COMMENTARY ON PRASHNOPNISHAD. PART 1 AND PART 2, BY SRI ANIRVAN, TRANSLATED BY SRI GOUTAM DHARMAPAL, COPYRIGHT
This Upanishad belongs to the Atharvaveda. Though different from the Trayi – Rik, Sama and Yajur Vedas – it holds a very important position as regards Jnana Kanda – the knowledge portion of the Vedas. Knowledge about Brahman (Brahmavidya) is elaborately discussed in Atharvaveda. It evolves a system in which knowledge is used in life to enrich it, to make it strong, prosperous and noble. Maybe, in comparison to Rigveda, it is less ancient, but it is none the lessimportant for that, and the difference is more in way of antiquity of language rather than in contents. In any case it isprior to Buddhism.
The Upanishad is mostly in prose. It is named Prasnopanishad because it is presented in the form of questions. Each chapter starts with a question.
The main subject discussed is that of Prana (the primal Energy) in the form of four questions. The fifth question is about Pranava. In it we get the indication about the Sadhana, spiritual discipline to realize the ultimate Truth. The last question is about the Goal, about the Being whom we have to discover in ourselves.
There are three fundamental entities (Tattva), though in essence they are one, viz. Bhuta (Matter), Prana (Energy) and
Prajna , the Supreme Consciousness (Matter, Life and Spirit). Bhutamatra, Pranamatra and Prajnamatra are one and the
same (Kaushitaki Upanishad).
Prajna (Consciousness) has become Bhuta (Matter) through Prana (Life). So in reverse process, we who are material
(Bhuta) have to reach Spirit (Prana i.e. consciousness) through Life (Prana). Spiritual discipline through life Force (Prana) was given a very high place in the ancient times. But with the growth of ascetic religions, with greater influence of Sankhya philosophy, the way of the mind, or discrimination and rejection and suppression (Nirodha) took hold of the nation and the Prana Sadhana received a setback. But the ancient Sadhana through Life-Force (Prana) is a very powerful discipline to attain the supreme spirit and it is destined to hold its sway once again with the new philosophies, which accept Life as the manifestation of the Divine – the Supreme Consciousness.
Prana is treated both in its individual (Adhyatma) aspect as well as its cosmic (Adhidaivata) aspect. The Prana in the
Cosmos and the Prana in the Individual are one and the same. Realising this oneness, we have to realise our unity with the universe and in the end , the individual, the Cosmos or Universe and the Supreme Being, the Divine – from whom both have evolved are realised to be One and One alone.
This, in short, is the subject matter of the Upanishad.
Om bhadram karnebhih srnnuyama deva
Vyasema devahitam yadayuh II
Svastih na indro vrddhasravah
svasti nah pusa visvavedahI
svasti nastarksyo aristanemih
svasti no brhaspatirdadhatu II
Om santih santih santih II
(based on talks by Srimat Anirvan) by Sri Gautam Dharmapal
Om. O Gods, May our ears hear (Brahman as) illuminating speech, May our eyes behold (Brahman as ) the Good, O Receivers of Sacrifice, May our bodies, strong and full of light, sing Thy praise and May we live the full span of life ordained by Gods (1).
May Indra who is glorified by the ancients, ( whose Glory has reached the Zenith) be auspicious to us, May Pushan, the Omniscient, protect us, May Tarkshya, the celestial bird, whose flight is unhampered, carry us onwards, May Brihaspati, the lord of Wisdom, bestow peace and prosperity on us (2).
Om. Peace, peace, Peace.
For getting the best benefit from the meditation of mantras, it is necessary at first to understand the deep meaning underlying the terms used in the Mantras. The great Rishis, the seers of the Mantras, condensed in the words they used, not only a great spiritual power but also great and powerful ideas. We must therefore bring back to our minds the imageries they used, try to get into the hidden meanings of the symbols that they used. Armed with this understanding, we will get to the heart of Upandishadic knowledge and then by meditating and practicing the spiritual truths proclaimed by these ancient Rishis, transform ourselves into living gods. Man, the animal has to become man, the Divine. And the knowledge and spiritual discipline, for that great transformation, is scattered throughout the Vedic literature. Let us drink deep into the sweet nectar of these waters of eternal Saraswati and may the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent Lord, bless us with Truth, knowledge, strength and devotion.
