BRAHMA SCHOOL OF THOUGHT
EVOLUTION OF THE FOUR-FOLD SOCIETY
(Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1-4)
Purusha one who goes ahead of other individuals (Atmas)
The sage of the Brahma school of thought says that in the beginning (agra) this (society) was composed only of individuals (atma) who were going ahead like a leading personage (purusha). It is unsound to identify this personage with the concept, Viraj, which according to Atharvaveda was what was there in the beginning.
This personage Purusha evolved from Viraj. According to the Rgveda Purusha-Sukta, Viraj evolved from the earlier concept of Purusha and the later concept of Purusha evolved from Viraj.
The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad version follows a different stand.
Purusha could not see anyone accompanying him as he went ahead. He described to himself this situation in the statement, I am (aham asmi). Thus arose the pronoun, I (aham).
The sage explains thus the response, This is I (aham ayam iti) when one is invited to introduce himself. Only after this, he mentions his name.
Progressive individual (Purusha) versus feudalistic intents
The sage then explains the implication of the term, purusha. The person, who went ahead of others, that is, the social leader, was successful in scorching the efforts of the evil-minded asuras to infect him with evil intents. Hence he was called purusha. One, who knows this implication, burns up the person who wishes to be ahead of him. No leader would allow any one to go ahead of him. (1-4-1)
Marriage (Pati and Patni): Family (Purusha and Stri)
The individual who is alone is afraid. But on reflection he concluded that it was irrational to be afraid, as there was nothing or none to be afraid of. Only the presence of a second person (whether ahead or behind or beside) should cause fear to the individual who is going alone
But none can get delight from loneliness. So this individual desired a second, a companion. He became as large as a woman (stri) and a man in close embrace. He caused that self (atmana) to fall into two parts. From that arose, husband (pati) and wife (patni).
This description of the origin of the institution of marriage belongs to a stage when social thinkers were yet unable to explain the origin of sex differentiation.
The poet takes cover under the reverence enjoyed by Yajnavalkya, who said, this (body) is one half of oneself, like one of the two halves of a split pea. (1-4-2).
Commoners (manushyas) emerge before nobles (devas)
The poet explains that the vacant space (akasa) was filled when a woman (stri) emerged and the first person (purusha) united with her. From that union, the commoners (manushyas) were produced (3).
The teacher implies that this marital union between the purusha, the head of the family and his equal, the stri, resulted in the birth of offspring who had the status only of manushyas. The manushyas, had to only follow the lines shown by their parents and had no special rights with respect to the family and its property. The sage was referring to a stage when the class of aristocrats (devas) had not yet emerged and the core society had not yet become dichotomous.
The union between this non-dichotomous core society (where every individual, atma, had the ability to progress on his own and was hence a purusha, a status above that of a commoner, manushya, and a noble, deva) and the open society (akasa) around resulted in the emergence of the class of manushyas. Both the purusha and the stri had rights that enabled them to head families.
[It was only during later times, the term, purusha, was understood wrongly as meaning only man and stri as woman. It is not sound to draw on the concepts, Prajapati, Viraj and Hiranyagarbha in an attempt to unravel the allegory behind the above statements.]
Viraj elected by heads of families, Purushas and Stris
Viraj was a socio-political position of authority. An electoral college of social leaders, purushas, (who were also heads of households) and housewives, stris, elected the Viraj. That electoral college regulated the relations between the commoners, manushyas, who were manual workers and had no personal property and the nobles, devas, who had personal property and were not engaged in manual labour.
The sage had to agree with those who refused to accept the interpretation that woman evolved from man. How did other beings evolve and how did they split as male and female. These questions too showed that the arguments advanced by the followers of Yajnavalkya were hollow (1-4-4).
The first personage (purusha) knew that I am indeed this creation for I produced all this. Therefore he became the creation. This argument too is untenable. The creator is part of his creation! (1-4-5). (Such irrational claims are recent interpolations in the Upanishads.)
Agni, spokesman of manual labourers (manushyas)
In the next verse, the poet-sage tries to describe how Agni and Soma emerged. Agni was the designation of the official who represented the commoners, manushyas, of the Vedic times and the intellectuals of the agro-pastoral plains. Soma represented the sober intellectuals of the frontier society of the forests and mountains and its commonalty.
