meditate deeply!”

He said, “Not, verily, for love of husband is the husband dear, but for love of the divine Self is the husband dear!

“Not, verily, for love of wife is the wife dear, but for love of the divine Self is the wife dear!

“Not, verily, for love of sons are sons dear, but for love of the divine Self are the sons dear!

“Not, verily, for love of wealth is the wealth dear, but for love of the divine Self is the wealth dear!

“Not, verily, for love of spiritual knowledge is the spiritual knowledge of the Brahman dear, but for love of the divine Self is the spiritual knowledge dear!

“Not, verily, for love of power is the power of the Kshatriya dear, but for love of the divine Self is the power dear!

“Not, verily, for love of worlds are the worlds dear, but for love of the divine Self are the worlds dear!

“Not, verily, for love of Bright Powers are the Bright Powers dear, but for love of the divine Self are the Bright Powers dear!

“Not, verily, for love of beings are the beings dear, but for love of the divine Self are the beings dear!

“Not, verily, for love of all that is, is all this dear, but for love of the divine Self is all that is dear!

“This divine Self, verily, is what we should seek to see, what we should seek to hear, what we should think upon, what we should meditate on deeply, Maitreyi! When, verily, we behold, hear, think upon, meditate deeply on the divine Self, then all is known.

“The spiritual knowledge of the Brahman departs from him who sees spiritual knowledge elsewhere than in the divine Self. The power of the Kshatriya departs from him who sees power elsewhere than in the divine Self. The worlds depart from him who sees the worlds elsewhere than in the divine Self. The Bright Powers depart from him who sees the Bright Powers elsewhere than in the divine Self. Beings depart from him who sees beings elsewhere than in the divine Self. All that is departs from him who sees all that is elsewhere than in the divine Self. The spiritual knowledge of the Brahman, the power of the Kshatriya, the worlds, the Bright Powers, these beings, all that is,—are what this divine Self is.

“This is as, when a drum is being beaten, one would not be able to lay hold on the sounds that come forth, but, by laying hold on the drum or on him who beats the drum, the sound is held.

“This is as, when a conch is being blown, one would not be able to lay hold on the sounds that come forth, but by laying hold on the conch or on him who blows the conch, the sound is“held.

“This is as, when a lute is being played, one would not be able to lay hold on the sounds that come forth, but by laying hold on the lute or on him who plays the lute, the sound is held.

“This is as, when a fire has been built with damp fuel, wreaths of smoke arise and spread,—so, verily, from the Great Being is breathed forth that which becomes Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, history, tradition, science, secret teaching, poems, memorial verses, explanations, commentaries; from That all these are breathed forth.

“This is as the ocean, receptive of all waters; as the skin, with the sense of touch, receptive of all contacts; as the nostrils, receptive of all odours; as the tongue, receptive of all flavours; as the eye, receptive of all forms; as the ear, receptive of all sounds, as the mind, receptive of all concepts; as the heart, receptive of all wisdoms; as the hands, receptive of all acts; as the power of generation, receptive of all engenderings; as the power which puts forth, receptive of all eliminations; as the feet, receptive of all journeyings; as the voice, receptive of all Vedas.

“This is as a piece of salt, thrown into water, would dissolve into the water, nor would it be possible to lay hold on it, but wherever one may take it, it is salt, so, verily, is this Great Being infinite, boundless, a cloud of perception. Prom these elements arising, into them, verily, one returns at dissolution. Nor, after going forth, is there any perceptive consciousness. Thus, verily, I declare it to thee!” Thus spoke Yajnavalkya.

Then Maitreyi said, “In this my lord perplexes me, saying that, after going forth, there is no perceptive consciousness!”

But Yajnavalkya said, “I say, verily, nothing perplexing, for this suffices for right perception. For where there is duality, verily, there one smells the other, one sees the other, one hears the other, one addresses the other, one thinks the other, one perceives the other. But where all of this has become the divine Self, then by what and whom could he smell, by what and whom could he see, by what and whom could he hear, by what and whom could he address, by what and whom could he think, by what and whom could he perceive? By what could he perceive That, by which he perceives all that is? By what, verily, could he perceive the Perceiver?

[Section 5]

“This earth is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this earth. And this, in the earth, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the embodied, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“These waters are honey for all beings, and all beings arc honey for these waters. And this, in the waters, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the seed-formed, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This fire is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this fire. And this, in the fire, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the voice-formed, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This breath is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this breath. And this; in breath, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the breath-formed, radiant, Immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This sun is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this sun. And this, in the sun, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the seeing, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“These spaces are honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for these spaces. And this, in these spaces, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, in hearing and in echo, the radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This moon is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this moon. And this, in the moon, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the mind-formed, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This lightning is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this lightning. And this, in the lightning, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the radiance-formed, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This thunder is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this thunder. And this, in the thunder, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the sound-formed, tone-formed, radiant immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This shining ether is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this shining ether. And this, in the shining ether, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the shining ether in the heart, the radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This righteous law is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this righteous law. And this, in the righteous law, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the righteous, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This truth is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this truth. And this, in the truth, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the truth-formed, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This mankind is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this mankind. And this, in mankind, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this, in oneself, the man-formed, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he, verily, who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This divine Self is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this divine Self. And this, in the divine Self, the radiant, immortal Spirit, and this divine Self, radiant, immortal Spirit, this is he who is the divine Self, this is the immortal, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

“This divine Self, verily, is of all beings the Lord, of all beings the King. Like as in the wheel of a chariot, the spokes are set firm in the nave and in the felloe, so, verily, in this divine Self are set firm all beings, all Bright Powers, all worlds, all lives, all selves.”

This, verily, is the honey that Dadhyanch Atharvana declared to the two Ashvins. This the Rishi, the Seer, declared:

“Heroes, this terrible deed of yours, done for gain, I reveal to you, as the Thunder-lord reveals the rain; this honey which Dadhyanch Atharvana declared through the head of a horse.”

This, verily, is the honey that Dadhyanch Atharvana declared to the two Ashvins. This the Rishi, the Seer, declared:

“On Dadhyanch Atharvana, O Ashvins, ye did put as a substitute the head of a horse. He, fulfilling righteousness, declared to you the honey of Tvashtri, the divine Architect, to be your secret, ye wonder-workers.”

This, verily, is the honey that Dadhyanch Atharvana declared to the two Ashvins. This the Rishi, the Seer, declared:

“Two-footed strongholds he made, four-footed strongholds he made. Taking wings, he entered the strongholds as Spirit.”

He, verily, is the Spirit in all strongholds. His name is Purusha, that is, Puri-shaya, “he who dwells in the stronghold.” There is naught that is not enveloped by him, naught that is not penetrated by him.

This, verily, is the honey that Dadhyanch Atharvana declared to the two Ashvins. This the Rishi, the Seer, declared:

“To each form this Spirit conformed himself, that he might be manifested. Indra, the Lord, through his magical powers, through Maya, goes forth in many forms; for yoked are his steeds, numbering ten hundred.”

This Spirit, verily, is the steeds, tens, thousands, many, endless. This Eternal has no earlier, no later, no within, no without. This divine Self is the Eternal, experiencing all things. So far, the teaching handed down.

[Note: Part II, Section 6 (The Line of Teachers) was not included in Johnston’s translation.]


Part III, Sections 1-7

[Introduction]
Yajnavalkya and the Brahman Priests

When the great Upanishads were prepared as instructions for disciples, much was done to make the lessons interesting. The dramatic tale of King Janaka’s ceremony of sacrifice is vigorously conceived. The characters are all well drawn, the dialogue is vivid and full of humour. Yajnavalkya, the great Initiate who is the chief personage in this, the longest, and in some respects the greatest, of the Upanishads, is a living figure full of wisdom, full of power, and with a strong sense of humour, as is shown at the outset when, even before any test of learning or knowledge has been proposed, he bids his disciple drive home the thousand cattle which King Janaka has offered as the reward for the highest knowledge of the sacred lore. When Ashvala the priest takes him to task, Yajnavalkya serenely answers: “We make obeisance to the best knower of the Eternal, but we desire to have the cows.” Then the Brahman priests fall upon him with questions, eager to prove that they know more than he, and the dialogues begin.

In these dialogues is the essence of the teaching for disciples. On the one side stands Yajnavalkya, possessing the sacred wisdom which was attained through Initiation. The heart of this wisdom is the knowledge of the two ways “for those who go forth”: the Path of the Gods, and the Path of the Fathers; the way of divine liberation, and the way of reincarnation through the bondage of Karma. On the other side, the Brahman priests do not know these great mysteries. Each answer shows that Yajnavalkya is a master of this hidden wisdom. But the answers of the great Initiate do not fully reveal the secret. It was for the disciples, studying these teachings, to meditate on what he said, and to discover as much as they could for themselves.

Through questions and answers runs a consistent symbolism. The Brahman priests, seeking to catch Yajnavalkya and prove his ignorance, ask concerning the recondite details of the ceremony in which they were about to take part. Besides King Janaka, who ordered the ceremony, four Brahman priests had conspicuous parts in the rite. They stood, one on each side of the altar: the priest who made the offering, the priest who prepared the Soma-juice, the priest who chanted the Vedic hymns, and the priest, who bore the special title of Brahman, whose duty it was to guide and supervise the ceremony, lest it might be vitiated by some ritual defect. It does not appear that any animal was to be offered; it was a ceremony of the sacred fire, symbolical of divine power, like the rite of the Zoroastrians, and the modem Parsees, that is, Persians. The whole ritual was intricate, ceremonial acts to be carried out with exactitude, with the accompaniment of certain hymns, in reality magical incantations, whose efficacy depended on tone and rhythm. The priests first tried to trip Yajnavalkya with questions concerning details of the complicated ceremony, so that they might claim for themselves the cattle which had been so cheerfully driven off by Yajnavalkya’s disciple. But in each case his answers showed a complete mastery of the ritual. In each case they also suggest one aspect or another of the teaching of the Mysteries. Yajnavalkya spoke with a twofold meaning, dealing at once with the outer and the inner, the ritual and the spiritual science. It may be noted in passing that the thousand cattle are also symbolic: they stand for powers of perception “grazing in the field of knowledge”; five stand for the natural powers, vision, hearing and the rest; where the number is ten, or a multiple of ten, the inner senses, spiritual vision, spiritual hearing, and the rest, which are developed and awakened by Initiation, are added.

Answering Ashvala’s first question, Yajnavalkya declares that “he who offers the sacrifice” is liberated by Fire, by Voice. His inner meaning is, that the disciple, in Initiation, is liberated by the divine Fire, the divine Word or Logos, Buddhi active, which raises him above the realm of death. Vision and the Sun have a like meaning. The Sun is the universal symbol for the Logos. Vision is the Light of the Logos. The Breath is universal Prana, the building power in the manifested world, an aspect of the universal building power in the unmanifested worlds. The Moon is the universal symbol of dual Manas, of Mind, two-sided, subject to flux and flow, to waxing and waning, and shining by reflected light. The three Rig verses, incantations taken from the hymns of the Rig Veda, stand for the “three worlds”: earth, mid-world, heaven; the world of men, the world of the disciple, the world of the Master. In like manner Yajnavalkya uses the offering of melted butter poured on the sacrificial fire to symbolize the three destinies of the soul after death: Liberation, paradise of dreams, immediate reincarnation. In the same way the forward-breath stands for the natural energy which impels to physical life; the distributive-breath is the psycho-spiritual energy which expands in the paradise of dreams; the upward-breath is the pure energy of aspiration which lead to the divine world. When Yajnavalkya speaks of the man who has died “expanding and drawing in the outer air” he is describing the expansion of the subjective nature in the paradise of dreams. He says that Name remains to the man; that is the inner individuality, the Sutratma; its energies, manifested in life after life, are the All-powers.

When Artabhaga asks concerning “the spirit of man,” Yajnavalkya takes him by the hand and leads him apart. The meaning is, that the answer pertains to the Mystery teaching, not to be discussed in public, but to be revealed only to a disciple.

In the later questions, there are two which strongly suggest the methods of the spiritualists. The wife, and also the daughter, of a certain Patanchala, among the Madras, are possessed by “seraphs.” The commentary explains this by saying that a seraph, a Gandharva, is a spirit of some kind, not a human spirit, because a human spirit could not reveal the answers to such mysterious questions. Regarding the problematic Parikshitas, whose destiny in the hidden worlds the first seraph reveals, we may, perhaps, hazard the guess that their name is derived from a word meaning “ordeal, trial,” and that they are “those who have passed through the trials” leading to Initiation. The Upanishad which we are studying began with the symbolism of the “sacrificial horse,” as representing the manifested Logos. This would imply an identity between “those who offer the sacred horse” and “those who have passed through the trials,” both indicating Initiates. This is borne out by Yajnavalkya’s declaration that “he who thus knows, conquers the second death.” The second death is the death from the paradise of dreams, which leads to rebirth in this world. He who conquers the second death is freed from the compulsion of rebirth; he “goes no more out; on him the second death has no power,” as declared in the Apocalypse.

We are told nothing regarding the identity of the lady Gargi, who rather surprisingly intervenes with a question. But there is a charming fitness in the form of her question, framed in terms of the feminine art of weaving; the lengthwise threads of the warp being first laid on the loom, the crosswise threads are then added with the shuttle. So the lady Gargi asks how the fabric of the worlds is warped and woven, weaving the garment of Divinity. The eloquent answer of Yajnavalkya to Uddalaka hardly heeds elucidation.


[Translation]
The Answers of Yajnavalkya
[Section 1]

Janaka, verily, King of the Videhas, prepared a ceremonial sacrifice accompanied by many gifts. Thither the Brahman priests of the Kuru and Panchala peoples were assembled together. Then in the heart of Janaka, King of the Videhas, there arose a desire to know which of those Brahman priests was most learned in the sacred lore. So be had a thousand cattle brought together in the pen, and ten measures of gold were fixed to the horns of each, five measures on either horn. Then he said to them:

“Worshipful Brahman priests, whichever of you best knows the Eternal, let him take away these cattle.”

But those Brahman priests had not the hardihood to do this. So Yajnavalkya said to his disciple: “Samashravas, beloved, drive these cattle home.” He drove them home.

Then those Brahman priests were wroth: “How does he call himself the best knower of the Eternal among us?” said they.

Now Ashvala was the priest who made the offering for Janaka, King of the Videhas. He questioned him, saying:

“Yajnavalkya, art thou the best knower of the Eternal among us?”

He said: “We make obeisance to the best knower of the Eternal. But we desire to have the cows.”

Then Ashvala, the priest who made the offering, undertook to question him:

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “since all that is here is held by death, since all is overtaken by death, through whom is he who provides the sacrifice liberated beyond the reach of death?”

“By the priest who makes the offering, by Fire, by Voice. Voice, verily, is he who makes the offering in the sacrifice. That which is this Voice is also this Fire, he who makes the offering. This is liberation, this is liberation beyond the reach of death.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “since all that is here is held by day and night, since all is overtaken by day and night, through whom is he who provides the sacrifice liberated beyond the reach of day and night?”

“By the priest who prepares the Soma-juice, by Vision, by the Sun. Vision, verily, is the priest who prepares the Soma-juice in the sacrifice. That which is this Vision is also this Sun, he who prepares the Soma-juice. This is liberation, this is liberation beyond the reach of day and night.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “since all that is here is held by the two halves of the month, the waxing moon and the waning moon, since all is overtaken by the waxing moon and the waning moon, through whom is he who provides the sacrifice liberated beyond the reach of the waxing moon and the waning moon?”

“By the priest who sings the chant, by the Breath, by the Life. The Life, verily, is the priest who sings the chant in the sacrifice. That which is the Life is also the Breath, he who sings the chant. This is liberation, this is liberation beyond the reach of the waxing moon and the waning moon.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “since the mid-world offers no foothold, as it were, by what ascent does he who offers the sacrifice ascend to the heavenly world?”

“By the priest who guides the ritual, by Mind, by the Moon. Mind, verily, is the priest who guides the ritual in the sacrifice. That which is Mind is also the Moon, he who guides the ritual. This is liberation, this is liberation beyond the reach of the mid-world.” So far, liberation. Now the attainments.

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “With how many Rig verses will he who makes the offering operate to-day in this sacrifice?”

“With three.”

“Wbich are the three?” he said.

“The opening verse, the accompanying verse, and the benediction as the third.”

“Through these, what does he conquer?” he said.

“Whatever there is here possessing life.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “how many oblations will the priest who prepares the Soma-juice pour out in this sacrifice to-day?”

“Three.”

“Which are the three?” he said.

“Those which flame up when they are offered, those which flow over when they are offered, those which sink down when they are offered.”

“Through these, what does he conquer?” he said.

“Those which flame up when they are offered, by them he conquers the divine world, for the divine world glows like flame, as it were. Those which flow over when they are offered, by them he conquers the world of the fathers, for the world of the fathers is over this world, as it were. Those which sink down when they are offered, by them he conquers the world of men, for the world of men is the world below, as it were.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “through how many divinities will the priest who guides the ritual, standing on the right hand, protect this sacrifice to-day?”

“Through one.”

“Which is the one?” he said.

“Mind. Without end, verily, is Mind. Without end are the All-powers. Through this he conquers the world without end.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “how many hymns of praise will the priest who sings the chant sing in this sacrilice to-day?”

“Three.”

“Which are the three?” he said.

“The opening hymn, the accompanying hymn, and the hymn of benediction as the third.”

“Which are they with reference to the self?” he said.

“Forward-breath is the opening hymn. Downward-breath is the accompanying hymn. Distributive-breath is the hymn of benediction.”

