PURUSHA AND BRAHMA SCHOOL OF THOUGHT
Ajatasatru and Gargya
Twelve member cabinet in Arthasastra of Pracetas Manu
(Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 2-1,2.3)
Later commentators are seen to treat the two concepts, Purusha and Brahma as identical and as both indicating God, the former in the form of a man and the latter as Knowledge personified. A close study of this Upanishad would indicate that these commentators and their modern adherents have failed to follow the theme of the disputation between Gargya and Ajatasatru correctly.
Drpta Balaki of the Gargya clan (that is, of the lineage of Garga) was an expositor of sociopolitical thought. Gargya offered to explain to Ajatasatru, the ruler of Kasi (a famous academic and political centre of the Upanishadic times) what was meant by the concept, Brahma. (2-1-1)
In those days, Kasi and Mithila were rival centres of erudition. The head of the state in Mithila was designated as Janaka. He was a ruler elected by the people of the agrarian community, Janapada. [The Janaka who patronized sages like Yajnavalkya was the godfather of Sita who married Rama of Koshala.]
Ajatasatru, a title that the ruler of Kasi, donned was not only a ruler who had humbled all enemies but also one who did not lag behind Janaka of Videha in his liberal grants to scholars. He promised to give one thousand cows if Gargya explained to him the concept, Brahma.
Aditya, head of all individuals (sarva bhuta) of the Social Periphery
Gargya said that he treated the personage, purusha, who was appointed to the post of Aditya (in the ministry of Ajatasatru) as a Brahman, a scholar and jurist who upheld the provisions of the sociopolitical constitution, Brahma.
Ajatasatru explained that in his state, Aditya was the head of all individuals (sarva bhuta), especially those on the social periphery.
[It is not sound to interpret that the expression, sarva bhuta indicated all beings, men, animals, birds and other animate creatures. It was used in a restricted sense.]
According to the constitution, the term, purusha, denoted the leader of a social group.The individuals (bhutas) who did not function as members of any clan or community or class or group lacked such leaders. Aditya surpassed all other officials and had the status and power of a king (raja, who excelled in the trait of rajas, dynamism and aggressiveness).
Did Ajatasatru respect this functionary, Aditya, as the head and king of all individuals of the unorganized sections of the larger society? Aditya was not a jurist who interpreted the constitution. He upheld its provisions but did not have coercive power to ensure compliance to them. He was a social leader, indeed a Purusha elevated to the status of a 'King'.
Ajatasatru implied that the incumbent to the post of Aditya in his state did not unlike the generals have a life tenure and that he belonged to the cadre of Rajanyas and not to that of Brahmans and that his Aditya was in charge of the social periphery and not of the Kshatriya army or of administration as a Kshatra (2-1-2).
In the Atharvan polity, Aditya was the General who trained and led the Kshatriya army (sena). Vratya Prajapati, Mahadeva, recommended that Aditya should be the head of the army (sena) that would be independent of the house of nobles (sabha), the council of scholars (samiti) and the treasury (sura), which were to be headed by Indra, Agni and Brhaspati. The army was not under the king either. Like the other state institutions, it was answerable to the chief of the people, Prajapati.
Chandra (Soma) in charge of office of weaker sections
Gargya felt that then the purusha who was appointed to the post of Chandra (Soma) who was held in great regard by the sedate sages was a Brahman, a jurist. Chandra (Soma) represented the frontier society while Agni spoke for the commonalty and Indra for the patriciate of the core society, in the Vedic social polity.
Ajatasatru pointed out that those persons who honoured Soma who was dressed in white would be treated as Somas protgs (Sutas and Prasutas). They would never be neglected or allowed to go without food (2-1-3).
Soma too had the status of Raja, King. Rajas, dynamism and aggressiveness, is indicated by red colour while Sattva, gentleness and wisdom is indicated by white and Tamas, ignorance and inertia is indicated by black. Though a Raja, Soma is gentle and staid.