But this poet traces the emergence of Agni (fire) to rubbing of two smooth parts, mouth and palms. Agni was the spokesman of the manual labourers who worked with their hands.[The interpretation that the later officials were products of sexual intercourse is unwarranted.]
Agni, the only noble when system of yajna was instituted
Earlier Agni was envisaged as the only deva (member of the ruling elite) to whom things were to be sacrificed (yaja). [We refrain from translating the term deva as god.] Later all the officials (sarva deva) of the social polity were required to be honoured as the recipients of the offerings made at sacrifices.
Soma, a commoner the highest social authority: Creates (atisrshti) the higher class of nobles
The highest social authority according to the Brahma school of thought is Soma.
This school of thought was willing to treat all offerings as food that is essential for survival of every being and held that every one was entitled to partake this offering made at the sacrifice. He created the cadre of devas, nobles who were superior to him.
Soma was a commoner, a martya, or person belonging to the insentient commonalty. This official was not at that stage considered to be a member of the patriciate. Yet he created (atisrshti) the class of nobility (devas), the highest social cadre.
[Soma drink was the source of nectar, amrtam. Partaking of it was the privilege of a noble. Some have treated it as a narcotic drink.] (1-4-6)
Visvam: Undifferentiated larger society
When the cadre of nobles (devas) was formed, this larger society (visvam) was yet undifferentiated. Its members got separate identities, names and forms (nama-rupa) only later. This later differentiation was a deep one and not visible. What differentiated one from another were his view, thought and action.
A total differentiation in personality can be recognized only when one looks inwards and meditates on the self (atma) in him.
The footprints left behind help one to trace from where he has proceeded ahead.
A scholar who recognizes this aspect of looking deep into oneself and tracing back the course of development of individual distinguishing identities as developed by the members of the larger undifferentiated society (visvam) gains fame (kirti) and revered mention (1-4-7).
Introspection to recognize Atma and personal identity
It is noticed that every one sets greater value on his personal identity (atma) than on his son and wealth.
The poet-sage points out that if one were to tell a person who says that he loves and values some thing other than his soul (atma) more than the soul, he is likely to be carried away by this misdirection.
The sage states that one should be exhorted to adopt a positive approach and meditate only on his soul (atma) as the precious possession.
(The sage would treat this soul within as Isvara. This might have been a later interpolation, as it does not fall in line with the theme of this discussion. The interpretation of the term, Isvara, as capable does not carry conviction.)
One who meditates on his soul (atma) alone, that is, tries to develop his identity, as a conscientious person will not perish (1-4-8).
This knowing oneself is called Brahma-vidya. The common men (manushyas) think that by this science one can become (bhava), that is, get the traits and talents of all persons (sarvam). The student asks whether Brahma, the head of the school of thought known as Brahma-vidya, had gained the talents of all persons. (9)
The Brahma (Atharvan) school of thought had created the cadre of nobles (devas) and included all others in the class of manushyas. The commoners, manushyas had been trained to perform all types of duties and pursue all types of occupations.They were not classified as specialists in certain vocations. Brahma-vidya called upon every individual to gain all-round development and bring out all his innate talents.
This (undifferentiated commonalty) was in the beginning, Brahma. It knew itself (atma). That is, every one of its members identified himself as Brahma (aham brahma asmi).
This realization that one has all the talents necessary to pursue any vocation that he has opted for had spread not only among the commoners (manushyas) but also among the nobles (devas), the ruling liberal elite. This principle of self-realization and all-round development was applicable to both sages (rshis) and common men (manushyas).
This was what the sage Vamadeva meant when he said, I was Manu and Surya too. Vamadeva was a contemporary of Manu Vaivasvata and his patron, Prajapati Vivasvan (Sun, Surya). [Rgveda Bk.4 where this statement (4-26-1) occurs is attributed to the school of Vamadeva. Bk.3, 7, 6 are attributed to the schools of Visvamitra, Vasishta and Bharadvaja respectively. All these sages were associated with Manu Vaivasvata.]