Notes (1) This is the common Peace Invocation of “Atharva Veda.” The prayer is addressed to all Gods. This is no polytheism. It is intended that we may see God everywhere, in everything. In the Invocation itself, there is an indication of ‘Sadhana’ – spiritual practice. Sadhana is not to be done by mind alone, but through all the limbs of the body, through
all the senses.
‘Bhadram’ – Brahman is spoken of as ‘Bhadra.’ Its ordinary meaning is the auspicious – the Good. But the word has a deeper meaning. It comes from the root ’bhad’ or ‘bhand.’ It has a double meaning. It means both speech and illumination – ‘Vangmaya evam arcismaya, jyotirmaya.’ Illumination of speech is ‘Bhadram’ – auspicious. We see it as light and hear it as illuminating Sound – the ‘Om’ or ‘Pranava.’ Thus it is a befitting symbol for ‘Brahman.’
The sadhana through the body is equally important. It is the Sadhana of Sarira Brahma – Anna Brahma. So long as the divine transformation does not take place in the body, the sadhana is not complete. The body –consciousness must be kept alive throughout. It is not a thing to be thrown away, but an instrument to be transformed into the power of the Divine. The creation of a divine body was one of the goals fo the Sacrifice (Yajna). Brahmi iyam kriyate tanuh (Manu)-the body is to be transformed into Brahman.
There are other words in the Mantra which also have deeper meaning. Yajatrah – From root “yag” which means to sacrifice, to give. We sacrifice to gods and in return gods bestow their powers upon us. By giving our everything to gods, we become fit to receive God within us.
Anga – From root ‘ag’, from which has come the word ‘agni’-fire. In veda the word’anguli’ –finger is the symbol of the flame of fire. This suggests that all the limbs of our body will be like flames of fire. Our body will become ‘yogagnimayam sariram’-body shining with the fire of yoga This is ‘Tapas Sakti’-the radiating power of austerity.
‘Tanu’-From root ‘tan’, meaning expansion, continuation and pervasiveness (Vyapti). It also means slimness (suksmatva) from which we get the word ‘Tanvi”- slim-bodied.
We want such limbs in the body, which will shine like flames in the all-pervasive consciousness.
‘Anga’ – It also means the nervours current in the subtle body. When the flowing light is concentrated in the limbs, then the body become sstead –‘sthira anga’.
In Veda ‘Tanu’ and ‘Atman” are sometimes used synonymously e.g. ‘Tasya esa atma vivrnute tanum svam’. Here ‘Tanu” is self. ‘Purusah, madhye atmani tisthati’. Here atma is body. (Katha Upanisad 1/2/23 & II/1/12).
When the body is transformed in this way, when it becomes a centre for all-pervasive consciousness with shining flames as limbs-it becomes a fit instrument ‘Tanuvina’ to sing for the divine.
This worship has to go on throughout the full span of life – ‘ayu’. ‘Ayu’ (ayus, ayuh” comes from root ‘I’ from which is derived the word ‘Preti’ – ‘Pra+iti’ – the forward movement. This forward movement of life is symbolized by ‘ayu’, human march towards heaven. This movement is limited by time. Thus the time of movement from birth to death is called ‘ayu’. The life-span is ‘ayu’. This span of life is ‘devahitam’ a gift from god, ordained by God. We have to ‘Vyasema’- Visesa bhavena asema – specially live this life, possessed by the Divine, for the sake of the Divine.
(2) – Svasti – Su+asti May it be Good, Auspicious. The existence which is truth and harmony (Satyam, Rtam). In these and many other places we get the word used in its deepest significance. This asti is the divine existence, the delight of
existence of the Eternal being. The highest good, is this ‘svasti’. It is his existence, where there is no i. When the ego is totally merges in the Divine, then only it is the Real, the best existence (su+asti).
Four aspects of the Divinity, four god-heads are here invoked to bless the aspirants with this joy of existence, with peace, prosperity and Divenie Protection. They are (when put in order) Indra, Brhaspati, Pushan and (Visnu) Tarkshya –the celestial bird, the vehicle of God Visnu. To signify the energy and working of this divine quality, Tarkshya is used instead of Visnu. In some invocations Visnu is used. Eg. Sam no Visnur urukramah – ay Visnu the god of giant strides bring peace to us.