“Through these, what does he conquer?” he said.

“He conquers the earth-world through the opening hymn, the mid-world through the accompanying hymn, the heavenly world through the benediction.”

Thereupon Ashvala, the priest who made the offering, became silent.

[Section 2]

And so Artabhaga son of Jaratkaru questioned him:

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “how many apprehenders are there, how many outer apprehenders?”

“Eight apprehenders, eight outer apprehenders.”

“These eight apprehenders and eight outer apprehenders, which are they?” he said.

“The forward-breath is an apprehender. It is joined with the downward-breath as outer apprehender, for through the forward-breath he apprehends odours.

“Voice is an apprehender. It is joined with name as outer apprehender, for through voice he utters names.

“The tongue is an apprehender. It is joined with taste as outer apprehender, for through the tongue he distinguishes tastes.

“Vision is an apprehender. It is joined with form as outer apprehender, for through vision he beholds forms.

“Hearing is an apprehender. It is joined with sound as outer apprehender, for through hearing he hears sounds.

“Mind is an apprehender. It is joined with desires as outer appehender, for through mind he desires desires.

“The two hands are an apprehender. It is joined with work as outer apprehender, for through the two hands he accomplishes work.

“The skin is an apprehender. It is joined with touch as outer apprehender, for through the skin he is aware of contacts.

“These are the eight apprehenders, the eight outer apprehenders.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “since death consumes all, which is the divinity who consumes death?”

“Death is as fire. It is consumed by the waters. Thus he overcomes the second death.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “when the man here dies, do the life-breaths depart from him?”

“Not so, not so,” said Yajnavalkya; “here, verily, they are drawn together; he expands, he draws in the outer air; drawing it in, he lies dead.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “what does not leave him?”

“Name. For unending is name; unending are the All-powers; through this he conquers an unending world.”

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “when the man here is dead, and to the fire goes his voice, to the wind his life-breath, his vision to the sun, his mind to the moon, to the spaces his hearing, to the earth his body, to the shining ether his self, to plants the hair of his body, to trees the hair of his head, to the waters the blood and seed return, where then is the spirit of the man?”

“Take, beloved, my hand. This, Artabhaga, we two shall know together. It is not for us while with others.”

They two, going apart, counselled together. When they spoke, it was of Karma they spoke; when they praised, it was Karma they praised: through good works he becomes good, and evil through evil works.

Thereupon Artabhaga son of Jaratkaru became silent.

[Section 3]

And so Bhujyu descendant of Lahya questioned him:

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “Among the Madras as pilgrims we were travelling. We came to the dwelling of Patanchala, of the Kapi clan. He had a daughter, possessed by a seraph. We asked him, ‘Who art thou?’ He said, ‘Sudhanvan, of the Angirasas.’ When we were asking him of the ends of the worlds, we said to him, ‘What has become of the Parikshitas? What has become of the Parikhitas?’ So I ask thee, Yajnavalkya, what has become of the Parikshitas?”

He said : “That one said, ‘They have gone thither, whither go those who offer the sacrifice of the sacred horse.’”

“But whither do they go, who offer the sacrifice of the sacred horse?”

“Two and thirty days’ journeys of the sun god is this world of men in extent. Twice as great is the whole earth, surrounding it. Twice as great is the ocean, surrounding the earth. Then, as is a razor’s edge, or a mosquito’s wing, so great, in the space between, is the shining ether. Indra, becoming as a winged one, delivered them to the Breath. The Breath, bestowing them within himself, conveyed them thither, where are those who offer the sacred horse. Thus, as it were, the seraph praised the Breath. For the Breath is the expansion and the drawing together. He who thus knows, conquers the second death.”

Thereupon Bhujyu descendant of Lahya became silent.

[Section 4]

And so Ushasta descendant of Chakra questioned him:

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “that which is the Eternal, known eye to eye, not by the eye of another, the Self within all, that reveal thou to me.”

“It is thy divine Self, Atma, within all.”

“Which one, Yajnavalkya, is within all?”

“He who breathes forward through the forward-breath is thy divine Self within all. He who breathes downward through the downward-breath is thy divine Self within all. He who breathes distributively through the distributive breath is thy divine Self within all. He who breathes upward through the upward-breath is thy divine Self within all. This is thy divine Self within all.”

Ushasta descendant of Chakra said: “This has been explained to me as if one were to say, ‘That is a cow, that is a horse!’ That which is the Eternal, known eye to eye, not by the eye of another, that reveal thou to me.”

“It is thy divine Self, within all.”

“Which one, Yajuavalkya, is within all?”

“The seer of seeing thou mayest not see. The hearer of hearing thou mayest not hear. The thinker of thinking thou mayest not think. The knower of knowing thou mayest not know. This is thy divine Self within all. All other than this is subject to affliction.”

Thereupon Ushasta descendant of Chakra became silent.

[Section 5]

And so Kahola descendant of Kushitaka questioned him:

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “that which is the Eternal, known eye to eye, not by the eye of another, the Self within all, that reveal thou to me.”

“It is thy divine Self, within all.”

“Which one, Yajnavalkya, is within all?”

“He who rises above hunger and thirst, sorrow and infatuation, decay and death, knowers of the Eternal who have perceived this divine Self, overcoming the longing for sons, the longing for wealth, the longing for the world of men, set forth on the pilgrimage. For this longing for sons is a longing for wealth, and the longing for wealth is a longing for the world of men, for both of these are the same longing. Therefore, let the knower of the Eternal turn from learning and seek to become a child. Let him turn from the child state and from learning and seek to become a silent seer. Let him turn from silence and what is beyond silence and seek to become a knower of the Eternal.”

“Through what may he become a knower of the Eternal?”

“Through that whereby he so becomes. All other than this is subject to affliction.”

Thereupon Kahola descendant of Kushitaka became silent.

[Section 6]

And so Gargi daughter of Vachaknu questioned him:

“Yajnavalkya,” she said, “Since all this is warped and woven on the waters, on what, then, are the waters warped and woven?”

“On the Breath, Gargi.”

“On what is the Breath warped and woven?” she said.

“On the intermediate worlds, Gargi.”

“On what, then, are the intermediate worlds warped and woven?” she said.

“On the worlds of the seraphs, Gargi.”

“On what, then, are the worlds of the seraphs warped and woven?” she said.

“On the sun worlds, Gargi.”

“On what, then, are the sun worlds warped and woven?” she said.

“On the moon worlds, Gargi.”

“On what, then, are the moon worlds warped and woven?” she said.

“On the star worlds, Gargi.”

“On what, then, are the star worlds warped and woven?” she said.

“On the worlds of radiant beings, Gargi.”

“On what, then, are the worlds of radiant beings warped and woven?” she said.

“On the worlds of Lord Indra, Gargi.”

“On what, then, are the worlds of Lord Indra warped and woven?” she said.

“On the worlds of the Lord of beings, Gargi.”

“On what, then, are the worlds of the Lord of beings warped and woven?” she said.

“On the worlds of the Eternal, Gargi.”

“On what, then, are the worlds of the Eternal warped and woven?” she said.

He said: “Gargi, question no farther, lest thy head fall apart! Thou art questioning too far concerning a Divinity not to be questioned. Gargi, question no farther!”

Thereupon Gargi daughter of Vachaknu became silent.

[Section 7]

And so Uddalaka son of Aruna questioned him:

“Yajnavalkya,” he said, “Among the Madras we were dwelling in the abode of Patanchala son of Kapi. He had a wife possessed by a seraph. We asked him, ‘Who art thou?’ He said, ‘Kabandha Atharvana.’ He said to Patanchala son of Kapi and to those who were learning the sacrifice, ‘Patanchala, son of Kapi, knowest thou the thread, by which this world and the other world and all beings are tied together?’ Then Patanchala son of Kapi said, ‘I know it not, Sir.’ He said to Patanchala son of Kapi and to those who were learning the sacrifice, ‘Knowest thou, son of Kapi, the inner ruler, who rules from within this world and the other world and all beings?’ Then Patanchala son of Kapi said, ‘I know him not, Sire.’ He said to Patanchala son of Kapi and to those who were learning the sacrifice, ‘Son of Kapi, he who knows that thread and the inner ruler, he knows the worlds, he knows the bright powers, he knows the Vedas, he knows beings, he knows the divine Self, he knows all things.’ He declared it to them, therefore I know it. Therefore, if thou, Yajnavalkya, without knowing the thread and the inner ruler, drivest off these cows bestowed on the Brahman priests, thy head will fall apart.’

“In truth, son of the Gotamas, I know the thread and the inner ruler,” he said.

“Anyone may say, ‘I know, I know I’ But as thou knowest, so declare!” He said, “The Breath, son of the Gotamas, is the thread. By the Breath, verily, as by a thread, this world and the other world and all beings are tied together. Therefore, son of the Gotamas, they say of a man from whom life has gone forth, that his limbs have slackened. For by the Breath, son of the Gotamas, as by a thread they are tied together.”

“Even so, Yajnavalkya. Declare the inner ruler.”

“He who, abiding in the earth, is other than the earth, whom the earth knows not, of whom the earth is a body, who inwardly rules the earth, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in the waters, is other than the waters, whom the waters know not, of whom the waters are a body, who inwardly rules the waters, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in fire, is other than fire, whom fire knows not, of whom fire is a body, who inwardly rules fire, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in the interspace, is other than the interspace, whom the interspace knows not, of whom the interspace is a body, who inwardly rules the interspace, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in the sky, is other than the sky, whom the sky knows not of whom the sky is a body, who inwardly rules the sky, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in the sun, is other than the sun, whom the sun knows not, of whom the sun is a body, who inwardly rules the sun, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal:

“He who, abiding in the spaces, is other than the spaces, whom the spaces know not, of whom the spaces are a body, who inwardly rules the spaces, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in moon and stars, is other than moon and stars, whom moon and stars know not, of whom moon and stars are a body, who inwardly rules moon and stars, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in shining ether, is other than shining ether, whom shining ether knows not, of whom shining ether is a body, who inwardly rules shining ether, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in darkness, is other than darkness, whom darkness knows not, of whom darkness is a body, who inwardly rules darkness, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in radiance, is other than radiance, whom radiance knows not, of whom radiance is a body, who inwardly rules radiance, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal. So far concerning divinities.

“Now concerning the powers of beings. He who, abiding in all beings, is other than all beings, whom all beings know not, of whom all beings are a body, who inwardly rules all beings, his is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal. So far concerning the powers of beings.

“Now concerning the self. He who, abiding in life-breath, is other than life-breath, whom life-breath knows not, of whom life-breath is a body, who inwardly rules life-breath, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in voice, is other than voice, whom voice knows not, of whom voice is a body, who inwardly rules voice, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in vision, is other than vision, whom vision knows not, of whom vision is a body, who inwardly rules vision, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in hearing, is other than hearing, whom hearing knows not, of whom hearing is a body, who inwardly rules hearing, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in mind, is other than mind, whom mind knows not, of whom mind is a body, who inwardly rules mind, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in touch, is other than touch, whom touch knows not, of whom touch is a body, who inwardly rules touch, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in intelligence, is other than intelligence, whom intelligence knows not, of whom intelligence is a body, who inwardly rules intelligence, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.

“He who, abiding in seed, is other than seed, whom seed knows not, of whom seed is a body, who inwardly rules seed, this is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, Immortal.

“The unseen seer, the unheard hearer, the unthought thinker, the unknown knower: other than He there is no seer, other than He there is no hearer, other than He there is no thinker, other than He there is no knower. He is thy divine Self, the inner ruler, immortal.”

Thereupon Uddalaka son of Aruna became silent.


Part III, Sections 8-9

[Introduction]
A Great Initiate

The teaching for disciples contained in these two sections is full of wisdom, full of dramatic force, humorous, keenly ironical. As before, the contrast is drawn between the exoteric doctrines of the Brahmans who lived in and by the ceremonial system, and the sage Yajnavalkya, the great Initiate, who possesses the secret wisdom of the Mysteries. And, as before, the disciples are set the task of discerning and divining the full depth and richness of Yajnavalkya’s meaning. The figures of the dialogue are alive: Shakala’s son, champion of the ceremonial Brahmans, Yajnavalkya, Master of esoteric wisdom, and the valiant daughter of Vachaknu, who appears somewhat surprisingly in this learned and contentious company. Gargi, it will be remembered, has already asked a series of questions, seeking, with her feminine symbolism of warping the loom and weaving the web, to learn on what the visible worlds are warped and woven. When she asked the same question concerning the worlds of the Eternal, Yajnavalkya reduced her to silence with the threat that such ambitious questioning would cause her head to fall off.

But Gargi comes up again, irrepressible, and this time, though it is recorded that she finally was silent, she herself had had the ultimate word. And Gargi is humorous as well as valiant; very ironical, too, in her attitude toward the ceremonial Brahmans, and not daunted by the greatness of Yajnavalkya. As a warrior-prince, grasping two rival-conquering arrows, she challenges the mighty seer with her two questions, and, when the questions are answered, Gargi tells the Brahmans that they are fortunate indeed to escape from Yajnavalkya at the cost of an obeisance. Nor did all escape.

Gargi’s intuitive questioning shows that, thousands of years ago, the great generalization of our new philosophers was already familiar: that Time may be correlated to Space, so that Time is described as the fourth dimension of Space, the directions of length, breadth and height being the first three dimensions. On what, asks the wise daughter of Vachaknu, are Space and Time warped and woven: that Time which people speak of as past, present, future? The answer is, that they are warped and woven on Shining Ether, on Akasha, which is not the ether of our modern physics, but a manifestation higher and more spiritual; as it were, a transparent film upon the Logos. For Space and Time are the forms of thought of the manifested Logos, the Universal Mind.

Gargi shows herself a penetrating questioner. On what, then, she asks, is Shining Ether warped and woven? Is the manifested Logos the ultimate Real? The answer is, that the Logos in turn rests on the Everlasting, the supreme Eternal, Parabrahm. Gargi shows by her question that she already possessed an intuitive grasp of this final Truth.

Then come the closing questions, in which Vidagdha son of Shakala, as champion of the ceremonial Brahmans, challenges Yajnavalkya. He knows much and asks keenly, quickly following Yajnavalkya, step by step. He combats so vigorously for exoteric learning against esoteric wisdom, that Yajnavalkya asks him whether the Brahman priests have consigned him to destruction, to be burned to ashes.

The son of Shakala asks concerning the Bright Powers, the “gods”: how many are there, and what is their true nature? Yajnavalkya answers that the many “gods” of the ceremonial worship are but the manifested powers of the One, the Logos. Then the questioning turns to the source of these powers, which, in man, appear as vision, hearing, and the whole range of energies of body and mind. Each power Yajnavalkya traces back to “the heart,” that is, to spiritual consciousness; all these powers are, in the last analysis, manifestations of spiritual consciousness, which is the manifestation of the Logos.

While Yajnavalkya’s answers may appear simple, they are profoundly mystical. Thus, “the son born according to the form of the father, issuing from the father’s heart,” is the “spiritual child” born according to the form of the divine Father, built up from the heart. The same spiritual significance is present in the answer regarding “the bright power of Soma,” for this is the mystical fire of illumination, instilled by Initiation, of which Yajnavalkya so clearly speaks.

The ill-starred son of Shakala, pressing his challenging interrogation, finally asks on what “the heart,” spiritual consciousness, is established.

“Thou shadow of a man!” answers the fiery Initiate, “if thou thinkest it can be anywhere but in us!” We remember the words: “Within you is the light of the world.”

But, for all his learning, the son of Shakala knew not the Spirit of the Secret Teaching. Therefore, says the story, his head fell off and robbers took away his bones. The commentator says that this dramatic climax is also symbolical.

Then comes the stately hymn of the tree of man’s life. Man is as a tree, lord of the forest; when the tree is cut down, it springs up again from the root; but if it be uprooted, that is the end; it will not return to life.

The tree would seem to be the force that drives us into bodily life, self-perpetuating Karma. Cut down by Death, the force of thirsting desire drives us back to life with its burden of sorrows. But when the root of evil is expunged, there is no longer a forced return to bondage. Liberation in the Eternal has been attained.


[Translation]
Two Questioners
[Section 8]

And so the daughter of Vachaknu said:

“O worshipful Brahmans, I shall ask him two questions; if he will tell them to me, then not one of you will ever be his conqueror in declaring the Eternal!”

“Ask, Gargi!” they said.

She said: “I, verily, O Yajnavalkya, like as a warrior prince of Kashi or Videha, stringing his unstrung bow, and grasping in his hand two rival-conquering arrows, might stand up against you, even so with my two questions have stood up against thee. Tell them to me.”

“Ask, Gargi!” said he.

She said: “That, O Yajnavalkya, which is above the heavens, that which is beneath the earth, that which is between heaven and earth, that which these people call the past which has been, the present which is, the future which shall be: on what is that warped and woven?”

He said: “That, O Gargi, which is above the heavens, that which is beneath the earth, that which is between heaven and earth, that which these people call the past which has been, the present which is, the future which shall be, on shining ether is that warped and woven.”

She said: “Obeisance be to thee, O Yajnavalkya, who hast declared this to me! Gird thyself for the other!”

“Ask, Gargi!” said he.

She said: “That, O Yajnavalkya, which is above the heavens, that which is beneath the earth, that which is between heaven and earth, that which these people call the past which has been, the present which is, the future which shall be: on what dost thou say it is warped and woven?”

He said: “That, O Gargi, which is above the heavens, that which is beneath the earth, that which is between heaven and earth, that which these people call the past which has been, the present which is, the future which shall be, I say that on shining ether it is warped and woven.”