Self-realization (Brahmavidya) and Assured personal development
The poet-sage of Brhadaranyaka Upanishad implies that one becomes the person whom he emulates. He adds that, Whoever realizes that he is Brahma (aham brahma asmi) does indeed identify himself with all individuals. Even the nobles (devas) cannot prevent him from developing in himself through meditation and self-development, the traits of a fully developed man.
So whoever worships a member of another elite (devata) who does not have the maturity associated with the cultural aristocracy (devas) does not know the meaning of the science called Brahma-vidya. For, he thinks that there is a vital distinction between the governing class of plutocrats and technocrats (devatas) and the commoners (manushyas)..
Leaders (Purushas): Intermediaries between Nobles (devas) and commoners (manushyas)
The nobles (devas) treat such a person (who works for a member of the elite) as an animal. As many animals serve a commoner (manushya), each social leader purusha) serves the nobles (devas). The nobles (devas) do not (directly) call upon the commoners (manushyas) to serve them. In fact, the latter do not have access to the nobles. Only the leaders (purushas) have access to the nobles (devas) and serve the purposes of the latter.
[It is imperative to distinguish between manushya and purusha and between deva and devata.] Even if one animal is taken away, the master becomes unhappy.
Hence when a noble (deva) loses one social leader (purusha) he loses many commoners (manushyas) whom that purusha leads, and he must be feeling unhappy. The nobles (devas) do not want the commoners (manushyas) to know this dependence of the former on the latter.
Commoners (Manushyas) to follow aristocrats (Devas) and not plutocrats (Devatas)
The poet-sage of this Upanishad is not happy that the commoners (manushyas),especially their leaders (purushas) should opt to follow the plutocrats and technocrats (devatas)rather than the liberal aristocrats (devas) (who do not exhibit their disappointment). (1-4-10). He echoes Krshna's stand in Bhagavad-Gita.
[Radhakrishnan's comment that the gods are not pleased that men should know the ultimate truth, for then they would know the subordinate place the gods hold and give up making them offerings is totally unacceptable.]
Brahma, individual of the early undifferentiated talented commonalty
In the beginning this commonalty was undifferentiated, with every one of its members being capable of carrying out all societal functions and pursuing any function. Every individual identified himself with Brahma, a member of such talented commonalty and was aware of his potential. Yet the society could not flourish (vyabhavat).
Kshatram, eight officials from cadre of nobles (Devas)
Indra, Varuna, Soma, Rudra, Parjanya, Yama, Mrtyu, Isana
Thereupon the head of the Brahma (Atharvan) school of thought created an excellent form or structure (rupa) that was termed as Kshatram. It was composed of Kshatras who were drawn from the cadre of devas (nobles). The eight officials of this political structure of the middle Vedic times were designated as Indra, Varuna, Soma, Rudra, Parjanya, Yama, Mrtyu and Isana. They were not gods.
It may be noticed that this group did not have Agni, Ravi and Kubera as its members. It also did not have on it Aryaman and Pushan, the officials who during the later Vedic times represented the landlords and the agricultural workers respectively.
In this structure Indra functioned as the administrator of the treasury and also headed the army. Varuna was ombudsman and executed the directions of the magistrate who was designated as Yama. (Neither Yama nor Mrtyu is to be envisaged as God of Death.)
Soma represented the intellectuals and Rudra the forest society. Parjanya looked after agriculture and Mrtyu was in charge of the commonalty. Isana was the charismatic leader of the frontier society, especially of the discrete individuals (bhutas) of the social periphery.
This political group, Kshatra, ranked superior to all others.
The nobles (devas) were superior to the intellectuals (Brahmans) and the Kshatras drawn from the cadre of nobles were the best among the nobles. Therefore at the Rajasuya sacrifice where the King was anointed, the Brahmans sat in seats lower than those of the Kshatras. Not all Kshatriyas were nobles (devas) and not all devas were Kshatriyas.
Kshatriyas (warriors and administrators) who were also devas (nobles) were called Rajanyas. (Rajanyas selected the king (rajan) from among themselves.) The head of the academy, Brahma, conferred this honour only on this power elite (Kshatram) drawn from the nobility. [The eight officials were not all from any single group of nobles.]
Though the Kshatras ranked very high they had to realize that they owed their power to the political constitution known as Brahma (Atharvaveda). [It is unsound to interpret that the Kshatriya class owed its power to the ecclesiastical order, the Brahmans.] Hence even if the king reaches the highest level among the different grades of rulers, he refers to Brahma (political constitution) as the source (yoni) of his authority.
