"COMMENTARY ON 'THE KENA UPANISHAD'" BY SRI ANIRVAN, TRANSLATED BY SRI GAUTAM DHARMAPAL, COPYRIGHT
The advent of the very beautiful goddess Uma Haimavati in the sky is like the glow of the midday sun “a pra dyava prithivi antariksham” – illuminating all the heaven, the earth and the mid-regions. Indra saw her and enquired who this yaksha was? Indra heard-
sa brahma iti ha uvaca brahmana va etad vijaye
mahiyadhvam iti; tato vidaneakara brahma iti -1-
1) That (woman) said this, “It is the eternal (Brahma). Of Brahma is this victory in which you have grown great”. Then alone He came to know that this was Brahma.
The Goddess said and Indra heard. As soon as he heard, knowledge awakened in him. This was the grace of the thousand-worded supreme Vak in the highest heaven. It was she who had spoken through the daughters of Rishi Ambhrina Evennow she goes on singing –
aham eva svayam idam vada mi
jushtam devebhir uta manushebhih
yam kamaye tam tam ugram krinomi
tam brahmanam tam rishim sumedham.
I myself announce and utter these words that gods and men will alike admire. Whomever I love and wish. I make him aveeding mighty; make him a brahmana (knower of brahma), a Rishi and a man of great intelligence.
In Chandogya we are told about a person who isnot human, who leads the soul to brahma. The soul of a man taking the celestial path goes to the sun world (aditya) from Samvatsara (the years), from adithya the candrama the moon and from candrama to vidyut – lightening. Then this non-human person takes him to brahma. Goddess here is this non-human person. Her advert is like aurora. In kenopanishad to, a little later we are told about lightening.
When the goddess herself appears and helps to attain Brahma, then only it becomes easy and full to attain. It all gods move towards Brahma, but all do not attain it. Faintly they know Brahma but cannot clearly define Him. The Goddess Uma haimavati is “aditir decatamayi” - Aditi mother of all gods – gathering a collection of all gods and beyond something more.
And so, she alone can bestow the knowledge of Brahma – by gathering together all the senses and synthesis of consciousness.
There are three worlds – The earth – prithivi, the mid-regions- antariksha and the heavens- dyauh. they are the three states of consciousness like a stair leading towards brahma. In every state of consciousness there is a god who Rords over it. Other gods are there powers. Here the ruling gods are Agni (of earth), vayu (of mid-regions) and Indra (of heavens). In Samhita we find other names – like Agni, Indra, mitra-varuna or Agni, Matarisva and surya-yama. In the three worlds there are three – devaganas – groups of gods – they are Vasugana, Rudragana and Adityagana – they are the powers of the main three gods. Subjectively these gods are Body (anna), Prana and Mind (mana) or vak, prana and mana as they are here. In the Vedic ontology similar terminology is Bhuta, Bhuvana and Bhuma, That is, what has happened , what is happening and what is already there – the state where what has happened, what is happening and what will happen is always there – the state that is natural and unbound, we have to arrive.
at “Bhuma” or “Brahma” ascending the three steps (states) of happening with the help of Agni, vayu and indra – this is the accomplishment (siddhi) of the sadhana (spiritual discipline) of knowledge (Vignana). To arrive there is to reach supreme bliss (maha-sukha)
tasmad va ete deva atitaram iva anyan devan yad agnir
vayur indrat te hi enan nedisthani pasparshush te hi enat prathamo vidancakara
brahma iti -2-
tasmad va indrotitaram iva anyan devan. Sa hi enan
nedistham pasparsa. Sa hi enat prathamo vidancakar
brahma iti -3-
2) Therefore these gods as if have gone beyond all gods, these Agni, vayu and Indra; because they came nearest to the touch of That---- (because they are the first to know that it was Brahma).
3) Therefore it is Indra as it were who is beyond all the other gods because he came nearest to the touch of that, because He first knew as Brahma.