“Well then, on what is shining ether warped and woven?”

He said: “It is that, O Gargi, which knowers of the Eternal name the Everlasting. That is neither coarse nor fine, neither short nor long, neither ruddy nor smooth, without shadow, without darkness; it is not air, it is not shining ether, without attachment, without taste, or odour, or sight or sound, without speech, or thinking, without fire, without life-breath, without measure, having neither within nor without; that consumes naught, nor does aught consume that. At the command of this Everlasting, O Gargi, sun and moon stand forth separate; at the command of this Everlasting; O Gargi, heaven and earth stand forth separate; at the command of this Everlasting, O Gargi, the moments, the hours, the days and nights, the half-months, the months, the seasons, the years stand forth separate. At the command of this Everlasting, O Gargi, eastward these rivers flow from the snow-covered mountains, westward flow those, each according to his direction. At the command of this Everlasting, O Gargi, the sons of men praise those who give, the bright powers draw nigh to him who sacrifices, the spirits of the fathers draw nigh to the memorial offering.

“Whosoever, O Gargi, not knowing this Everlasting, in this world makes offerings and sacrifices and performs arduous works, even through many thousand years, that work of his is finite. Whosoever, O Gargi, not knowing this Everlasting, from this world goes forth at death, he is miserable. And whosoever, O Gargi, knowing this Everlasting, from this world goes forth at death, he is a knower of the Eternal.

“Therefore, verily, O Gargi, this Everlasting is the unseen seer, the unheard hearer, the unthought thinker, the undiscerned discerner; for other than this there is no seer, other than this there is no bearer, other than this there is no thinker, other than this there is no discerner. On this Everlasting, verily, O Gargi, the shining ether is warped and woven.”

She said: “O worshipful Brahmans, verily you may think it much that you escaped from him by an obeisance! For not one of you will ever be his conqueror in declaring the Eternal!”

Thereupon the daughter of Vachaknu became silent.

[Section 9]

And so Vidagdha son of Shakala asked him:

“How many are the Bright Powers, O Yajnavalkya?”

He answered according to the form of invocation:

“As many as are named in the form of invocation of all the Bright Powers: three, and three hundred, three, and three thousand,” said he.

“Yea, verily, but how many are the Bright Powers, O Yajnavalkya?”

“Three and thirty,” said he.

“Yea, verily, but how many are the Bright Powers, O Yajnavalkya?”

“Six,” said he.

“Yea. verily, but how many are the Bright Powers, O Yajnavalkya?”

“Three,” said he.

“Yea, verily, but how many are the Bright Powers, O Yajnavalkya?”

“Two,” said he.

“Yea, verily, but how many are the Bright Powers, O Yajnavalkya?”

“One and a half,” said he.

“Yea, verily, but how many are the Bright Powers, O Yajnavalkya?”

“One,” said he.

“Yea, verily, but what are the three, and three hundred, three, and three thousand?” said he.

He said: “These are their manifestations of might; but three and thirty are the Bright Powers.”

“Which are the three and thirty?” said he.

“Eight Vasus. eleven Rudras, twelve Adityas, make one and thirty; Indra and Prajapati make three and thirty,” said he.

“What are the Vasus?” said he.

“Fire, and Earth, and Air, and Interspace, and Sun, and Sky, and Moon, and Stars. These are the Vasus, the bases, for on them is all this universe founded,” said he.

“What are the Rudras?” said he.

“These ten life-breaths in the spirit of man, and Self as the eleventh. When from this body of mortality they go forth, they cause lamentation; because they cause lamentation, they are the Rudras,” said he.

“What are the Adityas?” said he.

“The twelve months of the circling year; these are the Adityas, for taking this whole world they go. Because taking this whole world they go, therefore they are the Adityas,” said he.

“What is Indra? What is Prajapati?” said he.

“The Lord of the thunderbolt is Indra. Sacrifice is Prajapati, Lord of beings,” said he.

“What is the thunderbolt?” said he.

“Lightning,” said he.

“What is sacrifice?” said he.

“The animals,” said he.

“What are the six?” said he.

“Fire, and Earth, and Air, and Interspace, and Sun, and Sky. These are the six, for all this world is built of these six,” said he.

“What are the three Bright Powers?” said he.

“The three worlds, for in these three worlds are all the Bright Powers,” said he.

“What are the two Bright Powers?” said he.

“The Food, verily, and the Life,” said he.

“What is the one and a half?” said he.

“The purifying Spirit,” said he.

Then they said: “Since the purifying Spirit is as one, how is it one and a half?”

“Since in it, all wins increase, therefore it is one and a half,” said he.

“What is the one Bright Power?” said he.

“Life,” said he; “this is the Eternal, which they call That.”

“He who should know that Spirit, of whom earth is the dwelling, fire the world, mind the light, of every Self the ultimate home, he, in truth, would be a knower, O Yajnavalkya.”

“I indeed know that Spirit, of every Self the ultimate home, of whom thou speakest. It is this embodied Spirit. Tell me, O son of Shakala, what is his divinity?”

“The immortal,” said he. “He who should know that Spirit, of whom desire is the dwelling, the heart the world, mind the light, of every Self the ultimate home, he, in truth, would be a knower, O Yajnavalkya.”

“I indeed know that Spirit, of every Self the ultimate home, of whom thou speakest. It is this Spirit formed of desire. Tell me, O son of Shakala, what is his divinity?”

“Women,” said he. “He who should know that Spirit, of whom forms are the dwelling, vision the world, mind the light, of every Self the ultimate home, he, in truth, would be a knower, O Yajnavalkya.”

“I indeed know that Spirit, of every Self the ultimate home, of whom thou speakest. It is that Spirit in the sun. Tell me, O son of Shakala, what is his divinity?”

“The real,” said he. “He who should know that Spirit, of whom radiant ether is the dwelling, hearing the world, mind the light, of every Self the ultimate home, he, in truth, would be a knower, O Yajnavalkya.”

“I indeed know that Spirit, of every Self the ultimate home, of whom thou speakest. It is the Spirit of hearing and of the echo. Tell me, O son of Shakala, what is his divinity?”

“The spaces,” said he. “He who should know that Spirit, of whom darkness is the dwelling, the heart he world, mind the light, of every Self the ultimate home, he, in truth, would be a knower, O Yajnavalkya.”

“I indeed know that Spirit, of every Self the ultimate home, of whom thou speakest. It is the Spirit formed of the shadow. Tell me, O son of Shakata, what is his divinity?”

“Death,” said he. “He who should know that Spirit, of whom forms are the dwelling, vision the world, mind the light, of every Self the ultimate home, he, in truth, would be a knower, O Yajnavatkya.”

“I indeed know that Spirit, of every Self the ultimate home, of whom thou speakest. It is the Spirit in the mirror. Tell me, O son of Shakata, what is his divinity?”

“The breath,” said he. “He who should know that Spirit, of whom the waters are the dwelling, the heart the world, mind the light, of every Self the ultimate home, he, in truth, would be a knower, O Yajnavalkya.”

“I indeed know that Spirit, of every Self the ultimate home, of whom thou speakest. It is the Spirit who is in the waters. Tell me, O son of Shakata, what is his divinity?”

“Varuna,” said he. “He who should know that Spirit, of whom seed is the dwelling, the heart the world, mind the light, of every Self the ultimate home, he, in truth, would be a knower, O Yajnavalkya.”

“I indeed know that Spirit, of every Self the ultimate home, of whom thou speakest. It is the Spirit embodied in the son. Tell me, O son of Shakala, what is his divinity?”

“Prajapati,” said he, “the Lord of beings.”

“O son of Shakala,” said Yajnavalkya, “have these Brahmans here consigned thee to ashes?”

“O Yajnavatkya,” said the son of Shakala, “since thou hast reduced to silence these Brahmans of the Kurus and Panchalas, through knowing what Divine Power hast thou done this?”

“I know the realms of space, with their bright powers, with their foundations,” said he.

“Since thou knowest the realms of space, with their bright powers, with their foundations, what bright power dost thou assign to this eastern realm?”

“The bright power of the sun,” said he.

“This sun, on what bright power is it established?” said he.

“On vision,” said he.

“On what is vision established?” said he.

“On forms,” said he, “for through vision he perceives forms.”

“Then on what are forms established?” said he.

“On the heart,” said he, “for through the heart he knows forms, for in the heart are forms established.”

“This is even so, O Yajnavalkya. What bright power dost thou assign to this southern realm?”

“The bright power of Yama,” said he.

“This Yama, on what bright power is he established?” said he

“On the sacrifice,” said he.

“Then on what is the sacrifice established?” said he.

“On the gifts of the sacrifice,” said he.

“Then on what are the gifts of the sacrifice established?” said he.

“On faith,“ said he. “For when he has faith, he gives the gifts, for on faith are the gifts established.”

“Then on what is faith established?” said he.

“On the heart,” said he, “for through the heart he knows faith, for on the heart is faith established.”

“This is even so, O Yajnavalkya. What bright power dost thou assign to this western realm?”

“The bright power of Varuna,” said he.

“This Varuna, on what bright power is he established?” said he.

“On the waters,” said he.

“Then on what are the waters established?” said he.

“On the seed,” said he.

“Then on what is the seed established?” said he.

“On the heart,” said he, “for when the son is born according to the form of the father, they say, ‘From the heart he has issued; from the heart is he built up, as it were’. For on the heart is the seed established.”

“This is even so, O Yajnavalkya. What bright power dost thou assign to this northern realm?”

“The bright power of Soma,” said he.

“This Soma, on what bright power is he established?” said he.

“On Initiation,” said he.

“Then on what is Initiation established?“ said he.

“On the Real,” said he, “for to the Initiate they say, ‘Speak the Real, speak Truth!’” said he.

“Then on what is Truth established?” said he.

“On the heart,” said he, “for through the heart; he knows the Real, the Truth, for on the heart is Truth established,” said he.

“This is even so, O Yajnavalkya. What bright power dost thou assign to that fixed realm above?”

“The bright power of the Fire-lord,” said he.

“This Fire-lord, on what bright power is he established?” said he.

“On the Voice,” said he.

“Then on what is the Voice established?” said he.

“On the heart,” said he.

“Then on what is the heart established?” said he.

“Thou shadow of a man!” said Yajnavalkya, “If thou thinkest that it can be anywhere but in us! For if it were anywhere but in us, then dogs might eat it, or birds of prey tear it to pieces!”

“Then in what art thou and the Self established?” said he.

“In the Life,” said he.

“Then in what is the Life established?” said he.

“In the downward-life,” said he.

“Then in what is the downward-life established?” said he.

“In the distributive-life,” said be.

“Then in what is the distributive-life established?” said he.

“In the upward-life,” said he.

“Then in what is the upward-life established?” said he.

“In the uniting-life,” said he. “This is that divine Self, of which they say, ‘It is not that, not that!’ It is incomprehensible, for it is not comprehended. It is indestructible, for it is not destroyed. It is beyond attachment, for it is not attached. It is unbound. It trembles not. It is invulnerable. These are the eight dwellings, the eight worlds, the eight bright powers, the eight Spirits. He who discerns these eight Spirits, and, uniting them, transcends them, He is the Spirit of the Secret Teaching, concerning Whom I question thee. If thou shalt not declare Him to me, thy head will fall off!”

But the son of Shakala did not know Him, therefore his head fell off. Also robbers carried off his bones, thinking they were something of value.

And so he said: “Worshipful Brahmans, whichever of you desires, let him question me. Or do ye all question me. Or whichever of you desires, him among you will I question. Or I shall question you all.”

But those Brahmans dared not.

Then he questioned them through these verses:

  1. “As is a tree, lord of the forest, such of a surety also is man.
    His hairs are the leaves, his skin is the bark without.
  2. From his skin the red blood flows, as sap from the bark.
    From him pierced a stream comes forth, as from the stricken tree.
  3. His flesh is the outer wood, as sinews the fibres are firm.
    His bones are the inner wood, his marrow is formed as the pith.
  4. As the tree, hewn down, springs up again, renewed once more from the root;
    The mortal, hewn down by Death, from what root does he grow up?
  5. Say not, ‘from the seed!’ for that proceeds from the living man;
    As the tree, springing from seed, comes forth visibly into being.
  6. But if the tree were uprooted, it would not thus return to life.
    The mortal, hewn down by Death, from what root does he grow up?
  7. When born indeed, he is not born again, for who would cause him to be born?
    Wisdom, bliss, is the Eternal, ultimate home of the giver of gifts, and of him who stands, knowing That.”


Part IV, Sections 1-2

[Introduction]
Janaka and Yajnavalkya

The greater part of the teaching of the Upanishads is conveyed in dramatic dialogues, the Discourse of Death and Nachiketas standing as the type. In these dialogues, the development of the teaching is carried forward through question and answer: one disciple, or sometimes more than one, asking questions, which are answered by a Master of Wisdom. This symbolizes all real spiritual teaching, for the Master can give only in response to a genuine need and demand of the disciple.

In the present dialogue, the first of a series in which Janaka and Yajnavalkya take part, the situation is somewhat different, in as much as Janaka, King of the Yidehas, is a renowned King Initiate, whose name became a proverb for royal wisdom. Yet Yajnavalkya is represented as greater than Janaka. So that we have the representation of an Initiate instructed by a still higher Initiate. Yajnavalkya initiates King Janaka into a still higher degree of wisdom and power. It is, therefore, in harmony with this situation, that in these dialogues between the great and the greater Initiate, we have some of the noblest and most eloquent teachings in these sacred books.

King Janaka is seated on his throne, or, perhaps it would be more in keeping with Oriental custom to say, on his cushion of honour. It is not clear whether he is alone, or surrounded by his courtiers, as was King Pravahana, son of Jivala, when the Brahman youth Shvetaketu came to him, and was put to confusion by a series of questions dealing with the Mysteries. King Janaka’s greeting to Yajnavalkya, at first sight rather ironical: “With what purpose hast thou come,—seeking herds, or subtle questions?” in reality has a deeper meaning, as has the reply of Yajnavalkya: “Both, indeed, O King!” For herds of cattle are the symbol of perceptive powers, they are “the knowers of the field” of perception, as the Bhagavad Gita says. The natural senses are, therefore, symbolized by five cattle. When the inner senses are developed, giving a double range of perceptive powers, the cattle number ten, or a multiple of ten: in the present case, a thousand. The Initiate is enriched; the number of his herds is increased. The elephant also is a symbol, since his trunk, at once a power of perception and a power of action, is taken to represent awak­ ened spiritual intelligence and will. The elephant is a symbol of the higher Mind, and the gift which Janaka wishes to bestow on Yajnavalkya symbolizes the full complement of outer and inner powers of perception and action, with the higher Mind in control.

The whole of this part of the dialogue conveys an understanding concerning Brahma, the Eternal, essential Being. The first declaration is, that the Eternal is the Word, exactly in the sense of the prologue of the Fourth Gospel. The Word, the Logos, the Voice, called by Philo of Alexandria, “the Mind of God”, is the primal manifestation of that which in itself is unmanifested, the ever veiled Divinity. The Divine Voice, the Divine Word, issues forth through Space; or, to speak more truly, its issuance creates Space and all that is within Space. Therefore the Word is the abode, the all-containing universe of beings, as contrasted with the recondite essence of Being. The Power here called Shining Ether, or Akasha, is the initial manifestation or radiation, the Power of Divine Nature, which is at once the first and the source of the seven magical Powers, whether of Kosmos or of man.

The second aspect of manifested Being presented to us is Life. And Life, in the spiritual sense, is co-existent and co-extensive with Space. There is no corner of the universe so remote as to be devoid of Life. Contemporary science is approaching this view, revealing a universe throughout the whole of which the substance which we may still call Matter is distributed. And this Matter in reality consists of electrons which are charges of electrical energy, revolving around nuclei, likewise electrical, with velocities entirely inconceivable, even though they may be represented by figures. Further, it seems that these electrical units are so richly endowed with energy, that they continue their incalculably swift gyrations for millions of millions of years, or, practically, for ever. So that the universe of contemporary science is packed with intense energy throughout its whole extent. In that sense, and to that degree, the universe is Life. But, as compared with the ancient Oriental teaching, one vital element is lacking. Real Life consists not only in energy, but even more in Consciousness. It is not enough to say that energy, ceaseless motion, is co-extensive with the universe. We must further see that Consciousness is co-extensive with the universe. Further than that, instead of thinking that Consciousness pervades all Space, we should understand that Space is a function of Consciousness; not of our present personal consciousness, but of universal Consciousness. Therefore, “as Consciousness let him reverence That”.

Perceiving Consciousness is best symbolized by Vision, whether we mean the outward vision of the eyes, through which we behold earth and the heavens, or the inward vision of the heart, through which we touch the realities of spiritual Being. Therefore our growing understanding of the Eternal, as the Word, and as Life, is further enriched by the thought of Vision, the divine perceptive power which is infused through all Space, all Being.

Hearing is a like symbol, yet with something added. For the Eastern name for the Scriptures is “that which was heard”, Hearing thus symbolizing spiritual learning, which is also an aspect of the Eternal, and also pervades all Life. Yet another aspect of the Eternal is Joy. In the words of another Upanishad: “Who could live, who could breathe, if the heart of Being were not Joy?”

So the dialogue awakens our intuition of the Eternal, as the Logos, as Life, as Joy. But there is a second purpose running through it: Life, Vision, Hearing, Joy, are not only in the Eternal; they are equally in ourselves. The second purpose of the dialogue is to lead us to recognize each one of our powers; whether of perception or of action, as a power of the Eternal, manifested and present in us. A complete realization of this should bring, first, consecration, then liberation from the delusion of separate existence, the delusion of self.

