The divine Song, verily, is all their being, whatsoever there is; and the Word is the divine Song. The Word, verily, enounces and guards all being.
And the divine Song, verily, is this world, for in it all this being firmly rests, and goes not out beyond it.
And what this world is, is this body here, in man; for in it all the life-breaths firmly rest, and go not out beyond it.
And what is this body here, in man, that is the heart, in the inner man; for in it all the life-breaths firmly rest, and go not out beyond it.
This is the divine Song, with its four degrees and its six parts, and it has been declared thus by the Vedic hymn:
So far is the greatness of it, and mightier than this is the spirit;
One degree of it is all beings, three degrees of it are immortal in the heavens.
And what is called the Eternal, is the outward shining-ether, outside man; and what the outward shining-ether outside man is, that the shining-ether here in the inner man Is.
And what the shining-ether here in the inner man is, that verily is the shining-ether in the inner heart.
Thus this is perfect and passes not away; he who knows this gains perfect happiness, that passes not away.
Of it, verily, of the heart, there are five channels for the bright powers :
There is the eastern channel; it is the forward-breath; it is the power of seeing; it is the sun. Therefore this should be reverently approached as radiance, as the world-food. Radiant, an eater of the world-food, he becomes, who knows thus.
And so there is the southern channel; it is the distributing-breath; it is hearing; it is the moon. Therefore it should be reverently approached as happiness and fame. Happy and famous he becomes, who knows thus.
And so there is the western channel; it is the downward-breath it is voice; it is fire. Therefore it should be reverently approached as divine lustre and the world-food. Full of divine lustre, and an eater of the world-food he becomes, who knows thus.
And so there is the northern channel; it is the uniting-breath; it is mind; it is the storm god. Therefore it should be reverently approached as glory and praise. Full of glory and praise he becomes, who knows thus.
And so there is the upward channel; it is the upward-breath; it is the great breath; it is the shining-ether. Therefore it should be reverently approached as brightness and as the mighty one. Full of brightness and mighty he becomes, who knows thus.
These are the five spirits of the Eternal ; the keepers of the gates of the heaven-world. He who knows, verily, these five spirits of the Eternal, the keepers of the gates of the heaven-world, in his family is born a hero; he reaches the heaven-world, who knows these five spirits of the Eternal, the keepers of the gates of heaven.
And the Light that shines there, beyond the heavens, at the back of the world, at the back of all, in the best and most excellent worlds, is the same as the light that shines in the inner man.
And the sight of it is this: where he knows by feeling the fiery power here, within the body. And the hearing of it is this: where, stopping both ears, he yet hears it like a murmuring, like the crackling of a burning fire. Therefore it should be reverently approached as seen and as heard. A seer and hearer he becomes, who knows thus,—who knows thus.
All this, verily, is the Eternal. It should be reverently approached, in silence, as breathing and living in him.
Verily man is formed of Will; according as a man’s will is, in this world, according to that is his being, on going forth hence. Let him perform his will.
Of the form of mind, with a body of vital-breath, of the nature of light, intending toward the real, of the being of the shining-ether, doing all things, desiring all things, smelling all things, tasting all things, embracing all that is, silent, untroubled :—this is my Self in the inmost heart; smaller than a grain of rice, or a grain of barley, or a grain of mustard-seed, or a grain of millet, or the kernel of a grain of millet; this is my Self in the inmost heart; older than the earth, older than the mid-world, greater than heaven, greater than all these worlds. Doing all things, desiring all things, smelling all things, tasting all things, embracing all that is, silent, untroubled. This is my Self in the inmost heart, this is the Eternal. Going forth hence, I shall enter into its being. He who has possessed this, doubts no more.
Thus, of old, spoke Shandilya, Shandilya.
There is an egg-like sphere encompassing the etherial world; that root of the world grows not old. The spaces are its channels, heaven is its upper concave. This sphere is the treasury of the world, wherein all this world is stored.
The eastern space of it is called the sacrificial vessel; the southern space is called the enduring; the western space is called the queen; of these the great Breath is the child. He who knows that Breath as the child of the spaces, mourns not with the mourning for children. I, verily, know that breath as the child of the spaces, and mourn not with the mourning for children.