These four gods can be place in two pairs (1) Indra-Brihaspati (2) Pushan-Tarkshya or Visnu. The first pari can be said powers of spiritual discipline (sadhana sakti) and the second the powers of Attainment *siddha sakti). Speaking psychologically they can be classified as Vigour and Valour (virya-tapas) and the powers of Penance and Austerity (ojasakti) and Faith, Wisdom (sraddha-prajna). The divine powers are symbolically placed in different world. The worlds, the divine aspects and their psychological counterparts may be placed in short as under:
Upholding powers of Discipline
Powers of Attainment
(Adhara sakti) (Sadhana sakti) (siddha sakti)
Earth The middle Worlds The Heavens
Agni Indra-Brihaspati Surya-Aditya (Pushan Visnu)
The Fire The Lightenings The Sun
Aspiration The powers of Austerity The Knowledge, The Truth
The earth-consciousness has to be raised to the Heavens through the middle worlds. In the process of this transformation, particular powers are essential. Particular gods symbolize these particular powers and by meditating on them, the asporatn received the beneficent help from the particular divine power. In essence all the divine powers are the One God (eko devah viprah bahudha vadanti) Agni, Indra-Brihaspati and Aditya-Visnu are one and the same god manifesting differently at different levels of consciousness.
We give below the ideas in short underlying these great divine aspects as interpreted by Sri Aurobindo:
Agni: Seven-tounged power of will, a force of god instinct with knowledge: Pure priest, divine worker, mediator between earth and heaven.
Indra: The puissant – Power of pure existence, self-manifested as the Divine Mind. Other pole of Light instinct with Force which descends from heaven to earth. Hero with shining horses, Slayer of Darkness, Power of Life-giving heavenly waters.
Brihaspati: Brahma-Creator of the world; by His expansive neighing cry, He creates; Manifestor of all forms from darkness and the Inconscient.
Aditya: Sun is the master of Supreme Truth. Truth of Being, Truth of knowledge, truth of the process and act and movement of functioning. Creator and Manifestor, the Father, enlightener of our souls. Illuminations are the herds-the rays of the Sun.
Visnu: Holds in His triple stride all the three worlds. All pervading – He makes room for the action of Indra. The friend, the Beloved, the Beautiful Godhead (On the wings of His Vehicle Tarkshya – the Celestial Bird) – He moves everywhere.
There are many Suktas (hymns) in rigveda devoted to agni and indra. They have the largest number of suktas because they are the divine aspects nearest to man and most essential for the human consciousness in its upward journey. So indra is called Vriddhasrava, one who is much glorified. The verb root sru is also used to mean Divine hearing. One who has fully got the power of Divine hearing. The function of Indra and Brihaspati can be easily understood by the symbolic story in the Rigveda.
Pani: The panis (the stealers and concealers, those who usurp others’ wealth psychologically our selfishness, rigidity, the obstacles of our material mind) kidnap the cows (go-meaning earth or light) and hide them in a mountain cave (adriguha which cannot be pierced) where there is total darknesss (Andhatamisra). (The divine light is hidden in the material body). Sarama, the hound of heaven is sent to find out the whereabouts of the cows. In spite of her request the panis do not deliver cows. Then indra with hs (Vajra-sakti) thuderbolt destroys the cave. But before that Brihaspati with his great sound (arava-vaksakti) disintegrates the solidity of the cave. And with the help of Brihaspati, Indra frees the concealed cows.
Indra and Brihaspati together destroy our obstacles in the plysical and vital consciousness, Pushan and Visnu remove the obstacles in the mental and over-mental consciousness.
Aditya-consciousness or Light-consciousness is divided into seven aspects. They are symbolically placed with seven steps, of the Sun from midnight to mid-day.
The first is called the Aswinis-the Twin gods – who start their march from midnight. The light is hidden. There is darkness outside.
The second is Usha-the Dawn-the darkness is pierced but the light is yet not seen. The third is Savita, the progenitor of life and light. The red light of sun is now clearly seen. The fourth is Bhaga-the child in its full glory is called Vishnu, who encompasses and illuminates all the three worlds.
