ON THE UPANISHADS AND HINDU POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY
This treatise is an attempt to examine some of the Upanishads from the perspective of Political Sociology. The Vedas and the Upanishads are held in great esteem in India and by Indologists all over the world. They are considered to be a treasure house of the spiritual wealth that has been handed down by the sages of the Vedictimes to future generations.
But many passages in them have remained obscure, as both medieval and modern scholars have ignored their relevance to the social polity of the times when they were composed. To be precise, critics of the later times have not been able to discover and describe the features of this polity.
A rigorously rational approach adopted by me in my earlier works, Evolution of Social Polity of Ancient India From Manu To Kautilya (1988), Origins of Hindu Social System (1994), Foundations of Hindu Economic State (1997) and Hindu Social Dynamics (1999) helped me to build a framework for the study of Hindu Political Sociology without being constricted and misguided by the unwarranted postulates advanced and enforced by the western Indologists during the last three centuries.
Some of these postulates had ulterior motives, which several Hindu scholars have failed to notice. There has been a tendency to adhere to and revere the western interpretations and brush aside the traditional Hindu views even if many of the latter were based on reason and not on blind faith.
Prologue to Hindu Political Sociology (2000) was an effort to draw from the above works and provide a rational base for the study of Ancient Indian works without being daunted by the mysticism in which many of our ancient works have been cloaked and which western Indologists and their Indian adherents have passed by as myths, fables and legends.
In 2001, I finalized my thesis, Bhagavad-Gita as Rajavidya, establishing that in the Gita Krishna was putting forth his Theory of Administration of the Polity and training Arjuna and other disciples in Karmayoga of which Brahmayoga and Rajayoga were essential parts.
The Gita was not a call for blind faith in a personal or in an impersonal god. I found that Krshna had impressed on the sages who were preparing the Manava Dharmasastra to take into account the principles outlined by the School of Karmayoga while drafting the provisions of that code and socio-political constitution.
I re-examined the extant text of Manusmrti to bring out the features of the social polity that it dealt with and the Institution of Justice it had built. These have been the target of vitriolic attacks launched by many ideologues and demagogues of different hues.
My work on Manusmrti as Socio-Political Constitution of Ancient India emerged in 2002. In the Origins of Hindu Social System (1994) I had dealt with issues pertaining to social classification and social stratification, social distance and social discrimination with special reference to Manusmrti.
The sages who prepared that socio-cultural constitution, Manava Dharmasastra, were responding to a major change that was taking place in social relations during the final stage of the long Vedic era whose dynamics I had been able to draw attention to in my work, Hindu Social Dynamics, which drew its data from the two epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata and the early chronicles like the Bhagavatam.
I also noticed that most of the Upanishads belonged to this period of transition and presented an outline of a social structure that looked odd when placed against the Atharvan society or against the one described in Dharmasastra and in Arthasastra.
What were the features of the social polity that the sages who edited these Upanishads, outlined has been brought out in the present work, The Upanishads and Hindu Political Sociology. Of course only some of the Upanishads have been analyzed here but they have presented features that have remained unnoticed till now.
I am not dogmatic on any issue but would be rigorously rational without yielding to idolatry and iconoclasm and without attempting to comment on the interpretations presented by the great scholars of the medieval times.
I would let the text speak and listen to what it speaks and learn what it speaks about.
It is not easy to summarize the contents of the four anthologies known as Vedas or the numerous Upanishads which as Vedanta are said to convey the stands of the former. I have pointed out while developing the present treatise that I have not dwelt with or on themes pertaining to metaphysics and theology.
I have confined myself to issues pertaining to the field of political sociology which is a vast one and which has not been taken into account by both medieval and modern annotators of the Vedas and the Upanishads which were composed during the final decades of the long Vedic era and soon after that.
I have asserted that the attempts to present the Upanishads as the views of and recommendations by highly revered sages that are valid for all times and for the entire humanity should not prevent us from examining these works as reflecting the great and momentous social changes that were then taking place forcing these sages to review their stands on various issues pertaining to social relations and governance of the changing social polity.
It is not possible to be rigorously rational in approach to these issues unless one keeps away from both idolatry and iconoclasm without however wounding the susceptibilities of any sect or creed.
Rationalism calls for repudiation of several postulates and stereotypes that have been popularized during the recent centuries by some Western Indologists and by the Indian scholars who have uncritically toed their lines.