I enter the most excellent sphere, by that, by that, by that. I enter life, by that, by that, by that. I enter the terrestrial world, by that, by that, by that. I enter the etherial world by that, by that, by that. I enter the celestial world by that, by that, by that.
So as I said: “I enter life,” thus life, verily, is all being, whatsoever there is. As life, I have gained being.
And as I said: “I enter the terrestrial world,’’ thus I enter the earth, I enter the air, I enter the sky; thus I said.
And as I said: “I enter the etherial world,’’ thus I enter fire, I enter the breath, I enter the sun; thus I said.
And as I said: “I enter the celestial world,” thus I enter the Rig Veda, I enter the Yajur Veda, I enter the Sama Veda. Thus I said; thus I said.
Man, verily, is a sacrifice. His first four and twenty years are the early morning oblation. The metre of the divine Song has four and twenty syllables; therefore this early morning oblation belongs to the divine Song.
The powers of earth are correlated to it; the vital breaths are the powers of earth, because they penetrate all this world.
Therefore if, in this period, he should be afflicted, let him say: may the vital breaths, the powers of earth, prolong this my early morning oblation until the midday oblation. May I not be cut off as a sacrifice in the midst of the powers of earth, the vital breaths. It passes, and he becomes whole.
And the next forty-four years are the midday oblation. The metre of the hymns has forty-four syllables, therefore this midday oblation belongs to the metre of the hymns. The powers of the breaths are correlated with it, the vital breaths are the powers of the breaths, because they move all this world.
Therefore if in this period he should be afflicted, let him say: may the vital breaths, the powers of the breaths, prolong this my midday oblation until the third oblation. May I not be cut off as a sacrifice in the midst of the breaths, the powers of the breaths. It passes, and he becomes whole.
And the next forty-eight years are the third oblation. The second metre of the hymns has forty-eight syllables, therefore this third oblation belongs to it. The powers of light are correlated with it, the vital breaths are the powers of light, because they encompass all this world.
Therefore if in this period, he should be afflicted, let him say: may the vital breaths, the powers of light, prolong this my third oblation until the full end of my time; may I not be cut off in the midst of the vital breaths as a sacrifice. It passes, and he becomes whole.
Knowing this of old, Mahidasa, grandson of Itara, and saying: “Why dost thou afflict me, since I will not therefore go forth from the body,” lived, verily, sixteen hundred years. He lives, verily, sixteen hundred years, who thus knows.
Commentary: The Teachings of the Seers
By a curious coincidence, in which there was no element of intention whatever, the opening verses of the section of the Upanishads, here translated, carry with them a marked suggestion of the beginning of the Fourth Gospel; while the verses from the Vayu Purana translated first, are equally reminiscent of the opening lines of Genesis.
Here we read “in the beginning, all things fixed and moving had melted together, and the spirit slept on the great deep,’’ just as in the other teaching, where “the earth was without form, and void; and the spirit brooded over the waters.” Here also, the brooding spirit is pictured with a wonderfully vivid and poetic touch, “the great Breath moved on the waters, to and fro, like a firefly at night, in the season of the rains.”
In the same way, we are reminded of those eminently gnostic verses: “In the beginning was the Word,” and what follows by the sentence “The divine Song, verily, is all this being and the Word is the divine Song.”
It will hardly be necessary to say that we are dealing, here, with a vivid and striking picture of the doctrine of the emanation of worlds from the unmanifest Eternal. The divine Song is the famous verse, of four short lines, which we translated some time ago:
OM! earth! mid-world! Heaven!
That Sun’s most excellent
Brightness divine, let us meditate on,
Which enlightens our souls.
And the four-lined verse is chosen because it very fitly represents the four steps, or grades of being, which are generally enumerated thus: waking, dreaming, dreamlessness, and the fourth, which is ineffable.
Therefore the “divine Song” represents the fourfold world, as is suggested by its own words: earth, mid world, heaven, the divine Sun. And it further suggests that the manifesting of the worlds depends on rhythmical harmony of vibration, like the singing of a chant.