According to the centres of consciousness in our body the place do bhaga is at the heart centre (Anahata-cakra), that of Surya at the Throat centre (Visuddha-cakra); that of Pushan at the Ajna-cakra between the eyebrows. It is the place of the Third eye.
(Prajna-caksu – the eye of Higher wisdom). From pushan the consciousness rises to the centre in and above the head (Murdhani) to the all pervasive consciousness of Visnu.
Pushan is therefore, all knowing – Visvavedah and Tarkshya (used in place of Visnu) is all-pervasive.
Vedah also means wealth. The root is Vid which means to know, to possess. It is both knowledge and attainment. The journey onwards from Pushan is from light to light. The process of Knowing, Attaining and Becoming Brahman, becomes natural and unhampered when we reach this stage.
Aristanemi- Nemi is the circumsference of the wheel. The wheel is a symbol used quite often to signify the even progressive movement. Just as all the spokes are gathered at the Centre, similarly all the outward motions, activities of the being are drawninward and concentrated at the centre of the soul. He is then called Nabhanedista-one who has
gathered oneself at the navel centre. Once this is done, then again the rays are thrown outward and they again make a circle. This wheel then moves on and on. The knowledge, the Force then becomes all-pervasive and its progress is unhampered. This is the significance behind Suryacakra, Dharmacakra, Jnanacakra, etc. This Cakra is the powerful
weapon (Sudarsana) in the hands of Lord Visnu as well as Sri Krishna.
By meditating on this mantra we invoke all these powers of the Supreme Divine Being, to protect us, to enter in us, so that they may transform our physical, vital and mental being and make us divine.
Om namah paramatmane | hariah om || sukesa ca bharadvajah saibyasca satyakamah sauryayani ca gargyah
kausalyascasvalayano bhargavo vaidarbhih kabandhi katyayanaste haite brahmapara brahmanisthah param
brahmanvesamana esa ha vai tatsarvam vaksyatiti te ha samitpanyo bhagavantam pippaladamupasannah || 1 ||
Tan ha sa rsiruvaca bhuya eva tapasa brahmacaryena sraddhaya samvatsaram samvatsyatha yathakamam prasnan prcchata yadi vijnasyaah sarvam ha vo vaksyama it || 2 ||
Atha kabandhi katyayana upetya papraccha | bhagavan kuto ha va imah prajah prajayanta iti || 3 ||
Tasmai sa hovaca prajakamo vai prajapatih sa tapotapyata sa tapastaptva sa mithunamutpadayate | rayim ca pranam cetyetau me bahudha prajah karisyata iti || 4 ||
Adityo ha vai prano rayireva canderama rayirva etat sarvam yanmurtam camurtam ca tasmanmurtireva rayih || 5||
Athaditya udayanyatpracim disam pravisati tena pracyan pranan rasmisu samnnidhatte | yaddaksinam yat praticim
yadudicim yadadho yadurdhvam yadantara diso yat sarvam prakasayati tena sarvan pranan rasmisu samnnidhatte || 6 ||
Sa esa visvanaro visvarupah prano’gnirudayate tadetadrcabhyuktam || 7 ||
Visvarupam harinam jatavedasam
Parayanam jyotirekam tapantam
Sahasrarasmih satadha vartamanah
Pranah prajanamudayatyesa suryah || 8 ||
1. OM: salutations to the supreme self; hari om; sukesha the son of bharadwaja satyakama the son of shibi, gargya the grand-son of surya, aswalayana of kosal bhargava of vidarbha and kabandhi katyayana. All of them were devoted to Brahman, steadfast in (their devotion to) Brahman, (but were desirous to know) and seekers of supreme Brahman.
(thinking) that he will verily tell them all (about Brahman), they approached the revered pippalada with sacrificial fuel in their hands.
2. To them the Rishi said, “live truly for one more year in faith, continence and austerity. (Then) ask questions as you desire. If I know, I will surely tell you everything.”