[It is irrational to presume that the term, Soma meant liquor in every context. Similarly it is unsound to translate the terms, suta and prasuta, as pouring out and pouring forth. Suta has to be distinguished from praja, offspring.]
Sutas and Prasutas were mixed classes that had the traits of both Brahmans and Kshatriyas. Though brave they did not take part in battles and were officers who maintained state records and published the state edicts.
Vidyut (Tejasvini) in charge of the talented of the society
Gargya then asked whether the personage, purusha, appointed to the distant post of vidyut, brilliant enlightenment, too was not a jurist upholding Brahma, the constitution. Though Vidyut did not qualify to be a jurist, Ajatasatru had great regard for this personage whose radiance, tejas, made his devotees too radiant, have tejas, high personal influence over others. Not only those social leaders and heads of families trained by this official, Tejasvini, but also their subjects and offspring benefit from the training they receive from him (2-1-4).
Here, Ajatasatru uses the term, praja, son, instead of suta, protg or adopted son. While Aditya looked after the individuals of the social periphery and Soma looked after the interests of the weaker sections of the society, Vidyut or Tejasvini looked after the intelligent and talented sections of the society. But Vidyut is not given the status of a king.
Akasa, officer in charge of social stability
Gargya thereupon wanted to know whether the social leader, purusha, who was placed in charge of akasa, the dispersed society, was eligible to be treated as Brahman, a scholar-cum-jurist.
Ajatasatru looked upon this personality as one looking after the entire (purna) stable (apravarta, non-rotating) society.
One who honours this personage is bestowed offspring (praja) and cattle (pasu). His offspring are attached to the soil and are not required to go to another social world (loka). (2-1-5)
This official of the new enlarged society was entrusted with the task of ensuring that the families and their individual members did not find it necessary to migrate to other areas or join other ranks of the society. But this official too was not a jurist.
[It is unsound to treat the term, akasa as implying ether or stagnant invisible atmosphere.]
Vayu in charge of the invincible army
Gargya then asked whether the personage, purusha, who held the position of Vayu (wind that unlike akasa constantly moves, blows everywhere) qualified for the status of Brahman, the jurist who interpreted the constitution.
Ajatasatru had assigned to this Vedic official who belonged to the cadre of Maruts (one of the four groups of traditional nobles) the rank of Indra, the chief of the irresistible (vaikuntha) and unvanquished (aparajita) army (sena).
The poet who drafted this Brahmana (a section of the Upanishad) retains the Maruts as the military wing of the nobles.
He merges the roles of Indra and Vayu, two distinct officials of the Vedic polity. Ajatasatru says that a ruler who follows this system will become victorious, unconquerable and a conqueror of others (2-1-6).
[The introduction of the concept of Vaikuntha is intriguing. It has been later viewed as the abode of God Vishnu. The Maruts were storm-troopers and also physicians. Vaikuntha must have meant stupefying rather than stupid (kuntha).]
Agni in charge of peace, tolerance and endurance
Gargya thereupon wanted to be enlightened on the role of the personage, purusha, who was designated as Agni. Was he too not a Brahman, a jurist?
Agni was the official who presided over the civil court in the later Vedic social polity. Agni was the designation of the head of the Samiti (the council of scholars) while Indra headed the Sabha (the house of nobles).
Ajatasatru viewed Agni as symbolizing the spirit of endurance, tolerating all the poison that may threaten peace and good social relations. A ruler who heads a sociopolitical system that exhibits this spirit is bound to benefit. So too his subjects (prajas) would benefit.
Agni was during the middle and later Vedic periods considered to be an officer of the judiciary who recommended the system of ordeal to find out the truth and punish the guilty.Ajatasatru would expect this official to promote endurance (2-1-7).
Apa (Varuna) in charge of counter-society (prati-rupa)
Gargya then seeks to know the role of the personage who is placed in charge of water (apa). Was this personage expected to perform the role that Varuna played in the Vedic polity? Varuna was in charge of the prisons (galleys converted into prisons) where the violators of civil law and the criminals including those chieftains who were guilty of sedition were kept. He was also the regent during interregnum.