Then comes the teaching, so often repeated, that the little world of man, the microcosm, is built in perfect harmony with the great world of Nature, the macrocosm. So we are told that what the world is,—a four fold being,—that also the body of a man is. We may understand this fourfold nature of man and his body in more ways than one; first, corresponding to earth, mid-world, and heaven, there are the forces of passion emotion, and soul; with the spirit which includes them all, the Self, corresponding to the fourth world, the ineffable. Then again, there are the physical self, the psychic self, the spiritual self and the divine Self, likewise corresponding with the fourfold world. Of this fourfold self it is said:
One degree of it is all manifested being; three degrees are immortal in the heavens.
The three hidden degrees are the divine, the spiritual, and the psychic selves, though only the two former, or in the most rigid sense, the first, can strictly be said to be immortal.
Again, we are taught that the world outside man, the world of the inner man, and the world of the inmost man, who is called, very strikingly the inmost heart, are not in reality different, but are all only modes of the Eternal, and therefore, in the last analysis, are all but the One. It will be seen That this teaching of the fourfold world of Nature, and the fourfold world of man that corresponds to it, really embrace the whole universe, though, of course, only in briefest outline. And it is characteristic of what we are now translating, that almost every section is complete in itself, and is not closely connected with what goes before, or what follows; so that we evidently have here a series of brief and weighty teachings handed down in the schools of different masters, two of whom are mentioned by name, in the closing verses of two sections, particularly connected with them by tradition,—namely, Shandilya and Mahidasa.
The second section, translated above, develops more fully the teaching as to the inner man, who is still called the heart; as to his powers, and the vital energies within and without him which are correlated to these powers.
It will be easily understood that the sun and the sight referred to are primarily the spirit and the spiritual intuition; though, as all things are bound together in the universe, the natural sun and physical sight, correspond to the same powers on their own plane. The powers called “hearing” and “the moon” are, in the same way, the mind of the psychical self, and the psychical world, in their primary meaning.; and, as before, they have also their natural correspondences. In like fashion, “fire” and “voice” are the habitual symbols of the fire of physical life, and the creative, or formative power which is the most extreme manifestation of physical life; the creative energy which, being, primarily, the reflection of the creative word of divinity, becomes, when abused, the darkest shadow of humanity.
Following the same symbolism, the “storm-god” and the “great Breath” again represent the psychic and spirit worlds, this time taken from below upwards, on the returning tide of involution, after the outward evolution or emanation has been completed.
At the same time, we have bound up together with this the correspondences of the vital breaths, the actual powers of the physical life of the body, and, with them, the physical powers of sense.
Then follows the striking image: these five powers, in whatever world they are manifested, are the five spirits of the Eternal, the five keepers of the gates of heaven. In no other books do we get this striking note of the highest spirituality, even in the midst of detailed lists of psychical or physical powers; in no other books are we perpetually reminded of the immediate presence of the eternal spirit in all things, in every manifestation, on whatever plane. For the light that shines there, beyond the heavens, at the back of the world, at the back of all things, is the same as the light that shines in the heart of man.
The “fiery power, within the body,” and “the sounds that are heard even where the ears are closed,” have to do with certain states and forces in the psychic life and its development, which must be experienced to be understood.
A new fragment of teaching is reached by the words: All this, verily, is the Eternal; it should be reverently approached in silence as breathing and living in the Eternal. This fragment, which tradition ascribes to the teacher Shandilya, anticipates in a remarkable way the thought that is the heart and soul of Schopenhauer’s philosophy; the thought that the most real, indeed the only real, power in us, is the Will. Then the word-picture of the inner self, of the form of mind, of the nature of light, of the being of the shining ether, doing all things, desiring all things, knowing all things.
In the section of teaching that follows, we come to the world likened to an egg, as the symbol of life developing from within outwards. It seems that the three spaces, eastern, southern, and western, may best be represented by the three sides of a triangle, from which streams forth the radiance of the great Breath. Then again the doctrine of the thrice threefold world, suggested by the threefold repetitions: By that, by that, by that.
The last fragment translated suggests the idea of prolonging life by, a knowledge of the powers of the vital breaths.