The Vedas were composed by scholars like Vasishta and Visvamitra, Bharadvaja and Vamadeva, Bhrgu and Kashyapa, and their followers who were on the scene during the final century of the long Vedic era. It is unsound to claim that the Vedas were revealed by an invisible God and contained directives that were to be obeyed unquestioningly.
The Vedas present the social, cultural and political history of the ancient times when there was a well-developed civilization in North India and it was spreading in different directions soon after the disappearance of River Sarasvati in the deserts of Rajasthan.
Their themes were largely mundane though some of the Vedic hymns dealt with concepts that may be termed to be highly philosophical and sublime and even transcendental. We would adhere to the Indian chronology of events by which the battle of Kurukshetra took place in c3100 BC soon after the Vedic era had ended and the Vedic hymns had been edited and presented in four anthologies, Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva.
The first three of the Vedas (Srutis), especially Rgveda, presented the socio-political constitution of the Vedic era and Atharvaveda presented its socio-political constitution. Dharmasastras and Arthasastras which accepted the system of four social classes (varnas) were socio-cultural and politico-economic codes that had their roots in the Vedas. The Upanishads belonged to the decades when these codes had not yet obtained general approval.
They presented a social structure that was a development over the Vedic social system and a prelude to the system of four varnas. The Vedic core society, which covered the agro-pastoral plains, had two classes, the ruling elite and the working masses. The former had two wings, the cruel feudal lords, asuras, and the liberal nobles, devas.
The masses were known as prakrti and were referred to as manushyas and the plains where they worked were known as prthvi or bhumi. The commoners, manushyas, were divided into clans (kulas) and native communities (jatis). While inter-clan marriages were encouraged, inter-community marriages were rare.
The codes of the clans and communities, kula-dharmas and jati-dharmas were in force before the codes of classes, varna-dharmas, were outlined. There was a stage when the codes of clans and communities later described, as adi-dharma, puratana dharma and sanatana dharma had not yet been crystallized and the individuals enjoyed considerable freedom in their pursuits and ways of life. But they had to abide by the orientations of the social world (loka) or social universe (jagat) to which they belonged.
Migration from one social world (loka) or universe (jagat) or community (jati) or clan (kula) to another was not easy (as Yajnavalkya points out). In my earlier treatises, I have brought out the distinction between the concepts, loka and jagat.
The populations that were organised into communities and clans and were settled in definite habitations were referred to as social worlds (lokas) and the populations who were not so organized and were on the move but were entitled to enter any of the above habitations were known as social universes (jagats).
The concept, visva was used to include all the cadres and populations, whether of thelokas or of the jagats or outside these in the open terrains or in the social periphery or at the subaltern, struggling to survive.
Both Western Indologists and their Indian adherents have failed to notice this important distinction and treated the terms loka and jagat as implying society even as they have used the terms jati and varna indiscriminately to imply community.
During the last century of the Vedic era, the system of four social classes (varnas) had not yet come into force in most areas of Aryavarta (north India).
The early Vedic era witnessed the absence of organized social groups and the presence of individuals and their immediate associates struggling to exist in a world where only the fittest could survive.
This struggle for existence led to the operation of the laws of nature, rta, which meant might was right.Every one sought to follow a means of livelihood that was in tune with his innate trait, svabhava or guna. Neither clan nor community nor society was in operation to guide or restrain the individual. That stage of individualism when every one was a law unto himself and there was no social or political constitution is brought to the fore by the famous expression, aham brahma asmi, in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad.
The early man who found that he was alone and was flabbergasted had to define for himself what he could do and what he should do to overcome the danger that he faced from other beings and from the inexplicable forces of nature.
The need for survival led to the formation of social classes like workers (Shudras), sections of commonalty (vis) led by members and groups of aristocrats (devas) and of a ruling elite (kshatras). There were a few who were aware of their intellectual superiority and remained apart from these cadres and classes.
This period when men were organizing themselves into creative and dynamic social groups and building up norms of civilised life was later referred to as the era of construction (krta). The middle Vedic era witnessed the emergence of laws that ensured that the fruits of honest constructive work of the individual were guarded for him against forcible appropriation by others.
These laws based on the concept of truth (satya) supplemented and then superseded the earlier laws based on natural traits (rta). They were puritanical and were enforced rigorously and uniformly by the new social polities that were headed by the judiciary (Brahmans)and defended and run by armed administrators (kshatras).