Ajatasatru however views the official who was in charge of apa, lakes and rivers, as one dealing with the sections of the population whose traits and activities were counter (pratirupa) to those of the approved sections of the population. These sections too are represented in the polity of the larger society.
[The translation, I meditate on him, verily, as the likeness. He who meditates on him as such, to him comes what is like him, not what is unlike him, also from him is born what is like him fails to bring out its import.]
The offspring of these sections retain the non-normative traits of these sections even after the latter are amalgamated in the enlarged society. Ajatasatru does not advocate the liquidation of this counter-society.
The role of this official, Apa, is different from that of Varuna. It is a corollary to the spirit of forbearance advocated by Ajatasatru for the official whom he designated as Agni.
While Ajatasatru was aware of the compulsions of managing a social system with several diversities and even contradictions through a radically new cadre of officials, Gargya found it difficult to recognize the new roles these personages were playing. (2-1-8)
Adarsa in charge of the idealistic sector
One sees his own reflection in the water (apa) but it is different from what one sees of himself in a mirror. The latter too gives a non-normative version of the prevalent social order and social roles. But it is not a diffused picture as the one seen in the water. It is a version of the ideal man that is held up to him in this mirror (adarsa).
If Agni dealt with the normative society and tolerated the vicious nature of some of its members while exercising his authority as an official of the civil court and as the head of the council of scholars, Apa represented and controlled the counter-society.
The idealistic sector of the society too needed an official to direct its activities. The person who honours this official himself sets a shining example to all the subjects. It may be noticed that social reorganization requires conscious development of the sectors and individuals who are idealistic in their ambitions and approaches.
Gargya must have realized that the role of a purusha (social leader) was far more demanding and intricate than that of ensuring adherence to the constitution, Brahma. Ajatasatru had a vision that placed him as one far superior to other conquerors. (2-1-9)
[The remark, The same being dwells also in any other shining object such as a sword, and in the intellect is off the mark and only indicates the commentators had failed to arrive at a holistic picture. The transliteration, I meditate on him as the shining one is not precise.]
Sabda (echo) in charge of control of deviants
The concept of reflection in water or in the mirror evokes the concept of echo with respect to what one hears. Gargya would hold the echo of the stride that one takes as reflective of Brahma, the spirit behind the constitution.
Ajatasatru advises that one should not neglect this echo. It is not something that is past. It has to be heeded as it voices all the experiences one has had in his life in this social world (loka).
The official of the state who constantly reminds every individual (particularly the important persons) of his past utterances and experiences is not to be construed as one pulling up the deviants. Such reminding and pulling up are necessary.
But Ajatasatru would not use the past record of any individual to cut short his tenure or life. Prana, breath, does not depart from any one before the completion of his time. (2-1-10)
[Modern commentators have not delved deep into the implications of this new state policy expounded by Ajatasatru to Gargya.]
Dikpala in charge of outskirts
Gargya then draws attention to the personage, purusha, who was supervising the activities of the people in the outskirts, in the different directions (dik). Was he too not carrying out the duties assigned to the jurist, Brahma, by the constitution?
Ajatasatru would look at his (dikpala's) role from a different angle. He was like a companion, a second person who would never leave.
In the Vedic polity, Varuna and Mitra were two such officials who often functioned in unison.
In the new polity that Ajatasatru had introduced there were twelve officials. In the Vedic polity and in Manava Dharmasastra the cabinet had etght members. Pracetas Manu who belonged to the Apsara polity and recommended the Manava school of thought had opted for a cabinet of twelve members, as Kautilya notes. Kautilya noted that Brhaspati had recommended a ministry of 16 members and Usanas one of 24 members.
Ajatasatru points out that one who honours this second personage, is never let down by the latter. [It does not seem that Ajatasatru was referring to twin-functionaries, Asvins (Nasatya and Dasra) who represented the working classes.] The people in the different directions were won over by the conqueror and so too were their governing oligarchies, ganas.