After Janaka descends from his seat, the purpose of the dialogue changes. It is no longer a question of awakening general spiritual intuitions; it is a question of arousing to fuller life and activity the Spiritual Man. The Woman, of whom Yajnavalkya has spoken, is in one sense the passive spiritual nature, which is to be made active by aspiration. As a result, “the son” is born, whom Paul calls “the new man”, or “the second Adam.” Another name for the same “son”, frequently used in the Upanishads, is “the Inner Heart.” So that we may hold that the theoretical teaching concerning the divine powers of the Logos, the manifested Eternal, was a preface, a preparation for practical development, leading to the birth and growth of the Spiritual Man. It is worth noting that Shankara Acharya describes the “subtile body” as an eater of finer food ,—the same phrase that is used here.

Yet the Spiritual Man is not the final goal; rather, he is a stepping stone to the Supreme Self, described by Yajnavalkya in eloquent sentences, which echo down the ages: “It is not that, not that!”


[Translation]
A Dialogue of Sages
[Section 1]

Janaka, King of the Videha nation, had taken his seat. Thereupon Yajnavalkya drew near to him. To him Janaka said:

“Yajnavalkya, with what purpose hast thou come,—seeking herds, or subtle questions?”

“Both, indeed, O King!” Yajnavalkya answered. “Whatsoever anyone has declared to thee, that let us hear!” said he.

“Jitvan, son of Shilina, has declared to me that the Eternal, verily, is Voice, the Word,” said Janaka.

“As though one were to say that a man had a mother, a father, an instructor, just so did Jitvan, son of Shilina, say that the Eternal is the Voice, the Word, saying to himself: ‘What can he have, who is voiceless?’ But did he declare to thee the abode, the foundation?”

“He did not declare that to me,” said Jaoaka.

“That is a one-legged answer, O King!”

“Do thou declare it to me, Yajnavalkya!”

“The Voice, the Word, verily, is the abode. Radiant Ether is the foundation. As Consciousness let him reverence That.”

“What is the character of Consciousness, Yajnavalkya?”

“The Voice, the Word, O King, said he. For through the voice, the word, verily, O King, a friend is recognized and also the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda, the Atharva-Angirasa, history, tradition, wisdom, secret teaching, verse, memorial sentences, expositions, commentaries, sacrifice, oblation, what is eaten, what is drunk, and this world and the other world and all beings,—through the voice, the word, verily, O King, these are recognized. Therefore, the Supreme Eternal is the Voice, the Word. Nor does the Voice, the Word abandon him, all beings are subject to him, becoming a Radiant Being, he goes to the Radiant Beings, who, thus knowing, reverences That.”

“A herd of a thousand with a bull like an elephant I bestow!” said Janaka, King of the Videha nation.

But Yajnavalkya said, “My father thought that one who has not imparted the teaching should not accept gifts! But whatsoever anyone has declared to thee, that let us hear!” said he.

“Udanka, son of Shulba, has declared to me that the Eternal, verily, is Life,” said Janaka.

“As though one were to say that a man had a mother, a father, an instructor, just so did Udanka, son of Shulba, say that the Eternal is Life, saying to himself: ‘What can he have, who is lifeless?’ But did he declare to thee the abode, the foundation?”

“He did not declare that to me,” said Janaka.

“That is a one-legged answer, O King!”

“Do thou declare it to me, Yajnavalkya!”

“Life, verily, is the abode. Radiant Ether is the foundation. As the Beloved let him reverence That.”

“What is the character of the Beloved, Yajnavalkya?”

“Life, verily, O King, said he. For through the desire of life, O King, one sacrifices even for him for whom no sacrifice should be offered, one accepts gifts from him from whom no gifts should be accepted. From the desire of life, O King, comes the fear of death, to whatever region one may go, Therefore, the Supreme Eternal, O King, is Life. Nor does Life abandon him, all beings are subject to him, becoming a Radiant Being, he goes to the Radiant Beings, who, thus knowing, reverences That.”

“A herd of a thousand with a bull like an elephant I bestow!” said Janaka, King of the Videha nation.

But Yajnavalkya said, “My father thought that one who has not imparted the teaching should not accept gifts! But whatsoever anyone has declared to thee, that let us hear!” said he.

Barku, son of Vrishna, has declared to me that the Eternal is Vision,” said Janaka.

“As though one were to say that a man had a mother, a father, an instructor, just so did Barku, son of Vrishna, say that the Eternal is Vision, saying to himself: ‘What can he have, who is without vision?’ But did he declare to thee the abode, the foundation?”

“He did not declare that to me, said Janaka.”

“That is a one-legged answer, O King!”

“Do thou declare it to me, Yajnavalkya!”

“Vision, verily, is the abode. Radiant Ether is the foundation. As the Real let him reverence That.”

“What is the character of the Real, Yajnavalkya?”

“Vision, verily, O King,” said he. “For when, O King, they say to one beholding through vision: Hast thou seen? He says: I have seen! That is the Real. Therefore, the Supreme Eternal, O King, is Vision. Nor does Vision abandon him, all beings are subject to him, becoming a Radiant Being, he goes to the Radiant Beings, who, thus knowing, reverences That.”

“A herd of a thousand with a bull like an elephant I bestow!” said Janaka, King of the Videha nation.

But Yajnavalkya said, “My father thought that one who has not imparted the teaching should not accept gifts! But whatsoever anyone has declared to thee, that let us hear!” said he.

“Gardabhivipita Bharadvaja has declared to me that the Eternal is Hearing,” said Janaka.

“As though one were to say that a man had a mother, a father, an instructor, even so did Gardabhivipita Bharadvaja say that the Eternal is Hearing, saying to himself: ‘What can he have, who is without hearing?’ But did he declare to thee the abode, the foundation?”

“He did not declare that to me,” said Janaka.

“That is a one-legged answer, O King!”

“Do thou declare it to me, Yajuavalkya!”

“Hearing, verily, is the abode. Radiant Ether is the foundation. As the Infinite let him reverence That.”

“What is the character of the Infinite,” Yajnavalkya?

“Space, verily, O King,” said be. “Therefore, verily, O King, in whatever direction of Space one goes, of that he does not reach the end, for the directions of Space are infinite. And the spaces, O King, are Hearing. Hearing, verily, O King, is the Supreme Eternal. Nor does Hearing abandon him, all beings are subject to him, becoming a Radiant Being, he goes to the Radiant Beings, who, thus knowing, reverences That.”

“A herd of a thousand with a bull like an elephant I bestow!” said Janaka, King of the Videha nation.

But Yajnavalkya said, “My father thought that one who has not imparted the teaching should not accept gifts! But whatsoever anyone has declared to thee, that let us hear!” said he.

“Satyakama, son of Jabala, has declared to me that the Eternal is Mind,” said Janaka.

“As though one were to say that a man had a mother, a father, an instructor, even so did Satyakama, son of Jabala, say that the Eternal is Mind, saying to himself: ‘What can he have, who is without mind?’ But did he declare to thee the abode, the foundation?”

“He did not declare that to me,” said Janaka.

“That is a one-legged answer, O King!”

“Do thou declare it to me, Yajnavalkya!”

“Mind, verily, is the abode. Radiant Ether is the foundation. As Joy let him reverence That.”

“What is the character of Joy,” Yajnavalkya?

“Mind, verily, O King,” said he. “For through Mind, verily, O King, he aspires toward the Woman, wherein a son conformable to himself is born. He is Joy. Mind, verily, O King, is the Supreme Eternal. Nor does Mind abandon him, all beings are subject to him, becoming a Radiant Being, he goes to the Radiant Beings, who, thus knowing, reverences That.”

“A herd of a thousand with a bull like an elephant I bestow!” said Janaka, King of the Videha nation.

But Yajnavalkya said, “My father thought that one who has not imparted the teaching should not accept gifts! But whatsoever anyone has declared to thee, that let us hear!” said he.

“Vidagdha, son of Shakala, has declared to me that the Eternal is the Heart,” said Janaka.

“As though one were to say that a man had a mother, a father, an instructor, even so did Vidagdha, son of Shakala, say that the Eternal is the Heart, saying to himself: ‘What can he have, who is without a heart?’ But did he declare to thee the abode, the foundation?”

“He did not declare that to me,” said Janaka.

“That is a one-legged answer, O King!”

“Do thou declare it to me, Yajnavalkya!”

“The Heart, verily, is the abode. Shining Ether is the foundation. As Steadfast let him reverence That.”

“What is the character of Steadfast, Yajnavalkya?”

“The Heart, verily, O King,” said he. “For the Heart, O King, is the abode of all beings. The Heart, verily, O King, is the foundation of all beings. For in the Heart, verily, O King, all beings have their foundation. The Heart, verily, O King, is the Supreme Eternal. Nor does the Heart abandon him, all beings are subject to him, becoming a Radiant Being, he goes to the Radiant Beings, who, thus knowing, reverences That.”

“A herd of a thousand with a bull like an elephant I bestow!” said Janaka, King of the Videha nation.

But Yajnavalkya said, “My father thought that one who has not imparted the teaching should not accept gifts!”

[Section 2]

Janaka, King of the Videha nation, descending from his seat, said: “Obeisance to thee, Yajnavalkya! Impart to me the teaching!”

Yajnavalkya said: “Like as a King, preparing for a great journey, would make ready a chariot or a ship, even so art thou prepared in thy inner Self through these secret teachings. Therefore, as thou art leader of a host, endowed with wealth, a master of the Vedas, learned in the secret teachings,—when thou art liberated from this world, whither wilt thou go?”

“That I know not, Sire, whither I shall go!”

“Then, verily, I shall declare this to thee, whither thou wilt go.”

“Let my Master declare it!” said he.

“Enkindler, verily, by name is this Spirit in the right eye. Him, verily, being the Enkindler, they call Indra, the Lord, with a hidden meaning. For the Radiant Beings are lovers of the hidden, haters of the manifest.

“And so this Power, having the form of Spirit, in the left eye is his consort Viraj, the Luminous. Of these two, the place of concordant praise is this Shining Ether in the Inner Heart. And so their subsistence is this ruddy sphere in the Inner Heart. The covering which envelopes these two is, as it were, a network in the Inner Heart. The path which these two follow is the channel which runs upward from the Heart. Pine as a hair divided a thousand-fold are these channels named Well-disposed, which have their foundation in the Inner Heart. Through these, verily, flows on the fluent life. Therefore is this an eater of finer food, as it were, than this bodily self.

“Of him, the eastern lives are the eastern space. The southern lives are the southern space. The western lives are the western space. The northern lives are the northern space. The lives above are the space above. The lives below are the space below. All the lives are all the spaces of him.

“But the Supreme Self is not that, not that! The Supreme Self is intangible, for It cannot be grasped. The Supreme Self is indestructible for It cannot be destroyed. The Supreme Self is illimitable, for It cannot be limited. It is free from bondage, unshaken, invulnerable.

“Thou hast attained the Fearless, O Janaka!” said Yajnavalkya.

Then Janaka said: “May the Fearless come to thee, Yajnavalkya, since as a Master thou makest us know the Fearless. Obeisance to thee! In thy keeping be the Videha nation, and myself also!”


Part IV, Section 3

[Introduction]
Janaka and Yajnavalkya, II

In the dialogues between the renowned King Janaka of the Videhas and the yet greater sage Yajnavalkya, there is, behind the sequence of question and answer, a consistent symbolism full of significance for an understanding of the Mysteries. In the present dialogue, Yajnavalkya, though coming to the court of King Janaka, is at first determined not to speak, that is, not to reveal anything of the sacred wisdom, to the King. Janaka is himself a sage, an Initiate, yet he stands toward the greater Initiate Yajnavalkya as a pupil, who must fulfil the laws of discipleship. One of these laws is that the disciple must have made himself ready before the Master is willing to teach, or, indeed, has the right to teach. But King Janaka shows that he is ready and has gained the right to be instructed, by making the offering of the holy fire, that is, by enkindling within his heart and spirit the sacred fire of aspiration and devotion. Therefore Yajnavatkya is willing to speak.

King Janaka puts a series of questions which also have their consistent symbolic meaning. Their purpose is, to lead upward by a series of steps, which are really degrees of ascending consciousness, to the full intuition of Atma, the Divine and Universal Self, which is the one Real in a world of appearances, evanescent and temporary, and therefore unreal. The Divine and Universal Self seeks and finds manifestation by introducing the principle of individuality, through which the One Eternal appears to become many individuals, whose interaction heightens and enhances the powers lying latent in the Divine Self. Thus the powers which are called Monads come into being, each seemingly separate from all others, yet each potentially one with the whole Being of the Divine and Universal Self, this oneness with their Source constituting a fundamental oneness between them, so that each enters into its full being only through recovery of identity with all others, through realizing identity with the One. When the children are thus reunited and return together to their home, the life of that home is intensified and enriched beyond measure, and this enrichment is the purpose and justification of their several pilgrimages. Each brings back something to add to the family treasure.

The pilgrimage of the Monad is thus summarized by Yajnavalkya: “This spirit of man, coming to birth, entering a body, goes forth beset by darkness and evil. So ascending, passing through death, he puts aside darkness and evil.” The spirit of man has two dwelling-places: the natural world and the spiritual world. Between these two he oscillates, this alternation defining the manner in which the Monad gains that experience which is to be his contribution to the general treasure.

There are the alternations between outer action and inner thought, between activity and contemplation, which are, in a sense, alternate eating and digesting; there is the alternation between day and night, between waking and sleeping; there is the similar but larger alternation between “living” and “death”, between this world and the paradise of repose between death and rebirth.

Of the three kindred states, subjective thinking, dreaming, and the life of the paradise of repose, it is equally true that the spirit of man is himself the builder. He himself hews the wood and erects the dwelling. He extracts the essence from his experience in the outer world of day, of “living”, and, taking it into his inner sanctuary, there examines his treasure, sets it forth before him for contemplation and appraisement, and absorbs into his being, as a permanent possession, all of his experience that has in it the essence of immortality. Thus the spirit of man becomes his own light. For the spirit of man is Creator.

The splendid and eventful pilgrimage of the Monad is set forth in sentences that are full of imaginative beauty: “Leaving the bodily world through the door of dream, the sleepless Spirit views the sleeping powers. Clothed in radiance he returns to his own dwelling, the gold-gleaming Spirit, swan of everlasting.”

And again: “As a great fish swims along both banks of a river, first the nearer bank and then the farther, so this spirit of man traverses both these worlds, the world of dream and the world of waking. . . .

“Then, as in this shining ether a falcon or an eagle, flying to and fro and growing weary, folds its wings and sinks to rest, so, verily, this spirit of man hastens to that world where, finding rest, he desires no desire and beholds no dream. . . .”

The subjective withdrawal, whether in contemplation, in the deep sleep which is beyond dream, or the still deeper sleep which is beyond the paradise of repose after death, is essentially a foreshadowing of the being of the Spirit, of all Spirits, in the final return after the long, eventful pilgrimage is ended, and the Oneness of the Divine One is regained, enriched by the treasure gained through innumerable lives, by innumerable Spirits.

It is true of that final return, as, in a lesser degree, it is true of the deep sleep which is beyond dream, and the deeper sleep which is above the paradise of repose, that “the father is father no more, nor the mother a mother; nor the worlds, worlds; the outcast is not an outcast, the pilgrim is a pilgrim no longer, nor the saint a saint.” All the innumerable Spirits, each as ambassador of the One, have passed through their innumerable experiences, all of which are now purified and harmonized in the great return.

In the passage which follows is revealed, so far as it can be revealed in words, the final being of the returned pilgrims in their re-united life as the One: “The spirit of man sees not; yet, seeing not, he sees. For the power that dwells in sight cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other beside the spirit, or separate from him, for him to see. . . . For only where there is separation may one see another, may one speak to another, may one hear another. But the one Seer is undivided like a sea of pure water. This is the world of the Eternal.”

Two phrases require comment. At each stage of the teaching, King Janaka says to the Master Yajnavalkya: “I give the Master a thousand cattle. But tell me the higher wisdom that makes for liberation!” In the language of the Mysteries “cattle” has a definite symbolic meaning. As cattle graze in a field, steadily moving forward as they graze, so man’s powers of perception move forward through the manifested worlds, gathering the food of experience and communicating it to the inner nature. The cattle in the field are man’s perceptive powers, normally, in the man who has not been spiritually reborn, represented as five (or five hundred), standing primarily for the five external powers of sense, sight, bearing and the rest. But when the man has been spiritually reborn, he enters into possession of the spiritual senses, the inner powers of perception also; he now possesses ten (or a thousand) cattle. Therefore the duly qualified disciple comes to his Master with spiritual powers already awakened and active. Or, in the symbolic language of the text, he gives his Master a thousand cattle.

The second significant phrase is this: “Thus Yajnavalkya imparted the wisdom handed down”: that is, the Mystery teaching, handed down from Master to disciple, as set forth in the fourth book of the Bhagavad Gita by the Master Krishna.


[Translation]
The Inward Light
[Section 3]

To Janaka king of the Videhas came Yajnavalkya, determined not to speak openly with the king. But when Janaka king of the Videhas and Yajnavalkya debated together at the offering of the holy fire, Yajnavalkya offered the king a wish. The king chose: to ask questions according to his desire. Yajnavalkya assented, and the king first asked:

“Yajnavalkya, what is the light of this spirit of man?”

“The sun is his light, O king,” he answered. “For with the sun as his light he rests, goes forth, does his work, and returns.”