Most of the Vedic hymns pertained to this middle Vedic era which witnessed a continual struggle between the liberal nobles (devas) and the feudal lords (asuras) for power and control over the unarmed and docile commonalty (manushyas) most of whom were property-less workers (Shudras).
I have stressed the need for discarding the stereotype that has presented devas as 'gods' and asuras as demons.Both were human beings even as manushyas were. The larger Vedic society had three sectors, the ruling liberal nobles (divam), the agro-pastoral commonalty of the plains (prthvi) and the industrial frontier society of the forests and mountains (antariksham).
The last was headed by plutocrats (yakshas) who were later given the status of devatas, marginally lower in rank to the nobles,devas. The core society was governed by a board of eight members who were known as Adityas. They were supervised by Aditi, the benevolent mother-figure, who held a position next only to Viraj, the head of the federal social polity and to Prajapati, the chief of the people.
A body of thirty-three nobles including these three, drawn from the four traditional groups of nobles, Adityas, Vasus, Maruts and Rudras controlled the commonalty of the plains and the residents of the moors and forests nearby.
The designations and roles of these officials varied from time to time and from region to region. Indra, Surya, Soma, Agni, Vayu, Varuna, Kubera, Prthvi, Daksha, Pracetas, Mitra, Aryaman, Asvins, Pushan, Parjanya, Yama, Mrtyu, Dharma, etc. were designations of these officials. These were wrongly interpreted by the western scholars as gods of the polytheistic and pantheistic Vedic society of Aryans.
The Vedic society was dichotomous, an agro-pastoral core society of nobles and commoners led by Indra and Agni respectively, surrounded by an industrial frontier society led by Kubera and Soma. Agni and Soma represented the two sectors of the intelligentsia while, Indra and Kubera represented the liberal aristocrats and the covetous plutocrats.
The liberal nobles (devas), the cruel feudal lords (asuras) and the covetous plutocrats (danavas) formed the three sectors of the ruling class.
The annotators of the later times who lacked a correct appreciation of the features of the Vedic social polity tended to identify them with deists, atheists and agnostics respectively. Kashyapa rejected this approach and also the concept of an inevitable hiatus between the two societies and conflicts among the eight different sectors.
This champion of the concept of a wider social polity, Viraj, traced eight approved and distinct social sectors, feudal lords (asuras) and their mercenaries (dasyus), liberal nobles (devas) and their loyal servants (dasas), retired elders (pitrs), sages (rshis), commoners (manushyas), plutocrats (yakshas) and their guards (rakshas) and retinue (kinnaras), the free intelligentsia (punya-jana, gandharvas etc.) and the other people (itara-jana, which included sections like technocrats and industrial proletariat, nagas and sarpas and the counter-intelligentsia, paisacas). His Virajam envisaged an integration of all these diverse social sectors while maintaining their autonomy, Svarajam.
In the Rgvedic polity, Indra headed the house of nobles (sabha) and Agni the council of scholars and elders (samiti). The two bodies were convened by the chief of the people (Prajapati) and their autonomy had to be respected by the head of the state, Rajan, who was elected by a college of aggressive chieftains, Rajanyas.
While the members of this college tended to resort to force while asserting their claims, the two houses were expected to arrive at unanimous conclusions after deliberating the issues brought to their attention. Nobles, intellectuals and commoners of the core society were insulated against the fall-outs of the rivalries among the violent chieftains.
But as the Atharvaveda indicates in many areas the commonalty was represented by Brhaspati rather than by Agni. The agreement between the two officials, Indra and Brhaspati, prevented the nobles and their chief, Indra from taking any step, financial or administrative or military without the express assent of Brhaspati.
The post designated as Agni was occupied by a Vedic scholar who belonged to the upper crust of the commonalty (Vis) and though the decision to admit such members from the Vis was taken only during the final decades of the Vedic era, and hence Agni was the newest member admitted to the nobility and the ruling group of eight officials, he ranked next only to Indra, the head of the nobility. Agni was the head of the civil judiciary and the council of scholars (samiti).
Most of them were Brahmans by birth, that is, were born in highly educated Brahman families but Agni himself was a Visvedeva, who had risen from the ranks of the rich bourgeoisie, Vaisyas. He was not a commoner. The Atharvans, who were Brahmavadis, ideologues-cum-activists opted for a system by which Brhaspati guarded the interests of the commoners (prthvi).