This personage ensures that the ruler of the larger society is able to establish good rapport with them through this personage, a constant companion.
[Kasi had friendly relations with all the countries in the sub-continent. The aphorisms of the Upanishads can be interpreted correctly only by visualizing the then political scenario.] Gargya lacked adequate knowledge of the changing scenario. Garga to whose school he belonged was the political counsellor of Prthu. (2-1-11)
Later commentators lost sight of it and hence could not present the disputation between Gargya and Ajatasatru in the correct perspective.
Chaya (Mrtyu) in charge of ensuring adherence to duties
Gargya noticed that there was another personage, purusha, who followed the above like a shadow (chaya). Was he too provided for in the constitution, Brahma?
Ajatasatru explained that this personage was Mrtyu, (who represented the insentient sections of the society).
[Later commentators have presented Mrtyu as the God of Death who was invisible and was constantly following his victim.]
One who is aware that death may overtake him any time ensures that he leads a full term of life in this social world (loka) without slipping into vice or in any of his duties. Mrtyu does not get hold of one who leads a righteous life performing all his duties.
This was a traditional post in vogue since early Vedic times and was revived by the Ajatasatru constitution. (2-1-12)
Atma in charge of maintenance of individual identity
Gargya wanted to know what the role of the personage, purusha, who was in charge of individual identity (atma), was.
[It is not sound to interpret atma either as body or as soul.]
Ajatasatru explains that this personage encouraged every one to maintain his separate identity and exercise self-restraint and self-regulation so that he does not get lost in anonymity or in mass endeavour and mass acts. Not only every adult but also his offspring (praja) is encouraged to develop such identity.
[Radhakrishnan's translation of this passage as: I meditate on him, verily, as self-possessed. He who meditates on him as such he becomes self-possessed. His offspring becomes self-possessed, and explanation that self-possessed is the quality of those who are cultivated, fails to notice the emphasis on the role of this official as one of the different personages who directed the social polity of the integrated society envisaged by Ajatasatru.]
The latter (offspring) would not be but a replica of the father, one following blindly the tradition set by his forefathers without making any effort to develop his own personality.
The political structure envisaged here calls for a supervisor who would guide every one to develop his identity and not allow it to be lost in conformity that social groups and the state impose on their members and subjects. (2-1-13)
As Ajatasatru expounded the different roles of the twelve officials of the new social polity envisaged by him, Gargya felt it appropriate to discard his attachment to conventional notions about the scope of socio-political control that the state was expected to exercise. He offered to become a student of Ajatasatru (2-1-14).
[The remark that Gargya knew only the conditioned Brahman and not the Absolute Brahman, the ultimate cause of all things, is an uncalled-for attempt to bring in mysticism.]
Ajatasatru told him that it was reversal of normal practice (pratiloma) that a Brahmana should seek to be taught by a Kshatriya, especially Brahma, the social constitution.
Yet he would let Gargya know the features of Brahma (whom the latter had visualized as a composite of the diverse roles performed by personages, purushas, at the helm of the polity).
Soma as the Vijnanamaya Purusha
Ajatasatru, the Kshatriya ruler, escorted Gargya, the Brahman scholar to where the white-robed, great and radiant Soma was sleeping and woke up the latter from his slumber (2-1-15).
Ajatasatru asked Gargya When this personage (purusha) Soma, who is all knowledge (vijnana, further knowledge acquired through application of formal knowledge, jnana, acquired in school) was asleep where had that awareness gone and from where did it return as he woke up?
Soma who was pure and sober was held in reverence by the sages of the forest. Gargya did not know the answer to this all-important question (2-1-16). [The translation of the expression, vijnanamaya purusha, as the person who consists of intelligence is unsatisfactory.]
