[Translation]

That sun is honey for the bright powers; the heaven is the curved support of it; the mid-world is the comb; the beams are the young.

The rays of it that are eastward are the eastern honey-channels; the hymns are the honey-makers the Veda of the hymns is the blossom; the nectars are the waters.

And these, verily, the hymns brooded over the Veda of the hymns. From it, brooded over fervently, glory, radiance, power, valor, food and essence were brought forth. This oozed out; this spread itself round the sun; and it is this that is the sun’s red form.

Likewise the rays of it that are southward are the southward honey-channels; the sentences are the honey-makers; the Veda of the sentences is the blossom; the nectars are the waters.

And these, verily, the sentences brooded over the Veda of the sentences. From it, brooded over fervently, glory, radiance, power, valor, food and essence were brought forth. This oozed out; this spread itself round the sun; and it is this that is the sun’s clear form.

And so the rays of it that are westward are the westward honey-channels; the chants are the honey-maker. the Veda of the chants is the blossom; the nectars are the waters.

And these, verily, the chants brooded over the Veda of the chants. From it, brooded over fervently, glory, radiance, power, valor, food and essence were brought forth. This oozed out; this spread itself round the sun; and it is this that is the sun’s dark form.

And so the rays of it that are northward are the northward honey-channels; the formulas are the honey-makers; the histories and traditions are the blossom; the nectars are the waters.

And these, verily, the formulas brooded over the histories and traditions; wherefrom, brooded over fervently, glory, radiance, power, valor, food and essence were brought forth. This oozed out; this spread itself round the sun; and it is this that is the sun’s very dark form.

And so the rays of it that are upward are the upward honey-channels; the secret instructions are the honey-makers; the Eternal is the blossom; the nectars are the waters.

And these, verily, the secret instructions brooded over the Eternal. From it, brooded over fervently, glory, radiance, power, valor, food and essence were brought forth. This oozed out; this spread itself round the sun; and it is this that throbs, as it were, in the heart of the sun. They, these secret instructions, are the essence of essences; for the Vedas are the essences, and these are the essence of them; and they, these secret instructions, are the nectar of nectars; for the Vedas are nectars, and these are the nectar of them.

And this first nectar, the powers of the earth live on, with the Fire-lord as their leader. These bright powers do not indeed eat nor drink, but beholding the nectar they are satisfied. This form, verily, they gather together into, and from this form they rise again.

He who knows this nectar thus, becoming one of the powers of the earth with the Fire-lord as leader, beholding this nectar, is satisfied. He who enters into this form and again rises up from this form, as long as the sun shall rise in the east and go to its setting in the west, so long shall be enjoy lordship and sovereignty among the powers of the metals.

And this second nectar, the powers of the breaths live on, with the Sky-lord as their leader. These bright powers do not indeed eat nor drink, but beholding the nectar they are satisfied. This form, verily, they gather together into, and from this form they rise again.

He who knows this nectar thus, becoming one of the powers of the breaths with the Sky-lord as leader, beholding this nectar, is satisfied. He who enters into this form and again rises up from this form, as long as the sun shall rise in the east and set in the west, twice as long shall it rise in the south and set in the north; so long shall he enjoy lordship and sovereignty among the powers of the breaths.

And this third nectar the powers of light live on, with the Lord of the deep as their leader. These bright powers do not indeed eat nor drink, but beholding the nectar they are satisfied. This form, verily, they gather together into, and from this form they rise again.

He who knows this nectar thus, becoming one of the powers of light with the Lord of the deep as leader, beholding this nectar, is satisfied. He who enters into this form and again rises up from this form, as long as the sun shall rise in the south and set in the north, twice as long shall it rise in the west and set in the east; so long shall he enjoy lordship and sovereignty among the sons of the great mother.

And the fourth nectar the powers of the air live on, with the lunar Lord as their leader. These bright powers do not indeed eat nor drink, but beholding this nectar they are satisfied. This form, verily, they gather together into, and from this form they rise again.

He who knows this nectar thus, becoming one of the powers of the air, with the lunar Lord as leader, beholding this nectar, is satisfied. He enters into this form and again rises up from this form; as long as the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, twice as long shall it rise in the north and set in the south; so long shall he enjoy lordship and sovereignty among the powers of the air.

And the fifth nectar the powers called the perfect live on, with the Evolver as their leader. These bright powers do not indeed eat nor drink, but beholding this nectar they are satisfied. This form, verily, they gather together into, and from this form they rise again.

He who knows this nectar thus, becoming one of the powers called the perfect, with the Evolver as leader, beholding this nectar, is satisfied. He enters into this form, and again rises up from this form; as long as the sun shall rise in the north and set in the south, twice as long shall it rise above and set below; so long shall he enjoy lordship and sovereignty among the powers called the perfect.

Then after that rising above, it shall rise no more nor set any more, but shall stand alone in the centre.

And there is this verse:

Nor, verily, is there any setting of the sun nor rising forever. May the bright powers be my witnesses that by this truth I may not fail to gain the Eternal.

For him it rises not nor sets, but it is day, once for all, for him who thus knows this hidden wisdom of the Eternal.

This is the teaching that the Evolver taught to the Lord of beings; the Lord of beings taught it to primeval man; primeval man taught it to the descendants. This teaching of the Eternal the father declared to his eldest son, to Uddalaka the son of Aruna. This teaching of the Eternal let the father teach to his eldest son, or to a fully qualified pupil, but by no means to any other, even if he should give him this whole earth encircled by the waters, or even more than this, or even more than this.


Commentary: The Vestures of the Sun

Happily, we are done with the Mysteries of Sound, not the least of the mysteries concerning which is—whether they contain any mystery at all. The new chapter of the Upanishad, beginning with “the sun, honey for the gods,” lands us once more on familiar ground. We recognize the perfectly definite type of teaching by allegory which runs through the Secret Instructions from beginning to end. There is one thing to be noted about the form of this teaching. In our day, we are under the dominion of the discursive reason, the most self-assertive and yet the least effectual of all the powers of the soul. Our discursive reason stands on guard in the ante-room and will let no truths pass into the chamber of the affirming soul without challenging it. One would think—indeed most people have come to think—that the discursive reason is really the knower and master of knowledge, so successfully does this intruder arrogate rights which really belong to quite another, the affirming soul, or intuitive will. This usurpation by discursive reason breeds such a temper in us that we must take all our teaching in the form of argument or proof; not remembering that most arguments live to be out argued; most proofs to be disproved; not remembering also that the validity of argument and proof can never be demonstrated without argument, that is, can never be established independently. Hence all our books which are supposed to contain the most modern truth, appeal almost wholly to discursive reason, they are full of sentences hard and unlovely, without trace of heart or beauty, like the discursive reason itself.

But the teaching of the old books of hidden wisdom give us truth in quite another way, they are full of form and colors; they give us a picture full of life for the imagination to hold and brood over; they teach in parables of such perfect form as to remain unbroken and undiminished in the memory of the ages, where an argument would be wholly out of fashion in a hundred years.

Such a parable is this teaching of “the honey of the gods.” Our discursive reason, with its pretty affectation of preciseness, would speak of the macrocosm as an accumulation of vital entities or some such resonant phrase; the books of wisdom call it a cluster of celestial bees. Then again, we would use the numbers to determine the grade and development of life; they use the great Vedas, whose order was in everyone’s mind, and they supplement this with a classification of colors. We would speak of the fifth plane of manifestation, counting from above; they say rather the ruddy vesture of the sun. We would speak of the initial point of evolution, instead they give us the heavenly east, rosy with the dawn. It cannot be denied that the advantage, in beauty as well as endurance, is all on the side of the old books. Images like the dawn and the honey-makers and the sun will always be fresh and vivid, while it becomes almost impossible to identify the phrases of discursive reason, once they are out of date. This is the pitfall our theologies have fallen into. If they had held to the parables, they would have escaped it.

To come back to the parable; it is really double, and suggests a development in understanding by a simple transition in imagery. There is first this ‘picture: the blue dome or sphere of the sky, with the radiant sun in mid-heaven, at the summit of the blue dome, then mid-world, the world of all the powers of the soul, suspended, as it were, within the blue sphere beneath the golden sun. In this mid-world the celestial energies are at work, as the bees in the hive; the mid-world is the field of the great world-battle, where the powers tend upwards towards the celestial, downwards towards the earthly, with its type, the red fire of earth. Then, within the sphere of the sky, we are to figure five groups of rays, radiating from the sun, eastwards, southwards, westwards, northwards, and upwards, somewhat like a five-pointed star, with the fifth point upwards, if we were to render this image in a diagram of forms and colors.

Having gone so far, the teaching passes through a transition. The form of the diagram gives place to another, which we may fitly describe as the imagery of the vestures of the sun. The sun, here, as elsewhere, seems to mean three things: first, the natural sun in the sky; secondly the “little world of man,” and, lastly, the spiritual sun, the great world, the macrocosm. First, the natural sun; though here we need not press the point, too far. There is, first and outermost, the red vesture of the sun, the chromosphere, as it is called nowadays; the garment of red incandescent gas which is seen fringing the sun when the great body of solar light is obscured in eclipse. Then follows, within and covered by this red vesture, the white and shining garment of the sun, the photo-sphere as we call it, from which comes the great body of sunlight. Within this, the dark garment of the sun; when the bright shining photosphere is torn, it is seen here and there as dark sun-spots, with yet darker centres. It is quite well known that the old Chaldeans watched and recorded these dark rents in the sun’s bright vesture, and we cannot doubt that they were as well known to the sages of the Upanishads, whom we hold for many reasons to have been the Chaldeans’ kin. The spots have, quite clearly defined, a darker centre, which is doubtless the “very dark” vesture of the sun seen through them, as they themselves are seen through the white vesture of light. Lastly, the heart of the sun, which “throbs in the centre,” from whose regular pulsation in systole and diastole arises the quite regular variations in the sun spots, the sun’s magnetism and power, with answering changes in the magnetism and climatic and vital conditions of the earth.

This very clear teaching as to the sun, which is only introduced incidentally in the last half-sentence of each paragraph of the complete parable, is not all that we are told of solar life. These vestures of the sun are not mere dead garments of matter, for in truth there is no dead matter in the universe; they are rather hosts of powers, in ascending grades, whose names we have translated as: the powers of earth, the powers of the breath, the powers of light, the powers of air, and the powers called perfect; each host has its own leader, and the lives of these hosts make up the vestures and vital energies of the sun.

As in every true parable, this imagery applies to many things. It is true of the sun; it is true also of the world of man. Man also, like the sun, wears many vestures. Here the vestures spoken of are the psychic bodies, not so much viewed as they are in any man at one time, but rather such as they successively become, as the man reaches wider and loftier development. There is first the ruddy psychic vesture of the pupil, the purified seeker after wisdom and power; then the white and luminous vesture “of the color of the sun” of the sage who has reached full illumination; then above these, vestures not manifest, dark with exceeding brightness, of the just men made perfect, who have passed to the other side. Lastly, the great heart universal, that throbs in the centre. It will be seen that here is no question of the physical body. It is replaced by the fire-lord, the vital fire which is the life within the body by which the body is upheld; of which, indeed, the body is only the image made outwardly apparent. What is said as to those who know these nectars, who wear these vestures, becoming one with each grade of powers in turn, refers, if we understand it aright, to the teaching that the advancing soul, as it goes onward on the path, becomes possessed not merely of a group of abstract truths,—mere formulas of the universe,—but rather of vital powers, energies, living forces. This, we think, is the lordship and sovereignty among the powers of the breath, or the powers of the great deep, which is promised to him who gains the knowledge of each successive vesture; and the knowledge of these vestures can only be gained in one way,—by wearing them.

There is only one thing more to be touched on in this parable: the curious sentences about the sun rising now in one, now in another quarter of the sky, and the length of the period he rises in each. This again seems to bear manifold meanings. First, we have the traditions of old that the actual rising and setting of the sun has changed within man’s memory; if this be alluded to, we may raise the question of the length of the period during which each point of rising and setting endured, and we may, along this path, come upon the traces of some great cyclic law. Or again we may take these sentences as figures of the superior endurance and excellence of each vesture over that which precedes it; of each world over the world directly beneath it in the chain of globes. The commentator follows this view, taking these “vestures of the sun” to be the various worlds of works, or paradises; the time of their endurance being the measure of the efficacy of their energies, when compared to the energies of the outermost world. So that the energies of the first paradise, the world next above, or within this, would have twice the efficacy of this world’s powers; and so on with the others.

That we are here dealing with a cycle of successive illuminations or initiations is evident from the closing sentences of the parable. Of him who has entered into, and risen up from, each vesture in succession, it is said that his sun, rising above, shall rise no more nor set any more, but shall stand alone in the centre; for him it rises not nor sets, but is day once for all, for him who thus knows this hidden wisdom of the Eternal.

This sun is indeed the Eternal, the supreme self the spiritual shining which has illumined every vesture and at last has filled the whole sky, shining overhead, to endure everlastingly. When that perfect shining has come, there is no more rising nor setting, no birth nor death, nor do those who have seen that day go out any more from the light. We are still further assured of the profound significance of this parable by the origin which is assigned to it at the close. It is part of that primeval wisdom which the great powers guiding evolution disclosed to the first man, from whom it has been handed down regularly in descent, from teacher to worthy pupil.

We have simply outlined three of the meanings which this parable visibly bears; but this does not by any means exhaust its significance, nor have we said nearly all that might be said of the meanings already traced. It is a part of the virtue of these old mystery teachings, that they are quite inexhaustible; every advance in enlightment gives us a new insight into their meanings. What new insights we shall gain, not only into this pictured type of the world, but into the world thus typified, before we have gained sovereignty and lordship among the powers called the perfect, we can as yet but dimly guess.