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Brihadaranyaka Upanishad | Part I. Ch V. Manifestations of Prajapati


The following are the mantras.



Photo by Aman Shrestha



1. The following are the mantras: "I shall now disclose that the father produced seven kinds of food through meditation and rites. One is common to all eaters. Two he assigned to the gods. Three he designed for himself. And one he gave to the animals. On it (food) rests everything- whatsoever breathes and whatsoever breathes not. Why are not these foods exhausted although they are always being eaten? He who knows the cause of this inexhaustibility of the food eats food with pre-eminence (pratika). He obtains identity with the gods and lives on nectar."


2. When it is said: "That the father produced seven kinds of food through meditation and rites," the statement means that the father indeed produced them through meditation and rites. When it is said: "One is common to all eaters," it means that the food which is eaten is that which is common to all. He who appropriates this food is never free from evil, for this is, verily, the general food. When it is said: "Two he assigned to the gods," the statement means oblations made in the fire and presents offered otherwise to the gods. Therefore people make oblations in the fire and offer presents otherwise to the gods. Some, however, say that the two foods refer to the new-moon and full-moon sacrifices. Therefore one should not engage in sacrifices for material ends. When it is said: "One he gave to the animals," the statement refers to milk; for at first men and animals live on milk alone. That is why they first make a new-born babe lick melted butter or they put it to the breast. And they speak of the new-born calf as not yet eating grass. When it is said: "On it rests everything-whatsoever breathes and whatsoever breathes not," it means that everything rests on milk, all that breathes and breathes not. It is further said in another Brahmana that by making offerings of milk in the fire for a year one overcomes further death; but one should not think thus. For he who knows this overcomes further death the very day he makes the offering, because he offers all eatable food to the gods. When it is asked: "Why are not these foods exhausted although they are always being eaten?" the answer is that the eater is indeed the cause of this inexhaustibility, for he produces this food again and again. When it is said: "He who knows the cause of this inexhaustibility," the statement means that the eater is indeed the cause of this inexhaustibility, for he produces this food through meditation and rites. If he did not do this the food would be exhausted. When it is said: "He eats food with pratika," the word pratika means pre-eminence; hence the meaning is that he eats food pre-eminently. The statement: "He obtains identity with the gods and lives on nectar," is a eulogy.


3. "Three he designed for himself"-that is to say, the mind, the organ of speech and the vital breath; these he designed for himself. They say: "My mind was elsewhere, I did not see it; my mind was elsewhere, I did not hear it." It is clear that a man sees with his mind and hears with his mind. Desire, determination, doubt, faith, lack of faith, steadfastness, lack of steadfastness, shame, intelligence and fear-all this is truly the mind. Even if one is touched from behind, one knows it through the mind; therefore the mind exists. Whatever sound there is, it is just the organ of speech; for it serves to determine a thing, but it cannot itself be revealed. The prana, apana, vyana, udana, samana and ana-all these are but the vital breath (prana). This body (atma) consists of these-the organ of speech, the mind and the vital breath.


4. These verily are the three worlds: the organ of speech is this world (the earth), the mind is the intermediary world (the sky) and the vital breath is that world (heaven).


5. These verily are the three Vedas: the organ of speech is the Rig-Veda, the mind is the Yajur-Veda and the vital breath is the Sama-Veda.


6. These verily are the gods, the Manes and men: the organ of speech is the gods, the mind is the Manes and the vital breath is men.


7. These verily are father, mother and child: the mind is the father, the organ of speech is the mother and the vital force is the child.


8-10. These verily are what is known, what is to be known and what is unknown. Whatever is known is a form of the organ of speech, for it is the knower. The organ of speech protects him who knows its different manifestations by becoming that which is known). Whatever is to be known is a form of the mind, for the mind is what is to be known. The mind protects him who knows this by becoming that which is to be known. Whatever is unknown is a form of the vital breath, for the vital breath is what is unknown. The vital breath protects him who knows this by becoming that which is unknown.


11. The earth is the body of that organ of speech and this fire is its luminous organ. And as far as the organ of speech extends, so far extends the earth and so far extends fire.


12. Now, heaven is the body of this mind and that sun yonder is its luminous organ. And as far as the mind extends, so far extends the earth and so far extends fire. The two (fire and the sun) were united and from that was born the vital breath. It (the vital breath) is the supreme Lord (Indra). It is without a rival. A second being is, indeed, a rival. He who knows this has no rival.