Twelve officials (Purushas) of the social polity of Kasi
Ajatasatru had explained the roles performed by the personages nominated to the posts that were designated as Aditya, Soma, Vidyut, Akasa, Vayu, Agni, Apa, Adarsa, Sabda, Dik, Chaya and Atma.
Soma who had the status of a dynamic and aggressive king, Raja, though he was sober, is given special attention, as he was a personage who excelled in vijnana, the type of knowledge very few excelled in.
Ajatasatru explains that by this knowledge Soma (who was asleep) had drawn to himself the knowledge acquired by the various persons (pranas) and had stashed it in the akasa, space, within the heart (hrdaya).
Vijnana is knowledge that is obtained about the events of the past and of the future and also of the distant areas by extrapolating the knowledge, jnana, obtained about the present through direct observation and of the immediate past through smrti, remembrance.
When the purusha is engaged in allowing that knowledge or experiences, which others had, to stay in his heart and become slowly absorbed in his personality he is said to be sleeping. There is no conscious activity then. Prana (breath), Vak (speech), Chakshu (eyes) Srotra (ears) and Manas (mind) are all kept under control then (2-1-17).
[This aphorism may be a later interpolation. It is not in tune with the trend of the disputation between Ajatasatru, the ruler of Kasi, and Gargya, who was a novice to socio-political constitution, Brahma.]
Soma, suzerain (maharaja) as well as highest exponent of Jurisprudence (maha-brahmana)
When the official, Soma, moves about when others are yet sleeping (svapna), these are the social worlds (lokas), over which he exercises authority. That is, Soma supervises the work of all those commoners who only breathe (exist without any specific vocation assigned to them), and also that of the ruling class which gives valuable directions to others, the observers (chakshus) and the reporters (srotra) and the social planners (manas). [Soma was not sleeping or dreaming.]
As he exercises authority over all the social worlds (lokas), the nobility, the commonalty, the frontier society, the executive and the intellectuals, his status is elevated from that of a minor king (raja) to that of a suzerain (maharaja).
He becomes superior to and controls all officials who had the status of raja. He also becomes the highest exponent of jurisprudence (maha-brahmana). Not all kings were eligible to function as judges.
Gargya was not aware of this dual role and eminent status of Soma whom he held to be but a personage (purusha) elevated to the status of a jurist (Brahma).
In the Vedic social polity Soma was a representative of the intellectuals of the frontier society and had the rank of king, Raja also.
This Upanishad raises the status of Soma and makes him both a Maharaja and a Mahabrahmana. Soma not only rises in sociopolitical status but also comes in greater contact with the lower sections of the society.
Ajatasatru evokes the picture of a suzerain, Maharaja, after winning over the representatives of the people of the janapada (the newly annexed territory) moves about in his janapada as he pleases. This new janapada is his now.
In this new state, Soma,the chief of the sedate intellectuals, moves about freely along with those individuals (pranas, men who were on the subsistence level and did not have any wealth or occupation of their own) in his own area of operations (sva sarira).
Soma was the autonomous ruler of the social world of the sober intellectuals of the forest. Ajatasatru expected Gargya to appreciate this feature of his new expanded social polity (18).
Ajatasatru then proceeds to explain what happens to consciousness when one is asleep. During sleep the awareness of all the experiences that one has had when awake pass to the pericardium from the deep heart through seventy-two (thousand) vessels. [That awareness is lost only when one finally dies, faces cerebral death.]
The intellectual who is safely asleep (not required to be an active executive) is compared to the head of the expanded state, the maharaja who is also the maha-brahmana, the highest authority empowered to ensure adherence by all to the provisions of the constitution, Brahma.
As explained by Ajatasatru of Kasi, only a ruler who had the rank of Maharaja could preside over both the executive and the constitution bench.
The head of the state has to be an intellectual who like Soma of Ajatasatru is fast asleep like a boy (kumara) who has no cares or like a suzerain (maharaja) who is safe or like a highly revered person who enjoys all immunities (maha-brahmana). It seems that Ajatasatru had in view the youths (kumaras) who were social activists and educators belonging to the Atharvan schools. [Or was he referring to the role of the four sagacious, kumaras, Sanaka, Sanada, Sanatana and Sanatkumara?]