“This is so in truth, Yajnavalkya. But when the sun is set, Yajnavalkya, what is then the light of this spirit of man?”

“The moon then becomes his light,” he answered. “With the moon as his light he rests, goes forth, does his work, and returns.”

“This is so in truth, Yajnavalkya. But when the sun is set, Yajnavalkya, and the moon is also set, what is then the light of this spirit of man?”

“Fire then becomes his light,” he answered. “With fire as his light he rests, goes forth, does his work, and returns.”

“This is so in truth, Yajnavalkya. But when the sun is set, and the moon is also set, and the fire sinks to rest, what is then the light of this spirit of man?”

“Voice then becomes his light; he answered. With voice as his light he rests, goes forth, does his work, and returns. Therefore in truth, O king, when a man cannot distinguish even his own hand, where a voice sounds, thither he approaches.”

“This is so in truth, Yajnavalkya. But when the sun is set, Yajnavalkya, and the moon is also set, and the fire sinks to rest, and the voice is stilled, what is then the light of this spirit of man?”

“The Divine Self, the Soul, then becomes his light,” he answered. “With the Soul as his light he rests, goes forth, does his work, and returns.”

“Which of his powers is the Soul?” he asked.

“It is the spirit of man which is made of Consciousness among the life-powers, the Light within the heart. This spirit of man, remaining unchanged, moves and perceives in both worlds. He seems to be clothed with imaginings. He seems to be full of activities. For when he enters into rest, the spirit of man transcends this world and the forms of death.

“This spirit of man, verily, coming to birth, entering into a body, goes forth beset by darkness and evil. So ascending, passing through death, be puts aside darkness and evil.

“Of him, of this spirit of man, there are two dwelling-places: this world and his dwelling-place in the other world. The borderland between them is the third, the dwelling-place of dreams. While he dwells in the borderland, he beholds both these dwelling-places, this world and his dwelling-place in the other world. And so, according as his advance is in the other world, attaining to that advance he beholds both the darkness of evil and the joy of bliss.

“When he enters into rest, drawing his material from this all-containing world, felling the wood himself and himself building the dwelling, the spirit of man enters into dream, through his own shining, through his own light. Thus this spirit of man becomes his own light.

“There are no chariots there, nor steeds for chariots, nor roadways. The spirit of man puts forth chariots, steeds for chariots and roadways. Nor are there any delights there, nor joys and rejoicings. The spirit of man puts forth delights and joys and rejoicings. There are no lakes there, nor lotus pools, nor rivers. The spirit of man puts forth lakes and lotus pools and rivers. For the spirit of man is Creator.

“And there are these verses concerning this:

“‘Leaving the bodily world through the door of dream, the sleepless Spirit views the sleeping powers. Clothed in radiance he returns to his own dwelling, the gold-gleaming Spirit, swan of everlasting.

“‘Guarding the nest beneath through the life-breath, the spirit of man rises immortal above the nest. He soars immortal according to his desire, the gold-gleaming Spirit, swan of everlasting.

“‘Soaring upward and downward in dreamland, as a god he makes for himself manifold forms; now with fair beauties rejoicing, laughing, now beholding terrible things.’

“They see his pleasure-ground, but him sees no one. Therefore it is said: Let none abruptly wake him that sleeps: hard to heal, verily, is he to whom the Soul returns not.

“They also say that dream is a province of waking. For whatever he beholds while awake, the same he beholds in dream. Thus the spirit of man becomes his own light.”

King Janaka said: “I give the Master a thousand cattle. But tell me the higher wisdom that makes for liberation!”

“When, verily, the spirit of man has taken his ease in the resting-place above dream, moving to and fro and beholding good and evil, he returns again by the same path, hurrying back to his place through dream. But whatever he beholds there, returns not after him, for this spirit of man is detached and free.”

King Janaka said: “This is so in truth, Yajnavalkya. I give the Master a thousand cattle. But tell me the higher wisdom that makes for liberation!”

“When, verily, the spirit of man has taken his ease in dream, moving to and fro and beholding good and evil, he returns again by the same path, hurrying back to his place in the world of waking. But whatever he beholds there, returns not after him, for this spirit of man is detached and free.”

King Janaka said: “This is so in truth, Yajnavalkya. I give the Master a thousand cattle. But tell me the higher wisdom that makes for liberation!”

“When, verily, the spirit of man has taken his pleasure in the world of waking, moving to and fro and beholding good and evil, be returns again by the same path, hurrying back to the realm of dream.

“Therefore, as a great fish swims along both banks of a river, first the nearer bank and then the farther, so this spirit of man traverses both these worlds, the world of dream and the world of waking.

“Then, as in this shining ether a falcon or an eagle, flying to and fro and growing weary, folds its wings and sinks to rest, so, verily, this spirit of man hastens to that world where, finding rest, he desires no desire and beholds no dream. There are, verily, these channels within him, called the inwardly disposed, fine as a hair divided a thousand times, filled with the shining, the blue, the yellow, the green, the red.

“When he has dreamed that they are slaying him, that they are oppressing him, that an elephant is pursuing him, that he is falling into an abyss, or whatever fear he beheld in the waking world, he understands that it was through unwisdom. Where, like a god, like a king, he perceives that he is the All; this is his highest world.

“This, verily, is that form of his which has passed beyond desire, which has put away evil, which is without fear. As one who is wrapped in the arms of the beloved, knows nought of what is without or within, so this spirit of man, wrapped about by the Divine Self of Inspiration, knows nought of what is without or within. This, therefore is his perfect form. He has won his desire. The Divine Self is his desire. He is beyond desire. He has made an end of sorrow.

“Here the father is father no more; nor the mother a mother; nor the worlds, worlds; the bright powers are bright powers no longer, nor the scriptures, scriptures; here the thief is thief no longer, nor the murderer a murderer; the outcast is not an outcast, nor the baseborn any longer baseborn; the pilgrim is a pilgrim no longer, nor the saint a saint. For the spirit of man is not followed by good, he is not followed by evil. For he has crossed over all the sorrows of the heart.

“The spirit of man sees not; yet, seeing not, he sees. For the power that dwells in sight cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other beside the spirit, or separate from him, for him to see.

“The spirit of man smells not; yet, smelling not, he smells. For the power that dwells in smelling cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other beside the spirit, or separate from him, for him to smell.

“The spirit of man tastes not; yet, tasting not, he tastes. For the power that dwells in taste cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other beside the spirit, or separate from him, for him to taste.

“The spirit of man speaks not; yet, speaking not, he speaks; for the power that dwells in speaking cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other beside the spirit, or separate from him, for him to speak to.

“The spirit of man hears not; yet, hearing not, he hears. For the power that dwells in hearing cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other beside the spirit, or separate from him, for him to hear.

“The spirit of man thinks not; yet, thinking not, he thinks. For the power that dwells in thinking cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other beside the spirit, or separate from him, for him to think of.

“The spirit of man touches not; yet, touching not, he touches. For the power that dwells in touch cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other beside the spirit, or separate from him, for him to touch.

“The spirit of man knows not; yet, knowing not, he knows. For the power that dwells in knowing cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other beside the spirit, or separate from him, for him to know.

“For only where there is separation may one see another, may one smell another, may one taste another, may one speak to another, may one bear another, may one think of another, may one touch another, may one know another. But the one Seer is undivided like a sea of pure water. This, O king, is the world of the Eternal.”—Thus Yajnavalkya imparted the wisdom handed down.—“This is the highest path of the spirit of man. This is his highest treasure. This is his highest world. This is his highest bliss. All beings, verily, live on a measure of this bliss.

“He who among men is rich and happy, a lord well endowed with all wealth, this is the highest bliss of mankind. But a hundredfold greater than the bliss of mankind is the bliss of those who have departed and have won paradise. A hundredfold greater than the bliss of those who have departed and have won paradise is the bliss of the world of seraphs. A hundredfold greater than the bliss of the world of seraphs is the bliss of the bright powers who have grown divine through righteousness. A hundredfold greater than the bliss of the bright powers who have grown divine through righteousness is the bliss of the bright powers who are divine by birth, and of him who has heard the teaching, who is without deceit, who is not stricken by desire. A hundredfold greater than the bliss of the bright powers who are divine by birth is the bliss of the world of creative powers, and of him who has heard the teaching, who is without deceit, who is not stricken by desire. A hundredfold greater than the bliss of the world of creative powers is the bliss of the world of the Eternal, and of him who has heard the teaching, who is without deceit, who is not stricken by desire. This, verily, is the supreme bliss, this, O king, is the world of the Eternal.” Thus spoke Yajnavalkya.

He replied: “I give the Master a thousand cattle. But tell me the higher wisdom that makes for liberation!”

Then Yajnavalkya feared, thinking: the wise king has cut me off from all retreat.


Part IV, Section 4

[Introduction]
Janaka and Yajnavalkya, III

The dialogue between King Janaka and the great sage Yajnavalkya is cast in dramatic form for two reasons. First is the added attraction and vivacity which is given to the teaching by putting it in the form of conversation between two persons, themselves strongly marked, as compared with the comparative aloofness of an abstract dissertation. But there is another and yet deeper reason: the immemorial tradition of the East, governing the relation between Master and disciple, which requires that the Master shall impart wisdom only in measure as the disciple is ready for that wisdom. The disciple must ask a genuine, effective question before the Master has the right to give him the answer. Thus it comes that all the clearest and most explicit teaching of spiritual things in the great Upanishads takes the form of dialogue, of question and answer.

This is well illustrated by the Upanishad of the Questions , the fourth in the series as arranged by Shankara Acharya, who began with the shortest and went on to the longest. In the Upanishad of the Questions, six disciples put questions to their Master; these questions are so arranged that, when they have been answered one after the other, a general survey of the teaching concerning the Eternal, the Divine Self, the world in which that Self gains experience, has been unfolded. The same progression of question and answer is followed in the great dialogue of King Janaka and the sage Yajnavalkya, beginning with the very simple question: What is the light of this spirit of man?—and going forward to final liberation, to realized oneness with the Eternal.

The method is the same as that of the Upanishad of the Questions. The difference lies in the rank and attainment of the questioner. For King Janaka is not a young disciple, like those who ask wisdom of the sage Pippalada; he is himself an Initiate, one who has attained and who is now gaining a still greater illumination from one who stands yet higher on the ladder of life. Therefore King Janaka addresses to Yajnavalkya these words: I give the Master a thousand cattle. But tell me the higher wisdom that makes for liberation! He already knows of that higher wisdom, and presses Yajnavalkya so closely that Yajnavalkya exclaims: The wise king has cut me off from all retreat!

The earlier dialogue between the royal sage and the yet greater sage, has set forth, with splendid eloquence and beauty, the teaching of the hidden wisdom concerning man’s life, his fields or states of consciousness, and his alternation between the subjective and the objective, through which he gains experience of the manifested world, directly correlated with his own powers, while returning time after time to the unmanifested world, which is his source, his home. Thus both sides of the soul are provided for, in the daily drama of waking and sleeping.

In the latter part of this divine dialogue the teaching is still further extended, to cover those larger phases of waking and sleeping which men experience as birth and death, as the world of works and the world of restoration and inspiration, the paradise between two earthly lives. In this larger alternation, the powers engaged are the same as in the lesser alternation of waking and sleeping; there is no more than a difference of proportion, a difference of setting.

This is, indeed, one of the major doctrines of the Mystery Teaching, the teaching concerning what is called the Path of the Fathers, the way of reincarnation. The traditional teaching among the Brahmans before they were allowed to share in the immemorial wisdom of the Rajanya Initiates, was that which Arjuna describes in the first book of the Bhagavad Gita. At death, the soul went to the Place of the Fathers, where its well-being was altogether dependent on the offerings of rice and water, made at intervals by the son, who was so highly valued precisely because on him devolved the duty of making these offerings, at stated intervals of six months or a year, and who was put in possession of the wealth left by his deceased father, primarily in order that he might have the means necessary for these periodical offerings. The son and the son’s son made them, for nine generations; for the ancestors of the first three generations, there were offerings of rice cakes; for the next three, fragments of rice cakes; for the most distant three, offerings of water only. Thus the Fathers—the ancestors—were kept alive in the unseen world. If the offerings failed, they fell into the nether pit, as Arjuna pathetically reminds Krishna. Beyond the ninth generation, no provision seems to have been made for the ascending line; they are lost to sight in the vague distance.

As against this belief, very widely followed throughout the older world, and generally described as “ancestor worship,” the secret wisdom of the Rajanya Initiates taught reincarnation, not the rather grotesque “transmigration of souls” which finds its way into popular treatises concerning Egypt and India, but a wholly scientific process, governed by laws as definite as those which regulate the seasons, or the rising and setting of the constellations: the general law of progress toward spiritual enlightenment through graded experiences, governed by the principle of harmony, of compensation, of alternating seed time and harvest, toil and rest.

This teaching is expounded with wonderful beauty of imagery in the dialogue between the two sages. The fundamental principle is set forth in the sentence: Man, verily, is formed of desire; as his desire is, so is his will; as his will is, so he works; and whatsoever work (karma) he does, in the likeness of that he grows.

But the ultimate desire, the desire which lies deepest in the heart of every man, though it be hidden by shadows of desire, is the desire of the Eternal. Therefore, unless he be so obdurate in following false desires, that the good law labours in vain to teach him wisdom, man is destined, even after many days, after many lives, to recognize that this desire for the Eternal has been his motive all along; and recognizing this, he will turn his face toward the Eternal, resolutely setting forth upon the small old path that stretches far away.

So we have reincarnation, life after life, for those who are under desire; but for those who have passed beyond desire, whose desire is the Eternal, there is the way of liberation, the Path of the Gods. And those who find and follow that divine path enter into the heritage of the gods, wisdom and power and love, in ever increasing measure: a path which has a beginning, but has no end, since there are ever greater wonders of the Eternal to be revealed. The virtue of the great dialogue is, that it awakes, in the hearts of those who bear it or read it, the hidden memories of the Eternal, which are like the treasure buried in the field, over which they have passed so often unknowingly. Now the treasures begin to be revealed, and all else is forgotten.


[Translation]
The Way of Liberation
[Section 3, cont.]

“And so when he has taken pleasure in this world of dream, moving to and fro and beholding good and evil, the spirit of man returns again by the same path, hurrying back to his former dwelling-place in the world of waking.

“Then as a wagon heavy-laden might go halting, creaking, so the embodied self goes halting, overburdened by the Soul of Inspiration, when it has gone so far that a man is giving up the ghost.

“When he falls into weakness, whether it be through old age or sickness be falls into weakness, then like as a mango or the fruit of the wave-leafed fig, or the fruit of the holy fig tree is loosened from its stem, so the spirit of man is loosed from these bodily members and returns again by the same pathway to its dwelling in the Life.

“Then like as when a king is coming forth, his nobles, officers, charioteers and rulers of villages make ready to serve him with food and drink and shelter, saying: the king is coming, the king is at hand!—so all the powers make ready to wait on the soul, saying: the soul is coming, the soul is at hand!

“And like as when a king is going onward, his nobles, officers, charioteers and rulers of villages gather about him; so verily, at the time of the end, all the life-powers gather round the soul, when it has gone so far that a man is giving up the ghost.

[Section 4]

“When this self falls into weakness and into confusion of spirit, then the life-powers are gathering in about him. He takes them up together in their radiant substance and enters with them into the heart.

“When the spirit that dwells in sight is turned once more toward its source, he is no longer a perceiver of forms, he is becoming one, they say; he no longer sees. He is becoming one, they say; he no longer smells. He is becoming one, they say; he no longer tastes. He is becoming one, they say; he no longer speaks. He is becoming one, they say; he no longer hears. He is becoming one, they say; he no longer thinks. He is becoming one, they say; he no longer touches. He is becoming one, they say; he no longer knows.

“Then of him the point of the heart becomes luminous, and when it has grown luminous, it lights the soul upon its way, whether it depart from the head or from the eye or from other parts of the body. And as the soul rises upward, the life-breath rises upward with it; and as the life-breath rises upward, the powers rise up with the life-breath. The soul is endowed with consciousness and enters into consciousness.

“Then his wisdom and works take him by the hand, and the knowledge he has gained of old. Then as a caterpillar when it has come to the end of a leaf, reaching forward to another foothold, draws itself over to it, so the soul, laying aside the body and putting off unwisdom, reaching forward to another foothold, draws itself over to it.

“As a worker in gold, taking an ornament of gold, moulds it to another form, newer and fairer, so of a truth the soul, laying aside the body here, and putting off unwisdom, makes for itself another form, newer and fairer: a form like the forms of the fathers, or of the seraphs, or of radiant beings, or of the progenitor, or of the formative divinity, or of other beings.

“For this soul of man is the Eternal; it is made of consciousness, it is made of feeling, it is made of the life-breath, it is made of vision, it is made of hearing; it is made of the earth, it is made of the waters, it is made of the air, it is made of the ether; it is made of the radiance and what is beyond the radiance, it is made of desire and what is beyond desire, it is made of wrath and what is beyond wrath, it is made of the law and what is beyond the law. It is made of the All; as it is said, it is made of this world and of that world.

“According as were his works and walk in life, so he becomes. He that works righteousness becomes righteous, and he that works evil becomes evil. He becomes holy through holy works and evil through evil works.

“So, of a truth, they said of old: Man, verily, is formed of desire; as his desire is, so is his will; as his will is, so he works; and whatsoever work he does, in the likeness of that he grows.

“Then there is this verse:

“‘To whatsoever form his heart is attached, to that he goes, accompanied by his works, through his attachment thereto. When he has received the full reward of his work, whatsoever he has done here in this world, he returns again to this world, the world of works.’