If he harms the spokesman of this constitution (Brahma) he will be causing damage to the authority from which he has derived his power.
He becomes a great sinner (papi), as he injures one who is superior (sreya) to him. (1-4-11) [Later critics interpreted that the Brahmans (Vedic scholars and priests) should not be harmed by the Kshatriya king and his soldiers and officers.]
Full development of the social polity could not be achieved only by installing a power group from the aristocracy as administrators. It required assignment of the different wings of the traditional aristocracy to positions of social leadership.
Nobles as social leaders
Vasus, Rudras, Adityas and Maruts were the four traditional cadres of nobles (devas). They led and guided the commoners of the agro-pastoral plains, the intellectuals and peoples of the forests and mountains, the warriors and administrators, and the people of the open lands respectively.
The traditional aristocracy had its internal classification with separate jurisdictions. It is ignorance to interpret that they were ethnic groups and distinct tribes. Visvedevas (who came to the fore during the tenure of the seventh Manu, Vaivasvata) were members of the upper crust of the commonalty, Vis.
The sage who outlined this social structure (asrjata) defined who would constitute the commonalty (Vis). Yajnavalkya describes how the nobles, devas, were drafted from this larger cadre of social leaders known as Visvedevas.
The Brahma school of thought classified the aristocrats and assigned them specific duties towards the sections of the populace under their respective benevolent protection. (1-4-12)
[Radhakrishnan's transliteration, Yet he did not flourish. He created the vis (the commonalty), these classes of gods who are designated in groups, the Vasus, Rudras, Adityas, Visvedevas and Maruts fails to trace the course of social development. He erred grossly as he accepted the postulate that devas were gods.]
Formation of class of workers (Shudras)
Formation of distinct aristocratic groups to direct and supervise the activities of those engaged in economy was not enough. Hence, from among the Vis or commonalty, a class of workers was formed (asrjata). The official designated as Pushan (one who nourishes) guided this Shudra order.(1-4-13).
The Shudras were part of the social world (prthvi), which was engaged in tilling the soil for production of food-grains. According to this Brahma school of thought, creation of this class of agrarian proletariat (Shudras) was necessary to ensure the progress of the agro-pastoral core society.
The aristocracy including devas (who were not kshatras or administrators) and visvedevas became the class of landlords, traders and entrepreneurs, the Vaisyas, the upper stratum of the Vis or commonalty. Shudras were the lower stratum of this commonalty. This was the first socio-economic class to be formed.
Formation of an agrarian proletariat that would strive to produce food for all strata of the larger society was not adequate to ensure social progress. Creation of a proper state was felt necessary to ensure justice, equity and progress.
The Brahma (Atharvan) school of thought had recommended the formation of a group of eight administrators, Kshatras, drawn from the nobles (devas). They would rank higher than the Brahman jurists at any function like Rajasuya sacrifice arranged to sanctify the edicts issued by the king, the head of the state.
Brahma school outlines Dharma
This was not adequate to enforce social discipline. Hence this school outlined a meritorious respectable system (sreya-rupa), structure and principles of dharma (justice, as some would describe it).
The early Atharva school had created a cadre of Kshatras, drawn from aristocracy, which ranked above the legislators or jurists, Brahmans of the Atharvan school, but functioned under the King, Raja, who too belonged to the aristocracy. The commonalty had no say in this setup (until Indra-Brhaspati agreement came into existence).
This judicial system, dharma, defined the scope of the coercive power (Kshatram) that the administrators (Kshatras) could exercise. Hence there is nothing superior to dharma, the socio-political constitution that is intended to guarantee justice.
The constitution guarantees protection for the weaker sections (abali) of the society and helps it to prevail over the powerful sections (bali) by means of (that is, by appealing to) the court of justice constituted under this system of dharma.
This is similar to what he gains,by appealing to the head of the state, (Raja or King). The judiciary (constituted under the system known as dharma) was a separate structure. It performed a role that was same as what the head of the state was expected to perform, namely, protecting the weak against the mighty. The poet-sage of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad says: That which is Dharma is Satya.