When the intellectual-cum-ruler attains this highest state, he is said to have reached the peak of happiness (ananda) and is entitled to take rest from all activities and cares. (2-1-19)
The eternal principle behind the laws based on truth
The development of the social system can be traced from the status of the individual (atma) to that of all persons (pranas) who are at mere subsistence level and from whom there are no special expectations and then to all social worlds (lokas). It is traced from the latter to that of all nobles (devas) and of all individuals of the social periphery (bhutas).
The poet compares the course of this development traced in this section to the movement of the spider that secretes the larva from which it weaves its web and moves through its threads safely. He also compares it is to the small sparks coming out from the fire.
The Upanishad thus brings out the truth (satya) of truth (satya), that is, the eternal principle behind the laws based on satya or truth. The (five or six) breaths (pranas) are present in every living being, especially every human being irrespective of his social status.
This is the truth. Thus Ajatasatru enlightens Gargya on the roles of his officials of the expanded state (2-1-20). Ajatasatru was required to explain to Gargya that the twelve officials of the polity of his expanded state did not stand on the same pedestal as the eight officials of the Vedic polity or the one that Garga was acquainted with. These two had given the highest place to Indra and Agni while Ajatasatru gave the highest place to Aditya and Soma.
It may be noted here that Pracetas Manu, author of a politico-economic code, Arthasastra preferred a cabinet of twelve ministers while Bhrgus Manava Dharmasastra adhered to the Vedic practice of eight ministers.
The Upanishadic sage then draws attention to the calf (sisu), its abode (adhanam), the alternative abode (prati-adhanam) and to the post to which it is tied and the rope with which it is tied. These ensure that the calf is protected during normal times as well as during severe heat and rain and is not allowed to wander away.
One who knows the meaning of this allegory will keep him untied to (avarunaddhi) the seven hostile brethren. The calf is compared to the middle breath, the body to the abode, the head to the other abode, the in-breath to the post and the food, which it eats to the rope (damam) with which it is tied to the post (2-2-1).
The newborn babe who faces threat from the seven organs mentioned above is guarded by the seven imperishable (akshita) personages who are present there. The red (raja) streaks in the eye indicate that Rudra is united with him. The water in the eye represents Parjanya, the pupil of the eye represents Aditya, the black of the eye represents Agni, the white of the eye represents Indra; the lower eyelash represents Prthvi and the upper eyelash represents Divam. One who recognizes the implication of this allegory will never starve.
Dhio-prthvi core society guided by Rudra
Rudra, Parjanya, Aditya, Agni and Indra were the designations of the officials of the core social polity of the Vedic times that had two major strata, agrarian commonalty (prthvi) and elite (divam). That social order and system of governance guaranteed social security and no new-born child felt threatened by its inability to restrain its sense organs (2-2-2).
It may be noticed that this analysis does not mention the three important Vedic officials, Soma, Varuna and Vayu. It mentions Rudra instead of Soma and Parjanya instead of Varuna. This analysis dealt with an agrarian community from which the Rudras had not been alienated. Instead the Maruts, whose representative Vayu was, stood alienated.
Visvarupa, creator of the larger social structure
The poet-sage of this Upanishad then draws attention to the verse that noted: There is a bowl, which has its mouth downwards, and bottom facing upwards. In it are filled the achievements (yasa) of Visvarupa, the creator of the larger social structure full of diverse groups.
Seven of the personages sitting around it are members of the council of seven sages (rshis) and the eighth personage who speaks out (vak) is the Brahmana, the jurist and exponent of the social constitution as incorporated in the Vedas (samvidhana). The poet explains the allegory of the inverted bowl. The bottom of the bowl stands for the skull and the mouth is below that skull.
The different types of breath (prana), that is, the different sections of the living beings, evoke the concept of Visvarupa. The seven sages represent these sections and the eighth personage, Brahmana, who is at the mouth, speaks for them all (2-2-3).