“Thus far for him who is under desire. Now as to him who is free from desire, who is beyond desire, who has gained his desire, for whom the soul is his desire. From him the life-powers do not depart. Growing one with the Eternal, he enters into the Eternal.

“Then there is this verse:

“‘When all desires that were hid in his heart are let go, then the mortal becomes immortal and attains the Eternal.’

“And like as the slough of a snake lies lifeless, cast forth upon an ant-hill, so lies his body here, when the spirit of man rises up bodiless and immortal, as the Life, as the Eternal, as the Radiance.”

“I give a thousand cattle to the Master,” thus spoke Janaka king of the Videhas.

“Then there are these verses:

“‘The small old path that stretches far away, has been found and followed by me. By it go the Seers who know the Eternal, rising up from this world to the heavenly world, attaining liberation.

“‘It is adorned, they say, with gleaming white and blue, with yellow and green and red. This is the path that was made known by the Eternal; by it go the knower of the Eternal, the worker of holiness and all those endowed with radiance.’

“Blind darkness they enter, who worship unwisdom. They go, as it were, to yet greater darkness, who delight in wisdom.

“Joyless verily are those worlds, by blind darkness enwrapped; thither at death go those who have not found wisdom, whose souls have not awakened to the light.

“Who has gained knowledge of the Divine Self, realizing that he is that Divine Self, longing for what, desiring what, should he fret for bodily life?

“By whom the Divine Self has been found, through his awakening to its reality, while he dwells in the wilderness of the world, he is the creator and maker of all; his is the world, for he is the world.

“Even here in the world have we attained wisdom; if thou hast not attained wisdom, great is thy loss. They who know this Eternal, they become immortal. But those who know not, enter into sorrow.

“When one gains clear vision of this Self Divine, lord of what has been, of what shall be, he no longer seeks to hide from the Eternal.

“At whose feet rolls the circling year with all its days, that the Radiant Beings worship as the light of lights, as life immortal.

“In whom the fivefold beings and the radiant ether are set firm , him I know to be the Divine Self; possessing wisdom, I know him as the immortal Eternal, I, immortal.

“They who know the life of life, the eye of the eye, the ear of the ear, the heart of the heart, they have learned to know the Eternal, the Ancient, the Most High.

“By the heart it is to be discerned: there is no separateness here. He goes from death to death who beholds separateness.

“This immeasurable, unchanging is to be discerned, verily, as the One, stainless, beyond the shining ether, the unborn Divine Self, mighty, unchanging.

“Let the wise man, the knower of the Eternal, knowing him, gain for himself wisdom. Let him not meditate on many words, for words are weariness.

“This, verily, is the mighty, unborn Divine Self, who is made of Consciousness among the life-powers. This is the shining ether in the heart within, where dwells the ruler of all, master of all, lord of all. He becomes not greater through good works, nor less through [former] evil. He is lord of all, overlord of beings, shepherd of beings. He is the bridge that holds the worlds apart, lest they should flow together.

“This is he whom the followers of the Eternal seek to know through repetition of the Vedas, through sacrifice, through the giving of gifts, through fervour and penance, through much fasting. Knowing him, one becomes a silent sage. This is the goal in search of which pilgrims go forth on pilgrimages.

“Knowing him, the men of old desired not offspring. What should we do with offspring, they said, since ours is the Divine Self, the heavenly world? Rising above the desire of offspring, the desire of the world, the desire of wealth, they became saints. For the desire for offspring is a desire for wealth, and the desire for wealth is a desire for the world; for these are both desires.

“The Divine Self is not that, not that. It is incomprehensible, for it cannot be comprehended; it is imperishable, for it passes not away; nought adheres to it, for it is free. It is unbound, trembles not, suffers no detriment.

“For to him, verily, these two cross not over, whether he has done evil, or whether he has done righteously. He crosses over both; things done or undone afflict him not.

“Then this is declared by the holy verse:

“‘This is the lasting might of him who knows the Eternal, that he grows not greater nor less through works. Let him know the pathway of the Divine Self.’

“Knowing it, he is not stained even by evil deeds.1

“Therefore he who knows the Divine Self has gained serenity, self-conquest, right cessation and endurance; his will is one-pointed.

“In the Divine Self he beholds his own self, he beholds all as the Divine Self. Nor does evil reach him; he passes beyond all evil. Evil does not afflict him, he burns up all evil. He is free from evil, free from stain, free from doubt, a knower of the Eternal. This, O king, is the world of the Eternal. This thou hast attained.” Thus spoke Yajnavalkya.

“I give the Master the Videhas, and myself also for service.” Thus spoke Janaka.

This, verily, is the Divine Self, unborn, unfading, deathless, immortal, fearless. This Divine Self is the fearless Eternal. He becomes the fearless Eternal, who knows this thus.


1. That is to say, by former evil deeds, because he has emancipated himself from their Karma. He who has attained, has removed himself from the world of evil.



Part IV, Section 5 to Part V, Section 12

[Introduction]
Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi

The story of Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi has already been told earlier in this book of wisdom, but the present version is fuller and there is some variation in details, though not in the general significance of the episode. Here, as so often, the story is told in order to introduce the dialogue concerning divine things; when the dialogue has been completed, the story is forgotten or left unfinished. One is even inclined to think that Katyayani, the younger and less philosophical of the two wives—who were probably two pupils—of Yajnavalkya, was invented in order to give a motive to the dialogue. Once she has led to the introduction of the motive, the division of Yajnavalkya’s wealth, Katyayani is dropped and forgotten; she does not reappear elsewhere. It is quite possible that the setting of the story—Yajnavalkya’s coming departure and the proposed division of wealth—is designed only to introduce Maitreyi’s question, “If all this earth full of riches were mine, should I thereby become immortal?” Detachment from the desire of possessions is a condition of the first steps in wisdom; and indeed the resolution of Yajnavalkya to go forth into “the homeless life” has precisely this significance, as it had in the Buddha’s Order. Exactly the same principle is illustrated by the words of the Western Master: “How hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” which is the consciousness of the divine Self.

The underlying principle is that we should behold the divine Self in all beings, and all beings in the divine Self, for, since the divine Self is the Real, the one reality, to that divine Self all beings owe whatever they possess of reality and of worth. Therefore, “not for love of the husband is the husband dear, but for love of the divine Self is the husband dear.” In terms of Western spiritual thinking, one might say that the disciple loves those who are dear to him because he loves his Master, and loves them in the Master.

Yajnavalkya, seeking to awaken in Maitreyi the intuition of the divine Consciousness, comes back again and again to the thought that this inner, divine Self is the one reality, to be seen inwardly, to be heard inwardly, to be thought on inwardly, to be meditated inwardly. But Maitreyi declares that she does not understand; that her teacher has caused her to fall into confusion. The reason of her confusion would seem to be, that she has tried to understand with the mind, rather than realize with the heart. The cure for her will be fuller meditation, the brooding of the mind, which leads to wisdom.

At the close of the dialogue Yajnavalkya departs. We hear no more of Katyayani or of the division of his possessions. They have played their part in setting the story going.

Regarding the remainder of what is translated here, two things should be borne in mind: that the sentences which follow are fragments of instructions for disciples; and that we must meditate on them, if we would discover their meaning. That meaning is intentionally hidden beneath the surface, though not very deeply hidden. Just as, in the first fragment, the threefold children of the Lord of beings solve their problems by intuitional meditation, so we may find the deeper meaning hidden in these sentences. To begin with, the threefold command, self-conquest, generous giving, compassion, is equally binding upon us.

In this story, we are in presence of three degrees of spiritual life. The Powers of darkness are not necessarily “evil”, or they could not comprehend compassion. Evil arises only when the perverse will of man is combined with natural powers. The forces of dissolution are used when we dissolve wrong thoughts. Through the dissolution of egotism a place is made for compassion.

The syllables of the Sanskrit words Hridayam, “Heart”, and Satyam, “Real”, are used as mnemonics for the use of disciples. Here, as elsewhere in these teachings, the Heart is the inner, spiritual nature, the spiritual man, whose consciousness is expanding toward complete identification with the divine Self. The special lesson is the threefold nature of the spiritual man.

The fragment beginning, “That, verily, is That”, may be thus elucidated: The Eternal, verily, is and remains the Eternal; this world, verily, is in essence the Eternal, the Real, since it is an emanation, a manifestation, of the Real, and, apart from the Real, has no existence. In practical terms, spiritual law enters into and governs, every least detail of our lives. This manifested world came into being, not directly, from the Eternal, but through the intermediate stage of the Logos, who is here called the First-born of the Eternal.

Again, the Waters of Space, which were in the beginning, are the symbol of the universe as at once Space and eternal Motion, the everlasting waves of motion moving through infinite space. The modern view, which holds that every form of “matter” is really the manifestation of wave-motion, closely approaches this ancient thought.

The saying that the first and last syllables of Being are the Real, and that in the midst is falsehood, is a graphic way of describing the psychical world between the spiritual reality of the divine world and the natural reality of the physical world: the psychic mirror reflects both what is above and what is below; it is a world of reflection.

When we are told that the Spirit in the Sun and the Spirit in the right eye are correlated, we are again in presence of a luminous symbol: the Sun is the Logos, “the Sun of righteousness, with healing in his wings”, the Solar Disc of Egypt; the right eye is the symbol of spiritual consciousness and perception, which is a ray of the Logos. Later, we have the symbol “Day”, the “Day-spring from on high”, once again the Logos.

The likening of the Spirit in the inner Heart to a grain of rice, a grain of barley, has its parallel in the likening of the kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard seed ; the dim star of spiritual consciousness expands and grows till it becomes the infinite Light.

In the simile of the cow as the Logos we have a symbol which is still living in India; the bull, as the positive side of the Logos, takes us to Egypt once more; for the symbols are universal, and they constitute the “mystery language”.

The “fire common to all men” is every activity of the natural man, from the vital heat of the body to the emotional life which is the motive of his experience. Food in its wider meaning is experience; and in its cosmic sense, it is what we call “matter”, the basis of all outer experience.

Then follows a symbolic representation of the experience of the soul after death, passing through what has been called Kamaloka and entering into Devachan, the paradise of rest before rebirth. In the view of these teachings, sickness and death are not calamities but “supreme austerities”, that is, spiritual experiences, for the purification of the soul.

The same lesson is taught in the story of Pratrida and his father. The Eternal is not abstract Spirit alone, as it is not concrete Matter alone; it is manifested as Spirit and Matter interacting. The son suggests that a knowledge of this truth is enough for salvation, but his father tells him that something more is needed, namely, Renunciation, Virama, which is once more taught by a Sanskrit mnemonic.


[Translation]
The Divine Self as the Supreme Treasure
[Section 5]

It happened that Yajnavalkya had two wives, Maitreyi and Katyayani. Of these two, Maitreyi was possessed of the word of the Eternal, while Katyayani had such wisdom therein as is natural to women. Now the time had come for Yajnavalkya to pass onward into the next period of life. So Yajnavalkya spoke thus:

“Maitreyi, I am about to go forth as a religious wanderer from this station of life. Therefore let me make a final disposition of my wealth with thee and with Katyayani here!”

Maitreyi said: “If, my lord, all this earth full of riches were mine, should I thereby become immortal?”

Yajnavalkya said: “Not so! not so! As is the life of those who have great possessions, so would thy life be. But there is no hope of immortality through riches!”

Maitreyi said: “What should I do with that whereby I may not become immortal? But what my master knows, that declare thou to me!”

Yajnavalkya said: “Dear, indeed, hast thou been to us, lady, but now thou hast increased thy dearness! I shall set forth the teaching to thee, and do thou meditate well on what I declare!”

He said: “Not, verily, for love of the husband is the husband dear, but for love of the divine Self is the husband dear.

“Not, verily, for love of the wife is the wife dear, but for love of the divine Self is the wife dear.

“Not, verily,, for love of sons are sons dear, but for love of the divine Self arc sons dear.

“Not, verily, for love of riches are riches dear, but for love of the divine Self are riches dear.

“Not, verily, for love of herds of cattle are herds of cattle dear, but for love of the divine Self are herds of cattle dear.

“Not, verily, for love of the priest’s prayer is the priest’s prayer dear, but for love of the divine Self is the priest’s prayer dear.

“Not, verily, for love of the warrior’s weapon is the warrior’s weapon dear, but for love of the divine Self is the warrior’s weapon dear.

“Not, verily, for love of the worlds are the worlds dear, but for love of the divine Self are the worlds dear.

“Not, verily, for love of the Bright Powers are the Bright Powers dear, but for love of the divine Self are the Bright Powers dear.

“Not, verily, for love of the books of wisdom are the books of wisdom dear, but for love of the divine Self are the books of wisdom dear.

“Not, verily, for love of beings arc beings dear, but for love of the divine Self are beings dear.

“Not, verily, for love of the all is the all dear, but for love of the divine Self is the all dear.

“The divine Self is to be seen, to be heard, to be thought on, to be meditated on, Maitreyi! For, verily, when the divine Self is seen, is heard, is thought on, is understood, all this is understood.

“The essence of prayer forsakes him who sees the essence of prayer elsewhere than in the divine Self.

“The essence of power forsakes him who sees the essence of power elsewhere than in the divine Self.

“The worlds forsake him who sees the worlds elsewhere than in the divine Self.

“The Bright Powers forsake him who sees the Bright Powers elsewhere than in the divine Self.

“The books of wisdom forsake him who sees the books of wisdom elsewhere than in the divine Self.

“Beings forsake him who sees beings elsewhere than in the divine Self.

“The all deserts him who sees the all elsewhere than in the divine Self.

“This essence of prayer, this essence of power, these worlds, these Bright Powers, these books of wisdom, these beings, this all is the divine Self.

“It is as when a drum is being beaten, one cannot lay hands upon the sounds which are outside it, but by laying hands on the drum, or on the drummer, the sound, verily, is held.

“It is as when a conch shell is being blown, one cannot lay hands upon the sounds which are outside it, but by laying hands on the conch shell, or on him who is blowing the conch shell, the sound, verily, is held.

“It is as when a lute is being played, one cannot lay hands upon the sounds which are outside it, but by laying bands on the lute, or on him who is playing the lute, the sound, verily, is held.

“It is as when a fire is laid with damp kindling wood, smoke-clouds spread in different directions; thus, verily, from this Great Being has been breathed forth that which is the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda, the Veda of Atharva and Angirasa, the Histories, the Ancient Books, Wisdom, Upanishads, Poems, Memorial Verses, Expositions, Commentaries, sacrifice, oblation, food, drink, this world and the world beyond, and all beings. From That, verily, all these have been breathed forth.

“So, as of all waters the ocean is the place of union, so of all contacts the sense of touch in the skin is the place of union, of all odours the two nostrils are the place of union, of all tastes the tongue is the place of union, of all forms sight is the place of union, of all sounds hearing is the place of union, of all impulses of will the mind is the place of union, of all wisdoms the heart is the place of union, of all works the two hands are the place of union, of all formative powers the creative power is the place of union, of all putting forth the power which puts forth is the place of union, of all journeyings the two feet are the place of union, of all the Vedic hymns voice is the place of union.

“So, as a quantity of salt has neither outside nor inside, but is altogether a mass of taste, so, verily, this divine Self has neither outside nor inside, but is altogether a sum of perceiving consciousness. From these beings having taken its rise, into them, verily, it returns. After it has departed, no perception remains behind. Thus I declare it.”

Thus spoke Yajnavalkya. Then spoke Maitreyi:

“My master, verily, has caused me to enter into confusion; for I, verily, do not understand this divine Self!”

He replied:

“Of a truth I speak not confusion. This divine Self, verily, is imperishable; it is in nature invulnerable, indivisible.

“For where there is, as it were, a second, the one sees the other, the one smells the other, the one tastes the other, the one addresses the other, the one hears the other, the one thinks of the other, the one touches the other, the one understands the other. But where for him all has become the divine Self, then by what and whom should one behold? by what and whom should one smell? by what and whom should one taste? by what and whom should one address? by what and whom should one hear? by what and whom should one think of? by what and whom should one touch? by what and whom should one understand? For by what could one understand the divine Self by whom one understands all?

“For the divine Self is not this, not this! it is incomprehensible, for it is not comprehended; it is indestructible, for it cannot be destroyed; it is free from attachment, for it cannot be attached; it is not bound, it trembles not, it cannot be wounded.

“Whereby, verily, could one know the Knower? Thus art thou instructed in wisdom, Maitreyi. This, of a truth, is immortality!”

When he had thus spoken, Yajnavalkya set forth.

[Note: Part IV, Section 6 (The Line of Teachers) was not included in Johnston’s translation.]

[Part V, Section 1]

Om! Complete is that world. Complete is this world. From that, this is emanated. After taking this complete from that complete, that remains complete.

Om! Radiant ether is the Eternal, the ancient ether, the ether stirred by the Great Breath! Thus of old said the son of Kauravyayani. This is the wisdom of those who know the Eternal. Through this I know what should be known.

[Section 2]

The threefold children of the Lord of beings dwelt with their Father, the Lord of beings, in service of the Eternal: namely, the Bright Powers, the sons of men, the Powers of darkness.

After they had dwelt with Him in service of the Eternal, the Bright Powers said: Let our Lord speak to us!

To them He spoke the syllable Da, adding, Have you understood? We have understood! they answered. Thou saidst to us: Damyata! Conquer yourselves!—Om! verily, you have understood! He said.

And so the sons of men said to Him: Let our Lord speak to us!