This is the end of the story. Agni, vayu and Indra, specially Indra – are the main means of knowing, realizing Brahma. The word iva as if is worthnothing. They have as if gone beyond all other gods. Infact one can realize with the help of any God. Brahma is “Ekam sat”. The one Truth or Existence. Other gods are His powers. From Vibhuti – Powers to Sambhuti
Existence, beyond Existence is Non-Existence – asmbhuti. This is the sequence of possible experience. The highest supreme experience realization is that of “na-vedah” – “not-knower”. Neither existence nor non-existence is there. From there the gods are born manifest. All the creation and manifestation is that of That one – Ekam tat, therefore “mahad devanam asurtvam ekam”- Great is the God’s supreme and sole dominion and so one is the greatness and beyondness of all Gods. In reality all are Brahma, all and everything is Brahma – sarvam khalu idam Brahma!
A mode of realizing or attaining Brahma – consciousness is “Nedistha sparshana” – to touch Brahman by approaching nearest to It. There is a sequence in the experience of mysties - to see Brahma outside one’s self, then within one’s self – to fuel and experience within one’s heart. This experience is the experience os the consciousness of Brahma. Then to hear the humming, lilting sound in the depths of one’s heart. The touch in the heart is the touch of Prana. In this way by tasking the joy of the most wonderful ascending experience of the form, the touch and the word of Brahma through the eye Prana and the ear is the acme of realizing Brahma.
In Samhita this nearest touch of Brahma is compared with the union of husband and wife. Rishi Aruna Vaitahavya addressing Agni says, “I know, He desires me. I as if go very near to His heart for His touch (nisprishe), like a well-dressed fond wife approaching and clinging to her dear husband. Nodha Gautam approaching Indra says, “My thoughts and ideas have touched you, just as the yearning wives cling to the yearning husband”.
Elsewhere Rishi Vairupa Nabhah prabhedana gives an- indirect decription of this touch. Indra is the greatest drinker of Soma. The rishi invites Indra for the first drink of Soma at the ritual of extraoting Soma – juice in the morning (1). The deity wants self-sacrifice (oblation of self). Therefore the oblation given to the deity in the form of material things is symbol of self. Soma generates joy. It is my joy, my own sup, flavour – represents my bliss consciousness. That has to be purified and offered to the deity. Like the fire soma too has to be purified. Spiritually as regards to self. Agni the fire is aspiration – intense desire to realize God; Soma is joy or bliss.
consciousness. Both of them are purified by the infusion of Sun or “Vast light”. – Brihat jyoti. The Joy of soma then is enlightened by the light of knowledge. So vairupa says to Indra, “See, our joy is dazzling by the golden light of Sun. There is no limit no comparision to its beauty. O god let your body touch it.- tanvam sparshayasva…… takes your seat within me, be one with me and revel yourself. In the language of the Vaishanas (the worshippers of god Vishnu) – this yoga of touch is not for the love of one’s senses, atmendriya priti iecha) but for the love of the senses of Krishna (krishnendriya priti-iccha) – to please Krishna – the lord. My decoration, my beautification is for Him; my satisfaction lies in his enjoyment.
In Veda, the deity of this touch-sense is “Prishni”. She is the mother of Marudgana – the lightening trumpest of Prana blowing in the universe. Mother Prishni takes the form of a cow. The father “prishni” is the bull (ayam gauh prishni) - in samhita she is Prana – that is the Sun. The father and the mother have the same name – both together are a pair principle. By the copulation of the two, the tempest of light that , blows in the universe is the universal Prana (viswa prana). We get its aquaintance in the self-experience of the vak the daughter of rishi Ambhrina.
From all these ideas we can understand the truth behind the closest touch – nedisth sparsha. We can compare this with the “extreme of happiness of a yogi due to the intimate touch of the Brahma as described in the Gita. There is a beautiful description of this “extreme joy” in the last but one hymn of the some-mandela of Rik Samhita.