Rudra school and the seven sages headed by Atri
Gautama and Bharadvaja, Visvamitra and Jamadagni, Vasishta and Kashyapa and Atri represented the two ears, the two eyes, the two nostrils and the tongue. Of the seven sages of the saptarshi mandalam of Manu Sraddhadeva (Vaivasvata), Atri is given the most important place here. Other accounts present Kashyapa as the head of this council of seven sages.
The sages of the Upanishads had great regard for the intellectual tradition to which Rudra, Atri and Soma belonged. They had reservations about the Maruts to whom Marici and Kashyapa belonged. The poet says that one who knows the implication of this allegory (that is associated with the daily prayers performed at dawn, noon and dusk) benefits from all sections of the society (4).
Modern commentators have not been able to solve this allegory and the medieval commentators have preferred to pass them by. The Brahmana mentioned in the previous verse does not feature here. He must have been an ideologue of the Atharva-Angirasa school. Of the sages mentioned above, Gautama, Bharadvaja, Visvamitra and Vasishta were major contributors to the Rgvedic anthology. Kashyapa was associated with the Atharvaveda.
Marici whose follower Kashyapa was and Atri were honoured as their ideal leaders, by the two rival sections of the polity which came later to be known as Solar and Lunar lineages respectively.
Two forms of Brahman: Murtam vis-a-vis: Amurtam
Settled structured communities Vis-a-vis other individuals
The sage of the Upanishad states that there are two forms (rupa) of Brahman, one of which has got a physical shape (murtam) and the other has no such shape (is amurtam). The sage treats the former as belonging to the insentient world (martya) and the other to the non-insentient but high cultural order (amrtam).
He treats the former as settled communities (sthitam) with definite social structure. The other does not have such a definite structure and has individuals who are constantly on move. The former is governed by the codes based on truth, satya. The other is not governed by any such orientation. The sage takes into account two social sectors.
One is at the subsistence level with no high ambitions, but is honest and stable and has definite social structure. The other sector has individuals with high ambitions who are however constantly on the move and do not have definite social structure or binding social codes.
[The former were referred to as the social world (loka) of commoners (manushyas) and the other as a social universe (jagat) of dynamic individuals (like gandharvas).] (2-3-1)
Brahmana the chief jurist (murtam) and Brahmana the unwritten constitution (amurtam)
The scholars who have treated Brahmana referred to the unwritten but permanent constitution of the Vedic polity that was applicable to all social sectors (whether settled communities or individuals and groups who were constantly on move). The term, Brahmana, referred also to the jurist who enforced it for the commonalty, which was settled in clans and communities.
The Brahman jurist was a personage (murti) who had jurisdiction over social sectors that did not come under the jurisdiction of the open territories (Vayu) and the frontier society (antariksham). His domain extended only to the settled (sthita) communities of the commonalty (martya, the insentient society) and not to the patriciate (amrtam) or to the groups and individuals constantly on the move. Laws based on truth, satya, governed this commonalty of the Vedic times.
[The translation of this aphorism as, this is unmoving; this is actual, fails to note this aspect.]
Brahmanaspati and structured commonalty
Aditya and rest of the larger society
Brahmanaspati (Brhaspati) enforced them. [It had earlier been governed by the official designated as Agni who belonged to the Adityas, one of the four groups of traditional nobles.] Those who did not belong to this commonalty were governed by codes that were severe and enforced by the yonder sun, that is, by Aditya.
The poet-sage points out that this is the essential trait (rasa) of the codes based on truth (satya).They were under the political state dominated by the nobles, who did not tolerate violations. (2-3-2)
Jurisdiction of the unwritten constitution, Brahma
The jurist, Brahmana, exercised control over only the commonalty.
The unwritten constitution, Brahma, however had jurisdiction over the open areas (akasa, which was under Vayu) and the frontier society, (antariksham, which was under Soma) also. The patriciate (amrtam) enforced it over the groups and individuals who were on the move and who followed the provisions other than those based on satya (truth) affirmed on oath.