Dharma, the principles and methods of guaranteeing protection for the righteous but weak persons against the strong but unrighteous persons through a judiciary that would be on par with if not superior to the head of the state is not different from the principles of conduct and governance based on truth, Satya.
I have pointed out that it is unsound to interpret the terms,Rta, Satya and Dharma as denoting the same concept.
The laws of nature, Rta, provided the guiding principle for the early Vedic social polity. This led to the subordination of the weak to the mighty. Might became Right, as a result.(These laws were known as matsya-nyaya, the law of the fishes by which the larger fish swallowed the smaller.)
This was reversed during the middle and late Vedic era when adherence to Truth at all costs was insisted on. Truth or Satya could therefore prevail over might. By the end of the Vedic era, the concept of Dharma, a just system based on consensus among all sections, was defined and outlined.
The sages assert that proclamation of the new constitution based on Dharma that created a judiciary that was not subordinate to any individual or cadre has not set aside the system of justice that upheld Truth or Satya. Dharma though based on consensus among all concerned did not dilute the importance of Truth (Satya) as the cherished ideal.
The Laws of Dharma and those of Satya supplement (ubhayam) each other
When a spokesman of the constitution based on Dharma gives his verdict, he pronounces what is Truth, Satya. Similarly when a judge who follows and stands by Satya pronounces his verdict on any issue, he speaks out the provisions of the constitution based on Dharma, which is stable, as it stands on the stable pedestal of broad consensus among all sections. Dharma and Satya supplement (ubhayam) each other. (1-4-14)
[Radhakrishnan's translation, Verily, that which is justice is truth. Therefore they say of a man who speaks the truth, he speaks justice or of a man who speaks justice that he speaks the truth fails to convey the implication of the stand taken by the Upanishadic sage.]
It is however simplistic and evasive to state that satya and dharma, truth and justice, are organically related. The interpretation that dharma means law or justice, which constrains the unruly wills and affections of people, is not to the mark. The comment, that which is known and that which is practised are justice is irrelevant.
Four stages in social development
The sages, who drafted this Upanishad while recalling the stages by which society evolved, draw attention to four stages.
The stage of Brahma, the baffled individual, was succeeded by his acquiring membership of the commonalty (manushyas) of a society which had not yet developed a cadre of aristocrats (devas) but had a cadre of influential leaders (purushas) who guided the manual workers (manushyas) and later kept the latter away from the ruling elite (devas).
This was followed by the emergence of a cadre of administrators (Kshatras) who belonged to the nobility.
Then a larger commonalty (Vis) headed by the groups of nobles known as Vasus, Rudras, Adityas, Maruts and Visvedevas emerged and then an agrarian proletariat (Shudras) emerged.
Agni and Brhaspati as Heads of the appellate judiciary:Links between the Commonalty and the Nobility
Among the nobles (devas) Agni performed the role of Brahma, the intellectual who headed the appellate judiciary. Among the commoners (manushyas) this role was assigned to the jurist (Brahmana) who had mastered the Atharvaveda (Brahma).
[This Brahmana was also known as Brahmanaspati or Brhaspati who belonged to the school of Atharvan and Angirasa and was a pragmatist.]
The cadre of Kshatras, administrators drawn from the nobles (devas), was constituted into the class of Kshatriyas (warriors-cum-rulers).
The other two classes were the bourgeoisie or Vaisyas among whose upper strata the nobles (devas) were later absorbed and the Shudras, the agrarian proletariat. [None of these classes is to be honoured as divine.]
This Upanishad belongs to a period when the aristocracy, which ranked higher than the four classes (varnas), was being absorbed in them.
The nobles (devas) could get the desired access to the social world (loka) of commoners only through Agni, (the spokesman of the former and head of the council of scholars, samiti) while in the Atharvaveda, the commoners could approach the nobles (devas) only through Agni.
Later the commoners (manushyas) could get their desires fulfilled only by approaching Brahmana, the jurist.
Relations between nobles and commoners
The sage points out that not only the commoners (manushyas) but the nobles (devas) too were assigned to the four classes (varnas).
The nobles who were assigned to the class of Brahmans played the role of Agni, the civil judge and envoy who had access to distant areas. But in the case of the commoners, the Brahmana (Brhaspati) dealt with disputes connected with discharge of political and economic obligations.