Atharvaveda has two branches – Pippalada and Shaunaka. This uanishad belongs to the pippalada branch of atharvaveda. The teacher of this Upanishad Rishi pippalada may be the pioneer of this branc of atharvaveda. The name pippalada is very ancient. There is one famous verse in which two birds of beautiful plumage sitting on the same tree are described. One sitting as a witness, the other eating the sweet pippal (svadu pippalam atti). One who eats pippal fruit is pippalada. The same root ad is in the word anna, food or mater. Now in reality the fruit of pippala is astringent or bitter. Why then the word sweet (swadu) is used? It means that the aspirant by his sadhana transforms this bitterness into sweetness, just as matter is transformed into spirit – consciousness (anna-annada). Spirit, consciousness is involved in matter. By the fire of Sadhana – Faith, Brahmacarya (continence) and Austerity – it has to be transformed into consciousness. The Rishi who has fully attained this transformation, who has made sweet, tasteful this bitter fruit of (life tree) pippala is Pippalada, its eater, enjoyer.
There will always be these two ways of attaining perfection. One is the way of the Sankhya, of witness-self, of rejecting the experience of life, the way of negation. The other is the way of acceptance of Life, of affirmation or realizing everything as manifestation of the Divine – sarvam khalu idam brahma, verily all this is Brahman, and of reaching ananda-brahma. Atharvaveda mostly teaches this other way. And the Rishis, pippalada and shaunaka are the great exponents of this way. In vedas, i.e. samhitas and upanishads we generally find a balance, almost a synthesis, a going together of these two ways, but unfortunately the later teachers have emphasized only one or the other way, thereby creating conflicts and clashes between different ideologies and consequently cutting the roots of the great spiritual tree which gave shelter to both the birds.
May the reading of this ancient Upanishad infuse in us that true spirit of all-pervasive consciousness (Brihat cetana) which is the heritage left to us by our great forefathers.
To resume the text, in these first two verses we have a fine illustration of the relation between the teacher and the taught and their respective qualities – a fine picture indeed of the ancient ashram-schools.
The (disciple) seekers here are brahmaparah, brahmanistha, param brahma anvesamanah. Brahma is brhat cetana – the vast consciousness, rtam brhat, rtam mahat – the truth, the vast expansion of consciousness is the aim of all seeking.
The divine, the Brahman is the vast, the ultimate truth. The seekers must have devotion to truth. They must have steadfastness, tenacity, capacity to stand the rigours of discipline necessary for this search for truth. They must not rest till truth in its totatlity is realized. They must always move higher and higher sanuhsanuharohanti. There is no end to seeking. Truth has the ever widening horizon. More you go up, there is yet a higher point to reach. That is why the seekers described here, though they have surely achieved something, are desirous of knowing the absolute Brahman.
This search ends only when you have attained this highest point, when all the knots in your consciousness are loosened, when all your doubts have vanished (bhidyatehrdayagranthischidyante sarvasamsayah). The mortal becomes immortal and he enjoys Brahman even here. (atha martyah amrtam bhavati, atra brahma samasnute – katha Upanishad H/3/14)
Now the students, when they go to the teacher’s house, do not go empty-handed. They used to take the sacrificial fuel with them, the things necessary for keeping the fire burning in the teacher’s house. This has a double meaning. It alludes to the ancient practice of keeping the fire alive in ones house – all the time and also to the fire of knowledge
which is always kept alive at the teachers place. When you go to a teacher, you go there not only to receive knowledge, but it is the responsibility of the disciple to keep the torch burning.
When these disciples go to the teachers they are asked to pass one more year in austerity. This is very important.
Before receiving true knowledge you must increase your capacity to receive that knowledge. Faith, continence, austerity, all these increase the capacity of the disciple. He then becomes a fit channel to receive the waters of the great river of knowledge. Samvatsarah : one full year was an important period. The sadhana proceeded according to the cycles of seasons. The harmony that is in the cycle of time was made an instrument to help the sadhana to create harmony in ones life.
Sraddha, Tapah, Brahmacaryam – Sraddha is the first spark of the Divine which is felt in the heart/ It comes a a grace from the Divine. I is not like ordinary faith or belief. It is the inborn psychic response to the call of the divine. Sraddha entered into Nachiketa (Katha Upanishad). Sadhana begins with this avesa, first inflow of the divine in human heart.