13. Next, water is the body of this vital breath and that moon yonder is its luminous organ. And as far as the vital breath extends, so far extends water and so far extends the moon. These are all equal, all infinite. He who meditates upon them as finite wins a finite world, but he who meditates upon them as infinite wins an infinite world.


14. That Prajapan, represented by the year, consists of sixteen parts. The nights and days are fifteen of his parts and the constant point is the sixteenth. He as the moon is increased and decreased by the nights and days. Through the sixteenth part he permeates all living beings as the new-moon night and rises the following morning. Therefore, in honour of this deity, on this night let no one cut off the breath of any breathing being, not even of a lizard.


15. Verily, the person who knows this is himself that Prajapati who is endowed with sixteen parts and who is represented by the year. Wealth constitutes fifteen of his parts and the body is his sixteenth part. He is increased and decreased by that wealth. This body is the nave and wealth is the felloe. Therefore even if a man loses everything, but lives in his body, people say that he has lost only his felloe which can be restored again.


16. Now, these are, verily, the three worlds: the world of men, the world of the Manes and the world of the gods. The world of men can be gained through a son only and by no other rite; the world of the Manes through rites; and the world of the gods through meditation. The world of the gods is the best of the worlds. Therefore they praise meditation.


17. Now therefore follows the entrusting: When a man thinks he is about to die, he says to his son: "You are Brahman, you are the sacrifice and you are the world." The son replies: "I am Brahman, I am the sacrifice, I am the world." The Sruti explains the thoughts of the father: "Whatever has been studied by me (the father) is all unified in the word Brahman. Whatever sacrifices have been made by me (the father) are all unified in the word sacrifice. And whatever worlds were to be; won by me (the father) are all unified in the word world. All this it indeed this much. He (the son), being all this, will protect me from the ties of this world." Therefore they speak of a son who is well instructed as being conducive to the winning of the world; and therefore a father instructs him. When a father who knows this departs from this world, he- along with his own organ of speech, mind and vital breath- penetrates his son. If, through a lapse, any duty has been left undone by him, the son exonerates him from all that; therefore he is called a son. The father remains in this world through the son. The divine and immortal organ of speech, mind and vital breath enter into him (the father).


18. The divine organ of speech from the earth and fire enters into him. That is the divine organ of speech through which whatever he says is fulfilled.


19. The divine mind from heaven and the sun permeates him. That is the divine mind through which he becomes joyful only and grieves no more.


20. The divine vital breath from water and the moon permeates him. And, verily, that is the divine vital breath which, whether moving or not moving, neither feels pain nor is injured. He who knows this becomes the self of all beings. As is this deity (Hiranyagarbha), so is he. And as all beings honour this deity, so do they honour him. Howsoever creatures may grieve, that grief of theirs remains with them but only merit goes to him. No demerit ever goes to the gods.


21. Next follows the consideration of the vow (meditative worship): Prajapati projected the organs. They, when they were projected, quarrelled with one another. The organ of speech resolved: "I will go on speaking"; the eye: "I will go on seeing"; the ear: "I will go on hearing." So did the other organs, according to their functions. Death, having taken the form of weariness, laid hold of them-it overtook them and having overtaken them, restrained them. Therefore does the organ of speech become tired and so do the eye and the ear. But death did not overtake the vital breath (prana) in the body. The other organs resolved to know it and said: "This is verily the greatest among us; whether moving or not moving, it neither feels pain nor is injured. Well then, let us assume its form." They all assumed its form. Therefore they are called pranas after it. In whatever family there is a man who knows this-that family they call by his name. And whoever competes with one who knows this, shrivels and after shrivelling, in the end dies. This is with regard to the body.


22. Now with regard to the gods. Fire resolved: "I will go on burning"; the sun: "I will go on giving heat"; the moon: "I will go on shining." And so did the other gods, according to their functions. As is the vital breath in the body among the organs, so is air (vayu) among the gods. The other gods fade, but not air. Air is the deity that never sets.


23. Now there is this verse (sloka): The gods observed the vow of that from which the sun rises and in which it sets. This vow is followed today and this will be followed tomorrow. The sun rises verily from the prana (the vital breath in its cosmic form) and also sets in it. The gods even today observe the same vow which they observed then. Therefore a man should observe a single vow-he should perform the functions of the prana and apana (respiration and excretion), lest the evil of death should overtake him. And if he performs them, let him try to complete them. Through this he obtains identity with that deity, or lives in the same world with it.






  1. The Upanishads translated by Swami Nikhilananda


 

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