Purusha, head of the circle of states (mandala)
Head of the integrated elite (adhidaivatam)
The personage, Purusha, who heads the circle (mandala) of states, belongs to the patriciate (amrta) and his jurisdiction is not defined or limited (amurta). He is constantly on the move (yata) and he represents the will and needs of the unformed sections of the larger society.
This essential trait of Purusha who heads all the members of the integrated elite (adhidaivatam) is to be recognized as being different from the role of Brahmana, the jurist who directed the activities of the commonalty.
Gargya who treated Purusha and Brahma as both implying the same concept and authority was not versed enough in the intricacies of the Vedic polity.] (2-3-3). It may be noted that this analysis avoids translating the terms, devas and devatas, as gods or divinities. They were members of the aristocracy and were human beings.
The concept, adhidaivatam, refers to the essential traits of the ruling elite. The concept, adhyatma, refers to the essential traits of the individual, especially a commoner who is not totally bound to abide by the codes of his clan or community.
Adhyatma, observable personality of the commoner
In this commonalty (idam, here) he has a distinct personality, murti. He is different from those who merely exist or breathe (prana) and do not have distinct personalities.
The term, adhyatma is distinct from conscience (antaratma), which is said to be deep in the space (akasa) inside man's body.
Adhyatma refers to the commoner (who has death, mrtyu) and is stable, that is, belongs to a settled community and is a concrete person (sat) and not an abstract notion. The essence of the traits of this commoner is his ability to observe and his being observed (chakshu).
Adhyatma is not a concept without form. It is an observable personality that a commoner has developed (2-3-4).
The poet-sage of this Upanishad deals with the features of the society and the traits of the personages at different levels, elite and commonalty.
[Some scholars read that adhyatma refers to the three elements, earth, water and fire. They have presumed that the other two elements, air and ether, are concerned with the concept, adhidaivatam. This postulate is unacceptable and irrelevant.]
Adhyatma, Antaratma, Prana: Personality, Conscience, Breath or Life
The poet-sages of the Upanishads have presented breath (prana) as a form of air or atmosphere (vayu) and the inner soul (antaratma) as akasa or the stratosphere beyond it.
Medieval and modern commentators have tended to treat these two, prana and antaratma, as equivalent to the immortal soul.
While adhyatma thus would refer to the mortal body, antaratma and prana are visualized as constituting the soul that moves everywhere and is immortal. The poet says that if the former is to be associated with the (left) eye, the latter may be visualized as the personage in the right eye (2-3-5).
The sage clarifies that he indeed treats the personage who is looking after the sections of the population other than the commonalty of settled communities, as one with a form.
Soma assumes the roles of both Indra and Agni
This personage (Soma) is dressed in saffron or in white. He is like the chief (Indra) of the village leaders (gopas). He has the authority and qualifications (varchi) that Agni has He is both gentle like the white lotus and active or virulent (sakrt) like lightning (vidyut).
A chieftain who understands the implications of this allegory (of a soft but active, pure and selfless leader who takes on the roles of Indra as well as Agni) attains quickly the status of sri, the lord of wealth. The disciple is directed (adesa) to follow the methodology, not this, not this, nothing higher than this, not this but is that. (the head of the council of scholars) has.
Satyasya satya: (Truth of Truth) Designation of the Purusha
The designation (namadheyam) of this personage whose features are distinguished by this method is truth of truth. The sage asserts that only soul, prana, is true. This Purusha is the truth of this truth (satyasya satya). In other words, he is a living personage and not an abstract concept.
He heads the circle of (five sovereign) states (mandala) and is superior to the maharaja who is the head of the state as well as the judiciary. He is superior to a viraj, head of five autonomous districts and is empowered to determine the correctness of the verdicts given by the heads of the judiciaries of those states which followed the laws based on truth (satya) (2-3-6).