The goal of the three Vedas is to enjoy this bliss of Brahma. The Upanishads talk in different places in different ways about this bliss. In samhita we see that immortality and bliss are one and the same thing. Bliss is attained as a result of soma-sacrifice, bliss is “sweet honey” – somyam madhu. The enjoyment of Brahma through all the senses as described in the “Paryanka Vidya” of Kaushitaki Upanishad; the instruction about “bhuma” the vast in chandogya Upanishad, the “madhu vidya” – “the knowledge about honey” in the Brihadaranyaka and chandogya, “ananda-mimamsa” – the discussion about Bliss in Taittiriya and Brihadaranyaka; the uplifting of enjoyment through renumeration in the Isha Upanishad – in all these places we hear the melody of Bliss and fulfillment and nourishment of the will to live. This is the main characteristic of the Vedic philosophy of life. At the end of Jaiminiya Upanishad – the source of Kenopanishad – there is a wonderful description of the play of savita – the Sun and Savitri his consort – every where in the universe – inside and outside – between Agni- the fire and Prittivi –the earth, varuna and the apa- the water , vayu (air) and the sky (akasha), stanayitnu – the thundering of the clouds and the lightening, the Sun and the heavens – dyaun, the moon and the stars, the sacrifice (yagna) and the metic –chanda, mind and the word (vak), the Purusha – the man and stri – the woman –everywhere is meeting of Savita and savitri- “dve yoni ekam mithunam” – two women places of generation – one couple. This principle of a pair, a couple is the Sama of the rished of Chandogya and is the Upanishad of samaveda. At the end of the story of Kenopanishad we see the illumination of the above mentioned close – contact of Brahma (brahma sansparsha).
The story ends here. The kacher –acarya – gives us here the reason why we cannot realize or attain Brahma, as well as show us how we can realize Brahma. Till now his instructin was almost the negetive side – Brahma cannot be realized by this or that means. Only in one verse it was said, one can realize Brahma by reflective perception. Now the teacher speaks about Means in some details in the form of two instructions and one discipline.
Tasya eshah adesho yad etad vidyuto vyadyutad a 3
Iti in nyamishad a 3-iti adhidaivatam – 4
Atha adhyatmam, yad etad gacchati iva ca manah anena
ca etad upasmarati abhikshnam sarikalpah -5
1) Now this is the teaching about that (brahma) – as is this flash of lightening flashes (upon us); or as is this following of lid so is the lightening as if closer its eye. – so it is regarding the gods - 4-
2) Now the teacher regarding the self – as the motion of the mind seems to go towards That (brahma), and by this mind, afterwards the will in the man continually remembers it 5-
Adesha Teaching is a technical term. The main meaning is indication or instruction or pointer. Infact it is like a formula, dilating on teaching in short; so that one gets some direction about the path. But along with it, there is some impelling, some driving force of the speaker – like the teaching of Buddha regarding Dharma. There are many instances of such teachings in the older Upanishads. In Taittiriya Upanishad such teaching (adesha) is called, self of the mental being and the four Vedas its limbs. In cHandogya there is some talk about “guhya adesha” secret teaching. They like honey-bees collect nectar from the Brahma-flower and deposit it in the upper rays of the Sun. Thus the teaching (adesha) is the supreme instruction about Brahma.
Here we have two teachings – one is adhidaivat- pertaining to gods; another is adhyatma, pertaining to self. We have already talked about these two viewpoints; pertaining to gods (adhi daivat) and pertaining to self (adyatma). These two terms are very ancient and they are like keys to understand the Vedas. Their first use is found in Aaitareya Brahmana. Their use is profuse in the Upanishads. Let us have a short preview.
If we have to look at a thing or a principle, it can be seen from outside one’s self or from within the self. Let us take Brahma. Brahma is outside of us as well as inside. Outside, Brahma has become the universe. Inside us It is self (atma). Both the universe and the self are interdependent. In Brahma both are united.
We experience outside world as things or objects; inner-self we experience as feeling, as idea, as consciousness. But as our innerself has taken the form of object as our body, sililarly in the heart of object outside there is Prana, there is consciousness – in a way that also is “Atmanvi” – with self. With body and soul (self) I am a “puruska” – a person. Similarly the outside too is a “Virat Purusha” – the great, the expanded person. I am the Vibhuti – a special power or part of that Virat Purusha what is there in Him, the same is also in me. Because it is in Him, therefore is in me. ( I am the microcosm and vice-verse).
We see the Sun outside. Because of its light and heat the whole of this animate and inanimate earth is illuminated and active. This Sun is “atma jagatas tasthushasca – the self atma of all that is moving and unmoving literally standing. When we see that Purusha outside, then we experience that, “purush eva idam sarvam, yad bhutam yac ca bhavyam”. That person alone is all this, whatever has (taken birth) been and whatever will (take birth) be. That is, whatever is happening in this world, is happening in Him, He is becoming all. This outlook is
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