There were two levels of Kshatriyas, ordinary soldiers who belonged to the class of manushyas and the administrators who belonged to the aristocracy.
Identification with Social world (Loka) and Social Class (Varna)
Similarly, the ordinary landlords and traders belonged to the commonalty, while the heads of communities belonged to the nobility like Vasus and Maruts.
A close scrutiny of the process by which the traditional aristocracy was accommodated in the new four social classes, varnas, shows that Rudras, Adityas, Maruts and Vasus were absorbed among Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras respectively.
There were two levels of workers, those who served the common landlords and those who looked after the lands of the aristocrats.
Within every one of the four classes, Brahmans, Kshatras, Vaisyas and Shudras, there were two strata, each of which retained the orientations it had developed while being part of its original social world (loka), divam or prthvi, devas or manushyas, nobles or commoners. This distinction was maintained as long as the class of aristocracy existed. In every one of these classes, the lower ranks desired to rise to higher ranks.
Agni and Brahmana were present in the form of jurists who could obtain for the nobles and commoners respectively their mundane needs.
If anyone however dies withoutseeing (adrshtva) the social world (loka) to which he has been assigned, it does not protect him, as it is not acquainted with him.
Vasus and other nobles were asked to join the ranks of the Vaisyas who belonged to the commonalty.
If the nobles failed to join the latter ranks, they would have no right to expect protection from that commonalty and the constitution and structure of judiciary called dharma.
So too commoners selected as Visvedevas would fail to get the immunities that the nobles, devas, had if they rejected this elevation.
The poet-sage of the Upanishad points out that mere acceptance of the authority of the Vedas or the assignment of duties (karma) is not enough.
The Brahman must recite the Vedas and the others (Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras) must perform the duties assigned to them. Else they would not be eligible for the rights and privileges of their respective classes.
Even if the acts performed are very important (mahat) and pious (punya) ones, the benefits accruing from those acts will ultimately fade away (kshiya).
The duties which one performs should be carried out conscientiously as an individual member (atma) of the social world (loka) to which he belongs. They should perform these duties fully aware of their importance. Though the system of four classes (varnas) had come into force, the members assigned to them had not been freed from their duties as members of their respective social worlds (lokas).
Only a person who is conscious of his duty as a member of that social world to which he originally belonged and performs his duty, as a member of the class in accordance with the orientations given by that social world will have his desires fulfilled.
As he develops his personal identity in this manner he is able to create (srja) a career and personality that he desires. (1-4-15)
[It is regrettable that some scholars have found it difficult to defend the claim that the Brahman enjoys the same high place among the commoners as Agni enjoys among gods. Devas were human beings; were not gods.
Radhakrishnan's translation, Even if one performs a great and holy work, but without knowing this, that work of his is exhausted in the end. One should meditate only on the Self as his (true) world, fails to bring out the intent of this passage.]
Some individuals (atma) continued to maintain their earlier identities, as they had in the earlier scheme of social worlds (lokas) even after the members of these social worlds had been assigned to one of the social classes (varnas) in the new scheme. To be precise, they did not take up their positions in the varna to which they were assigned without being asked to give up their original social status.
[Radhakrishnan's translation of this conundrum as: Now this self, verily, is the world of all beings is totally off the mark and is unacceptable.]
Emergence of Concept of Social Periphery
They became, according to the teacher, members of the social world (loka) of all discrete individuals (sarva bhuta). These individuals were not required to honour the varna codes and they continued to function as nobles or commoners following their own bent or aptitude.
The Upanishad explains the emergence of the concept of social periphery as a residue left behind after the social worlds slowly dissolved in the four-varnas scheme that was applied to both the nobility and the commonalty.
In this social world of bhutas, that retains its pre-varna Vedic orientations, those who offer sacrifices (yajna) belong to the social world (loka) of nobles (devas).
[Devas, aristocrats, were not recipients of the offerings made by commoners but were persons who sacrificed what they had for the benefit of the common men, especially in the social periphery.]
A person who learns becomes a member of the social world of sages (rshis). One who desires offspring (praja) and offers to the parents (pitrs) what they need (that is, libations) is bestowed with children and becomes eligible to enter the social world of parents (pitrs).