Every state headed by a king who was elected by a college of dynamic and aggressive chieftains, rajanyas, from among its members, had a house (sabha) of nobles (devas) headed by Indra, a council (samiti) of scholars (Brahmans) headed by the judge and Vedic scholar, Agni, an army (sena) manned by warriors (Kshatriyas) and headed by an official designated as Aditya and a civil administration and treasury (sura) which were dominated by commoners (prthvi, manushyas) and headed by the economist, Brhaspati.
This system was introduced by the dispassionate, chief of the people, Vratya Prajapati, Mahadeva. This Atharvan nation-state was confined to the agro-pastoral core society and was expected to be able to defend its territory and people from aggression and ensure the minimum needs of its population like food and provide them also other material comforts.
The Prajapati was the spokesman of the entire nation (rashtram) and commanded the loyalty of its army and administration (kshatram) and ranked higher than these four institutions and their head and was also superior to the king, the head of the state.
This state and its population (nobles and commoners, scholars and warriors, devas and manushyas, Brahmans and Kshatriyas) were insulated from the frontier industrial society of plutocrats and technocrats and its industrial proletariat as well as its intelligentsia.
This insulation however could not prevent an alignment between the plutocrats and the feudal lords who had been eased out of the core society. The insulation itself was being breached by the activities of the vast middle class of gandharvas, apsarases, vipras, vidyadharas, charanas, chakshus, guhyakas, siddhas and tapasvis whom none of the three organized social worlds could or would keep out or keep away from wholesome personal contacts.
These cadres which had their specific orientations and were not content with the knowledge and means they had and were venturesome functioned as individuals rather than as organized settled clans. They were social universes (jagats) rather than social worlds (lokas).
Most members of the classes (varnas) of Brahmans (intellectuals) and Kshatriyas (warriors-cum-administrators) emerged from this vast middle class, even as those of the classes of Vaisyas (property-owners) and Shudras (property-less workers) belonged to the vast commonalty (known as vis, manushyas, prthvi, bhumi).
It needs to be realised that the imagery that the four classes, Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras emerged from the mouth, arms, thighs and feet of God visualised as a man (purusha) is a later interpolation in the famous Purushasukta (Rgveda X-90). Neither the Vedas nor the Upanishads had envisaged this system of four varnas.
As Brhadaranyaka Upanishad indicates, the enlarged core society had four social classes, liberal nobles (devas), feudal lords (asuras), the free middle class (gandharvas) and the commonalty (manushyas).
The sages who drafted the Upanishads did take into account the prolonged conflict between devas and asuras, the two wings of the ruling elite and the victory scored by the former over the other.
The nobles could win because they were able to convince the commoners that the implications of the utterance of pranava (aum) would be honoured if the commoners consented to abide by the principles of benevolent governance that the nobles guaranteed.
The core society was freed from the vicious grip that the feudal warlords (asuras) had over their lives from the times before the cadres of liberal nobles (devas) rose from the upper crust of the commonalty (vis). Devas were not gods and asuras were not demons. They were not distinct ethnic groups. Most of the asuras rose from the ranks of rich landlords while most devas rose from the ranks of the educated sections of the bourgeoisie.
As Yajnavalkya pointed out to his detractors, every region had a large assembly of three thousand and three (to be precise, three assemblies, each with a thousand members and a chair-person). The social polity with three wings (nobility, commonalty and others) had a smaller representative body of three hundred and three members deputed by these assemblies. Members of these assemblies and representative bodies were described as visvedevas.
During the later Vedic times the body of representatives elected thirty-three members (including the three officials, Viraj, Prajapati and Aditi) to the house (sabha) of nobles (devas). Viraj was the head of the federal state and was assisted by the chief of the people Prajapati. Aditi, the benevolent mother-figure guided the eight administrators drawn from the different sectors of the nobility.
The sage was outlining a scheme by which the members of the governing elite could function effectively as representatives of the commonalty. I have pointed out that the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata, while retaining all the four traditional groups of nobles (Adityas, Vasus, Maruts and Rudras), ensured that the upper crust of the commonalty and its lower sections were also represented in the governing elite of thirty-three members as Visvedevas and Asvinidevas.
The sages of the Upanishads noticed that Brhaspati, the Atharvan ideologue would call for an assembly of governing elite elected by the bourgeoisie, the upper crust of the commonalty while Manu Vaivasvata would have this governing group represent the traditional nobility and the working classes also.