To them He spoke the syllable Da, adding, Have you understood? We have understood! they answered. Thou saidst to us: Datta! Give!—Om! verily, you have understood! He said.

And so the Powers of darkness said to Him: Let our Lord speak to us!

To them He spoke the syllable Da, adding, Have you understood ? We have understood! they answered. Thou saidst to us: Dayadhvam! Be compassionate!—Om! verily, you have understood! He said.

Therefore this divine Voice repeats as Thunder: Da! Da! Da! Conquer yourselves! Give! Be compassionate! Therefore this threefold command should be carried out: Self-conquest, generous giving, compassion.

[Section 3]

This, which is the Heart, is the Lord of beings, this is the Eternal, this is the All.

The Heart, Hri-da-yam, has three syllables.

Hri is one syllable. His own and others also bring (hri) gifts to him who thus knows.

Da is one syllable. His own and others also give (da) to him who thus knows.

Yam is a syllable. He goes (ya) to the heaven-world who thus knows.

[Section 4]

That, verily, is That. This, verily, was That, namely, the Real. He who knows that Great Spirit as the first-born, namely, that the Real is the Eternal, wins these worlds. Could he be overcome, who thus knows that this Great Spirit is the first-born, that the Real is the Eternal? For, verily, the Real is the Eternal.

[Section 5]

The Waters (of Space) were here in the beginning. The Waters manifested the Real—the Real, which is the Eternal;—the Eternal manifested the Lord of Beings; the Lord of Beings manifested the Bright Powers. They, the Bright Powers, make obeisance to the Real. Thus there is the trisyllable Sa-ti-yam (Satyam, Real), sa is one syllable, ti is one syllable, yam is one syllable. The first and last syllables are the Real; in the midst is falsehood. And this falsehood is comprehended on both sides by the Real and shares the being of the Real. Falsehood injures not him who thus knows.

What the Real is, that sun also is. The Spirit within the circle (of the sun) and the Spirit who is in the right eye, these two are correlated to each other. Through his rays that (Spirit in the sun) is correlated with this (Spirit in the right eye); through the life-breaths this is correlated with that. When he is about to ascend (at death), he beholds that circle pure; these rays no more come to meet him.

The Spirit who is in this circle (of the sun)—his head is Bhur (Earth); there is one head, this is one syllable. Bhuvar (Midworld) is his two arms; there are two arms, these are two syllables. Svar (Heaven) is his standing; there are two feet, this is two syllables (su-ar). His spiritual significance is “Day”. He slays evil and leaves it behind him, who thus knows.

The Spirit who is in the right eye—his head is Bhur; there is one head, this is one syllable. Bhuvar is his two arms; there are two arms, these are two syllables. Svar is his standing; there are two feet, this is two syllables. His spiritual significance is “I”. He slays evil and leaves it behind him, who thus knows.

[Section 6]

Formed of Mind, of the substance of Light, is this Spirit in the inner Heart; it is as a grain of rice or barley. This is the ruler of all, the overlord of all, who governs this whole world, whatever there is.

[Section 7]

The Eternal is as lightning, because of radiating and dividing. Lightning divides him from evil, who thus knows that the Eternal is as lightning, for the Eternal is as lightning.

[Section 8]

Let him make obeisance to Voice as a milch cow. She has four teats: The Invocation, the Presentation, the Salutation, the Benediction. The Bright Powers are nourished by two teats: the Invocation and the Presentation. The sons of men are nourished by the Salutation. The Fathers are nourished by the Benediction. The Life is as the bull; Mind is as the calf.

[Section 9]

This fire common to all men is within the man, whereby is cooked the food which is eaten. The sound of the fire is heard when the fingers are pressed against the two ears. When the man is about to go forth at death, he no longer hears this sound.

[Section 10]

When, verily, a man goes forth from this world at death, he comes to the Great Breath. This makes a place for him like the central space in a chariot wheel. Through this he ascends.

He comes to the sun. This makes a place for him like the hollow of a drum. Through this he ascends.

He comes to the moon. This makes a place for him like the hollow of a kettle-drum. Through this he ascends.

He comes to a world where he is afflicted neither by heat nor cold. In this world he dwells for immeasurable years.

[Section 11]

This, verily, is the supreme austerity when one afflicted by sickness suffers. He gains the supreme world, who thus knows.

This, verily, is the supreme austerity when they carry the body of him who has gone forth to the forest. He gains the supreme world, who thus knows.

This, verily, is the supreme austerity when they lay the body of him who has gone forth upon the funeral pyre. He gains the supreme world, who thus knows.

[Section 12]

There are some who say that the Eternal is Food. But this is not so, for without life, food is subject to decay.

There are some who say that the Eternal is Life. But this is not so, for without food, life withers and dries up.

These two Powers reach their highest state when they have entered into union.

Therefore Pratrida said to his father: What good could I do to one who thus knows, or what evil could I do him?

But his father answered, making a sign with his hand: No, Pratrida, for who has gained the highest attainment merely by identifying himself with these two?

Then his father said to him: Vi!—for vi signifies food, for all these beings have entered into food; Ram!—for ram is life, for all these beings rejoice in life.

All beings, verily, enter into him, all beings rejoice in him, who thus knows.


Part V, Section 13 to Part VI, Section 1

[Introduction]
The Symbolism of the Gayatri

The two longest Upanishads contain two chief elements: graduated instructions for those disciples who are studying the Divine Wisdom as a preparation for Initiation, and Dialogues of Initiation, such as the superb discourse of King Janaka with the Sage Yajnavalkya. In general, the instructions are based on symbolism, which in turn rests on the law of correspondences. The disciples are shown that what is already familiar to them is in harmony, part for part, with a spiritual mystery, the study of which is their present task.

Among those things which were familiar to them is the holy hymn known as the Gayatri, which is contained in the Third Circle of the Rig Veda, whose authorship, or, as the Vedas themselves would say, whose seership, is attributed to the great warrior, the Rajput Vishvamitra. The Gayatri contains three short lines of eight syllables each, preceded by an invocation, also of eight syllables. To make the symbolism clearer, the Gayatri may be translated as follows, retaining the divisions into eight syllables:

Om! the Earth, the Mid-world, Heaven!
That Life-giver’s most excellent
Brightness divine, let us adore,
Who guides our souls upon their way!

The Gayatri is primarily a symbol of the formative Logos. As part of a ceremony, its use is regulated by certain rules. There is the initial intoning of the invocation; there is the formula or description of the ceremony; there is the chant, which is in fact a magical incantation, of the verse itself. Finally, there is the rule, the governing force, the fiery energy which goes into the incantation. Taken together, these elements or forces symbolize the formative Logos, the Divine Mind acting creatively.

First, the Intoning represents the Divine Thought, not yet fully uttered or enunciated, as it arises in the formative Logos from the unmanifested Logos, which is the first, earliest expression of the Eternal. Then the Formula, which represents the Divine Plan, corresponding to the Ideas of Plato; or, to use a more modern phrase, the mathematical formula according to which the divine Geometer will work in distributing galaxies and stars, worlds and their inhabitants. Third, the Chant, which represents the creative Word, or Voice, as when “God said, Let there be Light!”

From the simultaneous activity of these three aspects of the formative Logos, the worlds come into manifestation, a manifestation which these teachings conceive, not as Force and Matter, but as Rule, or ordered Power, and Life, which “guards from all harm”, since it is in its essence spiritual, divine, divinely ordered from the suns down to the ants.

These august formative powers are not merely mathematical formulæ, to be stated and then set aside. They are the great spiritual forces, nay, more, the great spiritual Beings, whose collective life makes up the universe. A true knowledge of them implies something more and better than a mathematical formula mastered; it means union with great spiritual Powers, or, more truly, a realization in conscious experience, that this union exists, and is the only real existence. Therefore the disciples are told that he who masters the real meaning of these Powers, wins oneness of nature, oneness of dwelling, with the Powers.

The disciples thus trace the cosmic impulse of manifestation outwards and downwards, in the sequence: Logos, Heavens, Mid-world, Earth. Their thoughts are then directed to the way in which the Gayatri and its parts symbolize the manifestations and states of consciousness, already attained, or yet to be attained, of the individual life. The four great fields or planes of consciousness have already been defined in Mandukya Upanishad. They are there called: Waking, Dream, Dreamless, and Turiya. The last is simply a form of the ordinal number, “fourth”, because that supreme consciousness, which is the highest Moksha or Nirvana, is nameless. The disciples will realize its fulness and mystery when, after ages of striving, they attain to it. Meanwhile, any definition would be vain. Yet something is added here; we are given two epithets for the Turiya consciousness: “the beautiful”, and “above the dust of life”.

The lesson on the Gayatri is followed by a majestic passage beginning: “By a veil as of gold, the face of the Real is hidden!” This passage, a part of a ritual of Initiation, has already been commented on, where it is included in Isha Upanishad.

Then comes the parable of the Great Breath and the vital powers. Here, as always in these teachings, the purpose is not only to impart information, but to awaken intuitive intelligence. We may most easily grasp the meaning if we remember that the Great Breath is the Spirit, the divine Soul, whether regarded as universal or as individual. All vital powers, all activities of Life, whether perceptive or active, are forms, aspects, manifestations, of the one universal Spirit. On Spirit all powers depend; in Spirit all vital powers have their being; apart from Spirit they have no existence. Not only does Spirit manifest these powers and the whole universe with them; Spirit is the universe, in self-manifestation. This is the lesson taught by this often repeated parable.


[Translation]
The Logos and Divine Consciousness
[Section 13]

The Intoning: The Intoning, verily, is Life, for Life raises and supports all in this world. A hero, knowing the Intoning, rises up from him, he wins oneness of nature, oneness of dwelling, with the Intoning, who knows thus.

The Formula: The Formula, verily, is Life, for in Life all beings in this world are united. All beings are united for mastery to him, he wins oneness of nature, oneness of dwelling, with the Formula, who knows thus.

The Chant: The Chant, verily, is Life, for in Life all beings in this world come together. Coming together, verily, all beings build for the mastery of him, he wins oneness of nature, oneness of dwelling, with the Chant, who thus knows.

The Rule: The Rule, verily, is Life, the Rule, of a truth, is Life, for Life guards from all harm. He attains a Rule which needs not to be guarded, he wins oneness of nature, oneness of dwelling, with the Rule, who knows thus.

[Section 14]

The Earth, the Mid-world, the Heavens,—these make up eight syllables. And one division of the Gayatri, the holy hymn, contains eight syllables. And that sequence is this division of it. As much as there is in these three worlds, so much does he win, who knows this division thus.

Verses, Formulas, and the Chants,—these make up eight syllables. And one division of the Gayatri contains eight syllables. And that sequence is this division of it. As much as is this threefold lore, so much does he win, who knows this division thus.

Breathing, Out-breathing, Forth-breathing,—these make up eight syllables. And one division of the Gayatri contains eight syllables. And that sequence is this division of it. As much that possesses Breathing as there is in this world, so much does he win, who knows this division thus.

And so there is the fourth (turiya), the beautiful division, he who gleams above the dust of life. This fourth (turiya) division is called the beautiful, because it is revealed. It is called above-the-dust because it gleams above, above the dust of life. He shines in grace and glory, who knows this division thus.

And this Gayatri, the holy hymn, is established upon that fourth (turiya) beautiful division, above the dust of life. That is established upon Truth. Vision, verily, is Truth; yea, Vision, verily is Truth. Therefore, if now two should come contending,—the one saying: “I have seen!”, the other saying: “I have heard!” we should put faith in him who said: “I have seen!”

And that Truth is established on Power. Verily, Power is Life. It is established on Life. Therefore they say: “Power has greater radiance than Truth!” Thus is this Gayatri established with regard to the Divine Self.

This Gayatri protects the servants of the house. The life-breaths, verily, are the servants of the house. Thus it protects the life-breaths. Because it protects (tra) the servants of the house (gaya), it bears the name, Gayatri; it is the verse concerning the Life-giver, which is intoned. When one intones it, it protects his life-breaths.

There are those who intone this verse concerning the Life-giver in four times eight syllables. “Voice”, they say, “has four times eight divisions; we intone the verse concerning the Life-giver in accordance with this!” Let him not do this, but let him intone the verse concerning the Life-giver as thrice eight syllables. Verily, if he who knows thus lays hold on much, as it were,—that is not equal to even one division of the Gayatri.

If he should lay hold on the three worlds and all that therein is, he would obtain as much as the first division of the Gayatri. If he should lay hold on the threefold lore, he would obtain as much as the second division. If he should lay hold on all that possess Breathing, he would obtain as much as the third division. But the fourth (turiya) division, the beautiful, which gleams above the dust of life, cannot be thus obtained by anyone. For how could one lay hold upon so much!

Thus is the Gayatri approached with adoration: “O Gayatri, thou hast one division, two divisions, three divisions, four divisions; yet thou art without division, for thou art undivided! Adoration to thy fourth (turiya) division, the beautiful, above the dust of life! Let not that one obtain that,—that is, the enemy. Or, let not the desire of that one be fulfilled! Verily, his desire is not fulfilled, regarding whom one thus adores. Or, let me obtain that!”

Concerning this, Janaka, King of the Videhas, thus spoke to Budila the son of Ashvatarashvin: “If thou hast said that thou knowest the Gayatri, how hast thou become bearer of burdens, as an elephant?”

“O King!” he replied, “I did not know its mouth!”

Verily, the Fire-lord is its mouth. For even if they lay much, as it were, on the fire, the fire consumes it all. In the same way, he who thus knows, even when he has committed much sin, purging himself of it all, he becomes cleansed, purified, free from decay, immortal.

[Section 15]

By a veil as of gold, the face of the Real is hidden. O thou Shepherd of the flock, Lord of the sun, lift up that veil, for the vision of the law of the Real!

Shepherd and Lord of Light, thou only Seer, Lord of Death, Light-Giver, Son of the Lord of Life, send forth thy rays and bring them together!

That radiance of thine, thy form most beautiful I behold; the Spiritual Man in the real world. That am I!

My Spirit enters the Spirit, the Immortal. And this body has its end in ashes! Om!

O Sacrifice, remember! Remember what has been done! O Sacrifice, remember! Remember what has been done!

O Divine Fire, lead us by the good path to Victory! O Bright One, thou who knowest all wisdoms!

Give us victory over our consuming sin! To Thee we offer the highest word of praise!

[Part VI, Section 1]

Om! He, verily, who knows the most venerable and the best becomes the most venerable and best of his own people. The Great Breath, verily, is the most venerable and the best. He who knows thus becomes the most venerable and the best of his own people, and of those of whom he wishes so to become.

He, verily, who knows the most excellent becomes the most excellent of his own people. Voice, verily, is the most excellent. He who knows thus becomes the most excellent of his own people, and also of those of whom he wishes so to become.

He, verily, who knows the firm foundation stands firm both on even and on uneven ground. Seeing, verily, is the firm foundation, for through Seeing one stands firm on even and on uneven ground. He stands firm on even and on uneven ground who knows thus.

He, verily, who knows the treasure, attains as treasure whatsoever he desires. Hearing, verily, is the treasure, for in hearing is stored the treasure of all these Vedas. He attains as treasure whatsoever he desires who knows thus.

He, verily, who knows the abode becomes the abode of his own people, an abode of men. Mind, verily, is the abode. He becomes the abode of his own people, the abode of men, who knows thus.

He, verily, who knows the life-power increases in offspring and cattle. The seed, verily, is the life-power. He increases in offspring and cattle who knows thus.

They, verily, these vital powers contended among themselves as to which was the better. They went to Brahma. To Brahma they said: “Which of us is most excellent?”

To them Brahma said: “That one of you through whose going forth the body is thought to be most afflicted, that one of you is the most excellent!”

So Voice went forth. Going forth for a cycle and then returning, Voice said: “How have ye been able to live without me?”

They said: “As the dumb, not speaking, yet breathing with the breath, seeing with sight, hearing through the power of hearing, knowing through the mind, giving through the life-power, thus have we lived!” Voice entered in again.

Then Seeing went forth. Going forth for a cycle and then returning, Seeing said: “How have ye been able to live without me?”

They said: “As the blind, not perceiving with sight, yet breathing with the breath, speaking with the voice, hearing through the power of hearing, knowing through the mind, giving life through the life-power, thus have we lived!” Seeing entered in again.

Then Hearing went forth. Going forth for a cycle and then returning, Hearing said: “How have ye been able to live without me?”

They said: “As the deaf, not hearing with the power of hearing, yet breathing with the breath, speaking with the voice, seeing with sight, knowing with the mind, giving life through the life-power, thus have we lived!” Hearing entered in again.

Then Mind went forth. Going forth for a cycle and then returning, Mind said: “How have ye been able to live without me?”

They said:· “As the deluded, not knowing through the mind, yet breathing with the breath, speaking with the voice, seeing with sight, hearing through the power of hearing, giving life through the life-power, thus have we lived!” Mind entered in again.

Then the Life-power went forth. Going forth for a cycle and then returning, the Life-power said: “How have ye been able to live without me?”

They said: “As the impotent, not giving life through the life-power, yet breathing with the breath, speaking with the voice, seeing with sight, hearing with the power of hearing, knowing with the mind, thus have we lived!” The Life-power entered in again.

Then, when Breath would have gone forth, as a strong horse from the region of the Sindhu (Indus) might drag away his foot-ropes and their pegs, so did Breath drag away the lesser vital powers with him.

They said: “O Worthy One, go not forth! For without thee we shall not be able to live!”

“If such I be, then make an offering to me!”

“So be it!” said they.

Voice, verily, said: “Wherein I am most excellent, therein most excellent art thou!”