Then by discipline, by austerity, the first spark has to be kindled into a big fire that burns everything undivine and puriifies the Sadhaka. This tapas is the strength and power (Viryasakti) necessary for Sadhana. Sraddha and Tapas together constitute the staqte of Brahmacarya. Brahmacarya literally means to move in the consciousness of Brahmabrihat, vastness. THe first touch that is received thorough Sraddha has to be reared and increased by Tapas remaining in this state of Brahmi consciousness. The current meaning of Brahmacarya (celibacy or continence) should rather be considered as a part of tapas.
When the disciple is ready, the teacher is also pleased to deliver the knowledge to him. He will give without reserve. The teacher is not arrogant. He does not claim he knows everything. There is humility in him to say that “If I know, I will surely tell you.” It was rather knowing together by mutual discussion. The ancient Rishis knew that Tuth can never be
known dffllfully. Nor can one say that it is unknown (Cf Kenopanishad). So with utter selflessness the teacher will instruct whenever he finds a sincere aspirant.
3. Now Kabandhi Katyayana approached him and asked,”Sir, what is the source of creation for all these created beings?”
4. To him he said,”Prajapati verily desired progeny. He performed austerity. Performing austerity he created ( a couple ( a male and a female) – Rayi – the impulse , the Food, the sustaining nouRishing principle i.e. the female Principle and Prana the cosmic Energy, the male principle of creative evolution (Matter and energy). These two will create my manifold progeny.”
5. The Sun – Aditya is verily this Prana and the Moon is Rayi. And rayi is all that is with form as well as all that is without form. Therefore, the form is Rayi.
The first principles that govern creation are discussed here.
Sraddha, tapah, brahmacaryam – sraddha is the first spark of the divine which is felt in the heart. It comes as a grace from the divine. It is not like ordinary faith or belief. It is the inborn psychic response to the call of the divine. Sraddha entered into nachiketa (Katha Upanishad). Sadhana begins with this avesa, first inflow of the divine in human heart.
Then by discipline, by austerity the first spark has to be kindled into a big fire that burns everything undivine and purifies the sadhaka. This tapas is the strength and power (viryasakti) necessary for sadhana. Sraddha and tapas together constitute the state of brahmacarya. Brahmacarya literally means to move in the consciousness of brahma – brihat, vastness. The first touch that is received through sraddha has to be reared and increased by tapas remaining in this state of brahmi consciousness. The current meaning of brahmacarya (celibacy or continence) should rather be considered as a part of tapas.
When the disciple is ready, the teacher also is pleased to deliver the knowledge to him. He will give without reserve.
The teacher is not arrogant. He does not claim that he knows everything. There is humility in him to say that ‘if I know, I will surely tell you’. It was rather knowing together by mutual discussion. The ancient Rishis knew that truth can never be known fully. Nor can one say that is unknown. (cf. kenopanishad) so with utter selflessness the teacher will instruct whenever he finds a sincere aspirant.
1. now, kadandhi katyayana approached him and asked, “sir, what is the source of creation of all these created beings?”
2. to him he said, “prajapati verily desired progeny. He performed austerity. Performing austerity he created a couple (a male and a female) – rayi – the impulse, the food (matter), the sustaining, nouRishing principle i.e. the female principle and prana – the cosmic energy, the male principle of creative evolution (matter and energy). These two will create my manifold progeny.”
3. The sun – Aditya is verily this prana and the moon is rayi. And rayi is all that is with form as well as all that is without form. Therefore, the form is rayi.
The first principles that govern all creation are discussed here.
The question of creation, from where all this has come, where all will go after death and destruction and such other questions regarding creation of this universe have formed the starting point of all enquiry – spiritual as well as secular from times immemorial. The swetaswatara Upanishad starts with this very enquiry “kutasma jatah.” “from where we are born” etc.
The Rishi enumerates three first principles necessary for all creation. Prajapati, prana and rayi. The creation starts with prajapati – the name itself is significant. The divine aspect from where the first movement of creation started was named prajapati in the vedas and upanishads. He is brahma of the puranas – the creator god. At the back of prajapati is Brahman – the eternal principle – the supracosmic consciousness. It is always described in neuter gender as tat – that, whereas prajapati is the fatherhood of god – and therefore always described as sah – he, the masculine. In tantra where motherhood of god is given greater predominance, it is sa – she, the feminine. The vedic cult is predominantly patriarchal.
In the present context Brahman may be said nirguna brahma – nonqualified Brahman and prajapati saguna Brahman – qualified Brahman. Another ancient name for prajapati is hiranyagarbha or tvashta – the lord who manifests the universe from the unmanifested reality.
The creation starts with a desire in this god, father. This beginning of creation starts with a desire in this god, father.
This beginning of creating has been variously described. At one place, it is said that everything was lying quiet like the waters of a calm lake. Then there was a little stirring. And this, first disturbance in water put in motion the whole of creation. In another Upanishad – brihadaranyaka – it is said atma eva idam agre asit – atma alone was there in the beginning, like a single man, sa naiva reme. (alone) he was not happy. He wanted another. He divided his own self into two – they became husband and wife. And from them all (people) were born.
This desire was the first vibration in cosmos. Then it took the form of tapas, austerity which generates heat. The light principle was the next stage. That which was static now became dynamic. According to sankhya tamas, inertia was there in the beginning. There was movement, rajas and sattva, light was created.
Then as if out of himself Prajapati created the two – prana and rayi – the husband and the wife.
Because in creation the mother-principle is more important, rayi is placed before prana. The desire of prajapati transformed itself into rayi and the tapas-light-heat into prana. First prajapati, then prana and with it rayi – this will be the logical order. Prajna – pure consciouness – prana – the life force and rayi – anna – matter, body – life and spirit. All the three are interconnected and inhabit all the creation. Prajapatih carati garbhe as prajapati – dynamic power – he moves in all wombs – aham bijapradah pita (gita) – I am the father who puts seeds in all wombs. Rayi is also aditi – the mother regarding whom it is said sa pita – sa mata sa putrah – generally rayi is interpreted as matter because according to nignantu it means wealth. But that is its very gross meaning. In the abstract sense – and the first creation is surely in the abstract – it means an impulse (samvega). It comes from the root R, Rn, Rnanti – to run. Rayah meaning the current – (flow) of river and retah semen – come from the same root. It is outflow – from prana – or prajapati. The word visargah, visrsti – (root srj) is the outflow of the worlds from the supreme consciousness. Manifestation and not creation is the proper term. This spirit of manifestation is rayi, the thing manifested is also rayi. That is why it is said, that which is with form = consolidation is rayi and that which is without form is also rayi. Form as well as formlessness both are the powers of rayi-shakti. That which is formless takes form. But in taking form it does not exhaust itself.
Brahman has four quarters or parts (catuspada brahma). By one pada or part it manifests the universe and the other three are in amrita – immortal beyond any manifestation. Sun – aditya is prana and moon is rayi.
The symbols are analogical. There are two conceptions about moon to symbolize two different consciousness. One is called Chandra – chandrama – the other is called soma. Where there is waxing and waning, when the consciousness is unstable, when there are ups and downs in sadhana – it is compared with this Chandra. It is the normal mental consciousness. Man’s mind is compared to moon. It has fifteen kalas (digits) – according to which it waxes and wanes.
But when the mind shoots up it reaches the sixteenth kala which is beyond, where the amrita – immortal ananda –jouconsciousness is self-existent, then it is called soma. In between is aditya the stable, the effulgent, witness consciousness. Aditya, the son of mother aditi – the unbound, whole consciousness. The process of sadhana is first to
ascend to aditya consciousness and then to enter into soma consciousness. Because the supernatural is latent in the natural, because form and formlessness are latent in each other, Rayi is both as well as formlessness.
6. Now, when the sun rises in the east, then he marshals the pranas of the east through his rays. And when whatever he illuminates – the south, the west, the north, the lower (hemisphere), the upper (hemisphere) or the intermediate quarters, through his rays he marshals all the pranas (of these places).
7. Here rises he (the sun), the life of the universe, the form of the universe, the (great) prana (life force), the fire. For him this Rk is uttered (used).
8. (Know him to be) the universal form, the effulgent (shining with rays). The all-pervading omniscient, the highest goal, the one who is the only light and giver, radiator of heat (knowledge and power). There rises the sun of thousand rays, the prana of all creatures manifest in hundred ways.
The sun is the fosterer of life. He is worshipped as the manifest form of the divine, whom we see everyday before our eyes. He is the store-house of all energy. To be united with the source of that universal energy was a great spiritual discipline “yah asau asau purusah soham asmi” – “That being that is there, I am that.” (Isa Upanishad) The rising of the
sun is one of the most beautiful sights and has always inspired the poets of all times.
The vedic Rishis, who were nearer to nature, experienced its spell all the more powerfully and there are many hymns eulogising the rising sun. here we get a fine description of the sun-rise, the identification and inner transformation which this identification with sun makes possible in the aspirant.
The rising of the sun is the spiritual awakening in the aspirant. The mantra for this sunrise is surya jyotih jyotih suryah svaha. The sun is the supreme light and I sacrifice myself in that universal light. To experience the universal self within one’s self, to be one with it was the goal.
Aditaya-rashmi-prana – the sun, the rays, the energy – Aditya is the universal prana, energy is radiated from him on all sides in the form of rays.
‘Sam nidhatte’ – this is a technical term. It means to throw out the light – the emanation and yet to hold it with one’s self. The same universal prana is both at the source as well as at the very end of rays. It is the same universal prana that
moves, illumines everything.
The sun is the universal form when seen from the cosmic point of view (adhidaivata). When seen from the individual view (adhyatma) he is vaishvanara. It is the fire that is in everybody.
“Aham vaisvanaro bhutva... pacamyannam caturvidham”- gita XV / 14 – becoming vaishvanara, I digest the food of four types. The word vaishvanara has two other meanings. The one who dances in the universe rhythmically or the one in whom the universe dances i.e., the one who comes down in an ordered way in all beings or the one towards whom all beings move. The energy of the sun enters in all beings through his rays. All creatures dance with joy with the touch of his life-giving rays.
And when seen from the physical view-point (adhibhuta) this sun is the fire (agni) on earth.
There are three forms of jyoti-light. They are fire on the earth, the lightning in the mid-region and the sun in the heavens. All the three are forms of the one and the same energy manifested differently in different planes. The light that is in my heart has to be transformed in the light that is in the sun. It is conceived that the divine has come down in every individual as rays and piercing the crown of the head entered into the heart of every individual. Therefore the heart (centre) is the seat of the divine. He dwells always in the heart of being (sada jananam hrdi sannivistah – katha Upanishad II/3/17). And taking hold of this very ray, which passes through the ‘susumna-hita nadi (the nerve that goes above towards the crown of the head) the aspirant has to rise above to the divine and be one with him. This was one of the great spiritual disciplines of ancient times and was widely developed by the hatha yogis, the tantrics, natha yogis and other sects.
When we conceive this energy in the nervous system it is seen as prana – the breath – the out-going breath and the ingoing breath (prana-apana). When we breathe in, we take in the universal energy and when we breathe out we merge ourself in the universal self – prana or energy.
In this way we consciously feel that the sun that rises is but a representation of the same divine being, who dwells in our hearts as well as in all beings. Such meditation on the sun widens our consciousness.
9. The first portion enumerates the different attributes of the sun. the eulogy is for meditation. The second portion describes the sun-rise and the actual action.
Visvarupam: whatever exists is his form – “isa vasyam idam sarvam’ – all that exists is for the habitation of the lord (Isha Up.) it signifies the universality of the divine.
Harinam: the root is hr – to shine – Hiranya jyoti. The white, pure light. When the shakti, the power is suggested it is Hiranya jyoti, the shining light. These are the rays – the front side of the sun.
Jatavedasam: agni is also called jatavedah – that which knows all births or one who witnesses all that is born. He is hidden in the heart of every being and he is also present as a link from birth to birth.
He is maifest in three ways (1) he has become the universe. He is diffused in the universe. (2) he is residing in the hearts of every being. (3) He shines in the worlds.
This light is parayanam – param ayanam – the highest point, wherein everything dissolves, where every being has to reach. The journey from light to more light ends in that supreme light.
He is jyotih ekam – the only light. As well as he is Tapantam- who radiates heat, energy. He is not only light but infuses –radiates light and energy in the being.
The aspirant beholds his great energy – the divine being rising before his eyes in the form of the mighty sun. He is thousand – rayed. These rays are his going forth. Every ray of his gives birth to a new life. He is the prana manifesting in hundreds of ways. He is the sould of all creatures. This aditya, the sun – the supreme prajana, the highest energy is the source of all creation. He is the prajapati – the father of all creatures.