With the intransigent elements among the feudal lords (asuras) forced out of the ruling elite and the core society and only the reformed ones from among them recognised as elders (pitrs) no longer active in the fields of polity and economy, four classes, liberal nobles (devas), elders (pitrs), free middle class (gandharvas) and commoners (manushyas) emerged.
While discussing the quantum of immunities and privileges and advantages that each of these classes and the officials of the new social polity enjoyed the teacher (of Taittiriya Upanishad) had to recognise the existence of three ranks among the nobles (devas) and two levels among the gandharvas.
The nobles who were born in aristocratic families ranked lower than the nobles who were entrusted with executive duties as Indra, Varuna, Agni, Vayu etc. and the latter ranked lower than the (thirty-three) nobles who were taken on the policy-making and ruling elite.
The members of these elite had less privileges and immunities than their chief, Indra. But Indra himself had less powers and privileges than Brhaspati who was in charge of treasury, armoury, civil administration and implementation of economic laws and protected the interests of the commoners especially those of the bourgeoisie.
[In the Atharvan polity Indra had to keep to the terms of the Indra-Brhaspati agreement and acknowledge Brhaspati as his equal in powers. This agreement enabled Brhaspati to frustrate the moves that Indra took arbitrarily without caring for the views and interests of the commoners.]
In the Upanishadic polity Brhaspati could be overruled by the chief of the people, Prajapati, who determined who could enjoy the rights of a domicile (praja) of the state and admit new members from the periphery or from the frontier society to the janapada whose natives as sons of the soil (jana) had sovereign rights over that territory.
The members of the council of elders too had similar rankings but they all ranked next to the nobles (devas). This democratic polity had given up the practice of getting the head of the state elected by a college of aggressive rajanyas.
The free middle class of gandharvas had two ranks, the higher one closer to the nobles (devas) in orientations and privileges and the lower one closer to commoners (manushyas).
The teacher of Taittiriya Upanishad who was training the princes and administrators in their tasks in the governance of the new stratified social polity told them that the privileges and immunities and the consequent happiness and satisfaction (ananda) that the stoical and impartial chief justice, Brahma, had were far more than what the highly influential Prajapati had.
I have pointed out that the socio-political constitution, Brahma, as enshrined in the Vedas, especially in the Atharvaveda, was superior to the socio-cultural legislation, Dharma; the provisions of the Dharmasastras which were not in tune with the constitution could be struck down by the constitution bench presided over by the official designated as Brahma who was an expert in all the four Vedas.
Brahma was assisted by three scholars (vipras), one for each of the three Vedas, Rg, Sama and Yajur.
The stereotype that presents Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras as sacerdotal, military, mercantile and servile classes respectively needs to be discarded as a poor and misleading appreciation of the Hindu social polity.
Vipras were wandering scholars engaged in propagating knowledge among the masses and in performing sacrificial rites for all without expecting remuneration and were not bound by the laws of their clans and communities.
They belonged to the middle class of gandharvas but were closer to the commoners (manushyas) most of whom were property-less manual workers. They have to be distinguished from the Brahmans who were jurists and were superior to the rulers (rajanyas), nobles (devas) and administrators (kshatras). Not all teachers were Brahmans. Some were Kshatriyas by profession and Rajanyas in status.
In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya was instructing the Janaka of Videha who was a stoical ruler, Rajarshi, elected by the natives of that mainly agrarian janapada on the traits and status and role of the highest jurist, Brahma. Would Siradhvaja Janaka be able to rise to that status?
The discussions between Pravahana, a Gandharva and Rajanya of Panchala and Uddalaka Aruni too were connected with the issue of who could become such a jurist, Brahma.
The discussions between Yajnavalkya and his companion, Maitreyi, a Brahmavadi, an ideologue of the Atharvan school, were tuned to this theme.
Brahmavidya dealt with the discipline of jurisprudence and the social constitution of the Vedic times as noticed in Mundaka Upanishad.
This Upanishad recalls how Saunaka the head of the forest academy, Naimisharanya was instructed on the code based on truth (Satya) and the traits of the dynamic chief, Purusha as envisaged by that code. It also clarifies the features of the universal constitution, Brahma and the traits of the jurist.
This pre-Dharma Upanishad asserts that only the code based on Satya would ensure that right and not might would score in all disputes and that mere digressing from the laws based on Rta was not enough. Satyam eva jayate na anrtam, the teacher asserts in this Upanishad.