Seeing, verily, said: “Wherein I am a firm foundation, therein art thou the firm foundation!”

Hearing, verily, said: “Wherein I am a treasure, therein art thou the treasure!”

Mind, verily, said: “Wherein I am an abode, therein art thou the abode!”

The Life-power, verily, said: “Wherein I am giving life, therein art thou giving life!”

Breath said: “If such I be, what is my food? What is my dwelling?”

“Whatsoever there is in this world, down to the food of dogs, down to the food of caterpillars, down to the food of worms and butterflies, that is thy food! As for thy dwelling, it is the waters.”

What is not food is not eaten by the Breath. What is not food is not laid hold of by him who knows thus: that it is the food of Life, of Breath. They who know this, who have heard the teaching, being about to eat, sip water, and having eaten, sip water. Thus they think that they make Breath not naked.


Part VI, Section 2

[Introduction]
King Pravahana, Son of Jivala

The passage to be translated is one of the few that occur more than once in the great Upanishads. The closely parallel version in the Chhandogya Upanishad has already been translated. For the repetition of the story of King Pravahana, son of Jivala, and the two Brahmans, father and son, there is ample justification, for this narrative contains the key to the spiritual history of India throughout millenniums; it further contains a vitally important suggestion as to the spiritual destiny of India through future ages.

The dramatic movement of the story is rapid and full of interest. First to be named of the persons of the drama is Shvetaketu, a Brahman youth; of him we are told, in a famous passage of the Chhandogya Upanishad, that he had committed to memory the verses of the three Vedas, the Rig, the Yajur and the Sama, so that he could intone any text that was asked for. We are also told that he was conceited, vain of his learning and proud. One who was critical of the Brahmans throughout the millenniums of their history, would be inclined to say that Shvetaketu is the great exemplar and antetype of one aspect of that gifted hierarchy; and it is worth noting that in the records of the Buddha, greatest of the Rajput race, there are many portraits of young Brahmans who bear the strongest family likeness to Shvetaketu, conceited, vain of his learning and proud.

Shvetaketu, thus mentally and morally equipped, presented himself to the assembly of the Panchalas, who were of the Rajput race. King Pravahana, son of Jivala, was seated in the midst of his followers, who were in all likelihood his disciples, since he was a Master of the Secret Wisdom. After he had greeted the young Brahman, King Pravahana asked him whether he had been instructed in the teaching by his father. Over-confidently, the youth declared that he had been instructed. King Pravahana then asked him a series of questions, concerning which the comment of the youthful Brahman, when he bad returned crestfallen to his father, was this:

“This Rajanya fellow has asked me five questions, and I do not know one of them!”

To begin with, it is evident that Shvetaketu did not well consider and ponder over the questions that were put to him, for, with the exception of the last, the group of questions imply their own answers. Thus the first question, as to the diverging paths on which beings proceed on going forth from this world at death, is really answered by the fourth question. For the diverging paths are the path of the gods and the path of the fathers, by which goes all that moves between father heaven and mother earth. In like manner the answer to the question why the other world is not filled to overflowing by the souls that go thither incessantly, is because they come to this world again. Therefore we are here concerned with the teaching of rebirth, or reincarnation.

But, one may ask, if Shvetaketu had been instructed in the teachings which were known to his father, if he had learned by heart and could recite the verses of the three Vedas, Rig, Yajur and Sama, how is it possible that he did not at once recognize this transparent allusion to the teaching of rebirth, or reincarnation?

The answer is at once simple and significant. Nowhere in the Vedic hymns is there any reference to reincarnation. Whatever else these hymns contain, they do not contain the teaching of rebirth. They imply, rather, another world, ghostly and filled with mist, such as is depicted in the Babylonian hymns; a world in which the ghosts or spirits of the ancestors are dependent for their cheerless continuance on the offerings of food made to them by their descendants, offerings of rice-cakes, whole or in fragments, and libations of water. To the nine ancestors in the ascending series these offerings were regularly made. After the ninth generation, the ghostly ancestors appear to fade away into forgetfulness and oblivion. We are nowhere told what becomes of them. They simply disappear from sight. To this day, this reverence for ancestors, shown by periodical offerings to their ghosts, is the practical religion of the Brahmans, the foundation on which is built their whole system of family law. The central religious fact is the offering of the rice and water to the ghosts of the dead; but this offering must be made by the spiritual representative, in the direct line of descent. As a result, whoever is declared by the Brahman family priest to be entitled to make the offering, is thereby announced to be the principal heir of the estate, which he administers primarily in order to assure the continuance of the necessary periodical offerings. Where there is no son to make these offerings, a son may be adopted, according to certain intricate rules, of which the Brahman priests are once more the arbiters. Further, the anxious desire for a son who shall make the offerings, and thereby secure the well-being of the soul in the next world, is the main cause of those too early marriages which are responsible for many of India’s woes, including over-population and heavy infant mortality.

But the questions of King Pravahana implied something besides the teaching of rebirth, or reincarnation. This teaching, in itself, and materialistically understood, as it often is in the Orient to-day, is hardly more inspiriting or illumining than the earlier and very widely held belief in the Babylonian underworld of mist. Perpetually repeated births lead nowhere, and are without purpose, without inspiration. The answer to this difficulty is, that the teaching of reincarnation is only half the complete doctrine, and the lower half. There is also the splendid teaching of divine rebirth, of spiritual liberation and attainment, the teaching which the Buddha named the way of Nirvana, and which is here finely called the path of the gods. The path of the gods is the spiritual side of the teaching, while the way of reincarnation the material side. For this reason, they are also called the path of the sun and the path of the moon; the way of reincarnation being connected with the lunar pitris, as the way of liberation is connected with solar divinities.

Shvetaketu’s father, called in other passages Uddalaka, grandson of Aruna, belonged to a tribe of Brahmans called the Gotamas. There was a tribe or clan of the same name among the Rajanyas, or Rajputs, who to this day dominate Western India, and to this tribe Prince Siddhartha, who is known as the Buddha, belonged. But no kinship is implied by the identity of name. There is a difference, not of caste only—that is, of social standing and of occupation—between Rajput and Brahman; there is further a profound difference of race. There is in fact a difference in “colour,” as the Sanskrit word varna, translated “caste,” really means. The evidence on this point falls naturally into two parts: first, the proof that the Rajputs of to-day are ethnically distinct from the Brahmans of pure stock, the Rajputs being a red, ruddy or copper-coloured race, while the Brahmans are white-skinned, the two races being further distinguished by skull-form, stature, and the other qualities which make for race-difference. The descent of the pure-blooded Rajput of to-day from the Rajanya of two thousand years ago is unquestioned, as is the race-continuity of the pure-blooded Brahman. This brings us to the second part of our evidence: the fact that the race-difference between Rajanya and Brahman was recognized in India more than two thousand years ago; and that precisely the difference in colour which we have described, was hit on as a distinguishing character. There are, besides the red Rajput and the white Brahman, two other ancient race-stocks in India distinguished by colour: namely, the yellow races, generally called Kolarian, such as the Santals of Bengal and the Savaras of Madras; and the black Dravidian races of the south, whose languages are Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and the rest of the Dravidian family. The yellow races seem to have inherited from a remote time the culture of rice and silk, which are so characteristic of the yellow race in China; and the black races, the Dravidians, have remarkable skill in handicrafts, in building, in metal work, and so on, the temples of Madura and other southern cities being among the wonders of the world.

Keeping this position of the four races or “colours” in mind, we are in a position to see the absolute accuracy of the following passage from the Mahabharata, in the Shantiparvan, beginning at verse 6934:

“The colour (varna) of the Brahman was white, that of the Kshatriyas red, that of the Vaishyas yellow, that of the Shudras black. . . . This world, having been at first created by Brahma entirely Brahmanic, became separated into colour in consequence of works. Those twice-born men who were fond of sensual pleasure, fiery, irascible, prone to violence, who had forsaken their duty, and were red-limbed, came into the condition of Kshatriyas.

“Those twice-born who derived their livelihood from kine, who were yellow, who subsisted by agriculture, and who neglected to practise their duties, entered into the state of Vaishyas. Those twice-born who were addicted to mischief and falsehood, who were covetous, who lived by all kinds of work, who were black and had fallen from purity, sank into the condition of Shudras.”

The two words used to describe the skin-colour of the military race, the Kshatriyas, in this passage, lohita (“red”) and rakta-anga (“red-limbed”), are admitted by the highest authorities to be accurately descriptive of the skin-colour of the military race of Rajputs at the present day. It would seem, therefore, that we have a conclusive demonstration of the true relation of the “castes”; they are really, what the Sanskrit word means, “colours”, the colours of four distinct races, white, red, yellow and black as we find them in India to-day, and as they must have been when the balance of power between the four races, which is called the Chaturvarnya, or “Four-colour system,” was first struck in that admirably durable polity which finds its most famous expression in Manu’s Laws. The two fundamental principles of this polity were first, that each race must remain distinct, of pure blood, intermarriage being heavily penalized; and, secondly, that each race should perform, in the state, those functions for which it was fitted by physical character and moral development. Both principles are thoroughly sound and wise; and to their wisdom was due the long duration of the “four-colour system,” in India.

It will be noted that the passage cited from the Mahabharata is obviously from the point of view of the Brahmans. To bring this out, one may contrast it with a certain discourse of the Buddha, the Sultanta of the First Things, the purpose of which is to show that the Rajanyas, or Rajputs, are nobler and more ancient than the Brahmans.

There is yet another difference, which the Buddha, delivering a popular discourse, did not mention, though it was well known to him, since he exemplified it in his person. This is, that the Rajanyas were in possession of the teaching and practice of the Greater Mysteries, while the Brahmans were not, though they had long been in possession of the Three Vedas. The essence of the story of the Rajput King Pravahana, and the Brahman father and son is, that it clearly and explicitly records the occasion on which a Rajput Master first imparted to a Brahman disciple something of the tradition of the Greater Mysteries. But, before King Pravahana thus imparted the tradition, he insisted that the older Brahman should seek to become his disciple according to the time-honoured rite. He further subjected him to a test of sincerity, detachment and aspiration, once again according to the sacramental formula, which is given in the Dialogue of Yama and Nachiketas:

“Choose sons and grandsons of a hundred years, and much cattle, and elephants and gold and horses. Choose the great abode of the earth, and for thyself live as many autumns as thou wilt.

“If thou thinkest this an equal wish, choose wealth and length of days. Be thou mighty in the world, O Nachiketas; I make thee an enjoyer of thy desires.

“Whatever desires are difficult to gain in the mortal world, ask all desires according to thy will.

“These beauties with their chariots and lutes—not such as these are to be won by men—be waited on by them, my gifts. Ask me not of death, Nachiketas!”

Both this and the test of the older Brahman,—“Store of gold, of cattle and horses, of slave-girls and tapestries and robes,”—have their parallel in the Temptation in the Wilderness.

One point remains. The older Brahman specifically asked for the answers of the questions which had been put to his vain son, Shvetaketu. But King Pravahana makes no allusion either to questions or to answers. How is this omission to be explained?

The explanation is simple. The five questions refer, as we have seen, to the substance of the Greater Mysteries, and in particular, to the problem, how an aspirant for immortality may pass from the ceaseless round of reincarnation to the spiritual sunlight of the way of liberation.

The teaching imparted by King Pravahana to the older Brahman equally refers to the teaching of the Greater Mysteries, but, while necessarily clothed in symbols, it is somewhat fuller, giving, in addition to what was implied in the five questions, an outline of the teaching of emanation, the evolution of the descending worlds, or planes, from the One Eternal. For simplicity, only three planes are mentioned: the celestial world, the mid-world, the earthly world. But, even in this outline, certain things are made clear. First, that each stage of emanation, or evolution, is a sacrifice; second, that the process is not one of a self-unfolding mechanism, as many men of science teach to-day, but, on the contrary, that every stage is guided and presided over by divine powers, the Radiant Beings, of the text, who are elsewhere called Planetary Spirits.

The whole process culminates in man, whose biography is summarized thus: “He lives his life-span, and then he dies.”

Then comes the fulfilment of the king’s promise. He gives the older Brahman, now his tested disciple, another version of the two paths, path of the gods and path of the fathers, with slightly different but entirely consistent symbols. The path of the gods leads to spiritual rebirth and liberation. The path of the fathers leads to reincarnation.

It is as though there were an ascending series of planes, each with its positive pole, and each with its negative pole. The strong soul goes from one positive pole to the next, till he reaches the realm of Brahma. The weak soul, drawn to the negative poles, returns to this world.


[Translation]
Rajanya and Brahman
[Section 2]

Shvetaketu, verily, Aruna’s grandson, came to the assembly of the Panchala nation. He came to Pravahana, son of Jivala, who was attended by his followers. Looking up at him, the king addressed him:

“Youth!” said he.

“Sir!” he replied.

“Hast thou received the teaching from thy father?”

“Yes!” he said.

“Knowest thou how these beings, going forth from this world, proceed on different paths?”

“No!” said he.

“Knowest thou how they come back to this world again?”

“No!” he said.

“Knowest thou how that world is not filled up by the many going thither again and again?”

“No!” said he.

“Knowest thou at which sacrifice being sacrificed, the waters, rising up, speak with human voice?”

“No!” said he.

“Knowest thou the approach of the path of the gods, or of the path of the fathers, or by doing what they approach the path of the gods or the path of the fathers: as the word of the Rishi has been heard by us:

“‘Two ways I heard of, for mortals, the way of the fathers and the way of the gods.

“‘By them goes all that moves, between father heaven and mother earth.’”

“No!” said he; “I do not know even one of them.”

The king invited him to remain as his pupil. Not consenting to remain, he ran away to his father. He said to him:

“Forsooth, Sir, thou didst say that we had received the teaching!”

“How now, wise one?” he answered.

“This Rajanya fellow has asked me five questions, and I do not know one of them!”

“What were they?” said he.

“These!” said he, and he enumerated them. His father said:

“Thou knowest us thus, dear, that whatever know, told it all to thee! But come, let us two set forth thither, and dwell as pupils with the king!”

“Go yourself, Sir!” said he.

That descendant of Gotama went to where Pravahana, son of Jivala, was. To him offering a seat, the king caused water to be offered. He made him the offering. To him the king said:

“We give a wish to the worshipful descendant of the Gotamas.”

He said:

“This wish is promised to me: the speech that thou didst speak in the presence of the boy, tell me that!”

The king said:

“That, O descendant of the Gotamas, is among the wishes of the gods. Say a wish of men!”

He said:

“It is well known! There is store of gold, of cattle and horses, of slave-girls and tapestries and robes! May the Master not be niggardly toward us, in that which is great, infinite, illimitable!”

The king said:“This wish, descendant of the Gotamas, must be sought according to rule.”

“I offer myself as thy pupil!” said he. For with this word the men of old betook them to a Master. He therefore dwelt there, thus becoming his disciple.

The king said to him:

“Therefore, O descendant of the Gotamas, be thou without reproach toward us, thou and thy forefathers: since this teaching never before dwelt in any Brahman, but to thee shall declare it, for who has the right to refuse thee, speaking thus!”

He said:

“That world, verily, is as a sacrificial fire, O descendant of the Gotamas. Of it, the sun truly is as the fuel; the rays of light are as the smoke; day is as the flame; the regions of the heavens are as the embers; the lesser regions are as the sparks. In this sacrificial fire the Radiant Beings offer faith. From this oblation Soma Raja arises.

“The cloud of watery vapour, verily, is as a sacrificial fire. O descendant of the Gotamas. Of it, the year is as the fuel; the thunder clouds are as the smoke; the lightning is as the flame; the thunderbolts are as the embers; the hail-stones are as the sparks. In this sacrificial fire the Radiant Beings offer Soma Raja. From this oblation rain arises.

“This world, verily, is as a sacrificial fire, O descendant of the Gotamas. Of it, the earth is as the fuel; the fire is as the fuel; the night is as the flame; the moon is as the embers; the stars are as the sparks. In this sacrificial fire the Radiant Beings offer the rain. From this oblation food arises.

“The union of parents, verily, is as a sacrificial fire, O descendant of the Gotamas. The lips opened in breathing are as the fuel; the life-breath is as the smoke; vision is as the embers; hearing is as the sparks. In this sacrificial fire of union the Radiant Beings offer the food. From this oblation the new-born being arises. He lives his full life-span, and then he dies, and they take him to the pyre. . . . In this fire the bright powers offer the man, and from that sacrifice the man is born, of the colour of the sun.

“They who know this thus, and they who, in the forest, follow faith and truth, they are born into the flame, from the flame they go to the day, from the day to the waxing moon, from the waxing moon to the six months in which the sun goes north, from these months to the Deva-world, from the Deva-world to the sun, from the sun to the lightning; them, reaching the lightning, a person, mind-born, coming, leads to the worlds of the Eternal. They dwell in those worlds of the Eternal, in the highest realms; for them there is no return.

“But they who win worlds by sacrifice, gifts, penance, they are born into the smoke of the pyre, from the smoke they go to the night, from the night to the waning moon; from the waning moon to the six months in which the sun goes south, from these months to the world of the fathers, from the world of the fathers to the moon. They, reaching the moon, become food. The gods feast on them, as they wax and wane, like the lunar lord. Then, going full circle, they descend to this ether, from the ether to the air, from the air to rain, from rain to the earth; reaching the earth, they become food. Again they are sacrificed in the fire of man and the fire of woman, and are reborn, coming forth again to the world of men. Thus, verily, they go on their circling way.”

[Note: the remainder of Part VI (Sections 3-5) was left untranslated by Johnston.]

[Here ends the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad]