A good many readers make the acquaintance of the Upanishads in the two volumes which Prof. Max Müller contributed to the now world-famous Sacred Books of the East, the first being the opening volume of that long and wonderful series. It is, therefore, to some degree a matter of regret that Prof. Max Müller decided to begin his work of translation just where he did, namely, with the Chhandogya Upanishad; for it happens that the opening passages of that wonderful and complex tract are occupied with a very interesting, but at the same time very confusing and prolix disquisition, which must be practically meaningless to many readers, and which must give a rather misleading and discouraging view of the whole content of the Upanishads.
One may, perhaps, suppose that the Upanishads could be compared to some of those minerals which one sees in our museums, where bright and beautifully formed crystals are embedded in dull, unattractive matrix of quite different nature, and that this opening passage of the Chhandogya is a part of the matrix. Perhaps it may be possible to cut away the matrix, and rearrange the crystals, now revealed as precious gems, in some more attractive order. And a part of the matrix which may, perhaps, have to be set aside, is the Brahmanical view that the Upanishads, in their central and essential material, have a close connection with the Four Vedas, or with the Vedic schools whose names are now embedded in the titles of some of the Upanishads. But this part of the question requires fuller study.
The central and essential element of the Upanishads is to be found, I think, in a group of little dramas, or dramatic fragments, which one is tempted to call Dramas of the Mysteries, both because many of them expressly and explicitly set forth a secret or esoteric teaching, and because, as short dramas intended to reveal spiritual truth, they bear some resemblance to the Mystery Plays of our own Middle Ages. In fact, the dramatizing instinct is as conspicuous in most of the Upanishads as it is, let us say, in the parable of the good Samaritan, or the Pharisee and the Publican. And we shall get a clear view of a fascinating, profound and very attractive body of literature, if we take the dramatic fragments of the Upanishads and study them apart from their setting, which seems in so many cases like the matrix surrounding precious stones, and in some cases mere rubbish, the accretion of ages of uncritical and rather superstitious study.
Fundamental for a right understanding of the dramatic pieces in the Upanishads, is, I think, a very remarkable drama which occurs, with almost verbal identity, in the two longest Upanishads, the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, and the Chhandogya Upanishad. I shall try to translate the version in the Brihad Aranyaka, and then comment on certain very illuminating variations in the Chhandogya version. As the Upanishads are now arranged, this story is found in the Sixth Adhyaya of the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, beginning with the second Brahmana. The story runs as follows:
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 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 be.
“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 Ido not know one of them!”
“What were they?” said he.
“These!” said he; and be enumerated them.
His father said:
“Thou knowest us thus, dear, that whatever I know, I 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.”
“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!”
“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 I shall declare it, for who has the right to refuse thee, speaking thus!”
So far, the prologue of the story. Before translating the teaching of the king it may be well to make some comments on what we have already recorded.
To begin with, it is evident that the Brahman boy 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.
As has already been said, there is another version of this same story in the Upanishad which is next in length to the Brihad Aranyaka, namely, in the Chhandogya Upanishad. It is in the third and following khandas of the fifth Adhyaya. There are certain verbal variations, as for example samiti instead of parishad, for the “assembly” of the Panchala nation. The order of the questions is not exactly the same, and in the last question, instead of asking “at which sacrifice the waters arise, and speak with human voice?” he asks: “Knowest thou how, at the fifth sacrifice the waters arise,” and so on. But the most important difference is in the words of the Rajanya to the old Brahman, when he at last consents to tell him the an swers to the questions:
“As this teaching, O descendant of the Gotamas, goes not to any Brahman before thee, but among all peoples leadership was of the Kshatra,” that is, of the Kshatriyas, the men of the Rajanya race.
For there is much evidence to show that the difference between the Brahman and the Rajanya was not merely a difference in “caste,” that is, in social position and function, but was in fact a difference in race, or in “color,” as the Sanskrit word varna, translated “caste,” really means. The evidence on this point has been set forth elsewhere at considerable length, supported by the testimony of the best authorities. It must suffice here to say that it falls naturally into two parts: first, the proof that the Rajputs of today are ethnically distinct from the Brahmans of pure stock, the Rajputs being a red, ruddy or copper colored race,1 while the Brahmans are white-skinned, and 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 today 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 color which we have described, was hit on as a distinguishing character. There are, of course, besides the red Rajput and the white Brahman, two other ancient race-stocks in India distinguished by color: 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;2 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 “colors” 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 color (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 color 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-color 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-color 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, “colors,” the colors of four distinct races, white, red, yellow and black as we find them in India today, and as they must have been when the balance of power between the four races, which is called the Chaturvarnya, or “Four-color 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-color system,” in India.3 If, therefore, as seems certain, the difference between the Brahmans and the Rajanyas or Kshatriyas is really a difference of race; if they were in the beginning two in dependent race-stocks, then the words in our Upanishad story take a new and striking significance: “This teaching never before dwelt in any Brahman, but was among all peoples the instruction of the Kshatriya alone.” On this sentence, Shankaracharya, the greatest of the Brahmans, comments: “This teaching was handed down for a long time, by the succession of teacher and pupil, among the men of the warrior race.” The word translated “succession of pupil and teacher,” Kshatriya-parampara, as used by Shankara, has a technical meaning very close to “apostolic succession.” One may illustrate it by saying that the “Shankara-guru-parampara” chain, the chain of the successors of Shankara himself, is still unbroken at the Shringeri math in Mysore. The word implies the handing down of a mystery teaching through initiation. On the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad version of the story, Shankara makes a practically identical comment, using the same technical phrase, with the same implication of a mystery teaching, handed down among the Rajanyas by initiation.
One version of the story we have translated comes, as we saw, from the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad. This Upanishad is attributed to, or associated with, the school of the Vajasaneyins, the chief school of the White, or clarified Yajur Veda. The other version of the story comes from the Chhandogya Upanishad, which is in like manner associated with the Sama Veda. The accepted theory is that the schools which made these divisions of the Vedas their special study, developed the corresponding Brahmanas and Upanishads by speculation on the sacrificial parts of the Vedic hymns. But so far as the two versions of the story of Shvetaketu are concerned, this is apparently mere myth-making. There is not the slightest necessary connection between the story and either Veda; nor do the slight differences between them, which we have noted, bear any relation at all to the difference between the Sama and Yajur Vedas.
The account inherent in the story itself is at variance with this supposed relation to the Vedic hymns. These hymns are, broadly speaking, and hymns like those attributed to Vishvamitra excepted, the creation of the white Brahmans, and they became the hereditary property, and liturgical capital, of these same Brahmans, a position which was maintained through milleniums of Indian history. But if we are to believe King Pravahana, and to understand his words in their plain sense as Shankara understands them, then the teaching imparted by the king was not the creation of the Brahmans at all, it was the hereditary secret teaching of the Kshatriyas, the red Rajanyas, handed down as a mystery teaching from teacher to pupil, from master to disciple, and never before came to any Brahman, until that memorable occasion when king Pravahana himself imparted it to the Brahman Uddalaka the son of Aruna.4
Now let us return to the text of the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad and see exactly what was this secret teaching of the red Rajanyas, then for the first time imparted to a white Brahman.
King Pravahana, son of Jivala, discloses the Rajanya view of human life by describing the condition of the soul before it leaves heaven to enter the form of an unborn infant. He uses a symbolism taken from the sacrificial altar, and speaks of “the fire, the fuel, the flame, the smoke, the embers and the sparks.” We may lay aside this really eloquent symbolism, and summarize this part of the teaching.
The soul, King Pravahana teaches, dwells in the celestial world. In it adhere certain streams of tendency, which he calls “the waters,” the currents of moral and mental life. The soul descends from the celestial world to the midworld, through sacrifice, and in the midworld takes on a “lunar” form, the things of the midworld being always compared to the moon, which waxes and wanes, and shines by reflected light; the celestial or spiritual world in contrast being always compared to, or symbolized by, the sun.
The soul continues its downward course and enters the sphere of this world. This is again called a sacrifice. The soul then comes into relation with its future father and mother, these relations being again symbolized as sacrifices. Finally there comes the fifth sacrifice, the sacrifice of physical birth, after which “the waters,” that is, the currents of character forming the new-born child, “arise, and speak with human voice”; thus giving us the answer to the last of the five questions proposed to young Shvetaketu by the Rajanya king.
At this point, we may once more try to translate the Upanishad text:
“From this sacrifice, the man comes to birth. 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 color 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.”
We are warned, of course, by the symbolical form in which the Rajanya states his questions, that the answers also are symbolical. We may suggest the interpretation of this symbolism by saying that the Rajanya teacher seems to describe a series of worlds, or planes of consciousness, in ascending degrees, from the higher of which the soul descends into incarnation. Further, he suggests that each world or plane has, as it were, a positive and a negative pole, a pole of spirituality and a pole of materiality. These poles of the ascending planes he suggests by a series of natural antitheses: the fire and the smoke of the pyre, for the positive and negative pole of the lowest plane; day and night, for the positive and negative pole of the next plane in ascending order; the moonlit and moonless fort nights for the poles of the next higher plane; summer and winter, for the poles of the next; the sun and moon for the next; the world of the gods and world of the fathers, for the poles of the next. This is really admirable and very consistent symbolism, and the use of the sun and moon for the spiritual and psychic worlds respectively, runs through all the Upanishads.
The suggestion is that the course of the soul at death, through these ascending planes, is determined by the quality of its spiritual life; the soul inspired by faith and truth gravitates to the spiritual pole of each plane, and ascending, comes to a realm where “a person, or spirit, mind-born, leads it into the world of the Eternal, whence it no more returns.”
The soul, on the contrary, which seeks to win worlds through sacrifices, penances and gifts, worshipping selfishly, gravitates after death to the more material pole of each plane. It finds its way to the “lunar world,” and there be comes “food for the gods.” It wanes, and descends once more to this world, returning through the gates of birth to terrestrial life.
We have, therefore, on the one hand, the path of faith and truth, the path of the sun, the path of the gods, leading to the world of the Eternal from which there is no return, in a word, the path of complete Liberation, moksha, Nirvana; and, on the other, we have the path of selfish worship, the path of the moon, the path of the fathers, the path of Reincarnation, of Sansara, of the Circle of Necessity. We have, in fact, the fundamental antithesis, the twin-doctrine of Liberation and Reincarnation, which is the heart of the Indian wisdom. And we are told that “this teaching never before dwelt in any Brahman, but was, among all peoples, the hereditary teaching of the Rajanya alone.” Finally, we have the strongest reason to believe that the red Rajanya represented not a different class, but a different race, from the white Brahman; a race which may well have been firmly established in India, when the white race, from which the Brahmans came, first descended from the Hindu Kush.
In another chapter of the Chhandogya Upanishad, namely, in the beginning of the Sixth Adhyaya, we have another story of Shvetaketu and his father, Uddalaka Aruni, which is equally graphic and dramatic. It begins as follows:
There lived once Shvetaketu, Aruna’s grandson; his father addressed him, saying:
“Shvetaketu, go, learn the service of the Eternal; for no one, dear, of our family is an unlearned nominal worshiper.”
So going when he was twelve years old, he returned when be was twenty-four; he had teamed all the teachings, but was con ceited, vain of his teaming, and proud.
His father addressed him:
“Shvetaketu, you are conceited, vain of your learning, and proud, dear; but have you asked for that teaching through which the unheard is heard, the unthought is thought, the unknown is known?”
“What sort of teaching is that, Master?” said he.
“Just as, dear, by a single piece of clay anything made of clay may be known, for the difference is only one of words and names, and the real thing is that it is of clay; or just as, dear, by one jewel of gold, anything made of gold may be known, for the difference is only one of words and names, and the real thing is that it is gold; or just as, dear, by a single knife-blade, anything made of iron may be known, for the difference is only one of words and names, and the real thing is that it is iron; just like this is the teaching that makes the unknown known.”
“But I am sure that those teachers did not know this themselves; for if they had known it, how would they not have taught it to me?” said he; “but now let my Master tell it to me.”
“Let it be so, dear!” said he.
“In the beginning, dear, there was Being, alone and secondless. But there are some who say that there was non-Being, in the be ginning, alone and secondless; so that Being would be born from non-Being; but how could this be so, dear?” said he; “how could Being be born from non-Being? So there was Being, dear, in the beginning, alone and secondless.
“Then Being beholding said: Let me become great; let me give birth. Then it put forth Radiance.
“Then Radiance beholding said: Let me become great; let me give birth.
“Then it put forth the Waters. Just as a man grieves or sweats, so from radiance the waters are born.
“Then the Waters beholding said: Let us become great; let us give birth.
“They put forth Food. Just as when it rains much food is produced, so from the waters Food is born.
“Of all these, of beings, there are three germs: what is born of the Egg, what is born of Life, what is born of Fission. . . .
“Man, dear, is made of sixteen parts. Eat nothing for fifteen days, but drink as much as you wish; for Breath, being formed of the Waters, is cut off if you do not drink.”
He ate nothing for fifteen days, and then returned to the Master, saying:
“What shall I repeat, Master?”
“Repeat the Rig, the Yajur, the Sarna verses, dear!” said he.
“None of them comes back into my mind, Master!” said he.
He said to him: “As, dear, after a big fire, if a single spark remain, as big as a fire-fly, it will not burn much; just so, dear, of your sixteen parts one remains, and by this one part you cannot remember the Vedas.
“Go, eat; and then you will understand me.”
He ate, and then returned to the Master; and whatever the Master asked, all came back to his mind.
The Master said to him: “As, dear, after a big fire, if even a single spark remain, as big as a fire-fly, and if it be fed with straw, it will blaze up and will then burn much; just so, dear, of your six teen parts one part was left; and this, being fed with food, blazed up, and through it you remembered the teachings.
“For mind is formed of Food; Breath is formed of the Waters; Voice is formed of Radiance.”
Thus he learned; thus, verily, he learned.
Nothing could be more vivid and dramatic than the characterization of Shvetaketu, “conceited, vain of his learning, and proud.” We at once recognize the pert youth who, after his father had instructed him, went to the assembly of the Panchalas, to be so woefully worsted by the Rajanya Pravahana, son of Jivala. It is to be noted that, even before his father took the vain youth in hand, he had learned the Three Vedas, and could repeat the verses of the Rig, the Yajur and the Sama Vedas. How was it then, that, being so fully instructed, he was so completely at a loss, when the Rajanya master asked him conerning the twin doctrines of Liberation and Reincarnation?
The answer is as simple as it is vital to a proper under standing of the wisdom of ancient India. He was at a loss concerning the twin doctrine of Liberation and Reincarnation precisely because these doctrines are nowhere to be found in the Three Vedas, which are concerned with quite other themes and purposes. At this point, we should do well to read the Tevijja Sutta, the Sutta, that is, of the Three Vedas; wherein another great Rajanya, of the royal race of Ikshvaku, cross-examines yet other Brahmans, well versed in the Three Vedas, concerning the Way of Wisdom.
In the further teaching imparted by Uddalaka Aruni to his son, there are certain passages well worth quoting here, both for their beauty, and because they form a characteristic part of the dramatic element in the Upanishads. The father has taught many things to the son.
“Let the Master teach me more!” said he. “Let it be so, dear!” said he.
“As the honey-makers, dear, gather the hooey from many a tree, and weld the nectars together in a single nectar; and as they find no separateness there, nor say: Of that tree I am the nectar, of that tree I am the nectar. Thus, indeed, dear, all these beings, when they reach the Real, know not, nor say: We have reached the Real. But whatever they are here, whether tiger or lion or wolf or boar or worm or moth or gnat or fly, that they become again. And this soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this is the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu!”
“Let the Master teach me more!” said he. “Let it be so, dear!” said he.
“These eastern rivers, dear, roll eastward; and the western, westward. From the ocean to the ocean they go, and in the ocean they are united. And there they know no separateness, nor say: This am I, this am I. Thus indeed, dear, all these beings, coming forth from the Real, know not, nor say: We have come forth from the Real. And whatever they are here, whether tiger or lion or wolf or boar or worm or moth or gnat or fly or whatever they are, that they become again. And that soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this is the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu!”
“Let the Master teach me more!” said he. “Let it be so, dear!” said he.
“If anyone strike the root of this great tree, it will flow and live; if any one strike the middle of it, it will flow and live; if any one strike the top of it, it will flow and live. So filled with Life, with the Self, drinking in and rejoicing, it stands firm. But if the life of it leave one branch, that branch dries up; it leaves a second, that dries up; it leaves a third, that dries up; it leaves the whole, the whole dries up. Thus indeed, dear, thou must understand!” said he. “When abandoned by Life, verily, this dies; but Life itself does not die. For that soul is the Self of all that is; this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu!”
“Let the Master teach me more!” said he.
“Let it be so, dear!” said he, “Bring me a fruit of that fig-tree.”
“Here is the fruit, Master.”
“Divide it in two,” said he.
“I have divided it, Master.”
“What do you see in it?” said he.
“Atom-like seeds, Master.”
“Divide one of them in two,” said he.
“I have divided it, Master.”
“What do you see in it?” said he.
“I see nothing at all, Master.”
So he said to him:
“That soul that thou perceivest not at all, dear,—from that very soul the great fig-tree comes forth. Believe then, dear, that this soul is the Self of all that is; this is the Real, this is the Self. That art thou, O Shvetaketu!”
“Let the Master teach me more!” said he.
“Let it be so, dear!” said he.
“Put this salt in water, and come to me early in the morning.” And he did so, and the Master said to him:
“That salt that thou didst put in the water last night—bring it to me!” And looking for its appearance, he could not see it, as it was dissolved in the water.
“Taste the top of it,” said he; “how is it?”
“It is salt,” said he.
“Taste the middle of it, said he; how is it?”
“It is salt,” said he.
“Taste the bottom of it,” said he; “how is it?”
“It is salt,” said he.
“Take it away, then, and return to me.”
And he did so, but that exists for ever. And the Master said to him:
“Just so, dear, you do not see the Real in the world. Yet it is here all the same. And this soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu!”
“Let the Master teach me more!” said he. “Let it be so, dear!” said he.
“Just as if they were to blindfold a man, and lead him far away from Gandhara, and leave him in the wilderness; and as he cried to the east and the north and the west: I am led away blind folded; I am deserted blindfolded. And just as if one came, and loosening the bandage from his eyes, told him: In that direction is Gandhara; in that direction you must go. And he asking from village to village like a wise man and learned, should come safe to Gandhara. Thus, verily, a man who has found the true Teacher, knows. He must wait only till he is free, then he reaches the resting-place. And that soul is the Self of all that is; this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu!”
“Let the Master teach me more!” said he.
“Let it be so, dear!” said he.
“When a man is near his end, his friends gather round him: Do you know me, do you know me? they say. And until Voice sinks back into Mind, and Mind into Breath, and Breath into Radiance, and Radiance into the higher Divinity, he still knows them. But when Voice sinks back into Mind, and Mind into Breath, and Breath into Radiance, and Radiance into the higher Divinity, he knows them not. And that soul is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Svetaketu!”
“Let the Master teach me more!” said he.
“Let it be so, dear!” said he.
“They bind a man and bring him: He has stolen, they say; he has committed theft. Heat the axe for the ordeal: and if he be the doer of it, he makes himself untrue; maintaining untruth, and wrapping himself in untruth, he grasps the heated axe; he burns, and so dies. But if he be not the doer of it, he makes himself true; maintaining truth, and wrapping himself in truth, he grasps the heated axe; he burns not, and so goes free. And the truth that saves him from burning is the Self of all that is, this is the Real, this the Self. That thou art, O Shvetaketu!”
Thus he learned the truth; thus he learned it.
This is one of the most famed passages in the whole age-long literature of India. The three words: “That thou art!” form the fundamental text of all later Vedanta teaching, and are always cited with reverence and wonder, as the crown and final word of wisdom.
This passage illustrates the method already referred to, as fundamental in the thought of ancient India: the initiation of the disciple into the thought of the master; the transmission of the wisdom of the master in orderly succession to the disciple; thus forming a link in the “Guru parampara chain,” or apostolic succession. The names of the teachers in such chains of master and disciple are preserved in the matrix of the Upanishads, side by side with such dramatic passages as that just translated.
An even better illustration of what one may call initiation into wisdom is found in the Katha Upanishad, a part of which I shall try to translate:
Vajashravasa, verily, seeking favor, made a sacrifice of all he possessed. He had a son, also, by name Nachiketas. Him, though still a child, faith entered, while the gifts were being led up.
“They have drunk water, eaten grass, given up their milk, and lost their strength. Joyless worlds, in truth, he gains, who offers these.”
He addressed his father:
“To whom, then, wilt thou give me?” said he.
Twice and thrice he asked him. “To Death I give thee!” said he.
“I go the first of many; I go in the midst of many. What is Death’s work that he will work on me to-day? Look, as those that have gone before, behold so are those that shall come after. As corn a mortal ripens, as corn he is born again.”
Nachiketas comes to the House of Death; he speaks:
“Like Fire, a pure guest comes to the house. They offer him water to assuage him. Bring water, O Death, Son of the Sun!
“Hope and expectation, friendship, kind words, just and holy deeds, sons and cattle, this destroys, for the foolish man in whose house a pure guest dwells without food.”
After three days Death comes. Death speaks:
“As thou hast dwelt three nights in my house, without food, thou, pure guest and honorable—honor to thee, pure one, welfare to me—against this choose thou three wishes!”
“That the descendant of Gotama may be at peace, well-minded, and with sorrow gone, towards me, O Death; that he may speak kindly to me when sent forth by thee; this, of the three as my first wish I choose.”
“As before will the son of Aruna, Uddalaka’s son, be kind to thee, sent forth by me; by night will he sleep well, with sorrow gone, seeing thee freed from the mouth of Death.”
“In the heaven-world there is no fear at all; nor art thou there, nor does he fear from old age. Crossing over both hunger and thirst, and going beyond sorrow, he exults in the heaven-world.
“The heavenly fire thou knowest, Death, tell it to me, for I am faithful. The heaven-worlds enjoy deathlessness; this, as my second wish, I choose.”
“To thee I tell it; learn then from me, Nachiketas, finding the heavenly fire. Know thou also the obtaining of unending worlds, the resting-place, for this is hidden in secret.”
He told him then that fire, the beginning of the worlds, and the bricks of the altar, and how many and how they are. And he again spoke it back to him as it was told; and Death, well pleased, again addressed him:
“This is thy heavenly fire, O Nachiketas, which thou hast chosen as thy second wish. This fire as thine shall they proclaim. Choose now, Nachiketas, thy third wish.”
“This doubt that there is of a man that has gone forth: ‘He exists,’ say some; and ‘He exists not,’ others say: a knowledge of this, taught by thee, this of my wishes is the third wish.”
“Even by the gods of old it was doubted about this; not easily knowable, and subtle is this law. Choose, Nachiketas, another wish; hold me not to it, but spare me this!”
“Even by the gods, thou sayest, it was doubted about this; and not easily knowable is it, O Death. Another teacher of it cannot be found like thee. No other wish is equal to this!”
“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 ail 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!”
“These fleeting things, O Death, wear out the vigor of a mortal’s powers. Even the whole of life is short; thine are chariots and dance and song.
“Not by wealth can a man be satisfied. Shall we choose wealth if we have seen thee? Shall we desire life while thou art master? But the wish I choose is truly that!
“Coming near the unfading immortals, a fading mortal here below, and understanding, thinking on the sweets of beauty and pleasure, who would rejoice in length of days?
“This that they doubt about, O Death, what is in the great Beyond, tell me of that. This wish that draws near to the mystery, Nachiketas chooses no other wish than that!”
“The better is one thing, the dearer is another thing; these two bind a man in opposite ways. Of these two, it is well for him who takes the better; he fails of his object, who chooses the dearer.
“The better and the dearer approach a man; going round them, the sage discerns between them. The sage chooses the better rather than the dearer; the fool chooses the dearer, through lust of possession.
“Thou indeed, pondering on dear and dearly loved desires, O Nachiketas, hast passed them by. Not this way of wealth hast thou chosen, in which many men sink.
“Far apart are these two ways, unwisdom and what is known as wisdom. I esteem Nachiketas as one seeking wisdom, nor do manifold desires allure thee.
“Others, turning about in unwisdom, self-wise, and thinking they are learned, fools, stagger, lagging in the way, like the blind led by the blind.
“The great Beyond gleams not for the child, led away by the delusion of possessions. ‘This is the world, there is no other,’ he thinks, and so falls again and again under my dominion.
“That is not to be gained even for a hearing by many, and hearing it many understand it not. Wonderful is the speaker of it, blessed the receiver; wonderful is the knower of it, taught by the blessed.”
Most willingly would I continue the magnificent ad dress of King Death, did space permit. But it seems better to comment on certain passages in what has been translated, and then to pass on to another of the dramatic pieces in the Upanishads.
To begin with, one cannot fail to be struck by the re semblance of the general situation in the Katha Upanishad to that in the dramatic fragment already translated, where King Pravahana addresses the old Brahman, Uddalaka Aruni. Here, again, we have the teacher trying the disciple, putting him off with “wishes of things mortal.” In the former case it was: “store of gold, of cattle and horses, of slave-girls and tapestries and robes.” The offer of Death is much the same: “Sons and grandsons, and much cattle, and elephants and gold and horses; these beauties, with their chariots and lutes, be waited on by them, my gifts!” This close resemblance long ago suggested to me a possible verbal emendation in the Sanskrit of the former passage. The accepted reading of the answer of the old Brahman is: Vijñāyate; ha asti hiranyasya āpāttam go-ashvānān dāsīnām pravārānām paridhānasya. Instead of ha asti, I should like to propose the reading: Hasti-hira nyasya āpāttam, that is, “store of elephants and gold,” the compound Hastihiranyam occurring elsewhere twice in the Upanishads, in a sentence of just this kind; once, namely, in the Katha Upanishad, in the passage under discussion: Shatāyushah putrapautrān vrinīshva, bahūn pashūn hasti-hiranyam ashvān; and again in Chhandogya Upanishad, in the twenty-fourth section of the seventh chapter: Go-ashvam iha mahimā iti āchakshate hasti-hira-nyam dāsa-bhāryam, and so on.
If this proposed reading be acceptable, then we have a set phrase, a sacramental formula, fairly the equivalent of “the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them,” in the Temptation in the Wilderness, which bears a close resemblance to the temptation of Nachiketas by the Lord of Death. There is also a strong suggestion of kinship in the sacrifice of the only son, who, descending into the house of Death, rises immortal on the third day.
It is quite clear that Death is imparting to Nachiketas the same teaching which King Pravahana, son of Jivala, revealed to Uddalaka Aruni: the twin teaching of Liberation and Rebirth. “The great Beyond gleams not for the child, led away by the delusion of possessions. ‘This is the world, there is no other,’ he thinks, and so falls again and again under my dominion;” enters, in fact, the circle of necessity, the chain of repeated death and rebirth, of forced Reincarnation. On the other hand is the great Beyond, the path of the gods, and full Liberation.
We get a great deal of additional light on this antithesis from yet other dramatic pieces in the Upanishads, as, for example, from certain of the answers in Prashna Upanishad, which is, perhaps, the most consistent instance of the dramatic form in the Upanishads. This Upanishad depicts six disciples coming to the master Pippalada with fuel in their hands, as who should say: “Give light! We are ready to be enkindled!” The sage tried them, saying: “Remain yet a year in fervor, service of the Eternal, and faith. Ask whatever questions you will; if we know them we shall declare all to you!”
The first is: “Master, whence are all these beings brought forth?” The answer is an eloquent description of the World-soul, the Life, from which all beings come forth. In that answer, we come on the following re markable passage, which strongly reminds us of the answer of King Pravahana:
“The year is a Lord of beings. His two paths are the southern and the northern. Therefore they who worship, thinking that it is fulfilled by sacrifice and gifts, win the lunar world. They verily return again. Therefore these sages who desire beings, tum to the south. For this is the path of substance, the path of the fathers.
“But they who by the northern way seek the Self by fervor, service of the Eternal, faith and knowledge, they verily win the sun. This is the home of lives; this is the immortal, fearless, supreme way. From it they do not return again.”
This is, of course, exactly the antithesis in the teaching of King Pravahana. On the one hand, the way of self seeking ritual, the way of the fathers, the lunar path, the way of Reincarnation. On the other, the way of pure aspiration, the way of the gods, the solar path, the way of full Liberation.
What this Liberation really meant to the teachers whose words we are translating, we can better understand from further answers in the same Prashna Upanishad. Thus the fourth question addressed to the Master Pippalada is:
“How many powers sleep in the man? How many wake in him? Who is the bright one that sees dreams? Whose is that bliss, and in whom are all these set firm?”
The Master answered him:
“As the rays of the sun at setting all become one in his shining orb, and when he rises they all come forth again; so all becomes one in the higher bright one, Mind.
“Therefore the man hears not, nor sees, nor smells, nor tastes, nor touches, nor speaks, nor takes, nor enjoys, nor puts forth, nor moves. He sleeps, they say. . . .
“The life-fires verily wake in this dwelling. . . .
“So this bright one in dream enjoys greatness. The seen, as seen he beholds again. What was heard he hears again. And what was enjoyed by the other powers he enjoys again by the other powers. The seen and unseen, heard and unheard, enjoyed and unenjoyed, real and unreal, he sees it all; as All he sees it.
“And when he is wrapped by the Radiance, the bright one no longer sees dreams. Then within him that bliss arises. And, dear, as the birds come to the tree to rest, so all this comes to rest in the higher Self. . . .
“For this Self is the seer, toucher, hearer, smeller, taster, thinker, knower, doer, the perceiving spirit. And this is set firm in the supreme, unchanging Self.
“He reaches the unchanging Supreme. who knows that shadow less, bodiless, bloodless, bright, unchanging One. He, dear, becomes all-knowing, becomes the All.”
We come now to the fifth answer, in which the symbolism of the mystic syllable Om is interwoven with the teaching, in a manner which suggests the probably later Mandukya Upanishad. The fifth question is:
“He among men, who, to the end of his life, meditates on the mystic syllable Om,—what world will he gain by it?”
The Master answered him:
“This mystic syllable Om, is for the higher and lower Eternal. Therefore the wise man, by dwelling on this, reaches one of these: if he meditates on the first measure, enlightened by it, he is quickly reborn in the world. . . .
“And if he dwells on it in his heart with two measures, he is led to the middle world by the liturgies. He wins the lunar world, and after enjoying brightness in the lunar world, he returns again.
“And he who with three measures meditates on the mystic Om, and thereby meditates on the supreme Spirit, is endowed with Radiance, with the sun; as a serpent is freed from its slough, he is, verily, freed from sin. He is led by the chants to the world of the Eternal. He beholds the indwelling spirit above the highest assemblage of lives.”
Here we have an outline of an idea which is vital to a right understanding of the thought of the Upanishads: the idea, namely, that there is a relation, amounting almost to an identity, between the states or strata of consciousness during life, and the states or strata of consciousness passed through by the soul after death; so that, by a deep study of the states of consciousness experienced during life, we may learn much of the states of consciousness after death.
Briefly, the result seems to be this: The dream-state, which is built up of impressions received during waking consciousness, of “things seen, things heard, things enjoyed,” finds its parallel in a dream-state which the soul enters after death, in which it may behold dreams terrible or beautiful. But in either case, these dreams are simply the continuation of the mind-states experienced during bodily life; and, as soon as the impetus thus carried over exhausts itself, as soon as the subjective capital runs out, the soul returns to rebirth; or, to put the same thing in an other way, the mind-state of physical life and sensation once more prevails. This dream-world between two lives is precisely the lunar world, the world of the fathers, of the Upanishads; lunar, because it shines with reflected light, and waxes and wanes; the world of the fathers, because it is identified with the world of the shades, which is the real teaching of the Vedic hymns, the shadow-land most eloquently described in the tale of Jaratkaru, at the beginning of the Mahabharata.
There is a like relation between the realm beyond dreams and the path of liberation. And it is just at this point that the Indian teaching is most original and suggestive. In a recent article, Sir Oliver Lodge, who has long been investigating the consciousness of the shadow land, used a remarkable phrase. He spoke of the strata of consciousness, and particularly of the strata of dream and genius. We have just described the stratum of dream.
It is evident that, when we come to the realm of consciousness beyond dream, we are entering what Sir Oliver Lodge calls the stratum of genius. And we shall find it a very suggestive thought to follow out, that genius is really the revelation of a higher realm or stratum of consciousness, continuous with the strata of waking and dream, and above them;—a stratum always potentially present, yet rarely reached, as we know that genius is rare, the stratum of consciousness, perhaps, to which was given the name “the kingdom of heaven which is within”; and which is so often identified in the Upanishads with “the heaven-world.” It is, doubtless, the same as “the mother sea of consciousness” in the fine phrase of William James, which he conceives as being continuous with our physical consciousness, though we so rarely attain it. This deeper and immortal consciousness may be reached in life, in illumination. It may be reached after death, in complete Liberation, “from which there is no return.”
By far the best and most beautiful treatment of this region of thought and understanding in the Upanishads is that in the third and fourth part of the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, in the dramatic dialogue between Janaka, King of the Videhas, and the sage Yajnavalkya. So admirable is this passage, and so completely characteristic of the dramatic element in the Upanishads, that I shall try to translate a considerable part of, to conclude the present survey. It reaches such a high level as pure literature, that no comment or elucidation is needed. Throughout, the dialogue speaks for itself:
To Janaka, king of the Videhas, came Yajnavalkya, saying, “I will not speak with the king!” But when Janaka, king of the Videhas, and Yajnavalkya debated together at the offering of the sacred 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 the Spirit of man?”
“The sun is his light, O king!” he answered. “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 it set, Yajnavalkya, what is then the light of the Spirit of man?”
“The moon then becomes his light;” he answered. “With the moon as his light be rests, goes forth, does his work and returns.”
“This is so in truth, Yajnavalkya. But when the sun it set, Yajnavalkya, and the moon is also set, what is then the light of the 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 it set, Yajnavalkya, and the moon is also set, and the fire sinks down, what is then the light of the 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 down, and the voice is stilled, what is then the light of the Spirit of man?”
“The Soul then becomes his light,” he answered. “With the Soul as his light he rests, goes forth, does his work, and returns.”
“What is the Soul?”
“It is the Consciousness in the life-powers. It is the Light within the heart. This Spirit of man wanders through both worlds, yet remains unchanged. He seems only to be wrapt in imaginings. He seems only to revel in delights.
“When he enters into rest, the Spirit of man rises above this world and all things subject to death. For when the Spirit of man comes to birth and enters a body, he goes forth entangled in evils. But rising up at death, he puts all evils away.
“The Spirit of man has two dwelling-places: this world, and the other world. The borderland between them is third, the land of dreams. While he lingers in the borderland, the Spirit of man beholds both his dwellings, this world and the other world. And according as his advance is in the other world, gaining that advance the Spirit of man sees evils or delights.
“When the Spirit of man 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 doth the Spirit of man become his own light.
“There are no chariots there, nor steeds for chariots, nor road ways. The Spirit of man makes himself chariots, steeds for chariots, and roadways. Nor are any delights there, nor joys and rejoicings. The Spirit of man makes for himself delights and joys and rejoicings. There are no lotus ponds there, nor lakes and rivers. The Spirit of man makes for himself lotus ponds, lakes and rivers. For the Spirit of man is Creator.
“And there are these verses:
“Leaving the bodily world through the door of dream, the sleepless Spirit views the sleeping powers. Then clothed in radiance, returns to his own home, the gold-gleaming Genius, swan of ever lasting.
“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 Genius, swan of everlasting.
“Soaring upward and downward in dreamland, the god makes manifold forms; now laughing and rejoicing with fair beauties, now beholding terrible things.
“They see his pleasure-ground, but him none see. Thus goes the saying: Let none awaken him that sleeps; for he is hard to heal, to whom the soul returns not.
“They also say that dream is a province of waking. For whatever he sees while awake, the same he sees in dream. Thus the Spirit of man becomes his own light.
“And when he has taken his ease in the resting-place 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. But whatever the Spirit of man may behold there, returns not after him, for the Spirit of man is free, and nought adheres to the Spirit.”
“This is so, in truth, Yajnavalkya. I give a thousand cattle to the teacher. But speak of the higher wisdom, that makes for Liberation.”
“And when he has taken his pleasure in the waking world, moving to and fro and beholding good and evil, the Spirit of man returns again by the same path, hurrying back to dreamland.
“As a great fish swims along one bank of the river, and then along the other bank, first the eastern bank, and then the western, so the Spirit of man moves through both worlds, the waking world and the dream world.
“Then as a falcon or an eagle, flying to and fro in the open sky and growing weary, folds his wings and sinks to rest, so of a truth the Spirit of man hastens to that world where, finding rest, he desires no desire and dreams no dream.
“And whatever he has dreamed, as that he was slain or op pressed, crushed by an elephant or fallen into an abyss, or whatever fear he beheld in the waking world, he knows now that it was from unwisdom. Like a god, like a king, he knows he is the All. This is his highest world.
“This is his highest joy. He has passed beyond all evil. This is his fearless form. And as one who is wrapt in the arms of the beloved, knows naught of what is without or within, so the Spirit of man wrapt round by the Spirit of Inspiration, knows naught of what is without or within. This is his perfect being. He has won his desire. The Soul is his desire. He is beyond desire. He has left sorrow behind.
“Here the father is father no more; nor the mother a mother; nor the worlds, worlds; here the scriptures are no longer scriptures; the thief is a thief no more; nor the murderer a murderer; nor the outcast an outcast; nor the baseborn, baseborn; the pilgrim is a pilgrim no more, nor the saint a saint. For the Spirit of man is not followed by good, he is not followed by evil. He has crossed over all the sorrows of the heart.
“The Spirit sees not; yet, seeing not, he sees. For the energy that dwelt in sight cannot cease, because it is everlasting. But there is no other besides the Spirit, or separate from him, for him to see. . . . For only where there is separation may one see another, may one taste another, may one speak to another, may one hear another, may one touch another, may one know another. But the one Seer is undivided, like pure water. This, O king, is the world of the I Eternal. This is the highest path. This is the highest treasure. This is the highest world. This is the highest bliss. All beings live on the fragments of this bliss.
“He who amongst men is rich and happy, a lord well endowed with all wealth, this is the highest bliss of mankind. But a hundred-fold greater than the bliss of man is the bliss of the departed who have won paradise. . . . and of him who has heard, who has risen from darkness, who is not stricken by desire. This is his highest bliss. This, O king. is the world of the Eternal!”
Thus spoke Yajnavalkya.
And the king replied: “I give the teacher a thousand cattle. But speak of the higher wisdom that makes for Liberation!”
And Yajnavalkya feared, thinking: “The wise king has cut me off from all retreat!” He said:
“And when he has taken his pleasure in dreamland, moving to and fro, and beholding good and evil, the Spirit of man returns again by the same path, hurrying back to bis former dwelling-place in the world of waking.
“Then as a wagon heavy-laden might go baiting and creaking, so the embodied soul goes batting, overburdened by the Spirit of Inspiration, when it has gone so far that a man is giving up the ghost.
“When be 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 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 former dwelling-place in the life.
“Then like as when the king is coming forth, the nobles, officers, charioteers and magistrates make ready to serve him with food and drink and shelter, saying: the king is coming forth, the king is at hand; so all the powers make ready to wait on the soul, saying: the soul is coming forth, the soul is at hand.
“And like as when the king will go forth, the nobles, officers, charioteers and magistrates 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.
“When he falls into a swoon, as though he had lost his senses, the life-powers are gathering in round the soul; and the soul, taking them up together in their radiant substance, enters with them into the inner heart. . . .
“Then the point of the heart grows luminous, and when it has grown luminous, it lights the soul upon its way: . . . The soul becomes conscious and enters into Consciousness.
“Then his wisdom and works take him by the hand, and the knowledge gained of old. Then as a caterpillar when it comes to the end of a leaf, reaching forth to another foothold, draws itself over to it, so the soul, leaving the body, and putting off unwisdom, reaching another foothold there, draws itself over to it.
“As a worker in gold, taking an ornament, moulds it to another form, new and fairer; so in truth the soul, leaving the body, and putting off unwisdom, makes for itself another form new and fairer: a form like the forms of departed souls, or of the seraphs, or of the gods, or of the creators, or of the Eternal, or of other beings.
“The soul of man is the Eternal. It is made of consciousness, it is made of feeling, it is made of life, 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. The soul is made of this world and of the other world.
“According as were his works and walk in life, so he becomes. He that does righteously becomes righteous. He that does evil becomes evil. He becomes holy through holy works and evil through evil.
“As 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 whatever work he does, in the likeness of it he grows.
“There is this verse:
“Through his past works he shall return once more to birth, entering whatever form his heart is set on. When he has received full measure of reward in paradise for the works he did, from that world he returns again to this, the world of works.
“Thus far of 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 Self is his desire. From him the life-powers do not depart. Growing one with the Eternal, he enters into the Eternal.
“There is this verse:
“When all desires that were hid in the heart are let go, the mortal becomes immortal, and reaches the Eternal.
“And like as the slough of a snake lies lifeless, cast upon an ant-hill, so lies his body, 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 teacher!” Thus spake Janaka, king of the Videhas.
There is this verse:
“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.”
1. A number of distinguished men, who had a special knowledge of RaJputana, have put themselves on record concerning the skin-color of the RaJputs (see Royal Asiatic Quarterly, 1893, p. 39O). Sir George Birdwood wrote, with special reference to a passage in the Mahabharata: “lohita, red, ruddy, is a proper epithet to apply to a pure Rajput.” Sir William Moore said that “red, ruddy, rust-colored would describe the appearance of the best class of Rajputs, but there are many who would come under the beading brown.” Sir Richard Meade added important details: “I have had much intercourse with Rajputs of all classes, and should say that the color of the true Rajput is fairer than that of the people of the northwestern provinces, i.e., that the skin is clearer under the color, if I may so describe it, while the color itself is somewhat less pronounced. Of course, as a rule, Chiefs and Thakurs are fairer than the lower orders of Rajputs, who are themselves more exposed, and who are the descendants of those who for many generations have been so.” In answer to an inquiry as to the skin-color of the Rajputs under the sunburn, Sir Richard Meade wrote: “The sub-shade of color in many of the Rajputs I have seen was of a light ruddy character, in others it was rather sallow, and in others again of a dusky reddish tinge.” Sir Richard Temple endorsed these conclusions, saying: “I should concur in the view that the color of the true Rajputs is a reddish brown, and that it is possible or likely that the brownish element is only the result of sun-action.” Dr. Fitzedward Hall added the point that the skin-color of the true Rajputs is extremely like that of the Red Indians of America.
2. Cf. R. F. Johnston, F.R.G.S., M.R.A.S., From Peking to Mandalay, p. 438. Note 41: “It seems quite clear that the Licchavis—or the great Vaggiao Vrijian clan-system to which they belonged and from which the Mauryans sprang—were neither Aryans nor Dravidians. In all probability they were of Kolanan or Munda race. The Kolarians seem to have entered India from the northeast—just as the Aryans afterwards entered it from the northwest—and extended themselves over vast areas from which they were subsequently driven by Dravidians and Aryans. They must have originally come from the countries that lay to the east, which we now know as Burma, China and Indo-China.”
3. Cf. T. W. Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, Preface, p. iii: “In the following work a first attempt has been made to describe ancient India from the point of view, not so much of the Brahman, as of the Rajput.” And again, p. 53: “The basis of the social distinctions was relationship; or, as the Aryans, proud of their lighter color, put it, color. Their books constantly repeat a phrase as being common amongst the people, which divided the world, as they knew it, into four social grades, called colors (Pali, vanna). At the bead were the Kshatriyas, the nobles. They were most particular as to the purity of their descent through seven generations, both on the father’s and the mother’s side; and are described as ‘fair in color, fine in presence, stately to behold’ (Dialogues of the Buddha, i, 148; Vin. II, 4. I6o).”
4. Cf. Paul Deussen, The Philosophy of the Upanishads, p. 17 ff.: “The Upanishads have come down to us, like the rest of the texts of the three older Vedas, through the Brahmans. All the more striking is it, therefore, that the texts themselves frequently trace back some of their most important doctrines to kings, i.e., Kshatriyas. Thus, in the narrative of Chand. 5, II-24, five learned Brahmans request from Uddalaka Aruni instruction concerning the Atman Vaisvanara. Uddalaka distrusts his ability to explain everything to them, and all the six therefore betake themselves to the King Asvapati Kaikeya, and receive from him the true instruction, the defectiveness of their own knowledge having first been made clear. In Brih., 2. I (and the parallel passage, Kaush. 4) the far-famed Vedic scholar Gargya Balaki volunteers to expound the Brahman to King Ajatasatru of Kasi, and propounds accordingly twelve (in Kaush. 16) erroneous explanations; whereupon to him, the Brahman, the king exhibits the Brahman as the atman under the figure of a deep sleeper, prefacing his exposition with the remark, ‘that it is a reversal of the rule, for a Brahman to betake himself as a pupil to a Kshatriya in order to have the Brahman expounded to him; now I proceed to instruct you.’ In this narrative, preserved by two different Vedic schools, it is expressly declared that the knowledge of the Brahman as atman, the central doctrine of the entire Vedanta, is possessed by the king; but, on the contrary, is not possessed by the Brahman ‘famed as a Vedic scholar.’ In Chand., I, 8-9. two Brahmans are instructed by the King Pravihana Jaivali concerning the akasa as the ultimate substratum of all things, of which they are ignorant. And although it is said in Chand., I, 9, 3, that this instruction had been previously imparted by Atidhanvan to Udarasandilya, yet the names allow of the conjecture that in this case also a Brahman received instruction from a Kshatriya. Similarly Chand. 7 contains the teaching given by Sanatkumara, the god of war, to the Brahman Narada. Here the former pronounces in adequate the comprehensive Vedic learning of the Brahman with the words: ‘All that you have studied is merely name.’ Finally the leading text of the doctrine of the soul’s transmigration, which is extant in three different recensions, is propounded in the form of an instruction given to Aruni by the King Pravahana Jaivali. . . . The fact, moreover, which is especially prominent in the last quoted passages, that the Brahmans during a long period had not attained to the possession of this knowledge for which they nevertheless display great eagerness, is most simply explained on the supposition that this teaching with regard to the Atman was studiously withheld from them; that it was transmitted in a narrow circle among the Kshatriyas to the exclusion of the Brahmans; that, in a word. it was upanishad.”