I have pointed out that a rational outline of the contents of the Vedas and the Upanishads and other ancient works requires the recognition that the early Vedic period when the social structure with diverse social groups was being formed the laws were highly liberal and permissive and asserted the right of every individual to pursue vocations and ways of life in tune with his natural traits, gunas or svabhava.
These laws of nature, Rta, led to the acknowledgement of the principles of struggle for existence, survival of the fittest and might is right. They led to the dominance of the feudal elements known as asuras over the commoners and the cultural aristocracy and the intellectuals.
During the middle Vedic period, the puritanical laws based on truth (satya) first supplemented and then superseded the laws based on Rta leading to the assertion that right was might and that there could be a social order where all could co-exist without struggling against one another.
When Manu Svayambhuva who had earlier occupied the position of dharma and later that of Brahma outlined the principles of dharma which recognised the possibility of all social practices being equally valid and being brought together to arrive at a common code (dharmasastra) it was claimed that it did not violate the principle that truth (satya) could overrule all other considerations.
This school asserted that the code of dharma was identical with that of satya. We find the teacher of Taittiriya Upanishad pointing out that there was no perfect identity between the two.
He would advise his students who were princes (rajanyas) and administrators (kshatras) to always speak the truth (satyam vaca) but at the same time follow the path shown by the liberal code, dharma (dharmam cara) that was based on a wide consensus among the representatives of the different social sectors.
Mandukya Upanishad explains the four aspects of the socio-political constitution, Brahma. Kena Upanishad describes that Uma, the consort of Mahadeva explained how to recognise the features of the inscrutable new constitution, Brahma and the relations between the executive and the judiciary and how the nobles scored victory over their opponents.
The medieval annotators and their adherents of the modern times who have posited that the term, Purusha, referred to the highly powerful personal God and that the term, Brahma, referred to the omniscient impersonal Ultimate have overlooked or failed to notice the features of the new socio-political constitution of the enlarged core society.
This society covered the wider and more representative ruling nobility (devas and devatas), free commonalty (manushyas and naras), independent middle class (gandharvas), elders and retired feudal lords (pitrs), populations of the pastoral lands and moors and open space and the social periphery including the sages (rshis) and other intellectuals (tapasvis, siddhas etc.) stationed there, that is, of all the sectors that were not actively engaged in industrial economy and tapping the natural resources for that economy.
The term, Purusha, referred to the dynamic social leader who occupied a position at the threshold of the cultural and intellectual aristocracy and the term, Brahma, to the chief judge of the constitution who ranked higher than the heads of the state and the society.
This treatise has also dealt with the concept vaisvanara, representative of the larger society of free men, naras, and how one could become such a representative pursuing interests not of his but of those of every other free human being.
In Chhandogya Upanishad we find Pravahana explaining to his detractors the purposes of the different Vedic chants. This Upanishad underlines the relation between Purusha and the concept that all beings are Brahma, sarvam idam Brahma.
Whether it was Raikva instructing Janasruti or his teacher, Ghora Angirasa instructing Krshna, or Asvapati of Kekaya the rich landlords or Gautama his disciple, Satyakama and the prince of Kosala, the theme was how an individual (atma) who is free from social bondage could become a true representative of the larger society of free men (vaisvanara) and rise to the status of the impartial jurist, Brahma.
Uddalaka put this lesson across to Svetaketu when he urged the latter to realise the talents in him. He had the capacity to lead as Purusha, to represent as Vaisvanara and to mete out final justice as Brahma. That art Thou, (Tat tvam asi), Uddalaka told his disciple.
We also find the valuable instructions given to Narada by Sanatkumara on how to organize the different sections of the larger society and on the concept of self-rule, Svaraj. This Upanishad also guides every one to recognise his talents, Atmavidya.
In Prasna Upanishad we find the sage sitting under the pipal tree instructing six ideologues and administrators from Kosala on how to select and admit Prajas to the larger social polity and the relations between the chief of the people, Prajapati, and the larger society, and the relations between the will (prana) of the people and the head of the larger state (samrat).
He also taught them how to bring out the latent talents of the social leader, Purusha and how to bring into existence and regulate the three social worlds and the creation of a fearless aristocracy. He taught them the sixteen facets of the ideal Purusha who exercised extraordinary self-restraint.
Katha Upanishad calls for a rigorous rational interpretation of the story of how Naciketas outwitted Mrtyu (death, in common parlance) and ensured for himself ascent to the highest social level.
Naciketas reported to Vaivasvata how he had learnt from Mrtyu, the official in charge of the insentient commonalty, the role of Agni in the new social polity as the messenger and envoy of the deserving to the ruling elite. The great Manu appointed Naciketas who had come as Vaisvanara, a free man representing the larger society to that post and named it as Naciketas Agni.
Naciketas would represent all the three social worlds, manushyas, gandharvas and devas, commoners, free intellectuals and nobles of the enlarged core society of which the gandharvas who were till then not a part had been admitted to it by the new constitution.
Vaivasvata implied that the new janapada would have an integrated intelligentsia comprising vipras, gandharvas and devas at its helm. Vaivasvata presented to Naciketas
the position of Naciketas Agni as the path to svarga-loka, the social world of the nobles, as the second boon. As the first boon he had allowed him to meet his father and be recognized by the latter. The native people (jana) will address him henceforth as Naciketas Agni.
Vaivasvata implied that the new janapada would have an integrated intelligentsia at its helm, comprising the erstwhile intellectuals (Vipras) of the commonalty, the free intellectuals known as Gandharvas and the nobles, Devas. He then permitted Naciketas to ask for his third boon.Naciketas told Vaivasvata that there was a doubt about the future of a commoner (manushya).
Some hold that even after his departure (death), he is (in his position) and some say that he is not (in his position).
Naciketas as the third boon wanted to be instructed by Vaivasvata on the science pertaining to the survival and permanence of the commonalty. Would there be no class of workers or would the class of workers stay even if all of them were educated, he wanted to know.
Naciketas sought the secret of the knowledge of Brahman, that is, of the undeclared provisions of the new socio-political constitution which planned for a classless society with every one having wealth and opportunities for enjoyment and with none required to serve others.
The proposed constitution was for Sanatkumara's system of bhuma which made every one rich and self-reliant while the earlier conventional system of bhumi distinguished between haves and have-nots, between Vaisyas and Shudras, between Devas and Dasas.
Naciketas was instructed on the features of the new social polity that was to have no separate working class. The new commonalty assured protection to the fruits of labour and permitted for all, acquisition of wealth and pursuit of delight. He wanted to know the principles of jurisprudence underlying the socio-political constitution, Brahma. Naciketas Agni was a bridge between two social systems. Naciketas was being prepared for the highest position in the socio-political hierarchy, purusha that was superior to that of avyakta.
The individual who is not attached to any social body and represents the entire universal society as vaisvanara and who is recognised as a great social legislator (mahatma) following his own conscience is however lower in status and influence than the social conscience and dynamism whose features are unmanifest (avyaktam).
This social conscience that is common to all the sectors enables the larger society to not only survive but also assert itself and maintain the momentum of progress making one wonder what keeps it thriving despite the weaknesses of the lower structures of the society.
Naciketas was instructed that the level of the social leader, purusha, who was at the pinnacle of the social hierarchy and who did not depend on the executive (indriyas) or the planner (manas) or the counsellor (buddhi) or on the great legislator (mahatma) and who determined the course and momentum of the invisible universal social thrust (avyakta) was what had to be achieved.
In Katha Upanishad, the teacher was outlining the concept of purusha, a charismatic social leader of the larger society who was superior to the supreme judge, Brahma, who interpreted the social constitution and got it implemented by the executive.
The deeds and directions issued by this highly charismatic personage, purusha, cannot be subordinated to any written or unwritten constitution. Purusha was invisible and inaccessible to commoners and to most other social ranks.
The purusha constitution envisaged a charismatic authority who was superior to the high judiciary and who was appealed to when the five scholars, occupying the positions of Agni, Indra, Vayu, Surya and Mrtyu failed to stand up and pronounce their views and the thinker (manas) ceased to think and the intellectuals (buddhi) ceased to be active and stir the peoples.
Surya controlled the army and the administrative machinery (kshatram), and Agni guided the intellectuals. Vayu was in charge of the open terrains (akasa) including the frontier society (antariksham) and Indra guided the patriciate (devas) while Mrtyu was in charge of the insentient commonalty (manushyas).
In other words when anomie takes over the larger society represented by these officials, this great charismatic personage is looked up to as the last resort and hope. The arousal of all the innate potentials of all the individuals of all the five social sectors to the maximum level is covered by the science of yoga.