The poet interprets that (the offerings given to the three non-economic social cadres, nobles (devas), sages(rshis) and elders (pitrs or pitaras), were returned to the commoners by the recipients and were not appropriated by the latter.
One who gives shelter and food to commoners (manushyas) becomes eligible to become a member of the social world of commoners (manushyas). This is agrarian commonalty. One who provides grass and water to the animals (pasu) is entitled to join the social world of animals, that is, the pastoral community.
Some would protect beasts and birds and give shelter even to ants in their own abodes. They too have their own social world.
As one wishes that his (sva) social world (loka) (especially the one that has guaranteed protection of the property and life of its member) should not suffer harm, all the individuals (sarva bhuta), that is, members of the social world of individuals who have opted to follow the earlier Vedic orientations, wish that they should not suffer harm.
The translation of this passage as: Verily, as one wishes non-injury for his own social world, so all beings wish non-injury for him who has this knowledge, fails to bring out the above note.
The members of the social world of individuals on the periphery of the core society of nobles and commoners with respect have the right of the individual to opt for his new class fully giving up the earlier orientations or adopt the new varna orientations and also retain the old ones of the loka or stick to the old ones which offered every individual the right to pursue any vocation of his choice.
The Five Sectors who are recipients of Offerings
Those who join this social world of all beings (bhutas) are motivated by the wish that none should suffer at the hands of others. This is the implication (mimamsa) of the stand that the individual (atma) joins the protective social world (loka) of all beings (sarva bhuta) of the earlier system. [bhuta-yajna, manushya-yajna, pitr-yajna, deva-yajna and brahma-yajna,] (1-4-16)
Radhakrishnan was off the mark when he added the comment, The interdependence of man and the world including deities, seers, fathers, animals, is brought out. The same idea is elaborated in the theory of the five great sacrifices,"for animals, men, manes, gods and seers".
Characteristics of a Constructive Life (Krtsna)
The teacher asserts that in the beginning, the individual (atma) was alone. He desired to have a wife in order to have offspring (prajas). Then he desired to have a vocation that would give him wealth (vitta) so that he might carry out his duties (karma) (to his family). This much was the range of (permitted) desire. Even if one desired more he could not get it.
In other words, it was a need-based economy and not a luxurious life. This limit on desire continues to be advocated to this day.
So long as one does not obtain each one of these (wife, children, vocation and earnings from it) he feels that he is not engaged in a constructive life (is akrtsna).The characteristics of a full and constructive life (krtsna) are then enumerated.
Mind (manas) is the self (atma); that is, an individual is what he thinks he is. Speech (vak) is compared to wife and breath (prana) to offspring. The poet compares the eyes (chakshu) to the economic activity (vittam) by which a commoner (manushya) gets his earnings for he identifies that precious activity.
In this allegory the poet deals with the role of the ideal ruler. The needs and aspirations of such a ruler are limited. He becomes aware through his institution of chakshus (observers or spies) of the nature of economic activities that commoners (manushyas) pursue.
He learns about the activities of the nobles (devas) through reporters (srotra, hearsay, ears) for his spies are not permitted to enter the residential areas of the nobles. [It is irrational to interpret what he sees as human wealth and what he hears as divine wealth.] He is engaged in performing his personal (atma) duties (karma). [It is unsound to translate the term atma used here as body.]
The rajas0uya or asvamedha exercise (yajna) that the ruler performs has five aspects, manas, vak, prana, chakshu, srotra that is, thought, speech, breath, vision and hearing. Whether he deals with animals (pasu) or social leaders (purusha) of this (idam) commonalty or all the sectors of this larger society (sarvam idam), he has to recognize their features and dominate them by knowing their traits through these five means. He who knows and follows this method gains control over all this larger society (idam sarvam). (1-4-17)
The core society had a commonalty (manushyas) engaged in agricultural activities and a cadre of socio-economic leaders and administrators (purushas). The animals (pasu) and those who looked after them lived in areas beyond the villages. Still beyond them lived the individuals (bhutas) who followed the traditional ways of life.
The sage and his students had their abode in this periphery. The king is advised to learn about the activities and orientations of all these groups in order to be able to govern them successfully.